Archive for June, 2011

Those darn kids

I am sitting in a Youth Hostel in Frankfurt listening to a strange old Australian dude with a porn star mustache talking someone’s ear off. This is a crude attempt at a transcript of his monologue.

“…look at them all with their heads in the computer, people spend too much time on the Internet, I reckon one day when a baby is born we will, you know, stick something in their neck, attach them straight into a computer like on the matrix, you know,………….. who wants that. And then genetic engineering, that scares me. I was in the center of Berlin the other day and there were hundreds of kids, I dunno, about sixteen years old, they were walking past me; and they were all the same, all perfect, like somebody was making them in a factory.”

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Cats and Dogs

I was a little disappointed with the absence of dog and cat on the menu while I was in china. I did eat a donkey sandwich though, it tasted nothing like chicken.

After making some inquiries I discovered that these things are very regional. In different parts of the country I might have seen dog or cat on the menu. You might be squirming in your seat right now or assuming that I am joking, which means unless you are a vegetarian I consider you to be a bigoted, western centric hypocrite. The ethical value of killing and eating animals, however moral it is, or isn’t, is not decided by which animals we choose to kill. Aside from Peter Singer’s attempts to weigh the moral costs of eating different kinds of creatures (which the rest of the world seems to be ignoring), there is no reasonable way in which one animal’s life can be weighed against another. Killing something conscious is just plain killing, regardless of whether it is fluffy, feathered or scaly. There is no absolute hierarchy in which some animals deserve to be farmed and others not, only ones we invented for our own convenience. If you are prepared to kill things to eat them, do not pretend that you have a morally superior position to someone who chooses to eat dogs.

I myself can’t decide which I would prefer to eat: dogs or cats. If I stopped to consider the number of dogs that have bitten me over the years, then I should think that they owe me a few sandwiches. In no particular order I have bitten been by : a German shepard, several kelpies, a cattle dog, a doberman, a saint Bernard, a corgi, and more mongrels than I can remember. Yet I still find myself aligned with dogs in the great cats versus dogs dichotomy, hence I think I would prefer to eat a cat. Sadly, I will have to wait until my next trip to try a cat stir fry.

A matter of taste

I just took my final flight in China. I was seated next to a sweet young girl who just finished her masters and took her first flight to ShenZhen to begin her first job. 

When the meal was served she proceeded to mix everything together. There is no separation between the main meal and sweets in China. The first time I watched someone eating a marmalade filled croissant with a piece of bacon on top I was rather perplexed, now it seems normal. My companion today paused in the middle of eating her chicken rice to open the small satchel of butter. She then began to eat it with a spoon, only stopping to turn to me and comment ‘很好吃’ (tastes good).

Red and Blue

Last night, I was in a world where my girlfriend and I had been fighting because I found out she was married to someone else. I had started spending a lot of time with another girl. We went out for dinner together and then went to a bar to see R.E.M. play. My girlfriend was there with some friends, she looked to me with very sad eyes as we walked in the door. I moved to the front of the bar to watch the band. The back of the bar was a raised section behind tall panes of glass. Below us stood a crowd of people swaying with the music. The stage held all of the band minus Michael Stipe. I looked around a saw him directly below me in the crowd. His fans were touching his ironing board stomach and lifting his T-shirt as he moved back toward the stage.

I turned to see my date for the evening giving my girlfriend a verbal assault. They stood facing each other in identical dresses, my girlfriend in red and my date in blue. My date was listing a bunch of mean things about my girlfriend. I walked over and took my girlfriend by the hand and I walked out the door with her.

Show us ya Rock Face

The Demons in Buddha's Support Band Pull Great Rock Faces

Find Your Limits

One of the things I love about traveling is being pushed up against personal limits that I did not know that I had. Of course there can be emotional reactions when this happens and the personal challenge is to get through this unscathed.

My friend Ulrike has found some of her limits recently. She was determined to walk up mount HuaShan with us in spite of her asthma and troubled knee. She pushed through more than five thousand steps with us to the peak. However, we were running short on time coming back down, and her panic levels began to rise. As we got close to station for the chair lift that would take us back down we encountered a group of Chinese tourists that were clumped together blocking the path to take a photo. I began asking them to make some room for us, but Ulrike exploded. She threw her hands in the air and began running through them yelling “Excuse Me, Excuse Me, Excuse Me”.

This was the first of a series of explosions that have punctuated the journey. While in Xi’an we were walking around in the rain trying to find a bank and a way onto the wall. The traffic in Xi’an is chaotic like many cities in China. We were pushing our way between some cars to cross a road. A gap opened up while Ulrike passed in front of a taxi and the cab driver lent on the horn. Ulrike jumped, and then began yelling at him in German. “JA TOLL, ICH KANN NICHT VORNER GEHEN”. A short while later a bus drove close behind her, splashing water onto her legs. She jumped forward and turned to face it. “YA DANKE, DAS IST WIRKLICH SUPER!”. She then proceeded to storm down the street with her arms in front of her to ward off the edges of encroaching umbrellas, stomping her feet like an angered antelope warning any predators that it is not in the mood for any crap.

No Trumpets

No Trumpets Sign Beijing China