Buddhism and Faith

Posted in Buddhism, The End of the Monsoon, Writing on July 20th, 2010 by admin – Be the first to comment

Somerset Maugham: wanting, but not quite able, to believe

In September of 2007 I flew to Phnom Penh to gather material for a new novel.  Two of the books I brought with me were by Maugham: a first edition (a gift from Susana Serna) of The Gentleman in the Parlour, a Record of a Journey from Rangoon to Haiphong (1930), which is as its title suggests a travel book, and a Penguin paperback edition of The Summing Up (1938), a collection of valedictory essays.

In both books Maugham devotes a section to the question of evil; that is, how to satisfactorily explain the existence of evil read more »

Criticizing Islam

Posted in Islam and the War on Terror on May 15th, 2010 by admin – Be the first to comment

Mohammed as a roundabout dog: cartoon by Lars Vilks

Mohammed as a Swedish roundabout dog (rondellhund): cartoon by Lars Vilks

Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s response to western apologists

While blogging with a very articulate lady from the UK, an evangelical atheist and retired high-level worker for the Labour Party–in other words, to the left of most American liberals–I was struck by her efforts to let Saudi Arabs off the hook read more »

Writing The End of the Monsoon

Posted in Buddhism, The End of the Monsoon, Writing on April 1st, 2010 by admin – 2 Comments

Buddhas at Bayon, Cambodia

In search of theme and setting

In March of 2007 I sold my first novel, The Desert Contract, in a two book deal, which meant I had to write another political thriller.  But about what, and set where?

That summer, while finishing the publisher’s suggested revisions, I read Karen Armstrong’s  A Short History of Myth.  The final pages held my attention.  She suggests that read more »

On reading again Paul Henry Lang and Leonard Woolf

Posted in Music on March 16th, 2010 by admin – 2 Comments

Leonard Woolf

Music and civilization

I’ve just reread, from cover-to-cover, for the first time in years, Lang’s Music in Western Civilization–first published in 1941. My edition dates from 1969. I’m more impressed than ever.

His authority runs through all 1,030 pages. Here are the first lines of the Introduction: read more »

Gutless journalism

Posted in Arab Revolution, Islam and the War on Terror, The End of the Monsoon on March 13th, 2010 by admin – Be the first to comment

New York Times masthead

How The New York Times contributes to government abuse

In articles written for the public by respectable journalists, in respectable papers, we find the terms, ‘extraordinary rendition’, ‘detained’, ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’. When in fact, we should be reading, ‘kidnapped’, ‘imprisoned without charge’, and ‘torture’. read more »

How to get off morphine

Posted in Morphine on March 2nd, 2010 by admin – 2 Comments

Mariann in the Bow River at River-Run

Background

In October 2005 my late wife, Mariann, was hospitalized in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. This being Canada, that meant that she entered, as a patient, a nationalized health service. Canadians are proud of their health service, their ‘public option’. In fact its quality is variable. Canadians can be even more cut-off from the rest of the world than Americans.

After six weeks, two CAT scans, two misdiagnoses and three weeks in hospitals (two hospitals–she spent two weeks in the wrong one by administrative accident), she was finally diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Unless you’re the CEO of Apple, this is a death sentence with a six month time frame. read more »

Building a Friederici clavichord

Posted in Clavichord, Music on March 1st, 2010 by admin – Be the first to comment

Five octave, unfretted clavichord after Friederici, 1765

I had owned and played a small fretted clavichord since 1982, and in 2004 I started researching five octave, unfretted clavichords, with the idea of building an instrument suitable for playing all of J.S. Bach, and Haydn’s F Minor Variations from 1793. read more »