Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Tuesday, November 25, 2003day link 

 The teachings of Wu-Ming
picture Scotty posts the delightful story of Wu-Ming, a simple Buddhist monk who seemed to demonstrate great wisdom without particularly trying. In the words of Tung-Wang, 898 A.D.:
"Though in the course of my lifetime I have encountered many of the most venerable progenitors of the Tathagata's teaching, never have I met one so skilled at awakening others to their intrinsic Buddhahood as this wonderful fool Wu-ming. His spiritual non-sequiturs were as sparks, lighting the flame of illuminating wisdom in the minds of many who engaged him in dialogue.

Once a monk approached Wu-ming and asked in all earnestness, "In the whole universe, what is it that is most wonderful?" Without hesitation Wu-ming stuck a cucumber before the monks face and exclaimed, "There is nothing more wonderful than this!" At that the monk crashed through the dualism of subject and object, "The whole universe is pickled cucumber; a pickled cucumber is the whole universe!" Wu-ming simply chuckled and said, "Stop talking nonsense. A cucumber is a cucumber; the whole universe is the whole universe. What could be more obvious?" The monk, penetrating the perfect phenomenal manifestation of Absolute Truth, clapped his hands and laughed, saying, "Throughout infinite space, everything is deliciously sour!"

On another occasion a monk asked Wu-ming, "The Third Patriarch said, "The Great Way is without difficulty, just cease having preferences." How can you then delight in eating cucumbers, yet refuse to even take one bit of a carrot?" Wu-ming said, "I love cucumbers; I hate carrots!" The monk lurched back as though struck by a thunderbolt. Then laughing and sobbing and dancing about he exclaimed, "Liking cucumbers and hating carrots is without difficulty, just cease preferring the Great Way!""
Ah, life is so simple, if we just stay true to our nature, do what comes natural, and avoid getting lost in abstract complexities.
[ | 2003-11-25 05:46 | 22 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 The Meatrix
picture Mentioned by Bushman and others. Go watch The Meatrix. A fabulous little flash movie where Moopheus will show you the real world. First of all it is a very funny and perfectly done takeoff of The Matrix. Secondly, it introduces the issue of the destructiveness of factory farming in meat production, and presents activist resources and alternatives. Thirdly, the movie is a "Free Range Flash Activism Grant". I.e. a design company called Free Range Graphics invited non-profit organizations to apply for the production of a free Flash movie. Not only is that very nice of them, and a powerful tool for activism, but it is of course also an excellent promotion for their company. Something to learn from there. Win-win and support the common good.
[ | 2003-11-25 05:46 | 20 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Urban Tapestries
picture Via Smart Mobs, news about Urban Tapestries, which is an experimental project for understanding the social and cultural implications of location-based mobile communications. They have developed a mechanism by which individuals can virtually annotate the urban landscape with personal stories and commentary.
  • Imagine building your own location-based game, such as a treasure hunt or a spy game.
  • Imagine creating a thread of local resources that would be useful or important to you if you lived in this area. For instance specialist food shops, bookstores, places to learn new things, exercise classes, social services, free concerts and films, public toilets and local dumps.
  • Imagine creating your own story woven through the area. For instance a romance or crime story, science fiction or horror (English country pursuits)!
  • Imagine annotating places for local activist campaigns or issues. For instance local pollution and the environment, building developments and regeneration, globalisation and local transport.
  • Imagine creating your own personal map of Bloomsbury. For instance quiet places to sit, favourite parks, family histories, unhappy memories and bad smells!
  • They are launching a public trial in London in December.
    [ | 2003-11-25 10:11 | 17 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

     College and Thinking
    Article in Christian Science Monitor about whether college teaches you to think or not.
    While pondering a problem in a plant biology course at Ohio University one semester, John Withers suddenly realized something unusual was going on: This class was actually requiring him to think.

    Thinking is presumed to be the bread and butter of higher education. Beyond simply getting a diploma to land a job that pays well, the promise of sharpening thinking skills still looms as a key reason millions apply to college.

    Yet some say there is a remarkable paucity of critical thinking taught at the undergraduate level - even though the need for such skills seems more urgent than ever.
    And then there some good examples of professors and classes that actualy seem to be doing the right stuff.

    Years ago when I frequently was interviewing and hiring computer programmers I noticed that a large percentage of people with computer science degrees had gotten their ability to think and solve real problems completely destroyed, if they had it to begin with. I.e. the majority were unable to write a simple program to solve a simple problem, and unable to even think systematically. Rather they tended towards having a very impressive resume, and an inclination towards having many interesting things to say. But when I actually gave them a test, it was surprising how poorly most people did. Kids fresh out of high school were usually significantly more able to solve a real problem than somebody with a masters degree in computer science.

    But if they could both learn about a lot of stuff AND actually develop their ability to be creative and think critically - that would really be something.
    [ | 2003-11-25 11:48 | 13 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

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