So, Sharon Stone has blamed "bad karma" for the Chinese earthquake. By that rationale, an earthquake that has killed just under a hundred thousand people in a largely Tibetan province of western China is some sort of punishment for the central government's paranoid repression of its Tibetan population. Now, it goes without saying that Sharon Stone's only discernible quality (not feature) is that she's a fucking idiot. She came around to Tibetan Buddhism via Richard Gere after a supposedly long romance with Scientology. She has lied about everything from belonging to Mensa to the Tanzanian government's dispensing of mosquito nets. Of AIDS, she has said, "AIDS is what happens when you forget to look at the person next to you." But today, I give thanks to Sharon Stone, because perhaps her ignorant, idiotic words will remind all of us how fucking inane it is to invoke "karma" in most conversation, i.e. "Karma is a bitch." KARMA IS NOT A BITCH. Saying "karma is a bitch" to couch in hippie moral superiority a basic conveyance of schadenfreude is highly irritating. For one thing:
YOU CAN BE A GOOD PERSON AND BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN TO YOU.
Imagine saying "karma is a bitch" to Job. Or, you know, Jerome Kerviel. GOD THAT SOUNDS DUMB, doesn't it? Has anyone who has ever said that read anything, ever? Wait, forget that, did they ever go to fucking high school?
TIBET IS COMPLICATED
I like Buddhism and I despise Chinese autocracy. I can sympathize with any ethnic group that has endured sixty years of unending campaigns of re-population, marginalization, the exile and imprisonment of its most venerated members. But the fact is that, hi, the Chinese government has not really been good to any of its people, especially the religious ones, Tibet's claim to territorial sovereignty is pretty weak, and this problem whereby many Chinese have adopted this sort bigoted notion of Tibetans as backward descendants of the foul-smelling brutal savages responsible for the nation's darkest period — darker than the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution? Probably not something too often discussed in history classes! — is a basic problem of they don't exactly get democracy.
THIS WEEK'S NEWSWEEK WONDERS YET AGAIN WHETHER WE ARE THE DUMBEST GENERATION.
It quotes that George Santayana quote about being condemned to repeat history etc. etc. That was from 1905. In 1907, Theodore Roosevelt wrote in an elegy to a historian that is now the forward to a book about the Mongols I bought in hopes of better understanding China's historical relationship with the people of its Western steppe regions. "It is extraordinary to see how ignorant even the best scholars of America and England are of the tremendous importance in world history of the nation-shattering Mongol invasions," he wrote, calling the Mongol conquests "terrible beyond belief "and "the most stupendous fact of the thirteenth century" and shaming some British historian who had written an essay about the thirteenth century in which Genghis Khan went unmentioned. I read this, and thought, "How nice it is, the prospect of once again electing a president with some understanding of history! (Since I am not going to have time to actually do it myself." And then I saw this. Oh, well. You have to start somewhere!