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Showing posts from April 1, 2012

Measuring Happiness -- Writer's Poke #378

I like the idea that Bhutan has established. It’s a poor country, so not surprisingly, it doesn’t put as much emphasis on Gross National Product as the United States does. Instead, it has developed something called “Gross National Happiness.”


Is Bhutan happier than the rest of the world? That, I don’t know. Every so often, some sort of “contentment survey” is released, and I don’t recall that Bhutan has ever topped the list. Then again, perhaps the people conducting the survey neglect to include Bhutan in their evaluations.

Bhutan is a country that was “closed” to the outside world until 1974. Even today, while Bhutan welcomes tourists, it charges them around $200 a day for the privilege of visiting. That obviously makes Bhutan a fairly expensive country to visit. But it is a country that is being more modern. Heck, ten years ago, it finally got a TV station, and the people of Bhutan now have access to the Internet. Bhutan’s main road, finished just 25 years ago or so, has also made …

Tibet Appropriated -- Writer's Poke #377

David Attenborough was probably joking when he said that he rather doubted if there was anything in Tibet. Of course when Michael Palin first arrives in Tibet, what he sees he describes as “lunar landscape.” And, it’s true. Not much is there. At least, we don’t see any strip malls, and who knows how many miles it might be to the nearest McDonalds.

If by “anything” one means people or even human structures, then perhaps vast portions of Tibet are “nothing.” Then again, Buddhist monks call it home. Are they attracted to the nothingness? Everest is there, too, of course, and it’s the “tallest nothing” on the entire planet. People from around the globe like to test themselves against it. Why?

Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, isn’t “nothing.” It’s home to over 250,000 people. However, is Lhasa actually “Tibet”? Palin notes that since the Chinese came, so too came the wide roads, the modern communist-style apartment complexes, and something more: the Chinese. Did the Chinese see Tibet as empty…