4 Tips on appliance use in Cambodia

Psar Thmei. Hair dryer. It came home with me cuz my hair is in the growing pains stage and needs assistance.Forty seconds into my first use of this death contraption I smell rubber. Mind you, these events occurred in a split nanosecond just a tad ahead of reflexes, lest y'all fancy some darwinian goal of mine to improve the human genome.Air came out of all the holes of the main unit. The cord overheated, burned my arm, and melted plastic dropped on my bare foot. A small plastic clip at the intake in the back of the unit popped loose and pieces of broken filter screen were sucked into the motor. After a small explosion at the outlet where the appliance was plugged into, sparks flew and the heating element burst into flames.Oh and my hair … [Read more...]

The concept of Peace post-conflict

Mental health trauma after years of war is naturally extensively studied in public health. But even living in Cambodia for many months now hasn’t dawned understanding on me of the ravages of the Khmer Rouge period until I took meditation courses with some Khmers. The most popular meditation techniques, usually associated with spiritual activity, are of Eastern origin ie. martial arts and yoga. The premise of meditation is to gain insight or focus, by relaxing the body and calming and focusing the mind. It’s a skill that allows positive energy to be summoned at will. And one of the methods used for clearing the mind is to recall a feeling of peace. I can easily recall such moments: standing on top of a mountain and looking out over the … [Read more...]

Past Plagues Are Prologue

Disease is a fascinating study, a microbiological commentary and defensive mechanism to the stresses placed on our socio-economic environment. Given the Avian Flu situation here in SE Asia, I thought I’d dig up an article by Andrew Nikiforuk. It’s a well-written piece geared at the Toronto policymakers in response to the SARS scare several years ago. But in light of recent announcements by WHO on the possible pandemic Avian Flu presents, the editorial still bears relevance. Past Plagues are Prologue by Andrew Nikiforuk edited 10 Feb 2010: since the above link no longer works, here it is re-posted: Epidemics always teach us something, says author ANDREW NIKIFORUK. One SARS lesson is that we're too dependent on hospitals - which … [Read more...]

Just another long weekend

Yet another speedy exodus of the expats from the country for the long holiday weekend of Pchum Ben, a Bhuddist event honoring spirits of ancestors by bringing offerings of food to the temples. I spent some time catching up on news from the US, more especially the debates--er, confusion--surrounding the Harriet Miers nomination. “Trust me,” George W. says, in all seriousness. Blunt object please… … [Read more...]

Gross National Happiness of Bhutan

So the beautiful Kingdom of Bhutan, where I believe there is a daily quota cutoff and charge for touring their country (someone care to correct if I'm wrong?), has an alternative to the GDP for measuring well-being and progress. Since so many people are unhappy in the higher-GDP countries, perhaps they might be on to something...? A Measure of Well-Being from a Happy Little Kingdom courtesy NYTimes … [Read more...]


Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind . . .And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry.Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded with patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader, and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar. --- William Shakespeare … [Read more...]

Dire Straits… please wake up

The Katrina disaster presages dire times. The status quo will drastically alter life in the coming decades. It needs the attention of an astute citizenry and a responsive, able leadership. Consider our suicide economics. As if five years of steadily growing cutbacks to programs in environment, poverty reduction, welfare, and healthcare were not enough, the 2006 budget deliberated prior to Katrina contained $35 billion in further reductions. Billions in tax cuts for the wealthiest build brass at corporate offices instead of supporting much needed public investments ie. levee systems and emergency response networks. For the poor, that paltry check from Uncle Sam in effect adds up to significant cuts in health coverage and social security. … [Read more...]

Time for Civic Action

If you are reading this then you know someone who was tremendously affected by our government’s stunning ineptitude, at all levels, across party lines.Think beyond the spin of mainstream media. Let your legislators know how you feel about this catastrophe, and begin your letter with a statement that you are a constituent. One vote is a valuable asset to your elected officials, especially in the projected overhaul of the political landscape. With midterm congressional elections coming up in 2006 your letters will not go unread. And we all have a stake in this.The following websites list contact information for our elected House Representatives, our elected Senators, and our President. It’s time to inspire our policy makers towards … [Read more...]