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Today in Slate: How Google Responds to Crises; Plus, Charlie Sheen May Be Winning, But We're Losing

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Today: March 11, 2011

Earthquake Japan Help

Earthquake Japan Help

How Google responds to crises. Plus, the best emergency apps for your phone.

By Michael Agger

READ FULL STORY | More Business and Tech

8.9 Earthquake Hits Japan

Watch video of the seventh-largest quake in recorded history.

READ FULL STORY | More Podcasts and Video

Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen

He may be winning, but we're losing.

By Nathan Heller

READ FULL STORY | More News and Politics

The California City That Always Gets the Worst  of Pacific Ocean Tsunamis

The California City That Always Gets the Worst of Pacific Ocean Tsunamis

Why Was It Legal for James O'Keefe To Secretly Tape NPR Execs?

Why Was It Legal for James O'Keefe To Secretly Tape NPR Execs?

The Actors in the New Jane Eyre Are Transfixingly Good

The Actors in the New Jane Eyre Are Transfixingly Good

The Special, Ravishing Remoteness of Catherine Deneuve

The Special, Ravishing Remoteness of Catherine Deneuve

Help! My Son's Fiancee Insists I Wear a Horrible Dress to Their Wedding.

Help! My Son's Fiancee Insists I Wear a Horrible Dress to Their Wedding.



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Culturebox: Charlie Sheen

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Charlie Sheen
He may be winning, but we're losing.
By Nathan Heller
Posted Thursday, March 10, 2011, at 5:52 PM ET

Charlie Sheen. Click image to expand.The past days have found Charlie Sheen in many poses--stiff-backed on a talk show, rocking gently in a wicker lawn chair, lunging toward the camera from the day-for-night murk of his outdoor kitchen--but his message, all the while, has been unwavering: No one surpasses what Sheen does; everyone stands in his way. By the time the Two and a Half Men star got fired this week, though, it was unclear what he'd ever been prevented from doing. Recently, Sheen has mugged for all the cameras in sight, fired insults at his sponsors, and dismissed addiction-control programs as bunk. When he appears in uncut interviews, which he does more than somebody with a decades-long drug problem probably should, he comes across as overwrought and infirm, spouting cryptic aphorisms like a kind of wan, demented Yoda. He's aggressively self-lauding. From his soapbox, Sheen opines on the winningness of his own lifestyle, a state that has something to do with mind control and strong-brewed coffee and the constant company of "goddesses." Where he is not yet winning, he is doing battle, and in this endeavor he assumes a grim Top Gun intensity. "Most of the time--and this includes naps--I'm an F-18, bro," he said. "I will destroy you in the air, and I will deploy my ordnance to the ground."

It is no secret that the body of Charlie Sheen has vacuumed up many things in its day, and listening to these emissions can, at times, feel like being pummeled with the contents of a large cultural DustBuster. The joke about "naps," though, comes from a more self-ironizing place, and it points toward what some people had suspected from the start--that Sheen was, in part, acting out for public entertainment. In the days since the first lurid outpouring, theories about his motives have proliferated. Is he truly blind to his crisis or "crazy like a fox," as Salon's Mary Elizabeth Williams suggested, tossing out his rants and battle cries the way a shock-jock plays for ratings? Is he not an all-devouring black hole of self-interest but--as Sean Penn theorized in a recent GQ profile--a self-sacrificing performance artist at heart? The day after his long-term publicist quit, Sheen started posting to a Twitter account; with a precocious command of the form, he garnered more than 1 million followers in his first 24 hours. This past Saturday evening, and three times since, he dispatched a broadcast from home on the do-it-yourself Web service Ustream. "Not all of this is totally serious. There's a reason I've had mad success in comedy," Sheen told an interviewer at one point. And given public response this week, who's to disagree?

To continue reading, click here.

Nathan Heller is a Slate copy editor. He also writes the magazine's "Assessment" column. Follow him on Twitter.

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Dalai Lama Quote from Snow Lion Publications

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Dalai Lama Quote of the Week

When I was a boy, Ling Rinpochay, who was then my junior tutor, was always very stern; he never smiled, not even a little. This bothered me a lot. By wondering why he was so humorless, I examined more and more what I was doing in my own mind. This helped me develop self-awareness with regard to my motivation. By my early twenties when I had matured, Ling Rinpochay completely changed; he always had a big smile when we were together.

Effective practice of the morality of individual liberation depends upon sound, long-term motivation. For example, one should not become a monk or a nun to avoid having to work at a worldly job for food and clothing. Also, it is not sufficient merely to seek to avoid difficulty in this lifetime. To be motivated by such trifling purposes does not help to achieve freedom from cyclic existence--the ultimate reason to practice the morality of individual liberation.

This is confirmed by Buddha's life story. One day Shakyamuni slipped outside the palace wall to experience life for himself. For the first time he saw a sick person, an old person, and a corpse. Deeply troubled by the suffering of sickness, aging, and death, he came to the conclusion that worldly life is without substance. Later, inspired by several religious practitioners, Buddha became captivated by the possibility of a higher, more meaningful, spiritual life. At that point he escaped from the palace, leaving his ordinary life behind to pursue that vision.

What does this teach us? Like Buddha we need to begin by becoming concerned about the suffering of cyclic existence and by turning away from temporary distractions. Influenced by this new attitude, we must take up a system of morality by renouncing cyclic existence and by taking vows of pure behavior through seeking to avoid the ten nonvirtues. (p.29)

--from How to Practice: The Way to a Meaningful Life by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, translated and edited by Jeffrey Hopkins

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March 10th marks the 52nd anniversary of Tibet's occupation. It also marks a virtually complete communication blackout in Tibet, a very troubling sign. Here is the latest information:

Dalai Lama devolves authority.
In his Statement of His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the 52nd Anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising Day, His Holiness says, "I have repeatedly stressed that Tibetans need a leader, elected freely by the Tibetan people, to whom I can devolve power. Now, we have clearly reached the time to put this into effect."

Tibet closed.
This week's Reuters Update 1-Press Digest - China - March 8 mentions that China has closed Tibet to all outside visitors. Citing "China Daily," Reuters news service writes: "Measures restricting foreign tourists from visiting Tibet were mainly due to the cold winter weather, limited accommodation capacity and safety concerns, the Communist Party chief of Tibet Zhang Qingli said."

But late last week Reuters, in a March 3rd article "China tightens reporting noose on foreign media" also reported that "Tibet remains off limits apart from government-organized visits, and other sensitive areas have been 'temporarily' closed."

The situation appears to be quite serious.

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