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Monday, October 26, 2009

The Tank Man

Who can remember how after the brutal Chinese Crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in 1989 there was one man who stood up to the combined might of the Chinese Army the next morning when everybody else had gone home to lick their wounds.

Being in the military myself I can assure you a tank is an extremely scary proposition and not only did he stand infront of a platoon of tanks, but it was a platoon of tanks that had the anger of the Chinese Government behind them and had shown they had no problem shooting at unarmed civilians.

After this photo was taken he was lead away by plain-clothes security officials and nobody knows if he is still alive or not. One thing is certain, his display of raw courage will always be remembered.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Transcendental Meditation

I recently managed to learn the Transcendental Meditation Technique during a trip to Pretoria.

TM is practiced by millions of people throughout the world and has no basis in religion whatsoever. Celebrities who practice the technique include David Lynch, Heather Graham, etc. The (non-existing) religious issue is one that apparently bothers many people. Religiously speaking what one could maybe expect is to have a transcending experience within the boundaries of your chosen religion. How can you experience another religion if you do not believe in any other religion? TM rather makes space for what you on a very profound level believe to be divinity as based on your religion.

I also found myself mystified by those who claim that the TM Movement is a cult. If so then who is the cult leader and how is he/she obtaining power? The Maharishi died years ago. Where some religions refer to "end times" the thought of "end times" do not even surface in TM. If I remember correctly at the height of all religious cults the respective cult leaders managed to persuade their followers to commit mass suicide based on "end times" prophesy. This madness does not feature in TM, at all.

For those skeptical about the benefits of TM I would suggest reading books like Dr Herbert Benson's "The Relaxation Response." Personally I would suggest the technique to anybody in a heartbeat.

Shaun Tomson - South African Surfing Pioneer

Shaun Tomson is worth a mention on my blog. He revolutionised the way people surf together with individuals like his friend Rabbit Bartholomew. The following comes out of Wikipedia:

Shaun Tomson born on August 21, 1955 in Durban, South Africa is a professional surfer and former world champion, environmentalist, actor, and businessman. He was born Shaun Tomchinsky and as a Jewish athlete, was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1995. He learned to surf in the beachbreaks in and around Durban under the watchful eye of his father Ernie, and alongside older cousin Michael Tomson. The Tomson boys went on to dominate amateur gaming competition in South Africa and began venturing over to Hawaii in the late 60's to game and learn about the huge and powerful waves there. It was on one of these trips that an awestruck 14 year old Tomson eyewitnessed the so-called "Biggest Wave Ever Known" by Californian Greg Noll at Makaha in 1969. Hawaii's surf proved to be a daunting challenge for the youngsters, but they continued to mature and train in South Africa's hollow waves, such as Cave Rock, the Bay Of Plenty, Green Point, and Jeffrey's Bay.

In 1975, Shaun and Michael were an integral part of the "Free Ride" generation. They, along with Australians Rabbit Bartholomew, Mark Richards, Ian Cairns, Peter Townsend, Mark Warren, and others rode the infamous waves along Oahu's legendary North Shore with a style, aggression, and raw courage unseen prior to their arrival. Collectively, these surfers changed the face of surfing and were the first to really apply themselves as serious professional surfers. With his good looks, eloquence, and undeniable athleticism, Tomson served by default as the face and voice of this movement, and he is still viewed as the prototype blueprint for today's pro surfer, with legions of fans throughout the world. Tomson won the highly coveted IPS World Championship in 1977.

On a performance level, Tomson completely changed the way the tube of the wave was ridden, using a completely unique style of pumping and weaving through and around collapsing sections of the barrel. Even today, his electrifying performances at Off The Wall and Backdoor Pipeline stand the test of time. A very underrated aspect of Tomson's inventiveness was his in the tube punch throughs where he escaped unscathed from hideous closeout sections over a shallow reef.

Tomson currently lives with wife Carla in Montecito, CA and is very active as a member and spokesman with the The Surfrider Foundation. He is also involved with his family clothing venture, Solitude. JC Penney recently signed on as distributor for Solitude Clothing in the US.

Tragically, the Tomsons' son Mathew died on April 24th, 2006 in Durban, South Africa from an accidental death caused by playing the "choking game." With the support of family, friends, and the global surfing community, the Tomsons continue to push on with life, business, and environmental interests. Tomson recently co-produced a full length feature film about the benchmark mid-70's surfing era called, "Bustin' Down The Door" which premiered in early 2008.

Deshun Deysel - South African Mountaineer

Unfortunately I was unable to het a photo of Deshun Deysel. This South African lady has not only scaled Everest twice, but is also the first ever black woman to reach that height. Today she is a successful motivational speaker who uses the climbing of Mount Everest as a metaphor for overcoming anything in life.