Rock and roll

When I look at a rock like this I find that I almost can feel the motion within. It’s like a snapshot, an action photograph that catches exactly what was happening to this rock. Can you feel the movement, the rolling of this grain?

This is a classic texture found in metamorphic rocks – this one from the Ailao-shan Red River shear zone on the edge of Tibet. As the Himalayan Mountains grew, the rocks of eastern Asia were out of the way, forming large strike-slip faults. 20 million years ago these rocks were buried deep within one of those strike-slip faults where they were warm and ductile.

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The death toll from Saturday’s earthquake in Nepal has risen to more than 3,300 as fears grow for the fate of people living in remote villages. The official death toll in Nepal currently stands at 3,218, but that does not include 18 people killed in an avalanche, and another 61 people were killed in neighbouring India, and 20 killed in Tibet.

Helicopters have started to rescue up to 150 mountaineers stranded on Everest above an ice fall caused by the earthquake. An additional 61 were injured in the avalanche and an unknown number are still missing.

Unicef said nearly one million children in Nepal were severely affected by the earth quake. It also warned of waterborne and infectious diseases.

Follow the latest developments - rolling report


“In Tibet, near a lake at altitude, I encountered a group of lamas. I explained to them with drawings and sign language that they came from the Moon! I have always been fascinated by Tibet – a country where people believe in reincarnation and practice levitation… They very kindly agreed to wear these astronaut helmets and small Louis Vuitton backpacks.”

thinking about what’s going on in tibet makes me so mad. 

not only is our culture being destroyed by the chinese government (the GOV, not the people!), we aren’t even allowed to die in peace. our own spiritual leader, the dalai lama, was told by the chinese government how he will be reincarnated. 

yes, you read that right. that’s like saying the president of America will decide who goes to heaven or hell.

no one pays attention to us either. we have to set ourselves on fire just to get attention

unfortunately, pictures of tibetans self-immolation get turned into “funny jokes” on the internet. (note: commentary below is from me)

but no one cares about any of that. 

all america wants to do is sit down with the dalai lama and talk about how he’s able to eat dal everyday without rest. they just want to discuss how “peaceful” he is and how he’s such a role model. but really, the only reason he (and tibetans in general) are peaceful is because if they weren’t, they would die.

the “peaceful tibetan” stereotype is so disgusting because it makes it look like tibetans are fine with the way things are when, in actuality, they only have one reason they are forced to be nice, quiet, and respectful;

 they just want to survive.


© Eric Valli, 1970s, Himalaya, Honey Hunters a.o.

Twice a year for nearly 12,000 years, men of Gurung tribe of central Nepal have braved the Himalayan foothills to harvest the honey of the world’s largest species of honeybees. The knowledge of extracting honey from hives that were precariously parched on the hillsides was passed from father to son for these millennia, and in 1987, the 63-year old villagehead Mani Lal was the last of his village to have mastery of the technique.

But that year, he was aided not just by an experienced team of his fellow villagers; he was accompanied by the French photographer Eric Valli and his Australian wife Diane Summers who was acting as a filmmaker (Summers was a lawyer when she met Valli on a Nepali bus). The couple had spent the two previously years tracking and searching a thousand Himalayan cliffs for the rumored master honey hunters of the Himalayas.

They finally found Mani Lal, who was planning to retire the very next season, and agreed to take Valli on the dangerous mission. The photographer dangled from a nylon rope down a 395-foot cliff to make what is perhaps one of the most breathtaking nature photoessays of a generation. They appeared in National Geographic, and handily won that year’s World Press Photo Award for Nature Stories, and the accompanying well-narrated book was a hit. (See other photos from the series here).

The book also was an illustrated lesson, showing how Mani Lal descends down the rock cliff, how he dislodges beehives with bamboo poles, and how the hive is lowered using pulleys, and was responsible for kickstarting an anthropological interest in these arcane honey hunting skills of the Gurungs. Ironically, soon their way of life was threatened not by obscurity but by over-exposure as anthropologists and tourists hiked up there. (+)