Tuesday, November 11, 2003
BH says "my ideal weight is about 185-190 lbs"
I'm about 4 or 5 inches or so shorter than BH, and I feel quite happy and healthy when I'm down to 190 or so. Currently at 205, but could do better. So BH tells me his ideal weight is 185-190? If you want to go that far down, give up on Atkins and go for Bulemia.
IMHO Atkins is a fad that will pass. Yeah, it works to drop a bunch of weight. But I've seen too many people put on MORE weight after they rebound off of Atkins, starting a cycle.
What's wrong with eating in moderation and exercising?
There was a half-post on "The Matrix Revolutions" here, and it was still a work in progress but got accidentally published. I've deleted the content because I didn't want it to appear in its half-done state. Will finish the essay offline, then publish it in a bit. Meantime, apologies for the ending-in-midsentence nuttiness.
Monday, November 10, 2003
Bowing to universal family pressure (and please keep in mind that we're a "half-Korean" family), I will be starting the dreaded Atkins Diet as of tomorrow. While I have my doubts about the diet, and have devoted most of my reading to understanding the diet's flaws, I have to admit that my brother Sean, who's been on the diet for the better part of a year, looks undeniably skinny now. I don't mean merely thin; I mean Sean's shoulders, only recently as meaty as my own, are now almost bony. No more spare tire. No more man-tits. Sean used to be an XXL-size guy. Many people thought we were twins, but that's no longer possible: Sean easily slips on M-sized shirts that no longer quite fit my father, who's tall but naturally slim.
I'll be plunging into this diet, but I promise not to give you any Bridget Jones-style FatWatch updates with each blogpost. I will, however, try Atkins for about two weeks in what is called the "induction phase" (because it supposedly "induces" your body to begin consuming its own fat). If I see no significant improvement by the end of that period, I'll let you know. If there is radical improvement, I'll show some before/after photos.
Or not: I'm 255 pounds as of yesterday morning; if I lose the predicted 15-20 pounds that Sean promises can be shed before Thanksgiving, a reduction to 235 pounds won't be visible in a photo (my ideal weight is about 185-190 lbs., or 13.2-13.6 stone, or 84.1-86.4 kg). Here's the solution: I'll take "before" and "after" photos and share them if they do show a visible difference.
Many spiders grab their prey in a grip reminiscent of Royce Gracie's Brazilian jujitsu. They inject the prey with venom through their hollow, curved fangs. This venom liquefies the victim's innards, which are then sucked out through the selfsame hollow fangs. The victim's exoskeleton effectively becomes a huge soft drink can with two wicked-looking straws jammed inside it.
This is a beautiful process. I think a diet pill needs to be invented that produces a similar effect: you swallow the pill before you go to bed; the pill's nanotech molecules hunt down, dislodge, and liquefy all extraneous fat cells and suck them toward your colon. In the morning, you sit down to take a dump, and shit out 60 pounds of fat. Very gratifying.
If the pill is well-made, the fat that ends up in your colon might actually be pure enough to be recyclable. A "Fight Club" scenario might have the fat being rendered into soap. The only question at that point is what to call the soap.
Abandon All Soap?
Mai Enos Phaat?
Pile? (done up with a "Dial" logo)
And if you're a woman, imagine having a ready fat supply for breast implants! Though I imagine you'd have to be careful: stuffing too much ass fat into your tits might turn them into chest-buttocks. Chesticles. Some guys're into that look, but others, like yours truly, go by the "more than a handful is a waste" rule. You don't want to sink your hand (or some other protuberance) into a woman's chest and risk not getting it back.
Whatever your thoughts on T&A, my Atkins travail begins tomorrow. God help us all. I'll give a pre-Thanksgiving progress report. If you want to learn The Rules of Induction, go here.
You cannot approach the Maximum Leader without bringing the proper tributes and offerings. A freshly caught dwarf, ripe for flogging, is generally appreciated. A Wagner CD also works well, as the Maximum Leader tends to listen to Wagner while assaulting his chained-up little people.
Armed with neither dwarf nor Wagner, I did, however, bring along my artwork, and among the pieces I brought were a couple samples of the Roman proverb I'd rendered in Chinese: bul-un-shi dae-nam-gyeong mu-so-yong. Since I departed the Villainschloss alive, I can only assume the Maximum Leader found his tribute acceptable. While I have yet to create the huge, frameable calligraphy that will eventually grace the Maximum Leader's bedroom wall, tonight's foretaste of Roman martial humor seems to have stayed the executioner's hand, and so I live to make art another day.
The Villainettes do well, as does the Villainschloss' evil guard dog Maia, whose lithe ebony frame and seemingly friendly demeanor hide the heart of a cold and ruthless killer. We enjoyed a dinner of slaughtered haricots, mutilated tubers, and charred porcine remains slathered in a divine sauce. Dessert was ice cream, as your humble narrator chose to avoid the more healthful option of fruit.
A good time was had by all. With the new soundproofing, the anguished cries of congenitally stunted humans provided a tasteful, almost lyrical, counterpoint to the evening's placid discussion, which ranged across topics as disparate as first grade, American politics, Korean culture, computer technology, and pregnancy.
In the name of the realm!
A bit brief as I'm trapped in the hell up of dial-up AOL service...
First off, we have to note the Maximum Leader's lovely church sign. I'll have to do one of my own at some point.
The Marmot links to and comments on the news about a labor demonstration that curdled into a riot.
He also notes Parapundit's recent post on North Korea.
The Infidel keeps track of Japanese erec--, uh elections and predicts that "politics in Japan will turn more divisive and open in the future."
I'm a bit late in pointing this out, but Richard at Peking Duck has some good posts on Taiwan's social progressivism. Try this post for starters.
Richard has another great post about China's banking system, and how it might be China's "Achilles' Heel." Again, this isn't a hot-off-the-press item; the post has been around a few days, but I've been slow in pointing it out.
Conrad at Gweilo Dairies notes Singapore's lameness when it comes to oral sex. He tries to divert my attention with a tit and bush shot here (attention diverted, though more toward the body than the face). And his post on the recent Saudi incident bears reading.
Annika endorses Al Sharpton. I agree his hair is probably a living thing.
Glenn takes on Dr. Phil. Good.
Dan Darling posts on the Riyadh bombings. A must-read. Fragrant hunk of liverwurst:
...what appears to have been going on in Saudi Arabia over the last several months is a crackdown, abeit a half-hearted one (perhaps due to the fact that man responsible for the crackdown, Interior Minister Prince Nayef, was just this last December musing about how the Jews were really the ones responsible for 9/11), on al-Qaeda's activities in the Kingdom. One might aptly note that this crackdown is in no way directed against either Wahhabism or even militant Wahhabism - Saudi funding reportedly still accounts for 50% of Hamas's budget.
More to the point, to date Saudi authorities have only arrested or apprehended individuals who can be definitively linked to planning terrorist attacks in the Kingdom.
Perhaps more interestingly:
Shutting down the al-Qaeda financial infrastructure in Saudi Arabia will go an extremely long way towards the final destruction of the network as well as ending the long-standing conflicts in Algeria, Chechnya, Kashmir, and Mindanao. Shutting down the entire terrorist infrastructure in Saudi Arabia will at the very least severely diminish Hamas's capabilities with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The ultimate test of whether or not the Saudis are prepared to fully sever their ties to al-Qaeda will be whether or not the Kingdom is willing to cut the financial umbilical chord for international terrorism once and for all. Until that occurs in some fashion or another, everything that happens in the Kingdom should be the subject of intense skepticism, particularly claims to the press or even by public figures that the Saudis are no longer turning a blind eye to terrorism. The royal family has known about the activities of these individuals for well over a year at this point, and to date have done absolutely nothing to hinder them.
Once again, it appears that al-Qaeda's famed decentralization may in fact be as much of a bane as it is a boon to the terrorist organization. This latest bombing has gotten the network plenty of bad PR and may well be completely disavowed or regarded as an American plot much the same way that the bombing in An Najaf was.
Andrew Sullivan on the essential question:
...do we want a president who will veer on the optimistic side when it comes to Islamist terror, or do we want a president that will veer on the side of caution and aggression? Do we want one who will hope for the best or one who will act, assuming the worst? I thought 9/11 ended that debate. It clearly hasn't. But it's the central debate of the coming election.
Amritas on Chomsky. My first (and still principal) acquaintance with Noam Chomsky was in my linguistics courses at Georgetown. Transformational grammar. Deep structures. The possibility of universal commonalities in language. A lot of this made sense to me, and still does, but Miyake, himself an obviously formidable linguist, takes issue with Chomsky here. Miyake's disagreements with the Chomskyan school are, like many conservatives', generally focused on Chomsky's political views, but he [Miyake] has on several occasions linked the "linguistics Chomsky" to the "politics Chomsky." I'm still exploring whether those links are valid.
A-HA? Perhaps an answer to Kevin at IA's post re: whether or not NK has a nuclear program-- this article in the Washington Post says the following:
The CIA has concluded that North Korea has been able to validate its nuclear weapons designs without a nuclear test, the agency told Congress.
The intelligence service believes that conventional explosives tests, conducted since the 1980s, have allowed the North Koreans to verify that their nuclear designs would work. The agency believes North Korea has one or two nuclear weapons similar to what the United States dropped on Hiroshima during World War II; a minority of U.S. analysts believes the communist country may already have made more.
North Korea has suggested it may conduct a nuclear test to demonstrate that it is a nuclear power. But U.S. officials are not sure that the North Koreans would expend a nuclear weapon if they have only a few.
"A North Korean decision to conduct a nuclear test would entail risks for Pyongyang of precipitating an international backlash and further isolation," the CIA said. "Pyongyang at this point appears to view ambiguity regarding its nuclear capabilities as providing a tactical advantage."
The CIA's conclusion was reported in an unclassified letter to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in August. That letter -- along with similar communications from the Defense Intelligence Agency, the FBI and the State Department -- was obtained by the Federation of American Scientists, a watchdog group that focuses on security and intelligence matters.
U.S. intelligence officials have acknowledged uncertainties about North Korea's weapons programs. The Defense Intelligence Agency, in its letter to the Senate committee, said a once-feared North Korean missile, the Taepo Dong 1, now appears to be only a research and development platform that is not intended for operational use.
North Korea remains ready, however, to test the Taepo Dong 2 -- a newer, long-range missile that might be capable of reaching the United States, the DIA said.
The defense agency vaguely suggested that such a test could take place either from North Korean soil or "perhaps in another country" that the agency did not name, although Iran and North Korea are known to have cooperated on missile projects in the past.
Will no one rid me of this meddlesome pompadour?
Cobb's take on "The Matrix Revolutions" centers on the void left by the late Gloria Foster, the actress who played The Oracle in the first two Matrix films. While I'm hoping to concentrate on where the movie goes metaphysically, I'm a movie fan, and Bowen is highlighting something that we movie geeks do pay attention to: the aesthetic/dramatic implications when one actor replaces another in a filmic series. Fans of Kirstie Alley's Saavik from "Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan" will know immediately what I'm talking about: Robin Curtis's Saavik, who appeared in the third and fourth Trek films, was no substitute for Alley's arched eyebrows, amazing lips, and aerodynamic breasticles.
Choice kernels of Cobb:
The change in the Oracle over-reverbrates in this film. She was more human than all of the humans. And yet she is there in a new gaunter body. Everything that comes out of the Oracle's mouth is oracular. But the smile is gone, the smoking cigarettes seem to be a painful chore. She's some other woman in your mother's kitchen and the cookies just don't taste the same. It's worse than watching the new Darrin on Bewitched. It's worse than listening to the new fake Fred Flintstone in the Fruity Pebbles commercials. It's like living with Jesse Jackson after Martin Luther King is dead.
Someday soon, I'll be seeing the flick and adding my two cents. Promise.
Sunday, November 09, 2003
Antiwar demonstration in downtown Seoul! Gee, who'd'a thought?
Peter Schroepfer over at Oranckay talks about the unpleasantness of experiencing riot control measures:
Something else that brings back memories of my college days: ye olde water cannon. In I think it was 91ish, the police imported two massive mobile armored water cannon vehicles from Israel, and one of them currently waits outside the building from which I write you. (I hastily shot off a pic, but can't download right now.) These things don't just shoot water... the water can be injected with "liquid tear gas" that makes you hurt and feel sick and nauseated like there's no tomorrow, or with paint of some sort, so, for example, they can make everyone within hundreds of yards be an easily identifiable florescent orange. To my knowledge the paint's never been tried in Korea, but oh let me tell you, the liquid tear gas doesn't wash outta your hair without hurting all over again as it washes down your face. Actually that's true of the powdered stuff, too.
This brings back my own mid-90s memory of the one time I experienced tear gas. At the time, I had a private class at an office in the Chongno 5-ga section of town. Occasionally I'd arrive early, so I'd enter the office building and head downstairs to the cafe, just to hang and sip a drink. The cafe was usually quiet, but on the evening in question, I recall looking up when a bunch of 20-somethings suddenly barged in as a group, laughing and joking. It never occurred to me that they might have been running from a gas cloud.
But the tear gas made itself felt soon after. I recall a burning sensation inside my nostrils first as the gas hit the moist tissues. The burning hit my eyes about the same time, and found its way into my throat. For me, that was the worst part of it. I've accidentally inhaled chili powder through the nose; I've accidentally rubbed chili powder or Tabasco residue into my eyes. These sensations aren't unknown to me. But having my breathing directly affected was somewhat unnerving. And as I breathed faster from the stress, it only got worse.
Luckily, there seems to be a threshold. You experience a certain amount of nastiness, but it doesn't close your throat or totally blind you. I can see why angry Yonsei students can tie a simple handkerchief around their faces (which offers no protection, except from cameras) and toss bricks while standing in the midst of billowing clouds of tear gas.
By no means was I in a billowing cloud, however (you Army folks who've trained with this stuff, please write in with your tear gas experience). I never saw any gas; what entered the cafe was merely residue from whatever demonstration/riot had just occurred.
But that was enough for me. My class was on the fifth floor of that office, and I had to exit the cafe, climb the stairs, and meet my students. The experience of climbing the stairs was worse than that of sitting inside the cafe, because the gas was denser in the lobby and stairwell. I went into a bathroom, grabbed some toilet paper, and covered my mouth with it. Wasn't much help at that point, and my eyes were streaming with tears.
My students, when I met them, were all in the same condition-- covering their mouths, tearing up, pretty much unable to work and waiting for the gas to dissipate, which it did after about an hour. We were probably on the outermost fringes of the main event, so in a sense we were lucky.
Ah, sweet memories.
As for the latest antiwar demonstration (or dae-mo, in Konglish), I don't find it surprising. Koreabloggers have been saying for a while now that it's gonna get worse the day a Korean gets killed in Iraq. The uproar will be amazing. Any bloggers care to predict what happens after that? Do you think the troops will get recalled?
I agree with the bloggers who've suggested that South Korean involvement in Iraq is in South Korea's interest. I do wonder, however, whether it's better for the US to receive SK's help-with-a-grumble, or to receive no help at all from the already-unwilling. I don't trust the quality or the sincerity of the help to be provided, you see.
On a tangent now...
Since I'm home, and am in the heart of one of the biggest Korean communities in the US (almost 200,000 strong), I think I should focus more on what's happening locally, as Koreabloggers have always had things well in hand regarding SK/NK shenanigans.
The DC-Metro area has long been a haven for immigrants of all sorts, and the Korean community has been well-established since at least the 70s. I grew up in this milieu and have been to my share of Korean events. The area in and around Annandale, Virginia has turned into a sprawling (though not LA-scale) Koreatown, complete with norae-bang (think: small karaoke rooms) and big-ass chain supermarkets; I need to grab the digicam, since I have access to my computer stuff while here, and snap some pics of the local Koreana.
In December, I'll be emceeing an event for the Korean-American Women's Society (actually, I heard they're no longer KAWS; they recently changed their name to something else for legal reasons... probably The Women Who Until So Recently Said "Nee"), which ought to provide a ton of blogging material (the behind-the-scenes estrogen-fueled politics are head-spinning, and I love hyphens, don't I).
I'm not looking forward to the emceeing gig since I fucked up a previous job a couple years back: my brother Sean's cello recital. I mistakenly told the crowd at intermission that they should feel free to grab snacks downstairs, where my mother was intrepidly laying out a ton of homemade Korean and Western goodies; alas, Mom's intention was to serve those goodies after the recital, not during intermission. Disaster ensued. I haven't wanted to emcee anything since then.
Off to visit with the Maximum Leader and his Villainettes, one of whom, Rachael, is my lovely goddaughter.
Saturday, November 08, 2003
We're getting the van's window repaired. It was supposed to happen today, but the repair shop turned out not to have the correct size window, so the repair's been put off until Monday.
As for my shotgun wish... I'm all better now. I should probably keep a vigil outside with a sledgehammer or an axe, both of which we have, and both of which will produce a satisfying crunch upon violent contact with an intruder's skull.
I haven't fired a gun in years (last time was at my cousin's house in Texas; I was probably in junior high or high school). While I'm not against gun ownership or guns in general, I personally have no real desire to own a gun. Strangely enough, I do feel it's a good idea to know how to use a gun, should one ever plop into my hands.
Maybe I should get a wrist rocket...
Off to a Fairfax Symphony concert this evening. My brother'll be in the cello section. Sean's annoyed by the conductor, William Hudson (yes, Mike, he's still there, the irritable old fart), who, according to Sean, "doesn't know what he's doing." Ought to be an interesting evening.
I am very saddened to hear about vandals damaging the Hominid's parents cars. I am glad to hear that the Hominid is looking into a shotgun. An individual needs to take responsiblility for their own protection in some areas. Of course, if the Hominid is interested in a little more firepower his Maximum Leader would be happy to loan him a little something out of his personal arsenal. A perfectly functional antique perhaps? Or something a bit newer (and Russian)? Just give the call.
A fascinating Cobb post, one in a series about "Ghetto Games," talks about the psychology of "slapboxing."
Jeff reads my mind when it comes to giving aid to North Korea.
Being back in Virginia means I can do cool stuff like rake leaves. Our house is surrounded by tall trees, which, at the moment, I can't take for granted. Seoul doesn't offer much healthy greenery-- I get my big-sky fix by visiting the Olympic Park, which is a poor stand-in for actual Big Sky.
So today (Friday, I mean) I began raking the front yard. Saturday, I finish the job, along with the back yard. Then we're off to watch my brother Sean play in a concert with the Fairfax Symphony.
I also think I'd like to buy a shotgun. I'm contemplating this because I'd like to remove the heads of the punks who-- just last night-- smashed in one of the windows on my parents' Ford Windstar, which was parked on the street. The window, I saw on closer inspection, had been hit twice. No projectiles were in the van; I assume the culprits used a blunt object to make their point, whatever their point was. A shotgun also makes a point, which is why I currently want one.
My family has suffered four auto break-ins this year: my brother David's car was broken into twice in DC, and my parents' Windstar was broken into about a month ago (no damage, but compartments had been opened... the van was unlocked at the time), then vandalized last night. I don't know whether the same people were involved in both Windstar incidents. That'd be a mite sinister.
No matter. Tonight we dream of double-barreled happiness.
Friday, November 07, 2003
The Marmot writes on South Korea's most recent size-of-the-table nitpicking of the details re: SK troops to send to Iraq. Choice shrunken head from a Korea Times article to which the Marmot linked:
South Korea and the United States are engaged in a tug-of-war over the size, timing and type of the former's planned dispatch of troops to Iraq.
Seoul is also seeking to postpone the dispatch of the troops until the end of the general elections slated for April next year.
But the U.S. side, headed by Assistant State Secretary James Kelly, was said to have raised strong opposition to Seoul's stance, prodding Seoul officials to reconsider expanding the deployment.
Open-market-style haggling or passive-aggressive behavior?
From AlleyDog's dictionary of psychological terms:
Passive-Aggressive: When a person acts in a passive-aggressive manner, they are displaying aggression in a way that is indirect as opposed to direct (like hitting or yelling). There is no direct anger or confrontation involved, but the person is expressing aggression indirectly. For example, if you are angry at your spouse who asked you to pick up several ingredients for dinner that night, and you somehow forget a couple of the items which make preparing the meal impossible, this might be considered a passive aggressive act.
This distinguishes South Korea from North Korea, I think. NK is actually on a war footing against the US; ostensibly, SK is a US ally, but I have to agree with the Marmot when he writes,
Will someone PLEASE remind me why we have 37,000 troops here? Christ, with friends like this, who needs enemies?
Pull the troops out. Just pull them out. South Korea fears this because such a move will make SK truly responsible for itself. It'll have no whipping boy on hand to blame. And then, one hopes, it'll transfer its passive-aggression to where it more properly belongs: the idiots across the DMZ. At which point we can begin deconstructing the poisonous "one people" meme.
[NB: perhaps the phrase "actually on a war footing against the US" needs to be clarified. NK's army, should it move, will obviously move into SK, not teleport into New York City. But NK's rhetoric has been much more consistently anti-US than anti-SK, especially since the advent of the lovely "sunshine policy." A war, should it ever happen, would most likely be blamed (by both Koreas) on the US. And nukes, if there are any, would most likely be sold to people who will want to smuggle them inside the US. This is the sense in which I mean "war footing against the US."]
According to a brief on Salon, militants blow themselves up in Mecca. Retarded fuckheads. Choice flying body part:
Nov. 6, 2003
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) -- Two suspected militants blew themselves up Thursday in the holy city of Mecca when security forces tried to arrest them, while a third was shot to death by police during a raid in Riyadh, officials said.
The two who died in Mecca likely belonged to a terror cell that had clashed with Saudi police Monday, a security official said. That cell had been linked to al-Qaida, the terrorist network blamed for the Sept. 11 attacks and for a string of suicide bombings in the Saudi capital of Riyadh in May.
Exam hell is the discussion among Koreabloggers. I've been following the discussion, which has reached meta-discussion stage with the Marmot's recent post referring to the other posts.
And I'll also point out Kevin at IA's fascinating speculation re: whether we're seeing Bush Admin movement toward a deal with North Korea. If so, that's odious.
It appears Kevin just got a shout-out from one of the big dogs, Daily Kos. Congrats, man.
All for now.
Dan apparently loved "Revolutions." Choice slice of whale blubber:
The ending... seems to be to very much in keeping with the Christian idea of the new heaven and the new earth or Origen's apokatastasis.
Christian theo was part of my course of study at Catholic U., but only because that's what CUA required. I may have heard the term "apokatastasis" once, but I sure as hell didn't retain what it means. So for your benefit and mine, I looked it up here and discovered this:
Origen of Alexandria and apokatastasis:
Some Notes on the Development of a Noble Notion
by Edward Moore
Origen of Alexandria (185-254 C.E.) was the greatest humanist theologian of the early Patristic era. He was active during a period of great intellectual confusion among Christians, when Gnosticism was the dominant intellectual force, and nascent orthodoxy was struggling to find a voice. Origen held a firm conviction that not a single rational being will be lost to the darkness of ignorance and sin. Even the most recalcitrant sinner, he argued, will eventually attain salvation. The fire of punishment is not an instrument of eternal torment, but of divine instruction and correction. Since the soul is essentially rational, it will eventually be convinced of the truth of the divine pedagogy. When this conviction arises, salvation and deification will follow. The word used to describe this universal salvation was apokatastasis, "restoration of all things."
This term occurs in only a single New Testament passage; its provenance is not intrinsically Christian or even Jewish, but Hellenistic, and bound up with the cosmology and anthropology of the era - a system of belief which Origen, in his day, was obliged to undermine in the interest of Christian teaching. Before examining the apokatastasis doctrine in the works of Origen, we would do well to look back to the Hellenistic antecedents, which are to be found among the Stoic philosophers, Greco-Egyptian astrologers, the Hermetic school, and Gnostics.
I'm very, very weak on Origen. Hell, I'm weak on most in-depth Christian theo. You'll recall that Ken Mondschein of Corporate Motherfucker wrote an excellent essay on the Matrix that also made reference to Origen. Origen and Gnosticism do have some overlap, at least in terms of contemporaneity, and this can't be ignored.
As we scroll further down Moore's entry, we read:
The first truly conceptual use of this term is to be found in the writings - now only fragmentary - of the early Stoic thinkers, particularly Chrysippus, who had a special attachment to Babylonian astronomy, with its theory of cosmic cycles and eternal recurrence.  Already in Plato, however, we find a notion of distinct cosmic cycles or ages;  but a rigorous idea of eternal recurrence, involving a notion of cosmic culmination and reconstitution, was articulated for the first time by the Stoics.
This would dovetail with my own Hindu paradigm; the notion of constant (cosmic) destruction and renewal is integral to most Hindu thinking (cf. David Knipe for a short-but-good writeup).
And there's more:
Two versions of [Basilides'] system have come down to us, one preserved by St. Irenaeus, which is rather too simplistic to be authentic, considering that Basilides was famed as a highly original and provocative teacher.  The other version is preserved by St. Hippolytus,  and contains a highly original account of the apokatastasis, in which the post-restoration maintenance of cosmic order is described as depending upon lower existents' forgetfulness of the higher realm, to which only the "elect" can ascend. For according to Basilides, beings perish when they attempt to transgress the boundaries of their nature. The purpose of the forgetfulness is to prevent naturally inferior beings from striving for a station beyond their nature, and to avoid the suffering attendant upon such improper striving.
I love this. Smith (formerly Agent Smith) is certainly trying to "trangress the boundaries" of his nature.
Regarding Origen's stance:
Origen, who fully understood the meaning and intentionality of the tradition which I have elucidated ever-so-briefly here, responded with an assertion that was truly revolutionary. In the absence of human freedom, neither the cosmos nor even God hold any meaning for humanity.
Go and read the rest. Fascinating paper.
UPDATE: Dan offers a fuller Matrix post here.
Thursday, November 06, 2003
Ryan posts his own Matrix review. He's a Buddhologist (much further along the path than I am, at the tender age of, what, 23 or 24), and his appreciation of the film seems rooted in much the same sensibilities I have. Alert to Buddhist (and other religious) tropes and their potential, Ryan immediately picked up on what was missing from this final installment. I hope to see it sometime very soon (perhaps even this weekend, esp. if the Maximum Leader is able to pry himself away from the dwarf-beating sessions-- however crucial they may be to the smooth functioning of the exalted realm-- for a few hours). Of course I'll be writing my own review after the movie.
I think I may want to devote each day of the week to a different topic for blogging. Possible divisions:
Monday: le parcours, plus any commentary on the parcours
Tuesday: Korea-related news, plus commentary
Wednesday: Christian-Buddhist thoughts and/or posts about interreligious dialogue
Thursday: focus on Korean Zen Buddhism in particular
Friday: blogger roundup-- Koreablogs, Asiablogs, and others
Saturday: humorous essay/poetry/etc.-- possible political cartoons
Sunday: comic strip (B&W only; sorry)
Just thinking out loud for the moment. I might chuck this; I might change it. But as things stand, I do my "parcours" on a random basis and have been thinking about giving the blog a more definite shape. More as this develops. Comments welcome.
1. Darth Vader takes a shit.
2. Sri Lankan President Kumaratunga takes greater control of her country. A slice of news-sausage:
The crisis was ignited Tuesday while the prime minister was in the United States when Kumaratunga fired three key ministers who have been instrumental in the government's peace efforts, suspended Parliament for two weeks and deployed troops in the capital.
On Wednesday, she imposed a state of emergency to "take stock of the security situation," presidential aide Eric Fernando told The Associated Press. It was not immediately clear when the emergency order was to take effect.
The laws give broad power to the military controlled by Kumaratunga to make arrests, interrogate suspects and search houses at will. They also give the president lawmaking powers and allow for censorship of the media.
Wickremesinghe's supporters quickly struck back. On Wednesday, more than half the country's lawmakers pledged support for him and rejected the firings.
"We have full faith in the prime minister," Labor Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe told reporters, quoting from a letter signed by 124 of the country's 225 members of Parliament.
The Tamil Tigers, a secretive, ruthless rebel army that has taken control of wide swaths of northeastern Sri Lanka, has said little since the crisis began.
But the emergency order was certain to infuriate the rebels, whose 20-year-war for independence now 20 months into a cease-fire has killed 65,000 people.
Cobb makes a succinct argument on why Dean is an idiot. Just factor this into your consideration of the candidates. Based on this and some Instapundit remarks, the impression I get is that Dean is a clueless Northeasterner when it comes to understanding the "deep" (cough) South.
NOTE TO AIR MARSHAL AND MAXIMUM LEADER: I got home too late from the church talk, which ran overtime, so I didn't call. Apologies. They stuffed me with chicken this evening; the dead bird was quite delish. As it turned out, I was filling in for a Jewish group that was supposed to speak to the congregation in attendance; church members didn't know the Jews couldn't make it, so tonight they got Buddhism instead. The whole congregation knows me, though, so the session went pretty well.
Some topics we "covered" (very much in quotes) this evening at church:
- Confucianism and hierarchical conceptions of social order
- the philosophical Taoist elements in Zen Buddhism
- meditative posture and technique in Zen as opposed to other forms of Buddhist meditation
- is Buddhism a religion? (asked by my mother, who was in attendance despite being very sick)
- do Buddhists believe in God?
- is Islam a "religion of peace"? (an issue I tackled from the Buddhist angle)
- is there an authority structure in Korean Buddhism?
- the metaphysics of impermanence and interdependence
- me, me, me (people wanted me to catch them up on what I've been doing in Korea, and apparently "farting around" wasn't an acceptable answer)
- what does "no self" mean?
- what 30 seconds of silence feels like, and what insights arise therefrom
- how "selfish" is Buddhism?
- the "(not) stirring muddy water" metaphor for clear, settled mind
- how a Zen master is answering you when he addresses your questions during a dharma talk
- a tiny bit of show-and-tell, featuring my calligraphy and artwork; we have two congregation members who've lived in China and Japan, and had no trouble reading my calligraphy
The pastor hung around and chatted with me and the parents a bit. In ten minutes' time we hit briefly on topics ranging from systematic theology to liberal/conservative Christianity to what lies at the heart of interreligious dialogue to "the tragedy of organized religion." Fascinating and all too brief. The pastor expressed his relief that I (or the unseasonable heat) had managed to keep one notorious old gent from dominating tonight's session; this guy, Mr. Borum, has been known to speak at length on anything and everything. But he was remarkably quiet after I'd answered his question.
One bit of strangeness: I'll note that, although I did open the floor to questions about SK/NK politics, etc., no one went for those topics. This is quite bizarre: our church is located in northern Virginia which, being part of the greater DC-Metro area, is home to tons of military and government folks, quite a few of whom go to our church. Some of these people were in attendance this evening, and to be honest, I expected the session to be dominated by questions of a political (or int'l relations) nature.
Wednesday, November 05, 2003
Well sort of... Some close associates of mine have just called me to give me their review of Matrix Revolutions. To summarize their brief critique to me as they left the cinema: Revolutions sucks, and what is worse - it leaves you with a hollow empty feeling that makes you angry at Wachowskis.
This is not to say that your Maximum Leader will not like it. (With these particular associates I only agree with them on movies about 60% of the time.) But it is a rather harsh first indictment. I hope to get together with the Hominid and see Revolutions before too long. Assuming he hasn't eaten so much at his church talk that he balloons to 19 or 20 stone and is unable to matriculate down to the Villainschloss. (So to speak...)
Dan Darling at Regnum Crucis has a recent post expanding on a previous post he wrote about a "Magneto theory" of bin Laden's appeal. Apparently, some people wrote in to him and perhaps misunderstood what he was trying to say. Dan is at pains to clarify points that might have been misinterpreted previously. Here's a snippet from the recent post:
Magneto's basic view, as I've noted before, is quite compelling when viewed from the mutant point of view: humans and mutants are involved in a zero-sum game in which one group must win and the other lose, it's simple Darwinism. Attempts at dialogue and the like have ultimately proved fruitless, they don't care about our opinions or rights and are planning to come and kill us all anyway. Better we kill them first. That is the basic summary of Magneto's argument.
Evidence from the Marvel Universe would seem to suggest that there is more than a grain of truth to Magneto's arguments. Certainly from a mutant perspective, there have been far too many anti-mutant groups operating with the backing of the US and other governments for one to believe any claims about human tolerance towards mutants, if anything the exact opposite seems to be true. Humans only like those mutants that they can control and want to kill all of those that they don't. I am not saying that this view is accurate, but rather that it makes a powerful appeal to evidence that would lead many mutants to the conclusion that Magneto's ideology is the only logical resort by which to obtain their own freedom in locations like Asteroid M, Avalon, or Genosha (after Magneto took it over) as well as to secure it for the rest of their bretheren.
Bin Laden's ideology is more nuanced, but basically he paints a picture in which the West is deliberately responsible for every failure that exists in the Muslim world. He sees us as having perpetrated the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire, turning what were previously the bastions of Arab culture into colonial puppets, turning a blind eye to oppression and massacres perpetrated against Muslims, viewing any kind of political expression of Islam as a disease to be exterminated, only trusting those Muslims who are either extremely nominal or else [wholly]-owned creations of the West, and seeking to subjugate or enslave all of Dar al-Islam.
To many Muslims living in the Middle East, South, and Central Asia (or educated immigrants living in Western Europe or North America), this also holds certain elements of truth. The colonialism that took place in the Middle East in the form of "mandates" after World War 1 was an Anglo-French project, and both the USSR and the US (remember, we're all the same here from bin Laden's perspective) sponsored any number of nasty governments during the Cold War, some of which are still in power. Bin Laden ties all of these themes together by focusing anger against these governments and policies towards a single foe - the US.
Finally, on the need for a counter-ideology, I agree that it has to come from within the Muslim world. People like Sheikh Kabbani or Ayatollah Sistani (or even Shiah Pundit and Muslim Pundit, in my opinion) help to make such changes come into being through their rejection of both Khomeinism and Wahhabism. This is one of the reasons that I don't regard Islam as needing a Reformation, a Counter-Reformation is more like it.
As to the Air Marshal's Matrix post (cf. below)... I just read the three reviews. Pretty harsh. I hope to see the flick soon, probably not this evening, as I've been "recruited" by my church to speak tonight about Korea, Buddhism, and interreligious dialogue. This being a Presbyterian gathering, there will be food. So of course I said yes when the pastor called.
Relevant in this forum largely because BH is a huge Matrix fan, and I will preface this by admitting that I haven't seen the 2nd film. The last film I saw in the theater was "Two Towers" and before that I think it was "Fellowship of the Ring." I think my wife and I saw something else somewhere in between, but I'm not sure.
Well it appears that from three reviews, Salon, the Washington Post, and USAToday, the third Matrix film substantiates my fear that The Matrix has failed to live up to the hype. The comments I heard from people after Matrix II was released were strikingly similar to those after The Phantom Menace was released. "You really have to see this film in context of the whole story.... Sure it has gaps, but it's part of a larger work..." etc.
Think of "Empire Strikes Back". It ends on a cliffhanger, and resolves very little. Yet it's a perfectly paced movie that leaves the viewer thinking "If Part 2 was this good, I can't wait to see part 3!".
I'm very curious to read BH's review of Matrix III. I doubt I'll see it until they're out on DVD.
Gotta agree with Mr. Hominid about the use of the word "No" and defining boundaries. That's huge for raising a kid.
The best piece of parental advice I've ever heard was to pick battles wisely and sparingly because the parent should win ever single battle. Fighting a kid over every little annoying thing they do is futile. You end up spending all your time arguing with a child. Better to let the annoying things slide, and fight the big fights.
Regarding the demon-child that BH is talking about below, I can only speak from personal experience. When my own toddler has acted up in public places, my reaction is always to calmly remove my daughter from the store/restaurant/whatever, and get her somewhere where it's just the two of us. At that point, I take my time to get her to calm down, and then we either leave or return. First rule of parenting... put down what you're doing and focus on your child and do the right thing. Don't give them candy to get them to shut up, or buy them a toy to pacify them, or yell and scream at them publicly. Do the right thing, even if it inconveniences you.
Kevin at IA and the Marmot bring my attention to KW Larsen and Jeff the Mormon, with their Koreablogs It Makes a Difference to the Sheep and Ruminations in Korea, respectively. Both now occupy a proud position on my blogroll.
Jeff writes an interesting post about his "blessing and curse," i.e., his command of the Korean language (damn you, Jeff). Choice slice of samgyeopsal:
Koreans [who] could not overcome the seeming need to talk about me would, and usually still do, talk about me in a loud voice as if I was nowhere within forty kilometers of them. Clearly they assumed that I could not speak Korean. Fifteen years ago, there were virtually no foreigners who spoke Korean. Ten years ago, there were very few. However, I have noticed that there are quite a few foreigners these days that speak Korean well.
Unfortunately, I would overhear the most hideous and hurtful things being said about me for absolutely no reason whatsoever. I am an easy target because I am a 5' 11" blond, fat, hairy guy. I have heard such priceless gems as, "Oh my! Look at him! How do you think he has sex? He would kill a woman." "Wow! Look at that huge bastard," is one that I hear frequently. My personal favorite comment about me was heard while I was listening to a mother on the subway trying to silence her screaming brat by saying menacingly, "shut up or that fat foreigner will eat you."
I have developed quite a thick skin about such things. I used to scream, yell, and berate people that would say things like that. I now have the wisdom to just let the people go on saying whatever it is that they are saying and then, as I or they leave, say a single sentence or phrase that will communicate clearly to them that I understood everything they said and found it offensive. If I had continued to allow myself to get worked up into a lather every time someone said that I was fat, I would have died of a brain aneurism long ago. It is much better simply to let them know they lost a potentially valuable customer, a potential friend, or any respect that I should have had for them.
I simply do not understand why this has to happen in 2003 in a country that touts itself as a major international business, cultural, tourist, and sporting hub. It continues despite all of the well-intentioned short-term campaigns to treat foreigners nicely and make this a good place for foreigners to come and spend their money.
I really do not think that the average person on the street in Korea realizes how much damage one stupid, childish, and completely unnecessary sentence can damage Korea's international reputation. It only takes insulting one person to have that person tell others in their own country what a horrible and unwelcoming place Korea is to foreigners.
Jeff just makes me feel behinder and behinder in my own Korean language studies. I don't want to be the foreigner who lives in Korea for ten years and ends up getting by on little more than "market" and "travel" Korean. At the same time, I know the pain Jeff's talking about-- the things you start to overhear as your listening comprehension improves. But that's not a deterrent; it's a challenge.
Just more motivation to keep studying.
KW Larsen's got some good material here (with thanks to the Marmot for pointing this out), regarding the greater likelihood of NK economic collapse than of reform:
Now before we get all excited about the implications of how the objective business community sees things on the peninsula, it might be useful to ask "where were Standard and Poor's and the rest of the gang in the weeks and months before the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997? Did they see that coming too and downgrade their ratings accordingly? If not, is there any reason to expect that their prognostications are any more accurate this time around?
Go thou and read the Sheep and the Mormon, baptizing all in the name of the Vater, and the Sohn, and the Heilige Geist.
With thanks to the Air Marshal for his post on parenting (cf. below). I hope I didn't give the impression in my own post that I conceive of parenting only in terms of punishment and restrictions, though I do tend to think the word "NO" is crucial in helping a child to form distinctions between itself/its own will and the surrounding world. There are always boundary issues to deal with, though this doesn't end with childhood. "YES" is without a doubt equally important to a child's upbringing, if not more so. (Perhaps a Hominidal essay on "YES" is called for...?)
I heartily second the Air Marshal's attitude toward parenting, with a reminder that what sparked my own rant was a child who, by all objective standards, deserved to be eaten alive by hungry North Koreans. And given the current fattening of South Koreans, I think a typical South Korean two-year-old would keep a NK hinterland family fed for at least a month. Since South Koreans already seem intent on giving away the store in their efforts to appease the ravenous North, I'm only suggesting the logical next step: give away the next generation!
The Air Marshal, it should be noted, will have outlived Jesus come late November. I'll still be home, at the heart of evil capitalist empire. I think a few of us need to celebrate the fact that we have demonstrated a capacity to remain bound by this mortal coil longer than the Prince of Peace (whom the heathen and unconverted Air Marshal does not recognize as his personal lord and savior). It's not often we can claim bragging rights over the Son of God, so this is truly something to be fêted.
I will endeavor to give the Maximum Leader and Air Marshal a call later this evening (please suggest the best time to call). Perhaps at some point we can slay a fatted calf (or South Korean child) and enjoy some hearty fireside reminiscences whilst we suck the marrow from still-fresh bones.
Felt the need to touch on something briefly mentioned about a week ago by Mr. Hominid, and that is corporal punishment.
Being blessed with an absolutely amazing little daughter who quite frequently pushes my patience over the edge and tramples on it, I am not an advocate of corporal punishment. I also believe that (at least by the age of 2), with a lot of patience, kids can be reasoned with to a very great extent. Removal of privileges goes a long long way. Rewarding good behavior goes a long long way, and being a strong and positive presence in the childs life goes a long long way. And sometimes just ignoring childish behavior and dealing with some really annoying crap is the right thing to do. Childish behavior is the norm for...well... for children.
The responsibility for raising children exists completely with the parents. The child's very existence is entirely a function of choices of the parents. Implicit in that should be the acceptance of all the duties, and consequences of the childs presence in the parents life. (Unfortunately, we all know this isn't always the case). So I also believe that it's a parents responsibility to put the child's well being, and general interests, ahead of their own.
My daughter has been spanked exactly once in her life, and it was a result of running out into traffic a second time after having been told not to. I have to say in this case, I find spanking appropriate.
But most of the time I hear about spanking specifically, and corporal punishment in general, I think it's normally lazy, careless parenting. It's a lot easier to spank the kid, and have that be the punishment, then it is to put down what you are doing, and deal with problems in a patient, positive way. Parenting is a full time job.
Sounds like new age BS, but it works. At least for many parents I know, it works.
Just one fathers oppinion.
Tuesday, November 04, 2003
The strangest thing to happen during my trip back to Northern Virginia occurred in Detroit as I was about to leave Customs. The surly lady asked me what I'd been doing in Korea; I answered that I'd been traveling, visiting relatives, and trying to learn Korean. Then she asked, "Relatives? And what are they to you?"
This took be aback. I really had no clue how to answer.
"What are my relatives to me? Precious. Why? What are your relatives to you, bitch?"
Alas, Hello Kitty shrank my balls, so I didn't say what was on my mind. I muttered something vague about living with the relatives (not entirely true) and that seemed to satisfy Nasty Lady's thirst for knowledge of my personal life.
So now I'm back. Good news: my brothers are fine. David's still nuts, and Sean is thinner than ever, thanks to Atkins. Mom's apparently got pneumonia; she's scheduled to see a lung specialist on Wednesday.
Many thanks to the Maximum Leader for his guest blogging, and yes, I'm almost exactly 18.5 stone. Disgusting.
Since our friendly Hominid is on his way back to these United States today, I have decided to fill in for him and do a brief rundown of comment-worthy items. In this task, I cannot hope to fill the Hominid's shoes; only fumigate them and fill out an environmental impact statement... On to the news!
There has been a shooting in the town of Casa Grande, Arizona. I have visited Casa Grande twice and it struck me as a quiet little down. One of those places where all the people on the news would say "I can't believe this happened. This is such a quiet town." If you happen to be in the area, I recommend seeing the "Casa Grande." It is a large adobe house that is about 400 years old. Very interesting. But don't go in July or August (like I did) and walk around in the 110+ degrees heat.
Prospects for peace in Sri Lanka (Ceylon as I learned it) seem to be diminished. I must admit that I have never quite understood what the Tamil Tigers really wanted to do to their country and why their rebellion has gone on so long. (If you can give me a quick rundown feel free to e-mail me at: email@example.com) But to address this case, whenever a president fires his ministers, dismisses parliament, and calls out the army one can bet the going will get tough. I will hope for the best. UPDATE: I am aware that the Tamil Tigers represent an ethnic minority in Sri Lanka. (Or at least represent themselves as a minority.) And they want some sort of separate state. I am unaware of how they claim to be oppressed or otherwise mistreated in a way that merits armed insurection. And I am a little too lazy right now to do a Google search and comb through the results to find what I am looking for.
CBS has decided to pull its planned Reagan miniseries. I believe this is a good thing. As you may know from the Hominid's writings (or my own), I am a Reagan fan. (And did meet President Reagan once. The product of the meeting was a signed photo which is stil one of my most prized posessions.) As someone who studied history in college, I was very disturbed by the alleged portrayal of Reagan in the miniseries. I feared, as did many, that this fictionalized account of the Reagan Presidency would become a de facto historical image of that time in the minds of many. Just as (unfortunately) JFK by Oliver Stone has become a de facto account of the Kennedy Assasination. (By the way, Oswald acted alone. Sometimes a wacko with a rifle and some training gets lucky.) CBS now is thinking of running the program on Showtime. Personally, I would prefer the network not ever run the program. Then they would learn a costly lesson in how you should approach making a miniseries from actual events. I suggest they spend some time watching HBO's Band of Brothers for a lesson.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich was involved in an on-line chat today with the Washington Post. During this chat he said that the US must leave Iraq. This is becoming the very tiresome refrain of all of the Democrats running for president. They don't seem to be putting together all the pieces of the puzzle. Haven't they heard things are getting better in Iraq? Hell, even ABC News and Time think it is getting better. And what would Rep. Kucinich have us do. Leave and sulk around at home waiting to be attacked again? Did he not review the press statements from Al Queda saying that the US is a paper tiger because when you start killing American troops they start running away? At some point the Democrats need to move on. The war, regardless of your stance on how, when, or if it should have been fought, is over and done. The US is doing the right thing by sticking it out and rebuilding the country. I tip my hat, and thank God every day, for our brave troops doing yeoman's work in Iraq and Afghanistan, and other places around the world. UPDATE: I re-read the whole interview. Good God! This man is taken seriously and has supporters! Alas, just because you can vote doesn't mean you have to have any sense. I mean reparations for slavery, in the form of universal health care (presumably for the decendents of slaves but not others) and other entitlements. Egad! Is it really that bad?
A friend of mine forwarded to me this WebMD article that confirms my suspicions:
Women Like Cads for Sex, Dads for Mating
Cads Win for Short-term Flings, Dads for Long-term Relationships
By Jennifer Warner
WebMD Medical News Reviewed By Michael Smith, MD
on Friday, October 24, 2003
Oct. 24, 2003 -- When women think of "Mr. Right" it's usually a kind, compassionate, and moral man who reminds them of dad. But when it comes to picking "Mr. Right Now," it's the devilish cads that win out, hands down.
A new study shows once again what romance novelists have written about for centuries: women prefer bad boys for flings and good guys for long-term relationships.
Researchers tested this evolutionary mating theory on a group of female undergraduates by using classic dad and cad prototypes drawn from British romance novels and asking them to pick which type they'd rather be with.
Not surprisingly, they found women's tendency to pick cads over dads increased as the length of the hypothetical relationship decreased.
"About 60% of the women said they would prefer to have sex with a cad when considering a brief affair," says researcher Daniel Kruger, a social psychologist at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, in a news release.
Sorting the Dads From the Cads
In the study, the young women read descriptive passages of prototypical dads and cads drawn from classic British romantic novels. Waverly from Waverly by Walter Scott and Valancourt, from the Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe represented the dads, and George Staunton from The Heart of Mid-Lothian and Clement Cleveland from The Pirate by Walter Scott represented the cads.
In the passages, the dads were described as domestic, happy, peaceable, bookish, moral, gentle, compassionate, frank, and shy. The cads came off as daring, arrogant, moody, passionate, rebellious, strong, humorous, vulgar, shrewd, and slanderous.
After reading each description, researchers asked the women a series of questions, such as how much they thought they would like each character, how well they would get along with the men, and how likely they would be to have a short-term, long-term, and brief sexual relationship with each character.
To make the choices even more clear-cut, the women were also asked to choose which character they would be more likely to go on a three-week road trip, a formal date, have sexual relations with, marry, and prefer to see engaged to their 25-year-old daughter.
Bad Guys Get the Girls, Good Guys Keep Them
Overall, researchers found that the women thought they would like the dads more than the cads. But they preferred cads for a short-term relationship and dads for the long haul.
When forced to choose between a pair of dad and cad characters, the dad was the top choice for a formal date, marriage, and as a son-in-law.
But the results were mixed on the other options. When it came down to choosing who they would like to have sexual relations with or go on a road trip, the women preferred cads in one comparison, but had no clear preference in the other.
The results appear in the current issue of the journal Human Nature.
Researchers say the findings show that the dad vs. cad distinction is intuitive to women, and when given only a brief character sketch, women seem to be able to make informed dating decisions.
SOURCES: Kruger, D. Human Nature, 2003; vol 14: pp 305-317. News release, University of Michigan.
This must explain why I had trouble dating in college. I was too nice. Well damnit, I am an evil Maximum Leader now. So watch out! UPDATE: As I reflected on this article I wondered, if women are looking for cads to date, but nice men to marry; how do they break the cycle? How does a woman know it is time to forget the cads and settle down? Doesn't there become some sort of a habit ingrained in the woman whereby they start to like the cads and think they can "change" them? Trust your Maximum Leader ladies. And I'll shout this out for you all. MEN DON'T CHANGE. If you date a cad, they will remain a cad until their death. I don't know why this annoys me to the extent it does. But it does...
Tenacious D is showing that they are socially aware; and by doing so bring attention to the plight of their record sales. I will keep the group in my constant thoughts during their ordeal. I love Tenacious D. In fact, the Hominid himself introduced them to me.
Koreans are addicted to gambling. There are more Koreans addicted to gambling (at least as a percentage of population) than Americans in Nevada (home of such gambling meccas as Las Vegas and Reno). I don't know what this says about Koreans or Korean society, but it can't be all that good.
To close, let me just say that the Villainettes are hoping to spend some quality time with the Hominid while he is on his native soil. And finally, read your Maximum Leader's blog. Scandalous items concerning his college experience are revealed!
And lastly, welcome home my friend.
Monday, November 03, 2003
Greetings. The Maximum Leader has decided to use his guest blogger privileges to guess the Hominid's weight in British Stone. You may recall the Hominid asked in his last post: Six bites of fried food isn't enough to feed a large hominid on the prowl (can you guess my weight in British stone?). Well, at the gauntlet being tossed out so wantonly, the Maximum Leader read the post and did a quick computation in his head. Now, assuming the Hominid was shorn as cleanly as described, and further assuming that he has not been putting on weight eating all those doggies; I estimate that the Hominid weighs at least 17 and perhaps as much as 18.5 stone. Now, if only the Hominid would confirm this...
Was it just me, or did it seem like all the good-looking ladies were out in force tonight? From my perspective, it certainly seemed so.
My recording session at AdSound went quite well, and I got my W80,000 (approx. $70). I love studio work; this was my second time doing it. It took about 90 minutes this time around, because I had to record script elements into cell phones. Four phones were set up to record my voice; I had to click each phone on, record, then move on to the next phone to repeat the process. First I read a list of 200 names, then I read off a list of phone numbers. AdSound is helping to develop voice recognition software, but apparently it's for a limited audience: they're asking only for native US and Canadian English speakers. I guess an Irish brogue or a Scots burr or an Aussie twang can only mean you're screwed.
The manager was friendly and invited me back for more recording work; alas, I had to tell him about my travel plans, but AdSound will be keeping the Hominid in mind whenever they need the dulcet vocal stylings of South Korea's largest off-white boy.
I had to go to Chongno to visit one of the little LG Telecom offices and cancel my phone service. I opted for a delayed cancellation, effective the 5th (the day after I leave Seoul), so that I can take my phone with me to the airport and make some final calls before stepping on the plane. After the LG errand, I went out and saw a food cart selling, of all things, dim sum. This was new to me, so I ordered some. W2,500 doesn't get you very much; my little wooden tray held only six itty-bitty pieces of fried food: a shrimp ball, a spring roll, a samosa, a mandoo, and some other testicle-shaped fried thing. They all tasted about the same, and the dipping sauces were reminiscent of Chinese eats back home. No steamed food in sight. Some dim sum.
Six bites of fried food isn't enough to feed a large hominid on the prowl (can you guess my weight in British stone?). I stopped over at another food cart that was selling tiny pizzas; they heat them, fold them in half, wrap them partially in tin foil, and give 'em to you hot. This cart was run by a husband and wife; both young and optimistic-looking; I can only hope they avoid the sullen-faced destiny that awaits most of these vendors. The pizza wasn't bad, and the husband was very chatty.
But again-- a small pizza is not enough.
So I went home and cooked a fairly standard meal, using up the last ingredients in my fridge (I don't want to come back to two-month old mold, not after having spent a very humid summer combatting rampant fungal lifeforms). My laundry had mostly dried, but I had to take it inside and iron it to get the rest of the dampness out. Everything is packed and ready; I'm travelling much lighter than when I last went to the States. And since I'm using an e-ticket this time, even more convenience awaits once I'm at Inchon International.
And that's it. It's a little after 2AM; I plan to be up at 6AM, out of the joint by 7AM, and grabbing a 7:30AM limousine bus from the downtown Lotte Hotel to the airport. It's a luxurious one-hour ride for W12,000. Cheaper buses are available (at Ch'eongnyangni, for example); they cost W7,000 or so, but the ride isn't nearly as cushy. I always pamper myself when I go to the airport. The flight to Tokyo-Narita departs at 11AM.
Once I touch down in DC, there'll be family to meet, friends to call, and ambience to breathe in, so blogging may be light for a while. I wish all you Koreabloggers who're presently in Korea continued good times as you rock and roll (or "ROK and Roll," as the Infidel phrases it). I wish Brian the Vulture a safe arrival in SK, and salute all the other Asiabloggers and other bloggers on my blogroll (including Ronin, even though he's no longer there). Expats gotta represent.
More soon. Will be in touch.
Many thanks to the people who continue to buy my book through Amazon.com. But I still don't know why you're so afraid to purchase directly from me; I haven't stalked people in literally years.
Consider this a promise: I will never do anything with your contact information other than deliver the book to you. If your main worry is that I'll somehow sneer at you for buying a scatological book-- the way a video store clerk might smirk as you walk up to the desk with a porno-- don't worry. Unlike the clerk, who probably didn't make the video in question, I did write Scary Spasms. Far from sneering at you, I'll be very thankful.
And remember, you're helping me out by buying directly from me; Amazon.com steals 55% of my cover price with every purchase. And I pay them a maintenance fee to keep my ad on their site. And I pay my own shipping every time they request a re-stock of my book in one of their warehouses (well, lately, my brother's been paying-- thanks, Dave). In the end, I think I may actually be losing money through Amazon.
But I've decided I want to beef up my comments section, Vomit Vile Vituperation (sidebar). So here's the deal: I will give away promo copies of Scary Spasms in Hairy Chasms to commenters whose position numbers are multiples of 11. So if you're Commenter Number 11, 22, 33, 44, etc., you'll get a free copy of Scary Spasms. Be sure I can contact you so I can get your delivery info.
This promo will run for as long as I'm in the States, i.e., until January 6th.
The catch: the comments leading up to those lucky numbers have to be meaningful, content-rich, and display-worthy, otherwise they'll be deleted, which will piss off everyone else when they see they've been shunted on the list. So if you want to leave comments, leave pithy, substantive ones. No two-worders like "You suck!" or four-worders like "You bite donkey balls!" or five-worders like "You make my labia shrivel." In fact, let's stipulate a 150-word minimum on the comments. I'll use MS Word as the "official" word counter; only the main text of the comment will be counted, and I reserve the right to judge what constitutes "main text" and "substantive."
There are currently six comments in Vile Vituperation. I'm not deleting them, so if you scramble, you might be Commenter Number 11. Just remember: substantive, meaty, and at least 150 words of main text according to MS Word. If you can't dredge up 150 words, which amounts to little more than a logos-dingleberry when compared to my usual prose-dump, I have to wonder who the hell my readership is. Empty-headed, or just laconic?
To sum up:
1. Free Scary Spasms to be given out between now and January 6th.
2. Givees are those whose comments in Vile Vituperation land on position numbers that are multiples of 11.
3. The main text of the post has to be at least 150 words, or it will be deleted.
4. The post must be judged substantive, or it will be deleted. (Damn, I'm a Nazi; ask the high school kids to whom I taught French in the early 90s; I had a reputation as a hardass, according to the Latin teacher.)
5. Yes, the same person can win more than one book. If Carrie Fisher is Poster Number 33 and 55, for example, then the Princess gets two books.
6. (UPDATE) Also, the same person can post several comments in an effort to hit one of the "sweet spots" on the list. But the "substantive" and "150-word" rules still apply.
Good luck. Be creative. Be scholarly. Be interesting. Be pedantic. Just don't be brief or boring. And as I've done in the past, I do post (and link to) disagreements, so be disagreeable, if that's what your bowels move you to be. If you want to stir up controversy in 150 words or more, I welcome it. Can you write cheesy erotica? I might be posting it on the main page (I want to see someone, preferably a bio major, try their hand as mitosis erotica).
Meanwhile, meditate on this question:
Given the generally accepted definitions of the terms "vowel" and "consonant," is your anus making vowel or consonantal noises when you take a dump?
Stick a comprehensive answer in the comments section if you have one.
It is accomplished.
No, I didn't die for your sins, asshole. And it's the Christmas season coming up, anyway. Jesus.
What's accomplished is the much-needed haircut. Today's session was a bit different from previous ones. I usually go to a place called "Hair ID," a mi-yong shil, or beauty salon. It serves both men and women; I've got a customer card and everything. Usually, I get my haircut sometime between lunch and dinner, but today I arrived, as Jack Black might say, at the crack of noon, and there was a slightly different staff. So instead of getting the usual quick cut, then moving over to the side for my shampooing, I got the shampoo while still sitting in my chair in front of the mirror.
And a head massage.
I haven't had a head massage since the mid-90s, so I'd forgotten how relaxing such massages can be. The woman was brave, ignoring my lice and ticks and the occasional rat as they leapt screaming from my scalp to escape the shampooic onslaught.
The staff own a pug-nosed dog with huge teats that walks by and surveys the customers. I heard its nails clicking on the tile as my eyes were closed during the massage; I opened my eyes and beheld the parade of pendulous nipples as they swung and jiggled past.
Why hasn't some enterprising fellow started bottling dog's milk?
Thanks to today's cut, I can leave Korea a few pounds lighter. After maximum destruction had been achieved, a mass of black hair wreathed my seat like Satan's idea of a fairy ring. I was a huge, fat hemorrhoid sitting spot-on in the center of a hairy anus that had erupted out of the floor, a scatological hierophany. It was glorious; I wish I had a digicam to show you the mess. No doubt the staffers are still cleaning it up, even now.
And to this day, the brave but unfortunate women of Hair ID, cruelly punished by the gods, can be found futilely attempting to rid their store of the Big Hominid's mighty, tenacious hair.
Little to no blogging the rest of today, as you can imagine; I've got to finish off the rest of my to-do list.
Sunday, November 02, 2003
Moe Lane, who's been guest-blogging at Tacitus and is about to scurry back to real life, links to this hilarious lab writeup. With special thanks to Moe's significant other, who pointed the writeup out.
A quick snippet:
TITLE: Electron Band Structure In Germanium, My Ass
Abstract: The exponential dependence of resistivity on temperature in germanium is found to be a great big lie. My careful theoretical modeling and painstaking experimentation reveal 1) that my equipment is crap, as are all the available texts on the subject and 2) that this whole exercise was a complete waste of my time.
Thanks to a Marmotic comment I happened upon, Ryan's Lair, a blog at least sometimes devoted to Buddhology, now enters the blogroll. I'm hoping to steal some knowledge from this dude, who's a doctoral candidate at Harvard (not, as he is at pains to say, the Divinity School). My own Buddhological formation, given that my Master's is in the vague subject area of "Religion and Culture," is still woefully inadequate. Any and all help accepted.
Here's a sample from Ryan's site:
THE UPWARD GAZE, RUDELY INTERRUPTED
The humor in the news this morning is unrelenting. Check out this piece from the Telegraph. The article's headline is:
"Astrologers fail to predict proof they are wrong"
Five points for the straightforwardness of British headlines! Oh, and the article is mildly interesting as well- the data in the study goes back as far as 1958. The quoted reaction from the astrology community was rather muted: Roy Gillett, president of the Astrological Association of Great Britain, wants us to treat the results "with extreme caution", and says that the leading researcher wants to "discredit astrology."
Well, of course Dr. Dean wants to discredit astrology. Everyone who hopes for progress in the corpus of human knowledge, who longs for a citizenry trained in the methods of science and the discipline of rational thought, would love to see astrology and other sundry psuedo-sciences and superstitions vanish from the earth.
Of course, there is something tenacious about astrology (and about religion, for that matter), that will render it practically immune to the flaming volleys of scientific discourse. This is why studies like Dr. Dean's will really have no impact- they are rational discourses aimed at people who have sincere, meaningful, emotional attachments to irrational, poetic imagery and narrative. I'd be willing to wager that when reason and emotion collide in untrained, unreflective people, emotion will usually win.
I'll add that this is also true of trained, reflective people.
From Salon's sidebar:
British rock star Sting on Sunday denounced the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, and urged the world to help reconstruct the war-ravaged nation.
"I wasn't in favor of going into Iraq," the 52-year-old singer said at a news conference in Hong Kong promoting his latest album, "Sacred Love."
Sting said world leaders should now concentrate on picking up "the pieces" and giving the Iraqi people a normal life.
"It's too late to blame anybody. It's too late to complain," he said.
Ayup. I was against the war, as I've noted elsewhere, but I agree we need to put everything behind the current effort-- even more so when our troops remain very much in the line of fire.
"Yo, Cath! Let's make a sex video. Bondage, chain saws, whips, and Fruit Loops. Whadaya say?"
"Cool, Troy! Who do we sell it to?"
"We're high school freshmen. Why not sell it on school grounds? There's your market, right there."
"Uh... won't people know who we are?"
"No way, Cath. Our genitals haven't ripened into distinct shapes yet. Who's to know?"
"Just you and me in the video, Troy?"
"I was thinking of inviting Bob, too. Do you mind?"
"Oh, Bob's cute! So, uh, do we, like, script the scenes? Double-penetration, all-input, the works? I've got a really stretchable mouth. And I do Kegels five times a day. That's really important, you know. I saw that on an instructional porn video called 'The Five Pillars of I-Slam.'"
"So long as we can do one scene with a live squirrel hanging half outta my ass, anything's cool."
"Hey, I like that. And we can dress the squirrel up in a little Madonna cone bra!"
"This is gonna rock. This is gonna cock rock!"
"How much should we sell it for? The video?"
"I dunno, C. I never bought one. What, five bucks a pop?"
"Works for me. Where do we make copies?"
"Bob's house has three VCRs, and his parents always stay upstairs. We can set up in the basement. Film and copy. I got a camera."
"I'm free Saturday, Troy."
"Lemme call Bob. I think Saturday'll work. Question-- you got a big back yard, right? Lots of trees?"
"Could you catch a couple squirrels, keep 'em well-fed until... you know? Bring 'em to Bob's."
"Yeah, sure. I'll even make a little dress and cone bra. We'll audition the squirrels, see which one fits the dress best."
"Thanks, Cath. You are da queen bitch."
[with thanks to Drudge, who also offers another disturbing-yet-humorous sex article here]
Only one more full day in Korea.
Didn't realize that the US had done its Daylight Savings thing until my brother David gave me a call around 7PM this evening (Sunday, I mean; technically, it's very early Monday as I'm writing). David said that the Halloween party at Polly Esther's wasn't as good as it could have been, but the plastic pumpkin he brought over, which was rigged to glow and spew steam/smoke, was a hit. David seems to have gotten through his Friday and Saturday evening/morning shifts unscathed, so I breathe a little easier.
Did laundry and began the awful business of cleaning house. Actually, it's not that awful; I live in a studio-sized place, so even a simple act like making my bed (in reality, a mat) makes the place look ten times neater. On tap for tomorrow (technically, later today):
1. Hair cut. It's been almost two months, so I'm one shaggy beast.
2. Recording work! I signed up for AdSound Studios recording work (I'd been there once before; it was fun), where I'll spend about an hour speaking into a jury-rigged cell phone, after which I receive my blood money-- 80,000 won, or about $70.
3. Print out e-ticket info. I have to go to the Korea University PC-bahng to do this quickly and easily; other PC-bahng have printers, but people use them rarely, so it's a pain to make the request and have everything set up just for one measly sheet of paper. At Ko-dae, it's no fuss, no muss. Just sit anywhere from Carrel #1 to #12, and you can print out whatever you want.
4. Some final quickie shopping.
5. Fold up and pack the laundry, which is currently drying in the cool, somewhat breezy night air.
6. Finalize all packing. Will be toting along the calligraphy set, a bunch of hanja books, and some Korean-language textbooks I need to review or, uh, read for the first time. Will also be taking along Ye Olde Mechanical Pencil, the White Eraser of Death, and an art pad on which I'm drafting frames for "Cosmic Import." I think "Cosmic Import" needs to be a Sunday comic. I'll put it up on Saturday evenings (US time while in the US; Korea time while in Korea). If I can draw 52 strips while I'm home, that's a year's supply. Should I do that? If I do, then the comic won't be topical. Should this matter? I'm not really sure I want "Import" to follow the news, so maybe not.
7. Oh, shit-- cancel cell phone service for two months. I paid my bill on Friday and the nice lady told me not to cancel until right before I left. Good idea. But I'd actually like to delay cancellation until after the day of departure; I found, last time, that taking my cell phone to the airport was useful when I had to call my family. I was also able to phone some goodbyes to Korean friends.
8. Pay the 2nd-floor lady for gas, electricity, and water. I owe her for Sep-Oct, and will pre-pay Nov-Dec. Luckily, utilities are cheap.
9. Call relatives. Some of them aren't aware I'm going. Then again, they've largely stopped calling me, perhaps having gotten the clue that, yes, I really am an INTJ off the scale. Which leaves it up to me to remind them I exist. I owe Adjoshi some rent, though, so perhaps I'll visit him. Otherwise, I'll just call him and tell him where I've hidden the rent envelope ("Not inside the dog's ass again, Kevin! We almost ate the rent last time!").
Et maintenant, le parcours:
Cobb tells it like it is about lawyers, and reminds me that I remain technologically behind.
Kevin at IA is the Pundit on Everything today.
The Marmot shows off some truly beautiful trip photos.
At Oranckay: the Grand National Party offices were egged. Yes, egged. And the photo on Pete's site is from the inside. Take a look.
The Maximum Leader's site turns out to be, sadly, only 49% evil. Scroll upward from that post to find out about Hairy Chasms, which is apparently too big to be rated in its entirety. I did manage to rate some of my posts, however.
The Infidel doesn't think Hwang Jang Yop can provide much info. I agree; the dude is out of the loop. But his significance lies in his willingness to speak the truth about a regime piloted by assholes, and while it's tempting to think I'm talking about South Korea, I mean North Korea. Hwang is making SK very uncomfortable, but this is entirely SK's problem. Were the government saner, they'd be decrying the North, too, but having embraced the foolish "one people" rhetoric, they can't afford to regain sanity.
Interesting Infidel quote:
Hwang's career is indeed fascinating, and the American Congress is right to interview him, but Hwang's testimony should not define the parameters of the debate, nor should Hwang be used for partisan advantage.
I agree completely.
The Infidel also has a very interesting post on Korean cinema, something about which I know next to nothing, aside from movies like "Shiri" or the much older films "Seop'yeonjae" and the beautiful-but-slow "Why Did Bodhidharma Go East?"
In a different post, the Infidel talks about the recently-retired Mahathir of Malaysia, and larger issues facing Islam and the other People of the Book. Choice cutlet:
Western Christians are so comfortable in their enclaves of Church and State, they can't fathom the political world from the Muslim perspective. Simply put, Muslims don't compartmentalize daily [life] into the profane and the sacred. Prophecy and tradition inform daily [life] intimately in ways most Christians in the western, liberal tradition would find either demeaning or underdeveloped. Wasn't it the German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, who demanded the liberation of the mind from tradition? I can't think of a Christian in the West who would disagree with that conceit, even the ones singing with the congregation. Christians live in expectation of some paradise, whether it be economic or [eschatological], but Muslims received the answer centuries ago from Muhammad, and are still trying to fulfill the demands of that call. Christians might get forgiveness every day for their trespasses on the road to Heaven, but Muslims can see the results of their own faithlessness every day in their own poverty and alienation. Both Christians and Muslims are willing to forgive the other for their deluded thinking, but not for the trespasses. And, don't try to proselytize me, each protests!
I think one of the most admirable reactions the US had after 9/11 was the urge to educate itself about Islam. There was a huge willingness to listen to non-Muslim (but pro-Islam) apologists like Karen Armstrong (warning: she is not a scholar, and don't confuse her with one!), and a sudden push among Christian churches for more (and more intense) interreligious dialogue. A lot of that has died down as once-vague lines of rhetoric have coalesced and hardened into distinct (and often less open-minded) schools of thought, but I'll say that, regarding Islam's lack of secularity, Americans are now, more than ever, aware that this is an issue. For people like me, it's the key issue. So I wouldn't portray the current American situation as one in which Christians "can't fathom the political world from the Muslim perspective." This may have been true as recently as only a couple years ago, but an enormous amount of self-education has been going on since 9/11, and I think many Americans are hyperaware of internal Muslim realities as never before.
Further down, the Infidel writes:
All Dr. Mahathir is saying is, that Muslims have endured their Christian and Jewish cousins for far too long. And, as much as Christians and Jews have combined against Muslims in politics and economics, an attack on Zionism is an attack on western liberal capitalism, too. That's probably why Muslims took his speech so calmly: this is nothing new! What is new is, that a Muslim leader can advocate this from a position of strength after a successful career. Dr. Mahathir is not singling out the Jews so much as he is upholding Malaysia as a model for Muslim communities, and taunting western liberals.
If indeed Dr. Mahathir is saying that Muslims have endured Christians and Jews for too long, all I can reply is: too fuckin' bad. Instead of complaining, instead of operating according to a bunker mentality, the time may have finally arrived for Muslim men-- especially Arab extremists but not only them-- to put aside their AKs and bomb belts, reattach their long-forgotten schlongs and learn some proactivity and responsibility. While the West is indeed responsible for a good deal of Muslim misery, frustration, etc., Muslims, especially Arab Muslims, need to be about the task of recognizing and dealing with their own complicity in the current situation. Up to now, I haven't seen much evidence of this on the large scale.
Do Muslims view Mahathir's speech as nothing new? Of course! Anti-Jewish hatred is like any other meme that sits in a populace and percolates long enough: you stop noticing it. Look at the antisemitism in Western Europe right now, and the older, non-Muslim populations' almost-blasé reactions to it. The current crop of antisemites are mostly Muslim immigrants. Of that slice of the demographic pie, most are, to put it politely, unassimilated. I can't wait to see what conditions will be like in ten years. And if you're Jewish, well... I guess you'll do what a lot of French Jews are doing and-- leave.
Conrad has his Halloween a bit late.
Annika has a more proper Halloween.
Glenn and his SlickVick have spats. Ah, life. I just want to see a photo of Vick. Just one photo. Cough it up, Glenn. Inquiring off-white bo's wanna know.
John Moore and the Canine Analogy.
Et nous voilà.
Saturday, November 01, 2003
I just composed this and posted it on the Maximum Leader's site. Boy, won't he be surprised.
HOMELESS AND DISSOLUTE
I find the taste
of fresh toothpaste
a grand delight when I
do have the time
to crack my spine
and piss all down my thighs
the pretty lass
with juicy ass
she loves to bring me food
she doesn't know
that far below
my prick doth feel like wood
the sun goes down
a sleeping town
returns to bed anew
I shit my pants
and do a dance
because that's what men do.