My mother's a talented cook. Always has been. Name your food, Korean or American, and she can cook it-- often without a recipe. One of the things she's been famous for is her amazing rum cake, which is NOW AVAILABLE FOR YOUR CONSUMPTION.
Trust me on this. You've never had a rum cake quite like this one. Dad's been working overtime with my brother David to get some kind of online shop set up, but in the meantime, word of mouth around the office has kept Mom and Dad very busy with their little Rums Fantastic business. Dad's looking to expand business, though, and I thought I'd help out by plugging Mom's cake on the blog. If I'm getting about 100 unique visitors, then surely SOME of these folks, even if they were searching for "hairy" whatever, are hungry enough to stop and order a CAKE.
The cake's $20 plus shipping, and although I'm using one of my own PayPal buttons to let you purchase it, all cake proceeds are going to the parents. If you're in the US, we'll ship to you, no problem. Outside the US might be tricky.
So check my sidebar. Stare at the cake pic. Salivate. Find that PayPal button.
Then buy a rum cake.
Buy a few. You've got friends, and they all have sweet teeth.
Chocolate's also available, but we're not selling that online just yet.
Expect about 5-7 days for delivery.
[NB to the nut-allergic: I don't know if almonds affect you, but the outer layer of the cake is coated with almonds.]
Monday, December 08, 2003
My mother's a talented cook. Always has been. Name your food, Korean or American, and she can cook it-- often without a recipe. One of the things she's been famous for is her amazing rum cake, which is NOW AVAILABLE FOR YOUR CONSUMPTION.
The Vulture puts up a newer, more imposing logo, thereby scaring away the gentler half of his readership and attracting a more macho gangland crowd. He also notes, as you've no doubt discovered for yourself over the past couple days, that the Infidel has quit blogging-- at least temporarily, we hope. His link remains on my blogroll in the hope his blog reappears.
The Vulture also pecks at the carrion of Korean rudeness: the whole "foreigners speak Korean with a funny accent" thing. I agree it's rude, but it's also something that's not going to change anytime soon, like the fat jokes I constantly endure. If you can't get used to it, you end up bitter (word to angry minorities in the States: toughen up or go insane! work toward change, but thicken the skin in the meantime! lose the victim mentality and FIGHT!).
Kevin at IA posts on the Korean engineers who've decided to pack up from Iraq and head home due to the danger. Kevin's conclusion: can't blame the workers, since management didn't do shit to make their stay any safer. Given the SK government's (and public's) current reluctance on the issue of combat troops (here's hoping the Yangban has spotted a more positive trend), I'd have to agree with Kevin's attitude: SK will send its noncombatants out but won't think far enough ahead to protect them.
The Marmot takes South Korean farmers to the woodshed for-- once again-- their shortsightedness. The issue is free trade and farmers' protests of the soon-to-be-ratified ROK-Chile free trade agreement. The basic fear, I think, is that Korean farmers feel their livelihood will be threatened by the introduction of other countries' farm products (in this case, Chile's) into the Korean market. Competition may drive prices down, resulting in less income for farmers, who will suddenly have to become competitive. This is what tariffs and trade wars are all about-- managing competition, imposing strictures on free markets and trade. That's not always a bad thing, because an absolutist pro-free-trade approach isn't workable, but strictures like tariffs should be implemented with caution. This is why I think Bush's recent dropping of steel tariffs is a good move: US Steel will just have to get smarter and more competitive; meantime, trade is freer. That's good for US Steel, in the long run. Unions, to the extent they look out for workers, might be a positive force, but they tend to get out of hand in places like France and Korea. The US has its own (cough) little Teamster problem, of course, but as a country, we don't see monthly transportation strikes, actors' strikes, and farmers passionately stabbing themselves in the chest to protest perceived injustice.
If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times - you farmers will be the death of this nation if you keep this crap up. You're lucky that a number of other countries (the US and France come immediately to mind) still have their heads up their asses as far as their own agricultural industries are concerned so they can't (better, shouldn't) press Korea too hard on this. Korea is NO LONGER an agricultural country - the lifeblood of the nation is industry and information technologies. You CANNOT [choose] to compete in those industries [you're] good at while protecting the ones at which you aren't. Other nations tend to get VERY pissed off at this, and while Chile probably poses no threat, all you need to do is think back [to] when China threatened to close its markets to Korean telecom exports in retaliation for Korean barriers to Chinese garlic exports. As a nation that exports high-tech goods, Korea should be doing all it can to open markets abroad; the LAST thing it should be doing is maintaining anachronistic, neo-mercantilist trade barriers for a dying industry. Yes, food can be considered "security," but so can a gazillion other different industries (steel, semiconductors, electronics, cars) that Korea would not want to see other countries designate "industries necessary to national security."
Mike at Seeing Eye Blog shows us that Kim Jong Il's coiffe is all the rage.
Peter at Oranckay also has the goods on Korean worker strife in Iraq.
Charlie at Budae Chigae writes:
The bottom line is that the US believes that [troop] numbers are not an issue, and Korea looks at the numbers as a direct proportion to the level of commitment in the Area of Operations. The US side continues to stress technology and force projection rather than static defense.
I wrote in the comments section:
How much weapons tech does Korea make/provide on its own, and how much comes from the US/other sources? And what would modernization entail?
According to the South Korean Agency for Defense Development, (in Korean "guk bang gwahak yeon-gu so") approximately seventy percent of all weapons system development is now domestic. Korean Defense Industry still relies on the US, Russia, France and Germany for technology transfer packages for items such as aircraft and missile technology, armored vehicle power-trains, fire control systems, nav[i]gation system, and C3 (Command, Control, and Communication) Information systems.
[They] have an excellent facility near Changwon, in Gyongsang Nam-do, for Armament/Automotive R&D, called Changwon Proving Grounds. When I was stationed in Taegu, I had a chance to tour the base, and was impressed with the production of K1s.
As for the Modernization, they have the mantra (The MND's Defense Policy and Initiative) down, but it all boils down to money. See Gerry's article over at Korean Media Watch: Korea Ranks 66 in Defense Spending to GDP.
Fascinating stuff, and it makes you realize how little Korea actually needs from America, especially if 70% of weapons system development is in-house. All the more reason for us to bug outta there. The "defense spending to GDP" issue has been addressed by other Koreabloggers; the feeling seems to be that SK needs to widen that particular slice of the fiscal pie to shoulder its own defense burdens more fully. No disagreement here.
Jeff at Ruminations recounts his early experiences as a young Mormon in Korea.
Econo-speak is way over my head, but for those who can follow the terminology, Drambuie Man outlines a possible crisis scenario for the South Korean economy-- one that might lead to another IMF bailout/snafu. I understood the last part:
However this cannot go on forever; a bank will eventually fail. It may be a small one, but it will fail. This will cause all that "hot money" to leave Korea, therefore causing a currency meltdown, and TA-DA!!! another IMF crisis. As more [and] more capital leaves, more banks fail, and Korea tailspins.
Moving over to the China-related blogs now...
I posted recently about the problem we face in dealing with Islam-- the relentlessly religious perspective. I ended up rejecting the PC notion that the burden is always on Americans to be understanding. Richard of Peking Duck has a post up that quotes a writer who questions the Chinese contention that Westerners just don't understand the Chinese. The writer's point is that many Westerners DO understand the Chinese, but don't accept what they've observed and experienced (quoting Richard's quote):
What do you think is so special about your so-called culture (5000 years) that makes it impossible for a white-faced, big-nosed, hairy barbarian to understand? Plenty of foreigners understand China, you just mistake their complaints for misunderstandings. I think a lot of Chinese behaviour is stupid, racist, ignorant, and backward. I understand it, but I don't like it. When I say the concept of face is dumb, and you say, "You just don't understand Chinese culture," you're actually saying that you don't understand the words coming out of my mouth. I didn't say, "I don't understand this interesting, ancient, exotic, inscrutible concept of face, could you please educate me?" The underlying assumption seems to be that if the rest of the world could just understand China, we would all see that they've been right all along. Like green tea against cancer, an understanding of China could break down all barriers to world peace.
I don't agree by any means with all that Brad says, especially how it is impossible to change anyone's mind on anything related to China. (Hell, my own mind got changed, and fairly quickly, after witnessing the CCP's sins during the SARS debacle.) But he has an excellent point when it comes to those who would argue the onus is always on the Westerner to "understand" the Chinese, and that the Chinese are absolved of any responsibility to meet us half-way, let alone to understand us.
I agree with Richard. Dialogue is a two-way street. It does need to begin with listening, but that's an insight we each need to gain for ourselves, not something to be imposed on the interlocutor. "YOU listen to ME!" is not dialogue. Or maybe it can be the opening round of dialogue, but if so, at least one side's being a fucking asshole.
Gweilo Diaries, easily one of the most hilarious blogs out there, informs us of the Amish Tech Support Dead Pool, in which people attempt to predict just who is going to die next year. Jesus Christ, that's funny. Check out Conrad's post. And while you're at it, please join me in staring down this lady's top. Conrad put that pic up a while back, but I keep scrolling down to it like the easily-tempted fool I am.
Go visit Winds of Change. Just because. And if you think the field of hermeneutics is somehow irrelevant to you, get a load of this.
Bird Dog, guest blogging on Tacitus, links to a US News and World Report article about the relationship between al Qaeda terrorism and "the Saudi money trail." Also on Tacitus, guest blogger democritus quotes FDR's Pearl Harbor speech.
Also on tap at Tac: Reagan's face on a coin? The Maximum Leader told me he was against this a few days ago. I assumed most Republicans were for it (and many actually are), but Nancy Reagan herself is against.
Bowen's comic strips on Cobb aren't usually accessible to me. In fact, I'm not sure how accessible they are to most people. His art comes from a very private place and doubtless has appeal for a niche audience, but as a fellow "stripper" (to borrow Berke Breathed's term), I find Bowen's work more than quirky. John Cusack's work is quirky, but it's decipherable quirkiness. Bowen's on a different, foggier road. I realize this is a function of my ignorance: I don't know where he's coming from. But he's also making no effort to make his perspective available to blokes like me. This is very different from Bowen's prose work on Cobb: I'm often bowled over by where he goes, and think his writing is very accessible and insightful. So why the disconnect between his accessible writing and his more esoteric artwork? I don't know. We simply do what we do, and maybe there's no explanation. Anyway, today I went over to Cobb and saw this comic strip, which I had no trouble understanding.
Dan Darling at Regnum Crucis goes over the same US News article Tacitus covers, but in far greater detail. Darling also posts more on Islam and the Reformation, in which I've excreted a couple comments.
The blog Hi, I'm Black! never presents me with accessibility problems, because Glenn is all about making sure you GET his message. In this episode, Glenn has a Holden Caulfield moment. Glenn also links to a hilarious site called Rate My Teachers. I am, right now, getting revenge on high school teachers who sucked. True, it's sad how much pressure is put on teachers as things stand... but hey, why not pile on some more, right? Go and rate your old teachers, if they're listed.
Holy shit-- they list MR. DIRNER! I didn't think he was at Mount Vernon anymore! I wonder if he came back. Another MVHS rumor: Bob Ingalls, Zen Buddhist and English teacher, is now the surgically renewed Bobbie Ingalls. I don't know if this rumor is true, but this is what my brother Sean heard. Again, HOLY SHIT.
Whoa-- they list Mr. Ingalls. As MISTER Ingalls. I don't know how well this site is tracking where teachers go... there's a space for you to mark whether you think they're retired or still active... ah, just play it by ear.
Well, Mrs. Landgrabe is on the site, and she's being rated by people. I know for a fact she's retired, so obviously we can rate any teacher we want. I won't be rating her, but I've already zapped one or two other teachers, like Joyce Jones. Hee hee.
Glenn also links to... what appears to be Barney in a thong.
Satan's Anus has the news: al Qaeda seems to be abandoning Afghanistan. GOOD. Like roaches, they move around until exterminated.
If you're a conservative opposed to the Federal Marriage Amendment (whatever your feelings about gay marriage itself), Andrew Sullivan has a link for you. He's also got a full article on "The M Word."
Dr. Burgess-Jackson has several interesting posts. Here's one on deontology and consequentialism (deontology isn't related to ontology; it's from the Greek root "deon," meaning "duty"-- think Kant's Grundlegung for the Metaphysics of Morals). Here's another one on rescuing the Iraqi people. Unfortunately, it's a rehash of the moral argument I've already addressed on this blog-- compelling, but ultimately not enough in itself to justify our actions there. The obvious reply to Dr. Burgess-Jackson is that there are urgent cases in places other than Iraq-- North Korea comes to mind. And as soon as you mention NK, you realize you have to expand the context of the discussion to include more than the simple "drowning child" metaphor can allow. Context, Dr. Burgess-Jackson, context. By the way, that image is cross-cultural: Mencius used a similar illustration-- a child teetering on the edge of a well and our natural urge to save the child-- to argue for humanity's basic goodness. Dr. Burgess-Jackson also presents a bizarre argument in favor of capital punishment. Here, a straw man argument: the weird connection between homosexual marriage and genetically modified foods. How many pro-gay-marriage folks are also campaigning against genetically modified foods? Another straw man: the "sincerity test" for opponents of capital punishment. Whom is Dr. Burgess-Jackson actually critiquing here? I found this an interesting but ultimately useless post. Lastly, I'll note a post where the good professor dissects liberal rage. I agree with it, overall.
John Kerry, whom I respected long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, just makes me laugh these days. The macho posturing, the incessant "I served in Vietnam"-- these things make him look ridiculous, and he's giving more sober vets a bad name. And now for Kerry's new campaign strategy: the manly refusal to apologize for claiming Bush has "fucked it up" in Iraq. Gotta love this guy. I think the White House is wrong to ask for an apology; Bush and his flunkies shouldn't even pay attention to this shit. I'm curious whether polls will show Kerry earning macho points for his refusal to apologize.
And now, some spice from Drudge: a woman gets hacked up in a sword attack by her husband, who also shouted, "I'm God! Kill me!" at police. I need to spin that quote into a product for my store.
Lots of great material over at the Maximum Leader's cyberschloss:
The Air Marshal guest blogs on the glory that is whisky. Whiskey.
The Minister of Agriculture links to a David Brin article about Lord of the Rings. Brin shat on Tolkien in Salon a while back, so I'll take what he says with a grain of salt.
The M of A offers another great post on la vie champêtre:
We have moved the chickens into their winter quarters in the barn - the chicken tractor (a possible future post?) does not provide enough warmth. At any rate, I stepped into the coop portion of the barn to refill their waterer and check on the chickens. Bonnie did not approve of squandering my attention on non-mammals, so followed me into the chicken coop before I could turn to shut the door. Her bulk pushed me back and was quite disconcerting for the chickens.
Bonnie's a heifer, in case you're wondering. No, I mean it-- she's a real cow. Goddammit, I'm telling you she's not human!
One last thing: don't forget to recognize your essayist, fool.
Sunday, December 07, 2003
Ryan Overbey at Ryan's Lair quotes the kind of sentiment that pisses me off more and more lately. He links to this NYT article about Pakistan, and gives us the following snippet from it:
...As I have fears about an unhinged Pakistan, Pakistanis have fears about a wanton America. The parallel apprehensions have much the same vocabulary: a nuclear power, prone to irrational behavior, too eager to go to war, a penchant toward duplicity.
Sometimes, there is even the part about religious extremism. ''George Bush is a mullah; he is a fundamentalist, too,'' Abdul Hakim Baloch, a writer in Quetta, told me. ''I don't know how history will treat the Americans, but you are committing one of the greatest crimes of all time. Bush thinks he must destroy Babylon as the verses of his Scripture tell him. But you cannot conquer the world based on superstitions.''
As an American in Pakistan, I was on a lecture tour where I was the one being lectured. Some decisive juncture had been passed, and people were erupting with accusations. Whomever I saw, extremist or not, educated or not, they told me they had finally lost patience with America, which in their eyes had grown hateful toward Islam and hypocritical about democracy.
Here's the note I stuck in Ryan's comment section:
And that, unfortunately, is the worldview we're dealing with in so many Muslim interlocutors: everything is seen through a relentlessly religious filter, which inevitably leads to a projection of one's own faults onto the Other, in this case America. How else to see Bush but as a mullah and fundamentalist when that's the only vocabulary available?
And therein lies a crucial difference between largely homogeneous and largely heterogeneous cultures: the availability and ready accessibility of different perspectives. If this is accompanied by tolerance (and I challenge any level-headed non-Muslim to support the claim that America has become an intolerant, anti-Muslim state), you've got a recipe for openness and global perspective rarely seen among the intellectually inbred whose "traditional" aspects we're supposed to appreciate, even if "traditional" is a rubric that includes honor killings and clitoridectomies.
I don't mean to exculpate the US by any means, but this Abdul Hakim Baloch strikes me as unhinged. I hear Korean accusations against the US all the time while in Seoul, and in almost every case, the very same accusation could apply to South Korea's culture and politics: racism, corruption, and untrustworthiness immediately come to mind as examples-- often accompanied by an inflamed victim mentality. I imagine the only thing stopping some expats from speaking out more strongly in support of their home country while abroad is the not-unjustified fear that they'll be torn apart by unruly mobs of "traditional" people. Follow the Korean news and you'll see what I mean-- there's reason to shut up when your audience is often irrational.
If you read someone like Fr. Francis X. Clooney, it's easy to get hypnotized into believing that there are "many rationalities." No: there are many cultures, but the laws of physics restrict the ways we can get from A to B. This means there's an objective world out there, and it's OK to make judgements about what ways are "better" or "worse." Many maps; one territory. No one can claim objectivity (i.e., THE map), but this shouldn't stop people from making any truth-claims or value judgements at all. In this case, my judgement is that Baloch and his ilk have their heads up their asses. While I might be persuaded that his perspective is the result of a great deal of pain and suffering-- justice issues that cry out to be addressed-- that doesn't change the fact that his perspective is warped. I can't say that's an objective claim, but I'm pretty sure reality's on my side.
Thanks for a provocative post-- and as always, a great blog.
Flying Yangban is the place to go for this post about two unintended consequences to the killings of two South Korean workers in Iraq: (1) an apparent strengthening (as he sees it) of the US-SK alliance, and (2) increasing calls within the SK government and military for a higher percentage of Korean combat troops going to Iraq.
I hope this is true. The SK public remains pretty ambivalent overall, though I haven't parsed the opinions deeply. But if SK's finding its courage again, this can only be a good thing. South Korean special forces were a nightmare to the North Vietnamese back in the day; they won't have Geneva Convention compunctions about Iraqi hit-and-run squads that kill some of their own. As the Yangban puts it:
That's right boys and girls, the Baathist[s] might find themselves facing Korea's finest. I found a web page that gave a brief overview of Korean special ops units.
For any readers out there who are not familiar with Korea, I'm not saying that Korean special operations forces are any better trained than other special ops forces around the world. But the Koreans combine that training with a heavy dose of "I die, you die!" and in the case of the Korean special ops, it is mostly "you die." Just ask the NVA.
So instead of sending a bunch of camp hold-ups who were going to need American and Iraqi army protection, the Koreans will now most likely send some of the finest foot soldiers in the world to protect their own zone, which will free more American and Iraqi soldiers to hunt down the Baathist[s].
Nice move, stupid.
Whatever you may think about the current limp-wristed government in South Korea, remember this: Don't FUCK with Korean special forces.
A number of us bloggers posted about the lady who got trampled during a stampede for cheap DVD players at a Wal-Mart. According to a post by Reverend Major Donald Sensing of One Hand Clapping, the lady's a "frequent faller":
Remember the story of woman named Patricia Vanlester who was trampled at a Wal-Mart in the rush of shoppers trying to get to the $29 DVD players before they were all gone?
It seems she's a "frequent faller" who has made something of a career out of suing stores and employers for fall injuries.
An investigation by WKMG-Local 6 reveals Vanlester has filed 16 previous claims of injuries at Wal-Mart stores and other places she has shopped or worked, according to Wal-Mart, court files and state records. Her sister, who accompanied her Friday on the visit to Wal-Mart, has also filed a prior injury claim against Wal-Mart, with Vanlester as her witness, a company spokeswoman said yesterday.
Yes, 'tis the season.
So there you have it. With thanks to The Donald for that one.
Latin for "tit for tat," a phrase redolent of lesbian porn scenes. The Maximum Leader Himself is now exhorting you to vote for me, and since he's the Maximum Leader, it really doesn't matter whether you actually believe I'm the best essayist or not. Granted, I'm no Twain-- whether Mark or Shania. But I am the Maximum Leader's Poet Laureate, which means that bad things will happen to your pets if you fail to vote for me. Ever seen a house cat dipped in hydrochloric acid? Not pretty (but very tasty after the ensuing milk bath and rinse-down).
Ever seen a dog made into soup? No, I mean the process from beginning to end.
You can vote until late December, which gives us plenty of time to cheat the system (by the way, I also rated CALIGULA on that test, Mike). Here's the Maximum Leader's advice to you, his loyal minions:
Go over to Flying Chair and vote. Vote early. Vote often. Go to an internet cafe and vote on all their machines. Just do it.
If we spread the vote-for-the-Hominid meme quickly and aggressively enough, we may reach a threshold where the votes suddenly come pouring in. This would be consistent with the still-unproven Hundredth Monkey Hypothesis-- a given meme sinks into a threshold number of the population, and suddenly everyone's absorbed the meme. Help prove Lyall Watson correct!
Ah, yes: tit for tat. If you're a longtime patron of the Maximum Leader's blog, then you know he was selling products long before I started to. Do yourself (and me) a favor: if you don't plan on voting for me, visit the ML's shop and buy something. Consider it a gesture of tribute. Stock your Maximum Leader's coffers with filthy lucre, so his Villainettes can receive only the best-quality education the realm has to offer. Even better: buy as a way of telling the ML that you're a fellow conservative and you very much enjoy his blog. Since conservatives probably comprise 75% of the anglophonic blogosphere, there's no reason to be shy or feel you're swimming against the current. Buy, minions! BUY!
If you're new to this site and upset by how pushy I am, remember:
Saturday, December 06, 2003
Happy Pearl Harbor Day! It's 8PM-ish on the 6th here in DC, but it's already December 7th in East Asia.
Japan and America. Quite the love story, eh? Two cultures that spend so much time and effort kicking each other's asses (and cross-pollinating in the process) will inevitably develop some close, weird ties. Here's to you, your pink hair, your weird pop, and those wacked-out girlie go-go boots, Japan. Here's to Tom Cruise and his latest Scientology-approved opus on US-Japanese relations.
More seriously... to our Pearl Harbor vets in the US: thank you. To vets in general: thank you. We enjoy the freedom of our armchair punditry thanks to your vigilance. You will never find me in a crowd demonstrating against you. While I might have occasional gripes about the military in a vague, general sense, I don't doubt what it does for us. Not for a second. To my own Dad, who was Air Force in the 60s, then Air Force Reserve in the 80s and MD Air Nat'l Guard AeroMedical Wing in the 90s (and who did stints in Saudi and Aviano, Italy) I say: thank you, Senior Master Sargeant. And to friends who serve without a uniform in the arena of defense tech: thank you. (You know who you are.)
I just found out, in reading through Conrad's Gweilo Diaries, that there's some sort of Asiablogger awards/vote/contest going on over at Flying Chair of "Beat You Death Like Chicken" fame. As I read down the categories, I knew I wasn't going to be included with the Koreabloggers, but someone-- I don't know who, but thank you-- nominated me for the "Best Essayist" category, in which I am currently performing quite lamely with only one proud vote to my name [UPDATE: Shameless self-promotion seems to have improved the situation. I recommend that all my competitors engage in that extra bit of narcissism to up their votes! NB: I have no plans to vote for myself.].
So maybe I should make a pitch. Here's why you should vote for the Big Hominid as Best Essayist.
1. I make all the right enemies: idiot fuckheads like lux bearer. I don't rile true conservatives like the Maximum Leader or true liberals like Brainysmurf, Peking Duck, and the Vulture, because these are all intelligent people. I was a high school French teacher in the early 90s. You know what kind of student is most likely to grouse, "This is stupid!"? The stupid kind! Stupid people project their stupidity onto everything else. I risk being lumped with the stupid in saying that, but fuck it.
2. Which leads me to this: I use more goddamn swear words than other essayists. If there were a category for Half-Korean Blogger with the Biggest Linguistic Balls, I'd win hands-down.
3. I cartoon and practice brush art. This has dick to do with essays, but it should be obvious I'm not composing a list in praise of my essay-writing ability.
4. So let's do a 180 and talk essays. I've written a couple I'm proud of. Some are religion-related, like
Violence, Vegetarianism, and Emptiness (posted July 5)
The Question of Religious Pluralism (posted July 13)
Critique of a Holographic Model of Religious Pluralism (posted July 14)
The Hidden Christ of Beliefnet Buddhism (posted August 5)
Right and Wrong: A Nondualist's Perspective (posted August 13)
Buddhist Critique of Islam (posted August 20)
And some apply a religious perspective to cultural topics:
My Metaphysical Bet with the Wachowski Bros (posted July 4)
On Gay Marriage (posted September 8)
Hindu Cosmology and the Matrix (posted September 29)
Speculative Reflections on "Matrix Revolutions" (posted September 28)
"The Matrix Revolutions": One Hominid's Appraisal (posted November 12)
Some other pieces of note:
Sermon on the Mount for Hateful Christians and Other Stupid Dogmatists (posted October 18)
The AC/DC Kong-an (posted August 21)
The Next Korean War??? (posted August 8)
Harry Potter 6: Judgement Day (posted July 17)
So after you spend five days reading all those, you will of course come away convinced that I deserve as many votes as you can finesse into the system, so that I can win the title of Best Essayist of the Asian Weblog Awards-- even though I only just discovered that the contest was going on, and don't truly consider myself a bona fide Koreablogger (and by extension, an Asiablogger). Vote for me just to piss the "real" people off.
On a more serious note, I have to thank whoever is inflating my SiteMeter numbers, which were up this week. As always, many arrivals were searching for shit like "hairy pussy," "hairy gay men," or "Kristanna Loken's ass," but your visits, albeit brief, are nonetheless welcome.
UPDATE: Blogger sucks, and many of the links do not "zap" you straight to where you need to go. My usual strategy in such cases is to hit the link AGAIN through the sidebar (all the above are sidebar links). Failing that, do a search of my archives by the DATE of the post. Be careful-- archive dates are sometimes misleading. Since I often write long posts, expect to do a bit of scrolling.
Should I be moving over to TypePad? Does this mean the sacrifice of my lovely aesthetic minimalism (again, with thanks to Seth for all the coding)? Do I have to start PAYING for blogspace?
Friday, December 05, 2003
My brother Sean is a cellist. My father works for Northwest Airlines, in various capacities. Today, Dad was at the ticket counter when Yo Yo Ma showed up. Dad worked his charm, and now my brother the cellist is the proud owner of a signed note scribbled out by Yo Yo Ma.
My reaction to all this was tasteless (as many of my reactions are): "Put that up on eBay." Sean's reaction: "Probably won't fetch much."
Dan Darling at Regnum Crucis on the propaganda footage of an al-Qaeda training camp:
Now [forgive] me, but Saudi Arabia is a totalitarian state, is it not? The cops sure as hell don't have problems arresting alcohol salesmen, thieves, drug dealers, uncovered women, or underground religious organizations, so why in God's name is an operation like this (with full military training curriculum) able to go in the Magic Kingdom for Lord knows how long, pumping out new cadres of militants whose theoretical objectives involve the overthrow of the monarchy[?] So how exactly is this able to go on undetected?
This is no way to run a police state!
One further point on the subject of the video tape is that while blurring images is not terribly esoteric work, it does imply a level of professionalism and sophistication that has previously been lacking from the organization's propaganda footage.
My CafeShops link, Caverns of the Big Hominid, is now on the blogroll, assuming its proper place directly beneath the Maximum Leader.
All proceeds go to the funding of child labor and the Cult of Sauron (actually, Sauron, to his credit, never relied on human child labor).
Browse the shop, buy some Christmas gifts (or gifts for any other occasion), and visit the other shops. There are even shops for Tupac Shakur and (gack) LeAnn Rimes.
Edwin Thomas responds to my post on Taiwan and Bush with some thoughts of his own:
Yahoo news story on Rumsfeld
I was reading this and it made me think of your George "I'm an illiterate
idiot" Bush wish list. A good start at building ties to eastern Europe. I
speculate that yanking the Russian's chain may not be a bad thing. Especially
if we offer assistance against the Chechnyan problem. Sort of a carrot and
I have a few problems with Bush:
(order not relevant)
Economy: If you are going to spend a bunch of money, then quit giving damned
tax cuts. We are broke broke broke.
Environment: he has basically screwed everything. I'd hate to see him keep
doing it. He treats the ecology like Glorious Leader treats an unattended young
Appropriate use of force: While I agree that the US should be making a
difference in some parts of the world, I am not certain that Bush and I agree
about what is 'appropriate.'
I think we need to be much heavier handed with Russia, much more consistent
with Corea Del Norte and the Han Empire, and that we definitely, absolutely
need to upgrade our military systems. With everybody and their bastard brother
having atomics (which I shall consider different from Nukes in the way a 44
magnum is different from a cannon) we need to maintain a technological edge.
I think that the most important allies we have in the middle earth area are, in
order, Turkey- the ONLY country in the Islamic world with religious tolerance
and democracy in any form; Jordan, and Egypt. Notice that Israel is not there. I
think that Israel is a critical ally, but I think that we don't need them- they
just need us.
Primary foreign issues for my presidential candidate-
1. Afghanistan and Iraq: finish what has been started.
2. Korea- remove US troops and agressively move to isolate the North. No more
energy, fuel, food, anything. If necessary, keep a presence in the sea of
Corea/Japan and on the southern tip of the continent as a deterrent, but
isolation of the North is first priority.
3. Taiwan and Japan- China is the ONLY power capable of defeating the US.
(Maybe. Certainly nobody else is.) The drain of resources caused by North Korea
will help bleed them while we protect Taiwan. Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should
China be allowed to absorb any more territories.
4. Pull out of Nippon. We are not welcome or wanted. Keep them as a protected
state and allow them to build limited military defensive capability. Do not
make the mistake of thinking that Nippon will not become imperialist in a
heartbeat if it has a full military.
5. Islam- we need to strengthen areas of moderate Islam around the world and
weaken areas of the (Saudi based) extremist Wahabi Islam. This ultimately means
moving out of Saudi Arabia. It also means strengthening those non-Islamic forces
around the world in areas of Islamic insurgency. How to best do this is beyond me.
6. Ecology- we need international agreements limiting and controlling fishing
and whaling in both the Atlantic and the North Pacific. No more species should
be brought to the point of extinction by fishing and hunting.
7. Energy- this is good business sense- we need to identify all industries in
which we are petrol-dependent and find/develop alternatives. This includes
fuel, plastics, cosmetics, and agriculture, and probably much more.
Bush or Daffy Duck... Bush or Daffy Duck... Bush or Daffy Duck...
The Maximum Leader recently reminded me that "all politics is local." I take this to mean that we vote according to what's immediately relevant to us, where we are, in Stiff Clit, USA. Right now, for me, what's relevant is foreign policy, probably because I'm deeply concerned by the Asian and Middle Eastern situations. I'm not convinced the Dems have any plans that're better than what the current administration's got, messed-up and ad hoc as those plans may be. I think Bush's basic attitude is fundamentally correct: firmness now, conciliation later-- and ignore most critics inside and outside the US. I think this is where many Dems fail in foreign policy-- not the particulars, but the spine. Right now, so soon after 9/11 (yes, it's soon, and no, it's not yet time to put this firmly in the past), we need spine.
"It's the economy, stupid."
I agree this is hugely important, but I'm just calling it like I see it. We'll survive. Even if we're talking about a major recession or a multifront trade war, we'll eke our way through it, because when you look through the layers of obesity, sarcasm, tattoos, and piercings, we're at heart a tough, adaptable people who espouse hope, that future-oriented sentiment, as part of our ethos. Bush might buttfuck the economy, but we'll make it through in spite of him.
The prospect of a major US city becoming a crater (nukes) or mass grave (bioweapons, etc.) is very much on my mind right now-- more than the economy is. We DO need to work on the economy-- NOW-- because that ties in to issues like defense and national security. But if I have to hierarchize issues to make my electoral decision, I have to put defense issues first. Is that the right way to think? I honestly don't know. But it's where I am at the moment. I may still have to write in Daffy Duck come next November, though. We'll see.
The Marmot writes a post titled "Don't Go, Big-nosers!" It features a political cartoon depicting a departing American military, Korean politicians shouting "Don't go!", and one US soldier turning around to grouse at the politicians, "You want to be constantly anti-American?" The Marmot points out the huge noses placed on the US soldiers, but the ensuing comments thread also yielded a good deal of treasure. I want to steal from the Marmot's commenters and quote them in the light of day here. One humorous observation by the Flying Yangban was:
I noticed that there are only honkies in the US army in that cartoon. Where are the brothers?
Readers in Korea will be well-aware of this, but for those of you not in the know: if you think white racism against blacks is bad in America, wait'll you see Korean racism against blacks. The general rule in Korea is: the darker your skin, the less we like/trust you. Some Indians break this rule by speaking incredibly fluent Korean and nabbing the high-end tech jobs (unsurprising; American companies outsource a lot of their tech work to India these days), but this is still very much the exception, and Indians of all castes (pardon the pun) still experience a good deal of racism in Korea.
Peter Schroepfer of Oranckay writes:
Dunno about others but I sense a minor strain of discourse among the [Korean] Left that either (1) doesn't want the Americans to get upset about anti-Americanism, or (2) doesn't think it would be becoming of the US to get upset about anti-Americanism.
If (1), then you wonder why the heck not and if (2), then it confirms my suspicion that alot of anti-Americanism originates in unconscious but higher expectations for the US than for Korea or other countries.
Something like this is at work in America when you're talking about power dynamics and racism: minorities say, "We're the little guy, so it's less harmful (i.e., more justified) for us to be abusive of whites than it is for whites to be abusive of minorities" (think: Robin Williams's ethnic Arab jokes in his Broadway routine; compare with David Chappelle's "white police officers sprinkling crack on blacks" routine-- which I found hilarious). Koreans, long used to viewing themselves as "the conquered" or as simple victims of the outside world, may very well be doing the same thing: "America, we're the little guy, so you shouldn't be so upset by our anti-Americanism. After all, it's only to be expected. You, however, need to watch your arrogance, because you're a huge, powerful country compared to us." I don't want to make sweeping judgements about that dynamic, whether we're talking about US-SK relations in SK, or majority/minority relations in America, except to note that the dynamic produces a lot of PC overreaction.
But the comment that most caught my eye in this thread was-- surprise, surprise-- the Infidel's, which I quote here in full:
The Korean Left is falling into the same mind trap most marxists can't resist, because dialectics posits conflict into the very fabric of all group relations. Even if the Americans are sincerely looking at South Korea as a liability, because of discontent, the left has to create an imaginary divide between those Americans who want to stay and those who want to go. And then, it has to interpret Rumsfeld's remark as some kind of inside joke Rumsfeld the bureaucrat is using to fight with the State Department.
South Koreans just don't understand how deep the isolationism runs in American thinking, because Koreans are such victims, that they only see winners who are imperialists and losers who are conquered. Washington after Munich and WW2 sees the world as either a chessboard with America on the white side, or as the Old Europe America needs to ignore and isolate itself against. Koreans are also so cynical they could never just accept or admit that there is such a thing as loyalty between allies.
On the other hand, the South Korean right is probably just ideologically bankrupt. Although I would never question its loyalty, I'm sure it would murder to stay in power if an emergency presented itself. And the same for the left. No, what surprises me most about that cartoon is that it uses Rumsfeld to dramatize South Korea's party divisions. It almost screams the message, "Without Washington We Koreans Will Kill Each Other!"
I think this is an extremely perceptive observation, and I'm still chewing it over. His point about American isolationism is well taken: in my family, we'll have moments, while watching the news, where one of us will go, "You know, maybe we should just pull out of Location X. Let 'em deal with the problem themselves," only for another of us to reply, "It's too late; we're too plugged in." And the Infidel's last line rings very true to me: Koreans are insecure about losing their training wheels, but it really is high time for the training wheels to come off.
Moving over to Korean baseball...
Regarding Lee Seung-yeop's purported whininess, and the state of Korean sports journalism: my buddy Thomas St. John, who's a contributing writer to the Korea Times, wrote to me about the tabloid nature of Korean sports journalism, where bullshit often gets reported as fact. Over two emails, here's what he says:
If I were getting all of my quotes from the tabloid
sports papers, I would think he is a whiny bitch also.
He has never said most of the things in print now and
even had to have a press confrence where he told
people not to believe anything that they do not hear
from [him] on the radio or actually see him say on TV.
Things will work out well for him but with all the
free agents coming out now and more on the 7th,
literally anything is possible. So many first basemen
[being] available is not helping things either.
Sure he wants his money but he knows that the KBO is
hardly known outside Korea and he is a no one in the
market. The sportswriters are making up things
LITERALLY. Lee has a million things on the table now
and all is about where he signs. Contract first and
all else will fall into place.
Can't go into more detail but it will be made clear
what he is doing and why he is doing it a few days
after he signs.
Quoting a sports newspaper or any Korean paper for
that matter is like quoting the National Enquirer.
Literally that bad. Real papers like Chosun Ilbo get
their sports from these dorks also.
US MLB writers get their info from the translated
That is why things are so fucked up now.
Every reporter is getting in the way here. It is the
usual thing where every younger Korean is EVERYONE's
son or daughter and they feel like they must say
their piece. Some, unfortunately, have a newspaper
column to do this and the 'editor' NEVER checks a
single story for accuracy. I have been told this by
reporters personally. That is how they get away with
I don't know what this adds or subtracts to issues bouncing among Koreabloggers, but there ya' go.
Thursday, December 04, 2003
Call me insane.
I haven't slept. Not a wink.
Believe me, I want to sleep right now, but I'm not quite finished.
"Not finished with what?" your ass crack hisses timidly.
With my CafePress store, of course!
Ah, the things I do for you people. I noticed my SiteMeter graph is slightly up, so thank you. You have my gratitude. And thanks, again, to the furtive purchasers of Scary Spasms in Hairy Chasms. More books are on their way to the warehouse.
I was up scanning and tweaking and converting and finessing over thirty designs for CafePress-- some based on old art still sitting in my Mac's hard drive, some based on the brush art and calligraphy I brought home with me from Seoul. The end result?
Tons of new products.
No need to hit Chewiest Tumors for these items. Here's the direct link to
Take a gander. Do some Christmas shopping. There's more to come... and once I master a couple other programs, I'll be adding COLOR to much of what you see, and maybe even HTML-ing the CafeShops template to make it something more... hominidal.
But now, the time has come for blissful slumber. True, it's only 3 in the afternoon, but my contacts are blurred to the point where it's almost like I'm not wearing them, and I'm nodding off at my brother's laptop, upon which I must... not... drool. Otherwise, I'll spend a year being farted awake by a very angry David.
By the way, if you have suggestions for other BigHo-style CafePress/CafeShops products, stick a comment over in Vile Vituperation, or send me an email.
Now, O Somnus, I stand ready...
Wednesday, December 03, 2003
Keep your eye out for more on this.
Chinese military officers said today that Taiwan's leadership had pushed the island toward the "abyss of war" with its independence drive, making clear that China would consider a popular vote on Taiwan's political status as cause for war.
In lengthy interviews carried prominently by the official New China News Agency and other news outlets, the military officials also said that China would prevent Taiwan from formally declaring independence even if that meant pushing the mainland economy into a recession or destroying its plans to be host to the 2008 Olympics.
"Chen has reached the mainland's bottom line on the Taiwan question," said Luo Yuan, a senior colonel with the Chinese Academy of Military Sciences, referring to Taiwan's president, Chen Shui-Bian. "If they refuse to come to their senses and continue to use referenda as an excuse to seek Taiwan independence, they will push Taiwan compatriots into the abyss of war."
Maj. Gen. Peng Guangqian was quoted as saying that the mainland would attack without hesitation if Taiwan sought a formal split. "Taiwan independence means war," Mr. Peng said. "This is the word of 1.3 billion people, and we will keep our word."
The comments were the most strident in a barrage of explicit threats directed toward Taiwan in recent weeks by mainland leaders, and they may indicate a decisive shift in Beijing's approach to managing Taiwan affairs.
I'm rooting for Taiwan. If we get involved, I'm rooting for us, too. I somehow doubt it's going to come to war, but a couple things make me hedge my bets:
1. China's feeling like a superpower and working overtime to polish its global image, even though it's obviously unchanged at the core.
2. China has always been expansionist. They fit the "imperialist" label much more literally than America does. Look at Tibet if you think I'm kidding: it's flooded with Chinese, and the original culture is practically gone, surviving primarily in Dharamsala (and will it last there much longer?). The Chinese government has brainwashed its citizens into believing that Tibet's people have always been Chinese/belonged to China. It's patent bullshit, but the Chinese swallow this as easily as Noh Mu Hyon swallows Kim Jong Il's spoo. This is how Chinese hegemony works: fool yourself into thinking you own something, then move in as if it's true.
Then there's this from the Times article:
General Peng listed the Olympics, loss of foreign investment, deterioration in foreign relations, economic slowdown or recession and "necessary" casualties by the army as costs China would willingly bear to reunify the mainland. He belittled the idea that China would not dare use military force against Taiwan in advance of the 2008 Olympics, which it campaigned for many years to play host.
The officers are directing the comments at the United States as well as Taiwan. Beijing officials and analysts say the Bush administration needs to take a firmer line against Taiwanese independence, an issue Mr. Wen seems certain to press during his meeting next week with President Bush.
3. People will argue, rightly or wrongly, that the precedent has been set by America for the use of preemptive force. China might well claim its own right to so, interpreting Taiwanese independence as a real threat to Chinese sovereignty.
Since Nixon, we've at least given lip-service to the "one China" doctrine. Maybe it's time to break with that and see what China does. The US inaction re: Tibet has been nothing short of shameful; allowing China to ream Taiwan would be just as bad.
On a side note, I've been kicking around the idea of voting for Bush next year. It galls me because the man's a profligate spender and big-governmentarian-- everything the paleocons hate about liberals. I'm neither Democrat nor Republican (certainly not a paleocon), but I do sympathize with the classical Republican notion of localized responsibility. Bush, and many Republicans too in thrall to the religious right, don't share this feeling when it comes to matters of private conduct. Bush's stance on gay marriage is completely backward-- a refusal to acknowledge that times have changed. And Bush has managed to help generate a deficit that's already huge and about to become monstrous.
These two issues in and of themselves make me think that writing in Daffy Duck (which is what I'm most likely to do) will be the best course of action. But for me, foreign policy matters more right now than our economy. That sounds counter-intuitive, but I think we're a clever enough people to figure ways to survive whatever economic hell Bush plunges us into. Right now, I'm worried about Democratic leaders who will (1) listen a little too closely to "allies," (2) once again cut spending on national defense and give the wolves another reason to attack us on our soil, and (3) practice the same kind of appeasement and terrorism-support we see in South Korea, France, and other places-- but in low-grade form. Bush's own policies seem in many ways incoherent, but the Dems don't seem to have their shit together, either. When push comes to shove with foreign policy, I'll prefer the guy who shows that je ne sais quoi-- call it backbone, insanity, bravery, or a stupidity-fueled ignorance of (immunity to?) critical opinion. Whatever keeps NK and other totalitarian states nervous, on their toes, and on the defensive is fine by me. Bush fits the bill nicely; I somehow doubt Howard Dean would seem quite so menacing (or unstable!) to the likes of Kim Jong Il.
Wish list for Bush (who I assume, at this point, will easily win his second term):
1. PUSH THE ANGLOSPHERE TIES. I haven't seen much from Sullivan et al. about this in recent months, which is too bad. We've got friends in surprising places, if only we'd approach them. Australia and Eastern Europe come readily to mind. Italy, screwed up as it is (and admittedly not part of the Anglosphere), has been an unexpected friend in most cases this past year, Berlusconi's elegies to Mussolini notwithstanding. All of that needs to be nurtured, for diplomatic and military reasons.
2. Figure out clever ways to fund the Iraq campaign. Send the message to the people that grass-roots support-- time, money, effort-- is always welcome. We're a country with deeper pockets than we admit. It's a trait of the rich to plead "not enough money." That's how they stay rich. Right now is not the time for such people to be hoarding: to the contrary, since many (if not most) rich folks are Republican/conservative (Hollywood liberals and Washington socialites/politicos excepted), and since most such people have been strongly advocating the project in Iraq, it might be nice to see these people put their money where their mouth is and contribute private funds to the cause.
3. As a corollary, DON'T SKIMP ON TROOPS IN IRAQ.
4. As a corollary to that, DON'T SKIMP ON INTEL. You've got satellites to update? Then update 'em! You've got Arabic-speakers to train? Well, they've been in school since September 11, 2001, and the first wave is graduating. Their services, in the intel offices and in the trenches, are badly needed. Lucky for us, we're a country that loves to learn and loves a challenge; I think we're going to have formidable intelligence resources in Arabic-speaking lands in the near future.
5. Promote interreligious dialogue. Now is not the time for our country and culture to succumb to the stereotype that Islam is only a religion of violence. As I've contended plenty of times before, Islam (as is true for any religion) is as it is practiced. Want a peaceful Islam? Work toward making one-- that goes for both sides of the dialogue table. Giving up on this project, writing all Islam off, is not acceptable. And trying to "pacify" Islam only through force isn't acceptable, either. I don't say that because I'm a pacifist; I say that because it's an age-old rule of human nature: violence begets violence. Or as the Buddhists say, same karma, same action (dohng eop, dohng haeng).
6. Don't back down on North Korea. Make verification-- the way WE want it done-- an absolute requirement before negotiations can go any further. While we're at it, this should be true in places like Iran as well. And keep the military option firmly in view. By the same token, don't back down on South Korea. Keep repeating the mantra of self-responsibility until, by some miracle, it starts to sink in. A huge economic power comprised of 45 million people has little right to whine. South Korea could use some balls about now.
7. Make a break with past policy on Taiwan. Stop actively affirming the "one China" doctrine. True, we already supply Taiwan with arms and have a thriving economic relationship with it. That won't be enough if China brings things to a head. Taiwan needs to know who its friends are, and if this means a bold declaration affirming Taiwan's sovereign status, be prepared to make such a declaration.
8. LISTEN TO RUMSFELD. The man is right about making a less unwieldy military. He's also on the right track about troops in Korea, though I hope he eventually comes out and says the obvious: our troops need to leave. And if he's writing memos critiquing where we are in the war on terrorism, don't ignore them or spin them. I trust his instincts on this.
9. Continue to find new, hi-tech ways to project force-- ways that don't require us to have so many bases in foreign lands.
10. Be nice to the environment, man.
There's more... there's always more, but that's all I can think of at the moment.
A fantastic piece by the Minister of Agriculture on the Maximum Leader's site segues from a discussion of the "declension model" of history ("things are in decline... O for the Good Old Days") to a diachronic comparison of rat terriers through the declension model. One passage details a particular ratter's prowess in the martial arts. Meet a ratter named Boots:
[Boots] also lived up to his rat terrier name, acting as the prince of rat control on the farm. One day when they were cleaning out the grain bin, a lifted sack of feed revealed a dozen rats which immediately began to flee. But there was no safety. Quick as a flash, Boots was amongst them, biting, shaking, dropping, biting, shaking, dropping, biting, shaking, dropping. I have seen Kermit and Patches, my childhood terrier, do the rat terrier neck shake. They grab and then give a powerful shake [that] breaks the neck of the rodent. Patches once shook a mouse so hard the detached head flew across the carport. You can actually hear the bones snap from twenty feet away. But I have never seen them kill multiple rodents that quickly. Knowing that he did not have time to play with his quarry or to savor the kill, Boots efficiently killed and moved on before they could escape. He was true to his breeding.
It's a great post; go over and read the rest.
I had to send two back-to-back shipments of my book, Scary Spasms in Hairy Chasms, to the Amazon warehouse. It's both puzzling and amazing to realize people are out there purchasing this thing, but if South Park has proved anything, it's that scatological humor sells.
So thank you.
A reminder that it's quite OK to buy the book directly from me-- I don't bite. Visit my other blog, Only the Chewiest Tumors, and hit a PayPal button to buy my book. If you buy several, you get a discount. It goes like this:
1 copy for $15 (+ shipping)
2 copies for $25 (+ shipping)
5 copies for $55 (+ shipping)
10 copies for $100 (+ shipping)
Full disclosure: while I like the fact that Amazon's a great place to market and hawk one's wares, Amazon charges a $30 annual fee for the privilege of advertising there, and it takes a full 55% of my book's cover price. I also pay my own shipping to the Amazon warehouse, so as you can imagine, I don't see much more than a dollar or two in profit, when all is said and done. Buy directly from me, and I'm a happier camper.
Visit this post at Chewiest Tumors to buy my book. I use PayPal, which is perfectly safe. If you're not signed up with PayPal, signup is a breeze.
COMING THIS WEEK: My CafePress.com store, Caverns of the Big Hominid. It's got a URL; I'm in the process of setting things up. More on this as it happens, but the products I'll be starting off with are mugs (large and small), tee shirts, tile coasters, sweatshirts, and greeting cards (which I may also be selling on my own).
Christmas is just around the corner, and I know you have friends who love gross humor. Scary Spasms in Hairy Chasms is the perfect book to take into the crapper with you. Buy two books; buy five. If you have a whole office full of disgusting co-workers, buy ten! Buy through me, and get that discount. Jesus will love you and start turning water into wine like a madman. The Buddha will tongue your toes. Thousands of tiny angels will hump each other with glee. Cows will fart pixie dust. Children will pick their noses and pull out silver boogers. You'll extrude your very own anus-tongue, and what could be better than that?
Tuesday, December 02, 2003
A few years late, but a nonetheless-fascinating exegesis of the "Uncle Fucka" song by Stavros the Wonderchicken.
Drambuie Man fisks the South Korean insistence that food must be fresh, when all around we see processed crap. I agree, but I disagree that Korean cuisine has become a "red haze" just because there's a lot of goch'u use. And since Korean cuisine isn't, generally speaking, "oven" cuisine, I don't hold it against Koreans that their traditional dishes aren't baked. Call me partisan, but I grew up eating Korean food in all shapes & colors; trust me-- it's not a red haze.
The Man also posts, as a father, on the NK atrocity of killing mixed-blood children (again, something that South Koreans tend to gloss over in public discourse on NK). He says in part:
Being a father of mixed race child, and even just a father in general, it only makes me sick to my stomach and want the invasion the North fears to happen now. Funny how you feel when your thoughts are beyond the clinical abstract.
Which reminds me that Satan's Anus recently offered a link to this site, Students for War, which advocates immediate US military action against the North.
I sympathize and share Drambuie Man's rage, but now isn't the time (I know he knows this & was only posting his feelings). But as my sympathy for SK's government and youthful populace continues to drain away, my tune may change.
Kevin at IA has a good laugh at recent North Korean demands for recompense from America. Some of NK's claims, which also try to demonstrate just how buddy-buddy the North is with the South:
The U.S. imperialists killed in cold blood at least 2,240,000 civilians and patriots or 10 percent of the population of south Korea right after their occupation of south Korea (September 1945-May 1950) and during the Korean war of aggression (June 1950-July 1953). At least 83,000 innocent people were killed by the U.S. imperialists' firing, violence, terrorism, robbery, rape, arson, deliberate traffic incident, spread of contagious diseases and spray of defoliant in the postwar period (August 1953-present).
The amount of damage inflicted by the U.S. imperialists upon the south Korean people runs into astronomical figures. If the victims are considered to be still alive and the income to be earned by them during their lifetime plus its interest and the changed value of U.S. dollar, etc. are estimated by the calculation method according to the international usage, the amount of damage caused to the dead is estimated to be 9,343,020,050,000 U.S. dollars, the amount of damage to the wounded 13,105,728,120,000 U.S. dollars, bringing the total amount of human damage to 22,448,748,170,000 U.S. dollars.
If a total amount of damage including the confiscation of "enemy property," the levy of taxes, extortion of grains is estimated at the present price, it amounts to 4,281,665,880,000 U.S. dollars.
A total amount of damage caused by destruction runs into 5,145,398,340,000 U.S. dollars when estimated at the present price, and the amount of damage resulting from "aid" totals 2,341,469,900,000 U.S. dollars and the amount of damage incurred by trade and the market opening totals 1,413,903,760,000 U.S. dollars.
This means, in the final analysis, the U.S. imperialists have inflicted upon south Korea material and economic losses worth 17,415,708,040,000 U.S. dollars through plunder, destruction, "aid," trade and the market opening and the infiltration of capital since their occupation of south Korea.
Meanwhile, the loss south Korea has suffered due to the U.S. military bases totals 127,792,170,000 U.S. dollars and the loss incurred by its payment of the expenses for the upkeep of the U.S. troops in south Korea is estimated at 705,395,760,000 U.S. dollars.
South Korea's loss caused by the forced purchase of war equipment totals 1,083,633,580,000 U.S. dollars when its interest and the changed value of a U.S. dollar are taken into account.
The U.S. imperialists have staged a total of 13,700 war exercises of various forms in south Korea, counting only those made public. The amount of damage caused by them is estimated to be 577,742,910,000 U.S. dollars.
If the amount of damage caused to the land, forests and rivers and streams by environmental pollution and destruction is estimated on the basis of the expenses for restoring them to their original state, it totals 780 billion U.S. dollars.
The Marmot offers comprehensive coverage of what's going on inside the tiny skulls of South Korea's current policymakers re: troop dispatch to Iraq... it's a woefully mixed bag.
The Vulture remarks on the phenomenon of "female solons."
I've given up on lux bearer (the coward who won't admit he's Korean... too ashamed?), since he ceased to be entertaining and still doesn't know how to insult people in English fluently, but if you want to read his lame gibes, visit that comment thread here. He accuses me of being a fat bastard ("Get-- in-- mah-- BELLY!!"), but I suspect he's ugly and know he's stupid-- both of which are unchangeable conditions.
A note to people who might think I was being too mean too lux bearer: It was obvious from the moment I began reading his peabrained posts that he wasn't interested in a reasonable discussion. So instead of attempting a meaningful debate, I decided I might as well provide the audience a little fun. It's no more high-minded than the fun derived from bullying someone who's obviously dimwitted, but lux bearer pretty much bent himself over and demanded to be reamed. Lucky for us, he still doesn't seem to realize this, but (1) I obviously pissed him off, and (2) he's now visiting my blog. The entire encounter went according to my terms. I declared I was stopping, and so I've stopped. lux has the floor because I choose to cede it.
A reminder to lux bearer and others who can't see the political situation as it is:
While we're still on Seeing Eye Blog, though, I should note Mike's post about Bush's new title, given to him by a grateful Iraqi-- "Avenger of the Bones," as detailed here.
Lastly: Peter Schroepfer at Oranckay notes an evil omen. Am not looking forward to my return to Godae.
And that's all for now.
The Minister of Agriculture refers me to a Post article about what it's like to be a tourist on Diamond Mountain (Mt. Geumgang, or Mt. Kumgang, or Kumgang-san, or Geumgang-san-- pick your romanization) in North Korea. No surprises here, but lots of interesting points:
In the surreal world of North Korean tourism, you can feast on local delicacies served by glamorous lady comrades, watch an acrobatics show infused with Stalinist humor and climb a storied mountain covered with plaques and monuments celebrating the totalitarian Kim clan.
But be back indoors by the midnight curfew -- or face fines, questioning by authorities or, well, worse.
This is Mount Kumgang, the fortified tourist compound where the Hermit Kingdom meets the Magic Kingdom, right down to Disneyesque guys in fuzzy bear suits greeting visitors. A window into hermetically sealed North Korea since foreign visitors were granted limited access five years ago, it lies an hour's drive north of the minefields and missile batteries lining the most heavily militarized border in the world.
Here, tension is part of the attraction.
"Look, quick! North Korean soldiers!" one excited South Korean yelled to other tourists on a bus after spotting an armed squad marching by. They tripped over each other trying to get a better view.
The over-the-rainbow quality of the place offers a rare, if hyper-controlled, glimpse at life on the Cold War's last frontier.
"You are supposed to relax and have a good time," said Jang Whan Bin, senior vice president of investor relations at Hyundai Asan Corp., the South Korean company that financed and operates most of the resort. "But this is still North Korea. Things are quite different here."
"Quite different." Understatement of the year.
And the North Koreans love despoiling the natural surroundings:
No act of the Kims is too small to be noted on these ancient rocks, now coated with more than 4,000 monuments, etchings and other commemorative inscriptions to the clan. A spot where Kim Il Sung is said to have especially appreciated the view is dutifully marked with a six-foot-tall stone tablet. Elsewhere a young guard stood by an etching commemorating the exact location where Kim Jong Sook, mother of the younger Kim, once rested her weary bones.
This is an important landmark, insisted the female guard, who watches over foreign visitors and keeps out unauthorized North Koreans. Her eyes went wide when asked about the need for a monument in a place of such natural beauty.
"She was the beloved wife of the Great Leader!" fumed the guard in her fashionable red jacket with a matching propaganda pin bearing Kim Il Sung's face. "Don't you have a father? Isn't he the absolute ruler of your family? Mustn't he be obeyed? You must understand, Kim Il Sung is the father of our nation and we are his children. Everything related to him must be celebrated."
"Including his wife?" she is asked.
"Do not just call her his wife! Use her title!" she demanded.
"Her title! How can you not know her title?" Exasperated, the guard explained that Kim's wife must be referred to as "Great Revolutionary General Kim Jong Sook."
That North Koreans generally have no idea how the rest of the world looks at them is an indication of how far they've moved from being "one people" with the South. Unfortunately, South Koreans are also big into despoiling their own environment. I've been on many hikes in the mountains around Seoul; every one features pollution and large groups of hikers yelling "Yaaaaaaaaa-hooooooooo!" instead of quietly enjoying nature. The trails have been pounded into sand, which facilitates erosion... it's a far cry from hiking in Switzerland.
And here's a brief look into SK collusion with the North, plus Korean xenophobia in general:
Most of this sprawling tourist complex, including hotel, hot springs and duty-free shops including Prada and Gucci, is run by Hyundai Asan, which each month brings in about 15,000 people, mostly South Koreans. The North Koreans feared so many foreigners would contaminate the minds of the locals, so the vast majority of employees here are ethnic Koreans shipped in from China.
And don't get too comfortable at Mt. Geumgang:
Lest the mountains, lakes and tourist attractions lull you into a false sense of security, officials constantly remind guests that they are surrounded by a military installation that includes a naval base across the port from where a small cruise ship docks each week. Visitors are instructed not to talk to the locals about politics or economics. Two years ago, one South Korean woman merely suggested that her nation, which is 13 times as wealthy as the communist North, had a higher standard of living. She was arrested and held for seven days until Hyundai negotiated her release. Photos here are limited to shots of the tourist installations and specified views of Mount Kumgang itself.
There are no exceptions.
One Dutch visitor captivated by the serenity of the scene snapped a digital photo of the mountain setting with a happy sign in the background declaring "Welcome to Mount Kumgang." But she inadvertently clicked just as two North Korean soldiers with sidearms were walking by.
"Hey, you!" they barked in Korean. "Come here!"
"The soldiers were not amused," said Eunmi Postma, a Dutch journalist based in Seoul.
They demanded the tourist's camera and asked to see her passport.
"But, I mean, all I did was try to take a picture of the welcome sign," she said. "The soldiers were so far away you couldn't even make them out in the photo. I finally deleted the picture so they wouldn't take my camera.
"I know it's North Korea, but still, this is supposed to be a tourism resort. . . . What a weird place."
A reminder: visit this post, which has links to two Americans' travelogues of their trip into North Korea (read: Pyongyang) on a group tour.
Monday, December 01, 2003
Adultery is a crime in South Korea-- i.e., there are government regulations about private sexual morality there. And apparently, adultery is on the books in Virginia's criminal code-- and in other states, too! Here's a snippet from the Washington Post fo' yo' big behind:
When John Raymond Bushey Jr. became the first person in as long as anyone can remember to be convicted of adultery in Virginia, several things happened:
He resigned his position as attorney for the Shenandoah Valley town of Luray, Va., a job he'd held for 32 years.
People who heard of his situation scratched their heads and said, "You mean, adultery is actually a crime?"
And those who wade into the messy aftermath of alleged infidelity -- divorce lawyers and private investigators -- started pondering what impact the ruling would have on their jobs.
As for the folks in Luray, they're just curious about what the snowy-haired Bushey -- 65 years old, married for 18 years to the town clerk and the very model of a courtly Southern lawyer -- was up to.
"You always hear gossip, but you never know what to put any credence to," said a woman who works on Luray's Main Street. Like virtually everyone else interviewed in the town of 4,500, she spoke on the condition that her name not be used when commenting on the Bushey case.
Because the charges were filed in Virginia's lowest court, there are no records that reveal exactly what Bushey did, with whom he did it or why prosecutors would pluck such a rarely used statute from Virginia's criminal code and apply it to him. Bushey declined to be interviewed about the case. And the prosecutor wouldn't give many details of Bushey's Oct. 23 guilty plea, the result of a plea agreement.
"There's nobody peeping in a window saying, 'Mr. Bushey did this,' " said Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Glenn R. Williamson, when asked how authorities found out about the indiscretion. The complainant, he said, was the woman involved with Bushey. She has not been charged.
Although he pleaded guilty in District Court, Bushey is allowed to appeal to Circuit Court. On Halloween, that's what he did. More details might come out when the case goes before a judge Jan. 27. Until then, Williamson isn't discussing the case, beyond saying, "I think that the state has an interest in protecting the sanctity of marriage.
Like other Class 4 misdemeanors in Virginia, adultery carries a maximum penalty of a $250 fine. Bushey paid half that, plus $36 in court costs. Adultery is also against the law in Maryland, where the penalty is a fine of $10, about the cost of a pecan bar and two large caramel macchiatos at Starbucks. The District will soon join about half of the states in the country by repealing its adultery statute.
Prosecutors in the Washington area couldn't recall the last time anyone around here had been charged with adultery. Many laws seen as holdovers from an earlier morality have been repealed in periodic overhauls of state statutes. The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in June striking down Texas's anti-sodomy statute has prompted many states, including Virginia, to scrutinize laws concerning private acts between consenting adults.
The Virginia State Crime Commission has spent the past three years studying the state's criminal code and next month will recommend repealing its sodomy statute and the fornication statute, which prohibits sexual intercourse between unmarried people.
Also recommended for repeal: "Conspiring to cause a spouse to commit adultery," a leftover from the wild days of fault divorce, when a wife might hire a woman of questionable virtue to seduce her husband and a camera-toting private investigator to kick down the door of their love nest.
Adultery, though, has held on, even though the commission staff said the Supreme Court's ruling in Lawrence v. Texas could be interpreted to suggest that Virginia's anti-adultery statute is unconstitutional.
Go thou and read the rest.
The Maximum Leader's blog contains a link to what he terms his "weakness." I think she's cute, but the word on the radio today (107.3FM Washington, approx 8AM) was that she puked on the grave of the Unknown Soldier during a wreath-laying ceremony. Ever the loyal minion, I immediately went to Google to track down the incident, and through a link by "Bizarro Drudge," I called up the following article, which says in part:
While the "Party of Five" star was a guest at the ceremony to lay a wreath on the grave of the Unknown Soldier, she told a talk show host, she was suffering from a urinary infection. So she doubled the dosage of her medication and ended up vomiting while talking to a high-ranking military man.
As if that weren't enough, a bee later stung her on the neck, causing her to yelp repeatedly during the playing of "Hail to the Chief."
So maybe she didn't puke on the soldier's grave, but it sounds like she was engaging in reverse peristalsis while at the ceremony in question. Hard to tell, from the article, whether she blew chunks onto the "high-ranking military man."
Will the Maximum Leader find it in his heart to pardon the woman who tempts him so?
Sunday, November 30, 2003
Caught this off Drudge: Bush Dropping Steel Tariffs to Avoid Trade War.
First step in a long march to fiscal responsibility... not to mention sparing our diplomatic capital from unnecessary drainage, and taking away ammunition from the frothing fringe on the left.
NB: I'm a bit late in posting this, but the Maximum Leader notes that Sunday was the Great Man's birthday.
A beginning religious historian's dream: Dan Darling's post on the origins and history of the Protestant Reformation.
I'll be reading it carefully.
UPDATE: I originally wrote "historian's wet dream," but decided to chop off the "wet," since I'd used that phrase only a couple posts ago. People might talk.
Tacitus challenges us to create our own Iraq plans. Pretend you're the President. Tac's questions for you:
1) What is your primary value with regard to Iraq? Secondary?
2) What sort of state and society do you prefer in Iraq if you leave?
3) What are you unwilling to do to achieve goals 1 and 2?
4) What immediate action would you take upon assumption of command?
5) What long-term action would you take?
6) At what point would you declare your plan a failure?
7) How much time are you willing to allot to your occupation?
His answers are interesting, but I'm most attracted to #4:
4) Radically increase troop levels in-country, even if it means reinstating the draft. Once done, throw down the gauntlet and forcefully exclude Shi'a theocrats (and all theocrats) from participation in political processes. Public commitment to separation of faith and state would be a prerequisite for a share in Iraq's future. At the same time, open up all local leadership under provincial governorates to free elections.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: secularism is key. Not Saddamist secularism-- Western-style secularism as understood in America. This is an absolute prerequisite for success in Iraq, and a necessary component of the Islam of the future. Today, even "moderate" Islam (in its public form, at least) has no secularism, no separation of the world into sacred and profane. It's a suffocating absolutism. Iraq (and Islam) needs a secularism that promotes pluralism and tolerance while also making clear that it's the metaparadigm into which all the puzzle pieces fit. It means that religions have to compromise to coexist; the secularism itself must be uncompromising.
How possible is this? Well, that's the question of the hour.
Like Ryan, I'm in the field of religious studies, which isn't the same thing as going to seminary with the intention of becoming clergy. It's more of an academic pursuit, but the distinction between theology and religious studies isn't always so clear-- a lot of people who enter religious studies do so for reasons that could be described as quite religious, not intellectual, philosophical, or academic. Ryan posts a great essay examining some of the legal and philosophical aspects of the odd division we've created in academe-- and what it means for your tax dollars. Choice cutlet:
There are a couple of issues at stake here. First, a theology degree can be used to establish one's career in ministry. So the state fears that by subsidizing studies in theology at religiously affiliated colleges, it would essentially be using taxpayer money for religious training. This would open up a nasty can of worms. What if I want to get my religious vocational degree in New Age Kabbalah (Madonna as professor would be pretty hot, after all), or Scientology? Will the state of Washington pay for my e-meter and my L. Ron Hubbard books? Why not?
But there's another side to this: theology is pretty comparable to philosophy at times. It can be studied by many people for many different reasons. At the heart of the issue is the difference (or non-difference) of theology and religious studies.
The study of religion as a distinct academic discipline in the United States is stunningly young- departments in public institutions were not established until after 1963, when the Abington School District v. Schempp case went before the Supreme Court. In that case, it was ruled that the public school in Abington, Pennsylvania could not utter prayers over the public address system. But in the judgment, the court wrote that public schools should be able to study the history of religions, to compare and analyze religious traditions, without giving preferential treatment or attempting to indoctrinate students. The Court had established a legal distinction between teaching religion and teaching about religion. Suddenly public universities were free to establish departments of Religious Studies distinct from departments of Theology.
Our discipline has had an identity crisis ever since. People come to religious studies for specific reasons- usually personal and theological reasons. As Robert Orsi put it on the first day of theory class: Roaming the halls of religious studies departments are ghosts- ghosts we're trying to kill with the weapon of theory. Most scholars of religion have had past experiences, positive and negative, with particular religious traditions. But we have learned to suppress and hide our autobiographies, and to obfuscate our theological agendas with social-scientific practices. Because of the legal decision of 1963 which created money and departments and jobs in our field, we do our best to hide theology behind a veneer of sophisticated anthropology, sociology, history, and philosophy.
Go read the rest!
I remember our REL 700 class at CUA had quite a discussion over the question: "Do you have to be religious to study theology?"