Sunday, December 09, 2018

putting your money where your mouth is re: the environment

Seen on Instapundit (click to enlarge):






the "millennial whoop"

When I was texting with Sean while he was in Paris (he's on his way back to the States, now, I think), I got a couple short videos from him (i.e., cell-phone videos that he recorded while he was on the streets of Paris) that included the sounds of police sirens. I jokingly told Sean he needed to write a cello composition based on the two notes of the siren; Sean shot back that "the Zeitgeist has already done it." The two-note combo is called "the millennial whoop," and it's all over the damn place. What's more: it does kinda sound like the French police siren.






life-wisdom from Matthew McConaughey

Woo-hoo!

Know yourself. Be yourself. Do that thang. Life is short.






"Ten Signs Your Movement Is Evil"

I followed an Instapundit link to this article: "Ten Signs Your Movement Is Evil," which focuses on SJWs as a collective, but which could be applied more widely. I can especially relate to #2, which offends my inner leave-me-alone libertarian:

2. They don't respect boundaries. They block traffic, destroy property, harass and intimidate opponents in public spaces (and even at their homes), and/or gleefully humiliate others in pursuit of their aims -- or they simply refuse to condemn such tactics when they're used by others. But none of these things are okay in our current context; indeed, aside from the destruction of property, which can be justified in a declared war, I don't think these are okay in any context.

Want to get on my bad side? Then just presume you can change my thought and behavior.

Be sure to read the rest.



Styx on the Mueller probe

Is this the end for Donald Trump (they asked for the thousandth time)?


Do watch this all the way through. Note especially Styx's take on Democrat hypocrisy regarding the validity of the 2016 election (2:09): they claimed the election was inviolable until the moment Trump won, then suddenly the election was rife with Russian collusion and other forms of chicanery and corruption.



Saturday, December 08, 2018

my little bro does a Tiny Desk concert at NPR

I have to share this. My little brother Sean, a professional cellist, threw in with a group called Diane Coffee to perform at a Tiny Desk Concert—an event held at the desk of NPR "All Songs Considered" commentator Bob Boilen. I first heard of Tiny Desk Concerts a day or so ago, when my friend Justin Yoshida linked to a Wu Tang Clan concert in Boilen's office. Here's Diane Coffee, with Sean as part of the background "talent":


Right at the 2:13 mark, there's a nice, slow, loving upward pan of the camera when it's pointed at Sean, so for a few seconds, my little bro dominates the screen (and lo, it happens again around 17:20). I admit I was proud, even though I had absolutely zero to do with Sean's musical formation over the years: I have no musical talent of my own.



movies to finish out 2018

There are a few movies I'd like to see to finish out the year. Some of them might not hit Korea until next year (by which time I'll be able to buy them on home video), but it is what it is. My list, in no particular order:

1. "Creed II"
2. "Aquaman"
3. "Bohemian Rhapsody" (still #1 at the Korean box office despite being released on Halloween)
4. "Ralph Breaks the Internet"
5. "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse"
6. "Bumblebee" (the only Transformers movie I actually want to see)

Do you have any movies you're hoping to see?



Sam's chicken enchiladas with chorizo sauce/topping

I'll have to make this:


"So good that you're gonna shit your pants."



at the office: another 7-day week

I'm trying to finish up one of my two major projects, so I've come into the office for a full day today and a full day of work tomorrow. Joy. It's quiet right now; only two other teams seem to have people in their offices—ah, and one team just packed up and left. All the other teams either skedaddled before I got here or never showed up, which is unusual: Saturday is normally a work day for many employees at my company.

The highlight of today: someone, probably a stupid and/or sick kid, set fire to paper towels in the men's room, presumably with a lighter. I think the kid was still in the men's room, hiding in a cubicle when I came in to do my business—avoiding responsibility, as is often the Korean way. (It's ten minutes later, and I just checked: he's still in there, crouching like a criminal with the cubicle door slightly cracked... which is how I could see him crouching.)

Seoul is a big city, so it's an attractor, and a petri dish, for all manner of sick and twisted individuals. I'm going to check the bathroom every half-hour for the next little while, just to make sure no wisps of smoke are coming out of the restroom. I don't relish the thought of burning to death at my place of work.

UPDATE: the little firebug left the bathroom sometime between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. My buddy Tom, who called me while I was in the office, recommended calling the non-emergency hotline to get the police over here. I had other plans, like solving the situation myself, but I admit I hadn't thought through every contingency, e.g., if the kid proved to be armed and/or truly crazy. But the kid disappeared on his own; I guess he felt he had hidden enough.



PJW on the Paris riots

PJW gets right to the point and shits all over the haughty, supercilious Emmanuel Macron:






Friday, December 07, 2018

in Paris

Incredibly, my brother Sean and his hubby Jeff are in Paris at the moment. I asked them to stay safe, given all the rioting. They seem to be having a good time. Sean began our Kakao-fueled conversation by sending me a pic of what appeared to be just ham and potatoes. When I asked him what the dish was, he said, "Choucroute!"—as if I'd recognize the dish after seeing only two of its components. "Bad angle," Sean admitted.

Here's the Arc de Triomphe, recently scrubbed clean of graffiti:


And here are Jeff and Sean (L and R, respectively):




still too damn cloudy

Tried to spot the comet from my workplace's rooftop again. While today's sky has been generally clearer than it had been over the past two days, there are still enough clouds to prevent one from seeing anything distinct. Only a few random stars were able to peek through the turbid atmosphere; in the direction of the constellation Cetus, where the comet is supposed to be, nothing at all is currently visible. I may try again tonight, while I'm doing my long walk home. It's below freezing right now: 19 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 7 Celsius), and it promises to get even colder by the time I leave this evening. But if I spot the comet (remember: it's called 46P/Wirtanen) during my walk, that'll make it all worth it.

UPDATE: frustratingly, the clouds kept blocking the part of the night sky where the comet should have been visible. It was almost as if God were deliberately tugging the clouds into my line of sight every time I stopped, during my walk, and looked upward.



floaters

This image is from an ad that appeared on my phone. As a man, I can totally relate to the adolescent obsession with buoyant, gravity-defying boobies.






the politics of "yes" and "no"

"Barton" (not his real name), an American dude who works two doors down from me, and who speaks a stratospherically high level of Korean, came into our office to ask people some grammar questions. He was putting together a video script (presumably, he would be the star of the video, speaking in both English and Korean) about the natural use of "yes" and "no" in English. He started off by talking with the native-speaker English teachers, but apparently, the nature of his questions became too abstruse, so the native speakers referred Barton over to me since I am now considered the local grammar deity.

Barton's video script showed mini-dialogues like the following (these aren't exact quotes):

A: You don't like coffee?
B: No, I don't like coffee.

A: You don't like coffee?
B: No, I do like coffee!

A: You don't like coffee?
B: Yeah, I do like coffee!

The more closely I looked at these dialogues, the more complicated I realized the situation was. Barton's basic question was whether these dialogues all sounded natural. I gave him a flat "yes" to that question: any pair of actors could read the above lines in such a way as to sound perfectly natural, indicating that the English itself was perfectly natural. But Barton also had to include in his script a thorough explanation for what was going on with the anglophone way of handling "yes" and "no."

Normally, when I explain the difference between the Korean and the anglophone way of handling "yes" and "no," I keep it simple: Koreans use "yes/no" to respond to the truth-value of the statement or question; anglophones respond to the grammatical value of the sentence. As we'll discuss in a bit, this is an oversimplification, but my terse explanation does cover a large swath of conversational situations.

The Korean Way
Teacher: You didn't do your homework?
Student: Yes, I didn't. (Yes = affirming the truth-value of the teacher's question)

The Anglophone Way
Teacher: You didn't do your homework?
Student: No, I didn't. (No = affirming the grammatical value of the teacher's question)

In both cases, the students are affirming that they didn't do their homework. So an American student answers "no" in confirmatory response to the grammatically negative "didn't" couched inside the teacher's question. A Korean student, meanwhile, takes in the entire question, evaluating it in light of its factuality, then issuing a "yes" to affirm or confirm that factuality (i.e., its truth-value).

Watching English-language movies in a Korean theater often means seeing Korean subtitles that say the seeming opposite of what the character on screen is saying.

Actual Dialogue (OK, not actually in the real movie, but you get my drift)
Pippin: We aren't going to survive this battle, are we?
Gandalf: No, Pippin, I believe we shan't. (confirmatory "no," paralleling Pippin's negative grammar)

Korean-subtitled Dialogue
Pippin: We aren't going to survive this battle, are we?
Gandalf: Yes, Pippin, I believe we shan't. (confirmatory "yes" affirming the truth that they won't survive)

It's a bit jarring to see that "yes" in subtitle form, but once you understand the basic Korean/anglophone difference discussed above, it makes sense. That said, Barton's mini-dialogues showed me that there's more to the matter of "yes" and "no" than truth-value versus grammatical value. Let's look again at Barton's dialogues:

A: You don't like coffee?
B: No, I don't like coffee.

A: You don't like coffee?
B: No, I do like coffee!

A: You don't like coffee?
B: Yeah, I do like coffee!

The first dialogue gives us a confirmatory "no." The second dialogue, however, gives us a "no" of contradiction! A simple change in the tone of one's voice is sufficient to alert the interlocutor that a denial, rebuttal, demurral, or refutation is forthcoming. This is strengthened by the phatic "do" that follows up the "no." And to make things even weirder, the third dialogue begins with a "yes" of contradiction as well, meaning that "yes" and "no" can, in certain instances, mean the same thing!

I mentioned to Barton that the French solved the "yes" problem by introducing a second way to say "yes" when contradicting someone: the word "si" (but without the acute accent that would make it the Spanish "Sí"), which is specifically a "yes" of denial/refutation. So a French dialogue would look a lot like the third dialogue above:

A: Tu n'aimes pas le café?
B: Si, si! J'aime bien le café!

A real asshole of a hair-splitter might argue that there exists a subtle, nuanced difference between the "no" in Barton's second dialogue and the "yes" in the third, but I'd say that that difference is vanishingly small. In those dialogues, "no" and "yes" respectively serve the same purpose, i.e., that of contradiction or disconfirmation, and that's the most salient fact.

So we have several species of "yes" and "no": a "yes" of confirmation/affirmation (not shown in any of the above dialogues), a "yes" of contradiction, a "no" of confirmation/affirmation, and a "no" of contradiction. Once I had made this clear to Barton (and, frankly, to myself, because my talk with Barton was making these issues clearer to me the more we explored his video script), we realized that Barton's current explanation of "yes" and "no" would need to be greatly expanded. And as I thought more about my old, simple way of explaining the differences between the use of "yes" and "no" by Koreans and anglophones, I began to realize that my explanation, too, would need some tinkering to make it more comprehensive.

It doesn't help matters that, in 2018, one of our dumber idiomatic expressions is, "Yyyyyeah, no." Years ago, I was on a train in France when I heard one teenage girl say, "Bon, 'fin, oui, 'fin, non!" She kept repeating that expression as she babbled with her friends; it was obviously an attempt at being comically quirky. But it was damn annoying, much like "Yyyyyeah, no."


another hat tip to Bill

Bill Keezer links to a very good article offering an interesting perspective on the French riots: the rioters don't seem to understand that the socialist policies they embrace are at the heart of their troubles. Some excerpts:

In recent weeks, images of “Yellow Jackets” (a reference to the reflective yellow vests, required to be carried by all French drivers, worn by protesters) have dominated media — angry French citizens rioting in the streets1, vandalizing monuments, and setting Paris aflame. To be fair, only a small percentage of the nearly 300,000 Frenchmen who have taken to the streets have engaged in violence.

And fewer still seem to appreciate the irony of these protests because, despite the anger, the French are getting exactly what they voted for: socialism.

Last year, the French elected socialist Emmanuel Macron in a 66-34 blowout over the nationalist Marine Le Pen, following that up months later by giving Macron’s La République en Marche! (LRM) party complete control of France’s government with 377 of the French National Assembly’s 577 seats.

Today, Macron’s approval rating stands at an abysmal 26%, far below that of U.S. President Donald Trump. Yet Macron has repeatedly rebuked Trump for his pro-American “nationalism.” Trump’s nationalism certainly stands in stark contrast to the globalism of world leaders like Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel, who responded to criticism of migration and climate-change policies by declaring, “Countries must give up their sovereignty... in an orderly fashion, of course.”

[...]

Of course, it’s an open secret that the war to end “climate change” is really a proxy war to destroy free-market capitalism and replace it with globalist socialism while curtailing individual rights.

In 2015, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of UNIPCC (the global governing body on climate change), declared that the real goal of the “global warming” agenda is not avoiding ecological disaster but destroying capitalism. Figueres said, “This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model for the first time in human history.”

If the goal was to reduce CO2 emissions, France and the world would emulate America, which has reduced CO2 output more than any other country in the last 30 years, and by a wide margin (a 14% reduction in U.S. emissions from 2005-2017 alone, versus a 21% increase for the rest of the world), despite rejecting both the Kyoto and Paris climate treaties.

But much like socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders — who owns three houses and a high-end sports car — the French people want to enjoy the feeling of moral superiority of embracing socialism (who can be against equality for all?) without actually having to deal with the consequences of socialism, which [are], and always [have] been, government oppression and widespread poverty.

Even as the French protest and riot over the increase in the gas tax, they reject proposals to cut spending in social services and welfare. As reported in The Washington Post, “A key priority for Macron’s administration has been to honor France’s European commitment to keep its budget deficit below 3 percent of gross domestic product. Suspending the carbon tax will mean that billions of euros will have to be saved elsewhere, possibly in the form of spending cuts that could affect the social services that many yellow-vest protesters also cherish.... But Macron’s political opponents rejected out of hand the suggestion that social services might be cut in any way.”

Nowhere to run to, baby. Nowhere to hide.



Thursday, December 06, 2018

and then I remembered...

It occurred to me earlier this morning that, if I leave Gab as part of a larger effort to rid myself of social-media connections, I won't have quit all of the social media that I use. One medium will remain: LinkedIn.

I kind of like LinkedIn, though, and I'm not ready to abandon it. I rarely post there, but I like the fact that LinkedIn provides the user with a stripped-down, no-bullshit format that is almost purely about making connections—then doing nothing with those connections unless one suddenly wants to change jobs. Yes: LinkedIn calls one's online associates "connections," which is much more honest and businesslike than using the insincere term "friends," as on Facebook, or the vaguely humiliating term "followers" (as if the user were Jesus), as on Twitter. A person on Facebook with 35,000 friends doesn't actually have that many true friends. It's all bullshit. So fuck Facebook—right in the fucking face.

I'll drop LinkedIn if I ever hear that its security has been breached. LinkedIn, as a service, keeps a low, sleek profile that doesn't seem to interest hackers. It doesn't go out of its way to bother people, and I don't think I've ever heard any bad news about it online or elsewhere. I've certainly never received a sheepish email from LinkedIn, the way I just did from Quora, about a security breach that has compromised the personal info of millions of users.

So for the moment, I see little need to drop a service that seems safe, and which I only rarely use. LinkedIn, thou shalt remain!



"In Praise of the Gilets Jaunes"

One of the better exegeses of the gilets jaunes movement sweeping through Paris is here.

At last, a people’s revolt against the tyranny of environmentalism. Paris is burning. Not since 1968 has there been such heat and fury in the [streets. Thousands] of ‘gilets jaunes’ stormed the capital at the weekend to rage against Emmanuel Macron and his treatment of them with aloof, technocratic disdain. And yet leftists in Britain and the US have been largely silent, or at least antsy, about this people’s revolt. The same people who got so excited about the staid, static Occupy movement a few years ago—which couldn’t even [have] been arsed to march, never mind riot—seem struck dumb by the sight of tens of thousands of French people taking to the barricades against Macronism.

It isn’t hard to see why. It’s because this revolt is as much against their political orthodoxies as it is against Macron’s out-of-touch and monarchical style. Most strikingly[,] this is a people’s rebellion against the onerous consequences of climate-change policy, against the politics of environmentalism and its tendency to punish the little people for daring to live relatively modern, fossil-fuelled lives. This is new. This is unprecedented. We are witnessing perhaps the first mass uprising against eco-elitism and we should welcome it with open arms to the broader populist revolt that has been sweeping Europe for a few years now.

The ‘gilet[s] jaunes’—or yellow-vests, after the hi-vis vests they wear—are in rebellion against Macron’s hikes in fuel tax. As part of his and the EU’s commitment to cutting carbon emissions, Macron is punishing the drivers of diesel vehicles in particular, raising the tax by 7.6 cents for every litre of diesel fuel. This will badly hit the pockets of those in rural France, who need to drive, and who can’t just hop on buses as deluded Macronists living in one of the fancy arrondissements of Paris have suggested they should. These people on the periphery of French society—truck drivers, provincial plumbers, builders, deliverymen, teachers, parents—have rocked up to the centre of French society in their tens of thousands three times in recent weeks, their message the same every time: ‘Enough is enough. Stop making our lives harder.’

It is a perfect snapshot of the most important divide in 21st-century Europe: that between a blinkered elite and ordinary people who’ve had as much bossing about, tax rises, paternalism and disdain as they can take. So from his presidential palace in Paris, Macron decrees that the little people of the nation must pay a kind of penance for the eco-crime of driving diesel-fuelled cars, like a modern-day Marie Antoinette deciding with a wave of the hand what is good for the plebs. It’s little wonder that the graffiti left behind following the latest uprising in Paris at the weekend compared Macron to Louis XVI and demanded that he resign.

This leaderless, diverse revolt, packed with all sorts of people, including both leftists and right-wingers, is important for many reasons. First because it beautifully, fatally shatters the delusional faith that certain Europhiles and piners for the maintenance of the status quo have placed in Macron since his election in May 2017.

Well, I got Trump wrong, but I've gotten at least one thing right: I've been a Euroskeptic for many years. So there.



four memes (thanks, Bill)

With thanks to Bill Keezer for linking to these.

Lame excuse, heard again and again with every failure:


But—but—what about Scandinavia? See here and here and here.

I love this next one, which show's the left's Catch-22:


On the one hand, the left deplores what's been done to the American Indians, a.k.a. the Native Americans. It's ammunition for the contention that the US is a shithole founded on a lake of innocent blood. But can leftists face the fact that it was their beloved government that committed those crimes, among others? My only question—which I suppose I can resolve for myself in a few minutes by consulting Google—is whether Ford ever actually said this. Even if he didn't, the quote is a good one.

UPDATE: probably yes.

This next one goes up there with, "I'll start caring about the environment when Leonardo DiCaprio stops traveling to eco-conferences in private jets."


Some oversensitive twat is going to call this last one racist:


Ocasio-Cortez and her amazingly asinine superpowers!



Wednesday, December 05, 2018

comet 46P/Wirtanen

We've got a comet entering our neighborhood; in principle, it's already visible. A link from Instapundit led me to this article about the comet, awkwardly named "46P/Wirtanen." A subsequent Google search led me to this page, which has more information. Finally, I found a chart with information from a Korean perspective as to when the comet ought to be visible in the sky; this was the page that informed me the comet is already visible (from 6:52 p.m. to 1:33 a.m.). In fact, as of this writing, the comet ought to be visible right now if you were to look toward the constellation Cetus (whichever constellation that is... Google Sky to the rescue!). A link from that page offered more specific information for today.

Happy observing.

ADDENDUM: dammit. Cloudy. I'll try again tomorrow, but we're enjoying a period of London-style weather right now, so no guarantees.



bye-bye, Quora

I knew I was never going to rise to the status of an advice god on Quora, but the privacy-breach announcement that I received from Quora HQ this morning was sufficient motivation for me to delete my Quora account. It's bad enough that Facebook and Twitter are so full of security holes that I had to abandon them; with this newest breach of my privacy and that of millions of others, it may be high time just to fuck off from all social media, possibly including Gab, which hasn't yet turned into a pleasant experience. I did enjoy writing answers to some of the questions I received, but security breaches just keep getting scarier to me, so for this paranoid old man, it's time to go. No regrets.



Big Walk 2! ...coming soon...?

I don't know what my work circumstances will be like a few months from now, but I've decided to plan for another big north-to-south walk next year, preferably before I turn 50. The big question is whether I'll be doing the same Seoul-to-Busan walk I did last year, or that east-coast walk from Gangneung(-ish) to Busan. The latter trail is over 700 kilometers long, making it a few days' walk longer than the Gukto Jongju trail with which I'm familiar. That trail took me 26 days to walk; were I to walk it this time, my waypoints would no longer be the certification centers: they'd be the various hotels, motels, and guest houses (excepting one guest house) at which I stayed last year. There's going to be a lot of, "Remember me? From two years ago?" as I book my overnights.

Knowing what I now know about trans-Korea walking, I'll be traveling significantly lighter. No fucking MREs this time—that was a fiasco. I might take along a bag of Soylent for emergencies, but Soylent is also heavy because it's a densely packed powder, so I'll have to think about whether it's worth it. As many commenters pointed out, rightly, there are places to eat at almost every stop, and at those stops where there's nothing to eat, well, I can just tough it out with water until the next day, or the day after that. That's not a big problem at all.

The walk took 26 days last time; if I start at Incheon, the walk will take at least 28 days, assuming I take the same number of extra rest days (3) as last time. I recall Day 2 of last year's big walk as being the day I got my huge blister—the one that plagued my foot for the entire rest of the walk. On the weekend of December 15, I'm going to walk east toward Paldang Dam and beyond, recapitulating the first two days of last year's walk, and possibly tempting fate by inviting another big blister. I'm thinking, though, that by walking smarter and traveling lighter, I might avoid entering the Blisterhood of the Traveling Kevins. Day 2 was also the day I got pretty sunburned; it wasn't long afterward that Charles suggested, in a comment, that I buy gear like those toshi (sleevelets, manchettes for cyclists). I ended up getting both the toshi and a hat, and that made a huge difference over the rest of the trail.

For the moment, I'm going to plan and train as if I'm doing this walk, but I don't really know whether my new boss will be amenable. It could be that, at the last moment, I'll be told that I can't take a month off. If so, so be it, and I'll find other ways to spend whatever free time I have. Ideally, my old boss, who says he is now campaigning to get his team back, will in fact get us back sometime before next spring, in which case it'll be far easier to persuade him to let me go. All of that is up in the air, so all I can say is, "We'll see."

But it's always nice to have a goal to work toward, something to live for. Agent Smith was right: it's purpose that guides us, drives us, defines us, and binds us.

ADDENDUM: great info on the east-coast bike trail here.



Ave, ZenKimchi!

James Chung, guest writer at Joe McPherson's ZenKimchi blog, posts an article about the arrival of "Nashville hot chicken" in Seoul. Chung compares two new restos: Rocka Doodle and Brave Rooster's. I found it interesting that some of the photos in the article seemed to lean toward one of the two establishments, but Chung's final judgment went totally the other way. Give the article a read, and get ready for spicy hot chicken, Nashville-style!



something to aspire to

I think "Knockout of the Year" is an exaggeration, but this is nevertheless one of the most beautiful knockouts I've seen. The video below is short; watch the whole thing for the buildup and payoff. As with many of the other knockouts I've watched on YouTube, this one is done with a type of spinning kick*—the very thing they tell you never to employ in a street situation (in fact, most experts advise not kicking at all, which is why taekwondo is generally scorned as a plausible means of self-defense). I suppose one explanation for why the kick works in this video is that kickboxing is a rule-governed sport, not a street situation. Another reason is that, if you're going to deliver a kick, do it when your opponent is tired, and in the video, the tall guy is obviously flagging: he loses his balance and falls at the 15- or 16-second mark after attempting a knee strike. I'm pretty sure this isn't Round 1,** and if the tall guy is that tired at this point, and the shorter guy is just biding his time, then it's understandable as to why the shorter guy executes that kick at the end. (Note, too, that the kick was high enough to slip over the tall guy's guard—another indication that the tall guy was tiring.)




*Technically, it's what's called a volley kick, possibly based on a similar move seen in soccer.

**I just went back and reread the video description. This was Round 5.



you think you're having a bad day?

Your day hasn't been as bad as that of the inattentive dude who fucked almost an entire warehouse with his forklift. It looks as if at least one coworker gets buried along with the luckless forklift driver himself.


And your day hasn't been as bad as that of the dude who, for shits and giggles, ordered food from the worst-rated restaurant in town—döner, French onion soup (with no cheese), garlic toast, fries, and a bizarre lobster:






pronunciations that annoy me

I don't like it when people pronounce "integral" as "in-TEH-gruhl." It's a legitimate pronunciation, I know, but it annoys the fuck out of me. What's wrong with "INNUH-gruhl" or the more Spock-like "INN-tuh-gruhl"?

Also annoying: hearing "aforementioned" pronounced incorrectly as "AFFER-mentioned." Dafuck is wrong wit' you? It's "uh-FOHR-mentioned"! Gitcher head outta yer ass.



this is why I subscribe to Sam

Enjoy this sweary, inconsistently bleeped-out video of Sam the Cooking Guy making a Buffalo Chicken Wings version of pizza. The guy is hilarious whenever he messes up, but at least he's honest enough to leave his gaffes in the final video. I don't think I'd ever be that honest if I were making a cooking video. Kudos to Sam, though, for not being me.






Tuesday, December 04, 2018

seen on Gab: à propos de l'émeute des "gilets jaunes"

Someone on Gab published one of those message-board theorists (they vary in trustworthiness; I recall one theorist insisting that Bill Clinton was in poor health and wouldn't live beyond 2016), and I thought I'd pass the message-board clip along, with the caveat that the author of much of the text on the right side of the image is apparently French, and apparently hates "Africans and Arabs" (continent + race? —strange). I can see singling something like that demographic out for the economic reasons cited, but had I been the author, I'd have provided some context for my anger. By simply mentioning the demographic without clarification, the guy risks sounding racist, thus perpetuating non-Gabbers' impressions of Gab as a cesspit of bigotry... which it may well be if my own experience is any indicator. Anyway, keeping that in mind, the rest of the page is a rather informative summary of events in Paris and beyond—causes, motivations, etc. Click to enlarge the image below; enlarge further by right-clicking the enlarged image and hitting "open image in new tab."


And since we're on the topic of bitterness over uncontrolled immigration (h/t Bill Keezer):


The Wikipedia entry on "the Yellow Vests Movement" (the French word gilet can mean "vest" or "jacket") includes a list of causes and goals for the current movement:
Caused by:
Increasing fuel taxes
High fuel and motor taxes
Unpopular austerity measures
Globalism

Goals:
Decrease of fuel and motor taxes
Improved standards of living
Resignation of President Emmanuel Macron and his government.
End to unpopular austerity measures.
Government transparency and accountability to the working and middle classes.

I'm tempted to call this a rightie/anti-globalist movement, but the above message-board theorists seem convinced that the riots are, at this point, something of a jumbled, mixed bag—an amalgam of people from many different parts of the political spectrum who have simply had enough of top-down government. It's tempting to see this is an example of the right's own capacity for violence, but if the movement truly is a mixed bag, then it'd be wrong to characterize the current chaos as purely rightie-fueled. Will President Macron resign as a result of this? I doubt it. He's probably gambling on the violence dying down by Christmas. France will come out of this mess perhaps a couple billion euros poorer.

And now, I need to go read up on the mai '68 riots, to which the current riots are being compared. But if I'm not mistaken, the '68 riots were clearly leftist in origin, nature, and goals.



awesome! but no, thanks

Below is a Chef Steps video that shows how to make awesome brisket at home. The problem is that the procedure shown is a mite complex and very time-consumptive, and it requires sous-vide equipment, which I haven't bought (yet), although I'd really love a Joule for Christmas because God knows I'd love to start sous vide-ing anything and everything, if for no other reason than to practice my reverse sear.

Beware—this video gets painfully corny at the end.


No, thanks, Chef Steps. I'll be doing brisket with these recipes:

Slow-cooker Brisket
Oven Brisket



Monday, December 03, 2018

"Impulse": Season 1 review

I got sidetracked this weekend when I discovered a new YouTube Premium series called "Impulse," which is primarily the story of a teenaged girl named Henrietta—"Henry" for short—who discovers she has the power to teleport by generating little wormholes. In the ten-episode first season of "Impulse," Henrietta discovers and begins to harness her strange power. The series has been renewed, so there will be a second season at some point. As I watched chapter after chapter of this story, I began to wonder whether the entire premise was a ripoff of the 2008 movie "Jumper," starring Hayden Christensen and Samuel L. Jackson. That movie also featured people able to teleport, and those people were also being chased by nameless-yet-nefarious parties. As it turns out, "Impulse" is based on the third novel of the Jumper series of novels, and a further connection is that Doug Liman, who directed "Jumper" (along with other movies you may know, such as "The Bourne Identity," "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," and "Edge of Tomorrow"), is the executive producer of "Impulse," thus once again putting him behind the wheel, creatively speaking.

Seven out of ten episodes of "Impulse" were directed by women. This fact is important because "Impulse" is science fiction for the #MeToo generation. The core trope in this series is sexual assault, which happens in the pilot episode and has repercussions throughout the season. Masculinity is generally portrayed as toxic, and "good" male characters are all submissive, quiet, physically weak, stupid or feckless in various ways—oh, and closely attentive to feminine needs. On the other hand, the female characters tend to be dimensional and diverse: all of them are flawed, and some have greater strength of character than others. Suffice it to say that "Impulse" is a thoroughly feminist show. If you can get past that, you can enjoy the story for what it is. Me, I binge-watched the entire first season over the weekend. Despite its often-distasteful politics, the series weaves a compelling drama about familial dysfunction, dynastic hubris, and malicious intent.

Henrietta "Henry" Coles (Maddie Hasson) is the daughter of Cleo Coles (Missi Pyle). With the mysterious departure of Henry's father, the two women have spent years moving from place to place, with Cleo hooking up with boyfriend after boyfriend. For the moment, they've settled in the small town of Reston, New York, and Cleo seems to have found a more-stable-than-most boyfriend, Thomas Hope (Matt Gordon), who has a daughter the same age as Henry named Jenna (Sarah Desjardins). Cleo and Henry live with Thomas and Jenna. Cleo works as a waitress at a local diner, and Thomas works at a bowling alley that sits on the property of arrogant local car magnate Bill Boone (David James Elliott, of "JAG" fame), protector of the Boone family name and proud father of Clay (Tanner Stine) and Lucas (Craig Arnold, doing a convincing Aaron Paul impression). Clay is Reston High School's athlete-stud-in-residence, the can-do-no-wrong golden boy with a bright future. Lucas works in the auto shop at the Boone Family Motors car dealership, and Bill, who is divorced, sleeps around with prostitutes and—important detail—engages in drug smuggling across the US/Canada border, partnering with a rogue group of Mennonites led by the quietly sinister Jeremiah Miller (Shawn Doyle). Sniffing out all the wisps of malfeasance in this small town is Deputy Sheriff Anna Hulce (Enuka Okuma, and it's pronounced "hull-chay"), who is a new arrival to the town but a veteran policewoman who has served in the NYPD.

Those are the main characters in the series's "A" story. The "B" story is more directly about the fact that Henry is not alone: there are other teleporters like her, and they're being hunted down by some mysterious organization whose face on the show is Nikolai (the awesome Callum Keith Rennie, whom I first saw on "Battlestar Galactica" as the show's craziest, most religious Cylon). We first meet Nikolai as he's tracking down a French-speaking family, some or all of whom seem to have the ability to teleport. The father, Dominick (Keon Alexander), desperately searches for a way out of this predicament: he's sick of being hunted, and all he wants for his family is to live in peace, but Nikolai is relentless. As you might guess, Henry eventually appears on Nikolai's radar.

Henry is prone to having seizures, which worsen throughout the pilot episode. She gets inappropriately manhandled by one of her teachers after she publicly insults him, which triggers a seizure, right there in class, that in turn causes a telekinetic event: students' pens and binders all begin moving toward Henry while she's seizing. Later on, when Henry is in an SUV with sports stud Clay Boone, Clay begins amorously pawing at and violently choking Henry, causing another seizure—but this time, the telekinesis is more intense, as if Henry were a black hole attracting everything toward her, causing the SUV to implode. Right as the SUV crunches down into a crumpled mass, Henry disappears and reappears safely in her bedroom, along with a chunk of Clay's SUV. Clay himself remains trapped in the vehicle; a few episodes later, we discover the incident has broken his back and left him paralyzed. Clay purports not to remember "the crash" that crippled him, nor the events leading up to it.

So the show interweaves several plot lines: Henry's interactions with family and classmates, the looming presence of the violence-prone Boone family, the police investigation of the Boones' dealings and of Clay's "accident," Henry and Jenna's blossoming sexuality, Henry's increasing understanding of and control over her power, and the closing-in of Nikolai and his mysterious agency, which seems intent on capturing and experimenting on teleporters. The through-line is Clay's sexual assault on Henry. While it's not quite a rape, it is a full-on attack, and the show is vague as to how much of the incident Clay himself remembers. This frustrates Henry to no end because she wants, more than anything, for Clay to confess his transgression and show remorse. Clay, an inheritor of the Boone family's signature arrogance, refuses to do any such thing. Definite shades of #MeToo and #BelieveAllWomen, here.

Henrietta isn't the most likable character. As someone with a painful and checkered past, she lives her life in stereotypically angry-teen fashion, fighting with her mother and with Jenna, and generally pushing away the people who most want to help her. Actress Maddie Hasson, as Henry, has an awesome resting bitch face, and with her strong jaw and bristling beetle brows, she channels anger and sarcasm like nobody's business. While the character might not be likable, I have a lot of respect for Hasson's talent at making me dislike her on screen. Henry might almost be described as an anti-hero, given how consistently she makes poor life-choices throughout the series, all while maintaining an aura of self-righteousness. Over time, though, as she comes into her power, Henry begins to mature and to become a bit more tolerable.

For my money, though, the real revelation is David James Elliott, who spent years playing a nice guy on "JAG." Elliott's Bill Boone is, despite his good looks and charm, a thoroughly evil man, and he exudes a level of malice that is almost on the order of Joe Pesci's Tommy in "Goodfellas." Boone has webs of influence all through the town of Reston, but his drug-trafficking racket creates problems for him that prove hard to solve cleanly and diplomatically. His love for his sons is sincere, even if Lucas, the elder son, seems to be the only Boone with an actual conscience, which often puts him at odds with his father. But even that love has a sinister cast to it: Bill Boone's attitude that "you'd do anything for family" has more than a whiff of the mafioso about it.

So, yes: overall, "Impulse" has proved to be a compelling series. It definitely has a feminist agenda, and for some of my more conservative readers, that's going to get in the way of enjoying the story as it unfolds. But take comfort, guys: the women in the story are flawed and often make stupid mistakes, so it's not as though the screenwriters are putting women on some untouchable pedestal. And while teleportation stories have been done to death, especially in recent years (the show actually has a moment that I take to be a bloody tribute to the Harry Potter concept of splinching, i.e., getting injured during teleportation, called Apparition in JK Rowling's world), the rest of the series's dramatic elements more than make up for the unoriginality of the sci-fi. I found the series very watchable, and you might, too.


Sunday, December 02, 2018

ribs, part 2

Well! Quite a day for discoveries, this was. While I may have ruined this load of ribs by overcooking them and making them dry (the jury's out on that point, but the sample I ate was definitely on the dry side), I discovered that it is possible—through the rub alone and without any BBQ sauce—to create a bark with only a couple hours' baking in the oven. That, friends, is fantastic news if I do try to prep a low-and-slow oven brisket. Brisket isn't brisket without bark, and without bark, there ain't no bite.

I'll be taking the new batch of ribs to the office to be gobbled by coworkers. I think all five of us can make short work of the ribs over lunch and dinner. Here are the ribs after their rubbing:


Here they are after two hours and twenty minutes at the wrong temperature (175°C instead of 125°C). One rack looks a bit like salmon; one rack looks the way it's supposed to look, i.e., with actual bark on it:


All the racks ended up with bark during the final round of cooking, though:


The way it's supposed to work is this: (1) bake the ribs at 125°C for 2 hours, 20 minutes; (2) remove from oven, open tin foil, and drain out the rendered fluid (save for use in other dishes, sauces, etc.); (3) paint on a thin layer of BBQ sauce; (4) cook at 175°C for 15 minutes; (5) remove from oven, repaint with more sauce, and cook 15 minutes at 175°C two more times.

By overcooking the ribs, I got them started on making a bark, probably thanks to the fact that the rub I was using had sugar in it. Luckily, there was caramelization but no smoking: my oven didn't belch fumes, Cthulhu be praised.

It's possible that the bark on the ribs came at the price of dryness, but I need to sample more ribs Monday afternoon to know for sure. What I ate tasted delicious, but it did seem a bit dry. I'll have to give my coworkers a heads-up on that point, although they're normally good sports and will eat pretty much anything I put in front of them.



et tu, Neil?

Neil deGrasse Tyson, the nerdy astrophysicist who took over Carl Sagan's role as the host of a TV show called "Cosmos," has been accused by three women (three so far) of sexual harassment and outright assault. Two of the complaints involve inappropriate groping; the third complaint involves pulling a Cosby, i.e., drugging and raping the victim. As was true with "America's dad" Bill Cosby, I find the accusations against Tyson hard to believe—and even harder to believe after the nonsense we just saw with Brett Kavanaugh. At the same time, I'm seeing bitter comments online about how, now that it's a prominent liberal in the hot seat, due process is suddenly a concern, and how Tyson's race may ultimately act as a protective shield: accusing a black man, these days, is tantamount to racism—and besides, with Cosby having already been sacrificed at the altar of public opprobrium, Tyson should now be safe from that sort of attack. I suppose we'll find out more, in the coming days and weeks. Tyson has already written a lengthy denial on Facebook; you can read it here.

While I'm no fan of Tyson's politics, I've long found him to be an affable, scholarly, humorous, and authoritative presence on TV. These accusations take me aback, and to be honest, I dearly hope they aren't true. But as Tyson himself indicates in his written denial, we have to go where the evidence leads, and if these women turn out to possess evidence substantiating their claims, then I hope due process is followed, and that Tyson answers for his crimes.



more rib action

I had used a bit over half of the meat I'd bought for last week's shindig. This means I still have a pile of sausages and two racks of baby-back ribs. I've just thawed the ribs, and I'll be cooking them up today to bring in to the office tomorrow. Not sure how I'll deal with the sausages... I think I might just pan-fry them and serve them to coworkers with some mashed potatoes and, perhaps, a simple salad.

Stay tuned. There might be photos.



second visit to Ryan Smokehouse

I hit Ryan Smokehouse a second time Saturday night. This time around, I was more interested in the brisket than in redoing the Big Boy Platter I'd shared with Charles the last time around. Of the eateries at which I've tried the brisket, I'd put Ryan on top. Linus Barbecue's brisket comes with a very unpleasant fat cap that reduces the amount of actual meat you're being served. Manimal, meanwhile, serves a fantastic brisket about which I have no complaints... it's just that Ryan does their brisket better. Sorry, Manimal.

This time around, I also ordered the Brunswick stew again, but it was way fattier (read: greasier) than I remembered it from last time. The spice and seasoning were both on point, but there was an actual layer of oil on top of the stew. Was it there last time around? I can't recall. Then again, because I'd ordered the Big Boy Platter last time, there's a chance that my memory is a bit scrambled because I'd eaten a much wider variety of food.

My friend Ben, who was my dinner companion, thoroughly enjoyed his meal. He'd ordered the sausage plate, which came with mustard dip and a large, pornographic coil of sausage. We both ended up with cole-slaw sides (mayo-based, this time, for some reason), and while I would have liked to have had a bit more on my tray than a small pile of pulled pork (dry! alas!) and a single slab of brisket for the price I was paying, the food was generally good. Overall, I find Ryan to be solid when it comes to barbecue—not spectacular with things like pulled pork, sausage, and cole slaw (and, I suppose, Brunswick stew), but excellent when it comes to smoked chicken, ribs, and brisket. The hot buns that come with the meal remain stellar; sadly, we didn't get the fritters. That would've been nice.

A thought has been coalescing over the past half-year: the more I do BBQ-ish cooking at my place, the less inclined I am to go out for barbecue. Ryan is a very good chain, but the price point for it, and for places like Linus and Manimal, makes the go-out-for-barbecue experience a bit less worthwhile. An exception to this would be Joe McPherson's now-defunct place: I would go there repeatedly no matter what Joe charged if the place still existed. But Joe's place is gone, and once I figure out how to do slow-cooked brisket (and where to get hold of brisket in Korea), there won't be any reason at all to go out for barbecue.



Saturday, December 01, 2018

ululate!

George Herbert Walker Bush has died at age 94.

Called a "wimp" during his presidency, and the subject of a fake-news story about his inability to figure out a cashier's laser scanner, President Bush had the dubious honor of following up the eight-year-long act that was Ronald Reagan's presidency. Known, for better or for worse, for prosecuting a war against Iraq and for uttering the ill-fated "Read my lips: no new taxes!", Bush was supposed to be a "holdover" president, taking the reins from Reagan and keeping the country largely on course. Instead, the nation as a whole swerved left and elected Bill Clinton president after Bush had, in a rare show for recent presidents, served only a single term. Bush was a World War II veteran, enlisting in the US Navy and serving as its youngest-ever aviator until the end of the war. He became an oil tycoon after moving from Massachusetts to Texas, and—in a surprise to me, when I was researching this post—served for a time as an ambassador to the UN after being appointed to the post by President Nixon.

Bush was an avid skydiver, leaping from planes even into his nineties. He leaves something of a mixed legacy in his wake; the charity work he has done for Africa, alongside former rival Bill Clinton, is quite commendable. At the same time, he did bequeath to the world his son George W. Bush who, as president after Clinton, also got us into a war with Iraq that turned out to be expensive, pointless, and deadly to far too many US troops. I suppose history will ultimately judge Bush Sr. As for me, I agree with those commenters who saw the man as thoughtful and urbane, despite being prone to bizarre verbal gaffes (a tendency his son also inherited). Bush was probably also the last of the self-consistent "traditional" Republicans. His passing marks the end of an era.



some vids

I normally laugh when I'm watching preview trailers for horror films, mainly because most horror films no longer really do it for me: I tend to view them as comedies. I might jump at a jump-scare moment, but otherwise, there's little to no emotional engagement with the film. Characters in horror films tend to make stupid decisions, and the scripts for such films are generally so poorly written that, had a character decided to do the smart thing at any moment during the story, the movie would have ended right at that moment.

I did, however, see "The Exorcist" at a young enough age that its particular horror tropes imprinted themselves firmly in my consciousness. This isn't to say that most movies about demonic possession still scare me, but every once in a while, a movie will come along that shows some promise, and I won't laugh my way through the preview trailer. Such is the case with "The Possession of Hannah Grace," which looks a bit creepy. The story idea seems novel, too: it takes place in the aftermath of a failed exorcism, when the body of the possessed has been transferred to the morgue... but the demon might still be in residence inside the corpse. Here—have a peek:


Confusingly, a dude in the trailer talks about how "evil" has to find "a new vessel" in the case of a failed exorcism, but whatever evil resides inside Hannah Grace seems to be perfectly content to stay there. The devil in "The Exorcist" made a similar threat: it planned to stay within Regan "until she rots and lies stinking in the earth."

In other news: my brother Sean asked me whether I'd ever heard of Hobo Johnson and the LoveMakers. I had to say no, but I promised Sean I'd look them up. They seem to be some sort of white-boy rap group led by a guy with a barely pubescent mustache:


Not exactly my cup of tea, but not horrible, either. I can sense something soulful going on even if I'm not really into the genre. But that's just me: the group's videos are getting millions of views on YouTube, so... more power to 'em!



"The House with a Clock in Its Walls": two-paragraph review

Eli Roth, who famously portrayed the baseball-bat-wielding "Bear Jew" in Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds," is normally known as a director of gore-filled horror movies aimed at adults, but in 2018's "The House with a Clock in Its Walls," he directs a family-friendly adaptation of a 1973 young-adult novel about a boy named Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro) who loses both of his parents in a car crash and comes to live with his warlock uncle Jonathan (Jack Black) in 1955-era New Zebedee, Michigan. Jonathan has a quirky, combative neighbor named Florence Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett, with an American accent), who turns out to be a witch. Jonathan and Florence constantly trade nasty barbs, but Lewis is perceptive enough to see that the two like, possibly even love, each other. Both adults freely dote on Lewis, but the problem is the house itself: Jonathan has filled the house with clocks as a way to distract himself from a deep, subterranean ticking sound that seems to come from the house's very walls. Lewis is told the story of the ticking: the house's previous owner, Isaac Izard (Kyle MacLachlan) and his wife Selena (Renée Elise Goldsberry) had been experimenting with dark magic, which led to the installation of the clock and to the deaths of Isaac and Selena. The story kicks into high gear when Lewis, now an aspiring wizard, foolishly uses necromancy to raise Isaac from the dead as a way of impressing Tarby Corrigan (Sunny Suljic), a popular kid at school. And eventually, the terrible purpose of the clock—which Jonathan has spent years trying to find—is revealed.

"House with a Clock" can't be considered a copycat version of the Harry Potter series given that the original young-adult novel by John Bellairs came out in 1973, well before JK Rowling's 1997 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. The style and nature of the magic featured in the novel are markedly different from the wizarding feats depicted in Rowling's world. First and foremost, in Bellairs's story, there are no Muggles: magic is accessible to anyone who trains in the mystical arts. The themes in Bellairs's work are also somewhat different from those found in Rowling's stories: "House" is less about friendship and more about embracing one's inner quirkiness, for weird can be good. Jack Black and Cate Blanchett play well off each other as oddball neighbors who might be unaware they're actually in love. The Jonathan/Florence relationship turned out to be my favorite aspect of the movie. Florence has suffered her own personal tragedies, a fact that both makes her empathize with the bereaved Lewis and keeps her from being able to perform the powerful magic she used to be capable of. When Florence does eventually find her way back to power, the effect is like watching the eruption of a long-dormant volcano. Unfortunately, Florence's positive character arc comes somewhat at the expense of Jonathan's: the warlock proves mostly useless in the final fight against Isaac Izard's revenant, which is too bad given how the story hints at the power Jonathan is capable of summoning. That flaw aside, I thought "House" was a generally entertaining movie with a good message for kids. It also happens to be filled with intermittent fart, poop, and piss jokes, which I appreciated because I'm an irreparably regressed individual. (The piss jokes come packaged with an awkward-bordering-on-gross visual effect that is the inverse of the "baby-headed Death Eater" joke from the fifth Harry Potter book.) Adding to the weirdness is Sunny Suljic's uncanny resemblance to a very young Ted Cruz—an impression I couldn't shake off once the insight popped into my head. And Owen Vaccaro, as young Lewis Barnavelt, turns out to possess a superpower: the boy can emit high, piercing, girlish screams like nobody's business. While it'll be no one's idea of great cinema, "House" contains good acting, good humor, so-so CGI, and a story that is a welcome departure from the Hogwarts-style magic that can be a little tiresome after dominating theaters for a decade.



Friday, November 30, 2018

poor presentation, good food

I couldn't stand watching this dude because his presentation style is simply awful, but he's a solid cook doing plausibly realistic Amurrican-style Chinese food, so give this video a whirl and just try to ignore how annoyingly douche-y the guy himself is:


This guy is one half of a pair of brothers, surnamed Green, who do cooking vids on YouTube. The other brother is more watchable, although you may end up screaming at him for what he does to a "real" Philly cheesesteak. Go read the comments section below the vid if you're too impatient to watch the vid to learn what his transgression was.





Thursday, November 29, 2018

have we reached peak stupidity yet?

The headline says it all:

Lord of the Rings Slammed for Perpetuating Racism through Depiction of Orcs

Jesus Christ. Here's an excerpt, if you can stomach this fucking nonsense:

On a recent episode of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast, sci-fi author Andrew Duncan argued that the depiction of the orcs in Lord of the Rings is racist and will have “dire consequences... for society.”

“It’s hard to miss the repeated notion in Tolkien that some races are just worse than others, or that some peoples are just worse than others,” Duncan said. “And this seems to me—in the long term, if you embrace this too much—it has dire consequences for yourself and for society.”

First of all, I think that it is important to point out that orcs are A) not people and B) not real, so starting some sort of social-justice movement over their treatment is probably the biggest, most idiotic waste of time that I’ve ever seen — and this is coming from an adult woman who spends time playing a game called “Pet Shop” on her phone.

Second of all, the idea that The Lord of the Rings’ daring to have an army of villains is going to have “dire consequences . . . for society” is absolutely bananas. I’m not much of a betting gal, but I’d bet everything I own that not even a single person has ever seen or read The Lord of the Rings and become racist as a result. Nobody is honestly sitting there thinking, “Man, all those orcs were bad. I guess that must mean that X race is bad! I’m a racist now!” I honestly refuse to believe that this would describe even a single person, let alone so many people that our whole society is going to suffer because of it.

Be sure to read the rest.

The left's vocabulary seems pretty much limited to racist, sexist, homophobe, transphobe, and the lovely catchall term bigot. From this twisted point of view, the world's ills can be funneled into this narrow perspective, thus allowing one to separate the righteous sheep from the unrighteous goats. Be me or be Hitler, right?



sad if true: Portland has fallen

During my huge walk in 2008, I injured myself and had to stay in Portland, Oregon, for two weeks. I spent most of those two weeks at an enormous communal (read: communist or socialist) home managed by a friendly Methodist minister. Most of the home's residents were older folks; one or two were homeless people who tended to come and go, benefiting from the home's open-door policy. I had the chance to walk around much of Portland while my injured knee healed. There were plenty of sights and sounds and smells, not to mention the stately Willamette River. Life inside the home itself was quiet and restful; the house's basement was basically a gigantic pantry with hundreds upon hundreds of cans and bags of various soups and flours and pasta. Sanitation might have been an issue, though, as I acquired some sort of infection that ate away a small patch of skin from underneath one of my eyes, and another alongside my nose, leaving permanent scars. Metaphor?

Portland, as a city, was beautiful. Like many European cities and towns, it had an environmentally friendly electrical tram. There were pedestrian zones, not to mention plenty of shops, restaurants, libraries, and places of cultural and historical significance. Portland also had a large and in-your-face homelessness problem in 2008, and I gather that that unpleasant reality hasn't changed much. I recall walking by a few tent cities—parks that had been taken over by the homeless.

But according to Paul Joseph Watson, many other things have changed in Portland. Perhaps it was last year, but I was shocked to hear news of violence in Portland's streets after Trump had been elected. PJW's report, which I embed below, shows that this trend has only continued. Portland's collective temperament had never struck me as violence-prone. What has happened over the course of the intervening decade, from my visit to Portland to now? Something within the city's core seems to have rotted. Or perhaps the rot had been there from the beginning, merely waiting for the right conditions in which to be exposed.

Here's PJW on how Portland, Oregon, has become a shithole:


I don't recall seeing anything remotely this aggressive when I was in Portland, especially about the rampant defecation. Something really did change from then to now. Something essential. True, Portland was already an out-there liberal city even in 2008, but it was a gentle-tempered place. I'm tempted to take PJW's video with a grain of salt, but I suspect that Watson is right, at least, to note that things have deteriorated to some extent. What a shame.



hypocritical shifts in attitudes toward illegal immigration

When Trump says it, it's bad:






tolerance levels compared

Keeping in mind my previous caveats (here, for example) regarding man-on-the-street interviews and small sample sizes, this is nevertheless an interesting video that largely dovetails with my personal experience:


I've had liberal friends un-follow me on Twitter and then never speak to me again in real life, and I only recently had one close friend who seemed willing to sacrifice our almost four-decade-long friendship on the altar of goddamn politics. In my experience, this sort of extreme, overdramatic way of handling conflict comes exclusively from the liberal side of the aisle. (Of course, I've been guilty of my own shunning behavior, too, so maybe I'm more liberal than I admit. Then again, when I cut people off, it's never because of a mere political disagreement: it's because I think the person is a fucking asshole who is no longer worth my time. It's about character, not political orientation. And the people I've shunned usually weren't friends to begin with.)



"The Hunted": review

2003's "The Hunted," directed by none other than William Friedkin of "The Exorcist" and "The French Connection" fame, stars Tommy Lee Jones, Benicio Del Toro, and Connie Nielsen in a thriller about a government operative who snaps, goes rogue, and begins murdering people not on the US government's hit list.

The movie basically plays out as a chase, and the title "The Hunted" comes to have a fluid meaning as hunter and hunted constantly change roles. Tommy Lee Jones plays L.T. Bonham, a retired civilian attaché to the US military who used to teach soldiers stealth, tracking, wilderness-survival, and close-combat skills. Benicio Del Toro is Aaron Hallam, a decorated soldier and student of Bonham who suffers from PTSD after a particularly bloody mission in Kosovo. As Hallam felt his mind falling apart, he began writing Bonham letters about his mental state, but Bonham never replied to this correspondence, a fact that may have helped push the fragile Hallam over the edge in his moment of greatest need. FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Abby Durrell (Connie Nielsen) is in charge of tracking Hallam after four supposed "hunters" are murdered in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. The putative hunters, it turns out, may have been "sweepers" sent to kill Hallam after the latter went off program. Formerly a government asset because of his killing-machine-like abilities, Hallam is now a liability because of his skills, and because he knows far too much about government black ops. Bonham, Hallam's teacher and a sort of father figure, must track his former student down and either bring him to justice or kill him.

This is one of those action movies that's so full of clichés and predictable plot lines that you must simply switch your brain off and enjoy whatever goodness the movie offers you. Director Friedkin proves generally adept at pacing the action, but not quite as assured at building and maintaining suspense. Friedkin flubs several potential jump-scare moments, giving away the surprise before a tense moment has a chance to mature. This might not be entirely his fault: the story can only end up one way, after all, with a brutal fight between teacher and student, so the only suspense is in figuring out who will win that fight.

Despite Friedkin's competent pacing, mentioned above, the director did allow for some confusion about the passage of time to creep into the movie's third act: Bonham is in hot pursuit of Hallam, who has left the city and plunged back into the nearby wilderness, and somehow, Hallam has time to construct a series of large and elaborate traps for Bonham. Friedkin is also somewhat clumsy in his portrayal of Bonham's tracking ability: when we see the footprints that Bonham is following, they're screamingly obvious prints. The same goes for blood spatters, cracked branches, and assorted scuff marks. The movie could have been a bit less insulting to the viewer's intelligence, but if you know Friedkin's work, you know the man isn't one for subtlety. The art of the tracker is much better portrayed in the deeply affecting "Wind River," reviewed here.

The movie could also have done with a bit more characterization. Hallam isn't as demonic as he appears; we see that he loves a particular family, but he's become far too dangerous a creature ever to have a quiet home life with the woman and little girl he loves. When we meet Bonham, he's leading a quiet existence out in the boonies of British Columbia, helping injured wolves and dealing with his own demons. But the central teacher/student, father/son relationship between Bonham and Hallam isn't developed nearly to the extent that it should have been. The relationship, as it stands, feels as cold as the relationship between Sylvester Stallone's John Rambo and Richard Crenna's hardass Colonel Trautman. Instead, almost every meeting between Bonham and Hallam is reduced to the feral; the men obviously have little to nothing to say to each other anymore, and all that's left is the urge to kill.

Another reason to mourn the lack of development of the father/son dynamic is the spectral presence of Johnny Cash, whose voice is commandeered to provide a sort of disembodied, bookend narration based on the Genesis story of Abraham and Isaac. If you're familiar with the story, then you know that God commands Abraham to sacrifice his boy—or as Cash sings/speaks it, "kill me a son." By the end of the movie, it could be said that Abraham has reluctantly offered up Isaac to God. But despite the theological tenor of Cash's narration, the movie's plot doesn't offer us the requisite resonant depth. The story could have shown us how the sacrifice of Isaac was as necessary as a divine commandment, but we're given little foundation for the conflict between Hallam and Bonham aside from the fact that Bonham trained Hallam, and Hallam snapped. The movie aims for profundity and misses.

Those complaints aside, "The Hunted" offers some brutal fight choreography that apparently comes to us courtesy the Filipino martial art of kali, which appears to be all forearms, elbows, wrist locks, and quick strikes to the neck and torso. Most of the movie's emotional intensity is played out in these fights, and as with many action movies, a man's connection to another man can only be expressed through violence. I enjoyed the fights; these were some of the film's best moments. The cat-and-mouse chases, however, lacked suspense, and 2003 was a bit before the era of parkour-style chase scenes, with their kinetic momentum and flow.

In all, "The Hunted" was watchable, but something of a disappointment. I didn't mind the simplicity of the story, but the movie could have given us a great deal more emotional depth as a way to make the central conflict more meaningful. Without that, the movie was just a tame version of "Apocalypto" or just another milquetoast adaptation of Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game."



Wednesday, November 28, 2018

made a bit too much, I guess

Our little get-together was this past Saturday. It's now Wednesday evening, and there's still leftover food from the feast. I had brought all my leftovers to the office, and my coworkers and I have been chowing down both at lunch and at dinner. I tried offering food to the IT team next door, but they apparently had other dinner plans on Monday, so fuck 'em. We're almost down to zero food, though: I think the last of the 'tovers will finally be eaten by tomorrow evening. It'll be nice to take a bunch of empty plastic containers home. But, damn: it will have taken five people, eating twice a day, five days to clear out all those leftovers.

In other news: KMA texted me to say my December class had been canceled because of a lack of registrants. So... as predicted, my time with KMA ends not with a bang, but with a whimper, and with a whimper, I'm fuckin' splitting, Jack. At least I can breathe easy every Saturday from now on. I have plans for a two-day hike out to Paldang Dam and beyond sometime soon, hopefully before we get any major snow. A cold, bracing hike—that's the ticket.

ADDENDUM: I looked over the amount of leftovers I had and decided I could finish everything up tonight myself as an impromptu dinner. So that's what I'm doing now: I'm dinnering myself, and no one can stop me. This pleases the anal-retentive side of my personality because I can now wash all my empty containers and reset my kitchen for the next massive culinary adventure. On repart à zéro!



get paranoid

While the notion of orbiting space debris is nothing new, this Kurzgesagt video* is one of the clearest, most succinct presentations of the problem that I've seen:


Every launch, manned or unmanned, is a huge risk these days.



*The German word kurz means "short," and gesagt is the past participle of the verb sagen, which means "to say" or "to tell." So kurzgesagt means "said shortly," i.e., "in short." On YouTube, the channel translates its title as "in a nutshell," which is close enough. I'm reminded of the French en bref.


talking down

This puts me in mind of Joe Biden, back in 2012, telling blacks that Mitt Romney was "gonna put y'all back in chains." Cringe-inducing video here.

The researchers found that liberal individuals were less likely to use words that would make them appear highly competent when the person they were addressing was presumed to be black rather than white. No significant differences were seen in the word selection of conservatives based on the presumed race of their partner. “It was kind of an unpleasant surprise to see this subtle but persistent effect,” Dupree says. “Even if it’s ultimately well-intentioned, it could be seen as patronizing.”

Dupree and Fiske suspect that the behavior stems from a liberal person’s desire to connect with other races. One possible reason for the “competence downshift,” as the authors describe it, is that, regardless of race, people tend to downplay their competence when they want to appear likeable and friendly. But it’s also possible that “this is happening because people are using common stereotypes in an effort to get along,” Dupree says.

So much derp.



the migrant "caravan"

You've doubtless been bombarded with news about the migrant "caravan," composed mostly of men from Honduras. Is it mainly women and children? As Styx points out, that's not the demographic most likely to take a thousand-mile walk. No: the "caravan" is composed mostly of men. But what few women and children there are have been placed in the front lines to take the brunt of the reaction from US border-defense forces.


And here's a telling video about the "caravan" itself:






Tuesday, November 27, 2018

taking me back to the 80s

The taxi driver's radio this morning was blasting a song from the mists of prehistory: Lee Seon-hui's "It's OK" (괜찮아), a pop single from the mid-80s that was playing when I was in Korea for the first time in 1986. Here's a modern rendition:


It warms my heart to know that some old fart out there is rockin' to this beat.

(lyrics here, in Korean)



media manipulation

One reason why it's so hard to talk to people on the other side of the aisle is that many of those people don't realize the extent to which they're being hoodwinked by their mainstream-media sources (a.k.a. the MSM). This is why I've switched almost entirely to the alt-media for my information, media that depict a very different universe from the one the gatekeepers want you to see. Instapundit recently linked to a particularly egregious example of gatekeeping, in which many of the major news networks reporting on the situation at the US-Mexico border decided to tweet almost the exact same image and report it almost the exact same way. If this isn't evidence of bias, groupthink, and other Orwellian tendencies, I don't know what is.


Others in the alt-media have noted the hypocrisy of decrying the use of tear gas now, when the fact is that Obama had done the same thing for years. (Granted, the Washington Times isn't alt-media, but you don't have to go far to find alt-media remarks on this topic.)

Is it possible to convince your interlocutors on the other side of the aisle to drop their current media sources and switch over to alt-media? I doubt it. The switch is difficult for any number of reasons. Ego plays a major role: switching over means admitting one was wrong, and if there's one thing that's hard for people (especially men) to do, it's to admit they are wrong. Fear—which is related to ego—is another reason: we fear to step out into a new world, a new way of thinking. The way we currently think is comfortable; being thrust into a new thought-world threatens who we are. And to be charitable, a third factor making it difficult to switch over is the sincere belief that people like me are the crazy ones, the arrogant ones, the self-deluded and condescending ones. How dare we adopt, or arrogate to ourselves, the mantle of truth? Then, of course, there's a fourth factor: good old Buddhist attachment to our perspective. Face it: it feels good to hate Trump because it places us on the moral high ground. It allows us to be self-righteous, to virtue-signal. It feels good to abandon our own humility, to forget about the beam in our own eye, as we jeer at the Clown-in-Chief. Every silly gaffe Trump makes reassures us that we are, at least, better than him.

And all of this relates back to Factor 1: ego.



now subscribed to Sam the Cooking Guy

Sam is a 50-something Canuck with a slightly foul mouth, a wonderful radio voice, and a bland-but-decent sense of humor. He doesn't take himself too seriously (as you'll see by the Almazan-style, over-the-top titles he gives his videos), and he's not afraid to catch hate from commenters for taking a beloved traditional recipe and putting his own spin on it. He's normally good about noting when he's departing from orthodoxy, and his explanations of what he's doing usually come via jovial delivery. I've watched maybe five or six of his videos thus far, and I'm guessing that his preferred domain is comfort food because that's mostly what I've seen. Check out the embedded videos below, if you want. I enjoyed his heterodox take on the California burrito (see below), but that could be because it wasn't really that radical of a departure, at least not from my Virginian's perspective (when you apply the adjective "California" to food, you're usually saying "fusion" and "anything goes"). Sam isn't always as articulate as, say, Kenji López-Alt of Serious Eats, probably because Sam isn't a food-science guy like López-Alt or Alton Brown. This is particularly obvious in the smash-burger video embedded below, when Sam fails to explain that the burger's umami comes from wider exposure of the beef's surface area to the griddle, thus allowing more meat to undergo the Maillard reaction, which is what creates the tasty browning. Sam's own explanation sort of hints at the food science, but he doesn't quite get there. Then again, I came into Sam's videos with no expectations at all, and now that I've seen some of his work, I don't expect food science from him. He's more of a home cook with fancier-than-usual equipment (you'll quickly see what I mean when you start watching; I would kill for his kitchen setup), but from what I've seen so far, he's a pro YouTuber and very watchable.

Sam on smash burgers:


A very impressive chicken club sandwich:


A travel special in which Sam visits London and offers his top-ten list of things to try while in the capital of Old Blighty:


There are some interesting arguments in the comments below this video as to how "authentic" the London food was. I think you should just take Sam's experience as a tourist for what it was. This was never meant to be a local's top-ten list. And although I'm defending Sam on that point, his attempt at an English accent, which he tried several times throughout this video, was indefensible.

Finally, the aforementioned California burrito:


If you're interested, check out Sam's YouTube channel.



Monday, November 26, 2018

global warming/cooling scares throughout history

Via Instapundit:

The American Thinker has an amusing list of global-warming and global-cooling scares over the ages, as screamed from the headlines of heedless newspapers that prioritize fearmongering over the dissemination of facts, starting all the way back in 1895. It really does seem to ping-pong back and forth between global warming and global cooling. Jack Hellner, author of the AT post, has this to say:

In light of the new, much-hyped “official” report on global warming that is being pushed by almost all the media and the record cold that is occurring now in many parts of the U.S., it would be helpful if some enterprising journalist actually reported how often the people have been scared by previous warnings of global warming or cooling.

An article in Wattsupwiththat.com from 2014 encapsulates the multiple intentional scares from 1895 on. Throughout the entire 120 year period fossil fuel use was growing exponentially, population growth was exploding, and CO2 concentration was increasing. The fact that temperatures both rose and fell during this period shows that there is no correlation between temperature, fossil fuels, CO2 and the human population.

"No correlation"? Personally, I'm not so triumphalist, but I get where Hellner is coming from. A couple things: all signs do seem to point to a very slight average warming over the past hundred years—about a fraction of a degree Celsius. I don't think this has proved quite as significant as the more wild-eyed "experts" claim. Islands that, five years ago, were predicted to be under the sea by now are still above the waves and going strong. The much-ballyhooed polar ice caps often seem to expand, not contract (see here, for example: NASA, 2015). In all, the threat from any "warming" seems, at best, minimal. And these days, I'm hearing more about the sun's entering a period of "solar minimum," in which the star's radiation will, for a period, be measurably less than normal, quite likely affecting climate on Earth. The sun's activity apparently follows an 11-year cycle with peaks and troughs: the so-called "solar max" and "solar min." The solar min heading our way is said to be especially minimal, whatever that might mean. Assuming it happens, it'll certainly throw off any dire predictions of warming—a point made by any number of people, including the makers of "The Great Global Warming Swindle," which argues that solar activity has much more of an effect than anything we puny humans can do to the planet.

This isn't to say that we're not affecting the planet's rhythms at all. I actually take very seriously the idea we could be polluting ourselves into nonexistence. You don't have to look far to see evidence of the megatons of chemicals we belch into the air every second, or the megatons of trash we vomit into our rivers and oceans (not to mention our massive littering problem). While I'm no tree-hugger, I also don't deny that, viewed collectively, we are a filthy species. And if the basic premise of environmentalism is that it's better to live somewhere clean than to live in a toilet—surrounded by and buried under filth—then I absolutely agree, and I applaud the myriad measures being taken both to reduce and to process our trash output. I also don't think that the advent of a solar minimum necessarily confounds the global-warming alarmists: once the solar min is over, warming may again begin to trend upward, either because of the sun's vigorous output or because of human activity. That question isn't going to be settled by the existence of the solar min, but the solar min might force some stubborn people to realize just how much the sun influences global climate.

For me, there's plenty of room for rational debate on a variety of global-warming-related topics. I'm all for open discussion. What I'm not for is basing unsound environmental policies on unsound scientific "reasoning." Science doesn't work by "consensus"; it works by aligning with reality via empiricism and logic. Losing your university job just because you're a louder skeptic than most is an indication of ideology at work, not science. And basing environmental policy on ideology is a dangerous route to take. So is the repression of dissent when open discussion is called for.

What Is Environmentalism?

Jordan Peterson and Environmentalism

Interconnection and Environmentalism