Monday, June 17, 2024

good question


Who Are Biden Voters Saving The Planet For If None Of Them Are Having Children?
Just roughly 1 in 5 Biden supporters believe society would be better off by prioritizing marriage and children, according to Pew.

A new report from the Pew Research Center released last week found that less than 20 percent of President Joe Biden’s supporters believe society would be better off prioritizing marriage and children. These are also the voters most likely to believe “climate change” represents an immediate existential threat to the future of the species, which raises the question, who are Biden voters saving the planet for if merely a fraction of them even want children?

Yet another one of those self-undermining leftist self-contradictions, like Race is merely an abstract concept, but it's possible to be racist or Sex and gender are not binaries, but bisexuality is still a thing (LGBTQ). Read the rest.

more shitholification

It's good this is all being documented by people like Decoy Voice, but it's sad to watch the rot happening with no hope of change in sight. The regular people in places like San Francisco don't want to change: they'll keep behaving the way they do and voting for politicians and policies that ensure this all continues. And the rich, the powerful, the connected are as happy as pigs in shit about the problem. Wait—what problem? There's no problem!

the Dr. Phil-Donald Trump interview

Here's the full interview from a week ago:

Detractors are calling this a "softball" interview, with George Stephanopoulos going so far as to declare that giving Trump an open forum through a live interview amounts to "journalistic malpractice." Here's Liberal Hivemind with a different take on the matter:

"The Phantom Menace": a 25-year retrospective

It took a while, I remember, to come down from the afterglow of seeing the movie in 1999. We'd all been starved for more Star Wars stories, and it hadn't sunk in just how bad "The Phantom Menace" was. But much later, the sequel trilogy showed us that it could all be so, so much worse. Jeremy Jahns offers his thoughts on a dubious legacy.

And on that note:

I heard "The Acolyte" TV series just tanked and got cancelled. Haw haw, Disney.

oh, I see

"House of the Dragon," Season 2 is out, but on HBO Max.* I guess it'll be some time before it makes its way over to Apple TV, so I won't be watching it quite yet.


*Because I'm a child of the 70s and 80s, I always see "HBO Max" and think Cinemax.

chest pain + needing to shit = dilemma

Tonight (Sunday night/Monday morning), I had my first severe chest pain while at the office. I'm sure this is related to having gone off the chain this past Friday (our luncheon) and weekend (as I polished off leftovers). Carbs, I now realize, can literally kill me if I'm not careful, so since I have less than a month to repair my numbers before my next hospital visit, this coming week is going to be extra-stringent. But what I really want to talk about is what happened tonight.

I was working at the second-floor office, trying to catch up (or not get behind) on the latest project, when it suddenly became hard to breathe, and a familiar—but stronger than usual—crushing sensation arose in my chest. I began to wonder whether this was the beginning of a bona fide heart attack, and as I mentally cast about for solutions, I realized that my nitroglycerin tablets were back at the apartment—totally useless to me.

At the same that I was experiencing chest pains, my colon had roused itself and begun to sing the opening measures of an opera that I knew would eventually become unstoppable unless I did something. As I've done when any sort of disaster has struck me while walking across Korea, I thought to myself, One problem at a time, and decided to see whether I could make it down the hallway to the restroom. I made it, but at a very slow, breathless pace. Once in the restroom, I moved down to the lone Western-style toilet, opened the cubicle door... and saw the whole thing had been smeared in shit (all this has happened before and will happen again). I don't know why the kids who attend class in this building insist on doing something so fucked up, but there it was—third-world behavior from first-world children who didn't give a rat's ass about other people who might need the toilet. I want to take these kids, put their heads on a flat table of stone, and do a Gallagher on them, sledgehammering their skulls like ripe watermelons for being so inconsiderate. At the very least, I'd force them at gunpoint to clean the toilet with their tongue. Then I'd Gallagher them.

Because it was close to 11:40 p.m., I knew the first-floor toilet was walled off by a descending metal screen that the guards always lower at 9 p.m. That meant I had to go up to the third-floor restroom. Breathless and chest-pained as I was, I paused, then slowly made the climb to the third floor, each flight of the climb feeling like an eternity. I shambled into the restroom, holding back the urge to faint, opened the door to the Western-style cubicle... and beheld with dismay that this cubicle, too, looked as if it had suffered a mortar attack from an army using shit as its primary weapon. It literally looked like an explosion: coprological speckles were everywhere—in the toilet bowl and all over the cubicle walls. What the fuck do Korean students eat to produce such lusty detonations?

Time to reprioritize. I had run out of toilets, I still needed to shit, and I was still wondering whether this was my first-ever heart attack. One thing at a time. The new priority was to get home so I could shit and self-medicate. I went back to the second floor, rested on a seat next to Woori Bank (which is also on our floor), then somehow managed to shuffle back down to my office. Once inside, I concentrated on just resting, ignoring the pounding demon inside my colon, raging to get out. I knew I didn't have it in me to use the subway (too many stairs both down and up), so my only option was to go out to the main street and flag down a cab. So I closed up shop inside the office, having brought my work to a clear stopping point. I turned off the air filter and A/C, washed my dishes (I'd eaten dinner at the office), switched off the office and kitchenette lights, and locked our company's main door. I painfully descended the steps to the first floor and followed the only available path for exiting the building. 

Once out, I somehow crossed the long parking lot and got to the main street without fainting. I was then lucky enough to flag down a cab that came my way within a minute of my arriving at the curb. I told the cabbie to take me to Daecheong Tower, and off we went. I thought only about nitroglycerin along the way. The urge to shit wasn't as bad as I'd feared, and I made it to my apartment building without exploding inside the car. The cabbie himself was sullen and quiet for the entire ride; when I told him to please turn left at the Daecheong Station intersection to drop me right in front of my building, he said nothing in response. He only became talkative right as I was leaving; I thanked him and wished him a good day, and he offered a grunt in response. (I've noticed, on these evening rides, that the cabbies now increase their fares before midnight; at a guess, they up their rates at 11 p.m.)

I shuffled toward my building, briefly considering stopping at the public restroom in the building's lobby, but I mentally said fuck that and went to the elevator, hitting the button for the 14th floor and enduring the ride up. It was nighttime and quiet, just after midnight. I quietly gasped my way down the long hallway to my apartment, stepped inside, did my usual just-got-home ritual of emptying my pockets and washing my hands, then moved over to the bathroom and gave vent to the fury within. It turned out to be a pretty standard, boilerplate shit, which may be why I didn't feel the usual pre-evacuation desperation. One thing I grabbed before I sat on the throne was my little bottle of nitroglycerin tablets. I managed to get the bottle out of the Ziploc bag with one hand and unscrew the cap with one hand; I then managed to coax a single pill out, and I gratefully stuck it under my tongue and let it melt there. There didn't seem to be any effect for the first thirty seconds, but after a couple minutes, I noticed my thoughts had become much happier, my breathing had gotten smoother, and the whole world seemed to be on a more even keel. And no more chest pain. Those pills work.

All in all, that whole disaster felt like a close one, in more ways than one. Of all the outcomes I'd like to avoid, I don't want people to find my corpse with underwear around the ankles and signs that I'd been whacking off to porn. And I also don't want people to find me on the toilet like poor Elvis, fat and dead, with a load of shit in the toilet bowl and a look of simultaneous triumph and tragedy on my face. Tonight, the porn thing wouldn't have happened, but I have to wonder how close I'd come to the second scenario. After I cleaned up from my zesty session, I did a load of laundry and decided tonight might be a good night for nocturnal self-medication, just as a way to make sure my blood vessels have beneficent chemicals washing through them so I'm assured of waking up in the morning.

This incident makes me realize that that one YouTuber may have had the right idea about dieting: do just a cheat meal, not a cheat day. And in my case—commit my dietary sins on only one calendar day instead of spreading the misbehavior over three days just because there are leftovers that need to be eaten. Either throw the leftovers away from now on (and get better at cooking the correct amount to serve a group of people and have no leftovers) or give the leftovers away on the day of. Something has to improve. 

And maybe think about going hardcore carnivore so as to avoid carbs almost completely.

Sunday, June 16, 2024

interview with a New Yorker about protestors

another dose of Chris Chappell

China, their shitty EVs, and the EU market:

A Chinese spy's testimony:

Those Boeing whistleblowers:

Styx in your craw

Don't watch all of the vids—just the ones that pique your interest.

What would we see in a second Trump term? (wishful thinking: engaged)

Running-mate speculation:

Less wokeness at MIT? (Don't bet on it.)

"IRS political targeting":

More wild-eyed talk of the next pandemic:

US troops to leave Niger (not covered by the mainstream):

Biden projects himself onto Trump:

On the purported Dem strategy of "the Great Replacement":

Israel's invasion of Rafah (personally, I'm all for it):

UNC Chapel Hill also anti-woke? (yeah, right)

Flaccid policies try and fail to echo Trump's:

Protest voters against Joe Biden:

Russia and black gold:

Trump-Biden debate: Pelosi has her doubts:

Recent stock-market news:

Switching to a popular-vote model is a bad, bad idea:

On whether Biden should take a pre-debate drug test (he won't):

Kids on the Net:

Are presidential debates significant?

Styx doesn't think Biden will be ditched as nominee (I don't, either):

Old news, but Klaus Schwab is outta here!

Mar-a-Lago and "lethal force":

From June 7:

an irony we've mentioned before

When the law you stupidly advocated for comes back to bite you in the dick:

boeuf bourguignon

From Friday's luncheon:



The luncheon was mostly a success, but my Korean coworker decided to shake some Parmesan cheese onto his bowl of beef Burgundy. I gave him the usual grimace that I always give him when he does weird, fucked-up things with Western food. He's put ketchup on bologna-and-cheese sandwiches before, then microwaved the sandwich (because he fucking microwaves everything). The boss and I joshed about the cheese thing maybe a little too much, and my coworker gave an awkward Korean laugh (instead of frowning or wincing, Koreans laugh in moments of awkwardness) and called himself a 푸드 테로리스트/pudeu-teroriseuteu, a "food terrorist." When he'd left the room, the boss was more sympathetic than I was, saying my coworker was merely experimenting, and without experimentation, how can one innovate? I privately thought that my boss was perhaps deliberately missing the point, but whatever—the deed was done. I told the boss that I wondered what it'd be like to take my coworker to France to let my French family see him putting cheese on food that shouldn't have it.*

The question of being a purist about something** always takes me in a metaphysical direction: from a Buddhist perspective, everything ends up being connected to everything else—everything implies or flows into everything else, so it's impossible to find anything one can call a foundation or an essence. There's nothing essential about French cuisine. It's not impossible to put cheese on beef Burgundy. But it's also true that beef Burgundy is a known quantity, and plenty of French folks will look askance at the foreigner who presumes to ruin the dish with fake Italian cheese (I did say he used Parmesan, not Parmigiano). There's creativity, and there's getting it wrong. If I point at a baby and call it an octopus, that's plain wrong, not an example of creativity. If I point at a monkey baby and call it a human baby, I might be closer than with the octopus thing, but I'd still be dead wrong.

From the Buddhist perspective, this is what it means to be a thing: real, but never fundamentally real. What is French cuisine if not the result of centuries of culinary interactions with roots and influences extending far beyond the boundaries of ancient Gaul? French cuisine—the coalescence of phenomena that we see today—therefore has no solid essence but is instead the product of interdependent interactions—causes and effects that are themselves causes for more effects, all ramifying and echoing and mixing and separating and colliding and flying past each other. But at the same time, can we not say that there is a such thing as distinctly French cuisine? This push-pull relationship between the static and the dynamic is the reality we live in, and as mere humans, we all have our tendencies and our preferences. When it comes to food, my tendency generally is to be conservative, but I innovate once in a while, too. My Korean coworker is often a nightmare when it comes to how he reckons with Western food (see above), but he's also made sincere efforts at doing certain foods the proper way: I've eaten his homemade scones and his early attempts at bagels (I really respect him for trying to make legit bagels; even I haven't done that yet), and they all came out tasting like the real thing. In fact, I like my coworker's bagels better than those Costco bagels, which are in turn a damn sight better than those ridiculous Paris Baguette bagels (which are an abomination).

Philosophical ruminations aside, the luncheon went about as well as it could. The boss liked his boeuf bourguignon and didn't add any goddamn cheese. My coworker lamely tried to justify his use of cheese by noting that the beef was on a bed of pasta. He really doesn't understand flavor profiles—the question of what goes with what in a given culinary culture, as well as what makes a given culinary culture distinct. He should go through the same culinary education I've gone through: a heavy dose of Food Network, including all the ridiculous shows like "Chopped" and "Iron Chef," followed by the assiduous following of certain chefs on YouTube. And along the way: practice, practice, practice. I should put him in touch with Charles*** since he likes baking so much.


*To be fair, Italians note that, when Americans attempt Italian food, they think garlic needs to go in everything (like carbonara), but it doesn't. This is a stereotype.

**In this context, the something is food, but we could be talking about language or culture or anything else, really.

***Charles, dude, you need to switch your site to https for security's sake.

DEI and Canadian animation

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Schiff and the unjust fallout of an encounter with him

Speaking of Adam Schiff:

Add that snotty policewoman to the list of lamppost jockeys. Good thing I'm not in charge. There'd be no one left by the time I got done cleaning house. 

And yeah, I wouldn't be above death squads.

how far have we come since June 6?

On June 6, the following video came out:

"Going down hard" is a phrase better applied to Kamala Harris, you'd think, but I don't see Hunter Biden suffering much in the way of consequences for his many, many misdeeds. Styx even says he's sympathetic with Hunter about the gun charges because of Styx's pro-2A stance: cokeheads should be allowed to have guns! I don't know whether my own take on the Second Amendment goes quite that far, but frankly, I'm happy to see any sort of lawfare being done against the Bidens. Of course, if it were up to me, there'd be a long line of corpses along the streets of DC, all swinging from lampposts and ranging from the Bidens (Joe, Jill, Hunter) to Nancy Pelosi to Chuck Schumer to Adam Schiff to... ad infinitum. My "prediction," made as I'm writing this on June 8, 2024, is that Hunter will end up suffering nothing when all is said and done. Because that's how the wheels of "justice" turn these days. Change my mind.

UPDATE: as noted earlier, Hunter Biden was found guilty on all three felony counts against him, but there's a good chance that he won't serve a single day in prison, anyway. This has nothing to do with his being Joe Biden's son and more to do with how this sort of case tends to be handled. There's also the appeals process to look forward to.

happy 55th, buddy

Mike at Christmas, with Funko Pop bobblehead

This is my buddy Mike, best friend since third grade. As you see above, he has a sense of humor. Mike's life has followed a very different trajectory from mine. He started off as a lover of history, but he's ended up working for his brother-in-law at a prominent real-estate firm. He's also married and has three kids—two grown-up daughters (one of whom I'm proud to say is my goddaughter) and a college-aged son. The daughters moved out, and the son is sometimes in residence. Mike is lucky to be married to a pert, commonsense wife named Rebecca. While I'm not a fan of the noise and chaos that come with families, there are times when I quietly envy what they have. Mike's life could have veered down the path of becoming a history professor, and I admit I've badgered him, in the past, about not having taken that path, but in the final analysis, I think he's where he needs to be, where he's happiest.

We're both 69ers, with Mike being born a bit more than a month before the famous moon landing, and me being born a bit more than a month after it. I joke that we're the open and closed parentheses to that event, right at the tail end of the tumultuous Sixties. When we turn sixty, we're supposed to walk part of the Camino de Santiago together. Sadly, that may end up being one of my final walks; I've already been in the hospital twice in recent years, so I see my life as similar to the flight path of a paper airplane that flies true for a few yards before wobbling and very suddenly crashing. I think I'm in the "wobble" period right now, so I'll do what I can to last at least until sixty before I suddenly kick off.

Mike's been a conservative all of his life, but unlike the left's caricature of righties, he doesn't lie awake at night plotting the downfall of black people and thinking of ways to promote white supremacy. As conservatives go, he's pretty bland: not a fan of Trump, but lately, not a fan of Republicans in general... which makes him a pretty normal conservative these days: most no longer respect the Republican party, which they see as feckless, spineless, and directionless. If I remember correctly, Mike has been active in some local politics, doing what he can for the area he lives in, which is historic Fredericksburg, Virginia (Stafford County).

With Mike being two months older than I am, he's always first over the birthday cliff, so I'll wish him nothing but the best as he and I both muck our way through the lives we've chosen. Getting together is a pain, what with me living on the other side of the planet, but since I'm planning to visit the States next year, we might be able to work something out then.

Happy Birthday, Mike!

why have I never once considered this question?

I see trees standing alone all the time during my walks across Korean farmland, and it has never once occurred to me to wonder why there are so many of these lonely trees standing guard over all of that land. Trees are naturally found in clusters—copses, woods, forests. So a lone tree, especially on farmland, is almost certainly an act of man. Incredible that I never pondered this question before. But now that I'm thinking about it, here's one answer. The comments below the video provide others.

"The Fall Guy": a Stuckmann review

Chris Stuckmann has become a bit harder to trust ever since he vowed never to give negative reviews to films. His reason for the change has to do with the fact that he's just made his own film, and as a filmmaker, he wants to be more positive and constructive. OK, I guess, but he's pushing against the very definition of what it means to be a movie critic. That said, his review of "The Fall Guy" has me at least a little interested:

I'll catch it on streaming.

Friday, June 14, 2024

when fat acceptance goes too far

I'm fat myself, so of course I'd rather live in a polite society that doesn't rake fat people over the coals all the time. Alas for me, I live in South Korea where, as with much of the rest of East Asia, fat shaming is the norm. I'd like to say I've developed a thick skin about it (possible fat pun intended), but the fact is that the remarks and insults still hurt, and part of the hurt comes from the fact that I agree with most of the barbs. To some extent, fatness can trace itself back to genetics, but to a greater extent, being fat is indeed a lifestyle choice, which is one reason why fat people are still hounded. So while I'd advocate for a degree of fat tolerance, I don't agree with fat acceptance, especially the aggressive type in the States (and other Western countries) that plays into the whole "the emperor has no clothes" dynamic. It's an overcompensation for the equally toxic "beauty myth."

the PI preps for war with China?

I seriously doubt the Philippines would initiate a war with China, but I'm sure it's serious about defending itself and its sovereignty.

because you need this every once in a while

I've put this up a couple times before over the years:

Somewhere, a lesbian is going, "Awesome."


meat festival

The boss was inspired to take a walk over to the SETEC complex again since there was a "meat festival" going on. The complex, a convention/exhibition space that's always booked with events, is only a long block or so away from where we work, so we ate our boeuf bourguignon and walked over together in the oppressive summer heat (it's 92°F/33°C out today), with yours truly warning the boss and coworker that I'd have to stop a few minutes into the walk, rest a bit, then keep on going (since that seems to be the pattern from now until I kick off). Here are two photos of the most impressive booth I saw while at SETEC:

The booth advertises traditional Korean pork and beef.

This booth wasn't fucking around. They had tomahawk steaks, T-bones, and other cuts familiar to Westerners. This booth also dwarfed most of the other booths in the exhibition, and they were handing out free goodie bags to anyone who swooped by. Aggressive marketing. Off to the side, they had packages of some of the biggest slices of shabu beef that I've ever seen; the shabu is normally a ribeye cut, and American ribeye, while nice, often has a thick line of fat running through it (which is one reason why I'm never that impressed with overly fatty steaks: the thick intramuscular fat isn't pleasant to eat, and it seems like a waste of money since you're paying for something that's inedible as is*). The shabu cut that I saw, though, was solid muscle, with only a bit of fat around the edges. Very impressive.

Still winded even after resting outside, I sat down and chilled inside the exhibition space as well; the boss and coworker walked around. They later told me they'd encountered a Frenchman who was there helping to sell heavy-duty mesh gloves and aprons (for barbecue pitmasters, I presume). The boss told he'd tried to joke in English with the Frenchman, saying he needed some chain mail for a jousting tournament. The joke fell flat: the Frenchman spoke English well, but medieval terms taxed the limits of his vocabulary.

I also couldn't help noting that there were a lot of cute women parading around. One fine specimen floated in front of me, ignoring me completely as she used her phone to take pics of her surroundings. Evolutionary psychology suggests that men and women are both attracted to signs of reproductive vigor, which explains why the lady spared me nary a glance, weak and flaccid and sweaty as I was. I, meanwhile, took in her decidedly unusual-for-a-Korean curves.

Soon enough, it was time to go back to the office. The boss and coworker had both bought some small items to take home. Ironically, these were non-meat items: noodles for the boss and dried kelp for my coworker. As we walked out, the boss remarked that he never liked to pay an entry fee (W5,000/person in our case), then leave with nothing.

It was an interesting diversion from what would otherwise have been a routine day.


*I say "as is" because, when it's ground up as a component of ground beef, that's a different story. For ground beef, the fattier, the better.

German Greens' tastelessness

a dose of America Uncovered

The eye in the sky, lookin at you...

Antisemitism, OnlyFans, and Biden:

Misinformation and censorship:

Opiate of the masses:

From June 2:

The freakout:

Fauci is the piece of shit we've always known him to be:

Marvel again blames the wrong people for its many failures


Season 4 of "The Boys" and Season 2 of "House of the Dragon" are starting up, so I once again have something to watch. The first three episodes of "The Boys" are out; the remaining five will be released weekly. "House of the Dragon" starts on Sunday, with one episode per week. Both series follow the trendy eight-episode formula.

So I'll be bingeing "The Boys" tonight while my boeuf bourguignon gently simmers. (It'll be done at 2 a.m.) Off the chain for the Friday luncheon so I can eat pasta with the beef Burgundy, then back to the strictness over the weekend. A bit less than a month until my next hospital visit. I'm predicting an A1c of 7.5, but I'd be happy to discover I'd somehow gotten down to a 6-point-something. We'll see.

Thursday, June 13, 2024

everyone hates "The Acolyte"

Why Kathleen Kennedy insists on ruining the Disney Star Wars brand this way is beyond me. Ideology trumps story quality, I guess. It's more important to populate your universe with plump, dusky lesbians than to tell a good story where people's demographics are seamlessly integrated into the fabric of the narrative. See, that's the thing: it's not the [pick your demographic] that's the problem: it's the insistence on shoehorning that demographic into the story simply for the sake of fucking representation that's the problem. Since when did representation become so important? Don't answer that; I already did (see here, here, and here, for example). It's just sad. Take Star Wars out back and shoot it in the head.

attempt to mock Trump... falls flat

Divine intervention! A boat in the Bay area labeled "Alcatraz Prison Transport," with a Trump-as-chicken balloon aboard, tried but failed to mock the former president, but constant winds buffeted the balloon, keeping it from full inflation. Sad!

jury misconduct?

[news from June 8] Is it possible that there was jury misconduct in the recent New York trial that saw Donald Trump convicted on 34 counts of records-falsification? Could a mistrial be called? This all started when someone reported seeing a tweet a day before the verdict saying something like, "My cousin is a juror who says they're going to convict. Thanks for the hard work!" Styx weighs in:

This news was "breaking" on June 8. Here's Doug on June 9:

pix from wox

Two shots from two different evening walks:

June 4: pergola near the place where I work, grown in for the summer.

June 11, a week later: the movie-set stuff is gone from the Tan Creek.

I never did find out what those props were all about. I hope it was a good show.

I survived the night

I made it through the night without incident, so this may be the way to go: take meds in the morning. We'll see how this new schedule works out, and I'll be sure to report back soon.

what if "Signs" were more like a spiritual parable?

Dave Cullen passes along a theory about the movie "Signs":

I've seen some people try to rescue and rehabilitate the work of M. Night Shyamalan. I'm not totally convinced. I enjoyed "The Sixth Sense" as well as his next film, "Unbreakable." I thought "Split" was pretty good, too, but its sequel "Glass" was disappointing. Shyamalan seemed to have turned into a one-trick pony: all of his movies had to include some kind of twist, often in the form of a shocking revelation. Once you come to expect such a thing, the expectation sucks all the suspense and enjoyment out of your viewing of the film. I haven't seen any other films in Shyamalan's oeuvre, but I've heard horrible things about some of them, like "Lady in the Water" and "The Happening," which both apparently suffered from cripplingly bad (and unintentionally hilarious) plot logic. But maybe I should give "Signs" another shot now that I know about this novel fan theory.

come on, see past the surface to the angel beneath!

While I normally subscribe to not judging a book by its cover, there are limits.

the investment pays off

Remember Bill Paxton in "Weird Science"?
My current meds, which got bumped up by the diabetes doctor (previous visit) after having been bumped down by the cardiac doctor (two visits ago), have been giving me a lot of trouble, intestinally speaking. Almost every day, I've got those gurgling borborygmi indicating imminent diarrhea. This means I hit the toilet several times more per day than the average person does. Sometimes, it's a close call. Luckily, where I work, the terlit is just right down the hall, but sometimes, the lone Western-style toilet stall in that restroom is occupied (everything else in there is squat toilets, which I normally avoid*), which means I have to heave myself out of that restroom and downstairs to the first-floor toilet at the bottom of the stairs. Same situation on the first floor: the lone Western toilet is sometimes occupado, which means I have to lumber down to the B1 level to try that restroom, which is also at the bottom of the stairs (you know how plumbing works: a lot of it is gravity-assisted, so restrooms in multi-floor buildings tend to be stacked on top of each other to allow for easier... flow). Normally, I can snag a toilet on my first try, but I've had unlucky days where I've had to scramble to the building's other, more esoterically located restrooms to release my evil squirtles. In my apartment, the situation is better: I live in a small studio, so the toilet is only a couple steps away. Easy to reach when desperation springs out of the bushes.

Years ago, I made an investment by buying a plastic mattress cover, counting on my becoming incontinent at some later point in my life, mainly thanks to age and concomitant sphincter weakness. What I didn't count on was taking meds, at this point in my life, that would fuck me up badly enough to make me reliably diarrhetic every single goddamn day, and for this to happen while I was still in my fifties. I wonder which meds are most responsible for this; I'll have to ask the next time I'm at the hospital (this coming July 12). 

Until about two weeks ago, though, I was fine. Then one night, I was in bed (I take my meds at night before sleeping, you'll recall), and I had the sudden urge to fart. Farts when your guts are gurgling can be risky, but I took the risk that night... and paid the price. The fart dislodged a shit plug. It's awfully hard, sometimes, to tell the difference between a regular old fart bubble pressing up against your interior sphincter and a shit plug masquerading as a fart bubble. Basically, I gambled and lost, and what came out was a diarrhetic shart. I credit my Jedi-like reflexes, though, with my clamping down on the potential torrent a tenth of a second before more than a blob came out, but the blob was enough, twould serve. Anyone who's dealt with their own or other people's shit (e.g., kiddies' or pets' shit) knows that even a speck of the stuff can ruin your entire day.

Lying on your back after realizing you've just sharted presents you with a new logistical problem: how do you roll off the bed without smearing shit all over your mattress? I was, at least, relieved that my investment in the mattress cover, like a shield around the second Death Star, had paid off: the mattress was safe from bombardment. I did what I could to remain clenched so as not to release the scatological tide. As I gingerly rolled onto my side and slid off the bed, I looked at the target zone and saw, clear as day, a small clump of crap looking for all the world like an incongruous divot of soil flung there during a lusty polo game involving tiny Scottish sprites. It brooded wetly, obviously frustrated by the layer of plastic beneath the mattress's cloth outer cover. But I didn't have time to ponder this; instead, I minced over to the toilet, which seemed a lot farther away than a mere few steps, pulled the tainted undies down, and let fly into the toilet bowl like a demonically possessed Gridley. My colon sang its vulgar fluid opera, spewing nastiness into the water. I flushed. And then, once the urge had passed and I'd had a chance to wipe myself and wash my bum, I took off my undies, cleaned them thoroughly in the sink, bleached everything I'd touched, then went back to the bed, gathered up the cloth mattress cover and its unholy cargo, and stuck it in the washing machine, setting the dial to "baby clothes"—a high-temp wash cycle meant to disinfect soiled clothing while also cleaning. With that problem solved, I returned to the mattress with Windex and a paper towel, saw the barest hint of a shit stain where the turd had sunk through, and cleaned that bitch up as best I could. And that was my emergency two weeks ago.

if my asshole were a girl

This morning was arguably worse because I had no control over what happened. I got groggily out of bed and went to the bathroom. The previous night had been one long parade of diarrhea sessions, to the point where my asshole was bleeding from all the wiping. (I have Preparation H, and I use it, but it's not the suppository kind, which is arguably easier to use once you get past the whole please-invade-my-anus thing. Instead, it's a gooey, oily, Vaseline-ish gel. There's supposed to be a plastic applicator tip that you screw onto the tube; the applicator is a few inches long, and you're supposed to shove it up your ass and goosh some gel onto your lacerated (or otherwise irritated) colon. I've never been able to do that successfully, so I just use an H-coated fingertip, which seems to work just fine. Anyway, I sat down on the toilet and, per the holy ritual, stared into the underpants hanging just below my knees.

And lo and behold: nearly the entire crotch of my underpants was covered in a dried, dish-sized shit stain that had obviously started out liquidy, spread via capillary action, and dried during the night as I slept like the damned. "Fuck," was the most intelligent utterance to leave my lips, and I had to prod my brain to think up a logical sequence of actions to take. I knew a few things right away: since I toss and turn when I sleep, I had undoubtedly spread the shit around all over the mattress this time. This was no Shitplug Unleashed shart scenario: this was the vandalism of a wild kid chaotically spraying graffiti all over the world's biggest and blankest wall. I also realized that this meant the filth wasn't merely on the mattress cover: it was on my inner blanket as well (I sleep with two relatively thin blankets). So as before, I washed and tossed my undies into the washer, then went over to my bed to assess the damage. Whatever staining had occurred on the mattress cover turned out not to be as big and bad as all that, and my blanket was tainted, but the stain there was also fairly minuscule. Still, as I said earlier: the merest blot is enough to ruin one's day. I knew I couldn't stuff both my mattress cover and my blanket into my tiny washing machine, so I put the machine on the short cycle this time (30 minutes is short in Korea), did one load, then did the other: mattress cover first, blanket next. I also texted my boss to say I'd be coming into work particularly late today because of an "emergency" that had arisen. My boss, who has a salacious side, ended up calling me and demanding details, so I told him what happened (yes, we're close enough to get that personal with each other; besides, he's been my guardian at the hospital twice, so what's the point of hiding medical issues? I'm also not the type to worry overly about my own dignity; witness how confessional this blog is). Duly informed, the boss grunted and hung up.

With everything in the wash, I had time to ponder my situation. This second incident had happened during the night, while I was asleep, when I had no control over my sphincters. Is this incontinence a function of age? I seriously doubted that. I turn 55 this August, not 85, and even many 85-year-olds are just fine, living diaper-free lives. Still, my boss, moving straight into blame-the-sphincter-not-the-meds mode, unhelpfully suggested I start doing butthole-Kegel exercises to keep things tightly puckered during the night. The problem is that, if the meds really are the problem (and they are), it won't matter how tight my asshole is while I'm conscious. To me, the best solution is to tell my docs about the problem and, hopefully, get my meds reduced. The other solution is to stop taking the meds right before I go to sleep so I have conscious control over my bowels. That could minimize the probability of accidental leakage.

Everything got washed, and I hung the blanket and mattress cover up high. It's all dry now (I stayed at work even later to make up for having arrived late; the linens had plenty of time to dry), so it's just a matter of snapping the cover back on and laying the blanket back on top of the bed. Will I take my meds tonight? I doubt it. I might have to start waking up very early in the morning and taking my meds then. This is going to throw off the rhythm I've developed over the past six weeks: meds plus insulin at night (I always think of insulin as a separate thing), wake up the following morning, take down my numbers (BP, BS, weight, etc.), then have a day—fasting on the days I walk, and eating on the days I don't.

I was depressed enough, today, to abandon my diet temporarily and go a little nuts at the local convenience store, but I'll be back to the discipline tomorrow. I have exactly a month until my doctor's visit, so I probably need to feed the office crew their luncheon this coming Friday or Monday. That will give me the better part of a month to get and keep my numbers down before the July 12 appointment. I'm not looking forward to that visit; I've been told I'll need to do some extra tests, including one to check my insulin resistance by eating, then seeing how quickly my blood sugar goes back down. (Normal people recover within two hours after a meal. I'm probably very insulin-resistant by that reckoning, returning slowly to my baseline... and I'm still too lazy to have broken out my continuous glucose monitor, which is useful for tracking things like blood-sugar recovery rate and, by implication, insulin resistance.)

Anyway, no meds tonight. I want a peaceful, shit-free night of sleep, and at least a few hours without any diarrhea. Jesus Christ.

EPILOGUE: even though I washed the stained underwear from the second incident described above (in the machine, I mean), the stain was still there when I pulled the thing out, so I threw it away and took out a fresh one. I hope this doesn't become a habit.


*One of my personal-improvement projects is, eventually, to master the so-called "Asian squat," a necessary posture if you want to use a squat toilet properly... or simply rest on your haunches when there's no bench along the path you're walking. Here's one of many, many videos on the topic. 

I watch Strength Side a lot. They have a calm, you-can-do-it demeanor, and I'm following their instruction re: basic animal-flow patterns. They mostly concentrate on bodyweight activities, but they have nothing against weights and other equipment, which they also use.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

SerpentZA on China's misery and American greatness

South African-born SerpentZA (Winston Sterzel; ZA is a two-letter designation for South Africa) and his American buddy Laowhy86 (Matthew Tye; a laowai is a foreigner) are two Chinese-fluent dudes who lived in China for well over a decade and finally decided, after threats from internet trolls and authorities, that they'd had enough. They took their families and fled to the States, where they continue to vlog about China and Chinese affairs, exposing the ugly realities that the Chinese Communist Party is desperate to hide.

Two of SerpentZA's (pronounced it "serpent-zed-ey") videos are featured below. One is about the sheer misery of living in today's China; the other is about how good it is to live in America. Together, the two videos present a contrast in how the media will seek to misinform by downplaying problems in China while exaggerating problems in the States. SerpentZA admits that the US has problems, but they're not nearly as bad as foreign media (and US-based bad actors) claim. Life in the States is actually wonderful—which could be taken as a rebuke of both liberals and conversatives who see the current situation negatively. Meanwhile, SerpentZA is firm in his conviction that China is a hellhole for most of its citizens; the first video below shows the long lines of people applying for visas to move to America—day after day, waves of people trying to escape their current travails in order to live better lives. I was lucky to watch these videos one after the other and to immediately see the connection between them. Even though, chronologically, the second video below comes first, I'd recommend watching the vids in the order I'm showing them to you.

While I'm not convinced the US currently is as rosy a place as all that, I'm willing to consider that SerpentZA's argument has at least some merit. Even today, if the choice were between living in China and living in the States, I'd easily choose the States despite all of its problems. Even the US-based conservatives I watch on YouTube, the ones complaining about how shitty the country has become, seem to be in awfully good humor most of the time: whatever they may think about the big picture, their everyday lives can't be that awful. So yes: SerpentZA is probably right that the gloom-and-doomers are cherry-picking the images they show to present the US in the worst possible light, but meanwhile, in China, you have to cherry-pick images to present China in a good light. China is a curated artifice, a Potemkin country not far removed from the nightmare of places like North Korea.

America the surreal: things were not well recently on Kimmel

The leftist ouroboros at work eating itself:

implications of the Hunter Biden decision

Is all of this Hunter Biden stuff a distraction? An exploration of implications and injustices:

Watch especially what Vivek Ramaswamy has to say. Oh, and Biden has explicitly said he won't pardon his son. We'll see how long that lasts.

UPDATE: more suspicion (and herehere) that this whole thing is an attempt to make Democrats look fair. My take: I think we should take the W, minor as it is. Hunter probably won't serve time (though he deserves to be hung from the ceiling and ass-raped by lepers); there's a chance his dad might pardon him (despite what Old Joe said); Democrats will keep on with their shenanigans. Not much will change because of this, and many on both sides will have forgotten by this by November.

UPDATE 2: This fake statement attributed to Trump was funny, though:

Hallie Biden and Hunter's gun

Headline (from June 7):

Sordid in the Court: Hallie Biden Describes Drug Use, How She Found Hunter's Gun

Thursday marked another unsavory day in court for Hunter Biden as his sister-in-law-turned-lover Hallie Biden took the stand to describe the morning she found his gun. The First Son is being prosecuted by special counsel David Wess in a Delaware court on charges that he lied on a federal form to purchase the weapon.

It was early one morning in October 2018 when Hallie Biden’s brother-in-law, Hunter, showed up at her home, looking exhausted and like he could have been on drugs, she said.

As he slept, she quietly cleaned out his truck, where she had sometimes found crack pipes, hoping, she said, “that when he woke back up we could help him start anew,” and get sober.

The truck was strewn with trash and clothes. “I did find some remnants of crack cocaine and paraphernalia,” Hallie Biden told jurors. “Oh, and the gun, obviously.”

The prosecution meanwhile released video footage of Hallie later tossing the gun in a trash can because she feared a drug-addled Hunter might kill himself with it.

Lisez le reste.

UPDATE: per the previous post, Hunter has been found guilty on all three felony counts in his gun trial. This post was a scheduled post created before the verdict came out. I see a lot of pessimism about how Joe Biden will pardon his son. It's just going to fuel the narrative of a corrupt family that protects its own, and yes, some people are indeed "above the law."

Joe the econo-illiterate

I hope people remember this come November:

But many people pay no attention to what's happening nationally and globally, instead voting with "their gut" or based on "impressions." God, we are a stupid, stupid lot.

the scare tactic didn't work: Hunter Biden = GUILTY



A Delaware jury convicted Hunter Biden on three felony gun charges Tuesday.

Special counsel David Weiss charged Hunter Biden in September on three counts relating to his purchase of a Colt Cobra revolver in October 2018, alleging he knowingly possessed the gun while addicted to drugs and made false statements on the purchase form. The jury found him guilty on all counts.

Hunter Biden was indicted on separate tax charges in December.

Last July, a deal that would have had Hunter Biden plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges and enter a diversion agreement for a felony gun charge fell apart under questioning by District Court Judge Maryellen Noreika, who voiced concerns about an immunity provision included in the diversion agreement. The diversion agreement stated Hunter Biden would not be criminally prosecuted for any crimes encompassed by the statement of facts in his plea deal, which listed the millions of dollars he received through foreign business dealings in China, Ukraine and Romania.

The payments, along with President Joe Biden’s involvement in his son’s business dealings, have been the subject of investigations by the House Oversight Committee.

Prosecutor Leo Wise admitted to Noreika at the time that he was not aware of precedent for an agreement not to prosecute crimes “that have nothing to do with the case or the charges being diverted.”

During the trial, prosecutors called a total of 10 witnesses and rested their case on Friday. Witnesses included multiple women who were romantically involved with Hunter Biden, such as his ex-wife Kathleen Buhle, his ex-girlfriend Zoe Kestan and Hallie Biden, the widow of his late brother Beau Biden.

To show Hunter Biden was addicted to drugs at the time of his gun purchase, prosecutors cited portions of his memoir, Beautiful Things, where he elaborates on his drug use in 2018, as well as text messages he sent relating to his drug use.

[Blue boldface added.]

The "scare tactic" referred to in this post's title was Jill Biden's constant presence in the courtroom, probably as a reminder to jurors that there could be consequences should they choose to convict her fuckup of a son.

Who's the convicted felon now, asshole?

Justice, for once. Only for the moment, though: there's an appeals process. This conviction would be a hilarious point to bring up during a debate, though.

"Monkey Man": review

Dev Patel as the Kid in "Monkey Man"

It's a bit of a jumble at first, but as the story of "Monkey Man" progresses, we come to understand that our anonymous protagonist (Dev Patel), credited as "the Kid," is out for revenge. And we eventually find out why: a certain corrupt policeman, working for a religious figure named Baba Shakti (Marakand Deshpande), destroyed the Kid's village when the Kid was a little boy. Worse, this officer, Rana Singh (Sikandar Kher), tried to rape his mother and ended up killing her. The Kid has devoted his life to learning how to fight, and as an adult, he tracks Singh down and works his way into the underworld that Singh is a part of.

Directed, co-written, and co-produced by Dev Patel in what can only be considered a passion project, "Monkey Man" is a 2024 actioner about the Kid's attempt to bring justice to his mother's killer, and to fight for other marginalized people as well. This is billed as an American production, not an Indian one; it was shot outside of India, in Indonesia. Originally slated to be released on Netflix, the film got picked up by none other than comedian-director Jordan Peele and his Monkeypaw Productions, allowing it to be released in theaters for the full-throttle experience.

The story is shot through with flashbacks to the Kid's childhood. The Kid has fond memories of his mother, who taught him Hindu prayers and the story of the monkey god Hanuman, to whom the Kid remains devoted as an adult. The Kid now works as a "heel" (a pro-wrestling term meaning a bad guy that the crowd is supposed to hate) in an underground fight ring, deliberately losing matches to keep the audiences happy. In these fights, the Kid wears a monkey mask and is billed as "Kong." The matches are hosted by the smarmy Tiger (Sharlto Copley), who constantly underpays the Kid. Having tracked Rana Singh to a club called Kings, the Kid hits up the manager Queenie Kapoor (Ashwini Kalsekar) for menial work. Now working at the club, the Kid meets humorously shady employee Alphonso (Pitobash Tripathy, a.k.a. "Pitobash") and, with Alphonso's help, manages to work his way up the company ladder to where he gains access to the club's upper levels, where Rana Singh can be found carousing and getting high with the rest of the rich and powerful. The Kid trains a dog to come around to the building's back entrance; this is how he's able to sneak a revolver past security into the building. When Singh goes to the restroom, the Kid confronts him and tries to shoot him, but the attempt fails, forcing the Kid to fight through a crowd of gangsters and run for his life. Alphonso runs with the Kid, meaning the police are now chasing both of them. Alphonso hides in the streets; the Kid, wounded from the fights and from a police sniper's gunshot, finds himself hiding in a temple for the local hijra community (marginalized trans folks). Their god is Ardhanarishvara, a male-female fusion of the god Siva and his celestial consort Parvati—a fitting deity for the trans community. The Kid meets the temple's head, Alpha (Vipin Sharma), who helps the Kid to heal and to rediscover his strength and sense of purpose. The Kid grows close to the temple community and realizes that he's no longer fighting just for his mother. Meanwhile, the corrupt guru Baba Shakti and his right-hand man Rana Singh help an Indian ultranationalist win an election, thereby securing their own elevation in status even as they manipulate the faithful in a sordid tale as old as time.

The movie's marketing might lead one to believe this is some sort of Indian take on the John Wick franchise, but the film's pacing, tone, and message are anything but. The story is very internal; it's also thankfully free of the usual "revenge will lead you down a dark path" tropes. No character warns the Kid that revenge is uncalled for; in fact, Alpha, the priest at the temple of Ardhanarishvara, encourages the Kid to be who he really is—the same lesson that the god Krsna teaches to the warrior Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita: follow your dharma to the end. A musician at the temple (Zakir Hussain) even helps the Kid to train on a heavy bag by providing a musically percussive rhythm on his tabla drums, giving cadence as the Kid retrains himself after recovering from his wounds.

One striking aspect of the film is its depiction of poverty and corruption. I don't know enough about Bollywood and Tollywood movies to know whether they include much social commentary, but Dev Patel is an Englishman raised in the West (but with undeniable connections to the subcontinent) and thus arguably imbued with a social conscience. The cinematography of "Monkey Man" is gritty and depressing, with India portrayed as a place of ubiquitous squalor, not to mention a vast difference between how the privileged live and how the rest of the country lives: far apart in status yet physically jammed close together, rich and poor, with almost nothing and no one in between. What did Indians think of this portrayal of their country? Did they nod in sad agreement, or were they scandalized by the negativity? As an American largely ignorant of Indian culture, my own feeling is that the story wouldn't have worked half as well had we been handed a rosier picture of India. And I appreciate the commentary about corruption: if anything, Patel's film points to the idea that this is a universal phenomenon: things are dirty all over, and dirty in more ways than one.

The actors are all fantastic in their roles. Patel is a standout as the Kid seeking to find justice for what happened to his mother, to his village and, later, to the temple that took him in. Sikandar Kher, as Rana Singh, is a delightfully hateful presence and an impressively brawny bad guy. By the time the Kid catches up to Singh, Singh is an older man, but still tough as nails and not easy to take down, which makes the Kid's revenge all the sweeter. Marakand Deshpande as Baba Shakti is perfect in the role of the Indian version of Jimmy Swaggart, a dirty guru who cares nothing for the people he purports to care for. Pitobash is hilarious as the creepy, gimpy, but ultimately kind Alphonso, who struts around acting privileged when he's in front of the Kid, but who gets shit upon by the rich and powerful people he brown-noses. And we can't forget Vipin Sharma as Alpha, the trans priest who understand's the Kid's soul. ("Monkey Man" is, in fact, a master class on how to integrate alphabet people and social commentary seamlessly into a plot without preachily ruining the story. Western filmmakers really ought to take note: show, don't tell.)

"Monkey Man" isn't without humor, either: Sharlto Copley doesn't have a big role as the fight host Tiger, but he makes the most of his often-hilarious role as a filthy Westerner happily at home in a filthy business. There's comedy in some of the fight scenes, too: in particular, there's one very slow neck-stabbing scene in an elevator that had me busting a gut. Ashwini Kalsekar's Queenie Kapoor is also comedically vulgar even as she chases after enemies while wildly brandishing a pistol.

As much as I enjoyed the film's emotional highs and lows—and that crescendo at the end—"Monkey Man" nevertheless had some story-logic problems that were hard to swallow. You expect a certain amount of ridiculousness in any action movie no matter what it's about or what culture it represents, but if certain plot-related questions become insurmountable, that can detract from one's enjoyment of the movie. At the end, for example, when the Kid is fighting his way up the club to reach Rana Singh, and his friends from the temple come in to help him fight the gangsters arrayed against him, I had to wonder (1) why the police hadn't arrived to intervene, and (2) what consequences these friends would end up suffering for helping the Kid. Also: while we come to understand how the Kid was able to fight so proficiently, the Kid is also shown using various weapons, especially knives, in ways that would seem to indicate that he was once a military operative, but there's no mention of this as part of his background. A few short scenes and/or lines of dialogue might have fixed this plot hole. And it is a plot hole: with the Kid's background unexplained, it seems mightily implausible that he'd be able to handle himself so well with improvised and traditional weapons, which were never a part of the fighting he was doing as "Kong."

For a first-time directorial effort, though, "Monkey Man" was impressive, whatever its flaws. I enjoyed the story and appreciated the payoff. I also appreciated the commentary about the state of India today, and I see parallels between that portrayal and aspects of my own American culture. Not being a typical Bollywood production, "Monkey Man" doesn't have the musical ring of, say, "RRR." At the same time, it is refreshingly free of the usual Christian-tinged morality found in any number of American action films, and the movie's ambiguous ending leaves things open for a possible sequel should Dev Patel find the energy to make one.

Patel long go proved he had and has acting chops. I recall first seeing him when he was just a kid in "Slumdog Millionaire" (which, strangely, I haven't reviewed yet); more recently, Patel played Gawain in "The Green Knight," and even though I found his casting strange, I thought he was good in the role. Here, in "Monkey Man," Patel shoulders his most physically demanding role to date, and he delivers both the action and the pathos. As action movies go, "Monkey Man" is intelligent, dimensional, and heartfelt. See it.

ADDENDUM: a note about the fighting in the movie: Patel's character delivers a lot of side kicks and turning kicks that looked awfully familiar to me. Sure enough, when I looked up Patel's bio, I discovered he has a taekwondo background, which explains why his kicks look so well executed (and not very Indian—one major Indian martial art is kalaripayattu or just kalari). There's one scene in the ring in which "Kong"—called "Monkey Man" by the cheering crowds—knocks out his opponent with a single, beautiful kick.



My reviews of...

"Gen V," Season 1

"Godzilla Minus One"