Monday, February 24, 2020

ready to witness some self-torture?

I've been watching a ton of these Beard Meats Food videos, which feature a British competitive eater named Adam. Adam's claim to fame isn't that he's a top eater; he ranks only about #17 worldwide, apparently, and he's constantly bested by the likes of Joey Chestnut and Matt Stonie (I've watched a few of Stonie's videos as well; the dude is insane). What makes Adam famous is his beard, which tends to fill up, rather disgustingly, with schmutz during any given eating binge. Adam's kryptonite is spicy food, and in the video below, he takes on Flamethrower Candy Company's The Toe of Satan, a 9-million-Scoville lollipop (4 million Scovilles hotter than police pepper spray). For an endurance test, you're simply supposed to hold the lollipop inside your mouth for as long as you can.

The scale of achievement is, as Adam reads out:

under 1 minute = coward
1 minute = wimp
2 minutes = show-off
3 minutes = loss of feeling
4 minutes = really?
5 minutes = "This is 911. What is your emergency?"

I watched the video at 1.75X speed. Even at that speed, Adam's pain and suffering are like a shout of agony leaping straight out of the screen.

I, of course, have eaten a half-spoonful of pure concentrated capsaicin. Curious as to its Scoville rating, I looked up "pure capsaicin scoville" on Google, and the answer came back:

16,000,000 Scovilles.

I guess that's why I felt as if I were about to die.

I'm no competitive eater, but I may have actually beaten Adam on this one.

Marianne Williamson, en fuego for Bernie

The number of Dem contenders drops, and the Great Coalescence begins:

Some of the remaining Democrat contenders won't let go of their presidential aspirations until circumstances make it screamingly obvious that the time has come to say goodbye. Andrew Yang has wisely abandoned the race, but Tulsi Gabbard remains stubbornly in contention, against all hope and reason. Meanwhile, those who've dropped out of the race are now aligning themselves behind those who remain, which is what you see above: Marianne Williamson aligning herself behind Bernie Sanders.

I have to say, though: it's an enthusiastic, inspiring speech by Williamson that employs some seriously good rhetorical devices, like tricolon and other forms of parallelism—the sort of speech patterns that are easy for the hoi polloi to digest. I also thought, as Williamson was speaking, that she sounded the way actress Jodie Foster does when Foster is speaking with a stressed voice. If Williamson weren't so nutty, I'd like her more than I like Bernie (whom I admit I find personally likable, however fucked-in-the-head his political notions might be).

Of course, Williamson's brave rhetoric aside, Bernie doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell against Trump. As some pundits are pointing out, the 2020 US election is now paralleling what only just happened in the United Kingdom with the elevation of Boris Johnson, who roundly and massively defeated avowed socialist Jeremy Corbyn. According to the pundits, Corbyn's loud-and-proud leftism is what did him in because most Britons, however docile they might be in the face of the UK's left-leaning legal and governmental systems, are still just regular folks who have a horror of outright socialism. Bernie and his Bernie Bros are going to discover much the same horror come November, I suspect.

Assuming Bernie remains in the lead.

spot the error

This sentence is the start of a Spectator USA article (no link because there's a paywall of sorts), and it contains a rather embarrassing grammatical error:

While a successful politician in many ways, Joe Biden’s attempts to become president are marked by quite a severe flaw — he cannot enter a town hall without saying something stupid.
Did you spot it? Write it in the comments, along with a suggested rewrite of the sentence. Hint: the error is not that the writer should have used a colon instead of an em dash, nor is it that the writer inserted spaces before and after his em dash. Those would be errors of mechanics (punctuation, spelling, and capitalization), not errors of grammar. Besides, the whole "space before/after an em dash" thing is very much a matter of debate, and I'd never put up a question that didn't have a clear and obvious answer.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

it's not a joke

I saw the following meme over at John Mac's blog:

Think that's funny? Think it's a parody? Well, think again:

Note how many of the talking points painted on Bernie's white van, in the above meme, actually get mentioned in Bernie's victory speech as seen in the above video. Still think this is funny? The question that Sanders routinely fails to answer satisfactorily is, "Where's all the money gonna come from?" Socialists promise much but fund little, and when they do manage to find funds, those monies always come directly out of your pocket. Why any sane person would vote for any kind of socialism is beyond me.

"Blindspotting": review

"Blindspotting" is a 2018 dramedy directed by Carlos López Estrada and starring Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal. Diggs and Casal are real-life friends from the Oakland area, and they wanted to make a movie that offered a more accurate portrayal of that part of California than had been seen up to that point. Their actual biographies remind me very strongly of the now-legendary tale of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, two Bostonians who wanted to create a drama that brought their hardscrabble part of Boston to life on the big screen. For Damon and Affleck, this resulted in 1997's "Good Will Hunting," a story that won the pair an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. It may not be obvious at first, but "Blindspotting" has another point in common with "Good Will Hunting": it is, in a deep sense, a tale of therapeutic personal growth. And let me get my verdict out of the way right now: I was moved by this film.

Collin Hoskins (Diggs), convicted of felony assault, is close to ending his probation. If he can fly straight for three more days, he'll be a free man, so let the final countdown begin. Hoskins, an African-American, is best friends with Miles Turner, who is white, but who wears a grill and talks like a brutha. Both of them work for a moving company with the imperious name of Commander; the young lady working dispatch, Val (Janina Gavankar), is Collin's sort-of ex who still has feelings for Collin. Miles despises Val, seeing her as a stuck-up, uppity bitch who likes nothing more than to act superior to Collin. Miles has a wife named Ashley (Jasmine Cephas Jones) and a son named Sean (Ziggy Baitinger). Collin's best friend also has a problem: a hair-trigger temper resulting from a combination of immaturity, a constant sense of injustice, and deep-seated insecurity. Miles doesn't mind being casually called "nigga" by Collin and even by his Latina/African-American wife, but in a strange show of self-restraint, he never uses the epithet himself. This becomes an issue later in the story.

As the story begins, Collin is just about to end his probation when his buddy Miles brandishes a newly acquired pistol. Collin freaks out, knowing only too well what this might mean for his probation if he's caught hanging with armed friends. Later on, as Collin is driving the moving truck back one night, he witnesses a police shooting: a white cop guns down a black man who is running away from the officer. Collin is traumatized by what he saw, and he has flashbacks to the incident, including clear visions of the white officer's face. The incident makes the news; the policeman is identified as one Officer Molina (Ethan Embry), and the newscaster explicitly mentions that Molina shot the suspect four times in the back while the suspect was running away.

"Blindspotting" somehow pulls off the trick of seeming not to have a plot while also very much having one. The movie has a desultory, slice-of-life feel to it as we watch Collin and Miles go about their daily routines. At the same time, like an action movie, "Blindspotting" uses a ticking-clock trope to increase the level of suspense as we all count down the final days of Collin's probation through a series of title cards. Will Collin make it to the end, or will he fuck everything up? The movie is definitely tracking the character arcs of both of our principals as they go to various properties to sling furniture, as they attend parties, and as they meet friends and neighbors. Miles's problem seems to be the more obvious one: he needs to learn to control his temper and act more responsibly, especially given that he's a husband and a father. Collin, who is generally much more quiet and pensive, needs to escape the passivity that characterizes his approach to life—something his sort-of-ex Val keeps harping on. And all of this is happening in the tense racial kaleidoscope that is Oakland, California, where "town shit" can happen to out-of-towners who don't know their place.

I was, quite frankly, blown away by this movie. Granted, it has a few on-the-nose moments, such as a scene when the movie's title gets mentioned in the course of a conversation between Collin and Val, who is studying psychology to get a degree and eventually leave her dispatcher job at Commander Movers. Val uses slangy mnemonics to help her remember certain psych terms for her upcoming exam; "blindspotting" is her way of remembering the cognitive bias revealed by the "Rubin's Vase" image. The movie also switches genres on occasion and becomes something close to a musical when the main characters begin angrily rapping as a way to describe their predicaments. But I thought the on-the-nose mention of the word "blindspotting," while corny, felt organic to the moment, and the sudden bouts of out-of-nowhere rapping (which don't happen that often) struck me as artistic ways of driving home the poignancy of life on the mean streets.

"Blindspotting" does a fantastic job of making you care about its main characters, and even about its minor characters. Everyone who appears on screen registers as a fully fleshed-out personality. Miles, despite his hair-trigger temper, has his warm, caring side, and he's an awesome talker whenever he gets the urge to sell something—like old hair curlers or a used sailboat taken from a move-out site—to a skeptical audience. Rafael Casal is excellent in the role of Miles—funny, violent, unstable, and weirdly poetic. Daveed Diggs, as Collin Hoskins, plays the role with depth and subtlety. Collin may be too passive in his approach to life, but he's a deep thinker and perhaps, in his own fumbling way, is looking to escape his Oakland-bound situation in a quest for something better. Neither Miles nor Collin gets portrayed as a total hero or a total villain, and the issues that the movie deals with get what I think is fair play, with no easy answers. You have to go back to 1990s-era Spike Lee to find complex urban/racial issues dealt with in a way that respects their complexity, and truth be told, I'm still gnawing on the themes and problems and conflicts laid out in "Blindspotting." That's the sign of a mature, well-made movie—one that offers no easy answers to questions of police violence, being white and "acting black," neighborhood-as-tribe, gun ownership, and transitioning to responsible adulthood.

I can say this, though: unlike Bong Joon-ho's "Parasite," with its Marxism-tinged hopelessness born of Marx's conviction that the proletariat cannot escape its circumstances, "Blindspotting" ends on a more positive, life-affirming note as two friends deal with personal problems and, just maybe, come out the other side a little bit wiser, a little more mature, with a glimmer of hope for their respective futures. American movies are often like that, affirming the values of life and freedom and fulfillment, not those of hopelessness, inevitability, and despair. I think the last time a film moved me this deeply was "Leave No Trace," which I watched last year. "Blindspotting" is definitely worth your while. I highly, highly recommend it, and my hat is off to two super-talented writer-actor-producers who have a bright future ahead of them.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

sorry about the lack of pics

You've already seen the boeuf bourguignon that I'd made, so I doubt you're jonesing to see more photos of exactly the same thing. That said, I enjoy foodblogging, so I'm sorry for not slapping up any new photos of the latest batch of the beef Burgundy. It really did look exactly the same as the first batch, though; as I said, the prep is absurdly easy to do, and if you follow the instructions the same way both times, the laws of physics take over and lead you to consistently similar results.

I served huge bowls of the succulent beef with fusilli pasta, like last time, and both my boss and my coworker loved the meal, complimenting the skirt steak's tenderness, which was the result of two hours and fifteen minutes of simmering. The boss jokingly complained that I'd served him too much; he taught me the Korean idiom "You've got big hands," which is a way of saying a person is too generous, especially when serving food.

There's a chance I'll be serving up some gumbo next week. I have about 4.5 kilos of gumbo sitting in individual Ziploc bags in my freezer, plus about nine 150-gram links of frozen homemade andouille sausage that I plan to cut into medallions, fry up, and dump into the gumbo at some point (along with more shrimp, of course; the gumbo already has plenty of chicken in it). Maybe I'll post photos then. We'll see.

Dr. Mike Hansen on COVID-19 (a.k.a. SARS-CoV-2)

Dr. Mike Hansen offers interesting insights on a COVID-19 autopsy report. This video covers the patient's actual symptoms and also tracks the manner in which the patient (a 50-year-old Chinese man who visited Wuhan) declined before dying:

Dr. Mike talks about whether to use a mask:

Upshot: masks are useless in most cases, but might possibly help in preventing the spread of "aerosolized" pathogens that we tend to cough or sneeze out. Best course of action: wash your hands frequently and stay away from sick people.

the roiling sexual melting pot

Sex? Gender? Cis? Trans? Bi? Transphobic? Biphobic? He? She? They? Ze? Zir? What the fuck does any of it mean? Color me thoroughly confused.

The current age is standing on the brink of full acceptance of polymorphic human sexuality, but for various reasons, people in different sexual camps are still trapped in an identity-politics mentality that encourages them to think tribally in terms of labels like the ones I listed above. I find the whirl and swirl of current sexual politics utterly bewildering, probably because I'm an old fart who grew up as part of the last generation to have a more or less binary sexual worldview: you've got men, and you've got women. You've got straights, and you've got gays/lesbians. But these days, gender is considered a spectrum, and while I'm willing to accept that idea—to the extent that gender refers to a social construct and not to a biological, chromosomal reality—I'm not willing to accept the hegemonic thinking that declares, "I'm a trans person, and if you don't accept the trans worldview, well, that makes you a transphobe!"

In the following video, which I found both hard to follow and very educational, Tim Pool talks with outspoken lesbian YouTuber Arielle Scarcella, who just made a short video in which she announces she's leaving the left for good. As Pool notes in the blurb accompanying his interview video, Arielle's reasoning for leaving the left "is nuanced." Having now watched the interview, I'd have to agree; as I said, I wasn't always able to follow the exchange, which was a baffling maze of alien terms and concepts, as well as a jumbled tangle of perspectives and motivations. This complexity, though, also made the exchange feel very educational: as I was watching the interview, I realized that this was one of those opportunities for an old fart like me to remain at least somewhat relevant and current, and that realization helped to focus my attention. I'm glad I sat through this exchange. Your own mileage may vary, but if you have any interest at all in the weird morass of twenty-first-century sexual politics, you might find Tim Pool's conversation with Arielle Scarcella quite interesting.

As I've noted before, I'm actually very open to the coming sexual polymorphism. While I myself remain firmly and contentedly hetero in my own orientation, I have no problem with the idea that other people might swing gay, lesbian, bi, trans, or whatever. I think science fiction prepared me well for this eventuality, and I kind of wish more people read sci-fi and experienced the genre's mind-broadening potential. As humanity hones its ability to manipulate its own genome, it won't be long before we start to see chromosomally human beings who look, shall we say, rather funky, sexually speaking. Right now, there are only two biological sexes for humans (even chimerism and intersexuality involve the combination of two distinct sexes), but in the future... who knows what the biological reality will be? How will you react to such changes? Will you see them as an abomination, as something that will rip apart the fabric of civil society? Or will you see them as part of an ever-expanding horizon of human fulfillment, exploration, and flourishing?

I know where I stand on this issue. How about you?

Friday, February 21, 2020

ah, Daegu. Daegu, Daegu, Daegu.

I'm glad I was in Daegu for only a year. The weird accents were hard to understand. My boss at the university was a micromanager on a power trip. Some of my fellow faculty members were good eggs, but some turned out to be raging dickheads, including one constantly self-aggrandizing professor who, while drunk, lewdly catcalled one of my students on the street. My point is that Daegu is a nice place to visit, maybe, but I wouldn't want to live there. My year in Daegu was basically preparation for my happy return to Seoul—a twelve-month-long interlude between life in America and life back in Korea.

Daegu has made the news again, and unsurprisingly, it's not for a good reason: a strange Christian sect called Shincheonji (New Heaven and Earth) now seems to be the epicenter for a sudden spike in the number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in South Korea: a 60-some-year-old woman, who attended worship services in the Daegu area, has been labeled a "superspreader" of the virus. Korea's number of COVID-infected patients shot up by 100, boosting Korea's total to 204 (as of this writing). Here's a DW News video about Korea:

I still maintain that South Korea has been doing, and will continue to do, an excellent job of managing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Information is being disseminated promptly and routinely; the virus is the talk of the town, as I constantly hear when I'm in an elevator and listening to a mother talk with her child about the problem. Every Korean is using the English term "coronavirus," albeit with a Korean accent. Will South Korea succumb to a pandemic? Will we see desperate runs on grocery stores as people panic? Will there be mass violence as people become unhinged in the face of a microscopic threat? I seriously doubt it. As I marveled during the Park Geun-hye demonstrations, Koreans can be loud, fractious, and disorderly, but they are also capable of impressive displays of civilized behavior that would put America and Americans to shame. I think this country will weather the current problem just fine. I don't, however, have the same confidence about China, which may end up losing a very small but significant chunk of its population.

Have you heard the slew of Captain Trips jokes? They've gone positively viral.

ADDENDUM: here's a video of a brave woman in China who calls out the Chinese government for its malfeasance and ineptitude regarding COVID-19 and other matters. You might want to turn your volume down low: the woman gets rather... passionate:

gimp report

It's been eight days since my injury, and my slow, pronounced limp has become a somewhat faster, barely visible limp. Going up and down stairs is no longer the chore it had been, and I'm beginning to wonder, with the rapidity of my improvement, whether this was really a stress fracture at all. I'm done with physical therapy; I've used up my three days of special meds. I haven't done any ice-water soaks for my foot yet, but I'm wondering whether I even need to. Back when I was sure this was a stress fracture, I assumed I'd need a whole month before I could walk any significant distances. I'm still feeling a bit too sore and tender to try walking home (a 30-minute stroll from the office when I'm injury-free), but I might try such a walk sometime next week.

The only reason I haven't completely dismissed the stress-fracture notion is that my foot is still swollen, and that has to mean something. The swelling has gone down enough for me no longer to need a sandal for my right foot: I'm back to wearing two shoes again, like a regular person, and slipping my right foot into my shoe isn't particularly painful. But the swelling is still there, and its presence wordlessly urges caution: I shouldn't get cocky.

I've spent this week basically being self-indulgent and lazy: I haven't been walking at night, and I took myself off my diet last week, so I can see my face visibly fattening up every time I look in a mirror. Now that I've fed my boss and coworker their boeuf bourguignon, though, I've resolved to get back onto my diet next week, with this coming weekend as my "last hurrah" before returning, sadly, to the monastic life. I have some thoughts on what it means to fall off the diet wagon, but I'll save those thoughts for a different post.

the Korean-language online experience sucks

In the idiom of 2019: "Do you even internet, bruh?"*

This is the question I have to ask every web designer in South Korea. When I want to, say, register for Domino's pizza delivery in the States, I go to the Domino's website, follow the step-by-step registration procedure, enter all the necessary information, then voilà: I'm done. The registration process is one simple, linear forward march to the end. In Korea, by contrast, if I want to register for Domino's, I have go to the Domino's website, begin registration, leave the website to register with a service called "Pass," come back to the Domino's website to complete registration... then end up supposedly registered, but without having entered a delivery address or two. (You can't enter an address until you place your first order. Stupid.)

My experience with most Korean websites is like what I've described above: one step forward, two steps back. Far from being linear, the experience is utterly nonlinear. Far from being efficient, the experience is painfully inefficient. Do Step 1, then before you can move on to Step 2, you get a flag telling you, "But before you continue, you must first register with this third-party service associated with our company! Register with the service, then come back and finish your registration here!" Someone needs to explain to Koreans how good web design is done. Registration should be a one-stop-shopping experience that goes directly from A to Z. But then I remember that I live in Asia, land of the nonlinear. And I lose all hope.

The other problem is that, when you do finally have the chance to enter a destination address for whatever service you're signing up with, you have to enter the address in a very specific format, or else you'll get an "address not found" warning. When you're already angry about the registration process, this warning is the diarrhea on the cake, the capsaicin in the condom, the leprous semen in your ass—the final fucking straw.

Life in Korea—for me, at least—is often characterized by a feeling of being thwarted. I try to cross what seems to be an empty street, and a speeding car suddenly appears, forcing me to wait. I try walking straight down a hallway toward a building's exit, and some slowpoke asshole suddenly bumbles obliviously into my path, blocking my way and shambling like a George Romero zombie. I try moving toward a door, and some fast-moving dickhead (or bitch) cuts in front of me. Korea can be a land of amazingly crisp efficiency when it wants to be, such as when I need to buy new contact lenses. But in other respects, it's a land of meandering, bumbling, desultory turds in human form, blissfully unaware of how they cut others off, block passages, and stop up traffic. And registering for an online service often feels the same way: one step forward, two steps back, in a pattern of constant, relentless thwarting.

If I had the power of three wishes, I'd expend one wish on correcting the ontological messiness of Korean culture. I'd formulate the wish in such a way as to cause all human interactions to proceed smoothly and logically (and, yes: there's some cultural imperialism in that sentiment—I unabashedly mean logically by Western standards). Life on the peninsula would improve so much if only people thought through their actions and took others into consideration. Websites would be smarter, hallways wouldn't be blocked by clueless assholes, and no one would ever feel thwarted—ever.

Perhaps in a later post, I'll go over what my one wish for American culture might be.

*I actually find this expression highly, highly annoying. The formula is, "Do you even ["verbed" noun], bruh?" This turn of phrase was definitely invented by a white dude. It lacks the musicality and wit that are defining characteristics of black slang. "Whoop—muh bad," a black-slang expression from the 1990s, is immediately understandable in context, not to mention snappy and funny. White slang, though, deliberately goes for awkwardness, which is how we've ended up with white-slang gems like "Amazeballs!" and "I can't even."

the rats are leaving the sinking ship

Tim Pool uses the term "dumpster fire" at one point:

Thursday, February 20, 2020

boeuf bourguignon: once more unto the breach

I'm serving boeuf bourguignon at my office tomorrow. The boss has very unsubtly rumbled that he expects me to start a-cookin' for the troops again, at least once a month, and while it boosts my ego to hear that someone out there appreciates my cooking, I'm currently dealing with a stress fracture and am not exactly in a financial position to be cooking piles of food for the masses. Granted, "the masses" now consist of only two other people aside from me, and I don't think we'll be so ecumenical as to invite the entire office to partake whenever I cook these meals. That'll save me a ton of money.

All the same, cooking for more than just me is going to put a strain on my bank account: I'm sending home $3100 a month, at a bad won-dollar exchange rate (1205 won to the dollar), which leaves me with only a few hundred bucks in my Korean account to make it through the next thirty days. I'm leaning fairly heavily on my credit card, which I don't want to do, but unless I pick up some extra work, this is how things will be for the next few months. I'm not too worried about piling up a lot of debt on the card; once the main scholastic debt is paid off, paying off the card won't take long at all. In the meantime, I'll see about implementing some cost-cutting strategies to keep the bills from piling up too high.

As for the beef Burgundy... wish me luck. The dish is absurdly easy to prepare—just a teeny bit of prep, then fire and forget—but we're about to find out whether I can prepare it at a consistent level of quality. It came out pretty damn good last time, and I've bought the same cut of meat (skirt steak) this time around, so here goes nuthin'. I have high hopes, assuming (1) the laws of physics remain consistent, and (2) I don't fuck things up too badly.

A reminder of what the BB should look like:

mass shooting in Germany

Ban all zee guns! they cried.

A shooter, identified as Tobias R. (no surname given per German police procedure), has just killed at least nine people in two different hookah bars in Hanau, Germany. When police tracked the shooter to his apartment, they found him already dead, along with another body (possibly his mother), for a total of eleven dead. Some news about the incident here. The shooter's psych profile seems consistent with mental illness. This angle is likely to be overlooked (or simply buried) in the rush to talk about right-wing attitudes and racism... oh, and of course, gun control, which I thought was already a thing in Germany, nicht wahr?

the infinite capacity for bullshit

Great video essay on fake martial arts:

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

hapkido tees are online and on sale

Click the tee-shirt image on my blog's right-hand sidebar, then scroll to the bottom of the Teespring page to see the link to the new merchandise. Or, if you're lazy and want to go there directly, click here.

Donald Trump takes his cue from "Suicide Squad"

Need to round up a group of unsavory deplorables to do some dirty work for you? The premise of box-office turd "Suicide Squad" is little different from that of the much older classic "The Dirty Dozen": assemble a group of baddies and persuade them to do some good. Donald Trump, perhaps taking his cue from these films, has just exonerated a whole rogues' gallery of baddies from the world of US business and politics, commuting sentences and issuing pardons. If you're old enough, you'll remember these names from the past (source):

1. Rod Blagojevich, former Illinois governor, convicted of bribery, extortion, and fraud.
2. Bernie Kerik, former New York police commissioner, guilty of tax fraud and other charges.
3. Michael Milken(!!!), financier, convicted of securities fraud in the 1980s.

Is Trump nuts? Well, he's certainly giving his enemies plenty of ammunition. This is the sort of thing that will confirm to the Never Trump and anti-Trump crowd that the 45th president is the worst of the worst: just look at the people he's helping! Trump, meanwhile, may be playing some sort of long game. Kerik's a Republican who served as police commissioner under Rudy Giuliani; Kerik's corruption made the news and besmirched Giuliani's mayoralty, which makes me wonder what Rudy thinks of Trump's pardon. But Kerik now owes Trump something, and that matters. Same goes for Blagojevich, a Democrat and former governor: he too now owes the president big-time. One has to wonder: what does Trump get out of all this? Are these people now pawns in a larger game, or is all this just more Trump-style trolling to distract the media-based idiots from whatever Trump is really doing?

2010 deaths from COVID-19 confirmed

We're at 2010 deaths from COVID-19 now (link updates in real time). 2007 of those deaths are in China; that's 99.9% of all deaths worldwide. As I said before, I think the problem is going to remain largely in China. Other countries, especially the ones with free speech and free exchange of information, will fare much better. South Korea seems to be doing just fine:

All in all, given where I live and the level of civilization here, I can't say I'm all that worried.

strangely satisfying

Watching a dude use a brace of hypertrophic AR-15s to blow shit up (they're all from .45 caliber to .50 caliber, which is abnormal since AR-15s usually fire 5.56-mm rounds) is surprisingly therapeutic. Give the following video a watch if you're fine with guns:

Full disclosure: I'm subscribed to this guy's channel.

possible tee design

I doodled the three characters that make up the word hapkido (harmony-energy-way: the way of harmonizing energy, e.g., moving with and not against an opponent's attack), the Korean integrated martial art (percussive + grappling).* My boss is a third-degree back belt in the discipline, and he's also given me many gifts over the course of our working relationship, so I'm thinking about giving something back in the form of a tee shirt. The only problem is that my boss prefers to wear hanbok (traditional Korean clothing) instead of Western clothes, so while I could make a tee-shirt design for him, I doubt he'd ever wear the tee. Instead, I might make tees that can be worn by his wife and two young sons. Anyway, here's the design:

I might have to scoot the red dojang (stamp) over a few millimeters.

*These are the same three Chinese characters used in the name aikido, the designation for a Japanese martial art that is distinctly different from hapkido. The latter Korean fighting style combines linear percussive movements with circular grappling movements; the Japanese style, by contrast, focuses much more exclusively on holds, locks, and throws, with almost no percussive movements in its syllabus.

conversation: Tim Pool and The Redheaded Libertarian

Great meeting of the minds:

Lots of interesting talk about Michael Bloomberg, Tulsi Gabbard, Ron Paul, Donald Trump, and Bernie Sanders. Poor, departed Andrew Yang even gets a brief mention.

Personally, I think Yang will be back in the next election cycle. Same for Tulsi. Perhaps by then, the entire DNC will have been murdered so the Democrats can stop shooting themselves in the foot by rigging their own nomination process and elevating the stupidest among them. My high-school biology teacher called it the Law of the Septic Tank: the biggest pieces float to the top. As long as there's a DNC, the Law of the Septic Tank will always obtain.

Redheaded Libertarian is kinda cute and turns out to be sorta funny, too.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

강남 푸른 정형외과의원
Gangnam Blue Orthopedic Clinic

It's called the "blue" clinic, but the sign uses a green font. Go figure.

So I disdained the bureaucratic nightmare of Samsung Hospital and went to a local ortho clinic: the Gangnam Blue Orthopedic Clinic. This is the sort of place where you walk in and, if you're a first-timer, you fill out a file-card-sized slip of paper with your name, foreigner's ID number, phone number, and address. After that, in principle, you wait to hear your name called. In my case, I got called up right away because the front-desk lady said that my name didn't match the data associated with my ID number. I had reflexively written "Kim Kevin" as my name because that's how I'm known in Korea. In reality, "Kevin Kim" is two-thirds of my real name: my actual surname is long and clunkily Germanic. I don't use it in Korea because Koreans (and many Americans, too, to be honest) have a hard time pronouncing it, but my foreigner's ID number is associated with my full name. So I wrote out my full name, in Roman letters this time, and it took two staffers to sort the data-entry problem out.

I sat with a bunch of other patients-to-be who were all also patiently (cough) waiting. Within a few minutes, I got called to see the specialist. The orthopede turned out to be a loud, crisp, friendly gent who actually bothered to palpate my foot while asking me questions. I explained how the pain began this past Thursday night; I told the doc what spots on the foot were most painful, and after a bit more chatting and nodding, he sent me down the hall to get X-rayed.

The X-ray tech was blunt, terse, and borderline unfriendly. I had to sit on the X-ray bench with my foot on a special plate, and images were taken with my foot placed on that plate at three different angles. The scans went right back to the doc, and when the images came up on the doc's screen, I asked his permission to take a pic of the X-ray images. Et voilà:

The upshot was both informative and frustrating: the doc saw no fracturing anywhere, and he didn't think I needed special orthotic footwear. His advice boiled down to: stay off the foot, rest up, take some prescribed meds for a few days, and come by for a couple days' physical therapy, starting today. I told the doc I had done some research about stress fractures, and I mentioned the bit about how X-rays taken right after an injury usually show nothing, but after three weeks, the fracturing becomes visible because the bone has started healing. The doc, instead of reacting to this information, declared himself impressed that I could express all that in Korean. I simply smiled like a dumb little monkey. Koreans generally have low expectations when it comes to foreigners navigating in their language.

The doc prescribed my meds, and I went back out to the front desk to receive the prescription printout. The front-desk lady told me the pharmacy was upstairs, but before I got my meds, I'd need to do my first session of therapy. I went to a quiet, curtain-filled room that held several private berths on which a patient could recline while receiving therapy. For me, this happened in two stages: ice-pack therapy followed by TENS therapy. The attendant strapped the ice pack to my foot and told me to tell her if it got too cold to bear. I went fifteen minutes without any problems, although the pack did get slightly uncomfortable toward the end. Here's a pic of my foot with the ice pack:

Next up was TENS therapy (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, I believe). I seem to get this at every clinic I go to; it's the catch-all therapy for all one's ills. When I was in Daegu and having hip problems, I got the TENS. When I had a crick in my neck a couple years back and went to the Chinese-medicine clinic, I got the TENS. And here I was again, with my old friend TENS. The suckers of the electro-squid got placed all over the top of my foot; the attendant adjusted the electrical tingle to a tolerable level, and then she left me to lie there for another fifteen minutes:

The aftermath of all that sucker-love left my foot looking like this:

I thanked the attendant, limped upstairs to the second-floor pharmacy, got three days' worth of meds (along with a long set of verbal instructions), thanked the front-desk lady on my way out, and limped across the street to catch a cab to work. And that, kids, was my adventure this late morning/early afternoon. I have to go back to the clinic tomorrow morning for more ice packs and electro-squids, and after that, I've been told to give my foot regular ice baths for no more than fifteen minutes per session. I guess that's about it. It occurs to me that I never at any point heard the doc explicitly say, "Yes: you have a stress fracture." Maybe I missed when he said it, but more likely, he simply proceeded as if we had both agreed I had a fracture.

I'm sure you won't mind if I don't blog about tomorrow's therapy session. It's going to be the same as today's, and after that, I'll be on my own. In theory, I ought to be healed in about a month, give or take. This is going to mean dieting more strictly (something I haven't been doing the past few days) and finding new ways to exercise (something I haven't bothered to figure out yet). I have some ideas on ways to get the ol' body moving. More on this later. In the meantime, I'm a bit miffed because, if I learned anything from today's clinic visit, it's that I probably could have saved myself the time and the money by just dealing with the problem myself. On the bright side, I suppose it's good to know nothing is actually broken.

Instapundit on the horror that is Michael Bloomberg

I think it's safe to say that Michael Bloomberg can no longer be laughed at and dismissed. I think a lot of people who had been laughing are now sitting up, taking notice, and in some cases, reacting with dawning horror—yours truly included. One of the points Tim Pool made in his video (see this post) was that Donald Trump only partially self-funded his relatively shoestring-budget campaign (a third or a fourth of what Hillary Clinton spent, and focusing on free media like YouTube and Twitter); most of his funds came through honest grass-roots efforts. Bloomberg, by contrast, is an order of magnitude richer than Trump and appears to be entirely self-funding his current efforts. Pool complains—and I agree—that we really ought to have instituted strict campaign-finance reforms long before now to stop exactly this sort of thing from happening. But it's too late: we now have a megalomaniacal midget-juggernaut who thinks he can $$$ his way to the brass ring.

They say that, if you're encountering flak, you must be close to the target. It's a measure of how prominent and dangerous Bloomberg has become that the slings and arrows are now, at long last, starting to appear. Here are a few good ones that I saw on Instapundit:

Mike Bloomberg says farmers aren't smart enough to code. (from this entry)

Bloomberg Caught On Tape Saying the Elderly Should Be Denied Medical Care Because of Cost Overruns. (from this entry)

Bloomberg says many ‘black and Latino males’ don’t ‘know how to behave in the workplace,’ in newly uncovered 2011 video. (from this entry)

Michael Bloomberg Built a $54 Billion Company That Women Who Work There Call A Toxic, Sexually Charged Nightmare For Women. (from this entry)

Let me put this in perspective: I'm pretty sure that, even if Michael Bloomberg ends up as the Democrat front-runner, Trump will win reelection. But Bloomberg represents a sinister swing of Foucault's Pendulum: how many more oscillations before someone really does buy his way into the Oval Office? (Granted: if you're a liberal divorced from the facts, you're probably saying this about Trump already...)

Every election cycle, my own stupidity, general lack of awareness, and inability to read trends get thrown back at me. In 2016, I dismissed Trump, thinking him a vain idiot and a joke—unserious, too dumb to understand how Washington works, and ill-equipped to run a country. I learned my lesson. Now, in 2020, Michael Bloomberg has come along to show me that I've still got blind spots to spare. I obviously have a lot to learn about politics and people, even as old as I am. Bloomberg, as former mayor of New York City, barely registered on my consciousness back in the day. I don't think I even remember him for his stop-and-frisk policies; if anything, I associate him with a micromanaging nanny-statism through which he tried to regulate New Yorkers' salt and sugar intake by slapping rules on what stores and restaurants could sell to normal citizens. "It's for your own good" is a sure sign that a given policy is liberal. Well, like everyone else, I'll be studying up on Bloomberg from here on in.

CODA: I'm not the only one with a blind spot. Even a sharp prognosticator like Styx can be wrong. Look at this older video in which Styx is initially dismissive about Bloomberg:

Now look at this more recent video in which Styx takes Bloomberg more seriously:

Even Styx gets things wrong once in a while.

ADDENDUM: a few years back, I guess I did have some intuition about Bloomberg when I created the following animated GIF:

liberals in their own words

The stress on legal immigration became a sign of bigotry only when Donald Trump adopted that stance. Before Trump, liberals from Bill Clinton to Barack Obama were fine with strong enforcement of our borders and of legal immigration. Here's Larry Elder, holding liberals' feet to the fire (to the tune of some funky jazz!):

Monday, February 17, 2020

Tim Pool finds Michael Bloomberg "horrifying"

Probably a good video to watch from start to finish:

Pool describes Michael Bloomberg as "ten times worse" than Trump in terms of personal qualities, e.g., misogyny and bigotry. Bloomberg is using his vast personal wealth to buy his way to the Democrat nomination, and there's a good chance he'll try to buy his way into the Oval Office. While plenty of us long ago lost faith in the electoral system, Bloomberg represents, even for us cynics, the final nail in the electoral system's coffin. If this man wins the Dem nomination and then goes on to win against Trump, it's over. The American dream, tattered and bloodied and abused as it is now, will receive a bullet in the head. Pool worries, though, that in their desperation to win against Trump by any means necessary, the Dems will have sold their collective soul by elevating a man like Bloomberg.

shilpae (실패)—failure

I tried going to nearby Samsung Hospital today to visit their orthopedic division. Took a cab from my place to the hospital, which is a bit more than a kilometer down the road from where I live—easy walking distance, but with walking now being a problem, I had little choice but to catch a ride. I limped into the hospital's airport-like entrance and was immediately confronted by a phalanx of gowned and gloved staffers who took my temperature before pointing me over to a special table. I went over to the table, was told to slather some antibacterial lotion on my hands, and was given a disposable mask to wear inside the building. I wandered over to a bank of work stations labeled "Without Appointment," and I spoke with a masked, gray-haired lady about what I needed. "Sorry," she said, "but you need to make an appointment if you're here for the orthopede. You also need to bring along your insurance paperwork." I asked whether I could make an appointment online; she shook her head ruefully. Nodding, I turned around and limped out of the hospital, now determined to visit a simple ortho clinic like the one I'd frequented in Daegu, back when I'd had that hip problem. (My boss had suggested as much.) Such clinics accept walk-ins and don't demand insurance papers; plus, the treatment is rarely that expensive, although I imagine that I'll have to pay a pretty penny if I end up receiving an orthotic boot. No biggie. Better a boot than nothing.

There's a light, obnoxious dusting of snow on the ground today, almost but not quite enough to make walking a slippery affair. I plan to remain indoors as much as possible, but the ortho clinic I just looked up is located right up the street from where I work, so I might have to walk that distance—from the clinic to my office—tomorrow morning when I visit. For today, I've got a New Balance walking shoe on my left foot and a durable sandal on my right foot, exposing my blackened toenails to the frozen world. I feel kind of sorry for my right foot, which seems to take more abuse than the left one does.

as George Takei might say: oh, myyyyy

Found here (pardon the illiterate punctuation):

And in the "AOC is Stupid" department:

Finally, from the "Utterly Random" file:

"Missing Link": review

"Missing Link" tells the story of an egocentric, glory-seeking English adventurer and a lonely American Sasquatch who wants to travel to Asia to be with yetis, whom he sees as his own kind. Released in 2019, written and directed by Chris Butler, and starring the voice talents of Hugh Jackman, Zach Galifianakis, Zoë Saldana, Timothy Olyphant, and Stephen Fry, "Missing Link" is deeper and more mature than it might appear at first glance. In fact, like many Laika animation productions ("Coraline," "ParaNorman," "Kubo and the Two Strings"), the movie weaves quite a few profound, adult themes into the story it wants to tell, to the point that, when you think about the movie's title after you've been through the story, you start to realize that the title may have multiple meanings.

Sir Lionel Frost (Jackman) is a late-1800s adventurer who seeks after cryptids—mysterious creatures like the Loch Ness Monster. He tends to be so focused on his own potential fame and fortune, though, that he rarely pays attention to the people around him, such as his assistant Lemuel Lint (David Walliams), who quits in anger after Lint and Frost have a nasty encounter with Nessie at the beginning of the story. Frost's fondest wish is to be inducted into The Society of Great Men, currently presided over by the ultraconservative Lord Piggot-Dunceby (Fry), who (it is implied) is a creationist who looks down upon Frost for Frost's view that humans are part of an evolutionary continuum.

For all his efforts, Frost consistently fails to gain entry into the Society because he never quite seems able to provide proof of any of his cryptid encounters. He stumbles upon a letter, however, inviting him to the American Pacific Northwest to meet a bona fide Sasquatch. Frost declares to Piggot-Dunceby that he will return to England with incontrovertible proof of the beast's existence and thus be worthy of entry into the Society while also proving Piggot-Dunceby wrong regarding man's origins. The latter haughtily agrees to this arrangement, then quietly sends an American assassin named Stenk (Olyphant) to chase down and kill Frost.

Frost ends up in the sequoia-filled woods of the Pacific Northwest and meets the Sasquatch (Galifianakis) who, it turns out, was the one who wrote the letter that attracted Frost's attention in the first place. The Sasquatch proves fluent in English, but radically naive and literal about everything. Frost names him Mr. Link (for "missing link," obviously), and Link tells Frost that his greatest wish is to go to the Himalayas to be with a society of yetis: Link is the last of his kind in the Americas, and he is lonely. Link, meanwhile, agrees to provide Frost with things like hair and stool samples to prove his own existence and allow Frost to gain his coveted glory. But although Frost has the know-how to get Link to the Himalayas, the exact location of Shangri-La, where the yeti society is supposedly located, is unknown to him. A now-dead friend and rival, Aldous Fortnight, had discovered Shangri-La and made a map of the route, but Aldous was killed during one of his adventures, and the map is now in the hands of his Latin wife Adelina (Saldana), who also happens to be Lionel Frost's ex-girlfriend. Frost finally obtains the map, but Adelina, strong-willed and feeling trapped in her rich-widow circumstances, demands to accompany Frost and Link on their journey.

The rest of the movie recounts what the trio discover when they finally reach Shangri-La after many adventures, and the story ends with a bit of a twist in which both Frost and Link discover something about themselves, to wit: Frost is at his best when he stops being a self-centered glory-hound, and Link realizes he doesn't need yetis to feel a deep sense of friendship and belonging. Link and Adelina are, in a sense, the "missing links" that help Lionel Frost overcome his egocentric ways to become a better human being. In terms of character arcs, Frost undergoes what are arguably the greatest and deepest personal changes; Link, meanwhile, comes to a simple-but-deep realization; and Adelina Fortnight has almost no arc at all, serving mainly as a sort of tough-love wisdom-figure who helps Lionel find his best self before she attends to her own self-fulfillment.

"Missing Link" is a multilayered film. The plot is peppered with laugh-out-loud moments, some of which are meant more for adults than for kids—including a subtle prison-rape joke that will go well over kids' heads. Being a Laika production, the film features plenty of beautifully realized stop-motion animation that is so smooth as to seem like Pixar-style CGI. (The only aspect of the animation that feels even remotely jittery is the mouth movements of the characters.) The story doesn't shy away from serious themes like subtle and overt imperialism, cultural arrogance, feminism, and even—at one moment—a nod to the "trans" activism that is currently in vogue: Link gives himself the first name of "Susan" to honor the first human who didn't scream and run away in terror when she encountered him in the woods. "Missing Link" is also well-directed enough to include a great deal of tension during a climactic scene in which our three principals all find themselves in grave danger. For what is ostensibly a children's movie, this is a remarkably profound film with something for everyone.

While I didn't feel "Missing Link" was anywhere near as moving as "Kubo and the Two Strings" (still my all-time favorite Laika film), I did think this was a fun ride, a rollicking adventure that can be enjoyed by young and old alike. The story is well paced, the voice acting is superb, the visuals are unsurprisingly gorgeous, and the story's several morals are good ones for kids to internalize. Highly recommended.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

catharsis, "Family Guy"-style

Bitch deserved it.

more leftie racism

Leftists love to portray themselves as the tolerant ones: it's exclusively the righties, after all, who preach hate and bigotry, yes? I suppose we all want to be the heroes of our own narratives, but sometimes it's necessary to hold up a mirror so that the self-deluded can take a good look at their own ugliness... assuming they can see through the veil of their delusions.

As you know, I've put together an impressive list of black conservatives on YouTube, and those good folks can tell you first-hand about the racist abuse they receive from the so-called compassionate, inclusive left. I've shown you Jon Miller's video in which he highlights a few examples of the neverending stream of racist vitriol he has to endure; below, I have a video from The Right Brothers, in which they take advantage of Valentine's Day to showcase some of the "love letters" they've received on Twitter:

I share the brothers' amusement at the constant use of the term "Uncle Tom" as if that were some kind of racial epithet (see more here). The brothers also quote Epictetus, a Stoic philosopher, who contended that the person who can make you angry has power over you. I went looking for the quote online and discovered a plethora of quote-related memes.

Here's one:

Saturday, February 15, 2020

COVID-19 problem in China much worse than reported

So it appears that COVID-19 is now supposed to be the new official name for the Wuhan coronavirus. The following China Uncensored video talks about how the outbreak we're currently seeing is "just the beginning." My own suspicion is that the bulk of the cases will be inside China; the rest of the world—at least, the parts of it that allow for free speech and free exchange of information—will handle the outbreak more or less competently, with minimal loss of life. Meanwhile, repressive regimes like China and North Korea will suffer thanks to their own inability to be truthful about the actual extent of the problem within their borders.

I'm not the only one to equate China's current problem with the USSR's Chernobyl disaster. I'm also reminded of "Jaws," that classic work of American fiction, in which the mayor of Amity insists on denying that there's a shark problem because he's afraid of losing tourism revenue. Let me give in to my own inner totalitarian and humbly suggest that people who try to control the flow of information ought to be dragged out and shot.

a climate-predictions retrospective

Canada, like everyone else involved in the wild-eyed wing of the environmentalist movement, has engaged in the stupid game of making dire predictions about the end of the world. The following video holds Canada's feet to the fire as it examines six specific predictions made back in 2001 about where we'd be today. Watch and laugh.

Note what the video deems uncontroversial: temperature rises since the 1800s, the existence of large amounts of pollution and other forms of waste, the effect of human activity on the environment, etc. The video basically takes the position I've taken, to wit: there are plenty of actual environmental problems to deal with without having to resort to stupidly exaggerated doomsday predictions. Let's focus on what is and not on what we think will be. As the old wisdom goes: if you can't even predict next week's weather, what makes you think you can predict climatic trends over the next century? We haven't even begun to reckon with the likely billions of factors that must be considered for proper climate modeling. Smug dogmatism by climate-change fanatics is embarrassing and unbecoming.

good video exposé on NK's infamous megahotel

Here's an interesting and informative look at Pyongyang's Ryugyeong Hotel:

foot pain: a closer analysis and possible self-diagnosis

Last year, I wrote about how, early in my walk from Incheon to Busan, I experienced a strange and disconcerting "popping" in my right foot. The popping produced a feeling of weirdness, but any pain associated with it proved to be short-lived. I described the popping as "chiropractic" in nature, i.e., similar to the harmless popping that occurs when a chiropractor is working on you. I think that characterization was correct because, ultimately, I was able to finish my walk with no apparent repercussions from the foot-popping incident.

This past Thursday night, I seem to have hurt my foot. I wrote the following:

I was doing my usual route along the Tan Creek to the Han River, but my foot was getting progressively achier, and then I suddenly felt and heard almost the same bone-deep popping that happened during my most recent walk to Busan (here). As before, I walked a couple minutes farther to test out whether anything had broken (like a bone) or snapped (like a tendon), and nothing had. There was just a steady ache that got bad enough for me to begin limping. I was incredulous at how quickly the pain escalated.

If the above seems vague in terms of whether the popping and the pain are connected, you're not hallucinating. I had no idea whether those two things were connected, so in the above paragraph, I was simply reporting the sequence of sensations that had arisen. Now, however, I've had an epiphany, and I think I know what's going on.

I've been in bed most of today (Saturday), feeling a bit depressed and doing my best to keep weight off my right foot. This put my brain in the right state to be open to epiphanies, and one came to me a few hours ago: stress fracture. So I went to Wikipedia to look up stress fractures, and it was as if I were reading an entry by someone who had telepathically grasped my personal situation. Wikipedia says (snippets follow):

A stress fracture is a fatigue-induced fracture of the bone caused by repeated stress over time. Instead of resulting from a single severe impact, stress fractures are the result of accumulated trauma from repeated submaximal loading, such as running or jumping. Because of this mechanism, stress fractures are common overuse injuries in athletes.

Stress fractures can be described as very small slivers or cracks in the bone; [they] are sometimes referred to as "hairline fractures." Stress fractures most frequently occur in weight-bearing bones, such as the tibia (bone of the lower leg), metatarsals, and navicular bones (bones of the foot). Less common are fractures to the femur, pelvis, and sacrum.


Symptoms usually have a gradual onset, with complaints that include isolated pain along the shaft of the bone and during activity, decreased muscular strength and cramping. In cases of fibular stress fractures, pain occurs proximal to the lateral malleolus, that increases with activity and subsides with rest. If pain is constantly present[,] it may indicate a more serious bone injury. There is usually an area of localized tenderness on or near the bone and generalized swelling in the area. Percussion or palpation to the bone may reproduce symptoms and reveal crepitus in well-developed stress fractures.

The red font indicates text that produced a "That's me!" reaction in my head.

As for getting X-rayed, Wikipedia says this:

X-rays usually do not show evidence of new stress fractures, but can be used approximately three weeks after onset of pain when the bone begins to remodel. A CT scan, MRI, or 3-phase bone scan may be more effective for early diagnosis.

MRI appears to be the most accurate diagnostic test.

The Wikipedia entry talks about the notion of "bone remodeling," which sounds like a weird form of interior decorating, but actually refers to the way bones—which are living tissue, after all—are constantly reconfiguring themselves based on the pressures and stresses placed upon them by the daily movement of one's body. One's bones are constantly remodeling, but putting too much repetitive stress on them can cause them to lose their ability to remodel, and this is part of what leads to fracturing. I'm an overweight guy who's now over 50, and I lead the paradoxical lifestyle that combines radical sedentariness with distance walking—four times the amount of walking done by normal people, as I noted earlier.

So at this point, my hypothesis—my tentative self-diagnosis—is that I have a stress fracture, and that the "chiropractic popping" was, in fact, unrelated to the buildup of pain that began before the popping and continued after it, to the point of being debilitating enough to cause me to limp everywhere (something I'm still doing).

Solution? I don't want to go in for an MRI or some other potentially expensive scan, but at the same time, waiting three weeks just to get an X-ray seems both lazy and malignantly negligent. What I think I need is an orthopedic boot or orthotic braces that will allow me to at least walk short distances while keeping pressure off my foot. To obtain such footwear, I'll need to visit a clinic sooner rather than later, so I've now resolved to visit an ortho clinic this coming Monday. I can't ask my boss whether I can telecommute for two to six weeks; he'd never say yes to my being absent from the office for that long, so getting some kind of ortho footwear is the most practical, most expeditious solution to the current problem.

In sum: I suspect the pain and the popping were mostly if not wholly unrelated. The pain probably results from a stress fracture, and the stress fracture probably results from my overweight condition's finally catching up with me (so my previous joke about expired warranties probably had some truth to it) after years of distance walking while not losing weight. I'm a bizarre mix of healthy and unhealthy habits, and the effects on my body are, as a result, equally bizarre. Wikipedia says that stress fractures happen primarily to (1) sedentary people who suddenly take up an intense activity, or to (2) athletes who abuse their bodies through repetitive stress. I'm in neither of these demographics—not completely, anyway: I'm a long-time, experienced distance walker who has traversed South Korea twice. At the same time, I'm an old, fat guy with a sweet tooth who is constantly undermining his physical activity through bad eating habits, and who has only lately started correcting that. As I said: bizarre.

Oh, yes: I'll also have to reconsider my future walking schedule. Unless and until I actually lose a significant amount of weight, I think that walking 15K to 26K steps per day, 6-7 days a week, may be too punishing a schedule. I think my feet do better with a "dotted line" schedule in which I do longer walks every other day and keep Sunday as an out-and-out rest day. Something like that schedule worked for years; it's only over the past 1.5 months—coinciding with the start of my new diet—that I've ramped up the walking. I wouldn't have thought that the new level of intensity was all that bad: during my long walks to Busan, I was doing 45K-60K steps almost every day, with scattered rest days. Apparently, my body disagrees, and here we are as a result. So I suppose I'm doomed never even to reach the level of 1.0 McCrareys. Ah, well. A man's got to know his limitations.

Expect photos of my new footwear early this coming week.

Friday, February 14, 2020

le quatorze février

Happy Valentine's Day.

HISHE: "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker"


foot pain: the update

So I limped over to the doc today. This was also supposed to be my regular checkup day, but I told the doc my blood pressure would be up because I was in pain. The doc nodded and took that into consideration. BP was definitely high, but not high enough for the doc to think I needed to change my meds. As for my foot... I'm not sure the doc was paying attention to my explanation: he first asked me about my knee pain after I had clearly said the Korean word for "foot." He then asked me about ankle pain, and I finally held up my foot and patted the areas that were hurting (mostly the front half of the right foot). Now on track and paying attention, the doc asked about swelling, doing everything he could to avoid asking me to strip off my shoe and sock so he could palpate my foot.

This guy is very much an armchair physician; the only touchy-feely thing he ever does is take my blood pressure. Anything else, like getting blood samples or receiving injections, is taken care of by the in-house nurses. See why I'm not all that impressed by Korean health care? There was no suggestion to get X-rayed at the local hospital (actually, the clinic I was at today has its own X-ray machine, but I don't know whether it can be reconfigured to take images of one's feet). The doc's advice was simply to rest and to stay off my feet for a while. I guess there wasn't enough swelling to justify exploring the issue any more deeply.

Despite my resentment about the doc's lack of curiosity (lack of curiosity is something of a cultural trait here: Koreans, being an impatient lot, quickly arrive at answers that satisfy their internal questions, and they stop searching for further enlightenment at that point), I think he may be right. I'm still able to limp from here to there, so I'm convinced nothing is broken or torn. This may simply be a case of turning 50, having all my warranties expire, and suddenly becoming fragile now that I've outlasted my warranties. Aging is often a matter of dealing with an increasing number of physical problems as the body, which is basically a machine, starts to wear down and fall apart. I know that sounds maudlin and morbid, and in reality, my foot will probably be back in action after a week or so of rest, but the body is a machine. Mine is probably telling me that it wants to rest; I've been doing long walks almost daily for the past month-and-a-half. In fact, I'm walking at about 0.92 McCrareys these days:

Yes, I've made up my own unit for measuring daily distance-walk averages: the McCrarey. A single McCrarey—which is obviously based on friend John McCrarey's daily step average—is 23,000 steps since this is the figure John quoted in a blog post from a while back. As you see, my personal step and walk-duration averages are four times that of the "average" male user of the Samsung Health app. It's amazing to realize how little most people move around during the day. 5,000 steps is barely 50 minutes to an hour of walking, depending on one's speed. So... what do such people do for the rest of the day? Maybe sit in the office, sit at home playing video games, or whack off in bed, I guess. At the same time, it's discouraging to know that I'm not up to even a single McCrarey yet.

So that's the news for now. My boss thinks I ought to visit an orthopedic clinic and get a real X-ray. My intuition tells me that this problem will go away with rest, but if the pain is still at this current level after a week, I'll see the orthopede. If my foot suddenly breaks in half and looks as if it's acquired a hinge, I'll be sure to document the event with photos. Otherwise, I'll be spending the coming week off my feet as much as possible, but the moment things are starting to feel more or less normal, I'll be back to distance walking again.

one via Bill

Bill Keezer sends a link to the following cartoon:

foot pain

I don't know what happened, but I may have done something to my foot during my Thursday-night walk. I was doing my usual route along the Tan Creek to the Han River, but my foot was getting progressively achier, and then I suddenly felt and heard almost the same bone-deep popping that happened during my most recent walk to Busan (here). As before, I walked a couple minutes farther to test out whether anything had broken (like a bone) or snapped (like a tendon), and nothing had. There was just a steady ache that got bad enough for me to begin limping. I was incredulous at how quickly the pain escalated.

So I decided, at around the 11K-step mark, to halt the walk, limp up to street level, and grab a cab back to my apartment. Once home, I peeled off my sock to see whether there was any telltale swelling, and there wasn't any. The foot—my right foot—was simply achy and tender; it was becoming hard even to put it on the floor. I overdosed on pain meds, and that helped only slightly, so for the moment, I'm thinking the best solution is simply to crawl into bed and lay off my foot for a long block of several hours. We'll see how I am come morning. So much for any plans to walk to Yangpyeong this weekend.

Weight update: I bumped up to 124 kg, a gain of 1 kg. I'm not too stressed about that. Once my foot heals, I'll get right back to walking, and I might even begin to incorporate some staircase action into my routine. I think the weight loss has already hit a plateau, so it's time to ramp up the intensity a bit. But not quite yet: healing comes first.

Weight update 2: it's late Friday morning, and the scale now puts me at 123.5 kg. I guess I peed and/or pooped out half a kilo last night. I've seen this kind of fluctuation before.

UPDATE: it took a couple hours, but we've got swelling, now, so it looks as though I'll be limping over to the local hospital to get X-rayed and otherwise treated. Joy.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Impeachment 2: The Sequel?

Tim Pool discusses the possibility that the Democrats will try to impeach Trump again:

I say: let the Dems try. All this does is cement support behind Trump—a simple fact that Democrats seem unwilling, unready, or intellectually unable to understand. I actively welcome another attempt at throwing Trump out of office. The Dems need to keep wasting time (and the taxpayers' money) concentrating on the wrong things and not talking about substantive issues relevant to the average American voter; in the end, the entire party will end up exiling itself into irrelevance, Trump will be assured a landslide victory later this year, and the House of Representatives will flip decidedly Republican—at which point I hope the GOP begins serious malfeasance investigations against Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler, and all the other scum-suckers who have done everything they can to obstruct, impede, and thwart this president. (Public flogging would not be out of the question: a thousand strokes for each of the aforementioned people.) With every insane tic and spasm, the left buries itself ever deeper in its own muck; what's funny is that, the entire time, it actually thinks it's striking a blow for justice, integrity, and freedom. The Dems and the left need to look in a mirror and engage in some sincere self-reflection, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.

China's map problem

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

our national debt: a modest proposal

Our national debt currently stands somewhere north of 22 trillion dollars.

The US population is about 330 million.

Of that number, maybe 200 million are of working age (18-64).

22 trillion divided by 200 million equals $110,000.

So if all 200 million Americans of working age made yearly contributions of $10,000, we could zero out the national debt in 11 years. Even doing this for five years would put us in a much better financial position. We'd still be in debt, but there'd be some breathing room. As someone who's about to finish paying off some major debt, I know this from personal experience. You're welcome.

no yin without Yang

The rumors are that Andrew Yang is on the verge of suspending his campaign. I have several reactions to this.

1. Why can't the other Democrats who have been polling far worse than Yang get a clue and drop out of the race? How stupid are they?

2. Yang mystifies me. On the one hand, he was one of the few candidates to acknowledge that Trump-obsession was a bootless pursuit. On the other hand, he himself has disparaged Trump, which makes him no different from anyone else.

3. Yang is probably right to focus on automation as a threat to low-skilled workers' jobs, but his redistributionist notion of UBI (universal basic income) is utterly insane. How can one man run the gamut from rational to irrational like that? (Maybe, like Walt Whitman, he is large and contains multitudes.)

4. For a supposedly successful entrepreneur (he's actually pretty minor-league), Yang ran a piss-poor, shoddily organized campaign that betrayed a lack of understanding of self-promotion and artful persuasion. I've found him to be affable and even funny in his speeches and interviews, and I think he might even have been a decent debater against Trump, had he been a front-runner, but Yang has a tin ear when it comes to trying to connect to the US population at large. He has his nerdy acolytes, the so-called Yang Gang, but that doesn't make him much different from his better-polling rivals, who also have their own all-or-nothing groupies (cf. the Bernie-or-bust crowd).

5. Dave Chappelle only recently came out as a Yang supporter. How sad must he be?

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

an interesting interview with a larger-than-life character

Meet Kuan Jang, the musclebound pro-Taiwan, anti-CCP leader who tells it like it is:

Chris Chappell calls Kuan Jang "Taiwan's Joe Rogan," but the man looks big enough to be two Joe Rogans. This is a very educational interview. The dude has a brain.

Toto's "Africa" redux

I hope you don't get sick of this song, but I've been enjoying covers of Toto's "Africa" every time I stumble across them on YouTube. Some covers are much better than others; you may recall that my friend Justin Yoshida slapped up an awesome cover by Peter Bence (see my post here). Since that time, I've found two other covers that made me react strongly. Here's a one-man acapella version of "Africa" that I thought was simply awesome:

And here's a fucking hilarious version of "Africa" that was apparently prepped through the radical misuse of Google Translate. The lady singing the song had me laughing harder than I've laughed in a while, all thanks to her expressive mugging and those weird, twisted lyrics:

If I thought I could sing, I would love to do videos like the two showcased here.

KEYWORDS: Toto, Africa, cover, Jared Halley, Translator Fails, Malinda Kathleen Reese

Monday, February 10, 2020

your APIC resource

Back around 1999/2000, I used to work for APIC, the Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. Quite a mouthful. Anyway, APIC's bread and butter was the study of the spread of infection, both in-hospital (nosocomial infection) and community-acquired. Here's APIC's one-stop-shopping web page dealing with the current novel coronavirus. We're at over 40,000 confirmed cases, now, and nearly 1000 deaths. As APIC has always preached for any sort of infection: wash your hands thoroughly and often.

Meanwhile, try not to be a Euron Greyjoy:

ADDENDUM: Charles recently wrote at some length on this issue. Give his post a read, especially his insights re: the effectiveness of masks.

seen on Instapundit

beating a dead Nancy

Sigh... it's the topic that won't go away, so here I go again. As some folks have noted, here on this blog and elsewhere, Nancy Pelosi's dramatic ripping-up of a copy of the president's State of the Union address may not have been all it was cracked up to be: as Tim Pool shows below (go to about 10:47 in the video), Pelosi apparently had pre-ripped pages, and at least some of those pages may have been pre-ripped before she even knew what the content of Trump's speech would be. As Pool incredulously observes, this means that Pelosi's contention that she shredded Trump's speech because it was full of lies was itself a lie. Does the old bat not understand that hi-def cameras are everywhere? Did she really think she had Ocean's Eleven-level sleight-of-hand skills and could somehow do her pre-ripping in perfect secrecy? It's hilarious to watch Pelosi's gesture backfire, not only because the gesture was inherently vain when she did it, but because it now turns out the whole thing was fucking staged.

congratulations to "Parasite"

So! 2019's "Parasite" just won Best Picture at the 2020 Oscars. It also won Best Director (Bong Joon-ho), Best International Feature Film, and Best Original Screenplay. I was sad that it wasn't up for any acting awards, but the cast did win Best Ensemble Cast at the Screen Actors' Guild Awards, and the movie has snagged plenty of other awards internationally.

Well, congratulations to all the people involved in making "Parasite." Well done!

new gunboats

The feet continue to get bigger. My size 13s just arrived, and I used them during my walk to Namsan. They worked perfectly that day. These are New Balance MT410LB5s, width 4E, made for distance walking. They're pretty much the same as the shoes I've been using up to now, just one size larger to give me more toe-box room for the fronts of my toes, and more width for my constantly beleaguered pinky toes. The FedEx package had some trouble entering the country; normally, I get a message from Korean Customs asking me for more information (a passport number, my alien-registration ID number, or my made-for-Customs special release code). This time around, it was Amazon that sent me a message saying the package had been held up, and that I needed to talk directly with FedEx, not with Korean Customs. Strange, but I shrugged and spoke with FedEx, providing them with several different identifiers and hoping for the best. The package was delivered right to my door; it's a lucky thing that I was at home at the time. Normally, packages get dropped off at our lobby's front desk, and I get a text-message notification of delivery. I was lucky that so many circumstances fell neatly into place. This could have been a lot more difficult.

Anyway, the shoeses: