Sunday, September 21, 2003

at the end of the day... le grand parcours

That's a lie: it's actually after midnight and I just got to this PC-bahng. It's technically Sunday morning, and my time/date stamp will show this when I'm done typing.

A review of "Bulletproof Monk"? Nah. Not much to say. The Maximum Leader summed it up a few months back when he said it was "brain candy." That's about all it was. Not much actual Buddhism in the flick; the action wasn't all that well filmed, and the cute pairing of Chow Yun Fat and Seann William Scott was about the only ingenious thing the movie had to offer. There's the uncomfortable political irony of Chow Yun Fat, a Communist Chinese, playing a Tibetan monk (as Hollywood knows, Asians all look the same). There's the further strangeness that the movie is about Chow's battle with a group of evil Nazis (Nazis!?) who are trying to steal the magic scroll Chow is guarding. My fellow viewers, Jang-woong and his wife Bo-hyun, both decided it'd be better just to forget the movie straight away. That won't be hard; it was, after all, brain candy-- it'll melt away soon enough. Meantime, the best thing about "Monk" was the preview for another "Matrix" rip-off called "Equilibrium," which looks like it might be very interesting for the fight choreography, a specially-made-for-that-movie fighting style called "gunkata" that involves fists, kicks, swords, and guns.

Before the film this evening, we ate dinner at a golbaengi-jip. Golbaengi is a type of sea snail (turban shell?), fat and juicy. It was my first time eating them, but as a seafood-scarfing half-Korean who's spent time in France, I'm all over escargot and other molluscs (except the dreaded oyster; I can't stand oysters, though I love clams). These golbaengi were delicious. They arrived in a bowl of chopped green onions, red pepper sauce, and strips of dried fish. We were in the Ch'ungmuro district, which features a "sea snail row," a street of golbaengi restos that vary in quality. Jang-woong and Bo-hyun love this particular resto because the snails are prepared especially well, cooked to just the right softness, resistant without becoming chewy. Dinner progressed in stages; when you eat all the snails, the adjumma comes by with a load of guksu (noodles) to dump into your onions and red sauce-- Korean spaghetti! They also bring out a plate of scrambled eggs (cooked, meticulously folded and sliced-- a preparation familiar to anyone who's eaten kimbap). The eggs, according to Jang Woong, were to counteract the spicy red pepper sauce. Jang-woong and Bo-hyun had beer with their snails; I don't drink, good Muslim that I am, so I opted for Pepsi. I'm pretty sure that beer goes better with snails, just as it does with pizza (or so I've heard).

Something much more interesting than "Bulletproof Monk":

A post from Big White Guy about the remarks he gets as he strolls along to his taiji and sword form training sessions: "Ha ha ha! Chinese kung fu!"

I thought they called it wushu on the mainland...

Another thing I've been keeping an eye on is Japan's shift in attitude thanks to North Korea's assholery. The Marmot has the goods this time. Watch what happens in the coming 12 months. Japan doesn't like NK's attitude. Can you blame the Japanese? Hell, I'd argue the US needs to use Japan as its first line of antimissile defense-- immediate launch detection and quick interception, baby!

I've liked John Derbyshire's NRO articles on occasion, though I much prefer Victor Davis Hanson if I'm reading NRO conservatives. The Peking Duck asks whether the Derb is eeeeeeevil. I think the Derb is an asshole when it comes to the matter of homosexuality, though he's made good calls elsewhere. Is this reason to treat him with blanket dismissiveness? I don't think so, but it's definitely reason to keep your brain inside your skull when reading him. In this particular case, the Duck is linking to an Andrew Sullivan post, and I have to agree with Sullivan when he calls Derb a "bigot."

Internet Ronin on behind-the-scenes issues in the California recall election debate.

Flying Chair ("beat you death like chicken") posts an octopus joke.

Anticipatory Retaliation thinks in military terms about suicide bombers, and notes they're very precise weapons, but target choice is "piss poor." Choice text:

Historical examples have shown that rising body counts, particularly those delivered more or less willy-nilly, do not always result in the desired political effect. In fact, the most effective military campaigns to make effective use of wholesale slaughter have largely achieved their goals by simply shocking the other side into abject systemic collapse (e.g. Hiroshima and Nagasaki versus Dresden and Cologne) rather than creating ire over dribs and drabs of dead civilians.

Although it is one of the most foolish of analytical errors, I ask my reader's indulgence for a minute to play "What if the tables were reversed?" In other words, what if the U.S. were using F-15Es to drop laser-guided munitions steered onto target by U.S. troops holding laser designators, on to busses or cafes in, let's say, Pyongyang? Not many, maybe just one every week or so, with an occasional sniper attack. Would we expect their regimes to buckle? Would I be waiting around with baited breath for Kim Jong Il to call me saying "Well, hell, we didn't think you were so serious you wouldn't be willing to blow up a bus!! Of course we'll get rid of our nukes, renounce our claim to power and end our illegal occupation of North Korea!" No. I probably would not be waiting for that phone call.

So, at the end of the day, the biggest problem with effectiveness of suicide bombing is not necessarily the tactic itself - for it has worked in the past, but rather the problem of "Refighting the Last War" and failing to understand the fundamental psychological shift that is in progress. Once the populace tends to regard this as a warfighting exercise, the utility of civilian casualties drops markedly.

A thought-bone on which to gnaw this evening. Morning. Whatever it is.

D'oh-- the Clark-bashing gears up. Andrew Sullivan quotes.

Andrew Sullivan directs our attention to a hilarious animation called The Moon Song. Listen to it all the way through, and you'll hear the name of a certain popular Koreablogger mentioned, along with a gallery of objects, foods, and animals we like.

Wanna start a Caucasian Club? I don't think I'll be following this too closely, but it sure as hell raises all the usual interesting questions.

Glenn posts on LA superficiality, tits, and fat rolls. He also hates LA's "driving fucktards," and other SoCal problems.


One of my favorite actors (uh, we won't talk about his rap career) gets sued.

Want a more uplifting monk tale? Here's one from Salon: a Japanese Buddhist priest of the Tendai (Chn. "T'ien T'ai") sect recently completed a near-25,000-mile devotional trek (it involved going around and around a lot)-- ancient running ritual in the remote Japanese mountains that took seven years and covered a distance equivalent to a trip round the globe, wearing only a flowing white robe and flimsy straw sandals.

Worthy of a Hindu saint, that. Interestingly, the monk said this:

"I entrusted everything to God. I am satisfied."

One reason why I beat my head against the wall about certain Beliefnet Buddhists (and, by extension, the Western Buddhist converts in America whom they represent) is the BBs' stubborn contention that "Buddhism doesn't talk about God." I fully realize that this monk, Genshin Fujinami, probably has a thoroughly Buddhist understanding of ultimate reality and therefore isn't referring to the Judeo-Christian deity, or to any deity, per se. But this doesn't preclude him from using God-language. The BB contention, completely unjustified if you know anything about how Buddhism is lived and practiced in Asia, is that "Buddhism isn't theistic" or "Buddhism admits no God"-- the direct implication being that any Buddhist who resorts to God-language needs to have his head checked. "Real" Buddhists just don't talk like that. This contention is ridiculous on its surface; it gets more ridiculous as you look into the matter.

The UN urges North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions. Wanna bet on what NK's response will be, and which finger will be extended in the replying gesture?

Some Korean officials are upbeat about Typhoon Maemi's damage.

On the other hand...

An editorial about the Millennium Democratic Party's breakup has a passage that gets my vote as Hilarious Understatement of the Year:

It certainly is better for them to part with each other than to scuffle in public as they often did in the past. How could they exchange abusive words and blows when they were supposed to represent their constituencies in doing the vaunted lawmaking job?

Now that they have finally decided to split up, they are advised to bury the hatchet, seek a peaceful divorce and compete against each other in goodwill. That will be the least they can do for damage control.

For shame, boys, for shame!

Were the pilots defecting to North Korea? Heh.

A JoongAng Ilbo article on the burdens of education.

Korea still has a long way to go if tattoos are "frowned upon."

The Middle East Times has an article about Egyptian fence-sitting.

Also in the ME Times: "Arafat Must Live." Interesting quote:

The decision legitimizing Arafat's assassination is in itself a far-reaching political act. It is intended to get the Israeli and international public accustomed to the idea. What used to sound like a crazy plot by extreme fanatics now has the air of a legitimate political process, with only the time and mode of implementation still open.

Anyone familiar with Ariel Sharon can see how things will develop from now on. He will wait for his opportunity. It may come any minute, or after a week, a month, or even a year. He is patient. When he decides to do something, he is ready to wait. But rest assured – he won't deviate from his goal.

So when will the planned assassination be carried out? When some big suicide attack will take place in Israel, one so big that an extreme reaction will be understood by the Americans, too. Or when something happens somewhere to divert world attention. Or when some dramatic event, something comparable to the destruction of the Twin Towers, makes Bush furious.

The apocalyptic prediction:

The Palestinian Authority will disappear. Israel will take over all the Palestinian territories, with all the economic and human stress involved. The occupation – which allowed Israel a free hand in the territories with the world paying the bills - will be over.

Violence will reign supreme. It will be the sole language of both peoples. In Jerusalem and Ramallah, Haifa and Hebron, Tulkarem and Tel Aviv, fear will stalk the streets. Every mother who sends her children to school will be consumed by worry until they come back. Terror on this side and on that side, an ever-widening spiral of violence, automatic and incessant escalation.

The earthquake will not be limited to the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan. The whole Arab world will erupt. Arafat the shahid, the martyr, the symbol, will become an all-Arab, all-Muslim mythological figure. His name will become a battle cry for all revolutionaries from Indonesia to Morocco, a slogan for all religious and nationalist underground organizations.

The earth will tremble under the feet of all the Arab regimes. Compared to Arafat – the ultimate hero - all the kings, emirs and presidents will look like traitors and mercenaries. When one falls, the domino effect will go into action.

But we're not done!

And the people of Israel? The poor, brainwashed, despairing and apathetic people do not intervene. The silent, bleeding majority behave as if all this does not concern them and their children. They are following Sharon as the children followed the Pied Piper, right into the river.

This thundering silence is disastrous. In order to prevent the disaster, it is Israelis' duty to break it.

Perhaps most significantly, re: the piece's author:

Uri Avnery is an Israeli journalist and peace activist.

And here's a sinister ME Times article claiming that the Shiites are simply (and patiently) playing a waiting game with American forces. Watch out, Chief Wiggles. Those smiling brown people might not be as nice as you think.


I think I'll be adding the Jerusalem Post to my blogroll in the next few minutes. Are they any good, Mike?

A couple Koreabloggers have claimed to get hard-ons about totalitarian art. Well, wank away, gentlemen, because Saddam is for sale.

From the Scotsman: "Calls are being made for a full inquiry into how a 29-year-old man was able to commit suicide by setting himself alight in a crowded hospital foyer." Worthy of an "ER" episode.

The incredible blind Scottish golf champion!

Even the Iraqi tigers hate us. Therefore they must die. (Scotsman)

L'Express offers an article on MODERATE MUSLIMS IN FRANCE. First, let me translate the article's boldface subtitle. It says:

Under repeated assault from Islamists, republican principles are in retreat-- in school as well as in public life. In this debate, which divides both government and the opposition, one hears only the voices of the most radical Muslims who are, however, fewer in number than the moderates. It's to these last that L'Express yields the floor...

The article's title is "La laïcité face à l'islam," or "Secularity vis-a-vis Islam."

Two paragraphs worth your attention (if you read French, I recommend the whole thing):

[with regard to a 1905 French law separating church and state]

No religion has easily accepted being relegated to the private sphere, especially not the Catholic Church, which has enjoyed a tradition of political control. It took decades to admit the principle of separation, which views common law as the fruits of a human debate: free for anyone to participate in it while being internally guided by his own religion. This freedom of conscience represented progress, including progress for religious thought, as Catholic lay intellectuals like Marc Sangnier, Jacques Maritain and Emmanuel Mounier recognized later on; Mounier even rejected the notion of a "Christian democracy."

Nothing better expresses the retreat of a secularist sensibility than the neverending polemics about the veil [Hominid's note: this has been a huge controversy in France for years: can Muslim students wear their veils in public school? (etc.)] that refer to this or that verse of the Koran to affirm or deny its obligatory character: this is done precisely to force into public discussion theological arguments it [normally] doesn't consider. Just as, nowadays, we no longer grant any public authority to papal encyclicals to legislate matters like contraception, abortion, or the opening of shops on Sunday.

Allez, lisez!

If you get past the ego-wanking, Ken Mondschein of Corporate Motherfucker has an interesting (if relatively low-content) article on martial arts. Best thing about it is a link to, which I think I'll be sticking on the blogroll. But Ken's got a point about self-discipline. I've been skirting the edge of plunging back into the martial arts world for years; a recent visit to a hapkidojang near where I live has got me pondering whether I should take the leap now, or wait until I've lost more weight & gotten more fit overall. My Korean friends say, "Do it now."

A challenge to the Maximum Leader (and/or other conservatives who may be reading this): this is a link to a post called "Defeat the Right in Three Minutes." It makes some interesting points in a very clear, Bill Whittle-like manner, even providing a new moniker for conservatives, "a moniker they will never shake, and never live down." I'd love to see a concise response to this that actually addresses the points made in the post (i.e., "This dreck doesn't even deserve a response" is not acceptable). Anyone up to the challenge?

Apparently this article pissed off some prominent blogosphere Republicans, including the infamous Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler. A fisking of the Rottweiler's response is featured here. You might want to read this so you don't make the Rottweiler's mistakes in crafting your own response. Or maybe you'll feel the Rottweiler made no mistakes. I don't know if that's good policy.

And that's it for this evening, now that it's after 4AM (4:10, by my watch; the time stamp refers to when I initially hit "post" before actually publishing the blog).

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