Sunday, January 18, 2004

le parcours

Some of you may have noticed some quiet changes to the blogroll over the past 48 hours. Stealthy, aren't I.

It's official: male Koreabloggers are horny for underage Korean girls. Can a Japanese-style middle school girl underwear fetish be far behind? Check out the Marmot, Kevin at IA, and Seeing Eye Blog.

A quick masturbatory romp through Technorati reveals that a certain Andi Young at a blog called Overboard has linked to my quickie on Hick and polytheism-- quite possibly my most substance-free post on Hick to date, which shames me. I'll advise Andi to check out the bottom of my sidebar in the "Sacred and Profane" section, where she'll find plenty more meat on the subject of religious pluralism-- along with some articles on Buddhism, and even some posts devoted explicitly to Korean Buddhism, about which I still know relatively little. Andi's written a book titled The Sacred Art of Bowing-- go buy her book, already. She also appears to be a practitioner in the Kwaneum School of Korean Zen-- that would be Seung Sahn's school. I'm assuming she's met Seung Sahn daeseonsa-nim and Hyon Gak sunim more than once.

Andi works her way into my heart for two reasons: (1) she writes a post devoted to dung here, and (2) she says the following about me:

Note: the Big Ho is a foul-mouthed fellow of frequently impolite persuasion. Consider it fair warning if you follow the link.

She may have based her judgement solely on the sidebar drawing, which I recently removed, depicting yours truly ogling a well-endowed woman in proud display. I'd call Andi a chip-on-her-shoulder feminist, but she practices Korean komdo (same two Chinese characters as Japanese kendo, the sword-way) and could probably kick my ass-- plus, she can't possibly have a chip on her shoulder because she's written a book about spiritual practice. I, on the other hand, have written a book about farting and shitting, and sit here in this PC-bahng, fat and happy. Go figure. Maybe Garfield's been right all along about who wins out in the end: the skinny folks work and stress themselves to death.

Alas, Andi hasn't seen fit to put me on her blogroll, but since I don't consider myself a true Koreablogger, that's not going to worry me as much as the thought of a fiercely administered mok-gom (wooden practice sword, Jpn. bokken) enema.

Interesting quickie at Oranckay: God with a lower-case "g" in North Korea?

One of the most educational new Koreablogs (well, maybe not THAT new anymore) is Charlie's Budae Chigae, and there's an excellent piece there called "The REAL Shilmido." Go thou and read. Peruse the comments section, too: if I'm not mistaken, the KimcheeGI gets a blessing from Chief Wiggles.

Flying Yangban on those damn dirty US-worshipping diplomats. And I'm a bit late with this, but he's got a good article on Cruise's latest, "The Last Samurai," whose title in Korean is simply a transliteration from the English: "Ra-seu-teu Sa-moo-ra-i."

Before I go further, I need to dig up an old Cintra Wilson quote about Tom Cruise. This woman is too fuckin' funny. Here's what she wrote in a Salon article about the 2002 Oscars:

I must warn the world about Tom Cruise. I feel he is an utterly terrifying Superior Life Form, with the power to melt heads and braid spines. His eyes are as hard, shiny and brutally penetrating as diamond drill-bits. The new braces on his teeth suggest that he is erasing all that remained of his tiny imperfections, and he is now metamorphosing into Ultra Super Perfection Man 3000. I fear his intense, mind-beating politeness, his titanium imperviousness to human weakness, his barking power-laugh.

"Movies make a little bit of magic touch our lives," he commanded us to acknowledge, with steely resolve and Mach-5 mega-humorlessness.

People in the audience started laughing, until they realized that Tom was Not Being Funny At All. He was chosen to frankly address the post-Sept. 11 whither-the-Oscars conundrum head-on. "Should we celebrate the magic the movies bring? Now?" Tom asked, his eyes boring into the eyes of the TV multitudes and implanting rays of total domination. "Dare I say it?" He flashed a smirk with his robotically flawless teeth. "More than EVER," he hissed, laying on his most Extreme Scientological Unction. He had been commanded by the Elders to Obi-Wan-Kenobi-ize the audience into rebelieving in the importance of the obscenely superfluous Oscars. Tom Cruise is becoming the Scary Flaming Eye from "The Lord of the Rings," and I fear that nobody can stop him.

Genius. Sheer love-juice genius. I want Cintra Wilson. I already have her book, and it's just not enough. Nothing less than the woman will do.

Kirk points it out. Stavros the Wonderchicken points it out. So I may as well point it out, too: a wonderful article about Korea by Adam Greenfield. Another writer with enviable talent.

The Kyungnam to Kyunggi Journal will soon be leaving my blogroll-- but not because I want it to. Happy trails and bon retour, Ian.

Peking Duck dishes it out hot and crackling. Here's an interesting post on Singapore and capital punishment. In this next post, we get some rather embarrassing insights about the fractiousness of the blogging community (Glutter can go hump the broomstick she flies on). Here's yet another good one from the American front: "Anti-gay pastor solicits sex from boy." Read the comments, too. And finally, this post on the question of China's economy: is it a bubble?

A bit late, but let's also note Conrad's take on prostitute soteriology.

A touching post at Winds of Change re: an interesting example of Israeli-Palestinian cooperation.

Cobb's latest comic gives me a chuckle.

Uh-oh. Annika's got guest bloggers. Where's the damn spray?

Regnum Crucis links to something I like.

This is what happens when thinkers smoke crack. I hope there's more of this. All hail KBJ!

Alas for the death of Superfly.

John Moore writes:

The lack of use of WMD's by Iraq, and our subsequent inability to find any of the weapons has been used by anti-Bush forces in all sorts of silly ways, with lots of headlines.

More interesting is the question of why Saddam apparently didn't have WMD's by the time of the war, and yet caused his country to suffer 12 years of UN sanctions. After all, his lack of cooperation with inspectors was the strongest evidence that he had WMDs and was the cause of continued sanctions!

When asked, shortly after capture, Saddam said he resisted the inspections (an action which kept the sanctions in force) because he didn't want his privacy in his palaces violated!

What if he is telling the truth?

Go read the rest.

Kensho Godchaser is a new addition to the blogroll. In a post titled "Vote...Bush?", he writes:

I'm one of the few Pagans I know who championed the liberation of Iraq. (An article I wrote for Witchvox on the subject did receive very positive feedback, mainly from Pagans in the Armed Forces.) I stand by my position to this day.

The man who led the invasion, however, still troubles me. Yet he'll likely garner my vote come 2004.

For the record, I don't think Bush is stupid - the classic liberal plaint against George II. I was outraged when Democrats made his college grades an issue during the campaign. I'm a college drop-out, self-educated in my fields of expertise - what do I care if the President courted C's throughout his stint at Yale? More power to him! I suspect many other Americans felt the same way, and that this hurt the Democrats severely in the 2000 election.

But while he's not stupid, he does have an overly chummy relationship with the "theocons" - the theological conservatives who are pushing for the re-marriage of church and state. His "faith-based initiatives" effort puts the government in the awful position of determining which organizations do and do not qualify as "faiths", and which should get the bulk of federal money for (ostensibly) helping those down on their luck.

Beyond religious issues, there are good fiscal reasons not to endorse Bush. As Andrew Sullivan and others have noted repeatedly, his deficit budget is unconservative and unlibertarian. Unlike a "tax-and-spend liberal", however, he's doubled his trouble by generating huge deficits and handing out tax rebates. You can't have it both ways, Mr. President.

And yet...yes, I'll probably vote for him come 2004. Mostly because all of the Democratic candidates seem hell-bent on sabotaging the good work we continue to do in Iraq.

Put down your "Bush is Hitler" protest sign for a moment and answer me this: Is Iraq better off today with the US provisional authority in power, under whom freedom and democracy can flourish, and under whom decades of torture, summary execution and "disappearances" have halted - or is it better off with Hussein in power? The latter answer, in my mind, is indefensible.

As readers of this blog know, I was against the war, not for pacifistic reasons, but because I was (and still am) worried about the Pandora's Box of unintended consequences-- everything from the question of diplomatic capital to the policy of preemption. Readers of this blog also know that I consider the question "should we have gone to war?" academic, because, well, it's been done, and we're there. Are the Iraqis better off? Undoubtedly, if you're talking about the current environment of relatively free and open self-expression and the slowly (SLOWLY) improving infrastructure.

Was the moral argument for invading Iraq, based on the suffering of Iraq's people, sufficient to justify the invasion? I remain unconvinced. The more honest argument begins with national self-interest, and I think we've dug up ample documentary evidence to show that our concerns were, in many ways, justified. Whether the Iraqis choose to form themselves into a stable, America-friendly state that more than nominally espouses recognizably democratic values is yet to be seen. People like Steven Den Beste argue that the effort needs to be thought of in terms of decades; my own Dad tends to hold to a "three generations" rule of deep societal change, and I think that's fair. So it's a bit early for cheerleaders on one side and naysayers on the other to be declaring victory or defeat.

The one practical reality that seems most relevant to me is that we can't, at this point, pull out without causing grievous harm-- not only to our own project, but to the larger region. I'm not sure, for example, that we protect our interests in Israel if we pass Iraq off to the United Nations, which has no leg to stand on in critiquing US policy, and hasn't shown itself to be any more competent than we are in such matters. And so long as the UN plays host to totalitarian regimes, it will remain a confused, self-undermining club, not so different from that transnational progressivist wet dream, the EU.

Kensho mentions reasons very similar to my own for choosing Bush over Dem X in this election (well, I'd grudgingly choose Bush if Bush/Dem were my only options):

All of the major Democratic candidates would reduce our troop presence in Iraq - either by bringing in troops from other countries (who, by the way, aren't sending any) or by simply leaving less soldiers to secure the peace. This is a recipe for disaster - for either Hussein or some feudal Islamic cleric or warlord to take over the reigns of Iraqi government and visit several more decades of death on these oppressed peoples.

To this day I can remember sitting in my living room in 1989, a mere 14 years old, and watching the Tiananmen Square protest on CNN. I also remember the protesters crushed under the wheels of tanks and shot dead in the middle of the night after the Chinese Communist government decides that was enough freedom for one century. I've harbored a distate and hatred of despotic regimes ever since - as every decent human being should.

So my vote, with reservations, will likely be Bush in 2004. Unless you have a better alternative?

Read Kensho's update for other like-minded opinions, and give his blog a whirl. It's deep.

Den Beste chews France's nuts:

The rhetoric out of France in the last couple of weeks makes it clear that the French opinions and attitudes which created the rift haven't changed. They seem to be sorry there was disagreement, but the reason they're sorry is that they didn't manage to convince us that we were wrong.

Ah, la belle France et sa putain de politique...

Amritas's political rants are some of the weirdest linguistic experiences around. Maybe because Dr. Miyake's a linguistics prof.


Uh-oh: my Dad currently works for this airline (to his credit, he's never been in love with it), which is usually in the new for things like bad service, drunk pilots, and financial trouble. This is potentially much, much bigger.

Are people taking seriously the idea that Dean's going to get crucified for his antiwar stance? (via Drudge)

Ça barde en France. (via Drudge)

You mean journalists have biases? (Drudge)

Maybe she's nuts like Mariah. (Drudge)

By 2006, all American troops will be out of Seoul. Or so they say. The Korea Herald says it'll happen by 2007. Chosun Ilbo agrees.

One of the claims made by Koreans resisting the troop movement is that it'll create a national security risk. Your kong-an for the evening: Why? Prideful, nationalistic Koreans need to reflect on this.


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