Saturday, June 30, 2018

and for a moment, I thought I had bedbugs

When I was undoing my bedding in preparation for my move, I rolled back a blanket and stared in horror at the mattress cover, which was positively riddled with what appeared to be tiny, brown eggs. Holy fuck, I've got bedbugs, was my automatic thought. Immediately after that, I thought about the number of guests who have sat or lain down on my bed. Did they find themselves getting itchy on the way home? I looked up "bedbug eggs" on Google Images, and I saw that the typical color of a bedbug egg (there are apparently several varieties of bedbug) didn't match the particular brown hue of the "eggs" on my mattress cover. I used my lint roller to remove the offending bits from the cover and vowed to wash all my bed linens over the weekend (I'm currently at the office, so I'll start laundering everything tonight).

I thought hard about what was happening. First, I noted that I myself was not covered in bedbug bites—had never been covered in bites, in fact. Putting that fact together with the Google Images search results, I tentatively concluded that the "eggs" might not even be eggs. So what the hell were they? A flash of insight occurred to me late last night, just as I was turning in, and I tested my idea this morning: the blanket that sits directly on the mattress cover is dotted with these minuscule rubber pips that add a bit of texture to the cloth, but no real functionality. Could it be that these little pips had been falling off, perhaps rubbed off the blanket and onto the mattress cover by the action of my tossing and turning, night after night? I couldn't remember what color those pips were, so this morning, I found the blanket, unrolled it, and looked at its bottom side.

Sure enough, the bottom of the blanket proved to be covered in tiny brown, rubber pips that were the exact shape and color of the "eggs" I had seen on the mattress cover. The pips had simply (and annoyingly) been falling off the blanket, scaring me into believing I had bedbugs. Cthulhu be praised, that is not the case. If you're a faithful blog reader who has sat or lain on my bed, you have nothing to fear!

I'm still laundering all my bed linens, though.

the Farce of July

Man-on-the-street interviews are used by both the left and the right as a way to demonstrate the embarrassing stupidity of the general populace. If both sides of the political aisle are right about how dumb we are as a people, then that's pretty depressing. Here's Will Witt (a rightie, if you must know) going around a California beach to ask sun-worshipers about the significance of 1776 and why we celebrate the Fourth of July:

My problem with this tactic is that it hands your opponent the very same rhetorical weapon: if, for example, you judge my country by its stupid people, then I'm free to judge your country by its stupid people (as an American, I get this a lot from from unself-conscious non-Americans who are utterly deaf and blind to irony when they try to engage in this "judge the bumpkins" scheme). Where does that leave us, then, in terms of dialogue? All we've managed to establish is that both of our countries contain a disconcerting number of uneducated (or even outright obtuse) citizens. That doesn't strike me as a fruitful path to anything constructive... although, optimistically, your side and my side can at least agree that both of our camps contain some real idiots—a realization that itself ought to be a recipe for humility.

ping that pong, baby

YouTube is so full of trick-shot videos, these days, that it's hard to know where to turn. I think, for me, the charm may be wearing off a bit because I've started to appreciate the huge role of editing in the process of making these vids. There's almost no way that the people doing these trick shots are scoring every single time on the first try; more likely, they're fucking up multiple times, looking for that one perfect shot. That's where editing comes in: only the successful tricks get spliced together into a single reel of awesome trick shots. That said, despite the diminished charm, trick-shot videos are still fun to watch, especially when they're done with humorous intent and are not merely well-rehearsed displays of awesomeness. In that spirit, I hereby present to you 2016's "Ping Pong Carnival," a series of ping-pong-related trick shots by some nutty Japanese folks. Enjoy.

Aristotle's pill

In the following video, reviewer Jeremy Jahns refers to part of Chris Pratt's recent MTV Generation Award speech—the part where Pratt talks about how you can fool a dog by giving it medicine wrapped in something tasty. Cleverly noting that Pratt was probably not referring specifically to dogs in that moment, but was instead talking about how you can use subtlety to couch a point in such a way that listeners will be receptive to it (as Pratt himself was doing during that speech), Jahns ends up "pulling a Pratt" by essentially evoking Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics during his review of "Won't You Be My Neighbor?", the documentary about TV personality Fred Rogers. Look for the arguments about happiness.

Jahns's videos are generally brief and peppy. They also tend to be both clever and funny, as this spoiler-laden discussion of "Deadpool 2" will amply demonstrate.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Brick Oven redux

This evening, after work, I went to Brick Oven Pizza again, this time to have a bit of a premature celebration-for-one for having moved. (I say "premature" because my place is still a mess, and organizing my new domicile is going to take a while—from days to weeks, in my estimation. This move is far from over.) I ordered the "Rodney's Favorite" this time (bacon, sausage, pepperoni), and I must say: the tomato sauce wasn't even slightly watery. I'll have to make a third trip, at some point, to get a better idea of Brick Oven's tomato-sauce baseline: watery or not? We need more data!

The big disappointment tonight was that I got there at 9:25 p.m., and the kitchen was already closed, which meant I couldn't order any appetizers. Brick Oven closes at 11 p.m. on Fridays; you'd think the kitchen would stay open until at least ten. That was a definite downer, and I've mentally recorded that sin in my personal Book of Life.

I also had only a single glass of Coke; no refills were offered. This is par for the course in most Western-style Korean restaurants: they tend to be very stingy when it comes to drinks. I don't know why, considering the enormous profit margins for beverages (at McDonald's, for example, it costs the company under 10 cents to make and hand over a large Coke to the customer, who pays $1.50 for it). All in all, Brick Oven ranks as okay, as New York-style pizza joints in Korea go. As a former coworker of mine once said, "It's not blowing me away."

Political Compass: still a centrist dickhead

There's been a slow-but-steady migration to the right as I've gotten older, but even after all these years of periodically taking the Political Compass test, I'm still pretty much in what I used to call the "centrist dickhead" part of the graph (imagine a circle with a radius of 3, centered on the origin). Behold my newest results and despair:

Over time, I've migrated from the graph's lower-left quadrant to its lower-right quadrant, but I remain, when all is said and done, a centrist. This means liberals think I'm a frothing Nazi, and staunch conservatives think I'm a squishy pussy. No love from anyone.

Scroll down this list of earlier Political Compass results if you're curious.

bits of suck and not-suck

One thing I don't like about the new place is the internet connection, which was set up yesterday. It took two guys to do it, and I'm not convinced the connection is all that stable. The physical connection to my computer may have problems, and interruptions in data flow cause problems for my cell phone: at my place, I normally switch my cell phone to Wi-Fi and use my laptop as a Wi-Fi hot spot. As long as a Wi-Fi signal is emanating smoothly from my computer, my phone has no problem. But with this new, erratic connection, my phone is constantly jumping from Wi-Fi to LTE. If this continues beyond a week, I'll have a talk with our building's concierge. You can't watch YouTube in bed, on your phone, when the connection keeps shuffling back and forth between Wi-Fi and LTE. Very annoying, that.

Come to think of it, I need to talk to our building's admin staff about my monthly "rent" bill (it's actually an admin fee plus electricity, the cost of which varies every month; the Golden Goose pays my rent for me as part of my employment package): the bill normally arrives in my mailbox by the 3rd of the month, but given the awkward date on which I moved, next month's bill might arrive in my now-former 6th-floor mailbox, and not in the 14th-floor mailbox, where I am now. Another thing I need to resolve is the fact that the 14th-floor mailbox is locked for some reason; someone needs to come over with a key and unlock that sucker. The housing guy at our company told me something like, "It's locked? Well, just use your hands (to open the mailbox and/or retrieve the mail)," but the problem is that my hands are too big to fit through the mail slot to pull out any bills or letters, and when I probed the lock's reverse side (inside the mailbox) with my fingers, I discovered that you can't use your hands to rotate the tongue of the lock to the side to open the mailbox: you need a key. Another question/request for the concierge.

In other, un-sucky news: two days in a row, I encountered this very pretty foreign lady in the elevator (I must have taken thirty or more trips between the 6th and 14th floors yesterday); the first time I was stepping into the elevator, she was already there. Our eyes locked, and she gave me an informal "Hey!" in greeting, despite the fact that we don't know each other at all. I immediately registered how cute she was. That was Wednesday night. Last night, we met in the elevator again, and when we spoke, I discovered the lady was Australian—she had a very strong accent. "It's every day, now!" she said this time, referring to two coincidences in a row. I explained I was shuttling between the 6th and 14th floors; she said she hoped the new apartment was better, and I told her it was. Not much else happened, alas; I missed the chance to take things further. No matter; those were entertaining encounters in and of themselves.

at last: the skewering it deserves

How It Should Have Ended (HISHE) finally takes on "Avengers: Infinity War":

but they'll blame Trump, anyway

38-year-old Jarrod Ramos just shot up a newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland, killing at least five people. He has been arrested and imprisoned. Elements are already blaming Trump's incendiary rhetoric against the press (Trump recently declared journalists* an "enemy of the people"), but in fact, Ramos's feud with this particular newspaper, the Capital Gazette, goes back to at least 2012 if not before. This has nothing to do with current politics; this was a personal vendetta. That won't stop the coming wave of stupidity, though. A surname like "Ramos" doesn't help the left's insisted-upon narrative, either, but Ramos looks white enough that people can trot out the George Zimmerman-era term "white Hispanic" again.

As for the coming civil war, here's a blog entry that reinforces what I and others have been saying for some time, now: if actual violence erupts, any "war" will be very brief.

Rightists, like my friend, are rightly fearful of the consequences of this thing going bad. We have some idea of what this really means, and so we hold back earnestly hoping for another way. This, in turn (and sadly), emboldens the Leftists, most of whom have no Earthly idea what they are really agitating for, or the risks they are taking, because they have no experience with risks like these.

However, at some point Leftist derangement will exceed the Rightist’s reluctance to resort to violence. And when that Rubicon is crossed, there is no going back. Leftists are quicker to violence, but Rightists are far better at it. The consequences of this will be grave.

*It might be better to say "some journalists," as Trump was apparently pointing out a group of journalists at an event. Then again, Trump may have been pointing those journalists out not as individuals, but as representatives of a particular class of people. If that's the case, then my original wording stands.

Pepple on soccer

For most folks in the world, it's called football or one of its variants, like futból or Fußball, but for us scruffy Amurricans, it's called soccer (which, as a term, is actually British in origin, coming from the soci—"socky"—in the British phrase association football). Arguably the world's most popular sport, soccer is avidly followed by a huge fraction of the world's population—an estimated 3.5 billion people.

Dr. John Pepple of I Want a New Left, a philosopher and self-described leftist who is now critical of where the left has gone, loves his soccer, and on his blog, when he's not criticizing the left, he's usually talking about soccer. With the World Cup in full swing, Pepple has had a lot to say. In his latest "World Cup Notes," the good professor talks about how some teams that advanced did so thanks to other teams that had been eliminated (like South Korea, whose disappearance allowed Mexico to move forward, prompting many unironic "Thanks, Korea!" cartoons, messages, and celebrations from and by Mexicans).

If you're into soccer/football, check Pepple's blog out, then rage at his commentary when you find yourself disagreeing with his perceptions.

goodbye and hello

One thing I will definitely miss about the old place is the easterly view. My new window faces west (not north, as previously reported), and there just isn't much to see out that way. Coming soon: a point-by-point comparison of the new place and the old.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Ave, Dr. V!

Dr. V offers a 2018 version of his essay, "What is Wrong with Illegal Immigration?"

Here's an excerpt:

1) First of all, we must insist on a distinction that many on the Left ignore, that between legal and illegal immigration. Libertarians also often elide the distinction. The elision is aided and abetted by the use of the obfuscatory term 'migrant' which manages to conflate two distinctions at once: that between immigrants and emigrants, and that between legal and illegal immigrants.

Language matters here as elsewhere and one must oppose the linguistic mischief of those who speak of 'undocumented workers' to hide the fact that the law is being broken. It is also important to say, once again, that illegal entry is a violation of the criminal code. It is not a mere civil violation.

Legal and illegal immigration are separate, logically independent, issues. To oppose illegal immigration is not to oppose legal immigration. We assume, then, that no one should be allowed to enter illegally. But why exactly? What's wrong with illegal immigration? Aren't those who oppose it racists and xenophobes and nativists whose opinions are nothing but expressions of bigotry and hate? Aren't they deplorable people who cling to religion and guns? Doesn't everyone have a right to migrate wherever he wants?

Read the rest.

Escher... in real life?

There's a freaky set of stairs called "the Escherian Stairwell," apparently at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), in a campus building called Gannett Hall. Below is a documentary about these mind-bending stairs:

I have to spoil the fun, though, and note that the stairs don't actually exist. Sorry. You'll see many claims of "fake!" in the comments below the video. Snopes has this to say:

The video was a bit of trickery created through the use of deceptive camera angles, careful editing, and digital effects, produced in conjunction with a (failed) Kickstarter campaign (“The Stairwell Project: Building a Modern Myth”) intended to help fund the creation of videos, articles, web pages, and other material establishing a backstory for the mythical stairway in time for Imagine RIT, the school’s annual Innovation & Creativity Festival[.]

You'll have noted that the video's title is misleading: no "answer" is provided as to how the illusion works. But as you now know, that's because the stairwell doesn't exist.


I've been shuttling stuff up to my new apartment since 10 a.m., but as I'm about to unplug my computer and pack it up along with all my other desk- and stationery-related items, I thought now might be a good time to sign off for a bit and say, See you on the flip side. Internet service hasn't been installed in the new place quite yet, but (1) if necessary, I can blog from my phone, and (2) in the meantime, you've got a few more scheduled posts coming your way to entertain you. So hang tight, and within the next 24 hours, I'll be more or less installed in my new place, blogging from a desk.

NB: my buddy Tom normally offers to help with my many moves, but because this particular move has happened so suddenly, and because Tom is probably finishing up the semester at his university, I thought it best just to go it alone until the Gorilla Squad arrives to help me move the huge items. See you on the flip side.

Pitch Meeting: the Harry Potter films

war talk intensifies

Thanks to Bill Keezer, I just read this disturbing article from about how some elements on the left are threatening that harassment at restaurants and public haranguing are "only the beginning."

A writer for the popular progressive news website Splinter is warning supporters of President Trump that if they have a problem with the heckling of administration officials in public places, they haven’t seen anything yet.

“Do you think that being asked to leave a restaurant, or having your meal interrupted, or being called by the public is bad? My fascism-enabling friends, this is only the beginning,” writes Splinter senior writer Hamilton Nolan.

Pointing to history, he writes that the U.S. “had thousands of domestic bombings per year in the early 1970s.”

“This is what happens when citizens decide en masse that their political system is corrupt, racist, and unresponsive,” says Nolan.

“The people out of power have only just begun to flex their dissatisfaction. The day will come, sooner that you all think, when Trump administration officials will look back fondly on the time when all they had to worry about was getting hollered at at a Mexican restaurant.”

He reasons that when “you aggressively f— with people’s lives, you should not be surprised when they decide to f— with yours.”

This is not going to end well for people like Hamilton Nolan.

Meanwhile, in a recent Rasmussen poll, 31% of American citizens think civil war is coming soon. As I said before: if it comes, it will be brief.

Most voters fear that political violence is coming from opponents of the president’s policies, just as they did in the second year of Barack Obama’s presidency, and nearly one-in-three think a civil war is next.

Thirty-one percent (31%) of Likely U.S. Voters say it’s likely that the United States will experience a second civil war sometime in the next five years, with 11% who say it’s Very Likely. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 59% consider a second civil war unlikely, but that includes only 29% who say it’s Not At All Likely. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Democrats (37%) are more fearful than Republicans (32%) and voters not affiliated with either major party (26%) that a second civil war is at hand.

Ironic that Democrats are more fearful of war, given that it's the left that's been inciting most of the violence.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

a more badass thing you will never see


Leave it to the French to give a soda a name that evokes oranges* with vaginas:

I lived on this stuff when I was in Europe. It's the sweet, tart nectar of the gods, as far as I'm concerned, and every swallow of this divine fluid evokes memories from long years past. Today, I discovered that the basement grocery in the building where I work is now selling Orangina, so I snapped up two bottles. I saw Orangina elsewhere, in Itaewon, not that long ago; the soda's sudden appearance in my local store makes me wonder whether we're in the midst of a tulip-frenzy-style surgissement of Orangina-ish excitement. One way or another, I must profit from this while I can, so for the next little while, I'll likely be eschewing my usual poisons to come back to one of my first loves... at least until the grocery stops selling it.

Back in the day, Orangina used to be sold in grenade-shaped glass bottles. In the late 80s, those bottles had metal twist-off caps. The bottle you see above hints at the original shape, but everything is plastic, now. Luckily, the flavor of the drink is the same; it's pretty much what I remember. Some might find Orangina too tart and acidic for their tastes, but I can't get enough of it. The Korean designation for the drink is "오랑지나"—"oh-rahng-jee-nah," with no real attempt to simulate the French pronunciation (gird yourself for a truly French commercial). Not that I care; I'm just happy to see an old friend again.

*Or is that orangutans?

the Red fuckin' Hen

You may have heard the recent news about how the manager of a restaurant called the Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia, kicked out White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, her husband, and the group that had come with the couple. The manager, who polled her staffers before making the unusual move to deny Sanders et al. service (after some of the patrons had already ordered), felt that she had to stand on principle: Sanders represented everything that the manager, Stephanie Wilkinson, stood against. According to Wilkinson herself, Sanders and her group left without making a big deal; since the incident, Sanders tweeted some disappointment, but has also been clear that she feels no hate should be directed toward the restaurant and/or its manager.

The public, of course, has a mind of its own and is free to vote with its feet:

(seen on Gab)

Even more hilarious is the following image, which purportedly shows a health-inspector's report about the Red Hen:

(seen on Gab)

It's possible the report is a fake, but the PR damage has been done: the above image has already been seen and passed around by thousands.

The argument is being floated that, if a Christian baker has the right to deny service to a gay couple on religious grounds, then Stephanie Wilkinson has the right to deny service on political grounds. I'm not a fan of either "right": I think that, when a member of the public comes to your establishment, you have an obligation to serve that person unless your establishment is explicitly religious in nature.* But let's grant the argument for the moment: let's say that Wilkinson was in the right to stand up for her political principles. If she's any kind of businesswoman, she has to know that there will be significant consequences for denying someone service—especially someone who remained civil and took the high road. I see the Red Hen's move as, ultimately, stupid—just another example of self-righteous virtue-signaling that may very well lead to the restaurant's closure. But we'll see: apparently, the Red Hen is located inside a very blue region that is itself inside a larger and very red region. There are already silly Yelp! wars going on, from what I've read, with supporters of Wilkinson rating the Ren Hen at 5 stars while detractors are giving the restaurant 1 star. Too bad Tom Wolfe is dead: he'd have had a field day with this nonsense.

UPDATE: just saw this on Gab:

Too fuckin' funny.

*This goes back to the "Muslim baker" argument: would you seriously ask a Muslim baker to bake you a bacon-wrapped cake when you know full well that bacon isn't a halal food? If you're willing to grant an exception for the Muslim—the argument goes—then you ought to grant it for the Christian who refuses to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. As I've written before, I need to read up on what the law actually has to say about such cases. It seems to me that the Christian has less of a leg to stand on unless he's billing his bakery as explicitly Christian. If he's not—if he's merely a Christian who happens to be running a generic bakery, then it seems to me he ought to swallow his objections and bake the damn cake. But as I said, I don't know the specific, applicable laws in this situation, and even if we don't evoke religion in this argument, it could be that any privately owned business has the right to offer or deny service to whomever it pleases, no matter the reason. So until I do more research, I can't say I have a firm position on the matter. The best practical solution, for any gay couple that runs across anti-gay Christians, is simply to give their business to a different, more open-minded bakery. That's essentially the solution you see in the above photo of the empty restaurant: people will vote with their feet and with their wallets. Oh, and I see that President Trump has weighed in, calling the Red Hen "filthy." I doubt he's actually been there, so his unsurprisingly cavalier use of language is, once again, hilarious.

in which I pull a McCrarey

Those who have been following the intrepid John McCrarey's blog know that, before he left Korea for the rainy, humid Philippines, John had been literally counting down the days until his departure. There were plenty of "lasts" during that time: last time visiting such-and-such bar in Korea, last home-cooked meal, etc. Well, tonight is my own night of lasts, as I'll be moving out for good tomorrow.

Truth be told, the move already started on Monday night. I've been using my huge Costco bag to shuttle items up to the 14th-floor apartment. The bag is great, but it's still a pain in the ass to take ten or twelve trips upstairs and downstairs, ferrying the stuff of my life from one apartment to another. On the bright side, I've managed to move almost all of my small items, thus leaving me only with larger items to move. Also on the bright side, I'm moving only a few floors, so it's not as though I have to box everything up, load it onto a truck, and pay a fee to have everything trucked over and moved in to a place across town.

To facilitate the final day of moving, I'm taking Thursday off so that I can start early, move out 99% of my remaining possessions, then wait until 4 p.m. or so for one or two burly guys to come over and help me move the heaviest items: my bed, my other bed,* my fridge, my TV, and possibly my large, gray bookshelf. I'm thinking of leaving the bookshelf in the 6th-floor apartment for the next tenant to use: the new place has way more built-in closet/storage space, making the bookshelf largely irrelevant.

So tonight's my final night in my current, 6th-floor digs. By tomorrow night, I'll be completely moved in to the new place on the 14th floor. I'm gaining a lot by moving to the new apartment, but I'm also losing some features that I had come to rely on in my current place. I no longer have enough space, for example, in which to store pots, pans, and dry ingredients: the new kitchenette is slightly smaller than the old one. But the disadvantages of the new place are few; in terms of livability, the 14th-floor apartment is a huge step up from the squalor I've patiently tolerated for the past three years.

By Friday, then, I'll be slowly putting all my possessions into place, and by Monday, I'll have settled into what I hope will be my new normal. By September, I'll be enjoying a raise of almost $1000 a month, and in August and October, I'll be traveling to the States and to France to see friends and loved ones whom I haven't seen in years. Barring any nasty surprises, the rest of 2018 ought to be quite decent, as years go.

*My other bed, which I used in Ilsan, but which hasn't been used since I arrived at the 6th-floor apartment in 2015, might end up going down to the disposal area unless I can find a justification for its existence. In my apartment building, you can throw away large, bulky items like desks and closets and beds by paying a small fee to the basement-level concierge and leaving your item at a specially designated drop-off point for bulky garbage.

fake-neon art

I thought this was pretty amazing: an artist whose paintings look like neon lights:

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Zero Hedge on the Mueller investigation

Mueller has had over a year, and he hasn't found anything substantive on Trump. It's time to pull the plug on this waste of time and money, don't you think? But no... Trump's enemies are desperate to find something on the man, so the charade must continue à tout prix...

And Just Like That—the Mueller Investigation Was Over

Comment: I like where the article is going, but a lot of it feels more like wishful thinking than actual reality. The probe will end when it ends, and nothing of consequence will happen to Mueller himself because, these days, that's how "justice" works.

okonomiyaki: head to head

Are you more an Osaka fan or more a Hiroshima fan?

Both styles would be improved, in my mind, if they used less than half the brown sauce. The Osaka-style okonomiyaki could also do with about a third of the mayonnaise. Jesus.

Aesthetically, I think Hiroshima wins out for me. I'm a fan of textural contrast and lasagna-style layering. The mixed-together nature of the Osaka style is okay, but too reminiscent of Korean pancakes like bindae-ddeok or the various jeons. Not to disrespect the Korean dishes, though: my point is that, if I'm in Japan, I'm probably not going to look for Korean food.

Styx on Venezuela

Styx has much to say about Venezuela, that beacon of socialism:

service notice

I'm going to be moving, bit by bit, into my new apartment over the next three days: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I don't know whether I'll be in any shape to blog during that time: I've already started shuttling stuff from my 6th-floor place to my new, 14th-floor apartment, and it's tiring work. I might pop in to fire off a post or two, but what I'm going to do, just to keep you entertained, is slap up some scheduled posts to give you the comforting illusion that I'm still blogging as per usual. By Friday, I ought to be completely moved in to the new place, and regular blogging will resume. Promise.

Monday, June 25, 2018

a mindful 6/25 to you

In all the bustle, I forgot that today was yugio, a.k.a. six-two-five (yuk-i-o in Korean), or the 25th of June. On this date in 1950, the Korean War began. The main war lasted until 1953; there's been an armistice since then, i.e., a cease-fire (that is violated routinely), but the two Koreas are still technically at war. That's what all the current hubbub is about: finally ending the war. Can it happen? Personally, I doubt it. But we'll see.

(Yugio has nothing to do with Yu-Gi-Oh!)

shithole country

You don't have to look far to find third-world conditions. Listen to this retired teacher tell his horrific story about the chaos and mayhem he had to deal with every school day at JFK High School in Paterson, New Jersey:

This video was uploaded in 2014. It's four years later, so what do you think? Do you think conditions at JFKHS have improved?

I once reviewed an interesting, albeit flawed, movie titled "Paterson," which portrays the New Jersey town in a subtle, poetic light. In the above embedded video, though, you get a taste of what the real Paterson, New Jersey, is like, and it's hardcore.

Not that this is anything new, of course; the US public-school system has been shitty for decades, as many movies and documentaries about the problem will attest. When it comes to the question of public versus private, schools follow the same laws of behavior as restrooms: public restrooms will tend to be filthy and poorly maintained while private restrooms, because their owners have a direct personal interest in their upkeep, will on average be much neater and cleaner. When something is government- or corporate-run, it'll most likely churn out mediocrity or outright garbage. Would you rather have a designed-by-committee Big Mac, or a homemade burger that's been lovingly prepared by a capable friend?

Where's Crazy Joe Clark when you need him?

a sudden change re: move-in day

This is often how it works in Korea: a change in plan will occur, and something that had originally been set to happen a month later will suddenly happen right now. I had been told that I'd be moving into my newer, nicer apartment sometime in July, but the rep at our company who is handling my move appeared today and told me that "[I] can move in starting tomorrow." He says I can take my time moving in, but I need to finish moving by the end of this week. I told him I'd be completely moved by Thursday; he said that would be fine.

So now, I've suddenly got to find boxes, pack up, and move my shit over to the new place. Boxing up small items shouldn't be a big deal; our garbage station in the building's B1 basement level has plenty of cardboard boxes (some skankier than others). Moving my bed and my fridge, on the other hand, will be a pain in the ass unless I can finagle a hand truck from someone. I'll talk to our concierge tonight.


The moqueca tastes a lot better, now that the flavors have had a chance to marry. Here are some pics of the leftover stew after I had added tilapia loins and shrimp.

epic build-the-wall rant by Razorfist

This is the first Razorfist video I've ever seen, and I'm still processing the experience. Imagine Styxhexenhammer666 crossed with Denis Leary at his most caffeinated. Razorfist's style isn't for everyone, especially for those who don't like a presenter's rant level dialed up to 11 for nearly twenty minutes. I was touched by his obvious love for Mexico, though, and by his wish that Mexico become a great country. Watch the video and tell me what you think.

[NB: Styx mentioned Razorfist in a recent video, noting the latter had been attacked by CBS for a "Deep Space 9" review. Out of curiosity, I looked Razorfist up and watched the above vid. I'm not sure how much I like the style, but once again, it may be a matter of ignoring the style in favor of appreciating the content.]

Sunday, June 24, 2018

a few glimpses of Masan

I'm back from my quick weekend trip down to Masan to meet my friend Neil and his family. Here are some pics, along with a bit of commentary.

First up: a most frou-frou drink that I had at a coffee shop while I talked turkey with Neil. I think it was a strawberry-pineapple combination. It tasted fresh and made me feel like a proper lady. Neil joked that Masan is essentially one huge coffee shop:

I don't think I've ever seen an American-style laundromat—one that even uses the Yankee term "coin laundry"—in Seoul. So this was a bit of a revelation for me:

The next pic is annoyingly blurry. Apologies. My cell-phone camera sucks when it comes to nighttime pictures, and I suck as a photographer. I took this pic, and the next one, because both restaurants use the term il beonji, which translates as "Number One." That's a Japanese thing to do ("Number One" is ichiban in Japanese), and just as Korean accents sound more Japanese the closer one gets to Japan, it may be that certain Japanese-style locutions occur with greater frequency as one nears the Land of the Rising Sun.

This pic shows the il beonji more clearly:

Avert your virgin eyes if you're trying to remain mentally and spiritually chaste, because below, it's time for CUNT WARS! This little bit of arcade-style naughtiness is what showed up on my monitor when I booted up the computer in my yeogwan room. No, of course I didn't play the video game. Are you nuts? I would probably have had to pay a fee or something. And for what? To watch cartoon girls fuck each other? I don't normally say much about my sexual preferences on this blog, but let me make it clear that I really, really don't find animé girls a turn-on. At all. There's a creepiness factor that makes animé girls vaguely repellent to me, just as the thought of having sex with a sex bot sounds like mechanized necrophilia. Anyway, that queasiness aside, I found Cunt Wars to be a hilarious way for my computer to greet me. And could the artist have made those nipples look any more generic? (Also: it might not be visible, but if you look carefully, the "A" in "Wars" is shaped like a pudendum. Priceless.)

It's the next day, now—Sunday—and I'm out with Neil and his family at a bayside coffee shop, catching a glimpse of some of the huge ships plying the waters in this port city:

For obvious reasons of privacy, Neil doesn't want me showing pics of his family, so I've severely cropped the next two photos so as to reveal only their appendages.

More appendages here:

Another view of the water, this time from behind the coffee shop, which had some very nice, landscaped property behind it. It was a beautiful day to be out and about:

Also on the property was a cage with three dogs in it: two puppies, and an adult dog that I assumed must be the mother of the other two. Here's one of the puppies, who was very cute and pretty docile, possibly because of the ambient heat:

Caveat: the above series of pics doesn't really give you much of an idea of what Masan is actually like. If I understand Neil correctly, Masan started out as a city unto itself, but now, it's been subsumed into a larger municipality. The way Neil describes it, the Masan/Changweon region actually has three downtown areas, each with its own particular character. There was too much to explore over the course of a short weekend, just in Masan, but now that I've made the acquaintance of Neil's fine family, I hope to return to the area and do a bit more reconnoitering. It was a great weekend, albeit all too brief.

absolutely shameless

By now, you've doubtless seen the "crying girl" flap, instigated by TIME Magazine which, in a recent issue, showed a doctored cover photo with a sobbing female toddler, and with Donald Trump standing next to her, staring down at her in a coldly contemplative way. The message of the cover was clear: this girl was an example of the many children supposedly being ripped away from their families at the US border in accordance with an inhumane immigration policy (which I discussed here).

As it turns out, the girl wasn't being ripped away from her family at all: her parents were receiving a pat-down, during which time the little girl began crying, as toddlers are wont to do. When confronted with the fact that it was pushing fake news, TIME apparently decided to double down (here and here), unrepentant about its employment of journalistic taqiyya:

The combination of erroneous reporting, missing context and lack of due diligence in the reporting process from TIME here are stunning. What was supposed to be a story highlighting the plight of families who are torn apart as they flee violence turned out instead to highlight exactly the kind of case that conservatives say makes the situation at the border complex. Some families are falsely claiming asylum to game the system, knowingly putting their children in danger, and drug traffickers and smugglers are taking advantage of the situation. It’s not as simple as the media class has made it out to be.

TIME defended its cover and its reporting Friday, essentially claiming the facts are irrelevant because of the propaganda value of the piece. The photo and story “capture the stakes of this moment,” the editor in chief told reporter Hadas Gold.

“The June 12 photograph of the 2-year-old Honduran girl became the most visible symbol of the ongoing immigration debate in America for a reason,” the EIC told reporter Hadas Gold. “Under the policy enforced by the administration, prior to its reversal this week, those who crossed the border illegally were criminally prosecuted, which in turn resulted in the separation of children and parents. Our cover and our reporting capture the stakes of this moment.”

If reporters were honest and unmotivated by agendas, I'd take a more respectful view of them. But this sort of egregious fakery is far, far beyond the pale, and I'm getting to the point where I no longer care when I hear horror stories about journalists who get captured, tortured, and killed. People in service to the corporate media are drones pushing an ideology, and it's a real shame to see. While the alt-media are far from perfect, I think you're more likely to get an actual dose of reality from those folks than you are from the endless sea of infernal, over-coiffed teleprompter readers. This is what a zombie apocalypse looks like.

Styx on the crying girl:

[NB: Styx mislabels the girl as Guatemalan. She's actually Honduran.]

Here's Styx on the detention-center hypocrisy: if Trump is a Nazi, Obama is a Supernazi!

Saturday, June 23, 2018

world's most awesome lunch

Am in Masan, a bit west of Busan, meeting my friend Neil and his wonderful family (along with a spouse, Neil has a cute and witty son). Neil's lovely wife made the following gorgeous spread. You're looking at a perfectly made broccoli soup, a gently sauced European-style salad, a side of cheese and avocado, and two magnificent tuna sandwiches done up with a succulent tomato sauce. The sandwiches contained my ancient enemy, onions, but they were so good that I didn't care. Perhaps my tastes are evolving...?

Friday, June 22, 2018

pardon me while I turn green with envy

Kit Harington and Rose Leslie, both stars in the hit HBO series "Game of Thrones," fell in love while working together and are getting married... well, tomorrow, actually: June 23rd. The Daily Mail has a splendiferous article, replete with stunning photos, about the wedding and the sumptuous Scottish castle in which the blessed event will be held: Wardhill Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. The castle actually belongs to the Leslie family: Rose grew up there. The place looks amazing, and the photo essay offers the reader an eye-opening tour, primarily of the rooms in the main hold and not of the surrounding grounds (which are seen in aerial photos). Click on over and have yourself a look at how the other half lives. And congratulations to the loving and lovable couple: I hope they enjoy many years of marital bliss together and have eight children—one for every season of "Game of Thrones."


Charles Krauthammer, conservative commentator, has died at the age of 68. Like Jordan Peterson, who has featured on this blog several times over the past year, Krauthammer had a psych background. He was known for his many books and articles and round-table discussions (with, for example, the DC-famous "Inside Washington") and panel talks on Fox News. Recently, Krauthammer had been both supportive and critical of Donald Trump and his policies, criticizing Trump for his handling of the Charlottesville incident (during which one woman died after being struck by a car) but praising Trump's efforts to build a border wall.

Krauthammer was famously confined to a wheelchair following a swimming accident in which he hit his head at just the wrong angle and severed his spinal cord. In the end, though, it was cancer—initially abdominal cancer that eventually metastasized—that did Krauthammer in. He leaves behind a wife and son. While I didn't follow his writing closely and almost never watched him on TV, Charles Krauthammer was always somewhere on the periphery of my consciousness, and it was partly because of him and his writing that I have any political awareness at all. RIP, Mr. Krauthammer.

ADDENDUM: Koko, the sign-language-using gorilla, is also dead. She was 46.

moqueca: a success?

I'm pretty ashamed of the moqueca I ended up making (hence the lack of photos), but I took it to the office, anyway, and fed almost twenty people... all of whom raved about it. By my lights, the monster-sized stew was poorly seasoned, watery, and too salty-tasting despite not having much salt in it. I had just enough seafood to give everyone a single large serving; the Korean staffers whom we'd invited over for the luncheon came back for seconds, and they were happy just to have the stew's broth to pour over their rice. I was, to be frank, surprised at how well everything worked out. Even the boss, who has had enough of my cooking to be picky about it, said this was a better batch than last time. Most surprising of all was that there were no complaints about tough seafood. I had par-cooked the various critters (scallops, cod, and jumbo shrimp) separately, with the purpose of throwing them all into the soup to finish off with a 2- or 3-minute quick boil. I guess that worked out well, even though I was pretty sure the shrimp ended up a bit tougher than it should have. That said, there was nary a complaint.

These luncheons normally aren't so stressful, but today, I was nearly in panic mode. First, the "SIS" staffers are fairly numerous, so if the lunch had failed, it would have failed big. That would have affected my reputation. Second, the relationship between our department (R&D) and the SIS department has been occasionally rocky because of the sometimes-prickly interaction between the bosses of these departments. It doesn't help that the head of SIS is also the Number Two person in our entire organization. A luncheon failure could have become a diplomatic nightmare. Third, I just wasn't confident in the quality of today's stew, so I was stressed because that's the headspace that my pride put me in: I knew I was serving below-par food. Lucky for me, this was a forgiving audience.

Whew. The day went surprisingly well, but I can't shake the queasy feeling that I somehow got away with something. This was a victory, but an unearned one.

Anyway, I can't think straight. Will just melt into my chair, now.

dat Melania, she say she DON' CARE

Yet another reason to squawk and flap over a Trump's deeds:

The full text of the coat says, "I REALLY DON'T CARE. DO U?" The timing of the coat, which Melania wore into the hot climate of Texas, seems to coincide with all the furor over the separation of illegal-immigrant families. Is this an example of Melania helping The Donald troll the public in a gesture worthy of Marie Antoinette? The liberals in my office seem to think so: they perceive this as a demonstration of lofty indifference to the plight of immigrant children, consistent with the now-outdated view that Republican = rich and out of touch. (Have you noted the political affiliation of the 1% lately? Pretty much all Democrats: Soros, Zuckerberg, Bezos, Gates, et al. They far outnumber the Murdochs and Kochs.)

Paul Joseph Watson on the whole family-separation flap:

Styx's take:

Seen on Gab—hilarious and sad and morbid all at once:

NB: Trump just signed an executive order prohibiting the separation of families at the US border. This defangs leftist-Democrat bellyaching about how inhuman/subhuman/demonic the policy is (keeping in mind that the policy actually dates back a couple administrations and was not original to Trump, who merely chose to enforce preexisting policy—something his predecessors weren't inclined to do). Of course, the left won't be satisfied with this move. Give an inch, and they'll take a mile. Nothing less than Trump's ouster, followed by his replacement with the proper Democrat, will satisfy. Whether Trump's signing of the EO was a smart maneuver is yet to be determined. I see it as potentially a judo-ish move, but in terms of optics from the right side of the aisle, it looks and feels a lot like caving in.

Something to keep in mind:

1. The family-separation policy predates Trump.
2. Previous presidents have sequestered children and other family members in cage-like camps. Photos from Obama's administration have been flooding the internet of late.
3. It's hypocritical to be outraged about the separation of families, an event that occurs all the time whenever, for example, a male criminal who happens to be a father gets arrested and jailed for some crime. Families are forcibly separated on a routine basis. Where's the outrage about all the other instances?
4. One crucial purpose of the family-separation policy was specifically to help illegal-immigrant children by keeping them from the clutches of kidnappers whose goal is to throw children into sex-trafficking rings. This fact seems to have been buried under the rugby-pileup of the current acrimonious debate.
5. Instead of blaming current policy, how about focusing on the recklessness with which Mexican parents are endangering their children by putting them in such a situation to begin with? Are these parents blameless?

With thanks to Bill Keezer, I saw this from Patriot Post:

To be fair, "selective outrage" is an accusation that cuts both ways. You don't have to dig deep to find the same phenomenon on the right, albeit about different issues.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

...and another mother-son relationship comes to a violent end

A man in Indonesia was recently crushed to death by his dead mother. Pallbearers had been carrying the mother's coffin to a traditional platform called a lakkian, but as the men mounted the ladder, the ladder collapsed, and the coffin tumbled, injuring several men and killing the woman's forty-year-old son when the coffin crushed his head.

When I first saw the headline to this article, my first thought was, How in the hell could THAT have happened? What Rube-Goldberg-meets-Stephen-King sequence of events could possibly have led to the kind of tragedy in which a dead mother inadvertently winds up killing her son? In the annals of parent-child relationships, this is going to go down in history as one of the strangest, saddest endings ever.

black is white, up is down

Who believes what these days? The Republican brand used to be associated with pro-free-trade policies and corporatism. The left, meanwhile, used to believe in strict controls for immigration, as this post reminds us (be sure to click on the video to see all those Democrats—ones who are still in the news today—proclaim, one after another, that illegals are a problem).

UPDATE: John Pepple relates a modest proposal for dealing with the illegal-immigrant problem: house them in college dorms, where in principle the immigrants will be welcomed by people—liberal students and professors—clamoring for "justice." Put the illegals in the dorms and let the students sleep in tent cities. This seems only condign.

is this guy for real?

This has to be a comedy sketch and not a loudly autistic Irishman who's unintentionally funny. Right? Anyway, meet Sir Stevo Timothy. I wanna hear him say, "Dey're maahgickly delicious!" He's like a leprechaun with Tourette's.

I admit I had to look up "Westlife" to understand the final joke.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

rotten in under 24 hours

I came home thinking I'd be able to fire up the stove and heat up the soup I had made the night before: this was primarily a potato-based soup made with leftover carrots and onions, all pureed along with heavy cream, and enhanced with some leftover chicken bouillon. But I made the mistake of leaving the soup in its pot, with the lid on, on the assumption—justified in the past!—that all the boiling would have sterilized the soup. Ha ha—wrong! When I got back to my place tonight, I immediately smelled that something was off, and when I took the lid off my pot, I saw, hilariously, that the soup had begun to bubble and puff like dough in mid-proof. The odor carried hints of kimchi, and when I dipped in a spoon and lifted it out to see how deep the damage went, I saw right away that the entire soup was rotting. Although I had wasted a whole brique of heavy cream in this endeavor, I was so amused by the rot that I chuckled even as I was dumping the befouled soup down the sink drain.

As I hinted above, I've left soups out before, even in warm weather, without ever having had a problem like this. I've certainly never had anything rot on me in under 24 hours! Normally, when you're making soup, all that boiling is enough to sterilize both the inside and the outside of the pot, not to mention sterilizing the pot's contents. So this is a bit of a head-scratcher for me. You, Dear Reader, will be tempted to roll your eyes and shake a finger at me for not having containerized and refrigerated the soup, but that's because you've probably never thoroughly sterilized your soup before. All I can think is that, in this case, I somehow failed to sterilize everything, and whatever bacteria had survived became fruitful and multiplied.

Ah, well. Sad but, at the same time, funny.

clench, then unclench

I saw something that I need to experiment with: a claim that, if you overcook seafood—specifically mollusks like calamari—it'll clench up and become tough and rubbery... but if you keep cooking it for another twenty or so minutes, it'll relax and become the proper texture again. I find that hard to believe, but I'm going to do an experiment to find out how true this is. The claim might be plausible: I've described, on this blog, how slow-cooked pork and beef go through a clenching-and-unclenching cycle, which takes hours. I'm cooking a huge seafood stew for this coming Friday, so this question is particularly relevant to me. The last time I did moqueca for three, some of the scallops ended up becoming too tough, although the stew as a whole still tasted fantastic.

that's a new one on me

Is the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment a lie?

Revolutionary, if so, and there seems to be evidence that the people who played the role of prison guards had been coached to be abusive, i.e., the idea of spontaneous abusiveness now comes into question.


profound words

I find myself frequently overcome and amazed by the ability of people to befriend each other, to love their intimate partners and parents and children, and to do what they must do to keep the machinery of the world running. I knew a man, injured and disabled by a car accident, who was employed by a local utility. For years after the crash he worked side by side with another man, who for his part suffered with a degenerative neurological disease. They cooperated while repairing the lines, each making up for the other’s inadequacy. This sort of everyday heroism is the rule, I believe, rather than the exception. Most individuals are dealing with one or more serious health problems while going productively and uncomplainingly about their business. If anyone is fortunate enough to be in a rare period of grace and health, personally, then he or she typically has at least one close family member in crisis. Yet people prevail and continue to do difficult and effortful tasks to hold themselves and their families and society together. To me this is miraculous—so much so that a dumbfounded gratitude is the only appropriate response. There are so many ways that things can fall apart, or fail to work altogether, and it is always wounded people who are holding it together. They deserve some genuine and heartfelt admiration for that. It’s an ongoing miracle of fortitude and perseverance.

—Jordan Peterson, 12 Rules for Life, "Rule 2: Treat Yourself Like Someone You Are Responsible for Helping"

It's not so much a "God helps those who help themselves" kind of chapter as it is a "God has already helped those who help themselves" chapter, which is more consistent with the traditional Christian notion of grace, a thing that is unearned and unearnable. And while Peterson is a big fan of Carl Jung, who is evoked pretty much every other page (I exaggerate, but Jung is evoked frequently), the above passage has more than a whiff of the optimism of Mencius, who also saw people as generally showing their innate goodness, especially in times of stress or crisis (see Mencius' "child at the edge of the well" example). The character Mark Watney, in the novel The Martian, makes a similar, Mencius-like observation as he observes how Earth has pulled together in a massive effort to get him home. When they want to be, when they put their minds and hearts to it, people can be very good. To be sure, Peterson, consistent with the biblical tone of his book, acknowledges the "fallen" nature of humanity, but this isn't to say that humanity contains no innate capacity for good.

Ave, Joe!

Joe McPherson (whom I finally met five years ago) has written a heartfelt tribute to Anthony Bourdain. This is a June 9 blog post that I only just saw. Here's an excerpt:

I myself had lived a year in Germany before college. I had regretted returning after just a year. Once one lives overseas, it’s hard to move back to the suburban life you knew. The people around you don’t understand what you’ve seen or experienced. They don’t know how large the world is and how small their worlds are. It’s like getting a taste of the most amazing succulent, spice-filled exotic dish and then returning to a life of unsalted mashed potatoes–surrounded by others who think unsalted mashed potatoes are just fine and dandy.

Watching Bourdain passionately break into a durian, munch on crispy frog skins in Chiang Mai, and kick around an inflated [pig's] bladder in Spain while the rest of the porcine fellow was being divided and cooked—it woke me back up. I had to get out of my mashed potatoes existence. I had to do THAT.

I was thinking of returning to Europe, but Korea had been calling at me. I had studied Korean history in college, and I was really into Korean culture. But I was still not sure about moving my ass to Asia. It was that push from Bourdain’s show and his book Kitchen Confidential that made me say, “Fuck it. Let’s go.”

As the guy says in John Scalzi's Old Man's War: "Sometimes, you just gotta hit the road."

UPDATE: Joe's June 16 followup post is here.

Chris Pratt makes a speech

Positioning himself as the anti-De Niro, Chris Pratt recently received an MTV Generation Award (I have no idea what such an award represents; this is the first I've heard of it), the acceptance of which gave him the opportunity to offer a nine-item list composed of pearls of Prattish wisdom, including "You have a soul: be careful with it," "God is real," and "Learn to pray." I won't touch Pratt's theology (which is what conservative sites are all aflutter about; it's important to note, too, that immediately after speaking about God, Pratt expounded on how to minimize odor when taking a shit at a party), but I thought some of the other items on his list made for good life advice, such as "Don't be a turd" and "Doesn't matter what it is—earn it."

It's a shame Pratt divorced the lovely and hilarious Anna Faris; I thought they'd made a good Hollywood power couple. But Hollywood marriages are rarely built to last; here's hoping Pratt ends up with someone with whom he can have a lasting, fulfilling relationship. Meanwhile, we can be thankful that Pratt didn't use his platform to shout "Fuck Trump!" the way the classless Robert De Niro did. Here's a gent speaking his mind on De Niro.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

the hilariously fucked-up thinking in my hilariously fucked-up country

First, watch Ben Shapiro talk about the concept of intersectionality:

Next, read this Hollywood In Toto article about the media's hypocrisy regarding a "Death Wish"-style movie starring Jennifer Garner, then put two and two together. An excerpt:

The reaction to the first “Death Wish” trailer was fast, furious, and oh, so ugly.

The Bruce Willis remake of Charles Bronson’s 1974 classic got pummeled by film scribes and reporters alike after its first teaser dropped.

In no uncertain terms, they blasted the trailer as:

Tone deaf
An NRA commercial gussied up as a feature film

Yet the very same elements are on full display in the new trailer for Jennifer Garner’s “Peppermint,” in theaters Sept. 7.

And there’s barely any outrage from the usual suspects.

It's amazing to watch this sick, hypocritical dynamic at work. But for what it's worth, I liked the preview trailer (at the link above) and want to see "Peppermint." I'm always up for a good revenge drama, and honestly, I don't give a shit if it's a woman or a man in the lead role. I thoroughly enjoyed movies with female leads like "Aliens," "Mad Max: Fury Road," "Revenge," and "Kill Bill," both volumes. Give me a good story and decent characters, and I'm easily entertained, even though it may not seem that way from my more curmudgeonly reviews.

Pepple on ISIS and feminists

Western Feminists tend to be strangely silent about the poor treatment of women in many Muslim-dominant countries. I suppose it's easy to beat a cowardly retreat behind the PC maxim that "one should never judge other cultures"—a maxim that seems to apply only to Westerners. John Pepple writes a blog post riffing off the recent news that women in the Middle East who are fighting ISIS have just invited western feminists to join their fight. Pepple doubts that any Western feminists will answer this invitation:

Feminists won’t, of course. They haven’t even wanted to have a protest march against ISIS. They haven’t even wanted to have a march in solidarity with the young victims in Rotherham and other towns in England.

Meanwhile, this article quotes an Iranian feminist who claims that "Western feminists make things worse for her cause at home." An excerpt:

Speaking Wednesday at a "Power Women Breakfast" sponsored by entertainment site The Wrap, Alinejad said, "I keep hearing in the West especially, Western feminists who go to my country — the female politicians — we don’t want to break the country’s law," which they use as an excuse to adopt the dress code forced on women by the country's Islamic regime.

Alinejad explained that the women of Iran "don’t want to be slaves," and "told by men or the law of the Islamic Republic of Iran what to wear."

She insists that—as many Westerners suggest—this isn't a "cultural issue" because "before the revolution, we had the right to choose what we wanted to wear in Iran. Compulsion was never part of Iranian culture."

The recap post also says that Alinejad told the audience it was a "mistake" that "some Western feminists resisted legitimate criticism of the regime out of a desire not to appear in line with the policies of President Donald Trump."

Many Western leftists try to celebrate the hijab in an effort to embrace diversity. One Australian city got a lot of backlash for exhorting its non-Muslim female residents to wear a hijab for three hours to raise "awareness and insight." Dolce & Gabbana launched a line of high-fashion hijabs a couple of years ago. Retail giant Macy's has its own "hijab brand."

This rush to earn diversity brownie points is highly offensive to many Muslim women. Even The Huffington Post acknowledges that the hijab is not a symbol of freedom (as Coca Cola's most recent Super Bowl ad suggested) but "a symbol of the fact that women in Islam are second-class citizens, and that this status is encoded in both sacred text and tradition, enforced by culture and law."

I don't expect feminists to find real courage anytime soon. For the moment, feminist "courage" comes in the form of pussy hats and hashtag warfare. (Camille Paglia excluded.)

PJW on the latest EU craziness

If you haven't heard about the EU's recent attempt to ban memes (in the modern, internet-image sense and not so much the older, Richard Dawkins sense), here's your big chance. See, this is why something like Brexit was bound to happen.

If the EU law passes, many of us bloggers could come under fire for creating images and animations that crib off other people's work, even if that work falls under fair-use guidelines. Make no mistake: if the EU passes this law, which is supposed to affect only parties within the EU, it will inevitably expand to affect people the world over. Given the international scope of many corporations, the global nature of Hollywood and its affiliates, and the inherent interconnection of the internet, whatever monster this law creates will grow to eat the globe.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Ave, Heather Mac Donald!

Two bloggers I respect have, independently, cited this Heather Mac Donald article, of which I provide an excerpt below. Mac Donald (sic: there's a space between the "Mac" and the "Donald" when she writes her name) came into the national public consciousness when she began writing about the Black Lives Matter movement, using logic and statistics, as opposed to stylistic flair and emotionalism, to make the point that the BLM movement is based on a false premise, to wit: that cops are most likely to shoot (and kill) black people. The stats don't actually bear this out: cops are, in fact, more likely to shoot (and kill) white and Latino people. Mac Donald's point was that BLM would do better to focus on the true statistical problem, which is black-on-black violence, which occurs at a much higher frequency than violence perpetrated by the police.

The article to which I linked above features Mac Donald's speculation as to how leftists reconcile the desire for an open-borders immigration policy with the idea, also propounded by leftists, that the US is a hellhole. Here's the excerpt that both of the above-mentioned bloggers cited, plus a little extra:

But why should social-justice warriors want to subject these potential asylees to the horrors of America? In coming to the U.S., if you believe the dominant feminist narrative, the female aliens would simply be exchanging their local violent patriarchy for a new one. Indeed, it should be a mystery to these committed progressives why any Third World resident would seek to enter the United States. Not only is rape culture pervasive in the U.S., but the very lifeblood of America is the destruction of “black bodies,” in the words of media star Ta-[Nehisi] Coates. Surely, a Third World person of color would be better off staying in his home country, where he is free from genocidal whiteness and the murderous legacy of Western civilization and Enlightenment values.

But the same left-wing establishment that in the morning rails against American oppression of an ever-expanding number of victim groups in the afternoon denounces the U.S. for not giving unlimited access to foreign members of those same victim groups. In their open-borders afternoon mode, progressives paint the U.S. as the only source of hope and opportunity for low-skilled, low-social-capital Third Worlders; a place obligated by its immigration history to take in all comers, forever. In their America-as-the-font-of-all-evil-against-females-and-persons-of-color morning mode, progressives paint the U.S. as the place where hope and opportunity die under a tsunami of misogyny and racism.

Which reality do progressives actually believe? They likely hold both mutually exclusive concepts in their heads simultaneously, unaware of the contradiction, toggling smoothly between one and the other according to context. But both claims cannot be true.

I encourage you to read the rest. It's a fairly short article.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

one amazing kid

By age 12, Flynn McGarry had figured out his life's calling—something that I, at nearly 50, still haven't figured out. Color me very impressed.

The writeup beneath the video says:

Flynn McGarry is the chef of Gem, a restaurant in Manhattan's Lower East Side. His $155 tasting menu is served in the style of a dinner party, hopefully making you feel like you're not at a restaurant at all. The young chef has been working full time in professional kitchens since he was 12.

See more from Gem:

Ye Grande Daye of Shoppinge

I've got some monster-sized party prep ahead of me this week for the upcoming office luncheon on Friday the 22nd. Today, I'll be hitting Itaewon, the Jongno/Euljiro neighborhood, and finally Costco.

Itaewon: tomato paste, coconut milk*
Jongno/Eujiro: metal utensils, plates, bowls
Costco: folding tables, folding chairs, jumbo shrimp, diver scallops, tilapia

Later in the week, I'll need to buy the rest of the ingredients for the moqueca, including onions, red bell peppers, and cilantro. I've never made stew for twenty before, so this is going to be very interesting. Most likely, I'll save the final step—adding the seafood—for when I'm just about to head out the door on Friday.

Lots to plan, lots to do.

*Many Korean stores have an abundance of coconut oil, but not very many have coconut milk, hence the grudging trip to Itaewon.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

one of my best KMA days ever

Today's KMA session turned out to be awesome. There were only two students, which might affect how much I get paid, but the three of us had a great time. Both of my students were married adults—a man and a woman. Until recently, the man worked for some agency related to nuclear power and the engineering of nuclear power plants; now, he's in another company's R&D department. The lady, meanwhile, worked for an agency involved with the currently tabled Kaesong industrial complex in North Korea. She said she's hoping for reunification, a subject we all discussed further during lunch. The guy had traveled around the world, and he spoke English quite well; the lady was shy about her English ability, and while her speech was slower and more hesitant, she actually spoke fairly competently.

The seven-hour class went by quickly, and both students thought the intensive course I had designed (to improve online-research skills) was quite interesting. By the end of the course, we all had big smiles on our faces. I suspect the course's charm lies in the fact that it's very task-oriented and student-centered, per my pedagogical mantra. While students generally like my persuasive-writing course, the ones who take my online-research course usually enjoy that more: it's less like a regular class and more like fun.

We ended up going a bit overtime, which has never happened before; I guess we were all having too much of a good time. While I normally have great students at KMA, this pair of learners was especially good to have in class: they worked hard, they participated actively, and they both said at the end that they had learned a lot. What more can one ask for? I didn't peek at my evals this time because I'm pretty sure I got a 100%. All in all, a very good day.

deep penetration

I hope you'll enjoy this How Ridiculous video as much as I did. I've been watching these goofy Aussie blokes for a while, now; their shtick is that they climb a local tower from which they toss various objects onto the sandy ground below. The drop from the tower's pinnacle is about 45 meters, which means that most objects pick up a good deal of momentum and crash rather dramatically upon impact. The boys have done stuff like toss bowling balls onto axe blades; they've also set up a beat-up old car in the impact zone and tossed objects like darts at it. In the video below, the boys have gotten hold of a gigantic lawn dart that's heavier than three crowbars, with the object being to launch the dart into various targets to see how deeply it penetrates them. Targets include cardboard boxes, fluffy pillows, reams of photocopier paper, rubber gym mats (the interlocking, puzzle-shaped kind), and even a few large rolls of bubble wrap. I found these tests strangely satisfying—probably because I was imagining people I hate getting speared through the gut, or the face, with that huge fucker.

Lazarus! Come forth!

Another fish that's unwilling to give up its anima:

nobody home

I'm at KMA. Got here early, around 8:15, and as you see in the photo, there's nobody here at the 10th floor. So I'm down in the lobby coffee shop, writing this blog entry. Someone will be here before 9, I'm sure.

Also of note: I'm not in my usual KMA-day button-down shirt, tie, and slacks. I've got the slacks on, but today, I'm going for the "untucked button-down shirt" look. It's a risk, but I checked with my buddy Tom about what he wears to a KMA session, and he apparently has been eschewing ties since forever. Does he do the untucked thing? Don't know. Don't care. So there we are.

Not sure how I'll be feeling by the end of today's class, but right now, things are very calm and laid back, just the way I like it.