Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Trump tweetstorm aftermath


1. Trump tweets words that many interpret as racist.

2. The "Squad of Four" (Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib, Pressley) makes a loud, angry statement in Congress in response to Trump.

3. This plays into Trump's hands.

4. House Democrats publicly and formally rebuke Trump.

5. A "floor fight" erupts in the House when Nancy Pelosi offers support for the Squad.

Meanwhile, Tim Pool, who deplored Trump's tweets as crass (and they are crass), nevertheless sees things more or less the way Styx does, and even ascribes to Trump a mastery of "second-level 4-D chess," i.e., a deep knowledge of strategy to further his agenda:

Jon Miller notes the Squad's refusal to denounce terrorism:

Styx, in reference to Pelosi and the House "floor fight": "Democrats are so confused they even had trouble voting along party lines to condemn Trump":

I'm not sure whether this is sad or hilarious.

change of plan

The absolute cheapest and easiest option for me for dealing with my building's planned blackout this coming weekend is simply to sleep through the blackout. I don't normally go to sleep at 11:30 p.m., though, so that might be problematic. And with the blackout, I won't have air conditioning, so it'll be an uncomfortable sleep at best.

I mention this stay-at-home option because I took a longish walk last night and ended up with a very achy right foot. This has been happening more and more frequently, and it's not because I'm gaining weight: my weight has been stable for the past few months. I suspect it's my poor shoes, which I've managed to walk to death since I purchased them in Virginia last summer. It's been a whole year, which means hundreds upon hundreds of miles of walking, despite not doing a cross-country trek. So I need to get a new pair of New Balance walkers, and I might also want to see a podiatrist about orthotics.

As was true during my 2017 walk, the ache in my feet tends to go away while I'm walking. It returns in force, though, once I stop and rest: the pain flares up, and the mere act of walking across my apartment becomes a chore.

So I don't think I'm going to attempt the round-trip walk to Bundang and back. I might still decide to train out somewhere and sleep in a hotel overnight, just to have access to A/C. But that means money, and I'm trying not to spend myself dry this year, given that I'm on the final lap of paying down my scholastic debt.

I'll make a decision within 48 hours, but right now, I'm leaning toward suffering through a night without air conditioning. It's only a single night.

Styx says, "I told you so"

Styx's surmise was that Trump, with his incendiary tweeting, wanted to turn the crazy wing of the left into the face of the Democrats by forcing the Democratic center to embrace the far left. Seems he was right, and now 2020 becomes all the easier:

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

our racist president

"Go back to Africa!"

If I heard someone shouting this, especially at a black person on an American street, I'd immediately assume that the shouter was racist. So the question becomes: when President Trump recently tweeted that a certain group of freshmen congresswomen ought to "go back" to their respective homes, was he being racist?

Not really. He was being an asshole, but as Scott Adams points out, this rhetoric was nothing more than New York-style trash talk. Here's Adams's whiteboard analysis:

A racist doesn't tell someone to go back to where she came from, then come back to teach us a better way. As Adams notes, CNN et al. aren't reporting the second part of Trump's tweet. The result is that easily manipulable minds, already self-righteous and ideologically predisposed to using an Orwellian Newspeak vocabulary stripped down to about eight words (Hitler, Nazi, bigot, sexist, misogynist, homophobe, transphobe, Islamophobe), unquestioningly gobble the fake news up. Note that Trump didn't even use a version of "Go back to Africa!" His tweet said, "Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came[?]" In other words: go back to Detroit, to New York, etc.—not go back to the lands of your respective heritages.

So where's the racism, dumbass? If you assume race is involved despite Trump's having specifically targeted four loudmouthed freshmen congresswomen for their outspoken behavior and not because they're women of color, you might want to look deep into your own soul and ask why you're the one focusing on race. Racism seems to be the only card you have left in your increasingly desperate attempt to win the contest of ideas, and your obsessive focus on race is a sure sign of your own racism.

Adams's notes on the topic:
   CNN Fake News OMITS the “then come back” part of the tweet
            Same fake news strategy they use to push Fine People HOAX
            Same fake news strategy they use to push ICE raids HOAX
   President Trump’s tweet was just New Yorker trash talk

   President Trump has positioned Democrats to tear themselves apart
            The LEAST popular among them are in the spotlight
            Will Democrats support Pelosi or the squad?
I'd say there's definitely something to the idea that Trump is trying to make the left embrace its crazies, thereby painting the entire left as crazy. The right has its crazy wing as well, but thus far, the right has remained rather fractured into an openly pro-Trump bloc, the religious right, the virulent-bigot wing (which many mislabel "alt-right"), and the neocon/Never Trumper camp of staid, stodgy conservatives who want to spread war, the hegemony of US-style democracy, and corporatism on steroids. The right is less of a problem to the nation as long as it remains fractured, I think, despite the difficulties this poses for Trump when, for example, the Never Trumpers become obstructionist and prevent things like building a border wall. The right, taken as a whole, is a shit show, but the left is plain fucking nuts.

Here's Styx on the latest Twitter-fueled kerfuffle:

Note especially what Styx says at 8:47: Trump isn't saying anything that the majority of Americans aren't already thinking. The average independent looks at AOC and wishes she'd go away. AOC isn't even approved of in her own district. If she's the candidate again, the GOP could end up retaking a chunk of New York City. People were slowly losing interest in AOC because Pelosi was soft-pedaling AOC's extremism, but now Pelosi has no choice but to defend AOC (et al.) from Trump, thereby forcing the Dems to circle the wagons when what they really need to do is jettison the extreme wing of the party. "The president's racist!" feeds right into the Trump Derangement Syndrome dynamic, and it's desensitizing US voters, who are getting sick of the "Racism, racism, racism" chant. Styx:
Trump is not a racist. He's a master strategist. He is a New York, Manhattan-dwelling business Democrat. He doesn't have a racist bone in his body. Dude, they said there was a tape of him saying the N-word repeatedly. I'm still waiting, two years later, to hear it! It's never gonna be heard because it doesn't exist! Tom Arnold is full of shit! Rosie O'Donnell is full of shit! I wouldn't be surprised if Trump has paid these people to spread shit. I wouldn't be surprised at all.


By the way, "muh racism, muh racism" doesn't work anymore, anyway. He's at 44, 45 percent approval. That's his long-term floor. That's his long-term mean approval. So almost half the country is supporting someone who supposedly is running a bunch of concentration camps. Don't you think the Democrats' attack lines are getting old? They keep throwing these terrible claims at him—he hates children; he's got concentration camps; he is literally Hitler, like he's the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler! He's a literal fascist. He's the most sexist, disgraceful, inept pig that's ever been in the White House! And yet, he's got 45 percent approval! And it's not going down!
The self-righteous among us, unable to concede that they might be in the grip of a massive, psychotic delusion, can't bring themselves to see that maybe, just maybe, this president, who can certainly be an acerbic asshole, isn't the demon they've made him out to be. Maybe if these deluded folks reoriented their concerns to their own fellow citizens, they might begin to understand Trump's agenda. But I don't have much hope that that's going to happen. Convinced of their own moral superiority, the deluded will merely double down on their arrogant sanctimony, trapped inside their false worldview—a perspective that disengages them from reality so thoroughly that they are unable to see how easily Trump will win in 2020—and that they, these moralizing idiots, will be the authors of his victory.

Here's Jon Miller on the same topic:

Using AOC's words against her, Miller humorously calls Trump's tweets "factually inaccurate, but morally right." Miller makes this joke because Trump's earlier tweet said that certain congresswomen "originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe." That is indeed factually incorrect: only Ilhan Omar was born outside the United States: Rashida Tlaib was born in Detroit; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was born in New York City; Ayanna Pressley was born in Chicago. But when Trump wrote, "Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came," he obviously didn't mean anything close to "Go back to Africa!" First, I'm sure he's fully aware of who was born in the States and who wasn't. Second, "the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came" is likely code for New York, Chicago, and Detroit. Miller points out that Rashida Tlaib, in her angrily tweeted response to Trump, didn't even highlight her citizenship: she instead affirmed how proud she was of her Palestinian roots, inadvertently making Trump's veiled point about loyalty to country for him.

Now, even if I haven't convinced you that Trump wasn't shouting a version of "Go back to Africa!", there's still Scott Adams's point to consider: what sort of racist invites people to go away, then come back with superior knowledge?

Look, at this point, if you're convinced Trump is a racist because you see racism under every carpet and in every dark corner, then I doubt this post will change your views. If, however, you have a mind that's at least slightly open, you might consider that a non-racist interpretation of Trump's rant is possible. Keep in mind, too, that liberals can't afford to be self-righteous when they have their own racism problem to deal with: blacks in the #WalkAway movement get called coon, Uncle Tom, and nigger by liberals who can't stand the thought of black people leaving the Democrat plantation. That rhetoric is real, and it's a major problem.

Finally, I saw this on Gab:

ADDENDUM: America has never been less racist.

Monday, July 15, 2019

dirty Harry and friends

These cartoons are stupid and utterly offensive to the humorless #MeToo crowd, but man, did they make me laugh:

Styx on borders and immigration

Styx talks borders, immigration, and AOC's "concentration camp" bullshit:

Robin Williams as the Grand Old Flag

I've never seen the following before, and I thought I'd seen pretty much all of Robin Williams's vast oeuvre, from movies to TV shows, from standup videos to interviews with late-show hosts. I wonder whether this comedy routine—in which Williams personifies the US flag—would pass muster today. Judging by the comments beneath the video, it might. But I know there are humorless PC scolds out there who would call Williams's impression of Hawaiian culture racist, and in the age of Colin Kaepernick and Kaepernick-wannabe Megan Rapinoe (US Women's soccer; her team just won the World Cup), this sort of unabashed, uncomplicated appreciation for the flag and what it stands for won't fly for certain Americans who cringe and wince at concepts like patriotism, liberty, and so on.

There's a moment in Williams's routine in which he refers to the flag as a symbol, and that saluting the flag basically means saluting ourselves. I can get behind that, although I know certain conservative readers think of the US flag as much more than a symbol. I don't stand with those people: if all the US flags were to disappear, there'd still be an America because America is Americans. If, however, all Americans were to disappear while all the flags remained, then there'd be no America. It's a little like what Odin said to Thor about Asgard in "Thor: Ragnarok": "Asgard is not a place; it's a people."

Sunday, July 14, 2019

public-service announcement quietly morphs into awesome attack on Big Tech

I had no idea what I was getting into when I started watching the Ann Reardon video below (scroll below the video for further remarks):

Reardon is an Australian YouTuber who vlogs (vlogging = video blogging) about food science. In the above video, she takes on what is essentially a fake-news video posing as a public-service announcement about different kinds of unsafe food and how to know whether the food you're consuming is unsafe. Reardon carefully shows how the video goes wrong with its unscientific and even self-contradictory methodology. Most of Reardon's video is done in a bland and pleasant style, which is why I perked up in surprise when Reardon suddenly—and quietly—made a clarion call, toward the end of her spiel, for Big Tech firms to take responsibility for the content uploaded to platforms like YouTube.

If you've been following the Big Tech debate, about which I've been blogging quite a lot lately, you know that the Big Tech firms have been walking the razor's edge between being thought of as public utilities, or platforms, or publishers. For our purposes, we can put utilities/platforms on one side of the dichotomy, and publishers on the other side. The Big Tech problem started when online conservatives began to notice inconsistencies in the meting-out of justice regarding unsafe or otherwise untoward content: righties were getting banned, demonetized, and deplatformed far more frequently than lefties. Lefties who threaten to "milkshake people," jihadis who threaten death to the West, etc., were all allowed to remain on Big Tech venues like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, but righties were instantly dealt with and often given severe punishments. Folks in the alt-media then began noting that the left was also being affected by the "algorithms" supposedly being used by Big Tech to hunt down putative Nazis and other bigots: a leftie trying to post about the horrible history of the Nazis would get deplatformed simply for showing a swastika as part of his or her presentation about Nazis. So the net effect of all this repressiveness has been the slow-but-steady killing of free speech online. People on the right have gotten louder and louder, over the past two years, about insisting that Big Tech platforms take a stand and choose an official self-definition: are they simply platforms? Are they public utilities? Are they publishers of content?

The right's contention is this:
• If these venues are merely platforms or public utilities, then there should be no banning of content, however vile, for this is a clear violation of free speech. A white supremacist on an AT&T phone line can say that whites will rule the world, and AT&T (a public utility) won't be blamed for the supremacist's twisted views—as it shouldn't be. Why should AT&T be expected to police all the content crossing through its wires?
• If these venues are publishers, then they become liable for the content they publish and can be sued. If, for example, jihadi terrorists publish content that inspires a mass shooting, then the publisher (Facebook, YouTube, etc.) can be sued for having played a role in the mass shooting (I'm talking about inspiration, not actual incitement, which is already illegal). Because Big Tech firms are currently policing uploaded content (albeit in a left-biased way), they're effectively acting as if they were publishers: they clearly feel some measure of responsibility for the content that's on their sites. If Knopf publishes a modern version of Mein Kampf by a white supremacist from Alabama, then Knopf can be seen as having given the supremacist a pedestal from which to broadcast his twisted views. Knopf can't plead wide-eyed innocence: publishing implies a measure of support.

I'd say that it's in the venues' interest to choose to call themselves platforms, then to cease all repression of rightie content, and to cease using algorithms that repress speech on both the left and the right. But Ms. Reardon, above, quietly makes the argument that these venues should actively take responsibility for their content, i.e., they should think of themselves as publishers. To be honest, I'd be OK with this, too, mainly because it would mean thousands of lawsuits against Big Tech firms for allowing content like the content Ms. Reardon is fighting against. Facebook would be among the first to fall if such lawsuits went forward; YouTube would probably crumble soon after, and so would Twitter. Viewed as an international social experiment, Big Tech platforms have proved to be an utter disaster, creating widespread toxicity in the lives they touch. We introverts probably aren't as affected by all this, but that matters little when society is crumbling around us.

Anyway, I salute Ms. Reardon for taking a principled stance. Her choice isn't my first choice: I'd rather see YouTube, et al., be legally considered total free-speech platforms, but if her way leads to mass lawsuits against Big Tech, I don't have much of a problem with that, either.

allons, enfants de la Patrie....

Happy Bastille Day to la belle France:

"Plus One": one-paragraph review

God help me, I purchased a 2019 rom-com called "Plus One," which stars fellow half-and-half Maya Erskine (she's half-Japanese, half-Caucasian) and Jack Quaid (son of Dennis). The film is written, produced, and directed by Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer. I watched the trailer for this movie and found Erskine's out-there performance funny, and while the actual movie contains plenty of humor, it also sloshes drunkenly toward the serious/sullen end of the tonal spectrum, as many romantic comedies do. The story's premise makes for an utterly predictable setup: Alice and Ben are friends from college. Alice (Erskine plays her as fully Asian, having two Japanese parents) has just broken up with her Asian beau Nate; Ben is chronically single because he's neurotic about relationships in general. Alice and Ben basically go around as a pair, being each other's "plus one" and attending local weddings at which they crack cynical jokes and eat a lot of free food. The movie itself takes a somewhat cynical-yet-fond view of weddings: such ceremonies are expressions of hope for a positive future, but at least half of all marriages are doomed to crash and burn. Most of the movie is devoted to the inevitable: Alice and Ben must come to realize that love is staring them right in the face, and that they're perfect for each other. The boy-gets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-regains-girl formula is followed utterly faithfully, and for me, every moment of this film is predictable, right down to when a scene cuts and shifts to another scene because the comic moment has been played out. Erskine and Quaid are both talented actors, but Erskine's manic-pixie-dream-girl shtick, while generally funny, does start to get annoying after a while, and the resolution feels both abrupt and cheap, along with being easy to anticipate. I'd like to see both of these lead actors in better movies. It's a shame that the screenplay does such a disservice to the stars.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

upon a friend's pergola

Some flowers hanging off the pergola on a friend's property:

Brexit in a nutshell

Comedian Alistair Williams offers what is, to my mind, the best metaphor for Brexit out there:

I thought I had posted this video before, but apparently, I hadn't. So here you go. You're welcome. And if you're wondering about the UK's owing the EU 39 billion pounds, here's TLDR News on the topic (personally, I'd say the UK owes the EU nada):

Keywords: Brexit, comedy, comic, comedian, Great Britain, Burger King, standup, stand-up, Alistair Williams, humor

for all you whiskEy lovers out there

Andrew Rea goes to Kentucky to follow the Bourbon Trail:

It's mostly the Yanks and the Irish who spell "whiskey" with an "e." Pretty much everyone else in the world spells the word "whisky."

Friday, July 12, 2019

excellent Baekdu Daegan travelogue

I was searching for photos of the Baekdu Daegan mountain range when I found this excellent travelogue. I had no idea the South Korean portion of the Baekdu Daegan trail was so long: it's about 465 miles (748 km). The author describes hiking the trail over a period of 50 days, often at a rate of 1.5 miles per hour (2.4 kph) for 8-9 hours per day, sometimes having to hitchhike because sections of the trail were declared off-limits for various reasons, e.g., rain, mudslides, nature-preservation, etc. The text of the travelogue makes for good reading, but the photos are equally compelling. I might do this trail someday. Someday.

seen during a walk

Below is a flower seen during one of my daily constitutional walks while at the office. This one can be found at the back of a beautiful, modern apartment complex that I walk through every weekday. Overall, Seoul isn't very green, but there are green and flowery spaces scattered throughout the city, made all the more precious by their rarity.

found at John Mac's place

The post from which I stole the above image is definitely worth a read. John examines Filipino attitudes toward LGBT folks, noting differences between the relaxed attitude among the hoi polloi and the straitlaced attitudes of both the law and the Church.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

TLDR News on the latest attempt to avoid a hard Brexit

If the UK Parliament is unable to come to some sort of brokered resolution regarding Brexit, then on October 31, the UK will experience a so-called "hard Brexit," i.e., the act of the British exit from the European Union will occur automatically and by default, without any trade arrangements having been made. The economic damage of a hard Brexit will be enormous, possibly even catastrophic, if no measures are put in place to soften the severity of such an amputation. TLDR News, below, explains how a parliamentary vote this past Tuesday might keep a prorogation (i.e., a pause in parliamentary actions and decisions) from happening. It's very likely that Boris Johnson will be the next UK prime minister, and everyone is predicting that Johnson will insist on proroguing Parliament until past the October 31 hard-Brexit deadline, thus ensuring a hard Brexit. Johnson's strategy is something of a "let the disaster happen, then clean it all up later" action: use your battleaxe to cut off the patient's arm, then cauterize the wound before too much blood is lost. Anesthesia is for pussies.

While I think that Johnson (or whoever) needs to work quickly to establish deeper trading ties with the US, Eastern Europe, et al., well before October 31, I'm basically for a hard Brexit. It's going to be hell on the British people, and it's going to mean years of economic hardship while the country builds itself back up, but the long-term results will be worth it: Britain will no longer be a slave to the EU; it'll enjoy full sovereignty and the return of its ancient dignity, and once the UK gains the ability to broker trade deals on its own terms, unmindful of over-restrictive EU regulations, the country will right itself economically. I might be a very old man by the time that happens, but I'll smile and hoist a glass to Old Blighty on the day I get the news that the United Kingdom is officially in the clear.

The unfortunately named MP Dominic Grieve, mentioned in the above video, is doing his damnedest to keep a no-deal Brexit from happening. I think he's standing in the way of history. Grieve, for his part, apparently views the coming prorogation as a violation of democracy, which is something of a joke to me, now that I'm beginning to understand a bit more about how the UK Parliament is run (i.e., not very democratically). We'll see how all this plays out over the coming months. October 31 is no longer very far away.

funny-but-sad meme seen on Gab

As Sting sang, "I'm laughing through my tears."

me smaht maybe

I just took an informal IQ test as kind-of part of the R&D I'm doing for a workshop aimed at teaching kids "habits for success." It's a gimmicky, corny, time-wasting workshop, but the management wants us to design it, anyway. I was looking into personality surveys and job-aptitude surveys when I ended up at, which offers a variety of simple and long-form tests for all manner of human potentialities: job aptitude, intelligence, personality, etc. I got distracted by the IQ tests on offer, and I took the "culture fair" version of the test—you know the one: "what figure logically comes next in the series?"

Take the culture-fair test here.

My results, which roughly corresponded to my having scored a 144 when I took an IQ test as an elementary schooler (my parents apparently weren't supposed to divulge my results to me, but I'm pretty sure my Korean mom couldn't keep the news to herself), are shown below:

Just goes to show that having a high-ish IQ doesn't mean much in life. Heh. Also keep in mind that, as the above graphic says, an eight-question quiz isn't a very accurate indicator of your IQ. I'm pretty sure that all of my blog readers will score as highly as I did, if not higher.

ADDENDUM: my results from taking the "classical" IQ test (also a short version):

Unlike the other test, this one was timed, and I went slowly. Try the test, and if you get 10/10 faster than I did, it could be that your IQ "floor" will be higher than the 125 noted above. (NB: I just went and did the quiz again, responding as fast as I could, now that I know the answers. Although I rushed through the test and got 10/10 again, the IQ "floor" didn't change.)

Ave, Lorianne!

In writing about a book she's reading on the friendship between RW Emerson and HD Thoreau, Lorianne says the following:

The problem with writerly friendships–especially friendships between two journal-keepers–is that writers are very good at talking to themselves. Isn’t a journal entry nothing more than a letter to an anonymous audience that is never sent? When you are accustomed to pouring your heart on paper for an audience of none, it’s easy to think–erroneously and egotistically–that anyone willing to receive and read such correspondence actually understands and empathizes with you.

I know this isn't Lorianne's point, but the above words get to the heart of the narcissism of blogging. My friend Dr. Steve used to say that he felt presumptuous, as a writer, thinking he actually had something worthwhile to say to the world. Who are we, after all, to think so highly of ourselves? What makes us think we have something of significance to say?

But while these thoughts give me pause, I can't say I'll stop writing anytime soon. The other half of the problem is that writing is, for those of us who love doing it, a compulsion. Or perhaps, instead of saying we feel compelled to write, it's more proper to say we feel impelled. The urge comes from within, not from without. Birds gotta sing, flowers gotta petal, and writers—both famous and unknown—gotta write.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Teespring sends me my tee shirt

And here is my tee shirt, designed and being sold over at my Teespring shop:

Opened at the office, straight out of the plastic mail pack:

Spread out at home (it's 4XL, so yeah, it's big):

If I wear the shirt to the office, at least one of my coworkers will be too embarrassed to accompany me on our daily walks. Ha ha! This same coworker, who is fairly humorless (when he laughs, it's always at the wrong thing), called me and my tee "passive-aggressive," but I'm fairly sure he doesn't understand what that term means. I'd say the shirt is a pretty active gesture, personally. I did contemplate making the shirt more overtly angry in tone by adding a phrase like "In this country, ..." at the beginning, or slapping on an angry emoticon, but in the end, I decided to stick to the central message. Besides, if Koreans are walking on the left when they're walking toward me, they've already decided to ignore the ubiquitous "walk on the right side" rule, so I doubt my shirt would shame them or otherwise motivate them to move out of my way. During a three-hour walk on Tuesday night, I quietly observed what people on the wrong side of the bike path did as they approached me (NB: I didn't have my tee shirt on then). All of them veered away from me, and I didn't have to budge once. Maybe it was an especially nice crop of people that night. Upshot: the shirt's message is only for a small cluster of assholes; the majority of Koreans are fine.

Irwon District Cathedral... or Irwon Gay Hall?

a roundup of news links

Journalist Tommy Robinson, loudly critical of Islam in Britain, is appealing directly to Donald Trump for asylum as the speech-repressive UK threatens to jail him again. (h/t Bill Keezer)

More here:

A majority of Hispanic voters approve of having a citizenship question on the US Census.

Here's what happens when you ditch plastic straws for metal ones.

Ululate! It's that simple: Ross Perot is dead at 89. The thing I remember most about Ross Perot is how angry he got when Al Gore handed him his ass during a televised debate. Gore had calmly called Perot out on the latter's hypocrisy regarding NAFTA.

It's only one poll, but it's highlighted at the very left-leaning Time Magazine: Obama Worst President Since WW2.
The Quinnipiac poll out Wednesday found that 33% of Americans see Obama as the worst post-war president, while just 8% consider him the best. Another 28% see former President George W. Bush as the worst. Richard Nixon, the only American President ever to resign in disgrace, was picked the worst by 13%, according to the poll.

And 45% of Americans think the U.S. would [have been] better off if Mitt Romney had been elected President in 2012, according to the poll, while 38% think the country would [have been] worse off.

Article: "Seven Facts About Obama’s Immigration Record Liberals Refuse to Admit"

A billion dollars' worth of cocaine got intercepted in Pennsylvania. Biggest haul ever.

bottle-cap challenge redux

From the esteemed Ozzy Man:

Watch the dude open three bottles at once.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

why "Voldemort" sounds familiar

During a brief in-office reverie (one of many such reveries, to be sure), I thought back to a stupid character I had created for an old Superforce comic I had written and drawn back in the late 1980s. The character was nothing more than a cynical plot device, created before I even knew the phrase "cynical plot device." His sole purpose was to revive characters that had been killed off in previous installments of my poorly drawn and written story. He dressed in a brown Jedi-ish cloak like Obi-wan Kenobi, so of course his first name was Alec, as in Alec Guinness. His last name, denoting his ability to resurrect dead people, was Levdemor, taken from the French for "lift/raise from death." (I know more French now than I did back then, so I know a more proper way to express the concept of "raise the dead" would be verbs like réanimer or ressusciter. In fantasy settings, the French term is réanimation morbide.)

I had forgotten about this character by the time I began reading JK Rowling's Harry Potter series in the early 2000s, but for some reason, her Voldemort ("fly/flee from death") sounded familiar to me. Maybe I should sue for telepathic theft.

Lindsay Ellis takes on the Hobbit movies

One of my coworkers made me aware of Lindsay Ellis, YouTube-based film critic, writer, and, from what I gather, aspiring filmmaker. My coworker, who has an English degree, initially said that Ellis tends to do her criticism from a critical-theory perspective, which made me dislike her immediately. But after actually watching her takedown of "Game of Thrones," in which she uttered not a single postmodernist buzzword, I decided that Ms. Ellis was intelligent, intelligible, and witty enough to be fun to listen to. When I told my coworker that I had watched some Ellis and ended up liking her, he suggested I watch her three-part video series on Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy. I've seen two of the three parts thus far; I'm slapping all three parts up on the blog for those of you who have time to watch. Ellis makes many of the same points made by the Canuck over at Just Write, but her perspective is interesting and complex. She of course throws some feminism in,* but she doesn't beat you over the head with it, and the things she has to say about women in fantasy, and about the manufactured character of Tauriel in particular, are all reasonable points that I agree with. Lindsay kind of reminds me of a plump Janeane Garofalo. Maybe it's the glasses.

Part 1 of 2

Part 2 of 2

Part 3 of 2 [sic]

ADDENDUM: I've watched the third video, now, and it quickly degenerates into an anti-capitalist diatribe about how large studio-corporations fuck over the little guy—in this case: noble, hard-working actors and crew who only want to be paid according to the same labor standards found in the US and the UK. I'm sympathetic to the actors and crew because I'm fairly anti-corporatist myself, but I part ways with Ellis on the question of whether this sort of corporate fuckery justifies a broad indictment of capitalism as a whole. Ellis is always welcome to put her money where her mouth is and move to a country that utterly rejects capitalism, like Venezuela, but I'm pretty sure she won't because of all the benefits that come with capitalism—benefits to which she's unwilling to give any air time. Ellis is free to be as biased as she wants in her videos, but I'm free to call her out on her bullshit.

*Because if you're not white and male, it will forever be impossible for you to see past your own aggrieved demographic. African-American studies classes are taken mostly by African Americans who end up seeing the world only through a narrowly African-American perspective; women's and feminist studies classes are taken mostly by women who end up seeing the world only through a narrowly feminine perspective, etc. Academe encourages balkanized echo chambers defined by identity politics, and postmodernism won't let us recognize a trite notion like common humanity because it's all about how Whitey uses various "power structures" to keep Non-whitey down. The one-world/one-race liberalism of John Lennon has been raped to death by PoMo academe. Behold the new liberalism.

Monday, July 08, 2019

"Game of Thrones": two-paragraph series review

You know, I thought I was going to write a massive post about "Game of Thrones," but after having watched literally hours of YouTube commentary on the matter, I've come to realize that I have nothing to say that hasn't already been said about a series that, for at least four seasons, seemed to show such promise, only to screw the pooch in the latter half of its run. Season 8, in particular, is a golden example of the power of lazy writing to make or break a series. As I've written before, a performance's most memorable moments also tend to be its final moments, so if the performers fail to stick the landing, this failure works retroactively to put the entire performance, from auspicious beginning to ignoble end, in a bad light. A cellist who breaks a string during the final measure of his piece will be remembered only for that, and not for the beauty that came before. Sad but true, for such is human nature. If you fail to stick the landing, you're fucked. And "Game of Thrones" snapped both tibiae and both fibulae.

I come away from the horror of Season 8 thinking only one thing: I never again want to hear the phrase "subvert expectations." Defenders and accusers of showrunners/writers David Benioff and DB Weiss both used that odious phrase when describing what the writers were trying to do, to wit: give us a show that subverted our expectations, keeping things shocking and unpredictable even if that meant sacrificing plot and character development. We've heard this garbage before: people were talking about it when "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" came out as a way of explaining what director Rian Johnson was aiming for as he casually deconstructed George Lucas's universe. The phrase (and the mentality it describes) wasn't pleasant then, and it isn't pleasant now. How about telling a decent, logical story instead of constantly trying to outflank your viewers? Season 8, whose lack of care resulted in Starbucks cups on trestle tables and plastic water bottles poorly hidden behind a leg of Samwell Tarly's chair in the final episode, is the huge, steaming turd callously dropped on the collective head of "Game of Thrones" fans who had hoped for—and who deserved—so much better.

Ave, Mike!

My buddy Mike went nuts and blogged up a storm a few weeks after his 50th birthday this past June 15.

His blow-by-blow of a colonoscopy is here. (My turn is coming, alas.)

His list of the Top Five Founders of the country is here.

His "Happy Fourth!" post (complete with bikini-clad chickadees) is here.

That last post quotes the Declaration of Independence. Of interest to me was this part:

[King George III] has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy of the Head of a civilized nation.

One complaint about 2000's "The Patriot," starring Mel Gibson, was the supposed inaccuracy of portraying British troops as barbaric. (The movie features a scene in which innocent colonists are burned alive inside a church.) But the above words of Thomas Jefferson would seem to indicate that British barbarity was indeed the order of the day. True: the above-quoted passage mentions "foreign mercenaries," but note that Jefferson writes those mercenaries are coming to "compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny." In other words: works already started by the British themselves. So was Jefferson exaggerating matters to incite revolutionary ardor, or were his words a true reflection of British depredations of the era?

Mike? You're the history buff, here. What say you?

"Spider-Man: Far from Home": review

[NB: some spoilers.]

Ryan George's cheerful, satirical takedown of "Spider-Man: Far From Home" (watch it here) describes the movie as "a thin mint after a big meal." "Far from Home" is supposed to be the actual end of Marvel Studios' "Phase III" of its multi-movie narrative. Phase IV will showcase some of the heroes we're familiar with, but it will also go in a much more cosmic direction, telling the stories of the great and ancient beings who populate Marvel's colossal comic-book universe. I doubt Phase IV is going to interest me very much, so my journey with Marvel's Cinematic Universe (a.k.a. the MCU) may soon be coming to an end. For whatever reason, Marvel chose not to end Phase III with "Avengers: Endgame," which places a huge burden on "Far from Home," a movie that is the equivalent of the pooper-scooper clown with the snow shovel to pick up horseshit during a parade. Or a thin mint after a big meal. "Endgame" was a tough act to follow, but "Spider-Man" somehow had to follow it.

Be that as it may, "Far from Home" performs its duty adequately, being a worthy summer tentpole film. Most of the cast from "Spider-Man: Homecoming" is back, as is director Jon Watts. New to the cast is Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio, an enigmatic hero who claims to be from an alternate Earth that has been destroyed by monsters called elementals. Mysterio has ended up on "our" Earth, also known as "Earth-616" (per the comic-book designation).

Spider-Man (Tom Holland) has returned to the land of the living after Thanos's "Blip" was undone by the Hulk and Iron Man in "Endgame." The disaster is known worldwide as "The Blip" because few people know that the actual triggering event was a snap of Thanos's fingers while he was wearing the Infinity Gauntlet. People restored to life after five years of being missing now find themselves in the awkward position of not having aged while those around them, the ones who survived the mass genocide, have not only aged but have also moved on with their lives. "Far from Home" only hints at the awkwardness and potential horror that a mass resurrection of the dead might cause, largely playing the return of all these dead people for laughs. The upshot for Peter Parker and his friends Ned (Jacob Batalon) and MJ (Zendaya) is that they're still sophomores, and the crushing reality of high school still weighs upon them. Luckily, Peter & Co. are part of a tour group headed for Europe, and Peter is hoping simply to take a break from his stressful life as a superhero and spend time with his friends. Peter has growing feelings for MJ, however, and one obstacle in his path to romantic bliss is Chinese-American classmate Brad Davis (Remy Hii), who used to be a scrawny runt, but who has spent his five years in puberty overdrive, having become a smoldering, muscular chick-magnet in the interim—but also a bit of a dick. Brad has set his sights on MJ as well.

Peter's liaison with the Avengers, security head Happy Hogan (the always-welcome Jon Favreau, who has directed several MCU films), seems to have begun some sort of relationship with Peter's Aunt May (Marisa Tomei). Hogan has also been trying to warn Peter to expect an important call from head of SHIELD Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), but Peter keeps sending Fury to voicemail. Aunt May tosses a banana at Peter's head while he's prepping for Europe, and he's so distracted that his spider sense fails to alert him to the banana. This foreshadows a problem Peter will have fairly soon in the story (Aunt May embarrassingly refers to the spider sense as "the Peter tingle"); it also serves as a callback to Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man 2," in which Peter Parker loses some of his superpowers when he suffers from crippling self-doubt.

The students head off to Europe (with Aunt May packing Peter's StarkTech Spidey suit in his suitcase at the last minute). In Venice, a giant water elemental rises out of the canals and begins wrecking buildings and attacking people. Mysterio (Gyllenhaal) suddenly appears, resplendent in his Thor-like armor and blasting magical energy out of his hands like Dr. Strange. Peter hollers to Mysterio that he can help out, and the two work as a team to defeat the elemental. Nick Fury, frustrated at Peter's refusal to answer his calls, meets Peter in Peter's Venice hotel room, and the two head to an underground hideout where they meet Mysterio and Fury's assistant Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders). Mysterio explains he's from an alternate Earth, and that the elementals that destroyed his world have now come to this universe to wreak the same havoc. Peter, having just lost mentor and father-figure Tony Stark, latches on to Mysterio—real name Quentin Beck—as a sort of big brother. As Beck and Peter work together to take down a fire elemental, their bond seems to grow, and the friendship reaches a point where Peter gives Beck a pair of StarkTech glasses that Tony Stark had bequeathed to Peter.

What happens next might constitute a huge spoiler, but because comic-book readers all know that Mysterio is one of the better-known Spidey villains, it's really no spoiler to say that Mysterio's objective, this entire time, has been to obtain those StarkTech glasses, which give the wearer full access to Tony Stark's entire stockpile of StarkTech weaponry. Beck, as it turns out, is a disgruntled ex-employee of StarkTech, a special-effects wizard who got fired when it became clear he was too mentally unstable to continue working for Tony Stark. Beck was the man behind the BARF (binary augmented retro-framing) technology that appeared in "Captain America: Civil War"—the tech that allowed Stark to replay his past memories as an externalized holographic projection for a whole audience to see. Peter, with help from MJ, discovers that Beck is a fraud: he's not from an alternate Earth, and these elementals are little more than holographic illusions that can create real damage through swarm-capable, weaponized StarkTech drones. Beck, the unhinged illusionist, wants to be recognized as a hero while bamboozling the world.

The rest of the movie is about how Peter tries to keep his friends, teachers, and classmates out of danger while wrestling with multiple desires and obligations: his romantic feelings for MJ, his need to defeat Mysterio, and his efforts at finding the balance between being a superhero and being a normal teen—all while preserving his secret identity so that none of his loved ones can ever be in danger.

Jon Watts still has a lot to learn about directing fight scenes; he doesn't seem to have evolved much from the previous "Spider-Man" movie, which means the fights against the elementals tend to showcase a great deal of confusingly swooping camera work punctuated by gusts, flares, eddies, and explosions. This is especially true of the action sequence in Prague. Watts is much better with character-related elements: "Spider-Man: Far from Home" works well as a typical 1980s-era high-school comedy. The movie is well paced and well scripted, with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments (as usual, I was often the only one laughing in a theater packed with Koreans who had to rely on dodgy subtitles to get what was going on). The budding romance between Peter and MJ is cute and wholesome and refreshingly un-cynical—the polar opposite of a movie like 1995's "Kids."

As a villain, Mysterio is something of a mixed bag. Being a disgruntled StarkTech employee puts him in the same league as many of the human villains in the MCU: Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) from 2008's "Iron Man," Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) from "Spider-Man: Homecoming," the Vanko family in "Iron Man 2," etc. Mysterio also continues the MCU tradition of making Tony Stark the cause of everyone's troubles: Mysterio's holography is his own design, but the swarming murder-drones are all StarkTech. I didn't find Mysterio as compelling of a villain as Adrian Toomes had been, but at the same time, the way in which Mysterio ended up fighting Spider-Man was very much in the spirit of the comic books: Mysterio's gift is the ability to make a person doubt reality. Peter is only able to combat the assaults of Mysterio's illusions by digging deep within himself and rediscovering his... Peter tingle. Whereas the fight scenes involving the elementals were filmed in a sloppy and confusing manner, the almost metaphysical fight scenes involving Mysterio were among the best moments in the movie.

Unfortunately—as Ryan George notes in his satirical skewering—the most memorable parts of "Spider-Man: Far from Home" come during the mid-credits and post-credits scenes. The mid-credits scene presents Spider-Man with his greatest challenge yet while also heralding the return of a much-beloved character from the Sam Raimi era, and the post-credits scene makes you rethink everything you just saw in the main part of the film while also providing a tie-in with the recent "Captain Marvel."

All in all, "Spider-Man: Far from Home" does what it sets out to do: it entertains you without being all that memorable. In spirit, the movie has much in common with an episode of "Scooby Doo," in which the villain always turns out not to be supernatural. Quentin Beck's rather pedestrian motivations put him in the same silly, frustrated camp as Syndrome from "The Incredibles"—a villain who wants to seem a hero. But because Beck is an illusionist, and because the movie provides sly hints that things are not what they seem, Beck's ultimate fate may be in doubt, and this has been confirmed by the online commentary over whether Mysterio is, by the end of the movie, truly gone. So let's give "Far from Home" credit for being savvier than it first appears, even though, in the end, it's light entertainment at best.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

right-wing pussification

How long can the right take the verbal and physical abuse it constantly receives from the left? How long until an armed rightie snaps, pulls out a gun, and starts drilling holes in leftie foreheads? The left loves to project: it loves to talk about how "violent" the right is, yet most of the incidents of right/left violence are initiated by the left. Finding articles and stats to support the evidence of one's eyes is actually difficult: Google searches on the topic are slanted to show that it's the right (more precisely, the "far right" or the "alt-right") that is violent and dangerous. But it's not the right that's burning down parts of Berkeley campus, nor is it the right that's attacking journalists like Andy Ngo with "milkshakes" made from concrete powder.

Maybe it just sags like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?

Here's a rightie who thinks his fellow righties have turned into pussies who passively take abuse. "I'm sick and tired ... [of seeing] a Trump supporter gettin' their ass kicked," he says.

His solution: I'm armed, so bring it! I agree with the basic idea that, if you're assaulted, you have a Second Amendment right to defend yourself, but I know that shooting someone in the head for assaulting you with a concrete-powder milkshake is more likely to land you in jail than to land any assailants in jail. Your act will be viewed as a disproportionate response. Shooting a few cowardly, attack-from-behind Antifa bastards might feel satisfying while you're doing it, but in the end, it's you who will be going down, and the news will make your assailants out to be saintly martyrs—victims, not victimizers. So what's the answer?

ADDENDUM: The Left Escalates Violence as Antifa Arms Themselves

Masked Antifa Terrorists Get Tossed to the Ground as They Try to Push Past Police Line Near White House (h/t Bill Keezer)

my suspiciously low electric bill

As you know, I don't pay rent for my apartment: I pay an "admin fee" that varies according to how much electricity I use. (My company pays the actual rent.) During the spring and fall, when I don't use either A/C or heat, my bill is at its lowest, which is around W160,000. In the winter, when I'm using the ondol (heated floor) function, my bill can shoot up to over W300,000, which is still cheaper than the regular cost of rent in Seoul.

I've been blasting my air conditioner for at least a month, and since electricity is normally expensive where I live, I was sure that last month's bill (i.e, the one due in June) was going to hurt. That bill turned out to be a very low W170,000-something. So, I thought, if not last month, then THIS month's bill is when the reckoning will happen.

This month's bill arrived, and... only W189,000.

While this came as a relief, I'm still suspicious that I'm somehow racking up a tab that's going to come due sometime this summer. Maybe financial karma will catch up with me, and my August bill will top W200,000. Who knows? We'll see.

here's an idea

What if, instead of training way down to Yeosu on the 19th and staying two nights, I save money by doing a long, nighttime walk right here? I've been curious about walking the Tancheon ("Coal Creek," as Charles suggested calling it) path down to Bundang—a trip of about 22,000 steps. Doing a round trip would therefore be like doing a day's worth of walking toward either Incheon or Yangpyeong. I could start right after work on Friday night and be back at my place Saturday morning after the announced 6 a.m. end of the planned blackout. Wouldn't have to endure the burning summer sun at all, and the total cost for such a jaunt would be a couple of bucks—the price for two or three liters of bottled water.

ADDENDUM: if the weekend of the 19th turns out to be rainy, I'll either test out my new poncho or bite the financial bullet and train down to Yeosu. Or something travel-y like that.

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Rambo... one last time?

The preview trailer for "Rambo: Last Blood" (yerp—that's the title) is out:

So the big question has to be whether Rambo dies at the end of this movie. (The character actually died in the 1972 novel First Blood by David Morrell.) In the trailer, we see a quick scene of Rambo with a wound in the shoulder and another in the gut. Both appear to be through-and-through bullet wounds, so maybe the old soldier pulls a Walter White and dies after he puts all his enemies down, or maybe he calls 911 when the shootings, stabbings, amputations, and eviscerations all stop. I'm thinking, though, that Rambo might survive and walk into the Arizona sunset (2008's "Rambo" had him coming home to the Rambo ranch in Arizona), maybe to live a Bear Grylls-style life of eating lizards and wrestling with mountain lions. After setting all his horses free and selling his war-zone of a ranch, of course.

I sincerely hope this is the final Rambo film. Stallone is in his seventies, for God's sakes. Back in 2008, I thought it was odd that Rambo still had completely black hair despite looking ancient. This new iteration of Rambo seems, at least, to look his age. Given that the film was made by "Balboa Productions," I assume it's no coincidence that Rambo now looks like Rocky. (I'm fervently hoping that "Creed II" is the final Rocky film as well.) Now that Stallone's two most iconic roles have seemingly fused into one, let this be the end of it: one final, silly film in a series of silly films. And God help me, I know I'll be seeing this new one either in the theaters or on home video. What if it ends up being a better capstone than "The Rise of Skywalker"?

very hot, and yet...

The woman dancing in the one-minute clip below is pretty damn hot, at least by my standards. My problem, though, is that her face and hair strongly remind me of a very unpleasant coworker from some time ago. So there are equal parts attraction and repulsion for me while I'm watching this sexy dance, which puts me in a weird place. Anyway, you don't have the same ugly history that I do, so... enjoy the grace, poise, and lovely curves.

Friday, July 05, 2019

guess I'm going on a weekend vacation

I got this A4-paper memo the other day:

If I'm reading this right, there's going to be a planned blackout from July 19 (Friday) to July 20 (Saturday), starting at 11:50 p.m. and going to about 6 a.m. The reason for the blackout is to deal with old electrical equipment. The flyer cautions us to turn off our computers ten minutes before the blackout begins. Another caveat is that, depending on how things go during the inspection/repair, the length of the blackout may vary. Also: only some elevators will be operating during that time.

So I'm thinking that the weekend of Friday, July 19, might be a good time to get on a bus or a train and just head the fuck out somewhere, just to avoid all this hassle. My first thought was to hit some coastal area, but Koreans—who move in hordes—will be out in force now that it's summer. Many beaches will be crowded. I might still go to Yeosu, a south-coast town I like (and one that's not known for beaches), or I might hit some of the places I stayed during my 2017 hike across the country. The Libertar Pension was very nice, although not cheap. I'll reread my walk blog and see what I can come up with. One way or another, though, I do believe I'm going to be away that weekend. I hope the electricians don't burn the apartment building down in my absence.

the Babylon Bee on YouTube radicalization

We've discussed and debunked the myth that YouTube is a cesspit of rightie radicalization. As Tim Pool has repeatedly pointed out: if anything, it's the other way around—people tend to radicalize leftward on YouTube. But here's the satirical Babylon Bee's take on what's going on: actual civil conversations!

MARTINSBURG, WV—Garrett Strauman was a normal, all-American ideologue. He had deep animosity for political opponents, outrageous bumper stickers, typed long, profanity-laden comments on the Facebook posts of his enemies, doxxed teenagers, and walked in lock-step with his own party's views without ever having considered the views of those he despised. Things couldn't be better. But one day, like the proverbial "RKO out of nowhere," Strauman's life took a shocking turn. "I started watching videos of people having constructive conversations on a wide range of topics. That's when it all went south."

Garrett slipped on a virtual banana peel and fell down the YouTube rabbit hole—a tunnel-like vortex in which a hellish cornucopia of videos brainwash viewers with people having lengthy, productive conversations on a wide range of topics. These "civil discussions" are deviously formed propaganda to trick the youth and rob them of their ignorance.

"I used to hate gay people," Strauman said with a tear in his eye. "Then I started watching Dave Rubin. My whole identity is in tatters."

Enjoy the rest on your own.

liberals: don't cherry-pick your Frederick Douglass quotes

I've seen a lot of Frederick Douglass going around on the liberal side of cyberspace, as a let's-dump-on-America response to the Fourth of July—most of it coming from an 1852 speech by Douglass titled "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July." I love Frederick Douglass, but the liberals who have been quoting him have done so quite out of context, cherry-picking the great man's words in a duplicitous effort to make a point that Douglass himself was not making., a rightie site that I don't normally take all that seriously because of its constant snark, somehow managed to round up both Colin Kaepernick's selective quoting of Douglass and two cogent responses to Kaepernick by Senator Ted Cruz and National Review editor Charles CW Cooke. The Twitchy article is here, but I'm slapping Kaepernick's decontextualized nonsense, plus Cruz and Cooke's responses, right here on the blog.

You can see that Kaepernick's likes and retweets far outnumber those of Cruz and Cooke, which is evidence of how many stupid, emotional people out there are quite willing to accept the out-of-context quote from Douglass and not to do any further homework. Mentally lazy, is all I can say. Anger and stupidity are a toxic combination.

a July 4th message from Milo Yiannopoulos

I forgot that I had signed up for gay British provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos's newsletter which, up to now, had never come to my electronic doorstep. Then suddenly, this very night (it's 2:05 a.m. on July 5 here in Seoul as I write this), I received an email from the Fabulous One himself—and wonder of wonders, it was a sincere love letter to America and not another self-indulgent screed in which Milo talked only about Milo.

Here's the text:

Two hundred and forty-three years ago, your forefathers picked a fight with my king.

We nipped across the ocean and set up camp in Boston to remind you scrappy Colonists who rules the world and to whom you should bow. To this day, I still enjoy seeing fighting-age American men on their knees in front of me.

But, despite our superior European grasp of style, finely tailored red coats and elegant manners, your troops surrounded my General Cornwallis at Yorktown and he had no choice but to accept defeat and lay down arms to General Washington.

Great Britain has never been the same.

We had so much potential! To this day, Brits could be partying like Saudi princes in London on the backs of your labor and the wealth it could have brought to the Empire.

But your forefathers chose not to be slaves to kings.

Instead, you chose to fight.

It was a humbling lesson to England, but one we still have not fully grasped.

That’s why, as a British-born man, I proudly stand on this Fourth of July... on American soil. I’ve voted with my feet and realized that, despite your horrendous impertinence, this is the greatest nation in the history of human civilization.

And I am honored to enjoy the privilege and prosperity it has brought me.

Since our defeat in 1781, Brits chose to endure rather than truly fight.

Today, we endure a Muslim invasion that will leave my island nation a shadow of its former self. Brits walk the streets today oblivious to their culture crumbling around them—or cognizant of it and terrified.

Britain’s national dish used to be a curry named chicken tikka masala. These days it’s the severed head of the Infidel.

But Americans fight. And that’s why I’m here, standing beside you.

Happy Fourth of July, my American friends.

Be proud of your past.

Be proud of your future.

And most importantly, never abandon the fighting spirit that has granted you freedom from tyranny.



I'd be happy and proud to have Milo among us as a fellow citizen. He should take the leap.

almost slipped my mind

July 4th is, among other things, this blog's birthday. I started BigHominid's Hairy Chasms in 2003, so we've reached the Sweet Sixteen. I'm just hoping my blog doesn't get drunk and deflowered in the back seat of some other, older blog's car.

Happy Birfday, bloggo.

Thursday, July 04, 2019

and on a cheerier note: Happy Birthday, America!

Brought to you by Black Rifle Coffee Company:

And if that's not obnoxious enough for you, how about a Vulcan cannon mounted on a Prius?

Happy Fourth, Colin!

Betsy Ross was born into a Quaker family. She didn't own slaves, and neither did her family: Quakers were among the first abolitionists. Colin Kaepernick's complaint that the so-called "Betsy Ross flag" is closely associated with slavery comes from... where, exactly? His ass? He certainly doesn't have the brains to have come up with that notion on his own.*

Anyway, whatever. Uncle Colin, thanks to freedom of speech, is at liberty to say whatever he wants, however off-the-wall it might be. But as folks on Instapundit have loudly pointed out, President Obama had the Betsy Ross flag on full display during his inauguration (like many presidents before him), so it's all a bunch of bloviating hypocrisy, anyway:

Good lord, that Obama—what a pro-slavery racist.

Happy Fourth, folks. Stop clutching your pearls and enjoy the freedoms you have, for as long as the authoritarian left isn't in power. Here's Tim Pool on the left's authoritarian insanity:

And the left keeps projecting its authoritarianism onto the right. It's a sad thing to watch.

ADDENDUM: some smartass is bound to ask, "But what about Trump wanting tanks in the July 4th parade? Isn't that a sign he's a dictator?" Apparently, Trump wasn't inspired by China, North Korea, or the Soviet Union: he was inspired by France under Emmanuel Macron. Personally, I find the addition of tanks distasteful, not to mention a confirmation of Trump's love for all things tacky. But at least I know he's not putting tanks in the parade as a threat against the American people or as a threat against the rest of the world. Only a fearful, cowering moron would read his gesture that way. Here's Jon Miller, making the same point:

I mean, think about it: if Trump were literally Hitler, as the left keeps claiming, the left would in reality be terrified of him because he'd be scooping them up by the dozens and hundreds and shipping them off to a concentration camp in Death Valley. If Trump were truly an iron-fisted authoritarian, he wouldn't allow the left to hurl the volume of brickbats it's been hurling at him for three years. If Trump were truly dictatorial, he'd have had the Ninth Circuit Court put up against a wall and shot by now, along with Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Rashida Tlaib. But guess what: all those idiots are still alive and still screaming at the tops of their lungs... precisely because Trump isn't the tyrant they've made him out to be. But because certain elements on the left (Tim Pool and his saner ilk excepted) have no idea how to think empirically and logically, they shout whatever monkey-thoughts come into their tiny little brains, relying on feeling instead of reason to express themselves. Maybe I sound arrogant and elitist in saying all this. If so, consider it a small measure of payback for the lofty disdain and overweening sanctimony the left has consistently shown toward half the country.

*According to Wikipedia, there's plenty of debate over whether the Betsy Ross flag is truly a Betsy Ross flag, as others were involved in its design. It could be that the only contribution Ross made to the flag's design was to suggest five-pointed stars instead of six-pointed stars because the former proved easier to make and sew onto the blue canton.

seen on Gab


crazy man runs 90 miles around Beltway

My friend John McCrarey sent me a link to an article about a man, Michael Wardian, who ran 89.9 miles around the Capital Beltway that encircles Washington, DC, passing through southern Maryland and northern Virginia. The term "Beltway" often serves as a synecdoche for DC politics, and the road system is infamously gridlocked during rush hour, perhaps adding heft and cynical humor to associated political metaphors. Wardian has spent his share of time sitting in stalled traffic, so the thought came to him that he could literally run circles (well, a circle) around everyone on that stretch of road.

The Beltway is only 64 miles long, but Wardian's path, which looks jagged on a map (see this article here; the above-linked WaPo article is hiding behind a paywall), and which didn't literally stick to every inch of the Beltway, was over 35 miles longer.

Hats off to a crazy guy who ran a huge distance at the hottest time of year.

Better him than me!

mouths for eyes, mouth-eyes, eye-mouths...

Call them mouth-eyes, eye-mouths, mouths for eyes, or whatever, but these are—when they're done well—among my favorite animated GIFs on the internet. Some people I know find them too creepy to stare at. Me, I love them.

Here's Michael Fassbender from "X-Men: First Class" (reviewed here), during the scene in which he telekinetically moves a giant radar dish:

Here's everyone's favorite president, showing his true talky colors:

The "Khaaaaaaaaaaaaan!!" moment from "Star Trek II," enhanced:

And my favorite of all of these, which I blogged here a long time ago—just a young woman doing her young-woman thing:

Keywords: mouths, eyes, tongues, mouth-eyes, eye-mouths, mouth for eyes, animated GIF

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

bottle-cap challenge times ten

I belatedly noticed, after writing my previous post on the bottle-cap challenge, that people have interpreted the challenge in different ways. Not everyone is lightly brushing their feet past the bottle cap to make it spin: many people are simply knocking the upside-down cap off the bottle, which is, I think, a slightly easier version of the challenge.

AOC the liar

If the truth isn't on your side, well, I guess you gotta lie. Jon Miller and Tim Pool are on the case of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who reveals her true colors as a lying piece of garbage:

ADDENDUM: More here about AOC's lying.

do NOT watch this at the office

Black Rifle Coffee is a coffee company that is owned and run by US veterans. These guys have several channels on YouTube, including MBest11x, where the "MBest" refers to Mat Best, who seems to be Black Rifle Coffee's CEO or front man* (more here and here). Mr. Best also happens to be married to a smoking-hot wife who features in many of his channel's shamelessly rightie, pro-Second-Amendment comedy videos. Here is Mr. Best's attempt at writing a love song for his missus:

Trivia: Styxhexenhammer666 recently received a free package of coffee from the boys at Black Rifle, and now he claims to have become a morning person thanks to all the caffeine.

*Best is the company's executive VP.

I had never heard of "the bottle-cap challenge"

Trust Ozzy Man to keep you up to date on the latest trends. The so-called "bottle-cap challenge" involves doing a back spin kick* such that your foot barely brushes a loosened bottle cap that's still on the bottle. The cap spins rapidly from the light contact and, thanks to its ferocious angular momentum, pops off the bottle. This apparently must be filmed in slow motion for both dramatic effect and street cred.

Singer John Mayer's kick looks rather sloppy. Stick to singing, J.

*Joe Rogan, in that kicking video I linked to a while back, notes there's a difference between a spinning kick and a turning kick. The difference is that a spinning kick is more balletic, and the leg's motion starts early as the body rotates around its vertical axis. The kicking foot seems almost to be describing a planetary orbit, sweeping out a Keplerian arc thanks to a straight leg. For a turning kick, by contrast, your body rotates while your leg does very little, and once your body is in position, your tucked-in leg suddenly pistons out, rather than doing a sweeping motion, and your kick will take the form of a fairly standard taekwondo-style side kick. (Rogan demonstrates both kicks in the above-linked vid.) The force of a turning kick comes from the linear thrust of your foot during the piston motion, but also a little bit from the final part of your hips' rotation. Our taekwondo master used to call the reverse turning kick a "back side kick," which isn't a bad way to think of how the kick is executed. I tend to think it's more powerful than a spin kick, not merely because of the directness of the turning kick's motion, but also because of the striking surface—the so-called "knife edge" of the foot, which is good for breaking boards or crushing windpipes.

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Chandler Crump walks & talks with Chris Wright

A really good talk in Central Park:

stupid cabbie redux

Generally speaking, my experience with Seoul cabbies has been positive, but every once in a while, I end up sitting with some real retards. In fact, I'd say that, among the unpleasant taxi experiences I've had, more of them have been due to retards than to assholes. Today's ride to work began badly when the cabbie suddenly swerved onto a back street that no other cabbie has ever taken. I know the back street because I've walked it dozens upon dozens of times, so I knew it was essentially a time-wasting jug-handle that split from the main street, then looped back to it, serving no other function than to lengthen my ride and earn the cabbie a few more cents. When I told the cabbie we were taking the long way, he grunted that he was trying to beat the traffic light on the main street. I've been in enough cabs to know that this is sometimes a plausible tactic, but I also knew my own neighborhood well enough to know (1) he wasn't going to beat the light, and (2) I was going to end up with a more expensive fare. So we're barely thirty seconds into my ride, and I'm already irritated.

I had told the cabbie to take me toward "Daechi-yeok sageori," i.e., Daechi Station intersection. There also happens to be a better-known intersection known simply as "Daechi sageori" (Daechi Intersection), so a lot of cabbies mishear my request (I'm a foreigner, so I can't know what I'm talking about, right?), and I end up having to ask them to move into the correct lane for "Daechi-yeok sageori" (exaggerated emphasis on the yeok). I did the same with this cabbie, and he complied reluctantly.

Look at the map below (click to enlarge) to follow the rest of this story:

Point A, above, is where we swing north onto Yeongdong Daero, a large street that, if you follow it north, passes by the famous Samseong COEX building (my neighborhood is to the east, off the map). Around Point B, I have to ask my driver to get in the left lane so we can turn left at Hangnyeoul Station Intersection onto Nambu sunhwan-no which, as you see, runs roughly WSW to ENE. My driver complies reluctantly; his dashboard GPS is telling him to go north past the COEX building because he's stupid and has said "Daechi sageori" instead of "Daechi-yeok sageori" into the machine. We successfully turn left onto Nambu sunhwan-no (Point C), then head west. Around Point D, I tell the driver my exact destination: "Ajeossi, I'm going to the Classia Building, which is straight ahead in front of us, so after you cross the big intersection, please drop me at the first traffic light." This is pretty much what I tell every cabbie, and at first, it seems as if this driver has understood me.

But no. We reach Daechi Station Intersection and cross it (Point E), and just as we cross it, the driver asks, "Do I drop you here?" Are you fucking retarded? Was "first traffic light AFTER the fucking intersection" somehow unclear to you? 19 out of 20 cabbies get me when I phrase my directions this way. But there's always that twentieth cabbie, I guess. Seething, I politely tell the cabbie to go to the first traffic light, which is up at Point G.

We reach Point F, about 150 meters short of where I want to get off.

"Stop here?" asks the cabbie.

Instead of exploding, I do the Korean thing and deflect my exasperation by laughing in what I hope sounds like a friendly manner. This guy really is a piece of work.

"Keep going to the FIRST traffic light," I say, laughingly, while wanting to stab a screwdriver into his foramen magnum. The driver eases his way forward, still apparently not grokking where and what a "first traffic light" might be. I finally point ahead and say, "Please drop me at that crosswalk." The crosswalk is visible; the crosswalk is obvious. The traffic light, just above it, apparently is not. The cabbie grunts and somehow makes it to where I want to be dropped off. I thank the driver and, for no reason I can understand, bid him have a good day.

As I said, most cabbies aren't this way, in my experience. Most are just fine, and I have no trouble with them. Some of them, though, are so astoundingly stupid that I wonder how they manage to breathe. By rights, they ought to be drooling in their wheelchairs, staring at nothing, registering nothing, contemplating nothing, comprehending nothing.