Sunday, May 19, 2019

who's more in touch with reality?

Tim Pool cites Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind (which I'm currently reading) to submit that moderates and conservatives generally have a better grip on reality than leftists/liberals do. You've probably already heard of the psych study in which people of differing political alignments were asked to think, for a moment, like someone on the opposite side of the aisle to predict how that opposite would react to certain hypothetical situations. Moderates and conservatives turned out to be significantly better at predicting left/liberal reactions than vice versa. That indicates something about one's groundedness in reality. Let me emphasize that this finding says something about general tendencies, but nothing about exceptions to those tendencies. As I've noted before, the left-leaning people in orbit around my blog tend not to be the irrational, unmoored-from-reality types highlighted in this study. I may have deep disagreements with some of these good folks, but we're capable of having reasonable discussions about our differences. One or two leftie commenters here are not like that—they prefer confrontational trolling–but they're very much the minority in terms of my own experience with leftists. The lefties I know are more or less like Tim Pool himself.

Anyway, enjoy Pool's take on this topic:

Saturday, May 18, 2019

a trip out to Yangpyeong

As I'd threatened to do, I trained out to Yangpyeong, a town I'm growing to like a lot for its relative quiet and simplicity. I'm actually thinking of doing another 58-kilometer walk out to Yangpyeong in early June. Much of that walk will occur at night, so I'll suffer under the sun for only, oh, six or seven hours. Korean summer will be well under way in two weeks, so I'll have to wear the toshi sleevelets and my trusty hat to keep from burning myself. Unfortunately, I'll also have to carry substantially more water: with the heat comes sweat, and with sweat comes dehydration. Early June isn't full-on summer, but we're already hitting 80℉ (26.7℃) by early afternoon, which is past the optimal hiking time of year for yours truly. Hiking at night alleviates (well, eliminates) the problem for a bit less than half the total walk, but I'll still be suffering Mother Nature's wrath for more than half of the trek.

That is neither here nor there for the moment, though: let's return to our muttons, as the French say, and talk about today's trip out to Yangpyeong. As mentioned, I trained out via Seoul's Line 3 subway, transferring to the Gyeongeui Central Line, which stretches out beyond Seoul, going all the way east to Jipyeong, which sits almost exactly between the east and west coasts of South Korea. (Yangpyeong actually isn't too far away from Jipyeong.)

I went for my tangsuyuk meal first, as you'll see below. The meal was almost as crunchy as last time, but if I order this again, I'm going to ask to have the sauce put off to the side so I can experience maximum crunchiness. I then marched across town and finally—finally!—got that goddamn certification stamp, which had eluded me since 2017. That was a moment of grim victory for me. You'll see those photos below as well.

There wasn't much left to do except to hop back on the subway and head for Seoul. When I reached the Line 3 transfer point, though, I headed north to Jongno 3-ga to visit the electric/electronic market of Saeun Sangga to pick up a "down" transformer. The old guy running one of the few shops still open at 8 p.m. was happy that I could speak Korean with him; I checked to make sure the transformer had three-hole sockets before I bought it. The device set me back W18,000, which is a rise from its 2005-era price of about W15,000. Very few prices are immune to inflation, except maybe for contact lenses: I've always paid W70,000 for lenses that last a year. Strange how that works.

Anyway, enjoy the pics that follow. Sorry for the rambling.

Tangsuyuk (sweet-sour pork), with onions all plucked out:

Once more at the certification center:

The pad on which to test your stamp before you do your stamping:

The page on which I'd written "NOT FOUND!" in 2017, about to get a triumphant makeover:

FOUND! (Again, with thanks to Paul Carver.)

I also stamped a blank page in my Moleskine, just to have a clean image:



two more paintings from Ajumma

I'm always proud to slap these up. I think my #3 Ajumma could give my great-uncle Trav a run for his money. She's got talent, and not just with Western painting: she does Korean brush art as well. One of her huge Korean pieces hangs in the stairwell of the apartment building she owns and manages. Landlording used to be a two-person job, but as you know, her husband, my #3 Ajeossi, passed away from liver cancer on January 17.

Click on this first image to enlarge (click, then right-click to see full-size):

No need to click this next one:

more than meets the eye

Look at the text on the front of the device. Am I now a trans person?

Styx gets angry and defends little Soph

Awesome First Amendment rant by Styx regarding Soph, the 14-year-old potty-mouthed-but-hilarious kid about whom I'd blogged earlier.

"worst bigot ever"

On Instapundit and other right-leaning sites, there's a joking meme—"Worst Bigot Ever!"—that goes around whenever President Trump does something that flies in the face of the leftie narrative—a narrative that repeatedly claims, without actual evidence, that Trump is the worst of the worst bigots out there. You can see photos of Trump from years ago, pressing the flesh with the likes of Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson, but nope—Trump hates black people. You can see how Trump used to hang with racial and sexual minorities back when he was an openly liberal Democrat, but nope—Trump is a racist, a homophobe, a xenophobe, first cousin of Hitler, etc. Whenever Trump achieves something that leftists ought to applaud, they ignore the achievement because it doesn't fit the pre-set narrative.

And, for the latest edition of "worst homophobe ever," we have this:

Historic Fact: Donald Trump Will Be The First President To Support Gay Marriage From The Beginning*

by Bruce Carroll

At the start, I should note that I was an original “Never Trump” conservative. I opposed the candidacy of Donald Trump from the day he came down the Trump Tower escalator.

In November, I didn’t vote for President Trump, nor Hillary Clinton. In fact, I was a Presidential Elector from South Carolina for Evan McMullin – should he have won.

With those personal caveats behind me, I must admit that this Administration will be historic for gay and lesbian Americans. Donald Trump is the first President of the United States who was elected as an open supporter of the gay community at large and gay marriage specifically.

Let us not forget that until it was politically expedient, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both opposed gay marriage for the overwhelming majority of the time taxpayers paid for their lifestyles.

It took Dick Cheney in 2004 and Joe Biden in 2008 for President Obama to voice support of gay marriage. Even then, it took a conservative Supreme Court to make national gay marriage the law of the land.

I know, inconvenient truths are hard to digest for the left-wing gay activists. Donald Trump has been far ahead of the crowd on several issues, including gay rights.

Take your narrative and suck it. And if you're a gay leftie unaware you're being used, well, maybe it's time to wake up and smell the KY.

*NB: the article is two months old, but it's only gained national traction as of today, making it "news" for the rest of us proles.

today's agenda

Woke up with a sore throat from having the A/C on all night while I slept. I think the A/C's filter needs a good cleaning so it's not blowing pathogens all over my apartment. My company says it's possible to arrange a deep cleaning of the A/C, but it'll cost around $60, US. I wonder what the point is, though, because these A/Cs get stinky after only a few weeks' use.

Anyway, a quick gargle with some hydrogen peroxide, and I'm better. Ready to face the day. It's a three-pronged mission today: (1) train out to Yangpyeong and eat that glorious tangsuyuk, (2) get my Yangpyeong certification stamp while I'm there, and (3) start doing some crucial shopping for the upcoming return to austerity. I also need to buy a second "down" transformer for my Cuisinart food processor. I don't think this agenda is all that difficult to accomplish, so I anticipate having a fulfilling, productive Saturday.

Rock on.

Friday, May 17, 2019

"Cold Pursuit": two-paragraph review

2019's "Cold Pursuit" stars Liam Neeson and is directed by Hans Petter Moland, who directed the 2014 "Kraftidioten," a.k.a. "In Order of Disappearance," of which the current film is a nearly shot-for-shot remake (the Norwegian original starred Stellan Skarsgård in the Neeson role). Neeson plays the role of Nels Coxman,* a taciturn snowplow driver in Colorado whose primary job is to keep a crucial road open between the small resort town of Kehoe and the larger city of Denver. Laura Dern plays Coxman's wife Grace, and Micheál Richardson stars as Kyle Coxman, Nels's son. It's no spoiler to say that Kyle is killed at the beginning of the film; it's his death that sets events in motion. When the authorities find Kyle's body, they tell the distraught parents that Kyle—who had been working air cargo at a local airport—died of a heroin overdose. Grace sinks into despair, feeling that she never knew her son; Nels, for his part, refuses to believe his son was ever a druggie, and it becomes his mission in life to find out what happened to Kyle, and to exact revenge on the boy's killers. The rest of the story recounts Nels's campaign to take down a drug cartel as he fights his way up the ladder to the big boss, a smug son of a bitch nicknamed Viking (Tom Bateman, who has an awesome radio voice).

"Cold Pursuit" was apparently billed as a black comedy. It's based so closely on the 2014 Norwegian "Kraftidioten" as to be practically the same film, which makes me wonder—as I often wonder whenever I see an American remake—why the fuck this film was even made. It's not horrible, as remakes go: "Cold Pursuit" has a lot of heavy hitters in it, including powerhouse character-actor William Forsythe and chiseled/grizzled Raoul Trujillo, whom you might remember from his muscular performance in "Apocalypto." That said, I saw enough clips of the 2014 film to realize that little imagination had been spent on making the American version of the story. The main difference is that the drug cartel that rivals Viking's cartel is run by Native Americans. Director Moland doesn't seem to know what to do with the Native Americans, either: he sometimes plays them for comedy, and sometimes for pathos, occasionally evoking the not-so-ancient history of the arrival of the white man in North America, and the disaster that befell American Indians as a result. I was bitterly reminded that I wasn't watching "Wind River," a powerful story that actually takes Native Americans and their plight seriously. The way I see it, "Cold Pursuit" did have its darkly funny moments, but it was full of implausibilities that put it in the same ballpark as "Braven," and the script missed a whole raft of opportunities for character development: Grace Coxman comes off as little more than a quietly hateful bitch, and the rapport between Viking's son and Nels, while cute, hints tantalizingly at something deeper. All in all, "Cold Pursuit" felt more like a half-assed reminder of superior films than a complete film in and of itself.

*The dick jokes regarding Coxman's surname are obvious and plentiful. In the 2014 "Kraftidioten," the protag's surname, just as subtle, is Dickman.

leftist tolerance (seen on Gab)

I'm going to have to lay out my thoughts on abortion at some point (I've done so in the past, but only in a half-assed manner), but for the moment, here's an example of leftist tolerance as seen on Gab—an angry tweet by a pro-choice woman who is upset by the recent Alabama decision restricting abortion to a very narrow set of circumstances:

You can't cry "Tolerance! Civility!" and "We need to have a conversation!" out of one side of your mouth while spewing violent, rape-y rhetoric out of the other side.

While I'm on the subject of intolerant leftism, let me embed a video that I saw at a link provided by Bill Keezer:

Real geniuses, these people.

garbage people

Am I a racist for thinking that the assholes in the following video all deserve to be locked up? I just wrote about emotional incontinence among Koreans, but it's a (far worse) problem for more than just my peninsular peeps, as you'll see below.

Unfortunately, as you'll also see if you read the comments below the video, actual racism still exists, and those folks will use videos like this to justify their racism. The whole thing leaves a bad taste in one's mouth.

(Those sorts of comments are, by the way, a daily occurrence on Gab.)

a soul-draining experience

Our company's Foundation Day event turned out to be almost six hours long. Intermission occurred about two-thirds of the way through that hellish experience. One of the slogans to come out of the event was "We Comes Before Me": an invitation to succumb to the seduction of the collectivist Korean hive mind. Westerners—who should have known better—were among the sirens on stage, singing the collectivist tune. Awards were given, and 95% of the awardees who spoke ended up crying. It was touching the first couple of times, but after the tenth or eleventh person started choking up, all I could do was roll my eyes. And every time a speaker began to sob, the audience would obligingly go, "Awwww..." Good Christ. Korean society has an infinite capacity for emotional incontinence (I've stolen that term from Paul Joseph Watson), which is why K-dramas are chock-full of screamers and weepers. Emotional self-control is apparently unknown here, although I'm sure Koreans would spin the matter positively by describing themselves as "passionate." Ha!

Anyway, my ass hurt from sitting on a hard chair, so I got up and stood at the back of the auditorium until intermission, after which I simply sank down onto the floor and sat cross-legged for the rest of the event. A former coworker saw what I was doing and quietly joined me. We said nothing to each other; there was simply nothing to say. It's funny... I can walk for hours and hours in silence, but sitting for five hours in an auditorium, feeling my soul drain away, is a hellish experience. And in a signal irony, our CEO, who had the floor several times throughout the event, said at one point that time is far more precious than money. Oh, I agree! It's a shame the CEO didn't think the event was a waste of our precious time.

After the long, grinding program was over, I cabbed back to the office (Thursday was payday, so I'm off my austerity for a week while I shop and prep for the next month's discipline; taking a cab didn't involve breaking any oaths) and hung around in order to be able to walk to the bank and do my monthly international wire transfer of money to my US account. But perhaps because all the company staffers—including the finance department—were at that damn event, my direct deposit didn't happen until a bit after 4 p.m., and 4 p.m. is when my bank closes. It pissed me off that I had stayed an extra hour at the office specifically to hit the bank, only to discover my direct deposit hadn't come through in time, thus leaving me with nothing to send to the US. More time-wastage. So I'll hit the bank on Friday.

When we R&Ders all got back to the office, my coworkers professed varying degrees of pain (from those horrible chairs) and un-motivation. I'm pretty sure everyone else ended up leaving the office early, too. Can't say I blame them.

Because I went straight to my apartment after realizing I couldn't go to the bank, I got back pretty early. I told myself I'd take a long, 30K-step walk around 7:30 p.m. after taking a nap. I turned out to be too tired to do any walking, though, so I simply lazed around and visited my basement grocery, where I spent money on soda and junk food, thereby doing nothing for my health. Not to worry: I'll be back on my program soon enough.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

the awesome Imam Tawhidi speaks out again

And he takes on toxic personalities Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib:

The imam also offers a hilarious observation about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, obliquely referencing her dull intellect.

Reminder: I've written about Imam Tawhidi before. I admit I fear for his safety.

surprise, surprise

I reported, a while back, that "Bohemian Rhapsody" remained at #1 on the Korean box-office charts for a full calendar month. I was curious to see whether "Avengers: Endgame" could best that feat. I checked the Naver Movie chart today, and... nope. "Endgame," released in Korea on April 24, is already down to #2, dethroned by a Japanese movie with the Japanglish title of "My Hero Academia The Movie," directed by Kenji Nagasaki. What a way to be taken down.

more via Bill

Maybe someone would care to explain this bit of leftie hypocrisy:

The left does seem obsessed with election jiggering by Republicans, all while downplaying the way in which it wishes to jigger elections: via forced demographic shift and various forms of fraud. The left doesn't like voter ID because that would mean the frauds couldn't vote. So the left tries to turn the tables and claim the current conservative push for voter ID is all about racist disenfranchisement.

I'm happy to grant that there may actually have been a couple isolated cases of smirking Republicans who told certain groups of Democrat voters that the polls would be opening on Day X when it was actually Day Y.* Even if that malfeasance were the case, though, you'd think the people who got suckered would be suspicious enough (especially if it's untrustworthy Whitey who's bringing the news) to do a bit of verification before voting took place. You know the old saying: Fool me once, shame on you...

I haven't commented on Alyssa Milano's hilarious declaration of a "sex strike" against what she sees as ridiculous abortion laws, and I view her declaration as a separate issue from the merit of those laws. The above meme, though, makes clear how useless and substance-free Milano's gesture is. Abortion is an important issue to discuss, and people on both sides get heated because they're passionately committed to certain deep ideas. Empty gestures add nothing to the discussion, and Milano succeeds only in making herself look stupid.

*Interestingly, when you research the claim that left/Dem voters are being misled by right/Rep parties, your search results will show that these claims almost all come from leftie sources. Fascinating.

a series of wise life-choices leads to this

As you might guess, I'm uploading this because I'm bored out of my fucking mind. We're at the four-hour mark, and only now are we having an intermission.

On the bright side, I seem to have found my spirit animal.

Oh... yay.

I'm off to our company's Foundation Day extravaganza. You can feel my transcendent joy radiating out of your monitor's screen, I'm sure. The event is an enormous, bombastic, bloviating, five-hour waste of time for yours truly, but the upside is that, since I have to be at the ceremony/gala very early in the day (there'll be awards going to people I don't know, plus speeches given by people I don't care about), I get to leave work early. In fact, I plan to leave even earlier by using up my final three comp hours once the ceremony is done. I also get paid today, so this marks the end of the current fiscal month's austerity. I'll take a week to get all spendy and shop for next month's meal plan, then I'll return to the austerity program for the mid-May to mid-June pay period. Once I leave the ceremony, I'll head over to my bank and send another $3000 home to my US account. Sometime this weekend, probably on Saturday, I plan to train over to Yangpyeong to eat some more of that miraculous tangsuyuk, and maybe to do a bit of shopping while I'm in town. I'll spend the rest of the weekend cooking up next month's food (some of it, anyway), and I might go for a longish walk, too.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

another dawg named Buddy

I love this.


Yet another fixture from my childhood, comedian Tim Conway, whom I saw primarily on "The Carol Burnett Show" when I was a kid, has died at the age of 85. One running joke was that Conway never won any major awards, despite all his efforts. Well, it turns out he did win six Emmys plus a Golden Globe, which is not a bad achievement at all for someone so modest and self-deprecating. I'll definitely miss him. He was a national treasure.

RIP, Mr. Conway.

the boy who cried "Nazi!"

Kind of obvious, as parables go, but maybe certain people need the obvious:

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

post-Giuliani, NYC reverts to being a shithole

Good God. Just look at this and read the accompanying article. For fuck's sake.

via Gab and Bill

Saw this on Gab:

These come via Bill Keezer:

Islam's radix

Jeff Hodges has a post up where he reiterates his long-held contention that Islamism—what many would call* "Islamic extremism"—actually has its source at the scriptural/doctrinal heart of the religion. Below is a video by an ex-Muslim who agrees with Jeff's contention:

*Or miscall, according to Jeff.

from John Mac

John McCrarey saw my recent go-cart post and forwarded me this image of Don Knotts with a tall drink of water:

Is it my imagination, or were women's breasts more aggressive back in the day?

Breasts... or brassieres. What we might call strict upbringing.

Monday, May 13, 2019


Yesterday, May 12, was both Mother's Day in America and the Buddha's birthday here in Korea. Technically, the religious holiday is being observed today, but that doesn't apply to those of us who are privileged enough to work at the Golden Goose, where national holidays are routinely ignored because we reside in a reality-denying, extradimensional bubble.

That being said, a mindful Seokga Tanshin-il to you Buddhists, and a belated Happy Mother's Day to my fellow Yanks.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

seen on my walk today: go-carts!

I did a 30K-step walk today, and my path to the Han River took me past the Olympic Sports Complex, next to which is a large, multipurpose concrete area that sometimes serves as a drive-in movie theater (they've been showing "Avengers: Endgame" lately), and sometimes serves as a go-cart raceway. Below are two short videos I took, showing a couple avid drivers tooling around the raceway. The first video ends with a near-collision as the first oaf skids out of control and stops himself, forcing the second driver also to skid to a halt. That was some quick thinking on the second driver's part. The second video simply shows our guys whizzing by. Both videos are very short—only a few seconds long. Even the most impatient of my readers will have no trouble watching these vids. Enjoy.

I don't think you can see it in either video, but the guys' helmets have side-mounted GoPro cameras on them to memorialize their experience on the raceway. Fun.

Oh, yeah: in the background, you can see the large, blank rectangles that are the drive-in movie screens, which work only at night. Drive-ins are a neat throwback to a bygone era for me. Nifty to see that some Koreans are keeping the past alive.

(Charles, I hope you're happy that I finally held my phone horizontally.)

this should be the US and ROK response, too

Yup. Frodo failed.

Back in 2014, in an email I'd written to my buddy Charles, who is an avid Lord of the Rings fan, I wrote about what I saw as Frodo's moral failing at a crucial moment:

Having reread the trilogy a year or so ago, I really came to appreciate Tolkien's complicated morality: Gollum may seem like a figure of pity, but in truth he's bad to the core (Sam was right), and in the end, it's his evil actions, his ineluctable hunger for the Ring, that end up saving Middle Earth! This certainly complicates the moral picture that we think we see in LOTR. At first, it all seems very clear: we know who's good, and we know who's evil. Many commentators describe Tolkien's story as a battle between good and evil. But in the end, noble Frodo's on that precipice, and he can't pull the trigger! It's evil that does evil in! Gollum to the rescue! It's almost as if LOTR is an enormous, trilogy-length joke, with Gollum's act as the punchline. Then, to heap irony upon moral ambiguity, Frodo gets honored for what he "did"! And never once (if I recall correctly) does Frodo do anything to disabuse the people around him of the false notion that he was the one who destroyed the Ring. Sure, we can credit Frodo with carrying the Ring 99.9% of the way to its unmaking, but in the final analysis, it's wretched, evil little Gollum who defeats Sauron. Rich irony, indeed.

Charles replied:

Hmm. I think I'm going to have to disagree. For one, Gollum is hopelessly corrupted, driven by his "ineluctable hunger for the Ring." I'm not saying that he is not responsible for his actions (he is, of course), but I also don't think it's a stretch to say that he is not acting rationally or logically. Even if he can be considered evil, he is not the same type of evil as Sauron or his minions. Anyway, my point here is that Gollum no longer has any real agency, so I don't think we can credit him with destroying the Ring, even though technically he was the cause of the destruction.. And I don't think this is what Tolkien intended either—it's pretty clear, in both the books and the films--that it is the pity of Bilbo that ruled the fate of many. Gollum may not have had a choice, but Bilbo did, and he chose to spare Gollum's life. That choice is what ended up saving Middle Earth—or, at least, this is what Tolkien intends us to believe, I think. If anything, we can say that Bilbo's choice allowed evil to reach its inescapable conclusion, where it destroys itself. (And there is precedent for that idea in Tolkien; cf. Minas Morgul, where the orcs essentially all kill each other for no good reason.)

Also, don't be dissin' my homeboy Frodo. Everyone knows what happened at the very end—after all, the ballad sung in his honor is titled, "Frodo of the Nine Fingers and the Ring of Doom." Frodo didn't disabuse anyone of a false notion because he didn't have to.

I think there's a lot that goes into this, but I've always thought that one of the reasons why Frodo could not destroy the Ring is because it wouldn't have made any sense story-wise. With the visible hold that the Ring has over him by that point, for him to simply cast it into the fire would have turned the Ring of Power into a mere trinket. And, like you said, the Tolkien idea of salvation coming from an unexpected source is also of great importance here.

Below is an interesting vid by a Tolkien fan, Tim Hickson, who discusses Frodo's failure at the Crack of Doom, and whose insights reflect some of what I said, and some of what Charles said.

Charles and I agree that evil does evil in. Tim Hickson agrees with Charles that Bilbo's mercy, in not killing Gollum, also figures into Sauron's defeat. I'd like to point out, though, that if Gollum has lost all agency because he's so in thrall to the One Ring, then Gollum can't be called evil. That's a term reserved for someone with moral agency.

As for Frodo, Hickson argues that Tolkien's experience of World War I probably allowed him to craft a character who, in the end, proved too weak against temptation, but only because there are forces in life that are too great for some of us to master, given that we all have different capacities when it comes to resisting evil. In other words, according to Hickson, Tolkien's view of Frodo would be that, yes, Frodo failed at the crucial moment, but this failure was perfectly understandable given the sheer attractive power of the Ring's temptation. Who could have done better than Frodo had done?

Saturday, May 11, 2019

where capitalism goes wrong

I agree with the criticism that capitalism often puts the dollar above morality. Case in point: US businesses that willingly self-censor anything critical of China, or that actively abet China's repression of its own citizens (e.g., Google's help in shoring up China's online Great Firewall). China Uncensored's latest video talks about an instance of self-censorship of a TV show on CBS ironically titled "The Good Fight." This show has a decidedly left-leaning slant, but while it bravely hurls invective at Donald Trump and conservatives, it meekly bows to Chinese demands that it not show any criticism of China.

China Uncensored has been very educational for me since I began watching it a few months ago. I appreciate Chris Chapel's cheerful sarcasm as well as the thoroughness of the reports he gives. I've learned much about things like China's "social credit" system and the so-called Belt and Road Initiative, China's global-scale infrastructure project that has it brokering deals with dozens of different countries that are desperate for Chinese investment and willing to make a deal with the devil. This is must-see viewing for people interested in Chinese affairs.

ADDENDUM: fear not, conservatives: I'm not turning into a Marxist. I still agree with this:

profundities via Gilleland

Michael Gilleland's blog Laudator Temporis Acti ("praiser of time past," as his site says) offers quotes from generally long-ago literary works and classics, although the occasional modern quote gets thrown in. Mr. Gilleland recently made a quiet announcement about his blog's fifteenth blogiversary. He's considering quitting the blogging game, but a friend has convinced him to stay on, which Mr. Gilleland will do... for now.

I say little about Laudator, but I do appreciate the pearls of wisdom that Mr. Gilleland makes the effort to dig up and send out to the world. He's like a Buddhist temple bell, whose purpose is to broadcast the dharma to those who can and will take heed. In that spirit, here are two recent gems that I'd like to pass along:

A few other trends actually seem to be moving backward in the new millennium. For instance, audiobooks are a return to the oral tradition, and podcasts—talks, interviews, radio series—dispense with the written record completely. The codex—the book with turnable pages sewn between covers—was a great improvement over the scroll, but now, with publication online, we are back to scrolling again, which makes it hard to refer back to things.
Mary Norris, Greek to Me (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2019), page number unknown (from the first chapter)

Our souls belong to our bodies, not our bodies to our souls. For which has the care of the other? which keeps house? which looks after the replenishing of the aorta and auricles, and stores away the secretions? Which toils and ticks while the other sleeps? Which is ever giving timely hints, and elderly warnings? Which is the most authoritative? — Our bodies, surely. At a hint, you must move; at a notice to quit, you depart. Simpletons show us, that a body can get along almost without a soul; but of a soul getting along without a body, we have no tangible and indisputable proof. My lord, the wisest of us breathe involuntarily. And how many millions there are who live from day to day by the incessant operation of subtle processes in them, of which they know nothing, and care less? Little ween they, of vessels lacteal and lymphatic, of arteries femoral and temporal; of pericranium or pericardium; lymph, chyle, fibrin, albumen, iron in the blood, and pudding in the head; they live by the charity of their bodies, to which they are but butlers. I say, my lord, our bodies are our betters. A soul so simple, that it prefers evil to good, is lodged in a frame, whose minutest action is full of unsearchable wisdom.
Herman Melville (1819-1891), Mardi, chapter 155 (Babbalanja to Media)

I forget, sometimes, how eloquent Melville could be.

how to ruin things for yourself

I clicked on a three-minute video on YouTube that purported to be a quick discussion of "Game of Thrones"—specifically, how to end the series and whether to change the story if fans had managed to guess certain plot points. It sort-of was such a discussion, but at the very end, the video ambushed me with a spoiler from Season 8 that was arguably the crowning moment of Episode 3's Battle of Winterfell. So now I know how the Night King gets his. Dammit.

thinking through graphic design

Two talks by the quirky-yet-highly-entertaining Chip Kidd, a fast-talking graphic designer with distractingly off-kilter spectacles who designs book covers, including the now-iconic dino-skeleton cover for the novel Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton:

My first impression of Kidd came from this 2012-ish TED Talk:

The following video is also of a TED Talk, but a much smaller-scale one with a meager audience and bare-bones stage setup; the vid was uploaded in 2015:

Neither video takes us into the technical nitty-gritty of graphic design; I wouldn't expect that from an 18-minute TED Talk, anyway. But Kidd successfully gets us into the mindset of a graphic designer so that we can see, from the inside, what a design's "Eureka!" moment looks like and how it can lead to some iconic imagery (yes, you'll recognize more than just Jurassic Park's cover; Kidd is behind the designs of some very famous books). One of the unspoken implications of Kidd's talks is that we hoi polloi can and do judge books by their covers. Both of the above talks are fascinating for what they reveal, not just about the designer's mindset, but also about how the designer tries to anticipate what will attract people to the book.

Friday, May 10, 2019

my route has been chosen for me

After I turn 50 in August, I'll be looking forward to another trans-Korea walk, probably from late September to late October. Many moons ago, I wrote that I'd been thinking about which route I'd walk, and I expressed interest in doing the coastal route, a path that got completed only a year or so ago, and that stretches about 720 kilometers from roughly Gangneung in the north to Busan in the south. At a rate of about 25 km per day, I could do the walk in 29 days, assuming no breaks. If, however, I were to redo the Seoul-to-Busan walk I did in 2017, I know I could do that walk in 26 days, which would include three rest days.

After discussing the matter with my team leader, I've come to the conclusion that the company is going to be too tight-fisted to allow me to take a full 30 days off to do this walk. That means I can't do the coastal walk at all this year, so my route has been chosen for me: I'll be doing the original Four Rivers walk again, only this time, it'll be from the tail-end of summer to the beginning of fall. The weather in Korea, from late September to late October, goes from borderline hot to decidedly cool. By the time I'm finishing my walk, the nights might even be a touch cold, but that won't be a problem as long as I'm either motelling it or tucked into a warm sleeping bag for the night.

Redoing the 2017 walk won't be disappointing at all. I know the route now, and I know its demands. It'll be like meeting up with an old friend, and I'll have the chance to re-see some memorable sights. I also know that I won't need even half of what I took with me last time, so my backpack will be comparatively light. How light? In 2008, back when I had no real experience with distance walking, my pack weighed around 60 pounds (27.2 kg). In 2017, thanks to accumulated hiker's wisdom, my pack weighed about 35 pounds (15.9 kg) at the beginning of every day. This time around, now that I know this particular trail so well, I think I can get the pack under 18 pounds (8.2 kg), including a full hydration bladder (God, I hate typing "bladder"). With a proper hip-belt assembly around my waist, an 18-pound pack will feel like nothing, thus making this upcoming walk a much better experience.

So that's the scoop. Assuming I do walk this coming fall, I'll be taking the 2017 route.

you can't ignore the chromosomal reality

As I've written many times before, I'm fine with transgender folks who identify as whatever gender they feel comfortable with. I take the libertarian attitude that whatever goes on in your head is your own damn business. However, once certain biological realities begin to affect external reality, that's when I have to start drawing lines. I've cited (here) the case of transgender MMA fighter Fallon Fox and cis-female MMA fighter Tamikka Brents, who was severely beaten by Fox, to the point of having bones in her face broken. My own feeling is that it's morally repugnant for a man to use his closed fists to beat a woman. By extension, it's morally repugnant for a chromosomal man to beat a woman in such a manner as well, whether that man has undergone transition surgery or not.

If we expand the discussion to how trans women are starting to take over what used to be cis-women's sports, we see a similar moral issue. Is it right for biological males to take over and dominate traditionally female sports? I don't think so. If anything, sports organizers need to think about creating a separate "trans league" for this new category of human being.

Below is a video about one girl's harsh experience in track and field when the trans women muscled in. This issue will only become more bitterly divisive as the biology-denialists persist in ignoring obvious phenotypic differences between chromosomal males and chromosomal females. It's going to force even modern feminists to acknowledge that cis-women need to have a place carved out for them in society, because without such a space, they will be buried by an avalanche of trans women who remain biologically male.

from my buddy Tom

Tom says he's going to go fuck a dolphin now. I'm left to wonder whether baby dolphins have to suck butt to get their mother's milk.

the Andelain tree

One of my favorite fantasy authors, Stephen R. Donaldson, wrote about the adventures of a leper from our world named Thomas Covenant, who gets thrown into an alternate universe where he must decide whether the new world he's in is worth defending against its godlike enemy. As Covenant comes to know this other Earth, he begins to fall in love with it, and every leaf and branch of it becomes precious to him—very much worth defending.

Every day as I walk to work, I pass by the lonely cherry tree you see below. While most of the other cherry trees, which exist in groups, have already shed their petals, this little one is holding out, a tiny bulwark against the inevitable onset of the oppressive Korean summer. In my mind, it stands against summer the way an old wizard, frail and mortal, stands against the approach of a hurricane. This tree, Donaldsonian in spirit, didn't get the memo.

The following poem from Donaldson's novels, about the last defense of nature, requires a bit of explanation. The being reciting this poem is a Forestal, a powerful spirit of the woods whose function is the guardianship of forest life: trees, other plants, and forest creatures. This particular Forestal, Caer-Caveral, is also trying his best to hold the beautiful region of Andelain together. Andelain is the heart of the Land, but like the rest of the Land, it is under attack by an invention of the Despiser (a satanic/Sauron-like figure): the Sunbane, a curse that drives the Land's natural cycles into unnatural frenzy, forcing earth and sky into a cruel series of rapid changes: desert, rain, pestilence, fertility, etc.—each phase lasting only a few days, then quickly changing, in random sequence, to a new phase in under a day. The Sunbane, a violation of the natural Law, is ripping the earth apart, and Caer-Caveral knows that even he cannot win against its onslaught. This song, then, is his lament.

Andelain I hold and mold within my fragile spell,
While world's ruin ruins wood and wold.
Sap and bough are grief and grim to me, engrievement fell,
And petals fall without relief.
Astricken by my power's dearth,
I hold the glaive of Law against the Earth.

Andelain I cherish dear within my mortal breast;
And faithful I withhold Despiser's wish.
But faithless is my ache for dreams and slumbering and rest,
And burdens make my courage break.
The Sunbane mocks my best reply,
And all about and in me beauties die.

Andelain! I strive with need and loss, and ascertain
That the Despiser's might can rend and rive.
Each falter of my ancient heart is all the evil's gain;
And it appalls without relent.
I cannot spread my power more,
Though teary visions come of wail and gore.

Oh, Andelain! forgive! For I am doomed to fail this war.
I cannot bear to see you die—and live,
Foredoomed to bitterness and all the gray Despiser's lore.
But while I can I heed the call
Of green and tree; and for their worth,
I hold the glaive of Law against the Earth.

—Stephen R. Donaldson, 1977
The Wounded Land, Chapter 12, "The Andelainian Hills"

We don't live in Stephen R. Donaldson's fantasy realm, but there are motes of beauty here and there that can catch the eye and lift the heart. Like this brave little tree, which holds the glaive of spring against the advent of summer.

angry birds

I think I got attacked by a magpie yesterday, while I was walking to work. I didn't get pecked or anything (the magpies in Oz apparently have an eye-pecking reputation); the magpie merely swooped by the back of my head several times until I was far enough away from its nest not to be a threat to its eggs. (Wikipedia says it's usually the males who do the swooping.) I had a Thanos moment while the magpie was swooping: You should've gone for the face, I thought. I began pondering solutions to the swooping problem since I have to walk by the same set of trees every weekday. It occurred to me that opening an umbrella might be a good idea; Wikipedia's entry on magpies confirms this. If I had the reflexes, I'd carry a tennis racket and swat the fucker out of the air as he flapped by me.

Today, though, there was no attack. Maybe the eggs have hatched.

meme via Bill

Seen thanks to Bill Keezer:

Of course, given the cowardly way that that one guard acted during the Parkland shootings, you have to wonder whether armed guards are any good at all.

how not to be an asshole

We all have our thin-skinned, bitchy moments, but most of us know how to control that side of ourselves to keep the cattiness to a minimum. Living as civilized people requires a modicum of civility, and that's why we label people who are subtly and grossly uncivil as the most malodorous part of the body: asshole.

I haven't commented on the whole "Brie Larson is a bitch to everybody, including her co-stars" thing, and by now, I suspect that that's all blown over. I didn't find Larson's inability to play well with others to be all that consequential to my life, but when I stumbled upon the following Charisma On Command video, I thought to myself: "Yeah... maybe showing this could be a public service. For someone."

The problem, of course, is that those who need this video won't be watching it.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Tyrone Magnus reacts to the rebooted Vader/Kenobi duel

This man's reaction is infectious because he's a Kevin Smith-level fanboy:

excellent question, Brigitte


I thought I had mentioned Brigitte Gabriel before on this blog, but apparently I hadn't. Here's the video of her that first caught my attention:

Vader vs. Obi-wan, revisited

There's a lot that I like about this, but also a lot that I hate:

"Leave No Trace": review

[NB: spoilers. watch the movie before reading this review.]

2018's "Leave No Trace," based on Peter Rock's novel My Abandonment, is directed by Debra Granik and stars Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie as a father and daughter who live illegally in the woods of a state park not far from Portland, Oregon. Will, the father, is an Iraq War vet who suffers from PTSD. Partway through the film, it's revealed that Will is an ex-Marine whose platoon suffered a rash of suicides upon returning to the States. Will's daughter, who goes by Tom (perhaps based on the actress's name) is around thirteen and the apple of her father's eye. Will teaches Tom survival skills as well as drills that prepare them to deal with being discovered in the park by authorities.

Surprisingly, the scenes of Will and Tom living in the woods are fairly brief: Tom gets spotted by a stranger in the woods, and the police, with their dogs, soon come hunting for the pair. They get caught and placed in social services; while in those offices, they are subjected to a battery of tests ranging from psychological to academic. It turns out that Tom is actually well ahead of where she needs to be in her education.

In the end, no one goes to jail; Will and Tom get relocated to a large property whose owner allows them to stay in a simple house on the premises. In return, Will must work with the owner's team to cut down and ship out Christmas trees, and Tom must attend school. Tom takes to her socialization fairly well, enjoying making friends and appreciating the stability of living life in an actual house instead of constantly scrabbling for survival out in the woods. Will, meanwhile, itches to leave, considering this new life a form of imprisonment. Eventually, he decides to pack and go, and he bids Tom come with him. She does, but only reluctantly. A fissure is beginning to form between father and daughter.

The two hitch a ride north into Washington, where it's much colder. They hike along a logging road and find an abandoned cabin, and when Will goes out to buy food from a nearby town, he ends up falling and knocking himself out. Sensing something is wrong, Tom goes out and finds her father, then she seeks help. Luckily, there is a small, raggedy trailer-park community of folksy eccentrics nearby, and one of them is a former Army medic who also suffers from PTSD. Once again, Tom finds that she enjoys being around people; she soaks up their kindness and is eager to learn from them. Will, meanwhile, has an injured ankle and spends his time brooding as he mends. In his mind, he'll be leaving soon.

This summary takes us to the movie's final act, which I won't spoil for you. The story is a delicate balance between Will's and Tom's points of view; the script is about as minimalist as you might expect for such a bare-bones plot. The Pacific Northwest woodlands are practically a character unto themselves; the forests aren't merely scenery: they're the anodyne for Will's afflicted and desolate mind, a reliable comfort for a man trying hard to hold on to his frail sanity. From Will's point of view, the story of "Leave No Trace" is about inner demons, the bonds of love, and the question of letting go. From Tom's point of view, the story is about coming of age, stepping out from under the protective shadow of the father, and finding direction and purpose in life.

Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie (who is a Kiwi, but she does a perfect American accent) are both magnificent and heartbreaking in their roles. Foster seems like the kind of actor who's either attracted to roles depicting troubled people, or he somehow takes any role and makes it about a troubled person. That's not a dig against him: I think he gets better with age, and he plays all of his roles with great depth of feeling. At the risk of sounding cliché, his is a soulful performance. McKenzie, for her part, also hits the right notes as Tom, the taciturn daughter of a taciturn father. Especially early on, many of the scenes between Will and Tom are wordless as they go about the daily business of living in the woods, foraging for food, and trying to stay dry in the near-constant rain. McKenzie's Tom often seems distant and detached, but the actress makes it clear that, inside Tom's head, gears are whirring. And there are moments when Tom displays quietly intense emotions, especially when she finds the courage to speak out against her father's choices.

The movie also gets my respect for never taking the cheap and easy route. There were so many opportunities for events to take a melodramatic turn, but they never once did. It reminds me of the restraint Jack Nicholson showed in the movie "About Schmidt," which featured a very different Nicholson from the scenery-chewing ham we've come to know and love. Both Foster and McKenzie—who have great chemistry together—have mastered the art of saying volumes simply with their eyes, their facial expressions. There are no screaming matches; there's no sobbing. There are also no real bad guys in this movie: Will's inner demons, which we learn about indirectly through an excellently show-don't-tell narrative, are nasty enough to take the place of any bad guy. Every character that the two encounter—even the ones with very little screen time—is treated with respect and is portrayed in a manner that hints at an interesting history. There are no caricatures or flat characters here, which is especially a relief when it comes to how the social-service workers are portrayed.

The movie also treats mental illness with great respect and compassion, all without losing any authenticity. Nothing unbelievable happens; the plot merely unfolds in a slow, natural way, almost as if this, too, were a Clint Eastwood film like "The Mule." For military vets looking to see PTSD portrayed in a fair and balanced light, "Leave No Trace" is a good film to see. Ben Foster's Will has a certain nobility about him, even as he deals with his inner turmoil; he's sane and rational enough never to flip out when his daughter seems rebellious or has made a crucial mistake. She is precious to him, front and center in his painful life. Tom, as much as the pacifying forests of the Pacific Northwest, is what holds Will together.

And my hat is off to the cinematographer, Michael McDonough. I'm somewhat familiar with the woodlands of the Pacific Northwest, having hiked through them and camped in them in 2008. In a sense, I recognize that terrain, which is beautifully photographed for the film. Those woods stand in contrast to the urban scenes we get whenever Will and Tom dip into the city for supplies. The movie's sound design is also excellent; scenes inside the pair's tent, while rain patters on the fabric, brought to mind my own memories of many, many camping trips.

It's very tempting to compare "Leave No Trace" to "Captain Fantastic," which is also about a widowed father raising his kids in the woods, teaching them survival techniques while also educating them far better than any school system ever could. The difference is that "Captain Fantastic" is fanciful, comical, and somewhat ridiculous. It doesn't take its own ideas particularly seriously, whereas "Leave No Trace" is determinedly focused on its chosen themes. I'm also happy to report to friend and fellow reviewer Steve Honeywell that "Leave No Trace" is a coming-of-age movie in which the girl's maturation has nothing to do with sex.* Another trap the movie doesn't fall into.

By the end of "Leave No Trace," I wasn't blubbering, nor did I even experience a tightness in my throat. That said, I was profoundly moved by this film, which I found both magical in its evocation of nature's grandeur, and marvelous in its portrayal of a special parent-child relationship, thanks to the work of two very talented actors. This is an unbelievably haunting and beautiful movie that will stay with you long after it's over. Kudos to director Debra Granik for crafting what is truly a work of cinematic art. This review doesn't even begin to do the film justice. Highly, highly recommended.

*Steve has repeatedly noted, on his own blog, that coming-of-age films are about the encounter with death if the protagonist is a boy, and about the encounter with sex if the protagonist is a girl (i.e., the girl's coming of age always involves a guy). I agree with Steve that that does get tiresome once you recognize the pattern.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

short story

I just wrote this story for a study packet I'm making at work. The chapter is about vegetarianism and vegetarian options. I've tried to write essays and articles that show pro, con, and neutral perspectives when it comes to this lifestyle. Since this chapter is also about persuasive, expository, and narrative writing, I wrote and included the following little story as an example of narrative writing that has at least something to do with vegetarianism and its ethical dimension. Enjoy.

Hee-jin loved coming to the temple. Sometimes, the monks allowed her to work in their fields and gardens. Once or twice, she even helped in the kitchen. The monks woke up when it was still nighttime, around three in the morning, and Hee-jin woke up with them. Mealtimes were always quiet; at other times of the day, Hee-jin could ask questions. And that’s how she heard about the local tiger.

The monks whispered about the tiger; some were afraid of him, but not the Juji-sunim, the head of the temple. He was an old man who loved nature and all living things, and he said that he had already had many interesting discussions with the tiger. Hee-jin was surprised. “The tiger can talk?” she asked. “If you have ears to hear,” said the old abbot, “then yes, you can understand the tiger when he speaks.”

Morning. 3 a.m. Dark outside. Hee-jin slid open her cell door and breathed in the fresh mountain air. A huge shadow detached itself from the background and crept silently and smoothly toward her, almost seeming to float. Hee-jin froze in terror.

“You are Hee-jin,” said the tiger in a deep, rumbling whisper. It was not a question. Hee-jin, deathly afraid, only nodded. The tiger continued: “You have something you want to ask.”

Hee-jin’s mind raced. She had a thousand questions, but she didn’t know which one to ask. Suddenly, she thought of food.

“Tiger,” she asked, “when I come to the temple, I eat only fruits and vegetables because the monks say it’s bad to kill animals. Do you kill animals when you’re hungry?”

“Yes,” rumbled the tiger. “It is my nature. You act according to your nature; I act according to mine.”

“Maybe… maybe we can teach you to stop killing,” said Hee-jin, knowing her words might be insulting.

The tiger startled her by laughing loudly enough to shake the whole temple. “You can try, little girl,” said the tiger with a terrible smile, “and while you teach me to eat plants, I will teach you how to fly like a hawk!” With that, the tiger, in perfect silence, crept back into the mountain forest.

John Stossel on Tim Pool and citizen journalism

There are real, honest journalists out there; they're just not to be found anywhere in the mainstream media (and yes, that includes Fox News). John Stossel, who has a mainstream-media pedigree, but who has also been something of a rebel, tracks the alt-media who are doing the work that mainstream journalists are supposed to have been doing all this time instead of shilling for liberal causes (mostly liberal, but also conservative causes):

Be sure to read the article accompanying the video here. If you're still watching mainstream media, you—are—being—lied—to. Does that make me sound crazy? Well, watch as, once again, the alt-media are better able to predict 2020 election outcomes than the mainstream media can. Why? Because the alt-media are actually in touch with reality. They were right once in 2016, and when they're right again in 2020, that'll be definitive proof that this isn't a "stopped clock right twice a day" phenomenon.

watch this space

On Monday night, I watched an amazing movie called "Leave No Trace," starring the excellent Ben Foster and the equally excellent Thomasin McKenzie. I found this film to be a quietly profound moviegoing experience, with superb direction, editing, and cinematography. I'll have more to say about it soon. A review is pending.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Styx is en fuego

I think these three vids qualify as must-see TV:

Gotta love the claw in the thumbnail image above.

The following vid, in particular, is significant:

images via Bill


so is the Starbucks mermaid one of the Old Gods or the New?


Apparently, fans watching Season 8 of "Game of Thrones," Episode 4, reacted with varying degrees of amusement and vexation when they caught an enormous gaffe: in a scene involving a table, viewers saw what appeared to be a very incongruous Starbucks coffee cup:
It’s a faux-medieval fantasy world of magic, dragons and heroic warriors … and possibly at least one coffee shop.

Fans of Game of Thrones have been reacting with bemusement and anger after a coffee cup from present-day Earth made an erroneous appearance in one of the latest episodes of the TV juggernaut, which has returned for its final season.

The offending item was spotted on a table in a scene where metal goblets and hollowed-out animal horns were the utensils of choice during a celebratory feast at Winterfell castle.

The show’s legion of fans were quick to react, with a general consensus soon forming that the cup, which appeared in episode four of the show’s eighth and final season, was from the Seattle-based coffee firm Starbucks.

However, HBO told Buzzfeed it was not from Starbucks.

“The latte that appeared in the episode was a mistake,” HBO said in a statement. “Daenerys had ordered an herbal tea.”
At some point, I'll see the episode for myself. Unfortunately, the adjective "celebratory," above, is a spoiler that tells me how the Battle of Winterfell must have gone in Episode 3. But again, this was to be expected because the real threat in the series is Cersei Lannister, who has adopted the mantle of Mad Queen, making it likely that her brother Jaime will once again have to save the realm by becoming the Queenslayer.

There's a moment in Season 1 of "24" when one camera pulls back and accidentally reveals another camera and its wheeled dolly. I don't know how I missed that the first time I watched the series; it's a glaringly obvious mistake. I also can't imagine how the showrunners missed the problem and failed to reshoot the scene. It is what it is, I guess; these things happen, and such problems put a piece of work in great company: there's a scene in the Civil War-era "Gone with the Wind" in which a character picks up a lamp that has an electric cord. D'oh.

Monday, May 06, 2019

when your Roomba turns into General George S. Patton

Clever science kid reprograms Roomba to swear and scream every time it hits something:

dildo omelette

It looks utterly disgusting, but I now love making "omelettes" (they're not really omelettes) via the Ziploc-boil method. These are among the best-tasting eggses I've ever made, and I think the reason is that no oil is involved. There's something very simple and pure about this prep method, and while the result isn't like what you get when you cook your ideal French omelette, it's still pretty damn tasty.

2-3 eggs
shredded cheese

I've run out of milk for the month, otherwise I'd have added milk to the ingredients list. Anyway, get a largish pot boiling, then reduce the heat so that the water is only barely boiling: even strong plastic like Ziploc will crinkle and melt a bit in the heat, so there's no need to blast the plastic with violently boiling water. In a sandwich-sized Ziploc bag, dump in your whole eggs and cheese; add salt and pepper to taste. Some YouTube vids show people also adding things like chives and spices, but in my case, I went minimalist because I knew I'd be slathering syrup over my breakfast, which included homemade sausage and cinnamon-sugar oatmeal. Squeeze out as much air as possible from the Ziploc, then seal it. Use your hand to mash and "scramble" the eggs and cheese until you've got everything to an even consistency. Hold the Ziploc by the top so that all the egg-and-cheese mixture gathers at the bottom of the bag. Dunk into the gently boiling water; the bag will initially sink before eventually rising again. It's while the bag is sunken that the egg mixture will start to solidify into a shape that looks uncomfortably like a dildo. Around that point, the bag will bob to the surface, and you'll simply leave it in place until it's mostly done. This process will take about 12 minutes from initial dunk. At the 12-minute mark, turn off the heat. The bag will be floating on one side like a dead fish; to finish off the cook, flip the bag over in the water to allow the exposed upper side of the dildo to go face-down and finish cooking, another 2-3 minutes. You're looking at about 15 minutes, total, in the water. Fish the Ziploc out with tongs, run cold water over the egg mixture to cool it down a bit (if you're planning on storing it before eating it the next day, that is; otherwise, pull the mixture out hot and just eat comme ça), then gently squeeze out your proud new egg-dildo and store it in a fresh Ziploc bag. Otherwise, skip the cooldown, dump the thing onto a plate, and eat it. I don't know why, but I find this prep method fantastic.

Depending on my mood, I enjoy my eggs in any number of forms and textures: runny, solid, salted, with Tabasco, done up as a true omelette, frittata'ed, quiched, merely scrambled—whatever. I think this Ziploc method for prepping a faux omelette appeals to me because the eggs remind me a bit of the kinds of eggs you get when you're on an airplane. The faux omelette will have a firm, thoroughly cooked consistency; if that's not your thing, then avoid this prep method. Otherwise, enjoy your dildo.

Kurt Schlichter: "Be a Rooftop Korean"


But in the LA riots, law enforcement was massively outnumbered. Imposing order took time.

And until then, our citizens were on their own, at the mercy of the mob. Betting that the cavalry was going to come save you was a losing bet.

LA’s Korean shopkeepers knew that. They operated many small businesses in some of the least fashionable areas of Los Angeles, and they were already widely hated by activists, being scapegoated for problems and pathologies that long pre-dated their immigration to Southern California. So, they became targets for the mobs.

Bad decision by the mobs.

See, most of these Koreans had done their mandatory service in the Republic of Korea’s Army. Those ROK soldiers are the real deal – the Norks are not a theoretical threat and the South Korean army does not spend a lot of time talking about feelings. They were some solid dudes. So, when the local dirtbags showed up for some casual looting, they noticed the rooftops were lined with hardcore guys packing some serious heat, including the kind of scary rifles that the Democrats want to ban.

The Rooftop Koreans.

I think Schlichter makes these Koreans out to be much more badass than they actually were (or are). Most Korean guys go through their army training, and then let themselves go to seed except for the periodic mandatory retraining they must undergo. These troops can hardly be called the best of the best. And if I recall, it's not as if the Korean shop-owners mowed down thousands of looters during the 1992 LA riots. Did they kill anyone? Wikipedia notes that 2300 Korean establishments were looted and/or burned in 1992, and that this damage constituted fully 45% of all the damage done during the '92 riots. So how effective, really, were the Rooftop Koreans?

But Wikipedia also reinforces Schlichter's point about the need to be ready to defend yourself and your community before the inaptly named first responders arrive on scene (as the saying goes: when seconds count, the police are just minutes away).

An article from the Los Angeles Times on June 18, 1991, highlights the growing violence prior to the riots. "Other recent incidents include the May 25 shooting of two employees in a liquor store near 35th Street and Central Avenue. The victims, both recent emigrants from Korea, were killed after complying with robbery demands made by an assailant described by police as an African-American. Last Thursday, an African-American man suspected of committing a robbery in an auto parts store on Manchester Avenue was fatally wounded by his accomplice, who accidentally fired a shotgun round during a struggle with the shop's Korean-American owner. "This violence is disturbing too," store owner Park said. "But who cries for these victims?"

On March 16, 1991, a year prior to the Los Angeles riots, storekeeper Soon Ja Du physically confronted black ninth-grader Latasha Harlins, grabbing her sweater and backpack when she suspected she had been trying to steal a bottle of orange juice from Empire Liquor, the store Du's family owned in Compton. Latasha hit Du in an attempt to get Du to release her arm and coat. Subsequently, Latasha turned to walk away and Du shot her in the back of the head, killing her. (Security tape showed the girl, already dead, was clutching $2 in her hand when investigators arrived.) Du was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and forced to pay a fine of $500, but not sentenced to any prison time. Relations between the African-American and Korean communities significantly worsened after this, and the former became increasingly mistrustful of the criminal justice system. Racial tensions had been simmering for years between these groups. Many African Americans were angry toward a growing Korean migrant community in South Central Los Angeles earning a living in their communities, and felt disrespected and humiliated by many Korean merchants. Cultural differences and a language barrier further fueled tensions. The probation Du received for killing Latasha Harlins, combined with the acquittal of the four LAPD officers in Rodney King's trial, resulted in the ensuing Los Angeles riots, with much anger directed at Koreans.

Television coverage of two Korean merchants firing pistols repeatedly at roving looters was widely seen and controversial. The New York Times said "that the image seemed to speak of race war, and of vigilantes taking the law into their own hands." The merchants were reacting to the shooting of Mr. Park's wife and her sister by looters who had converged on the shopping center where the shops were located.

Due to their low social status and the language barrier with immigrants, Korean Americans received very little if any aid or protection from police authorities. David Joo, a manager of the gun store, said, "I want to make it clear that we didn't open fire first. At that time, four police cars were there. Somebody started to shoot at us. The LAPD ran away in half a second. I never saw such a fast escape. I was pretty disappointed." Carl Rhyu, also a participant in the Koreans' armed response, said, "If it was your own business and your own property, would you be willing to trust it to someone else? We are glad the National Guard is here. They're good backup. But when our shops were burning we called the police every five minutes; no response."

At a shopping center several miles north of Koreatown, Jay Rhee, who said he and others fired five hundred shots into the ground and air, said, "We have lost our faith in the police. Where were you when we needed you?" Koreatown was isolated from South Central Los Angeles, yet despite this, it was the most severely damaged in the riots.

So Schlichter is probably right to emphasize the need for preparedness when it comes to home and community defense. But there's little evidence that the Rooftop Koreans ended up being all that effective in keeping their own properties safe.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

score one for John Mac

In his comment to my post on rightie hypocrisy, John McCrarey observed that

...platforms like Twitter and Facebook claim to be non-discriminatory in applying their so-called community standards. If they came out and admitted they only tolerate leftist viewpoints[,] I think they'd be okay. It's the pretending to be open to all that is dishonest.

No one expects a lefty or righty website to publish opposing views[;] it's understood they exist to preach to the choir. Lying about everyone being welcome and then dis-inviting those with opinions they don't like is perhaps illegal.
On Instapundit, there's a post linking to this article, which has an interesting title and an even more interesting subtitle:
Texas bill would allow state to sue social media companies like Facebook and Twitter over free speech
The proposal aims to protect users on social media platforms from censorship if a site advertises itself as impartial. Critics say the bill is too restrictive.
From the article:
A bill before the Texas Senate seeks to prevent social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter from censoring users based on their viewpoints. Supporters say it would protect the free exchange of ideas, but critics say the bill contradicts a federal law that allows social media platforms to regulate their own content.

The measure — Senate Bill 2373 by state Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola — would hold social media platforms accountable for restricting users’ speech based on personal opinions. Hughes said the bill applies to social media platforms that advertise themselves as unbiased but still censor users. The Senate State Affairs Committee unanimously approved the bill last week. (Update: The Texas Senate approved the bill on April 25 in an 18-12 vote. It now heads to the House.)

“Senate Bill 2373 tries to prevent those companies that control these new public spaces, this new public square, from picking winners and losers based on content,” Hughes said in the committee hearing. “Basically if the company represents, ‘We’re an open forum and we don’t discriminate based on content,’ then they shouldn’t be able to discriminate based on content.”
Well, I certainly don't disagree with John's comment or with the above-proposed bill. If you're a business, and you say you're going to do a thing, then you should be held accountable when you don't do that thing. Much of the current left's power comes from the fact that the governmental and business infrastructure in the US constantly gives the left a free pass, thus leaving it unaccountable. Put the squeeze on the left, make it feel some intense pain, and much of the current acting-out will diminish or even stop.

vids I like

Three videos to keep you entertained.

Instead of dancing to the oldies, howzabout having the oldies dance to the new stuff?

In the tradition of "Trainspotting," this nature video about dolphins engaging in recreational drug use is narrated by a Scotsman:

Lastly, fuck your political correctness:

"The Mule": review

Based on a true story about an octogenarian drug mule who worked for the Sinaloa Cartel, Clint Eastwood's 2018 "The Mule" is the story of a war vet and horticulturist named Earl Stone (Eastwood, who directs and stars). Stone has spent his best years being the center of attention as the charming owner of an award-winning flower business. His personal life is a mess, though: he has spent those same years largely ignoring and neglecting his family. His daughter Iris (real-life daughter Alison Eastwood) refuses to speak to Earl; his ex-wife Mary (Dianne Wiest) is extremely bitter. Only his granddaughter Ginny (Taissa Farmiga) is on speaking terms with him.

After a nasty encounter with his family at Ginny's wedding-rehearsal dinner, Earl gets an offer to become a driver for some shady folks. All he has to do is take a parcel, usually in a suitcase or a duffel bag, to a hotel near Chicago to be dropped off. He is then to toss his keys in the glove compartment, leave his truck for one hour, and when he returns, he'll find some money along with his truck's keys. He's also given a burner phone, which he must throw away after every dropoff ("That's a perfectly good phone!" Earl grouses). Earl's first run goes off without a hitch; he receives several tens of thousands of dollars in cash for his trouble, and he suddenly finds himself in a position to pay off his debts, un-foreclose his flower business, and pay for both his granddaughter's wedding expenses and her cosmetology education.

The DEA catches wind of a huge amount of cocaine entering Chicago—not just a few kilos a month, but hundreds of kilos a month. Agent Colin Bates (Bradley Cooper) is put on the case by his boss Carl (Laurence Fishburne). The DEA, even with the help of a Filipino mole, actually has trouble tracking Earl down because Earl has no criminal record and an absolutely squeaky-clean driving record. The DEA knows they're after someone nicknamed "Tati" (Spanish slang for "Gramps"), and they finally manage to figure out that Tati is driving a black pickup of some kind, but for a long stretch of the movie, there's almost no other data for the DEA to go on.

So the movie follows three subplots: (1) Earl's deal with the devil as he begins to realize what he's gotten into as a drug mule, (2) Earl's attempts at reconciliation with his family, and (3) the DEA's relentless hunt for the elusive Tati. There are only so many possible conclusions to a story in which the walls are closing in, and the story is very much about the ruthless pressure of time, which never stops ticking. Time's up for Earl insofar as the law is after him; it's also up for Earl in that he's nearing 90, so if he doesn't settle his affairs quickly, he'll lose any chance at absolution. These subplots are woven into each other in accordance with the slow, stately rhythm of Clint Eastwood's filmmaking style.

Watching an Eastwood film is a lot like watching Clint Eastwood himself go for a jog: everything is deliberately paced, meticulous, and unassuming. This aspect of Eastwood's filmmaking has only become more pronounced as Eastwood has gotten older; I can see that it's been dividing critics of late. The younger critics chafe at the sleepy nature of the later Eastwood's films; for this crowd, his movies lack punch and drama. But I think the older critics understand that Eastwood's direction has grown and matured along with the man himself, and he no longer concerns himself with what the younger crowd might want; he doesn't necessarily care about being "in touch." Like Eastwood's Walt Kowalski in "Gran Torino," and even like Eastwood's 70s-era Dirty Harry, Earl Stone is a man out of time: politically incorrect, insensitive without meaning to be, and barely able to function in the modern world of cell phones and texting. Despite the soft touch that Eastwood applies to his films, there's very much a hard-edged, libertarian subtext of Take it or leave it.

Overall, I found "The Mule" entertaining; along with the drama, there are light dashes of comedy. But the film does suffer from one major implausibility: Earl Stone seems way too naive when he makes that first run. Surely the man must know that he's running drugs. When he first pulls into that shadowy garage and gets surrounded by tattooed Latinos with machine guns, he has to understand he's getting involved in something highly illegal. How could he not? But the movie portrays Earl as naive enough not to sneak a peek at his own cargo until after he's done a few runs, and it's only upon actually seeing the cocaine that everything clicks for him. That element of the story stretched plausibility for me.

So it comes down to this: if you've seen a few latter-day Eastwood films, and you're fine with his directorial style, then you'll definitely enjoy "The Mule." If, on the other hand, you're impatient with slow-burn drama and deliberate pacing, then "The Mule" won't be your kind of movie. Wait twenty years and come back to it.