Sunday, June 30, 2019

Candace Owens face à face avec Nigel Farage

This is my first time listening to Nigel Farage at length.

Tim Pool: Dems learned nothing from 2016

Tim Pool: "We're seeing 2016 all over again."

Pool quotes heavily from a New York Times op-ed piece by quasi-rightie Bret Stephens that is basically a litany of Democrat mistakes, with the thesis that the fundamental problem for the current batch of Dems is their willingness to help everyone except Americans—and that's the stance that's guaranteed to win Trump a second term.

...a party that makes too many Americans feel like strangers in their own country. A party that puts more of its faith, and invests most of its efforts, in them instead of us.

They speak Spanish. We don’t. They are not U.S. citizens or legal residents. We are. They broke the rules to get into this country. We didn’t. They pay few or no taxes. We already pay most of those taxes. They willingly got themselves into debt. We’re asked to write it off. They don’t pay the premiums for private health insurance. We’re supposed to give up ours in exchange for some V.A.-type nightmare. They didn’t start enterprises that create employment and drive innovation. We’re expected to join the candidates in demonizing the job-creators, breaking up their businesses and taxing them to the hilt.

much-belated realization

There's a scene in Peter Jackson's "The Return of the King" in which our heroes, and their armies, confront a whole division of painted, muscular, oliphaunt-mounted marauders who use blaring horns and strident war chants to intimidate the enemy, maintain morale, and sustain focus and energy. It only just now occurred to me that the war chant was a grandiose version of a Maori haka. Makes sense, given that Peter Jackson's a Kiwi, and his trilogy was mostly filmed in New Zealand. Besides, hakas are always impressive.

I've slapped this up before, but here's Jason Momoa leading a haka as part of an "Aquaman" promo (in the back row, looking tiny compared to Momoa, is a bald Temuera Morrison):

Less festive but more touching is this clip of a tribute to Anthony Foley, a fallen rugby player:

Saturday, June 29, 2019

the lazy, helpless, victimized right

I'd say I lean right on matters of economics and geopolitics. On social matters (e.g., gay marriage, reproductive rights, etc.), my opinions are, I think, a bit more left-friendly, although I don't see the federal government as a panacea for social problems (e.g., homelessness) that really ought to be solved at the state and local level. I spend more column-inches, these days, castigating the left than castigating the right, and that's mainly because—and I think leftist Tim Pool has concluded the same thing—it's currently the left that's gone more batshit insane. Does the right harbor its own insanity? Of course it does, but that insanity is utterly eclipsed by the torrent of toxic nonsense coming out of the left during the Trump era—and much of it seems to have been provoked by the accession of Trump to the Oval Office. Trump didn't cause all this toxicity: he revealed it.

But there are reasons why I could never declare myself a full-on rightie. Bigotry is one. My rightie readers, who aren't bigots, will probably rush to point out that the righties they know and associate with aren't Nazis, sexists, homophobes, etc. And I'd believe those readers. But the evidence of free-speech platforms like Gab shows that right-wing bigotry, of exactly the sort the left complains about, is alive and well, and possibly also growing and festering. The left is paranoid about a lot of things, but it isn't paranoid to be worried about rightie bigotry. (I've addressed the issue of leftie bigotry multiple times, and that isn't the topic of the current post, so no tu quoque fallacies in the comments, please.)

Below is a moment where my irritation got the better of me on Gab. The /pol/ News Network regularly puts out its slanted posts (tweets are called "gabs" on Gab, but I'm still not comfortable writing "gabs"), some of which I agree with, and many of which I don't. What follows is yet more fodder for Jewish-conspiracy-theory assholes who are convinced—like many radical Muslims—that the Jews have taken over all the major institutions and are soon going to destroy or enslave the world. When I first joined Gab, I was shocked at the number of antisemitic righties there were, all of whom are utterly convinced the Jews are slowly but surely drawing their plans against the rest of us. Behold:

Along with bigotry is the question of rightie hypocrisy, especially when it comes to, say, the notion of a victim mentality. The right constantly beats the left over the head by saying that lefties are pussy-ass whiners who do nothing about their lot in life and act as if the world owes them something. But then along comes Patrick Bet-David, whom I just blogged about, and he says out loud something I've been thinking for at least a year: if the right is blubbering about how the left owns the media, why aren't rich righties buying up those same media outlets instead of letting this shit happen to them? Here—watch. I've cued up the exact moment in Bet-David's exchange with Jordan Peterson where this question comes up (listen through to at least 47:20):

The discussion continues beyond the band of time I've indicated; Peterson says, moments later, that the right has been slow to recognize the necessity of having such media platforms. In my opinion, this may be a flaw inherent in the conservative mentality itself: if you're always looking backward, and you're always suspicious of the new, it's hard to see the dangers that lie ahead. I suspect that a large proportion of conservatives score fairly low on "openness to experience" among the so-called "Big Five" personality traits. Liberals, who are much more open to novelty, are more likely to seize upon new technobaubles simply because they're new. This puts them at an advantage, and it probably explains why so many tech-related phenomena are dominated by the left. (True, the left also dominates moribund, dinosaur media like newspapers, but rest assured that we won't have those in a few decades.)

The Peterson/Bet-David exchange is consistent with the accusation of rightie laziness that I had made in an earlier post:

Alt-tech has no choice but to create an entire parallel market if free speech is to be preserved, and precisely this has been a weakness of the right from the beginning: it often lazily refuses to fight for its own existence, being content to (1) lazily rely on platforms made by people who do not have the right's interests at heart, then to (2) lazily complain when the censorship and deplatforming start.

If the right can't even recognize that it's already in the middle of an existentially important fight, and if individual righties can't be motivated to pick up the same sword and shield of vociferous activism that the left has employed for years, then the right deserves to fade into irrelevance. Too fat and lazy to defend itself, it ought to die a corpulent, indolent loner's bleak and ignoble death—hopefully to make room for something better.

Ave, John Pepple!

John Pepple just posted "Is College Obsolete?"—in which he linked to a YouTube video by entrepreneur Patrick Bet-David, who rakes the US education system over the coals, accusing it of being both a scam and a dinosaur that's unable to change with the times quickly enough to remain relevant. The video that Pepple linked to led me to a second Bet-David video; the two vids function as a pair, and both are worth watching. Instapundit has been beating the same drum about the obsolescence and scamminess of academe for a while, now, and I've become increasingly convinced that, if I were ever to have kids, I wouldn't put them through college at all: it'd be trade schools and workshops for them, giving them a chance to learn real skills and to stay at the forefront of technological evolution.

Bet-David isn't going to appeal to everyone. His videos are slick (except for the noisy way he inhales through his nose!), and they have the slimy feel of infomercials. But Bet-David isn't selling you anything, except to plug one or two of his other videos, so I'm convinced his motivation for ranting about education is from a sincerely activist perspective. I'm sold. Too bad these vids didn't come out when I was in high school.
"You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda' got for a buck-fifty in late charges at the public library."
—Will Hunting, Good Will Hunting, 1997

Just Write tackles "The Genius"

I don't watch any Korean TV, mainly because I find it to be even trashier than American TV, so I'm completely unplugged from a huge aspect of South Korean pop culture. As a result, I had no idea there even existed a Korean game show called "The Genius." The curator of the YouTube channel Just Write (same Canuck who did the takedown of the Hobbit films) has put out a video extolling "The Genius" as a great example of how to use editing in the service of storytelling. The show itself looked like the sort of Korean TV I find annoying (that is to say: most Korean TV), but the voiceover commentary was interesting in spite of the subject matter.

ouch—one of the more powerful memes I've seen (via Bill)

PJW: determined to go out in a blaze of glory

Paul Joseph Watson, never shy about sharing his acerbic opinions, has two videos out: one about how London has become a shithole, and another about the recent idiocy from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in which she involved herself in a fake-news piece of performance art, pretending to weep at the sight of miserable, detained illegal aliens at the US-Mexico border: in the photos where she's supposedly crying after seeing abject refugees, she's actually staring at an empty parking lot. The AOC news has been around for several days, and I hadn't bothered to blog about it because it's yet another in a long string of asinine acts by the freshman congresswoman. But PJW always puts a jolly spin on his bitterness, so I had to throw the AOC and London videos up on the blog.

Recently, given the mass Big Tech censorship going on, Watson has spoken darkly about how his days on YouTube are numbered. He is slowly but surely being demonetized and deplatformed, which has prompted him, like many fellow righties, to move to untouchable free-speech zones in the alt-tech sphere. These alt sites (e.g.,, BitChute, Gab, Parler, etc.) are much smaller than the Big Tech platforms of Twitter, Google/YouTube, and Facebook, but thousands have been moving over to them because of the sites' strong pro-free-speech stances. Watson has made the move, and he knows his time on YouTube is coming to a close, so I guess he's spending his final weeks or months trying to be as incendiary as he can. I'll probably stay with YouTube until the situation becomes intolerable, mainly because YouTube, through its sheer size, has become a trove of useful information for anyone wanting to learn anything about anything. Gab and Parler, while allowing people to breathe more freely, are overpopulated with people who do nothing but spout political opinions. And that's why I occasionally miss Twitter. Whatever the platform's problems, it offered a wide variety of possible interactions. That's something the alt-tech site will have to work on, and soon.

A shame about London. I watch Sorted Food, which presents a bright, clean, happy, and thoroughly sanitized image of London to the viewer. Watching Sorted, you'd never guess at how conditions apparently are there. Another city soon to have police no-go zones. Was John Cleese wrong to complain that London isn't an English city anymore? Probably not. Hell, the French folks I've known were saying, "Paris, ce n'est pas la France" back in the Eighties. London's just the next city to be rugby-piled by the ever-marching zombies.

Chandler Crump's debate postmortem

Wow. This kid continues to amaze. I believe this is commentary about the Night 1 debate—the one where three debaters—Robert O'Rourke, Cory Booker, and Julián Castro—suddenly broke into Spanish for no particular reason. I guess, if you were a Latino who wasn't very interested in hearing a bunch of gringos speaking English, this tactic might have gotten your attention... but that assumes you were watching the debates, anyway, despite not being interested. Anyway, here's young, intrepid Chandler with his take on the debate:

interesting take on the Dem debate: Jon Miller and Ami Horowitz

I didn't realize that Ami Horowitz, known for the investigative journalism he's done for the alt-media (e.g., no-go zones in Stockholm), used to be a 2020 Democrat presidential hopeful. He's always seemed pretty cozy with the right, so I guess I mistakenly took him for a rightie. Is he? Isn't he? I'll have to do some digging. But that's neither here nor there: the following video gives us a post-Dem-debate exchange between Jon Miller and Horowitz. Interestingly, much of the video is less a postmortem about how the hopefuls performed and more an exploration of counterfactuals as to how Horowitz would have responded to the (softball) questions posed to the debaters had he been part of the debate. Fascinating.

ADDENDUM: Wikipedia says Horowitz is indeed a conservative. Horowitz did, in fact, declare he was running for president as a Democrat, but it was because he felt the actual Democrats' ideas were all crazy, so it's doubtful this was ever meant as a serious campaign.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Ave, Charles!

Charles beats me to the punch and puts out his massive review of "Avengers: Endgame," a review that actually covers a good bit of "Infinity War" before moving to the main topic. I haven't read through everything, but when I saw that Charles had highlighted the utilitarianism/deontology conflict that divides Iron Man and Captain America,* I had to wonder whether he'd seen the same Wisecrack video I'd seen on YouTube.** Heh. Anyway, I look forward to finishing Charles's review, which will no doubt be clear, thorough, and eloquently expressed.

*UPDATE: I've read through my friend's review, and I see he liked the movie much more than I did, although I can't say I hated "Endgame." Charles actually frames the ethical divide as between the utilitarian Thanos and the deontic Avengers, but he makes clear that he doesn't see Thanos's behavior as fitting the utilitarian paradigm, nor does he see the Avengers as purely deontological in their collective (and somewhat patchy and fractured) worldview.

**For the record, this blog has also trafficked in moral dichotomies, although in our case, those were more of the deontology/consequentialism variety. See more here. Keep in mind, too, that utilitarianism can be seen as a species of consequentialism because of its focus on the practical effects of people's choices and actions. In the West, people tend to associate deontology with Kant and consequentialism with Hume. There are, of course, arguments that these two ethical modes aren't actually antipodal, but may, in their details, imply each other. In Asian thinking, a religion like Buddhism contains elements that are both deontological and consequentialist (e.g., the concept of upaya—skillful means—which is context-dependent and thus more consequentialist in nature; and the concept of sunyata—emptiness—which is a core, eternal metaphysical principle). Taoism is the same sort of mixed bag: living in harmony with the Tao requires fluid adjustments to every changing situation, but the Tao itself has a particular nature governed by discernible, unchanging principles. Whether we're talking East or West, though, ethics seems to play out in both bending and unbending forms which is, I suppose, simply a reflection of the variations that are possible in the human character. Some of us are inveterate pragmatists; some of us are inflexible idealists.

it's still there

My book is still at Yale. Click and behold.

That's right: I'll hypocritically slag US higher education while also basking in the cachet it confers on nobodies like me.

the father of postmodernism

Friedrich Nietzsche is often called "the father of postmodernism." Watch the 12-minute summary of Nietzsche's thought below and come to your own conclusions, but I'll just put this out there: signs of PoMo seem, to me, to be strewn throughout the presentation: truth as a function of power dynamics, the questioning of grand narratives, etc. The roots are all there, or so I think. It's not all PoMo, of course: Nietzsche's notion of the Übermensch, for example, would likely strike today's postmodernists as a trope in a larger, teleological metanarrative, and as any postmodernist will tell you, Metanarratives Are Bad. Enjoy.

a message from the Seoul Metro mascot

more images via Bill

I know I'd be happy to get about $60,000 in debt-forgiveness money.

That about sums it up. And leftists should be happy that cartoonist Lisa Benson drew the Trumpista as a fat white dude. Everybody wins!

status update: re-prescribed

Yerp: as suspected, when I went to the skin clinic, I ended up getting a prescription (are we on familiar enough terms that I can say "scrip" from now on?) for four more days' worth of meds—enough to carry me over the weekend. This time, I was also scheduled to see the doc on Monday morning at 10 a.m. She was wearing a mask today for some reason; maybe she was sick herself, or dealing with patients who are sick along with having skin problems. The meds got changed slightly; my antacid tablet got switched out with a probiotics tablet after the doc asked me whether I'd had any digestive problems (the Korean word for "diarrhea" sounds dangerously close to "salsa"). I said no, hence the switch.

The doc palpated my neck in a bit more detail; she uttered an ajumma-style noise that registered as somewhere near the centroid of surprise, disappointment, and disgust. I could tell she had expected my swelling to have gone way down. Well, without a proper lance-and-drain (watch this gross-but-satisfying video of cyst drainage if you dare), I don't see that happening anytime soon. As she was making the noise, I told her that, even though the lump wasn't shrinking, I had felt some improvement, e.g., now that I was on meds, I could sleep again after three nights of being unable to sleep.

So the plan is to take more meds, go back on Monday... and probably get another few days' worth of meds, unless Doctor Skin decides she's had enough, and she whips out her needle and sterile gauze. I might have that to look forward to.

Oh, yeah, before I forget: I've been trying very hard not to scratch the back of my neck, but Wednesday night, I scratched a bit and apparently knocked aside a scab that had been plugging a hole that went directly into part of the lump on my neck. I could feel fluid running out; when I dabbed at the wound with tissue, I saw it was blood mixed with lymph and something else that looked like pus. Seizing the opportunity, I tried squeezing along opposite sides of the bottom circumference of my neck lump, hoping to cause a mighty eruption of goo that would be accompanied by a sudden feeling of relief. No dice; whatever this wound was, it didn't lead into the center of the mass. But the pus that did come out was instructive: unlike the usual gross greenish or yellowish color, this pus had highlights of brown and gray in it, leading me to believe I might have been looking at dead bacteria—a sign that the meds were doing their work. I took some antibacterial wipes and disinfected the area around the wound as best I could; everything had re-scabbed over by the time I visited the doc the following day. Currently, I'm fighting the urge to lance the pussy lump myself (that's \ˈpʌsi\, not \ˈpʊsi\). Probably not wise.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

et tu, Vimeo?

Video-hosting service Vimeo, a YouTube competitor, has now also deplatformed James O'Keefe's Project Veritas video exposé about election-meddling at Google. Unbelievable. And shameless. Here's the screen grab I just saw on Gab:

I lived through a censorship nightmare here in Korea years ago. The ROK's Ministry of Communication and Information decided to block entire domains used by bloggers (including after a video of the beheading, by Muslims, of Korean hostage Kim Sun-il got leaked. We all found ways around the blockage, of course, but those felt like dire times all the same. Seeing this happening now, in the US, is a soul-crushing experience. Of course, if you're not a wrongthinker, then there's no problem for you because you already toe the party line. But for people who simply want to say "you're still chromosomally male even after transgender surgery" or "the solar minimum is about to prove that human activity has had very little effect on global climate," or any number of other things that aren't at all racist, sexist, or otherwise bigoted, all this encroaching, suffocating censorship feels like the coming of a very dark age, and it wouldn't surprise me if extreme (i.e., violent and bloody) action were taken as a corrective. Such action wouldn't be a corrective, of course: it would only make tyrants into martyrs and solidify the cause of the oppressors. But it wouldn't surprise me if someone took the notion that "heads oughtta roll" seriously. I hope the execs of Google, Facebook, et al. are living behind very high walls, and that they have plenty of guards.

must-see interview with Emily Lau

A lawyer, politician, activist, and staunch defender of a "one country, two systems" approach for Hong Kong, Emily Lau presents a striking contrast to craven toady Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's current chief executive and Beijing-minion, whom millions of demonstrators want to see out of office. China Uncensored's Chris Chapel has put up a 24-minute interview with Ms. Lau. I found it utterly engrossing. For those with too much to do in their lives: Lau speaks slowly enough that you can watch the video at 2X speed and still understand her clearly.

On a poignant note, listening to Lau reminded me a lot of listening to my great-aunt Gertrude who, even in her eighties, was full of life and sure in her convictions about right and wrong. Ms. Lau and my great aunt would have enjoyed sitting together and talking about the world. I generally turn a sour eye on politicians, but if more politicians managed to sound like Emily Lau instead of sounding as if they'd just come from an asshole-sucking session, I might like and respect politicians in general a hell of a lot more.

I'm too late to play, alas

Scroll down to the bottom of Stephen Green's drunkblogging of the Dem debate, and you'll see this charming image:

Will the board look different for Night #2?

we have a new enemy

If it's not obvious by now, the whole "Big Tech" issue is beginning to fill up the entire horizon to the point of occluding everything else. Both Styxhexenhammer666 and Tim Pool have been talking about how the issue of rampant censorship (and, with the latest Google scandal, the issue of election-meddling) started out mainly as a problem for online conservatives but has now become a problem for everyone on both sides of the aisle. Algorithms designed to block vaguely defined "objectionable content" are knocking out lefties almost to the same extent as righties. In the video below, we see Jon Miller acting unusually calm as his in-studio guest, John Matze—founder and CEO of the knew Twitter competitor Parler (which I'm on as @bighominid, of course)—rants about how firms like Apple are trying to shut him and his operation down. Matze is genuinely angry, as you'll see if you watch the video below:

If you're still not seeing that there's an enormous crisis of free speech going on, I don't know what else I can tell you. The lesson I take from the above video is that new platforms like Parler are going to have to find a way to host their apps on their own store instead of relying on Apple's App Store or Google's Play Store (Play Store has de-platformed apps related to Gab, that other free-speech competitor of Twitter). Alt-tech has no choice but to create an entire parallel market if free speech is to be preserved, and precisely this has been a weakness of the right from the beginning: it often lazily refuses to fight for its own existence, being content to (1) lazily rely on platforms made by people who do not have the right's interests at heart, then to (2) lazily complain when the censorship and deplatforming start. My hat is off to people like Andrew Torba for creating Gab, and to John Matze for creating Parler. These guys are the front line in the creation of an alt-tech realm where free speech—as ugly as it can get—is actually taken seriously. I don't really like swimming through the sprawling fens of bigoted sludge on Gab, but I'll defend Gab's right to exist.

ADDENDUM: here's Tim Pool on how the Google scandal is blowing up, but only because Donald Trump is now talking about it. The left-leaning media refuse to pick up the story except in an oblique manner:

Stephen Green's "drunkblogging" Dem-debate commentary

The Democrat hopefuls—about twenty of the twenty-five—have been divided into groups of ten and given two nights in which to appear on stage and have something resembling a debate... however that's supposed to work when it's a ten-way exchange.

Instapundit and PowerLine Blog commentator Stephen Green, a.k.a. Vodkapundit, has made it a tradition to "drunkblog" events like this. His blow-by-blow commentary is here. I have yet to comb through the whole thing, but here are some quick highlights (keeping in mind this is all from a rightie/libertarian, Instapundit perspective), moving backwards in time:

11:02 p.m.:
Well, what to say?

It was a high-speed multiperson press conference where the questions were asked by cheerleaders.

That's the show the DNC wanted, and it's the show NBC delivered.

10:49 p.m.:
Gabbard catching up a bit to Booker in Google searches after that Afghanistan section. Warren kind of disappearing in hour two
— Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) June 27, 2019
My pet hypothesis is that Warren failed to shine in the first hour, when NBC gave her gimme after gimme, and they switched focus to the other non-winners.

10:46 p.m.:
Kudos to Delaney, for explaining that NOBODY CARES about this impeachment BS.

10:44 p.m.:
Beta is against Russian intervention and Trump, and in favor of George Washington except for the part where he held slaves.

Also, impeach now.

I guess this is his big close.

Flubbed it.

10:42 p.m.:
Actual fireworks here between Ryan and Gabbard over pulling out of Afghanistan.

If this were a real debate, this could get interesting. Instead, time to change the subject and get back to a real issue: Who hates Republicans and/or Trump the most?

10:39 p.m.:
Tim Ryan: "I have been in Congress for 17 years."

As good an argument for term limits as I've ever heard.

Isn't it time to give some other bland nonentity a chance at free travel and earning six figures?

10:24 p.m.:
#demdebate @NBCNews reactionaries won’t let Delaney speak - and he’s the only reasonable person on the stage.

— Roger Simon (@rogerlsimon) June 27, 2019
Well... yeah, we can't have that.

10:13 p.m.:
What are you going to do about ___?
“____ is terrible. I’m against ___, and I have a plan. We will get this done”
What are you going to do about ___?
“___ is a human right and I have a plan to make sure everyone will get ___”

— ???????????????? (@melifix) June 27, 2019
It's DNC Debate Mad Libs!

Damn, I wish I'd thought of that.

9:50 p.m.:
The blonde lady moderator wants to know what Cory Booker (and one of the old white guys, too, who I can't place without a scorecard) will do on DAY ONE, and no more of this "first 100 days" bullcrap, because apparently she's in a bigger hurry to push the Democrat agenda than the actual candidates are.

In short, this is a very stupid "debate."

I'll end this post with a helpful Subverse video (Subverse is one of Tim Pool's straight-news channels—no opinion, just news) that quickly surveys the Dem candidates and their positions:

four via Bill

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

disturbing behavior from the right

I'd like to hear the other side of this story:

Oregon’s Legislative Chaos Has Senators Fleeing to Idaho and a Militia Threatening the Capitol:

Oregon’s state Legislature appeared to be on track last week to pass a sweeping climate change bill aimed at curbing emissions in the state. At least until Republicans in the state Senate decided to go to extremes to prevent a vote, making a move that resulted in the governor calling in Oregon State Police. And the drama didn’t end there: Democrats canceled a session Saturday over safety threats from a far-right militia group.

The bill would make Oregon the second state after California to adopt cap-and-trade restrictions and would dramatically reduce emissions by 2050, but Republicans argue it would drag down the state’s economy. Eleven GOP senators who opposed the bill went all out to prevent a vote, fleeing the Legislature on Thursday. Oregon Democrats have a supermajority, but they aren’t able to vote without a quorum. The move effectively halted the legislative process, and Democratic Gov. Kate Brown ordered state police to find the senators and haul them back to the statehouse. Some had fled to Idaho and other states, out of the jurisdiction of the Oregon police. Each senator faces a fine of $500 per missed session.

But there’s more. Senate leadership shut down the state capitol Saturday after receiving threats from far-right militia groups planning to protest that day outside the statehouse in support of the GOP senators. The Senate’s president, the entire Democratic caucus, and the building’s staff received threats, according to the Associated Press.

A spokeswoman for the Senate president told the Washington Post that she feared the groups were connected to Idaho rancher Ammon Bundy and his militia, who in 2016 led an armed occupation and 41-day standoff with federal authorities at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.* Members of the Three Percenters of Oregon, a militia group that took part in Malheur takeover, said they would participate in the capitol protests.

Republicans in Oregon appeared to think the militia and threats to Democratic lawmakers were funny when they took to Twitter to satirize the situation. “Heavily armed militia lays siege to Oregon’s Capitol as Senate Democrats cower in fear,” the Oregon GOP tweeted. As the Oregonian pointed out, the joke seemed to be insinuating that Democrats were scared of peacefully protesting Oregonians, but the state police had deemed the threats against Democrats credible.

The above is from left-leaning Slate. I'll be curious to hear the right's opinion on this. If rightie militias really are threatening the Oregon state government, then I hope police action is indeed taken. I also find it shamefully pusillanimous that the Republican senators felt it necessary to abandon their state simply to prevent a quorum from forming. The proper thing to do would be to have the vote, lose the vote, campaign hard to win the next election cycle, boot out the Dems from the legislature, and then repeal the climate bill. If the local GOPers are convinced the bill, when it becomes law, will be bad for Oregon's economy, then they'll have proof, in a few years, of that failure, which will give the Oregonian GOP something to campaign on. That's how civilized people act. Fleeing the state is childish, cowardly, and about as cringe-inducing an act as I can think of. And all this comes on top of multiple accusations by GOP conservatives that Democrats are the childish ones. Yeesh.

UPDATE: Instapundit has some remarks from June 21 here. Keep in mind that several days have passed, and the story has evolved since then.

the "ㅇㅠㅇ" emoji

I was watching a street-food video about fried cheese on a stick in Insa-dong (see here) when I noticed one of the Korean commenters had left the following comment:

ㅇㅠㅇ 나도.... 나도.... ("Ooh—me, too... me, too...")

At a guess, the "ㅇㅠㅇ" emoticon means "drooling face," but it reminded me of something more sinister:

As for the fried cheese... I'd have gone with halloumi. Had I stuck with mozzarella, I'd have frozen each stick, breaded it, then deep-fried the whole mess. Breading or no breading, I wouldn't have served the mozz with some weird, sugary, semen-looking sauce: it'd have been some kind of garlic-herb butter for sure. Sometimes, these street vendors have no sense when it comes to Western flavor profiles.

and whilst the neck doth fester...

Things got achier and slightly feverish again right before I went to sleep last night (well, technically, this morning). I felt betrayed because I had taken my third hit of medicine only a few hours before hitting the sack. Why were things worsening? Getting to sleep proved to be a chore, so I wrote my review of "First Reformed" and did eventually get to sleep.

Woke up feeling fine. More than fine. Felt the back of my neck: no apparent change in the size (or itchiness) of the swelling. But there was no fever, and I was mentally focused—a fact that was far more important to me than any fever. (I'm beginning to think that one of the scariest human experiences must be the gradual or sudden loss of one's faculties. It's going to happen to me someday, and I hope Bill Cosby is right that, when it happens, I won't know it.) I took the first of my final three packets of medicine, showered, then set to clipping my toenails.

Normally, clipping my toenails isn't something I'd bother to blog about, but today was a big day: the second toenail on my right foot, which had been looking deadish for more than a month, lifted off without a word of complaint, apparently having decided that today would be the day it gave up the ghost. Underneath the now-departed nail was a field of unpleasant-looking brown; I tore out one of my antibacterial wipes and went to town, clearing away as much of the discoloration as possible. I saw that a new toenail had already begun growing in place of the dead nail; death makes way for new life. There it was: a universal law playing out on the tip of my Morton's toe.

Working on my old and new toenails made me slightly late for work. Luckily, I have some comp time to my name, so that's not tragic. Neck-wise, I'm feeling more or less fine; we'll see how tonight goes. Tomorrow, I visit the skin clinic again, and I'll probably end up with another prescription to get me through the weekend. Feels a bit like visiting a drug dealer.

the Google scandal has legs

Google's current scandal isn't going away anytime soon. Will it lead to Google's collapse? Hardly. If the phrase "too big to fail" applies to any entity, it applies to Google. That said, things aren't looking good for the company that, until a few years ago, arrogantly admonished all of us proles not to be evil.

Google Execs Suddenly Go Into Hiding After Project Veritas Exposes...

Tim Pool has a good followup on the Google mess:

Styx also has a take on what's going on:

Meanwhile, antitrust legislation is becoming a hotter and hotter topic by the day. Pool's video, above, notes that the call to break up Big Tech firms is now coming from both sides of the aisle. On the Dem side, you've got voices ranging from AOC to Kamala Harris to Maxine Waters to Elizabeth Warren. Any number of voices are coming from the right, but one of the louder ones is that of Senator Ted Cruz, who is young enough to have some idea of what's actually happening in Big Tech.

Right now, it's a bit like dousing an elephant's ankles with gasoline and setting the beast on fire. You won't kill the elephant, but there's a chance you might hobble it. With a giant, all-powerful firm like Google, maybe that's the best we can hope for.

"First Reformed": review

I'm really not sure what to think about "First Reformed," a 2017 drama written and directed by Paul Schrader, starring Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Victoria Hill, and Cedric the Entertainer. Perhaps I'll have a clearer idea of what to think when I finish writing this review. The movie is beautifully acted, and some parts of it are amazingly scripted, but the story's arc gets a full dose of teh krayzee by the third act, and I honestly had trouble relating to what had seemed to be a profound and moving story unfurling before me. Think of "First Reformed" as a perfect paper airplane that, when thrown, flies beautifully for a long time before suddenly wobbling and unceremoniously crashing to the ground. As with all performances, what matters is whether you stick the landing because one's final impression of a performance is often one's most lasting impression of it. A movie that's 80% profound and 20% silly at the end will be remembered for the silly. That, in essence, is my problem with "First Reformed."

The First Reformed Church of Snowbridge, New York, is a tiny white chapel with roots reaching back two hundred and fifty years. Once a stop along the Underground Railroad, First Reformed is now sparsely attended, surviving mostly as a tourist attraction under the guardianship of the much larger, 5000-seat Abundant Life congregation, based in Albany. Pastor Ernst Toller (Hawke)—whose name has significance in both English and German—is the minister for First Reformed. When the movie begins, Toller tells us via voiceover that he has decided to maintain a journal for a year. The journal functions as several things: an attempt at communion with the divine, an awkward form of prayer, and a place for Toller to pour out his unedited thoughts, thus allowing for a merciless form of self-criticism.

Toller has a lot on his mind and heart: his past haunts him because he lost his son Joseph in Iraq, after which his wife left him. He also has to contend with bloody urine, bloody stools, bloody coughs, and general weakness, which all seem to point toward something cancer-like raging inside him, but he keeps up his heavy drinking and other bad habits, unmindful of the stealthy approach of that glowering tiger, karma. Along with alcohol, Toller—a Protestant—tries to drown his sorrows by reading the work of Catholic mystics like Thomas Merton.* The organist at his parish, John Elder (Bill Hoag), is concerned for him, as is the pastor of Abundant Life, Joel Jeffers (Cedric). Also concerned for him is Esther (Hill), with whom Toller apparently has something of an uncomfortable past: the story implies that Toller and Esther had briefly been in a sexual relationship after Toller's wife had left him. Esther, a kind-hearted soul, still carries a torch for Toller, but lately, he's having none of it, perhaps because he views his tryst with Esther as an embarrassing lapse, a moment of moral weakness.

Also in Toller's parish are Mary and Michael Mensana (Seyfried and Philip Ettinger), a quiet young couple. Mary, who is more religious than Michael, wants the good reverend to speak with her husband: she's pregnant, and her husband, an environmental activist who gets in trouble with the police and suffers bouts of depression, doesn't want to bring a child into a world that he believes is on the verge of collapse thanks to humanity's depredations against nature. Toller and Michael have a cautious sit-down that turns passionate when Michael, in talking about the impending death of the world, gives in to his despair and becomes emotional. Toller ends his visit by suggesting that he and Michael meet again; he writes about this encounter in his journal, and it's obvious that he's deeply touched by Michael's genuine concern for the planet and all of its life.

Mary pages Toller later, asking him to come quickly to the Mensana residence. There, she shows Toller something she had found tucked away: a suicide vest, fully rigged with explosives. Alarmed, but also unwilling to involve the police, Toller promises to take the vest and dispose of it, then to speak with Michael again, this time directly addressing the issue of the suicide vest. An arrangement is made for the pastor and Michael to meet; Michael ends up changing the meeting venue to a nearby park. Toller arrives to find Michael's corpse: Michael has blown his own head off with a shotgun.

Michael's death, which occurs early in the film and isn't much of a spoiler, is the event that gets the plot moving because it affects Toller deeply: despite not being overtly religious, Michael was willing to die for his beliefs while Toller, undergoing a crisis of faith, has lately felt disconnected from the divine. I'll do my best not to spoil the rest of the plot; suffice it to say that, in the background of all this, First Reformed's 250th anniversary and reconsecration are coming up, with Abundant Life largely taking the lead and handling all the details of the ceremony. Toller also has to deal with Edward Balq (Michael Gaston), a rich and powerful industrialist who has done his part to keep First Reformed financially afloat, and who is arrogant and entitled as a result, even while his companies continue both to pollute the environment and to provide significant funding to Abundant Life—thus keeping Pastor Jeffers from complaining about Balq.

Here's what "First Reformed" does well: for most of its running time, it gives us a fairly realistic portrait of one very human and fallible pastor. The character of Ernst Toller is well developed and dimensional; for most of the movie, the viewer feels for him. We get his sadness, his anger, and his frustration. We understand why he is so moved by Michael's suicide—moved from contemplation to action of his own. We resonate with his loneliness, his repeated rejection of Esther's gentle overtures. Toller's cruel outburst against Esther isn't surprising: the man is a wounded animal who is irrationally rejecting all aid. God seems absent, and the works of the mystics provide no real comfort. What Toller wants is reconnection—communion—with something deep. Around Toller are the other characters in the film, also excellently portrayed by the entire cast. Cedric the Entertainer (billed in the credits as "Cedric Kyles") is a true surprise in his role as the loud, affable, and worldly Pastor Jeffers. Amanda Seyfried, who has become somewhat less annoying to me over time (like Ethan Hawke himself), does a fine job portraying a young widow who is lost and alone, and also in need of some form of human connection. I also have to tip my hat to Philip Ettinger, who plays the ill-fated Michael Mensana: the guy sells the role. I'm not anywhere near the nutty environmentalist that his character is, but Ettinger thoroughly convinces me of Michael's sense of urgency and doom. Ettinger makes the moral question of bringing a child into a dying world feel real to me, and that's about as high a compliment as I can pay to any actor. Hats off, as well, to the director—at least for the first two-thirds of the film. The pacing, the buildup of tension—these factors are all expertly handled.

Where things go wrong for me, and it pains me to write this, is the film's third act. Without revealing what happens, I can say that pregnant and vulnerable Mary Mensana receives a moment of deep spiritual communion by way of an act of intimacy that could have cynically tumbled into the sexual realm, but didn't. My problem with that soaring, spiritual scene is that it took me immediately out of the film which, up to that point, had been brutally realistic in its portrayal of people in the midst of personal crises. I don't know what director Paul Schrader was thinking, frankly, when he decided to flip the chess table over and go from empathetic vérité to fantastical pablum. One reason why I like watching movies with my two brothers is that, if my brothers see something happen on screen that seems like bullshit to them, they'll point at the screen and laugh their asses off. I imagined my brothers sitting with me, and when the scene in question occurred, I laughed loud and hard in spite of myself: I had genuinely been taken by surprise. Mary's weird communion involves someone else, a partner whose own spiritual vision curdles from galaxies and stars and mountains to vast stretches of toxic waste and endless rivers clogged with filthy plastic containers. I got the metaphorical import of this communion scene; if anything, it was way too heavy-handed and on-the-nose. Again, I had to wonder what the hell Paul Schrader was thinking.

But the movie becomes even more ridiculous than this, and I'm sorely tempted to reveal the details of its finale. (I won't, though.) On the one hand, the finale makes some sense because it's the plausible endpoint of an increasingly desolate trajectory. On the other hand, the specific actions taken by the despondent character strike me both as utterly ridiculous, and as not at all in keeping with what I know about men of the cloth, most of whom are not child molesters, greedy gangsters, drunkards, or other forms of scum. The third act of "First Reformed" left me wondering whether Schrader was suddenly trying for comedy. I'm fairly sure he wasn't, but I can't shake the feeling that he had pulled in a little too much of the ridiculous for the film to handle. That's utterly on Schrader, not his actors: the man is credited as the writer, and he was the main guy behind the camera. Whatever problems I've perceived in this film have everything to do with the screenwriting and not with anything else.

I can't help but contrast this movie with the much better "Calvary" (reviewed here). The parallels between these two films are rather obvious. Both stories apparently took partial inspiration from Journal d'un curé de campagne (Diary of a Country Priest). Both stories feature troubled men of the cloth who are facing impending death, all while having to minister to a sparse congregation that doesn't seem to have much faith in anything. In both stories, the holy men are beset by various antagonists, most of whom see the striving toward godliness as futile. But "Calvary," which marketed itself as both a drama and a black comedy, handles the humor/horror dimension of its plot much better than does "First Reformed." Director Schrader could have learned much by studying "Calvary" and understanding how it had been put together. "Calvary" marches toward its sad, brutal, cynical, yet strangely uplifting conclusion; "First Reformed," by contrast, utterly fails to stick the landing. The latter film's final moment struck me as both asinine and completely predictable: two of the movie's characters were destined to end up together; the signs were painfully obvious, and all those glib clichés about "two lost souls rescuing each other" came nauseatingly to mind.

There is, however, a school of thought out there that claims the final scene is merely a vision occurring in one character's febrile, collapsing imagination. The strongest evidence for this is that a door that had been visibly, provably locked in an earlier scene is somehow magically unlocked in the final scene, thus indicating that the final scene is, well, the final fantasy of a dying brain. Even if this is true, though, the disjunction between the final scene and the first two-thirds of the film is too violent and, to my mind, unjustified. To use the ecclesiastical metaphor: it's a fart in a church.

It hurts me to write all of this about "First Reformed"—it really does. I so wanted to like this movie, but I felt that Paul Schrader yanked us from what could have been a human and humanistic tale in order to expose us to something far more dramatic and unrealistic. The communion symbolism was heavy-handed, and the change in plot and tone was jarring, not nearly as satisfying as the sudden flight into fantasy that happens at the very end of "The Florida Project." This could have been such a good movie. Instead, it ended up ringing false to my religious-studies ears and being such a colossal disappointment. What a waste.

*Catholic-Protestant cross-pollination isn't surprising or extraordinary; branches of Christianity have, in the modern age, become remarkably ecumenical. Still, it's interesting to see Toller reaching beyond his own tradition's writers and thinkers for the solace he craves.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

selective outrage

Seen at Patriot Post:

Obama and the Dems were pro-border-security until Trump came along. Obama had "concentration camps" for illegal aliens as well, but there was no outrage—nor any Nazi comparisons—back then. Why? Because you don't mess with the Messiah. Then along comes Cheeto Hitler, and suddenly black is white, up is down...

MORE: 'Morally Bankrupt:' Joe Biden Blames Trump for Obama Immigration Policies. Good Christ. Biden was Obama's VP, and he doesn't remember Obama's own policies? I hope Creepy Uncle Joe does become the Dem nominee. Neurotic fact-checkers who always go after Trump ought to have a field day with Biden... assuming they're honest and fair, of course, which we can't assume.

a mindful yugio to you

June 25 marks the start of the Korean War in 1950. It's not a national holiday, but it's a day for mindful remembrance and reflection on what this country has been through, not to mention how far it's come in the decades since the war.

neck: status update

I'm impressed: the antibiotics seem to be working. I was actually able to sleep last night—something I haven't been able to do since Friday night. Having an infected, achy neck means there's no comfortable position you can assume while in bed. Either you roll onto the swelling and receive a truckload of pain that way, or you roll off the swelling and, thanks to the angle of your head, end up painfully stretching the pus-filled sac.

But last night, I had a night's sleep. Not a good night's sleep, mind you, but I slept. This morning, the neck ached as if I had strained a muscle; in fact, swiveling my head has been a chore all day long. That said, I don't feel the mental fog I had experienced over the weekend: there's no more dizziness, and I can type at full speed just fine. I felt a tiny bit feverish before going to sleep last night, but there's been no fever at all today. I'm still feeling weak and sluggish enough that I won't be walking home tonight, but if this improvement trend continues, I ought to be doing much better by the weekend.

So that's how things stand for now. I've got enough pills to last me through tomorrow, then I go back to the skin clinic on Thursday for some more breezy, brisk, blithely delivered Korean-style health care. I'll be curious to see whether I get another three days' worth of pills. Am betting yes. Which means I get to see the cutie at the pharmacy again.

Lesson learned: don't pick at your folliculitis keloidalis. And wash your bed linens more often. All this reminds me of a poem I wrote years and years ago.

Jon Miller with an excellent rant about the Google thing

If you're in tune with the alt-media complex, then you know all about the Google scandal that erupted a few days ago, partly thanks to Project Veritas, the investigative-journalist effort headed by James O'Keefe. Veritas has revealed hidden-camera footage of highly placed Google employees who openly admit they are actively doing what they can to make sure Donald Trump loses his 2020 reelection bid. Jon Miller has some choice words for these people, who think they can usurp democracy and directly grasp the electoral levers of power.

Whenever the left accuses the right of something—violence, racism, election-meddling, etc.—you can bet that's because the left is projecting. It's the man who farts in the elevator who shouts, "Who the hell farted?!"

TRIVIA: Google's old motto, Don't Be Evil, was removed from public view in 2015 in favor of Do the Right Thing. The old motto was still seen on Google's private code of conduct until it was finally, quietly dropped in 2018. Source.

ADDENDUM: more on the scandal here.

Monday, June 24, 2019

quick-and-dirty note to self

I thought I had slapped up a link to my friend Steve's "quick and dirty" notes on PoMo, a.k.a. postmodernism, but I guess I hadn't after all these years. I've found Steve's writeup to be the clearest and most useful summary of PoMo I've ever read. Agree with PoMo or not (longtime readers know I don't, although I think PoMo has its place—as one perspective among many—within the narrow confines of art and literary criticism), but it helps to have a simple breakdown of PoMo as a philosophy, an artistic style, and a historical period.

Here's that Google Docs link.

And here are some keywords:
Stephen doCarmo, Dr. d, Dr. doCarmo, quick and dirty, notes, PoMo, postmodernism

inspired by the bubo on my neck

Say, honey, will you suck out all my pus?
And suck it out complete—no fuss, no muss?
You know I'd thank you kindly for your aid,
and yes, I'll guarantee that you be paid
My bubo, like a bomb, will boom or bust
So, honey, will you suck out all my pus?

it doesn't pay to be a horny old man

Dr. Vallicella writes about the fall of Dr. John Searle, a big name in philosophy of mind. Searle gave the world the famous "Chinese room" thought experiment. Alas, Searle, who is 86, was recently "stripped of his emeritus status" because he'd been "found to have violated sexual-harassment policies." Searle allegedly showed porn to his students, and—who knows?—it may have been his hope to lure in a young, fresh undergrad or three. Vallicella writes:

I say you are young until 30, middle-aged 30-60, and old thereafter. If you feed your sex monkey, he can torment you throughout that middle-aged period and beyond depending on your level of vigor. It is interesting, and indeed important, to note that according to St. Augustine, who had wide experience in these matters, no man achieves continence without divine assistance. So rather than say that insatiable lust is absurd, I prefer to say that it is border-line demonic.

Lord Russell, if I rightly recall, refused to remain faithful to his wife even in his 80's. Now that truly is absurd. You chase a woman. Suppose you catch her. What the hell do you do then? Sniff her hair like creepy Joe Biden? It is natural for a young man to be on the prowl, and you would entertain certain doubts about a young man who wasn't; but an old man on the prowl cuts a ridiculous figure, and is failing to make use of his old age for what it is good for: finally breaking his bondage to the flesh.

Dr. V. is something of an unimaginative nerd (not to mention a prude) when it comes to matters of sex, I think. Clint Eastwood was 66 when he married Dina Ruiz, who was a young, firm 30. That marriage lasted 17 years. Should Eastwood have devoted his time to "breaking his bondage to the flesh"? Who can say? Some men feel strongly the impulse to spew their DNA far and wide. This is the gift, and the strife, they bequeath to the world.

they say it's an infection

I went to the skin clinic today. Everybody there was very brisk. The lady at the front desk initially told me I'd have to wait thirty minutes to see a specialist, but I waited for only three minutes after filling out a patient form that required my name, phone number, and alien-registration number. The dermatologist, as brisk as everyone else, asked me to sit down and explain my problem. I showed her my nape warts and told her that that wasn't the issue: the huge swelling was. She gave a knowing "Oh!" upon seeing the swelling, palpated it once with her index finger, and when I ventured that it might be an infection, she flatly said, "Yes, you've got an infection." She asked me whether I'd been scratching the back of my neck, and I said yes, so I think we both agreed that scratching should be considered a proximate cause of infection. She asked me about what other meds I'm on, so I told her about the blood-pressure and diabetes meds. She then prescribed an antibiotic, an anti-inflammatory, and an antacid, reassuring me that there wouldn't be any problems with drug interactions. My prescription would be for three days' worth of medicine, and I'd have to come back to get reassessed. If I show a lot of improvement by Thursday, I won't need any more meds. Otherwise, I guess the doc will prescribe another three or so days' worth of pills.

It was then just a matter of paying for the consult (about $4) and taking my prescription over to the pharmacy down the hall. My meds ended up costing me only $5, so all in all, this was a painless experience. The cute girl at the pharmacy could speak and write English pretty well; I told her so in Korean, thus startling her and making her giggle. I really was impressed that she knew terms like "antibiotics," "anti-inflammatory," and "gastric agent." I learned the Korean terms right there on the spot when I looked at my paper bag filled with meds.

So I'm all pilled up and curious to see whether there's any improvement over the next few days. I'm glad to hear that it's an infection and not anything worse, although I'm still a bit leery about how quickly the consult occurred.

More news as it happens.

a little freaked out, here

Compare these two shots. See anything disturbing about the first woman?

It really seems to me as if the first woman has no shoulders at all. I see the bulge of her biceps, as well as her smooth triceps, which face me; I see the 45-degree-angled trapezius muscles. But where the hell are her deltoids? There seem to be depressions where her shoulder muscles ought to be. Compare with the lady in the second pic: she doesn't have any biceps to speak of, but she's got her deltoids, at least!

I can't stop staring. Am I missing something?

neck-melodrama update

Earlier this evening, I looked up "home antibiotics" and found several lists of supposedly natural antibiotics. Among them were honey, garlic, oregano, thyme, and apple-cider vinegar (which also quickly reduces one's blood sugar). So I made a gooey potion out of the first four ingredients—honey, fresh garlic, and dried herbs—and simply spooned the horrid mess into my mouth while keeping my nostrils shut. The aftertaste, once I began breathing again, was pretty terrible. As for the vinegar: I have a bottle of double-strength apple-cider vinegar, so I diluted that with water to make about a 40% solution, then I downed two shots of the stuff.

Result: about an hour after downing the natural "remedies"... I feel distinctly better. The mental fog has lifted, and I'm back to typing quickly, with many fewer errors. I've also sprayed my pillowcase with antibacterial Febreze; I'll probably boil the pillowcase in the morning and maybe think about putting the rest of my pillows through a wash cycle, just to be sure. If I'm dealing with an infection, then the pillowcase is probably the culprit because I'm a guy, which means I don't wash my bed linens as often as any sane woman would like me to.

We're not out of the woods yet. I've palpated the massive lump on the back of my neck, and it's still both huge and sensitive, like a third testicle. But I trust that, with another few blasts of my vile potion, I may well be on the way to recovery without having to spend fifty bucks (or however much it'd cost) at the skin clinic. So I'm no longer planning to visit the skin clinic; instead, I'll keep dosing to see whether the swelling goes down, and all returns to the status quo ante. If it does so within about a week, then I'll have been vindicated.

MORNING UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: I'm off to the skin clinic in the building where I work. I expect to be told I have a fairly massive infection, and the specialists will either drain it via lancing/squeezing or lancing/suction. I foresee a prescription for antibiotics in my future as well. The pain last night kept me from sleeping, and when I got out of bed around 8 a.m., I could tell the problem had worsened during the night. So, while I still have my mental faculties, I'm heading off to see the experts. Here's hoping they really are experts. I freely admit that I have trust issues.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

the thing(s) on the back of my neck

I've had these bumps on the back of my neck for several years, now. They'd often itch a little, so I'd pick and scratch at them. They never went away, so I knew they weren't acne, although some of the bumps occasionally behaved like acne. They'd sometimes enlarge, but then they'd shrink back to their original size. Picking at the bumps would sometimes lead to a little bleeding; again, there were no consequences more dire than that.

So I ignored the bumps, dismissing them as annoyances. A few months ago, while I was visiting my #3 Ajumma, she saw the back of my neck and exclaimed that I needed to see a doctor about my problem. "That's so close to your brain!" she said.

A few days ago, I looked up "bumps on nape" on Google, and I got several results, the most prominent of which was folliculitis keloidalis (FK). You can read about the condition here at DermNet NZ and/or look up "bumps on nape" for yourself. If you visit that DermNet page, you'll note that the entry says, "[F]olliculitis keloidalis is more common in dark-skinned people than in whites, and most often affects adult Afro-Caribbean males with black curly hair. It is 20 times more common in males than in females." Last I checked, I wasn't an Afro-Caribbean male (and still am not), so it could be that I'm just some freak of nature.

There's some debate as to the cause of this condition. The DermNet entry says this:

Some researchers have concluded that folliculitis keloidalis may begin with an injury during a close hair cut or use of a razor. It is thought to be a mechanical form of folliculitis, in which ingrown hair shafts irritate the wall of the hair follicle resulting in inflammation. This completely destroys the hair follicle and results in scarring.

Others argue that folliculitis keloidalis is a primary skin disease unrelated to either ingrown hairs or bacterial infection.

An association with obesity and metabolic syndrome has been observed in some patients.

So either I've had bad barbers (certainly possible in Korea), or I'm fat and/or have metabolic syndrome (a distinct possibility, given my diabetes). Or both.

All of this assumes my unprofessional self-diagnosis of FK is correct. Which it might not be.

Anyway, even after reading the DermNet entry, I didn't take my condition seriously. But this past Friday, Mother Nature gave me a strong tap on the shoulder, and I woke up to a large and painful swelling on the back of my neck—painful enough to make swiveling my head difficult. There are about seven or eight distinct bumps back there, from what I can feel, but this swelling seems to have moved underneath five or six of them. I wasn't able to sleep much Friday night, so on Saturday morning, when I ended up visiting a friend in the hospital, I'd had almost zero sleep. Saturday night wasn't much better: the swelling covers the left half of the back of my neck, so to keep any pressure off it, I sleep on my right side. That helps a little, but the pressure inside the swelling ensures that there's a constant throbbing ache.

There seem to be slight cognitive effects as well: focusing on the keyboard has suddenly become a bit of a chore (I'm making typo after typo as I write this, necessitating constant proofreading); I have something like a headache that's concentrated around my occipital lobe (back of the brain, just above the cerebellum; see a map of the brain here), but seemingly outside the brain and skull (the brain itself has no pain receptors, so the brain itself can't ache); coordination and balance, while not serious issues yet, feel as if they might soon become issues. This whatever-it-is is also doing a pretty good job of dulling my appetite—a sure sign the world is coming to an end. Lastly, the pain and pressure from the swelling are causing me to feel a weird sort of detachment, as if it's not entirely "I" who am typing this blog post right now. Very strange.

Whenever I have weird problems related to my body, I automatically jump to Is it cancer? I doubt this is cancer, but I'm no expert, so I can't rule cancer out. Tomorrow (Monday), I'll visit the skin clinic that's in our building. If their diagnosis lines up with what I saw on DermNet, then I can look forward to some combination of:

• Making sure clothing and equipment, such as high collars and helmets, do not rub the back of the neck
• Avoid a short or razor hair cut.
• Wash the affected area using an antimicrobial cleanser to reduce secondary infection.
• 2 to 4–week courses of topical steroids are useful if the papules are less than 3 mm in size
• Steroids injected into the lesions (intralesional injections) are more suitable for large papules and plaques.
• Oral tetracycline as an anti-inflammatory or other antibiotics for secondary infection
• Laser-assisted hair removal has been shown to improve folliculitis keloidalis. Best results occur if treatment is started early before significant scarring has developed.
• A three-month course of clindamycin and rifampicin antibiotics if infection persists
• Surgery to removing large thickened plaques or nodules
• Laser vaporisation or excision and electrosurgery are alternatives to surgery
• Oral isotretinoin
• Radiotherapy

Yay. Let's assume I am looking at FK as my condition. If so, then maybe my cognitive and somatic symptoms are due to the pressure being exerted by the swelling. Reduce the swelling, and my problems disappear. If it turns out that I've allowed something that started as a melanoma to creep inside my brain, then I guess we'll see where we go from there. That said, I've never been a big fan of Korean health care, which, from what I've seen, often tends to give up too easily on cancer patients. If it turns out that I do have the Big C, and it has gotten into my brain, I'm going to opt for no therapy so as to get this process over with as soon as possible. I don't want to suffer a long time, and I don't want my friends and loved ones to suffer a long time, either. I'm not the suicidal type, but I am the type to prefer minimal, as opposed to maximal, suffering.

But the above paragraph may be a lot of melodrama for nothing. We'll see what the skin clinic says tomorrow, and I'll keep everyone posted.

ADDENDUM: the suddenness of the problem makes me think it's just a simple infection.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Dr. Who parody

Who knew parodies could be so educational?

I've never watched a single full episode of "Dr. Who," which has always struck me as a rather silly series (although maybe that's the point), but I just watched a Comic Relief parody of the show that taught me much about how a typical episode runs. This dates back to 2009—a full decade ago—but the show's ending proves to be rather prophetic.

And I still can't take Daleks seriously.

Tim Pool on leftist racism and hypocrisy

The following Tim Pool video is ostensibly about how black, gay actor Jussie Smollett, who probably staged a hate crime against himself months ago, may be brought up on charges again. Ultimately, though, Pool rants about the hypocrisy of the left, which ostensibly rails against racism yet does nothing to protect blacks who speak out against "the narrative," e.g., the narrative that today's blacks should receive reparations for yesterday's slavery.

For more on reparations nonsense, see Jon Miller here:

Friday, June 21, 2019

prorogation and Brexit

TLDR News continues to be informative on matters of UK politics. The key term: progrogation (to prorogue), i.e., the suspension of parliamentary activity via temporary recess. The relevance to Brexit is that the next British prime minister might immediately prorogue Parliament until after the October 31 Brexit deadline. Parliament would then reconvene after the time had passed for the legislative body to be able to do anything. This means a "hard Brexit," also called a "no-deal Brexit," in which the UK simply breaks off from the EU without making any sort of financial or legal arrangement.

At this point, I'm almost as exasperated as the British people—the pro-Brexit ones, anyway—and I'd be happy to see a hard Brexit go through. In the comments to these videos, I see dire warnings coming from the Remainer crowd, but these people are no different from the fearful part of your brain that gibbers right before you take an exhilarating dive off a cliff into beautiful, clear water. Don't listen to the fearmongers, O Britain! No matter which way you turn, there will always be painful consequences and screeching twats saying We told you so! The pain will pass; the situation will stabilize; Britain will emerge stronger and no longer yoked to a soul-draining agreement with a Continent gone mad. A hard Brexit would be the chance for Great Britain to re-forge alliances with countries it can profit from via trade: the USA, anti-socialist Eastern European countries, and God-knows-how-many other states that would consider it an honor to enter into agreements and alliances with the UK.

Just do it. And Happy Halloween in advance.

playing with my balls

I'm currently doing research to create a five-session curriculum for kids who will be learning life-skills for success. One thing I'd like to teach is sticktoitiveness, i.e., determination. It occurred to me that the old "stack three golf balls" challenge might be a good way to do this. I'd never done this before, but I was eager to try, so I lumbered over to the nearby Daiso and bought a three-pack of Volvik brand golf balls. (The name reminds me of a brand of European spring water—Volvic—with which I became familiar while living in France and Switzerland.)

Stacking was frustrating at first, but it was just a matter of getting a feel for the thing. Stacking two balls proved absurdly easy; I was able to accomplish that within minutes of opening the Volvik box. But getting that third ball on top was a goddamn challenge, so I rewatched a YouTube video about this very problem, and I saw there was a trick to it: you have to stabilize the second ball while gently placing the third ball on top. It's a delicate procedure, a bit like defusing a bomb, but without the life-or-death stakes. In the end, success was mine.

9:39 p.m.:

And again at 9:49 p.m.:

(The golf balls are out of focus because I was trying to focus on the computer screen's clock, which shows 9:49 p.m.)

Once I got the hang of it, I knew the feat would be easily repeatable. I just did it again today, on my first try, at around 2 p.m. This isn't a skill that will bring me fame, fortune, and sexy women, but it does bring a bizarre sense of accomplishment.

The danger, of course, is that in class, some congenitally klutzy student might never be able to stack the golf balls in the allotted time, thus leading to frustration and a feeling of defeat. Not the lesson we want to be teaching. Is this exercise too risky for young, fragile egos? I'd like to think not: first, I don't think the students' egos will be that fragile. Second, there are other life-lessons to be learned while the exercise is going on: the need for focus, the value of encouragement (assuming I make this into a team-versus-team competition), etc.

Apparently, the world record for golf-ball-stacking is nine.

full(ish?) moon

Snapped the following awful shot on June 17, when I was starting back home from work:

My phone camera really sucks at night.

June 13 lunch: ddeokmandu guk

Click to enlarge my lunch:

Eaten while in my austerity period.

protest update from Hong Kong

Don't worry... the video's title and thumbnail are meant to be ironic.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Ozzy Man examines the circle of life

meme via Bill

Bill sends over another meme:

I mentioned the plastic-straw kerfuffle here. Watch the Stossel video and learn more about how the problem has been exaggerated. Am I happy that so much plastic pollution clogs the world's waterways? Of course not. If anything, I think human pollution worldwide is both a deep shame and a more serious, more immediate problem than climate change. That's where our environmental efforts would have the most impact. But let's keep the straw thing in perspective—it's based on superficial research by an elementary schooler—and not be suckered in by emotional appeals involving turtles with bleeding nostrils.

now on Teespring!

I've been wanting to make the jump to Teespring for a while. Teespring, unlike CafePress, is devoted mostly to tee designs and small products like mugs and stickers. The major difference between Teespring and CafePress is that your tee designs can be larger than 10 inches by 10 inches. Visit the Teespring storefront here; visit my spanking-new shop at Teespring here. The design work for my personal storefront hasn't been done yet, and thus far, I have only one tee design up (albeit on several styles of tee shirt). Expect more designs soon, including some of the old images I had on CafePress (technically, they're still on CafePress...).

about them Nords

Once again, as if on cue, as if to prove my point, we have this article on how Nordic countries are moving toward a private-insurance model for health care:

Rising support for socialism in the United States comes at a time when politicians like Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., promise a great many “free” services, to be provided or guaranteed by the government.

Supporters often point to nations with large social programs, such as Canada, the United Kingdom, and the Scandinavian states, particularly when it comes to health care.

Never mind that these are not true socialist countries, but highly taxed market economies with large welfare states. That aside, they do offer a government-guaranteed health service that many in America wish to emulate.

The problem for their argument is that, despite these extremely generous programs, some of these countries are seeing steady a growth of private health insurance.

“Medicare for All,” the prominent socialized medicine proposal in the United States, is most similar to the Canadian system in which providers bill the regional office administering the program.

In Medicare for All, there would be no cost-sharing schemes and all coverage would be comprehensive, including prescription drugs, dental, vision, and other services deemed necessary by the secretary of health and human services.

The Scandinavian systems are similar to Medicare for All in the respect that they use regional offices to administer reimbursements to providers.

Yet they differ in critical ways: They employ cost-sharing for certain services, they are less comprehensive in their coverage, and they allow for private health insurance plans to complement or supplement the government system to cover out-of-pocket expenses and to circumvent wait times or rationed access to specialists.

These are precisely the things Medicare for All would abolish. It’s intriguing that while socialists in America would rush to nationalize the health care system, Norwegians, Swedes, and Danes are all gradually increasing their use of private health insurance.

Be sure to read the rest.

Scandinavian countries are basically capitalist, not socialist. The three main sectors in which something like a centralized-and-redistributionist system can be found are (1) education, (2) welfare, and (3) health care. And that's it. Nordic countries are entrepreneurial dynamos—almost aggressively capitalistic. And the problems associated with nationalized health care are only becoming more obvious as the populations of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland continue to increase and diversify thanks to unchecked immigration. We already hear nightmare stories of people dying of cancer in Canada thanks to long wait times. How long until such stories become equally numerous in Scandinavia?