Saturday, February 29, 2020


I hobbled over to the local bike shop earlier today (Saturday) to see about purchasing a bike. The friendly shop owner recognized me from my previous visits to his place, and he welcomed me inside. We talked a bit about life since 2017 (I had initially visited him to ask about the bike trails down to Busan; this was a couple of months before my first big walk), and since I was wearing one of my 2019 Kevin's Walk tees, I showed it off to him, and he happily snapped photos of the tee's front and back.

After some small talk, we got down to the question of buying a bike. I told the guy I wanted something sturdy enough to carry a big guy like me, and I made the somewhat strange request of asking for a bike with ram's-horn handlebars and hybrid-bike tires (i.e., thicker and sturdier than a typical racing bike's tires, but not quite as thick as a mountain bike's tires). I asked the guy whether such an animal existed, and he said yes, but he'd have to special-order it. The next question was, naturally, about price, and when the owner went looking online, he chuckled when I said I was hoping to pay under W800,000 ($666, US). All the bikes that showed up were somewhere around W1,600,000, or about $1,333. The least expensive bike the guy could find was W1,290,000 ($1,075, US). This was way out of my price range, but I told the owner I'd think about it and come back. He said he'd be open on Sunday until 6 p.m., and open during the week until 8:00 p.m., with a closing time of 8:30 p.m. later in the month as the weather got warmer.

I asked about a few of the bikes that were there in his store, including a couple sleek-looking carbon-fiber models. Turns out the carbon-fiber bikes are way, way out of my price range, being over $2,000 apiece. Since I'm no longer sure what my income will be from month to month, what with my company forcing us to take unpaid leave thanks to the virus scare, I don't think this is the right time to dump a load of cash into an investment whose sole reason for being is that I want to do some sustained cardio while my foot heals. It might be cheaper just to get a gym membership and use a stationary bike for a while. I'm still thinking about getting a bike, though, so I might visit the guy again Sunday afternoon.

mandatory break

It's getting serious here. I just got word from the boss that the government has ordered us to shut down, period, for all of the coming week. This order applies to all hagweons, not just to my company. When I got the text from my boss, I wanted to text back to ask what this meant about pay, but the boss followed up his text with a call, and he confirmed the sad news that this would be unpaid leave. He did, however, negotiate things with the HR department such that we would take Monday through Wednesday off, but come in to work (paid!) on Thursday and Friday. This shutdown could theoretically last longer than the coming week.

In other news: I saw via my usual sources that a high percentage of Shincheonji Church members have tested positive for COVID-19. The cult's aged founder, who is apparently seen as Jesus' return or rebirth or something, just lost his brother to the coronavirus the other day. So much for miraculous healing powers, I guess. A lot of normal Koreans are furious at the cult for the role it's played in the spread of the illness.

I suppose I'll enjoy my imposed vacation by taking tentative short walks, working on my book project, and catching up on the many movies in my iTunes and Amazon Prime Video queue. I'll also be cooking up some healthy grub to keep me alive while I while away the time. Stay healthy and safe, all.


The great Freeman Dyson, scientist extraordinaire, has died at the ripe old age of 96 after suffering a fall and succumbing to complications from his injuries. He was born in England but became an American. Some people might vaguely know of Dyson for his concept of "the Dyson sphere," a celestial megastructure built around a star, such that the structure's inner surface would be bathed in the constant glow of the star's radiation, supplying energy to any civilization that lived on that inner surface. (According to Wikipedia, Dyson popularized the idea of such a sphere, but he wasn't the originator of the idea.) Climate-change fanatics might know and hate Dyson for the skepticism he (in)famously brought to discussions of anthropogenic global warming: Dyson questioned whether such warming was in fact global, arguing that it might only be a patchwork phenomenon. He also argued that global warming might not be an objectively or universally bad thing: for example, a warmer north Canada would enjoy the use of thawed tundra that is currently uninhabitable. Finally, he felt that the fanatical focus on global warming was distracting us from more urgent environmental problems—a point of view that I've argued for on this blog.

Without a doubt, the world is a dimmer place without Dr. Dyson.

you know where there's been not a single COVID-19 death?

The United States remains, for the moment, death-free when it comes to COVID-19 patients. The Johns Hopkins chart says the US currently has 60 confirmed infected people (the real number of infected is doubtless larger), but thus far, none of these people has died.

So... yay, us?

Here in South Korea, where people are tracking the epidemiology of the virus far more honestly than they're doing in China (which seems simply to have stopped reporting most new cases and new deaths), the number of infected has shot up over the 2300 mark. Deaths in Korea seem to have stabilized at around 13. North Korea, meanwhile, recently shot a COVID-19 patient dead (he was a government official), and it still maintains that COVID-19 has not penetrated its borders. I almost wish the virus were more aggressive, just to show the difference between countries that repress information and those that freely share it. But that's a vain and cruel wish, I know.

My alt-media sources continue to advise some low-level form of disaster prep: people should stock up on calorie-dense goods that can be stored long-term (rice, couscous, canned food, etc.) as a way to prep not so much for a disease apocalypse as for the possibility of a panicked rush for the grocery shelves. In South Korea, there's already been such a rush for face masks: I can't find a single pharmacy or grocery selling such masks in my local area. While I'm contemplating ordering masks online, I also realize that they're little more than a placebo. Koreans have mostly masked up at this point, but I haven't noticed anyone staring daggers at me for not having a mask. Not yet, anyway; we haven't turned into China quite yet.

Friday, February 28, 2020

keto gumbo for lunch

The troops thoroughly enjoyed the gumbo:

I had about 4.5 kilos of gumbo bagged up in my freezer. I thawed two bags over three days, then last night, I cut up some of my frozen homemade andouille, fried the sausage up along with some jumbo shrimp, cooked up some rice, then brought the whole happy mess to the office today: a meal for three. My boss and coworker complained that I had served them way too much beef Burgundy last time, so they wanted the ability to control their own portions this time. Gamely, I stepped back and gave them the ladle. Above, you see the bokkeum pan with two kilos of gumbo in it, plus a lot of extra andouille and shrimp.

My new coworker's wife is apparently a trained and licensed chef whose expertise is in Korean and Japanese food. To my boss's great delight, we're going to work out an arrangement in which I cook something every other month, and my coworker's wife also cooks something every other month. Sounds reasonable to me.

COVID-19 is affecting everyone and everything now

I got let off from work at 2 p.m. at the discretion of our boss, who received word from on high that our company, which is as much a school as it is a publishing house, was letting all of its students and teachers enjoy an indefinite break while this COVID-19 scare burns its way across the land. Something like this is happening all over South Korea.

We had initially heard that non-teaching employees had the choice of either coming to the office for normal pay or staying at home and receiving 70% of normal pay. I and my coworker both elected to just come in and work. We're greedy that way. That news—the news about partial pay—came earlier this week. Today, we got the news re: being allowed to go home early, and our boss suggested that we simply leave.

I'm not sure how next week is going to play out, but my understanding, from reading ROK Drop and other sources, is that most places of learning are reparadigming to a distance-learning model, i.e., teaching and learning from home via video (synchronous or asynchronous learning), via bulletin-board service, etc. Hillary Clinton bitchily told coal miners to "learn to code" once they lost their coal-mining jobs thanks to a wave of green legislation passed by a (now-unimaginable) Clinton administration; I guess teachers who are used to teaching the old-fashioned way are going to have to "learn to vlog" or something. This might be a good time to get on Skillshare and pick up some useful filmmaking techniques.

As an introvert, I can only grin evilly because I know how hard it must be for a collectivist-minded, group-first society to retreat into pockets of isolation instead of being its usual sheeplike, mindlessly gregarious self. Then again, PC-bang culture has been preparing Koreans for just this eventuality: if you're already used to remote multiplayer gaming, then you're already used to functioning as a group while physically separate. As for us introverts: all of this social change is such an utter non-problem that it's almost funny.

Ta-ta, weak and needy extroverts! A little alone time will do you good!

Thursday, February 27, 2020

seen on Instapundit

Not sure what the context is, but this example of lazy journalism gave me a chuckle:

Is this fake, perhaps?

senile ol' Uncle Joe

This is just embarrassing:

But the Dunning-Kruger tribe is so un-self-aware that it's incapable of being embarrassed.

Pepple on Trump's supposed racism

Dr. John Pepple asks: "Racist, eh?" He writes:

Over 100,000 brown bodies came out a couple days ago to welcome President Trump in India. Yes, despite the claims of leftists that he is a terrible racist, he manages to get non-whites to support him.
Go figure, right? I guess a leftie might sneer that the 100,000 enthusiastic Indians were all audience plants, forced at gunpoint to greet the US president.

Here's Styx on Trump's visit to India:

Styx makes the important point that the US ought to be making friends with India right now: India is the obvious alternative to outsourcing work to (and trading heavily with) China. India is a democracy, so on some level, India and the US have a shared set of values, including the value of pluralism: Indian culture is amazingly complex and diverse, and there isn't the same brutally monolithic doctrine of conformist ethnocentrism that you find being preached in China (even though the demographic reality in China is that the Chinese are also quite diverse—linguistically, racially, ethnically, and culturally). Given the US's trade-related conflicts with China and China's role in spreading COVID-19 across the globe, now might be the perfect time for something like an economic divorce from the Middle Kingdom and a reorientation toward its arguably friendlier South Asian neighbor.

putting COVID-19 in perspective

As several docs on YouTube have been saying, keep in mind that, compared to COVID-19, the regular old flu virus is doing far worse damage around the world right now. In the US, the current stats for all types of influenza (CDC weekly report) are these:

Raw number of hospitalizations = 280,000
Confirmed illness = 29,000,000 people (you read that right)
Deaths from influenza this flu season = 16,000

Why aren't we freaking out about the flu?

Anyway, I hope this makes you feel better. The above information is not, however, meant to make you feel so comfortable that you become complacent and oblivious. Infection control is actually something you should practice at all times, and for the most part, it comes down to basic hygiene and common sense. Wash your hands often; disinfect surfaces with which you're in frequent contact; stay away from sick people. The CDC has not been recommending the use of masks, but as discussed earlier, a mask might help reduce the probability of spreading aerosolized pathogens through coughing and sneezing. That's about as much as a mask can be expected to do. I don't have a mask, and at this point, all the local stores and pharmacies are out of them, so I couldn't get one even if I wanted one (which, to be honest, I don't). But for those of you who do have masks, keep in mind that they're not magical talismans, shielding you from all pathogens. They're only one of several measures you can take to reduce the possibility of infection. Stay safe, stay sane, and stay healthy.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

COVID-19: various perspectives

Charles wrote a post about the coronavirus, COVID-19, here, and he's just written another post, which also contains good insights regarding what to think and how to act as the global crisis evolves. Styx, meanwhile, offers his insights:

Styx moves slightly into tinfoil-hat conspiracy-theory territory, I think.

DW News has the following update, which is mainly about Korea, but also about Italy. The video's title, which says the World Health Organization is asking the world to brace for a pandemic, is somewhat misleading because the WHO and pandemics don't get a mention in this video (but do get a mention in the writeup beneath the video):

ring around the rosie
pocket full of posies
ashes, ashes—we all fall down!

Happy Ash Wednesday, all.

pulled-pork horror

Never again.

Filled with optimism and the eagerness of the inexperienced, I enthusiastically tried making "keto flatbread" from a recipe I had found on YouTube. The result was beyond disgusting. I forced myself to eat all my flatbread, anyway, despite the bread's nauseating taste. Here's a pic of some lovely pulled pork that I desecrated by placing it on the keto flatbread:

The recipe called for blanched, fine-ground almond flour—which I'm okay with—and psyllium-husk fiber, which I associate with Metamucil and the fiber capsules that I ingest every night before going to bed. It was the psyllium that proved to be the problem. I've tried psyllium fiber straight before: years ago, when I was out of US-purchased Metamucil, I went scrounging around some local stores in search of fiber supplements. One store sold a huge, white plastic can of psyllium fiber and, not knowing any better, I bought it. Let me tell you: straight psyllium looks, smells, and tastes like sawdust. It's extremely hard to ingest, and while it produces the desired gastric effects, it's pure torture to use. Not wanting to waste anything, though, I worked my way painfully through that awful can of fiber, then resolved never to go that route again. Since then, I've discovered Metamucil (and its off-brand, copycat knockoffs) at Gwangjang Market in the Jongno district, but what I now use is a product ordered from iHerb: psyllium-fiber capsules that go down easy. Still, despite the capsules and despite the amount of time that's passed since my encounter with the sawdust, that awful taste and smell have been imprinted on my brain forever.

Which brings me back to the keto flatbread. As I already noted, the recipe calls for blanched almond flour and psyllium-husk powder: a half-cup of the flour and three tablespoons of the psyllium. Despite the difference in amounts, the psyllium completely takes over the recipe, especially after the addition of baking soda, oil, and water. Psyllium is prized for its ability to absorb huge amounts of water, so when I added a cup of warm water to the flatbread-dough mixture, the psyllium morphed straight from David to Goliath, utterly dominating the recipe and turning the dough into a disgusting gray blob with weird, jelly-like properties. Making dough rounds was easy enough; so was pressing the rounds out into tortilla shapes for pan-frying. The smell of the wet dough was worrisome, though, because it was strongly reminding me of those bygone days when sawdust and I were a thing.

Nevertheless, I forged ahead and pan-fried four flatbreads, eating one of them last night and saving the other three for my pulled-pork wraps today. That initial flatbread wasn't encouraging: the texture of the bread felt wrong, and the smell was extremely off-putting—just like wet sawdust, despite the pan-frying and the half-hearted Maillard reaction (browning). I ate the flatbread with a bit of butter; that made the experience marginally tolerable. But I was already worried about how the rest of the flatbreads would taste at today's lunch.

Upshot: they tasted like the congealed diarrhea of a choleraic dog made of sawdust. I actually felt apologetic to my beautiful pulled pork, which had come into being after an all-night session in my slow-cooker. And I'm not joking about how nauseating the taste of the flatbread was: I genuinely wanted to yack up every bite I took of my pulled-pork wrap.

So I'll end this post as I began it by swearing: never again. Never ever again. I'd rather risk the carbs and go with regular, store-bought tortillas than ever try any keto-flatbread recipe that includes psyllium. Psyllium needs to go from the mouth to the colon without ever stopping to converse with my senses of smell and taste. Psyllium is effectively medicine, not a fucking ingredient in bread. What on earth had I been thinking? What are the keto-heads who write these misbegotten recipes thinking?

the sprite's a natural

Here's wee little Karolina Protsenko, busking with her violin-and-karaoke setup:

With all those twirls and swirls, little Karolina looks ready to play violin while figure skating.

ADDENDUM: I asked my brother Sean, a professional cellist, what he thought of Karolina. His emailed response was:

She’s good for her age, but absolutely not like prodigy level or anything like that. She can be a good violinist if she keeps practicing, and if her practice consists of real technique work and not just violin pop karaoke. This type of music is literally some of the easiest music to play and doesn’t push her technique at all. But her setup and position look good.

Tim Pool: on a roll

Pretty much everything Tim Pool says within the first two minutes of the following video is eminently quotable:

Dr. Mike Hansen declares this outbreak a pandemic

Dr. Mike Hansen says the World Health Organization has "a credibility problem," which is why he's leapfrogging WHO to declare that the COVID-19 outbreak is, by his lights, a full-on pandemic. In the following video, Dr. Mike lays out his case for why he thinks we're now in pandemic mode; much of the problem relates to cases that have recently shown up in Italy.

Well, if nothing else, I'm thankful that I live in an era of real-time updates. I'd rather have the stressful knowledge than the blissful ignorance. Here's Dr. Mike:

As Styx has been saying all along: prep accordingly.

memes via Bill

Bill Keezer sends links to the following memes:

So... open fire, I guess?

If you're thankful today, eat a farmer.

The Dems believed in this border shit back in the 1990s, under Clinton. Obama, much later on, echoed Clinton's sentiments. It's only because Trump is enforcing the border that border-enforcement has suddenly become racist and bigoted.

Here's one final meme, seen over at John Mac's blog:

a farmer replies to Michael Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg's lofty attitude toward farmers is no different from the elitism we see from people of a certain political alignment. You know the ones: they haughtily disparage US Army soldiers because they think soldiers are dumb grunts who do nothing more than lug rifles, march a lot, and unthinkingly follow orders:

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

crackerjack theology

Over at ROK Drop, some time back, there was a post titled "SOUTH KOREAN CHURCHES INCREASINGLY CLOSING DUE TO CORONAVIRUS SPREAD." It quoted part of a Yonhap News article:

South Korean religious communities have been seeking preventive measures as there have been growing fears about religious events in large churches and temples that can become a focal point of infections.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Daegu has suspended all Masses held by churches, institutions and schools in the diocese for two weeks until March 5.

It is the first time that a Catholic diocese has decided not to hold Masses since the first outbreak was reported in South Korea on Jan. 20.
In the comments thread to the blog post, I wrote a flippant response:
In HG Wells’s War of the Worlds, the invasion from Mars ended up being defeated by humble terrestrial microbes. Will COVID-19 microorganisms also be the death of the invasive memeplex that is religion? (Tongue only partially in cheek.)
Another commenter responded with this:
Sorry[,] Kevin[. H]umans like to create lists of dos and don’ts.

God sends plagues so He can get our attention, so we will stop complaining, and so we will repent. And for other reasons..[.]

We don’t need rituals[;] we need repentance and a relationship with God. That’s the message of the Bible.

All religions are rituals. And many so-called Christians fall victim to the “if I do this[,] God will love me” heresy.

Ephesians 2:8-9 ought to have settled that[,] but we all want a way to be the master of our own destiny...
Oy gevalt. Where to begin? I've decided not even to engage with this person. What would be the use? I already know I can run rings around him in terms of logical expression, knowledge of theology and biblical literature, and knowledge of religious-studies issues (such as the essential question of that field: "What is religion?").

I'm never impressed when people make the Pharisaic move of quoting (or at least referring to, as above) scripture. Jesus himself did quote scripture, I grant, but he did so relatively rarely when you consider the various didactic methods he employed. His preferred method of teaching was a combination of parables and good works (Gk. ergon); when Jesus wasn't being discursive, he taught by example, and one point that he constantly hammered on—usually by implication and not by explicit mention—was that there exists a wordless scripture that is far greater than the written word. This is why Jesus so often appeared transgressive to the scripture-huggers. If the scriptures have any value, it's in how they point to something deeper, something ineffable and therefore beyond the human capacity for words and concepts. Whatever this deep thing is, though, it can be felt and lived because it is a dimensional, organic, living reality. Quotes are just quotes, and if you want to get into a quote-slinging contest, the Christian Bible isn't going to help you much because there's ammunition suitable to a wide range of perspectives. Ephesians 2:8-9 is the verse quoted most often by sola fide (justification by faith alone) Protestants who contend that grace is unearned. Grace isn't karmic, or so the argument goes: you can't "build up" a store of grace through good works. And you know what? Maybe this school of thought has a point. How can one earn grace, after all? But does this mean that the doing of good works is somehow valueless or somehow beside the point? As the great saint Kuato said in "Total Recall," "You are what you do." And in that spirit, I can sling a different quote from James 2:14-17:
What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says, “Depart in peace; be warmed and filled,” but you do not give the things that are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
We could go at it all day long, slinging quotes and being Pharisaic (and maybe even noting, in a conciliatory way, that the unearned/unearnable nature of grace and the essential value of works are not mutually exclusive). But I won't engage with this guy. What would be the point? He'd be protected from my arguments by the cognitive shield that is the Dunning-Kruger Effect. That said, I thought the crackerjack theology evident in my interlocutor's words was worth holding aloft for public scrutiny. So God sends plagues to grab our attention, have us stop complaining, and get us to repent, eh? I guess that's why so many innocent people have to die, right? And "all religions are rituals," yes? Wow. Where even to begin...?

Monday, February 24, 2020

ready to witness some self-torture?

I've been watching a ton of these Beard Meats Food videos, which feature a British competitive eater named Adam. Adam's claim to fame isn't that he's a top eater; he ranks only about #17 worldwide, apparently, and he's constantly bested by the likes of Joey Chestnut and Matt Stonie (I've watched a few of Stonie's videos as well; the dude is insane). What makes Adam famous is his beard, which tends to fill up, rather disgustingly, with schmutz during any given eating binge. Adam's kryptonite is spicy food, and in the video below, he takes on Flamethrower Candy Company's The Toe of Satan, a 9-million-Scoville lollipop (4 million Scovilles hotter than police pepper spray). For an endurance test, you're simply supposed to hold the lollipop inside your mouth for as long as you can.

The scale of achievement is, as Adam reads out:

under 1 minute = coward
1 minute = wimp
2 minutes = show-off
3 minutes = loss of feeling
4 minutes = really?
5 minutes = "This is 911. What is your emergency?"

I watched the video at 1.75X speed. Even at that speed, Adam's pain and suffering are like a shout of agony leaping straight out of the screen.

I, of course, have eaten a half-spoonful of pure concentrated capsaicin. Curious as to its Scoville rating, I looked up "pure capsaicin scoville" on Google, and the answer came back:

16,000,000 Scovilles.

I guess that's why I felt as if I were about to die.

I'm no competitive eater, but I may have actually beaten Adam on this one.

Marianne Williamson, en fuego for Bernie

The number of Dem contenders drops, and the Great Coalescence begins:

Some of the remaining Democrat contenders won't let go of their presidential aspirations until circumstances make it screamingly obvious that the time has come to say goodbye. Andrew Yang has wisely abandoned the race, but Tulsi Gabbard remains stubbornly in contention, against all hope and reason. Meanwhile, those who've dropped out of the race are now aligning themselves behind those who remain, which is what you see above: Marianne Williamson aligning herself behind Bernie Sanders.

I have to say, though: it's an enthusiastic, inspiring speech by Williamson that employs some seriously good rhetorical devices, like tricolon and other forms of parallelism—the sort of speech patterns that are easy for the hoi polloi to digest. I also thought, as Williamson was speaking, that she sounded the way actress Jodie Foster does when Foster is speaking with a stressed voice. If Williamson weren't so nutty, I'd like her more than I like Bernie (whom I admit I find personally likable, however fucked-in-the-head his political notions might be).

Of course, Williamson's brave rhetoric aside, Bernie doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell against Trump. As some pundits are pointing out, the 2020 US election is now paralleling what only just happened in the United Kingdom with the elevation of Boris Johnson, who roundly and massively defeated avowed socialist Jeremy Corbyn. According to the pundits, Corbyn's loud-and-proud leftism is what did him in because most Britons, however docile they might be in the face of the UK's left-leaning legal and governmental systems, are still just regular folks who have a horror of outright socialism. Bernie and his Bernie Bros are going to discover much the same horror come November, I suspect.

Assuming Bernie remains in the lead.

spot the error

This sentence is the start of a Spectator USA article (no link because there's a paywall of sorts), and it contains a rather embarrassing grammatical error:

While a successful politician in many ways, Joe Biden’s attempts to become president are marked by quite a severe flaw — he cannot enter a town hall without saying something stupid.
Did you spot it? Write it in the comments, along with a suggested rewrite of the sentence. Hint: the error is not that the writer should have used a colon instead of an em dash, nor is it that the writer inserted spaces before and after his em dash. Those would be errors of mechanics (punctuation, spelling, and capitalization), not errors of grammar. Besides, the whole "space before/after an em dash" thing is very much a matter of debate, and I'd never put up a question that didn't have a clear and obvious answer.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

it's not a joke

I saw the following meme over at John Mac's blog:

Think that's funny? Think it's a parody? Well, think again:

Note how many of the talking points painted on Bernie's white van, in the above meme, actually get mentioned in Bernie's victory speech as seen in the above video. Still think this is funny? The question that Sanders routinely fails to answer satisfactorily is, "Where's all the money gonna come from?" Socialists promise much but fund little, and when they do manage to find funds, those monies always come directly out of your pocket. Why any sane person would vote for any kind of socialism is beyond me.

"Blindspotting": review

"Blindspotting" is a 2018 dramedy directed by Carlos López Estrada and starring Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal. Diggs and Casal are real-life friends from the Oakland area, and they wanted to make a movie that offered a more accurate portrayal of that part of California than had been seen up to that point. Their actual biographies remind me very strongly of the now-legendary tale of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, two Bostonians who wanted to create a drama that brought their hardscrabble part of Boston to life on the big screen. For Damon and Affleck, this resulted in 1997's "Good Will Hunting," a story that won the pair an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. It may not be obvious at first, but "Blindspotting" has another point in common with "Good Will Hunting": it is, in a deep sense, a tale of therapeutic personal growth. And let me get my verdict out of the way right now: I was moved by this film.

Collin Hoskins (Diggs), convicted of felony assault, is close to ending his probation. If he can fly straight for three more days, he'll be a free man, so let the final countdown begin. Hoskins, an African-American, is best friends with Miles Turner, who is white, but who wears a grill and talks like a brutha. Both of them work for a moving company with the imperious name of Commander; the young lady working dispatch, Val (Janina Gavankar), is Collin's sort-of ex who still has feelings for Collin. Miles despises Val, seeing her as a stuck-up, uppity bitch who likes nothing more than to act superior to Collin. Miles has a wife named Ashley (Jasmine Cephas Jones) and a son named Sean (Ziggy Baitinger). Collin's best friend also has a problem: a hair-trigger temper resulting from a combination of immaturity, a constant sense of injustice, and deep-seated insecurity. Miles doesn't mind being casually called "nigga" by Collin and even by his Latina/African-American wife, but in a strange show of self-restraint, he never uses the epithet himself. This becomes an issue later in the story.

As the story begins, Collin is just about to end his probation when his buddy Miles brandishes a newly acquired pistol. Collin freaks out, knowing only too well what this might mean for his probation if he's caught hanging with armed friends. Later on, as Collin is driving the moving truck back one night, he witnesses a police shooting: a white cop guns down a black man who is running away from the officer. Collin is traumatized by what he saw, and he has flashbacks to the incident, including clear visions of the white officer's face. The incident makes the news; the policeman is identified as one Officer Molina (Ethan Embry), and the newscaster explicitly mentions that Molina shot the suspect four times in the back while the suspect was running away.

"Blindspotting" somehow pulls off the trick of seeming not to have a plot while also very much having one. The movie has a desultory, slice-of-life feel to it as we watch Collin and Miles go about their daily routines. At the same time, like an action movie, "Blindspotting" uses a ticking-clock trope to increase the level of suspense as we all count down the final days of Collin's probation through a series of title cards. Will Collin make it to the end, or will he fuck everything up? The movie is definitely tracking the character arcs of both of our principals as they go to various properties to sling furniture, as they attend parties, and as they meet friends and neighbors. Miles's problem seems to be the more obvious one: he needs to learn to control his temper and act more responsibly, especially given that he's a husband and a father. Collin, who is generally much more quiet and pensive, needs to escape the passivity that characterizes his approach to life—something his sort-of-ex Val keeps harping on. And all of this is happening in the tense racial kaleidoscope that is Oakland, California, where "town shit" can happen to out-of-towners who don't know their place.

I was, quite frankly, blown away by this movie. Granted, it has a few on-the-nose moments, such as a scene when the movie's title gets mentioned in the course of a conversation between Collin and Val, who is studying psychology to get a degree and eventually leave her dispatcher job at Commander Movers. Val uses slangy mnemonics to help her remember certain psych terms for her upcoming exam; "blindspotting" is her way of remembering the cognitive bias revealed by the "Rubin's Vase" image. The movie also switches genres on occasion and becomes something close to a musical when the main characters begin angrily rapping as a way to describe their predicaments. But I thought the on-the-nose mention of the word "blindspotting," while corny, felt organic to the moment, and the sudden bouts of out-of-nowhere rapping (which don't happen that often) struck me as artistic ways of driving home the poignancy of life on the mean streets.

"Blindspotting" does a fantastic job of making you care about its main characters, and even about its minor characters. Everyone who appears on screen registers as a fully fleshed-out personality. Miles, despite his hair-trigger temper, has his warm, caring side, and he's an awesome talker whenever he gets the urge to sell something—like old hair curlers or a used sailboat taken from a move-out site—to a skeptical audience. Rafael Casal is excellent in the role of Miles—funny, violent, unstable, and weirdly poetic. Daveed Diggs, as Collin Hoskins, plays the role with depth and subtlety. Collin may be too passive in his approach to life, but he's a deep thinker and perhaps, in his own fumbling way, is looking to escape his Oakland-bound situation in a quest for something better. Neither Miles nor Collin gets portrayed as a total hero or a total villain, and the issues that the movie deals with get what I think is fair play, with no easy answers. You have to go back to 1990s-era Spike Lee to find complex urban/racial issues dealt with in a way that respects their complexity, and truth be told, I'm still gnawing on the themes and problems and conflicts laid out in "Blindspotting." That's the sign of a mature, well-made movie—one that offers no easy answers to questions of police violence, being white and "acting black," neighborhood-as-tribe, gun ownership, and transitioning to responsible adulthood.

I can say this, though: unlike Bong Joon-ho's "Parasite," with its Marxism-tinged hopelessness born of Marx's conviction that the proletariat cannot escape its circumstances, "Blindspotting" ends on a more positive, life-affirming note as two friends deal with personal problems and, just maybe, come out the other side a little bit wiser, a little more mature, with a glimmer of hope for their respective futures. American movies are often like that, affirming the values of life and freedom and fulfillment, not those of hopelessness, inevitability, and despair. I think the last time a film moved me this deeply was "Leave No Trace," which I watched last year. "Blindspotting" is definitely worth your while. I highly, highly recommend it, and my hat is off to two super-talented writer-actor-producers who have a bright future ahead of them.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

sorry about the lack of pics

You've already seen the boeuf bourguignon that I'd made, so I doubt you're jonesing to see more photos of exactly the same thing. That said, I enjoy foodblogging, so I'm sorry for not slapping up any new photos of the latest batch of the beef Burgundy. It really did look exactly the same as the first batch, though; as I said, the prep is absurdly easy to do, and if you follow the instructions the same way both times, the laws of physics take over and lead you to consistently similar results.

I served huge bowls of the succulent beef with fusilli pasta, like last time, and both my boss and my coworker loved the meal, complimenting the skirt steak's tenderness, which was the result of two hours and fifteen minutes of simmering. The boss jokingly complained that I'd served him too much; he taught me the Korean idiom "You've got big hands," which is a way of saying a person is too generous, especially when serving food.

There's a chance I'll be serving up some gumbo next week. I have about 4.5 kilos of gumbo sitting in individual Ziploc bags in my freezer, plus about nine 150-gram links of frozen homemade andouille sausage that I plan to cut into medallions, fry up, and dump into the gumbo at some point (along with more shrimp, of course; the gumbo already has plenty of chicken in it). Maybe I'll post photos then. We'll see.

Dr. Mike Hansen on COVID-19 (a.k.a. SARS-CoV-2)

Dr. Mike Hansen offers interesting insights on a COVID-19 autopsy report. This video covers the patient's actual symptoms and also tracks the manner in which the patient (a 50-year-old Chinese man who visited Wuhan) declined before dying:

Dr. Mike talks about whether to use a mask:

Upshot: masks are useless in most cases, but might possibly help in preventing the spread of "aerosolized" pathogens that we tend to cough or sneeze out. Best course of action: wash your hands frequently and stay away from sick people.

the roiling sexual melting pot

Sex? Gender? Cis? Trans? Bi? Transphobic? Biphobic? He? She? They? Ze? Zir? What the fuck does any of it mean? Color me thoroughly confused.

The current age is standing on the brink of full acceptance of polymorphic human sexuality, but for various reasons, people in different sexual camps are still trapped in an identity-politics mentality that encourages them to think tribally in terms of labels like the ones I listed above. I find the whirl and swirl of current sexual politics utterly bewildering, probably because I'm an old fart who grew up as part of the last generation to have a more or less binary sexual worldview: you've got men, and you've got women. You've got straights, and you've got gays/lesbians. But these days, gender is considered a spectrum, and while I'm willing to accept that idea—to the extent that gender refers to a social construct and not to a biological, chromosomal reality—I'm not willing to accept the hegemonic thinking that declares, "I'm a trans person, and if you don't accept the trans worldview, well, that makes you a transphobe!"

In the following video, which I found both hard to follow and very educational, Tim Pool talks with outspoken lesbian YouTuber Arielle Scarcella, who just made a short video in which she announces she's leaving the left for good. As Pool notes in the blurb accompanying his interview video, Arielle's reasoning for leaving the left "is nuanced." Having now watched the interview, I'd have to agree; as I said, I wasn't always able to follow the exchange, which was a baffling maze of alien terms and concepts, as well as a jumbled tangle of perspectives and motivations. This complexity, though, also made the exchange feel very educational: as I was watching the interview, I realized that this was one of those opportunities for an old fart like me to remain at least somewhat relevant and current, and that realization helped to focus my attention. I'm glad I sat through this exchange. Your own mileage may vary, but if you have any interest at all in the weird morass of twenty-first-century sexual politics, you might find Tim Pool's conversation with Arielle Scarcella quite interesting.

As I've noted before, I'm actually very open to the coming sexual polymorphism. While I myself remain firmly and contentedly hetero in my own orientation, I have no problem with the idea that other people might swing gay, lesbian, bi, trans, or whatever. I think science fiction prepared me well for this eventuality, and I kind of wish more people read sci-fi and experienced the genre's mind-broadening potential. As humanity hones its ability to manipulate its own genome, it won't be long before we start to see chromosomally human beings who look, shall we say, rather funky, sexually speaking. Right now, there are only two biological sexes for humans (even chimerism and intersexuality involve the combination of two distinct sexes), but in the future... who knows what the biological reality will be? How will you react to such changes? Will you see them as an abomination, as something that will rip apart the fabric of civil society? Or will you see them as part of an ever-expanding horizon of human fulfillment, exploration, and flourishing?

I know where I stand on this issue. How about you?

Friday, February 21, 2020

ah, Daegu. Daegu, Daegu, Daegu.

I'm glad I was in Daegu for only a year. The weird accents were hard to understand. My boss at the university was a micromanager on a power trip. Some of my fellow faculty members were good eggs, but some turned out to be raging dickheads, including one constantly self-aggrandizing professor who, while drunk, lewdly catcalled one of my students on the street. My point is that Daegu is a nice place to visit, maybe, but I wouldn't want to live there. My year in Daegu was basically preparation for my happy return to Seoul—a twelve-month-long interlude between life in America and life back in Korea.

Daegu has made the news again, and unsurprisingly, it's not for a good reason: a strange Christian sect called Shincheonji (New Heaven and Earth) now seems to be the epicenter for a sudden spike in the number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in South Korea: a 60-some-year-old woman, who attended worship services in the Daegu area, has been labeled a "superspreader" of the virus. Korea's number of COVID-infected patients shot up by 100, boosting Korea's total to 204 (as of this writing). Here's a DW News video about Korea:

I still maintain that South Korea has been doing, and will continue to do, an excellent job of managing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Information is being disseminated promptly and routinely; the virus is the talk of the town, as I constantly hear when I'm in an elevator and listening to a mother talk with her child about the problem. Every Korean is using the English term "coronavirus," albeit with a Korean accent. Will South Korea succumb to a pandemic? Will we see desperate runs on grocery stores as people panic? Will there be mass violence as people become unhinged in the face of a microscopic threat? I seriously doubt it. As I marveled during the Park Geun-hye demonstrations, Koreans can be loud, fractious, and disorderly, but they are also capable of impressive displays of civilized behavior that would put America and Americans to shame. I think this country will weather the current problem just fine. I don't, however, have the same confidence about China, which may end up losing a very small but significant chunk of its population.

Have you heard the slew of Captain Trips jokes? They've gone positively viral.

ADDENDUM: here's a video of a brave woman in China who calls out the Chinese government for its malfeasance and ineptitude regarding COVID-19 and other matters. You might want to turn your volume down low: the woman gets rather... passionate:

gimp report

It's been eight days since my injury, and my slow, pronounced limp has become a somewhat faster, barely visible limp. Going up and down stairs is no longer the chore it had been, and I'm beginning to wonder, with the rapidity of my improvement, whether this was really a stress fracture at all. I'm done with physical therapy; I've used up my three days of special meds. I haven't done any ice-water soaks for my foot yet, but I'm wondering whether I even need to. Back when I was sure this was a stress fracture, I assumed I'd need a whole month before I could walk any significant distances. I'm still feeling a bit too sore and tender to try walking home (a 30-minute stroll from the office when I'm injury-free), but I might try such a walk sometime next week.

The only reason I haven't completely dismissed the stress-fracture notion is that my foot is still swollen, and that has to mean something. The swelling has gone down enough for me no longer to need a sandal for my right foot: I'm back to wearing two shoes again, like a regular person, and slipping my right foot into my shoe isn't particularly painful. But the swelling is still there, and its presence wordlessly urges caution: I shouldn't get cocky.

I've spent this week basically being self-indulgent and lazy: I haven't been walking at night, and I took myself off my diet last week, so I can see my face visibly fattening up every time I look in a mirror. Now that I've fed my boss and coworker their boeuf bourguignon, though, I've resolved to get back onto my diet next week, with this coming weekend as my "last hurrah" before returning, sadly, to the monastic life. I have some thoughts on what it means to fall off the diet wagon, but I'll save those thoughts for a different post.

the Korean-language online experience sucks

In the idiom of 2019: "Do you even internet, bruh?"*

This is the question I have to ask every web designer in South Korea. When I want to, say, register for Domino's pizza delivery in the States, I go to the Domino's website, follow the step-by-step registration procedure, enter all the necessary information, then voilà: I'm done. The registration process is one simple, linear forward march to the end. In Korea, by contrast, if I want to register for Domino's, I have go to the Domino's website, begin registration, leave the website to register with a service called "Pass," come back to the Domino's website to complete registration... then end up supposedly registered, but without having entered a delivery address or two. (You can't enter an address until you place your first order. Stupid.)

My experience with most Korean websites is like what I've described above: one step forward, two steps back. Far from being linear, the experience is utterly nonlinear. Far from being efficient, the experience is painfully inefficient. Do Step 1, then before you can move on to Step 2, you get a flag telling you, "But before you continue, you must first register with this third-party service associated with our company! Register with the service, then come back and finish your registration here!" Someone needs to explain to Koreans how good web design is done. Registration should be a one-stop-shopping experience that goes directly from A to Z. But then I remember that I live in Asia, land of the nonlinear. And I lose all hope.

The other problem is that, when you do finally have the chance to enter a destination address for whatever service you're signing up with, you have to enter the address in a very specific format, or else you'll get an "address not found" warning. When you're already angry about the registration process, this warning is the diarrhea on the cake, the capsaicin in the condom, the leprous semen in your ass—the final fucking straw.

Life in Korea—for me, at least—is often characterized by a feeling of being thwarted. I try to cross what seems to be an empty street, and a speeding car suddenly appears, forcing me to wait. I try walking straight down a hallway toward a building's exit, and some slowpoke asshole suddenly bumbles obliviously into my path, blocking my way and shambling like a George Romero zombie. I try moving toward a door, and some fast-moving dickhead (or bitch) cuts in front of me. Korea can be a land of amazingly crisp efficiency when it wants to be, such as when I need to buy new contact lenses. But in other respects, it's a land of meandering, bumbling, desultory turds in human form, blissfully unaware of how they cut others off, block passages, and stop up traffic. And registering for an online service often feels the same way: one step forward, two steps back, in a pattern of constant, relentless thwarting.

If I had the power of three wishes, I'd expend one wish on correcting the ontological messiness of Korean culture. I'd formulate the wish in such a way as to cause all human interactions to proceed smoothly and logically (and, yes: there's some cultural imperialism in that sentiment—I unabashedly mean logically by Western standards). Life on the peninsula would improve so much if only people thought through their actions and took others into consideration. Websites would be smarter, hallways wouldn't be blocked by clueless assholes, and no one would ever feel thwarted—ever.

Perhaps in a later post, I'll go over what my one wish for American culture might be.

*I actually find this expression highly, highly annoying. The formula is, "Do you even ["verbed" noun], bruh?" This turn of phrase was definitely invented by a white dude. It lacks the musicality and wit that are defining characteristics of black slang. "Whoop—muh bad," a black-slang expression from the 1990s, is immediately understandable in context, not to mention snappy and funny. White slang, though, deliberately goes for awkwardness, which is how we've ended up with white-slang gems like "Amazeballs!" and "I can't even."

the rats are leaving the sinking ship

Tim Pool uses the term "dumpster fire" at one point:

Thursday, February 20, 2020

boeuf bourguignon: once more unto the breach

I'm serving boeuf bourguignon at my office tomorrow. The boss has very unsubtly rumbled that he expects me to start a-cookin' for the troops again, at least once a month, and while it boosts my ego to hear that someone out there appreciates my cooking, I'm currently dealing with a stress fracture and am not exactly in a financial position to be cooking piles of food for the masses. Granted, "the masses" now consist of only two other people aside from me, and I don't think we'll be so ecumenical as to invite the entire office to partake whenever I cook these meals. That'll save me a ton of money.

All the same, cooking for more than just me is going to put a strain on my bank account: I'm sending home $3100 a month, at a bad won-dollar exchange rate (1205 won to the dollar), which leaves me with only a few hundred bucks in my Korean account to make it through the next thirty days. I'm leaning fairly heavily on my credit card, which I don't want to do, but unless I pick up some extra work, this is how things will be for the next few months. I'm not too worried about piling up a lot of debt on the card; once the main scholastic debt is paid off, paying off the card won't take long at all. In the meantime, I'll see about implementing some cost-cutting strategies to keep the bills from piling up too high.

As for the beef Burgundy... wish me luck. The dish is absurdly easy to prepare—just a teeny bit of prep, then fire and forget—but we're about to find out whether I can prepare it at a consistent level of quality. It came out pretty damn good last time, and I've bought the same cut of meat (skirt steak) this time around, so here goes nuthin'. I have high hopes, assuming (1) the laws of physics remain consistent, and (2) I don't fuck things up too badly.

A reminder of what the BB should look like:

mass shooting in Germany

Ban all zee guns! they cried.

A shooter, identified as Tobias R. (no surname given per German police procedure), has just killed at least nine people in two different hookah bars in Hanau, Germany. When police tracked the shooter to his apartment, they found him already dead, along with another body (possibly his mother), for a total of eleven dead. Some news about the incident here. The shooter's psych profile seems consistent with mental illness. This angle is likely to be overlooked (or simply buried) in the rush to talk about right-wing attitudes and racism... oh, and of course, gun control, which I thought was already a thing in Germany, nicht wahr?

the infinite capacity for bullshit

Great video essay on fake martial arts:

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

hapkido tees are online and on sale

Click the tee-shirt image on my blog's right-hand sidebar, then scroll to the bottom of the Teespring page to see the link to the new merchandise. Or, if you're lazy and want to go there directly, click here.

Donald Trump takes his cue from "Suicide Squad"

Need to round up a group of unsavory deplorables to do some dirty work for you? The premise of box-office turd "Suicide Squad" is little different from that of the much older classic "The Dirty Dozen": assemble a group of baddies and persuade them to do some good. Donald Trump, perhaps taking his cue from these films, has just exonerated a whole rogues' gallery of baddies from the world of US business and politics, commuting sentences and issuing pardons. If you're old enough, you'll remember these names from the past (source):

1. Rod Blagojevich, former Illinois governor, convicted of bribery, extortion, and fraud.
2. Bernie Kerik, former New York police commissioner, guilty of tax fraud and other charges.
3. Michael Milken(!!!), financier, convicted of securities fraud in the 1980s.

Is Trump nuts? Well, he's certainly giving his enemies plenty of ammunition. This is the sort of thing that will confirm to the Never Trump and anti-Trump crowd that the 45th president is the worst of the worst: just look at the people he's helping! Trump, meanwhile, may be playing some sort of long game. Kerik's a Republican who served as police commissioner under Rudy Giuliani; Kerik's corruption made the news and besmirched Giuliani's mayoralty, which makes me wonder what Rudy thinks of Trump's pardon. But Kerik now owes Trump something, and that matters. Same goes for Blagojevich, a Democrat and former governor: he too now owes the president big-time. One has to wonder: what does Trump get out of all this? Are these people now pawns in a larger game, or is all this just more Trump-style trolling to distract the media-based idiots from whatever Trump is really doing?

2010 deaths from COVID-19 confirmed

We're at 2010 deaths from COVID-19 now (link updates in real time). 2007 of those deaths are in China; that's 99.9% of all deaths worldwide. As I said before, I think the problem is going to remain largely in China. Other countries, especially the ones with free speech and free exchange of information, will fare much better. South Korea seems to be doing just fine:

All in all, given where I live and the level of civilization here, I can't say I'm all that worried.

strangely satisfying

Watching a dude use a brace of hypertrophic AR-15s to blow shit up (they're all from .45 caliber to .50 caliber, which is abnormal since AR-15s usually fire 5.56-mm rounds) is surprisingly therapeutic. Give the following video a watch if you're fine with guns:

Full disclosure: I'm subscribed to this guy's channel.

possible tee design

I doodled the three characters that make up the word hapkido (harmony-energy-way: the way of harmonizing energy, e.g., moving with and not against an opponent's attack), the Korean integrated martial art (percussive + grappling).* My boss is a third-degree back belt in the discipline, and he's also given me many gifts over the course of our working relationship, so I'm thinking about giving something back in the form of a tee shirt. The only problem is that my boss prefers to wear hanbok (traditional Korean clothing) instead of Western clothes, so while I could make a tee-shirt design for him, I doubt he'd ever wear the tee. Instead, I might make tees that can be worn by his wife and two young sons. Anyway, here's the design:

I might have to scoot the red dojang (stamp) over a few millimeters.

*These are the same three Chinese characters used in the name aikido, the designation for a Japanese martial art that is distinctly different from hapkido. The latter Korean fighting style combines linear percussive movements with circular grappling movements; the Japanese style, by contrast, focuses much more exclusively on holds, locks, and throws, with almost no percussive movements in its syllabus.

conversation: Tim Pool and The Redheaded Libertarian

Great meeting of the minds:

Lots of interesting talk about Michael Bloomberg, Tulsi Gabbard, Ron Paul, Donald Trump, and Bernie Sanders. Poor, departed Andrew Yang even gets a brief mention.

Personally, I think Yang will be back in the next election cycle. Same for Tulsi. Perhaps by then, the entire DNC will have been murdered so the Democrats can stop shooting themselves in the foot by rigging their own nomination process and elevating the stupidest among them. My high-school biology teacher called it the Law of the Septic Tank: the biggest pieces float to the top. As long as there's a DNC, the Law of the Septic Tank will always obtain.

Redheaded Libertarian is kinda cute and turns out to be sorta funny, too.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

강남 푸른 정형외과의원
Gangnam Blue Orthopedic Clinic

It's called the "blue" clinic, but the sign uses a green font. Go figure.

So I disdained the bureaucratic nightmare of Samsung Hospital and went to a local ortho clinic: the Gangnam Blue Orthopedic Clinic. This is the sort of place where you walk in and, if you're a first-timer, you fill out a file-card-sized slip of paper with your name, foreigner's ID number, phone number, and address. After that, in principle, you wait to hear your name called. In my case, I got called up right away because the front-desk lady said that my name didn't match the data associated with my ID number. I had reflexively written "Kim Kevin" as my name because that's how I'm known in Korea. In reality, "Kevin Kim" is two-thirds of my real name: my actual surname is long and clunkily Germanic. I don't use it in Korea because Koreans (and many Americans, too, to be honest) have a hard time pronouncing it, but my foreigner's ID number is associated with my full name. So I wrote out my full name, in Roman letters this time, and it took two staffers to sort the data-entry problem out.

I sat with a bunch of other patients-to-be who were all also patiently (cough) waiting. Within a few minutes, I got called to see the specialist. The orthopede turned out to be a loud, crisp, friendly gent who actually bothered to palpate my foot while asking me questions. I explained how the pain began this past Thursday night; I told the doc what spots on the foot were most painful, and after a bit more chatting and nodding, he sent me down the hall to get X-rayed.

The X-ray tech was blunt, terse, and borderline unfriendly. I had to sit on the X-ray bench with my foot on a special plate, and images were taken with my foot placed on that plate at three different angles. The scans went right back to the doc, and when the images came up on the doc's screen, I asked his permission to take a pic of the X-ray images. Et voilà:

The upshot was both informative and frustrating: the doc saw no fracturing anywhere, and he didn't think I needed special orthotic footwear. His advice boiled down to: stay off the foot, rest up, take some prescribed meds for a few days, and come by for a couple days' physical therapy, starting today. I told the doc I had done some research about stress fractures, and I mentioned the bit about how X-rays taken right after an injury usually show nothing, but after three weeks, the fracturing becomes visible because the bone has started healing. The doc, instead of reacting to this information, declared himself impressed that I could express all that in Korean. I simply smiled like a dumb little monkey. Koreans generally have low expectations when it comes to foreigners navigating in their language.

The doc prescribed my meds, and I went back out to the front desk to receive the prescription printout. The front-desk lady told me the pharmacy was upstairs, but before I got my meds, I'd need to do my first session of therapy. I went to a quiet, curtain-filled room that held several private berths on which a patient could recline while receiving therapy. For me, this happened in two stages: ice-pack therapy followed by TENS therapy. The attendant strapped the ice pack to my foot and told me to tell her if it got too cold to bear. I went fifteen minutes without any problems, although the pack did get slightly uncomfortable toward the end. Here's a pic of my foot with the ice pack:

Next up was TENS therapy (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, I believe). I seem to get this at every clinic I go to; it's the catch-all therapy for all one's ills. When I was in Daegu and having hip problems, I got the TENS. When I had a crick in my neck a couple years back and went to the Chinese-medicine clinic, I got the TENS. And here I was again, with my old friend TENS. The suckers of the electro-squid got placed all over the top of my foot; the attendant adjusted the electrical tingle to a tolerable level, and then she left me to lie there for another fifteen minutes:

The aftermath of all that sucker-love left my foot looking like this:

I thanked the attendant, limped upstairs to the second-floor pharmacy, got three days' worth of meds (along with a long set of verbal instructions), thanked the front-desk lady on my way out, and limped across the street to catch a cab to work. And that, kids, was my adventure this late morning/early afternoon. I have to go back to the clinic tomorrow morning for more ice packs and electro-squids, and after that, I've been told to give my foot regular ice baths for no more than fifteen minutes per session. I guess that's about it. It occurs to me that I never at any point heard the doc explicitly say, "Yes: you have a stress fracture." Maybe I missed when he said it, but more likely, he simply proceeded as if we had both agreed I had a fracture.

I'm sure you won't mind if I don't blog about tomorrow's therapy session. It's going to be the same as today's, and after that, I'll be on my own. In theory, I ought to be healed in about a month, give or take. This is going to mean dieting more strictly (something I haven't been doing the past few days) and finding new ways to exercise (something I haven't bothered to figure out yet). I have some ideas on ways to get the ol' body moving. More on this later. In the meantime, I'm a bit miffed because, if I learned anything from today's clinic visit, it's that I probably could have saved myself the time and the money by just dealing with the problem myself. On the bright side, I suppose it's good to know nothing is actually broken.

Instapundit on the horror that is Michael Bloomberg

I think it's safe to say that Michael Bloomberg can no longer be laughed at and dismissed. I think a lot of people who had been laughing are now sitting up, taking notice, and in some cases, reacting with dawning horror—yours truly included. One of the points Tim Pool made in his video (see this post) was that Donald Trump only partially self-funded his relatively shoestring-budget campaign (a third or a fourth of what Hillary Clinton spent, and focusing on free media like YouTube and Twitter); most of his funds came through honest grass-roots efforts. Bloomberg, by contrast, is an order of magnitude richer than Trump and appears to be entirely self-funding his current efforts. Pool complains—and I agree—that we really ought to have instituted strict campaign-finance reforms long before now to stop exactly this sort of thing from happening. But it's too late: we now have a megalomaniacal midget-juggernaut who thinks he can $$$ his way to the brass ring.

They say that, if you're encountering flak, you must be close to the target. It's a measure of how prominent and dangerous Bloomberg has become that the slings and arrows are now, at long last, starting to appear. Here are a few good ones that I saw on Instapundit:

Mike Bloomberg says farmers aren't smart enough to code. (from this entry)

Bloomberg Caught On Tape Saying the Elderly Should Be Denied Medical Care Because of Cost Overruns. (from this entry)

Bloomberg says many ‘black and Latino males’ don’t ‘know how to behave in the workplace,’ in newly uncovered 2011 video. (from this entry)

Michael Bloomberg Built a $54 Billion Company That Women Who Work There Call A Toxic, Sexually Charged Nightmare For Women. (from this entry)

Let me put this in perspective: I'm pretty sure that, even if Michael Bloomberg ends up as the Democrat front-runner, Trump will win reelection. But Bloomberg represents a sinister swing of Foucault's Pendulum: how many more oscillations before someone really does buy his way into the Oval Office? (Granted: if you're a liberal divorced from the facts, you're probably saying this about Trump already...)

Every election cycle, my own stupidity, general lack of awareness, and inability to read trends get thrown back at me. In 2016, I dismissed Trump, thinking him a vain idiot and a joke—unserious, too dumb to understand how Washington works, and ill-equipped to run a country. I learned my lesson. Now, in 2020, Michael Bloomberg has come along to show me that I've still got blind spots to spare. I obviously have a lot to learn about politics and people, even as old as I am. Bloomberg, as former mayor of New York City, barely registered on my consciousness back in the day. I don't think I even remember him for his stop-and-frisk policies; if anything, I associate him with a micromanaging nanny-statism through which he tried to regulate New Yorkers' salt and sugar intake by slapping rules on what stores and restaurants could sell to normal citizens. "It's for your own good" is a sure sign that a given policy is liberal. Well, like everyone else, I'll be studying up on Bloomberg from here on in.

CODA: I'm not the only one with a blind spot. Even a sharp prognosticator like Styx can be wrong. Look at this older video in which Styx is initially dismissive about Bloomberg:

Now look at this more recent video in which Styx takes Bloomberg more seriously:

Even Styx gets things wrong once in a while.

ADDENDUM: a few years back, I guess I did have some intuition about Bloomberg when I created the following animated GIF:

liberals in their own words

The stress on legal immigration became a sign of bigotry only when Donald Trump adopted that stance. Before Trump, liberals from Bill Clinton to Barack Obama were fine with strong enforcement of our borders and of legal immigration. Here's Larry Elder, holding liberals' feet to the fire (to the tune of some funky jazz!):

Monday, February 17, 2020

Tim Pool finds Michael Bloomberg "horrifying"

Probably a good video to watch from start to finish:

Pool describes Michael Bloomberg as "ten times worse" than Trump in terms of personal qualities, e.g., misogyny and bigotry. Bloomberg is using his vast personal wealth to buy his way to the Democrat nomination, and there's a good chance he'll try to buy his way into the Oval Office. While plenty of us long ago lost faith in the electoral system, Bloomberg represents, even for us cynics, the final nail in the electoral system's coffin. If this man wins the Dem nomination and then goes on to win against Trump, it's over. The American dream, tattered and bloodied and abused as it is now, will receive a bullet in the head. Pool worries, though, that in their desperation to win against Trump by any means necessary, the Dems will have sold their collective soul by elevating a man like Bloomberg.

shilpae (실패)—failure

I tried going to nearby Samsung Hospital today to visit their orthopedic division. Took a cab from my place to the hospital, which is a bit more than a kilometer down the road from where I live—easy walking distance, but with walking now being a problem, I had little choice but to catch a ride. I limped into the hospital's airport-like entrance and was immediately confronted by a phalanx of gowned and gloved staffers who took my temperature before pointing me over to a special table. I went over to the table, was told to slather some antibacterial lotion on my hands, and was given a disposable mask to wear inside the building. I wandered over to a bank of work stations labeled "Without Appointment," and I spoke with a masked, gray-haired lady about what I needed. "Sorry," she said, "but you need to make an appointment if you're here for the orthopede. You also need to bring along your insurance paperwork." I asked whether I could make an appointment online; she shook her head ruefully. Nodding, I turned around and limped out of the hospital, now determined to visit a simple ortho clinic like the one I'd frequented in Daegu, back when I'd had that hip problem. (My boss had suggested as much.) Such clinics accept walk-ins and don't demand insurance papers; plus, the treatment is rarely that expensive, although I imagine that I'll have to pay a pretty penny if I end up receiving an orthotic boot. No biggie. Better a boot than nothing.

There's a light, obnoxious dusting of snow on the ground today, almost but not quite enough to make walking a slippery affair. I plan to remain indoors as much as possible, but the ortho clinic I just looked up is located right up the street from where I work, so I might have to walk that distance—from the clinic to my office—tomorrow morning when I visit. For today, I've got a New Balance walking shoe on my left foot and a durable sandal on my right foot, exposing my blackened toenails to the frozen world. I feel kind of sorry for my right foot, which seems to take more abuse than the left one does.

as George Takei might say: oh, myyyyy

Found here (pardon the illiterate punctuation):

And in the "AOC is Stupid" department:

Finally, from the "Utterly Random" file:

"Missing Link": review

"Missing Link" tells the story of an egocentric, glory-seeking English adventurer and a lonely American Sasquatch who wants to travel to Asia to be with yetis, whom he sees as his own kind. Released in 2019, written and directed by Chris Butler, and starring the voice talents of Hugh Jackman, Zach Galifianakis, Zoë Saldana, Timothy Olyphant, and Stephen Fry, "Missing Link" is deeper and more mature than it might appear at first glance. In fact, like many Laika animation productions ("Coraline," "ParaNorman," "Kubo and the Two Strings"), the movie weaves quite a few profound, adult themes into the story it wants to tell, to the point that, when you think about the movie's title after you've been through the story, you start to realize that the title may have multiple meanings.

Sir Lionel Frost (Jackman) is a late-1800s adventurer who seeks after cryptids—mysterious creatures like the Loch Ness Monster. He tends to be so focused on his own potential fame and fortune, though, that he rarely pays attention to the people around him, such as his assistant Lemuel Lint (David Walliams), who quits in anger after Lint and Frost have a nasty encounter with Nessie at the beginning of the story. Frost's fondest wish is to be inducted into The Society of Great Men, currently presided over by the ultraconservative Lord Piggot-Dunceby (Fry), who (it is implied) is a creationist who looks down upon Frost for Frost's view that humans are part of an evolutionary continuum.

For all his efforts, Frost consistently fails to gain entry into the Society because he never quite seems able to provide proof of any of his cryptid encounters. He stumbles upon a letter, however, inviting him to the American Pacific Northwest to meet a bona fide Sasquatch. Frost declares to Piggot-Dunceby that he will return to England with incontrovertible proof of the beast's existence and thus be worthy of entry into the Society while also proving Piggot-Dunceby wrong regarding man's origins. The latter haughtily agrees to this arrangement, then quietly sends an American assassin named Stenk (Olyphant) to chase down and kill Frost.

Frost ends up in the sequoia-filled woods of the Pacific Northwest and meets the Sasquatch (Galifianakis) who, it turns out, was the one who wrote the letter that attracted Frost's attention in the first place. The Sasquatch proves fluent in English, but radically naive and literal about everything. Frost names him Mr. Link (for "missing link," obviously), and Link tells Frost that his greatest wish is to go to the Himalayas to be with a society of yetis: Link is the last of his kind in the Americas, and he is lonely. Link, meanwhile, agrees to provide Frost with things like hair and stool samples to prove his own existence and allow Frost to gain his coveted glory. But although Frost has the know-how to get Link to the Himalayas, the exact location of Shangri-La, where the yeti society is supposedly located, is unknown to him. A now-dead friend and rival, Aldous Fortnight, had discovered Shangri-La and made a map of the route, but Aldous was killed during one of his adventures, and the map is now in the hands of his Latin wife Adelina (Saldana), who also happens to be Lionel Frost's ex-girlfriend. Frost finally obtains the map, but Adelina, strong-willed and feeling trapped in her rich-widow circumstances, demands to accompany Frost and Link on their journey.

The rest of the movie recounts what the trio discover when they finally reach Shangri-La after many adventures, and the story ends with a bit of a twist in which both Frost and Link discover something about themselves, to wit: Frost is at his best when he stops being a self-centered glory-hound, and Link realizes he doesn't need yetis to feel a deep sense of friendship and belonging. Link and Adelina are, in a sense, the "missing links" that help Lionel Frost overcome his egocentric ways to become a better human being. In terms of character arcs, Frost undergoes what are arguably the greatest and deepest personal changes; Link, meanwhile, comes to a simple-but-deep realization; and Adelina Fortnight has almost no arc at all, serving mainly as a sort of tough-love wisdom-figure who helps Lionel find his best self before she attends to her own self-fulfillment.

"Missing Link" is a multilayered film. The plot is peppered with laugh-out-loud moments, some of which are meant more for adults than for kids—including a subtle prison-rape joke that will go well over kids' heads. Being a Laika production, the film features plenty of beautifully realized stop-motion animation that is so smooth as to seem like Pixar-style CGI. (The only aspect of the animation that feels even remotely jittery is the mouth movements of the characters.) The story doesn't shy away from serious themes like subtle and overt imperialism, cultural arrogance, feminism, and even—at one moment—a nod to the "trans" activism that is currently in vogue: Link gives himself the first name of "Susan" to honor the first human who didn't scream and run away in terror when she encountered him in the woods. "Missing Link" is also well-directed enough to include a great deal of tension during a climactic scene in which our three principals all find themselves in grave danger. For what is ostensibly a children's movie, this is a remarkably profound film with something for everyone.

While I didn't feel "Missing Link" was anywhere near as moving as "Kubo and the Two Strings" (still my all-time favorite Laika film), I did think this was a fun ride, a rollicking adventure that can be enjoyed by young and old alike. The story is well paced, the voice acting is superb, the visuals are unsurprisingly gorgeous, and the story's several morals are good ones for kids to internalize. Highly recommended.