Friday, September 25, 2020

gettin' close to switchover time

I'll be leaving for Incheon Sunday evening, which doesn't give me much time.  Since maintaining two blogs at once is kind of a chore, I'll be switching entirely over to Kevin's Walk 4 after I publish this little announcement.  Just FYI.

Oh, and... see you on the other side.  I'll be back to blogging here around October 28.

Tim Pool replies to Gary Lamb

 Maybe this is the start of a new friendship. Who knows?

via Bill


Ginsburg is dead, now, so the verb tense should be changed from the present perfect ("has been") to the simple past ("was"), and "since 1998" should be changed to "from 1998 to this year."  Otherwise... heh.

Grammar note:  the present-perfect tense uses a present-tense conjugation of to have along with a past participle.  This tense is used when talking about a past event or situation that is connected to the present.  For example, when Grandma sees a grandchild after several years and cries, "My, how you've grown!", she's using the present-perfect tense to talk about the span of time from when she last saw her grandchild to the present moment:  from then to now.  Look at the difference between these two sentences and their respective verb tenses:

1. Since his inauguration, Donald Trump has started no new wars. (present perfect)

2. In 2005, Donald Trump bragged that money, fame, and power could lead to pussy-grabbing. (simple past)

See how the simple-past tense is used, in sentence 2, to describe something that happened in the past and is now over?  See how, in sentence 1, the sentence is talking about the time period extending from 2016 to now?  That's the difference between the simple-past tense and the present-perfect tense, and since Ruth Bader Ginsburg just passed away, her death mostly severs her connection to the present, which is why the verb in the above meme should be was and not has been.  (Ginsburg's rulings from the bench have implications even today, of course, so it's fine to write something like, "Ginsburg's rulings have had a lasting impact on American jurisprudence.")

WRONG:  Louis XIV has been the king of France. (implication = he's still king)

RIGHT:  Louis XIV was the king of France.  (i.e., he once was the king, but is no longer)

The present-perfect tense gets its name from (1) the present tense of the auxiliary verb to have, and (2) the notion that we're talking about a completed action:  the old meaning of perfect was "complete," i.e., needing nothing more—an idea that still lingers in the shadows today.  In talking about (2), we're talking about the verb's aspect, which has to do with how the verb expresses duration, completion, or some other dimension. A perfect tense is one possible verbal aspect. Other aspects include the simple and the progressive (or imperfect).  See this handy chart for more information.

one of the best #WalkAway videos I've seen

 Wanna see a true American?  Here's one.  Meet Gary Lamb.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

God help me, I've voted

While I won't be sharing my vote with you, Dear Reader, I can say that, after electronically receiving my Virginia state ballot (expats vote according to their most recent place of residence in the US), I printed out the necessary documents (2 envelope templates, 2 pages of voting instructions, and 2 ballot sheets that were probably supposed to be printed as a single-page, double-sided ballot), filled out my ballot, got the outer envelope signed by a witness in our office (a perfectly useless gesture), folded the outer envelope according to the very specific paper-folding instructions, then took the whole thing to a local DHL branch down the street from where I work.  AT DHL, a briskly businesslike lady took my envelope, keyed in the address information herself (instead of handing me a form for me to fill out), asked me about this or that shipping option, then charged me a whopping W46,000 to have my ballot arrive in Virginia by Monday of next week, i.e., right as I'm starting my walk.  And yes, it's via air mail this time.  I told the lady about how the post office basically threw up its hands and said that only sea mail was possible.  She laughed.  I'll using DHL again.  In Korea, at least, it's cheaper than FedEx, and unlike the regular Korean postal service, it offers goddamn air mail.

So, God help me, I've now voted.  My vote is but a drop in the bucket, and it's very likely to be nullified by any number of fraudulent mail-in votes, but for good or ill, I've expressed my political conscience.  We'll see what happens come November 3.  I'll be fresh from my trek and ready for the rest of this awful, shitty year to unfurl the remainder of its stinking, hairy, veiny length, then dick-slap us across the face.  Can 2021 be any worse, or is it naïve to ask?

hopeful tendrils

Saw this near my office:

another from Justin


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

bad-for-you 7-Eleven food that I miss

It's not good to be thinking about nasty, unhealthy food right before a big walk, but I can't help myself.  For the past few days, I've been brooding about the inadequacy of local convenience stores when it comes to providing me with the junk food that brings me the greatest joy.  To be fair, it's possible to find—here in Seoul—some of the items I'm about to list, but you do have to make an effort to track these goodies down.  Anyway, here we go—in no particular order, some of the 7-Eleven junk-food items for which I've been desperately jonesing for the last, oh, couple of years:

1. Spicy Jamaican beef patties.  I said "no particular order," but these patties are easily my number-one item.  Salty, naughty goodness.  When I'm in the States, I normally buy two of them to devour greedily while I'm driving somewhere.  I've tried making these here in Korea, and although they were edible, they just weren't the same.

2. Cherry Coke.  This does exist here in Seoul; I've bought cans of Cherry Coke in Itaewon.  But I don't like visiting Itaewon all that much, and the expat-infested district is out of my way, given that it's in the center of Seoul while I live in the southeastern corner.  I need to find a service that sells Cherry Coke by the fucking crate.

3. Slim Jims.  More salty nastiness.  I very much want to snap into a Slim Jim, but the closest thing I can find in local groceries and convenience stores is expensive yukpo, which is beef or pork jerky.  Korean stores overcharge for a bag that contains maybe a grudging ounce or two of dried meat, and while I generally like jerky of all types (even the jerky-adjacent products like dried squid and dried fish), these foods don't fill the hole in my soul.

4. Ho Hos.  (Yes, I believe that's the spelling.)  Looking like neat, cylindrical cat turds and tasting like every refined European's nightmare, Ho Hos date back to my childhood.  This is often the way in which shitty food hooks you:  it grabs you early in life, and then the nostalgia factor keeps you coming back.  I've never once seen Ho Hos in Korea, but it wouldn't surprise me to find out they exist.

5. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.  One of my all-time favorite noshes, Reese's are awesome when served cold.  About an hour of fridging will suffice.  They do sell these in Korea, but they're not to be found everywhere.  The grocery in my building used to sell Minis a few years back; like everything that I love, though, they eventually disappeared from the shelves, never to return.  If I remember correctly, I blogged, during my 2017 walk, about randomly finding Reese's in a convenience store somewhere along the route to Busan.  (Ah, here we go.)  Every time I find these in Korea, it's an endorphin rush.

6. Honey Buns.  The term "honey bun" is as much a generic name for a pastry as it is a well-known product name put out by several different companies, including that old standby, Hostess.  I'm specifically referring to the honey buns that are covered in that gloriously thick, white glaze, looking for all the world as if they've just escaped from a basement where people were filming bukkake porn.  God, Honey, I miss you.

7. Hostess fruit piesThese.  Another powerfully evocative symbol, totem, or spirit animal from my childhood.  I would sell my soul to Cthulhu for an armful of these.

8. Shasta Black Cherry sodaAs I blogged in 2017, I stumbled upon this soda quite randomly, and it immediately took me back several decades.  I have a reputation, among those who know me and work with me, as a Coca Cola acolyte and addict, but Shasta can easily seduce me away from the righteous Cola path.  Many berry-flavored sodas can.

9. RC Cola.  O Canada!  Maybe this is heresy; maybe it's not, but I like RC much better than Coca Cola.  It's a bit lighter and more refreshing, but without being thin and watery.  Give me a choice between Coke and RC, and I'll pick RC ten times out of ten.  I have never once seen RC Cola here in Seoul.  Maybe it exists somewhere (like on a military base), but as far as I know, I have no easy, direct access to  it.  And that kills me inside.

10. Real, actual Doritos.  Doritos chips are sold everywhere in South Korea, but they don't seem quite right.  It's laughable to pose as some sort of junk-food connoisseur (after all, who's proud to be an authority on Doritos?), but I'm pretty sure I can taste a difference between peninsular Doritos y los Doritos americanos.  Again, a trip to a military base might be the answer to this craving, but I have no way to get my own base pass.  When I get back from my walk, one thing I plan to do is make my own corn chips.  God knows I've got the ingredients.

11. Diet sodas other than Coke Zero.  South Korea seems to think that only one brand of diet soda exists.  Although the makers of Chilsung Cider (Korea's version of Sprite or Seven Up) put out a low-sugar version of their top-of-the-line clear soda a while back, it's not a zero-calorie drink by any means.  Where's the Fresca?  The Diet Dr. Pepper (regular Dr. Pepper is, bizarrely, available in most regular stores)?  The Diet Cherry Coke?  Hulk smash!

12. Good ol' Amurrican hot dogs.  Korea has hot dogs up the wazoo; they're an important ingredient in that iconic fusion stew, budae-jjigae.  But finding legitimate American franks is harder to do, and the Kirkland beef and pork "dinner franks" once sold at Costco seem to have gone the way of the dodo—at least at the Yangjae Costco, which I frequent.  I miss my Hebrew Nationals.  I sort-of miss Kirkland franks.  But since this post's focus is on 7-Eleven, I'm going to risk losing three-quarters of my readership by admitting that I miss 7-Eleven hot dogs.  They're big and juicy and salty and absolutely bad for you, like everything on this list.  But damn, do I miss them.

I can think of several more items I miss, but it's past 4:30 a.m., and I need my ugly sleep, so I'll leave off here.  In the meantime, feel free to drop me a comment in which you wax rhapsodic about food items you might be missing.  This is definitely a case of "the grass is greener," but now and again, it's therapeutic to vent about what we don't and can't have.

Dem defections

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

today's entertainment

You may recall that I reviewed the documentary "Jodorowsky's Dune" a while back (refresh your memory, O senile reader).  Here's Jodorowsky's somewhat catty, somewhat hopeful reaction to Denis Villeneuve's ambitious project:


And this next one simply made me bust a gut:

You might find this last video the most entertaining one of them all:

By the way, I've come to realize that a lot of people probably don't bother watching the YouTube videos I embed because, unlike me, they aren't subscribed to YouTube Premium, which means they have to endure commercials every ten goddamn seconds.  I sympathize; I really do.  Not that you need my permission, but yes:  feel free not to watch any of my embedded videos of Styx, Tim Pool, Prager U, the Slow Mo Guys, or anyone else if the experience is that stressful.  I understand.

I wish my liberal friends would listen to this woman

Do yourself a favor and look up Nestride Yumga on YouTube.

Ryan Long, prankster


Tim Pool: "Trump Supporter Kills Self After DA Caves To BLM"


Monday, September 21, 2020

Joe Biden thinks America has the population of China

 Remember this?

And now, Joe thinks 200 million Americans might die of COVID-19:

Just a reminder: the US has almost 330 million legal citizens.  Add the illegals, and that figure goes up to maybe 350 million. Would you trust a man this bad with numbers to run an economy?  If yes, I'd have to question your intelligence and your sanity.

better late than never

 A Pitch Meeting for "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey":

even the Dems want the empty seat filled now!

 Instapundit reaches into Twitter and dredges up a 2016 statement by Hillary Clinton:

What are you waiting for, guys? Fill RBG's seat NOW!

when to fill RBG's Supreme Court seat?

Apparently, the time to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg's now-vacated Supreme Court seat is now, and both the left and the right are keenly aware of this.  The timing of Ginsburg's death couldn't be worse in terms of national harmony and stability:  should the GOP ram through another Supreme Court Justice hated by the left, we will see rioting that will make the rioting up to now look tame (driving more voters to Trump).  Here's Tim Pool:

A grim quote from the comments (edited for clarity):

"It's not fair" says the party that spent years using fake evidence to impeach a president.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

busy, busy, busy

NB:  your pardon for a very random post.

One thing I prep before a month-long walk is my toenails.  For whatever reason—probably my clumsiness—I have less luck clipping the toenails on my right foot than I do on my left foot:  I always end up with bleeders.  I know from experience that, if I'm going to go for any sort of distance walk, I can save myself unnecessary pain by clipping my toenails several days before the walk so they have time to heal.  Walking with wounded toes can be irritating and even painful, plus there's the inconvenience caused by the slowly seeping blood.

I still haven't bought myself an extra battery for my cell phone, and time is running out.  Technically, I can do the walk with the equipment I already have:  I've got a portable power pack to charge the phone while I'm on the road, and since I'm motelling my way across the country, I'll always have access to electric sockets in the evening with which to recharge both my phone and my portable charger.  I may have mentioned before that my charger—which is fairly new—doesn't have quite the capacity of the one I used last year and in 2017.  It's good for maybe one full charge of the phone, but that may be enough:  this time around, I'll be camping for only one single night.

Interesting development:  my buddy JW has invited himself along for part of the walk.  He says he has a bunch of vacation days that his company is requiring him to burn off, and I've turned him into a distance-walking addict, so he and I are in the midst of arranging the when and the where and the how of JW's segment hike.  I don't want JW doing a segment during which I have a rest day:  that would be boring to him.  We also have to think about whether he'll be driving to our meet-up location or taking a bus/train to get there.  I've suggested the latter to him:  if he insists on driving, he'll have to double back, at some point, and go back to his parked car.  Far easier to bus over to a meeting spot, walk with me a few days, then bus back to Seoul from the bus terminal in whatever town we find ourselves in.  

I admit I'm a bit worried about having JW along.  He tends to have his own ideas when it comes to agendas:  he prefers to set his own, and when he does that, his agendas tend to wreck whatever plans I've made.  I told him very clearly that I'll be following a strict schedule during my walk:  wake up at 5, be out the door by 5:30.  I won't be deviating from that schedule except on rest days.  Will JW be okay with following my lead, or will he insist on coloring outside the lines?  We'll see.

This is one of the reasons why I normally prefer not to hike with anyone else:  the clash of intentions, however benign.  Don't get me wrong:  JW is an awesome walk partner when we do our segment hikes along the bike paths at and near the Han River.  But this hike is different, and it's become rather personal (and private) to me.  The fundamental difference between me and JW is that he's a typically sociable Korean whereas I'm a dyed-in-the-wool introvert:  JW would never do any of these hikes on his own.  It wouldn't even occur to him to do so.  In fact, I asked him about that one time, and he replied, "No, too boring."  So from the get-go, he's missing the point about the silence I enjoy when walking alone.  For him, the hike is fundamentally a social experience.  For me, it's my chance to shut up and listen to the world preach its sermon in its own arcane language.

The proofreading that I'm doing at the office is taking me about eleven hours per day to accomplish.  This leaves me with very little time and energy for trip prep.  I'm not too worried, though:  there's little to prep.  

I do plan to leave the office early on Friday, around 5 or 6 p.m., so I can train out to Incheon and grab a bunk in my favorite little motel, the Techno.  The walk on Saturday will actually be over 30 km in length:  there's a "pre-walk" of 5 km that I have to do to reach the seashore:  3 km from the Techno Motel to the subway at Geomam Station, another 2 km from the next-over station to the seashore and the Ara West Sea Gate, where the Four Rivers Trail officially begins.  So Day 1 is a doozy at 35 km, and I won't be taking an extra night of rest as I usually do for over-30K days.  Day 2 takes me back to my own apartment for the surreal experience of sleeping in my own bed while on the Busan-bound walk, then I launch myself east and eventually south toward Hanam City, Yangpyeong, picturesque Yeoju, etc.  Once I leave Yangpyeong, I have to remember to take a picture of that multicolored, brickwork shwimteo that looks like a bus stop.  I'm kicking myself for not having photographed it last year.

Anyway, before my thoughts get any more random (I'm at the office, but you can tell where my mind is at, I think), I'll leave off here.  I'll continue to figure out the nightmare that is new Blogger, and who knows?  If I come to terms with it by the end of the hike, I might just stay with new Blogger, flaws and all.

PS:  I had ordered a bunch of Survival Tabs, but they got stuck in Customs, and I've tried to contact Hanjin Shipping about the problem, but Hanjin's website has an out-of-date phone number.  I'm seriously thinking of physically traveling out to Hanjin's facility to talk face-to-face with someone, but I also know that, since I'm camping only a single day, if I don't have nutrition for a single day, I won't die of starvation:  I'm way too fat for that.

PPS:  it occurs to me that I'll be missing all three presidential debates and the VP debate.  I'll be following along on the trail via YouTube and the alt-media, though:  Tim Pool, Styx, etc. will have plenty to say.  I tend not to blog about political stuff during my walks, so I'll save any commentary for when I'm back in civilized Seoul.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

impressive, touching, inspiring, intimidating

With thanks to ROK Drop for highlighting this video of a British guy who speaks excellent Korean and who, with a team of friends, makes documentary vids about everyday life in Korea.  His Korean skills are at a level I can only aspire to, but after watching him, I'm motivated to apply myself more to learning the language.  I also enjoyed the quiet, unadorned style of the video below, which simply shows what it shows without any pretentiousness.  The end result is impressive.  This is the polar opposite of garbage like "Eat Your Kimchi."



Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a feminist and cultural icon, passed away on September 18 from complications related to pancreatic cancer.  She was 87, having joined the Supreme Court in 1993 at age 60.  Over the past year or so, those around her had tried to keep her health status as vague as possible, and her death is cause for liberal anxiety:  another seat is now available on the Supreme Court, and Donald Trump—assuming he wins the upcoming election—will doubtless nominate someone whose very existence will raise the hackles of the left.  One of Ginsburg's final "fervent" wishes was for Donald Trump to leave office after his current term.  I don't think that that wish will be fulfilled.  I hope Ginsburg didn't leave this plane of existence filled with the same small-minded, Trump-deranged bitterness that motivated John McCain to be such a stick in the mud before his own demise.  Let Justice Ginsburg be remembered for her accomplishments on behalf of women's rights.  RIP.

Styx on RBG:


Friday, September 18, 2020

another video stolen from Justin Yoshida

They say you should steal from the best, which is why I steal from Justin.




I have a little more than a week before I'm off on my trek to Busan. I don't think I have the time to start a blog on a new platform, given how much time I have to spend at work before I leave on Saturday the 26th, so as awkward and as painful as it is for me to say this, I'm going to stick with Blogger at least for the duration of this upcoming walk. I don't think Blogger has switched over on my cell phone yet, and I'll be blogging from my cell phone all the way down to Busan, so if my user experience on my phone remains the same, then blogging ought to feel about as normal as cell-phone blogging usually does. So expect Kevin's Walk 4 to appear on your radar soon. I'll let you know when it's ready for prime time.

UPDATE:  Kevin's Walk 4 is live.

UPDATE 2:  Blogger did switch over on my cell phone, at least for the new blog.  Dammit.

pris au dépourvu

Well, it happened, and I wasn't ready for it: Blogger has just switched all the way over to its shitty "new Blogger" format, and there's no option to revert to "legacy" Blogger. I thought I had more time before the changeover, given how vague Blogger has been regarding when it planned to go full-on shitty. But I guess the time is now, and I still don't have a WordPress site up. I'll get to work on that right away. Meanwhile, pardon our dust as we dismantle our edifice here and prepare to move elsewhere.  Me, I feel as if I'm being chased out.  Was it like this for the Seoul merchants who lost their real estate when then-President Lee Myeong-bak started digging up streets to re-expose and reinvigorate the Cheonggye Stream?

NB:  my 2020 walk-tee design is up over at Teespring. Click the tee design in the right-hand margin and scroll waaaaay down to the bottom to see the new design... which, truth be told, is much like last year's design.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

stolen from John Mac's place

The ultimate simile:

And yet more hypocrisy:

The Critical Drinker vs. "Star Trek Into Darkness"

I've only just discovered The Critical Drinker, whose shtick is that he's a drunk, angry, vaguely right-leaning Scotsman who watches movies and critiques them by speaking a mile a minute and lacing his criticisms with "Fuck off, movie!" In the video below, the Drinker takes on JJ Abrams's "Star Trek Into Darkness," and he jabs at Abrams's tendency to showcase events that seem significant, but that have "all the impact of a left hook from Stephen Hawking." (I love that line.) I am now subscribed to the angry Scot.

courtesy of my buddy Tom

Do this for me, will you? Go to YouTube and type (or paste) "ka chingu news 평택미니스톱" into the search window, then watch a few of the top ten videos in that search. A quick summary if you're lazy: some crazy person slams his car into a Mini Stop convenience store, then begins driving his forward and backward inside the store, steamrollering everything inside. Meanwhile, a gaggle of cops is standing around looking totally useless and acting stymied until a couple of policemen take the initiative to go into the store, grab the guy, cuff him, and take him out to a waiting police car. The perp, meanwhile, smashes up the store's interior for around five minutes before the cops do anything.

My buddy Tom sent me a link to a video of the incident, which apparently happened in Pyeongtaek. The video had been uploaded to Facebook, but I did the above search to find the same video, plus many more, on YouTube. I just watched one of the videos and took some time (with the aid of Google Translate) to read some of the comments. Unsurprisingly, the comments to the video ranged from cynical to mournful, from "That's hilarious!" to "If this happened in the States, the guy would've been shot" to "Think about the store owner's and employees' livelihoods." I agreed with all the commenters. The situation sucked and was ridiculous. When Tom sent me the video link via Kakao, I reacted with this:

Wow. Where to even begin. That was a perfect example of mass retardation. No one did anything right. Not the driver, who was fucking nuts or drunk or high; not the police, who kept blocking each other's movements by bunching up like idiots; not the bystanders, who just stood there drooling. And why the fuck did the police allow the guy to demolition-derby the store interior for several minutes? Neutralize him, drag him out of the car, and get a truck to gingerly pull the car out of the store.

Korean law enforcement is a joke. Not saying I want the sort of brutality we sometimes see in the States, but Jesus, this was an embarrassment to watch.

If you've now seen the video(s) in question, you'll have noticed the preternatural calm with which the perp, flanked by officers, marches to a police car. I'm no longer sure he was drunk: were he drunk, he'd likely be stumbling. He might've been high, or he might have insane or insanely angry, becoming calm only after having made his "point." I wonder where I need to go to follow up on news about this individual. He's obviously a train wreck, spiritually speaking, and I admit I'm morbidly fascinated by what would provoke a person to do what he did. It's certainly in the Korean spirit of grandiose but ultimately useless gestures, like the guy who, years ago, protested in downtown Seoul by stabbing himself only partway in the gut.

I may have mentioned the incident witnessed by me and my father when Dad was in Seoul to visit me. This must have been about fourteen years ago, when I was a prof at Sookmyung. Dad and I were in a subway, minding our own business, when a drunken ajeossi in his fifties started screaming and raving. Everyone gave him a wide berth, and then the guy started kicking at one of the subway's reinforced windows. He kept at it until the glass started spidering and dimpling outward. Then, when the train came to a halt at the next stop, he very calmly (and, to my eyes, furtively) made his way out of the train and disappeared into the crowd of exiting passengers. Another grandiose, useless statement had been made. The incident in Pyeongtaek has that same colossally stupid look and feel.

Much of the story seems to be told here in Korean subtitles. Lots of legal-sounding vocabulary that I don't know. But I'm learning! (This video also illogically splices in scenes of police activity in other countries, including the US. Why? No fucking clue.)

UPDATE:  my bad.  The guy turns out to be a 30-something woman. Angry mom.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

one final look before goodbye

Sean sends me and my brother David this final photo of Sean's chihuahua Maqz, who will be put down in just a few hours. Sean writes:

He’s sleeping right now under Mom’s old Christmas sweater that I’ve kept with me all these years. After he goes later today, I’ll be snipping a piece of the sleeve to send with him on his journey to see her again. He’ll be able to remember the scent faster to find her faster.

Godspeed, Maqz.

Flags are at half-staff today, so this will likely be the only thing I blog.

UPDATE: earlier today (Wednesday, Seoul time), I got the update from Sean that Maqz was now on his way. He says, "Things are somber, but we're okay." I guess that's all there is to say about that. I wrote to Sean:

I don't know much about afterlife-related matters, but if there is an afterlife, then I hope Maqz is busy chasing after all his favorite things. You guys mentioned Mom, so here's hoping that, when he's done with a good day of running around, Maqz returns to her and gets pampered the way he used to here below. That would be a dog's heaven, I think.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

a good lip reading?

Is it possible for a Bad Lip Reading video to contain a good lip reading? Apparently so. In the video below, when Ben Kenobi murmurs, "That's no moon," the lip reading is: "It's not a moon," which is quite close to the original line. Go figure.


Here are some cartoons I've been drawing for the textbook we're working on. The idea, as I think I explained a while back, is that you have a six-panel cartoon story, but only five panels have content. The student matches the scrambled sentences of the story with the pictures (which are in order), then has to write the story's final sentence and draw the story's final panel. The images below are 1000 pixels wide, actual size, so click on them to enlarge.

This first toon isn't really sequential art; it's more like a list of things that biologists might study: land animals (represented by a tiger), terrestrial plants (Venus flytrap), sea creatures (octopus), and sea plants (seaweed). The fifth panel, when matched with the prose, deals with the question, "What don't biologists study?" The answer to that could be any number of things: planetary orbits, the composition of rocks, etc.

Once the following picture is colored, it ought to be easier to understand. An earthquake hits while class is in session; the students run out, but the teacher hides under a desk, per the usual instructions associated with earthquakes. But everyone leaves the building, and the school collapses. What has befallen the teacher?

This next one is lame, and I think I need to redo it. The chapter is on Gregor Mendel, father of genetics. I start with a Punnett Square showing two parents with dominant and recessive alleles: B for brown eyes, b for blue eyes. This means that such parents have a 25% chance of having a blue-eyed kid. The subsequent frames show kid after kid being born, all three with brown eyes. The fourth kid is coming, and the parents think this is their one shot at a blue-eyed baby. What comes out, though, is a Satan-eyed horror inspired by the movie "Rosemary's Baby." No blue eyes for you guys! Sorry! (Note that the parents' reasoning could be seen as a variant of the Gambler's Fallacy.)

The cartoon below is based on a true-life incident that I blogged about: a stupid criminal who marched into an establishment to raid the cash register. The proprietor, you'll recall, shooed everyone out the front door and locked the door, trapping the dumbass inside. The police weren't long in arriving.

This next one is about the fickleness of fame and fortune. A man sits alone and depressed, then he gets an idea for a book. He works furiously on it and gains fame, fortune, and glory... but it all fades, and he's once again alone and depressed, with nothing but copies of his book for company.

I kind of like the story for the toon below, even if the art isn't all that special. Some kids are running away from an unknown danger. A horrifying-looking clown beckons them to come with him, but the kids balk. The clown becomes more insistent while the kids continue to hesitate. Suddenly, a new, more menacing threat appears: a huge, muscular man dressed as a policeman and carrying a nasty-looking truncheon. Maybe the clown's not the real threat.

The toon below is for a chapter on Greenpeace. I'm not the biggest fan of that organization, although I'm sure some of its members mean well. I decided to portray Greenpeace in a dramatic, over-the-top way, which explains the story. Somewhere in the ocean, a whale-hunting vessel is chasing a whale that's desperate to get away. A Greenpeace Zodiac appears and pulls alongside the whaling ship, but this doesn't stop the harpoon operator from aiming and firing his weapon. The harpoon flies toward its target, and the stoic Greenpeace boatman heroically flings himself into the path of the harpoon. Kids ought to love drawing the panel that comes next. Some—the more morbid ones—will draw a man with a harpoon in his gut. Others, more clever, will draw the man snatching the harpoon, rolling in the air, and redirecting the deadly shaft away from the whale.

As you see, I sucked at drawing the Zodiac, and I sucked at Photoshopping the "Greenpeace" label onto the Zodiac's curved front. With more time, I might have been able to do a better job.

In the pic below, I totally stole the boy's image from the silhouetted boy who figures in the Amazon Kindle logo. I plead guilty. Just know that I hand-drew the boy: no tracing, no scanning-and-copying. Freehand. Anyway, as you see, a boy and girl are playing chess (I found a side-view pic of a chessboard and turned it into a silhouette). The girl makes a move that makes her smile while the boy frowns. The boy then makes a move that satisfies him and annoys her. The girl goes again, looking supremely smug. The boy, incensed, turns into a ravening monster. What happens next? A feminist might draw the girl as an even larger monster. A non-feminist might draw the girl, still human, screaming and running away.

In the pic below, a fortune-teller tries to persuade a skeptical man that there will be an earthquake (see the cracking ground in her crystal ball?). The man scoffs and leaves, still laughing. Once outside, though, the man feels the earth tremble as the quake begins. The earth splits beneath the man's feet, and he finds himself hanging on for dear life, calling out for help that will not come.

I used a lot of clip art for this final picture. My alterations and rearrangements ought to keep me safe from copyright claims; for instance, I added the guy's warding gesture in the fourth panel, the one where he's saying no-thanks to the offer of a cigarette. In the end, though, as the fifth panel's closeup implies, the guy feels tempted to smoke. What happens next? Does he walk away? Does he take a puff?

So that's a glimpse of my lame art. Given more time and care, I could doubtless draw better, but I've never been more than a chicken-scratch cartoonist. I'll never be a Picasso or a Rembrandt, or even a Bob Ross. But the boss thinks I draw well enough for us to make another textbook that would be full of my artwork, so I guess we'll see what happens.

a Trump-Biden debate hosted by... Joe Rogan?

I'd say yes to a four-hour debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, especially if it's moderated by Joe Rogan. Rogan, 53, sits somewhere in the liberal/libertarian part of the political spectrum: a bit of a paradox, he's an accomplished, disciplined martial artist as well as a dedicated, it's-all-good pothead, not to mention an often-hilarious standup comedian who has called other comedians (like Carlos Mencia) out for joke-stealing. He'd like for there to be fewer oppressive regulations, and he wants people to just leave each other alone (unless he's chasing after joke-thieves). At the same time, he's not against certain government programs (he was open to Andrew Yang's UBI plan and was a Bernie Bro for a time), and he's definitely pro-legalization when it comes to drugs. Rogan runs a podcast that recently moved from YouTube to Spotify, a Stockholm-based service mostly known for music streaming, not for talk-radio-like podcasts. He has also made the physical move from regulation-filled California to less-regulated Texas, and he's been openly considering voting for Donald Trump. Rogan tends to invite guests who have far greater intellectual candlepower than he does, and it's obvious he's learning from his guests and is fascinated by what they have to say. At the same time, Rogan is obviously no intellectual slouch himself: he has matched wits, blow for blow, with the razor-sharp Tim Pool the several times that Pool has been Rogan's guest.

That's all background for those members of my readership who have no idea who Joe Rogan is. (Tons of his videos are on YouTube; look 'em up and familiarize yourself with his style.) And this is the selfsame Joe Rogan who floated the idea of a four-hour-long debate between Trump and Biden. Get this: Trump has already eagerly said yes. I can see why, too: the three official debates will be a sham, automatically stacked against Trump. As Styx notes below, the biased moderators will give Biden all the time he needs to stumble through his near-aphasic sentences, but when Trump speaks, they'll cut the man off while asking him venomous questions, unlike the softballs they'll gently toss Biden's way. Rogan, by contrast, will give both candidates a fair hearing, and he won't go easy on either politician. Such a debate would make for lively, exciting viewing, and in theory, it would take place in the cozy confines of Rogan's studio (a format that Tim Pool, below, thinks ought to replace the overly showy, substance-free debate formats currently in vogue).

Biden has yet to say yes to Rogan's proposal; Styx theorizes that Biden and his team will lamely try to ignore this proposal in the hopes that the excitement fades away. If Biden fails to say yes to this admittedly grueling four-hour format, he'll be in danger of appearing to pussy out (although I'm sure his team will have some ready-made excuse to explain Biden's absence). If Biden fails to show up, there's also the idea that Trump could appear alone with Rogan, and they could hash out whatever issues Rogan chooses to bring up.

So here are Tim Pool and Styx, talking about this move by Rogan and Trump.

A lot of us are hoping this happens, but deep down, we know Biden will never say yes.

a meditation on tee shirts

My boss very kindly offered to have my tee shirts made locally by a tee manufacturer he knows. I said that that would be great, so I gave the boss several photos of the tees I own plus graphics files to allow the tee manufacturer to print my design onto his shirts. When the boss came in yesterday (Monday) with the tees he had collected over the weekend (I offered to pay, but the boss waved me off), I was initially delighted... and then I saw that the designer had, bizarrely, changed up the fonts, using the much-hated Comic Sans font in place of the brisker, more serious font I had originally used. Here's a shot of the boss's friend's tee, front side:

As you see above, "Kevin's Walk" is in Comic Sans, which is highly disappointing. You can also see that the printing method was radically different: the "ink" appears to be some sort of rubberized substance. I don't know enough about tee-printing methods to say for sure what method was used here, but I worry about how well the images on both sides of the tee will withstand wear and tear. I think the boss is hoping that I'll wear "his" tee during the walk, but honestly, I don't think I will. That being said, the crispness of the tee's image is impressive, and I also noticed that the new tees (there are two) didn't have that nasty, pungent, chemical reek of an off-the-press Teespring tee. These tees were wearable from the get-go.

Below is a pic of a golden tag with two Chinese characters on it. The characters say teuk-dae, or literally "special big." This apparently applies to clothing that's an especially large size. I had given the boss "4XL" as my tee size, and this was the result. The Korean-made tee is actually slightly larger than the Teespring tees I own. The fabric feels pleasantly smooth to the touch, but it doesn't feel flimsy. Overall, the general quality of the Korean tees is better, I think, than Teespring's.

Here's the back of the Korean tee, which also features changed fonts:

I noticed that the graphic on the back of the tee didn't have a black background. Ignoring the design in my data file, the guy had re-created my design using different fonts and no background, simply printing white lettering and borders right onto the black fabric of the tee. The lettering is composed of the same rubberized "ink" as the design on the tee's front. It annoys me that the tee guy presumed he could do my design one better, and while I'm not bothered by the font changes on the tee's back, I do worry that the lack of a black background will mean that the white lettering will crack and peel off more easily. You'll see what I'm talking about in a moment. Below is a Teespring tee with my design on it the way I wanted it, black background and all. By making the design a huge, single rectangle, I'm keeping individual design elements from peeling off, cracking, and/or fading. Behold:

And here's the back of the same tee, with the black background in place:

Here are the two front-face designs, side by side (Teespring on the left, Koreanized design on the right). The Korean design is longer vertically, but slightly narrower horizontally:

Lastly, here's a shot of an earlier Teespring tee that, through the simple act of washing it several times, is already showing wear and wear because the design does not have the black background to support and lock in the design elements:

So while I appreciated my boss's efforts to have a set of 2020 tees made for me, I think I'll be sticking to my 2019 tees for this walk. The boss offered to get new tees done here specifically because I hadn't put up a 2020 design on Teespring, and it would now be too late to put such a design up and order tees to get here on time for the walk's start date.

It's the thought that counts, though, right? I'll keep the boss's tees (I'm wearing one right now as I type this), and over time, we'll see how well these Korean shirts hold up to months of wear and tear. I had thought about asking the boss to have his friend make two more tees, this time explicitly following the design I'd given him instead of presuming to know what I wanted. (Koreans often have a nasty, frustrating habit of trying to do your thinking for you instead of simply asking your opinion before making an effort on your behalf.) Then I thought to myself: nah. Too churlish. I'd look like a selfish ingrate.

For what it's worth, the boss is aware that I hate the Comic Sans font, so maybe I already look like an ingrate.

sad news from the States

My brother Sean just wrote to say that he and Jeff will be putting Sean's chihuahua Maqz down via in-home euthanasia around 6 p.m. on the 15th, Chicago time. Maqz was, as I wrote in my reply to Sean, a naughty little booger when I met him, but he grew on me. It's hard to believe we'll shortly be living in a world without that stout-hearted little dog, but time and life are always grinding mercilessly forward. It's a bit premature to be offering condolences since the euthanasia hasn't happened yet, but I do offer my sympathies. This can't be easy, not after all those years of faithful companionship.

fake news from the far right

I saw news early on Monday that Tom Hanks had supposedly deleted three years' worth of tweets from his Twitter account, had acquired Greek citizenship along with his wife, and was now using Greece as a haven to avoid impending charges about pedophilia because in Greece (supposedly), pedophilia isn't treated as a crime, but rather as a disability.

Well, the real story is that Hanks and his wife did indeed gain honorary Greek citizenship based in part on charity work they've done. Hanks owns property in Greece as well, and he and his wife see it as the most beautiful spot on Earth. As for pedophilia: no evidence, no substance, just rumors burbling out of the minds of the febrile far right, quite possibly from QAnon partisans. Oh, and visit Hanks's up-to-date Twitter feed.

Don't let confirmation bias tempt you into believing everything you read.

Gad Saad's prognostication

Psychologist Gad Saad, a well-known tweeter who also runs the popular The Saad Truth podcast, is asked what he thinks about the upcoming US presidential election. His answer is worth a listen, especially his "sniffing the cork" metaphor from Arabic culture.

Basically: you might not like Trump as a person, but you ought to agree with his decisions and policies. This is approximately the position I find myself in: Trump is a despicable asshole, but I can't argue with most of his choices as a leader.

four via Bill

imagine a world run by twenty-something girls

Ryan Long with another hit:

Monday, September 14, 2020

Yoda talks about his... stick

Since I was already in the humor-saturated corner of YouTube, I followed another algorithmic recommendation to a Bad Lip Reading video that pokes fun at "The Last Jedi":

I have to say that I enjoyed the return of 1980-era puppet Yoda in Rian Johnson's film. His appearance was a fan-service moment for sure, but the dialogue between him and old Luke was also important and meaningful. That was easily one of the best exchanges in a deeply flawed film that still managed to be chock-full of ideas.

Aaaaaaaagggghhhh!!! (with thanks to Justin)

Presented to you with almost no context:


With thanks to Justin Yoshida, who found the dino vid first.

alt-media assault

Styx on the creation of a new Soviet Union in America:

Tim Pool on the scandalous purging of crucial cell phones by Mueller's team:

Styx on CNN admitting "the wind is shifting in Trump's favor":

In 2016, I would never have said Trump was going to win by a landslide, and in fact, he didn't: his electoral-vote count was 306 to Hillary Clinton's 232—a wide margin of victory, but hardly a landslide at 56.9% of the total electoral vote. To me, a landslide is when the candidate takes over 70% of the total number of electoral votes. Now, like a lot of alt-media pundits, I think Trump might actually pull off an electoral-vote landslide, even if he fails to take California (55 electoral votes) and New York (29). 70% of 538 total electoral votes is about 377 votes. If we assume Trump wins all states but New York and California, he'd win 538 - 55 - 29 = 454 votes, i.e., 84.4%. I'd say that's conceivable this time around, and it'd be a huge fuck-you to the people who want to destroy the Electoral College. California and New York would be effectively muzzled, and even if Joe Biden carried those states by vote margins in the millions, it'd be all for nothing. Is the wind shifting in Trump's favor? I'd say it shifted long ago, and we have the riots and the scaredy-cat responses to the pandemic to thank for that.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

"it's the economy, stupid"

the Bundang round-trip walk

I slept for a goodly part of today after I finished my mammoth walk early this morning. The walk occurred over the space of about ten hours, from 8:40 p.m. to 6:40 a.m., but I rested in three thirty-minutes shifts, so the actual duration of the walk was closer to 8.5 hours. That's an average walking speed of 4.12 km/h. Not ideal, but apparently close to normal: Naver Map, now new and improved, calculates walking time on the assumption that average people walk at a rate of around 4 km/h. Interesting: most hasty Koreans seem to walk at around 6 km/h.

So how'd the walk go? It went well, overall. There were some irritations—hot spots on my feet caused by minor friction inside my shoes. When I got back to my place, I fully expected to see incipient blistering, but there was nothing. My feet were achy even before I began the walk; at this point, I'd say the aches are diabetes-related and caused by overconsumption of sugar. I've experimented with my sugar levels, and less sugar does indeed seem to correlate with reduction of achiness. Like the guy who needs to have a heart attack to figure out he has to straighten out his life, I'm now finding that the fear of losing either or both of my feet to diabetes is motivating me to cut way back on sodas. I can't promise to banish sodas fully from my life, but I can make do with diet sodas and only occasional sugary sodas.

But I digress: the walk went well in terms of pain levels; I took ibuprofen at regular intervals, just as I did during the big walk last year, and this kept the pain from increasing. (I'd been worried about building a tolerance to ibuprofen.) I wore my newfangled hiking socks, and they performed well, as did the orthotic insoles I had pulled from my old size 12s to put inside my size 13s. There's still some friction on the tops of my toes, as well as on the right side of my right pinky toe, but the pain was bearable. As I've gotten into the habit of telling people: I'll keep walking as long as I can stand up and put one foot in front of the other. So the overall "quality of life" during the walk was satisfactory, and I think I've learned that my body can still take this sort of punishment for the month that I'll need to go from Incheon to Busan.

Walking at night is something I've done before—twice when doing the "crazy" sixty-kilometer walk from my place to Yangpyeong. Such walks tend to be quiet, and depending on my route, there are either few to no people or a surprising number of people. On nighttime walks past Hanam to Yangpyeong, the path has generally been empty or sparsely populated; last night, however, the road to Bundang and back had a lot of people on it, and there were only a few scattered moments during which no one was in sight. I was surprised (and if I'm honest, sometimes a bit resentful) to see that many dedicated bikers and walkers out on the path. But who could blame them? Last night was cool—cool enough that the 85% humidity didn't affect the pleasantness of the walk. Some bikers trundled by with their obnoxiously bright headlights on; one dude blasted by on what appeared to be motorized rollerblades; he was wearing powerful lamps on his head, his chest, and even on his knees. Music blasted from speakers strapped to his person, and he was easily the most bombastic thing I saw on the trail all night. Along with bikers and walkers and that one rollerblader, there were people on electric scooters. Another dude was on a uni-wheel scooter that apparently had a super-powerful motor; the guy was bookin'. So I didn't lack for company last night as I lumbered slowly along with my trekking pole. Some fellow walkers, walking briskly, passed me as they marched to whatever their destination was. Some of the older ladies did typically Korean things like clap loudly or sing while walking; one woman repeatedly threw her hands up in the air and behind her head, looking for all the world as if she were summoning tentacled, chthonian creatures from the depths of the earth. Fellow walkers and bikers spanned the spectrum from young to old; when I used to night-hike up Namsan at 3 in the morning, back when I taught at Dongguk University, my fellow walkers were almost always older folks.

The Bundang route is basically a straight shot south, following the Tan Creek, which turns into something like an unnaturally straight canal as it approaches Seongnam City, where the Bundang district is. Much of the path is well-lit by street lamps, but the long stretch that runs a few kilometers next to the air-force base across the creek is lit only by faint green lights set into the middle of the bike path, and weird electric lights at ground level at the path's creekside edge. Those lights tended to turn on and off, doing a little peek-a-boo as I walked past them. Because the nighttime temperature was so cool (in the high 60s Fahrenheit, or 18-20 degrees Celsius), there were almost no insects buzzing around those lights.

I was tired by the time I reached Jeongja Station in Bundang, my halfway point. I did a U-turn and began heading back to my place. The return leg felt a lot longer, I have to say, but at the same time, I was glad to be testing myself this way: this walk was a sort of shakedown cruise for the big walk to come. I took two nighttime photos as I began my walk. Around 5 a.m., toward the end of my trek, the sky began to lighten, and I was finally able to take some more photos. Here they are, for your delectation:

In the above pic and in the one below, I finally answer a question that had been bothering me for a long time: around Christmastime, the tree in these two photos (which is near my apartment building) is covered in electric lights. I had long wondered whether those lights were on the tree all year long. As you see, the official answer is no.

I took the above tree shots barely five minutes after starting my walk, i.e., around 8:45 p.m. Saturday night. Below is a photo taken much later, about three or four kilometers away from my apartment. You see the moon, along with a bright star that is actually Venus, also called the Morning Star (which is a name sometimes applied to Satan):

After 6 a.m., it was bright enough to take pics of some flowers along the final stretch of the walk:

And finally, a shot of that final stretch:

My feet ache, but I can control the pain with my ibuprofen. Strangely, my right foot wasn't swollen before I crawled stinkily into bed this morning, but as of this evening, it's back to being a bit swollen. With the walk totaling over 55,000 steps, I think it's safe to say that whatever stress fracture I suffered this past February has healed strongly. I had no bone-related issues last night. Verdict: all in all, I think my body is ready for the upcoming hike. There will be blisters in my future, but no worse than before. I'll continue to limit my sugar intake in the hopes of losing more weight before my launch date (Saturday, September 26), although I don't expect to lose much. I now have less than two weeks before I'm on the trail; there's still some prep to be done, but there's no need to rush quite yet.

So there you go: all the hiking news that's fit to print.

Tim and Kim: Pool interviews Klacik

Remember Kim Klacik? Tim Pool scored her for an interview, which makes for very interesting viewing:

over 55K steps

Here's the step tally from my all-night walk to Bundang and back, which took me close to nine hours over a distance of 35 kilometers:

So I've now officially walked to Bundang and back. I'll have more to say once I've had a chance to rest. I've canceled the walk later today with my buddy JW; am simply too wiped out to do it.

More soon. With pictures.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

this had to have been made by an American

Your moment of hilarity for the day: "Harry Potter with Guns"!

I love Harry's forehead scar. The gun animation is often janky, but that's part of the humor.

The pandemic has left a lot of bored, smart people with video-editing software plenty of time to labor at the Devil's workshop.

Tim Pool and Bob Woodward's "downplay" nonsense

Trump was apparently caught on audio talking about his desire to "downplay" the severity of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to avoid panics. Here's why that's nowhere near as significant as deluded minds might think:

Bob Woodward got famous for one thing, and that was long ago.

stepping out

I'm going on a long, long walk tonight to Bundang and back. That's about 50,000 steps and around 35 km, i.e., about the distance from Hanam City to Yangpyeong. I'll be starting a bit after 8 p.m. and, presumably, finishing a bit after 5 a.m. Sunday morning. Later on, I'll be doing a roughly 17-km walk with my buddy JW; JW proposed the walk without knowing I'd be doing the round trip to and from Bundang, but I said yes to JW's proposal because that, too, will be part of the test of my feet's endurance. I need to find out whether I can survive two days in a row of punishment; if I can, then I ought to be able to survive a month's worth of walking on the trail to Busan. If not, well...

Tonight, the weather is supposed to be cool and possibly rainy—not my favorite weather to walk in. I'm going, anyway. Wish me luck.

the third gyro

I hope this is a better shot than the previous ones. Here's the third gyro, devoured last night:

No more tzatziki, and no more feta. All gone. I still have plenty of gyro meat, but I made an interesting discovery earlier in the week: gyro meat goes well with dill-flavored comeback sauce, so I can make some very nice lamb sandwiches with the leftover meat.

Oh, yeah: I took that pile of leftover red onion and caramelized it last night. Am not sure who will be eating the onion, but it's there for the taking.

seen online

Styx on election dynamics (and rigging)

This includes a review of all Trump has accomplished despite ruthless, relentless opposition:

"Dune" reactions

The reactions to the "Dune" trailer appeared instantaneously and everywhere. Here are two.

I continue to watch nerdy Charlie at Emergency Awesome:

And here's one of my two go-to movie critics—Jeremy Jahns: