Wednesday, December 08, 2021

looks as though I've already started

As of 11 p.m. tonight, I've begun my week-long fast. It won't end until Thursday the 16th, in the early afternoon, when my doctor's appointment at the hospital is finished. I'm hoping I won't be a boneless wreck by then, and that my improved health since the stroke will militate in my favor. I'm hoping that I will indeed experience greater mental clarity and more physical energy. I'm hoping to undergo ketosis and autophagy. And I'd like to lose some weight, have a better BP, and enjoy a slower resting pulse. We'll see.

I promised you numbers, and the first set of numbers will appear after noon tomorrow. I'll take my measurements right at noon, by which time I'll have fasted for thirteen hours. I'll publish the numbers once I'm at work (reminder: I arrive at work late and usually stay late).

Right now, I'm off to climb 1.5 staircases. Gotta start off right. Right?

pression artérielle

In BP news: the stairs practice is starting to produce benefits: my systolic, of late, has been going down from 160-something to 140-something. A week of fasting, plus daily stairs work, ought to bring the BP down even further. We'll see. Anyway, today is the true last hurrah before the fast; I do believe I'll end on a Korean note and have myself some bibimbap from the resto downstairs in the building where I work. Nutritious and delicious (but full of carbs thanks to the white rice; I'll have to see about making a cauliflower version).

Because I want to track what happens over the course of this fast as closely as I can, starting tomorrow, I'll be providing daily numbers: weight, BP, blood sugar, resting heart rate. I'll be as consistent as possible, taking my readings at exactly the same time every day, and seated in the same position. I'm normally not that consistent in taking my readings, so this'll be a new experience for me. The most important thing, at least for the first day, is to get a poop in before I take down my numbers (more accurate weight that way), but that shouldn't matter once I start fasting: there'll be nothing to poop out after a day or so of deprivation, although I've learned from experience that my body has a clever way of retaining poop for long periods, sucking every last bit of nutrition out of the last thing to be eaten. The result is that, once I start eating again, the first thing I poop out is a stone. Not looking forward to that.

Fasting allows the body to reset itself...

elementary mistake

Did I say I'd be fasting from Wednesday to Wednesday? Oops. That's eight days, plus Thursday morning before the doctor's appointment. I meant I'd be fasting from Thursday this week to Thursday morning next week: seven full days plus an extra morning. A bit more reasonable, that. It's like those day-counting problems in math: Johnny was on vacation from the 12th to the 17th—how many days was that total? If you mentally say, "12 + 5 = 17, therefore he was on vacation five days," you're forgetting to count the 12th as part of the answer: he was on vacation for six days. I made the same sort of mistake in my earlier post.

In other news, I did my 2.5 staircases tonight, having neglected to do them over the weekend. It was arduous work, but not as hard as I'd thought it would be. In fact, I'm thinking I want to get 3.0 staircases over with this week, early in my fast, so I can immediately go back to doing only 1.5 staircases. I'll be doing the stairs every day from here on in as a way to strengthen my heart and help lower my blood pressure, but I don't want to faint while I'm on the steps. So: will do 2.5 staircases again this coming Thursday, but Wednesday and Friday, I'll do only 1.5 staircases.  Over the weekend, probably on Saturday, I'll attempt 3.0 staircases before going on a longish walk, then from Sunday to Thursday next week, I'll do only 1.5 staircases a day (along with my usual 140-minute and 80-minute walks). As I noted earlier, 1.5 staircases proved to be enough to improve my cardiovascular fitness for the long walk; I was able to tackle a slew of hills with little trouble, with only one or two massive hills actually leaving me out of breath. Doing 3.0 staircases routinely strikes me as overkill, not to mention insane. At the same time, I did set 3.0 staircases as my end-of-year goal, so I still need to reach that goal at least once before December 31. We're almost there.

With all the body fat I still retain (body recomposition is another fitness goal for 2022), I think I ought to be all right in the energy department once I officially enter ketosis—which I finally will. As I've contended previously, I don't think I've ever entered ketosis before (maybe I'll finally buy that ketone counter), but with a seven-day water fast, ketosis is inevitable, and I've got a lot of fat to burn. So I'm hoping I don't become too weak and fatigued over the course of this fast. At worst, there ought to be a one- or two-day slump, after which I expect to switch to fat-burning mode and begin cleaning up my body (via autophagy).  Many people report becoming more alert and energetic while fasting. Here's hoping that that's me, too.

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

The Matrix Expectations

A few trailers for "The Matrix Resurrections" have come out, and it's now obvious that the Wachowskis are finally taking their wacky universe in the meta direction—the layered "onion" universe—I had suggested back before "The Matrix Revolutions" came out (to great fan disappointment). But is it too late, after twenty years, for this franchise to recapture the old fire? Was there any old fire to begin with, given that most people think the first film of the original trilogy was the only good film of the three? Hard to say.

My principal worry is that this new film will prove to be a giant turd that trips over its own dick, if you'll pardon my mixing of metaphors. Keanu Reeves's lazy decision to play Neo while looking like John Wick isn't exactly encouraging, although it might be interesting to see how the new film plays with the idea of Neo and Trinity's love being something that reiterates with every cycle of the human/machine conflict. That story has been told in many different forms elsewhere, but as romantic ideas go, it's a compelling one—the love that lasts through eons and iterations, with two souls always destined to gravitate toward each other in different places and times. At the same time, I worry that the new movie, in its attempt to subvert everything we think we know about the Matrix universe, will somehow suck all the meaning out of the strife and conflict we experienced in the original trilogy.

And the new film does seem to be leaning more heavily on the Hindu/Buddhist tropes of cyclicality or "spiral" reality. It wouldn't surprise me if the Wachowskis decided to break the fourth wall down completely and just make a movie about Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss trying to make a "Matrix" movie, with the implication being that we too, we in the audience, are part of the Matrix. The first "Tron" ended that way, with a pullback shot that implied human civilization was simply another form of buzzing, humming circuitry. In an otherwise-superficial movie, that was a profound moment. Perhaps "The Matrix Resurrections" can pull off a similar stunt. I'm cautiously hopeful.

"Dune" redux

Denis Villeneuve's "Dune: Part One" is now out on home video; I snapped it up and watched it last night. It's a much-reduced experience to watch it on the small screen, but there's still some grandeur there. One thing I really enjoy about Villeneuve's approach is how we get the feeling that the Atreides family is going knowingly to its death, that there's a slow, painful inevitability about how events unfold. Duke Leto understands perfectly well that Arrakis is a trap, but he goes through the motions of trying to get spice mining going, anyway. Lady Jessica, Leto's concubine, is aware of the many dangers that lie ahead, but she continues to do her duty to both the Bene Gesserit order—which shapes history from behind the scenes—and to the Atreides family. Even Paul continues marching forward despite his premonitory visions, despite knowing he may soon find himself at the head of a bloody jihad. The movie's slow rhythm contributes to this sense of crushing circumstance, so I have to give Villeneuve full credit for excellent editing contributing to appropriate pacing.

Hans Zimmer's score is generally quite good, although there are moments where he reverts to his old superficiality. He hasn't totally shaken off his younger self, but overall, he's now a much more mature composer than he had been back in the 90s. While his scores will never be as iconic as those of John Williams, Zimmer was not a bad choice for "Dune."

Just some thoughts upon rewatching a good movie.

last meals

It's risky to have a cheat meal so close to the date of my doctor visit, but that's what I'm doing—a sort of last hurrah before some major discipline (thanks, McDonald's). Tonight, I'll finish off with a bowl of sugar-free chocolate pudding. Seems like a fitting send-off.

Although I normally tell my boss and coworkers plenty about my personal life, I haven't shared with them that I'll be fasting for a week. For some reason, it feels better to remain mum. I'd like to think what I'm doing is in line with Jesus' admonition not to announce you're engaging in spiritual discipline, but (1) this isn't spiritual discipline, and (2) I've already rather vainly announced my intentions on this blog, so by the Jesus standard, I'm already a shit.

I weighed myself this morning, bracing for impact. I'm at 108.5 kg, so that's a 7.5-kilo net gain from a low point of 101 kg. I really wonder how much I'll drop over the course of the next seven days. Getting under 101 might be nice, but I know it'll be temporary; you regain weight after a fast, so fasting should never be considered a way to adjust your "set point," i.e., the weight that your body comes to see as your default weight. That said, if I can visit the hospital while weighing less than 101 kg, that will be a minor victory of sorts. After the doctor visit, we'll see what happens from there.

Happy Pearl Harbor Day!

Okay, maybe not so happy. A mindful Pearl Harbor Day to you, then.

Eighty years... and I've lived fifty-two of them.

Monday, December 06, 2021

evil Spider-Men

One of Corridor Crew's more hilarious efforts: turning Spider-Man "R" rated:

finally visited the orthopede

I should've just talked to my boss about my shoulder problem. He knew right away that I had what Koreans call oship-gyeon, or "age-50 shoulder." More technically in English, it's called frozen shoulder, the term the orthopede gave me today when he saw I didn't know what oship-gyeon meant. According to my boss, it's a condition that arrives right around age 50, hence the name. I'm turning 53 next year, so I guess I'm right on schedule. And the long duration of the pain (the better part of a year) is also a feature of this condition, so it might be a few months more that I have to deal with it.

So yeah, I visited the orthopede this morning, got X-rayed, was told I had frozen shoulder, and did two mini-sessions of physical therapy on the spot. Physical therapy meant working on range of motion with a pulley device that had two handles: I would pull down with my left hand, and my right hand would go up. Hold for six seconds; repeat five times. Hold for ten seconds on the final pull. After that, I did the same sort of thing I'd done at the Chinese-medicine clinic: I was led to a berth with a bed, and I received a combination of TENS therapy (electric tingle through octopus-like sucker attachments) and heat lamps.

The X-ray itself, which I got before the consult and physical therapy, was utterly useless, as I knew it would be. The doc said everything looked okay, just as he did when I came in with my stress fracture. I don't know why I even bother with this orthopede, but I guess it's good that, this time, I at least got a diagnosis. So I got the diagnosis, got the therapy, and got my three days' worth of meds—pain relievers and muscle relaxants.

My boss said he got through his own oship-gyeon by using dumbbells and working on his range of motion. In reading online about frozen shoulder, I see that the condition has three stages: freezing, frozen, and thawing. The freezing stage is where you experience the most pain; in the frozen stage, there's less pain but also less range of motion, and in the thawing stage, you finally start to get better. Doctors currently have no idea why frozen shoulder occurs, but diabetes is associated with the condition, so I guess I've been a prime candidate for several years. Diabetes or not, the condition affects 3-5% of the population.

I'll be happy when the pain finally goes away; I want to concentrate on strength training next year since I won't be making my strength-training goals this year. In the meantime, I'll watch some physical-therapy vids on YouTube (the Bob and Brad channel is good), do what I can for my shoulder, and just wait out the pain.

the vaccine pass is here

According to ROK Drop, the vaccine pass is a thing now in Korea:

S. Korea tightens vaccine pass rules

Moviegoers have snacks in a cinema lobby in Seoul on Dec. 5, 2021, one day before the government implements a strengthened vaccine pass rule that will require visitors to theaters, libraries, private institutes and other venues to provide a vaccination certificate or a negative test result. (Yonhap)

Technically, the vaccine pass is more of a thing now. So much for movies in theaters for Uncle Kevin, I guess, unless I'm going to get tested for the virus every single week.

my faithful blanket cover is dying

A tiny rip at the top of my bed's blanket cover has grown into a yawning hole; the fabric has gotten so old and weak that sewing the hole shut doesn't seem worth the effort. So I've used Coupang to order myself a new blanket cover. Coupang didn't have anything in a pleasing pattern, so the new cover will be a solid "charcoal" color, in keeping with my conservative tastes. I'm not a fan of solid colors, though, because you can't hide stains on them. And while I know you nasty fuckers automatically think I'm talking about semen, no: I'm talking about random bleeders (I bleed a lot; my pillowcases are dotted with little bloodstains), saliva from sleep-drool, and sweat, especially from the backs of my knees. Not to mention stains from food should I ever eat on my bed (which I rarely do these days).

So, a new blanket cover is on its way. Arriving Thursday, I think.

A death haiku seems appropriate:

kudos—job well done
years of covering my bod
in the trash with you

Sunday, December 05, 2021

riddle me this

The conservatives were originally all behind Trump and his Operation Warp Speed, which is what got the "vaccines" out in record time, even if the left wants to give Trump no credit for that. At the time, the left was saying that, if Trump wanted something, such as a shot, then they—the left—didn't, and so the left bravely and nobly resisted initial inoculation efforts. 

At the beginning of this year, Biden takes over the Oval Office, legitimately or not, and suddenly there's this reversal on both sides: conservatives find all sorts of reasons to doubt the shot's efficacy, and the left changes from "I refuse to take the Trump vaccine!" to "You're murdering your fellow citizens if you go unvaxxed!" This change has been so neat and clean and simultaneous that I'm often left to wonder what the hell happened. 

So am I to understand that conservatives no longer praise Trump for having sped up the inoculation process? That the "vaccine" is garbage? Gee, thanks, Trump! And liberals who, until the changeover to Biden, adamantly refused to get inoculated are now all clamoring about "following the science"? All of this simply because of a change in leadership?

Or is there more to the situation than this?

the return of the Korean coworker

In our office, our graphic designer is the only Korean on our team; the rest of us—my other coworker, my boss, and me—are all Amurrican. I can imagine how difficult it must be not to have people you can connect with automatically on a cultural level in your office, and life doesn't get any easier when your daughter comes down with COVID, and you and your wife are supposed to remain isolated with her, thus guaranteeing that you'll get COVID, too.

Which is what happened: my Korean coworker caught COVID at home while tending to his daughter, but apparently, his long isolation period took the probability of his infection into consideration. Upshot: the isolation is over as of today, and our in-house designer will be back in the office starting tomorrow. I don't know whether he got jabbed before he got infected, but we all now know that the jab is no guarantee when it comes to infection: it only affects outcomes like hospitalization (get jabbed, and you'll probably spend less time in hospital once you're infected). The downside of getting jabbed is that it dilutes your body's ability to form a natural immunity, which is considered a better ward against reinfection than the jab itself. 

I remain un-jabbed, but I'm impatient to get infected, to get the infection over with, and to have natural immunity. At this point, COVID is simply an endemic reality, like the good ol' flu. Politicians, pro-vaxxers, and other pearl-clutchers need to let go of their fear and understand that the virus is here to stay and is part of the human reality henceforth.

ADDENDUM: seen on Instapundit:

These are the same dumb shits always accusing conservatives of fearmongering.

MONDAY UPDATE: the coworker is back, and he's fine. He never got the jab, either, but now, he's got natural immunity, which is a hell of a lot better than the jab.

a new computer might be nice

This month, I get my new contract. My understanding is that it'll be a two-year contract, but what's really important to me is the payout that now comes with the end of my current three-year contract. We get paid a "retirement allowance" equivalent to a month's pay for every year of the contract worked. So a three-year contract means I get three months' pay, all in a lump sum. Of course, it won't be literally that: by the time taxes and fees are taken out, it'll be closer to getting two months' pay, I'm sure; that's how it's worked in the past, so you have to prepare for disappointment. Still, that's better than nothing, and I can finally begin investing in earnest (I found an interesting app that's supposed to be a good help for investment newbies like me: it's called Acorns, with all the symbolic potential that that image implies).

What I'd like to do more immediately, though, is get myself a new desktop computer. I've been hunched over this tiny MacBook Air laptop since, oh, 2012, and the time has come for a change. Of course, there are several things I'd like to change about my life's circumstances, and a new computer is just one of them. I'd love to live in a bigger place where I can entertain people and have traveling guests over to stay the night if they want. I want a new pair of glasses; I've been using Mom's old glasses since I-don't-know-when. I want a new, bigger desk and a more comfortable chair. There's a lot I want but can't have right now. I'm still not quite where I need to be, financially, but the problem is that I'm not getting any younger.

I only just discovered there's a glasses shop in my apartment building; I might go give that place a visit before the end of the year so I can at least have some better glasses. As for the computer... technically, I could get it now with my credit card, but I'm not keen to load myself up with more debt. And which computer to get? I think I want to stick with a Mac, but obtaining a cheap Windows machine is a lot easier in Korea. Macs here are hellaciously expensive, although it might be nice to finally benefit from having a Korean Mac with a Korean/English keyboard and the all-important 한/영 (Korean/English) key.

While I don't want to burden myself with more things, the things I want fall under the label of conveniences, and those are important the older you get.

enjoy the pizza while you can

I've been corresponding with my far-off English buddy Neil, who lives near Busan, and he's become very interested in this whole question of fasting. For Neil, who is very healthy and athletic (he's actively involved in a local soccer league—or as he'd call it, football), it's a matter of approaching 50 and dealing with the aches and pains that come with aging. For me, though, my interest is more about weight loss (only somewhat—you regain your weight after fasting) and, more important, a metabolic reset. So Neil had me watch a video about a British woman who did a week-long fast (watch here), and I found her results interesting. She went through several days of weakness and sluggishness, but she definitely went into ketosis—big time—and close to the five- or six-day mark, she crossed some sort of threshold and suddenly got all her energy back just in time for Day Seven, so she finished on a high.

I've written before about how my attempt at a five-day fast in 2018 nearly killed me (I'd done a week-long fast back in high school), but as I just noted to Neil, things are different this time around. Since my stroke, I've done the Newcastle diet, which is all about privation, and post-Newcastle, I've regained some weight but have been eating generally healthier except on cheat days. I just walked 35K yesterday, too—another form of discipline. My point is that my body could well be ready to try long-term fasting again, will fewer ill effects this time. I now have some idea of what deprivation and self-abnegation feel like, so I'm at least mentally ready for such a challenge. And just in time for a doctor's appointment, too!

So as this idea has come into focus over the last 36 hours, there's been a change in plan. Today was supposed to be a fasting day, and I had planned to fast again on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday this coming week, but instead, I'm going to do a true fast—water only—starting this coming Wednesday and ending Thursday the 16th with my doctor's appointment. I'm supposed to fast at least one day before the appointment, anyway, because the hospital will be taking a blood draw and doing blood work, so why not incorporate that one day of fasting into a larger project? From now until midnight Wednesday morning, then, I'll be eating. Today, I'll celebrate with a keto pizza. Tomorrow and Tuesday, I'm thinking I'll go back to eating Newcastle-style and just have salads and chicken breasts as my goodbye meals before I embark on my week-long fasting journey.

If nothing else, a water fast will simplify life even more than carnivore has. With carnivore, there's a certain straightforwardness: buy your proteins, season and sauce minimally, eat, and do nothing else. With a water fast, just drink water—no straight tea, no black coffee, no supplements (except my meds, and I can't stop taking those). Your food-shopping budget drops to zero for the week. I will, of course, have to contend with the devil of temptation, but that's been my reality since forever: it's the devil I know, as they say.

So with thanks to Neil for his inspiration, plans have changed, but the new path is clear, at least until December 16. After that, it's back to flailing around as I continue my search for a sustainable dietary approach. Carnivore seems to be the way to go, so I'll stick with that and hope to see results in the long term. Fingers and tentacles crossed.

I'll take it

No one else seems to be claiming the name, so I'm taking it for myself. If I ever start a band, I'm going to name us "Citric Asses." If you Google that exact phrase, you get almost nothing. So, a bit like the book title Dirty Grammar, this name is mine.

Citric Asses. You heard it here first.

Saturday, December 04, 2021

how Eric Zemmour is not Trumpian

As I continue to read up on Eric Zemmour, who has announced that he's running for president of France, I'm encountering bits of information that are interesting, pleasing, and occasionally disturbing. I thought Zemmour's speech announcing his candidacy was eloquent and literate, evocative and powerful. However, I can't say I'm happy to find out he sees himself as both a Gaullist and a Bonapartist. Neither of these stances bodes well for Franco-US relations: Gaullist foreign policy, for example, leans heavily on the concept of le contrepoids, i.e., the counterweight—to wit, France must act as a counterweight against American initiatives to preserve a perceived balance. I find this absurd in the extreme: America's enemies are counterweight enough, and allies shouldn't be thinking like enemies. Jacques Chirac was a Gaullist and believed strongly in having France act as a counterweight, which threw all sorts of monkey wrenches into transatlantic relations. I find the attitude stupid, and I can only hope that whatever Zemmour intends by "Gaullist" isn't the same as what de Gaulle himself or Jacques Chirac would have meant. (Nicolas Sarkozy was more a fan of America, but he ended up mired in a whole host of often self-created problems.)

So Zemmour's Gaullism is potentially one way in which he's not like Trump (although Gaullism contains France-first elements similar to Trump's "America First" policy). Another issue with Zemmour is his lack of experience running an economy. Trump proved more than capable on that score, although the US left will never give him credit for accomplishing as much as he did despite massive opposition from both the left and many of his fellow Republicans. What sort of economic understanding does Eric Zemmour possess? A writer and journalist can learn a lot about a variety of subjects over the course of a career (writer Gary Taubes wrote Why We Get Fat despite not being a dietitian), so it's conceivable that Zemmour has a well-thought-out economic vision. But does he have the necessary savvy to make course corrections once his plans encounter reality? He's a man of letters, not numbers. How good would he be at thinking on his feet while France is buffeted by economic winds? This, to me, is an open question; as I continue to study Zemmour, I'll focus on this issue. My greatest fear is that he's going to have an economic perspective thoroughly marinated in French thinking,* which I would predict won't do the country much good.

Zemmour is a bit of a mixed bag, it seems, but it would be wrong simply to declare him "the French Trump." He's obviously not that, although I stand by my label of nationalist-populist. I wonder whether he and Marine Le Pen will draw huge crowds once they start campaigning in earnest. Le Pen fille is much more moderate than her unhinged father, but she carries the stigma of that surname wherever she goes. That might prove to be a liability for Zemmour. But I don't claim to understand French politics; there are doubtless many things happening behind the scenes and in the minds of the French public that I have utterly failed to grasp.


*I might unpack this sentiment later.

a lot to think about in this spiel

I may have to watch more John Schneider:

Choice quote:

If you are currently being accepted by people you disagree with, then you're obviously not speaking out.

This hits me personally because, however much I may blog a certain way, I do have friends who don't agree with my position, and I prize their friendship as I hope they prize mine. Schneider's point of view seems harsher: you ought to be actively pissing off the people whose principles you disagree with, to the point where they reject you. Flak means you're over the target, right? Superficially, I see what Schneider is saying, and I sort of agree. More deeply, though, I have to wonder how practical his point of view is. If I go out of my way, on a face-to-face level, to piss off people I disagree with, I wonder whether I'll have any friends left. That said, I also don't want to be the squishy peacemaker who's so in love with compromise that I end up with no principles of my own. Meanwhile, as I squish along, the people I disagree with freely pursue their agenda, and I do nothing to stop them. How is that right?

All of this is to say that, if nothing else, Schneider is forcing me to think about where I stand on certain issues, and how hard I ought to be fighting for my own position regarding those issues. Ultimately, it's something we all need to think about. And honestly, I'm still thinking.

35K: done!

It was a bit of an effort, but the cold definitely helped energize me. I took the subway to Hanam City Hall Station this morning, leaving the station at 6:40 a.m. to begin my walk. Walked all the way to Yangpyeong Station, 35 kilometers, arriving at almost 4 p.m. I didn't take any pics until I had only three kilometers to go. Here they are:

Bear sculpture, decorated

The tall building in the distance marks my destination.

downtown Yangpyeong

the tall landmark next to Yangpyeong Station

the station itself

below freezing for much of the morning, but I made it!

Unlike how it was on the east coast, it was a relief not to have to contend with traffic. Everybody had their own lanes, and for most of this walk, I was well away from traffic, anyway. Everything was safe, calm, and stress-free.

Temperatures were pretty cold in the morning, but I was able to walk maskless despite the freeze. (My nose ran, though, but it's been running since May.) Creeks haven't frozen up yet, but stagnant pools and ponds of water had a nice layer of ice on them.

I saw a surprising number of people out—both bikers and pedestrians—on all parts of the path. Maybe it's not quite cold enough to drive most folks inside so they can leave the paths to us dedicated walkers. But I was impressed in spite of myself: this time of year, I normally see nearly empty paths and sneer at the fair-weather pussies who crawl back into their holes at the first sign of meteorological difficulty. Not today, apparently. But maybe the walkers were out because the sun came out strong, and it was a beautiful day to be out walking. If that's the case, then I can't sneer at my fellow pedestrians for doing what I was doing. But I grant you this: none of those other walkers did 35K today.

I'm back in Seoul, at the office, in fact, making up comp hours so I can have Sunday to myself. More nonsense to come your way later.

Friday, December 03, 2021

your funny meme for the day

Just saw this and had a good laugh:

John Schneider(!!!) re: Alec Baldwin

I had no idea John Schneider was kicking around on YouTube. Further, I had no idea he was a conservative. Those of you who grew up in the 70s and 80s will remember Schneider as Bo Duke in the 70s/80s-straddling TV show "The Dukes of Hazzard." Below is a video in which Schneider talks about Alec Baldwin doing an interview with George Stephanopoulos. Schneider basically calls bullshit on Baldwin's words and "devastated" demeanor: Baldwin is obviously in cover-your-ass mode and is trying to gain sympathy from the viewing public. And he's seriously now contending that he "didn't pull the trigger"??

35K: really, really this time

I didn't intend to eat cake, but today, unexpectedly, I discovered my boss's birthday was this coming Sunday. My coworker brought in a half-and-half cake, two small pieces of which I gobbled so as not to be churlish. I broke my fast (72 hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) starting last night, and while I'd promised to be carnivore for all of Friday, I broke that promise right away and added nuts and shakes to the rotation on the assumption that I'd be back to fasting on Saturday and walking hard on Saturday as well. 

Now that I've gobbled some cake, though, I'm thinking I ought to do an extra-long walk, so once again, I'm going to try walking the 35 kilometers from Hanam City to Yangpyeong. The weather is nice and cold, now, so there's really no excuse not to do this. Besides, I'm riding the high of having done my two staircases (52 floors) last night, and I'll do 2.5 staircases, probably this coming Sunday, instead of doing jump rope (which is going slowly, anyway). That will put me back on schedule for stair work.

So—long walk tomorrow. Wish me luck.

external HD fail

My coworker tried to crack my external hard drive, but in the end, he was unable to do anything about it, so the data from my 2009-era iMac remains locked away. He suggested that I go back to the computer guy who converted the HD into an external drive to ask whether he could just extract the data. I might do that, but at this point, I've been without that drive's data for so long that I no longer feel any sense of urgency about it. There are some picture files I'd like to recover, plus a video of Mom during her cancer period, but little else of any worth. If I obtained that data now, it'd mostly be to satisfy my curiosity—an egocentric archeological expedition to see what late-Aughts and early 2010s Kevin was like.

Ah, well.

some videos

On vaccine mandates:

Germany, showing its repressive colors, is doomed:

A useless gesture:

Biden, cock-blocked:

Finally, and less politically, how to make bagels:

Thursday, December 02, 2021

leaving my computer at the office

I might blog later tonight; I might not. I'm leaving my laptop—the only computer I own—in the office overnight because my tech-savvy coworker told me he could help out with a data-transfer problem. I've been wanting to transfer data from my old, 2009-era desktop Mac hard drive to my current 750-gig external drive, but I'm not able to access the data on the desktop Mac's HD. When the desktop Mac died years ago, its HD was eventually converted into an external drive, but when I plugged that drive into my laptop's USB port, I got a "can't read this" message. My coworker, a Mac-head, has asked me several times to bring my laptop and drives in so he can work on them. I finally brought my computer and drives in today; he gamely cleaned up years of grit off my keyboard (calling it "disgusting," then noting he needs to clean his own keyboard), tried repairing my command key (and failed—it's missing a part), and told me I needed to bring the power cord for the converted external HD. (My 750 GB external drive plugs right into my laptop's USB port, so it doesn't need an extra power cord. The converted HD, by contrast, does.) So I'll bring the requisite cords tomorrow, and my coworker will see about accessing and then transferring my old HD's data into my current external drive. In the meantime, I'll be laptop-less tonight, but I can do most things, including blogging, on my phone, and I've got my portable WiFi hotspot to allow me to watch YouTube tonight without relying on LTE (which is limited to only 3GB a month on my current plan).

Upshot: maybe I'll blog tonight, but maybe I won't.

Meantime, I've got 2 staircases to climb this evening. Joy.

a belated discovery

I'm a bit late to the party, but here's a video satirizing young-adult dystopian novels:

the rise of Eric Zemmour

The following link, one of several, was sent to me by an e-friend (i.e., an online friend I've never met in person): Will France Save the West? The article is about Eric Zemmour, a French polymath (journalist, writer, thinker, etc.) currently looking to run for president of France. His message is nationalist and populist in nature; he speaks and thinks in a fairly Trumpian vein, although without the egomaniacal bluster of our former chief executive (I agree with much of Trump's politics but find him unpalatable as a person). Wikipedia labels Zemmour "far right," but he strikes me as more complex than that label. Anyway, here's an excerpt that contains another excerpt:

Today[,] Zemmour released a video declaring his candidacy for president, and I’ve heard comparisons (including from a French student in my political science class this semester) comparing it to Charles de Gaulle’s famous July 18, 1940 radio broadcast pronouncing the cause of Free France amidst the nation’s collapse before the German army. For our readers who understand French, the video is at the bottom—but even if you don’t speak French I recommend watching it for a few minutes to take in how powerful it is. 

Here is a rough translation:

My dear Countrymen— For years, the same feeling has swept you along, oppressed you, shamed you: a strange and penetrating feeling of dispossession. You walk down the streets in your towns, and you don’t recognize them. 

You look at your screens and they speak to you in a language that is strange, and in the end foreign. You turn your eyes and ears to advertisements, TV series, football matches, films, live performances, songs, and the schoolbooks of your children.

You take the subways and trains. You go to train stations and airports. You wait for your sons and your daughters outside their school. You take your mother to the emergency room.

You stand in line at the post office or the employment agency. You wait at a police station or a courthouse. And you have the impression that you are no longer in a country that you know.

You remember the country of your childhood. You remember the country that your parents told you about. You remember the country found in films and books. The country of Joan of Arc and Louis XIV. The country of Bonaparte and General de Gaulle.

The country of knights and ladies. The country of Victor Hugo and Chateaubriand. The country of Pascal and Descartes. The country of the fables of La Fontaine, the characters of Molière, and the verses of Racine.

The country of Notre Dame de Paris and of village church towers. The country of Gavroche and Cosette. The country of barricades and Versailles. The country of Pasteur and Lavoisier. The country of Voltaire and Rousseau, of Clemenceau and the soldiers of ’14, of de Gaulle and Jean Moulin. The country of Gabin and Delon; of Brigitte Bardot and Belmondo and Johnny and d’Aznavour and Brassens and Barbara; the films of Sautet and Verneuil.

This country— at the same time light-hearted and illustrious. This country— at the same time literary and scientific. This country— truly intelligent and one-of-a-kind. The country of the Concorde and nuclear power. The country that invented cinema and the automobile.

This country— that you search for everywhere with dismay. No, your children are homesick, without even having known this country that you cherish. And it is disappearing.

You haven’t left, and yet you have the feeling of no longer being at home. You have not left your country. Your country left you. You feel yourself foreigners in your own country. You are internal exiles.

For a long time, you believed you were the only one to see, to hear, to think, to doubt. You were afraid to say it. You were ashamed of your feelings. For a long time, you dared not say what you are seeing, and above all you dared not see what you were seeing.

And then you said it to your wife. To your husband. To your children. To your father. To your mother. To your friends. To your coworkers. To your neighbors. And then to strangers. And you understood that your feeling of dispossession was shared by everyone.

France is no longer France, and everyone sees it.

Of course, they despised you: the powerful, the élites, the conformists, the journalists, the politicians, the professors, the sociologists, the union bosses, the religious authorities.

They told you it’s all a ploy, it’s all fake, it’s all wrong. But you understood in time that it was them who were a ploy, them who had it all wrong, them who did you wrong.

The disappearance of our civilization is not the only question that harasses us, although it towers over everything. Immigration is not the cause of all our problems, although it aggravates everything.

The third-worlding of our country and our people impoverishes as much as it disintegrates, ruins as much as it torments.

It’s why you often have a hard time making ends meet. It’s why we must re-industrialize France. It’s why we must equalize the balance of trade. It’s why we must reduce our growing debt, bring back to France our companies that left, give jobs to our unemployed.

It’s why we must protect our technological marvels and stop selling them to foreigners. It’s why we must allow our small businesses to live, and to grow, and to pass from generation to generation.

It’s why we must preserve our architectural, cultural, and natural heritage. It’s why we must restore our republican education, its excellence and its belief in merit, and stop surrendering our children to the experiments of egalitarians and pedagogists and the Doctor Strangeloves of gender theory and islamo-leftism.

It’s why we must take back our sovereignty, abandoned to European technocrats and judges, who rob the French people of the ability to control their destiny in the name of a fantasy – a Europe that will never be a nation.

Yes, we must give power to the people, take it back from the minority that unceasingly tyrannizes the majority and from judges who substitute their judicial rulings for government of the people, for the people, by the people.

I'll stop there. There is much more to the speech. The guy sounds as if he's calling strongly for Frexit, which is a sentiment I wholeheartedly support. His popularity, at least among French conservatives, seems to have leapfrogged that of Marine Le Pen, who must be eternally frustrated that she's always the bridesmaid and never the bride. My e-friend also sent me a link to the French-language video in which Zemmour gives the above speech. It's embedded below for those among my readers who speak French. But before you scroll down to the video, here's a snippet of the article's conclusion:

This is dynamite stuff. We like to make fun of the French (Why does France like to line their boulevards with trees? So the German army can march in the shade!). But it has always been true that when France gets serious[,] it usually acts with great ferocity and strength. I have thought for a long time that[,] if any nation in Europe might go as far as to expel the Islamists in their midst, it would be France.

I am told today by my French student that Zemmour and Le Pen have formed an alliance, and that early polls show them attracting 40 percent of the vote. Keep your eyes on this.

Is it a coincidence that Zemmour released this video today, which happens to be Churchill’s birthday?

So Le Pen is a pragmatist, it seems. Well, good for her: she puts the cause before her own ego and knows it's better to try to consolidate the vote. It could be that the French are simply tired of where their own knee-jerk leftism has led them: economy in the shitter, ethnic strife in the big cities, education a mess. Maybe even those on the left (and there are many) finally understand that it's time for a change. I don't know enough about Zemmour to judge him; if he's truly a Trumpian nationalist-populist, he might do France a lot of good. If, however, he's in thrall to the darker elements of the French far right, then we should all take warning, French or not. Here's hoping he's a sincere force for good.

Personally, I do love France and the French, however much I might disagree with the general tenor of French politics. I wish nothing but the best for France's future, and I'd love to see a return to the 1980s-era France that I fell in love with way back when I was young and optimistic. Maybe I view France's past with rose-colored glasses; it's possible. But the country has, like the US, done so much lately to cram its head up its own ass that it's hard even to say that this is the same country I first encountered in 1986. Zemmour has an unabashed love for his patrie, and that, at least, is a good quality. How sick I am of the virtue signalers who hang their heads and say, "I'm ashamed to be American." All you fuckers can leave if you think there's a better country out there. And the same goes for those "French" people who profess to be ashamed to be French. Foutez le camp!

That video:

Dr. John Pepple offers his insights here.

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Let's go, Brandon!

"Name one accomplishment of the Biden administration," says Styx.

words of wisdom

Kind of vague and general, but still encouraging:


Today marks the second day of a 72-hour fast. I'll eat on Friday (carnivore), fast over the weekend, and eat again on Monday. Lather, rinse, repeat until my doctor's appointment on December 16. I alternate between finding this a terrible experience and not caring at all. I've done longer fasts before: in high school—probably to impress a girl—I once fasted a whole week. By the end of that fast, I was weak and tired, but not hungry. More recently, a couple years ago, I fasted for five days, and that almost killed me, so I now know not to do that.

The experts I watch do encourage fasting (usually 24-72 hours), and most of them pooh-pooh the notion of a "starvation mode" that kicks in if your body is deprived of food. What's miscalled "starvation mode"—which sounds like something that turns on and off in a binary way—is metabolic adaptability, which actually occurs along a spectrum. Your body's metabolism can indeed slow down to keep you alive longer, but there are benefits to fasting that happen along the way, the major benefit being autophagy, in which the body self-eats (auto + phagy), cleaning out dead cells and other dross while you're giving it a break from constantly processing food. And that's the other benefit of fasting: when you're not taking in nutrients, you're not provoking any insulin or other hormonal spikes.

Full disclosure, though: I'm not doing a true fast. Generally speaking, the "purest" fast is a water fast. There is a such thing as "dry fasting," but that can easily become deadly if done wrong. Water fasting is the norm for most people who go this route. My current fast isn't "true" because I'm allowing myself to drink coffee with an artificial sweetener (Splenda) and a bit of heavy cream. Heavy cream is quite keto because it's fatty and very low-carb, but cream does contain calories, so I'd guess I'm consuming a couple hundred calories a day if I have, say, two cups of coffee. Sorry, but I generally can't stand coffee unless I sweeten it up and add cream. Straight black coffee, like unsweetened tea, isn't supposed to break your fast, but adding cream (and, arguably, sweetener) does break the fast. That said, I'm taking in no other nutrients for the day, so this is a sort-of fast. Think of it as extreme caloric restriction.

So that's the program for now. I'm doing this partly to make up for a very bad week last week: I cheated as I was prepping the Thanksgiving meal, and Thanksgiving Day itself was a major disaster, diet-wise. I then attacked the leftovers over the next couple of days (I came into the office over the weekend and helped myself to my own cooking), so one cheat day became several, and my conscience finally screamed that it was time to stop the madness. So here we are. I'm also having to make up for not doing stair work last week except for Tuesday. I did a single staircase last night; I'll do two staircases tomorrow night, and I'll finally do 2.5 staircases over the weekend. I might also try for a super-long walk over the weekend, and I'll be curious to see whether my numbers have stabilized since Thanksgiving. (Today's BP reading was a bit lower than it has been over the past two weeks, so that's something.)

More later. And don't worry. I'm not overdoing anything.

criticizing Japanese TV

Most of the following criticisms apply to Korean TV as well, probably because, for as much as Korea claims to hate Japan, much of Korean pop culture is modeled on Japanese pop culture, especially when it comes to TV shows. So watch the following video and mentally swap out "Japanese" with "Korean," and you'll understand why I never watch Korean TV:

To be clear, I generally avoid American TV, too. It's all trash, as far as I'm concerned. Well, almost all. If there's a rare American TV series worth bingeing, I'll buy it on Amazon or iTunes and watch that, but otherwise, I have no use for talk shows (unless we're talking Craig Ferguson back in the day, and he's a Scot who's only belatedly American), reality TV (with "Fear Factor" as a notable exception), soap operas (a pile of trite refuse), US news (lies and more lies), and most dramas and comedies (same genres, over and over). It helps that the TV I own isn't actually hooked up to allow me to watch TV; I use my TV, on very rare occasions, to watch DVDs and Blu-rays I own (and I don't have many of those). Aside from all that, I confine myself primarily to movies, online articles, dead-tree books, and ebooks. 

TV everywhere is 99% garbage, but Japanese and Korean TV are especially cringe-inducing. A series like "Squid Game" has gained global popularity as a drama because it doesn't fit the usual pattern of Korean dramas, which, even today, tend to have a cheap, videotaped look about them, and they all follow the same tired peninsular formula of lots of screaming, lots of crying, occasional memory loss, serious accidents, and terminal illness. "Squid Game" borrows liberally from the Tarantino playbook to ratchet up tension ("Who's gonna die next?"); it's a reliable formula, and while some people are heedlessly praising "Squid Game" for offering a supposedly fresh alternative to the usual Hollywood tripe, I see the show as very much benefitting from tropes, scenarios, and storylines that sprang up in Hollywood, which itself routinely borrows from other cultures in a neverending cycle of cross-pollination or cannibalization. In a sense, all TV is derivative, so maybe accusing "Squid Game" of having Hollywoodish elements is unfair or even trivial. But my essential point is that, these days, it takes a lot for a TV show to rise above the sludge. I'm not calling myself any kind of TV maven with perfect taste when it comes to the shows I watch, but I think my conviction that TV is mostly worthless has merit. And these days, with the entertainment industry as "woke" as it is, I wonder if the time hasn't come to just unplug and stick to user-created content. And books.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

what the hell?

Sunday afternoon. I'm in bed, having a slow-ass day, when a text message suddenly appears with a bright and cheery "Hi, Kevin!" (in Korean) from a student who hasn't written me since 2015. She goes on to send me a photo of an old Bodhidharma drawing (brush art) that I'd done for her way back when; she recently found the drawing, which prompted her to text me, I guess. She asks how I've been. I text back, "Fine. And you?" I'm groggy and not in the mood for small talk with half-remembered former students who suddenly pop up out of the blue. She says she's doing really well, whatever that means. I'm in my usual introvert mode, so I don't ask whether she got married and has kids now. Last I spoke with her, years ago, she had a boyfriend. Can't say I'm curious as to how that turned out. I tell my student I'm glad she's doing well. She says she wishes me all the best, so I wish her the same to be polite.

And that's it. No goodbye, nothing. She's gone. Poof. I probably won't hear from her for another five years. I remember she was kind of cute, but she also tended to use lower-register Korean with me, as if she were the same age as I am, and I always resented that on some level. She was no different during our text exchange this past Sunday; some of the old resentfulness resurfaced, but only a little. I honestly couldn't be bothered to care that much.

So weird. So random.

ADDENDUM: I found an old 2015 post with pics of my former student, Da-jeong, in it.

off to la migra

I'm off to Immigration this morning to get my F4 visa renewed. This happens once every three years. I hope I have all the requisite paperwork, and that the process is fairly painless. I think I have to drop my alien-registration card off and pick it up again in a day or two, but pick-up, if I recall correctly, is just a matter of zooming in and out. More soon.

ADDENDUM: and as Murphy's Law would have it, it's pissing down rain. Terrific. Hope that's not an omen for the rest of my day.

ADDENDUM 2: done at about noon. The whole thing was done directly by the clerk who saw me, so there's nothing for me to pick up. There was still a bit of bureaucratic bullshit, though: the clerk at the first window I went to, to get my numbered ticket, said I'd filled out the wrong form; there was a specific "F4 extension" form for people in my situation, so the generic form was unacceptable, although God knows why. The clerk gave me the correct F4-extension form, then also gave me a three-page income declaration to fill out. I saw that I'd have plenty of time to fill out both forms and get my W60,000 certification stamp, so I dutifully filled out the paperwork (which didn't take long), got my stamp at a separate window, then spent a long time just waiting for my number to be called. Number 433 was called a few minutes before the staff was to go on lunch break; I handed over my paperwork, and the lady asked me questions about my mother's citizenship status for some reason. I told her that none of this was a problem when I originally got the F4, and she agreed. A few minutes of her typing, photocopying, and card-scanning later, and I had my visa card back in hand with the updated validity date. So I'm good for another three years. Could've been worse, I guess. It's still raining out, but the rain's supposed to stop soon. Good. 

ass blaster!

How on earth did I stumble upon this channel? This is hilarious.

Monday, November 29, 2021

two senses of "ethical"

1. That is an ethical question best dealt with in a philosophy class.

2. He is the most ethical person I know.

In the first sentence, the term ethical means "about the topic of ethics." Ethical here refers to the type or category of question. In the second sentence, ethical means something closer to "right, moral, principled." Some philosophers contend there is a distinction between ethics and morals; others use the two terms interchangeably. I side with the latter school and find ethical/moral hairsplitting pedantic.

images from the PowerLine Week in Pictures

This was a pretty good crop of memes and images:

planned obsolescence

I've known about planned obsolescence for decades, but I had no idea how deep the problem actually went. Here's Brenda Carr on the topic:

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Engrishie pribilejee

a good read

"How We Un-canceled Jordan Peterson."

"Dune" (1984): review

[WARNING: some spoilers for a 37-year-old movie.]

After watching Denis Villeneuve's version of "Dune," I went back to the 1965 Frank Herbert novel upon which it was based and reread it, then I sat down and re-watched David Lynch's 1984 cinematic version of the story, which pales in comparison to Villeneuve's only half-realized version. From what I understand, Lynch is on record saying he had creative differences with the studio, which he felt placed unfair demands on him. Several versions of Lynch's "Dune" exist; Lynch has disowned most of them.

While I gave a quick summary of the basic story in my review of Villeneuve's "Dune," I'll offer a summary here for those who didn't read that review. The basic story takes place some ten thousand years in the future; the galaxy has been organized into an empire, with Shaddam IV at the helm. Interstellar travel is possible thanks in part to the spice, which comes exclusively from the planet Arrakis, also known as Dune. Of the many great Houses in the empire, House Harkonnen has managed spice production on Arrakis for decades, but the Harkonnens are now leaving, to be replaced by the Atreides family. Where Baron Vladimir Harkonnen is barbarous, Duke Leto Atreides is dignified and honorable, but Leto doesn't know that the Emperor and the Harkonnens have a secret arrangement that will bring down House Atreides and restore the Harkonnens to the management of Arrakis. Leto's son Paul is central to the story, which focuses on his journey of self-discovery and his eventual union with the fierce warrior-people of Arrakis, the Fremen. Paul's mother Jessica, concubine to Leto and not his wife, is a formidable member of the Bene Gesserit sisterhood, which has been clandestinely guiding galactic history for centuries. Jessica's choice to bear a son, Paul, has thrown a monkey wrench in the Bene Gesserit plan, but Paul may turn out to be a messianic figure called by various names: Lisan al-Gaib and Kwisatz Haderach. Paul himself has visions of a potential destiny in which he leads a bloody jihad across the galaxy, and because the Bene Gesserit order long ago planted the seeds of prophecy and legend among the Fremen as part of their Missionaria Protectiva (a measure to help preserve the lives of any stranded Bene Gesserits), the Fremen view Paul as a mystical figure and leader. Paul himself cringes at this worship but sees no way to stop the coming jihad.

That's the background of Frank Herbert's universe. As with several other seminal works of science fiction, Herbert's novel Dune is said to have inspired movies like "Star Wars." 1984's "Dune" offers bits and pieces of the background I described above (and I left out many other details; it's a rich and complex world that Herbert created), often through loads of expository dialogue and, on top of that, voiceover narration giving us various character's inner thoughts as well as Princess Irulan's insights (Irulan is daughter of Emperor Shaddam). A person who knows nothing of Herbert's novel might be forgiven for coming into Lynch's "Dune" cold and not understanding a damn thing.

"Dune" nevertheless has some positive qualities. Believe it or not, Lynch's movie actually contains faithful recreations of many story beats from the novel, including lines from the novel that have been reproduced word-for-word in the dialogue we hear. "Dune" also features some ambitious sets and costume designs, and the sandworms—which play a huge role in all versions of this story—aren't too bad-looking for 1984-era special effects. "Dune," despite its poor reputation, also contains plenty of iconic moments—images that the viewer will retain long after the movie has ended. One of the creepier images has Paul's little baby sister Alia standing victoriously on the field of battle, holding a knife and smiling while the wind whips around her in slow motion, making her look like a four-year-old Santa Muerte. The ensemble cast for the film is also fairly impressive. Kyle MacLachlan plays Paul Atreides; Jürgen Prochnow is Duke Leto Atreides; Francesca Annis is Lady Jessica; Kenneth McMillan is Baron Harkonnen; Patrick Stewart is Gurney Halleck; José Ferrer is Emperor Shaddam IV; Siân Phillips is the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam; Sean Young is Chani; Dean Stockwell is traitorous Doctor Wellington Yueh; Max von Sydow is Dr. Kynes, also known as Liet; Alicia Witt is Alia. It's a talented cast, and I've named only a fraction of the people involved.

But "Dune" fails for multiple reasons, and while there's a part of me that views the film as a guilty pleasure, that's primarily the thing I want to talk about in this review—all the aspects that didn't work, and there were many. 

We'll begin with costume design, which was generally good for most of the roles, but absurd when it came to the emperor's elite shock troops, the Sardaukar. Dressed in uniforms that resemble a fusion of a welder's getup and a bulky space suit, the Sardaukar are hard to take seriously. In the novel, the Sardaukar are feared because they are recruited from the harsh world of Salusa Secundus, the emperor's prison planet, and trained to be among the deadliest of fighting forces in the galaxy. For Lynch, the Sardaukar are little more than anonymous cannon fodder—people in cumbersome suits with vision-restricting rectangular visors who do little more than die at the hands of Paul Atreides's Fremen.

Another aspect of the film that fell flat was the musical soundtrack. The 80s band Toto is credited with much of the music; it would have been better to rely on John Williams or James Horner, two composers who excel at composing grandiose scores. (Horner died in 2015.) Instead, "Dune" ended up with electric guitars attempting to carry the film's profoundest moments. The non-Toto bits of the score were created by Brian Eno, who apparently styles himself a "non-musician." He wouldn't have been my first choice for the score.

While I praised the talent of the ensemble of actors, I have to note that many of the actors were directed to say their lines with over-the-top Shatnerian energy. Francesca Annis, as Lady Jessica, looks fantastic (I had a crush on her in the 80s and still think her Jessica looks damn sexy) but over-emotes, screaming and crying and gesturing dramatically at inappropriate moments. Annis's Jessica bears little resemblance to the internally strong, self-possessed Jessica we meet in Herbert's novel. Kenneth McMillan, as Baron Harkonnen, dials his performance way past 10, offering us a deranged antagonist who is also a sharp contrast with the wily, scheming baron depicted in the novel. Covered in boils that are lovingly drained by his perverse doctor, Baron Harkonnen checks all the boxes of the typically out-there Lynchian character. The same goes for Brad Dourif's Piter DeVries, the bizarre, twisted Mentat who serves the evil baron. (Mentats are super-logicians who take the place of computers because AI has been abolished in the Dune universe after an AI rebellion—the Butlerian Jihad—devastated humanity.) Dourif, often typecast as the oddball, invests the role with all sorts of tics and weird gestures. Sean Young, a strong feminist in real life, isn't given much to do as Chani, Paul Atreides's love interest. She gets one halfway badass moment when we first meet her, but after that, she's all solicitude and submissiveness. Most of these problems are not the fault of the actors, but of the director, who apparently felt he needed to wring maximum emotion out of every scene instead of following the cooler, more cerebral tone of the novel.

And while I praised the special effects for the sandworms a few paragraphs ago, I have to say that the rest of the special effects for the movie were embarrassingly bad. "Dune" came out in 1984, a year after "Return of the Jedi" showed us what was possible with special effects back in that era. "Dune" makes no effort to hide its obvious use of models and miniatures; the mismatched lighting of the blue-screen effects is obvious to 2021-era eyes; the poor quality of most of the effects sucks away the dignity of certain scenes that should have been ponderous or ominous. Lynch also introduces things not found in the original novel, such as the "weirding modules" and the way the Guild Navigators affect space to travel among the stars. If ever there were a movie in need of a George Lucas-style special-effects remake, David Lynch's "Dune" would be it. If someone were to go back and redo all the special effects using current technology, the movie's quality would improve radically.

And that's the thought that dogs me most when I think about this movie: if there were some way to redo major aspects of it—the overacting, the special effects, the music—the movie might almost be salvageable. But such a thing can never be, so the best we've got now is Denis Villeneuve's "Dune: Part I." We'd also need to change Lynch's ending, which is a radical departure from the novel. The novel ends soon after Paul kills the Harkonnen pretender Feyd-Rautha, with Paul now betrothed to Princess Irulan while keeping Chani as his beloved concubine. Jessica reassures Chani that the concubines of this new dynasty will be known by historians as wives, while Princess Irulan herself will receive nothing from Paul—not his love, not his respect, not his inner self. She will be technically married to Paul, but the marriage will be little more than a pact made for political convenience. In the movie, though, Paul kills Feyd and calls himself an instrument of God, then it rains on Arrakis. Remember, in the novel, Arrakis is a desert planet, and while the Fremen have labored long to create vast caches of water all over the globe via their wind traps, none of that water ever sees the sky. Arrakis has static-lightning, windstorms, and sandstorms, but no rain. The planetologist Liet-Kynes instilled in the Fremen people a vision of the future—of a planet lush with greenery, with water falling out of the sky. But this vision was always eschatological; it was never meant to be realized too quickly, and certainly not by magical or miraculous means. I haven't read the later Dune novels, but I don't think Paul's special gifts include the power to create rain ex nihilo. The movie shows this miracle as Paul assumes power, but the novel does nothing like this.

I still wonder how it was that Lynch, of all people, was given the job of trying to make a movie from what was long thought to be an unfilmable novel. Lynch is at his best as an arthouse director, creating and handling fucked-up characters who are put through weird, convoluted, twisted scenarios. In true Lynchian fashion, he seized the opportunity to people his "Dune" with bizarre denizens (he even managed to squeeze in two fetus scenes reminiscent of his work on "Eraserhead"—recall the foam-spewing alien baby), but his insistence on cranking the actors' intensity up to the maximum resulted in some unintentionally funny, corny moments, all of which drained away the majesty of the original story. To be fair, Herbert's novel is aggressively third-person omniscient: we, the readers, are privy to the private thoughts of most of the characters we meet, and Lynch opted to reflect that in his movie via overdramatically whispered voiceover. It was the wrong choice in a story that cried out for the rule of "Show, don't tell." Villeneuve's version cleaves more faithfully to that rule, keeping exposition to a minimum and making it integral to the plot when it has to be there.

David Lynch's "Dune" has some good points, but it's so embarrassingly cringe-y that it's hard to like wholeheartedly. Some call the Lynch version a cult classic, but that term sometimes merely means "so bad it's good," the way the term rustic is used jokingly by cooks when a dish comes out looking rough and sloppy. If you're new to the Duniverse, I'd suggest reading the novel before you try to watch Lynch's film, which is a disjointed flurry of unfamiliar names and terms and situations (when Paul insists to Chani that he must drink the Water of Life, the viewer is left to wonder why). But try to remain open to the good qualities of Lynch's effort—the subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which he has attempted to be faithful to the novel (for example, the Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam is described as having metal teeth, and this detail actually makes it into the movie). Overall, "Dune" is pretty awful, but for all that, it still possesses a few redeeming qualities.