Thursday, March 31, 2022

final numbers

Yup—I got gently scolded.

I'm at the office, back from the hospital. My frozen shoulder gave me some trouble when I had to put my right arm through the plexiglass hole to get my blood drawn, and again when I had to stick my arm in the table-mounted blood-pressure cuff. I gave my blood and urine samples around 9:15 a.m.; I saw my two doctors at 11:10 and 11:40 a.m. respectively. 

As I suspected, based on my blood work, my remaining numbers weren't very good. For what it's worth, here they are:

HbA1c: 7.1 (up from 6.7)
Triglycerides: 160
Fasting blood sugar: 81

The good news is that my triglyceride score went down from 171, but it's still in the borderline-high range (150 = high end of normal). Also: my fasting blood sugar was up from the 70 I recorded this morning to 80. No idea why, but per my previous post, pretty much anything can set your blood sugar off. Still, 80 is in the normal range, so that, too, is okay. An A1c of 7.1, however, isn't good news, and it's a pretty accurate reflection of the fact that I did let myself go in December and desperately tried, over the next three months, to correct for that. You may recall how I expressed regret at bingeing over the course of two weeks, which made me regain a significant amount of weight. This coming Christmas, I won't be so cavalier.

Both docs today (diabetes doc and stroke doc) politely threatened me with upping my meds if I don't show improvement. Both noted my 7-kilo weight gain (initially almost twice that, but I got my weight somewhat down over the past three months). I'm 52, but I felt like a little kid in class being scolded by the teacher, and I knew it was all my fault. So I'm going to try harder, over the next hundred-some days, to improve my numbers. No more two-week-long binges for Uncle Kevin. I did try to jog five minutes last night, but I think I managed barely two minutes. I guess that's my new baseline if I decide to keep running. I'm trying to think of a way to rope my buddy JW into helping me out; he runs, so he might be a good coach. 

The diabetes doc sermonized me about my diet. She was more right than she knew. The stroke doc, meanwhile, suggested doing more than cardio (i.e., things like calisthenics), and he also said I should lose at least 10 kilos. That's where I'm hoping to head, anyway: into the 90-some-kilo region by the end of this summer. I think it's possible.

I know I fucked up the past three months. It's just a matter of picking myself back up and soldiering on, so that's the plan for now. I'm going to try to reincorporate some weight- and resistance-related exercises into my routine despite the pain in my shoulder; it might actually prove therapeutic in terms of maintaining range of motion. Frozen shoulder is a matter of inflammation, not dislocation, so I ought to be okay.

Today, though, is celebration day, so I'm not worrying about any of that shit. I ordered Burger King and chowed down with no shame, and I'll be having some sweets as well. Tomorrow, though, we're back to the discipline, and this Saturday, JW and I will do a long walk.

Oh, yeah: my next appointment is on Thursday, July 21. I normally cook a huge July 4th meal, so I'm going to have to work extra hard, after July 4, to make sure my numbers are all in order. I see more fasting in my future. If anything, I'll need to reach my fitness goals for this 100-day period before July 4th so that, when July 4th rolls around, I can have my one cheat day, then get right back on track.



they're all mortal, after all

Bruce Willis has been diagnosed with aphasia. My mom's aphasia was the first major sign of her brain tumor. I hope ol' Bruce gets decent treatment.



penultimate numbers

Here are some numbers before I head off to the hospital in about an hour:

Blood sugar: 70 (way down from last night's 92)
Weight: 107.9 (goal was 107 kg; can't quite call that a win)
Blood pressure: 128/80
Pulse: 68
BMI: 31.5
Muscle mass: 73.9 kg
Water: 49.5% (I still don't understand this stat)
Body fat: 26.5%

At the hospital, I will give blood and urine samples, and I'll get a BP, weight, and height reading. I'm not even worried about my BP at the hospital: based on past experience, I know it's going to be ridiculously high, and I'll have to do the usual song and dance to the doc about how hospitals stress me out. I also won't care about the weight measurement because I'll be wearing clothes, so that number, too, will be off by a kilo or two (you'd be surprised by how much your clothes weigh). 

The numbers I want from the hospital are: (1) my fasting glucose, (2) my HbA1c (3-month average glucose), and (3) my triglycerides. I suspect my A1c is going to be over 7, but if it's over 8, I'll be very worried. An A1c over 8 will mean that I've been a very, very bad boy over the past three months. I also suspect my triglyceride number* is going to be pretty ugly; these things are all linked. Nothing to do but diet and exercise harder, I guess. Or fast a hell of a lot more, although you and I both know that a life of starvation just isn't sustainable. Best solution is probably to stick with foods that aren't calorie-dense, like chicken breast and keto-friendly vegetables. All signs point back to Newcastle, not merely as a way to lose a lot of weight in three months, but as a sort-of lifestyle.

More numbers, then, later today.

__________

*In September last year, my triglyceride number was 131, which rates as normal. In December, it had gone up to 171, which is borderline high (150 is the max for normal). I suspect I could be over 200 right now, but we'll see in a few hours.



Wednesday, March 30, 2022

via Dr. V

Bitch gets kicked off plane for haranguing a guy with a Trump shirt:

I have to admire the guy for keeping his cool. I'd have flipped out and strangled the woman.

UPDATE: everyone's maskless because the video is from a few years ago.



blood-sugar trivia

It's a dangerous world out there if you're diabetic. Any number of things can spike your blood sugar. Simply by waking up in the morning, you can experience what's called the dawn phenomenon, in which your blood sugar is naturally high in the morning (or whenever you wake up). That's actually true for diabetics and non-diabetics alike. Diet drinks, combined with insulin resistance, can spike your blood sugar: insulin lowers blood sugar (it also, unfortunately, aids in the storage of fat), but insulin resistance ensures that insulin, when produced, is ignored by the body. In fact, eating pretty much anything can spike your blood sugar, and then it becomes a matter of how long it takes to come down from that spike. Healthy, non-diabetic people can return to normal within an hour of eating, give or take, but insulin-resistant people take several hours to recover. Another thing that can spike your blood sugar is, strangely enough, fasting. Why? Because your body has a suite of responses to food-deprivation. Among these responses is gluconeogenesis, in which the liver produces sugar as your glycogen levels go down. Dehydration can also spike your blood sugar because lack of water concentrates the sugar in your blood. No matter where you turn, if you're diabetic, you have to worry about just about everything ruining your blood sugar. Eat healthy and don't let yourself become insulin-resistant. It's a hard pit to crawl out of.



"The Adam Project": review

2022's "The Adam Project," another Netflix exclusive production, is directed by Shawn Levy ("Free Guy") and stars Ryan Reynolds, Walker Scobell, Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, and Catherine Keener. 

Basically a noisy, action-filled, time-travel romp aimed squarely at kids, "The Adam Project" tells the story of time-jet pilot Adam Reed (Reynolds), who steals a jet in 2050 and attempts to get back to 2018 to rescue his wife Laura (Saldana), but ends up in 2022, where he meets his younger self (Scobell) and has to figure his way out of this tangle. Older Adam is wounded when he arrives in 2022, and his jet won't let him back inside until he is healed, so he uses the workaround of asking his younger self—with his healthy DNA—to get him back inside the jet. 

Meanwhile, we get a lot of family history: in 2022, Adam's physicist father Louis (Ruffalo) has been dead for a year and a half, and Adam's mother Ellie (Garner) is trying to cope with grief while dealing with younger Adam, who is shrimpy, mouthy, and resentful. Younger Adam also has problems at school: he's being bullied by a group of larger students, often getting himself in trouble by constantly mouthing off. We also learn that time travel became commonplace in the future thanks in part to the underhanded machinations of Louis Reed's associate Maya Sorian (Keener), a business magnate more interested in the benefits of time travel than in its science or ethics. We learn that Louis is fated to die in a car accident in 2020, while Laura, whom Adam thought dead, has actually used another time jet to travel back a few years to wait for Adam to come after her and rescue her. Laura is no shrinking violet, though: as Adam says, she was the best pilot in the academy, and she turns out to be a fierce soldier.

So the movie's selling point is that it's a buddy flick, but one involving two versions of the same person: older Adam has become angry and hard-bitten, but younger Adam, recently bereaved, is well on his way to becoming the older Adam. This older-self/younger-self interplay allows for some therapeutic moments as the younger Adam reminds the older Adam that the past wasn't all misery, and that their dad—who laid out the theoretical groundwork for time travel—wasn't always a remote academic, but was instead a warm-but-imperfect father who did indeed love his son. As the two Adams work together, they realize they're going to have to take the time jet back to 2018 to find their father because he's the key to untangling their problem. Meanwhile, Maya Sorian and her henchmen travel into the past to hunt Adam and Laura down.

There's a lot going on in this movie, plot-wise, and the story moves along at a healthy pace. There are aspects of the plot that don't make sense, and as with any number of movies these days, you shouldn't look too closely at the science (or at the metaphysics of time travel), which doesn't hold up under scrutiny. Just turn your brain off and enjoy the ride.

The movie gets credit for having a heart. Jennifer Garner does a fine job as a put-upon mom dealing with stress that's coming at her from multiple directions, all while trying to put on a brave face. The scenes in which the two Adams meet their dad and hash out some deep-seated issues are nicely done, even touching. I also found it amusing to see Mark Ruffalo once again in a role where he has to talk about time travel (as he did in the role of Professor Hulk in "Avengers: Endgame").

But the movie also has some problems. Catherine Keener has played villains in the past (cf. her role as the evil Maxine in "Being John Malkovich," the first role I ever saw her in), but her Maya Sorian comes off as bland, detached, and underwritten here. Either she was miscast, or the script didn't provide her role with enough impact. And while a lot of people are heaping praise on Walker Scobell as the younger Adam... I'm not one of them. There was something annoyingly grating about the kid. Part of the problem was Scobell's acting, which I found to be way too self-conscious (kids watching this movie won't notice), and part of the problem was the scriptwriters' tendency to make young Adam sound far too witty for his years. Not many twelve-year-olds are going to be talking about "skipping leg day," for instance. Child actors are always a bit of a hazard in movies; some kids do a great job giving sincere performances, like Henry Thomas in "E.T." Other kids just come off as fake, and for me, that was true of Scobell. Sorry, but I have to voice my unpopular opinion.

That said, the movie will be great fun for kids. It's a bit sweary at times, but not overly. The special effects are generally good, except for a de-aged Catherine Keener, and the sound effects are loud. Deaths tend to be bloodless, but the action is generally suspenseful and gripping. Both Adams get plenty of one-liners; some are misses, but many are hits, and I even laughed out loud a couple times. Overall, it's hard to hate this movie, but do go in knowing that it's riddled with flaws. If you're like most of the people who've seen this film, you'll enjoy Walker Scobell's performance, but be warned that your mileage may vary.



some numbers

My doctor's appointment at Samseong Hospital is tomorrow. You're supposed to fast a day before you go so as not to skew your blood sample; I've been fasting since Sunday, so by the time I hit the hospital, this will have been a fast of over 100 hours. I had a bit of coffee and cream yesterday around lunchtime, and even with artificial sweetener, that was enough to drive up my blood sugar from 88, before I'd had the coffee, to 93 this morning. Still, both numbers are better than the 105 I'd registered a few nights ago, so I expect I'll be in the 80s or high 70s tomorrow morning. 

It'll be nice to eat again; I've actually done at least a 72-hour fast every week this month (this is the thing I didn't want to talk about until the end of the month) in an unsuccessful attempt to get my weight and my other numbers back down, but my body really resists attempts to make it lose weight. I'm still flailing about, looking for a sustainable way to combine diet and exercise. My frozen shoulder keeps me from doing all sorts of exercises that I'd wanted to start doing this year, and that's been frustrating. So I concentrate on walking and stairs training, although I'm going to add a wee bit of jogging tonight—just five minutes. I suspect that intense exercise, especially as it approaches anaerobic HIIT levels, will be the key to breaking through the 100-kilogram barrier and getting down into the 90s over the next few months. I don't know; I'm still figuring this out.

Anyway, here are my latest numbers:

Blood sugar: 93
Weight: 108.6 kg (almost at my goal of 107)
Blood pressure: 136/92 (high)
Pulse: 68 (good)
BMI: 31.7 (at my lowest, I was at 28)
Muscle mass: 72.6 kg
Body water: 48.6% (I thought humans were 75-80% water)
Body fat: 28.7%

Obviously, I'd like to get the body fat down to around 15%, so I have a long, long way to go with that, and it's going to involve stepping up the training, somehow. My BMI is back in the "obese" range after having dipped into the "overweight" category for a short while. Gotta get that back down, too. I imagine my triglycerides are fairly high right now, so as I mentioned before, I might return to a variant of the old Newcastle diet to get back on track. I'll still have my cheat days, and it won't be Newcastle every day, but I'm going to try fasting Monday and Tuesday; doing modified Newcastle Wednesday through Friday; having only a shake, some nuts, and some beef jerky on Saturdays; then eating regular keto on Sundays. I did actually try carnivore for two weeks at the beginning of March, but I noticed no appreciable difference in weight loss despite having some days where I ate nearly zero grams of carbs. They say you need to go a long time before you see results on carnivore (which is about minimal carbs but with no upper limit on calories), but I didn't have the patience to go beyond two weeks, and honestly, I started craving vegetables. What is the world coming to?

So! Hospital visit tomorrow, where I'm expecting bad numbers and a good bit of doctorly preaching, then a post-hospital pig-out (sorry, but it's a tradition at this point), then back to the discipline. I'll be doing a long walk with my buddy JW on Saturday, one of several planned walks as I familiarize JW with parts of the rest of the Four Rivers trail. I'd love for him to walk the entire trail someday, but his job will probably never let him have a whole month off to go gallivanting across the country.

Wish me luck for tomorrow. I'm going to get scolded.



images










Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Redditor replies

On Reddit, I got the following chat message from the lady at r/Homeschool who'll be leading a discussion about my book (slightly edited for style):

Hey! Just wanted to let you know I saw your message! Fully understand and noted! I as well will strive to keep things understandable yet leveled in my feedback. :D 

I think a reply from an author for questions that may come up is great! Keep in mind if you just get too busy, I'll be taking care of my thread as professionally and as respectfully as possible! But when you can chime in, I look forward to it! My goal here is to help ya! 

I feel the definitions of schooling are shifting and folks like you and me could be a part of it! I see it as being on the same team! And about the books? I got lucky! Both are perfect! Thanks for the heads up! (Lucky for me I plan to donate one to a local lending library at a park nearby... ever heard of those?)

So maybe I needn't have worried, but we have yet to hear from the discussants. As for the message she's referring to, I wrote:

Thanks for doing this, however opinions may swing. My hope is that the book (well, booklet) provides certain basics without being too radical. I really don't think I say anything particularly crazy in it, but I guess a reader's mileage may vary. Also: as the book's author, I know there's a temptation to want to jump in the thread after someone makes a critical remark or otherwise expresses disagreement. I will avoid that temptation and remain silent (unless someone poses me a direct question) so that others may have the floor to discuss or dispute the book's ideas without any interference from me. Again, thanks.

Kevin Kim, Think Like a Teacher

PS: oh, and if your hard copy of the book had any quality issues, I apologize. I am, frankly, not that impressed with Amazon's print-on-demand service. I ordered two copies of the book for myself and saw uneven margins and poor text alignment. Also, with the second copy I ordered, two pages of the book just fell right out, indicating very bad binding. I had to manually glue the pages back in. I hope your own copy of the book didn't give you that much trouble, but if it did, I apologize on behalf of Amazon.



God, I miss Peter O'Toole

That distinctive voice:





eating my losses

Weight: 110 kg
Blood sugar: 88

That's all I have for you at the moment. I'll have more numbers tomorrow morning, including BMI, body-fat percentage, resting heart rate, etc. The past three months weren't stellar (I blame Christmas/New Year's), and I'm just going to have to eat my losses this time around. The next three months, we start again, hopefully with a bit more self-control. 

I'm happy, at least, that I didn't gain back more than 9-ish kilos, but 9 kg is still a lot. A Korean colleague of my boss saw me today and exclaimed, "You've lost weight!" because, I guess, she hadn't seen me in a while. I'm down a net 40-or-so pounds from before my stroke, but my goal is to get down to 200 pounds (about 90 kg) by the end of the summer. That's going to take some stringency. 

My blood sugar was at 105 last night, which is high, and which indicates to me that, even if I eat something that's totally keto, I must still be insulin-resistant. This means that the body produces insulin to lower blood sugar, but the blood sugar doesn't go down. That's a symptom of a larger phenomenon called metabolic syndrome, which refers to a complex of unhealthy conditions: overweight, high blood pressure, high triglyceride levels, etc. 

Desperate times may call for desperate measures. I used the Newcastle diet once to get my A1c down to 5.7; I can do it again, although this time with some modifications. More on that later. For the moment, I can say I'm fasting right now, and will continue fasting until after my Thursday appointment. I'd like to be down to maybe 107 kilos by the time I go to the hospital, but we'll see. My body really resists losing weight. High set point, and all that.



I'd like this to be the start of a trend...

A person on Reddit who bought my book says she is about to start a series of threads devoted to discussing each of the book's chapters. This is both delightful and a bit scary as I have no idea what's going to come of such discussion. I think she plans to summarize each chapter and then discuss the topics brought up while eliciting Redditor reactions. I wrote a quick response to the poster saying, basically, that I will recuse myself from the discussion so that others may have the floor and speak freely about the book. It's a bit annoying that this poster basically plans to distribute the information in my book for free, but hey—right now, publicity is publicity, so I'll see how this goes.

NB: the r/Homeschool community has 124,000 members, but at any given time, I never see more than 20 online. I get the impression that it's a small village of well-intended people, all struggling to educate their kids. As subreddits go, this is probably one of the best places to be as long as no one talks about politics (and almost no one does).

Trivia: here's how Amazon is ranking my book:

#230,453 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
#80 in Homeschooling (Kindle Store)
#165 in Two-Hour Education & Reference Short Reads
#508 in Introductory & Beginning Programming

I honestly don't expect the Kindle Store ranking to go very high, but it's cool to see the book rising in the ranks in the Homeschooling category despite the relatively few sales. I wonder whom I'm competing against in Two-hour Education & Reference Short Reads and Introductory & Beginning Programming categories. I don't know how my book even got lumped in with those other categories, which seem only tangentially relevant. For me, Homeschooling is the label to watch, and I'll be watching.

ADDENDUM: well, the book just dropped to #99 in Homeschooling, indicating that this ranking is very volatile. I'll see whether a trend is visible over the coming weeks. Much depends on whether people continue to buy the book. And extra customer reviews and ratings would be nice: aid the algorithm and all that.



hilarious

Batmetal:





the saga continues

Will Smith personally and publicly apologizes to Chris Rock. Was he sincere? Eternally angry Ryan Kinel (why do I keep watching this guy?) thinks not:

At Instapundit, a lot of commenters are absolutely sure that Will Smith's slap was staged. If Chris Rock looked genuinely startled, it could be because the slap went wrong somehow, or so say the commenters. I don't know; from the videos I saw, from multiple angles, Rock looked plenty shaken, and Smith looked genuinely angry when he took his seat after slapping Rock.

At this point, all I know is:

  • Smith has apologized after basically getting away with assault in public.
  • Smith is now being dogged by the "cuck" thing, which everyone is talking about because he and his wife Jada apparently have an open marriage, allowing Pinkett-Smith to sleep around (and this applies, presumably, to hubby as well). It seems to be a shaky marriage at best. Sexual libertinism almost never leads to anything good, but people keep not learning this.
  • Rock isn't pressing charges. If the assault was real and not staged, then he's being a gentleman about the matter. If it was staged, then his being a gentleman is just part of the theatrics.
  • The incident definitely brought attention to the Oscars, which still ended up being the second-lowest-rated Academy Awards ceremony ever.
  • Not that they need more publicity, but Smith and Rock can publicly reconcile and somehow monetize that reconciliation.
  • Future Oscars will likely be watched to see if something crazy happens again.

Hollywood is its own bubble-reality. The people in Hollywood are rich, privileged, and woefully out of touch. They behave however they want. Nevertheless, we hoi polloi eat this shit up (which is why this will be my final entry on the incident). Drama's essence is conflict, and when one guy slaps another, you get drama. I saw some people wryly noting that, if Will Smith had been white, he would have been arrested forthwith for slapping a black man. (I doubt we'll ever see such a thing happen in woke Hollywood.) Whatever the case may be, Hollywood is a zoo, but it's a soul-staining zoo we ought to avoid.


walk images

These lights are new, but even though the sign is composed of familiar words, I don't get what they're saying. At times like these, I despair of ever mastering Korean. 

๊ฝƒ๋”ฐ๋ผ (ggot ddara) = according to flowers

๋‚˜๋„ (na dล) = I, too

๊ฝƒํ”ผ๋„ค (ggot pinae) = flowers bloom

Is this saying "I bloom like (spring) flowers"?

I'm pretty sure this sign below is saying, "Tomorrow is too late! The world is hurting!" But I've never seen that ๋Šฆ์œผ๋ฆฌ verb form before. Guess I should get out more. 

The tape graffiti I saw the other week is disappearing, but some of it remains. Below, the guy's cap has the initials "SP," for Songpa, the region I was in. 

The word ์‚ถ, seen below, is one of many Korean words for "life."




"slap heard 'round the world"

The slap heard 'round the world seems to be the new label for the Oscars incident in which Will Smith hauled off and smacked comedian Chris Rock. Commentaries are piling up, as you can imagine. Here are two—one from the Call Me Chato channel (former network exec with a cynical view of Hollywood) and one from The Critical Drinker, one of my go-to critics:



As a bonus, here's Dan Murrell making the point that, before Smith flew into a rage, he was actually laughing at Chris Rock's joke... and maybe his wife's reaction changed things:




Monday, March 28, 2022

this rant is awesome

In the wake of the ugliness that Hollywood revealed at the Oscars (not that that ugliness is anything new), here's a rant by a former network executive talking about how, in today's Hollywood, wokeness is the be-all end-all, and nothing before 1980 matters. It's a fantastic rant, dripping with cynicism, and I loved every minute of it even if it told me nothing novel, and even if the guy's weirdly shaped mouth takes some getting used to. Enjoy.





"Extraction": review

Now that I'm on Netflix, I can watch Netflix-exclusive films like 2020's "Extraction," directed by Sam Hargrave (he also has a small role in the film) and starring Chris Hemsworth as Aussie Special Forces-turned-mercenary Tyler Rake, who is called upon to rescue the son of an Indian crime kingpin from the clutches of a Bangladeshi crime kingpin. And that's pretty much the whole plot right there. The film is relentless, offering only a few breathers. In general, it plays out like a chase movie, with our protagonists and antagonists constantly on the move, and with Tyler Rake getting bloodier and less functional, in the manner of that stalwart John McClane, as the plot crunches along.

The film also stars Rudhraksh Jaiswal as Ovi Mahajan Jr., the 13-year-old kidnapee; Randeep Hooda as Saju Rav, head of security for Ovi Mahajan Sr., an Indian crime lord; Golshifteh Farahani as Nik Khan, Tyler's partner in mercenary work; Pankaj Tripathi as Ovi Mahajan Sr., the Indian crime lord who is Ovi's father and languishing in jail. Also in the mix are David Harbour as Gaspar, a friend of Tyler's who lives in Bangladesh and owes Tyler his life; and Priyanshu Painyuli as Amir Asif, the Bangladeshi crime lord who has taken Ovi Junior.

You don't watch a film like "Extraction" for its high-handed thoughts on the relationship between fathers and sons (a constant motif in this film), nor do you watch it for the social commentary about the mercenary life and how it makes one treat human beings like chattel. No: you're there for the John Wick-style ultraviolence, and of that, there's plenty, although, as with the John Wick films, it's bloody but not really gory. That said, the film is ably directed by first-timer Sam Hargrave, who—like Chad Stahelski for the John Wick films—has a stunt background and knows action from the inside. Hargrave takes us through action sequences by using long, seemingly one-take shots (CGI often covers certain transitions), and you have to marvel at how well-done the choreography is, with everyone hitting their marks perfectly. While the hand-to-hand combat isn't quite up to the level of a film like "The Raid: Redemption," it's still pretty brutal and will satisfy an action hound's bloodlust.

That said, the film does flesh out Tyler Rake a bit by making him a father who lost his little boy to cancer when the kid was six, leaving Rake depressed, without a wife, and now possessed of a death wish. These days, for Rake, it's all about the money, so when this job comes his way, he snaps it up despite some obvious red flags (e.g., do you really trust a crime kingpin to pay you once the job is done?). When he initially liberates Ovi (not a spoiler: that happens early on) and gets to know him a bit, however, he finds he still has paternal feelings, knowing that Ovi Junior never asked to be the son of a crime lord, and that the boy deserves a chance at life. Over time, Ovi's rescue becomes about something more than money.

Hemsworth brunts his way through the film, driving and shooting through piles of nameless dirty cops and soldiers on the take, most of them armored, thus requiring Rake to shoot them or stab them multiple times to put them down. Hemsworth does a fine job portraying this not-quite-hero who rediscovers things worth fighting for beyond money. Rudhraksh Jaiswal, as Ovi Junior, does a decent job portraying a boy who knows only too well that everyone around him sees him as an object, not as a person. Several other cast members stand out as well: Priyanshu Painyuli, as Bangladeshi crime lord Amir Asif, comes off as a nasty customer, willing to toss children off rooftops and have subordinates cut off their own fingers. Randeep Hooda, who plays Saju Rav, the head of security for Ovi Senior, invests his role with depth. Saju, ex-Indian Special Forces, is also tasked with retrieving Ovi Junior, which puts him at cross-purposes with Tyler Rake and his team. He carries out his mission under threat from his boss: bring back my son or your son dies. Saju comes off as fairly ruthless and evil at first, but over time, we see that he, too, is a family man, all while being a badass on the battlefield. David Harbour's appearance as Gaspar was a surprise to me, but his character added an interesting wrinkle. Lastly, I have to mention Golshifteh Farahani as Tyler's female associate Nik Khan. Actress Farahani is distractingly gorgeous, making it hard to evaluate her performance: she simply looks fantastic in every scene she's in (and at one point, her character proves to be a crack sniper). Can the woman act? I don't know because I was, frankly, hypnotized every time she appeared on screen.

Overall, I found "Extraction" to be entertaining, although the movie left me a bit confused by some of the bad guys' motives. A major plot point in the film is a double-cross that makes less and less sense the more you think about it. Aside from that quibble, though, I found the movie to be a fun actioner that gets right down to business and doesn't let up until the very end. I saw some complaints about how the movie could be seen as a "white savior" narrative, but Tyler Rake isn't out to save all of India or Bangladesh: he's just a money-hungry guy who is tasked with extracting a teen on behalf of a criminal. Sure, Tyler undergoes a bit of a character arc as he gets to know Ovi, but he's no one's savior. Another complaint I saw was from Bangladeshi viewers who were upset at the negative portrayal of Bangladesh on screen. Here, I think there might be more justification for complaint: the Bangladesh we see is an overcrowded, over-built, polluted hellhole, complete with filthy sewers. I have no idea what Bangladesh is really like, but if someone portrayed my hometown of Alexandria, Virginia, as a den of druggies and a field of unending garbage, I might find that unfair, too. That said, the squalor of Dhaka is there at least nominally to serve a purpose: it drives the story.

If you're in the mood for some mind-numbing action, with plenty of flying bullets, flashing knives, explosions, and car crashes, you could do worse than to sit down with "Extraction" for two very brutal hours. I hear they're working on a sequel, although saying that is a spoiler.



nettlesome, but whatever

I went almost two weeks with no one buying my book, but today, I saw that someone had bought themselves a hard copy. This made me grimace: I'm not thrilled with the quality of Amazon print-on-demand hard copies, but I can't think of a cheap way to have people order Korea-printed copies straight from me: most buyers are probably in the States, so shipping from Korea (which I'd ask a buyer to pay for) can never be cheap. I'd much rather that people bought the e-book version, which is so much cheaper than the hard copy ($2.99 versus $4.95). And no waiting! One click, and the book is yours. I guess some people are just old-school analog that way. Can't say I blame them.



Oscar drama

I wasn't following the Oscars, but the big news coming out of the 2022 awards ceremony is that Will Smith slapped the shit out of Chris Rock after Rock, as an emcee, made fun of Jada Pinkett-Smith's nearly bald "GI Jane" hairdo. Smith walked onstage and slapped Rock, forcing a "Wow!" out of Rock. Turns out Pinkett-Smith, who is Will Smith's wife, suffers from alopecia, or clinical hair loss. Chris Rock tried to justify himself by saying it was just a GI Jane joke, but Smith, back in his seat, shouted, "Keep my wife's name out of your fucking mouth!"

Was it all staged? Was it a way to punctuate the tedium and drive up Oscar ratings? Or did an enraged husband defend the honor of his afflicted wife after she'd been publicly mocked? (On Twitter, rightie commentator Matt Walsh snarked that Will Smith was just "a deranged cuckold who snapped," making me wonder what he meant by "cuckold.")

Reactions in my office varied from "I really respect Will Smith" to "They should both apologize to each other." Legally speaking, Smith opens himself up to an assault charge and lawsuits (assuming this was all real), and in a sense, he could be seen by some as participating in cancel culture: will edgy British comic Ricky Gervais ever host an awards show again, now that he knows offended people might walk out of the audience to strike him onstage in front of everybody? Gervais is verbally brave, but I suspect he's physically craven. 

As for Chris Rock, he was shaken, but he managed to joke that this was "the greatest night on television." I wonder if he came back onstage after that.

The Oscars have been in decline for a long time, now. Their ratings have been plummeting as actors and filmmakers have used the stage as a soapbox to broadcast their political point of view. Actual violence just pushes the envelope back that much more. Kind of a shame that we're no longer in the golden age where people conducted themselves civilly, with dignity. I think the Rock/Smith incident will spike the ratings for this particular event, but eventually, people will come to see this onstage violence as a further sign of the Oscars' decay.

UPDATE: Chris Rock Declines to File Police Report After Will Smith Slap at Oscars, LAPD Says

Rock probably realizes he went too far, and I doubt he wants to start a feud with Will Smith.



sad but true




grim quote

Seen here:

The “pandemic state” is here to stay for the indefinite future, though in different manifestations. Political authority has devolved into one or another form of totalitarian governance, characterized by disparate structures of repression as they arise across the political spectrum. In his must-read Scanned: Why Vaccine Passports and Digital IDs Will Mean the End of Privacy and Personal Freedom, Nick Corbishley exposes the technology of population control, showing that a return to normality is a mere fantasy.

No new virus need emerge. Pandemic psychology controls the public mind and pandemic policy has prepared the way for a new political order—Schwab’s “global strategic framework of governance,” that is, a fascist regime in all but name. The norms and customs we took for granted will not return. Metaphorically, it is as if someone who has been severely wounded or disfigured must still bear the scars and impediments of his trauma. The handicap is here to stay.

Moreover, far too many people seem to love their injury. There is no going back to a previous condition of comparative innocence and social flexibility. The state will continue to further corrode traditional liberties—privacy, assembly, mobility, communication, currency—towards the goal of citizen submission to a dominant citadel of power, an administrative panopticon. And as de la Boรฉtie understood, the majority will willingly comply, the paradoxical source of their own affliction. The lockdown state has the blessing of the multitudes. When exfiltration is not possible, there is little option for the remnant but to resist inwardly and refuse to give consent to their political abusers.

The heritage of the Judeo-Christian West, based on faith in a higher power, the rule of law and the sovereignty of the individual, has been decisively breached. We now inhabit a time of domestic menace. For those who continue to cherish their liberty, the best we can do is plan and cope.

Or how about assemble and overthrow?





Sunday, March 27, 2022

...and I'm now on Netflix

While I don't want to nickel-and-dime myself to death with too many subscriptions (I'm on Amazon Prime, for example, and I subscribe to the paid version of MyFitnessPal, not to mention I pay monthly for extra storage space on Google because I upload so many walk photos), I've been wanting to get on back onto Netflix for years. Lately, Netflix has had some talked-about shows that I've wanted to see, and because these shows have been Netflix exclusives, they don't become available at sites like Amazon.com. So now, finally, I can watch Chris Hemsworth's "Extraction," the Korean series "Squid Game" (even though I already know pretty much the whole plot thanks to all the commentary), and "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs," a movie I've seen in bits and pieces on YouTube. My understanding is that Netflix is a lot like the 80s-era HBO I remember from years ago: it broadcasts movies (the difference is that it's a streaming service, so you can watch when you want), but you don't buy movies off the site to own (or can you download them? I'll find out—not that I'd want to download movies; I own many iTunes flicks, but I store them all in the Cloud to minimize the clutter in my own hard drive), and that's fine by me.

My previous inability to sign up for Netflix had a lot to do with my personal situation. I live in Korea, but my lone credit card is American, and the billing address is based in America. When I tried signing up for Korean Netflix, there would always be some problem with completing signup every time I tried using my American credit card to pay for the subscription. When I tried signing up for US Netflix (via my VPN), the site would ask me for a US cell-phone number to which to send a confirmation code. Since my cell number is Korean, I would always be stymied every time I got to this step. You say you're in the States, so give us a Stateside phone number. My computer-savvy coworker suggested a workaround the other day, though: a service called Talkatone, which allows you to create what is essentially an America-based cell-phone number for free. I just did that last night; signup was easy-peasy and took maybe only three steps. This afternoon, I decided to try using my new US cell number to sign up for Netflix... and it didn't work, at first, because Talkatone comes with a catch: international access to your US texts actually isn't free: texting is free only if you physically live in the US or Canada. So I paid a single dollar to give myself 60 so-called "Talkatone credits," and... problem solved. I asked Netflix to resend their confirmation code via text, and I got the text. After that, I was finally able to finish my Netflix signup, and here we are.

Bored yet?

Anyway, Talkatone is indeed a good solution for anyone who might need a US-based cell number for any reason. In reading about the service, I discovered, though, that Talkatone might not work for all texting situations; some very sensitive sites can tell the number isn't for an actual cell phone, and such sites will demand that you give them a real cell number to text to. So with Netflix, I guess I got lucky.

Personally I don't like this toxic combination of exclusivity and the subscription model. I'd prefer to go back to the one-stop shopping I used to enjoy just by going to Amazon to get all my movies. Now, it's all Netflix exclusives, Disney Plus exclusives, etc. You have to sign up for each individual service, and before you know it, you've got hundreds of dollars a month leaking out of your bank account (or credit card, which ultimately means your bank account), and it's death by a thousand cuts. But maybe the answer is for me eventually to unplug from it all and just go back to reading books, although, at this point, I think I may be too addicted to visual entertainment ever to do that.



pics from an open thread

Instapundit's open threads are always a good source for memes:



Find the two three punctuation errors:














two vids

Siri moans as you stick it in:

Funny and sad at the same time:



from the PowerLine Week in Pictures

Are these pics even from America?

Only the Gospel of John has Jesus using a whip:

It's all leftie projection:

Does it help or hinder the point that the person in the first frame is androgynous (although personally, I'm leaning toward woman)?

I thought of this scenario before I saw the following meme:



Former Hercules, now making low-budget Christian flicks and shunned by Hollywood:

Pretty much:

My trust is already zero:

Hee:

I live in South Korea, where there are no loose bears:

It's sad that this person is going to be confirmed to the Supreme Court:

More hypocrisy (and it's not as though Coney Barrett has proved useful):

We should either go with unisex restrooms or add a third "trans" restroom:

I don't believe this for a second. Kirk knows from women:

Imagine being so cowardly, so afraid to upset your leftie supporters, that you can't articulate a simple biological truth:




gamer humor

"Blisteringly realistic":

Theater Kid vs. Band Geek:




Saturday, March 26, 2022

seen on Instapundit

Point by point, my hot takes:

  1. This has got to stop. Create a "trans" category for these people.
  2. "Trans Woman of the Year" works for me. Never drop the "trans."
  3. Brown Jackson is just dumb, and she's afraid of being crucified by her own side should she say the wrong thing by committing to a sensible, logical position.

Otherwise, items (1) and (2) are consistent with the current joke that men are better, even when it comes to what women do. The joke about (3) is that Ketanji Brown Jackson was selected by Biden precisely because of her race and sex—two reasons not to pick someone for such an important post—and Brown Jackson apparently can't even say whether she's a woman given that you need to have a definition of "woman" in your head to know if you are one.



earworm

I sometimes morbidly wonder what my last conscious thoughts will be before I slip into a coma or die suddenly. If I'm in a crash, I'm pretty sure my mind will be filled with some version of Oh, shiiiiiiiii— or Fuuuuu—, but if I'm old, lying in bed, and slowly slipping away, I often wonder... will my final thoughts be in English? In French? In Korean? In Spanish? (I'll have learned Spanish by then.) Will it just be a strange series of amorphous images, a kaleidoscopic prelude of whatever adventure awaits me in the beyond (or of the vast nothingness that lurks on the other side of the Great Door)?

What's horrible to me is the idea that my final thoughts will be some stupid commercial jingle from my past, and even now, when one of those jingles slips into my mind and refuses to leave (the dreaded "earworm"), I find myself thinking, That had better not be the last thing going through my head when I die. Just today, I had that fucking Velamints jingle from the early 80s in my head for a good chunk of the early afternoon (don't remember it? here it is). I'd rather that my final thoughts be something awesome like I love my brothers or Mom, I'm finally coming home or See you in hell, Mike. I don't want to descend into oblivion accompanied by goddamn Velamints, no matter how beautiful Cathy Lee Crosby might have been back in the 80s. Please, God, let me die well. Then again, as psychopomps go, you could do worse than Cathy Lee Crosby.



Merrell: initial review

So I branched out and went for a pair of Merrell walking/hiking shoes as my next pair because Amazon kept insisting that it didn't have my usual New Balance shoes in stock, and I tried looking up several New Balance models before giving up and looking at other brands.

The shoes felt great the moment I slipped them onto my feet, and I barely had to adjust the laces, which were already in place when I pulled the shoes out of the box (although I may have to tighten up the right-hand shoe's laces a wee bit). The problem came when I started walking on the hard floor of my apartment: the shoes' soles were stiff as hell, almost as if these were boots instead of shoes. As a result, my feet didn't roll smoothly as I paced across my floor, and that felt a little awkward.

I reasoned, though, that things would likely smooth out once I got outside and started walking. For the most part, this turned out to be true. My walk, done in a constant rain, totaled 160 minutes (close to 13K), and by the end, I had pretty much gotten used to the shoes' feel. The soles were a bit slippery as they made contact with the occasionally painted surface of the walking/biking path (some parts of the path are painted dark green; when everything's dry, there no slippage, but in the rain, anything goes), but aside from that, and a tiny bit of tightness in the area of my right pinky toe, everything went swimmingly.

Overall, I'm pleased with this purchase. I won't be wearing the shoes too often before this year's big walk because I don't want to wear them down before their time. After the walk, though, I'll wear them every day, and I'll get rid of my current New Balances, which have developed holes on their tops thanks to gentle friction from my upward-curling toes.

I go through a lot of shoes.



Friday, March 25, 2022

material things

I had ordered a few things from various online sources, and those items have been trickling in over the past few days. My pork rinds came in, then my Dutch oven arrived. Finally, just today, my new Merrell shoes got here, and I'll be wearing them in the rain tonight as I do a nice, wet walk. Some photos of the Dutch oven and the shoes:



The Dutch oven is too big to fit into my tiny oven, so I'll be confined to using it on a stovetop, but that's okay. It's enamel-covered cast iron, which means great heat distribution. This probably also means I shouldn't use it with my electric range but should only use it with the gas range: it's big enough to get hot and melt parts of the electric range if I'm not careful. 

As for the shoes... I'll have to get back to you about how they do. I'm normally a New Balance kind of guy; Merrell is new to me, and I'll be putting the shoes through their paces (no pun intended) tonight. More soon.



treat the fans like garbage





revisiting the sex/gender/trans issue

Sigh...

With lefties, it's never enough to just leave people the hell alone. They gotta get in your face and make you not merely tolerate but actively accept and embrace their ways. Toleration really ought to be enough, folks, but for millions of leftie idiots, that just isn't the case. I can tolerate the presence of decent Muslims in my community just fine, but this doesn't mean I have to embrace their belief system. As much as the left hates to hear this, toleration doesn't imply acceptance or even agreement. According to leftists, my toleration of Muslims, coupled with my rejection of the Muslim worldview, somehow makes me Islamophobic.

With all the ado about trans swimmer Lia Thomas (who has had hormone therapy but no gender-reassignment surgery) and the controversy surrounding Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, who can't or won't define what a woman is, the trans issue raises its ugly head again. Let me recap my original stance on the issue:

  • I believe you can do what you want with your own body.
  • I do not think you're mentally ill if you experience body dysphoria. I actually have a great deal of sympathy for people who feel trapped in the wrong body.
  • There are nevertheless morally relevant issues that come with being trans. I previously gave the example of a trans woman fighting MMA in the octagon: a chromosomally male person is beating the crap out of a biological female. If this were an alley scenario—a man beating up a woman—people would be screaming for the man's head. But in the octagon, it's somehow okay?

So overall, I'm fairly libertarian about trans folks. I can even say that I wouldn't mind using a pronoun like "she" or a term of address like "Ma'am" because I can at least see how it's possible for such terms to apply to gender, not sex. I already use "she" in reference to someone like RuPaul, who is merely a drag queen (the term "trans" might apply even to him; the word's borders are fuzzy).* Like Jordan Peterson, however, I don't want some controlling authority to mandate my speech because, at that point, it's no longer free speech.

I'm trying to walk a fine line, here. If we apply my MMA-octagon example to Lia Thomas, then I'd have to say that it's unfair for Thomas to compete with regular women (or as the PC crowd would call them, "cis-women"). I hear Thomas recently finished a race against female competitors dead last, and I have to wonder whether she threw the race on purpose because of all this controversy. Thomas, as a male, was a mediocre competitor at best, but as a trans woman, she's cleaning up. For Thomas suddenly to lose so badly makes me suspicious.

A lot of this comes down to something I've covered before: sex versus gender. Sex is inviolable and unalterable because it's chromosomal. If you have a Y chromosome, you're male, like it or not. No amount of surgery or hormone therapy can change that. If you have no Y chromosome, you're female. Period. Gender, I think, is another matter, especially if we think of it as a social construction involving how we define our roles in a culture. There are apparently cultures with certain rituals in which one member of the culture will adopt a gender-ambiguous role sometimes referred to as a "third gender." Wikipedia's article on third gender cites the Mahu gender-intermediate state in the Hawaiian and Tahitian cultures, among other cultures. 

If we think of gender in terms of socially constructed roles, then concepts like gender fluidity start to make sense, and I'm fine with fluid genders. As I've said before, I grew up on a diet of science fiction, much of which prepared me mentally for a sexually polymorphic world. So I'm open to such things, but I'm not open to Lia Thomas competing with regular women, or with language police who think they can tell me how to talk, what pronouns to use.

And this brings us back to the "can't leave well enough alone" problem alluded to at the beginning of this post: leftists want us to accept Lia Thomas as a woman—full stop—with no further qualifications. Personally, I'm fine thinking of Lia Thomas as a trans woman, and I think she ought to be competing in a trans league just for people like her. Governor DeSantis was right, I think, to declare Emma Weyant the winner of the 500-yard freestyle event at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championship in Florida, even though Weyant finished second after Thomas, because Thomas is not a woman in the fully biological sense. A biological male really has no right or reason to be lumped in with biological females. But leftists are up in arms because they want to steamroller sex and gender into the same thing, and we, the people, have to swallow that nonsense. Create a trans league, a third category, for all sports in which sex makes a difference (not fishing, assuming you think of fishing as a sport), and let's see where we go from there. 

While I'm at it: don't tell me I'm "transphobic" if I refuse to date or to have sex with a biological male who's on hormones and has undergone reassignment surgery. I have preferences, and I don't see these preferences as on a moral level at all: it's like wanting onions or no onions on pizza. Am I to burn in hell because I hate having onions on my pizza? I should think not. By the same token, if I'm grossed out at the thought of dating a trans woman, that's just an amoral, reflexive thing, not at all equivalent to a moral stance. I don't give a shit what a trans woman does as long as it doesn't involve sexually coupling with me. If I'm a bigot for thinking that way, then you're a bigot for liking onions on your pizza.

__________

*RuPaul is apparently indifferent to which pronoun is used. Wikipedia's article on RuPaul refers to the drag queen as "he."