Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Charles with the rantlet

Charles writes about this morning's emergency, but he attaches it to the larger topic of the importance of clear ("proper") communication. He also notes that the masking policy changes once again as of tomorrow: no masking at all except for hospitals with more than 50 beds. I didn't know this; my Korean coworker and my boss made no mention of it, so this is news to me. Welcome news, to be sure. Will citizens drop their masks? No, of course not. Fear (fear of ostracism, superstitious fear of the virus) and inertial habit still reign. I'd say about half the people I see on sidewalks still mask up. In subways, the number tends to vary. I've been on trains where almost no one had a mask on, and I've been on trains where most of the people were masked up. Koreans are still figuring this out, I guess. It's probably going to take years, and it doesn't help that Koreans, like many East Asians, were masking up for different reasons even before the pandemic struck. So there'll always be a reason to wear a mask, I think. 

Anyway, Charles's post discusses matters in depth and detail while also providing a historical perspective. Be sure to give him a read.

another reason to live in Wyoming

This guy sells Wyoming hard without even meaning to:

Trump turns against one of his own... again

Kayleigh McEnany was Donald Trump's press secretary as well as one of his staunchest defenders. Apparently, Trump felt that McEnany had recently reported the wrong poll numbers, and Trump immediately blasted her, even calling her "milktoast" (yes, he misspelled milquetoast) for some reason.

Former President and 2024 GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump today chastised his former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany in a Truth Social post.

Trump accused McEnany of giving out the wrong poll numbers on Fox News in regard to the 2024 presidential primary race.

Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis recently announced his intention to seek the presidency and McEnany has made remarks that would make it appear that she is supportive of his bid in the past.

It appears that McEnany was potentially referencing a poll that was commissioned by American Greatness and shows that Trump is up by 25 percent on DeSantis in South Carolina.

Trump, however, appears to be disputing those numbers, referencing the Real Clear Politics average that recently showed him up 34 points overall in the primary race.

“Kayleigh ‘Milktoast’ McEnany just gave out the wrong poll numbers on FoxNews. I am 34 points up on DeSanctimonious, not 25 up,” Trump declared.

Trump continued, “While 25 is great, it’s not 34. She knew the number was corrected upwards by the group that did the poll.”

The whole thing reeks of typical Trumpian pettiness, and the incident highlights how Trump is a confusing mix of oversensitive about how he's perceived and utterly uncaring about how he's perceived. I suspect Trump has just lost another ally.

This makes one wonder whether The Donald would turn against someone like Kari Lake if, according to his narrow-minded perspective, she ever "stepped out of line."

your dose of humor for the day

This cracked me up:

anti-Democrat rant by someone who would know

The left really needs to listen to people who come to America from leftist-dominated countries. I have no hope that this will actually happen.

WE'RE ALL GONNA DI—oh. Forget it.


My phone started scream-alarming this morning. Two messages arrived, the first of which was arguably more important, but which I sleepily ignored. When the second message hit about twenty minutes later, though, I was ready for it. 

Basically, the first message urged us all to prepare for evacuation—old people and children first. The second message said the first message had been sent in error. 

How's that for a nice wake-up call?

And what did we learn from this, Poison Girls? We learned that, if North Korea starts shelling Seoul or comes pouring across the DMZ in the morning, my lame ass is going to sleep through the attack. So I'll end up shot, gassed, or blown up before I even realize what's going on. Hmm. Maybe that's not so bad. 

UPDATE: another message just came in around 7:25 a.m., this time saying the first message (from about 6:30) had been sent in response to North Korea's missile launch. Why this launch prompted such a hysterical response, I have no clue. North Korea launches missiles all the time. At a guess, President Yoon is going to get some shit for waking us up like this.

UPDATE 2: in the comments, Charles makes the point that the emergency message came from Seoul's government, not from the federal government, so my last sentence in the previous update obscured that fact. I still think President Yoon is likely to get flak just because there are elements out there who will blame him no matter what's going on in South Korea (this happened on Yoon's watch, after all), but yes, as Charles points out, it's more likely that Oh Se-hoon, mayor of Seoul, will get the lion's share of the blame. It wasn't Yoon who woke us up; it was probably Oh or his office.

the deconstruction of my childhood continues

First the cherry tree, now this: another George Washington event that apparently never happened—the prayer at Valley Forge.

toe update, with visuals

This is about what I thought would happen:

So we're back to the little dot on the sock. But the bandage is thinner this time.

Sock off. The stain is less visible on the outside of the bandage.

Even inside the bandage, the stain is barely there.

The wound seems almost closed up.

As I said, despite the darkened part in the middle of the wound, I don't want to dig or scrape or clip that part out for fear that I'll be setting myself back by several weeks when it seems I'm pretty close to being fully healed. I'm also tempted to go out on long walks right now, but again, with the wound so close to closing up, a long walk would probably be a bad idea.

The thing that's bothered me this entire time is why the leakage always looks worst at the outermost layer of cloth. Is this because of some sort of capillary action? It often seems as if the leakage somehow travels past the bandage in order to create a blotch at the level of my sock. Why is that? How the hell does that happen?

Anyway, even though getting a dot on my sock is pretty normal, (1) the dot is the same size despite my having used a regular bandage instead of the heavy-duty gauze bandages that I've been wearing to work for the last several weeks, and (2) the total lack of leakage last night is still a good sign, all in all. I think we really are reaching the end. At a guess, I won't be able to cry victory until sometime in July; June is probably going to be a frustrating month with plenty of dotted socks like the one above. I'll know when the wound is healed when I go several days in a row without any leakage.

I deliberately went without any lotion because I suspect that the lotion is part of what creates the usual stain I see on the bandage. We may, in fact, have reached a point where the lotion is no longer needed: I'm still taking my antibiotics, albeit only once per day. This makes the medicine last longer, and I don't really think I need it anymore given that we're no longer looking at an ugly, open wound.

We've come a long way, but we're not quite there yet. I suspect I'll be saying that all through June. Stay tuned for more shenanigans.

Styx on stats

Donald Trump seems to be dominating the GOP lineup by double digits in just about every state where there's been a significant poll. Styx takes this to mean there's little to no hope for the other GOP contenders, but it's still a long way to seeing who actually gets nominated. Saying "probably Trump" isn't irrational or unreasonable, but let's not call things quite yet. That's what I say, anyway.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

don't try to find your soulmate in a bar

I'm not a bar guy. As far as I'm concerned, bars are bad news, and that's especially true when it comes to the opposite sex. You wanna meet somebody? Do it while participating in a wholesome activity. For some of you, that might be something churchy. For others, maybe it's something academic. For still others, "wholesome" might mean "athletic." And for the rest of you, it could mean something quiet like fishing, long walks, or art class. It's a law of human nature: go to a bar to find people, and all you'll find is bar people. Does that make me a stuck-up son of a bitch? Yes, but only if you're insecure.

possible good news about my toe

This morning was the first time since before last October that I was able to take off my toe bandage before showering and see not a single drop of leakage on the bandage's inner surface. In the meantime, no other toe ulcers have formed on either of my feet, so I think I'm at least generally on the right track in terms of blood sugar. As you'll recall, the ulcer originally formed while I was walking around Jeju Island, so the wear and tear of distance walking could have had something to do with the ulcer's origin and exacerbation. Except for two instances last year, I haven't done any distance walking since the previous October. I suspect that, were I to go on a long walk tonight (and it's very tempting to do so), I'd end up undoing whatever healing is happening right now. 

Still, I take this morning's non-leakage as a sign that we're in the final phase of healing. The toe wound still looks kind of rough because some blood-like fluid has dried and darkened at the wound site, but at this point, I'm not going to try to scrub the darkness out for fear of ripping the wound back open. It's best just to wash the wound and not mess with Mother Nature. In two weeks, I'll be visiting my doc again so he can look at my toe and do my blood work; I'm sure he'll have an opinion about when I might be ready to walk.

A full recovery, long in coming, is right around the corner. I'm doing an experiment right now: instead of having put on my usual heavy-duty bandage before going to work, I slapped on a lighter one, and I didn't stick on any of my usual burn cream. I'll be curious to see how much leakage there is tonight, if any. Normally, during the work day, I wear one bandage, then when I get home in the evening, I change that bandage out for another one, which I wear all night and remove the following day right before I take a shower. My nighttime activity level is much lower than my daytime level: I walk around randomly all the time during the day as I go on various errands while at work. At night, I'm usually in my studio and on my computer. This lack of activity at night was undoubtedly a major reason why I was leakage-free this morning. I'm curious to see the degree of leakage when I check my bandage this evening after having worn it all day while more active. Am I still leaking through to my sock or not?

1995 NYT: no east-coast beaches by 2020

I'm perfectly willing to concede that some slight warming may be going on. I'm even willing to concede that some of that warming may be anthropogenic. But when people keep raving about sea-level rise, radical polar-ice melt, a sudden increase in hurricanes, and the chance that the world will be gone in ten years, that's when I switch off.

From a related article:

[W]hile the authors argue their study confirms the need to be climate extremists, I assert that their data show man’s impact on the global climate isn’t panic-worthy. In fact, humanity would do better to focus efforts and resources on dealing with local pollution problems and perhaps exploring nuclear energy options.

Hey! That's what I've been saying! Focus on plastic-clogged rivers and factory chimneys belching pollution. Design a Mr. Fusion!

when the Irish and the Scots hate you...

The "live action" version of "The Little Mermaid" is—pardon the aquarium pun—tanking, and of course, the filmmakers are saying this is due to racism, etc. Yawn... we've heard it all before, and such accusations have lost all meaning. While some of my more left-leaning go-to reviewers made no mention of things like race-swapping and girl bosses, even they were hard pressed to find something good to say about the film. The one thing everyone seems to agree on is that actress Halle Bailey (not Berry), in the starring role as Ariel the mermaid, can sing. Whether she can act seems to be a matter of debate. My more right-leaning go-to reviewers, by contrast, have pulled no punches in their reviews. Below are thoughts from Irishman Dave Cullen and Scotsman Will Jordan (a.k.a. The Critical Drinker).

Clarification: Dave Cullen isn't giving his own review, but he does offer some negative opinions based on what he's seen. Instead of reviewing, Cullen comments more on viewer reactions to the film and filmmakers' reactions to those reactions.

Grandma Gatewood's Walk


Emma Gatewood was the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail alone, as well as the first person—man or woman—to walk it twice and three times[,] and she did it all after the age of 65.

I'm tempted to buy this book. Grandma gives me hope.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Triggernometry interview with Sarah Haider

Back when I was on Twitter (I left in 2016, about a month before Trump got elected), I used to follow Sarah Haider, an ex-Muslim who speaks out about problems with Islam. In the video below (long at 82 minutes, so watch at 2X speed), Haider talks about her life and many issues arising from what she does, which is provide support for other ex-Muslims. Haider notes the cruel irony of discovering, after leaving Islam and declaring herself a progressive, that American leftism/progressivism is all for a general, nebulous criticality about religion as an abstract concept, but the moment you narrow the focus to criticism of Islam in particular, leftists/progressives tend to back away slowly, thus highlighting yet another fundamental hypocrisy in that political ideology.

Even if you watch only the first ten minutes of this interview, you're going to learn something.

ADDENDUM: reference is made, early on, to Haider's 2022 Substack article. Find it here.

ADDENDUM 2: the most important part of the interview, for my money, is here. Haider denies that the problem is simply extremist Islamism: Islam as a whole is problematic.


Korea as dystopia

"South Korea is a Cyberpunk Dystopia":

The video's creator admits, in his video's description, that he doesn't really think of South Korea as a cyberpunk dystopia; I guess he was just reaching for the clicks. Almost as interesting as the video itself are some of the comments beneath it, including a few comments by Koreans. Here's one Korean's comment (edited):

As a South Korean, I truly believe that this video has things very well put.

I've spent a part of my youth in the USA, and when I came back to my home country a few years after, I started noticing these things about our society.

Even as a student, I felt that it was immensely unfair and dystopian that students had to put this much effort and time into getting better grades all for them to get unfulfilling jobs and live unhappily under a corrupt government.

It's honestly impressive how South Korea is considered a "developed country" despite having normalized these horrid standards and expectations.

I am proud of my country for some parts of its culture; however, I cannot say the same for its economic dependency on big companies and traumatic educational system that has rooted itself into our country's educational values. Good grief.

I often feel I'm now part of that oppressive machine. Nothing I do is helping to "make the world a better place." As I've repeatedly argued on this blog, the Korean educational system is largely a joke, with too much focus on rote memorization and multiple-choice thinking (all discussed in my book). Our CEO preaches the gospel of innovation out of one side of his mouth, but out of the other side, he preaches old-school, stultifying pedagogy—lectures on English done in Korean, overfocus on grammar, etc. And here I am, earning a cushy income, cranking out material that does little more than feed the beast. It's a cycle I'm going to have to break out of, eventually, if I want to retain my sanity and dignity.

But being a foreigner and experiencing life here from that perspective, I see the dystopian aspects of Korean society at a bit of a remove. This is largely because I live in my introverted little bubble, as far away from the madding crowd as I can plausibly get. I'm still not really a big-city person at heart, but life in Seoul has been my best experience of big-city existence anywhere. I know enough about places like New York City, Paris, Los Angeles, and San Francisco to know I wouldn't want to live in those cities. Even Tokyo, with its similarities to Seoul, would be difficult thanks to the language barrier. For better or worse, Seoul is home. I sympathize with all the Koreans who feel that life here is dystopian. Back when the first "Frozen" movie came out, Koreans viewers cried when they heard the song "Let It Go," which resonated because the song was talking about a release from soul-crushing obligations. Many young Koreans today speak of "Hell Joseon," with Joseon being an old name for dynastic Korea. Grind your way through school, experience a brief reprieve* during university (which is also a joke unless you're at an elite university), then plug yourself into the Borg collective of corporate work—the hollow thing you've been striving for all these years instead of experiencing a proper childhood. I can see how Koreans might perceive this as a sad existence that dovetails with a longstanding peninsular narrative of oppression and victimhood. Only now, Korea is enslaving itself. No society or culture is perfect; none can bring perfect happiness (which is up to the individual to find, anyway), but South Korea, by objective standards, does have at least a whiff of the dystopian about it.

Obviously, socialism is the answer to that!


*This reprieve is punctuated by obligatory military service if you're a man.

last 3 days

Today, tomorrow, and Wednesday are my final three days without air conditioning. I will have made it through May without once turning on my A/C. Woo-hoo! It's only now really starting to get miserable out, what with Korean summer technically under way. Of course, with my A/C's tendency to leak and stink, the coolness won't be pleasant for long, and I'll soon be pining for the arrival of fall, which is when I can shut the A/C back off. Something to look forward to, I suppose: with fall come long walks across the country.

Memorial Day, USA

catch you at a bad time?

when you hit "pause" at just the wrong (or right) moment

Sunday, May 28, 2023

keto-ish budae-jjigae

It was a bit of a porkfest tonight, with me getting rid of a good part of my store of various meats as I made a truncated budae-jjigae without some of my usual ingredients (e.g., soybean sprouts). I was able to use up all of my leftover green onion, regular onion, chili peppers, mushrooms, and tofu. I bought and used a package of ground pork because I was feeling too lazy to buy and grind my own beef. I also added some pepperoni, a block of spam, a kielbasa, and some el-cheapo hot dogs (it's probably no longer PC to say "el cheapo," and I don't care).

Budae-jjigae would be awesomely keto were it not for the gochujang, the red-pepper paste that's often made with rice flour—extremely carby. Some people even add a bit of sugar to the paste, giving the spice a slightly sweet aspect. The stew can be made carbier still by adding ingredients like ramen, ddeok (sliced rice cake), rice, and soy sauce (I saw Anthony Bourdain do that back when he was proclaiming budae-jjigae to be one of his absolute favorite soups). I also added a touch of sesame oil, some chicken bouillon, and some chili flakes (gochugaru). My budae never tastes quite like restaurant budae; I'll have to look over some recipes and figure out why. (Oh, yeah: some people will also add baked beans and cheese to their stew. Hell, why not, right?) Here's a set of photos taking you from prep to final product.

the initial ingredients, dumped in: ground pork, white onion, green onion, and spicy chili peppers

mushroom and tofu added

spam, pepperoni, kielbasa, hot dog (not really visible for some reason), and ssukgat (leafy green)

kimchi, bouillon (not really visible), and gochujang added (+ soy sauce and sesame oil)... oh, and water

the final product

I've got enough to last me a few days.

the most awesome "drama of nature" video you'll see today

In the following linked video: as people try to rescue a dolphin tangled in a mess of lines, a shark closes in on the diver helping the dolphin... then a huge orca swims over to the shark and literally punts it out of the water and onto the rescue boat. A whale surfacing nearby sees the shark flailing on the boat's deck and, in an effort to help the people on the boat, rears up and fucking body-slams the shark. This has to be one of the most awesome natural interactions I've ever witnessed, and I'm so sorry it's an un-embeddable YouTube Short.

Moral of the story: everyone in nature agrees that sharks are assholes.

keto fly lye

After much dithering, I finally made some keto fried "rice" using "riced" cauliflower. It turned out great! I don't miss the real rice at all. Of course, using soy sauce kind of drains away some of the keto-ness of the dish; you can compensate by switching to tamari, a form of soy sauce that's more keto-friendly. You can also reduce the amount of soy sauce and increase the amount of sesame oil as a finisher (I don't recommend frying anything with sesame oil).

The fried "rice" you see below has three proteins: (1) diced-up, pre-packaged chicken; (2) egg; and (3) shrimp. Veggies (aside from the cauliflower) include minced carrots, minced onion, diced mushrooms, and minced chili peppers. There's also some salt and pepper. Now that I know how awesome this dish is (I seriously don't miss the rice at all, and not because cauliflower somehow "tastes like rice"—it doesn't), I'll be making large batches of it. It pairs perfectly with a nice bowl of kimchi, which is also super-keto.

You can also "rice" cabbage in a food processor; I might try that next because I love what happens when you quickly sear cabbage from its raw state: you get that classic egg-roll smell. Slightly more carbs, though: you get 4.1 g of carbs per 100 g of cauliflower, but it's 5.5 g of carbs per 100 g of cabbage.

This really was much better than expected. Why didn't I do this years ago? And since Korean juk (porridge) can have most of the same ingredients as the above rice, I'm going to see whether I can make keto juk using xanthan gum to replace the rice starch that normally thickens the porridge. Xanthan gum has to be used with caution, though: too much of it makes your dish goopy and gross. I know this from experience.

A word about carrots: carrots do occasionally appear in keto recipes, but they aren't really considered keto because of their starch content. Use with caution.

Oh, and a word about texture: keto fried rice isn't going to be as sticky as regular rice, so doing that trick where you fill a bowl with rice, then plunk it onto a plate to create a rice mound... well, it might work, but it probably won't look as good as a mound of regular rice.

what my type of gear shift is called

An informative YouTube video tells me that my bike's style of gearshift is called a brifter because it combines the brake with the gearshift. The things you learn.

the Ken Paxton quirk

When Bill Clinton was impeached, he did not have to recuse himself from his duties as president. Neither did Donald Trump, who got impeached twice. In South Korea, when President Park Geun-hye was impeached, she had to step down from her duties as president per Korean law. Now, in Texas, Attorney General Ken Paxton has been impeached for reasons of bribery and cronyism. Interestingly, as if this were Korea, Paxton must step down (link might be paywalled; here's an un-paywalled source) during the impeachment process:

The 121–23 vote triggers Paxton’s immediate suspension from office pending the outcome of a trial in the state Senate and empowers Gov. Greg Abbott to appoint someone else as Texas’s top lawyer in the interim.

I guess the rule about stepping down when impeached varies according to the office.

qi/ki/기/氣 explained

This is a good, thorough video; I might subscribe to this channel. All the same, I should probably watch this video again because I got the impression that qi was being presented as if everyone who talked about it through the ages viewed it in basically the same way. My understanding, from my own superficial studies, is that qi has been viewed in radically different ways, and as radically different things (e.g., spirit versus "material force"), over time.

a huge potential fuel source: nuclear "waste"

So we're apparently sitting on a huge trove of potential fuel, and the technology for using this fuel—nuclear waste—has been around since the 1960s but was considered too expensive to implement at scale. Why aren't we doing more with this? Not only can nuclear waste be used as fuel, but it can also be used over and over again. That's nuts.


Is there some way to shave off gum tissue to expose more of the teeth?


Show me alternative energy that is truly green and economically viable, and I'm in.

an oldie but a goodie

This cracked me up.

good one

With chunks of Holofernes for extra flavor!

All of us who have been passive have to answer for our passivity.

It doesn't help that you've got a bunch of retirees from the northeast who all reflexively vote Democrat.

I love these sea-level memes and will post them every chance I get.

Robert Byrd, Exalted Cyclops, KKK

Half the people on the streets of Seoul are still masking up. Jesus Christ.

But the experience left the female cat with a strange taste for pussy.

which is why you'll never see zombies on the Four River path

teh krayzee (but maybe the plates were packaged that way)