Wednesday, June 29, 2022

South Korea's seedy underbelly

Ah, South Korea—picture of success, right?

The video is short, so it doesn't have the length to deal with any of the issues bedeviling South Korea in depth, but it's a decent summation of South Korea's current problems. The video is right to note that one of the major flaws of the so-called "work ethic" here is that people work harder, but they don't work smarter. Despite all the man-hours invested every week, the ROK's productivity level is, globally speaking, astonishingly low. In South Korea, it's better to look busy than to actually be busy—to look productive, but not to be productive. Until this dynamic changes, Korean society will only become unhappier. Until Korea puts more emphasis—as is starting to happen in the US—on blue-collar work, which is the bulwark of any economy, the entire Korean edifice will begin to crumble. It's crumbling already.



spot the errors

Saw a couple of gaffes here (via ROK Drop):

Arrested by the police last year, the 17-year-old student admitted she made a mistake taking that first injection. But the older man wasn’t honest at all with her. “If I knew it was methamphetamine inside that syringe, I would have never done it in the first place.”  

You might see other mistakes, but I see one tense-control error in the first sentence, and one tense error in the final if-conditional sentence. Rewrite everything so the tenses make sense! See you in the comments.



contradictory info on appositives discovered

I got scared when I saw this document, which says (item 5) appositives are always nonrestrictive (i.e., giving unnecessary information). This is not what I taught in my comma lesson about appositives. In my lesson, I said appositives can convey either essential or non-essential information. So was I right?

While I'm not big on the Grammarly website, it does back me up:

Appositive nouns and noun phrases are often nonrestrictive; that is, they can be omitted from a sentence without obscuring the identity of the nouns they describe. Another word for nonrestrictive is nonessential. Always bookend a nonrestrictive, appositive noun or phrase with commas in the middle of a sentence. If the noun or phrase is placed at the end of a sentence, it should be preceded by a comma.

[...]

When an appositive noun or noun phrase contains an essential element without which a sentence’s meaning would materially alter, do not frame it with commas.

WRONG: My friend, Bill, owes me fifty dollars.
RIGHT: My friend Bill owes me fifty dollars.

There are no commas here because Bill is an essential description of my friend. We can assume from this sentence that the speaker has many friends, but the one who owes them money is Bill. The unlikely circumstance under which the first sentence could be construed as correct would be if the speaker has only one confirmed friend, and that friend’s name is Bill.

[T]hink of [a motorcycle with no sidecar]. This is the restrictive-appositive motorcycle. If anyone wants to hitch a ride..., they will have to ride double behind the driver. With this type of appositive, there is no disconnection between the driver and the passenger; they have their arms around each other. The restrictive-appositive motorcycle zooms out of sight—without commas.

So yes, restrictive appositives are a thing. In case you need confirmation from a more reliable source, here's CMOS, a.k.a. The Chicago Manual of Style. I can't link to the online CMOS because you have to be a subscriber, so I'm copying and pasting:

An appositive is a noun element that immediately follows another noun element in order to define or further identify it {George Washington, our first president, was born in Virginia [our first president is an appositive of the proper noun George Washington]}. An appositive is said to be “in apposition” with the word or phrase to which it refers. Commas frame an appositive unless it is restrictive {Robert Burns, the poet, wrote many songs about women named Mary [here, poet is a nonrestrictive appositive noun]} {the poet Robert Burns wrote many songs about women named Mary [Robert Burns restricts poet by precisely identifying which poet]}. A restrictive appositive cannot be removed from a sentence without obscuring the identity of the word or phrase that the appositive relates to. 

So again, CMOS confirms that restrictive appositives are a thing. I checked these references because I didn't think I was wrong on this point, but I did want to make sure. So the first document, linked above, is obviously wrong. Moral: always do your research.



who failed American students?

You saw the video I linked to in my previous post, in which one dumb cunt after another fails to answer the sorts of questions that, by rights, elementary schoolers ought to be able to answer. Does this mass enstupidation have a root cause? 

The temptation, of course, is to think reductively, i.e., to boil everything down to a single causative factor.  Humans love simple solutions, especially to complicated problems. We take comfort in simplicity. One could say, for example, that the teachers all somehow failed these students. One could say that the students, lacking motivation (and in many cases, simple smarts) failed themselves. One could point the finger at "parents" or more generally at "family." One could zoom back a bit and say "the system" or "the culture" failed, whatever that's supposed to mean. Whatever the cause or causes might be, the results are obvious in these (probably cherry-picked) man-on-the-street interviews.

I'm as guilty of reductive thinking as anyone else (note my sloppy use of the word stupid), but the reality is that these kids are as clueless as they are because of a whole constellation of factors, including the abovementioned ones. As an aside, I should also note that, while the video focuses on stupid Americans, this sort of ignorance isn't unique to America by any means. I've lived in France, Switzerland, and Korea, and I've traveled through plenty of other countries; if there's one thing I've learned, it's that troglodytes and bumpkins are everywhere, and no one particular country is especially ignorant or stupid. Inside any given country, you've got the standard bell curve of knowledge-education-intelligence. Most folks are normies; some are super-smart/educated, and some are super-dumb/uneducated.

Someone should do man-on-the-street interviews that are completely unedited, just so we can see a true cross-section of local humanity. That said, the previously linked video does the job of making young Americans look depressingly dumb, whether they mostly are or not.



Americans don't know jack

I have no idea how cherry-picked the following selection of exchanges is, but if this really is a core sample of today's youth, then we are royally fucked:





Commas, Part 11

Commas, Part 1
Commas, Part 2
Commas, Part 3
Commas, Part 4
Commas, Part 5
Commas, Part 6
Commas, Part 7
Commas, Part 8
Commas, Part 9
Commas, Part 10

This twelve-part series on commas has taken years to write (I started in September 2019), but here we are, at the penultimate chapter. In this next-to-last lesson, we'll discuss a cardinal rule of commas: never put a single comma between a subject and a predicate.

I mean, really—this shouldn't be rocket science, right?

WRONG: Aunt Harriet, took a massive dump on the carpet.
RIGHT: Aunt Harriet took a massive dump on the carpet.

This also applies to sentences with more complexity:

WRONG: The woman I hated most, had come to give me a spiteful blowjob.
RIGHT: The woman I hated most had come to give me a spiteful blowjob.

In the above example, the adjective clause I hated most is an appositive that is necessary information (review the lesson on appositives, just before this one), so it doesn't take any commas. However, it is possible to insert commas between a subject and a predicate if you insert a pair of commas to create a parenthetical expression:

Jock McBallhouse, known for his hugely clanging testicles, stood before me in all his Scottish fury.

So as I said, the cardinal rule is that you can't insert a single comma between a subject and its predicate, but as you see above, you can insert a pair of commas when writing a parenthetical expression. A reminder: the subject is the doer of the action. The predicate explains the action. A simple subject and simple predicate boil down to a single word or phrase:

SIMPLE SUBJECT: Jock McBallhouse
SIMPLE PREDICATE: stood

The phrase known for his clanging testicles is also an appositive, but removing it doesn't change the essence of the sentence. So because this is an appositive that doesn't contain necessary information, you have to surround it with commas.

With expressions that use modal/helping verbs plus a main verb, don't interrupt those with a comma, either. Some examples:

WRONG: I heard that you have, researched the question of gluteal perspiration. Can he, speak octopus? Are you, planning to eye-fuck my cleavage all night? They would never have, come to the art museum had they known it would be displaying Picasso's infamous Period Period, when all he painted was periods.

RIGHT: I heard that you have researched the question of gluteal perspiration. Can he speak octopus? Are you planning to eye-fuck my cleavage all night? They would never have come to the art museum had they known it would be displaying Picasso's infamous Period Period, when all he painted was periods.

So—ready for a quiz? This ought to be the easiest quiz yet.

QUIZ
Which of the following sentences is grammatically incorrect? Select the incorrect sentences and rewrite them in the comments section.

1. The giraffe's head, which was succulent, stared balefully up at me from the plate.

2. The heaviest bear in the world, has great-looking tits.

3. Does God, have an anus?

4. The way you look at me, is why my nipples are always hard.

5. Your increasingly elaborate attempts to seduce her will only, end in rectal agony.

6. The glowing buttocks I saw last night troubled me.

7. Crossing a chihuahua with a Rottweiler, was a stroke of genius.

8. Why do my children, so enjoy catching and devouring squirrels raw?

[ANSWERS: Only 1 and 6 are correct. In every other case, remove the comma.]




nature vs. nurture: false dichotomy?

Have you ever noticed how, in the debate over nature versus nurture, there's one thing missing? Think about it: one side says nature determines what you do. The other side says nurture (outside, environmental influences) determines what you do. So where's human freedom in all this? Both sides assume we aren't free. 

I suppose a more nuanced version of the debate could factor freedom in: the nature side would say nature influences character; the nurture side would say nurture influences character. But this is very watered down and trivial, and it should be obvious, in such a debate context, that both nature and nurture exercise some measure of influence over one's actions. That's probably where most normal people stand, anyway. For most of us, freedom exists, but it's not absolute: it's subject to various internal and external influences. 





Tuesday, June 28, 2022

give an inch, take a mile

 When the left has only itself to blame for the pickle it's in:





the Joe Biden joke

 Watch the 4-minute video—at 2X speed if you want (I did that). Wait for the punchline.

A YouTube commenter said the above is adapted from an old Buddy Hackett joke.



a tale of two upcoming office meals

Two cheat days—pretty much in a row—coming up: this coming Friday, my coworker's chef wife will probably be making samgye-tang (ginseng chicken soup, a Korean classic). The very next Monday, July 4th, I'll be doing our huge Fourth of July meal. One of my coworkers is a Korean national, but the rest of our team is nothing but Yanks, so our Korean officemate will reap the benefits of an Amurrican celebration.

For the Monday meal, my boss put in a request for two items I don't normally serve on the Fourth of July: (1) L.A. galbi, and (2) Korean-style corn on the cob. The boss said he'd buy the corn himself; I think he wants it buttered, seasoned, and heated up right on the spot. There are pre-packaged ears of corn that the boss likes, and which he says are pretty sweet. I was going to do something a bit more BBQ-themed, and since I'd recently done burgers and dogs, I thought about doing pulled pork and pulled beef along with my usual trimmings: cole slaw, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, and baked beans. I saw a video in which someone put ground beef into their baked beans, taking the beans in a chili-ish direction, and I thought that was nifty, but I think I'm doing to stick to my usual, i.e., beans with bacon and chopped-up hot dogs. Costco is back to selling its Kirkland-brand franks, so I bought a hefty pack. The nice thing about serving food on a Monday is that I have all weekend to prep.

I'm wondering, though, about the L.A. galbi. That kind of throws off the meal's balance a bit, and I'm tempted to make some oi-muchim (spicy pickled cucumber) to go along with the short ribs. Having one single Korean thing on an otherwise American menu strikes me as weird, and I still don't understand what my boss was thinking, but whatever—I aim to please. That said, I really am thinking we need at least one other Korean item. Maybe a sweet oi-muchim is possible, or a simple pickle in sweetened vinegar.

When the meals happen, expect photos.

As for what the back-to-back cheat days will do to my health... I'm no longer going to the hospital, and I don't plan to visit my local doc until late August, so I'll have plenty of time to get strict about my diet and lower my blood sugar. Any damage from the cheat days ought to be minimal. We'll see.



"Red Notice": one-paragraph review

I had put "Red Notice" on a "movies to see" list for when I finally became a Netflix member. I've been a member for a few months, now, and I finally got around to watching this 2021 action-comedy directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber and starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot. The movie's opening title card defines what a red notice is: an Interpol alert designation for a wanted criminal, with red indicating the most serious level. Ryan Reynolds plays Nolan Booth, an art thief trying to steal the third egg of Cleopatra—the last of three gifts the queen had been given by her lover, the Roman general Mark Anthony. While the location of two of the eggs is known, the third egg is in some unknown location. Chasing after Booth is FBI profiler John Hartley (Johnson), who specializes in profiling and catching art thieves. Booth has been helped by the elusive Bishop (Gadot) who, it turns out, is also an art thief after the tantalizing third egg. The movie is basically one action set piece after another, with snappy dialogue, bloodless fight scenes, shifting loyalties, some very predictable plot twists, and an overall lighthearted sense of fun. I didn't come away wowed; I thought, in fact, that some of the comedic scenes ran a little too long and overstayed their welcome, and all three principals have, at this point, established themselves as action stars in other intellectual properties, so there weren't any real surprises, here. I remember seeing "Wonder Woman" and Gal Gadot for the first time; I recall thinking Gadot was so incredibly beautiful that it would be hard to tell how good of an actress she was. It's been a few years, and my verdict is... she's bland at best. I think Gadot totally owns the role of Wonder Woman, but in "Red Notice," she doesn't seem to be stretching her acting chops that much. Same for Johnson and Reynolds, too, really: they are well inside their comfort zones. Director Thurber has worked with Dwayne Johnson on a few action-comedies, none of which I've seen outside of this film; I think Thurber has found his niche, which is action films that don't have a lot of stakes or tension. It's the sort of thing I might have found more entertaining decades ago, but these days, I want my movies to have a bit more heft. All of which makes me wonder why I even bothered to put this movie on my to-see list. "Red Notice" is all flash and no substance, and all three stars have done better films.



Monday, June 27, 2022

flaming wreckage

assuming Joe lives that long, of course



the most difficult Jeju Olle path

The Jeju Olle trail is 425 km long and has twenty-some segments, each with its own length and difficulty rating (called a nanido/난이도 in Korean). I was thinking of flying out to Jeju to see what the "difficult" level was like, but then I found the following hiking video* about what is supposedly the trail's most difficult segment (18-1, I think?):

It's important to keep in mind that the Olle path is for hiking, not biking, although I imagine (as one commenter pointed out) that it's likely the hiking and biking paths coincide for a good part of the trail's length. That said, the above video shows a lot of the trail isn't bikable. The segment seems to have been about 20 km in length, and it took the hikers all day to do it, although after having done five or more peaks along the way, they didn't seem overly tired (then again, they all appeared to be in much better shape than me!). I got the impression that the friends started their hike rather late in the day, which is why the video ends at night. I would probably start around 5 or 5:30 in the morning, assuming Course 18-1 is even part of the route I'll be walking. (I'm not even seeing it on my Jeju app.)

Whether I end up doing this particular segment or not, I now have a much better idea of what counts as "difficult" on the Jeju trail. I think I'll likely end up tired as hell during these segments, but that's fine. That's what hiking is all about. One sinister thing, though: in the video, they note that it's November 29 as they're hiking, and they're all in short sleeves for much of the hike despite remarking that the weather is really fall-like. I'll be hiking there from late September to mid-October, so it's going to be warm. The hikers did also moan a lot about all the mountains and steep slopes, so I've got that to look forward to. Jeju is even farther south than Busan; I imagine it takes a while for the weather to really start cooling down. This looks to be a beautiful route, though. I look forward to it.

ADDENDUM: Course 18-1 is entirely located on Chuja Island, north of Jeju Island proper. The hikers did keep mentioning Chuja island, and I wondered whether it was one of the little islands near Jeju that is connected to the big island by a bridge. It is not. It's in the big water, all by itself, about halfway between Jeju and the mainland. That said, the video is still informative about what counts as a "difficult" trail by Olle-path standards.

__________

*The video's title says, "Most Difficult Olle Path Adventure." The white-font dialogue says: "How many mountains did you say...?" "There are five..."



SNU plagiarism... again

A coworker just told me about the latest plagiarism scandal to hit Korea's top university:

SNU research team busted for blatant plagiarism

A research team under Seoul National University admitted to submitting a plagiarized paper at an international conference after accusations spread online.

The team, led by professor Yoon Sung-roh from the prestigious Seoul National University, submitted a paper at the Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition held earlier this week in New Orleans.

Yoon was the head of the Presidential Committee on the Fourth Industrial Revolution during the Moon Jae-in administration.

The paper, titled “From Asynchronous Events to Fast and Continuous Video Reconstruction via Neural Stochastic Differential Equations,” discussed how artificial intelligence can be used for information data analysis.

Yoon participated in the paper as the corresponding author, and a Ph.D. student at his lab was the first author. There were three more co-authors of the paper.

The paper was recognized at the conference and published officially Thursday.

But the next day, a video was uploaded on YouTube claiming the paper had been plagiarized and contained copied text from 10 previously published papers without proper credit.

After the accusations went viral, someone claiming to be the first author commented on the video admitting to plagiarism.

“All the faults of the paper are entirely mine, the first author. I think it is right for me to accept all criticism fully. I agree with the belief that plagiarism is absolutely unforgivable, and I will accept any disciplinary action without any excuses,” the comment read.

Yoon said he was unaware of plagiarism in an interview with a local media outlet, adding the plagiarism was an “individual act” by the student. He said he will call on Seoul National University to hold a disciplinary committee hearing.

Someone was asleep at the switch—and there's an obvious fall guy. Of course, in East Asia, people don't really care about plagiarism. The idea of "stealing someone else's thoughts" is foreign to the East Asian mind, which already operates according to an "it's bad only if it happens to me" mentality. Expect more plagiarism from Korea's "top" university soon. 

Because these fuckin' idiots never learn.



Kamala impersonator

Someone's going to complain that a white woman doing an uncharitable impersonation of a minority woman—even if that minority woman is the vice president—is somehow "punching down." That said, the following Kamala impersonation is pretty funny:





over the 20,000-visits hump

This month, I had several 2000+ days in terms of site traffic, so I crossed the 20,000-visit mark a couple days ago. Overall, my daily traffic this month has been, otherwise, in the 400-700-visit range, which is a bit better than earlier this year. Even May was horrible, with many days at the 200-something level. Have I gotten my old audience back? I doubt it. Besides, I've never figured out what draws people in, and what repels them. I offer a mix of content, and I'm sure some people are here for certain things (like movie reviews) but not others (like politics). Anyway, the door is always open to anyone who's interested.



Illinois, the newest state to abandon

My brother Sean moved to the Chicago area—what—almost two years ago. He lives in a fairly upscale suburb, Highland Park, so none of downtown Chicago's problems really touch him, and I guess, from his perspective, there's no problem at all. I'm sure Sean—who has called himself a "libertarian" in the past but is really a more of a left-liberal—would scoff at the notion that Chicago is a shithole. But as the above video notes, Illinois is about to lose its richest resident because of violent crime. This is a thing. Deny it all you want. I hope the rot never touches my brother, but his neighborhood is just up the lake coast from Chicago proper, and Marxists—even the rich ones, apparently—hate the well-off.



clipboard!

Why did it take me so long to think of using a clipboard for my recipes? Because I'm lazy and stupid, basically. An idiot could have thought this up faster. I'd blame my stroke, but this problem predates it by several years, so I have no excuse.

closets: before the clipboarding

kitchenette cabinets: before the clipboarding

kitchenette cabinets: after

closets: after (except for Bodhidharma)

the clipboard, in place and be-reciped

Bodhidharma, a.k.a. Dalma-daesa in Korean

It's a relief to have nice, neat-looking closets and cabinets again, and my recipes are now all conveniently available in the kitchenette whenever I need to look at them. I no longer have to shift back and forth several meters to see what I need to do next. So now, let's cover those bare surfaces with some ugly-ass art!



Sunday, June 26, 2022

keto gnocchi

The adventure in Spaetzle batter continued tonight, but this time, I used the batter to make keto gnocchi. Atop the gnocchi, I added a cream sauce made with Italian sausage (home-ground, of course, because once you start grinding, you can't go back to store-bought), Gruyère, English cheddar, heavy cream, and butter. As sinful as that sounds, it's actually pretty keto; the only real disadvantage is the calorie content.

Regular gnocchi is a combination of flour and potatoes (with some egg), mixed together to form a thickish dough that is then rolled into long thin (or thick) tubes, cut into "pillows," as they're often called, and possibly rolled over a gnocchi roller or a fork to provide the pillows with their traditional, ridged look (see here). The Spaetzle batter I was using this evening was way too liquidy for that, so I put the batter in a Ziploc bag, cut off one corner, then piped thick bits of batter into boiling water, using a pair of scissors to cut the pillow shapes as the gnocchi squeeeeezed out like something intestinal. With my keto gnocchi plopping straight into the water, there was no chance for me to make the traditional ridges, which some aficionados argue can help to catch more of the surrounding sauce.

The problem with this batter, versus regular gnocchi, is that regular gnocchi will sink to the bottom of boiling water, resting there a minute or two before popping back to the water's surface, which is when you know the gnocchi is done and ready to be fished out. My batter, by contrast, produces pillows that float immediately, so I then have to boil them a couple minutes before daring to fish them out, just to make sure they're done all the way through. This isn't a big deal; it's just something to remember about my batter. I left my gnocchi to boil in the water about three minutes because these were super-large pillows; I then fished them out with a slotted spoon and dumped them into a waiting cake pan to dry out a bit. Once I had filled the pan with my pasta, I placed the pan into my oven at 350ºF (about 175ºC) and let the gnocchi bake, so as to dry out further, about ten minutes. I then pan fried the gnocchi to give them a bit more flavor, using a mixture of olive oil and butter. 

By themselves, these keto gnocchi are nice but a bit plain, and they don't have anything like the texture of regular gnocchi. If anything, my keto gnocchi reminded me of... falafel, with a very similar chew and mouth-feel. I even began to think that, if I added some cayenne or paprika and bits of dried onion flakes, I might be able to make keto hush puppies next time. Yeah... there's another idea. This is a very versatile batter, even if it doesn't taste spectacular in gnocchi form (it tasted better last week as deep-fried Spaetzle).

Here's a pic of the keto gnocchi pan-frying:

the initial sizzle

And below, here are the pan-fried gnocchi:

not real gnocchi, but not bad on their own terms

Below, I've fried up my homemade sausage, added the elements for my cream sauce, and tossed in the gnocchi. The result was not bad:

gnocchi in cream sauce, kind of

Here's a food-porn closeup before the final garnish:

chunkily inviting

I tossed on some dried parsley just for effect:

the final form

The cream sauce was good but unexpectedly salty.* I might use more cream and less cheese next time (cheese is naturally salty, and my sausage was, too). When I did gnocchi with cream sauce years ago, I think I made a more traditional Alfredo (Parmigiano, cream, and butter as the base, plus garlic and black pepper); tonight's sauce, with its Gruyère and cheddar, went somewhat west of Italy. All in all, though, this was a good result.

Keep in mind that, from the keto perspective, it's not the cream sauce that does you in: it's the pasta. Healthy dietary fat does not translate into body fat; your body doesn't simply assimilate exogenous fat like the Borg.  Cream and cheese are high in calories, but they are very low in carbs, making them healthier than you might think. Pasta, by contrast, is death for people on keto—along with bread, cakes, cookies, candies, and all the rest. About the only sweets allowed on keto are berries, especially blueberries and strawberries, mainly thanks to their fiber.

Anyway, that was tonight's adventure. I might continue to make this keto batter next week; perhaps I'll do those aforementioned hush puppies and have some salmon on the side. Mmm. Or, hey: I could try making keto falafel by adding Middle Eastern spices to my batter. Now, there's a thought: keto falafel and tzatziki, maybe with my Middle Eastern lamb mince, all in a huge salad. The sky's the limit.

__________

*I tried a sample of the gnocchi before I put everything together. I pan-cooked the sample gnocchi in butter and added a light sprinkling of parsley, garlic powder, and that green-bottled Parmesan cheese that I keep for culinary emergencies. The result was quite tasty! So another thing I might try is making the gnocchi the star of the show, adding very little meat and extremely little sauce. I think that might be a winning strategy. Frying the hell out of the gnocchi and turning it into something like keto tater tots is also a possibility.



"Willow" or "LOTR: The Rings of Power"?

I hate to say it, but I have zero interest in Amazon's "Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power," which apparently is poised to take a massive, steaming, T. rex-sized dump on JRR Tolkien's creative legacy. Meanwhile, Disney Plus will be airing "Willow," a series based on the original 1988 movie (and they've brought back Warwick Davis!). I have far more hope for "Willow" than I do for "The Rings of Power," which looks absolutely beschissen.

Here's the trailer for "Willow":

I'm not going to bother embedding the trailer for "Rings of Power."

Frankly, the original "Willow" wasn't that good. It was a product of the mind of George Lucas, and it had characters who were too reminiscent of characters from the Star Wars franchise. Val Kilmer played a roguish swordsman who was an obvious stand-in for Han Solo, for example, and the evil henchman of the big bad guy (lady, really) is an obvious stand-in for Darth Vader. The final battle in the movie's third reel contained some positively cringe-inducing moments. Overall, the movie's plot felt too much like a ripoff of any number of fantasy properties (including Tolkien's), so to see the original story potentially rehabilitated by a new series (with better world-building, if the trailer is any indication) gives me some hope. Unfortunately, "Willow" is on Disney Plus, and I quit that service immediately after bingeing the first two seasons of "The Mandalorian" (whose third season I'm boycotting), so I won't be watching it. My loss, but I hope it does well and proves better than "The Rings of Power."



who is the "well-regulated militia"?

As I just learned from a commenter on Instapundit, no less a leading light than George Mason said, "I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people except for a few public officials."

The anti-gunners fail to understand this. They think guns are only for the police (ask Uvalde how that's working) and the military (where Critical Race Theory is now being taught—do you trust our future military to fight major wars?). Idiots. An unarmed populace is easier to oppress. And as they say, the second Amendment is there is ensure the First Amendment.



incredible piece of work

I learned the term "burl":





nifty: the Heart Sutra in Chinese, with translation

I can't vouch for the accuracy of the translation, but it's cool that I found this site showing the Heart Sutra—one of the shortest and most metaphysical sutras in Buddhism—in Chinese, with concise English translations. The site itself warns that one-to-one translations aren't always possible, which only makes sense, but that does mean the reader should approach the translation with a measure of skepticism and his or her own scholarly resources at the ready (for me, that's primarily the Naver hanja online dictionary). Two of my favorites phrases from the sutra are pregnant with metaphysical meaning:

1. 諸法空相: all-dharmas-emptiness-character
2. 色即是空 空即是色: form itself is emptiness; emptiness itself is form

To me, these two phrases sum up the central concept of the Heart Sutra. The term dharmas in the first phrase can be translated, in this context, as "phenomena," i.e., things, so all-dharmas-emptiness-character means that all things have the character of emptiness. This basically means that nothing is permanent; everything is in a constant state of flux or process, and nothing can ever define itself in terms of itself: all existence is relational. Who am I? You know me by my relationships: a son, a brother, a friend, an employee. You know me by my activities: writing, walking, drawing, eating, cooking. There's no "me" floating out in space, a monad separate from everything: I am who I am thanks to context, thanks to circumstances. I am inextricably a part of the world around me. Shifting gears a bit, but still focusing on relationality: there are strong hints of this relational thinking in Western culture, as when Ferdinand de Saussure states that, when we define a thing, then by implication, we define what it is not. For example: the moment I say "cat," you know I'm not talking about a dog, a house, the sky, etc. The word cat implies an infinity of things that the cat is not, and thus a cat exists in a semantic or conceptual relationship with those things (an oppositional relationship, to be sure, but still a relationship). Also: the concept of a cat, as I contended years ago, automatically implies the rest of the universe: a cat has lungs, ears, eyes, feet, a stomach, and a mouth, so it must exist in a place with air, sounds, sights, ground, and food. You can deduce a universe in which cats make sense, and you can do this mental exercise with anything—not just cats. Anyway, for the cosmos, for existence, to be empty means that it is empty of something. What is that something? I've already indirectly said what it is, but I'll spell it out: empty of permanence, empty of aseity (from the Latin a se, in-itself, so self-being or in-itself-ness). This is philosophically meaty stuff, and those four Chinese characters encapsulate that.

The second phrase is just as meaty, but maybe it's easier to explain. Stare at waves long enough, and you'll get the idea that the waves are constantly changing in form, but because you're able to see the waves as they change in form, you intuit an underlying principle: impermanence. Through the shifting, impermanent waves you see, you intuit the principle of impermanence which, paradoxically, is a constant principle (in the West, we have the proverb that the only thing that is constant is change). And if you were to start from the principle that physical things are impermanent, you'd expect the world of concrete forms to be constantly shifting and changing according to rhythms and seasons, accidents and urges, harmonies and conflicts, pushing and pulling, etc. Form allows you to see emptiness in action; emptiness allows you to expect form to be impermanent.

Psychologically and morally, all of this is important for what it means about how we face the world. It's sad when people die, or when fun events end, or when something good starts to sour or mundane. But it is the way of things constantly to change, and deeply recognizing this allows us a sort of deep comfort and serenity. This is why I take comfort in the Heart Sutra. It's an important sacred scripture that makes a fundamental metaphysical point—a point that echoes into the moral and the emotional. It lacks what Karen Armstrong has called "the drama of monotheism," with its loving rays of divine light and booming, heavenly voices; the sutra may seem dry and overly intellectual at first, but give it time, contemplate its meaning, and you'll start to feel something more than just dry, apodictic thought.



the one abortion meme to end them all

I know this doesn't apply to all women, but at least 90% fall into the category of "Whoops—need an abortion because I made a stupid mistake." Such women get no sympathy from me. I don't expect sympathy for my having had a stroke because of bad, stupid eating habits; why should I sympathize with a woman who doesn't prepare for the most major consequence of sex? (Same goes for men, too, really, if they're not prepared to become fathers.)



funniest thing you'll see all day

Thermal camera captures greatness:

found on Instapundit




old-school solution

If you've paid attention to photos I've taken inside my apartment, you'll have noticed that my closet doors, cabinet doors, and fridge are covered with recipes. I have long wanted to consolidate all of these pages electronically, putting them on something like a simplified iPad whose only purpose is to display A4-sized pages—with recipes on them, in my case. Then I had what the Brits call "a brainwave" (we Yanks say "brainstorm," i.e., a creative idea): why not go old-school, stick a hook onto my refrigerator, and hang a clipboard off that? I've been relying on magnets to hold recipes up on the fridge, but if you put too many papers underneath the magnet, it no longer bonds with the fridge, so that solution is limited at best. A clipboard hanging off a Command-brand utility hook, though, strikes me as a simple, elegant solution to my problem. I actually already have two off-brand hooks stuck to my fridge right now, but for some stupid reason, I attached them at awkward positions such that hanging recipes on them would make things awkward. So I need an extra utility hook—and a clipboard—for this to work. Maybe I'll go shop for what I need late Sunday morning or early afternoon.



Saturday, June 25, 2022

Clarence Thomas memes



Thomas is acknowledged by many as the true motivating conservative force on the Supreme Court today. He's old, now, so fear the day he retires.



oh, shit—it's happening

"Beavis and Butt-Head Do the Universe" is coming to a Paramount+ near you (which means I probably won't be able to see it since streaming services now no longer share content with each other). Word is that the new movie is joyously unwoke: the boys still obsess over bewbs and involve themselves in politically incorrect situations. Good!

My buddy Tom, before he went leftie, used to love B&B. I wonder what he'll think now. (Tom still retains a sense of humor, so I think he'll be open to this new movie.)



we love fiery Latinas! (unless they're conservative)





responding to Joe

Joe Biden has given a speech expressing his thoughts on the Supreme Court's decision overturning Roe v. Wade. A proper fisking of his many erroneous points can be found here.



seen during Friday night's walk

We had a ton of rain Thursday, and I slogged through it for nearly 100 minutes. (Summer rain isn't horrible; it's cold rain in the fall that saps the morale.) I guess this little guy, seen the following night, was a refugee. 

river crab, very much alive

The creeks didn't flood, but they did swell up. Somehow, this guy (or gal) ended up in the bike path yards away from the creek. I wonder if s/he made it back to safety. A lot of bikes were whizzing by when I took the above shot.



grammar quiz

Give this magic hammer to _____ is the most worthy.

a. whomever (object of the preposition to)
b. whoever (subject of the clause whoever is the most worthy)

Answer (highlight to see):

[The answer is (b). The object of the preposition to is the entire noun clause. A clause has to have a subject, so whoever works here because it's in the nominative—i.e., subjective—case. Whomever, meanwhile, is in the dative (indirect-object) case.]



damn

To make movies, it turns out I'd have to buy Adobe Photoshop's video editor. I didn't buy the Photoshop and Premiere Elements bundle, so I don't have the video editor. Frustrating. All I have is a clickable button for the video editor, but when I click it, it brings up the option to buy Premiere Elements, which I'm not inclined to do. I might visit the Mac App Store and pick up a copy of iMovie (rated only 3.5 stars out of 5). We'll see.



Roe v. Wade overturned

It has long been the leftist/liberal nightmare that a right-dominated Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade, the case that legalized abortion nationally. Many conservatives have long been unhappy with how Roe happened: this was a case of judicial activism in which a court essentially gave something the force of law without running it through a federalist process per the 10th Amendment. That wrong has now been righted: abortion is not a constitutional right and never has been.

That said, Brett Kavanaugh, who went through a tumultuous confirmation process, assured his congressional questioners at the time that he considered Roe the law of the land... but now that he's a Supreme Court justice, it appears that he either changed his mind or never believed what he said: he voted along with the 6-3 majority on the court to overturn Roe.

What does this mean, practically speaking? For the left, it means that the fight now widens: the Supreme Court, in embracing federalism, has basically moved the matter of abortion to the individual states. The left must now fight state-by-state to preserve the right to abortion. Overall, not much is going to change. Many states, if not most, will decide on their own to keep abortion legal. Some states will choose to make the act illegal, which means leftist girls who get pregnant in those states will need to cross the state line to get an abortion. Abortion hasn't been stopped by this latest ruling; it's merely been made more inconvenient for some.

Meanwhile, the left will go through its usual exaggerated weeping and gnashing of teeth, just as it did regarding the Bruen decision (about gun rights: the Supreme Court went pro-2A, as it should). Considering how many levers of power the left currently holds, though, they should stop their collective sniveling and take heart that they still dominate the country: on the news, in academe, and in entertainment.

The Epoch Times:

Supreme Court Strikes Down Roe v. Wade Abortion Precedent

By a vote of 6–3 on June 24, the Supreme Court formally overturned Roe v. Wade, the seminal 1973 precedent which struck down a swath of federal and state laws restricting abortion and largely legalized the procedure nationwide. 
 
The 116-page ruling also reversed the 1992 companion precedent known as Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which held that states can’t impose significant restrictions on abortion before a fetus becomes viable for life outside the womb.

Well, it's the ongoing culture war. America really is two countries at this point, and I'm beginning to wish people would figure out what this means geographically. Let the left occupy the coastal states, and let the right have everything else. California (mainly southern California) is a shithole, so it'll add nothing to a left-dominated economy. Good riddance. My home state of Virginia might seem to be waking up from its leftist haze, but I think the place is too far gone for this to be a permanent change back to conservatism. Let it rot with all the other coastal states. But seriously—at this point, the country has become so deeply fractured that, I think, nothing can be done to un-divide a divided house. Time for a mitotic split.

ADDENDUM: saw this comment on Instapundit; it gave me a chuckle:

After two days of leftists yelling, "Federalism must allow guns to be confiscated!", the left now finds federalism, regarding killing gestating babies, an anathema for "true believers of 'democracy.'"

ADDENDUM 2: Glenn Reynolds, who is a law prof, weighs in:

A FEW MORE THOUGHTS ON DOBBS: First, it’s a big win for the rule of law — by which I mean not so much the opinion as that the justices stood firm in the face of unprecedented threats ranging from Chuck Schumer’s “pay the price” language to mobs and an actual armed assassin showing up at their homes. A Supreme Court that can be bullied is a Supreme Court that will be bullied. Unlike Roberts’ flip in the ObamaCare case, the majority here held firm, which will discourage bullying in the future.

Second, the likely result is that a few states will ban abortion entirely, a few will permit it for the entire term, and for most it’ll look something like Europe, with abortion easy to get for the first 12 weeks or so, and much harder after that. (The Mississippi law in question here was actually more liberal than many, perhaps most, European laws).

States won’t be able to ban interstate travel for the purpose of getting an abortion because interstate travel is a separate constitutional right. Congress will not be able to guarantee a right to abortion because its 14th Amendment power to enforce the rights guaranteed by the 14th Amendment doesn’t apply to abortion, which the Court has found isn’t protected under the 14th Amendment. It will not be able to either protect abortion or ban it under its commerce power because abortion isn’t interstate commerce, and is a traditional subject of state regulation.

It’ll take a few years to shake out, but we’re likely to wind up with what we would have had by 1976 or so if Roe had never been decided — a spectrum of laws around the country that will be adjusted over time based on experience and the views of the electorate. Though, of course, the norm may be stricter than it would have been without Roe, which called into being a huge pro-life movement that probably wouldn’t have existed otherwise.

UPDATE: It’ll be interesting to see if this reduces the flow of immigrants from blue states to red. That’ll be a measure of how much people actually care. To be honest, I kinda hope it does slow the flow.

ADDENDUM 3: my previous thoughts on abortion. To be clear, I'm happy that the Supreme Court decided this was a federalist matter and not something that should have been legislated via judicial fiat. Whatever the morality of abortion, this was the right tack to take.



a closer look at my exercise regimen

I've settled into the following groove concerning exercise:

MWF: 
walk 140-ish minutes
jog 1 km (70/30 paces jog/walk)
chest press machine in the park, 20 reps (15 + 5)
lat-pulldown machine in the park, 25 reps quickly, 25 reps slowly
dumbbell hammer curls, 10 kg ⨉ 2, 3 sets, 7 reps
dumbbell bent-over raises, 10 kg ⨉ 2, 3 sets, 10 reps
modified dumbbell overhead press, 10 kg ⨉ 1, 15 reps
planks on knees (while on bed), 45 sec
easy squats (using the edge of my bed as a seat), 3 sets, 10 reps
knee raises, 3 sets, 20 reps

TR:
walk 90-ish minutes
stair work, ½ staircase, 5-kg encumbrance

Sa:
walk at least 18 km (up to about 35 km on some days)

So the bulk of my muscle-related work is all happening on weekdays, specifically on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I'm no longer doing the everyday thing. That proved to be too tiring for my lazy ass. And if I'm not necessarily feeling it (like on Friday night, just a few hours ago), I'll drop certain activities, like jogging a kilometer (in this case, I dropped jogging because of heel pain). This weekly rhythm is a good one, I think, at least for now.

I'm not planning on buying heavier dumbbells, and there's no way to adjust difficulty level on the machines in the park, so all I can do is add reps to my workout. That's not horrible in itself; as YouTuber The Bioneer points out: for most people, it's probably better to go low weight, high reps, anyway. So over time, I'll be increasing my reps, and probably adding more calisthenics to my routine. Once I add enough exercises, I'll undoubtedly move some of the exercise work to Tuesdays and Thursdays. One of my goals, this year, has been to add muscle to my weak frame because muscle mass increases your metabolism and aids with fat burning. I've got a long, long way to go before any progress becomes visible; I'd say about two years, minimum. Check with me again when it's election year in the States! Meanwhile, I'll be sure to give periodic updates.

One note: when I move about, I tend to be pretty slow, ponderous, and arthritic-looking. Learning to move more dynamically is another goal of mine... this may involve getting into a sport that requires mobility and reflexes, or it may involve learning to dance (ack!), or it may even involve getting back into martial arts, although that last one is doubtful given the sorry state of my knees. (I would to love the graceful, meditative art of the Chinese sword, though; see here for an example of what I'm talking about.)



Styx on gun rights and the Bruen decision

For background, read about Bruen here.

I hear even crusty old Joe Biden whined that the decision was somehow unconstitutional, but the right to bear arms in the United States is one of the most important freedoms Americans have. An armed populace is harder for a government to oppress directly, and when citizens have the freedom to arm themselves, those citizens can rely less on the police should the need for immediate justice arise. (As the saying goes, When seconds count, the police are minutes away.) I live in Korea, where there is no right to bear arms, and I live at the sufferance of the government. It's an uncomfortable feeling.



Friday, June 24, 2022

God help me

On a weird impulse (maybe because of the scrotum dream), I looked up "Impossible Burger" on Coupang and ended up finding some knock-off brand... which I then ordered. So I've got veggie burgers coming my way, and I have no idea how good they're going to be.

God help me. If I eat these things and sprout a second head, you'll know why.



the most ambitious chocolate cake I've ever seen

This:

I'm gonna have to try this for a cheat day. Good Lord.



replicating the "nose slice" scene from "Chinatown"

In another team-up with SFX wiz and former Mythbuster Adam Savage, the Corridor Crew examines the question of practical versus CG effects, focusing on the memorable scene in "Chinatown" were Jack Nicholson's character gets his nose sliced open. This is a really intriguing episode; Corridor Crew normally puts out interesting videos, but this one is especially entertaining, and the conclusion of the experiment was fascinating:





a question I had never thought about before

Why is it called "the British Empire," but the head of that empire is always a king or queen, not an emperor or empress? This short video examines that question:





right-wing terrorism




Adobe Photoshop Elements 2022

In buying my new computer, I had to spend a few hundred bucks to update/upgrade a lot of my software. Among the upgrades was Adobe Photoshop Elements: I got the 2022 version. And I only just noticed that this new edition of Photoshop has branched out into videos: it comes with its own video editor! It's a pretty basic editor, to be sure (this is Elements, after all), but it's enough for me to start learning some rudimentary video skills. So expect some shenanigans over the coming months as I learn various video-related techniques.



Thursday, June 23, 2022

the scrotum dream

I had a weird dream that happened sometime this morning. I don't normally remember my dreams—just the lingering emotions accompanying them. This time, though, I remember the visuals. In my dream, I was pulling these wet, shiny, larva-like things out of my scrotum. They were mostly black and grey, with some red dots. It was a lot like watching one of those botfly-larva-extraction videos you can find on YouTube, e.g., ones where a doctor pulls the larvae out of a money's neck. But whatever these scrotal larvae were, they weren't botfly larvae. They came out glistening, almost as if covered in mucus, and they didn't wriggle. There was no pain as I extracted them one by one, and I did reach a point where there were no more of these larvae in my nut sac. My scrote was riddled with holes, but the infestation was gone. One thing I can't remember is how I performed the extraction. With my hands? With some sort of tool? I don't recall. And was this dream a nightmare? I don't recall feeling frightened or horrified; the feeling was more like... clinical fascination. But I did feel some relief when I woke up.

So that was my dream. Maybe it was an omen. Maybe it was my brain's way of exploring some sort of anxiety. Whatever. I don't normally confess my dreams to people, but this one was weird enough to share. And there we are.



caloric intake

Here's a quick comparison between a normal diet for someone of my weight and the diet I'm currently following: on a normal diet, I'd be eating (according to MyFitnessPal) about 2100 calories per day. That means a total of 2100 × 7 = 14,700 calories. 

Day by day, here's my current diet:

Mon: 0 calories
Tue: 0 calories
Wed: 0 calories
Thu: about 1200 calories (1700 today, actually)
Fri: about 1200 calories
Sat: about 600 calories (shake only)
Sun: about 2000 calories (keto for 1 meal + dessert)
TOTAL: 5000 calories for the week
NOT FACTORED IN: the calories I burn while exercising

That's a far sight from 14,700 calories! And yet, I still find it hard to lose weight, even with the extra exercise. Is it possible there are calories I'm not counting? Yes, of course; everybody undercounts. But even if we add those calories in (a handful of nuts here, a scoop of yogurt there, a nibble of leftover boeuf bourguignon), I don't come anywhere near 14,700 calories. My body just happens to be stubborn when it comes to losing weight. It's spent years in this fat state, and it doesn't want to let go of that. To lose weight radically, I would have to engage in some David Blaine-style starvation, i.e., 44 days of not eating a thing, which is medically very dangerous. I'd be dead before the 44 days were up.

We play the hand we're dealt, so I just have to deal with this stubborn body as best I can. The weight will come off eventually, even though things may seem hopeless.



decent BP

Took my blood pressure for the first time in a long time.

128/86

A wee bit high (classic BP is 120/80), but I'll take those numbers.

I had mentioned my appointment this coming July 21, a bit less than a month from now. Well, the big news is that I'm making a command decision to stop visiting the hospital. I intend to go back to my internal-medicine doctor, who will be pleased to see my numbers. I'll need to catch my doc up on the fact that I had a stroke over a year ago, and I'll be showing him the prescription for the meds the hospital has had me on. In principle, he'll go along with the hospital's wisdom and keep prescribing me the same meds, although it's possible that the scrip might change according to his judgment.

There are several advantages to going back to my regular doctor. First, I don't need to formally schedule an appointment: at his place (in the building where I work), everything is done on a walk-in basis. Second, while the price of my meds will remain the same (expensive, by Korean standards, at over W100,000 for 100 days' worth of pills), the price of the doctor visit will be much, much less. My doc can also do blood-panel work just as the hospital can; I'll just have to be more aggressive about asking questions regarding, say, my triglyceride count. (The doc was always good about telling me my A1c.) Another big advantage is time: a doctor visit takes only a few minutes, whereas a hospital visit—because it involves bureaucracy—lasts a goodly chunk of my day. Frankly, that's becoming tiresome. The hospital also asked me, last time I was there, to prepare to give two blood samples next time I visited, and I don't really want to do that. They said they wanted the second blood sample after I had had a chance to eat something, so to me, that sounds as if they want to see how quickly my fasting-glucose numbers recover. Recovery rate is tied to metabolic syndrome: your blood sugar naturally spikes whenever you eat something; in healthy people, that spike ought to disappear in about an hour. Personally, I think testing my recovery rate is unnecessary; as long as my A1c is in the diabetic range, it should be obvious I'm suffering from metabolic syndrome. So that's another reason not to visit the hospital: unnecessary testing.

With the meds I currently have, I think I can stretch my time such that I can visit my doc in late August instead of in late July. I'll just take my current pills (I have a month's worth left) every other day. Docs will frown on that course of action, but I'm significantly healthier than I was before my stroke, and I suspect I can get away with this course of action for two months without suffering any ill effects.

It's tempting to celebrate the decision to cancel my hospital visits by going nuts and having a cheat day right now, but I plan to stay the course and behave until I see the doc in August. I do have two cheat days approaching: June 30 and July 4. I also have a steak luncheon I'll be prepping for my former team (this luncheon is to make good on a promise I made over two years ago); that'll likely happen in early August. Hopefully, the August luncheon won't affect my numbers much if I diet strictly right afterwards.

My current dietary regimen:

MTW: fasting
RF: light Newcastle regime (1200 calories/day*)
Sa: a single diet shake
Su: keto (usually one keto meal + a keto dessert**)

Fasting for the first three days of the week feels like an eternity; it's not easy. But 72 hours is a good length of time for me, and it obviates the need to cook anything. Four days of fasting is pushing it, and at Day 5, I start to get weak and woozy. I've done seven days before, as you'll recall, but I'm dead by the end. Three days of fasting isn't enough to make me weak; I can exercise without worrying about fainting in mid-walk or mid-jog.

Oh, yeah: I'm jogging a bit more now. Still only doing a single kilometer, which isn't much, but I've gone from 60 jogging paces (and by "pace" I mean right-left = 1 pace) and 40 walking paces to 70 jogging paces and 30 walking paces. My goal is to progress from 60/40 to 70/30 to 80/20 to 90/10... until I'm eventually jogging the entire kilometer. A single kilometer isn't much, I realize, but that'll represent a moral victory for me.

My exercise schedule has resolved itself, finally, into something reasonable. On MWF, I walk at least 140 minutes and jog my kilometer. I do the chest-press and lat-pulldown machines while I'm still outside, then I go back to my apartment and do the rest of my exercises: hammer curls, bent-over rows, modified shoulder presses, planking on my knees, knee raises, and gentle squats. On TR (T = Tuesday; R = Thursday), I just walk 90-ish minutes and do the stairs with a 5-kilo weight vest on. Saturdays are still reserved for long, 18K-plus walks (roughly 18-35K, depending on my route). Sundays are for resting, and possibly for coming into the office if I have extra work to do.

Weight-wise... I'm not going to make 95 kg by July 21 (the original date of my hospital appointment), but I'll get there by late August for sure. The exercise regimen has definitely helped my blood pressure; I imagine it's going to help me burn more calories and lose weight in the long run. I'll have more to report later. I do dread the arrival of summer, though: jogging is going to be hell when it's warm and humid even at night.

And that's it for now. I took a blood-sugar reading this morning, and it was a bit high at 117, possibly due to the so-called "dawn phenomenon," in which your blood sugar naturally spikes in the morning. But I expect that to go down over the next two months, with any subsequent spikes not exceeding 99. I'll report again when I have something to report.

__________

*No more of that 800-calorie-a-day insanity.

**My keto dessert is normally Greek yogurt plus blueberries with a sweetener like allulose or erythritol. Berries are among the few fruits available on keto.