Friday, September 30, 2022

Amala Ekpunobi interviews Matt Walsh
re: his "What Is a Woman?" documentary

Amala Ekpunobi is a young, up-and-coming thinker/commentator making a name for herself on the controversial site Prager U. As a black conservative, she is one to listen to because the left, being racist, is convinced that black conservatives either can't or shouldn't exist—the left is completely unable to square that circle. Amala brings a lot of bright, cheerful energy to her videos. Watch her now before she turns old, bitter, and cynical.

[This is the last of my scheduled posts.]




informal poll

Vote by leaving a comment. I wanted to embed an actual poll widget, but all the widgets are asking me to allow them to see all my private information. So we're going old-school.

WHO HAS THE STRONGER FART?

1. Margaret Thatcher

2. Greta Thunberg



your images for the day (round 3)




more of this should be happening

I'd love to see Apple and Elon Musk leave China, frankly. Pivot to India!





your images for the day (redux)

 




Thursday, September 29, 2022

a rare excerpt from the Dhammapada

It's rare that I quote from the Buddhist scripture called the Dhammapada (dhamma is the Pali way to say dharma, a word that translates many ways, e.g., law, nature, teaching, role, etc.). In fact, I don't think I've ever quoted it on this blog before. It's a scripture that's more associated with Theravada/Hinayana Buddhism than with Mahayana Buddhism, the latter being the style of Buddhism I'm more familiar with. 

I've added my own commentary in blue. This is from a chapter called "The Fool."

60. Long is the night to the sleepless; long is the league to the weary. Long is worldly existence to fools who know not the Sublime Truth.

I'm strangely reminded of every stupid student I've ever taught. Stupid students are the ones most likely to get restless in class and to declare, regarding whatever the activity might be, "This is stupid." Smart kids, by contrast, find something interesting no matter what situation they find themselves in. For stupid kids, school must be a hellish eternity. Fools, being obtuse, are circumscribed by their own unawareness, making almost everything they engage in a form of drudgery. Fools always pick the most difficult, inefficient path. This calls to mind the Buddhist concept of upaya, skillful means. Rather than speak of good or bad, Buddhists often frame thoughts and actions in terms of skillful and unskillful.

61. Should a seeker not find a companion who is better or equal, let him resolutely pursue a solitary course; there is no fellowship with the fool.

Don't hang with fools or losers. Then again, losers could be a subtype of fool.

62. The fool worries, thinking, "I have sons; I have wealth." Indeed, when he himself is not his own, whence are sons, whence is wealth?

I admit this one stumps me. What do you think the above means?

63. A fool who knows his foolishness is wise at least to that extent, but a fool who thinks himself wise is a fool indeed.

Thousands of years ago, they understood the Dunning-Kruger effect. Fools often have courage and confidence born of stupidity. They certainly tend to think they are more competent than they really are. Quite a few people are this way.

64. Though all his life, a fool associates with a wise man, he no more comprehends the Truth than a spoon tastes the flavor of the soup.

In Christian language, we're talking about throwing pearls before swine.

65. Though only for a moment, a discerning person associates with a wise man, quickly he comprehends the Truth, just as the tongue tastes the flavor of the soup.

The key, of course, is to be discerning. When you're discerning, you have the mind that accepts and gathers wisdom from the wise. When you lack discernment... well, we're back to pearls and swine again.

66. Fools of little wit are enemies unto themselves as they move about doing evil deeds, the fruits of which are bitter.

Ah, to be stupid and unaware of the consequences of your stupidity. How nice it must be to bumble around, causing havoc without noticing the mayhem.

67. Ill done is that action of doing which one repents later, and the fruit of which one, weeping, reaps with tears.

I suppose even a fool might regret some moronic action.

68. Well done is that action of doing which one repents not later, and the fruit of which one reaps with delight and happiness.

This and the previous bit of wisdom sound as if they have to do with karma (Pali kamma), the law of cause and effect, or the law of action. I don't really believe in karma as a type of blind, universal justice. In the real world, bad and stupid people get away with horrible actions all the time. They pay no price, and many of them die happy. A more naturalistic interpretation of karma, though, may be possible. Act like an asshole to everyone, and eventually, someone's going to act like an asshole to you.

69. So long as an evil deed has not ripened, the fool thinks it as sweet as honey. But when the evil deed ripens, the fool comes to grief.

Cheat on your partner, and it's all fun and games until she finds out.

70. Month after month, a fool may eat his food with the tip of a blade of grass, but he still is not worth a sixteenth part of the those who have comprehended the Truth.

I assume the "blade of grass" image has to do with disciplined eating. The proverb may be saying that simply aping holy, disciplined actions is not enough—that is merely a hollow, external gesture, not a deep, internal reality.

71. Truly, an evil deed committed does not immediately bear fruit, like milk that does not turn sour all at once. But smoldering, it follows the fool like fire covered by ashes.

Our actions may have consequences that take time to make themselves known.

72. To his own ruin, the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness.

I'm having a hard time understanding this one. It could mean that the gaining of knowledge—which "cleaves the head"—is what happens when the mind gets bogged down in its own dualistic, discriminatory nature, i.e., the world of me/you, this/that, yes/no, true/false, etc. We traffic in these binaries because they help us make sense of our world, but were we to see the world truly, we would understand that the world simply is, existing in its own nondualistic suchness. One's innate goodness is destroyed as one's mind becomes more and more dualistic and discriminatory.

73. The fool seeks undeserved reputation, precedence among monks, authority over monasteries, and honor among householders.

This one is more straightforward. It feels almost biblical. And while the concept of vainly seeking authority, honor, and reputation is being applied to fools, it also applies to overtly evil people, too. M. Scott Peck's People of the Lie gets into the question of evil, with Dr. Peck concluding that, among the many things evil is, evil is malignant narcissism. Evil people compulsively see themselves as good and shy away from being exposed for who/what they really are. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, it's said.

74. "Let both laymen and monks think that it was done by me. In every work, great and small, let them follow me" — such is the ambition of the fool; thus his desire and pride increase.

So here, we're obviously talking about vanity, which can be seen as a species of narcissism. Fools and evil people want to be seen as people of virtue, pillars of the community.

75. One is the quest for worldly gain, and quite another is the path to Nibbana (Skt. nirvana). Clearly understanding this, let not the monk, the disciple of the Buddha, be carried away by worldly acclaim, but develop detachment instead.

The path to nirvana is therefore not the path of vanity or self-aggrandizement.

I've got the Dhammapada in my tiny library here in Seoul. Maybe I should set about reading it systematically. It's been a while since I really plunged into any sort of scripture.



Russell Brand on Doddering Joe

Biden recently said the pandemic is over, yet...


This is a Rumble video, so after the initial ad, the viewing is ad-free.



huh

I guess I passed 20K visits sometime yesterday afternoon. Thanks, readers and bots!



Wednesday, September 28, 2022

your images for the day

I'm sure the left would say Republicans think this way because they're deluded idealists.
Boy, this does look vaguely familiar.



ghost

With these scheduled posts rolling out, it feels almost as if I were still here, blogging away as per usual! I normally put up 3-4 posts per day, so hey hey!

I saw that my Tuesday stats were at over 1,200 unique visits for the day. Overall, I'm at nearly 19,000 for the month. Could a 20K-visit month be possible?

Visit harder! Visit deeper! Visit faster!



wisdom from the Tao Te Ching

Chapter 57

Govern a country with upright integrity
Deploy the military with surprise tactics
Take the world with non-interference

How do I know this is so?
With the following:
When there are many restrictions in the world
The people become more impoverished
When people have many sharp weapons
The country becomes more chaotic
When people have many clever tricks
More strange things occur
The more laws are posted
The more robbers and thieves there are

Therefore the sage says:
I take unattached action, and the people transform themselves
I prefer quiet, and the people right themselves
I do not interfere, and the people enrich themselves
I have no desires, and the people simplify themselves

The above speaks to the Chinese concept of wuwei, often translated as "nonaction"—but really meaning the act of doing through nondoing. Elsewhere, the Tao Te Ching says, "The sage accomplishes everything by doing nothing." I can see a lot of libertarians wishing that government acted more that way. Because as it also says above: The more laws are posted, the more robbers and thieves there are

I once watched a cop's lecture. He began by noting there are so many laws, these days, that most audience members, simply in driving to the lecture, undoubtedly broke two or three laws on the way there. No matter what you do in today's America (or Korea, etc.), you're a criminal.

That said, wuwei is more about acting without thought for the fruits of one's actions—selflessly, naturally, spontaneously, in accordance with one's nature. A very similar lesson is taught in the Bhagavad Gita by Krsna (God) to Arjuna the warrior.



President Yoon pleads innocent

Seen at ROK Drop:

PRESIDENT YOON SAYS THAT MEDIA PUBLISHED UNTRUE REPORTS ABOUT OFF MIC COMMENT

President Yoon Suk-yeol said Monday that untrue media reports of his remarks caught on hot mic damaged South Korea’s alliance with the United States in his first response to the controversy.

Last week, Yoon was caught on video making a remark privately to aides in New York that appeared to include vulgar words. Though the recording was not clear due to noise, many thought Yoon was talking about U.S. Congress and U.S. President Joe Biden.

But Yoon’s office rejected the claim, saying he was referring to South Korea’s opposition-controlled National Assembly without mentioning U.S. Congress or Biden. Yoon’s ruling People Power Party also claimed people misheard Yoon’s remarks because the video had a subtitle misrepresenting them.

So... what and whom to believe?



Tuesday, September 27, 2022

it's the final countdown (cue cheesy synthesizers)

My tee shirts arrived today, and I got an extreme haircut!  See here at the walk blog.

My flight down to Jeju Island is at 2 p.m. tomorrow, and there's not much left for me to do. Packing for the trip will be absurdly easy; I'll be doing it tonight, but if I waited until tomorrow morning, that wouldn't be a problem.

What's left to do?

• go over my Google spreadsheet and make sure Sheets 1 and 2 have matching information
• put together all my old-man pills for the trip
• wash clothes 
• empty out garbage so there's nothing to stink up the place while I'm gone
• make sure my air filters and other electric/electronic devices in my studio are off
• shut my toilet valve (I do this every trip)

As they repeatedly say in "Bridge on the River Kwai," there's always one more thing to do. And knowing me, I won't remember that thing until I'm halfway to Gimpo Airport. So tonight will be devoted to minimizing the Murphy, as I like to call it: reducing the chance that I'll forget something crucial in the morning. This means laying out travel documents and running over my checklist one more time to make sure I've packed everything. Obviously, I won't be buying any water until I'm on Jeju Island: no need to tote that extra weight across the country.

I'm looking forward to losing weight as I walk. It's going to be very tempting, during the short period between the Jeju walk and the Andong Dam walk, to want to go nuts and eat a suitcase of doughnuts or something, but I'm going to do my best to rein my appetite in and stick to healthy food, as painful as that will be. And once both walks are done, I'll immediately visit my doc, tell him the sad story of my stroke, and hope he continues prescribing me the meds that the hospital had prescribed to me. I don't think my A1c number will be as low as I'd like it, but it shouldn't be too bad, either. (I could improve my A1c by delaying the doctor visit until November, with the understanding that I'd be seriously dieting during the delay period.)

Just a reminder that, starting tomorrow, all my blogging will be exclusively at Kevin's Walk 6, so look for updates there. It's sad that this blog will once again fall short of 20,000 visits for the month, but hey—numbers are numbers.

While I'm on the trail, you're still free to visit this blog and pore over the archives, which can be found on the right-hand sidebar. The blog has a search window up top, so you can look up whatever you desire: movie reviews, political memes (those seem to be the most popular thing on my blog, which is depressing because they're the least original thing I slap up), thoughts on religion, etc. There's plenty there for the curious.

Meantime, see you at the other blog!


PS: I might get you through the end of the month by scheduling posts to appear over the final three days of September—the 28th, 29th, and 30th.



Ave, Justin!

On his blog, Justin Yoshida embedded the following hilarious video of an actress doing a dramatic reading of a Yelp! complaint about a local Dunkin' Donuts:

Justin always finds the coolest videos.



Norway: wind turbines ripping themselves apart

Wind power has to be one of the most unreliable alternative-energy resources out there. It doesn't help that wind turbines require so much maintenance, are an eyesore, and create auditory pollution. Now, it seems that, along with killing birds, wind turbines will also tear themselves apart if—get this—it's too windy.

Wind Turbines in Norway Being Ripped Apart – Because of Too Much Wind

Parts are flying off of wind turbines in Northern Norway – because they can’t withstand the winds – and the Norwegian Water and Energy Directorate (NVE) is threatening to shut down a wind farm, if the problem isn’t fixed by October 10.

At a Sortland, Norway wind farm, “Strong winds and falling ice have caused the cover, panels and other parts to fall to the ground,” Life in Norway reports. “Noor Nooraddin, the general manager of the wind farm, blamed high wind speeds, saying wind turbines struggle to withstand such conditions.”

[...]

Ironic wind turbine calamities in Scandinavia aren’t exclusive to Norway, however.

As CNSNews.com reported in July, a wind turbine in Sweden collapsed, and citizens were warned to stay away, because it was leaking the very substance it was supposed to [make] obsolete – oil – astonishing Swedish journalists.

“Depending on its size, a wind turbine gearbox needs an oil quantity between 200 (53 gallons) and 800 L (211 gallons), according to a peer-review article published by MDPI, titled “Monitoring the Oil of Wind-Turbine Gearboxes: Main Degradation Indicators and Detection Methods.”

Either develop tougher, more efficient wind-harvesting technology or do away with wind energy altogether. This is just ridiculous. Wind tech is freighted with so many ironies: billed as a substitute for oil, it uses oil. Touted as a way of protecting the environment, it routinely kills birds. Designed to harness wind power, it gets destroyed by wind. Wind turbines routinely lose blades and suffer motor fires that sometimes kill the people who try to rescue the equipment. The turbines uglify the local environment, being an eyesore to area residents. Wind itself is only an intermittent source of energy, making it difficult to predict the amount of available power. Is wind power even worth the effort?



anti-government protests in Iran

This should probably be a bit more central in my consciousness:

Over 40 killed as mass protests rock Iran after ‘morality police’ kill woman over ‘improper hijab’

More than 40 people have reportedly been killed as anti-government protests rocked dozens of Iranian cities in the last week following the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman arrested by the Iranian "morality police" for not properly wearing a hijab earlier this month.

At least 41 people have been killed, and more than 1,200 have been arrested during the protests as of Saturday, Iran's state television reports. According to Reuters, the death toll is unofficial as an official count has not been released. 

The unrest followed the death Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman who is said to have fallen into a coma in police custody after her arrest for not following Iran's strict conservative dress codes.

Amini was interrogated at the Vozara detention center, where she reportedly experienced blows to the head while under interrogation. Authorities claim she died of natural causes, but critics are skeptical.

You may have seen the meme (one of many, really) showing a split screen. On one side, it says, "Iran before the Revolution," with pictures of very Western-looking young Iranian women. On the other side, it says, "Iran after the Revolution," and it shows nothing but women covered in burqas.* Well, it turns out there's been something of a meme war going on all this time; some versions of this meme stress that traditional dress was actually a thing in the pre-Revolution days, i.e., not much changed over the years. Whether or not that's true, the fact is that a young Kurdish woman was singled out for violating a strict dress code. Whether she paid the ultimate price because of the dress code or because of her ethnicity (the Kurds have been put upon wherever they've formed communities) is hard to say. The upshot is that a lot of cities are sites of huge anti-government demonstrations right now.

Whether all of this adds up to revolutionary fervor driven by a grassroots desire to return to secularism is yet to be seen. We Americans have been hopeful, in the past, that the Iranian people would rise up and break their shackles, but time and again, the opportunity for overthrow has come and gone, with the status quo remaining the status quo. 

It's a bit like watching China or North Korea—always hoping the people will wake up, rise up, and shatter their oppressive governments. It never happens, and the reason could be as simple as Life trumps liberty—and I want to live. Would I lay down my own life in such conditions? With the way things are going all over the world—increased surveillance states resulting in dwindling privacy and ever-shrinking rights—the suffocating pall of totalitarianism is upon us, and more and more, it's looking as though the only real solution will come from taking up arms, cracking skulls, and burning down governments. I'm still young enough to engage in such a thing, but would I have the intestinal fortitude to do so? I don't know. I'd like to think that, when the rubber meets the road, I won't be a coward when the trumpet sounds, but up to now, this is a moral test I haven't yet directly faced. 

For the moment, I'm safe in Korea, but even here, postmodernist thinking has infiltrated academe, and leftists who sympathize with North Korea brazenly show their faces and make their loony pronouncements. The rot reached these peninsular shores years ago, and even Korea will soon be riddled with metastases. It doesn't help that Korea offers its citizens no Second Amendment rights, so acquiring a gun, should things become chaotic, may mean... appropriating one from someone else.

Meanwhile, I'll continue to watch Iran with morbid curiosity, but I seriously doubt this current affair will end with Iran's government being toppled and replaced.

when dressing like a tablecloth was the in thing

one of those "not much has changed" memes

an obvious step backward

another leftist counter to supposed rightie stereotypes

a rightie's dark vision of the future

Does this hint at something cyclical?

__________

*Burqas cover the whole body, but in Iran, it's the hijab, which covers the head and shoulders, usually without covering the face, that is compulsory.



the Korean version of Mountain House meals?

Mountain House makes awesome trail meals, and they all work pretty much the same way: pour boiling water into the food bag, seal the bag, wait ten or so minutes, and Bob's your uncle. Some pro hikers find this sort of thing monotonous after a while, but I'm not a pro hiker: I'm a dog who's happy with whatever slop comes his way at the end of the day.

Koreans of course have their own versions of this sort of meal. So far, the only meal I've seen has been bibimbap, but it's damn good, and it tastes even better at the end of a long day of walking. Hunger is the best sauce, right? Over at my walk blog, I talk about how I'll be using these Korean meals to help get me through the one day on the Jeju Olle trail when I won't have easy access to a restaurant.



Monday, September 26, 2022

maybe they shouldn't

The Italians are calling the election for Giorgia Meloni and her coalition of right-wing parties. For the first time in a long time, the Italian national assembly with be dominated by conservatives, which has the EU ominously warning that Italy had better not try anything "undemocratic"—ironic coming from an organization with so many unelected officials. Meanwhile, The Liberty Daily has an article up: "Every Republican Should Hear New Italian PM Giorgia Meloni’s Message and Make It Their Platform." The "message" in question comes from a recent speech by Meloni. Here's the crucial excerpt:

Yes to natural families, no to the LGBT lobby, yes to sexual identity, no to gender ideology, yes to the culture of life, no to the abyss of death, no to the violence of Islam, yes to safer borders, no to mass immigration, yes to work for our people.

I can agree with some of this message, but other parts of it give me the creeps. Let's go down the list, shall we? 

Natural families: as opposed to what? Adoptive families? What counts as unnatural?

The LGBT lobby: to the extent that the lobby might in any way try to enforce something like a grooming agenda on the larger populace, OK, when I vote no, too. To the extent that "the LGBT lobby" is composed of marginalized people who are merely fighting for their right to be treated as normal folks, I can't get behind this.

Sexual identity: if we're talking about recognizing XX-chromosome people as women and XY-chromosome people as men, without there being an ever-changing constellation of pronouns, well, my heart tends toward Occam's Razor, so I'd appreciate some simplification. At the same time, since I see sex and gender as separate realities and separate issues, I'm OK with, for example, calling a drag queen "she" as a label for a gender role. Things get dicier when people want to force me to use bizarre, made-up pronouns like zyr, or to use they in the singular. My tolerance of linguistic bending and twisting can go only so far.

Gender ideology: I'm probably okay with this if we're talking about other people forcing me to confirm their self-image and getting offended when I either refuse to do so or make a simple mistake (e.g., misgendering). As they say: forced speech isn't free speech.

Culture of life: I don't even know what this means. Is it a reference to the pro-life, anti-abortion stance? If so, then I'm on the fence as I haven't thought the issue through thoroughly. Is "culture of life" simply a libertarian affirmation of personal choice and the freedom to do whatever as long as one isn't hurting anyone else? If so, I can get behind that.

Abyss of death: Again, whafuck? Is this a reference to abortion? Gun violence? What?

Violence of Islam: I'll give a big yes to this one. While there are undoubtedly many peaceful and peace-loving Muslims out there, along with plenty of Muslims who do make an effort to integrate into the larger pluralistic community, the fact remains that international terrorism is still pretty much a 100% Muslim phenomenon. Islam needs to deal with this problem and learn how to play better with others.

Safer borders: yup. Total agreement here. Italy is lucky to be mostly surrounded by water and to have countries like Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia dominating its northern frontier. France, not so much.

Mass immigration: again, total agreement.

Work for our people: this sounds consistent with Trump's America First attitude. For Trump, this is a holdover of 90s-Democrat thinking; it's the Republicans who have long been the globalists, always looking for cheap labor overseas or across a border. (Of course, "woke" leftie companies like Apple seem to have no problem recruiting what is effectively slave labor in places like China, so this isn't just a rightie-globalist thing.)

All in all, I can get behind some of what Meloni is talking about. Personally, I would drop the conservative obsession with sexual reproduction and orientation, although I'd want to keep minority ideologies, like LGBT, from dominating the public discourse. LGBT views are way overrepresented as things stand. The final four planks of Meloni's speech, though, would be front and center for me: a strong response to Islamic encroachment, strong borders, limited immigration (allowing in only those who would be of benefit to our country—not the stupid, lazy, shiftless, or America-hating), and nationalist priorities when it comes to work.

So Meloni's speech is a mixed bag to me, and if Republicans want to rope in a wider set of voters, they need to get over their obsession with sex and focus on winning issues like those mentioned in the previous paragraph.



another Kevin's Walk 6 post is up

See here.



a less wild-eyed take on China

This is another The Epoch Times article that's listed as premium, and while I'll link to it, know that it's probably behind a paywall (I paid a dollar for a two-month subscription to the news service), so I'll quote a good chunk of it here.

Xi’s Absence From Public Eye Ahead of Third Term Bid Fuels Speculation

More than a week ago, Chinese leader Xi Jinping embarked on a three-day trip to Central Asia to mark his sphere of influence. He has since been out of the public eye, skipping a high-level military meeting and the annual United Nations General Assembly.

With China only weeks away from its 20th National Congress, during which Xi is set to pursue an unprecedented third term, his absence has gone on long enough to attract attention from keen political watchers, with some even speculating that he has been placed under house arrest.

By Sept. 24, Xi had become one of the top trending topics on Twitter. His name appeared on hashtags more than 42,000 times, and the term “China coup” circulated 9,300 rounds on the platform.

“New [rumor] to be checked out: Is Xi [Jinping] under house arrest in Beijing?” wrote Subramanian Swamy, a former Indian Cabinet minister and Parliament member.

Such speculation also comes as Chinese nationals noted mass flight cancellations across the country. Nearly 10,000 flights—almost two-thirds of those scheduled for the day—were called off on Sept. 24, the same day that a key conference on national defense and military reform was convened in Beijing.

Weibo, China’s top social media platform, swiftly censored discussions about the flight cancellations, declaring them to be “rumors.”

Xi, who returned to China’s capital on Sept. 16 after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a regional summit in Central Asia, didn’t appear at the Beijing meeting but relayed instructions that the armed forces should focus on preparing for war. Similarly missing was Wei Fenghe, Xi’s handpicked Chinese military general currently serving as the country’s defense minister.

His public activities since then have chiefly consisted of a greeting letter to mark the Chinese Farmers’ Harvest Festival on Sept. 22 and another the following day to China News Service, congratulating the state media outlet on the 70th anniversary of its founding.

No major Chinese media outlets or officials have come out to refute the rumors; the reach of the theory, however unsubstantiated, reflects a certain degree of anger inside the country, some analysts say.

“It’s a show of discontent,” Wang He, a U.S.-based commentator on China’s current affairs, told The Epoch Times. “It seems that people are counting to the day for him to fall from power.”

While Xi has all but secured his third term, many people haven’t reconciled with his continued stay in power, Wang said.

China analyst Gordon Chang deemed a coup to be unlikely, pointing to the lack of supporting evidence on the ground.

“I don’t think there was a coup,” Chang told The Epoch Times. “Because if there were a coup, we would see, for instance, a lot of military vehicles in the center of Beijing. There have been no reports of that. Also, there probably would be a declaration of martial law that has not occurred.

“So it seems that something is happening but we don’t know exactly what. There have been too many events that have occurred to happen without a turbulence inside the senior leadership of the Communist Party and the military.

“In the communist system, when a leader dies, generally we don’t know about it for a week or so because everyone is trying to wrangle to the top slot and subordinate positions. So that very well could be one example of something that has occurred right now. We’re just waiting but there are many possibilities.”

He also noted that the only thing that can dispel some of the speculations is if Xi comes out to speak in public.

So I guess we're all in wait-and-see mode, then.



Matt Walsh gets it

I'm not necessarily the biggest fan of Matt Walsh, who can be pugnacious and unnecessarily confrontational, but I think he nails it in this YouTube Shorts video when Ben Shapiro asks him a theological question that Walsh turns into a discussion of the concept of love. 

If you're looking for love, it's a good idea to know what love is first. Love is not selfish: it's about desiring the spiritual growth of your partner, caring for him/her, and valuing that person more than you value yourself. If you can't get past yourself, you will never find love. Love is not a mere feeling: feelings come and go. Love can be thought of as action, or perhaps more deeply, love is the fundamental, soul-deep orientation leading to actions that contribute to your loved one's growth. Misunderstand this at your peril.



the Italian red wave

It appears that Italy is poised to undergo a wave of conservatism in its elections, and this includes some "Italexit" factions that have had enough of EU bullying. I've long been an advocate for the breakup of the EU, which was put in place with more-or-less good intentions, but which is a transnational entity that European countries, as a whole, are not ready for. Give it another few centuries before you try to unify all of Europe under one umbrella.





Nerd Cookies takes on Galadriel (+ 1 more vid)

Nerd Cookies has come out with Part 2 of her takedown of "The Rings of Power," and for such a gentle-voiced little pixie (no idea whether she looks like a pixie; she could be 300 pounds for all I know), she's pretty brutal.

Your bonus video comes courtesy of British commentator Disparu, who focuses on the moral repugnance of the Galadriel that's being given to the audience.

I'm not watching the series, so I can't say this from firsthand knowledge, but it seems a lot of the criticism is coalescing around the thoroughly unlikeable character of Galadriel. Disparu, above, does make an effort to separate Galadriel—at least somewhat—from the actress playing her, Morfydd Clark, although Clark does come in for a beating regarding her lack of varied facial expressions. Her default expression, based on the many stills and video clips I've seen, is always somewhere in the neighborhood of stern/annoyed/scornful. How much of that is Clark's fault, and how much comes from how the actress is being directed? Hard to say.

Having relayed a ton of critical commentary about this series, I'm going to throttle back, now, and wait for Part 3 of Miss Nerd Cookies's* criticism (if she does a Part 3). The Critical Drinker has said he won't give a full rundown and assessment of the show until he's finished the whole season, so I'll wait for his video as well. Those will probably be the last two videos about "the Rings of Power" that I'll be posting. The point has been made: Amazon shat out a billion-dollar turd that fails in almost every way, and I personally am happy not to be wasting my time watching it. Reading and watching the criticism has been a lot more fun.

__________

*If a noun is in the plural, and you want to add a possessive apostrophe, you normally just attach the apostrophe to the end of the word, e.g., the robbers' stash. I was therefore stumped, at first, re: how to handle "Nerd Cookies," which is already in the plural, but which is also a proper name for a single person. I chose to stick with the proper-name route, so I treated "Nerd Cookies" as a proper name ending in -s, like Jones or Williams. There's some stylistic wiggle room when it comes to names ending in -s, but I always default to making the genitive form of s-final names by adding apostrophe-s: Jones's, Williams's, Nerd Cookies's.



a few YouTube Shorts to watch

YouTube Shorts are, as the name implies, short videos on a loop, i.e., you watch them for a minute or so, and they start over. These short vids target about the same attention-deficit market as Vines used to, or as TikTok videos do now. Being as brusque and to-the-point as tweets on Twitter, these vids can be seen as either utterly lacking substance or getting right to the essence of the matter. You decide. Anyway, here's a sampler of some YouTube Shorts for you to try on for size.

The Liberals May Have Won TV, But Conservatives Won the Internet

Amala Ekpunobi: So Many of Us Bought This Lie

Ex-liberal Exposes Leftist Hypocrisy

The above obviously represents a rightward skew, but YouTube Shorts are made for people of all political persuasions and all senses of humor. If you don't like the above selection, you can find something that fits more with your own perspective. 

The tech hasn't developed to the point where I can simply embed a short here on the blog. Maybe there's some cynical, marketing-related reason for that. I don't know.


can this really be true?

Google the following search string: 

"leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 18 and 45"

I really am out of touch. I mean, I knew fentanyl was a problem, and I knew the Chinese were largely behind the trafficking of drugs across the US-Mexico border, but damn—the leading cause of death for that age group? A commenter at Instapundit wrote:

This is a demand problem, not a supply problem, always has been. Ten million more cops and border guards are powerless to make Americans not want to put this shit in their bodies.

I agree. As I wrote in response:

Hate to say it, but I think you're right. It's the left that thinks human freedom doesn't exist, which is why they mocked Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No."

What? Exercise free will? The hell you say! scoffs the left. So much for being "pro-choice."



Sunday, September 25, 2022

surreal, absurdist comedy is still a thing, thank God

I don't always agree with CrackerMilk's politics, but I love the unrepentantly surrealist humor.



rule #1

Billed as Rule Number One in Miyagi-do karate:

Miyagi translates this, in his awkward, non-native English, as "Karate for defense only." The Chinese characters literally say (with Korean pronunciation), gong su mu seon su. Rendered word for word, this is, "empty hand no first hand." Said more naturally, and recognizing that the phrase "empty hand" means karate (kara-te = empty hand), the phrase is saying that a karate practitioner never strikes first. The logical implication is that karate is meant for defense. This is the diametrical opposite of the Cobra Kai motto, which is Strike First, Strike Hard, No Mercy. The mu character (無, 무) is an existential qualifier signifying absence. While it can sometimes mean a negation like not (as in, This is not a pipe), it more usually means no, as when we say There are no supplies here or You are no Jack Kennedy (cf. German kein). So in a loose sense, the Miyagi proverb is saying, The karate hand is no first-striker.



another hilarious satire

Gandalf roasts Episode 5 of 'The Rings of Power":





alas

The evening finds me in my studio apartment. I decided not to go walking, which leaves me with two days to get in one last bit of training before the main event. 

I'm not worried about the distances I'll be walking on Jeju-do, but I am worried about how the difficult terrain (6 days of 17 rated "difficult") will sap my strength. The worst-case scenario is that I end up so beaten that I arrive at the end of the day's route extremely late—say, 5 or 6 p.m. In that event, I probably won't eat, but I can survive a day or two without eating, and without loss of energy thanks to all the fat stored on my body. As the Architect said in "The Matrix Reloaded," There are levels of survival we are prepared to accept. That's me: Mr. Acceptable Levels of Survival Guy.

At AccuWeather, the day-by-day forecast is showing rain for Saturday (I'll be doing Course 4 that day: 19K and rated "difficult"). That might change, but it's a reminder to prepare for inclement weather. To that end, I'll be taking my poncho and jacket along. I'll still end up soaked, either from my own sweat or from the rain, but what the hell.

I had taken the leftovers from Friday's party and made up an American breakfast for me and JW to dine on after we got back from today's walk, but with no JW to partake, I'm sitting down to this meal alone. That's how it goes sometimes.



more images


Of course, to get the humor in the following meme, you need to know something about "Better Call Saul" and "She-Hulk." Kim Wexler (played by Rhea Seehorn) is a complex character on "Better Call Saul," which was created by Vince Gilligan as a spinoff series to his successful "Breaking Bad." "She-Hulk" is a Marvel TV series written by a team of young feminist writers, and it's being pilloried for its cringey comedy as well as its hypocrisy: the principal female characters complain about the patriarchy, the male gaze, and being valued only for their bodies. Meanwhile, whenever She-Hulk appears, she's praised for the shape of her ass, and she twerks sexily with popular raps stars in an obvious bid to make men value her for her body. Kim Wexler is a smart, capable, complex character; She-Hulk (who is also supposed to be a lawyer) is an incoherent mess—a perfect reflection of the muddled feminist mindset.


The sort of naughty humor seen below is considered un-PC these days (sexual assault!), but back in the 80s, I would've called this... French humor.



the inevitable monkey wrench

Aha! I knew there'd be a problem. JW texted to say he can't make it today (sick), so I guess I'll be walking to Bundang alone tonight if I walk at all. And that's that. I wonder if JW is simply going to cancel his own trip to Jeju. That's not out of the realm of possibility.



from the PowerLine Week in Pictures










the last discussion

JW and I plan to meet later today to do a walk down to Bundang (18K). This will be our last opportunity to discuss our respective plans face to face regarding Jeju-do (we can always chat via Kakao Talk later if need be). I still don't know JW's travel dates, and it's possible he doesn't know them, either, so after our walk, we're going to train back to my place, sit in front of my lovely new Macintosh computer, and hash out some details. Well, that's how the day will go in my mind, but JW will, as he usually does, probably have other plans.

There are things for JW to consider in arranging his visit: the weather, the difficulty levels of the segments he'll be hiking, etc. He plans to catch me at some point during my walk, which will probably mean arriving the night before he plans to walk, staying overnight in a motel, yeogwan, minbak, or pension, then meeting up with me in the morning and walking whatever course I've set for myself that day. He's going to have to arrange his lodging separately, and even if we were coordinating this together, I'd advocate for separate lodging, anyway: JW's my bud, but we ain't sleeping together, thanks. Besides, he doesn't need to be party to what I do at the end of a hiking day: all the blogging and pic-uploading and whatnot (followed by a lot of YouTube- or Netflix-watching*). And I'll likely be too tired to socialize. Besides, if we're walking together all day, we'll both be wanting quiet time in the afternoon and evening.

One concern for me is whether JW will be able to wake up at 5 a.m. and be out the door by 5:30. I'm not normally a morning person, but something weird happens when I go on these walks: I become my best self—early to bed, and early to rise. Waking up at 5 a.m. isn't usually a problem for me when I'm on vacation, although I have been known to start late on occasion. I think JW might need some prompting every morning, but I plan to tell him that it'll be up to him to wake up on time: if he's not ready to go by 5:30, I'll be leaving without him. And since he's a faster walker, he can catch up to me. My understanding is that the Olle courses are all well marked, so he probably won't get lost.

There's a lot to iron out, but if things go awry, well, here in Korea, things have a weird way of working out even when everything's a mess. I'll report back later once JW has some definite travel dates for me.

___________

*I'm currently watching "Rick & Morty" via Apple TV, which I can't access via my phone, so I'll have to binge once I'm back from my Jeju walk.



interlude: baked Alaska

Not a dessert I ever plan to make, but a baked Alaska is certainly fun to eat:





Joe Biden's supposedly "creepy" gaffe

By now, everyone's heard that Joe Biden said the line, "She was 12; I was 30" during a speech to a group of teachers at a National Education Association meeting in DC. More Creepy Joe, right? Well, it would certainly fit a pattern of creepiness, but as we look more deeply into the context of that moment (in which Biden was calling on someone he saw), I think the more solid interpretation is that Joe doesn't really know how to tell a joke. He's made plenty of out-of-touch, off-color remarks before throughout his long and illustrious career as a do-fuck-all politician, and I don't think that this latest verbal gaffe is quite as creepy as Joe's opponents think it is. There are plenty of reasons to criticize Biden, who is by no means a competent—or even a legitimate—president, but this incident is, in my opinion, not one of those reasons. 

I mean, come on, man!



ululate!

Louise Fletcher, probably best known for her roles as Nurse Ratched in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Next" and Kai Winn in the Star Trek TV series "Deep Space Nine," has died in her home in France at the age of 88. Fletcher was a CODA—a child of deaf adults. Her father, an Episcopalian reverend, established 40-some churches for the deaf, and Fletcher herself advocated for the deaf and the hearing-impaired. 

Fletcher also played a crucial role in the spooky film "Brainstorm," where her character, Dr. Lillian Reynolds, uses a special device that records sensory and emotional experiences to record her experience of death by heart attack. The record of this experience is sought by various agencies, with Christopher Walken's character, Dr. Michael Brace, finally undergoing the experience of someone else's death. Lillian's consciousness continues after her physical body has died, and Michael is thus able to experience Lillian's afterlife. I saw "Brainstorm" when I was just a kid, and its imagery has stayed with me all of these years. I didn't see "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" until I was in college, and I never watched enough "Deep Space Nine" to get into the character of Kai Winn, an evil Bajoran priestess with dark political ambitions. So "Brainstorm" is the film I most associate with Louise Fletcher.

Fletcher, with her striking eyes, flashing teeth, and somewhat strict, unpleasant-looking face, was often typecast in baddie roles, but if you visit Wikipedia, you'll see that her filmography is, in reality, pretty long and varied. While I can't quite call myself a Fletcher fan since I never followed her career that closely, I've always been impressed by Fletcher when I've seen her. She had presence. Finding out about her advocacy for deaf people makes her passing all the more poignant. She tried to do some good in the world.

RIP, Louise.



Saturday, September 24, 2022

Trump interviews Biden (edited video)





China rumor: Xi Jinping either arrested or making mass arrests

China has maintained its irrational and ineffective "zero COVID" policy for a while, now, and a rumor has begun circulating that China's leader Xi Jinping either has been arrested or is doing the arresting of a huge number of rivals who represent a potential threat to his power as party elections gear up. I saw this rumor a day ago and have no confirmation of any substance, but supporters of the rumor cite (1) a major reduction in air traffic over Chinese airspace and (2) the presence of a People's Liberation Army convoy stretching up to 80 km and heading toward Beijing as signs that something big is going on in China. How people are putting these bits of information together and concluding there's a palace coup going on, I have no idea.

I found an article about flight cancelations on Epoch Times Premium, which is likely behind a paywall, so here's a partial quote:

Mass Cancellation of Flights Across China; Reasons Unclear

Nearly 60 percent of flights across China were canceled Wednesday, according to state media.

Flight Master said 9,583 flights had been canceled nationwide as of 22.35 p.m. on Sept. 21, accounting for 59.66 percent of those total scheduled journeys of the day, reported China.com.

[...]

There is no official explanation on China’s top aviation body’s website.

But Netease, a major news portal in China, wrote yesterday that the cancellations were mainly due to recent COVID-19 flare-ups in multiple provinces in China.

Former Chinese investigative reporter Zhao Lanjian tweeted yesterday that he’d contacted an aviation professional in China.

He wrote in his tweet that “the reason [for the mass cancellations] is unclear, but [the mass cancellations] are true,” and that such a nationwide mass cancellation was “very rare.”

According to Zhao’s tweet: “This mass cancellation of flights must be a military directive. Air traffic control authority is decided by the Chinese military, which in turn gives instructions to civil aviation management. The airspace is set aside so that military aircraft can fly at will. This is military planning, or at least with military prep.”

A tweet by reporter Jennifer Zeng is one major source of the rumor about Xi:

I regularly watch China Uncensored on YouTube, and one thing the channel has long covered is the ongoing internal power struggle between current leader Xi, on one side, and Jiang Zemin on the other. Xi's grip on power is tenuous at best; there's plenty of infighting, even with Jiang being 96 years old. Is it possible that there's been a coup by Jiang's faction? It's certainly conceivable, but with China being as secretive as North Korea in many respects, we who live outside of China probably won't know anything resembling the truth anytime soon, if ever. But if, in a few months, the new "face of China" turns out to be someone other than Xi, then at that point, we'll know something big went down. With the CCP party congress happening in October, it's possible that Xi will be granted a third term, and Xi is apparently angling, in some way, to become president for life à la Vladimir Putin.

Power struggles in China aren't a sign of hope for Westerners concerned about human-rights issues: as The Who sang in "Won't Get Fooled Again": here's the new boss... same as the old boss. The people of China will still be under the yoke of the state no matter who's at the helm. Until the people gather up the courage to overthrow the government and the entire communist system (unlikely), nothing is ever going to change. (I could, at this point in history, say the same for the US.) Upshot: the flight cancelations and the 80-kilometer convoy could be much ado about nothing (do we even know how or why the PLA convoy is being associated with a coup?), or it could signify something big. Stay tuned.

ADDENDUM: I saw some derisively skeptical reactions to Zeng's tweet. I'm skeptical, too.

ADDENDUM 2: from The Liberty Daily:

No, There Was Not a Military Coup in China, and Xi Jinping Is Not Under House Arrest After Being Removed From CCP Leadership

There is always a fine line between being at the cutting edge of the news cycle and falling for a hoax. The internet moves fast and many news outlets like ours strive to be among the first to report when news breaks. The days when corporate media always got the scoops are behind us as citizen journalists and alternative media networks can move more nimbly.

Of course, there’s also the risk of spreading false rumors. Sometimes it just takes one credible source speculating about a report to get news agencies to jump.

The latest example of a “bombshell” circulating across some independent news outlets is that Chinese President Xi Jinping has been placed under house arrest following a military coup and has been removed from Chinese Communist Party leadership. The “evidence” thus far has been focused on three things:

    1. Massive number of flights canceled over the last three days
    2. Military vehicles seen on the highway
    3. Gossip among U.S. intelligence sources

Then, there’s “hopium” — the desire that often translates into an addiction for positive news of any sort during times of duress. I would love nothing more than to post a retraction to this story, giddily declaring Xi is out. Unfortunately, that’s very unlikely to happen, but several alternative news outlets are running with the story anyway.

[The rest of the article is worth reading. There's an insinuation that the rumor may have come from Xi himself, and some experts are quoted as saying the Xi-under-arrest rumor might be false, but something strange is definitely happening inside the CCP.]

Get familiar with the slang terms hopium and copium, both of which have been in circulation for a while. As you can guess, they're derived from the words hope and cope, making a portmanteau with opium, and they have to do with the seductive and destructive power of both. People are talking, for example, about Democrats indulging in copium by writing positive articles about Democrat Katie Hobbs as Republican Kari Lake's prospects in Arizona continue to improve with the gubernatorial election drawing ever nearer.