Wednesday, July 19, 2017

"no money, no culture, no time"

Bamseom Pirates, "Uber Oui"

"'Korean society continually asks you the question of, "Whose side are you on?" and forces you to really come out and reveal what stance you have whether it’s politics or whatever,' Jung said. 'And I really feel like that also shows quite a violent side of society.'"
They don't shy away from politics either:
“When you take a look into the South Korean society, there are a lot of other issues beneath the surface,' he told me. 'There’s a lot of class struggle and economic struggles and generational conflicts as well.'
The refusal of Korean society to address these very real issues in favor of 'communist vs. anticommunist' rhetoric has left Korean youth pissed off. (In the film, Jang describes the three big issues facing Korean youth: no money, no culture, no time.) They are tired of the zealous performative nationalism and capitalist-driven misery imposed on them. In fact, they threw a president out of office over it."
I can't claim to understand the entirety of the political situation in South Korea, but the song and video are rad.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Game of Thrones!

The season seven premiere was excellent, hitting high notes at both the beginning and the very end. (I'm starting to warm up to Emilia Clarke's performance which until recently had been kind of flat and lifeless).

And more Lyanna Mormont, pretty please.

Also, there've been some tortured attempts to draw analogies between the Trump Family Mafia and the Lannisters.

Nope.  Not gonna happen.

The Lannisters are way smarter and more stylish.

Trump is, at best, Vargo Hoat.  Or Shitmouth.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

(this is good)

The Black Person's Guide To Game of Thrones:
"Wait. Is everything about white people?
Exactly! But Game of Thrones teaches us that not all white people are the same. That’s what I’m trying to show you, if you’d stop being so racist!
Me? How am I being ... OK, so are there any black people on the show?
Yes. There is a group of castrated warriors who were once slaves, called the Unsullied.
What? Let me guess, they were freed by ...
White people. Yes. A blond lady named Daenerys, who is impervious to fire, was born with the ability to ride dragons and was gifted at birth with dragon eggs that would eventually hatch. Daenerys rode the dragons (or her privilege) to save the slaves. And of course, after she frees them from lives dedicated to fighting in wars for their masters, they decide to spend their lives fighting for her—their 'queen'—and help her ride her privilege dragons all the way to the Iron Throne."

"I can see your life disintegrating / Into ashes in your hand"

Husker Du, "Friend, You've Got To Fall"

And no, I'm not exactly giddy about Fredo coughing up the family secrets.  There's still a long ways to go, and at the end of the day as long as Republicans can push through further tax cuts for Paris Hilton they do not care about guarding the integrity of our democratic institutions.

But I'm cautiously optimistic.  More leaks are coming, both from within the White House (spite, jealousy, back-stabbing) and from outside (revenge of the deep state).

Monday, July 10, 2017

It Comes As No Surprise

A majority of Republicans now think universities have a "negative effect" on the U.S.:
"A majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (58%) now say that colleges and universities have a negative effect on the country, up from 45% last year. By contrast, most Democrats and Democratic leaners (72%) say colleges and universities have a positive effect, which is little changed from recent years."
George W. Bush went to Yale and Harvard.  Mitt Romney?  Harvard.  For fuck's sake, even Cheeto Hitler went to Penn.  Not just four year degrees, but four year and graduate Ivy degrees.

As others have noted, this major shift has happened within the past two years.

America is truly in a race to the bottom, and 35 percent of the country is actively cheering on our collapse into a third-world plutocracy.

"Dumbfuckistan" indeed.

Sunday, July 9, 2017


Friday, July 7, 2017

"world’s most obvious Oberlin alum Lena Dunham"

Drew Magary is almost always good.  On Lena Dunham and her insane dog story, he's golden:
"HOLY SHIT. She’s going toe-to-toe with a no-kill shelter! WHO DOES THAT? I’m ready to question everything now. Is there REALLY an L.A. facility called Zen Dog? Why was Lamby drinking his own piss when he arrived? 'Wow, this unstable dog that I’ve been the custodian of for four years was definitely traumatized by the PREVIOUS three owners, yessir.' Did Lamby REALLY find a new home? Where is Lamby, dammit? WHERE IS LAMBY, LENA?! Tell you what: that facility is gonna get two crazyass breeder dogs dumped on it four years from now."
"Walking New York Times hateread" is good.

"World's most obvious Oberlin alum" is better.

Go Kenyon!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


National Public Radio re-tweeted the Declaration of Independence in 140 character bite-size capsules.  "Real" Americans responded as only they can:
"For the past 29 years, National Public Radio (NPR) has broadcast on-air readings of the declaration.
This year, the NPR Twitter account decided to do things a little differently but the exercise was lost on many.
Clearly unaware of what the tweets were, a number of Twitter users slammed NPR for tweeting 'trash' and accused the organisation of trying to push an agenda."
But hey, if only out-of-touch libruls like me had been nicer to these people they wouldn't have been forced to vote Trump.

Baby Steps On Employment

The new president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, is trying to make a dent in the country's notoriously nepotistic and elitist hiring system for government workers:
"Public institutions under the central government are reportedly planning to make new hires of 10,000 employees in the second half of this year. 
This includes Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco), which plans the number of new hires: 718. The health and welfare sector is planning 1,250 new hires followed by the energy sector with 929. 
The new job application form will not have a space for a picture or ask where an applicant was born, family relations - such as who their father is and where he works - or height or weight. 
Companies that hold exams will be allowed to require applicants to post photos in order to identify the applicant during the testing process. 
In job interviews, companies will not be allowed to ask personal information of applicants."
This is very good news for a number of reasons, but as with many things here there's a good chance of back-sliding into the old ways.

First off, government jobs (like ones in the US) are generally quite stable and offer good benefits.

Unlike the US, government jobs are also quite prestigious.  The testing process is rigorous and the positions are held in fairly high regard.

As for resumes, I've mentioned that I do a fair amount of mock visa interviews, which includes helping students with them and also their cover letters.  What's still striking to me is just how different Korean resumes are from American ones.

For starters, a head-shot is mandatory.  This would be borderline illegal in the US outside of the entertainment industry.

Second, one of the first things you list are the names of your parents and grandparents.  I obviously don't understand all of the intricacies, but your immediate family connections are crucial to finding a good job in Korea.  This happens in America as well, obviously, but it's much less blatant.

So, I'm all for these changes but, as mentioned, let's hope it's not another decent idea that gets ignored when put into practice.  It would be easy enough to save the family / physical appearance issues for later in the interview process of course.

Pressing Life Questions

Medeski, Martin, Wood, w/ John Scofield live 2015

Is enjoying the hell out of MMW and John Scofield too close to enjoying jam-bands for me to retain my hipster card?


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

I Wish This Wasn't A Serious Question

Happy Fourth of July!

X, "4th of July" live

/insert snarky post about how, despite its many flaws, America has a lot of good things going for it just kidding it's a fucking dumpster fire filled with hateful, racist idiots and we'll all be dead soon so fuck it all

Friday, June 30, 2017

"the diner is a very democratic place"

A sad and poignant little article on the decline and probable death of the New York City diner and coffee shop:
"Among members of this comfort-food-obsessed, single-origin-bean generation, it’s become fashionable to mourn the passing of this old diner culture. In the past few years, the closings have spread, from Manhattan (the famous Cafe Edison in the Theater District, La Taza de Oro in Chelsea, the Lyric Diner in Gramercy Park), into the outer-boroughs (the Del Rio Diner in Gravesend, the El Greco in Sheepshead Bay), and lamentations in the food press and on the blogs have reached a fever pitch. But in a world filled with a dizzying numbers of choices — an array of options on everything from $25 chef burgers, to how you like your Ethiopian coffee dripped and what shade of almond milk you’d like to pour in it, to what kind of artisanal pork you desire on your haute breakfast sandwich — the diner has become more of a symbol and a curiosity than a regular place to eat. 'I grew up on iceberg lettuce, but this new generation knows that iceberg is the butt of all lettuces,' says Griffin Hansbury, who writes under the pseudonym Jeremiah Moss, and whose forthcoming book, Vanishing New York: How a Great City Lost Its Soul, chronicles these slowly disappearing institutions. 'For me, the diner is a very democratic place,' he says. But in this new, more moneyed era where it’s fashionable to say that everyone’s a restaurant critic, and arugula replaced iceberg as the green of choice long ago, this new class of eaters favors what he diplomatically calls a 'more curated dining experience.'”
It was pretty understandable when the Carnegie Deli shut down --  a 20 dollar pastrami sandwich wasn't the greatest business model.  But it's sad to think that the lesser known neighborhood type places are also on the way out.  The world always seems to be getting a little less colorful, a little less strange.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Revolution Will Be Podcasted

Starting at about 20:00 here's an interview with China Mieville about his new work of non-fiction on the Russian Revolution, October.

Some interesting listening as I finish my final load of paperwork for the semester, and I've got the book downloaded on my tablet for vacation reading in August.

(Courtesy of Chapo Trap House.)

Friday, June 23, 2017

"determind to transform themselves into human cannonballs"

From Under The Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk:
"There was a lot of adrenaline churning around, yes, but mostly we were a ragged pack of kooky people in pursuit of genius and fun.  This came to a screeching halt when Black Flag and the rest of the South Bay crew on SST Records came roaring onto the scene.  Greg Ginn founded SST in 1978, but it wasn't until the early eighties that its ascendancy began, and when it did, it unleashed a furious wave of testosterone on the scene that was crushing.  Women were the first to leave -- there was no place for them in the world of hardcore punk; gays and sensitive artist types went next, and the audience began to change.  People who went to punk shows in the early days were respectful, they listened, and they were genuinely interested in the band onstage, even if they'd seen the same band four nights earlier.  We knew we'd always see something new, partly because these were mostly not professional musicians, and nobody did the same show twice, because they weren't able to.  Professionalism came later for some, but in the beginning the scene was truly experimental, and the audience was tolerant and supportive.  With the arrival of hardcore, punk became a blood sport, and the mosh pit was colonized by sixteen-year-old boys with plaid flannel shirts tied around their waists, determined to transform themselves into human cannonballs." -- Kristine McKenna
"Now, if you wanted to ask me something, you could ask me about the backlash from the violence.  You could ask me if I mind the night terrors and the inability to be close to another.  You could ask me whether I could ever live vanilla when I had raped and slashed my way through he soft flesh of a rainbow.  I apologize for nothing.  I refuse to stand as some repentant fuck while the crimes of my past are read aloud in the court of post-punk history.  I love waking up afraid, and although I no longer hold those beliefs, I don't regret them." -- Jack Grisham (T.S.O.L.)
With a bit of simple editing (unless you're ee cummings please don't do no-caps, Mike Watt) this book could have been the Platonic ideal of a great music history read.  Compiled by John Doe, most of the stand-out chapters were by the women of the scene -- Kristine McKenna, Jane Wiedlin, Pleasant Gehman, and Charlotte Caffey.

Henry Rollins is always interesting as is his chapter, but unlike Jack Grisham he doesn't have much to say as to whether Black Flag and the other suburban punk groups "ruined" L.A. punk.  A lot of the people in this book seem to feel that way.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Yankee Go Home

Apparently there's going to be an anti-US protest in Seoul tomorrow.  Korea ex-pat Twitter went into convulsions over it.

Some scattered thoughts:

1)  According to Korea ex-pat Twitter, this is Moon Jae-in’s fault.  Unless he personally organized this, it’s not.  (Hint: he didn’t.)

2)  War with North Korea is now more likely than it has been since, well, 1953.  A Trump-led US will have no qualms about launching unilateral action against NK (i.e., not telling Seoul in advance) and (at best) tens of thousands of Seoul-ites will die.  If NK has a nuke, we all die.  So at the very least I think SK citizens have a right to protest the fact that the US is now led by a pussy-grabbing madman.

3) “But, but, Trump doesn’t represent all Americans!”  As of January 2017, yes he does.  Sorry, but speaking as a USian myself none of us gets to play the “not all Americans!” card any longer.  (Even if you voted for Jill Stein!)

4)  If you were inspired by the anti-PGH protests that led to her impeachment like I was, you can’t selectively get pissed off by anti-US protests.  It’s called democracy, stupid.

5)  THAAD is more about spying on China via radar than it is protecting South Korea from North Korea.  That was the plan all along.

6) Trump is one more scandal away from deciding to bomb either North Korea or Iran.  As far as the “strategic partnership” between SK and the US goes, it’s a bit of a shit sandwich for the country where people will actually die.  People have every right to protest shit sandwiches.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Not Good

The University of Virginia student who supposedly tried to steal a North Korean flag, was imprisoned and sentenced to 15 years hard labor, mysteriously fell into a coma, then returned to his parents in the U.S. in a vegetative state has died.

I've previously believed that companies like Koryo Tours, which basically set up trips for Westerners to get into North Korea, were basically harmless (despite the fact that their cash was being funneled directly into the DPRK military).  But it just seems like the height of foolishness to want to travel their now, let alone facilitate the next murder of a U.S. or British or Australian citizen.  (Their website and Twitter feed says nothing about the Warmbier case, albeit it's my understanding he traveled with another tour company.)

All I have to add is that Trump is desperate to find a reason to start a war with either North Korea or Iran.  North Korea was, on cue, more than happy to oblige.

I don't think it's too outrageous to expect war on the Korean peninsula before the start of 2018.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Samsung Fighting!

I made it to the ballpark, the new one, a few weeks back with some friends and adult students.  The Mighty Samsung Lions of Daegu (Korean pro teams go by the corporate sponsor's name) are having a hugely terrible season after four consecutive championships between 2011 and 2014.

The weather was perfect and given how bad the team is playing I was surprised at how crowded the game was.

Samsung actually won, beating the KIA Tigers 6-5 on a 10th inning walk-off single.

But a few things I noticed since last year -- the stadium really needs to increase the number of food and drink vendors.  A friend went to get food for all of us and was away for almost four innings.  Who knows what shenanigans are going on but one of the great things about the old ballpark downtown was the rows of ajumma selling friend chicken and cold beer outside of the stadium.

Also, take the subway.  The parking situation at the stadium for a weekend game is an absolute nightmare.  If you drive, your choice after the game will be to wait 45 minutes for a shuttle bus to the parking lot or walk 45 minutes over to the parking lot.  It's pretty ridiculous they didn't do basic planning to sort this stuff out, considering they intentionally build the stadium in the middle of nowhere to not have these sorts of issues in the first place.  Because Korea.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Living The Dream

"working for the man every night and day"

Ike and Tine, "Proud Mary" live

I've been in a really reflective mood lately about, well, pretty much everything.  (I blame inevitable Trump-initiated nuclear annihilation, but YMMV.)

So my job is "English teacher."  I mostly teach college students here at lovely Daegu Health College, but I also teach adults in a continuing education setting.

I usually have Friday afternoons off, but today I came in to do mock interviews with a group of students who are applying for jobs at a big new venture in Incheon (where the main airport is, near Seoul).  I actually do a lot of these kinds of things, and they're one of my favorite parts of the job.

Interacting with students outside of the classroom is always refreshing and usually positive, but these interviews really drive home what it means to be an English teacher abroad -- at best, you really are going to help some of these guys get jobs in new places.  And that means employment, which is always a good thing, but also new experiences, new girl- and boyfriends, new opportunities, and new vistas in general.

As mentioned, these students are applying for gigs near Seoul.  At other times of the year I do mock visa application interviews for students looking to study or work in Australia, Canada, or America.  Those are even more critical, and more satisfying for me.

So I guess this makes me the ultimate neoliberal shill or something, working to put cogs into place in the machinery of late global capitalism.

I can live with that.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Ex-Pat Life

You may or may not have a high tolerance for Vice (I happen to think they're the definition of hit-or-miss) but this short piece on American ex-pats and why they've chosen to continue living abroad is pretty good.

Looking back on almost a decade in South Korea, I think the big things (covered in the Vice article) remain true -- health care is critical, as is work / life balance.  No, my health coverage isn't free -- I pay roughly the equivalent of sixty dollars a month to have full (and mandatory) insurance as a legal alien.  Other than check-ups I've never actually been to a hospital here or had a medical emergency.  I had a bad cold once and picked up some very cheap and very infamous "blue pills" for a few dollars at a pharmacy (which are ubiquitous) and they did nothing.  Any ex-pat here in lovely Korea will tell you they are placebos.  Any Korean will tell you you will die within a few days without them.

I would mention, however, that I have heard many horror stories about dealing with shady doctors who tend to over-prescribe meds.  Then again, it's not much different than America in that regard.  But the worst stories routinely come from female ex-pats looking to maintain or update their contraception routine (either pills or IUD's) and dealing with doctors who simply won't write scrips for single women for that sort of thing.  That's an absolute nightmare of course, and one I wouldn't want to try and ignore.  To be blunt, you will catch a lot more shit here as a woman (native Korean or ex-pat) than you ever will as a dude, and it's a shame to think how carelessly certain Korean men don't care if they tarnish somebody's generally positive views of the nation as a whole due to their sexism and entitled dickishness in general.

As for work / life balance, working as an English instructor at a college automatically gives me over three months of vacation time a year, something that would never happen in the more common public school and private academy gigs.  Korea is actually quite horrible when it comes to employer expectations of how much free or vacation time a worker should have, but as a foreigner at a university I've definitely got my comfortable little bubble which allows me to visit my family every summer for a few weeks and to take a long vacation every winter.  Good and good.

But as a relative old-timer now, while solid, cheap health care and abundant vacation time is all good, I always come back to smaller things that I love about living here.  First off, the food -- not only is it delicious, but you can eat in a decent, sit-down restaurant and stuff your face with mostly home-made grub for less than five dollars.  I've pretty much given up on cooking because it's cheaper and easier just to enjoy one of the dozens of places near my apartment.  Oh, and delivery is free if you're too lazy to walk.  And no tipping, ever.  If something says it costs 5,000 won on the window in front, it's going to cost a total of 5,000 won ($4.50 USD).

Speaking of walking, I haven't had to fill a tank of gas, make a car payment, mail an insurance payment, fix a tail-light, get a new set of tires, or worry about some methed-out idiot keying my side doors just for chuckles in years.  This is heavenly.  Which is to say, if I ever move back to America the hardest thing for me will probably be having to buy a fucking car if I don't live in one of the few cities with decent public transport.  (Fun fact -- I actually do like to drive, but I hope to never own a car again.)

In Korea, you've got your basic bus and subway options.  You've got a bullet train between major cities that is clean and comfortable.  And you have an overabundance of cabs.  Mark my words -- you will never step into a dirty cab in South Korea, let alone one that's over five years old and has obvious brake problems and safety issues.  (DC represent!)  Want to guess why Uber failed to catch on here?  Each cab company already has a free on-call service.  And you'll probably never need to use it anyway.

So that's my take.  Are there problems?  Sometimes, yes, but every year here I've also made progress with the language, and that's taken care of most of them.  I also have a very solid (Korean) boss who lived in America for six years doing his Ph.D. and this has made a huge difference as well.  He understands how Western and Korean management styles differ, and it seems to me he's one of those rare exceptions who actually prefers the former (hands off, willing to engage in dialogue / with feedback from us workers, and maybe most importantly, not a heavy drinker who constantly demands we go out and get shit-faced with him).

Honestly, the older I get the more it seems "don't have an asshole for a boss" is really one of the keys to living a happy life.  And that's not always easy in Korea due to cultural differences, I'll admit.

So what do I miss about America?  My family, of course.  Finding perfectly quiet spaces to walk or hike to by myself and be alone for a few hours (tough, but not impossible to do in a relatively small, relatively crowded country like South Korea).  The American "spatial sense" where keeping a few feet of distance between you and a stranger is expected, as opposed to Korea where bumping and pushing and shoving your way onto, say, an elevator or an escalator is expected.  Gourmet cheese.  Well-made Bloody Marys (they do not exist in Asia).  Doing cannon-balls near my nephew in my sister's swimming pool.  Watching football and baseball games as they happen rather than catching up on them in my office the next morning.

That's about it.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Shameless Self-Promotion

This humble little Not-Really-A-Korea Blog, but Kind-Of-A-Korea Blog, has been getting an uptick in traffic as of late.

For a little background about me, I used to blog over here (Wetcasements I, so to speak).  I jumped over here to Blogger about a year ago.

I tweet over here, and I tumbl over here (very occasionally NSFW).

I teach English at a small-ish college in Daegu, South Korea.  I've been at this school for seven years, and I've lived in Korea for eight.  For 95% of the time I truly love living here, and for the other 5% I will certainly make angry, whiny posts about the cruel injustices of ex-pat life.

Thanks for stopping by!

The New Old Math

In South Korea, technology and education trends tend to come in the most fast and furious of fashions.  But these days, some parents have decided they want their children to go "analog" with activities like abacus math, baduk (Korean word for the Japanese game go), and the intensive study of Chinese characters:
"There are at least 100 private academies offering abacus classes in Seoul, according to the National Abacus Mathematics Education Association.
'I couldn’t find one near us so my husband and I are looking to hire a private tutor to teach abacus math to our 8-year-old daughter,' said a 42-year-old resident of Gwacheon, Gyeonggi. 
'I’m hoping to improve my son’s attention span and help him become a better person by learning Go,' said Cho Eun-joo, a 36-year-old resident of Munrae-dong, western Seoul. Her son, 10, attends a Go class at his school.
'Some people don’t understand parents who send their kids to afterschool programs for more traditional education instead of to private academies for English,' said Nam Ji-seon, a 40-year-old mother. 'My son, 12, has been learning hanja for seven years now. No matter how much the world changes, there are things that children must learn from traditions.'
She added, 'We often discuss the traditional analects of Korea written in hanja, and I know that this kind of education will give him an edge in the future.'”
While I doubt the demand for private English academies will subside that much, it's nice to think Korean parents are finding other paths for study and success for their children.  Reading ancient Korean philosophy in its original form?  Not too shabby.

Let Them Eat Shitty, Slave-Made Off-The-Rack Dresses

We're pretty much just documenting the atrocities now but here you go -- life inside an Ivanka Trump sweatshop:
"Alia makes the legal minimum wage for her job in her province: 2.3 million rupiah, or about $173 a month – but that legal minimum is among the lowest in Indonesia as a whole, and as much as 40% lower than in Chinese factories, another labour source for the Ivanka Trump brand.
PT Buma, a Korean-owned garment company started in Indonesia in 1999, is one of the suppliers of G-III Apparel Group, the wholesale manufacturer for prominent fashion brands including Trump’s clothing.
Many Buma workers know who Ivanka Trump is. Alia noticed her labels popping up on the clothes about a year ago.
Ahmad, who also works in the local garment industry and who, like his wife and most of the workers at her PT Buma factory, is an observant Muslim, said: 'We don’t like Donald Trump’s policies.'”
At least Marie Antoinette had a pretty strong fashion game.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

This Lawn -- Off Of It You Shall Get

I do not and never will understand the appeal of Royal Trux.

I've never done heroin or coke either though, so maybe that's it.

Small Victories Are Still Victories

Trump is too afraid to visit a post-Tory-wipeout England:
"The US president said he did not want to come if there were large-scale protests and his remarks in effect put the visit on hold for some time.
The call was made in recent weeks, according to a Downing Street adviser who was in the room. The statement surprised May, according to those present."
Remember when Lord Smallgloves was too much of a coward to show up at Opening Day?  I do!  I do!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

"fifty thousand watts out of Mexico"

The Blasters, Carl Perkins, Willie Dixon, 1982 Television Special

As my Wiki / Youtube spiral into late 70s / early 80s L.A. punk and rockabilly continues, here's an insanely good hour of music with The Blasters featuring Carl Perkins (!) and Willie Dixon (!!).

I'll be grading final exams to this today.

I Can Haz Spending, Please?

I'm happy to say my Orioles are one of the most exciting teams to watch in baseball, what with so many come-from-behind, clutch wins.  Buck Showalter manages to squeeze as many runs out of a solidly average rotation and bullpen as possible, and the offense continues to bring in young guys who can really hit.

So maybe now is the time to start thinking about investing in another A-level starter or two?  Pretty please?

Then again, and as is often the case, the AL East is meat grinder this year.  The Yankees and O's are both over-performing, the former like crazy.  And Boston is just really, really good.  The Jays and Rays aren't slouches either, and could both likely finish about .500.

Still, that's no excuse not to try and make a pretty good team into an excellent one.  The pieces are there, and while lucky finishes are more than welcome, so would be some solid seven-inning starts.

Noted Without Hyperbole

Trump committed obstruction of justice, full-stop.

Either Comey's revelations lead at least a handful of Republican congresspersons to take the Russia investigation seriously, or the American democratic experiment is dead and gone forever.

(And Comey, a life-long Republican, is still an asshole who in no small part lost the election for Hillary.)

Music Opinions, On The Internet

The Avengers, "Paint It Black"

Pet theory about the final show by the Sex Pistols in '78 in San Francisco: the dual-openers, The Avengers and Nuns were so damn good and relatively, in punk terms, tight, that Johnny Rotten knew his strung out crew could never compete with them.  So what better time to give it all up?

Youtube has the full sets by The Avengers and Nuns.

Good times.

Monday, June 5, 2017

"downtown Hollywood / I'd shoot 'em down if I could"

X, "What's Wrong With Me"

I just started Under The Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk curated by John Doe of X.  So far, it's mostly good.

It's divided up into small-ish chapters written by a single player from the late 70's / early 80's L.A. scene.  It almost feels like Doe was going to write a memoir by himself but then decided to include others (including, naturally, Exene Cervenka).

This is a fine choice -- a multi-voiced oral history of L.A. punk, but it also leads to some Liverjournal-esque sloppiness ("i had never seen so many punk kids w/ drugs ZOMG").  That's cringe-worthy in what should be taken as a significant work of pop culture history, to say the least.

That said, the best chapter so far is by The Go-Go's Jane Wiedlen.  Having read some short articles and seen some interviews with her, it's no surprise that she's funny and self-aware and seemingly a pretty reliable narrator of what exactly went down, despite the fog of drugs, sex, violence, and more drugs.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Tear Them All Down

Across the American south, monuments to Confederate generals are being pulled down one by one.  This is an Objectively Good Thing and my fellow USians shouldn't rest until all of them have been destroyed.  Because, at the end of the day, even Robert E. Lee was a slavery-loving racist, a terrorists who took up arms against the United States and, actually, a pretty shitty military leader to boot:
"The myth of Lee goes something like this: He was a brilliant strategist and devoted Christian man who abhorred slavery and labored tirelessly after the war to bring the country back together.
There is little truth in this. Lee was a devout Christian, and historians regard him as an accomplished tactician. But despite his ability to win individual battles, his decision to fight a conventional war against the more densely populated and industrialized North is considered by many historians to have been a fatal strategic error.
But even if one conceded Lee’s military prowess, he would still be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans in defense of the South’s authority to own millions of human beings as property because they are black. Lee’s elevation is a key part of a 150-year-old propaganda campaign designed to erase slavery as the cause of the war and whitewash the Confederate cause as a noble one. That ideology is known as the Lost Cause, and as historian David Blight writes, it provided a 'foundation on which Southerners built the Jim Crow system.'”
The American Civil War was entirely about slavery, full stop.  And not just slavery (as horrible as it was), but about a literal belief in the superiority of whites over blacks.  Sorry, but these two essential facts are baked into the cake of American history.  To not pull down every single monument to white supremacy is to fail in our civic and moral duties as Americans.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Daegu World Cup Stadium

A few weeks back I made it to my first Daegu F.C. game way out at Daegu World Cup Stadium (officially it's called Blue Arc, but nobody calls it that).  Daegu F.C. are finally back in the top tier of the K-League but frankly they aren't all that great.  Still, it was a nice way to spend a spring afternoon as they took on relative powerhouse Jeonbuk F.C.

Daegu put up a good fight for the first half but eventually lost 2-0.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Emperor(s) Of Ice Cream

The ongoing ice cream wars in New York City fascinate me to no end:
"Mister Softee and New York Ice Cream Company — the city’s bitterest enemies, at least if you limit it to vendors cruising the streets with 'watch for children' signs — are starting off the summer of 2017 right where 2016’s left off. The two soft-serve foes have been pulling bats and other shenanigans on each other ever since disgruntled Mister Softee franchisee Dimitrios Tsirkos broke off and started NYICC in 2013, but the Post reports that Mister Softee is pursuing a new strategy this year that stresses brains, not brawn: It’s hired a detective agency to spy on NYICC drivers, who are notorious for doing everything from decaling their trucks with 'Master Softee' logos and playing their rival’s trademarked jingle, to telling Mister Softee employees 'there will be problems' if they venture onto their alleged turf.'"
Late capitalism never fails to astonish.

And at least New Yorkers have their priorities straight.


Damned If You Do, Yadda Yadda

After almost ten years and two conservative administrations which have overseen a stagnant South Korea economy the new president, a liberal, wants to raise (an incredibly low) national minimum wage:
"One of President Moon’s campaign pledges was to raise the hourly minimum wage from the current 6,470 [$5.80!!!] won to 10,000 won in the next three years, and while the initiative is meant to prop up low-income earners, various studies have shown that small business owners could bear the brunt of the raise.
According to research by Hana Financial Investment, department store profit is expected to fall 3.2 percent, profit at large discount chains by 10.3 percent and convenience stores 9 percent if the minimum wage goes up to 10,000 won."
No doubt small businesses will carry the burden of an increased minimum wage.  But hey, feel free to fall off the demographic cliff as young people continue to not get married and not have children.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

White People

I was pleasantly surprised to hear that Get Out would be playing in Korea.  And it didn't disappoint.  There were so many subtleties and unexpected beats, and the performances were amazing.

I'll never look at a stuffed deer head the same way again.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Delight And Instruct

This semester is almost over, and it's been grueling.  I'm teaching a department I've historically had major problems with -- attendance, behavior, attitude, and department heads who are perfectly fine with English class being "play time" for their students -- and I've also had a ton of make-up classes lately.  (There are, frankly, way too many spring holidays here in Korea.  Move some of those to winter, bruh.)

Yesterday I walked into an empty classroom and assumed I must have missed the memo about a class field trip or something.

But nope.  They just, to a person, decided to skip.  Roughly half of this class is already getting an F for attendance policy issues.

Can't wait for the angry and / or tear-filled phone calls I 'll get in a few weeks when the final grades go into the university computer system.  No, seriously, I can't wait -- my Korean is good enough to let them know they're idiots for failing what will be the easiest course they've ever taken.

I give F's for attendance issues only, natch, because if you couldn't tell already I am composed completely out of sweetness and light.

Notes From Trumpistan

Just another day in the greatest country in the world:
"A black Bowie State University student who police say was fatally stabbed by a white stranger was honored Tuesday at the commencement ceremony where he would have walked across the stage.
The gown of Richard Collins III was draped over a chair in the front row, and his family accepted his business administration degree.
The historically black school's commencement was held in a sports arena at the nearby College Park campus of the University of Maryland, where Collins was killed early Saturday."
"White stranger" my ass.  He was a known white supremacist.  And they feel completely emboldened with the racist pussy-grabber in the White House.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

So Much Winning

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


Here's some cool news -- the very talented Jordan Peele is going to adapt one of my favorite recent novels, Lovecraft Country.

It's a great novel.  Highly recommended.

And a good excuse to link one of my favorite sketches of all time.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


I went to graduate school in Charlottesville, Virginia (home of the University of Virginia).  Sightings of Confederate flags hanging from the frat houses and the occasional "black face" Halloween party were nothing new.

But a full-blown KKK rally?  In an ostensibly "liberal" southern town?  That's incredibly sad.

But it's also very much where America is right now as a country.

Monday, May 15, 2017

What Fresh Hell? pt. Three Bajillion

"No speaka the Taco"

A great little article where the title says most of what you need to know -- "Dragons Are for White Kids with Money: On the Friction of Geekdom and Race."  The point is basically that the heady mixture of toxic masculinity and straight-up racism in geek culture is possibly even worse than that of jock / sports culture:
"In high school in Los Angeles, I had a hard time creating a network of geeks simply because the price of entry into the geek world was too high, or my friends simply did not want to associate themselves with something so clearly 'white.'  The insults that my small band of geeks endured while we played Magic: The Gathering or discussed Dragon Ball Z were pretty inventive.  Even now, some of my students snicker or laugh derisively when I make fantasy or science-fiction references, simply for the fact that, and I quote: 'Dragons be for white kids with money.' It’s hard to argue against this reasoning when the most popular fantasy novel and TV series since Lord of the Rings features a platinum-blonde white woman saving thousands of adoring and helpless brown people.
You’d think that when I found geekdom, I’d be welcomed in with open arms, but my ethnic identifiers have often caused friction.  One of my favorite geeky pastimes is Warhammer 40K, a tabletop miniatures game.  I have played this game off and on since I was about 12, and its sweeping background of grimdark science-fantasy hits a lot of my geek buttons.  Some years ago when I was building an army, I wanted to paint my soldiers to be more reflective of me, my family, and my friends.  When I asked an employee at a store how I would paint darker skin, he laughed.  He both didn’t know how you’d go about doing this because he hadn’t thought about it, and he thought it was silly that I wanted to do it.  I have played against armies with not so subtly painted SS symbols on the sides of tanks.  When I have spoken Spanish to one of my few Latino gaming friends I have heard in response, 'No speaka tha Taco' from a passerby."
And as much as I like HBO's Game of Thrones (more than the books, which I've also read) the "white woman saving thousands of adoring and helpless brown people" is spot on.

Smokes Bad, Booze Good

South Korean televisions shows have pretty much fazed out scenes of smoking, but scenes of heavy drinking?  No problem!:
"Article 28 of the country’s broadcasting review regulation stipulates that TV broadcasts 'must exercise prudence when dealing with obscene, decadent subjects, narcotics, alcohol, smoking, superstition, gambling, vanity, luxury and wasteful trends.'
Standards weren’t necessarily applied equally to these supposed ills to society. For example, scenes with TV stars smoking weren’t difficult to see in the ‘80s and early ‘90s. But nowadays, it’s virtually impossible to see such scenes, as they’re excluded from preproduction. When a rerun of an old show or a movie is aired, such footage is often blurred out.
But drinking, by all accounts, seems to be going the opposite direction - it’s not only common to find shows featuring drinking nowadays, some are even seen depicting booze in a romantic fashion."
 Other than sports and the news, I watch very little Korean television.  But I would only add that a year ago my college, with great fanfare, introduced a campus-wide ban on smoking with great big banners everywhere.

As of today, if you want to find dudes smoking just stop in front of one of these many banners.  Or a campus bathroom.

It Was Nice Knowing You, Spring

It's supposed to hit 90 by the end of this week here in lurvely Daegu.

Friday, May 12, 2017

It Only Gets Worse

This game is getting a little too easy to play but, let's imagine Obama invited two Russian higher-ups, one of them a known spy-master, into the Oval Office but only allowed Russian state media into the room.

Who the fuck knows if we'll make it to 2020 before we're wearing leather jackets and scouring the wasteland for fuel and cans of dog food.

My guess?


Thursday, May 11, 2017

More New Books!

John Doe, Under The Big Black Sun
Margeret Atwood, Oryx and Crake
Howard Chaykin, American Flagg!
Cixin Liu, The Three-Body Problem
Art Pepper, Straight Life
Lauren Beukes, Broken Monsters
Yoon Ha Lee, Ninefox Gambit

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Yes It Was Racism, Stupid

As long as we're focused on 2016, turns out people like me were right -- it was racism "racial anxiety," not economic anxiety, among white voters that led to Trump's victory:
"Economic factors played a much smaller role, suggesting that Trump’s rise was shaped more by cultural and racial concerns than by economics. For example, white working-class voters who displayed economic fatalism — measured through the belief that getting a college education is 'a gamble' — were only twice as likely to prefer Trump.
And economic hardship among white working-class Americans actually predicted more support for Hillary Clinton, not Trump: Although not highly statistically significant, the survey found that '[t]hose who reported being in fair or poor financial shape were 1.7 times more likely to support Clinton, compared to those who were in better financial shape.' This finding rebukes the common sentiment that poor white Americans came out in droves to put Trump over the top in 2016."
In the American media "working class" is coded entirely as meaning "white people."  That's pretty much the heart of the problem.

But if only liberal elitists like Hillary had gone to Pennsylvania more often then she wouldn't have lost to a down-to-earth, man-of-the-people New York real-estate mogul / reality TV star.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

President Moon

After the impeachment of the conservative Park Geun-hye, Korea has a new president named Moon Jae-in, a liberal:
"'I will work toward peace on the Korean Peninsula,' he said. 'If necessary, I will travel to Washington right away. I will go to Pyongyang if conditions permit. For peace on the Korean Peninsula, I will do anything.'
He also said his government will engage in serious negotiations with the United States and China in order to resolve the conflict involving the deployment of the U.S. antiballistic missile system."
A lot going on here.  First of all, he'll have no transition period.  As of today he is now living in the Blue House (Korean White House) as president.  Transitions are tough on anybody, but he's filling a huge vacuum left by an unexpected impeachment and he'll have no grace period to speak of.

Second, conservatives have been in the South Korean presidency (Lee Myung-Bak for five years, then President Park for almost four) for almost a decade.  There's going to be a big shift with regards to relations with North Korea and China, at a time when Trump is pushing for the conservative "hard line" approach.

Still, at the end of the day, I'd imagine many Koreans are happy to just have a president in place and restore a bit of normalcy to what's been a very tumultuous year.

Meanwhile, an adult student (avowed PGH fan) let me know that the South Korean economy would now collapse since a liberal is in charge.

I was unable to check my cheek in letting him now that after nine years of conservative stewardship, the South Korean economy is completely stagnant, especially for young people.

It's no secret that Koreans are in favor of change, for better or worse, that voters in England, America, and France also voted for (terrible change, horrific change, pretty good change, natch).

Beyond Farce

The next time any Republican tries to talk to you about the importance of a) the rule of law b) ethics or c) the importance of national security, please laugh heartily into their hypocritical little faces.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017


Also, fuck Boston.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Spring Again

George Benson, "Giblet Gravy"

This is a strange week -- we've got Buddha's Birthday and Children's Day, so the work-week is only two days long.  However, I had a ton of make-up classes to take care of and I had to grade my midterms.

Basically, holidays suck.  They just throw off everybody's schedule, and the students are salty about having to come to class on an irregular day.

But for the very long weekend I'm going to pull of one of my patented Daegu Staycations -- a soccer match, a ball game, and some hiking.

The Problem With Korean Food And Food Culture, Globally Speaking

With the South Korean Winter Olympics less than a year away, lots of problems are popping up.  In particular, local restaurants aren't sure how to bring in business from foreigner visitors:
"The opening and closing ceremonies for the Pyeongchang Olympics will take place at Hoenggye. Forty-one out of 102 Olympic events will take place there for bobsledding, ski jumping and alpine skiing events. However, the restaurants in the area are ill-prepared for the more than 100,000 visitors expected. 
Restaurants near the Hoenggye Intercity Bus Terminal had a noticeable dearth of English-language menus, except for the larger 50-seat establishments. Even when smaller restaurants offered English language menus, their items were translated inconsistently. 
One restaurant wrote 'pork belly' for samgyeopsal and another wrote 'pork loin.' Another was satisfied using Korean romanization for beef short ribs soup, using galbitang.
Not a single restaurant provided an explanation of their menus in English. Restaurant placards in English were nowhere to be seen. A tiny 'Korean Restaurant' in English, affixed to some Korean language restaurant signs, was all."
It's kind of amazing how many of my pet peeves regarding South Korea are nailed in this seemingly innocuous article.

Where to begin?  In increasing orders of subjective opinion:

1)  I've traveled throughout Asia (with the notable exception of mainland China) and I've never had a problem eating delicious, exotic food despite obvious language barriers.  Why?  For starters, pointing at a plastic model of a dish or a simple picture of one using mere body language suffices in every country except Korea for some reason.  Koreans will simply freeze up in the presence of a foreigner and possibly even refuse to serve them to spare themselves the embarrassment of having to deal with one of them.  And no doubt, foreigners in South Korea don't always act like angels.  But hey, if I can order shark curry on a beach in Goa, or Pho in Hanoi, or dim sum in Hong Kong, places where I speak literally none of the local language, it's amazing that body language isn't enough for many restaurants in South Korea.  But why?

2)  Well, it's complicated, but before we even deal with English translation let's get to Korean food and restaurant culture.  Moreso than other countries, there are very specific rules for Korean food and if you break any of them Koreans will visibly cringe.  Dip your slice of pork belly into pepper sauce rather than salty shrimp paste?  You have basically insulted somebody's ancestor.  Leave the country and never come back.  (I'm not kidding here -- I've had good Korean friends physically grab me and stop me from dipping into an inappropriate sauce.  And if you asked them, they thought they were being polite.)  Because?

3)  Korean food and food culture are awesome, but paradoxically if Korean food wants to make more progress in the global food scene it needs to (ahem) get the fuck over itself.  Yes, kimchi and doenjang and gochujang are unique and delicious.  Yes, certain dishes really are unique in the truest sense of the word.  But for all of the goodness that is Korean cuisine, there's basically an annoying attitude of control that goes along with all of it.  (Cf. number 2).  Why?

4)  South Korea remains, despite many appearances, a deeply (scarily?) authoritarian culture, and to have a "genuine" Korean cultural experience (food-related or otherwise) without the watchful gaze of a Korean person renders the whole experience inauthentic.  I'm getting more out on a limb here, but I think this is really the problem in a nutshell -- Koreans don't trust foreigners to fully appreciate what Korean food (and culture generally) has to offer on its own terms.  But guess what -- at the end of the day, it's just food.  You can find the most gregarious and talented Korean grandma to cook up a dish of, say, stewed chicken, but as delicious as it is it's still stewed chicken.  It's a great, unique Korean dish, but chances are a foreigner has probably had some variation of chicken, veggies, and a starch before.  That's what I mean by "get over itself" -- food is more universal than Korean cuisine will ever be profoundly unique.  Variations of meat, veg, salt, and starch exist in every country and have for thousands of years.

5)  tl,dr -- the perfect is the enemy of the good.  Until Korean food culture realizes this and tries to cater to foreigners rather than beat them over the head with the snowflake-y "authenticty" of Hanshik (Korean food) it won't go far, globally speaking.  There's no reason it has to be the next big thing, and maybe at the end of the day it lacks the basic adaptability of national cuisines that aren't nearly as anxious about changing as they go global.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Is This Real Life?

Simple Pleasures

I just ordered a bunch of new books from the always great WhatTheBook? in Seoul.

Here's hoping they get here before World War III.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

R.I.P. Jonathan Demme

For my money, Silence of the Lambs and Swimming To Cambodia are basically perfect films.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Pride Goeth Before The Yadda Yadda

The Orioles are 13-5.

And I haven't been to my first Samsung Lions game of the year yet here in lurvely Daegu, but there are some national holidays next week so I might be able to rectify that situation.

Here I should  say something about how a great-hitting squad with a shaky starting line-up won't make it very deep into late summer  in one of the better divisions but no, no I shall not.

Friday, April 21, 2017


#waygookconfessions is trending on Twitter ("waygook" being a Korean term for foreinger).

What can I say?  It made me LOL and LOLs are in damn short supply these days.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Radiation and Hellfire

Art Pepper, "Arthur's Blues"

This is my nuclear apocalyptic jam.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Let's Get Weird!

I had two conflicting thoughts when I finished China Mieville's The Last Days of New Paris.  On the one hand, at a mere 200 pages (and surprisingly breezy ones at that) it's nice to know that people new to Mieville can enjoy his weird universe(s) in novella form, as opposed to the slightly overwhelming tomes he's better known for.

On the other hand, while writing something "light" isn't a crime, it also seems like a missed opportunity to really dig into the themes he's working with here -- how the point of difficult art isn't just to obfuscate and confuse, but rather to counter the preening banality of what the Nazis (yes, those Nazis) embodied.

Interesting moments abound, but too much of Last Days feels like a book report on lesser-known Surrealists who've dropped out of the canon of modernism.  It feels like a 700 baggy monster is precisely what's called for here to do justice to both the characters and the larger themes of accessible versus problematic art.

Also, I wish he'd included more plates of art work and done more analysis of them.  That feels like another missed opportunity.

Still, I enjoyed it.  But I'd still suggest one of his shorter but relatively meatier novels, The City & The City, as the best place to start with his important, kaleidoscopic body of work.


Damon Young on the on-going flaming train-wreck that is Sean Spicer:
"Of course, for those who’ve studied the peculiarities unique to the culture of White Mediocrity — the anthropological subcategory exclusively comprised of candy corn-ass White people who’re convinced they’re king-sized fucking Snickers — none of this is a surprise. This is what happens when they’re promoted above their abilities and allowed statuses they haven’t earned and platforms they don’t deserve. They reach for shit their mediocre-ass arms are too short to grab. Just as a tiger is going to eventually just go tiger, because that inevitability is coded into his DNA, an aggressively mediocre White man is going to go mediocrewhiteman as long as he’s able to.
If the world were truly just, Donald Trump would be hocking 17-year-old Hyundais in a vacant Youngstown, Ohio lot and Sean Spicer would be his mascot on the sidewalk, holding a 'No Credit, No Problem' sign, dressed in a giraffe costume, and using his lunch breaks to masturbate in the bathroom of the Arby’s across the street. But life aint fair, and White Mediocrity rules Washington, so all we can do is hide the diaper bags."
Failing upwards is an art and a badge of honor for these people.

A Home Is A (Luxurious) Castle

Social changes tend to come fast and furious in South Korea.  A new one comes with singles deciding to spend money on their apartment and enjoying singledom rather than saving for a (married) future:
"'People like Hwang see their home a bit differently from what people living with other family members think of as home -- a communal place for family or a means of financial gain, according to a survey conducted by Macromill Embrain. Those who live alone said home is a place for themselves when the company did a survey on the meaning of home and home interior in 2016. 
It gets easier to decorate one’s home after people turn 40, as their income increases and their home tends to be as big as 128 square meters. 
'The tendency to spend for themselves without thinking too much about what others think is now expressed in a place we call home,' said Lee Hyang-eun, professor of service design engineering at Sungshin Women’s University."
Entertaining non-family members at home, even close friends, is pretty rare in South Korea.  And frankly, with so many restaurants and coffee shops on every block, it's hard to know if this trend will have staying power.

Andong Cherry Blossoms (Woryeonggyo Bridge, 월영교)

Andong, South Korea.

Me and some friends went on a quest yesterday (Sunday) to see the last of the cherry blossoms.  We went about an hour east of Daegu to Andong and a traditional foot bridge across a branch of the mighty Nakdong River.
Overall, it was a very pleasant, last-minute thing to do before the week started up again.  This was my third trip to Andong and I really enjoyed the slow pace and the chance to see some cherry blossoms.  (Andong is most famous for its annual Mask Festival, which is also worth checking out.)

The Mother of All Chicken Dishes

Andong, South Korea.

I pity the fool who thinks they’ve had jjimdalk (찜닭) without visiting one of the chicken joints on the main drag of Andong Market.

The chicken is incredibly moist, and there’s so much of it.  The sauce has a nice salty tang, with raw red chilis diced directly into the dish depending on how hot you want it.

And underneath all that goodness await a bunch of glass noodles, made from sweet potato flour.

I miss it already.  I want to marry it, in fact.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

"the strawberry girl"

Siouxsie and the Banshees, "Christine"

Midterms are next week.  Semesters don't even pretend to move along at a reasonable pace any more.

I finally finished Trouble Boys, and I can't recommend it enough if you have any interest in American rock music.  If anything, the tragedy of Bob Stinson is even worse than you could imagine -- he had a son, Joey, who was born with some terrible medical issues.  He died at 21.  And Steve Foley, the Mats drummer on their final tour, OD'd in 2008.  As much joy as their music has brought me since high school, there's definitely a dark side to almost every tune Paul Westerberg has ever penned.

Oh, and Axl Rose saw The Replacements exactly once back in the day and thought they sucked.  But somehow that translated into Tommy Stinson joining the new version of Guns N' Roses.  Go figure.

I just started China Mieville's latest, The Last Days of New Paris.  It's surprisingly short, and so far pretty much what I expected -- weird fiction meets the surrealists and the Nazis.

This is a timely work of fiction, to say the least.

Meanwhile, in addition to teaching, my boss handed me a science article on x-ray technology by a colleague of his and asked me to edit it.  The problem is, it's literally unreadable word salad.  A lot of the editing I do here at my college is actually re-writing, from the ground up.

I'll get a free lunch or dinner out of it though.  That's how Korea works, and that's fine by me.

Your Positive Thoughts For The Day

Blogging has been light as of late for no very good reason.  My office computer was having some issues and all I really had to say was that Trump's missile attack on Syria, which literally accomplished less than nothing, will now only embolden him to launch a pre-emptive strike on North Korea.

Of course, in a best case scenario, tens of thousands of Seoul-ites would die.

Worst case, meaning Pyongyang has a launchable nuke?  World War III.  We all die.

I take comfort in knowing that any ex-pat who voted for Jill Stein or refused to vote for Hillary in a pique of moral purity will somehow be protected from the nuclear fire and radiation pulses.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Where We Are

Alex Pareene:
"There’s plenty Trump’s minders can accomplish despite how distractible and unmanageable he is. They’ve already planted right-wing shock troops in all the federal agencies. They’ll fill the judiciary with extremists. They can do a lot of damage simply because the boss doesn’t care about the actual details and responsibilities of his gig. But on the major legacy-building (or other side’s legacy-destroying) stuff, really anything involving Congress or extensive public debate, there’s no coherent path toward anything that looks like victory. If the bullshit-peddlers who attached themselves to Trump truly want to remake the nation—beyond making it meaner in the areas in which it is already pretty persistently mean, or beyond simply raining death down upon foreigners with even less regard for casualties or consequences than evinced by prior administrations—they’re screwed. They’re screwed because they and their predecessors engineered a perpetual misinformation machine, and then a bunch of people addicted to their product took over the government.
Now, and for the foreseeable future, the grifter-in-chief sits alone in the White House residence every night, watching cable news tell him comforting lies—that he’s a hugely popular president, that responsibility for his myriad setbacks and failures lies with the many powerful enemies aligned against him a grand conspiracy—in between the ads for reverse mortgages and 'all-natural male enhancement.' There’s an image of America in the age of the complete triumph of bullshit. You spend a few years selling lousy steaks to suckers, then one morning you wake up and you’re the sucker—and the steak."

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Out Of The Rubble


The story of Han Young-soo, the photographer who put a face on the struggles and triumphs of post-war South Korea:
"Poverty, devastation, division, disarray, hopelessness and bleakness are often what are associated with Korea reeling from the Korean War (1950-53).
But that was not the case in the eyes of photographer Han Youngsoo.
In the desolate landscape of postwar Korea, he captured modern sophistication from people’s everyday lives and their facial expressions. 
This is perhaps why although about 60 years have passed, his photographs remain so stunning."
Do click through to JoongAng Daily for images, but an even better source for his amazing photography is here.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Spring Comes To Daegu, South Korea

A boy can dream, can't he?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Democracy In Action

I'm sure many people in the know regarding South Korean politics saw this coming, but it's shocking to me that former president Park Geun-hye is about to go to jail.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Bats Shall Be Flipped

Deadspin has put together a nice little guide to the glory that is the Korean Baseball Organization (Korean MLB).  Here's the skinny on Daegu's local team, the Samsung Lions:
"One of the league’s official franchises, the Samsung Lions, are based in the city of Daegu in Gyeongsang Province, in the country’s southeast, where it is hotter and more humid than other regions, earning the nickname “Daefrica” (Daegu + Africa). They primarily play at Daegu Samsung Lions Park, which opened in 2016 and can hold about 29,000. Once in awhile, they play at Pohang Baseball Stadium (capacity: 12,000), located an hour away from Daegu."
Sadly, the franchise has definitely fallen on hard times.  After winning four consecutive championships (2011-2014) and moving into a new stadium, they've kind of fallen apart as of late.

Read the whole article though for some interesting background on the nine other teams that currently constitute the KBO.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


Was it really 17 years ago that, in another stolen election, Republicans claimed they would "restore dignity to the White House"?

"embarrassed a black guy was your boss"

Lindy West cuts to the chase when it comes to what the modern Republican Party, the Party of Trump Forever, is all about:
"I don’t know that America has ever seen a political party so divested of care. Since Trump took office, Republicans have proposed legislation to destroy unions, the healthcare system, the education system and the Environmental Protection Agency; to defund the reproductive health charity Planned Parenthood and restrict abortion; to stifle public protest and decimate arts funding; to increase the risk of violence against trans people and roll back anti-discrimination laws; and to funnel more and more wealth from the poorest to the richest. Every executive order and piece of GOP legislation is destructive, aimed at dismantling something else, never creating anything new, never in the service of improving the care of the nation.
Contemporary American conservatism is not a political philosophy so much as the roiling negative space around Barack Obama’s legacy. Can you imagine being that insecure? Can you imagine not wanting children to have healthcare because you’re embarrassed a black guy was your boss? It would be sad if it wasn’t so dangerous."
Republicans don't just hate the poor, they believe it's a moral imperative to hate the poor.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

For The Love Of Chicken

I can't think of many better ways to start off a week than a global guide to fried chicken.  Here's the low down for South Korea:
"To me there are two different kinds of Korean fried chicken. First there’s tongdak, which is the original fried chicken. It’s traditionally dredged in sweetly seasoned rice flour, but other than that it’s just plain fried chicken, served with radish pickles.
The newer version—the very, very crisp double-fried wings, often lacquered in some kind of sauce—started to proliferate  in Seoul in the early nineties. Back then I’d go to Korea every summer, and on one trip my grandmother—who did not speak a lick of English—asked me if I wanted to go get some “chik-kin,” because it was the cool new thing. Now it’s spread around the world with chains like Bonchon and Kyo-Chon. As “Korean” as it is, to me, it’s really a product of fusion. It’s the combination of two Asian cultures—Korean flavors and Chinese cooking technique.
The multistep process-—cooking the wings, cooling them, then frying them in hot oil—is certainly something you find in Chinese cooking. One of the most exceptional chicken wings I’ve ever had was at Celebrity Cuisine in Hong Kong, where they cooked the wings, cooled them, stuffed them with bird’s nest, and then deep-fried them. All the moisture trying to escape the bird’s nest puffed up like crazy, and the skin crisped like Peking duck in the deep-fryer."
I think I know what I'll be ordering for dinner tonight after work.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Where Does The Time Go?

Alton Ellis, "Whiter Shade of Pale"

I'm going to the immigration office this afternoon.  2017 will be my ninth year in South Korea.

For all the complaining I've done over the years, there's no denying I really like it here when it comes to the people, my job, and, let's admit it, the food.

Please Prove Me Wrong

I've resigned myself to basically muttering "Jesus Christ, what an asshole" for the next four years (I can haz impeachmen, plz?) whenever Cheeto Von Pee-On-Me or one of his loathsome spawn say something.  Anything.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Anti-Immigrant Hypocrisy

As the South Korean economy continues to stagnate, a backlash against unskilled foreign labor is growing:
"'Globalization and the possibilities of travel and relocation divide the world into three groups of countries: Poor countries where the majority supports immigration, the middle and upper Income countries where the majority is in opposition to immigration and the rich whose majorities are divided between supporting and opposing nations,' said Gallup. Korea was categorized under the middle and upper Income countries.
Government data showed that the number of foreign workers in the country has been rising fast. The number of foreign workers registered with the government rose from 791,000 in 2012 to 962,000 last year, up 21.6 percent, according to the government. Officials predict that there are about an additional 300,000 foreign workers here illegally. 
In Korea, there are rising conflicts in the country as some say foreigners are taking away jobs for locals, while others believe foreign workers are essential to the country."
Picking vegetables and working on factory floors is hard work, full stop, and in a country where 98% of the population has a junior college degree or better it's easy to see why these less prestigious jobs are often hard to fill with native Koreans.

But with a laughably abysmal minimum wage of $5.70 an hour, it's sheer hypocrisy to blame foreign workers for filling the inevitable gaps in the farming, construction, and service industries.

The connections to the current situation in America are obvious.  Immigrants and foreign workers boost economies and richer countries should be grateful to have their willingness to work back-breaking and/or menial jobs.