If a guy somewhere in Asia makes a blog and no one reads it, does it really exist?

Monday, November 22

The 3 stages of a relationship

In order to analyze what exactly went wrong between me and my fiancee, I've reenacted the different stages of our four and a half year relationship with the help of my good friend, Mr. Nagatomo.


Stage 1: Falling in love


Stage 2: Bliss


Stage 3: The breakup

Conan '08


Anything that does not kill me makes me stronger.
-Conan the Republican

The emotional cycle

From surprise to disbelief to denial to sadness to anger to acceptance to, finally, a new kind of love. And I emerge from the other end of the tunnel a wiser, stronger and more compassionate human being.

The end


It's all over. She loves someone else. She doesn't love me. And my life, my future, everything I've been living for, fades like a sweet dream.

I never thought it would end on a subway platform in Seoul. I never thought it would end, period.

Saturday, November 20

Around town

Some pics from around Jecheon. (Also taken by Jen the Newfie.)

Using only the freshest, free-range polar chickens.


A sign from a bar. At least they're honest.


Yes, the Koreans are very honest about, even proud of, their alcohol addiction.

Friday, November 19

We are safe and warm

I was just looking at a New York Times slide show of desperate Fallujans, hemmed in by razor wire, lining up at a food distribution camp after being displaced from their homes. At the bottom of the screen flashed an animated banner ad for Hollywood movies. What a sick juxtaposition.

Caption: "...major concerns are whether refugees have adequate supplies of food, clean water, medicine and warm shelter."

Banner ad: "Let's Talk About Sex--KINSEY: In select theaters November 12!"

Thursday, November 18

Buddhist schools

Have you heard of the Hongwanji Mission School? It's the only Buddhist K-8 school in America. They've recently opened a high school called the Pacific Buddhist Academy.

The curriculum of the schools is built on "peace studies," whatever that is. Sounds kind of like the UN University for Peace in Costa Rica.

What kind of hippie schools are these? What can you do with a university degree in "Gender and Peace Building?" (Answer: join EPIK.) It sounds too much like a magnet for misguided idealism, but I suppose you could say the same for a lot of schools that peddle dreams to idealistic youth. (Take APU for example.)

I actually do like the idea of a Buddhist school, if for no other reason than to offset the high number of Christian schools in the US. I also like that you don't have to be a Buddhist to attend the schools. But I can't help but be skeptical of peace studies. It sounds nice and warm and fuzzy, but what is it? Nothing I've read so far has clarified it for me. I guess it's the direct opposite of what you learn at a military academy.

Self-Immolation 101?

I get the impression that one of the main goals of the schools is to educate kids of Japanese descent in the Japanese language and to familiarize them with Japanese culture. A noble cause. As far as I can tell, there are hardly any such schools in the US that are geared toward Korean Americans. Why? After all, Japanese language immersion programs are a dime a dozen. Are Koreans more eager to become integrated into white America? Or perhaps Koreans tend to live in areas with such a high Korean population that special schools aren't necessary to preserve their culture? (Just take a walk to Koreatown.) Or, since many Koreans tend to be Christian, perhaps the bonds formed through the church are enough to maintain a strong sense of community.

I think the last one is probably right. While Koreans have both their "Koreanness" and their religion to provide a bond after they leave their homeland, most Japanese have little more than their "Japaneseness" to hold them together. (Uh, so what Shinto god do you worship?)

Anyway, I'm intrigued. I think America needs more Buddhist schools--one in Salt Lake City, one in every Bible Belt State and one next to George Bush's church.

Jen the Newfie told me that every time she teaches at one of her rural schools, she has a post-lunch meditation session at a teacher's house. Ohmmmm.

Wednesday, November 17

The Governator

I'm watching an interview with Governor Schwarzenegger on Larry King. How is it that a weightlifter from Austria can be a more articulate speaker than a homegrown politician from Texas? I'm impressed. Shuwa-chan (that's what the Japanese affectionately call him) is charming, eloquent and very gubernatorial-looking.


Before


After

Dubya got back


Bush's hump. Why the heck didn't the Kerry camp make this an issue? They totally should have. It's certainly no worse than all the nasty speculations and accusations slung by the Bushies regarding Kerry's wartime conduct.

These photo analyses were done by a senior research scientist for NASA, an international authority on image analysis--not some bestubbled Photoshop cowboy with too much free time on his hands. He put his reputation on the line. Why wasn't this news?

"Everyone wants to think my colleague and I are just a bunch of dope-crazed ravaged Democrats who are looking to insult the president at the last minute," he says. "And that's not what this is about. This is scientific analysis. If the bulge were on Bill Clinton's back and he was lying about it, I'd have to say the same thing."

"Look," he says, "I'm putting myself at risk for exposing this. But this is too important. It's not about my reputation. If they force me into an early retirement, it'll be worth it if the public knows about this. It's outrageous statements that I read that the president is wearing nothing under there. There's clearly something there."

Oh well. It's too late now.

Tuesday, November 16

Why Canada rulz

Reasons to move to Canada, as cited by www.canadianalternative.com:
1. Canada has universal public health care.
2. Canada has no troops in Iraq.
3. Canada signed the Kyoto Protocol environmental treaty.
4. More than half of Canada's provinces allow same-sex marriage.
5. The Canadian Senate recommends legalizing marijuana.
6. Canada has no law restricting abortion.
7. Canada has strict gun laws and relatively little violence.
8. The United Nations has ranked Canada the best country to live in for eight consecutive years.
9. Canada abolished the death penalty in 1976.
10. Canada has not run a federal deficit since 1996-97.

Unfortunately, there's one terrible thing about Canada that simply overrides all of these positives: it's cold up there! I'd rather live in hot and humid Haiti than suffer through those cold winters with six hours of daylight.

Question to Aussies: which of the 10 reasons above would also hold true for Australia?

Monday, November 15

CHEERS

Oh...my...God. The EPA is recruiting babies to be scientific guinea pigs. American babies. And people are worried about Revlon and Gillette testing their products on rabbits?

But oh, the perks:
What will my family receive for its participation in the study?
  • You will receive both monetary and non-monetary compensation
  • A Study t-shirt
  • An official, framed Certificate of Appreciation
  • A Study bib for your baby
  • A calendar
  • A Study Newsletter
  • A video camcorder, if you complete all of the study activities over the two-year study period
This is totally for real. Here's the EPA's CHEERS Project website.

I wonder what the camcorder is like? Might be worth it if it's digital. Though, I'd rather get it at the beginning of the study so that I could document my child's deteriorating health.

Postcard


I just got this postcard in the mail from a friend who's taking a vacation in Iraq. I like the palm trees.

Sunday, November 14

Shroomy US map / Bring on the draft


Great swaths of red got you down? It's not what it seems. Check out this kickass site, which has election result maps with the state sizes rescaled to reflect their populations and shades of color added to depict the degree of support for the candidates. The Rocky Mountain states look like they're getting sucked into a black hole. My god, where's Montana?

This is the real America. Whoa, dude.

I think that America really is God's country, man, cuz I looked at this picture for like 15 minutes straight and I think I almost saw God. The walls in my room started breathing too, man.

Anyway, it seems we're not as geographically polarized as people might think.

We're essentially pretty liberal folk, and in a few years from now, when the Iraq death toll is astronomical and gruesome photos of dead babies start to show up on the mainstream media, there will be a massive liberal backlash in the US.

Or so I used to believe, but now, I don't think this is how it'll happen. It's not the number of dead soldiers or photos of mutilated bodies that will push Americans to the breaking point. As long as we have our Chevy Suburbans, La-Z-Boy recliners and microwave popcorn, we really don't care. So what if some stranger half way around the world gets his brains splattered? Man, most of us have coworkers we'd like to kill!

That's why we need the military draft, and sooner rather than later. Americans will remember Vietnam as soon as the draft kicks in. The effect of the war on our lives will suddenly become very real, and people won't stand for it, cuz as soon as it's our own asses on the line, we'll start caring a whole lot more about the rest of the world. That's how people are. We're selfish bastards.

Of course we won't say that we're opposed to the war because we're afraid to die, but that's really what it comes down to. Like the Vietnam era protesters, we'll spout ideology to bolster our cause, and even think we believe it. But like the red-drenched election map, the real picture will differ from what everyone sees.

Super smart bald guy Ken Wilber talks a lot about human consciousness and its stages of development. The major stages are typically referred to as preconventional to conventional to postconventional, which can also be thought of as egocentric to ethnocentric to worldcentric. Your average college educated guy--much less the Budwiser guzzling factory worker--is not going to be the most enlightened dude around. Wilber cites a study that was conducted on Berkeley protests in the sixties that found most of the students, despite their claims that they were fighting for universal moral principles, were actually acting from egocentric drives.
...no matter how high-minded, idealistic, or altruistic a cause might appear--from ecology to cultural diversity to world peace--the simple mouthing of intense support for that cause is not enough to determine why, in fact, that cause is being embraced. Too many social commentators have simply assumed, for example that if the boomers were calling for "harmony, love, mutual respect, and multiculturalism," the boomers were themselves moving in that idealistic, nonegocentric direction. However, as we will see, in many cases not only were the boomers not moving in that direction in terms of their own growth, they were loudly embracing a nonegocentric perspective largely to conceal their own egocentric stance.
But you know what? The motives don't matter. It's this seemingly liberal backlash, which really just conceals our selfish desire to save our own hineys, that will ultimately bring an end to the war. So reinstitute the draft, I say! I'll be out there protesting alongside all the other neo-hippies, man.

And, more importantly, I'm already old enough to avoid the draft. (See? Selfish bastard.)

Saturday, November 13

Masters of War

Speaking of great war-inspired songs, look at what Bob Dylan's Vietnam era protest song "Masters of War" has sparked at a Colorado high school.

Sheesh. Paaaaaranoooooid.

lyrics here

Noam Chomsky's argument that Iraq is not another Vietnam is interesting, and probably true. Here we are pushing for democracy in a potentially powerful country where 90% of the people hate our guts. Even if Iraq does achieve true democracy--which is doubtful anyway--they most certainly won't be on our team.

Dumbness good for health, Bush bad

Minnesota, New Hampshire, Vermont and Hawaii are the healthiest states in America. Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana are the sickest.

The report by the United Health Foundation also says:
The Aloha State is No. 1 for a low prevalence of obesity at 16.4 percent of the population. It also has a low rate of deaths from cardiovascular disease and cancer, and a low total mortality rate, the study said.

Other strengths include a low prevalence of smoking, a low violent-crime rate, a low rate of uninsured population, strong support for public health and a low premature-death rate.
However, Hawaii has a relatively low high school graduation rate. You think maybe there's a connection? Yes, education is bad for you! Books cause cancer! So now we know how Dubya maintains his health.

Additionally, all four of these healthy states, and in fact 8 of the top 10 healthiest states, voted for Kerry, while the 10 sickest states all voted for Bush. Coincidence? I think not! This is conclusive evidence that Republicans are bad for your health!

Especially for the health, uh, lives, of Iraqis.

Click here for the complete list.

Bush's books destroyed

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A tragic fire on Sunday night destroyed the personal library of President George W. Bush. Both of his books have been lost. A presidential spokesman said that the president was devastated, as he had not finished coloring the second one.
This is from the Daily Show, I think. Sorry, but it really cracked me up.

This letter to Dr. Laura is also very funny. The more recent version circulating on the Internet has been changed to "Dear President Bush."

Eminem's Mosh

I never thought I'd say this, but I have a newfound respect for Eminem. His "Mosh" video, which attacks Bush and encourages people to vote, is pretty darn amazing. Strange that I didn't see it until now. Check it out. With his black hood on, don't you think Eminem looks like the Emperor from The Empire Strikes Back?

Sing along with the lyrics here.

I think we'll see more and more songs of protest crop up over the next four years. War is an ideal catalyst for great art.

Friday, November 12

Photos of Jecheon

(Click 'em to embiggen.)


Thank God I live in this quiet, little, piss-ant, redneck, po-dunk, Asian-trash, kick ass mountain town!


My street. That's my pad on the far left.


Where I used to go jogging before icy Siberian winds engulfed the peninsula.


Fields of gold. All these photos were taken by Jen the Newfie and her brand new digital camera.

Psychos in the Senate

Ashcroft resigns and says, "The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved." Uhh, whawazat? Okay, then! You heard the man! Mission accomplished, let's bring our boys back home and focus our attention on more pressing issues, like:

Rampant lesbianism in our schools!

Gasp, in good ol' Oklahoma of all places. Newly elected Senate psychopath Tom Coburn said that lesbianism is “so rampant in some of the schools in southeast Oklahoma that they’ll only let one girl go to the bathroom.”

Oh, but it gets worse in the Sooner State.

(From the Boston Phoenix, Nov. 12)
Tom Coburn: Keeping us safe from condoms and the ‘gay agenda’

Fresh from helping to save Oklahoma from the scourge of teenage lesbianism, Tom Coburn arrives in Washington with perhaps the most bizarre set of right-wing credentials of anyone in the Republican Class of 2004. A former three-term congressman who was swept into office 10 years ago on the coattails of Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America, Coburn — who succeeds retiring Republican senator Don Nickles — is an obstetrician possessed of an obsessive fascination with other people’s sexuality.

In 2003, George W. Bush named Coburn to co-chair the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS. Coburn’s very first act was to speak out against the one preventative behavior (other than abstinence) that actually works. "I will challenge the national focus on condom use to prevent the spread of HIV," he said upon his appointment. Earlier, as a congressman, he had sought to force condom manufacturers to label their products as "ineffective" in slowing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

But that doesn’t begin to plumb the depths of Coburn’s so-called thinking. In his successful Senate campaign against Democratic congressman Brad Carson, Coburn called for the death penalty for doctors who perform abortions. That certainly gives new meaning to the term "pro-life." As a physician, Coburn himself performed abortions, although he says it was always to save the life of the woman. Tell it to the judge, Doc. Nor is that the only dissonant note from his career in medicine: Coburn was once accused of having sterilized a young woman without her permission. He says she had asked him to perform the surgery, though he conceded that he had lacked the written authorization that the law required.

In the 1990s Coburn criticized NBC for broadcasting Schindler’s List, the Oscar-winning film about the Holocaust, charging that it would encourage "irresponsible sexual behavior." That particular outburst was so odd that even one of his ostensible allies, self-appointed morals czar Bill Bennett, felt compelled to label Coburn’s remarks as "unfortunate and foolish." Coburn is also an outspoken opponent of the "gay agenda" in general and same-sex marriage in particular; as a member of Congress, he refused to allow the city of Washington to fund its program for domestic-partnership benefits.

Earlier this year, Coburn said that lesbianism is "so rampant in some of the schools in southeast Oklahoma that they’ll only let one girl [at a time] go to the bathroom." Coburn’s source: a campaign worker. He later said his remarks had been taken "out of context," whatever that was supposed to mean. His spokesman gamely insisted that Coburn was worried that "our kids are getting mixed messages about sexuality." Mixed-up, rather, if they’ve been listening to Coburn.

Sources: Salon, September 13, 2004; AlterNet, March 28 and October 13, 2004; the Associated Press, October 12, 2004.

How could the noble and kindhearted Okies, the people of my long-lost spiritual home, vote for this wacko? They're not the only ones. Several other psychos have been voted into the Senate, and just in time to help choose the new Supreme Court justices. Yipee!

Don't you love how politicians can simply say that their comments were "taken out of context" and all is forgiven? I wish you could do that in real life. Maybe when Dubya is old, he'll write in his memoirs that the war was simply taken out of context, and everyone will forgive him for murdering hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians.

We killed 600 insurgents! Hurray!

"If anybody thinks that Fallujah is going to be the end of the insurgency in Iraq, that was never the objective, never our intention and even never our hope," Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday.

What is our hope?

Wednesday, November 10

Wanna see a mandate?

Here's a mandate for ya! Yeehaw!



What I don't get is, how can Dubya manage to snag a man-date and still be against gay marriage? (Get it? Huh huh. Huh, huh huh. Huh.) (Surely I'm not the first to crack this lame joke.)

Onward, Christian Soldiers!

Don't you just hate wussies that whine about war all the time? C'mon, a little war never killed anyone! Get some of that hot lead in ya!

A quarter of the Iraqi troops have defected, Falluja is in flames, the interim government is falling apart, Prime Minister Allawi's relatives have been kidnapped and insurgents are on a killing spree in cities all over Iraq. All in all, I think the Falluja assault is going pretty well! Break out the wine and cheese!

Can't wait to see Rummy explain to Allawi that the kidnapping was an "isolated incident."

Why isn't the media making a big deal out of the 100,000 Iraqi civilians that have been killed as a result of the war? This utter disrespect for human life angers me more than anything else. Imagine if France invaded the US to oust Dubya and bring freedom to America (hmm...), killing 100,000 American civilians in the process. I think we'd be a little bit pissed off at France, don't you? After all, just look at how angry we were when 3000 Americans--a mere fraction of the casualties in Iraq--were killed on 9/11.

Ohhhhh, right, I forgot. Those were Iraqi women and children who died, people whose lives aren't worth as much as ours. One American is the equivalent of, say, 10 Iraqis? So really, we've killed only 10,000 people! No wait, that's still a lot... I guess when you reeeeealy think about it, one freedom lovin' American is worth about 100 Iraqis, so, all in all, we've killed only about 1000 civilians so far. What's all the fuss! That's way fewer than we lost on 9/11!

Ahem. But what is 100,000 anyway? Just another big number. To me, anything over 25 is a "big number," one which gives me a nasty migraine when I try to visualize it. How many friends do I have here in Jecheon? Five? How many middle school students do I see over two weeks? 900? So that means we've killed a hundred times more people than the number of students I teach. That would be equivalent to the number of students at over 300 middle schools... Aaaaagh! Big number! Migraine!!!

Let's look at that big number as a graph, shall we?



Ah, that's much easier to understand. I'm sorry, what was this war all about?

Just the other day I was asking Jennifer, the English teacher from Newfoundland who lives down the hallway, only half jokingly, what the requirements are for obtaining Canadian citizenship. Now that I think about it though, that would be tantamount to giving up! I'd be no better than Eddie Vedder (who also threatened to defect), and everyone knows that grunge has been totally uncool for the past decade. Just think of what America would become if all the sane people left.

Unless we did this:



The most uncool thing of all though, is that we had the Vietnam war just a few decades ago. You'd like to think we learned something from all that. I mean, who hasn't seen Platoon, Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now?

I guess that's the one positive thing about wars: great cinema follows in their wake. Too bad only the living can enjoy them.

Thursday, November 4

Let the Apocalypse begin in earnest!


Well, that's it. It's all over. Bush takes Ohio, and I'm signing up for Korean citizenship.

A 136,000 vote lead is substantial. Heck, it's almost the same as the number of Iraqi civilians that have died as a result of the war, and that's a lot.

On the bright side, we can look forward to four more years of hilarious commentary by Jon Stewart. And, of course, Dubyaspeak!

Here's a "controversial" article that was sent to me by a former coworker at APU. Give it a read.

Wednesday, November 3

The hour of reckoning is upon us!

I can't believe it. Rock the Vote Day is finally here. I'm voting for the guy that Bruce Springsteen likes because Britney Spears likes the other guy and she's like, dumb? And the hobag dumped Justin Timberlake? Pu-leez. Then again, Bruce Willis likes the other guy, and he was pretty good in Die Hard. Um, there's like way too many things to think about?

And like, war and killing sucks and all, but the guns and jets and tanks are like, pretty awesome, so I'm not sure about the whole war in Iran against Ben Laddin. At least we got his evil sidekick Saddam!

My uncle Cleetus says that "we need a cowboy for president, not a fag-lovin' French-speakin' windsurfer," whateva that means. He also said that the other guy killed people in Vietnam, but I'm cool with that cuz I know exactly what he went through. I've been playing a video game that's the same thing. (Kumawar rulz!)

Oh forget it, I'm not voting. I don't wanna stand in line anyway.

Red Sox rule!

Tuesday, November 2

You make kimchi or die!


Just as the Japanese love to watch foreigners make mochi, the Koreans love to watch us make kimchi. That's me with Jennifer, the other EPIK teacher in Jecheon, being guided in an ancient Confucian pre-pickling ritual known as parul son uro teolda (파를 손으로 털다).

These pictures are from the Jecheon Uibyeongje Civilian Army Cultural Festival.


We were actually at gunpoint in this photo.


Kimchi: it's what's for dinner. And breakfast. And lunch.

Monday, November 1

Vote/amnesia/gingko/Davin

Everyone suddenly burst into applause today when, during my advanced eighth grade class, I said, "I voted for Kerry," to try and get the kids to understand the word "vote" (they were voting for the best alien drawing).

One girl gave me the thumbs up and exclaimed, "I agree!" I was really surprised that eighth graders would have any opinion at all about American politics. I seriously doubt that their Japanese counterparts would have an opinion either way.

I think I'm starting to forget some Japanese. Last weekend, I couldn't remember the words for "gingko tree" and "mole" (the animal). The words you use the least are the first to go, eh?

I've discovered another Korean name that sounds all right in English: Davin (다빈). It'd actually Romanize to "Dabin," which is a French last name, I think, but Davin looks way cooler. Unfortunately, it's a Scandinavian name that means "bright Finn," which wouldn't really make sense for my child.