Saturday, May 31, 2008
Nice article on War, Inc.'s success so far and viral marketing ;) Since I had a wee part to play in it, I've got to say I'm happy to here that people back home are going to see the movie.
Keep going folks.
May 30, 2008
Critics in the mainstream media scoffed, for the most part, at John Cusack’s low-budget didactic satire, War Inc., calling it heavy-handed and five years too late. The film struggled to get into festivals, finally making it into Tribeca this year. But on the Web, voices sang a different tune, calling War Inc. “prescient” and groundbreaking for its strange tonal shifts and for highlighting the morbid absurdity and immorality of the war in Iraq and those who profit off it. Writers such as Arianna Huffington, The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill, and even British artist Damien Hirst all gave blurbs for the movie’s Web site and Cusack’s MySpace page. Juno writer Diablo Cody interviewed Cusack about it for MySpaceTV, Vanity Fair quizzed him in print and online, and I talked with him on CNBC.
Despite the negative reviews, I found War Inc. innovative and subversively ironic. And it appears that early audiences are responding to it, too. Last weekend, the film opened in two theaters—one in New York, the other in Los Angeles—and grossed $50,714 after four days. Per seat, according to Cusack, who spoke to me a few days ago, its performance was second only to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
The encouraging results may be proof of the power of viral marketing, an instance when the subculture becomes the culture. Today, looking bleary-eyed from London, where he is filming Shanghai for the Weinstein Company, Cusack used MySpace to talk about the success of his film and to ask people to go see it this weekend. If the figures are good enough, he said, the film will go national.
And if that happens, it won’t just be the anti-war message of the movie that is groundbreaking; War Inc. could become a model for a new, grass-roots type of marketing, in which a film’s potential audience (with a little help from the director) may be better able to advertise it than the so-called experts are. To me, that’s exciting. Just as the war’s main orchestrator in the movie, a capitalist played by Ben Kingsley, meets a gruesome end after running from an angry crowd, so too, if the drum roll is loud enough, can the views of critics be overruled by people who will see what they want to see, no matter who tells them not to.
Vicky Ward is a Vanity Fair contributing editor. Visit her Web site at vickyward.com.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
I know that Sharon Stone is getting flogged for the comment she made at the Cannes Film Festival about the earthquakes in China being caused by bad karma.
The thing is recently I heard a similar comment made when I was spending time with girlfriends here in Seoul.
My reply was if all these people in China suffered and died because of the actions of the Chinese government that the same can be said when bad things befall Americans.
I just think it's flawed logic, if you can even call it logic, to tie the cause of natural disasters to government policies.
So to Sharon and others, please think a bit more before making those sorts of comments. There is definitely cause and effect. I've got my issues with China on quite a few issues. However, I also love many things about the country. I am in awe of its culture, its history, and its recent economic development.
However, do you really believe that people are made to suffer in a strict karmic balancing act due to the action or inaction of their respective governments?*
If so, think a bit more critically about your beliefs.
China responds to Stone comments
Sharon Stone: Was China quake "bad karma?"
*That's not to say that governments don't impact the lives for better or for worse of their citizens. Of course they do. However, I don't think massive natural disasters apply. A governments response or lack thereof to a natural disaster, yes. But the natural disaster itself? That's lunacy.
Now that I finally have CNN on TV again* I'm back to my habit of keeping the news on while I'm at home.
While eating dinner CNN aired a report by Sohn Jie-ae, their Seoul Bureau Chief, which was about the beef protests going on here in Seoul.
I heard about this from a friend who teaches in a Korean high school here. He was telling me that teachers have been stirring up their students to go out and protest. Back home parents would be irate to have their kids being stirred into a frenzy like that. However, here, this has been very successful and you can read about it in more detail at Korea Beat.
This past Monday, I revisited my old route home from Ewha Womans University's back gate to my apartment. This route takes me through protest-central in Seoul. It's protest-central because it's in the Gwanghwamun area of the city which has the US Embassy, many government offices, Seoul City Hall and it's near the Blue House which is the South Korean president's residence. When I passed through the area it was packed with riot police, so I knew something was up. I just didn't know it was over beef imports.
Sohn Jie-ae reported that Korean students here are protesting because some believe that their family and friends will "die eating US beef."
The pending resumption of U.S. beef imports hasn't been without political costs for President Lee Myung-bak. He apologized to the nation last week for failing to fully understand concerns about mad cow disease.In addition, Sohn's report as mentioned that instead of serving ox intestines these days restaurants here are serving pig intestines instead.**
In downtown Seoul, thousands of people have regularly staged protests, chanting "We don't want crazy cows," since the deal to revive beef imports was announced.
I just think it's interesting because it's a topic I got to study my last term at Ewha's GSIS. I won't get into the details of it, but it's interesting to see it played out as both governments take steps to try to get closer to implementing free trade agreement negotiated between South Korea and the US last year.
S. Korea leader 'baffled' by mad cow fears
Hundreds in Seoul protest U.S. beef
*My cable provider, Yongsan Cable,. switched to digital cable a few weeks ago. However, I've not been home a lot lately, so getting the new digital cable box has been impossible until they happened to catch me at home this past Saturday afternoon (yeah!!!)
**Now you might be grossed out by that, but Soul food and southern cuisine has chitterlings, which is cooked intestines, so it doesn't freak me out at all. So, it's interesting and both funny to be that there is a Korean variation of Soul food here in Seoul ;)
Sunday, May 25, 2008
As I wrote way back when, I'm a NASA/space geek.
After spending the night out with very little sleep (a good friend left Korea today and is heading back to the States), I got home and checked my email. The first thing I saw was a CNN update that the Phoenix lander has sent a signal that it has landed on Mars and that images were soon to follow!
I'm exhausted. I'm going to get a quick nap before I have to run errands and get to appointments this Monday, but I had to get to the NASA website.
The Phoenix Mars Lander, which launched in August 2007, is the first project in NASA's Mars Scout missions. The mission's plan is to land in icy soils near the north polar permanent ice cap of Mars and explore the history of the water in these soils and any associated rocks, while monitoring polar climate.Here is the link Phoenix mission link, the Phoenix mission blog and NASA TV. Sphere: Related Content
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
The second of many Korean designer interviews to come.
On day two of the last Seoul Fashion week I had a chance to ask men's wear designer Choi Bum Suk some questions. I got a chance to get backstage after his runway show, so there is some noise in the background because they were breaking things down and setting up for the next show. My apologies.
Here is the link on FMS: Korean Designer Profiles: Choi Bum Suk
Here is the website for his clothing line: General Idea
There is much buzz surrounding Steve Aoki, aka, Kid Millionaire, his companies, and his celebrity lifestyle. Was I going to meet someone who is caught up in the glitz of it all -- or was I going to meet someone who is successful in his own right, but is also a nice person to talk to?Sphere: Related Content
He turned out to be a nice guy.
I spoke to Aoki just a couple of hours before he was scheduled to DJ at Gayagum Hall at the Sheraton Grande Hotel in Walkerhill. He had flown in from Osaka, Japan where he had a DJ gig the evening before.
"I feel like I'm in the Grateful Dead. I just never stop touring. Like, last year I flew over 300 flights. This year it's ... five or six days of the week I'm flying," Aoki said. It showed. He was clearly exhausted when we spoke. At that point in the short interview, I had the feeling that he was a genuinely nice guy.
I suggested interviewing him the next day if he was going to stay in Seoul. It was a gamble, but I had done my research and knew his next appearance was not until May 16th in Bangkok. He took me up on my offer. He seemed to appreciate the gesture because I got a message the next day asking me if I had time to interview him.
"I've been so excited to come to Korea ... almost more than any city. I don't know why. Honestly, I don't know what it is but I was so excited to come here. I think it was because I never thought I'd come here. But then I get these messages on MySpace from kids in Korea who are super excited. I didn't think anyone here knew who I was," he said.
Apparently, that is definitely not true. I was just excited as was the young Korean crowd. He started his set with tracks from his debut CD, "Pillowface and His Airplane Chronicles" and zigzagged through high-intensity pop, hip-hop and rock.
The next day when we resumed the interview, my first question was his impression of the crowd in Seoul. "They were raging," Aoki said with no hesitation. When I pressed him more, he explained how excited he was to see the crowd having so much fun dancing. He went on to say that "the crowd, especially the girls, had so much energy."
Aoki is a music lover and began throwing parties where he would DJ and host bands when he was a student at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He realized he was on to something and has made his love of music his career.
When asked about both the love and the hate he gets from people, Aoki said he lets the criticism roll off his back. I told him that a young man pulled me aside and told me that Aoki was not a "real" DJ.
Aoki summed it up nicely when he said "you can't please everyone. There are things I like and things I hate too. Why would someone who doesn't think I'm a real DJ pay 55,000 won to come and see me?"
He added, "I only care if criticism is coming from someone close to me like family or friends."
We then moved on to the adoration and love he gets from his fans. Again, Aoki summed it up nicely: "It's easy to accept love. The music is the way I connect to the crowd. The music drives the feeling. Even if it's just for a few seconds, I feel a connection with the crowd every show I do."
I also had a chance to ask him about his multifaceted company, Dim Mak, which means "death touch." Dim Mak has a record company which has signed hot bands like The Bloody Beetroots and over 50 other music acts. Dim Mak is also a management company that manages the appearances for DJs including Aoki, the legendary DJ Jazzy Jeff, other celebrity DJs like Joel Madden and special appearances for his sister, Devon Aoki, who is a model and actress.
Dim Mak also has a clothing line -- the Dim Mak Collection. When asked where he gets his energy from to keep up such a hectic touring schedule and being a CEO, Aoki explained, "I'm always working even when I'm on vacation. I like being able to have a Blackberry and be plugged in wherever I go.
"I just stress out when I'm away." He also emphasized that he does not do it alone. "I surround myself with people that I trust. I want people who are loyal and who are committed to the Dim Mak brand."
He went on to explain that "you can learn new skills," but emphasized he gets most of his employees from interns that he has gotten to know and trusts.
In addition to coming to Seoul to DJ, Aoki does have other things going. He only had a day to spend in Seoul and he said he would like to spend time "eating Korean barbeque and checking out stores."
However, he said he also wanted to find a store to sell his line of clothing. He describes the Dim Mak Collection as a line that "people buy because they want to be part of Dim Mak."
He added that he's already designing the 2009 line and that his sister, Devon, has been working on pieces for the collection too. I'll let you in on a secret. He did manage to find a suitable store here in Seoul, for more information on that go to the FeetManSeoul.com website.
To find out more about Steve Aoki, go to steveaoki.com and to find out more about Dim Mak go to dimmak.com
Regina can be reached through her blog at expatjane.blogspot.com - Ed.
The Adobe Acrobat version of the page:Read this document on Scribd: kh05222008
I was doing some research on black American history last night when a Google search revealed this:
How has photography shaped our ideas of race? That's the question posed in Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self edited by Coco Fusco and Brian Wallis (Abrams, $40), the catalog for a national touring exhibit prepared by the International Center of Photography (in New York through February 29, with stops in cities like Seattle, San Diego, and Columbus, Ohio). ... Roz Payne's 1968 "Yellow Peril Supports Black Power," in which Asian men hold protest signs in support of black activist Huey Newton, the book captures the visual ironies of race in America.After I read that I HAD to find the photo. It took a couple of searches, but I managed to find it on a web page for an Asian American Pacific Islander Studies course here:
I just think it's a great photo.
Here is a link to Roz Payne's Archives online: Roz Payne's Archives
Here is the Wiki link explaining the history behind the term "yellow peril".
Here is a short Huey Newton bio from Encarta. Sphere: Related Content
This is another interesting news article about Korea. It seems that the preference for boys is quickly diminishing.
I've not thought about the issue much, so I don't have much to say. However, it is an interesting article. It was published back in December, but I missed it then.
This is definitely a good change.
Where Boys Were Kings, a Shift Toward Baby Girls
When Park He-ran was a young mother, other women would approach her to ask what her secret was. She had given birth to three boys in a row at a time when South Korean women considered it their paramount duty to bear a son.
Ms. Park, a 61-year-old newspaper executive, gets a different reaction today. “When I tell people I have three sons and no daughter, they say they are sorry for my misfortune,” she said. “Within a generation, I have turned from the luckiest woman possible to a pitiful mother.”
In South Korea, once one of Asia’s most rigidly patriarchal societies, a centuries-old preference for baby boys is fast receding. And that has led to what seems to be a decrease in the number of abortions performed after ultrasounds that reveal the sex of a fetus.
According to a study released by the World Bank in October, South Korea is the first of several Asian countries with large sex imbalances at birth to reverse the trend, moving toward greater parity between the sexes. Last year, the ratio was 107.4 boys born for every 100 girls, still above what is considered normal, but down from a peak of 116.5 boys born for every 100 girls in 1990.
The most important factor in changing attitudes toward girls was the radical shift in the country’s economy that opened the doors to women in the work force as never before and dismantled long-held traditions, which so devalued daughters that mothers would often apologize for giving birth to a girl.
The government also played a small role starting in the 1970s. After growing alarmed by the rise in sex-preference abortions, leaders mounted campaigns to change people’s attitudes, including one that featured the popular slogan “One daughter raised well is worth 10 sons!”
In 1987, the government banned doctors from revealing the sex of a fetus before birth. But experts say enforcement was lax because officials feared too many doctors would be caught.
Demographers say the rapid change in South Koreans’ feelings about female babies gives them hope that sex imbalances will begin to shrink in other rapidly developing Asian countries — notably China and India — where the same combination of a preference for boys and new technology has led to the widespread practice of aborting female fetuses.
“China and India are closely studying South Korea as a trendsetter in Asia,” said Chung Woo-jin, a professor at Yonsei University in Seoul. “They are curious whether the same social and economic changes can occur in their countries as fast as they did in South Korea’s relatively small and densely populated society.”
In China in 2005, the ratio was 120 boys born for every 100 girls, according to the United Nations Population Fund. Vietnam reported a ratio of 110 boys to 100 girls last year. And although India recorded about 108 boys for every 100 girls in 2001, when the last census was taken, experts say the gap is sure to have widened by now.
The Population Fund warned in an October report that the rampant tinkering with nature’s probabilities in Asia could eventually lead to increased sexual violence and trafficking of women as a generation of boys finds marriage prospects severely limited.
In South Korea, the gap in the ratio of boys to girls born began to widen in the 1970s, but experts say it became especially pronounced in the mid-1980s as ultrasound technology became more widespread and increasing wages allowed more families to pay for the tests. The imbalance was widest from 1990 through 1995, when it remained above 112 to 100.
The imbalance has been closing steadily only since 2002. Last year’s ratio of 107.4 boys for every 100 girls was closer to the ratio of 105 to 100 that demographers consider normal and, according to The World Factbook, published by the Central Intelligence Agency, just above the global average of 107 boys born for every 100 girls.
The preference for boys here is centuries old and was rooted in part in an agrarian society that relied on sons to do the hard work on family farms. But in Asia’s Confucian societies, men were also accorded special status because they were considered the carriers of the family’s all-important bloodline.
That elevated status came with certain perquisites — men received their families’ inheritance — but also responsibilities. Once the eldest son married, he and his wife went to live with his family; he was expected to support his parents financially while his wife was expected to care for them in their old age.
The wife’s lowly role in her new family was constantly reinforced by customs that included requiring a daughter-in-law to serve her father-in-law food while on her knees.
“In the old days, when there was no adequate social safety net, Korean parents regarded having a son as kind of making an investment for old age security,” Professor Chung said. It was common for married Korean men to feel ashamed if they had no sons. Some went so far as to divorce wives who did not bear boys.
Then in the 1970s and ’80s, the country threw itself into an industrial revolution that would remake society in ways few South Koreans could have imagined.
Sons drifted away to higher-paying jobs in the cities, leaving their parents behind. And older Koreans found their own incomes rising, allowing them to save money for retirement rather than relying on their sons for support.
Married daughters, no longer shackled to their husbands’ families, returned to provide emotional or financial support for their own elderly parents.
“Daughters are much better at emotional contact with their parents, visiting them more often, while Korean sons tend to be distant,” said Kim Seung-kwon, a demographer at the government’s Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs.
Ms. Park, the newspaper executive, said such changes forced people to rethink their old biases. “In restaurants and parks, when you see a large family out for a dinner or picnic, 9 out of 10, it’s the wife who brings the family together with her parents, not the husband with his parents,” she said. “To be practical, for an old Korean parent, having a daughter sometimes is much better than having a son.”
The economic changes also unleashed a revolution of a different sort. With the economy heating up, men could no longer afford to keep women out of the workforce, and women began slowly to gain confidence, and grudging respect.
Although change is coming slowly and deep prejudices remain — in some businesses, women are pressured to leave their jobs when pregnant — women are more accepted now in the workplace and at the best universities that send graduates to the top corporations.
Six of 10 South Korean women entered college last year; fewer than one out of 10 did so in 1981. And in the National Assembly, once one of the nation’s most male-dominated institutions, women now hold about 13 percent of the seats, about double the percentage they held just four years ago.
Shin Hye-sun, 39, says she has witnessed many of the changes in women’s status during her 13 years at the TBC television station in Taegu, in central South Korea. “When I first joined the company in 1995, a woman was expected to quit her job once she got married; we called it a ‘resignation on a company suggestion,’” she said. Now, she said, many women stay after marriage and take a three-month break after giving birth before returning to work.
“If someone suggests that a woman should quit after marriage, female workers in my company will take it as an insult and say so,” Ms. Shin said.
According to the World Bank study, one of the surprises in South Korea was that it took as long as it did for the effects of a booming economy to translate into changes in people’s attitudes toward the birth of daughters.
The study suggests that the country’s former authoritarian rulers helped slow the transition by upholding laws and devising policies that supported a continuation of Confucian hierarchy, which encourages fealty not only to family patriarchs, but also to the nation’s leaders.
With the move toward democracy in the late 1980s, the concept of equal rights for men and women began to creep into Koreans’ thinking. In 1990, the law guaranteeing men their family’s inheritance — a cornerstone of the Confucian system — was the first of the so-called family laws to fall; the rest would be dismantled over the next 15 years.
After 2002, the narrowing of the gender gap signaled that attitudes about the value of women — and ultimately of daughters — had begun to catch up to the seismic changes in the economy and the law.
And last year, a study by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs showed that of 5,400 married South Korean women younger than 45 who were surveyed, only 10 percent said they felt that they must have a son. That was down from 40 percent in 1991.
“When my father took me to our ancestral graves for worshiping, my grandfather used to say, ‘Why did you bring a daughter here?’” said Park Su-mi, 29, a newlywed who calls the idea that only men carry on a family’s bloodline “unscientific and absurd.”
“My husband and I have no preference at all for boys,” she said. “We don’t care whether we have a boy or girl because we don’t see any difference between a boy and a girl in helping make our family happy.”
Sphere: Related Content
I blogged about this last October.
Again, Seoul is ranked high when it comes to consumer prices. What's funny is a lot of people think you can roll into Seoul and get things on the cheap.
Okay, low-quality knockoff DVDs? Sure. But, as the article notes, a cup of coffee from one of the international chains doesn't come cheap. That's the same for quite a few things here.
I've never expected, however, to get international goods here that weren't more expensive than back home. What's interesting is when the prices of things that you'd think would be less expensive like rice, a national staple, are more expensive. That's due to a lot of things from politics to nationalism and economics.
However, the issue is without other things to balance it out like the culture, ease of doing business, openness to foreigners, etc. it's hard to see what South Korea is seriously doing to increase its level of international competitiveness. This is particularly so when other countries in this region are also upping their game to attract foreigners and the investment and businesses that come with them.
Koreans Pay Among World's Highest Prices, Survey Shows
The coffee at Starbucks in Seoul is more expensive than in 11 major cities around the world, relative to overall price levels. That's according to the Korea Consumer Agency, which on Tuesday released the results of a price comparison of seven items -- coffee, golf green fees, imported canned beer, snack cookies, cosmetics, books, and orange juice -- between Seoul and other cities in North America, Asia and Europe.
◆ Coffee, beer costlier in Seoul
A cup of Cafe Americano sells for W3,300 (US$1=W1,045) at Starbucks in Seoul, while the same drink sells for W2,280 in U.S. and Canadian cities -- meaning Koreans pay a full W1,000 more. "When compared arithmetically, Seoul turned out to have the highest prices except for European cities where prices have risen with the recent rally of the euro," the KCA said. Prices generally tend to be higher in countries that have strong currencies, but comparing by purchasing power parity (PPP) removes that factor. Based on PPP, Seoul had the highest coffee prices among the 12 surveyed cities.
By PPP, the price of a 355 ml can of imported Budweiser beer was also highest in Seoul. Compared arithmetically, the beer, which sells for W800 in China, costs nearly double in Korea at W1,500. In imported cosmetics, Korea ranks eighth in the price of lipstick based on the simple market exchange rate, but highest based on PPP. Korea ranks seventh in the price of snack cookies based on the simple exchange rate, but the relative price is higher than in other major Asian nations.
◆ Why are prices so high in Korea?
The price differences between Korea and other countries are determined by various factors, such as government policies, taxes, logistics expenses, labor productivity, and prices of raw materials. Jang Soo-tae, an official at the KCA, said, "High prices are determined by structural factors, including complicated distribution systems, high tax rates, and excessive government regulations, and natural factors, including economic causes of high costs and low efficiency, poor land conditions and lack of resources."
The high coffee prices, for example, are the result of a "high cost structure, including high shop rents and a 5 percent royalty, and the consumer trend for foreign-style coffee shops," Jang explained. As for imported beer, that product suffers a tax-price ratio of 53 percent in Korean, much higher than in the U.S. (14 percent), Germany (15 percent), and France (18 percent).
The KCA pledged to look out for unfair trade practices for surveyed items that cost much more in Korea, and it will also urge government agencies to overhaul the high tax system. But high prices are not limited to the items on the survey. "In addition to the seven items surveyed, there are many others whose prices are higher than in other countries," said Park Sang-yong, a professor of business administration at Yonsei University. "It's dangerous to make a hasty decision, but the government needs to take fundamental measures to address issues such as monopolies and oligopolies, and taxation."
◆ Taxes inflate wine prices
Wine is one such item that was not on the survey but is generally much pricier in Korea than elsewhere. For example, a bottle of Mouton Rothschild 2004, a special-grade French wine that was imported recently, sells for W970,000 on average at Korean wine shops. But the same wine costs 39,900 yen (about W400,000) at Enoteca, a wine shop in Tokyo -- nearly half the price.
Wine in Korea costs nearly double than in Japan because Korean importers seek higher profit margins, but also because the two countries apply very different tax rates. Korean importers pay a 15 percent import tariff, a 30 percent liquor tax, a 10 percent education tax, and a 10 percent value-added tax on wine. That means the more expensive your wine, the more tax you pay. In contrast, Japan imposes a flat tax rate on all wines, whether they cost W1 million or W10,000 a bottle. Hong Kong, meanwhile, imposes almost no taxes on imported wine. Korea levies high taxes to protect local wines, typically the traditional Korean style. But many people are calling for an overhaul of the tax system since imported wine has become so popular.
Chosun Ilbo: Seoul Prices Remain Exorbitant
The Economist: Big Mac Index Sphere: Related Content
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Okay, I was spending time with some folks this weekend when the issue of registering to vote and the upcoming elections came up.
I was dismayed to learn that some didn't know they could vote or, if they did, weren't sure of how to go about it.
I figured they couldn't be the only ones a bit confused and in need of a primer.
First, just go to VoteFromAbroad.org. This site will walk you through the steps to register. Then you'll print out a form that you can mail to your state and you'll be registered.
Here is the FAQ section from USElections.com) which gives you more info:
- For U.S. Citizens (click on your state web site)
- For UOCAVA Citizens (UOCAVA citizens are U.S. citizens who are members of the U.S. Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard), merchant marine, commissioned corps of the Public Health Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, their family members, and citizens outside the United States.
>> A Voting Assistance Guide May Also Be Helpful
Q. How else can I obtain an absentee ballot? (not really relevant for folks living abroad, but you might be reading this in the States.)
A. You may request an absente ballot by contacting your local county or city election official. Depending on your State, this individual may be the County Clerk, County Auditor, County Registrar or Supervisor of Elections, or the Board of Elections. In most cases the phone number for these offices is listed in the blue government pages of you phone book.
Q. I'm a member of the armed forces stationed overseas. How can I vote by absentee ballot? (hopefully, if you're in the armed services and are stationed abroad, you've got someone on your back about registering and requesting an absentee ballot anyway, if not...DO IT.)
A. The Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) in the Office of the Secretary of Defense is responsible for administering the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. This law provides that members of the U.S. Uniformed Services and merchant marine and their family members may vote absentee while away from their place of voting residence, wherever stationed, within or outside the United States. For detailed information on registering and obtaining an absentee ballot, please visit the FVAP web site at http://www.fvap.gov/ , or call 1-800-438-VOTE.
Q. I'm a U.S. citizen currently residing abroad. How can I vote by absentee ballot?
A. The FVAP also serves non-military U.S. citizens residing abroad by helping them to register and vote by absentee ballot.
Okay, you have no excuses now, so register and request your absentee ballot.
More: Overseas Vote Foundation
Sphere: Related Content
Bobby Lee is on MadTV and he's mad funny.
Since I don't live in the States, I only get to see clips from the show. However, I did post some of his skits a few months back when I blogged about the "average Asian" skit they do on MadTV. It's funny stuff...check it out if you haven't seen it.
It looks like he had a Secret Standup Show in Honolulu with MySpace. MySpace.com has shows from time to time in various places where you don't know who will be performing.
This is funny stuff. However, my question is at the end of the show his pants are missing. What happened?
Secret Standup - Bobby Lee
Thursday, May 15, 2008
This story came out late last year, but considering where I live, it's no surprise the K-bloggers didn't pick it up and I didn't find it until recently.
This is the reason why the skinny bitch has never and will never phase me ;)
Women with small waists and big hips also have big IQs, a new U.S. study has found.More:
A study of 16,000 women determined those with hourglass figures were more intelligent than their counterparts with round or straight bodies, The Sunday Times of London reported.
Curvier women also tended to have more intelligent children, possibly because omega3 fatty acids are stored in their hips, the British newspaper said. Skinny women, or those whose fat deposits are around their waists do not have such deposits.
The study, to be published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior this week, may explain earlier findings that men prefer women with smaller waists than hips even if they are compared to slimmer women, said the study's authors at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of California, Santa Barbara.
It may also help break down the stereotype that attractive women are not intelligent, sexual and relationship psychologist Paula Hall told the newspaper.
The Blog at Blogsoop: When It Comes To Determining Your Child’s Intelligence, Hips Don’t Lie
Update: May 16, 2008 @ 8:30pm
I saw this headline on MSN and, while it's on the opposite side of the size and shape spectrum, it's something that impacts all women.
No women (or, in this case, teen girls) should be subject to this sort of pressure.
MSN: ‘Too fat’ teen model spotlights fashion’s dark side Sphere: Related Content
This is some good news.
It looks like someone has finally figured out that all of these foreign wives that Korean men are taking might need a taste of home.
Someone I met when I first arrived was a Filipina who married a Korean. I was sad to see her frequently homesick and wishing for anything from her culture. I hope this will the start helping women in her situation adapt better when they take a Korean national as a spouse and have to make a new life in a country that isn't the friendliest to foreigners.
New Multilingual Radio Targeting Expats
Korea’s first multilingual radio station aimed at foreign spouses of Koreans and other long-term residents will start services in August. The Woongjin Group’s charity foundation said Monday it will set up a multicultural radio station and start programs in Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalog and Thai from Aug. 1.Honestly, I think the English language radio programs here suck, but, at least, we have some in English. Sphere: Related Content
After three months of preparation, the station will be on air 24 hours a day on audio music channel 855 of satellite television Skylife, and on digital audio channel 313 on cable television C&M.
The foundation plans to expand the service to eight languages later by adding Arabic, Japanese, Mongolian and Russian. “Although the number of expatriates living in Korea has surpassed 1 million, they are still experiencing difficulties adapting to Korean society due to the language barrier,” said Shin Hyon-ung, chief of the foundation.
“Our radio station will offer them opportunities to listen to music and literary works from their home countries, as well as running programs like Korean language education and tips on searching for jobs in Korea, and providing legal and medical information.”
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Update: May 14, 2008 @ 4:55pm
You know I knew I should have sat on this one for a bit as I did read about it and blog it when I was exhausted in the wee hours of the morning.
It did occur to me that what if poor Alexis wrote it, turned it in and then someone else screwed it up? Without getting into details, let me say, that's already happened to me and I'm fairly new to this whole game.
Eh, I won't take it down. I'll just apologize for taking Radar's spin on it at face value and not sleeping on it. The "idiot writers" tag does not apply to you dear Alexis.
However, the "idiot writers" tag still very much applies to the second situation.
Also, I'll eat some well-done crow and say the "idiot blogger" tag applies to me this time.
You know I never bought the line that all Asians or other minorities look alike because, well, that's just ridiculously stupid. Sure, there might be dominant features that people from the same racial group have, but when people say that this or that group of people look alike they're saying they can't tell them apart.
I understand it comes from not being used to dealing with a large group of people from the same ethnic group, but I never had a big problem with this.
Maybe that makes me qualified to fact check for People magazine because someone really screwed up. However, what makes it funny is the writer's name is Alexis Chiu, which sounds like an Asian name to me. Now that's no guarantee Alexis is Asian, but still, even if he or she isn't, isn't that what fact checkers are for?
Here is the story from Radar: People Magazine Thinks All Asians Look the Same
Apparently the editors of People have a bit of a problem differentiating between Asian males. On page 38 of this week's issue, in which an interview with Korean Speed Racer actor Karl Yune is accompanied by text identifying him as Korean pop star Rain.Of course, I had to click and "this" one deals with a similar error with two black men.
Still, there are two reasons why the mistake is particularly unforgivable. One: Rain, who routinely places first in Time magazine's "100 Most Influential People" online poll, honestly looks nothing like Yune. Two: the story was written by someone named Alexis Chiu, whom we assume is Asian and should thus totally have known better.
Luckily, it still isn't as bad as this.
David Patrick Columbia Thinks All of Those Fashion People Look Alike
Given the frequency with which people of color appear in the "society" pages of fancy magazines, you'd think extra attention would be paid to get their names and identities right. Not the case in this month's edition of Quest magazine, in which bozo society photographer David Patrick Columbia manages to misidentify both of the black people he features—the only two on the page, mind you.
The first one, Moises de la Renée, is actually Moises de la Renta, the 25-year-old adopted kid of fashion designer Oscar de la Renta. (Making matters worse is that Columbia actually managed to ID Oscar correctly further down the page.) In the bottom row, Columbia also confuses gay Vanity Fair fashion and style director Michael Roberts with gay former Vibe editor-in-chief Emil Welbekin.
To his credit, he did get cosmetics heir Aerin Lauder Zinterhofer's name right.
Sphere: Related Content
Monday, May 12, 2008
Today was Buddha's Birthday which is a national holiday here in Seoul. Now it's not so great for me as I have Monday's off this term anyway. However today everyone got a day off and I get, well, my usual day off.
However, that day off is great for all the people who went to Gayagum Hall at the Sheraton Grande Hotel in Seoul because Steve Aoki along with another L.A. DJ, Cut Chemist, rolled into town to throw a party. What a party it was!
When I heard about it, I was so excited. Being from L.A. I am well-aware of Cinespace and the club culture that has sprung up around Aoki's parties, his Dim Mak record label and clothing collection and the buzz around the celebrities his events attract. That had me prancing around Seoul for about a week listening to Aoki's new debut CD on my iPod and irritating people next to me on mass transit because those tracks are best played loud. Believe me, some don't like the CD at all, but eh, screw 'em - you can't please everyone. The hate runs deep. Hatin' on Steve Aoki is like an Olympic sport it seems. A lot of people want to do it but only a few do it really well: check it - here and here. Basically, it's fashionable to both like and hate Aoki. Which I guess is fitting as he's in the business now of music and influencing trends. For me, however, it's really just that it's an enjoyable CD that gets my feet tapping.
I had a chance to interview Aoki for the Korea Herald. FeetManSeoul got to walk around snapping photos of Seoul's fashionable ones being whipped into a frenzy of whoops, hollers and dancing.
I've got work first thing tomorrow, but my goal is to write up this interview tonight so let me get back to it. As soon as the Korea Herald publishes it, I'll put it up here too.
Update! Here is my Korea Herald interview with Steve: The Korea Herald: Regina Walton's Expat Interviews - 'Kid Millionaire' spins in Seoul
In the meantime, here is FMS's post from last night's party: Steve Aoki Seouled Out!
This one just hates everyone it seems, so eh. What's funny is as a Korean, I think it's pretty interesting she takes offense at Cut Chemist mixing hip-hop tracks and confuses that with stealing culture.
Considering he's from L.A. and is in Jurassic 5, which is a hip-hop group in which 4 of the 6 members are black Americans, you know she really has no idea of what she's talking about in this case.
It does strike me as funny though because what's wrong with old skool hip-hop? It's another example of for many here it's all about the audaciously new and flashy - Seoul is so like L.A. sometimes that it's insane. I guess it only makes sense then that L.A. DJs show up in town and are both loathed and loved.
With both Aoki and Cut Chemist what made their sets good was that they mixed in the old with the new...duh. I don't know much about the DJ world but what I can see from just a little bit of research is there are a lot of snobs that seem to forget that the primary job of a DJ is to get the crowd having fun and dancing. It doesn't matter if the track is brand new, rare or obscure or an old favorite. Sphere: Related Content
Saturday, May 10, 2008
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Okay, enough of my left leaning politics...for now.
I just got this pic last night but it was taken last weekend when me and a bunch of friend were out en route to checking out the goings on at the Lotus Lantern Festival and parade. We were walking out of the City Hall subway station when I saw a group of people in traditional African costumes. Once everyone in my group noticed, we HAD to stop.
They're with a performance group called Strong Afrika and they do drum and dance performances here in Korea. In fact, all of them are from various west African nations and live here in Korea.
Isn't that just cool?
Thursday, May 8, 2008
Okay, my blog has been getting über left leaning political, but, you know what? If it doesn't do it now, when will it? So if left leaning politics isn't your thing, step on or maybe, more accurately, click on.
This isn't because John Cusack has me as one of his top friends over at MySpace. Although it did warm my little blogging heart , and I got a screen shot to save it because nothing is forever.
It's because going on a $3 Trillion shopping spree really does put into perspective how wasteful this war is.
I read John Cusack's latest blog over at the Huffington Post this morning and it got me over to an interesting site. I'll post the blog here in full so you can read it too:
The $3 Trillion Shopping Spree
THAT WAS FUN. Just got done spending $3 trillion. Try it yourself - it's a lot harder than you might think. Honestly, it would have been a whole lot easier just to follow the president's example and blow it all on one illegal occupation of Iraq.
$3 trillion is the projected cost of the Iraq War according to Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard lecturer Linda Bilmes. That's a whole lot of zeros, but what does it really amount to? How many homes would it buy for Americans who've fallen victim to the subprime meltdown? How many debts would it pay off for developing nations? For that matter, how many of those new Mac Air laptops would it buy me? As it turns out, one whole hell of a lot of all of those things combined.
Try it yourself: http://3trillion.org
What a colossal waste of money. What a tragedy of lost opportunities. Where is all this money going? KBR, Halliburton and the other war profiteers have made out like bandits in Iraq, while taxpayers and their own workers get screwed. KBR enjoys contracts worth $16 billion, and still avoids paying Medicare and Social Security taxes by hiring workers through shell companies in the Cayman Islands.
In the Bush Administration's defense, of course, they had no idea it would cost this much when they embarked on their insane crusade (in fact, they still don't) Along with cheering Iraqis, arsenals of WMDs, and leprechauns and unicorns, the White House expected to be presenting the American people with a much, much smaller bill for its services. Back in 2003, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld (remember him?) was fond of quoting the projected cost at $50 billion.
You may recall that about six years ago, Bush's own chief economic adviser, Lawrence Lindsey, was pushed out of the White House for suggesting that the war could cost up to a trifling $200 billion - still $2.8 trillion off the mark. "Baloney" was how Rumsfeld characterized Lindsey's estimate, before quoting the $50 billion figure.
With Rumsfeld gone, one would hope to see a little more honest accounting out of the Defense Department. So what does The Pentagon have to say about Stiglitz's sobering calculation? That number "seems way out of the ballpark to me," said Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell.
Could $3 trillion cover the cost of a worthwhile accountant at the DoD? Apparently that's the only thing it can't afford.
Sure, sure...right leaning pundits are going to say this figure is too high and left leaning pundits are going to say this figure is right on or too low. The fact remains that we shouldn't be there at all and it's going to be a very expensive kick in the butt for all Americans who supported this war and even for those who didn't, unfortunately.
The YouTube video from the $3 Trillion Shopping Spree website:
Now make sure you go shopping.
In my cart right now:
Sphere: Related Content
Now she's running back to the white voter. Um, lady, the people voting for Obama ARE white too. Blacks are around 12% of the US population.
What's funnier is the folks over at the Trailhead blog at Slate had a Obama Doomsday Scenario contest:
Obama Doomsday Scenario Contest Results!
Yesterday, Trailhead invited readers to imagine what would have to happen for Barack Obama to lose the Democratic nomination. And boy did you respond. You, dear readers, are a motley assortment of creative and disturbed geniuses.Sphere: Related Content
Scenarios tended to fall into a few categories: embarrassing revelations, major screw-ups, Clinton ex machinas, and unfortunate occurrences. Others involved Obama turning out to be someone—or something—other than himself, such as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright (“note that you never see the Rev. & Obama in the same place!”), “the smoke monster from Lost,” Dennis Kucinich in disguise, and John McCain’s illegitimate black child. Several other scenarios involved zombie attacks and alien invasions. Yet another described a heinous Aristocrats-like stage performance by the Obama family.
We can’t possibly share them all, but here’s a sampling organized by category. Winners are at the bottom.
Obama is actually 34 years old, too young to be president.—Marc Sylvestre
Video surfaces of Obama at that Rev. Wright “God Damn America” sermon that he claims he didn't attend, especially if the video shows him applauding that statement.—Brian Weber
Obama photographed raising pinky while sipping latte!—Benjamin Clark
Customs agents find one of Natalee Holloway's “Carlos ’n Charlie's Aruba” T-shirts in his luggage.—Tom Grayman
Obama’s opening his mail while being interviewed by Bill O’Reilly. He drops a Hallmark card. O’Reilly helpfully picks it up for him and reads the inscription: “Barack: Thanks for the visa! See you soon! Your BFF, Nadhmi.”—Boyd Reed
Pictures of an 8-year-old Obama in his local neighborhood bomb-making class with William Ayers and other Weather Undergrounders.—Jen Geiger
The Drudge Report uncovers shocking photographic evidence that Barack Obama and Osama Bin Laden were actually college roommates. … They depict Bin Laden doing keg stands while Obama stands to the side holding his turban and counting in Arabic.—Rudy Santelises
He shot Alexander Hamilton. And there's video.—Andrew Rice
Reader Mark Schondorf submits a whole list of shocking twists, including: “Hillary summons a Kraken”; “Obama was a ghost THE WHOLE TIME!!!”; “Hillary goes back in time to kill Obama’s mother”; “Hillary wins because, as it turns out, she's Keyser Söze”; and “Unbelievably, the aliens are afraid of water.”
Obama confesses that the blackout “ending” of the series finale of The Sopranos was his idea.—Scott Schiefelbein
The only way that Obama could possibly lose the nomination is if video of him punching a baby surfaced.—Nick Wilhelmy
There is only one unforgivable crime in America … dogfighting.—Tom Bianchi
The reason he doesn't believe the government created AIDS is because he did.—Shane Mehling
Clinton ex machina:
The best scenario for Hillary is to run as John McCain’s running mate. And for McCain to die.—Dea Henrich [So Obama would still be the nominee, but we had to include.—Ed.]
The Clinton campaign digs up records in the National Archives proving that Hawaii was not a state at the time of Obama's birth, thereby making him ineligible.—Pamela Belyn
Bill Clinton starts campaigning on his behalf before June 3.—Eric Samuels
Hillary sheds two tears.—Jon Cowan
Obama will need to be photographed windsurfing … and then get eaten by a shark.—Stephen Defibaugh
Obama, trying to fit in with the Oregon locals, goes on a white-water rafting tour arranged by Lanny Davis Excursions.—Boyd Reed
Hillary invites Barack to her home in Chappaqua to talk about ending the race. The visit eerily resembles the movie Misery.—Boyd Reed
The winners: The best submissions managed to make a concise joke, summarize all of Obama’s vulnerabilities at once, or vividly capture the mind-bending paucity of Clinton’s odds of survival. Here are three that did the job:
3rd place: Hillary appeals to the Supreme Court, which, based upon a 2000 ruling, decides that the candidate with fewer votes wins the election.—John Kirkbride
2nd place: Hillary Clinton must parachute into Pakistan while under heavy sniper fire, infiltrate al-Qaida using a fake beard, putty nose, and duct tape, and capture Osama Bin Laden, whilst singing the “Star Spangled Banner” with one hand over her heart and an American flag lapel pin prominently shown on her outfit. She must film all of this in HD and create a montage scored to Lee Greenwood's “God Bless the U.S.A.” Meanwhile, Barack Obama must publicly convert to Islam and change his name to Osama Hafez al-Mohammed Hussein Ayatollah Obama, while burning an American flag in the Crystal Cathedral as he replaces the crucifix with a do-it-yourself Piss Christ, while performing an abortion on the exhumed body of Terri Schiavo. He should also be naked. It should then rain frogs. That ought to do it.—Jason in San Diego
1st place: One of the lesser-known consequences of quantum physics is an event called “quantum tunneling.” Here's how it happens: At a campaign stop in West Virginia, completely out of the blue, the aggregate wave functions of all the particles in Barack Obama's body end up instantaneously transporting him through the entire Earth and leaving him treading water somewhere in the Indian Ocean, or leaving his various particles scattered inside the mantle. The odds of this occurring are such that any macroscopic object tunneling through any barrier is highly unlikely in the lifespan of the universe, but it could occur!—Michael Blessington
Thank you for the submissions. You heard them here first!
Makin' Music with John Mayer
John Mayer takes YOU behind the scenes of his song-writing process.Sphere: Related Content
Starring John Mayer, Ian Roberts, JB Smoove, Kristen Bell, Martin Starr, Gerry Bednob, Steve Bannos, Josh Feemster
Produced by Judd Apatow, Andrew Epstein, Melvin Mar, and Cohen/O'Brien
Directed by Andrew Jay Cohen
Written by Lew Morton, Brendan O'Brien, and Andrew Jay Cohen
Camera by Greg Cohen
Edited by Bret Scott
Special Thanks: Playground Media, Tyler Nilson, George Anderson, Joe Schiff, Renee Epstein, Tiffany Lynn, Bannos Family
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Finally, the interviews are getting subtitled and published. This is the first in a series of interviews we had with Korean designers during the 2008 F/W Seoul Fashion Week this past March.
Hwang Jae Bock was one of the designers we had a chance to interview on Day 6.
Korean Fashion Designer Profiles: Hwang Jae Bock
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
This is very important.
Talk by Naomi Wolf author of "The End of America: Letter of Warning To A Young Patriot" given October 11, 2007 at Kane Hall on the University of Washington campus.
Interview with Naomi Wolf discussing "The End of America"
Naomi Wolf: Ten steps to closing down an open societySphere: Related Content
Lately I’ve been listening to the offerings at the Canadian left-wing blog Paulitics: Paul’s Socialist Podcast. The latest episode features feminist author Naomi Wolf offering a distillation of her latest book, The End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot, in which she draws parallels between historical instances of fascism–especially in Europe in the early twentieth century–and proto-fascist tendencies in contemporary America under the Bush Administration. She notes, for example, that the term “sleeper cell” originated in Stalinist Russia as a propaganda term denoting so-called “capitalist terrorists” disguised as good Soviet citizens and hiding among the general population. She also talks about the Bush Administration’s use of the the “no-fly list” against Bush critics, such as Princeton law professor Walter F. Murphy, and even Wolf herself.
Wolf tracks authoritarian trends in Bush America against a ten-step “blueprint,” which she argues was crafted by Mussolini and adopted by leftist and rightist totalitarian regimes throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. She expands upon these steps in this article, but here’s what you need to do in order to close down an open society:
- Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy
- Create a gulag
- Develop a thug caste
- Set up an internal surveillance system
- Harass citizens’ groups
- Engage in arbitrary detention and release
- Target key individuals
- Control the press
- Dissent equals treason
- Suspend the rule of law
Do you agree with the comparisons Wolf is making between the drift towards fascism in the twentieth century, and America under Bush (or, for that matter, Australia under Howard)? If so, do you think the results of recent elections in the US and Australia (2006 and 2007 respectively) hint at a trend away from proto-fascism in these countries?More resources: Excerpt from the book dealing with the “no-fly list”
Wolf on The Colbert Report:
Friday, May 2, 2008
Okay, folks tis the season to register to vote if you've not already done so.
There will be a voter registration drive tomorrow in front of the Starbucks in Itaewon. Now, there are two Starbucks in that area. The drive will be at the one near the police station and Itaewon Station. It's just across from the Hamilton Hotel and next to the KB bank.
VOTER REGISTRATION DRIVE
In front of
(near fire station)
SAT., May 3, 2008
For more information, contact
Wende 010 2893 3653
VoteFromAbroad.org click to register online - just print and mail the form. Sphere: Related Content
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Just 'cause I really do adore John Cusack's work...I know, I know...everyone loves Say Anything and his character Lloyd Dobler, but my favorite is the dark comedy Grosse Point Blank and his character Martin Blank. I've got others like The Grifters and this post reminds me to put Being John Malkovich in the DVD player as I've not watched it for awhile.
For us here in Seoul, I don't know if War, Inc. will ever reach the theaters. Even if it does it's a dark satire that might not translate well.
However, where it's playing I hope it gets a lot of people going to the box office. We need more films that are critical of what's going on.
The info: the film will open in L.A. and New York on May 23rd. It has already premiered in NYC at the Tribeca Film Festival.
The War Inc. page on Facebook.
Huffington Post: John's articles on the Huff Post - He interviewed Naomi Klein and wrote a few blogs.
CNN.com: The passion of John Cusack
Crooks and Liar's: C&L WELCOMES JOHN CUSACK FOR A LIVE BLOG SESSION on WAR Inc. (Chat Transcript with John Cusack)
EW.com - Just a Minute (video Interview with John Cusack)
John Cusack's MySpace page
Totally unrelated to War Inc. - poor John has inherited a clearly nutty stalker who was previously arrested for stalking Tom Cruise - now she's moved on to John: Cusack's Alleged Stalker Arrested
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Now this died down weeks ago, but there are still things popping up in this story every now and then. I'm so incredibly offended by all that she claimed to represent that pretty much anytime something new comes up, be sure, I'll repost it here.
The FishBowl L.A. blog thanks to the GalleyCat blog has a video of lying ass Peggy Seltzer in character.
Honestly, I'm tired. I was up real late last evening and then had to get up early for a 9am class. I don't have the energy to stand watching this mess right now. Maybe I'll check it later.
However, maybe you can check it and just give me a play by play? How is that?
Oh, scratch that. I just went to the Media Assassin blog (linked below) and they have a play by play. I guess they know some of us really wouldn't be in the mood, ever, to see her lie and length about this. It's LONG but well worth reading, so click over to check it out.
We Dare You To Watch This Peggy Seltzer Video and Not Cringe At Least Once
Thanks to our sister blog GalleyCat for this. This is part of a promo? Maybe? It's Peggy Seltzer/Margaret B. Jones when she was still playing ghetto.
"I could tell you stories where you would cry and it'll stay with you forever."
Here are a couple of updates on another literary fraud, James Frey.
GalleyCat: James Frey's Last Interview? We Shall See
FishBowl NY: James Frey: New Book, Same Fraught Relationship With Honesty Sphere: Related Content