Thursday, August 31, 2006

Youtube's "Most Devoted Uploader"

This is the second post in a row which has been inspired by The Marmot's Hole. What I'm discovering is there is a mad symbiotic relationship here in the blogosphere. You write something and somehow someone else sees it either by following a link or tripping over it in some way. They like it, or they hate it. They comment or leave a link to what they’ve created. They tell their friends how cool or crazy you are. You go and take a look and, likewise, you like it or hate it, and you link to it. You tell your friends how cool or crazy they are. It pretty much keeps evolving from there. That's a really interesting part of blogging I didn’t really know about until I started doing it.

Anyway, today’s lift from the guys over at The Marmot’s Hole is about Youtube’s most dedicated uploader: Didn’t know this about Youtube

In Will All of Us Get Our 15 Minutes On a YouTube Video? Lee Gomes from the Wall Street Journal discusses the massive impact of Youtube and how he and others have “scraped” the website to get usage data.

What is interesting is the most dedicated uploader is one who wants to focus the eyes of the world on South Korea pop culture. I have to admit that’s damn cool because that's similar to my primary aim which is to tune more folks into the international issues going on here that impact the world. I'm just much more of a talker than a linker.

The most devoted uploader is Christy Leigh Stewart, a 21-year-old college student who lives near Modesto, Calif., and who has so far uploaded nearly 2,000 videos. Nearly all involve Korean pop music, a passion of Ms. Stewart. Indeed, she says the main reason she spends too much time with YouTube is to drive traffic to, a Korean-oriented Web site she runs with her friend Megan Hansen.
Here is the link to which Ive also put in my Korea link list. Go check it out. It's cool.

P.S. Go to The Marmot’s Hole and read the post and the comments to learn what “hwaiting” means and why that’s such a damn good website domain. (The link is above).


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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Youtube Neoclassical Guitarist Revealed

Okay, I've been updating and my latest John Mayer post constantly just because new stuff and new gossip keeps coming up. The new gossip is, nightmare inducing, but nonetheless hilarious.

However, it's taken my focus off of South Korea which is unfortunate because Westerners, the bulk of my audience it seems, really need to learn more about the rest of the world. Since I'm here, I'll try to help you out with South Korea and northeast Asia. While I can't promise that I won't update that John Mayer post any further, I will share a bit of information on a Korean musician who is making waves

I found this post on The Marmot's Hole: The Real Korean Wave Hits the Internet. For you who don't know what the "Korean Wave" or, 한류, hallyu. 한류 is a cultural phenomena that has swept through Asia. Due to the popularity of certain Korean movies and television shows there has been a huge increase in the interest in Korean pop culture in other Asian countries. That, of course, is good for Korea in many ways as it drives people to purchase Korean made merchandise, makes people want to visit the country and learn the language.

I've experienced the impact of 한류 first hand when I took a Korean language course at my university which was mostly made up of Japanese students. We lunched together frequently and on the last day they all HAD to go to a restaurant nearby that was featured in a Korean movie called 엽기적인 그녀(warning, the link has a spoiler) which although it literally means "My Bizarre Girl" I guess they figured "My Sassy Girl" would generate more interest in the English-speaking market.

I saw the movie and thought it was okay, but the Japanese and others in Asia loved it. That's probably because the cultures are similar in many ways. While I thought the female lead character was annoying, needed counseling and a stint at the Betty Ford Clinic, she was endearing to Korean and Asian audiences who aren't used to feisty female characters. Anyway, that's just to point out that Korean artists are making significant inroads to other cultures.

Which leads me to the linked video. It seems that Youtube has spawned a group of neoclassical musicians who upload their performances for the purpose of learning through feedback. There is one that was uploaded eight months ago which features a guitar virtuoso performing the complex Pachabel Canon. This quote from Web Guitar Wizard Revealed at Last published in the New York Times sums it up fairly well.

...the video drew hordes of seekers with diverse interests and attitudes. Guitar sites, MySpace pages and a Polish video site called Smog linked to it, and viewers thundered to YouTube to watch it. If individual viewings were shipped records, “guitar” would have gone gold almost instantly. Now, with nearly 7.35 million views — and a spot in the site’s 10 most-viewed videos of all time — funtwo’s performance would be platinum many times over. From the perch it’s occupied for months on YouTube's "most discussed" list, it generates a seemingly endless stream of praise (riveting, sick, better than Hendrix), exegesis, criticism, footnotes, skepticism, anger and awe.

The most basic comment is a question: Who is this guy?

Well, here he is: Mr. Jeong-hyun Lim

What I thought was interesting about the New York Times article was this passage.
That educational imperative is a big part of the“Canon Rock” phenomenon. When guitarists upload their renditions, they often ask that viewers be blunt: What are they doing wrong? How can they improve? When I asked Mr. Lim the reason he didn't show his face on his video, he wrote, “Main purpose of my recording is to hear the other’s suggestions about my playing.” He added, “I think play is more significant than appearance. Therefore I want the others to focus on my fingering and sound. Furthermore I know I'm not that handsome.”

Online guitar performances seem to carry a modesty clause, in the same way that hip-hop comes with a boast. Many of the guitarists, like Mr. Chang and Mr. Lim, exhibit a kind of anti-showmanship that seems distinctly Asian. They often praise other musicians, denigrate their own skills and talk about how much more they have to practice. Sometimes an element of flat-out abjection even enters into this act, as though the chief reason to play guitar is to be excoriated by others. As Mr. Lim said, “I am always thinking that I'm not that good player and must improve more than now.”
What interests me about it is the contrast in attitude. I recently participated in a thread on a forum where someone asked about lessons African immigrants could teach African-Americans. I jumped into the thread with the best of intentions saying that was a great idea. I then went on to suggest that we could also stand to learn from other cultures, especially Korean immigrants as the histories are similar. I also added that maybe we ought to acknowledge that African-Americans could stand to maybe step back, be humble and learn from others.

Well, you could have sworn I stepped out and called someone a bitch. I got a reply saying that Koreans aren't humble, they believe they're this or that. I actually thought that was interesting as I've lived here for over half a decade, so unless the person replying has similar experiences I highly doubt that she knows the cultural characteristics of Koreans. I don't claim to have a handle on all the intricacies of Korean culture but I do know that boasting and arrogance isn't seen much here except in select situations. It was bullheaded bitterness on a level I just couldn't handle.

With that said, Mr. Lim awesome job, and I hope that you learned a lot from posting your performance on the web.



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Monday, August 28, 2006

Older South Koreans Support the USA - ROK Alliance

I'm a few days behind on this story, but I have a good excuse which I won't share here as it's really doesn't matter. The issue is still brewing here in South Korea (Republic of Korea - ROK). Plus, as both work and school are starting for me next week, this won't be the last story that catches a bit of dust before I get to it.

However, I was clicking around looking for something to read and tripped over this story, S. Koreans Rally in Support Of Alliance, on the Washington Post website. It reports that on August 11th protested gathered at 서울 역, Seoul Station, to protest the pending transfer of military wartime command from the USA to South Korea.

Thousands of South Koreans, including former defense ministers wearing their old military uniforms, rallied Friday in Seoul demanding that the president halt moves to retake wartime command of the country's military from the United States.

"Stop the plot to destroy the Korea-U.S. alliance!" protesters chanted during a rally in front of the city's central train station.

Over their heads flew balloons strung with placards bearing the images of the South Korean and U.S. flags side-by-side.
What's interesting to me is the article pointed out that there is a generational divide here in Korea on this issue. Older Koreans who saw the destruction and division of their country first-hand tend to oppose the push to lessen the US involvement in South Korea. In contrast, younger Koreans, who don't have any memory of the Korean War, tend to support less involvement from the US. It's spearheaded by the 386ers which is short-hand for a generation that is pretty darn impressive.
... clever shorthand for what is the essence of this group. The 3 stands for their age--these people are still in their late 30s (or, at most, early 40s)--absurdly young in a Confucian society to be reaching for power and influence. The 8 is for the 1980s, the tumultuous period when they attended university and the country shifted from dictatorship to democracy. And the 6 is for the 1960s, when they were born--the era when their parents were toiling ceaselessly to industrialize their war-shattered nation.

These 386ers are the ones who faced down Korea's military rulers, did hard time in prison for student and labor activism, and fought deep-seated corruption in the country's executive suites and government offices. They're at the vanguard of the country's surprising surge of anti-Americanism, and they insist on a new tone of tolerance in the debate on North Korea. And they have created the most energetic corporate governance movement in Asia. (from Korea's Young Lions on the website)
As it stands now the US - South Korea alliance is one where the US is in a tripwire situation. Due to the placement of US troops at 판문점, Panmunjeom, if anything were to happen on the US would immediately be drawn into the conflict. As a US citizen, I'm not really comfortable with that. However, first, I realize that has been the set-up since before I was born. I also realize, most importantly, that it's like that because it's a key deterrent to the North initiating anything along the Demilitarized Zone, DMZ.

If the North started an offensive, not only would South Korean troops be immediately mobilized, but so would US troops. All of the US's firepower on the peninsula and as well as the ones stationed in Japan and in other regions in Asia.

It's just ironic in a culture and society that supposedly looks to it's elders for direction and guidance is, in this case, blantantly igonring what the older generation has to say.
Among those speaking publicly against the plan have been many of the country's former defense ministers, who argue that the command transfer is premature and would unravel the country's alliance with Washington and undercut deterrence against North Korea. (from S. Koreans Rally in Support Of Alliance)
Ultimately, it's an issue the South Korean people will sort out. Good for them that they've built working a democracy that allows them to do it.


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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Pack of Wolves Update: My Pen is Like New!

For those of you who tuned in a couple of weeks ago, you know I got quite upset when some ill-mannered cow busted my fountain pen.

I bought a new one and sent the old one in for a repair.

I got it back a few days ago and then took myself on a department store run in Shinsaegae Department Store. I know, bad, but I'd just been traumatized by the dumbest phone call in history. Shopping IS therapy.

Anyway, here it is, and it's just like new! It cost me a mere 27,000 won (around $25 USD) to get the nib replaced. I love my Waterman fountain pens.

It's a quirk. Deal with it.

The thing that was cool was I learned a new term this week.

I was talking to a Korean friend of mine and he asked me what the pen I was using is called in English. I told him that we call them fountain pens. This took a bit of clarification because he knows I use cartridges, so that whole bottle of ink and suction thing is lost. Anyway, once that was explained he told me that in Korean fountain pens are called 만년필, man nyon pen. "Man", 만, in Korean (from Chinese, btw) is 10,000 and, 년, "nyon" means year.

So it's literally "10,000 year pen." That makes sense because it means long living or long-lasting pen because you don't toss them when they're out of ink; you just add more ink.

Nice, eh?


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Missiles and Nukes?!!! How About This...?

Image taken from the Stratfor website.

According to Japan 'denies N. Koreans entry' six North Koreans on their way to a conference in Kyoto, Japan were denied entry.
TOKYO, Japan (AP) -- Japan denied entry permits to six North Koreans seeking to attend a religion conclave under tightened visa restrictions in the wake of Pyongyang's missile tests last month, a news report said Friday.

The Justice Ministry refused permission for six North Koreans representing Christian and Buddhist organizations to enter Japan in order to attend a conference that begins Saturday in the western Japan city of Kyoto, public broadcaster NHK said.

They were denied entry on the grounds that "they appeared to be linked to North Korean government authorities," the Justice Ministry said according to NHK. ...
What do I think, you ask?

I think sanctioning and punishing North Korea in every way possible for their actions is allowable. You can't fire off missiles, promise not to produce nukes then turn around and give the world the finger by declaring you're a nuclear power, sell weapons and weapons technology to "rogue states" yet think that everyone else wants to host your citizens in their countries. Humanitarian aid, North Korean refugees and human rights aside, I say screw the North Korean who gets the privilege to travel.

All North Koreans who get that coveted privilege, I'm pretty sure, from the privileged class anyway. The privileged class are the exact class of people who need to feel the hit and the fury of the international public. They need to feel the negative consequences. They're the people refusing to admit the Juche way is a load of crap and simply admit that the system doesn't work. Almost every communist nation is gone with the exception of North Korea and Cuba.* Socialism can work, but communism has consistently fallen flat. Your North Korean farmer has no power, but the North Korean elite do.

How much? Well, no one knows.

Granted, I realize the same applies to the US, so I've been packing light during these last five or so years due to the inane policies of the Bush administration, but that's another post of another time (or just go back and look at some of my older posts).

It seems that the brass in Seoul have finally realized that two-stepping with Pyongyang always leaves you screwed. In Do not back North Korea into corner, Seoul says
Regional powers should not try to back North Korea into a corner over its missile tests and nuclear weapons programme but should stand firm when Pyongyang behaves badly, South Korea's foreign minister said on Friday.

I'm still not sure exactly how that statement will pan out in reality. In order to "stand firm" sometimes you have to back your opponent into a corner. However, it's true that the guy with nothing to loose might just surprise you and not capitulate but go out in a blaze of glory. Since I live in Seoul with around 20 million other people, I'd prefer no blazes of glory from the North anytime soon.

However, the powers that be could try to get creative and find a new middle ground. Not sure what I mean by that? Go back and find some diplomatic history and read up on how a some visionaries got out of nasty fixes before. John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile crisis is one and another is Jimmy Carter shifted the conflict between Israel and Egypt over the occupation of the Sinai and miraculously helped to engineer the Camp David Accords which still hold to this day.

I truly think we have no visionary diplomats and politicians out there who are close enough to power to wield some influence. However, I also think we're bogged down with people who've studied nothing since the Cold War.

It's time to say "enough is enough".

*Okay, technically, Cuba claims it's socialist, but if you can't take your family out for a vacation to the Bahamas, I'm sorry, it strikes way too much of the former USSR for me to agree it's socialist. I think of the Nordic countries when I think of effective and efficient socialism.


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Friday, August 25, 2006

South Korea Finally Certain That North Korea Has Nukes

From the Washtington Post, S. Korea certain North has nuclear bombs: minister

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea is certain North Korea has nuclear weapons and Seoul's best estimate is Pyongyang has produced one or two bombs, its defense minister said on Friday, amid reports that the North may be preparing a nuclear test.

Another senior official said South Korea and China had agreed to cooperate in preventing the North from conducting a test, which would pose a grave situation in the region.

Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung said he believed the North had one or two nuclear weapons, but his remarks in parliament on Friday were among the strongest yet on the North's possession of atomic bombs.

"It is estimated that the North has one or two," Yoon told a parliamentary hearing when asked about the North's nuclear arsenal. When asked if the South has no doubt about the North's possession of a nuclear weapon, Yoon said: "That's correct." ...
From the Korea Times, Pyongyang Has Nuclear Bombs: Defense Minister:
Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung said Friday Seoul has no doubt that North Korea possesses nuclear weapons.

``The government believes North Korea has one or two nuclear bombs," the minister told the National Assembly Defense Committee.

Asked by an opposition member of the committee whether the communist state has developed or manufactured nuclear weapons, Yoon said the government has no doubt that Pyongyang possesses an atomic bomb.

Washington has long believed Pyongyang may have manufactured six to 12 atomic bombs, but Seoul has been reluctant to call the North a nuclear state.

North Korea announced it possessed nuclear weapons in a Foreign Ministry statement released in February last year, but South Korean officials, including former Unification Minister Chung Dong-young, claimed the North cannot be called a nuclear power until it is ``scientifically proven.’

The defense minister's remarks are expected to raise concerns here that Pyongyang may be trying to scientifically prove its possession of nuclear arms through an underground test of an atomic bomb.
So does this signal a change in South Korea's policy towards the North? We'll see, but I won't hold my breath.


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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Poor Rejected Pluto...We Saw it Coming

Pluto image taken from Gene Smith's Astronomy Tutorial

Now writing about science and technology isn't something I've done on this blog before. That's because my focus, as is obvious from this blog's description, is somewhere else.

However, when I was a child I was a huge astronomy and NASA geek. My mom bought me all sorts of astronomy books and I still smile when I think of how I just loved Ham, the chimp astronaut. L.A. is great because it has the Griffith Observatory and the big high tech companies related to space travel in California, but even if I'd grown up in middle America I think I was always drawn to places unknown whether it be outer space or international destinations. I'm still fascinated when I sit and watch the movie depiction of Carl Sagan's Contact. And, while science fiction doesn't qualify you to comment as an authority on astronomy, it was the pull of science coupled with sci-fi that inevitably led me to bringing a toy light saber at my law school graduation and wielding it when I received my diploma. That makes me feel more than qualified to comment on this Pluto matter as a keyboard astronomer (think "armchair commentator" or "armchair pundit").

I was following the Pluto debate and knew it would probably be regulated to a planetoid status. If only being tiny regulated humans to a humanoid status, I wouldn't feel a slight tug of envy seeing all these female skeletal frames in the Hollywood spotlight being called beautiful. They'd just be "beautiful for a humanoid". Okay, I know Pluto is not a planetoid. That's a totally different astronomy category, but that whole planetoid/humanoid tie in would have failed had I acknowledged that a few words earlier.

It seems naming and categorizing it is one of the issues. Pluto is now in a terminology wasteland it seems:

In a series of votes, the astronomers narrowly decided against calling it a "plutonian object." The term "pluton" was shot down, too. But they insisted that Pluto would still have stature -- it becomes a "dwarf planet" and the prototype of a new, as yet unnamed, subcategory of objects. (from the Washington Post article For Pluto, a Smaller World After All)
What caught my attention was a headline I saw from ABCNews: Widow of Pluto's Discoverer 'Shook Up'. In the article, Patricia Tombaugh talks about how her husband, Clyde Tombaugh, "...would understand they had a real problem when they start finding several of these things flying around the place."
The controversy over how to define Pluto began when scientists realized it was much smaller than it was thought to be when it was discovered in 1930. Early data indicating that it was large enough to disturb the orbits of Neptune and Uranus turned out to be observational errors. (see For Pluto, a Smaller World After All)
I actually think the rejected option, adding more planets and upping the number from eight to ten would have been better.
Another possibility, advocated by Gingerich's committee, would have been to call any orbiting object sufficiently large for gravity to pull it into a round shape a planet. That would have included Pluto, Xena and Ceres -- a object long considered an asteroid that orbits between Mars and Jupiter -- and perhaps others. (see For Pluto...)
I mean a planets named Xena and Ceres would be cool, but I'm not an astronomer and cool planet names wasn't the point.

For this blogger, it breaks my heart. Mrs. Tombaugh was ready for it. Rationally, I was ready for it. But poor little Pluto has been dissed.

According to the Washington Post article:
The fight over Pluto's status at a meeting in Prague of the International Astronomical Union, the body that sets standards for the field, became a vicious battle that ultimately broke along scientific, linguistic and historical lines.
I just don't understand how little Pluto could make anyone "vicious", but I've been known to get vicious over issues others would find obscure too. In fact, the saying "it's not that serious" really irks me when thrown my way. So maybe here, that phrase is needed for all who are worked up and shocked.

Pluto will survive. It has friends. It has the support of many humans (and humanoids). It will continue on in its existence following its own orbit. Unfortunately it will not be clearing the way of other objects was orginally thought, but trailing along in influence behind its more powerful neighbors.


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Are You Serious? Thailand Fines North Korean Aslyum Seekers

North Korean refugees in China try to enter a Japanese embassy. (Film still courtesy of Incite Productions) - Image and caption taken from the UCLA Asia Institute website.

I was about to call it a day and tuck myself in, BUT this BBC News headline caught my eye: Thai court convicts North Koreans

Of course, I then ran a search for other articles and found an Associated Press article on the Washington Post, Thailand Charges N. Korea Asylum Seekers, which starts off by saying:

BANGKOK, Thailand -- Thai authorities arrested and charged nearly 200 North Korean asylum seekers with illegal entry after they were smuggled into the country but they will not be forcibly deported, officials said Wednesday. (click here for the full article)

Last I checked, Bangkok, Thailand has the UN there. That's sarcasm. I know they have a UN office as a friend, a classmate, of mine is interning there right now.

I know that Thailand is a place where North Koreans go to seek asylum and to get moved here to South Korea. However, I've never looked at the process or trends in detail.

I'm thinking the UN might be one big reason for the draw as well as the fact that getting to other countries in northeast Asia (China, Russia, South Korea, and Japan) is difficult to impossible. I'm sure also as there is now a history of other North Koreans getting to Thailand and seeking asylum there that Bangkok is the place to go.

The fact is having the UN in Bangkok, Thailand benefits Thailand tremendously and they're going to have to take the good with the bad just as other countries that host UN offices must.

I just think it's sad to attempt to stem this tide by throwing people who risked their lives, left their families and are seeking out a better life in jail. I mean it's a technicality as they were fined, but we all know these people cannot afford the 6,000 baht or around $160 USD fine.

I realize that this year the number of North Koreans seeking asylum jumped from 80 last year to 400 puts a strain on Thailand. However, I think discouraging North Korea asylum seekers is ridiculous. If you want the benefits of having a UN office in your country, you take what comes with it.

One solution might be an international fund to help Thailand handle the high numbers of North Koreans fleeing their country. Another might be a fund to help the North Koreans who are caught before they can reach a foreign embassy pay the fine.

I'm not sure; it's late...just past 2:30am here in Seoul. But this is one I'm going to think about because this one really frustrates me.

While thinking about it I reflected on the Underground Railroad and how hard it was for slaves to get to freedom during that time. Now I'm curious to find an answer to the question of whether any northern states fined and jailed runaway slaves? If anyone knows, give me some information and links. I'll get on that project tomorrow.

With that said, now it's time for some sleep.

Links to North Korean Refugee NGOs:
Life Funds for North Korean Refugees
Life Fund's links to other North Korean refugee NGOs


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Right On! Bloggers, et al. Help to Get the Morning After Pill Approved by the FDA

I'm just sharing the good news!

Here it is straight from the Washington Post: FDA Approves OTC Sales of Plan B.

The Food and Drug Administration approved an application today making the long-debated emergency contraceptive Plan B, commonly known as the "morning-after pill," available without a prescription to women 18 and older...
My participation in this was minimal. I signed a petition. I posted the countdown clock on this blog which I saw on another female bloggers website. I asked a handful of friends to get involved. Then I just crossed my fingers hoping that the FDA would take action and approve "Plan B", as it's called, even though it will risk a backlash from Bush and crew.

I got an email from NARAL today. Here it is:
Thanks to the letters, petitions, and support from people like you, the FDA finally overcame the political pressure from the White House, Congress, and anti-choice lobbyists, and approved the morning-after pill for over-the-counter sales.

Medical experts and scientists at the FDA have asserted for years that the morning-after pill - which can prevent an unintended pregnancy if taken within 72 hours after sex - should be available without a prescription. It's safe, it's effective, and it's a commonsense way for women to prevent unintended pregnancy.

Thank you again for helping achieve this victory for women - your action does make a difference.

My best,

Nancy Keenan
NARAL Pro-Choice America
It helps to confirm my belief that action matters. So if something is important to you, take action, vote, talk to your friends and your representatives. Have some faith because an apathetic American electorate is a dangerous thing. The last six years have shown us that.


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A Funny "Snakes On A Plane" Review

I was clicking around exploring other blogs and found this review of Snakes on a Plane on the Internal Collapse blog. This blogger is from Canberra, Australia. For those of you who are geographically challenged, Canberra is the capital of Australia.

It's a good way for me not to write much today. I'm having way too much fun listening to Continuum over and over. Plus, I just dropped cash on seven new DVDs today, so I'd better watch them now before school starts because once it does I'll be incommunicado for weeks.

Anyway, again it's a funny review, but it also tells you why Snakes on a Plane is a good film even if it's "trashy".


Remember, if you can, the fine series of Red Dwarf. In one episode Lister and Rimmer have a drunken conversation about the fried egg, chilli chutney sandwich that Lister has created (they are fucking awesome!).

Rimmer's point about the sandwich was that it was all wrong. Every ingredient was obviously wrong but together they made something amazing. This is a fine description of Snakes on a Plane.

Plot? Wrong. Characters? Wrong. Soundtrack, direction and camerawork? All wrong. And yet, together they make something so horribly right it is reasonable to assume that the film itself must be bad for you.

For those not in the know, SoaP is the story of a man who sees a gangland hit and is ferried by the FBI (there were two agents, but one is Samuel l. (Motherfucking) Jackson, so the other one doesn't really matter) to a plane heading to L.A. where he can testify.

Unfortunately for them (and all the other passengers), the bad guys have decided that this man needs to die, so they fill the plane with hundreds of poisonous snakes which are angry and ready to kill EVERYBODY.

You must switch off in this film. Any thinking and you're going to hate it because you'll notice just how bad it is. But if you go in expecting a trashy, enjoyable film, then you're in for one hell of a film.

Normally, I discuss the good and bad points of a film, but for this I will only give notes.

Points- Samuel l. Motherfucking Jackson!

- PRODUCT PLACEMENT! Drink the fucking Red Bull!

- The CG snakes are so tacky they defy description.

- The plot is so thin it could be used as a dress for Britney Spears.

I would have other points, but they would spoil the magic.

Go see Snakes on a Motherfucking Plane. Do as I say, and you live.


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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

John Mayer: Continuum CD Debut on Star 98.7

Update # 6 December 12, 2007 @ 12am

Again, I just don't want to start a new John Mayer post. Plus, this is the post that's Johm Mayer download central.

Over at TryJM, they have a post where you can download the December 8th, Charity Revue that happened at the Nokia Theatre. Here is the link to that: Download the Los Angeles Show 12/08 Thanks to Susi and Debbie.

However, the download site really sucks, so I've uploaded the files to There is just a wait, but no confusing site prompting you for money and no wait between downloads.

Here are the links:

The Band


Update # 5
10:57pm Seoul, South Korea, July 30, 2007

I forgot that a friend shared this with me. I've uploaded it to MegaUpload:

The making of In Repair: In Repair - One Song, One Day

The instructions for Megaupload are below.


Update # 4

2:10pm Seoul, South Korea, January 22, 2007

Just because I'm not starting a new Mayer blog for this, I'll just update it here.

I'm very thankful to the folks at the Try JM blog for uploading and sharing the links to the .mp3 files of John's January 19, 2007 interview with 98.7 FM in Los Angeles.

I was off skiing, and I missed it.

However, what I hate is RapidShare which makes you wait up to 18 minutes between files to download.

I've taken the files and moved them to Megaupload which is where I've also uploaded John's preview of his Continuum album which he also did on 98.7 FM.

The interview is in two parts and it runs about 8 minutes each. 16 minutes o'fun with John Mayer...ain't it amazing?

Download and enjoy, my sweets!

John Mayer - Jan. 19, 2007 - 98.7FM Interview, part 1
John Mayer - Jan. 19, 2007 - 98.7FM Interview, part 2

The Megaupload instructions are below after the Continuum preview links.

Update # 3

2:10pm Seoul, South Korea, November 2, 2006

Due to ineptitude on the Mayer site I've located, zipped and uploaded the Live at the Chapel performance here for those who missed it. There are Megaupload instructions below after the Continuum preview if you need them.


Update # 2

5:45am Seoul, South Korea, October 29, 2006 is open for anyone and everyone, so I've removed the 2006 tour photos as I really could give two cents about tour pics. Now that you can join, join and check them out on The link to the group is on the John Mayer site here.

Update # 1

5:55pm Seoul, South Korea, September 13, 2006 (early AM on the 13th in the States).

Now that Continuum is out, I'll link this first and then you can scroll down for the rest of the contents. Basically, Mayer wrote a nice blog about being a musician and his new release. It might be an act, but he strikes me as someone who truly "keeps it real", as they say, more often than not. Being from L.A. I'm quite jaded about entertainment folks.

Here it is: The Continuum Super Blog.

That's very sweet and touching, no?


If it isn't completely obvious now, I'll just say that I'm a recent John Mayer convert. Hell, I've mentioned his music and other stuff surrounding him in three or four posts and this blog is just two months old. It smacks of a new discovery which I admit, for me, he is.

Sue me! I've not lived in the States since 2000.

I fucking love this guy's music. Plus, he's damn funny. He reminds me of friends I used to hang with back in the day. And, my regular readers know I don't swear much in my writing (live might be another issue, but I'll leave that to my friends to judge), so this has to be the real thing as I've found that I lock into truly talented artists after I discover them. That goes for newbies or the vets. I think Mayer is destined to be a well-respected vet. Plus, I also like that the newbie aspect means he's tapped into the internet and has a pretty slamming blog. A lot of newbies don't have the brain power to write stuff that is engaging. This guy does. Sometimes it's heavy on the merchandise plugging, but it's his damn blog and where else can he unapologetically plug his wares?

I can do without the throngs of silly and giddy females, but that comes with the territory if you're a decent looking young guy, which he is. It just stinks of everything I hate about, L.A., my hometown: groupies, sycophants, hangers-on, flatterers, etc. Don't get me wrong. There are some good souls in L.A., but this other category of people make me wanna ... nevermind. Forgive me, I'm just a sensitive L.A. born and raised soul.

Anyway, his new album, Continuum, is set to drop on September 12th. I pre-ordered it because I don't want to have to deal with running around to record stores here. I mean they'll have it, but will they have it at the exact moment that I have the time to drop by and get it? Plus, if you've read my recent post about my upcoming class schedule you know that I'm going to be screwed from September 1st until the semester is over. It's best just to be efficient, take care of business and order the damn thing. Mayer's record company has my money already.

What's cool is he decided to debut his album on L.A.'s Star 98.7 today. Well, technically, yesterday as it debuted at 5pm on August 23rd, PST which is the next day here. I got up, tuned into the 98.7 webcast, and I simply loved the CD. Star 98.7 has a listen on demand link (which doesn't seem to be working as I type this), but if you want to download the file I'm here to serve.

Due to the hard work of another Mayer fan on MySpace, I can link you to the full broadcast so you can listen to it yourself. Thank you so much Creepy!

You have three choices:

1) You can download it in four segments or download the zip file of the whole thing. I have a DSL connection and for the separate segments it took me maybe 3 to 4 minutes each to get the whole thing. These files are in .wav format.

2) You can download the full broadcast on one zip file. The zip file will take about 20 minutes on a DSL connection.

3) You can download the full broadcast in MP3 format (my choice). That way you can put it on an iPod or other MP3 player. I'm firing up my Palm PDA right now. Thanks to Kevin, another fan from MySpace, who converted Creepy's zip file into MP3 format.

Ya'll rock.

Here are the links:

Continuum debut, part 1
Continuum debut, part 2
Continuum debut, part 3
Continuum debut, part 4
Continuum debut - complete broadcast - zip file
Continuum debut - complete broadcast - MP3 format

If you need a primer, here you go.

1) When the page to MegaUpload opens there will be a box in the right hand corner. Next to it will be a three letter code.

2) Type in the three letter code and hit enter.

3) You'll then have to wait 45 seconds before you can download it.

4) Once it's ready it will instruct you to click to start the download. Just direct your computer to save the file and then let it rip.

Come back with comments if you love it. Come back with comments even if you hate it, but if you hate it you have bad taste in music. ;-)

Also, if you like it, show John some love and buy the CD. He's done something I haven't seen an artist do in a long time because of a fear of the rough and tumble lawless Internet. It's just brilliant marketing if folks who like it go and throw down the cash for it when it comes out.

If Mayer won't be playing in your town here is his Webster Hall performance that was streamed on the net on September 13, 2006. (BTW, Webster Hall was a fun club the last time I visited NYC.)

Thanks so much to Lori, another dedicated Mayer fan from MySpace, for linking this on her blog. As I've said before, you rock!

Before the tour pics, interviews, idle bitchy digs and gossip:

Here is something to whet your appetite. John Mayer's AOL Music Session (Note, the link is rather plain and it makes me think that once it's replaced you'll have to search for it in their archives). FYI, John Mayer's session is number 589 which might help your search when it rolls into the archives.

Here is a CNN interview done on the same day: John Mayer: New Moves

Here is a scan of the September, 2006 Rolling Stone Interview: Big Mouth Strikes Again. It's a MySpace blog, so you probably need a MySpace account. However, I'm not sure.

Excerpt from the September 2006 Rolling Stone Interview (this has sound): Big Mouth Strikes Again

USA Today Interview (August 10, 2006): Mayer drops the cute act to craft careful 'Continuum'

Oh, but wait, this is some funny stuff from the Gossiping Bitches website. It's circa 2005, but it's still funny: John Mayer Receives Ghetto Pass

Another from the Belligerent Intellectual re Mayer's backstage demands: John Mayer Would Get Along Great With My Mom

And, who can forget Mayer's botched foray into the world of stand up comedy this summer?

Plus, an incredibly authoritative tabloid is reporting that he's secretly dating Jessica Simpson. If this rumor is true, which People magazine and report it is, hahahahahaha. That's just some nasty shit. Ewwwww, orange women with plastic boobies fetish much? Of course, the Superficial went after Johnny with a vengance: Jessica Simpson dates Quasimodo. Hahahahahaha...that's just cruel.

Update on the John and Jessica rumors:

It's been a damn mess. Someone "leaked" info about their alleged budding romance and the reports are Mayer tossed her. Now I do think they were starting to date, but that's where it gets ridiculous. If you're just starting to date someone it's not love. It very well could become love, but her camp was going ape shit with spreading rumors. It was just tacky media whoring in my not so humble opinion.

After a few days of buzz Mayer posted this on his blog: Don't Believe the Hype post. Once the rumor got out that he'd commented on the rumor, the high amount of traffic to his blog shut it down for a bit. That's too funny to me.

Here is Jessica on The View, however, flat out denying it:

Also, I'm not going to link all of the post John and Jessica romance links, but here are a couple:
Simpson Shows Publicist the Door

Between the two of them, it seems that it's Simpson who has come off as the one who got clowned.

Beyond that if you still have a morbid fascination with this topic, just run a search for it on a news website. My sources say that she was spotted standing stage left at one of his Bay Area shows during his Fall 2006, so methinks we're all being punk'd.

I gotta link this stuff because otherwise I'll be whipped like everyone else. My apologies to those who think he's a deity. I, however, must break up the kudos with some digs. It keeps my Libra spirit balanced and keeps me in my "confusing to others" cynical-Pollyanna mode. Plus, really, I'm in it because I love his music. It does help that he's almost as funny as I am.

BTW, no I don't actively seek out this stuff. Usually, I just gleen it from Mayer's MySpace page because only a few folks have figured out that maybe putting everything in one spot might be a good idea. Since one thing I am is über-organized (Ja, ich spreche Deutsches) and it usually takes no more than a minute or two to add, I've appointed myself as one of the folks organizing stuff.

Now they just have to find it...muhahahahahaha.


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A Cartoon From Patrick Corrigan

Here is another dig at George W. Bush and the war in Iraq.

Not much to say except that I got a good laugh from this one and had to share it.

Photo taken from Patrick Corrigan's website. Corrigan is a cartoonist for The Toronto Star.


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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

An Abacus?

After my appointment with my doctor today I stopped by the medical supply store to get more test strips for my blood glucose monitor. The lady who runs the store knows me well as I've been shopping there on and off, mostly on, for a couple of years. (Depending on where I am in Seoul I have a handful of shops I go to. Seoul is a huge city.)

Anyway, as you can see from the photo, I didn't get much. I just got two boxes of test strips and a box of alcohol swabs.

What's interesting is she busted out an abacus! Here is a link to the Wikipedia entry because I really don't know much about them outside of the fact that they're calculation tools that merchants have used for centuries. The page discusses a few different types, but she had the Japanese abacus or soroban which is exactly like the one depicted here. The section with the picture also explains how using a soroban is taught and why some people still want their children to learn how to use one:

Soroban is taught in primary schools as a part of lessons in mathematics because the decimal numerical system can be demonstrated visually. When teaching the soroban, a song-like instruction is given by the teacher. The soroban is about 8 cm (3 inches) tall. The beads on a soroban are usually shaped as a double cone (bi-cone) to facilitate ease of movement. Often, primary school students may bring along with them two sorobans, one with 1 upper bead and 5 lower beads, the other with 1 upper bead with 4 lower beads. Despite the advent of handheld calculators, some parents send their children to private tutors to learn soroban because proficiency in soroban calculation can be easily converted to mental arithmetic at a highly advanced level.
I thought it was so cool that I immediately reached for my camera phone and asked if I could snap a photo. She's amused by me because I'm always bouncing into her store all smiley and friendly. For some reason, I'm usually a happy camper after an appointment at my hospital. She allowed me to take the picture, and I bounced out of the store smiling as usual.

Not much else to say about it. It was just cool seeing someone using an abacus when, as you can see, there was a calculator within reach.


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North Korean Espionage in Seoul

No, it's not the spy! I posted a picture for those who hate to read (but this is a bad blog to come to if you hate reading). The picture of actor actor 유오성, Yoo Oh-seong, who portrayed a North Korea spy in the 1999 South Korean comedy The Spy. (Image taken from the Korean Film Archive website.)

Oh boy! Fun and espionage in Seoul, South Korea!

Today while waiting for my monthly "she's an insulin dependent pump wearing diabetic" check-up, I had the chance to scan a couple of news papers.

Both the International Herald Tribune and the Joong-Ang Ilbo ran stories on the recent arrest of a North Korean spy. This arrest happened on the eve of the Ulji Focus Lens which is a joint military drill between the US and South Korea. Both the US and South Korea claim it's a purely defensive exercise. However, North Korea always claims it is a grave military provocation. As if shooting off missiles, selling arms, declaring your country to be a nuclear power and having a dictator state isn't a good reason for both the US and South Korea to be on high alert and work together.

Well, clearly, for the North Koreans sending spies down to South Korea is justified.

South Korean authorities arrested 48 year old Jeong Gyong-hak who entered the country on a Phillipine passport he acquired by bribing officials in the Phillipines. According to the International Herald Tribune article, he was arrested in a Seoul hotel where officials seized a Philippine passport and "$3,188 and a compact disc that contained codes to de-scramble instructions from Pyongyang." He is reported to have "...allegedly took pictures and acquired map coordinates for military radar facilities, nuclear power plants, and U.S. and South Korean military headquarters..."

According to the Joong-ang Ilbo article, the purpose of this espionage was to verify the exact coordinates of military targets such as the Air Force radar facilities and Defense Ministry headquarters. Authorities also revealed that Jeong traveled to South Korea before on a Thai passport three times between 1996 and 1998. The Tribune reported that the passport was changed from Thai to a Phillipine passport to avoid being exposed after a North Korean diplomat defected in Bangkok in 1999.

So, for now, the stories coming out of South Korea have me typing away. Let's hope the fun continues.

More articles:
South Korea arrests suspected spy from North
South Korea 'arrests North spy'

Same anger, different year:
Anger over Korea military exercise (2002 "anger")
N Korea condemns US-South drills (2006 "anger")


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Monday, August 21, 2006

휴보 aka HUBO is Going Hollywood

It had to happen eventually. I mean I'm was born and raised in L.A. and it's took me some effort to finally get away. I didn't escape until after university. However, almost everyone else is drawn to Tinsel Town and the celebrities, glamour, status and great weather that goes with it. I went to Hollywood High and UCLA. I've met inane celebrities and entertainment types with a lot of self-importance, but not much to say that's really interesting. There are some good souls in L.A, but I was over it as a teenager.

Now the word on the street in Korea is that HUBO is going Hollywood. HUBO for those of you who don't know about this great South Korean celebrity is a robot that was created by Professor 오 준 호, Oh Jun-ho, at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology or KAIST as we all know it here.

HUBO shot to fame last year when it greeted world leaders at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) which was held last year in the city of Busan. HUBO has been up to a lot since then.

Now the story from the Korea Times, Hubo to Appear in Music Video, is that HUBO is off to NYC, the Big Apple, to shoot a video for Kanye West's production company Getting Out Our Dreams Pictures. The company will produce a music video for a male trio named Sara. In it HUBO will be featured in a street scene where it is searching for a loved one. Doesn't that just tug at your heartstrings? According to the Korea Times, HUBO and West will also be featured together in either that or another scene.

I think it's very cool as it's great publicity for KAIST, HUBO, Professor Oh and, of course, South Korea. However, if the next time I travel down to 대전, Daejeon, and I see HUBO rolling in a tricked out Mercedes-Benz surrounded by groupies and assistants, I'll know it's all Hollywood's fault.

More stories:
South Korea robot to work for Kanye West

Update: Pics of HUBO Hanging Out in the KAIST Lab

My friend, Yeongju, who is working for a news agency now is the one who tipped me off about the HUBO story.

She went to KAIST to do a piece on HUBO and I got some pictures from her today. So here are some exclusive HUBO shots in the KAIST lab.

Thanks Yeongju!


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Senator Chuck Hagel Says GOP Has lost Its Way

In this photograph provided by FOX News Sunday, Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., appears on the Sunday morning talk show at the FOX studios in Washington Sunday, Aug. 20, 2006. (Photo and caption taken from the Washington Post article Sen. Hagel Says GOP Has Lost Its Way)

Republicans have lost their way when it comes to many core GOP principles and may be in jeopardy heading into the fall elections, Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb. says. (click here for the full article)
It merely echos the sentiment in the former post about conservative pundits questioning Bush. Now Republicans are saying that the GOP has lost its way.

I would agree with him because less government and international engagement is the complete reverse of the wire-tapping and "do what we say or we're gonna bring somethin' bad down on you" diplomacy that the GOP currently deals in.

Riddle me this. Again, I ask are those on the right just now figuring this out? I mean was there some big GOP party over the weekend and all of them were forced to take truth serum?

I'm tired, and I'm jaded. I'm not particularly impressed with the soul searching now that we've made irreversible error after irreversible error.

These were questions and issues we should have been discussing in 2000 and 2004. However, the nation was so struck with extremist "either/or" politicking that being critical was virtually equated with an act of high treason.

It's a bit too late now as the mistakes of the current administration cannot be reversed. Let's just hope that for the November elections and from here on folks keep questioning.

When is it ever anti-American to question and debate?


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“Is Bush An Idiot?” Conservative Pundits Finally Ask.

Photo shamelessly lifted from The Moderate Voice website.

Peter Baker's Pundits Renounce The President starts off with this:

For 10 minutes, the talk show host grilled his guests about whether "George Bush's mental weakness is damaging America's credibility at home and abroad." For 10 minutes, the caption across the bottom of the television screen read, "IS BUSH AN 'IDIOT'?"

But the host was no liberal media elitist. It was Joe Scarborough, a former Republican congressman turned MSNBC political pundit. And his answer to the captioned question was hardly "no." While other presidents have been called stupid, Scarborough said: "I think George Bush is in a league by himself. I don't think he has the intellectual depth as these other people." (click here for the full article)
What the hell?

After six torturous years of inept decision after inept decision if you’re just now asking that question I doubt you can come to the right conclusion.

The better question six damn years into what I think will go down as the worst presidency in US history is are these conservative pundits idiots?

Enough said…

Related article:
Some Conservative Pundits Losing Faith In Bush


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Exhausted Anticipation

I've done nothing for about a week but I'm completely burnt out.

It's weird because this is a burn out that comes from anticipation. It’s not because I'm actually working my ass off right now.

Basically, here is my time schedule from September 1st through mid-December. The part of the schedule that is in italics is my school stuff and the part that is in regular font is my work stuff.

Mondays: 9 am to 1pm - RA/TA work, 2:30pm to 5:30pm – East Asian Regional Order and Inter-Korean Relations

Tuesdays: 9 am to 1pm - RA/TA work, 2pm to 5pm – Special Topics in Development

Wednesday: 10am to 1pm - Special Topics on International Public Relations, commute from Seoul to Anseong and teach from 3pm to 8:10pm

Thursday: Teach in Anseong from 12pm to 3pm and from 8:20pm to 10pm

Friday: Teach in Anseong from 9am to 6pm

And, for the sake of privacy, I've actually left some stuff out of that schedule.

Lay it out on a grid and it's just brutal to see. (I couldn't figure out how to format a chart that didn't completely screw up the layout of my blog, hence the layout above).

Let me explain that on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesday mornings I'm a graduate student. On Wednesday afternoons, Thursdays and Fridays I'm a university English instructor.

School is pretty easy. Not academically, but it's just that I know the system and can get around it easily. However, on Mondays I'll be taking a class at Seoul National University. The problem is Seoul National is across town.

For work, that's routine now too. Now I commute from Seoul to Anseong which is about one hour if traffic is behaving. However, once school starts traffic doesn't behave as there are two universities in Anseong and the bus is full as is the train, so when school is in session it's more like ninety minutes. Commuting isn't really that bad. Usually I read or sleep in transit. The bus station is a five minute walk from my office, so that's not bad either. But during the term I usually take the train because you avoid traffic with the train. The wrinkle is getting from my university to the train station. I've perfected the train station commute, but walking five minutes to the bus station is much easier. It's just that taking the risk that traffic will behave isn't worth the ease of that short walk. It ends up that the five minute walk ends up being a two hour comuute back to Seoul if there is bad traffic.

What's bad will be Thursday night/Friday mornings. I'm seriously thinking maybe I'll sleep in my office and just bring a change of clothes. I can stay, study, crash and not commute. I think that is what's going to happen. I have the right to an apartment, but I'm not sure I want to deal with it. However, I also don't want to feel homeless, so I'll probably talk to someone about getting a key to that apartment so I can sleep there one night a week.Don’t worry about lunch folks. I squeeze that in even though the folks who make my work schedules don't.

So, for those of you who know me, you probably won't hear from me until Christmas.


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Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Easter Bunny Hates You

"You know what the Easter Bunny is doing the other 364 days of the year?"

I saw this and just fell out laughing. Clearly, I have a screw or two loose. YouTube will be the cause of my demise.

I particularly like seeing the Easter Bunny wrestling some guy he has in a headlock in Times Square.

The Easter Bunny on


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Saturday, August 19, 2006

“Suspicious” Pair Thrown Off of Flight Bound for the UK

'Suspicions': Jo and Heath Schofield with daughter Isabel. Below: Passengers mutinied on a Monarch Airlines A320 at Malaga (photo and caption take from Mutiny on Flight 613 from the Daily Telegraph).

The story Mutiny on Flight 613 - Passengers refuse to allow holiday jet to take off until two Asian men are thrown off plane starts off by describing what happened:

British holidaymakers staged an unprecedented mutiny - refusing to allow their flight to take off until two men they feared were terrorists were forcibly removed. (click here for the full article).
I have to say when I read this article I could see the perspective of the freaked out passengers who refused to fly. However, I also started thinking about the perspectives of the two men who were kicked off the flight too. As a black American woman, I get hit with frustrating stereotypes quite a bit. It’s annoying to deal with, but I look at the world and I see exactly where those stereotypes come from and there are, unfortunately, some people who fit them perfectly. However, the fact still remains that I don’t fit them in some ways. However, the world isn't targeting black American women and we're not geting tossed off of flights. But now that's starting to happen as two men were kicked off a flight bound for the UK a few days ago.

Yes, there is a huge problem with terrorism and the radical Muslim world that simply has it out for the West. My country has a war on terrorism and rightly so. However, how they’ve chosen to fight it seems to only make it worse. It seems that what the average individual seems to forget, assuming they knew it in the first place, is that the majority of Muslims seem to not be extremist jihadists out to kill us.

Furthermore, what these folks don’t recognize is that there are Muslim extremists out there that look just like them. I remember reading news stories about al Qaeda and similar organizations recruiting white Muslims. As Pepe Escobar wrote in Self-Service jihad,

…the exodus to jihad lands is also on the rise. It's not only destination Iraq; more and more so-called "white Moors" - white Muslims carrying European Union passports - are leaving for jihad training in Chechnya.
These guys can be disgruntled locals like Americans or Europeans or they can be whites from the former Soviet states who, as we know, have launched terrorist attacks in Russia. These white Muslims will not get the type of reaction that happened in this case. They will not get eyed and have people say “they look like terrorists”. They’ll slip right under the radar because they look like they stepped out of a J.Crew ad. I think one big problem is these people with their suspicions are at the lowest rung of informed. If you rely on TV with its flashy edits to inform you about the world, you're screwed. The problem is you screw up the world around you too.

If people are that jittery about traveling then maybe for the good of us that don't want to deal with the stupidity, don't travel. Simply because someone is Muslim and speaks Arabic shouldn't be a bar to traveling.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying be politically correct and risk your life. Had the situation been reversed and I was boarding a plane and didn't feel safe, I wouldn't get on it. It was "... noticed that, despite the heat, the pair were wearing leather jackets and thick jumpers and were regularly checking their watches." Only the people who were there can testify to what exactly put them off with these two. However, it seems more like a wave of paranoia went through the passengers due to the recent Heathrow terror plot discovery as well as just the general fear in the West of terror attacks.

It seems like these two men were thrown off this flight simply because they were out of the mainstream. They looked different. They spoke a different language. They were dressed differently. They acted differently. This really does seem like a bunch of folks waiting at the gate who saw two men who fit the general stereotype of a "terrorist" and then their fear and imaginations went to town.

The conflict is would I prefer it if they had submerged their suspicions and then had unfortunately been correct? Then we would have heard of another terror attack with hundreds dead. Well, of course not. The problem is I sympathize and understand the actions of the passengers but another part of me fears a trend of people getting tossed off of flights due to group paranoia.

More sources:
'Suspicious' pair taken off plane
Terror fears force pair off flight
Al-Qaeda's Recruitment Operations in the Balkans
Special Report - Chechnya
Special Report - Russia


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Those Idiots at CNN: Morbid, Gore-Showing Morons!

Okay, this is just a rant, but I'm angry.

I usually watch CNN because, unfortunately, it's the only news channel my cable company provides. I'd be much happier with the BBC News which is what I watched when I lived just outside of 대구, Daegu, which is another major city in South Korea.

Anyway, I'm watching the news with the sound off because they run the same damn stories over and over. That's another annoying aspect of CNN. I'm eating a late dinner, and the story is about the people migrating back home to the south of Lebanon and the recovery efforts in that region. They show people covering up their noses because, unfortunately, they've uncovered some bodies that have been decaying for who knows how long. Then they show someone lifting a decayed hand and arm.

What the hell? Is it really news worthy to show that mess? I'm just glad I was on my last bite of rice cooked with sun dried tomatoes (try it, it's really good, btw).

Now I already have a huge amount of sympathy for the suffering that came down on the Lebanese during this war. It was like watching the big bully kick the crap of the spirited skinny guy who just kept getting up for more of a beating.

However, I don't need to see decaying bodies. I can imagine it. That's not news, it's unecessary and gratuious gruesomeness. If I want gore I'll go watch Snakes on a Plane or CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.


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Friday, August 18, 2006

John Mayer video: Waiting On the World to Change

I was up clicking around MySpace and decided to see what was up on John Mayer's MySpace page. If you go, don't say I didn't warn you about the depth of stupidity of a lot of the comments and the pack of irritating musicians who post oodles of comments urging you to listen to their music. Honestly, his website with his comment free blog is much better.

However, I don't go to MySpace to read that drivel. I learned the hard way. I go to see if Mayer is talking about or linking to anything interesting.

Sure enough, today I found something interesting. His the video to his new single has been uploaded to Youtube. It's now linked to his blog and his MySpace: Waiting on the World to Change.

Now it's linked to my little ol' blog. Enjoy!


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A Child's Last Day on Earth

This picture is funny. Plus, it helps keep my desire for marriage and children at its cautiously low level.

A friend forwarded it to me the other day. It was sent to me in an email titled "A Child's Last Day on Earth" which is too funny. I immediately sent it off to my friends with young kids because it's probably already doing the email circuit.

I woke up this morning itching to add something to my blog, but not really wanting to write as much as I usually do.

There you have it: funny picture + no desire to write an essay + a desire to put something funny on my blog = this post.

I think a friend a who is the father of two young kids caption suits this photo best:

That would be a very sad double funeral!

What's funny is while searching for other posts on this picture, I found this website which has the funniest title: "Ugly Baby Contest". Now these two aren't ugly unless you consider playing in paint and getting it everywhere ugly. In fact, the little one front and center has a hilariously cute grin on his face.

The thing is you know you've seen them. In fact, I see them all the time but you can't say "what happened to that kid!?" You just have to smile and cringe later. I guess this website is a place for all of us to cringe.


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Lebanese General Has Tea With Israeli Soldiers and Gets Arrested

I understand that each nation-state has laws which are important to them due to both historical and cultural reasons. I also understand that as someone who has never done military service that I lack an understanding of military rules and how soldiers should behave. With that said, I’m still having trouble figuring out why Lebanese General Adnan Daoud is under house arrest and under investigation.

According to news sources, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) seized the barracks where General Daoud was in command. His garrison was lightly armed and simply wasn’t equipped to fight off the IDF, so they didn’t resist. General Daoud was recorded on video serving and drinking tea with the IDF soldiers and walking with the IDF soldiers in the courtyard of the barracks. One day later General Daoud, his soldiers and civilians under the protection of UN peacekeepers left the area and headed north. The video footage was shown on Israeli TV and later was shown in Lebanon.

This is the wrinkle as written in the Daily Star from Lebanon:

Lebanese law forbids any dealings with Israel because a state of war exists between the two countries despite the Armistice Agreement of 1949. Lebanese citizens who have dealings with Israelis are subject to arrest and prosecution. (click here for the full article)
Now I don’t know about you, but his actions sound reasonable. It sounds like being pleasant, drinking tea and walking around with the Israelis instead of yelling “die, bitch, die” and letting off a few rounds was the better way to go. As stated above, it's reported that he and his soldiers were released along with civilians.

However, maybe I’m missing something. In fact, I’m sure I am missing something. It seems because he had a friendly encounter rather than a hostile one he’s now royally screwed. Ironically, it seems like General Daoud could be someone to teach officials on both sides of this some lessons in non-violent communication and how to engage rather than anger your opponent.

This one is irking me because, like I said, I don’t know much about the region or this conflict. However, it would seem that someone smart enough to engage the enemy, get himself, his troops and civilians out safely should be commended and not punished.

So help me out and give me some insight into why he’s in big trouble right now.

More articles:
Lebanese General Held Over Israeli Video
Lebanese General jailed for having tea with IDF before war broke out
Lebanese General Arrested For Conversing With Israelis


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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Three is a Charm: North Korea and Nuclear Tests

South Korean protesters carrying a mock North Korean missile are blocked by riot policemen at a rally against the North' nuclear ambition in Seoul on May 4, 2005. (Photo and caption from Nuclear Test is a Possibility for North Korea at

Just when I was bemoaning the fact that news out of Korea has ebbed to a dull low and that I’d have to continue writing about other places, Korea has delivered three stories back to back. Of course, as it goes, the third one in a trilogy is always the kicker.

While both the prostitution/human trafficking and smart clothes are pretty much inconsequential to world peace this last one is about ABC News reporting that there are suspicious movements in North Korea that indicate they’re preparing for a nuclear test.

:::insert frustrated moan here:::

At this point they’re just reports of activity near a suspected site, but still…

:::insert another frustrated moan here:::

It only brings home the meaning of the saying "be careful what you pray for, you just might get it."

Now from the perspective of Kim Jong-Il and the power elites in the North, I see the reasons behind wanting nuclear weapons and bluffing. If the world knows you have them, they’re going hopefully tread lightly with you because all it takes is one to kill a lot of people, cause a lot of senseless suffering and damage, and make wherever it strikes a radioactive wasteland.

Of course, what it’s doing is drawing attention back to North Korea which is always one purpose of moves like this. Unfortunately, it’s affecting the markets too. The reports now indicate that the Yen has fallen based to a record low against the Euro based on fears of these tests.

North Korea has been saying that they have nuclear weapons since February of 2005. It wouldn’t be surprising if they do or if they achieve it eventually considering the continued series botched diplomacy that happens in relation to the DPRK. The huge amount of resources that get siphoned off by Pyongyang that is then channeled to their military and weapons is signficant.

In terms of forcing North Korea to change the other five parties in the six party talks are a pathetic lot. South Korea doesn’t want to anger or inflame North Korea as technically they’re still at war. It would rock society as well as their vibrant economy as well as the world economy. The US doesn’t want a war either as we’re in an alliance that is set like a tripwire. Basically, if something happens, we’re automatically pulled into the conflict because of the US military's proximity to it all. As we all know, there are both South Korean and US soldiers are on the DMZ at 판문점, Panmunjom, face to face with North Korean soldiers. China as North Korea’s biggest ally doesn’t want war because of many reasons but the biggest being that they’re also nurturing the growth of an economy that, if things go right, will eclipse everyone's in years to come. Russia seems to be more concerned with focusing on its European neighbors than its Asian ones and doesn’t really seem to be all that concerned with North Korea except when they're stirring things up as they are now.

While both North Korea's allies and foes are figuring out what to do the North has been busy.

North Korea pretty much is the failed state that cried wolf.
They have used such activities as a bluff in the past to stir fears that they were preparing for tests that never happened. This could merely be grandstanding to show that they’re not pleased with the UN Security Council Resolution 1695 which condemned their missile tests on July 5th. Considering their allies China and Russia are permanent members with veto power, maybe they were surprised the resolution got through at all and this is a show to them as well as its traditional foes.

Here is how the folks at Reuters have summarized the history, just in case you need a primer:

Fears about North Korea's nuclear ambitions were heightened when Pyongyang defied international warnings and fired seven missiles into waters east of the Korean peninsula on July 5. The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution condemning the launches.

North Korea declared itself a nuclear power in February 2005 without testing. Talk on ending its nuclear program among the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States have been stalled since November.

Daniel Pinkston, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California, said North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il has bluffed in the past to get U.S. attention.

Last year, activity at suspected North Korean test sites led some analysts to believe the secretive state was preparing to test a nuclear device, but nothing happened.

In 1998, U.S. spy satellites detected a flurry of activity at an underground site at Kumchangri in North Korea designed to hold a plutonium reprocessing reactor.

But Pinkston said in a telephone interview that North Korea was "very unhappy" about the U.N. resolution following its missile tests and might want to show that "under pressure and in an atmosphere of hostility they won't disarm." (Click here for the full article).
Let’s hope that Pinkson’s assessment of this is correct and it’s just yet another bluff.

However, these bluffs could be more than grand standing and more of a distraction away from North Korea's activities as a weapons and weapons technology peddler. In Missiles and Madness published in the Asia Times, Richard Bennett basically believes the danger isn't so much North Korea being a direct threat but North Korea being an ally of nation-states hostile to the US. The risk is they'll continue to sell their missile and nuclear technology for cash to survive and stay in power.
While North Korea is undoubtedly a poor country, it has still managed to develop advanced and effective missile systems. Not even economic failure, famine and a severe lack of human resources have prevented the headlong dash for weapons technology.

While such arms are obviously considered vital for defense or even a preemptive strike, the major overriding reason has been financial: such technology is available for export to the highest bidder.

Such hard-currency transactions help keep North Korea afloat and the regime in power. Over the past 20 years or so North Korea has earned substantial revenue from the sale of missiles, and the relevant technology, to a number of states high on Washington's hit-list. Among these are the Nodong to Pakistan as the Ghauri and to Iran as the Shehab 3, while both Syria and Libya received Hwasong-5. It is reported that missile parts and technology have also been exported to Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam.

It appears certain that North Korea's nuclear-weapons program has been largely funded by the sale of missiles and other conventional arms to countries around the world.

North Korea is believed to have some 120 nuclear weapons, including a small number of hydrogen bombs to go with its growing arsenal of operational long-range ballistic missiles. It has built a considerable capability since the early 1960s with nuclear-research facilities at Yongbyon, Taechon, Pyongyang and Kumho. Significantly for North Korea, it is fortunate to have its own uranium mines, with more than 4 million tonnes of exploitable high-quality uranium.

An advanced chemical and biological warfare program has produced a considerable number of chemical warheads for battlefield missiles, aircraft bombs and artillery shells. These are known to include modern nerve agents. It is believed that a serious attempt has also been made to weaponize anthrax and that a small number of warheads may have been deployed.

With such a willing market for its missile technology and the financial advantages gained from the exportation of such weapons, why not offer the secrets of the nuclear bomb as well?

With the looming confrontation with the West over Iran's own nuclear program and an economy rich in petrodollars, Tehran would be a prime market for Pyongyang's weapons know-how. Tehran is North Korea's closest ally in the Middle East.

This would be the ultimate nightmare scenario for Washington, a determined Iranian enemy secure behind the unexpected deployment of an operational long-range missile system armed with a nuclear warhead. (Click here for the full article)
Considering the unsophisticated and failed “do what we say or we’ll call you names” approach of the Bush administration, I would say that North Korea is firmly established to be a weapons peddler to nation-states that consider the US to be their enemy for a long time.

More sources:
N. Korea Watched for Possible Nuke Test
U.S. puzzles over N. Korea n-site
North Korea may be preparing nuclear test
N.Korea atomic test seen harming NE Asia economies

*second picture taken from


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