The parties are advised to chill.
Mattel, Inc. v. MCA Records, Inc., 296 F.3d 894, 908 (9th Cir. 2002)

Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Thanksgiving Surprises

I drove back down to So. Cal. for Thanksgiving. While I was there, I went swing dancing with an old friend of mine.

She mentioned that she read my blog. For no reason whatsoever, I feel I should point out that she's charming, graceful, funny, and quite pretty.

I was mildly surprised that she read it. "Really?" I asked.

"Yep. And I noticed the pictures of all the women wearing very little clothing."

I searched my brain for a witty comeback.

"Um."

She continued, with an amused gleam in her eye.

"Tsk, tsk, tsk."

I finally found a devastating riposte.

"Uh, yeah. About that..." I trailed off.

"Tsk," she added one more time, just in case I'd missed the previous three. And she grinned.

Oops.


Posted 8:28 AM by Tony

Monday, November 29, 2004
I Guess The Sun Will Rise In The West Tomorrow

. . . given that the improbability of what I've just seen.

The Chosun Ilbo and the Hankyoreh (known around here as the Hanky) occupy the opposite ends of the political spectrum in Korea. The former is about as establishment as it gets; the latter approaches an average Democratic Underground discussion thread in terms of (in)coherence and angry Leftie rage. Suffice to say that agreement is rare - think of it as the Wall Street Journal agreeing with the San Francisco Chronicle.

Yet, somehow, they're of one mind when it comes to the consistent Japanese refusal to face its own history.

Let's look at the immediate factual background. Consider these items.

First, Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi considers his visit to Yasukuni Shrine (which I mentioned before) "appropriate" (via Chosun Ilbo:

Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro said Monday that his four visits to the Yasukuni Shrine since taking office were "appropriate." Meeting with reporters upon his arrival in Laos to attend the ASEAN Plus Three summit, he said, "If talk of the Yasukuni Shrine comes up (during his Tuesday summit with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao), he would speak his mind."

Ahead of this, Japanese Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) secretary-general Tsutomu Takebe said at a lecture Sunday in response to a request from Chinese President Hu Jintao to Prime Minister Koizumi that the visits to Yasukuni be cancelled, "To be frank, it is interference in our domestic affairs. What would happen if we didn’t visit the shrine because important Chinese figures said not to?" Former Economy and Industry Minister Takeo Hiranuma said on Fuji TV, "When Prime Minister Koizumi ran for presidency of the LDP, he promised he would pray at the shrine no matter what. As prime minister, he must visit the shrine in an open manner."

Then, consistent with previous mouthings by Japanese officials, is Minister Nariyaki Nakayama of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, which controls the contents of Japanese textbooks (via Dong-A Ilbo; see also Turkish Press/AFP):

“It is very desirable that Japanese textbooks have reduced their use of expressions such as ‘comfort women’ or ‘forced,’ and Japan must stop being cruel to itself,” said Minister Nakayama Nariyaki of the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MOECSST).

Followed, again as per standard operating procedure, by a clumsy non-apology. For background on the comfort women issue, see here, here, here, and, especially, here (read the part mentioning the Hiroshima court). Which is why Adam Yoshida, can kiss my ass.

And this adds insult to injury, though, honesty compels me to admit that comfort women suits have gone little better in the United States (via Chosun Ilbo):

Japan's top court dismissed a damages suit against its government filed by 35 Korean wartime victims and bereaved family members who suffered during the Second World War, reported the Japanese press Monday. The ruling put an end to a controversial trial that had spanned 13 years.


Which brings us to the Korean reaction. First the Chosun:

The education and science minister is the highest-ranking official to assume responsibility for authorizing academic textbooks that are being written now for publication in 2006. Given the perceptions that he has built up in the public mind, one can easily imagine what the textbooks might look like. It harks back to 2001, when a far-right organization compiled their own controversial texts and Nakayama, as the representative of a ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) group, championed the organization.

Acting LDP Secretary-General Abe Shinzo on the same day asserted that, "Leaders who succeed Prime Minister Koizumi should also visit and pay homage to the Yasukuni Shrine." Abe also supported the textbooks made by the far-right splinter group and he once declared with a clear conscience that, "The issue of comfort women never even existed."

[ . . . ]

Accordingly, we watch with concern as the LPD promotes a constitutional revision bill that calls for reviving the Hinomaru flag and Kimigayo anthem, while abolishing Article 9 that renounces the possession of military forces.

Japan is now concentrating its national strength on becoming a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. The nation's economic might enables it to support such a move with contributions of $220 million (W230.36 billion) to the United Nations, making it the largest donor to the global body after the United States. It has also secured the support of America, with which it is shares the longest diplomatic and political honeymoon period in history.

Then, there's the Hanky, in its typical, somewhat excitable style:

Looking at Nakayama's career you see that his comments are not just a simple slip of the tongue. He was once the head of the "Society for Japan's Future and History Education," a club within the LDP which calls for the removal of so-called "self-torturous" expressions in the country's history textbooks. He shares the goals of the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform, which seeks to glorify atrocities by Imperial Japan. His comments will invariably influence the approval process for middle school textbooks for the year 2006, a process that is currently underway. What we have here is a member of cabinet openly encouraging perversions of history. Abe's comments, in turn, are a direct response to Chinese president Hu Jintao, who during a recent meeting with Koizumi said that visits to Yasukuni by the Japanese leader act as a "political obstacle" to Sino-Japanese relations. Abe might as well be saying that the Japanese prime minister should keep alive the ambitions of the Class A war criminals from World War II whose memorial tablets are enshrined together at Yasukuni.

[ . . . ]

Japan isn't becoming the "normal country" it talks about. Rather, it's turning into a "shameless and dangerous country." At the center of it all are imprudent right-wing political figures. The Korean government needs to formulate a plan for dealing with what is going on, one that is prepared to reconsider everything about current of Korean-Japanese relations.

If both of these papers agree, then it's a good bet that a large proportion of the Korean population feel the same way. As do I, despite being an American.

It's things like this that prevent me from feeling supportive of Japan's moves to assume a greater role on the world stage.


Posted 9:03 PM by Tony


Not Just Like Mike

Power Line notes that Michael Jordan's older brother, Command Sgt. Major James R. Jordan, is being deployed to Iraq (via SF Chronicle):

Army Command Sgt. Maj. James R. Jordan has much in common with his younger brother, retired basketball star Michael Jordan. He loves his job, believes in helping his team and expects maximum effort from those around him.

And like his brother, James Jordan likes to leave on his own terms. He has asked to stay in the Army for a year beyond his mandatory retirement date so he can complete a full yearlong deployment to Iraq with about 500 other members of the 35th Signal Brigade.

"We are currently at war," Jordan said before the unit started shipping out Sunday. "We are doing things, and it requires leaders to do certain things. That's what I am, a leader."

Under normal conditions, the 47-year-old Jordan would wind down his Army career in the spring as he approached the 30-year mark, but he has no intention of getting on an airplane April 29 and coming home.

"That's not the way you want to end a 30-year career," Jordan told The Fayetteville Observer.

[ . . . ]

He was 36, wearing the stripes of a first sergeant, when he went to airborne school, where most soldiers are in their teens or early 20s. He still runs eight miles and expects soldiers to be alongside him.

The story really speaks for itself.


Posted 8:15 PM by Tony

Tuesday, November 23, 2004
Korea Exam Pressure

The university exam process in Korea is one of the milestones of modern Korean life. While I admittedly have no idea about the substance of the exam, I am aware of its implications. It's not an exaggeration to say that the exam pretty much affects one's socioeconomic future in Korea. Jeff in Korea has a good overview of some of the pressues involved.

Given the pressures involved, the recent cheating scandal in Kwangju (in southwest Korea) comes as no surprise (viaKorea Herald):

The Gwangju Metropolitan Office of Education said yesterday that a law school student had taken the exam instead of her relative. [Note - law school is an undergraduate field in Korea, and my understanding is that apply for specific majors at specific schools]

Despite the difference in appearance between the two, the substitute was admitted to the testing site and not detected until four hours later, the education office said.

In addition to the scam in southwestern city of Gwangju, the Ministry of Education said that they had reports of two other cheating cases involving celluar phones in Changwon and Incheon.

In addition, there were some shenanigans with cell phones. Again, this is no surprise, given the prevalence of cell phones in Korea (which has to be seen to be believed), and the country's claim that it is the most wired in the world (via Chosun Ilbo):

Three fresh suspicions over the sophisticated scam carried out in Gwangju by university exam-takers who used cellphones to cheat on their tests have led to a secondary investigation ordered by Choi Kwang-sik, the head of South Chungcheong provincial police agency.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency (SMPA) has also embarked on a fresh probe following rumors that the Internet played a vital role in the case, thus broadening out police efforts to punish those involved in the scheme to a national level.

[ . . . ]

Except the six ringleader high-school students who have already been apprehended, police have applied for arrest warrants for an additional six people. Among the total 141 students involved, 139 have been rounded up so far. Police are currently seeking the whereabouts of two people named as key players.


The scheme was pretty sophisticated (via Korea Times):

Since August, seven students of four high schools in Kwangju allegedly collected some 40 students who usually scored well on tests and 10 students who usually did not, and about 40 juniors to help them outside the test rooms. Three university students were also caught for giving their names to the high school students to help them register for new cell phones.

They purchased 40 cellular phones by post and conducted "rehearsals'' of the cheating several times before the exam day by dividing their roles so a large number of students could share answers in a short time.

Forty students usually getting good scores reportedly carried two cell phones each and indicated correct answers by tapping the first phones. Forty junior assistants received the signals and sent the answers back to the 40 senders and the other 10 students with low scores in text messages to the second phones, according to the police.

And the countermeasures being considered border on the exotic, at least from an American viewpoint (via Korea Herald:

Officials are considering all possible methods, including jammers, radio detectors, metal detectors. Increasing the number of exam supervisors and varying the format of the national university exam.

The Ministry of Information and Technology is mulling a jammer that can hinder the use of cellular phones at hundreds of schools where the one-day college entrance exam is held.

Minister of Information and Technology Chin Dae-je was quoted as saying at a parliamentary committee session on Monday, "Employing a cellular phone radar blocker is technically possible and we will examine ways to set up a jammer in every exam center after discussing it with the Ministry of Education."

[ . . . ]

[Park Seoung-keun of the government Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute] said use of the machines have been prohibited or suspended overseas for similar reasons. "In overseas countries including the EU, Australia and Singapore, disrupting cellular phone communications is banned because it is harmful to communication services." He added that Japan only uses the gadget in about 100 test centers.

Perhaps it's time to overhaul the system?


Posted 8:53 AM by Tony

Monday, November 22, 2004
Koan For The Day

Leftist blogger Oliver Willis titled an entry, "That's About Right" concerning a newspaper's explanation that it dropped Michelle Malkin due to "her penchant for name calling and ad hominem attack."

Which leads one to think Willis disclaims name calling and ad hominems, as evidenced by his comment:

Censorship? It's one thing to be an advocate of your cause, its another to cross the line into hate. If I were paid to be anti-republican and crossed over into hate, it would be a valid reason to disemploy me.

Which stands in marked contrast to his characterization of Instapundit as an "agenda-driven rightie."*
So, my question is:

If Willis is like kryptonite to stupid, how does he avoid killing himself?

Yes, I realize I'm engaging in an ad hominem, but I don't pretend to take the high road.
-----
* And I still find his attitude to be remarkably ungracious.


Posted 7:38 PM by Tony


A Melting Pot, Not A Mosaic

One of the issues that often arises in the immigrant experience is the degree to which an ethnic community should adopt the values and mores of the surrounding community. Assimiliation or ghettoization? Melting pot or mosaic? I tend toward the melting pot vision of America, myself, but I'll acknowledge that I may have an extremist position on this issue.

Ralph Peters, who I often link to concerning Middle East issues, has an interesting article in the NY Post on the transformative nature of the American experience:

LAST week, I had an in spiring conversation with a Muslim-Ameri can. An immigrant from Pakistan, he hadn't yet been granted citizenship, but he had more faith in America than our native-born elite does.

"I write to my brothers and sisters," he said, "And I tell them that they do not know true Islam. If you want to see true Islam, you must come to America."

He meant the social justice and the respect for the individual, rich or poor, prescribed by the Koran. He had not found those qualities in the land of his birth. Nor do they prevail in any Muslim state between Casablanca and Karachi.

[ . . . ]

Whenever I hear a "native born" American complaining that our country is "being taken over" by the latest arrivals, I know that the speaker is blind to our country's strengths.

America makes Americans. And it makes good Americans. This country is magic, and the magic is growing stronger, not weaker.

Mexican-Americans don't want to take back our Southwest for Mexico. They want Mexico to become more like our Southwest, where a man or woman can build a decent life, where he or she doesn't have to pay bribes at every turn, and where even the poor man's home is his castle. Irish-Americans may have great affection for the land of their ancestors, but they're not moving back there in droves. I don't know any French-Americans who feel a deep allegiance to Jacques Chirac.

Trust America. And believe in our fellow Americans. A tiny minority of Muslim immigrants may preach hatred (thanks not least to Saudi funding) or dream madly of "reestablishing the caliphate." With the indestructible idiocy of youth, some Muslim-American kids may get off on fundamentalist rap music (yep, it really exists) or feel compelled to horrify their parents by growing beards. But most of the Muslims who live among us just want to live better lives than they could have built in the lands of their birth, to see their families thrive and their children prosper.

The American dream doesn't change, only the complexions and accents of the dreamers. Contrary to an old saw from the Left, bigotry isn't as American as apple pie. Bigotry is a universal human disease. Being a good American is the most-effective cure.

So the next time you hear some bag of wind condemning every Muslim-American because of the misbehavior of a very, very few, do something truly American: Tell him he's a jerk.

Now, I don't point out this article as a paean to American exceptionalism. Instead, it illustrates an American ideal, which sometimes, isn't seen as such.


Posted 6:47 PM by Tony


Fun Fallujah Allegations

From the Corner at National Review:

The insurgents used 60 of the Mosques as fighting positions and weapons caches during the battle - that's 3 of every 5 Mosques in the city.

Remember how the Minutemen shot at the British from churches, and prepared torture facilities, and left the limbless bodies of women in the street?


Posted 4:58 PM by Tony

Friday, November 19, 2004
What You're Not Seeing From Iraq

I've been enormously dissatisfied with American news coverage of Iraq, as it seems slanted towards bad news. My own pet theory is that part of it may be a structural weakness. News media provide information on events, not processes, because the value of the media is their ability to provide such information quickly. Processes, however, are a collection of events, and require that individual events be placed into a perspective or a framework.

Take, for example, the European campaign in World War 2. The media presented information on battles such as the invasion of Normandy, or the fight around Bastogne, as individual events. However, to truly understand how these battles fit into a larger operational framework of the European campaign requires perspective that newspapers are ill-eqipped to provide, in contrast to works such as the late Weigley's (for discussion, see here).

Which brings us to blogs. The advantage of blogs, I think, is their ability to help understand events in the context of a process, rather than as a series of discrete individual events. Of course, as with all generalizations, that's more true of some blogs than other blogs.

So here's a few blogs written by Iraqis on recent events, which may help in figuring out the "ground truth.

Healing Iraq, on the recent rise in attacks:

Also, if one reflects for a moment on the abovementioned areas that are now supposedly in rebellion we come to a realisation that not one bullet was shot against the advancing US forces in these areas during the war. Why is that? The deadliest resistance to occupying forces was in Umm Qasr, Basrah, Abu Al-Khasib, Nasiriya, Kut, and Karbala. In fact we all heard during the war about banquets for US special forces thrown by tribal Sheikhs in Haditha and other areas of the Anbar governorate. The 'resistance' only started after the de-Ba'athification and the disbanding of the army and security forces which tells us a lot about the mentality of the 'freedom fighters' who claim to be fighting to end occupation.

What is worse is that the first chapter of the future Iraqi civil war is currently being written. The Sunni armed groups have made no secret this time of their true intentions. According to them, the Iraqi NG's are now just infidel 'Kurd and Shi'ite' militias taking their revenge against the peace-loving Sunnis. The Association of Muslim Scholars issues fatwas calling Iraqi security forces 'apostates' because "Iraqis should not be fighting Iraqis under the occupation". This fatwa implies that if the occupation ends tomorrow then it would be okay for Iraqis to kill each other then, since that has always been the case over the last three decades. Harith Al-Dhari might have regained whatever credibility he previously had by stating that "No Iraqis should kill other Iraqis period", which would apply to the insurgents who insist on blowing up other Iraqis in police stations, churches and hospitals.

[compare with here, which only mentions the group's call for election boycotts, and paints a much different picture of the organization]

Ali, of Iraq the Model, writes an open letter to Jacques Chirac after his recent comments:

You see, your problem and what separate you from men like Tony Blair is that you look only for what you might gain, and again “you” is not the French people, but rather you in person and the bunch of hypocrites that so sadly control the French people and manipulate them through lies and silly arguments. You never cared what would happen to Iraqis and the rest of the world had Saddam stayed in power, while Tony Blair did. Do you know why? Because he and the British government with all the brave British people live in our world, while you don’t.

Stupid British! Why should they care for us, America or their own kids when they can do exactly like you; take advantage of America’s need, blackmail her, support Saddam without taking much risk and gain billions of dollars.

[for more background on Ali's comment, search for Saddam and TotalFinaElf, Saddam and "Elf Aquitaine", or Saddam and Chirac and oil]

Baghdad Burning, on the Fallujah battles:

They say the people have nothing to eat. No produce is going into the city and the water has been cut off for days and days. Do you know what it's like to have no clean water??? People are drinking contaminated water and coming down with diarrhoea and other diseases. There are corpses in the street because no one can risk leaving their home to bury people. Families are burying children and parents in the gardens of their homes. WHERE IS EVERYONE???

[ . . . ]

Iraqis will never forgive this- never. It's outrageous- it's genocide and America, with the help and support of Allawi, is responsible. May whoever contributes to this see the sorrow, terror and misery of the people suffering in Falloojeh.

Finally, there's this article from Times Online / Agence France Presse, on Fallujah under the rule of the "insurgents":

Another poster in the ruins of the souk bears testament to the strict brand of Sunni Islam imposed by the council, fronted by hardline cleric Abdullah Junabi. The decree warns all women that they must cover up from head to toe outdoors, or face execution by the armed militants who controlled the streets.

Two female bodies found yesterday suggest such threats were far from idle. An Arab woman, in a violet nightdress, lay in a post-mortem embrace with a male corpse in the middle of the street. Both bodies had died from bullets to the head.

Just six metres away on the same street lay the decomposing corpse of a blonde-haired white woman, too disfigured for swift identification but presumed to be the body of one of the many foreign hostages kidnapped by the rebels. [it's worth noting that this is an understatement - Navy hospital apprentice Benjamin Finnell is quoted as saying, ""It is a female ... missing all four appendages, with a slashed throat and disembowelled, she has been dead for a while but only in this location for a day or two."]

It was initially thought to be either the body of Margaret Hassan, the Dublin-born aid worker with dual British and Iraqi nationality who was kidnapped last month, or a Polish woman kidnapped two weeks ago. A Polish official said today there was no evidence to suggest that the body was that of the kidnapped Pole.

[ . . . ]

Such is the fear that the heavily armed militants held over Fallujah that many of the residents who emerged from the ruins welcomed the US marines, despite the massive destruction their firepower had inflicted on their city.

A man in his sixties, half-naked and his underwear stained with blood from shrapnel wounds from a US munition, cursed the insurgents as he greeted the advancing marines on Saturday night.

"I wish the Americans had come here the very first day and not waited eight months," he said, trembling. Nearby, a mosque courtyard had been used as a weapons store by the militants.

Another elderly man, who did not want his name used for fear the rebels would one day return and restore their draconian rule, said he was detained by the militants last Tuesday and held for four days before being freed. He described how he had then sought refuge in a friend's house where they had huddled together clutching Korans in silent prayer for their lives as the massive US bombardment put the insurgents to flight.

"It was horrible," he told an AFP reporter."We suffered from the bombings. Innocent people died or were wounded by the bombings.

"But we were happy you did what you did because Fallujah had been suffocated by the Mujahidin. Anyone considered suspicious would be slaughtered. We would see unknown corpses around the city all the time."

I wish we hadn't waited eight months, either.


Posted 9:28 AM by Tony


Video Game Reviews

Take a note - this is one of the few occasions that I don't dump on the SF Chronicle. Today's Chronicle has a review of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas that makes for an engaging read.

An excerpt:

The open-ended style of Grand Theft Auto has led to much of its controversy, but if you listen to most of the game's harshest critics, it's clear they haven't played Grand Theft Auto as it was intended. The level of dark humor-laced violence in the first 25 missions of GTA: San Andreas is, if anything, slightly tamer than Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, a Miami-in-the- 1980s-themed game that was released in 2002. As always, the most depraved acts in GTA: San Andreas will come not from the central plot, but from the imagination of the consumer.

For example, it is theoretically possible for your character to: 1) carjack a limo; 2) turn around and run the chauffeur over with his own vehicle; 3) carjack the ambulance that arrives to help the chauffeur; 4) run the chauffeur over again with the ambulance; 5) walk over to his bleeding body and take his money; and 6) spend it on a prostitute.

Not that there's any attempt to shy away from controversy by Grand Theft Auto creator Rockstar Games, which seems to rake in cash at a frequency precisely equal to the level of outrage from concerned parents and red-state politicians. For the protesters' convenience, GTA: San Andreas now provides in- game statistics to aid their letters to the editor.

Yes, we know as a fact that in the first 18 hours of game play, [protagonist] C.J. caused $128,440 in damage to property, traveled 1,009,182 feet by car, killed 105 opposing gang members and fired 2,957 bullets, 1,741 of which hit their intended targets. There's even a stat for "Fires Started" by a player, which was boosted to 29 after a recent mission involving Molotov cocktails and a low- rise housing project. And with all of the above, according to the in-game tally, our journey through San Andreas was only 12.83 percent complete.

Heh.


Posted 8:18 AM by Tony

Thursday, November 18, 2004
Foreign Policy Schizophrenia

The International Herald Tribune has an analysis of the Zapatero's Janus-like mouthings with respect to the U.S.:

In the land of quixotic gestures, Good Spain is reaching out these days toward the (perhaps) formerly benighted, Bad America. The desire seems there, but not a single, wholly convincing approach to match.

After hearing directly from some of its European friends that in appearing intent on antagonizing the Bush administration, the Socialist government was isolating itself and hurting Europe months after pulling its troops out of Iraq, Spain has begun trying to talk a different American game.

[ . . . ]

Just two months ago, Zapatero urged other countries to join Spain in quitting the American-led coalition in Iraq. Now, [Foreign Minister Miguel Angel] Moratinos was saying that Spain had more vital interests in common with the United States than any European country except Britain.

"We are going to give this administration results," Moratinos said of Bush 2. "In Latin America we can deliver more than the previous government" of Prime Minister José María Aznar. "We have tremendous credibility in the Muslim world. We'll get results."

[ . . . ]

Heading for Cairo the next day, Moratinos, Spanish news agencies reported, offered this analysis of Middle East circumstances: "I believe that the monopoly of the Pax Americana, of unilateral force, and bilateral negotiations is over."

[ . . . ]

Zapatero, meanwhile, still without a callback from Bush, had an interview published in Der Spiegel last week in which he said the war in Iraq had failed, the situation was getting worse and worse, and "the war coalition" must enter into immediate talks with UN Security Council.

Considering that the "war coalition" that operates in Iraq does so on the basis of a unanimously passed Council resolution, what those talks would be about was left a mystery.

And the future of Europe? Zapatero's answer: "Europe must believe that it can be the most important world power in 20 years' time."

The ongoing incoherence was striking. Three days after Zapatero's remark hit print, Alberto Navarro, the Spanish secretary of state in charge of EU affairs, told me, "We don't see Europe as an alternative to the United States, a superpower Europe." By Monday, Zapatero was also saying Europe was not seeking to be a great power, but a model of "togetherness" for the world.

The problem for the Americans seems to be that Zapatero is so "all over the place" (the description comes from a European cabinet minister, not a Yank) that it is difficult to reach back in Spain's direction with any strong measure of confidence.

Geez.


Posted 2:48 PM by Tony


An A-10 And A Bridge

A couple photos for today.

First, an old slogan, found on an Air Force A-10, found on a bulletin board I frequent (see here for large version):



Second, some graffiti left by 3/5 Marines on a bridge in Fallujah, dated November 14, 2004 (via Knowledge Is Power; found via Blackfive), in response to this:


And, to refresh some memories, go here, to page 2 (if that does not work, do a search, entering "Sabah Arar" as the photographer, for the period March 31-April 1, 2004). It's worth noting that the Marines' attitude, as reflected by the graffiti, stands in marked contrast to Kos.


Posted 1:05 PM by Tony


Shooting An "Insurgent"

Instapundit links to several comments about the shooting by a Marine of a combatant in a Fallujah mosque (uncut version of the video at LGF; commentary at Powerline).

Professor Volokh thinks that the shooting may not have violated the Geneva Convention. His caveat, however, is still worth noting: we don't have all the facts yet.


Posted 10:39 AM by Tony


Korean-American Babe Thursday

Sorry, Christopher, couldn't find a Korean babe in an American flag. But I did find something better than in the previous post.

Below is Korean-American pool player Jeanette Lee, who I previously mentioned, although with an incorrect spelling (from picture gallery at official site):


Does that help?

In the meantime, go give Dan a visit, as he endures the trials of recruiting school.


Posted 8:59 AM by Tony

Tuesday, November 16, 2004
A Shout Out

As an California-born Korean-American, I'd just like to say one thing . . .

. . .

from the bottom of my heart . . .

. . .

Kindly go f*ck yourself:


Sentiments like the above really tick me off. To lose an election is one thing; to say that the whole thing makes you want to give up your citizenship is another thing entirely.

For more galleries chock-full of pathetic sniveling, see here. Going through the galleries, some of the pictures were just to much to let go without comment. After all, why should Treacher have all the fun?

This is truer than they know. Dear Californian liberal in WV, this fellow Californian is not ashamed, for at least this reason. I did say "pathetic", right? Who's ready for some shopping? Truer Than They Know 2. Apparently someone wasn't paying attention to North Korea. Fnord. But I'm still waiting for the pony they promised. Hello, 42 U.S.C. section 1973i(e)! Crazy diet fads. Korean-American checklist: Taekwondo outfit, check - but where's the guitar? You know that picture was taken in Baghdad, right? Fricking acquisitive Austrians; must be a corporal - there's something about Austrian corporals. And, in 2008, you can help us and France invade Taiwan. Those damned dirty apes. Because, Communist China knows about wise choices. And we can start with an immediate withdrawal of US troops, ungrateful jackhole. Put down the remote, go outside, and make more friends - that might help. Must be describing the Bay Area. The children ">thank you. Because the party of Jesse "Hymietown" Jackson really loves the Jews. Takes one to know one, I suppose. He is - Steelers are 8-1. I suppose "tolerant" blue state-types are thinking about trying vigorous religious persecution. "Peaceful" blue staters. You know what they say about fools of a feather. And the other 30% of us feel that you can cram your sign up an orifice. I'm sorry the dollars I don't spend in Europe are going farther these days. That's hardly comforting. See what you get for not doing what the T-shirt says? I have - it's when I learned that my elected representative was Pete Stark. But can I laugh now, at you? Somewhere, a taxpayer realizes he's just been ripped off. This explains why they rest of the country ignores SF. True, but that picture sure doesn't help. As a Republican in the Bay Area, I feel your pain. And I miss the old student riot days. Actually, I'm kind of laughing now. So much for respecting the "power to the people". If you have no borders, why are you calling yourself French? Seems contradictory. Apparently, it was Wolf Blitzer's day off. And I'm sure we'll miss you, too. Indeed. Stay in school; otherwise you'll vote Democrat. Tell you what - walk on up to Sinuiju, look around, and we'll talk. I know how you feel - I'm right down the freeway from whole nest of idiots. And they call Republicans arrogant? Oh, I've got a pretty good idea. Still missing those student riot days. Goddamned ninjas. Actually, only 54.57% of you did - 44.28% of us went the other way. Code Pink = Insane Leftist Menopausal Women. Trucker hats - truly a blight upon the world. No caption necessary - seriously. That might be, but others didn't. I can tell the south from the north, but I'll admit, sometimes it's hard to tell with your current president. Must . . . Not . . . Mention . . . Gere. Goddamn Democrats and their secessionist tendencies - remember what happened last time? Yep, it was the gay marriage thing. Vanilla Ice, redux. Confusing peace with capitulation. That's pretty hardcore. Fair enough - I'm not sorry either. Marin - 73.1% blue + 1 Taliban. Well, at least they're sorry for voting for Kerry - that's all right, everyone makes mistakes. Sure, liberals aren't arrogant at all.

Yes, I realize that this violates my self-imposed moratorium on gloating. But this was simply irresistible. I'm not sorry.


Posted 7:19 PM by Tony


The Invisible Growth Of Gaming

When I was younger, I used to play a game called Karateka on my Apple IIe. I'm sure that anyone who's played it can remember the cheesy theme music (to play SID file, get WinAmp plugin here).

How things change (via New York Times):

When rapper Snoop Dogg's version of the 1971 song "Riders on the Storm" makes its debut tomorrow, it will not premiere on MTV or on the radio. Instead, the song, which was recorded with the surviving members of The Doors and includes outtakes of Jim Morrison's vocals, will be heard on Need For Speed Underground 2, a video game from Electronic Arts.

The unusual collaboration was recorded at the behest of Steve Schnur, whose title at Electronic Arts is worldwide executive of music.

Snoop Dogg had long wanted to cover "Riders," and The Doors were looking for a way to reinvent their catalog for a new generation. But how did Mr. Schnur persuade them to record the song as the theme for a video game, and then include new lyrics like "Need for speed/I'm trying to take the lead?''

"I didn't have to do that part," said Mr. Schnur, 43, a former senior vice president of Capitol Records. "They get it."

[ . . . ]

Electronic Arts is further exploiting its musical prowess by moving into the music publishing business. Today the company is expected to announce a joint venture with Cherry Lane Music Publishing to create Next Level Music. The co-publishing deal will seek to sign established and emerging artists, create original works and mine Electronic Arts' 22-year-old library of theme music.

[ . . . ]

The idea to reach beyond licensing the music composed for Electronic Arts' games was formulated in 2003 after Universal Pictures approached Mr. Schnur with a request to include the orchestral theme from Electronic Arts' Medal of Honor series in the trailer for the movie "Seabiscuit."

[ . . . ]

Artists soon discovered the benefits of having a song picked for a game. When the remixer Zach Sciacca, known as DJ Z-Trip, was told that two of his songs would be on the Madden soundtrack, he was so elated that he got down on one knee, clasped his hands together and thanked Mr. Schnur's assistant.

"What E.A. did for me is something I couldn't have done on my own," said Mr. Sciacca, who will make his major label debut on Hollywood Records. "I couldn't have gotten those tracks out to people on that magnitude."

As a personal example, I'd never heard of Felix da Housecat until I heard it on Midnight Club 2 for the Xbox. Similarly, I'm playing Outlaw Golf 2, and I've been enjoying the music that's come with the game.

For a somewhat contrarian view of Electronic Arts, see this LiveJournal.


Posted 2:26 PM by Tony


Seems Kinda Fishy To Me

I've chronicled PETA's activities before, such as its comparision of beef consumption to the Holocaust, its getting the Dixie Chicks to pose unclothed as part of an anti-fur campaign, its attempt to get the town of Rodeo to change its name in exchange for veggie burgers, its claim that drinking milk leads to impotence, and an assertion by its director that Catholic doctrine and the Bible require vegetarianism. For the flip side, see Ted Nugent.

Now, PETA is launching a new campaign against fish consumption (via SF Chronicle):

Touting tofu chowder and vegetarian sushi as alternatives, animal-rights activists have launched a novel campaign arguing that fish -- contrary to stereotype -- are intelligent, sensitive animals no more deserving of being eaten than a pet dog or cat.

Called the Fish Empathy Project, the campaign reflects a strategy shift by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals as it challenges a diet component widely viewed as nutritious and uncontroversial.

"No one would ever put a hook through a dog's or cat's mouth," said Bruce Friedrich, PETA's director of vegan outreach. "Once people start to understand that fish, although they come in different packaging, are just as intelligent, they'll stop eating them."

[ . . . ]

Friedrich questioned why there is popular support for sparing marine mammals -- dolphins and porpoises -- yet minimal concern for species like tuna, "whose suffering would warrant felony animal cruelty charges if they were mammals."

There's an underlying assumption that dogs and cats shouldn't be eaten. On a purely intellectual level, why not? I'd hesitate, but that, frankly, is a artifact of my upbringing in a specific cultural context, i.e. growing up in a society that is rich enough to allow for pickiness in diet.

I'll grant that fish may have a certain level of intelligence. I have no problem with avoiding unnecessary cruelty in the catching of fish. I'll even wager that some fish are smarter than several of the opinion writers at the San Francisco Chronicle. But to say that "fish have . . . the same right to our compassion as do dogs, cats, and other human beings," is a bit far-fetched.

And just to clear the air for the benefit of the literal-minded, I'm not advocating the skinning and eating of certain SF Chronicle writers.

Friedrich, you'll recall is the one who claimed that vegetarianism is Biblically-mandated. With respect to the anti-fish campaign, he says:

Friedrich acknowledges the difficulty of changing long-held customs, but thinks his project is worthwhile. "We'd rather go too far than not far enough," he said.

Which is precisely the problem.

Whenever I think of PETA, I'll always be reminded of this:


Update: Goldstein pretty much has the last word.


Posted 1:41 PM by Tony


Race Politics

I've always thought the idea of race politics to be somewhat absurd. The concept boils down to: "You look like me, therefore, you should think like me." Now, I'll grant that a given minority may share certain issues of concern, but that overlaps unevenly, at best, with color. For example, many of the issues that matter to me will not matter to a store owner on Western Avenue in LA, even though we're both Korean-American.

Which is why this somewhat breathless column by Emil Guillermo, which bemoans the president's sidestepping of racial politics, amuses the heck out of me:

Here's one thing that's come out of the presidential election: we're all people of color -- every last one of us!

That's President Bush's new color scheme for you.

You're either red, or you're blue. That's all that counts.

Black, brown, yellow? That's so old school.

In the Bush administration, it hardly matters anymore.

Instead, Bush has polarized the country in a way so strictly based on cultural values and ideology that traditional race, and even some class lines, no longer function the same way they did before.
Judging from the split reaction to the nomination of White House counsel Alberto Gonzales to replace Attorney General John Ashcroft, Bush may have stumbled his way onto a new color paradigm. Through a red-and-blue lens, race politics plays out so differently. We may find Bush playing it a lot more, and Democrats playing it a lot less.

[ . . . ]

By focusing on values and culture, Bush may have found a crack in traditional race politics that gives him something to exploit the next four years.

But concentrating on values issues sidestep the real issues for working-class minorities who are left to pray for answers in jobs, education and health care.

It's funny that Guillermo criticizes the president for choosing people who share a metaphorical color, that is, similar political philosophy, rather than an actual color, that is, a mere matter of melanin. If, as Guillermo points out, race politics matters, then it's still worth pointing out that the president's first-term cabinet was the most diverse in history, indicating that racial politics is actually a strawman for the venting of anti-Republican sentiment.

I also find it rather amusing that Guillermo blames the president for this red/blue divide. Yes, and I'm certain that Terry McAuliffe, MoveOn, Michael Moore, Patty "I Heart Osama" Murray, Jim "Baghdad Jim" McDermott, Corrine "You All Look Alike To Me" Brown, and George Soros are absolutely blameless. Or, for an example closer to home, there's Senator Boxer, who ran pre-election commercials accusing Republicans of wanting to return to the era of back-alley abortions.


Posted 8:23 AM by Tony

Monday, November 15, 2004
Going The Distance?

I've always thought that the Korean public and government suffered from a certain lack of strategic vision when it came to matters outside the peninsula. Admittedly, the looming presence of North Korea, and the assorted armed clashes over the years, are certainly sufficient to occupy the thoughts of Korean strategists.

The dispatch of South Korean troops to Iraq may be a sign that Korean strategic thought is evolving beyond the confines of the inter-Korean conflict (via Korea Times):

In the weekly report, In Nam-sik, professor at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security (IFANS), called on Seoul to support the time frame set by the U.N. Security Council for the establishment of a constitutionally elected government in Iraq by Dec. 31, 2005.

"We have to extend the period of our stay as the critical moment for Iraqi democracy will be the end of next year," he told The Korea Times.

The professor cited Security Council resolution 1546 as endorsing the presence of a multination coalition in Iraq to provide stability while a government is formed. "I think it is reasonable that we keep troops in Iraq to focus on rebuilding projects in line with the U.N. resolution," he said.

The report comes as the National Assembly debates whether to extend the stay of the nation’s 2,800-strong dispatch to the northern Iraq city of Irbil. The Assembly needs to endorse the extension of the Zaytun’s stay before the end of December.


Zaytun unit solder, Irbil, Iraq
(via Korea Times/Yonhap)

Although admittedly, the expanding focus of Korean strategic thought is a little uneven. (As an aside, I find it rather amusing that the Hankyoreh is acting rather primly with respect to the Korean sex industry on the grounds that it constitues "vulgar capitalism." Social conservatism justified by leftist economics - simply hilarious.)


Posted 1:50 PM by Tony

Friday, November 12, 2004
Feeling Blue

The LA Times has a piece on voters who are deeply upset that Bush won:

"I would actually use the word despair. That's what I sense" from several patients who have come in since the election, said Beverly Hills psychologist Cathy Quinn.

[ . . . ]

Quinn predicts that the divisive election will drive large numbers of those who have never sought psychological help into offices like hers. And for many already struggling with loss, anxiety or depression, and who found themselves on the losing side Tuesday, postelection blues will make their emotional health even more fragile.

Some defeated activists, such as photographer and actor Tony Sears, are feeling the loss in deeply personal terms. "I felt," said Sears, his voice cracking, "like someone had died." As he watched Kerry's concession speech, added Sears, "I just was very sad for what might have been."

[ . . . ]

"They're allowed to be angry. They're allowed to be frustrated … ," said [psychologist Alan] Hilfer. "And they should talk about it. But they need now to move on."

I can't help but think what would have happened had this same story come out, but with the parties reversed. Do you really think a liberal response to a conservative funk after a Kerry victory would have been anything better than: "We won. Bush lost. Deal with it."? And does anyone think that the LA Times would have been just as solicitous?

Some people seriously need to just deal.


Posted 5:06 PM by Tony


The Peterson Verdict

Whoa,


Posted 1:16 PM by Tony


New-To-Me Blog Pointer

Go check out Veiled Conceit, which mocks, of all things, the wedding announcments published in the New York Times (found via the Llamabutchers).

For example, a snippet from this post:

What was it that LeAnn's mom did, again? Teaching human sexuality to fifth graders? I guess there's a fine line between "progressive education" and "a felony." That's probably not the type of job that you can do on a freelance basis. Few people moonlight teaching sexuality to fifth graders to help pay the bills.

Yes, it's mean as hell, but it's also pretty freaking hilarious.


Posted 12:53 PM by Tony


Irony Alert

In today's SF Chronicle, are two articles which illustrate the ideological bubble in which many Bay Area residents live:

First, there's this article by Carol Lloyd on SF residents considering a move to abroad:

Wednesday morning outside our house, the mother of our daughter's classmate pauses on the way to drop her child off at preschool. The typically ebullient woman has dark circles under her eyes. My husband says something about leaving the country.

"Hong Kong," she says, not missing a beat [which is pretty ironic in itself, considering the emigration that occurred when the Communists took over].

[ . . . ]

The media has covered the "move on" threats with a degree of humor and even condescension. After all, one person's righteous indignation is another's yellow-bellied bellyachin'. And if people are just out to swill espressos in Montreal or bungee jump in New Zealand, then it's true that emigrating can seem like the ultimate expression of sacrificing everything for the perfect lifestyle. There's no guilt about being a citizen of a superpower and no feelings of responsibility for the actions of our leaders.

[emphasis added]

Then, in another column, there's Mark Morford, my favorite nutjob columnist now that the Globe and Mail has seen fit to put Heather Mallick behind the subscription wall:

Is this really still the rule? The bigger and more vibrant and more vigorous and more culturally dynamic the city, or the more educated and progressive and literate the small town, the more likely they were to vote blue, Democrat, progressive, open minded, less fearful? Have we progressed almost not at all from the days prior to the Civil War, when the nation was split almost exactly as it is now? Verily, it would appear not, not so much. In fact, it's only getting worse.

Of course, there are plenty of exceptions, plenty of well-educated culturally astute people across the land who somehow still voted for Bush, often against their own interests or deeper conscience and often for antiquated "fiscally conservative" reasons or because it's just how they're wired or because they think Dubya's a "good Christian" and therefore are willing to overlook his mountain of policy failures, or because they just can't bring themselves, even in the face of astounding proofs of Bush's incompetence, to vote for the party of Hillary and Ted Kennedy and Michael Moore.

Condescension, indeed.


Posted 9:16 AM by Tony


Flatfoots With Lead Feet

Here in California, the California Highway Patrol purchased 70+ late model Camaros as patrol cars. I always thought that a 310 horsepower V-8 patrol car was a bit excessive, though I could see instances where the police might want the capability.

Looks like the Italians have the CHP beat (via NY Times):

Few make the case that the highway police need a Lamborghini. But in a nation crazed with car racing - where Ferrari, the legendary Italian car company, recently opened a clothing store in Rome, and where engine revving at normal stoplights can feel like the start of an urban rally - few would say they do not need one either. Certainly not the police.

[ . . . ]

At home, and in theory, the Gallardo is primarily a car for quick responses: the trunk in the front - the 10-cylinder, 5-liter, 500-horsepower engine is, of course, in the rear - has a plastic cooler for blood or donated organs, though it has not been used for that yet. Inside is a state-of-the-art defibrillator, which a Lamborghini press release helpfully notes also "performs electrocardiograms and automatic diagnoses of arterial pressure."

But the Gallardo has also been doing a fair share of actual highway work - a real service, the police say, in a nation with many fast cars and where the road fatality rate is higher than the European average. It has patrolled around the country, based recently near here, on the highway north from Rome to Florence. On this stretch this summer, Superintendent [Vincenzo] Bizzarro had to push the car up to about 185 miles an hour to stop a Porsche going about 155 - or almost twice the speed limit of 80.

I shudder to think of what the gasoline bill for these are:


Given the penchant in (especially Southern) California for showing freeway chases on live television, I wonder what would happen with a Lamborghini-equipped CHP. It'd be . . . interesting.


Posted 8:27 AM by Tony

Thursday, November 11, 2004
A Wake Up Call

NATO's Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer apparently doesn't screw around (via NY Times):

The head of NATO said today that there was a critical "perception gap" between Europe and the United States on the subject of global terror and that Europeans must move closer to the American view of the seriousness of the threat.

"Your country focused very much on the fight against terror while in Europe we focused to a lesser extent on the consequences for the world," Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, NATO's secretary general, said in an interview. "We looked at it from different angles, and that for me is one of the reasons you saw such frictions in the trans-Atlantic relationship."

As a result, he said, Europe was lagging behind the United States in merging external and internal security to combat terrorism, and Europe had to catch up.

[ . . . ]

The experience of Iraq had taught him two lessons as a European and an Atlanticist, he said.

"The first is that if Europe sees its integration process as one directed against the United States, it will not work because the result will be a split in Europe, and that is an ambition that no European should have,'' he said.

"The second is that if you want to have a trans-Atlantic dialogue between grownups, I know that any president and any American administration is willing to listen to the European voice as long as it is one European voice. If it is five different voices, they will not take the trouble to listen and they will wonder what is Europe."

Here's hoping they listen. Given attitudes in Germany and our "ally" France, though, I'm not holding my breath.


Posted 6:09 PM by Tony

Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Arafat In Memoriam

I'd like to offer a haiku, if I may:

Flatlined terrorist
Proved Peace Prize to be sick joke
Roast, thieving loser


And, surprising no one, the SF Chronicle's lengthy eulogy devotes 3 of 35 paragraphs to Arafat's involvement in terrorism

Update: Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe (via Protein Wisdom):

Arafat always inspired flights of nonsense from Western journalists, and his last two weeks were no exception.

[ . . . ]

How is it possible to reflect on Arafat's most enduring legacy -- the rise of modern terrorism -- without recalling the legions of men, women, and children whose lives he and his followers destroyed? If Osama bin Laden were on his deathbed, would we neglect to mention all those he murdered on 9/11?

It would take an encyclopedia to catalog all of the evil Arafat committed. But that is no excuse for not trying to recall at least some of it.

Perhaps his signal contribution to the practice of political terror was the introduction of warfare against children. On one black date in May 1974, three PLO terrorists slipped from Lebanon into the northern Israeli town of Ma'alot. They murdered two parents and a child whom they found at home, then seized a local school, taking more than 100 boys and girls hostage and threatening to kill them unless a number of imprisoned terrorists were released. When Israeli troops attempted a rescue, the terrorists exploded hand grenades and opened fire on the students. By the time the horror ended, 25 people were dead; 21 of them were children.

Thirty years later, no one speaks of Ma'alot anymore. The dead children have been forgotten. Everyone knows Arafat's name, but who ever recalls the names of his victims?

So let us recall them: Ilana Turgeman. Rachel Aputa. Yocheved Mazoz. Sarah Ben-Shim'on. Yona Sabag. Yafa Cohen. Shoshana Cohen. Michal Sitrok. Malka Amrosy. Aviva Saada. Yocheved Diyi. Yaakov Levi. Yaakov Kabla. Rina Cohen. Ilana Ne'eman. Sarah Madar. Tamar Dahan. Sarah Soper. Lili Morad. David Madar. Yehudit Madar. The 21 dead children of Ma'alot -- 21 of the thousands of who died at Arafat's command.

Update 2: Andrew McCarthy of the National Review weighs in:

"The power of bad men," Burke famously observed, "is no indifferent thing." The power of this evil man informed an age — the age of terrorism. The Israelis and Palestinians may never coexist peacefully, but as long as Yasser Arafat lived they didn't even have a chance.


Update 3: This figures.


Posted 10:33 PM by Tony


Video Of The Day

Normally, I don't take any amusement from other people's physical pain. However, I am willing to make an exception for Fidel Castro (video at IFilm; via Fark).


Posted 5:27 PM by Tony


A Quick Reminder

The United States Marine Corps was founded on this day in 1775.

I imagine that some things remain the same, though the locations may have changed some:


Colour Sgt. Scott Taylor of the British Army plays "Happy Birthday" on his bagpipes for the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit's Marine Corps birthday celebration.

Taylor, 34, of Glasgow, Scotland, is a member of the famed Black Watch Regiment, which has been working alongside the 24th MEU during combat operations in northern Babil province, Iraq.
[caption copied from USMC web site; internal links added]

Update: And, in Fallujah, here's a picture from recent fighting (via SF Chronicle):



Posted 8:22 AM by Tony

Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Showing One's Ass

I'm sure you've all seen Jane Smiley's screed on Slate concerning people who voted for Bush.

There's far too much to critique here, including:

- Slate's identification of Smiley as one of a number of "wise liberals"

- the overbroad application of her analysis to all Bush voters

- the refusal to recognize that all Bush voters are not identical

- the failure to recognize that the motivation to vote for Bush is not grounded solely the voter being ignorance, greed, and/or "classic Republican feelings of superiority"

- the misidentification of Kansas slave owners as red-staters, i.e., Republicans

- the, um, creative, interpretation of the history of the last century


Suffice to say that it's a little difficult to criticize ideological differences as being grounded in ignorance if one is displaying an appalling ignorance of one's own.

Wretchard over at the Belmont Club (where the analyses of military action in Iraq have become must-reads) offers his own critique. As for myself, it's very hard for me not to think of Ms. Smiley as a lumbering, cud-chewing, vacant-eyed bovine, what with the title of her 1995 book.

In a postscript, Smiley notes that, in her previous assessment of her Republican relatives, she had been "making an assumption (in which, of course, there is an a--)."

Believe me, Ms. Smiley, we pretty much figured that out that about you without the assumption.


Posted 5:38 PM by Tony


So Call Me A Redneck Vulture

According to the SF Chronicle, Arafat's about to kick the bucket:

Yasser Arafat's condition deteriorated dramatically overnight as his coma deepened, a hospital spokesman said Tuesday, and a top Palestinian official said he had suffered a brain hemorrhage.

The 75-year-old Palestinian leader started bleeding Monday evening and was in critical condition at the Percy Military Training Hospital in southwest Paris, top aide Tayeb Abdel Rahim told a news conference in Ramallah in the West Bank.

I guess he's only mostly dead.

How much do you want to bet that his obituaries in the mainstream media are pretty much going to gloss over his decades of terrorist activity?


Posted 12:45 PM by Tony


The Korean Wave

Much hype has been generated in Korea about the popularity of Korean pop culture in the rest of Asia.

Apparently, this also includes Japan (via Mainichi Daily News):

Choi Ji-woo is spearheading the Hanryu Boomu, a craze for things South Korean that has seen millions of Japanese cast aside traditional apathy they may have felt for their nearest neighbors and, apart from the local entertainment world, have embraced them heart and, well, Seoul, according to Shukan Taishu (11/15).

"This Korean craze started with the screening of the TV drama 'Winter Sonata.' It is extremely rare that a one-hit TV series has sparked such enormous interest in Japan for another country's culture," Hosei University media culture expert Tatsuo Inamasu tells Shukan Taishu. "It's an incident that will go down in the annals of Japanese cultural history."

[ . . . ]

Hosei University's Inamasu predicts the trend will continue.

"With no big Japanese stars on the horizons, Japan's TV networks are welcoming the Korean celebrities with open arms," the academic tells Shukan Taishu. "What they've got is a purity and innocence that Japanese stars couldn't possibly produce. Japanese stars aren't even in the same league, let alone capable of putting up a fight."

To me, this sort of undermines the whole screen quota argument. Korean television series do not, I believe, benefit from screen quotas. Japan is one of the most sophisticated entertainment markets in Asia. So, if Korean TV shows can be successfully produced without the benefit of quotas, why not Korean movies?


Posted 12:13 PM by Tony

Thursday, November 04, 2004
Palestinian Child Abuse*

Stefan Sharkansky points to a post by David Frankfurter.

The picture shows the disembodied head of Zainab Ali Issa Abu Salem, after she blew herself up in a suicide bombing attack. The picture was published September 22, 2004 in the Hamas children's newspaper Alfatah with the caption:

Her head separated from her pure body, and her Ra'ala [Muslim headscarf] remains to decorate [her face]. Her place is in Paradise, where in the highest heavens, Zainab ... sister [who has been raised to the level] of men.

A children's newspaper.

There can be no sympathy with those people, and those who would cry such foolishness as "Avenge Yassin" (Zombie's page, 8th picture down) should really have the crap kicked out of them.
-----
* with apologies to LGF


Posted 6:23 PM by Tony

Wednesday, November 03, 2004
Fact Checking Robert Scheer

Might as well put a disclaimer right up front - I don't think much of columnist Robert Scheer. This opinion piece in the LA Times, calling for a stronger UN, is a prime example to explain my dislike.
Let's take a look.

Yet nobody in either party who supported the war has the integrity to apologize to the United Nations and its inspectors, who were chased out of the country before a war campaign that Johns Hopkins University researchers estimate has killed 100,000 Iraqis to date.

Presumably, he's referring to this study by Roberts et al. to be published in the Lancet. That study (PDF states on page 5:

We estimate that there were 98 000 extra deaths
(95% CI 8000–194 000) during the post-war period in the 97% of Iraq represented by all the clusters except Falluja.

Take a look at the 95% CI level. A 95% CI reflects the accuracy of the testing, and means that there is a 95% likelihood that the true value is somewhere in the stated range. Here, the range is somewhere between 8000 and 194,000, which is so broad as to render the estimate meaningless, i.e., basically statistics-speak for "we don't have a freaking clue what the number is." *

Or, using a similar example, it's like having a cop pull you over for speeding, saying, "I estimated you were going 100 miles per hour. That's my estimate, but I'm 95% sure that you were at least going between 8 and 194 miles per hour.

Yet Scheer blindly repeats the 100,000 number, and the study's authors have the temerity to state that the estimate "is probably 100 000 people, and may be much higher," and that "the lack of precision does not hinder the clear identification of the major public-health problem in Iraq-violence."

Another fun Scheer-ism follows:

Proof of the stolid effectiveness of the U.N. came again last week when it was revealed that a cache of 377 tons of powerful explosives located and sealed by the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency — the International Atomic Energy Agency — before the war had gone missing after the American invasion of Iraq. American military commanders in the field were not informed of the location of high-intensity explosives sites or of the significance of the United Nations' seals.

You mean the ones where no one knows whether the explosives were removed before or after the invasion?

Yep, a fine example of mainstream punditry.
-----
* For another laugh, see page 4: "The crude mortality rate during the period of war and occupation was 12·3 per 1000 people per year (95% CI 1·4–23·2; design effect=29·3) and the estimated infant mortality was 57 deaths per 1000 livebirths (95% CI 30–85)."


Posted 8:45 PM by Tony


Giving Peace A Chance

Megan McArdle, posting on Instapundit, asks Bush voters "to give peace a chance" by refraining from gloating.

Fair enough. But it's easier said than done.

I've had to endure four years of sniping for being a Republican in the San Francisco Bay Area, and I've been confronted with "Lick Bush" (and variants thereof) bumper stickers, shirts, signs, and other printed materials. So, I'm just going to say one thing to my fellow residents of the Bay Area:

Suck on Bush and choke on Dick for the next four years, jackholes.

There. Gloating done. Promise.

Update: Still not gloating. Tempted, though.

Update 2: Very, very tempted.

Update 3: Mix in a little Maureen Dowd foolishness, some bitterness from the UK Guardian, and some cluelessness from German government-funded Deutsche Welle. Must. Not. Gloat.


Posted 5:17 PM by Tony


A Bye-Ku

In the example of James Taranto of Best of the Web, I'd like to offer the following bye-ku to Tom Daschle:

Eye-rolling lawsuit
Pet judge Piersol failed to block
Thune kicking your ass

Yes, I realize I'm gloating, but given some Daschle's lock on the local press and some of his tactics, I think I may be allowed a slight bit of satisfaction.


Posted 7:53 AM by Tony

Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Blogs In The Election

The SF Chronicle has an article on the impact of blogs on the election. Interesting for two reasons:

First, you get to see the owner of the Daily Kos [not providing a link] come across as an arrogant jackass, despite the somewhat fawning treatment by the article's author:

"We've only been around as a political force for about a year,'' Moulitsas says. "The point when I knew we had an impact is when we got Trent Lott fired.''

[ . . . ]

Moulitsas, full of swagger, says that is why the new generation of political junkies are reading him, not watching "Crossfire.''

"I pretty much blow away the major media anyhow,'' he says. "I'm getting 800,000 visitors a day now. ("The Truth Laid Bear," a blog that tracks other blogs, places the figure at 627,535, and published reports have indicated Daily Kos scores 8 million visitors a month). This isn't a newspaper. They're all coming to read me. Not the sports page.''

Second, if you're going to mention specific incidents, at least give credit where it's due:

The poorly researched CBS Evening News story about President Bush's National Guard record was picked apart by bloggers supporting the president. It became a story the MSM -- as bloggers call the mainstream media -- couldn't ignore.

Even if that incident, as exposed by Powerline and INDC Journal, and shown graphically by LGF, makes Kos look like more of a fool.


Posted 8:24 AM by Tony

Monday, November 01, 2004
An Abu Ghraib Inquiry

There's an AP article in the SF Chronicle about a witness at an Article 32 hearing involving a Navy SEAL and Abu Ghraib:

Testifying under a grant of immunity, the U.S. Navy SEAL, identified only by his rank as a hospital corpsman [Navy version of a medic], said he kicked [Menadel] al-Jamadi several times, slapped him in the back of the head and punched him. The five or six CIA personnel also in the room also laid their hands on the prisoner, although he did not provide details.

[ . . . ]

The testimony about the CIA's role came during a hearing for an aviation boatswain's mate who is accused of punching al-Jamadi and posing in photos where al-Jamadi was allegedly subjected to degrading treatment. The boatswain's mate allegedly twisted other prisoners' testicles and struck a prisoner in the buttocks with a wooden board.

An Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a civilian grand jury, was held to determine whether the boatswain's mate, a barrell-chested man and a 14-year Navy veteran, should be court-martialed. The hearing concluded Monday. An investigating officer will prepare a written recommendation for Joseph McGuire, the rear admiral in charge of the Navy's special warfare branch, about what charges, if any, the boatswain's mate should face at court-martial.

The accused SEAL, who received the Purple Heart for suffering wounds in Iraq could face up to 11 years in prison if he's convicted of charges including aggravated assault and maltreatment.

Al-Jamadi is hardly the most sympathetic of victims, however:

Al-Jamadi, described in an Army report as a suspect in an attack on a Red Cross facility, was captured by members of a Coronado-based Sea, Air, Land unit known as Seal Team-7 during a joint special forces-CIA mission.

Al-Jamadi was subdued after a fierce hand-to-hand struggle with the accused SEAL, whose job as a breecher required him to be the first to charge in. After al-Jamadi's hands were cuffed and a sandbag placed on his head, the corpsman said he watched the accused and another SEAL "body slam" the captive into the back of a Humvee.

If this is true I would suppose punishment is in order, absent extenuating circumstances, such as the need to extract time-sensitive intelligence. Still, it's never a pleasant thing, punishing one's own.


Posted 1:59 PM by Tony


Korean Missionaries

THe NY Times has an article on Korean missionaries in the Middle East, a region not noted for its hospitability towards Christianity:

A South Korean missionary here speaks of introducing Jesus in a "low voice and with wisdom" to Muslims, the most difficult group to convert. In Baghdad, South Koreans plan to open a seminary even after Iraqi churches have been bombed in two recent coordinated attacks. In Beijing, they defy the Chinese government to smuggle North Koreans to Seoul while turning them into Christians.

South Korea has rapidly become the world's second largest source of Christian missionaries, only a couple of decades after it started deploying them. With more than 12,000 abroad, it is second only to the United States and ahead of Britain.

The Koreans have joined their Western counterparts in more than 160 countries, from the Middle East to Africa, from Central to East Asia. Imbued with the fervor of the born again, they have become known for aggressively going to - and sometimes being expelled from - the hardest-to-evangelize corners of the world. Their actions are at odds with the foreign policy of South Korea's government, which is trying to rein them in here and elsewhere.

It is the first time that large numbers of Christian missionaries have been deployed by a non-Western nation, one whose roots are Confucian and Buddhist, and whose population remains two-thirds non-Christian. Unlike Western missionaries, whose work dovetailed with the spread of colonialism, South Koreans come from a country with little history of sending people abroad until recently. They proselytize, not in their own language, but in the local one or English.

"There is a saying that when Koreans now arrive in a new place, they establish a church; the Chinese establish a restaurant; the Japanese, a factory," said a South Korean missionary in his 40's, who has worked here for several years and, like many others, asked not to be identified because of the dangers of proselytizing in Muslim countries.

This comes as no surprise, when one considers Christianity in Korea. Christianity came to Korea in the 19th century by way of French Catholic priests (see overview by Andrei Lankov in the Korea Times) The faith survived despite suppression by the Chosun dynasty, including the 103 martyrs canonized in 1984, including Father Andrew Kim Taegon, Korea's first native Christian clergyman. Nowadays, Christian churches are everywhere in Korea. Taking a look at the Seoul cityscape at night, one is struck by the sight of a forest of red neon crosses, each denoting a church.

So the fact of Korean missionaries doesn't surprise me. I am concerned about the political implications, however, as each missionary is a potential hostage target, and we've already been treated to Korean reactions to its citizens being taken hostage, e.g., Kim Sun-il.


Posted 11:04 AM by Tony


An Orange County native trapped in the SF Bay Area. Email at orblog-at-yahoo.com.

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