Out of nowhere this evening, I remembered one afternoon many years ago when my friend Rick’s and my paths had crossed – in New Zealand I think it was – and he asked me what I’d been doing for the last couple of years, expecting one of my 6-beer-long monologues.

I paused, said the first thing that came to mind : “Tuggin’.” He laughed.

Deliberately dumb, that exchange became a shorthand ritual in later years when our travels would bring us back together in the same place for a day, or for a week.

“How’ve you been?” he’d ask. “Tuggin’,” I’d reply, and that would be that.

It was our code to signify that it didn’t really matter how long we’d been apart, that the thread of our friendship could be picked up again without missing a beat, no matter how long the time intervening, that we were more often than not men without women and not too worried about it, and that the telling of tales could always wait until we’d had a bottle of wine or three.

I remembered that this evening, and then I remembered that it wouldn’t ever happen again, because he’s dead. God damn it.

Awareness Matters

Linguist George Lakoff talks again about the metaphors that have been and are continuing to be used to sell this war to the public, the very same metaphors that were used back in Gulf War I (and many other times as well).

He also has some points to make about the anti-war movement, which echo what some friends in the neighbourhood are discussing at the moment, and in which they may well be interested.

I think it is crucially important to understand the cognitive dimensions of politics – especially when most of our conceptual framing is unconscious and we may not be aware of our own metaphorical thought. I have been referred to as a “cognitive activist” and I think the label fits me well. As a professor, I do analyses of linguistic and conceptual issues in politics, and I do them as accurately as I can. But that analytic act is a political act: Awareness matters. Being able to articulate what is going on can change what is going on – at least in the long run.

This war is a symptom of a larger disease. The war will start presently. The fighting will be over before long. Where will the anti-war movement be then?

First, the anti-war movement, properly understood, is not just, or even primarily, a movement against the war. It is a movement against the overall direction that the Bush administration is moving in. Second, such a movement, to be effective, needs to say clearly what it is for, not just what it is against.

Third, it must have a clearly articulated moral vision, with values rather than mere interests determining its political direction.


[via Mefi]

Bill Gates is Dead – Psych!

This morning, Korean television news reported that Bill Gates had been shot dead by an unknown assailant.

The ‘news’ grew out of rumour in Taiwan, apparently. How it made it to the national networks in Korea is anyone’s guess. But I was really upset, and surprised at myself for feeling so bad about it, at least until I heard an hour or so later that it was complete bollocks.

I don’t know why that would be.

A Better Man Than I

Jonathon Delacour responds to a witless comment on his wbelog with an essay both thoughtful and forceful. I realized as I read it that I would quite probably would have replied to similar accusations with ‘oh, shut the f–k up,’ and I realized again that I have a lot to learn from people like Jonathon (and others, I know, many many others).

As I head off to bed, I have some things to turn over in my mind before I wake. (Of course, that said, I’ll probably dream about impregnating the Statue of Liberty or something equally goofy, but I’m a firm believer in metaphor, so it’s all good.)

Lesson #13,207 in my personal education, and another one that may teach me how to become a better man. Or at least one that doesn’t hit first and ask questions later.

Erections Are Sometimes Quite Pleasant

Spring has sprung in Seoul, and the last few days have averaged about 10 degrees Celsius warmer than the average for this time of year; the prevailing winds from the East, which are unusual and have not only encouraged the blossoms to open but have cleared away some of the smog to which I have reluctantly become accustomed, well, those warm, cheek-tickling breezes have also made me hornier than a three-peckered billy goat, as my colourful character of step-father is given to say.

Perhaps it’s just death that has me tumescent. Apparently that happens, sometimes. Regardless, sex. Mmm, sex.

Been there, seen that

I’m sure everyone’s already seen this, as it’s been on that there newfangled Daypop thingy all the kids are talkin’ about for a couple of days, but it is pure brilliance, and I’m a sharing, caring kinda guy :


By Anonymous

PeaceNik: Why did you say we are we invading Iraq?

WarMonger: We are invading Iraq because it is in violation of security council resolution 1441. A country cannot be allowed to violate security council resolutions.

PN: But I thought many of our allies, including Israel, were in violation of more security council resolutions than Iraq.

WM: It’s not just about UN resolutions. The main point is that Iraq could have weapons of mass destruction, and the first sign of a smoking gun could well be a mushroom cloud over NY.

PN: Mushroom cloud? But I thought the weapons inspectors said Iraq had no nuclear weapons.

WM: Yes, but biological and chemical weapons are the issue.

PN: But I thought Iraq did not have any long range missiles for attacking us or our allies with such weapons.

WM: The risk is not Iraq directly attacking us, but rather terrorists networks that Iraq could sell the weapons to.

PN: But coundn’t virtually any country sell chemical or biological materials? We sold quite a bit to Iraq in the eighties ourselves, didn’t we?

WM: That’s ancient history. Look, Saddam Hussein is an evil man that has an undeniable track record of repressing his own people since the early eighties. He gasses his enemies. Everyone agrees that he is a power-hungry lunatic murderer.

PN: We sold chemical and biological materials to a power-hungry lunatic murderer?

WM: The issue is not what we sold, but rather what Saddam did. He is the one that launched a pre-emptive first strike on Kuwait.

PN: A pre-emptive first strike does sound bad. But didn’t our ambassador to Iraq, April Gillespie, know about and green-light the invasion of Kuwait?

WM: Let’s deal with the present, shall we? As of today, Iraq could sell its biological and chemical weapons to Al Quaida. Osama BinLaden himself released an audio tape calling on Iraqis to suicide-attack us, proving a partnership between the two.


The Winner and Still Cham-peen

Yay! We win! Seoul has the worst air quality amongst all cities in OECD countries. Yes, it’s worse than Rome, worse than Mexico city even.

Seoul’s air pollution is the worst among countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Environment Ministry said yesterday.

The capital’s particulate matter (PM), which can cause various respiratory problems, was measured at 71 micrograms per cubic meter at the end of 2001, the ministry said.

The figure is the highest among OECD countries, surpassing the 60 micrograms reported in Rome, Italy, and 53 micrograms for Mexico City – cities that are both notorious for severe urban air pollution.

Moscow recorded the lowest pollution level in terms of PM with 10 micrograms, with cities such as Paris and Auckland also significantly lower than Seoul with 24 and 25 micrograms, respectively.

The density of nitrogen dioxide in Seoul was 0.037 ppm (parts per million), ranking third after Moscow with 0.058 ppm and Bratislava, Slovakia, with 0.047 ppm. Excessive exposure to nitrogen dioxide can exacerbate pneumonia and bronchitis.


The prize? Well, let’s just say Korean can-do spirit extends to cancer, too. I sometimes wonder why I bothered to quit smoking three years ago (except for my occasional cocktail-time cigar). Now I can relax in the knowledge that any tumors that develop will be Someone Else’s Fault. Comforting, that.

Worth The Time

I’ve been casting my nets a little wider today, looking for some meaty and delicious commentary on The War on Terra Iraq Everyone, and found this weblog. Thought I’d share, as I’d never run across it before.

Well worth reading, whatever your take on the dark days in which we find ourselves.


From the three years or so I recently lived in Sydney Australia, my primary olfactory memory is of stale pee. At least twice a block, on my daily walk downtown from my apartment in Surrey Hills to my job at Town Hall, my tender nostrils would be assaulted by a cloud of piss-reek so terrifying, so staggering in its ability to claw its way up into your sinuses and perch giggling behind your eyeballs… well, let’s just say it was pretty damn whiffy. This stink would taunt me, mock me, appear and disappear willo-the-piss, then turn a corner and pow! there it would be again.

The odd thing, though, was that although there was an almost constant smell of downtown pee, I almost never saw anyone actually, well, doing it. A city of ghost-whizzers.

Here in Seoul, it’s almost impossible to walk down the street in the evening, particularly on a Friday or Saturday, without spotting two or three teetering drunks fumbling at their little weiners and tinkling on a wall or car or doorway or small child too slow to escape. One particularly enthusiastic gent a while back was on the subway platform at about 5 pm, canted at a 60 degree angle or so, pants around his knees, squeezing out a sadly unimpressive stream toward the opposite platform, where I was standing. It was difficult to tell for sure, but I was under the impression he was trying to hit me, and was frustrated that he was falling short by a good 50 feet or so.

But for all the determined urban micturation here, I almost never smell pee. It’s odd.

I have concluded as a result of this painstaking scientific study that the urine of Korean men does not smell. Your mileage may, as they say, vary.

Deeply Weird

The Samsung ladyphone : just one of those occasional excrescences of Korean weirdness into English, not just cognitive dissonance-inducing mistranslation, but a brief glimpse into the whirling void of cluelessness that yawns at the core of this nation of loveable doozers.

There’s more than just those 32 chips of cubic zirconia (wow, that’s class!) and a built in make-up mirror. Much, much more! Check out these just-for-her features!

Features for Women

- Biorhythm

- Fatness Index

- Calorie Calculator

- Pink Schedule

- Menstruation

Excellent! A phone with Menstruation and a Fatness Index! I don’t know what a Pink Schedule is, but I want one! I’m in gadget heaven, and I’m not even a woman!


No Cheat Sheets

A little Iraquiz, nicely footnoted, just to help you keep your eye on the ball as more Americans die, and the evil wobbly old f–ks in Washington start casting about for ways to clean the poop out of their drawers :

1. The anti-war movement supports our troops by urging that they be brought home immediately so they neither kill nor get killed in a unjust war. How has the Bush administration shown its support for our troops?

a. The Republican-controlled House Budget Committee voted to cut $25 billion in veterans benefits over the next 10 years.

b. The Bush administration proposed cutting $172 million from impact aid programs which provide school funding for children of military personnel.

c. The administration ordered the Dept. of Veterans Affairs to stop publicizing health benefits available to veterans.

d. All of the above.

2. The anti-war movement believes that patriotism means urging our country to do what is right. How do Bush administration officials define patriotism?

a. Patriotism means emulating Dick Cheney, who serves as Vice-President while receiving $100,000-$1,000,000 a year from Halliburton, the multi-billion dollar company which is already lining up for major contracts in post-war Iraq.

b. Patriotism means emulating Richard Perle, the warhawk who serves as head of the Defense Intelligence Board while at the same time meeting with Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi on behalf of Trireme, a company of which he is a managing partner, involved in security and military technologies, and while agreeing to work as a paid lobbyist for Global Crossing, a telecommunications giant seeking a major Pentagon contract.

c. Patriotism means emulating George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, John Bolton, Tom DeLay, John Ashcroft, Lewis Libby, and others who enthusiastically supported the Vietnam War while avoiding serving in it and who now are sending others to kill and be killed in Iraq.

d. All of the above.


Whatcha Gonna Do?

While reading this post from Burningbird, this song from one of the greatest punk bands of all time (and one of my all-time favorites) Vancouver’s DOA, was playing on Winamp, appropriately enough. Not poetry, far from it, but good political hardcore rarely reached such lofty heights way back then, 20 years ago and more, and we rarely noticed, as busy slamming and pogoing and sinking oceanic quantities of cheap beer as we were. I do recall taking very seriously one of the band’s many mottoes, though: TALK – ACTION = ZERO.

DOA – Whatcha Gonna Do?

Whatcha gonna do?

Whatcha wanna do?

Whatcha gonna be?

Well if you’re thinkin’

That you’re nothin’

You already are

Yeah, you already are

You need some takin’, not just thinkin’

You need some takin’, not just thinkin’

You need some takin’,

Just quit your talkin’.

You’re sittin’ thinkin’

About your sinkin’

Around on down

You wanted everything

But you took nothin’

So now you lie

About the way that you tried

So whatcha gonna do

about what you do?

Whatcha gonna do

about what you do?

Whatcha gonna do

about what you do?

‘Bout the way that you tried?

So quit your talkin’


Whatcha gonna do?

Whatcha wanna do?

Whatcha gonna be?

Well if you want

Whatcha really want?

You need some takin’

Not just fakin’

So whatcha gonna do ’bout what you do?

Whatcha gonna do ’bout what you do?

And whatcha gonna do ’bout what you be?

Gotta be somethin’


I don’t know

I don’t know

I don’t know

I don’t know

I don’t know

I used to know the answer to that question, two decades ago, when I first heard this song, or thought I did. I marched in protests, I talked to everyone I could corner in bars and hallways, I told them to fight the wave of corporatist christian contrakiller bullsh-t flowing out of America and lapping around our ankles.

Today, I don’t know the answer anymore. I am almost certain that there is no good answer, actually, no answer that’s any damn good at all, other than the one that comes by following the urgings of your own sense of right and wrong.

So I’m going to go get drunk, and be nice to some people, and try and avoid getting in any fistfights with Americans. Not much, but it’ll have to do, you know?

Like Joey sh-thead said, you gotta know who your enemy is.

Frolicking at Mt Paektu

Kim Jong Il’s livejournal [via El Filtro] is just what I needed this morning, as the Land Of The Morning Calm chaos gets all in my face once again. People are dying over in Iraq, I know, I know, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a chuckle at the expense of a funny looking Korean despot, right?

3:39 am Dear diary. Bush still doesn’t ‘get it.’ I tried making my feelings clear but he’s too busy ignoring me, he is such a jerk. Everything in his life is just Saddam, Saddam, Saddam and I am sick of it.

On the plus side, I think my hair looked pretty good today. Also I went frolicking at Paektu Mountain and the rainbow came out again. After dinner some of my subjects sang me a song because I invented Outer Space.


Also, I am victorious!

Do This Now

Feeling a need to feel like a kid again, if only for a few minutes? Do this now!


Do the Celestial Crawl

On a cloudless warm night, walk around until you can put a nearby building or tree very close to a bright star in the eastern sky. Now lay on the ground and move yourself until the corner of the building or the top of the tree just BARELY covers that star. Wait a moment. The star will reappear. Wiggle along to cover up the star again. It reappears. Keep wiggling along. (Um… notice that the entire Earth is rotating beneath you?)


Yawn. (no, REALLY yawn), then immediately curl your tongue backwards and force it against the roof of your mouth. The saliva glands under your tongue will squirt like a squirtgun! You can only squirt once or twice before another yawn is required. Also works while eating (or sucking on hard candy.) Practice this in front of a mirror until you can slightly part your lips and silently hit a target with deadly accuracy. Hey! Is it raining in here?

Burst of flavor

While reading, eat something. Notice that the flavor vanishes as soon as you get involved with the story you’re reading? Now concentrate on your mouth, and the flavor explodes into reality. By concentrating on the text or on your mouth, you can make the flavor flash on and off. WEIRD!

Finger of PAIN

After getting out of the car, quickly touch one of your passengers. Snap! Why waste a good “zap” on the car door? (If you don’t enjoy sparks, then use the car keys to touch your passenger. The shock still occurs, but YOU won’t feel it!)

Visible Touch

Look to the left, close your eyes, then touch the rightmost edge of your right eyeball with a fingertip. (Push gently on your eyelid, don’t touch the eye itself!) Wiggle your finger up and down. See anything off to the left? That’s the “image” of your fingertip, but the retina of your eye is feeling it, not seeing it. Move your finger UP, and the black/silver splotch moves DOWN. Use two fingertips, and you see two splotches. This is the realm where touching meets seeing.

Restaurant Super-candle

…with a foot-high flame. While in a restaurant, tear off a bit of a napkin or other paper, and twiddle it into a little rod the thickness of a pencil lead. Dip both ends into the liquid candle wax so the whole thing is wetted, then wait for it to harden (or chill it in your drink.) Carefully jab this hard wax rod into the top of the candle so it becomes a second wick. Tilt the candle to expose this extra wick to flame. Now REPEAT THE PROCESS! Five wicks create a tall flame like a blow torch which makes a soft roaring noise.

Tube of Boob

Tune your TV to a blank station and adjust it for good “snow”. Stare into the snow. Imagine the number “3″, and it will appear as a 3-shaped flickering. But then it will start to slowly rotate. Mentally erase the 3, then imagine a horizontal line. It appears, but it won’t stay still, it wants to drift and rotate. Make it shrink and vanish. Keep staring, and soon the snow will smoothly ripple, as if you were looking through the distorting water of complicated waves in a swimming pool. Think of more stuff to create. Who says that watching TV for hours isn’t worthwhile?!


Because I love the man

A lengthy rumination from George Carlin, one of my favorite angry, funny people, brought to mind by Tom and The Happy Tutor.


“You can’t be afraid of words that speak the truth. I don’t like words that hide the truth. I don’t like words that conceal reality. I don’t like euphemisms or euphemistic language. And American english is loaded with euphemisms. Because Americans have a lot of trouble dealing with reality. Americans have trouble facing the truth, so they invent a kind of a soft language to protect themselves from it. And it gets worse with every generation. For some reason it just keeps getting worse.

I’ll give you an example of that. There’s a condition in combat. Most people know about it. It’s when a fighting person’s nervous system has been stressed to it’s absolute peak and maximum, can’t take any more input. The nervous system has either snapped or is about to snap. In the first world war that condition was called shell shock. Simple, honest, direct language. Two syllables. Shell shock. Almost sounds like the guns themselves. That was 70 years ago. Then a whole generation went by. And the second world war came along and the very same combat condition was called battle fatigue. Four syllables now. Takes a little longer to say. Doesn’t seem to be as hard to say. Fatigue is a nicer word than shock. Shell shock…battle fatigue.

Then we had the war in Korea in 1950. Madison Avenue was riding high by that time. And the very same combat condition was called Operational Exhaustion. Hey we’re up to 8 syllables now! And the humanity has been squeezed completely out of the phrase now. It’s totally sterile now. Operational Exhaustion: sounds like something that might happen to your car. Then of course came the war in Vietnam, which has only been over for about 16 or 17 years. And thanks to the lies and deceit surrounding that war, I guess it’s no surprise that the very same condition was called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Still 8 syllables, but we’ve added a hyphen. And the pain is completely buried under jargon. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I bet you, if we’d still been calling it shell shock, some of those Vietnam veterans might have gotten the attention they needed at the time. I bet you that.

But it didn’t happen. And one of the reasons is because we were using that soft language, that language that takes out the life out of life. And it is a function of time it does keep getting worse.

Give you another example. Sometime during my life toilet paper became bathroom tissue. I wasn’t notified of this. No one asked me if I agreed with it. It just happened. Toilet paper became bathroom tissue. Sneakers became running shoes. False teeth became dental appliances. Medicine became medication. Information became directory assistance. The dump became the land fill. Car crashes became automobile accidents. Partly cloudy became partly sunny. Motels became motor lodges. House trailers became mobile homes. Used cars became previously owned transportation. Room service became guest room dining. Constipation became occasional irregularity.

When I was a little kid if I got sick they wanted me to go to a hospital and see the doctor. Now they want me to go to a health maintenance organization. Or a wellness center to consult a health care delivery professional. Poor people used to live in slums. Now the economically disadvantaged occupy sub-standard housing in the inner cities. And they’re broke! They’re broke. They don’t have a negative cash flow position. They’re f–kin’ broke! Because a lot of them were fired. You know, fired. Management wanted to curtail redundancies in the human resources area. So many people are no longer viable members of the work force.

Smug, greedy well-fed white people have invented a language to conceal their sins. It’s as simple as that. The CIA doesn’t kill people anymore, they neutralize people, or they depopulate the area. The government doesn’t lie, it engages in disinformation. The pentagon actually measures radiation in something they call sunshine units. Israeli murderers are called commandos. Arab commandos are called terrorists. Contra killers are called freedom fighters. Well if crime fighters fight crime and fire fighters fight fire what do freedom fighters fight? They never mention that part of it to us, do they?

And some of this stuff is just silly. We know that. Like when the airlines tell us to pre-board. What the hell is pre-board? What does that mean? To get on before you get on?

They say they’re going to pre-board those passengers in need of special assistance …cripples! Simple honest direct language. There’s no shame attached to the word cripple I can find in any dictionary. In fact it’s a word used in Bible translations. “Jesus healed the cripples.” Doesn’t take seven words to describe that condition. But we don’t have cripples in this country anymore. We have the physically challenged. Is that a grotesque enough evasion for you? How about differently-abled? I’ve heard them called that. Differently-abled! You can’t even call these people handicapped anymore. They say: “We’re not handicapped, we’re handy capable!” These poor people have been bullsh-tted by the system into believing that if you change the name of the condition somehow you’ll change the condition. Well hey cousin … doesn’t happen!

We have no more deaf people in this country. Hearing impaired. No more blind people. Partially sighted or visually impaired. No more stupid people, everyone has a learning disorder. Or he’s minimally exceptional. How would you like to told that about your child? ‘He’s minimally exceptional.’ Psychologists have actually started calling ugly people those with severe appearance deficits. It’s getting so bad that any day now I expect to hear a rape victim referred to as an unwilling sperm recipient!

And we have no more old people in this country. No more old people. We shipped them all away and we brought in these senior citizens. Isn’t that a typically American twentieth century phrase? Bloodless. Lifeless. No pulse in one of them. A senior citizen. But I’ve accepted that one. I’ve come to terms with it. I know it’s here to stay. We’ll never get rid of it. But the one I do resist, the one I keep resisting, is when they look at an old guy and say, “Look at him Dan, he’s ninety years young.” Imagine the fear of aging that reveals. To not even be able to use the word old to describe someone. To have to use an antonym.

And fear of aging is natural. It’s universal, isn’t it? We all have that. No one wants to get old. No one wants to die. But we do. So we con ourselves. I started conning myself when I got in my forties. I’d look in the mirror and say, “Well…I guess I’m getting …older.” Older sounds a little better than old, doesn’t it? Sounds like it might even last a little longer. I’m getting old. And it’s okay. Because thanks to our fear of death in this country I won’t have to die. I’ll pass away. Or I’ll expire, like a magazine subscription. If it happens in the hospital they’ll call it a terminal episode. The insurance company will refer to it as negative patient care outcome. And if it’s the result of malpractice they’ll say it was a therapeutic misadventure.

I’m telling ya, some of this language makes me want to vomit. Well, maybe not vomit …makes me want to engage in an involuntary personal protein spill.”

[edited from transcript found here.]

There's Something Happening Here

Who’s organizing pro-war (and what an idiot word that is – ‘pro-war.’ Yeah, ah’m pro-war. I kinda like all that killin’ and burnin’ and shootin’ – makes me feel like f–kin’!) rallies in America? The Bush-friendly ClearChannel crapradio near-monopoly, apparently. Neat!

There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear, but a good guess is that we’re now seeing the next stage in the evolution of a new American oligarchy.


Edit : Now that Fetamilter’s back up, here’s the thread there, with some additional info.