Still…(edit : umm, imagine a rising inflection here which would indicate my susceptability to the patriotism virus, even though yadda yadda….)
Canada is every bit as querulously alert to the achievements of its sons and daughters as the rest of the world is completely unaware of them. The Canadians proudly say of themselves — and are unheard by anyone else — that 1% of the world’s population has provided 10% of the world’s peacekeeping forces. Canadian soldiers in the past half century have been the greatest peacekeepers on Earth — in 39 missions on UN mandates, and six on non-UN peacekeeping duties, from Vietnam to East Timor, from Sinai to Bosnia.
Yet the only foreign engagement that has entered the popular non-Canadian imagination was the sorry affair in Somalia, in which out-of-control paratroopers murdered two Somali infiltrators. Their regiment was then disbanded in disgrace — a uniquely Canadian act of self-abasement for which, naturally, the Canadians received no international credit.
Thanks again to the endlessly entertaining instant-referrers doodad on the right, I see that someone has recently gotten here with the search string crazy+mad+f–kers+at+the+edge+of+voltaire’s+reason, and that in fact I am the sole hit for this particular search string in the whole wide world.
As always, I am hugely amused by this sort of thing. I hope you found what you were looking for, friend. Welcome, and thank you.
Although in my experience, Koreans often seem to be skilled beyond measure at cheapening and vulgarizing just about anything to which they lay their hands, owing perhaps to the mercantilism-at-any-cost modernization of recent decades, Sorak San National Park, and the countryside around it, were a pleasant revelation to me.
An astonishingly beautiful place, organized and modern. The air is clean, the water’s clean, and I was surprised and bemused to observe that, as far as I could tell, at least, the Koreans seem to be better stewards of their forest resources than my fellow Canadians. I saw nothing that could compare with the vast, brutal areas of clearcut in British Columbia. In a tiny little country, with 49 million people crammed into it, there’s more of what appears to be virgin forest in the 275 kilometres or so between there and the smoke-shrouded urban hell that is here than I had ever expected.
We spent some time at Naksan Sa, one of the Buddhist temples in the region. The temple buildings and gardens perch amid fragrant pines on a bluff beside the sea. It is a testament to the upheavals of Korean history that it has been rebuilt no less than eight times in the fourteen centuries since it was first constructed. The entire coast in the region is lined with a three-metre fence, topped with razor-wire, a legacy of the latest upheaval 50 years ago. Sokcho and Sorak National park are disconcertingly close to the North Korean border. Soldiers patrol the beaches, along the inside of the fence. North Korean spies are kept out, but the people who live along the coast are kept in. It was surreal to see a gun emplacement, draped with camouflage netting, hidden in the rocks beneath the hermitage at the temple.
Sorak San itself (‘san’ means ‘mountain’, and derives from the Chinese character ) is as beautiful as any place I’ve ever seen, although even in the shoulder season, it’s mobbed by huge crowds. The day we spent there, bushwalking and generally wandering about, there were literally thousands of high school and middle school students, in enormous groups, repeatedly shouting “hello!” at me, which is always something I enjoy immensely, in much the same sense that I enjoy having my nipples sandpapered.
But it takes more than boisterous schoolkids to ruin my ki-buen. We spent the days in the mountains, and the evenings at the hot springs/waterpark/public bath near our condo, which was incredibly clean, modern, well-designed and well-built. A testament to what Korea could be like with a little more attention to detail, a little more pride in workmanship, a little less focus on the short term. A preview of what Korea will hopefully be, in a decade or two.
Our brief holiday was an unqualified success, and I look forward to going back and spending some more time there when this semester finishes.
I am wanting very much to purchase a digital camera so that I may share with you all some groovy images of the ROK, and I have almost convinced She Who Must Be Obeyed that such a purchase would be a good thing. Being the underpaid academic (read : ‘lazy bastard’) that I am, though, I am of necessity on a rather tight budget. Anyone out there in blogspace have any recommendations or warnings that I should keep in mind in purchasing a (relatively) low-end camera? The Fuji FinePix 2600zlooks pretty good, at the moment…
“We are so close. We are on the verge of something very dangerous and irreversible. You can hear Dick Cheney breathing hard, just aching to press The Button. The human animal is capable of staggering atrocities and deadly choices and the thick-necked frat boys in charge right now are the most darkly capable we’ve suffered in decades.
No one is preaching peace. No one striving for genuine camaraderie or balance or compromise. And too few of us seem willing to believe that 9/11 has mutated into a brutish hollow excuse for the Bush administration to perpetuate a war for oil and to proclaim new enemies and to chip away at the Constitution and your civil liberties in the name of increased federal control and fewer dissenting voices.”
– Mark Morford, SFGate.
“Son,” he said without preamble, “never trust a man who doesn’t drink because he’s probably a self-righteous sort, a man who thinks he knows right from wrong all the time. Some of them are good men, but in the name of goodness, they cause most of the suffering in the world. They’re the judges, the meddlers. And, son, never trust a man who drinks but refuses to get drunk. They’re usually afraid of something deep down inside, either that they’re a coward or a fool or mean and violent. You can’t trust a man who’s afraid of himself. But sometimes, son, you can trust a man who occasionally kneels before a toilet. The chances are that he is learning something about humility and his natural human foolishness, about how how to survive himself. It’s damned hard for a man to take himself too seriously when he’s heaving his guts into a dirty toilet bowl.”
Then he paused for a long minute and added, “And, son, never trust a drunk except when he’s on his knees.”
– James Crumley, The Wrong Case.
You know what pisses me off right at this particular moment? Using words to confuse the point, to play the goddamn shell game, to obfuscate rather than clarify.
There are a few around the neighbourhood who weave sky-piercing towers of words, intricately knitted and syntactically exciting, that leave me cold. I’m impressed by the erudition, by the verbal pyrotechics (and I used to blow sh-t up for a living, briefly, so I oughta know), but I learn nothing after reading what is said except how clever-clever the author of those words is.
If you can’t make a window onto something for yourself or for someone else by what you write you’re masturbating. My advice is that you do it in private, Big Shooter. Play with the language, sure, but keep your hands above the table.
So saith the wonderchicken.
(Edit : And if anyone should think this pronouncement has anything to do with the latest sh-tfight in MeTa, in the interests of practicing what I preach, I say clearly : it doesn’t.)
We’re home. Korea’s a pretty goddamn nice place, after all.
It’s got to be the fifth circle of hell for those who appreciate the fine art and science of architecture, though. If I see one more mock-St. Peter’s onion dome or one more Castle-Auuuuuughh-esque turret on one more purple-painted f–k-hotel, I’m going to run screaming just over there near the couch, then run screaming back.
Not that you folks would actual hear my screams of aesthetic dismay, but I’d tell you about them later.
That’s what the web’s all about, right?
(Note to self : explain the f–k-hotel reference, and the fact that we did not in fact stay in any of those over the last couple of nights…)
Ok, I really mean it this time, this is it before I go to bed and disappear for a few days : I’d just like to say that if any of the folks who come here daily to read the latest wonderchicken droppings have felt that I’ve just been going through the motions of late, well, heck, shucks, and golly, you’d be semi-right. I haven’t been trying as much as I ought to have, I admit this freely and I promise (although, of course, you should realize that my promises are Not Worth The Pixels They’re Written With, when it comes to things like this) to try a little harder to actually write well rather than just barf out whatever comes into my head, unedited, in the future.
On the other hand, if you guys enjoy the brainbarfage, then hell, I’ll keep that up! I’m nothin’ if not flexible.
Next week I start the all-pr0n format…
I’ll be gone the next couple of days – to the mountains we go to try and recharge our batteries a bit. First time in literally years that my ladylove and I have actually gotten away for a few days to just relax and breath some clean air. I encourage all wonderchicken afficionados and fellow-worshippers at the Altar of The Empty Bottle to comment your hearts out on the crap I’ve posted lately, or not-so-lately even, as the new recent-comments gadget over on the right there will act as an All Seeing Eye for me. Peace, love, and vegetable rights, my friends.
In the Chosun Ilbo newspaper this morning : around a hundred North Korean refugees were rounded up by North Korean agents in China recently. “Rounded up” is the appropriate phrase to use, as not only were these people, amongst whom were children and grandparents, bound hand and foot with wire, but holes were punched through their septums and rings inserted, like cattle, to lead them back to the f–king fatherland.
Is this front page propaganda, or did it really happen?
Who knows any more? Recent experiments by the scum in power in America have shown pretty conclusively that propaganda doesn’t need to be subtle to be effective, just emotive. And the image of these poor, hungry people, strung together via iron rings passed through their noses, blood dripping down their upper lips as they are led back to the living hell that is North Korea, is certainly emotive.
But this comes a week before more visits between separated families are scheduled to happen, and not long after the South Korean envoy returned from an extended and fruitful visit to the North, so it seems unlikely that the report is sheer propagandizing, perhaps.
My vote is that it did happen, and the Chinese allowed it to happen. Aren’t people great? Don’t you just love them? Sweetness and light, beauty and peace, follow us all the days of our lives, don’t they?
Like f–k they do.
I notice [via the impeccable Acts of Volition] that Wired has started putting the entire content of the print edition up on the web. This is happy news for me, as I can’t buy the print edition here in Korea, and even though it cost me more than a 12-pack of Hahn Premium to buy when I lived in Australia, I nonetheless did so regularly, and have been missing it. Not sure if the content divorced from the slippery-paged, sensuous tangibleness of it will make me as happy, as I won’t be able to read it in bed when I have a hangover, but it’s nice to know that it’s at least there. A dry hump is better than no hump at all, nicht wahr?
Through the last few years of my university career, I spent the bulk of my time with a group of (for the most part) hard-drinking, (for the most part) punk-rock proto-grrrls, who took the bumptious clay that was this boozy small-town-boy-gone-bad and molded him into Professor Bosco T. Matrix, the Liver That Walked Like a Man. Much fun was had by all, and the usual sex, drugs, rock and roll, wacky hijinx and adventures ensued, as these things do.
One of the appealingly quirky things about this gaggle of gals was their enjoyment of a truly goofy 80’s cartoon called Jem. I was forced to sit through many episodes of this, sometimes even while sober, and it was a minor bane of my existence. I hadn’t actually thought about it in perhaps a decade, until Lia mentioned it recently, and in the process led me to Fush (who is a Very Amusing Young Man).
Downside to all this pleasant linky-dinky and reminiscence? I now have the Jem theme running through my mind, and I swear, someone is going to pay. “Jem! is truly outrageous. Truly, truly, truly outrageous…”
The ‘Jackhammer Jesus’ dildo. Part of the line of quality products that also includes the ‘Buddha’s Delight’, just to be equal-opportunity offensive, I guess.
I would be interested to talk to someone who would actually want to use one of these puppies. I’m a curious fella, though. Some might say too curious. Some others might say some other things, unpleasant things, things that are just plain mean, but when I stick my fingers in my ears and repeat “I can’t hear you!”, I find I am able to thwart their vicious attacks.
This is a Valuable Strategy, and I encourage you to use it in your very own Personal Life. Checks or money orders to the usual place.
How weird is this new linked-up world we live in? (Answer : uh, pretty a lot, Mr Chicken!) This place is a nondescript little second-floor barbecued pork restaurant in Sanbon, way out in the ‘burbs of Seoul, the place I mentioned a couple of posts ago when I said we were having lunch and yadda yadda.
I just this minute remembered the URL on the window and how funny I thought ‘iporky.com’ was…
So we’re having lunch, and one of my Canadian co-workers, who has a tendency to talk more than his fair share of sh-t, is yammering on about how half of the women in Korean prisons are there for adultery. I’m about to call ‘bullsh-t’ when one of our Korean colleagues chimes in and verifies what he’s saying. The laws still regard adultery as a jailable offence, but the only people being prosecuted, for most part, are women.
Apparently it’s commonplace, when a wife in this country is discovered to be cuckolding a husband, for said husband to press charges, and for the wife to be prosecuted and sent to jail. This in a place where there is an omnipresent, enormous, but largely invisible sex industry, and where men are almost expected to take a mistress when they reach that magic socio-economic stratum where simple whores are no longer de riguer. Or at least not in front of the guys.
I just start getting a handle on this place, and then something comes along to make me realize how deeply I don’t get it.
Pan copulating with a goat – Herculaneum, 1st century B.C.
Why have I decided to show you this picture?
Not sure, really. But it is quite jarring, in a potentially useful way, perhaps, innit? Unexpected, intense images like this always get my brain ticking over, at least.
[Edit : Comments are closed. Thanks for playing, googlenauts.]
Almost 70 per cent of Canadians believe their federal and provincial political systems are corrupt, suggests a recent opinion poll.
Sixty-nine per cent of the 1,500 respondents in the Leger Marketing survey said the federal system was highly or somewhat corrupt, compared with 26 per cent who thought it was not very corrupt or not at all corrupt.
”The Canadian public have become over the last 20 years or so, so bovine. They just see this and shrug. They expect it. They expect to be screwed,” said Morrison, who left Parliament because he felt he was wasting his time, and because he didn’t like the fact some people assumed he was corrupt simply because he was in politics.
”Even politicians who are straight and believe in representing their constituents, they give up after awhile. Because nobody seems to care,” Morrison said.
This is the sort of thing that makes me wonder what the hell the bastards who ‘run’ the country are doing to my homeland. I haven’t been back there in more than 4 years now, and although I do sometimes entertain fantasies of going back permanently and hiding in a nice little cabin near a stream, nestled amongst fragrant pines, it’s probably not going to happen anytime soon, if at all, unless you folks buy a lot of Cafe Press crap.
But that doesn’t stop me feeling a wave of despair when I hear the latest statistic, or the newest piece of bad news about how Canada is coming more with each passing year to resemble the Cesspool to the South. I pray that it’s not true, but I suspect that it’s too late.