..And on another note entirely

Mike has come through the fire mostly intact, it would seem, and singing that song of his that I’ve so grown to love. You’re an inspiration to me, you beautiful, long-winded bastard, you. If I have to hunt you down and kill you, like the buddha, it will be out of pure love. This one’s for you. Welcome back, my friend.

Shriekback – Gunning for the Buddha
Mark and Danny in the Greek Hotel
Bold as badgers on a one-take Mission
Got their equipment from a dwarf outside
On the trail of any suspect wisdom
Pond-Life beneath a Southern sky
(They make their move then they head off to the border)
They don’t care as long as you can pay –
Whatever – whatever they say
We’re on the road and we’re gunning for the Buddha
We know his name and he mustn’t get away
We’re on the road and we’re gunning for the Buddha
It would take one shot – to blow him away…
Now’s the time to have some big ideas
Now’s the time to make some firm decisions
We saw the Buddha in a bar down south
Talking politics and nuclear fission
We see him and he’s all washed up –
Moving on into the body of a beetle
Getting ready for a long long crawl
He ain’t nothing – he ain’t nothing at all…
We’re on the road and we’re gunning for the Buddha
We know his name and he mustn’t get away
We’re on the road and we’re gunning for the Buddha
It would take one shot – to blow him away…
Death and Money make their point once more
In the shape of Philosophical assassins
Mark and Danny take the bus uptown
Deadly angels for reality and passion
Have the courage of the here and now
Don’t take nothing from these ½-baked buddhas
When you think you got it paid in full
You got nothing – you got nothing at all…
We’re on the road and we’re gunning for the Buddha
We know his name and he mustn’t get away
We’re on the road and we’re gunning for the Buddha
It would take one shot…
Oh… we’re gunning for the Buddha
We know his name and he mustn’t get away
We’re on the road and we’re gunning for the Buddha
Saying something, saying something unsafe
We’re on the road
Oh… we’re gunning for the Buddha
(Yeah, Yeah)
We’re on the road
You know we’re gunning for the Buddha
You see him blow right there
We’re on the road
We’re gunning, we’re gunning,
We’re gunning on the road
We’re gunning, we’re gunning
We’re gunning for the Buddha


I’ve got to agree with Jon here : even if I’m not on it, this b(l)ogroll from yet another Metafiltron, malevole, made me smile quietly to myself. Which, considering how grumpy I was earlier today, is the humour equivalent of setting off a neutron bomb in my underpants.
Also, do not miss the homepage, which is a marvel. Super extra double cool, with a light dusting of methamphetamines on top. ‘Cause they’re crunchy.

Just to be stubbornly repetitive, humourless and tiresome…

…I’m going to keep hammering on this. The world at large is beginning to notice the blogosphere. The marketing shills smell money in the air. The bright-toothed, fast-talking, lucre-fixated hordes are girding their well-toned loins and casting a hungry eye our way. It’s coming damn it : the signs are all around, and you should take opportunity to be very afraid.
Alternately, you could make like me : leer dementedly and cock a snook at the bastards.

Metaphor saves me from the fact that metaphor cannot save me

…Instead I sit here alone at 4 AM arranging words to describe what is indescribable or what is not worth describing. And his arms tangle with the arms of someone else, for no better reason than that they just do. The heart of this pain: there is no why. There is no reason. Things just happen this way, and we have to stand by, silently, and watch.

Some lovely writing from a fellow Mefiosi, Evanizer. Via yet another member of this growing Metafilter-centred new kids on the block gang of bloggers, this nascent B-List, this renaissance of sorts, Iconomy.


Cory uses the phrase ‘mind-croggling’ to describe Ray Kurzweil’s writing. I’ve used the phrase repeatedly over the years. It appears all over the web. But it’s not Real English. Of course, that’s never stopped me before.
Will ‘mind-croggling’ eventually become a part of the language, or can it be argued that it already is?

mind-crog·gling (mndcrglng)
adj. Informal
Intellectually or emotionally overwhelming: “a mind-croggling bazaar of talking mattresses and improbability generators”.

The first time I recall ever seeing the phrase was in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy books. I suspect he just made it up, on the fly, as a natural descriptor for the next step beyond being boggled.
I remember with great pleasure sitting on the beach beside the cold cold lake one summer, out back of the house, in my hometown, reading and re-reading a copy of the Hitchhiker’s Guide, laughing out loud. One of the first long pieces of writing I ever did, back in my early teens, was in emulation of the gymnastic language and unbridled silliness of the Guide. I’ve gone back to those books every couple of years since, and they’re still dear to my heart.
I loved that Douglas Adams. He had a huge influence in molding the WonderChickonian sense of humour. I guess that he might have preferred more substantial legacies than these, but maybe they’ll do just fine.

War on Intelligence

Walters admits that the nearly $1 billion spent on anti-drug messages needs to be better used, and promises to refocus the campaign. Congress is expected soon to consider re-authorizing the $18 billion-per-year National Office of Drug Control Policy activities.”

Turns out the TV ads that these twisted, evil, moralistic little icepickers (to lift an epithet from Mojo Nixon) have been coming up with are actually encouraging kids to do drugs. That is sad and beautiful.
Sad only because the One Billion Dollars they spent on f–king advertisements telling people what they should and should not put into their very own personal bodies could actually have gone towards doing some good in the world. How many lives could 18 billion dollars save if it were spent on health care for the 40 million Americans who don’t have any, for example?
More Mojo :

“We’re gonna have a war on drugs?
a war on drugs…
We oughta have a war on war, suckers
We oughta have a war on this senseless condominium new car
shopping mall hell…”

Super Soaker!

I just made this one for the hell of it. I’m having a few delightful cocktails, Mefi’s down, I’m ‘pilin, yadda yaddaladdayo… The original’s been my desktop for the last week or so, and Old Bull Lee is one of my icons.
Also, I’ve gotta think it’d be fun having a watergun fight with Old Bill. After he’d been into the dexedrine, he’d kick your ass. [hi-res (popup)]

Another Ex-Pat

Via a conversation at Shelley’s, I found the weblog of another waeguk-in here in Seoul. And what’s more, he’s already written a piece on hangul (the Korean system of writing), like the one I was threatening to write (and predictably have been too lazy to actually do). It is perhaps a little more learned than anything I might have come up with, and more about Chinese characters than Korean ones. Not that that’s a bad thing, of course.
He does, however, manage to work in an arrogant crack about english professors :

“It is true that there is another category of people who don’t have to learn Korean at all: language professors. They might not be in the higher-income bracket, but they have enough students speaking their language that they don’t need to lift a finger.”

…but since I’ve often said the same sorts of things myself, I’ll let it slide. (Edit : On second thought, f–k letting it slide : I wonder if he includes in his blanket condemnation english professors, who, like a certain Poulet Magnifique that shall go nameless, were recently extremely well-paid (noted because of what would seem to be evidence of an unhealthy preoccupation with money in his blog posts) technologists, but found the profession so filled with lucre-obsessed soul-destroying clones, that they voluntarily gave it up and came back to teaching because they actually love it, and to Korea, because much as they love to complain, they love the people here? Or that actually do speak some Korean, despite the fact that they “don’t need to lift a finger”? And speak Spanish, French and German too? And can tie a cherry stem into a knot with their tongue? Judge all you want, my presumptuous friend, but you may find that not everyone fits into your facile, smug little categories.)
It’s another manifestation of the Expat Status Games of which I am so terribly knob-chafingly bored. I am unpleasantly bemused to find it in blogland as well.

A Real Memepool

Reading Joey’s dispatches from the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference, I had an idea. Now everyone hush a bit, because this is a rare thing, and even the slightest breath of wind could blow the little f–ker away….
I was thinking about the chronological organisation of blogs, and how, flexible as tools like Moveable Type are, allowing me to organise my posts by category, for example, (Old Empties – Categorically on the sidebar) or by how much interest visitors have had in discussing the things I’ve talked about (Recent Conversations on the sidebar), I hunger for a way to conceptually group things. The use of pre-defined categories still feels too rigid for me.
What would be cool, and what I’d like to put together if I had the 1337 5k1llz, would be a sort of Memepop, a Daypop that tracked the memes (ah crap, I am so sick of that word) ideas enjoying circulation in Blogspace at any given moment.
It would use the Google API perhaps, or perhaps not, but it would allow you to (via a XML-fed plugin to MT or Blogger maybe?) grab a quick list of the top 40 (say) ideas with mindshare amongst bloggers at any given moment (Domain hijacking, googlebombing, semitism and anti-, the ‘Creative Commons’ are some current examples), and flag your new post, if it were a thought that you wanted to drop into the river, as relating to that topic. This act of flagging then feeds back into the Memepool, and pushes the idea higher up into the consciousness of the Blog Hive Mind. A high level conceptual way to thread your way through Blogspace, to organise conversations from the bottom-up and later revisit them…
One big question would be how to cleverly populate that list in the first place…through human suggestions, or through some clever parsing of the Daypop Top 40 or it’s equivalent? I don’t know the answer to that. But I can see that once it reached a certain critical mass, it would be very very cool.
It would be mondo-groovy to be able to flag this post, for example, with consensus-created categories (dynamic ones, which might disappear again from the Top 40 in a week or two) “Emerging Tech Conference” and “Threading in Blogspace”, knowing that other people out there are flagging posts with the same ‘categories’, and be able to hit a site and see the threading, woven through blogspace, laid out for me, sorted chronologically or conceptually or otherwise…
Perhaps I’m just talking crap again. It gets hard to tell sometimes.

I hate love to say I told you so…

Dr W mentions this and asks “Does this mean that malevolent corporations will inevitably poison the well of conversation?”
I feel a little self-congratulatory pointing (I did it a few days ago here, and on Metafilter recently, too) to this wee rant I wrote a couple of months ago, but Rule #23a of Effective Weblogging is Work Those Archives, right?
Anyway, I hope this is germane. I haven’t had my first coffee yet, so who knows…

The God of Ordinary Things

In light of what Shelley said today, which may or may not have been in response to any degree to my comments yesterday, I feel I should clarify a bit.
I said

“Nor am I terribly keen on reading about your adventures in buying coffee at the local Starbucks, unless in the telling of said adventures your words are so cunningly crafted as to make me grin like a monkey (and even better, leap up and down and fling my excrement), or otherwise evoke some feeling other than ‘well, that’s five minutes of my life I’ll never get back.’ “

I made a mess of that. Besides getting lost in the syntax and being too cleverclever by half, I managed to obscure my actual point. Tales of the commonplace, stories about the small things that make up our daily existence, can be fascinating. They can be beautiful, or heartbreaking, and they can shine a light on our own lives, and help us to understand that, really, we are all the same, us hairless primates.
It’s not that I find tales of ordinary, daily life tedious. Not at all. All the meat and juice comes from it : all the tragedy and comedy of our lives is woven into ordinary, daily life. “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans,” goes the cliche.
But I do find a badly-told tale tedious, no matter the subject. If your story of your trials and tribulations at the local Starbucks (to use the same example I used before (and I’m hoping no one who happens by here has actually written one of those recently) has all the music and muscularity of a shopping list, it’s unlikely that I’ll find it interesting.
I make no claim to being the most pellucid, or entertaining, or skilled writer, or even having any greater skill than being able to string a few words together in an occasionally pleasing fashion. Far from it.
I hope I’m not coming off as elitist. But, speaking for myself, I’m only interested in the minutiae of someone’s daily existence if they can relate to me those tales of the commonplace in a way that piques my interest.
(Edit : Uh. I just realized thanks to a BB post that Our Gonzo Standard Bearer and All Around Ranteriffic Guy, a certain Mr. Locke, recently talked about his experiences at a Starbucks, and did so in a most engaging fashion. The example used above was not intended as some sort of bass-ackwards commentary about that. I am nothing like that subtle. My brain simply doesn’t work that way. I suppose that’s what I get for reading EGR after I’ve had a few…)

If you build it, they will come…

What the hell is this? I dunno..
I woke up several times during the night last night, and each and every time, as I swam up into semi-consciousness, a phrase was running unbidden through my head : “pepperoni zamboni“.
In some sort of Field-Of-Dreams-Close-Encounters-esque fit of compulsive behaviour, the first thing I did this morning was whip up this quick and dirty pic, which comes reasonably close to reproducing the mental image that accompanied the phrase.
I couldn’t make this stuff up, folks.

A Totally Random Thought

I just had a brainfart, and wondered how many warblogs are actually written by employees of the Office Of Strategic Mind Control as sub rosa propaganda tools.
Has my natural predilection for paranoia gone over the top this time? Are the American propaganda machines really that clever? Are they just the bumbling-halfwits-that-always-seem-to-get-away-with-it, Gilligan-stylee? Or something else entirely, something less reassuring to believe?
You tell me.

Taking My Own Advice

So this evening I took my own advice : I started at a weblog I like, and proceeded to check out the sites in his blogroll that I’d never seen before, looking for groovy new folks who might prod my brain a bit.
Slightly unfair, perhaps, but I tried to limit myself to reading the two most recent entries from each weblog I visited, and if something went *ping* in my wee chicken brain based on that small sample, I decided right then bingbangboom that it was a keeper. (I should mention that I am not much interested in weblogs which are primarily links to other things, unless those links are truly mind-blowingly cool. Nor am I terribly keen on reading about your adventures in buying coffee at the local Starbucks, unless in the telling of said adventures your words are so cunningly crafted as to make me grin like a monkey (and even better, leap up and down and fling my excrement), or otherwise evoke some feeling other than ‘well, that’s five minutes of my life I’ll never get back.’ Do as I say, not as I do!)
A fruitful random walk, some results of which I present to you now. If you like the stuff I say here, or the way I say it, or just the way my bum wiggles when I walk, you might just like these folks too :

“Why kill the Buddha? Because the Buddha you meet is not the true Buddha, but an expression of your longing. If this Buddha is not killed he will only stand in your way. ” – Killing The Buddha
“zy’-mo-glyph’-ic, adj. [Gr. zyme leaven + Gr. glyphe carving] Of, or pertaining to, images of fermentation, specifically the solid residue of creative fermentation on natural objects” – Riley Dog
“But before your heart jumps with the possibility that I might just stop following you through malls and staring at your darkened bedroom window all night from that car across the street (yeah, that’s me out there, sorry if it’s creeping you out, but well, you know), my memory is still strong from eating iron-rich foods and popping 10 to 20 times the RDA of chewable Vitamin C before breakfast every day.” – The Evil Twin Theory
“This is a love story about a man and a white snake.” – Plep
“And yet, he was trying, as we all tried when we were fourteen or fifteen, and still are trying, though we disguise it better, to achieve this thing he had in his head of this person he wished he were and wasn’t and could never be. ” – caterina.net
“The map isn’t the territory, as the model isn’t reality. The map is a referential structure; inside a coordinate system all can be referenced laying the gridwork for reality.” – context weblog
“The larger dream scenario has drifted away, but I was momentarily in a skit, acting the part of two ladies in a line dance. As I moved into the position of the saucy woman and donned her shoes, I found I was missing one of the pair. I saw it floating down a river. ” – Daily Vexation

Apologies for coming off all wide-eyed and Macauley Culkinesque, but there are just so many people out there, aren’t there? I think I might have to make my little stroll through the neighbourhoods a weekly ritual…

Righteous Indignation

This Metafilter thread is good medicine if you’re keen to work up a head of righteous steam and then go smite the hell out of the first person who annoys you. But that’s not what I wanted to talk about… one of the many fascinating links out of that thread is to this : The Top 100 Corporate Criminals of the ’90’s. And down near the bottom of that list I found :

86) Hyundai Motor Company
Type of Crime: Campaign finance
Criminal Fine: $600,000
93) Korean Air Lines
Type of Crime: Campaign finance
Criminal Fine: $250,000
96) Daewoo International (America) Corporation
Type of Fine: Campaign finance
Criminal Fine: $200,000
100) Samsung America Inc.
Type of Crime: Campaign finance
Criminal Fine: $150,000

It would appear that some of the chaebols (the huge corporations that own this country outright) were attempting to buy themselves a president or two in America back in the last decade. I wonder if it was one of the Shrubs, or Slick Willy who was their rent-boy…

The Expat Status Ladder

Good piece on how expats in Japan rank each other in the unspoken pecking orders. The author’s observations apply quite well for waeguk-in in Korea, too, except for the fact that there are effectively no jobs at all for a foreigner here who isn’t either an english teacher, working in the local branch office of a foreign corporation, or an exploited migrant factory worker.
It’s always a quandary – what to do on those rare occasions that you do see a foreign (read ‘caucasian’) face. Being the big friendly galoot that I am (provided I’m not having a Grumpy Day), I generally nod and smile conspiratorially. Due either to some deficiency in my powers of charm, or the fact that most foreigners here spend a great deal of their time having their very own Grumpy Days, at least 60% of the time my friendly mugging is met with a blank stare. That’s OK by me, as it helps me to realize that it’s not the majority of Korean people that I dislike, it’s the majority of people in general. It’s important to keep your misanthropy honed to a keen edge.
‘On being a gaijin’, from the same writer, hits very close to home as well.
At the moment, all the TV networks are running a pre-World Cup ad campaign whose basic message is : “If you’re approached by a foreigner, don’t squeal and run away, or shoo them off like a great dairy-product-reeking beast, be nice to them! If they come up to you, babbling incoherently in their long-tongued, incomprehensible gutterspeak, brandishing a map, try to help them! Strange as they look and outlandishly as they may behave, they won’t bite, usually.”
The fact that the government finds it necessary to run these ads on heavy rotation speaks volumes about this place. Not for nothing was Korea once called the ‘Hermit Nation’.

Moonshiner (traditional)

I’ve been a moonshiner
For seventeen long years
And I spent all my money
On whiskey and beer
And I go to some hollow
And set up my still
If whiskey don’t kill me
Lord, I don’t know what will
And I go to some barroom
To drink with my friends
Where the women they can’t follow
To see what I spend
God bless them pretty women
I wish they was mine
With breath as sweet as
The dew on the vine
Let me eat when I’m hungry
Let me drink when I’m dry
Two dollars when I’m hard up
Religion when I die
The whole world is a bottle
And life is but a dram
When the bottle gets empty
Lord, it sure ain’t worth a damn