An Open Letter To The Members of Congress

Worth reading, perhaps.
Seems like a long time since I’ve done it, so I’d better add that the Shrub and his minions can go f–k themselves over an open fire. Or in the recent and exquisite phrasing of a certain Portuguese friend : I would request that they “slowly and gently f–k the f–k off.”
That is all.
OK, not quite all : not that it will make much difference to the murderous hardons in the White House, but apparently you can make your voice heard (although you might want to don the tinfoil hat first) [via the metafilter thread]

“Below is the number to the White House where you can actually call & say yes or no to the potential War on Iraq. G.W. claims to want to hear it directly from the American People. All calls need to be between the hours of 9-5 eastern standard time, Monday through Friday
I just called the White House at 202-456-1111. A machine detains you for only a moment and then a pleasant live operator will thank you for saying “I oppose” (or “I approve of”) of the proposed War against Iraq. It will only take minutes! The president is asking to know what the American people are thinking. Tell him.”

Good Guy/Bad Guy

This is related to this Metafilter thread I started last week, which had some interesting commentary from US Army personnel past and present, and may be worth reading, if you are interested.

In a small, plain office over a downtown Seoul grocery, eight young men hunch over a bank of computers. They aren’t writing software or playing video games. This is a command center for protest against American soldiers in Korea. Everyone wears a black ribbon that reads “US troops withdraw.”
The group – one of dozens like it – sprang up after a US armored vehicle accidentally killed two Korean girls walking along a country road in June. The incident continues to galvanize anti-American feeling across the country. Members canvas neighborhoods, run e-mail campaigns detailing American soldiers’ alleged crimes, and help organize a permanent silent vigil outside the presidential palace.
“We are like a military operation” says their leader, known only as Mr. Kim. “US troops here are a mistake of history and we won’t be one country until they leave; 9/11 is not our problem.”
Most Americans believe they are making a sacrifice – stationing 38,000 soldiers here – to defend South Koreans against possible Communist attack. Most ordinary Koreans, however, believe the US troops are actually here to promote American interests, opinion polls show. And “since 9/11, a strange but virulent anti-Americanism has gripped South Korea,” notes one expatriate American who works at a US company in Seoul.
“It may be difficult for us to sustain the same mood we grew up with,” says one older Korean diplomat who served in Washington. “We know the US helped us. But those under 40 … aren’t swayed by what we think. Their human nature is anti-US.”

I reproduce the post here, for your linking-following pleasure, and also to satisfy my own mental-packrat tendencies as senile dementia creeps up on me. Please note that it is not as ranty as those who frequent the ‘bottle may have come to expect – agenda-driven rant-posts at Metafilter are a good way to get a swift kick in the virtual mothras, and that just ain’t no fun, friends and neighbours.

A blip on the radar, or a sign of shifting opinions? Can recent events in the Republic of Korea be taken as an indication that the special relationship between the US and South Korea is changing, and that public sentiment amongst Koreans is turning against America?
There’s always been some friction between US Forces and the locals, what with the 37000 US troops that have been stationed here for decades, protecting against the threat of invasion from North Korea. In the wake of Bush’s ‘axis of evil’ speech, which came at a time when the sunshine policy of Kim Dae Jung (the South’s president, outgoing in December, who won the Nobel peace Prize in 2000 for his efforts) was seeing tangible sucesses, and at a time when new revelations about the ‘My Lai of the Korean War’, No Gun Ri, were coming to light, many Koreans began to think the Americans were less interested in peace than in finding a reason to keep those 37000 troops in place. When Kim visited Bush in 2001, apparently in hopes that the rhetoric could be toned down, he was reportedly given the cold shoulder.
There have been a long series of incidents – hit-and-runs, murders, rapes [Warning : Graphic and disturbing image of rape victim, halfway down page.] – involving US soldiers and Korean nationals over the years. Some would say it comes with the territory. But recently, sentiment turned sharply negative when two 12-year old girls were run down and literally flattened by a US minesweeper during training exercises, an accident in which the USFK admitted it was negligent. This week, there was an altercation between 3 US soldiers, three Korean students handing out leaflets while on their way to a rally (or memorial service – reports vary) to commemorate the dead girls, and one 65-year old lawmaker (who was imprisoned and subsequently released in the late 90’s for visiting North Korea) with them. It’s still unclear what really happened, but tensions are high, and some foreigners I know here are concerned about being caught up in similar events.
This week has also seen Japanese PM Koizumi visit Pyongyang, opening up the possibility of diplomatic relations between Japan and North Korea for the first time. North Korea has admitted (recently discussed on MeFi) that it kidnapped Japanese citizens, and has announced it will allow IAEA nuclear inspectors into the country. The fifth reunion between families separated by the Korean War half a century ago (which was never formally declared over) has taken place, and plans are afoot to build a permanent reunion facility. The DMZ has been opened to South Korean minesweeping troops, and rail and road links should be re-established by Christmas.
This latest is perhaps the most important : although no one is speaking in anything but hushed tones of reunification yet, the possibility of an uninterrupted rail link from Japan and Korea through China and Russia to Europe has massive dollar signs floating in the eyes of all concerned.
Koizumi has made a personally risky but successful move towards rapprochement in the region, and the Bush administration, for the moment, has been left on the sidelines. Although Japan is still disliked by many Koreans thanks to decades of brutal colonial rule and unresolved matters like the ‘comfort women’ – tens of thousands of Korean women kidnapped and forced into sex slavery during WWII by the Japanese army – it is the role of the Bush administration in their affairs that many Koreans are beginning to resent more actively. It would be unfortunate for the last of the goodwill to drain away [u:metafilter12, p:metafilter123] unremarked and the opportunity for peace in the region to be lost, but with Bush’s current focus on oil-wars, it appears that this may indeed be the result.


So I’m shambling home after my last class of the day, 9 pm and the hole-in-the-wall factories I thread my way through a couple of times a day on the way to and from the train station are still in full voice, clattering and clanging, eating the souls of the indentured slaves migrant workers inside. Past a couple of the reekier smokepots, the ones that perenially smell of burning plastic, I hold my breath, imagining polyps growing on my lungs, sprouting in quicktime like those sexually arousing stop-motion films of flowers budding they showed us in high school biology. Always gave me a little wood, those films. ‘Course, most things did.
I remember when I was in my twenties, I’d breathe deep of stenches like that, savouring the chemical tang, showing off my misplaced confidence that I was going to live forever, ridiculing my meeker comrades for holding their breath. I was such an asshole.
So, anyway, I’m walking down this filthy alley, warily circling the horizontal metal rod that I’d walked smack bang into this morning (the black eye? no I really did walk into something!) while dreaming of a villa I’ve found on Koh Samui and how I’m gonna raise the deposit to buy the damn thing.
Sitting in an open doorway in front of a massive, rattling, deafening machine, a guy in a tattered muscle shirt was manipulating a gorgeous hi-res texturemapped image of some anonymous mechanical part on a 21-inch monitor, presumably the very part that the shuddering beast in front of him was busy fabricating, and smoking a cigarette. I walked over, pointed at the screen, gave the thumbs up. Grimy and unshaven, he grinned gaptoothed, and returned the gesture. There wasn’t a hell of a lot more to say, so I continued on my way home.

Too Lazy

As I have found myself too damned lazy to futz around with making my lo-fi index page do what I want, we’re back to the old template. The old one will be rebuilt on each new entry, though, and if it pleases you, you can find it here. Note that the still older, slightly more old-browser-compliant index can also be found here, if that’s your cup of tea.
Me, I’m busy downloading and watching the entire series of Six Feet Under. I’ll probably resurface in a few days, with all sorts of death-related ramblings. Or maybe not. I’m funny that way.

Kimchi and Booze

Chung Mong-joon, the sixth son of Hyundai founder and all-around Rich Guy Chung Ju-yung, has thrown his hat into the ring for the upcoming presidential elections in Korea in December. This isn’t a surprise to anyone, really, as his star is at its zenith after Korea’s result in the World Cup, over which he presided as the chairman of the Korean World Cup Organizing committee.
The only thing that interests me about him, really, is the pocket biography in today’s Korea Times, which includes the usual blather : Ph.D. in International Relations from Johns Hopkins, married with two sons and two daughters, and so on. But tucked away in the list, on both the print edition and online edition of The Times, is ‘Drinking Capacity : One bottle of soju.
I love this country sometimes, in the way one loves an idiot brother from whose chin one has to keep wiping the drool.
I must admit, it actually is a relatively important measure of a man (for me) to know his drinking capacity, so this data is welcome. Chung’s capacity is pretty damn low for a man of 51, I’d say, but I suppose that’s to be expected in good plutocratic presidential material. My suspicion is that he’s more a single malt scotch type than a streetside soju swiller, anyway.
Not coincidentally, The Times reported on Tuesday (on page 2 of its print edition, but not online) that Korea was second in the world in per capita alcohol consumption. The average amout of pure alcohol consumed by the average Korean over the age of 15, according to the most recent figures, was 14.4 litres, second only to Slovenia, at 15.1 litres.
And people wonder why I live here.
(Edit : This is funny, as are this and this, if unrelated.)


Politicians and their honkers. Bifurcation and duality and a damn fine cup of java. Oh friends, if we could identify evil, if we could point out those who bear the Mark Of The Beast so easily, if we could pinpoint the cheery monetarized f–kweasels that push the envelope down into the dirt, what would we do? String ’em up? Knot and pull and bellow ‘Woo-hoo, look at him swayng!’, lynch-mobilize with foam-rubber fingers pointed skyward, dripping oily sweat and reeking of sweet hormonal bourbon? Crucify the bastards, maybe, thieves and saviors alike, nail ’em up, stand back, point and laugh as they writhe and beg, and f–k the moral equivalence with a stainless-steel strap-on? Kill ’em all and let God sort them out, vengeful but eminently fair bitch that she is?
Not clear as an unmuddied pool under skies of deepest azure, no, more like clear as paper rubbed with the labial edge of Big Mac™. Translucent, but tasty.
What would we do if we could scent the evil on these f–kers, if we could see it like a sh-t-brown aura? What would we do?
Me, I got me a clue. Gimme a silver bullet, friend, and I’ll kill the werewolves. Drop the predators in their tracks. But be aware : another waits to take the Big Bad Wolf’s place, and the new one is without fail even worse, dollars to damned donuts. It doesn’t get better, it gets sillier. And even though nature apparently abhors a vacuum, the identical cheese-hostesses keep sucking harder.
Clog, pony boy, clog!

Pacing The Cage

Pacing The Cage

Sunset is an angel weeping
Holding out a bloody sword
No matter how I squint I cannot
Make out what it’s pointing toward
Sometimes you feel like you’ve lived too long
Days drip slowly on the page
You catch yourself
Pacing the cage
I’ve proven who I am so many times
The magnetic strip’s worn thin
And each time I was someone else
And every one was taken in
Powers chatter in high places
Stir up eddies in the dust of rage
Set me to pacing the cage
I never knew what you all wanted
So I gave you everything
All that I could pillage
All the spells that I could sing
It’s as if the thing were written
In the constitution of the age
Sooner or later you’ll wind up
Pacing the cage
Sometimes the best map will not guide you
You can’t see what’s round the bend
Sometimes the road leads through dark places
Sometimes the darkness is your friend
Today these eyes scan bleached-out land
For the coming of the outbound stage
Pacing the cage
Pacing the cage

Bruce Cockburn