Death Rulez, d00d

I am often inclined to think, all Sturgeonesque, that 90% of everything is crap, and that goes double for poetry. Which would mean, of course, that 180% of poetry is crap, which may be overstating the case somewhat, but that feels like a comfortable number to work with, so I’ll let it stand.
A case in point is this Harold Pinter poem rescued from a slightly-less-than-customarily-dumbass (at least recently) Metafilter thread. Harold Pinter is apparently some Poet of Significance, about whom I know very little, as I ain’t got me mucha that there book-larnin’. Anyway, have a read :

Here they go again,
The Yanks in their armoured parade
Chanting their ballads of joy
As they gallop across the big world
Praising America’s God.
The gutters are clogged with the dead
The ones who couldn’t join in
The others refusing to sing
The ones who are losing their voice
The ones who’ve forgotten the tune.
The riders have whips which cut.
Your head rolls onto the sand
Your head is a pool in the dirt
Your head is a stain in the dust
Your eyes have gone out and your nose
Sniffs only the pong of the dead
And all the dead air is alive
With the smell of America’s God.

Now, I don’t disagree with the sentiment expressed here, as you might guess. Yes, America and their God are doodyheads supreme, and a force for death and evil in the world today. That’s a given, isn’t it? And, hey, I like the loping metre – badum badumdum boop. It’s bouncy, yet martial! Just right, as Goldilocks might exclaim.
What amuses me is that this Great Author’s Poem falls in quality somewhere between lame old Satan-cheering Iron Maiden lyrics, say, and a quote from Cannibal Corpse [warning : rather icky, but may assist in understanding American culture] . You know, I wouldn’t take issue if Pinter’s tripe weren’t meant to be Art, High and Holy. No one listens to Cannibal Corpse (or at least, I wish no one did) expecting a literary artgasm, I don’t think. But oor Harold?
Well, stuff like “The riders have whips which cut. Your head rolls onto the sand Your head is a pool in the dirt Your head is a stain in the dust” goes quite nicely alongside other stuff like

Slaughtered enemies scattered
Trail of death they walked
Drenched in their own blood
A sound of thousands fills the sky
A death that comes so clear
When the rain of fire falls
Flames that will consume
A boiling death appear
The last second alive

Quick now, was that Harold, or the merry pranksters from Vomitory? And does it matter? Admittedly Mr Rundqvist, Vomitory’s wordsmith, has a few problems with getting those nice bumpedyboop rhythms going, and may in fact have a few problems with english as a second language, but I’m willing to bet there are a whole lot more people chanting his songs than dear old Harold’s.
Which may not be the point. You tell me. 250 words or less, due by Friday. Heh.
I wonder, as an aside, how many of the foolish young soldiers going to risk their lives for f–king nothing in Iraq listen, teeth gritted, to mutant scum like Cannibal Corpse and their grindcore ilk? That might be an interesting statistic.

Questions of Little Import

Am I what I write? Should I put it all here, the angelic farts and the chuckleheaded non-sequiteurs, or should I keep the best and worst of me apart somehow? Should I hold back, or should I tell the story of the first time I silently and all amazed erupted in watery semen when I was 12 while ‘It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad World’ spooled off in all its madcap glory on the console TV on New Year’s Eve, just to pick a semi-random example?
Should I tell all and let the googlecache fall where it may? Should I womb up my Real Stuff in some digital sanctorum somewhere, and just amble and natter and hitch a ride on this familiar hitcount-greased Route 66 down which I’m already walking?
Is it art, or is it socializing? It’s pretty goddamn clear that it’s not journalism, and the proposition that it might be such is just laughable: but what polestar should I steer my ship by, I ask you? Is it real or an illusion? Is it the goddamn tedious old Platonic shadow play on the cave wall, or is it a new way of gripping and tasting the souls of friendlies without the halitosis and clumsy hugs? What do I want to do with this pretty ever-lengthening scroll?
f–ked if I know. I think I’ll have a beer and think about it some more.


We’re moving house, and I’ll be offline for the next few days until I get the new VDSL connection sorted out (I’m begging She Who Must Be Obeyed for a 20Mb connection, which is a mid-range speed in the new xDSL product line offered by Korea Telecom …cross your fingers for me!). In the meantime, why not go have a look at OW™’s new novel?
Keep it between the ditches, amigos. Later.

This Evening

This evening I plan to drink approximately 10-12 bottles of cold, excessively fizzy Korean beer, smoke the one cigarette per week that I allow myself these days, and listen to the entire output of the Tragically Hip.

This may result in amusingly cockeyed posts, either ranty or good-natured, or it may mean that I’ll wander off on some little-travelled web byway and forget about the clamorous demands of my sweet readers, for at least one brief glorious moment of boozy freedom.
Wish me luck.

6:15 PM

6:10 PM. First day back at work, mid-winter-break extra classes. About 4 hours after I finished my previous and only other class of the day. No students have appeared yet.
6:15 PM. I get a coffee and meander downstairs to the English office. “I haven’t got any students,” say I, already expecting something amusing. “How odd!”
6:20 PM. It is discovered that my 6-9 PM class doesn’t begin until Friday, a detail the existence of which no one had actually seen fit to inform me. This is Monday. Another fine and predictable day at Keystone Kops Korea University.


I am feeling gigantically bummed today, left out of all the fun with CD swaps and MeFi/MonkeyMeets and such. What the f–k am I doing here in Korea, living my entire social life through a keyboard? Sometimes I just don’t know.
Somebody want to give me a job sweeping floors or something, somewhere other than here? This place is starting to get to me…

Opera comma soap dot

This is fascinating, and makes me wonder what would have happened if we’d gone forward with the tail-end-of-the-bubble dotcom dream myself and some of my Australian friends and co-conspirators had gotten to talking dollars with the venture capitalists about.
This paragraph especially rings a bell for me :

and i guess that’s one of the main issues here.. along with believing that pyra was a different kind of company, i also never truly believed that the hierarchy of the company existed for any reason other than for show. of course, we needed people to be in charge, and those responsibilities were well handled while i was there, for the most part anyway. but doesn’t a true leader consider the votes of the troops to be equal to that of his or her own vote?

Jack Saturn doesn’t really ask for his job back, in a seemingly bitter but apparently satirical letter to Ev referencing old problems at Pyra and the whole BloggerDrama.
Metafilter duly notes it, and some highly obnoxious turds take Jack to task, simply because they can, I guess.
Ev comments briefly, and replies at length on the thread.
Jack replies to that, at length.
There’s probably some side stuff that I haven’t noticed. Other players in the drama (which I do not claim to understand, entirely, but find fascinating) have remained silent thus far. Link me up if you know about it. I just love gossip : one of my many weaknesses. Sue me.
(By the way, I will finish the Mexico story soon. Not as amusing as the first part, perhaps, but possibly instructional.)


Because my well-nigh limitless ego and excess of free time compels me to be the first to think up stupid sh-t, that’s why. And because I love you all so darn much.


I watch a lot of video on my PC living here in KoreaLand, in large part because I have a grand total of two television channels in English : the (US) Armed Forces Korea Network (see my previous post for a hint of why I don’t tend to spend a lot time watching that) and BBC World, which is groovy, but the same news at 30 minute intervals can get a little tired after a while.
I could spend more time watching the Korean-language channel whose programming consists almost entirely of televised Starcraft matches (no, I’m not kidding – dear god I wish I were), but there’s a fairly good chance that if I did that, I would end up snorting drain cleaner. Last time I did that, I regretted it.
I’m always on the search for new and better-than-WiMP video players. WinAmp 3 has looked promising, but it’s got way too few options for tweaking playback at this stage, anyway.
I found this today, and it is hands-down the best video player I’ve ever found, particularly if, like me, you’ve got a 4 year old PC that chokes when it tries to load up WiMP. An incredible array of both video and audio tweaking options, and it’s lightweight too. Highly recommended. And it’s written by a Korean guy, which is kinda cool.

A New Hope?

There are almost certainly more refugees from Metafilter than there are people who actively participate, these days. The registered user count is up over 14000 at the moment, but if I recall correctly, Matt recently said that the server logs indicate there are only (only) a couple or three thousand registered users that hit the site on a regular basis. All indications, based on the numbers, at least, are that Metafilter continues to be a robust and roaring success. Matt has recently purchased some new hardware, and there are days and threads when I would defy you to find anything smarter or more amusing anywhere on the iNtARwEb.
But everywhere I turn, there is a constant keening lament about how bad the site has gotten, as compared to its long-past Glory Days. It is typical of these things, I suppose, but amuses me anyway that some disgruntloids insist that the golden age ended only recently (with a raft of calm, reasonable, and highly respected old guard users quietly calling it quits) while others point to the beginning of this year (when there were some high-profile, I’m-taking-my-ball-and-going-home departures). Still others glare and hurl imprecations (though mercifully stop short of screeching and flinging their poo) at the huge upsurge in registered users following September 11th last year, and yet other others pinpoint the date that everything went to sh-t as November 16, 2000, a day of infamy that was marked by the first appearance of a certain wonderchicken on the #006699 scene.
Michael Sippey, for instance, lamented in Swiftian style

It is a melancholy object to those who click through to the great site of MetaFilter, when they see the front page, the comment pages and the MetaTalk sections crowded with chatter, with noise, and with meaningless posts that should have never seen the light of the submit button. Readers, instead of being able to rely on MetaFilter as a trusted source of daily diversion, are forced to employ all their time in scrolling to beg sustenance for their starving minds: which, as they evolve over time, either whither into dust, or abandon their dear MetaFilter for sites unknown.

almost a year ago!
A while back, I spent some time (way too much time, compulsively hitting the refresh button, wirehead monkey at the joyjuice hotbutton) hanging around with some folks who splintered off a long time ago from the grandpappy of Metafilter cult threads, 1142 (folks I miss, but in order to actually accomplish anything with my time must continue to hug from a distance – *waves*), and amongst all the other things that were talked about, they spent a lot of their time bemoaning how bad Metafilter had gotten. These were, are, some of the smartest, most creative people I’ve ever spent time with, virtually or otherwise. The few months that I spent a lot of time there were almost a year ago.
Since then, some of them have stopped appearing at all on Metafilter, although the occasional Special Guest Appearance leads me to believe that they are still watching, still disapproving, still shaking their heads in dismay at the decline of the Mothership.
Another gang of Meta-refugees with whom I hang out, the wacky kids at, another MeFi splinter site that was birthed from a cult thread (9622 this time, duh), although much more concerned with having fun and being silly, also note occasionally, between flinging poo and screeching, that Bad Things are happening these days.
Recently, jpoulos (one of the admins of has been talking about his disenchantment in more direct terms in the comments attached to this post : Why Metafilter Sucks Ass. I find myself agreeing with him, with some reservations.
jpoulos doesn’t participate at Metafilter anymore, and is missed.
Many many words have been spoken and typed about the Metafilter and how it has changed over the past year or two. Hell, I’m adding to the wordcount now, and I can’t seem to stop myself. Nick Sweeney said a few months ago :

Matt’s always been very trusting towards his membership, and in general, receives the respect that’s deserved by such trust. I can’t help thinking that it doesn’t accommodate 13,000-odd members: partly because the times don’t lend themselves to seminar-style discussion; partly because you’re dealing with the friction between oldbies and newbies, and their different conceptions of what the place is, was, and should be. ‘Member memory’ is a vital aspect of community sites, even ones which profess to deal with the transient meme-feed, and I think it’s much stronger at MeFi than Plastic: so that when you have members who take perhaps two years’ worth of discussion into the day’s discussion up against new arrivals, it’s bound to create the same kind of frustrations as a USENET September.

Nick doesn’t participate at Metafilter anymore, and is missed.
For my part, I’ve written defenses both impassioned and tongue-in-cheek of the place in the past. I’ve said

…things are pretty much as they’ve been since I started coming here, at least – some good days, some bad ones, some thread hijacks, some crap posts, some egos and wrestling matches, some absolute diamond-hard fascinating discussions, some erudition, some crap jokes, some pee-myself-laughing ones too, a generally tolerant and friendly hubbub.

and other things, more embarrassingly and openly in love with the place.
I personally think the exodus started when Jason Kottke posted this Metatalk thread not long after the massive influx of users after September 11th, which seemed to be a continuation of a real-world conversation that he and Matt had been having. Matt commented in the thread that he was tired of it all, and thinking about folding the tent. Much consternation ensued, and I honestly think that some people who might have stuck around and dug in their heels to try and make the place better and lead by example threw in the towel at this point.
There were other things – the rise in chattiness, the rise in incivility, the decline in collective intelligence, the increase in jokiness and pointless IRC-esque chatter (in which I admit my occasional participation) – most of which were probably as a result of the massive influx of new users.
Whatever the reason, even though there are many voices still participating that I enjoy hearing, lots of people with whom I enjoy interacting, I’ve got to agree for the first time in public that the Mothership is not what it once was.
What to do? This is the $64,000 Question, of course. I still enjoy the place a lot, and will continue to participate until Matt bans me permanently for conduct unbecoming a wonderchicken, but I am starting to understand a little better the complaints that I’ve ignored or argued against for so long. To some extent I wish that I’d paid them more heed a year ago.
(Should I mention my theory about the disenfranchisement of the A-List now? No, perhaps not. Not until my secret plans for World Domination have been hatched, my pretties. Not until then.)
It has been said, and truly, ‘it’s only a website’. Can you love a website? Is it internet-era pathological behavior to say ‘I love that website’?
I dunno.
But some days it feels as if my love is turning into common street trash before my eyes, and no matter how well-documented my weaknesses for common street trash, that’s just not the girl I fell in love with.

This is a Test. This is only a Test.

This is a test of the emergency broadcast system.
Poop. The upgrade to MT 2.2 has borked my categories a bit, no doubt due to something stupid I did. Please stand by.
Edit : I’m reflagging entries with categories by hand. This is going to take longer than I thought.


Koan :
A monk asked Nansen : “Is there a teaching no master ever taught before?”
Nansen said : “Yes, there is.”
“What is it?” asked the monk.
Nansen replied : “It is not mind, it is not Buddha, it is not things.”
Mumon’s Commentary :
Old Nansen gave away his treasure words. He must have been greatly upset.
Mumon’s Poem :
Nansen was too kind and lost his treasure.
Truly, words have no power.
Even though the mountain becomes the sea,
Words cannot open another’s mind.


I’m not American, but I still find it interesting, if pointless, to observe that my surname (that is, my secret identity when I’m not fighting crime) was ranked #5662 in the last census there. The name I was born with, which was different, for reasons I can’t be bothered going into at the moment, is ranked #2666.
‘Wonder’, however, was ranked 48,816th. That’s cool.
It would seem that no-one in America has the surname ‘Chicken’. Go figure.
‘Kim’, number one with a bullet here in Korea, is only #233 in the States. Korean surnames are in and of themselves an interesting study. There are only about 270 last names in Korea, but the five most common – Kim, Lee (variously romanized as Yi or Rhee (actually pronouced ‘Ee’)), Park (Pak, Bak), Choi (Choe, Chae), and Chong (Jong, Jung, Chung) – belong to more than 50 percent of the population. Kims make up 22 percent of the population, or about 10 million people, and the Lees (Rhees, Yis) comprise about 14 percent.
America’s number one? ‘Smith’, of course. Why is it that I’ve only met one person named ‘Smith’ in my entire life? And further, why the heck would that name be so common? There couldn’t have been that many blacksmiths around, back in Ye Olde Oldentymes…