No Easy Answers

It’s really easy to judge the parenting decisions made by others, especially when I don’t have any children myself, and frankly probably never will.

That said, what Adrian Peterson did to his child(ren) did was horrible.  That sort of physical abuse leading to bleeding, let alone scarring, is beyond the pale.

That said, there are specific historical and cultural reasons that African Americans tend to have a higher tolerance for the corporal punishment of children than white folks, and it has everything to do with murdered black kids like Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin:

“White children in general are raised to be Columbus, to ‘discover’ the world anew and then to manipulate and order the universe to their own liking. If we take away the colonizing impulse in living this way, I think it would be amazing to have the luxury of raising black children who also view the world as a space of their own making, a space to be explored, a space to build anew. A space where occasionally, simply because you live there, you can opt to walk in the middle of the street instead of being confined to the sidewalk, much as you might sling your leg across the arm of a chair in your own home, because it is home.

But for so many black children, these kinds of frivolous choices will get you killed or locked up. For black children, finding disciplinary methods that instill a healthy sense of fear in a world that is exceptionally violent toward them is a hard balance to find.”

To apply your own inviolate standards of (white) parenting to Peterson is to deny hundreds of years of history, let alone current events in Florida and Missouri.

Adrian Peterson needs counseling, but he shouldn’t lose his career over this.

Posted in America, Kultur, NFL, Politics, Sports | 1 Comment

Samui, Thailand

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I went to Koh Samui, Thailand for Chusok.  It was pleasant and all, but it also managed to rain every single day I was there.  Definitely not one of my more successful trips photography-wise, but still a nice way to recharge before the semester gets too hectic.

Do not mess with Mr. Apidetch.

Posted in Photography, Thailand | Leave a comment

Sorry, Right-wing Concern Trolls

I’m not a huge fan of Hillary Clinton by any means, but I’m going to vote for her.

And no, I don’t think a primary challenger running to her left would do much good.

Republicans have been voting strategically for over three decades now.  There’s no reason Democrats shouldn’t follow their lead.

And Antonin Scalia isn’t getting any younger.

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Fiery Offal Nomz

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gopchang2

This is gopchang jeongol, makchang’s fiery, soupy brother.  Instead of just grilling the cow intestines over flame you make a soup out of it with leeks, onions, mushrooms, some dumplings, some instant noodles.  Oh, and you throw in a bunch of cow stomach / tripe as well that you cut up with a pair of scissors.

This is about as gnarly as Korean food gets right here, and it’s awesome.  It’s also a Daegu specialty.

This place is also right next to my apartment, so winning.

Posted in Daegu, Food, Korea, Photography, South Korea | Leave a comment

Do It Like A Robot

St. Vincent live, 2014

The Orioles are killing it.  That makes me a happy boy.

Posted in Baseball, Music, Sports | Leave a comment

Brutality In The Barracks

A growing military scandal involving the questionable deaths of recruits is troubling many South Koreans:

“But that changed last week, after a human rights group published the details from the army’s internal investigation, along with photos of Private Yoon’s body covered with bruises and gashes. The report prompted a public outcry, joined this week by President Park Geun-hye, expressing the widespread frustration that the army had not ended the culture of violence within its ranks.

‘For decades, the military has promised to correct this problem whenever an incident like this happened, but it keeps recurring,’ Ms. Park said at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday. ‘We must thoroughly investigate the perpetrators, and those who turned a blind eye, and punish them as a warning to others.’”

Mandatory military service is a big deal, obviously.  It’s almost two years of your life and, unlike serving in the US military, you basically get paid pennies an hour.  Which isn’t to say US troops are rolling in cash, but they get a decent amount of compensation whereas South Korean enlisted troops don’t.  It’s “service” in both senses of the term.

A lot of my male students here will basically disappear from my class in the middle of the semester, as they’ve been called up for duty.  Of course, it makes no sense to me — either do your service before or after you get your college degree, not during.

Further, the older post-service students come back here, in their mid to late 20’s, and all of a sudden have to suck up to their “senior” students who may be all of 20 and have never been through the trials of ROKA.  The rigid hierarchy among university students here, based solely on seniority, is still something that shocks me at times.  And you can imagine how disheartening it must be for an older, post-service student having to put up with hazing from somebody he considers to be merely a boy.  It’s a Confucian paradox, if you will.

And it’s not just the physical and psychological aspect of attaining “manhood” through military service that counts, either.  Anecdotally, a lot of Korean men lose their virginity during their first year of service as part of a ritual visit to prostitutes.  If you have an M.B.A. I guess you’d call it an exercise in “team building.”

That’s deeply disturbing on a whole other level, but suffice it to say military service is a crucial aspect of respectability for Korean men, for their identity even, but something they tend to really dislike.  When I ask my older male students how their service was, they usually just say “boring.”  A few of them seemed to genuinely enjoy it (a former student was a special forces paratrooper with some amazing stories) but it’s rare.

Another note: I’m using the “Advanced Conversation” tag to mark articles that I’ll be using with my adult students during the course of the semester.  This piece is probably “hotter” than I’d usually like to bring in (as would a piece dealing with sex, politics, or marriage and divorce) but I do like to bring in NYT pieces from time to time to challenge my students and hopefully build their confidence a bit.  I.e., if you can read this, you’re basically at a higher comprehension level than most Americans are.

Posted in Advanced Conversation, Korea, Kultur, Politics, South Korea | Leave a comment

Snowpiercer Is A Cold Mess

Finally saw Snowpiercer on the plane here and, well, I was really hoping it would be great.

But it’s a total mess.

And frankly, not that interesting of one in a potentially weirdo-cult kind of way.

First off — without Tilda Swinton camping it up, I’d probably have stopped watching about an hour in.  She’s amazing as always and while she’s the only character who brings life to the film, she also feels paradoxically under-utilized.

Members of the good guys trying to fight their way to the “head” of the train start dying off real quickly, and you simply don’t care.  They are simply part of the body count.  The main guy (Chris Evans) broods thoroughly enough, but his performance is the cinematic equivalent of a place-holder — the tortured handsome loner badass.

Two Korean actors show up for literally no good reason other than giving a translator and a sub-titler a little bit of work.  (I’d be willing to bet this film would have been ten times better with an all-Korean cast. The English dialogue is limp at best, and the use of a multi-lingual cast just feels forced, confused, and purposeless.)

And for whatever interesting things in terms of premise and visual style that are accomplished, ending with a magical negro boy is the height of cliche.

Posted in Film | Leave a comment

Rain

A rainy day in Thailand beats a day working in South Korea, or anywhere else for that matter, but I’ve only had about three hours of non-consecutive beach time since I’ve been here over the past two days.

I’ve had to console myself with lots of exotic fresh fruit and Thai yellow and green curries.

Alas.

Reading Jonathan Lethem’s Dissident Gardens.  I think it’s going somewhere.  Not sure yet.

Posted in Books, Food, Thailand | Leave a comment

Beach Me

Mission of Burma, “That’s How I Escaped My Certain Fate”

Off to Thailand tomorrow.

I hope you and your family and all your friends have a great Chusok holiday.

Posted in Curiosities, Korea, Music | Leave a comment

Peak Wolverine

Finally saw X-men: Days of Future Past.

The Quicksilver running-around-the-room-messing-with-cops scene was cool.

The rest was terrible.

Honestly, time travel is an excuse for the laziest of writing.  It never works because it’s stupid.

Posted in Film, Nerdery | Leave a comment