Condolences to the family and friends of all the victims of the Sewol, the South Korean ferry that went down near Jeju Island yesterday.  As of now, nearly 300 people, mostly high school students, remain missing.

Some thoughts from a complete non-expert on all things naval and maritime and so on:

1) There is a warm place in hell for whichever government official stated early in the afternoon yesterday that every single student on board (they were on a field trip) had been rescued.  Just how the hell do you make such a claim, while at the same time media started broadcasting video of a completely capsized and almost wholly sunken ship?

2) Many reports are coming out that passengers were told to stay where they were, even as the water began rushing in.  While it can’t be an easy decision to order hundreds of people into cold ocean water, isn’t their a middle ground of “prepare to evacuate,” where passengers put on life-jackets and get above deck to await further orders?  Again, not an expert by any means, but wouldn’t ordering people to stay in their cabins be pretty much tantamount to a death warrant?

3) Some of the survivors reported that they were thrown life-jackets by rescue ships coming onto the scene, meaning they hadn’t put them on while on the ferry.  It’s still too early to say obviously, but there may have been gross negligence on the part of the captain and/or crew.

4) Speaking of the captain, it seems he’s among the missing.

Overall, a really sad day for the country.  The fact that so many of the victims were teenagers makes it all the more tragic.

Posted in Korea | Leave a comment

Thanks, Internet!


True Detective/Family Circus mashup tumblr.

Posted in Art, Curiosities, True Detective | Leave a comment

Negative Nancy


Image source here.

I thought the “Purple Wedding” episode of Game of Thrones was fantastic.  And the next two or so episodes are probably going to be amazing if they do justice to the books.

After that, it’s all downhill.  Some weird stuff happens to Cersei, and we meet all these new and forgettable Dornish characters, but basically every other character in the series gets stuck in proverbial quicksand and simply.  stops.  moving.  (Poor Daenarys — she liberates the same slaver city three times to no real effect.  “ZOMG my dragons are getting so big!  ZOMG I sure wish I had a goddamn ship so I could head back west and actually advance the plot!”)

The HBO series has been a master-class in writing and casting, but I’ve got a feeling we’re at the high watermark right now.  Martin is about to lose the plot, so how could the TV series not follow suit?

What’s an even more interesting possibility, and one that grows more likely by the month, is that the HBO writers are going to finish the story rather than G.R.R. Martin himself.  Game of Thrones, the first book in the series, came out 18 years ago.  The idea that he could finish two more books before the HBO series “catches up” to him is pretty far-fetched.

And frankly, as much fun as the books are, I’d rather see what the HBO writers could do to finish things up, authorial intention be damned.

Posted in GameofThrones, Nerdery, TV | Leave a comment

“Cause the sky was never blue”

The Sea and Cake, “Harps”

Trying to figure out my future.  Porn star and astronaut are, for various reasons beyond my control, out of the question.

That leaves circus geek or investment banker.

Decisions, decisions. . . .

Posted in Curiosities | Leave a comment


That line between good taste and mere snobbery.

Posted in Music | Leave a comment

Smells Like Democracy

After billions of dollars and thousands of lives wasted, Democracy is on the march in Iraq where nine year-old girls are now legally compelled to marry and be raped by their new husbands:

“Ayad Allawi, a former Iraqi prime minister, warned on Tuesday that approval of the law would lead to the abuse of women. ‘It allows for girls to be married from nine years of age and even younger,’ he said. ‘There are other injustices [contained in it] too.’

While there is no set minimum age for marriage, the section on divorce includes rules for divorces of girls who have reached the age of 9 years.

Marital rape is condoned by a clause that states women must comply with their husband’s sexual demands. Men are given guardianship rights over women and the law also establishes rules governing polygamous relationships.”

Dick Cheney must be so proud.

Posted in America, Iraq, Politics | Leave a comment

Meet The New Boss

Welcome to San Francisco’s hyper-gentrification and the possibility of a second tech “bubble”:

“At the heart of the San Franciscan tech industry is a paradox. It’s a paradox about creativity coming to terms with its place in capitalism. Hacking, computer engineering, the entire ethos of changing the world with communications technology, is supposed to be about more than money – but money is what a job for a big tech firm now means. And money changes things. ‘Don’t be evil’ was the mantra of Google, but there is some anxiety that ‘evil’, or at least callousness, is attaching itself to tech corporations anyway. Google, like other Bay Area firms, is anxious to preserve its benign social reputation; none of its employees was allowed to speak to me on the record about gentrification and cultural anxiety. Tech workers don’t want to see the Mission emptied of poor families. But it’s happening anyway.

Tech still sees itself as an upstart industry challenging power, even when it has become that power. It sees itself as a field of outsiders, which is why it is difficult for tech workers to comprehend that they are now the privileged insiders who are resented by artists and communities of colour. The graffito ‘Techies go home’, scrawled on the sidewalk outside one business in Oakland, was posted on Twitter by an angry, anguished tech worker who explained that she was ‘born here’”.

Posted in America, Kultur, Politics, Tech | 2 Comments

Shit Is Fucked Up And Bullshit

When I consider moving back to America I remind myself that it’s a country where people who think like me are grateful that when 20 students are stabbed, the perpetrator somehow didn’t manage to find a gun.  And the people who don’t think like me are positively delighted by the fact that 20 stabbed students only proves knives are just as dangerous as guns.

Posted in America, Kultur, Politics | Leave a comment


Bad Brains, “Big Take Over” live

This is one of about four or five songs that, all Pavlov like, immediately run through my head when a Korean friend tries to explain to me what I just don’t get about K-pop.

Posted in Music | Leave a comment

Baby Box Blues

In Seoul, South Korea’s only “baby box” is seeing an increase in use:

“Hearing the buzzer, Lee Jong-lak, 60, the church’s pastor, still in his nightclothes, hurriedly rushed outside, where he persuaded the 25-year-old woman to come inside and talk.

‘Her father is my ex-boyfriend, and we don’t correspond with each other now,’ the young mother said, sobbing. ‘I couldn’t tell my parents about the baby, and I can’t afford to raise her on my own.’

Since 2009, the church, which has become widely known in recent years as Baby Box Korea, had taken in 438 babies as of April 5. The baby box provides single mothers and parents who are unable to raise their children with a safe and anonymous alternative in a society that affords them few options. The system has already been employed in 19 countries worldwide, including Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland and Japan.”

I discussed this article with my adult students this morning.  I learned that two incredibly important things — mandatory child support from the father and sex education — basically don’t exist in South Korea.

The American legal system has tons of problems, but if a man gets a woman pregnant and tries to bail he won’t get very far.

Anecdotally, a male student told me that contraception is thought of as entirely a “woman’s responsibility” here.  So I told him about the time I was in high school and my mother came home with a box of condoms and told me how to use them, and how I’d be in an ocean of shit if I ever got a girl pregnant.

Good times.  Thanks mom.

Posted in Korea, Kultur, Politics | Leave a comment