“Hope is earned.”

Ta-Nahesi Coates on Ferguson and the murder of Michael Brown:

“And that is because the death of all of our Michael Browns at the hands of people who are supposed to protect them originates in a force more powerful than any president: American society itself. This is the world our collective American ancestors wanted. This is the world our collective grandparents made. And this is the country that we, the people, now preserve in our fantastic dream. What can never be said is that the Fergusons of America can be changed—but, right now, we lack the will to do it.

Perhaps one day we won’t, and maybe that is reason to hope. Hope is what Barack Obama promised to bring, but he was promising something he could never bring. Hope is not the naiveté that would change the face on a racist system and then wash its hands of its heritage. Hope is not feel-goodism built on the belief in unicorns. Martin Luther King had hope, but it was rooted in years of study and struggle, not in looking the other way. Hope is not magical. Hope is earned.”

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“because you are always a threat”

Ed writes an open letter to “America’s 22,000,000 back males”:

“My right to respond to feeling threatened in whatever manner I choose is worth more in the eyes of the law than black men’s lives. If you and I have some sort of altercation, I can wait until it’s over and you are 100-some feet away and then shoot you. I can shoot you even if you are running away because you are still a threat because you are always a threat. You are never not a threat when in public. Your best course of action might be to stay at home and indoors, although that will protect you only from vigilantes. Law enforcement is another story.

If anyone interprets my tone here as endorsing this reality, that is not the case. There is no point in kidding ourselves as a society, though: when a grand jury decides that a police officer shooting an unarmed teen isn’t even worth discussing, that’s a special kind of brazen. With Rodney King at least we went through the charade of a trial before declaring the cops Not Guilty. Now apparently law enforcement doesn’t even feel compelled to do that much. It wouldn’t have been hard to go through the motions and have an all-white jury return a resounding Not Guilty. Hell, it’s pretty much standard operating procedure in these situations. But they did not decide that Darren Wilson is not guilty – they decided that whether or not he is guilty isn’t even worth discussing.”

The American legal and law enforcement system is completely racist and rotten to the ever-loving core.

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In America, a white life is worth much, much more than a black and/or non-white one.

I mean, this is nothing new — it’s encoded in our national DNA, a historical consequence of our founding.

But hey, at least the rest of the world gets it now.

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Oh K-pop, don’t ever change:

“Without makeup, Junhyuk (22), Timotheo (21), Hojung (20), Yoon San (20), Sungwoon (20) and Kid Monster (21) are just six good-looking young guys.”

I’d be willing to work as a K-pop name generator.  Think I’d be good at it too.

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Disaster Waiting To Happen

Regarding the fraternity gang rape at UVA — how could any parent in good conscience send their daughter to Charlottesville for four years, knowing that there’s a 1/4 chance she’ll be raped?  And not outside the realm of possibility, murdered?

Posted in America, Education, Politics, UVA | 2 Comments

Outside Buseok Temple




Korean temples are amazing, beautiful places with vibrant historical and cultural significance.  But my favorite part of visiting one (in addition to the fish cakes and booze!) are the women who set up shop on the path leading up to the temples (which are almost always established at the top of a mountain).


There are tons of apple orchards in the Yeongju area, obviously, but the other produce is always amazing.  Even my Korean friends didn’t recognize about half of the mushrooms, roots, nuts, barks, and tea leaves on display.  The women at the stalls were happy to explain and give us free samples of everything.


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Buseok Temple (Buseoksa)






After six years in South Korea, you’d think I might be a bit temple’d out.  I’ve been to big ones, small ones, ones with amazing rivers running through them, and even ones where Buddha left his begging bowl.  I don’t get tired of them though.  The best ones are really a complete experience, and a great opportunity to get out and enjoy the weather.  It’s even worth re-visiting temples during different seasons — they take on a totally different aura based on the colors of the surrounding trees and mountains.





Historically, Buseoksa is famous for having the second oldest wooden building in Korea.  It was founded by a guy named Uisang, famous for going to China to study and breaking a girl’s heart.  As he got on a boat back to Korea, she jumped into the ocean and transformed into a dragon to protect him on the trip home.

But the best part of Buseoksa are the incredible mountain views.

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More Light


Daegu, South Korea.

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“Public Ivy” My Ass

A gang rape at the University of Virginia:

“She remembers every moment of the next three hours of agony, during which, she says, seven men took turns raping her, while two more – her date, Drew, and another man – gave instruction and encouragement. She remembers how the spectators swigged beers, and how they called each other nicknames like Armpit and Blanket. She remembers the men’s heft and their sour reek of alcohol mixed with the pungency of marijuana. Most of all, Jackie remembers the pain and the pounding that went on and on.”

I did my M.A. at UVA.  Academically, the place is stellar.  Culturally, especially among the frats, it’s a racist hellhole of Rebel battle flags and date rape.

I’m so ashamed.  Burn it to the ground.  Some of the academic rigor might be missed, but smug sense of “we’re better than everyone else” will definitely not be.

And I can assure you that for every story like this, there are at least ten you never will know about.

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Embrace The Fish Paste


This here is my friend odeng which is, basically, the Korean take on Japanese oden.  Resting on those skewers are strips of processed fish paste simmering away in a vegetable and jujube broth.  On the left are bowls of pepper-enhanced soy sauce for your dipping needs.


It’s street food basically, and the hot pieces of fish and the warm broth make it a favorite during the fall and winter, or after visiting a temple or taking a hike.


After coming down the hill from Buseok Temple, or any temple in Korea for that matter, you’ll find tons of these carts set up with various older women slinging out their own takes on the dish.  In the background you can see an open pink bucket of dongdongju, a thick, milky, and sour fermented rice wine.  The hot sting of the odeng is perfectly washed down the by icy head rush of the fairly strong alcohol (drunk from a cup, not a bowl, always).

You and your friends stand (never sit!) and have as much fish and booze as you like, then pay per skewer ravaged  and per bowl ingested.  The system is poetry, really.  And for no extra charge you can grab a paper cup and ladle in some of the odeng broth to sip on.

When I first moved here I’ll admit, I found the flavor of odeng to be pretty bland.  And I thought dongdongju was nice with spicy foods, but not something I’d want to drink every weekend.

But this stuff has totally grown on me.  When I go hiking in the fall, or even on cooler spring days, odeng and dongdongju are essential parts of the experience.  It’s one of those flavor combos where the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.

And honestly, you have to drink some of the broth, even if it’s been sitting outside for possibly days on end.

Why?  Well, because Korea.

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