Cuba Libre

Awesome news.

I’ve always wanted to visit a place as amazing as Cuba.

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Tune-Yards, “Water Fountain”

Meh.  I probably shouldn’t spend a single second getting upset at Pitchfork, but how in the fuck does this track not make the 100 best singles of the year?

I could see the album itself not making the top 50, but even that’s questionable compared to some of the stuff that managed to make it in.

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Gangnam Gangsters

An American doing his Ph.D. got a Fulbright to study the Korean mafia:

“He added, ‘The Korean mafia is an extreme meritocracy. If you are not a smart gangster, you are not going to move up. Unlike the Cosa Nostra in the United States, or Japanese Yakuza, money in Korean mafia-type groups typically flows from top to bottom. If a boss can not provide money-making opportunities to a large number of gangsters below him, he simply can’t be a boss.’

The crux of Porteux’s research focused on the symbiotic relationship between the state and mafia-type groups, and why those within developed democracies tolerate, and sometimes even cooperate with, criminal organizations. Through triangulation, verifying events from multiple sources, he was able to build up his information database.

Porteux recalled memorable two-day street riots on May 24 and 25, 2011, when he witnessed a confrontation between illegal street vendors in the popular Insa-dong in central Seoul, and the yongyeok — legal companies often controlled by gangsters to use violence — hired to take them down.

There were police lined up in their riot gear and street vendors next to their carts with their protest headbands on, he said. And about 150 young thugs in their 20s from outside Seoul, who were controlled by geondal, ‘went from street vendor to street vendor beating them in front of the police.’”

Definitely looking forward to discussing this article with my adult students tonight.

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“American Torture”

David Simon states the obvious:

“This is not one of the world’s great powers behaving as such, and it is certainly no force for good in the world.  This might as well be the Spanish national amnesia following the death of Franco, or a post-war West Germany without the stomach for the necessary self-reflection. Shit, even the fragile, post-apartheid democracy of South Africa managed to openly conduct hearings and attempt some measure of apology and reconciliation in the wake of the previous regime’s brutalities.  Not us. Not the United States. We’re too weak to endure any such moral reflection without the attempt itself descending into moronic partisan banter. That’s right. Here, in America, we are — today — actually torturing other human beings with exacting cruelty in secret and then arguing about whether we can dare discuss it in public.

Fuck writing reports. Fuck arguing about reports. For the very soul of the country, some people must go to prison for these crimes against humanity, and for ordering crimes against humanity in my name, in your name, in our names. They were working not to save our country, as claimed. They were working to destroy this republic.

Who has the courage to begin?  Is there a single American political leader? No. Not a one.”

America is not a great nation, it is a bully.  That so many of us seem to think this is the same thing is tragic.

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“a fusty nut with no kernel”

Anglophenia ep. 13 — “If Shakespearean Insults Were Used Today”

Lest this humble blog collapse into a black hole of negativity, here’s a great new clip from the great new series Anglophenia.

I’ll die happy if I ever get to tell someone “Your brain is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage.”

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Twist The Knife

Wow.  Mental note to self — never get on the bad side of Ta-nahesi Coates.  Regarding the recent upheaval at The New Republic, and the throngs of former TNR staffers lamenting the supposed death of something great and important, he writes:

“I always knew I could never work at TNR. In the latter portion of the magazine’s heyday, in the mid-’90s, I was at Howard University with aspirations toward writing. Howard has a way of inculcating its students with a sense of mission. If you are going into writing, you understand that you are not a free agent, but the bearer of heritage walking in the steps of Hurston, Morrison, Baldwin, Wright, and Ellison. None of these writers appear in Insurrections of the Mind. Howard University taught me to be unsurprised by this. It also taught me that writing was war, and I knew, even then, that TNR represented much of what I was at war with. I knew that TNR’s much celebrated “heterodoxy” was built on a strain of erudite neo-Dixiecratism. When The Bell Curve excerpt was published, one of my professors handed out the issue to every interested student. This was not a compliment. This was knowing your enemy.

TNR did not come to racism out of evil. Very few people ever do. Many of the white people working for the magazine were very young and very smart. This is always a dangerous combination. It must have been that much more dangerous given that their boss was a racist. (Though I am told he had many black friends and protégés.) Peretz was not always a regular presence in the office. This allowed TNR’s saner staff to regard him as the crazy uncle who says racist shit at Thanksgiving. But Peretz was not a crazy uncle—he was the wealthy benefactor of an influential magazine that published ideas that damaged black people.”


As for the magazine itself, I was a reader back in the 90’s.  It had some good stuff.  It had some bad stuff.  Then it had two different serial plagiarists making up some laughably racist stuff, and they got away with it for much longer than any competent editor would have allowed.

It sucks when people lose jobs, especially writers and journalists coping with the new era of digital media.  But it’s also telling that, as far as I can tell, the only people really upset about the death of TNR used to draw a paycheck from it.  That’s loyalty, not righteous indignation.

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Sometimes I get my history wrong.  But was it George Washington or Thomas Jefferson who advocated the forcible anal rape of suspected insurgents by US soldiers and CIA operatives?

“At least five detainees were subjected to ‘rectal feeding’ or ‘rectal hydration,’ without any documented medical need. ‘While IV infusion is safe and effective,’ one officer wrote, rectal hydration could be used as a form of behavior control.”

If and when China takes over the US, economically or otherwise, things might suck for us ‘Murcans.  But guess what?  “Human Rights” is the one goddamn thing we won’t be able to lecture them, or any other country, about.

Abu Ghraib was a meager portion of the whole sordid, sadistic picture.  And the CIA torturers have made America much less safe than it ever was before 9/11.  If this wasn’t obvious to you in the first place, you are a fucking moron.

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It’s Ovah

Good news!  Last day of the semester!

Bad news!  Based solely on attendance, I’m giving more F’s than ever before.

There were lazy and/or stupid pills in the water these past few months for some strange reason, both for me and my students.

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IMO, Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig has written the best piece on the UVA gang rape allegations so far:

“No matter which poison you pick, the Rolling Stone piece has irrecoverably degenerated into a story about a particular event on a particular date, and it’s unlikely we can reverse that now. Erdely’s heavy-handed reliance on the narrative of one specific crime for the entirety of her argument invited this misdirection, which is the problem underlying all her other mistakes.

The damage has been immeasurable. Advocates for victims of sexual assault at UVA have already come forward claiming that their campus activism has been much discredited. UVA social media outlets are now replete with frat triumphalism, from which no possible good can come. Publications that supported Erdely’s account during the first hint of skepticism must now decide how to gracefully walk it back.”

When it comes to how we treat women and minorities in America, 2014 will be the year we look back upon as pretty much the Great Leap Backwards.

Shit is fucked up and bullshit, indeed.

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Let Them Eat Peanuts

Um, Korean airline execs?  Maybe less of this kind of sort-of-terrifying bullshit in the future?

“The vice president of Korean Air Lines, Cho Hyun-ah (Heather Cho), is under heavy criticism after she ordered a cabin manager off an aircraft due to a dispute over the official procedure for servings snacks, causing the flight to be delayed.”

Oh boy, this should be good:

“According to reports, Cho, who was sitting in first class, became furious with the flight attendant for behavior that was not in line with KAL’s customer service manual.

The manual says that first-class cabin crew should ask customers if they want a snack. If the person says yes, the attendent must serve the food in a dish. But the attendant serving Cho reportedly gave her a sealed pack of nuts, angering the vice president.

After scolding the attendant, Cho reportedly called the cabin manager and asked her to check the service manual. But the manager did not know the password to unlock the tablet computer on which the manual was stored, so she ordered her off the plane.”

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest this had little to do with a plate-less bag of nuts and everything to do with a Korean vice president scorned.  But really, it’s not even mutually exclusive.  As we waddle into the 21st century it’s clear that rich people aren’t content just to be wealthy — their every whim must be catered to.  We must acknowledge them as our betters, Gilded Age-style.  To simply allow them to live in their natural state of privilege is not nearly enough.

I mean, instead of just taking off and taking care of this through internal channels once they got to Seoul, this little harpy had to throw a shit-fit ignoring the inconvenience it would cause for hundreds of economy passengers in back.

(And if the plane was away from the gate and had to go back, she managed to delay thousands of other flyers on other planes as well.)

I mean, those people don’t really matter now, do they?

Update: Well, that was fast at least.

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