True Fact

The worst part of teaching is the constant fear that something I draw on the board resembles a cock and / or balls.

Posted in ESL, Teaching | 3 Comments

You Heard It Here First

Carolina 38 — Denver 13

This year’s Super Bowl coincides with Korean New Year, so I’ll be at the beach in lovely Busan.  I think there’s more than one Westerner bar that will be showing the game live at 8:30 a.m., so here’s to morning drinking!

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The End of Michelin?

Another top-rated chef has killed himself, and many others are deciding to shun the legendary Michelin star:

“But there is evidence that today’s chefs – who must often be top-flight, profit-making businessmen as well as culinary artists – are under particular strain. ‘What people don’t often see,’ the three-star chef Pierre Gagnaire, whose first Michelin-starred restaurant went bankrupt, said some years ago, ‘is that behind the facade of this profession [there] is suffering and downright exhaustion. We’re on a razor’s edge the whole time, because what we do is a combination of art and business.’

One Michelin star more (or less) is thought, in France, to be worth up to 25% of a restaurant’s turnover. But the strictures of the guide – sometimes seen as rewarding the frills more than the food, forcing restaurants to invest astronomical sums on decor, tableware and staff – impose their own pressures.

In 2005, Alain Senderens of the Lucas Carton in Paris, who had held three stars for 28 consecutive years, gave them up, saying he was fed up with the ‘indecent’ prices – ‘€300 or €400 in winter, when there are truffles’ – he had to charge, the ‘senseless race’ of the ratings, and the ‘fussy, over-complicated food’ he had to produce to satisfy the guides’ inspectors.”

As mentioned, I like food.  But I’m also highly skeptical of that part of foodie culture that talks about is as “art” or a “total experience,” rather than stuff that you put in your mouth and enjoy.  To wit:

In 2011, the Australian chef Skye Gyngell found just one Michelin star ‘a curse’ at the Petersham Nurseries in Richmond, west London. She said the award led customers to expect a fine dining experience that her restaurant, while serving great food, could not provide, and removed the star from her website.

To quote Grumpy Cat, good.

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I stand by my prediction that Hillary Clinton wins the presidency this November.  If it’s against Cruz or Trump, quite easily.  If it’s against Rubio, with a few more panic attacks thrown in but the result will be the same.

All I want to comment on is the truly strange phenomenon of why American politicians, win or lose, love to drag their families up on stage with them.

Maybe it’s because I’m single, but what’s the added value of having your picture taken with your spouse and children?  I mean, I love my family.  They’re very important to me.  But they’re not the ones running for higher office.

You just don’t get nearly as much of it in any other country.  I couldn’t tell you the name of David Cameron or Angela Merkel’s spouse.  I know Sarkozy was married to a model or something, but that’s because he’s a dirty, adulterous Frenchmen and not because of her initiatives on childhood literacy or exercise and nutrition.

I guess I’m answering my own question — the American First Lady is a unique position in Western or Western-style democracies.  I mean, I don’t lose sleep over it or anything but it’s kind of stupid.  But for FSM’s sake, leave the kids (even the grown ones) out of your shameless, naked grabs for power over others.

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On the one hand, the over-use of force by police in America is a thing.

On the other, if you have a clump of domestic terrorists who have basically said they want to commit some version of suicide-by-cop, well, it’ll be tough not to humor them.

And if this does end in further bloodshed, please spare me any comparisons to Waco or Ruby Ridge.  Three weeks of over indulgence by local and Federal authorities was more than enough time to make your point and go home.

Posted in America, Politics | 1 Comment

(NB: I’m almost always wrong about everything.)

I’d be willing to bet five dollars that Peyton Manning’s legacy will be framed by two massive Super Bowl blow-outs at the end of his career.

Cam Newton is just too good.

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The Last Laugh

David Bowie w/ Cher, bizarro medley

Above all else, David Bowie had great taste:

“David Bowie’s list of collaborators reads like a cavalcade of pop-culture power brokers: Brian Eno, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, John Lennon and Queen. He also recorded with Arcade Fire, TV on the Radio and LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy.

Missing from that list? Fellow British act Coldplay, who once contacted Bowie in the hope of collaborating, only to be turned down by the music giant.

The band’s drummer, Will Champion, told NME they had invited Bowie to record vocals on one of their songs. Bowie replied, ‘It’s not a very good song, is it?’ (Or as the singer, Chris Martin, once told the story: ‘He called me and said, “It’s not one of your best.”‘)”

I’m much less of a music snob than I used to be.  But this story is gold.

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Tortoise, “Yonder Blue”

I haven’t heard the whole album yet, but a Tortoise track featuring Georgia Hubley on vocals is pretty darn rad.

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“Real America”

Those Palins sure seem nice, as usual.

Posted in America, Politics | 1 Comment

Consider The Jellyfish

Dean Burnett in The Guardian asks what seems to be a laughably simple question: “Is it okay for vegetarians to eat jellyfish?”  The answer is a lot more complicated than you might expect:

“But many people adopt vegetarianism/veganism for moral and ethical reasons, which is fair enough. Objecting to animals being killed or suffering for our food is a perfectly logical stance. But when you get down to the actual scientific minutiae of what these things mean, then it starts to get confusing.

This brings us back to the jellyfish question; would it be safe for a vegetarian to eat one? If you’re vegetarian for environmental reasons, it may even be better to eat jellyfish, given how abundant they are without any need for harmful human cultivation. But what about ethical concerns? While technically classed as ‘animals’, they are devoid of any brain or nervous system, and most can’t even control where they move. Everything we know about neuroscience suggests such a creature would be totally incapable of perceiving anything as complex as suffering or discomfort, and it certainly wouldn’t be able to experience any emotional reaction to such an experience. So by eating one, no suffering can be said to have occurred. It may still be a living thing, but then so is a carrot. Why is one OK to eat and not the other?”

Here in South Korea jellyfish is usually eaten in a cold salad, which is refreshing but honestly a bit bland.  Or it’s dried out and eaten like a jerky.  (You soak the jellyfish for a long time to get the toxins out.)

Of course, it’s all about to get more complicated:

“Insects, jellyfish and other species probably seem fair game to many due to a simple failure of empathy. Big, furry or fluffy creatures we can relate to, ‘ugly’ or different ones make it harder, so concern for their wellbeing isn’t so common, unfortunately.

This sort of dilemma, regarding what’s ethically acceptable to eat, is likely to get more complex as food production technology advances to meet demands. Already, humans are too widespread for modern methods to be 100% animal friendly (modern harvesting methods inevitably kill or displace many creatures while gathering vegetable crops) and our species will need increasing volumes of food as time passes. Technology will hopefully provide solutions to this, but also muddy the waters further.”

I like meat but I’m going to try and eat less of it in 2016.  And I’ll be the first in line to try out a streak grown in a protein vat or coming fresh off a 3D meat printer.  As much as I enjoy, well, eating and reading about food, I don’t think I’m capable of fetishizing it.  I laugh at Red Blooded Americans who are worried that vege-nazis are coming for their beef.  But I’m also skeptical of the left-wing version of this, where notions like farm-to-table and 100% organic (is that literally even possible now?) become our new culturally sanctioned sacred cows (ahem).

Once in a while it’s nice to splurge on a great restaurant experience, especially with someone you care about.  More frequently, it’s great living in a country like South Korea where you can pretty much stuff your face at a traditional, sit-down restaurant, with decent-to-excellent grub for less than five dollars.  (In America you’d be strictly limited to fast food for this amount, and we’re not even talking Five Guys bruh.)  And at times, I enjoy reading about how one of the most expensive fine-dining restaurants in the world is basically a scam aimed at pretentious, new-money jerks.

Which is to say, food can be awesome but at the end of the meal it’s also just food.  It’s the universal human fuel which we can and should approach ethically and sustainably, or suffer the consequences, but also something we tend to over-think precisely because it is, by nature, such a personal thing.

I’m all for people reading and taking to heart Michael Pollan, but also worried that we tend to equate our modern-day food choices with a practically religious significance that they don’t hardly deserve.  As always, we limited human animals tend to give ourselves far too much credit for individual choices that pale in comparison to invisible structural norms and overwhelming historical and scientific forces re-writing all the rules as we speak and / or type.

So, some highly ethetical tofu and kimchi soup for me today.  And some post-ethical 3D printed deep-fried bacon-and-mayonaise poppers ten years from now?  Bring it on.

Donkey Sauce is, of course, completely optional.

Posted in Food, Kultur, Politics | Leave a comment