Friday, May 25, 2018

"the mercurial, erratic, and unreliable obstacle to peace"

Good analysis on Trump pulling out of a summit with North Korea:
"As a result he has every incentive to simply continue to bilaterally negotiate with Kim to achieve Moon’s and Moon’s government’s understanding of the ROK’s national interest. By impulsively deciding to grant Kim a summit based and now impulsively pulling out of that summit because of some tough talk, the President seems to think that his maximum pressure campaign got him the opportunity for the summit and can now simply be reimposed and once again achieve positive goals. The problem, of course, is there is no evidence that the President’s maximum pressure approach actually contributed to or set the conditions for Kim to pursue a bilateral US-DPRK summit, which is something Kim, his father, and his grandfather have been trying to achieve for decades. . . .
Kim has largely already gotten what he wanted. He got the President to agree to meet with him. He got two photo ops with Secretary of State Pompeo. He got the President to call him an honorable man. And he got the President to call this off, making the US look like the mercurial, erratic, and unreliable obstacle to peace. It is important to remember that there are a whole bunch of foreign reporters in the DPRK right now because they were there to observe and report on the destruction of the DPRK nuclear test facility. If we’re very lucky, Kim won’t decide that he too can play the “or else” game as well and scarf these folks up as hostages to use as bargaining chips."
tl,dr: Kim Jong-un drank Trumps milkshake.  Because of course he did.

Who Could Have Predicted?

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Jung Ones

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

World Cup 2018 Kit Rankings

It's hard to believe the next World Cup starts in less than a month, and that the U.S. won't be there.  (Thanks Bruce!)  Anyhow, 30 of the 32 national kits have been announced and in my incredibly humble opinion, this is definitely an off-year for interesting uniform design.  There's a hell of a lot of monochrome red on offer.  And red is fine, but it's kind of ridiculous -- 15 out of 60 total home and away kits.

Anyhow, here are the best and the worst (both home and away):

The good:

1)  Saudi Arabia home (green is my favorite color, but the minimal design is also great)
2)  Mexico home and away (green again, but with a nice pattern at home, and the away has a nice retro vibe)
3)  Peru home and away (rocking the diagonal is always nice and more teams should do it)
4)  Belgium away (nice and bright, and ten times better than their home kit)
5)  France home and away (minimal, but somehow standing out as well)
6)  Croatia home (can't beat the checkers)

The bad:

1)  Anything mono-red -- England away, Iran away, Tunisia away, Belgium home, Russia home, Egypt home, Spain home (not entirely red but the pattern sucks), Serbia home, Denmark home (but the arrows on the shoulders are cool), South Korea home, Costa Rica home, Panama home, Portugal home (but the green is nice), Switzerland home, Poland home

2)  Germany home  (black and white, literally, and the shoulder piping doesn't match up with the pattern)

3)  Australia home (those sleeves are a mess)

Honorable mentions:

1)  Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil home are iconic and eye-catching.  Never change.

Still not sure:

1)  Nigeria home (points for trying something different)

As for the less important matter of who actually wins?  That'll be Germany again.  And who will I root for in a U.S.-less tournament?  South Korea, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Iceland.  (Mexico might do something, the other three not so much.)

Monday, May 21, 2018

Toxic Masculinity Is Real

Jessica Valenti notes the not so secret thread behind the most recent U.S. shootings, misogyny:
"How many more tragedies have to happen before we recognize that misogyny kills? The longer we ignore the toxic masculinity that underlies so many of these crimes, the more violence we’re enabling.
Sadie Rodriguez told the LA Times that her daughter Shana Fisher 'had four months of problems' from the Santa Fe shooter.
'He kept making advances on her and she repeatedly told him no.' A week before the shooting, she says, her daughter stood up to the shooter and 'embarrassed him in class.'
This comes not even a month after the van attack in Toronto that killed 10 people and injured 13 more – violence enacted by a man who was reportedly furious that women wouldn’t sleep with him. Before that there was the 2015 shooting at an Oregon college  by a young man who complained of being a virgin with 'no girlfriend'. In 2014, there was Elliot Rodger, who killed six people and left behind a 140-page sexist manifesto and videos where he warned: 'I don’t know why you girls aren’t attracted to me but I will punish you all for it.' In 2009, George Sodini killed three women at a gym in Pennsylvania after lamenting online that younger women wouldn't date him." 

One Of My Very Rare "Life In South Korea" Posts

It's been a while since I've done a straight-up informational post about life in South Korea.  The fact is, 90 percent of what I know living here has come through pretty basic Google searches of other ex-pats.  The "K-blog" era of roughly 2008-2013 or so, where four or five prominent bloggers ruled the roost, has pretty much died off.  Now a lot of Korean ex-pats have migrated over to places like Facebook (yuck!) and tumblr (cool!).  (Have I mentioned this post shall remain positively neutral and unbiased?  Good, because it won't.)

The fact is, over the past ten years with developments in internet culture and apps, it's easier than ever to get along in South Korea even if your language skills are lacking.  I'm going to simply throw out some sites that I read and utilize quite regularly.

1)  Tripadvisor is -- pretty good.  It's getting better though, as more folks use it to rate hotels and restaurants around the country.  You'll find it more helpful for higher traffic cities like Seoul and Busan than you will my own lurvely Daegu, but it's not a bad place to start if you're looking for good restaurants or hotels.  There are some Korean foodie sites on Facebook that are even more hit-or-miss.

2)  Whatthebook? is an English-language bookstore in Seoul that delivers quickly and cheaply throughout the country.  Yes, the name is terrible but the service is absolutely indispensable.  You can use your Korean bank card to pay at any ATM, which is my preferred payment method for almost any large-ish purchase.  (Paypal has never worked with my American bank, and getting a Korean credit card is not worth the hassle IMO.)  Also, they've managed to ship me some pretty obscure stuff in terms of sci-fi and even graphic novels.  The selection is surprisingly top-notch.

And why not Amazon you might ask?  Because Korean customs will charge you extra as an import fee.  There is Amazon Japan, and maybe someday Amazon South Korea will be a thing.  But for now it's not.

3)  iHerb for vitamins, healthy snack options, and perhaps most importantly for foreigners -- stick deodorant.  I think these guys are based in America, but they seem to have a very Asia-friendly business.  And they sell deodorant, which is a Western toiletry that hasn't really caught on here.

4)  English PC Sales -- my laptop died a few months ago and I really didn't want to deal with a typical South Korea "mega PC mart."  Sure, you can do your homework and find decent deals within them, but even with a respectable level of Korean language ability I really wanted the freedom to get the exact specs I wanted on a new machine.  Lo and behold, English PC Sales is your friend from now on.  They have a decent selection, the owner is an ex-pat himself, and they'll put together exactly what you want with minimal hassle.  Do be aware that for an expensive bank transfer like this you'll probably end up going to a local branch of your bank to OK the amount required.

5)  And finally, kind of the Elephant In The Room of online shopping in Korea, is G-market.  They are huge.  They specialize in clothing and shoes as far as I can tell but they even sell everything from electronics to sex toys.  The drawback is that their prices are pretty awful, compared to someone used to American Amazon.  But I'm willing to pay the price as opposed to lugging clothing back from America every time I visit during the summer.

The good?  They have Western brands I'm familiar with and more importantly, Western sizes.  (US size 12 shoes can only be found near military bases, and the selection is always terrible.)  The bad?  I'd say my success rate ordering from them is about 50 percent.  About a week after an order I will randomly get an e-mail saying the item has shipped or the order has been cancelled (not by me, by them for some unknown reason).  The other companies listed all provided very fast shipping.  G-market, not so much.  It's a roll of the dice, and if they do cancel your order they will effectively "keep" you money in a virtual account (I think it's called Smile Cash or some such).  Feel free to try ordering something again and hope the Gods of Commerce and Fashion smile on you.

Anyhow, G-market is what it is.  I've gotten some nice stuff in a timely fashion from them, and I've had to wait two weeks after an order to be told they're out of stock and I'm out of luck.  This is surprisingly un-Korean, compared to the other services above.

That's about it.  As of 2018 there's no reason you should have to lug stuff back from home -- new iPads, books, shoes, vitamins, clothing -- when you can simply order it all from here.  Then again, on larger purchases you will save a few hundred bucks on something like a new laptop, and that's nothing to sniff at.  Still though, it's nice you know you have more than one option.

(And if you do try to bring an expensive electronic purchase into Korea, never, ever leave it in the box or customs will have some questions for you.)

Any other ideas or suggestions?  When it comes to hotels and plane tickets, I'm still using American-based sites like Expedia and Travelocity.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Get Off Of My Lawn