Monthly Archives: October 2014

Art, “Terror,” and a bit about Godaddy

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An art opening, an art opening! Got a gallery show opening this weekend with a couple of other artists. Exciting stuff. It’s always good to meet new artists and see what kind of works other people are into. I also learned that I’m not the only foreign artist in the country who dabbled in making action figures.

Despite Korea being quite small, I’ve never been to this city right next to Seoul where we’re having the exhibition (Ilsan, northwest of Seoul). The place seems quite young and the architecture feels foreign to me. It’s almost as if I’m walking in Japan. I would hang out in Ilsan more if it wasn’t an hour and a half away from where I live. And really, there are far too many bars near where I live for me to wander far in order to get a drink. My neighborhood has made me lazy.

Are we feeling better now, Canada? Are we all good? I gotta say, the overall reaction to the shooting a couple of days ago was far more level-headed than one would expect if it happened down south. No giant panics and no moral outrages. No one is going after swaths of Muslim populations. What troubles me though is the almost too-canadian rumored reaction from our Prime Minister during the shooting: that he hid in a closet. How Canadian is that, eh? “Mr. Prime Minister, a gun man is causing trouble outside, you’d better get inside this closet!” Can’t we at least get a panic room or something?

On a more serious note however, I’m more troubled with Canadian politicians and Americans calling the whole thing an “act of terror.” Glenn Greenwald made a good point about it, and it’s something I always felt was the general bias when it comes to the liberal use of Western force in other countries. The shooter targeted Canadian military. As cowardly in terms of the attack coming out of nowhere as it is, there appears to be an effort not to harm civilians, but only to harm soldiers and those in power. Sure, there was an element of “terror,” but wouldn’t the act of combatants attacking others who are technically combatants be classified as par for the course in war? It wasn’t an act of terror. It was war, and Canada has been at war (against vague terror) along with the United States for over a decade now.

Calling the attack an act of terror, in my mind, does two things. One, it is used as another piece of propaganda for more war, more money for the military, and more kids being sent to fight overseas. What exactly are we doing in Afghanistan? For what purpose are we there for? Couldn’t Canada find a better way to achieve these goals outside of military intervention?

The other thing it does is that it defines the word “terror.” It was an act of terror when a man targeted soldiers and a government facility. I’m not going to argue against that because it definitely was terrible and I do feel for the victim and his family. I’ll give you that. It was an act of terror. He did not shoot civilians, but that poor soldier did not see it coming and did not deserve getting shot that day. But how do we define the actions of the US military when they bomb innocent civilians through signature strikes? How do we define the thousands of deaths in the vague “war on terror?” These are actions which kill not only supposed terrorists, but also civilians. Aren’t the people living in these neighborhoods also terrorized?

Now, I’m not saying that United States is a monster for conducting a terrorist campaign on several nations in what appears to be a disproportionate act of vengeance. What I’m saying is that “terror,” “acts of terror,” and “war against terror” are all horribly vague and maleable terms. They are trump cards which justify horrible actions and push forward shortsighted government policies. Sure, we can call something an “act of terror.” What happened in Canada was an act of terror. But let’s also examine our own terrible actions and see exactly how terrible we have been.

Problems with Godaddy again. Well, I don’t know if it’s Godaddy, Korea’s fickle Internet, or whatever. Ugh!

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From Your Buddy

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Hey Canada! What’s going on? You haven’t been the same lately. We really need to talk sometime. I know things are kinda shitty right now, but we’ll pull through.

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If I could

Would

 

I really would.

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Global Village Laziness and Crazy Dream Therapists

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If a person has never traveled any countries outside of South Korea and was only exposed to the varied cuisines of the world via the Global Village Festival in Seoul last weekend, they would think that other countries only serve hotdog, chicken on a stick, and kebabs. What a disappointment! The crowd was bigger, but the event was extremely lazy and underwhelming.

All booths from African and Middle Eastern countries were serving kebabs. That’s all they had! There were a couple that served samosas and other more exotic fare, but generally, that’s all they served.

All booths from European and North American countries served hotdogs/sausages or to a lesser extent, chicken on a stick. Same generic sausage all over the place. The Canadian booth, instead of serving poutine or anything Canadian, was serving hotdog on a stick. The Philippines booth was serving the same thing, except they had coconut milk and churros. Lazy, lazy, lazy. And why churros? Isn’t that from Spain, not the Philippines? Well, ignoring the fact that the Philippines is a former Spanish colony, churros are all the rage in Seoul at the moment. There would be line-ups for popular churros places in the city. Why? Because someone mentioned the churros place on TV, which is generally how restaurants get a huge line-up in the country. Sheep. And yes, I’m sorry, but only sheep would line up for over an hour to buy deep-fried, sugary, dough.

My wife and I were in Winnipeg last year. She noted that at the Forks (http://www.theforks.com/dining/show,listing/forks-market), a public space in a small city, there were far more variety and authentic global cuisines compared to this so called “Global Village Festival.” The event was kinda offensive, not just as a Canadian (hotdogs!?), but as someone who’s actually had food from other countries. This is the last time my wife and I go to this festival. We ran out of patient fast. We ended up going to my regular South African bar wondering why didn’t just go straight there in the first place.

Imagine a room with at least three couples and one moderator. The moderator asks everyone to close their eyes. He then says, “Anyone who’s ever wanted to stray from their marriage, especially if that person you want to sleep with is in the room, raise your right hand.”

“Now, if you have your hand raised, open your eyes and look around. Those who don’t have their hand raised, keep your eyes closed.”

“Everyone put your hand down and close your eyes.”

“Now, do what you will with that new information you just learned (or that burning curiosity that’s bound to destroy your relationship).”

I had a dream about that scenario. At the very least, the exercise could open dialogue and spark ideas. At the most, it could arrange amicable cheating arrangements. At its worst, it could destroy marriages. My dreams have a creative yet misguided couples’ counselor.

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More Empathy, Please

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More urinary tract stuff. Yay!

I like watching Bill Maher. I enjoy his panel, although I sometimes cringe at how he legitimizes certain people by having them on the show. Darrel Issa might be one of the worst political actors around, and but he has enough charm to appear like a somewhat reasonable person in his show. Bill also sometimes bring in S.E. Cupp who is the dumbest political commentator clown I tried to watch. Granted, she claims to be an atheist, just like Bill, so I’m guessing that’s why she has her on the show, but what the heck is a self-hating atheist who is jealous of the faithful?!

Now, I was raised Catholic, and although I don’t practice the faith too much, I still consider myself a member of the church. Now, I get Bill’s problems with religion, but really, he does paint with a wide brush especially when it comes to Muslims. There’s over a billion Muslims in the world and not all of them are seeking the death of infidels the same way not all Christians are seeking to stone all adulterers. Religion divides people into those who would be saved after death and those who would burn in hell (or those who simply don’t matter at all). This gives extremists of any religion an excuse to do horrible things. The Bible was used as an excuse for slavery. Heck, there are stories of wiping out whole populations in the good book. So to say that the Muslim faith is a great source of bad ideas is not only very selective, it is also racist, and wrong. Bill argues that the reality is counter to my idealism, and that Muslims are causing a lot of trouble in the world, but that in itself is very narrow-sighted. A lot of the troubles happening in the Middle-East is due to greed and an out of control capitalist machine. It is also due to populations who feel disenfranchised at the very least, and at most, angered by the injustice caused by a foreign force thousands of miles away. This injustice is why young people from countries outside of the Middle East are flying in to join. What’s happening is injustice, and it just so happens that the extremist leaders in those countries are religious and that they would use religion to control people the same way leaders in every country would use anything to control the people under them. Not all Muslim countries are controlled by extremist forces, and not all Muslim countries have bombings which give people cause to be extremists.

My Muslim neighbor doesn’t have any more bad ideas than my Christian neighbor. Both neighbors don’t have any more bad ideas than my Buddhist neighbor as. One could argue that my atheist neighbor might have fewer bad ideas. But if that neighbor starts trafficking in racist stereotypes, then he just me be the worst neighbor there is.

So yeah, the whole dismissive attitude people of the Muslim faith really turned me off. And then comes New Rules regarding the Hong Kong protests for democracy. Granted, it was just a joke. But really, saying that the protest signs look like restaurant menus? Let me guess, “flied lice?” What’s the matter? Can’t make a love-you-long-long-time joke instead? This is the thin treatment the protests get when it is a huge move for democracy in that part of the world. In fact, that dig makes me wonder if his empathy to people unlike himself only extends towards black Americans.

His show is off next week, so I’m hoping he’s got a better show when he comes back. I’d still be watching, but the hate disguised as critical thought and some of the tired jokes are starting to get to me.

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