Monthly Archives: November 2016

Pizza and Theater

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There’s a reason why people would rather watch Marvel movies than documentaries. Marvel movies, despite their mythology, is far easier to digest and is made more interesting with its fantastical storylines compared to most documentaries. Just the word “documentary” itself would turn off most people. It speaks of the mundane. It almost sounds like homework.

That’s the problem right now. Everywhere, it seems like conspiracy theories and fake news are winning over actual, mundane truth. Call me naïve, but I actually believe basically the story that ‘This American Life’ did on Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, that she is basically not very tech savvy and that the whole e-mail scandal thing is due to her need to keep using just one machine, an outdated Blackberry. The story is not very exciting, but it actually fits what I see in real life: older people not being tech savvy and clinging on to things that they’ve gotten used to.

Unfortunately, right now, #Pizzagate is trending on the Internet. According to Internet sleuths, John Podesta’s love for Italian food, as made apparent by the e-mails Wikileaks posted, is actually code word for something else. Because liking pizza is too mundane. It has to mean… I don’t know… something connected to an underground sex ring that the rich and powerful indulge in, along with pizza. Depending on how deep you get, there’s also talks of pedophilia and devil worship.

I like ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ and I actually think it’s the best Kubrick film despite starring Tom Cruise, but these conspiracy theorists can’t just leave an innocent love for Italian pastry alone and had to mix it with some Kubrick. Also worth noting is that this is the second time I’ve heard of Hillary Clinton being accused of actual witchcraft.

You see, Kubrick films are far easier to digest than watching Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible.’

The same thing is happening in Korea. Instead of actually talking about the real plausible crimes the current president is suspected of doing, there have been too many stories about secret affairs, hidden surgical operations, children out of wedlock, etc. What is happening right now is interesting enough as it is. We don’t have to spice it up with added narratives.

Even in the Philippines! I argue with people online about Duterte encouraging mass murder. And some people would say that the murders weren’t being done on his behalf, and that they were done by “bad people.” WHO? Who are these phantom bad people? Why are they doing this? To make the president look bad? The president is definitely not looking for any of these “bad people.” Why are some people resting easy with the explanation that “bad people did it”? Is ignorance truly that bliss?

The thing is, following the truth is actually a lot like homework. It’s not very sexy. And like homework, we rarely get what we want. Looking at Trump, instead of the media looking at his dealings with Indian business men or his $25 million settlement with the victims of Trump University, the media was more focused on the sexier, easier to digest story of Pence being booed at Hamilton. Then people start speculating that maybe Trump sent Pence to the theater himself to distract from his own issues. Another conspiracy theory. And again, instead of looking at the homework that is the business dealing s and lawsuits, we all obsess about easy to digest stories and conspiracy theories, then bicker about them until we the real issues are forgotten.

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New World

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After a few hours to absorb it, I’m still numb at the reality the world has woken up to. It’s not gonna be as catastrophic as many people have predicted, I’m sure, but it is sad that a person at his most vile was rewarded the highest office in the land. This is what the world has come to. I’m not an American. I’m a Canadian. I’m not even in North America at the moment. I arguably don’t have a dog in this fight. But as a person who likes to think he’s decent, who cares for others (women, minorities, disabled people, the poor), someone who values facts and science, and as an immigrant of color, the world is a darker place. I could go on and on, but let me just list a few lessons learned from the whole thing.

  1. Do not get too comfortable with progress. I believe this is the hubris of the Democratic Party. They believed that since Americans voted for Obama twice, the country is essentially progressive and it would reflect easily on the ballot. Instead of going full progressive with Sanders, they decided to go with what their donors want and ran with the weaker candidate. And they’re not the only ones who got too comfortable. People who decided to stay home, voted for third party candidates, or sat this out because their chosen candidate (Bernie) was not in the ballot basically cost the election due to their hubris. No one will ever remember your vote for Jill Stein. No one. Every social gain must be cherished and protected. And now it’s too late. The little good that Obamacare did will now almost certainly be taken away.
  2. Obama should’ve done more on his second term. Despite what the right wing would have people believe, he was never that progressive. He’s more like a traditional conservative. And unfortunately, now he will only be remembered as the first black president, nothing more. He should’ve aggressively pushed for progressive policies because no matter what, his opponents will always demonize him. And now he will be gone, he will be demonized and blamed for America’s future ills, and all of that with not much to show for.
  3. Politics is a team sport regardless of how you personally see it. I like Obama but there are several things I could criticize him about. I like our prime minister, but I don’t like it when he tries too hard to be viral on the Internet. I’m a feminist, but it annoys me when feminists don’t know the difference between feminism and misandry. This election saw people wedded to their teams regardless of their candidates’ flaws. “He’s unqualified, but…” I believe people supported their team not so much for the good of their cause but just so the other team would lose. This is why those Bernie Sanders supporters didn’t turn out for Hillary. They took their ball and left the playground. This is why so many people voted against their own interest. It’s for the good of the team.
  4. The media is the worst. The media has to change. So much stock has been put on Hillary’s e-mails but none on Trump’s taxes. Instead of ridiculing him and his cronies out of the building for their nonsensical and sometimes dangerous rhetoric, they got a seat at the table. For ratings, they gave the most unqualified man to run for office free advertising. And to be fair and balanced, they entertained the ideas of liars and science-deniers as if they have any value other than to appease viewers who would rather not be educated otherwise. People were not held accountable for their lies and their biases. Even when Trump’s supporters are attacking media personnel, the media would gladly ignore all of that for a few more clicks. Less than 24 hours of Trump’s win, People magazine is already running a puff piece on Trump’s “adorable” grandchildren, forgetting that one of their own reporters claims to have been assaulted by Trump in 2005. They also forget that so many equally adorable minority children right now are more insecure because Trump has vowed to send them all away.
  5. The media is the worst, but the Internet has made us all dumber. I’ve seen so many people who I would’ve assumed are intelligent reference stories and articles that are easily debunked. Because of the Internet, we now mostly go to Websites that confirm our beliefs. I’ve seen lawyers and other professionals cite the likes of Alex Jones, Roger Stone, and Dinesh D’Souza as if they’re not professional charlatans. Shouldn’t these people be more critical? What’s amusing to me though is that now that the conspiracy theorists and those suspicious of the government have taken over the government, who will they be suspicious of now? They run the place. Who will they rant and rave against when their man is the leader of the country? Will people stop stockpiling guns now?And speaking of the Internet making us all dumber, I won’t be going on Twitter as much. Arguing on Twitter has never changed anybody’s mind.
  6. The terrorists have won. Osama Bin Laden wanted to ruin America by crushing it from within, to destroy its fundamental values. Privacy rights are gone, first amendment rights are crippled, torture will definitely be making a comeback, America will be making more enemies with Muslim groups, freedom of the press will be attacked, US-grown hatred is at an upswing, etc. etc. White Americans, this not how you make friends and find peace.
  7. Distraction is king. Trump is the distraction candidate. He is the shiny object which gained networks ratings. Unfortunately in terms of politics, the easiest distraction to a domestic problem is foreign action. Bill Clinton was accused of this during his Lewinsky period. They said he bombed Iraq and Bosnia whenever he had problems domestically. Expect more violence with Trump. You can accuse Bill Clinton of being many things, but he was never inept. He was a smart and savvy politician. Donald Trump has failed in almost every business he had a hand in. Expect more problems with him, and expect more actions overseas.A part of me took comfort that the big schadenfreude I was expecting with a Hillary win has been delayed to a series of mini schadenfreudes in the span of four years. It would be four years of “I told you so.” Now that the US alt-right is basically running the US government, they would be the ones to blame for their own ineptitude. Unfortunately, these future disasters would have real and global consequences. And as decent person, in the face of tragedies, it’s very hard for me to relish schadenfreudes.
  8. Do not expect to be saved by the Democrats. They won’t. They are just as to blame for all of this. The Republicans played a great game of obstructionist politics during Obama’s presidency. Don’t expect the same from Democrats. They are weak and they only take action for their donors. Even Obama is guilty of this. One of the few exceptions is Senator Elizabeth Warren. She consistently stood for her principles and fought the banks. And the current president-elect has called her “Pocahontas.” The only way to get out of this quagmire is to take money out of politics. That was the crux of Bernie Sanders’ campaign and he is right. People in government spend more time calling for donors instead of actually governing. Taking money out of politics makes government officials more accountable to the people they actually represent.
  9. Polls are useless. Or at least the current model needs to be readjusted.
  10. Campaigns are filled with BS promises and the Trump campaign will be no exception. Obama promised many things but barely delivered. The last time I checked, Guantanamo is still up and running. The same thing will happen with Trump.
    • Black people will not find a friend in him. Years from now, I’m afraid Chicago will still be used as the go-to example for black communities mired in poverty and violence.
    • The wall will not be built. It simply won’t. The tall wall with underground protection and scanners all over the place is a figment of conservative imagination. Mexico will not pay for such a thing.
    • Hillary will not be prosecuted. She is now a neutered threat. Benghazi will always be referenced as an example of Democratic failing, but I believe they will no longer be too fixated on those e-mails.
    • There will be no Muslim bans. Life will be harder for Muslims and many minorities but there will be no such bans. This is impossible to implement and a nightmare for the US to defend in the face of its allies.
    • Obamacare will not be replaced with anything better. Obamacare is not particularly good, but it won’t be improved by the coming government.
    • TPP will be approved. Trump said he doesn’t want it, but everyone in the government does, even Hillary.
    • Women who get an abortion will not be punished. Abortion will be very difficult, but I just don’t see women going to jail for losing a child. Am I naïve? I like to think people are better than that.
    • Deportations will increase just like they have under Obama, but there won’t be families in camps nor storm troopers knocking down doors. Life would be harder for undocumented immigrants. There would be more hate crime for sure. But the US would still be taking advantage of them when it comes to labor and other things.
  11. People will make all sorts of excuses to say that the US is not bigoted. It is. Trump didn’t win due to economic insecurity or because of people’s need for a change in the political system. More white people with higher incomes voted for Trump than for Hillary. Wisconsin’s unemployment dropped under Obama and it still voted for Trump. People got richer under Obama. It’s not about the economy.And it’s not about the political system either. If it was, then you wouldn’t have the most useless long-toothed politicians still in office. You wouldn’t vote to give the Republicans the House and the Senate when they have basically stopped government functions for eight years. It’s not about the system.It’s about hatred and resentment. It’s about white men resenting being “cuckolded.” It’s about people being suspicious of blacks, Muslims, LGBTQ, etc. It’s about women not trusting other women as well. It’s about people being backwards, and Americans being called deplorable and embracing it.

Probably the hardest lesson to learn is that the bullies win. They do. It’s very hard not to learn that lesson after yesterday. Don’t get too comfortable in your high horse because the bullies win. It’s very hard not to learn that lesson just looking at the news throughout the world. Putin has bullied his country for years and will probably do so for more years to come. Assad is still in power. And now Trump, who has insulted every person who was not like him, is the leader of the free world. The likes of Martin Shkreli are not villains who will someday face justice because the world is right and good. No, the world does not care for your morals and decency and will reward the bully.

Take comfort in your morals and decency because that’s all you have for now. Hug your children and hope that they may never face a bully in their life. Because someday that bully… that bully who makes fun of their religion, their culture, their disability… that bully who grabs them by the pussy, might very well become their leader.

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Sad Day for 2016

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Tonight, I learned just how dumb, racist, xenophobic, and sexist our neighbors in the south can be. I’m a Canadian living in Seoul, but I’m sure I would feel the effects of this myself. A few minutes ago, the stock market just crashed.

There’s so much to say about the elections, but one thing always comes back to me: moral licensing. The goodness of voting for Barrack Obama has allowed Americans to be increasingly vile towards minorities. Not quite the same, but as I read on Twitter, someone wrote “every good that black people has earned, has always been met with punishment right after. “ Americans have allowed themselves or at least others to be vile because they felt they already did good with their previous vote. “We can’t be that bad, we elected a black president.” It’s a damned shame.

I don’t have much energy to write about this much. It is a very scary time in the world right now and I’ll probably dissect this much further a bit later, but perhaps some ice-cream would do me some good right now. Let’s all take a bit of small comfort wherever we can and face tomorrow a bit kinder to our neighbors, but more suspicious about our dumb, racist, xenophobic, and sexist world.

In other news, last night, I saved an ungrateful, old Korean woman from being pinned by a bus as she cut in line at the bus stop and rushed towards an oncoming bus. I had to pick her up and drag her back to the sidewalk to keep her from getting crushed. Second person I saved this year. I’m the Korean Spider-Man.

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The Prince of Denmark is Uncertain

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Act 3, Scene 1. Hamlet, the young prince of Denmark, enters the courtyard and sees Ophelia sitting by a fountain. She reads a book while warm sunshine cuts through the garden and shines a glowing light on her. Unbeknownst to the prince, Polonius, spies on them from a nearby tree. As Hamlet approaches the young Ophelia, he sees a pair of winged creatures of yellow and black stripes, chasing each other above his beloved. They drift and dash with frenetic energy, an entanglement of miniscule, winged fury. Unsure of the dangers they might pose to Ophelia, the Prince of Denmark asks her, “Two bees or not two bees?”

Act 3, Scene 4. Since the passing of poor Yorick, the young prince has taken to writing melodies to pass time in the castle. This proved to be quite fortunate, since he plans to add music to the play he is writing for his uncle and his mother. But to the recent dismay of many members of the court, he has taken to the stylings of ‘The Five Satins’ and doo wop songs popular in the 50s and 60s. Uncertain on how to finish a line in his song, “Baby, Not in the Ear,” he looks to the night sky and asks, “Doo bee doo or not doo bee doo?”

Act 4, Scene 2. Because of his erratic behavior, King Claudius, at the behest of Queen Gertrude, sent the young prince away from the palace to work at a humble town registry. He was tasked with keeping records of people in the kingdom.  Births, marriages, deaths… he saw all of life’s stages pass countless of times from his station. With the birth of Patroclus and Susanna’s first son, the new family came to the registry to proclaim the birth of young Tiberius. Unsure on how to properly put to paper the young man’s name, the prince of Denmark asked the couple, “Two Bs or not two Bs?”

Act 4, Scene 5. Unable to keep his employment due to his poor grasp of spelling and wanton soliloquies, young Hamlet decided to the United States. He was closely followed by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to keep the King informed of his actions. Creating a life for himself in Pennsylvania, for the first in his life, he must now choose a proper representative for the US Senate on the 2016 elections. Hoisting the skull of poor Yorick which he brought from Denmark, he asks his old friend’s bones, “Toomey or not Toomey?” (See in 2016, it’s Toomey running against McGuinty in Pennsylvania for the Senate.)

Act 5, Scene 1. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern visited the young prince of Denmark at his home. They say Osric sent them gifts of wine and NBA 2K16, of which they wished to partake with him. The two were welcomed inside the prince’s apartment in downtown Easton (he can afford it), and they sat in front of the television. Playing the game with his two visitors, the prince chooses players for his starting lineup. He was never a fan of the Lakers, but 2016 being the last year of Mr. Bryant’s professional career, he wonders, “Kobe or not Kobe?”

Act 5, Scene 2. Tired of playing games, the young prince and his guests decided to watch the first episode of “Westworld.” A ghost predicted to him that he would someday watch this show. Everyone wouldn’t shut up about it. His beloved Ophelia recently wrote to him that it has become one of her favorite shows on television, although Laertes questions the believability of living in a “cowboy hellhole” as a dream vacation. With a few minutes of the show remaining, he can feel the urgent effects of the wine on his loins. He does not want to halt the show momentarily, but he could not enjoy it fully at his current state. The prince of Denmark asks himself, “Should I just pause it for a sec?”

(It’s election week in the US. I’d rather talk about when the smoke has cleared.)

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Leave Pirate Grandma Alone

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I’ve been reading about this 86 year-old woman from Ontario who was warned for illegally downloading a game and is basically being extorted to pay $5000. Problem is she’s never heard of the game Metro 2033. The company contacting her is a collection company calling in behalf of intellectual property holders. They’ve identified her only through her IP address, which doesn’t take much to realize, could’ve been used by other people beside herself, whether it be secured with a password or not. All the activities done on one specific IP address does not translate to activities done by the IP address holder. It’s just that simple.

Going after people this way is a rather simplistic way of dealing with a more complicated problem, if it is a problem at all. Looking at the specific Ontario case, if the woman pays the collection company $5000 as punishment for her “crimes,” what exactly gets accomplished? The real culprit still gets away with their copy of the illegally downloaded software. It is unclear whether they will stop their illegal activity. The woman who paid the fine learns absolutely nothing. There will be a brief period of people not downloading software illegally, while some will still continue stealing software regardless. And the software and the company who produced it will get bad PR for their actions. I tend to agree with the expert on the CBC story (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/notice-and-notice-system-internet-copyright-enforcement-settlement-1.3823986) the whole thing is basically a cash grab for the software company and the collection agents. Many people are unaware of their rights, and they can basically be intimidated by these companies to pay up for crimes which they may or may not have committed.

But again, this is a complex issue and the dragnet collecting tactic is simply outdated with the current technology at hand. Many people get away with stealing content using VPNs or with borrowed Internet access. That makes the theory of IP addresses being linked to only the subscribers’ identities very flimsy.

Does Internet piracy truly hurt companies however? An article from Lifehacker (http://lifehacker.com/how-piracy-benefits-companies-even-if-they-dont-admit-1649353452) argues that piracy actual does benefit companies. Looking at ‘Game of Thrones’ for example, the show being the most pirated show on the Internet has helped boost its own popularity and the head of Time Warner even admits that it leads to more people eventually subscribing to their service. Of course, piracy is still stealing, and it must do a certain amount of damage. However, that amount of damage is very hard to quantify. And because hard numbers are hard to come by, it is very difficult to gauge whether the benefits of piracy outweighs the damage it does to a company, or does going after people like the poor woman in Ontario actually encourage more customers to buy their products instead of just lining up the company’s and the collector’s pockets in the short term. Looking at the game the poor lady was accused of stealing, Metro 2033 was critically acclaimed but sold poorly when it was released. However, it did receive a cult status. This cult status translated to much bigger sales for its sequel. Now, did piracy help it reach a bigger audience and attain this cult status? Perhaps.

I think the solution to piracy is actually developing content that is worth supporting. Taking software for example, I would gladly pay for software that is easy to install and use and would later be supported by the developers. This is something that normally wouldn’t be available with pirated software. I am paying for ease of use and continued support. Make buying software cheaper and easier compared to pirating them and you’ll reduce software piracy.

For movies, the ease of downloading or streaming content, the quality of the content itself, and the price of the content could affect piracy. People would pay for quality and for things that they genuinely care about. Many people would prefer to watch a ‘Star Wars’ sequel in the theaters as opposed to their smart devices. However, their love for the content could only bring them so far. If the price of watching movie theaters is too high, many people would rather watch movies at home… and if they’re not too invested in the movie and are merely curious, they would more likely pirate it. The same ‘Star Wars’ fan who paid top dollar in the theater would not be so keen to do the same for ‘Suicide Squad’ which got raked in the reviews by critics. Makers of the film could blame piracy for the movie’s poor performance in the theaters, but it could also blame its own quality as to why people would rather pirate it and watch it at home. Now, I’m not saying that I pirated ‘Suicide Squad,’ but nobody should be paying to see Jared Leto parade around in that ridiculous version of the Joker. It would only encourage him.

As for music, I think piracy has allowed people to download only the songs they like and not the entire album like people were once forced to. The trend was embraced by iTunes, and now people either bought only the songs they like or they would subscribe to a music streaming service. I believe both are cheaper compared to how we used to get our music. Unfortunately, this makes it harder for artists to make money from their craft. But then again, isn’t making music and marketing them cheaper these days than it once was? Also, piracy and free music could help smaller artists reach a wider audience. Once they gain that audience, it’s up to the quality of their material and the love of their audience to translate that into cash.

In any case, I hope companies stop going after old people for downloading games they have no idea they downloaded. It’s wrong and it feels really “scammy.” I actually played Metro Last Light, the sequel to the game that the old woman was accused of stealing. I remember enjoying it. Reading news like this however, it just puts a bad taste in what I once considered only as a pretty decent game.

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