Archive for February, 2008

Vast cultural wasteland indeed

Posted in Culture, Film & TV, News, Politics, USA on February 29, 2008 by Elephant Talk

This is why I don’t miss American television:

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Garfield minus Garfield

Posted in Culture, Images, USA on February 27, 2008 by Elephant Talk

What if Jon never actually had a talking cat named Garfield? Maybe he was just insane all that time. There’s no cat, certainly not one that talks and eats lasagna. Jon may in fact be suffering from schizophrenia born of isolation and possibly drug abuse.

This site is more funny than it should be. It’s also kind of dark, twisted, sad, and somehow makes an interesting commentary on suburban isolation and modern day loneliness.

Korean space food

Posted in Culture, Images, Korea, News, Technology, Travel on February 26, 2008 by Elephant Talk

Oh, heavenly kimchi

Searching for the “why” in Nader’s run

Posted in Culture, News, Politics, USA on February 25, 2008 by Elephant Talk

I’ve been looking around the internet to find an answer to one question: Why is Nader running? He’d better have a damned good reason, but I can’t find one, at least not one that jives with basic notions of common sense.

From what I’ve found, he feels the three leading candidates are too close to big business and he wants to shift the balance of power from the few to the many. Fine, that’s a laudable effort. But apparently he feels that he can best empower the few against the many by… running for president? How does getting 2% of a vote in a general election help empower us lowly citizens? Let’s be wildly, irrationally optimistic: let’s say he gets 10% of the popular vote. What does that accomplish?

The answer of course is “nothing.” There is no benefit to a Nader run for the presidency. Zero. Even the idealists would lose out. Let’s say the response is the other end of the spectrum, that he is rendered invisible, a non-entity. That’s a step backward in the hope of reforming the system toward acceptance of independent candidates. What I’m saying is that no matter the outcome of a Nader run, everyone loses. Or rather, anyone progressive-minded loses. Conservatives, libertarians… they can dance a jig.

Nader is not needed or wanted. Not this time. If it was Clinton/McCain, okay, I could understand the rationale. But we have our breath of fresh air in Obama. We have our new voice, our beacon of hope, our outsider.

So if it’s not realistic, and there’s no need, what is the real why? I think we have a man who once accomplished some impressive things, who once held a brief, low wattage spotlight, and now wants to step back on the big stage and speak his mind. I don’t see anything other than ego at work here. Look at his website. The first three tabs are Contribute (your money to him), Volunteer (your time to him), and Take Action (your work to get him on the ballot). You have to get four steps over to find “issues,” and once you click, you only get a list. There’s no substance, no how, no budget. His website is a reflection of the candidate—it’s all about him.

There’s also something delusional going on. If he can’t support the nation’s potentially first female president, or first black president—what most of us would consider monumental progress—what does that say about the progressive rhetoric he speaks? Let’s look at Obama, probably the more liberal of the two. Which president in history comes close to embodying progress as a liberal black man as leader of the country? Anyone? It begs the question, has Nader ever found anyone in U.S. history worthy of the office? If he hasn’t, what country is he living in? What world is he living in?

So I’m still left with “why?”. Why not do charity work, start another foundation, fund independent documentary films, write more books, give lectures. Don’t run for president.

I think people will see through it this time. The problem is that others won’t. There is some undefined number of irrational idealists who will cast their vote away from Obama/Clinton and toward Nader. We have yet to see what kind of impact that will have.

11 straight

Posted in Culture, Expat life, News, Politics, USA on February 22, 2008 by Elephant Talk

And in case you missed it, Barack Obama won the expatriot vote, with a whopping 65 percent. Could it be that Democrats living in other countries, having a view of things that those inside America may not, feel Obama might be the best hope in repairing our image with the rest of the world?

Spacegazer

Posted in Film & TV, Images, Music, Personal, Sound on February 22, 2008 by Elephant Talk

When I was 25 or so, I had this fear that when I turned 30 I’d run out of music to listen to. That hasn’t happened, and I’m well past 30.

Just when I think I’m in danger of a getting into a rut, I find new things. I was going through an introspective, indie-ish, acoustic singer-songwriter thing for the past year or so (still am to some degree). My new thing is something I can’t quite describe, so I’ll name some bands instead: Hammock, Explosions In The Sky, God Is An Astronaut, Sigur Ros, This Will Destroy You, etc. What do you call that? I’ve been seeing it lumped into the “post-rock” genre, but I don’t hear it. Post-rock is more shifting and varied, with styles and moods borrowed from many genres and crafted into interesting compositions. I’ve also seen it compared to shoegazer music. It’s close, but not as poppy. Space rock? No, that’s not right either. Emo? I still don’t know what the hell that is and I don’t really care to.

I’m going to call it by my own name: Spacegazer music. It’s got qualities of shoegazer, but thematically, it seems to be looking into the heavens rather than down at the floor.

Here are a few juicy tidbits. First, my favorite song in the world right now:

God Is An Astronaut (he is, you know…):

Sigur Ros isn’t my favorite band in the world. Sometimes the singer gets to be a bit much, and his melodies have a kind of sameness to them. But I absolutely love this song:

Seoul, fourth time around

Posted in Culture, Expat life, Images, Korea, Music, News, Personal, Travel on February 19, 2008 by Elephant Talk

When we arrived in Seoul, the first thing we did was head to Namdaemun, the “South Gate” that was destroyed by fire. This is Korea’s so-called first national treasure, and probably it’s most recognizable landmark outside the country. There was quite a scene there. Walls had been erected around the site, as workers inside clean up and begin the rebuilding process. One section of the wall was made transparent so that people could look through and see the damage.
Namdaemun wall

Namdaemun wall 2

There was a good sized crowd there. A lot of people were taking pictures with cell phones, nice cameras, and videocameras. In the back, there seemed to be a protest going on. I asked my friend to translate and she said something along the lines of “throw out all the congressmen.” In the middle, there was a shrine with flowers, some writing, pictures of the original gate pagoda, a place for people to sign their names, and a Buddhist monk watching over it all while ringing a bell.

Namdaemun monk

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