Archive for October, 2008

d) all of the above

Posted in Film & TV, News, Politics, USA on October 30, 2008 by Elephant Talk

This clip is absolutely surreal…

I can’t decide what’s more mind-boggling:

a) the words coming out of Joe The Plumber’s mouth
b) the enthusiastic backing of those words by the McCain campaign
c) Fox News coming to the defense of Obama

I’ll say this: Shepard Smith showed some real class in that clip.

Five more days…


Morning edition

Posted in Expat life, News, Personal, Politics, Technology, USA on October 29, 2008 by Elephant Talk

Internet radio is a beautiful thing. When I wake up in South Korea to get ready for class I can listen to “All Things Considered,” NPR’s evening show on KQED.

Today’s show had a piece on African American voters. (I came in the middle of it, so I don’t know the exact context.) One man gets a text message from a friend encouraging him to go out and vote on Nov. 4. I’m not usually affected by such things, but I thought it was beautiful:

Rosa sat so Martin could walk.
Martin walked so Obama could run.
Obama is running so our children can fly.

I’m not sure if that’s the exact quote, so I looked around on the internet. Seems it’s already becoming a meme. One guy sends a simple text message to his friend and it catches fire. Cell phone to radio to internet. That’s technology at its best.

Six more days…

Worst-case scenario

Posted in News, Personal, Politics, USA on October 29, 2008 by Elephant Talk

Democrats are freaking out. They’ve been beaten down, had elections (possibly) stolen from them, and become perennial political losers. So as things look really good for not only an Obama win, but a trifecta sweep of all branches of national elected office, more and more worry starts to set in. Newly registered dems won’t show up, terrorists will strike over the weekend, latent racism will suddenly spike to the surface, polls have it all wrong, fear will win the day.

I’ve got a little bit of some of that. I don’t know how, but I feel as though something, something will go wrong. To help myself feel a little better, I’ve huddled under the warm blanket of CNN which lets me predict the presidential election myself.

I’m not a pessimist. I subscribe to the perspective “hope for the best, prepare for the worst.” So while I hope for the best, here is my electoral map prediction in which I prepare for the worst. To start with, let’s say McCain pulls off surprise wins in Florida, Virginia, and Ohio. (All indications suggest strongly that McCain will not win Pennsylvania, so I’m not giving him that.) Now let’s offset things even more in his favor: I’ll also giving him all those states still up in the air: North Dakota, Missouri, and North Carolina. And what the hell, I’m feeling generous. I’ll also give him Obama-leaning states like Nevada and New Mexico.

Even in my worst-case scenario, Obama still squeaks by with 20 electoral college wins, nine over the needed 270. Here’s my map:

And now, here’s my “hope for the best” prediction, one in which Obama wins by a whopping 367-171:

The truth probably lies somewhere in between, which is good news for Democrats. But this only happens if intentions turn into reality — in other words, if people vote.

One week to go…

Jirisan, and a new camera

Posted in Culture, Expat life, Images, Korea, Music, Outdoors, Personal, Sound, Technology, Travel on October 28, 2008 by Elephant Talk

What better place to test out a new camera than Jirisan in the fall.

Yep, I finally did it. I plunked down 1.5 million won and bought my first HD videocamera, a Sony SR11. For the first week or so I was afraid to take it out of the house. But I gave it its first full test this weekend in Jirisan, a beautiful expanse of temples, mountains, and village culture.

This wasn’t my first trip there. I went during Chuseok last year and visited Ssanggyesa temple. This time we went to Hwaeomsa, intending to take a nice hike. But as we entered the temple, I noticed a banner that read “Spiritual Music Ritual 2008.” The date was Oct. 25. Hey, that’s today, cool. We made our way into the temple and found people handing out programs and leading us into the concert area. The show was almost ready to begin.

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Margin of error

Posted in Culture, News, Personal, Politics, USA on October 23, 2008 by Elephant Talk

I can’t wait for this damned election to be over so I can move on to other things. I’ve been following events on the web with relentless obsession, to the detriment of other things, both enjoyable and necessary, that I should be doing.

There is the election itself, but what has me staring at hypertext and video progress bars like a deer in the headlights is the coverage of the election. It proves to be endlessly fascinating. Even with all the spitefulness and name-calling on both sides, there’s an admirable aspect to this angry narrative as told through the internet. We’re seeing some real citizen action at work.

Congressional Rep. Michelle Bachmann’s freaky witch-hunt comments on MSNBC gained significance largely through Digg hits and blogs. It resulted in a huge outpouring of donations to her democratic opponent. Others are making actual content. There’s the raw video footage of voters heckled in North Carolina that felt like a scene from 1957 rather than 2008. And then there’s Robert Greenwald’s now-famous news footage compilation — McCain’s YouTube Problem Just Became a Nightmare — that has received 7.5 million hits. These are just a few examples of the many, many news and video events captured and distributed through average joes that are actually having an effect on this election.

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Is the ‘beloved leader’ dead?

Posted in Korea, News on October 19, 2008 by Elephant Talk

OK, it’s late on a Sunday night and I’m getting ready to go to bed. So the news may be different when I wake up. But is this right? Is Kim Jong Il dead?

From The Australian, the shocking title “North Korea ‘to announce Kim’s death'”:

The report said there was speculation in the Japanese Government that North Korea’s announcement could be about Mr Kim’s death, or a government change induced by a coup. North Korea will ban foreigners from entering the country starting today, the report said.

If I wake up to air raid sirens I’ll know things have gone very badly.

Andong visit

Posted in Culture, Expat life, Images, Korea, Outdoors, Travel on October 13, 2008 by Elephant Talk

I went with a couple of friends on a day trip to Andong on Friday. The area is famous for its masks and folk traditions, but it also has an interesting scholarly tradition.

We went to one of these traditional study academies first, called Byeongsan Seowon. It was a very peaceful setting along the Nakdong river. Almost no one was there except for a group of Buddhists off in the distance who set off some lanterns into the sky.

After a lunch of the local cuisine, Andong Jjimdak, we went to a traditional folk village. The village was surrounded by rice fields that, at this time of the year, are a deep yellow-green color. The nice thing about the village itself is that it’s still going. Unlike, say, the replica folk village in Seoul, this one still has inhabitants who mill about tending their gardens and doing whatever it is they do.

Here are a few pictures: