Monday, December 28, 2009

The Decade in Apologies

The Decade in Apologies

Atlanta Braves pitcher John Rocker apologizes for dissing New Yorkers.

George Bush kinda sorta apologizes to China, in the wake of China’s interceptor colliding with an American spy plane.

Trent Lott apologizes for praising Strom Thurmond’s 1948 Presidential run.
Saddam Hussein apologizes for invading Kuwait.
Cardinal Bernard Law apologizes to victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests.

Ahnuld preemptively apologizes to any women who might claim he sexually harassed them.
Symbionese Liberation Army radicals apologize to family of slaying victim Myrna Opsahl at their sentencing.

Justin Timberlake apologizes for causing Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction.
George W. Bush apologizes for prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison.

U. S. Senate apologizes for historical inaction on lynching.
Prince Harry apologizes for wearing a Nazi uniform to a costume party.

Seinfeld star Michael Richards apologizes for racial rant during standup comedy show.
Rep. Cynthia McKinney apologizes for scuffling with a Capitol Hill security officer.
Senator John Kerry apologizes for “botched joke”, that soldiers in Iraq are uneducated.

Mattell apologizes to China over lead-based paint in imported toys.
Japanese Prime Minister apologizes to WWII sex slaves.

Roger Clemens apologizes for “mistakes” in personal life.
AMA apologizes to black doctors for past racism.

Singer Chris Brown apologizes to fans for assaulting girlfriend Rihanna.
U. S. Senate adopts resolution apologizing for slavery.
Kanye West apologizes for interrupting Taylor Swift’s award acceptance speech.
Tiger Woods apologizes to fans for “transgressions.”

Some milestones of the decade

* The ascension of Google from a new search engine to a near-complete internet experience in itself. Does anyone even think about about alta vista, dogpile, and lycos anymore, let alone use them?

* Wikipedia, which harnessed the aggregate power of public knowledge, for good and ill. By decade's end, its best articles were on a par with those from the Encyclopedia Britannica--because that's where many of them were originally cut 'n' pasted from. And where else could you lose an afternoon's work time, by sorting out the set lists of the Rolling Stones' 1981 tour?

* YouTube. From on-the-spot reportage in faraway places to deep archival footage which hadn't been seen in decades, YouTube was tele-democracy incarnate.

* The ouster of Cynthia McKinney. Yay! Gwinnett County voters no longer had to suffer the stigma of being represented by the cutest li'l communist in the House of Representatives.

* And the rise of the personal blog, and the challenge the best of them presented to the traditional media.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Here we go again...

Korean-American Activist Crosses Into North Korea

The most charitable explanation is that the horror-show that is North Korea sent this sensitive young man around the bend. Let's hope we don't send Bill Clinton back to kiss KJI's ring again, though.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A very Merry Christmas to all in the blogosphere

May this season find you in peace, joy, health, prosperity--or all primed to make a run at being those things in the upcoming year.

Picture from The Art Renewal Renewal Center museum

Thursday, December 24, 2009

"When you remember me, it means that you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are. It means that you can summon me back to your mind even though countless years and miles may stand between us. It means that if we meet again, you will know me. It means that even after I die, you can still see my face and hear my voice and speak to me in your heart.

"For as long as you remember me, I am never entirely lost. When I'm feeling most ghost-like, it's your remembering me that helps remind me that I actually exist. When I'm feeling sad, it's my consolation. When I'm feeling happy, it's part of why I feel that way.

"If you forget me, one of the ways I remember who I am will be gone. If you forget me, part of who I am will be gone.

"Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom," the good thief said from his cross (Luke 23:42). There are perhaps no more human words in all of Scripture, no prayer we can pray so well."
--Frederick Buechner

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Big name blog wars...

...bring to mind this old Neil Young song:

I hear some people
been talkin' me down,
Bring up my name,
pass it 'round.
They don't mention
happy times
They do their thing,
I'll do mine.

Ooh baby,
that's hard to change
I can't tell them
how to feel.
Some get stoned,
some get strange,
But sooner or later
it all gets real.

Walk on, walk on,
Walk on, walk on.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Free after being wrongly imprisoned for 35 years

Stories like this wrench my heart.

James Bain used a cell phone for the first time Thursday, calling his elderly mother to tell her he had been freed after 35 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit.

Mobile devices didn't exist in 1974, the year he was sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping a 9-year-old boy and raping him in a nearby field.

Neither did the sophisticated DNA testing that officials more recently used to determine he could not have been the rapist.

I'm very much a tough-on-crime type, as well as a supporter of capital punishment. So, in the interests of justice, I warmly support projects that result in freeing wrongly convicted people. The Innocence Project is perhaps the best known one.

Broadband for America rural areas

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — Vice President Joe Biden is expected to announce during a visit to Georgia that the government will provide stimulus grants and loans to bring broadband to communities that have little access to the technology.

Biden was to appear at Impulse Manufacturing in Dawsonville on Thursday to announce an initial $182 million investment in 18 projects in 17 states.

The White House says the federal money has already been matched with $46 million in private capital, and that the projects will provide job opportunities in addition to helping communities held back by the lack of broadband technology.

Good. Helping to build cyber infrastructure is a wise, forward thinking move by the federal government. Can't help but contrast how connected with high-speed internet South Korea is, compared to the U.S. Sure, it helps that Korea is much smaller, with less population to wire together, but they are nonetheless streets ahead of us in internet technology. A lot of other technology, too. When you think of "clever electronic gadgets", you don't think "made in USA", do you?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Asia and race

My wife once took a computer course in Atlanta with another student who was a black Korean. She was raised in Korea, and spoke the language like the native she was. The other Koreans in the class were amazed/repulsed by her, I could tell. I wince when I think of the life she must have had, growing up in Korea.

Which leads into this interesting roundup of viewpoints of race in China.

Most earth-like exo-planet ever seen is discovered relatively nearby

It’s not exactly Earth’s twin: It’s about six times bigger, a whole lot hotter, and made mostly of water.

So, living there might be akin to living in South Florida during a heat wave, after an enormous turkey dinner.

Le mot juste

So I was watching a Korean kids' program on TV in my inlaws' house in Gwangju over Thanksgiving. It was on JEI english instructional TV. It was an english language animated show, with english subtitles for those learning the language. At one point, one of the characters said "Darn!" Apparently, whoever was writing the captions couldn't find that word in their korean-english dictionary, at least not with the appropriate meaning. So they substituted another word: "Damn!"


Monday, December 14, 2009

Video of terminally ill mother in law

Blogger just ate my original of this post, grrr. I'll try to recreate it. Hard to do once the catharsis is spent.

Apologies in advance for not sharing the video I'm discussing with you. Too private, I'm afraid.

I've been back in the States for a couple of weeks now. We went to Korea to visit my terminally ill MIL, before it's too late. Due to creeping dementia caused by an aneurysm, she doesn't even know she's sick. Fortunately she is surrounded by a large, loving family, many of whom are medical professionals. She won't lack for any comfort, physical or emotional, in her final months.

I took a lot of video of her while I was there: at family gatherings, in church, and just puttering around at home. I tried to get scenes of each of the grown children spending time with her alone, but didn't quite succeed. Hope no one feels left out. I've asked for old family photos from them too, to make a montage out of. (Costco nearly ruined the still photos I took on this trip, but that's another post.) I don't speak Korean, so I had a hard time anticipating where to point the video camera. But I hope I succeeded in capturing some good memories for the in-laws. I've only ever met Omoni (respectful Korean term for mother) on five visits. I might be the one with the only video footage of her, though; big responsibility.

There are two especially poignant scenes in the footage I've got. One is at church. All the family gathered from all over Korea to sing together. We were ostensibly singing to the congregation, to celebrate my family's visit, but we were really singing goodbye to her. As the camera pans back and forth, many singers can be seen dabbing their eyes. The actual farewell later, as we were setting off for the bus station, was anticlimatic by comparison.

The other scene was later, at Omoni's house. My two children, no longer quite so small, laid their heads in her lap, at my urging. She started patting their backs and saying "Jam-ja, jam-ja, jam-ja..." "Sleep, sleep, sleep". Just as she had done tens of thousands of times long ago with her own children, and with the grandchildren she raised, while the grown children were off pursuing their degrees and their careers. "Jam-ja, jam-ja, jam-ja..." I'm almost tearing up just typing about the sight. It will make a great coda for the finished film.


Swarms of starlings

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Big name blog wars...oof!!

I've tried to stay out of them, and so far I've succeeded. I want to stay on friendly terms with as many of my favorite bloggers as I can. But lordy, the Great Dextrosphere Crackup is causing a real strain. I had to delete a comment here the other day, from someone who disapproves of the company I keep.

Dame Trot and her cat
Led a peaceable life
When they were not troubled
With other folks' strife

Baby Einstein dvd refund

When you're doing your Christmas shopping, don't forget to give yourself some extra folding money by sending in your old Baby Einstein dvds for a refund. Details here.

In retrospect, it was pretty silly. TV is a bad babysitter, how could having your baby stare at blinking pixels do anything good?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Rolling Stones Rock And Roll Circus

I heard on the radio that on this date in 1968, the superstar concert known as the Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus began. The project was filmed but not released until 1996. The music's good, though the circus bits are expendable. See:

How can you not love Taj Mahal in a cowboy suit?

Monday, December 07, 2009

Funny hell, boring heaven

One of my Korean brothers-in-law is a prominent surgeon, who spent a couple of years in the American Midwest. He said that the difference between Korea and America was that Korea was a "funny hell", and America was a "boring heaven". Korea is too crowded, not enough space, etc., but if you are wealthy you can carve out a very nice sphere to live in there. By contrast, he found the city in the cornfields he was doing an exchange residency in to be dull, creature comforts and abundant space notwithstanding.

If he ever comes back and resides in one of the coastal metropolises, I'm sure he'll change his mind.