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Archive for August, 2007

To the person who stole my wallet…

Posted by Brian on August 30, 2007

You know you’re nestled down in the bottom dregs of humanity when you sneak into people’s rooms at night while they are sleeping and steal their valuables. You do realize this, don’t you?

 I don’t care about the money you stole from me… a whopping 30,000W. Have fun with it… but it’s your loss as you’ll never be able to steal enough money to buy back your humanity.

I am quite upset about losing some items that had sentimental value to me. There’s a picture of my wife as a young college student that was the first picture she ever gave me. I know… it’s meaningless to you, but worth a lot to me. It’s gone now…

I had to spend a good amount of time, time I could have spent packing for my trip home or saying goodbye to friends, cancelling my bank cards and filling a police report. You stole that from me too.

And should any of the boxes of items I sent back home via the Korean post get lost… well, I no longer have my receipts to show ownership. Thanks for that, too.

Waking up this morning and finding my wallet gone reminded me of a couple of guys we met in Thailand who woke up to find their cell phones gone. Fortunately for them, the theives had enough of a code of honor to leave the phones’ sim cards behind as they were of no use or value. You, OTOH, lack even that much courtesy and couldn’t be bothered to just take the cash and drop my wallet at the front door. You had to take everything and leave me nothing. 

And just when I was starting to regain my faith in the good nature of people after being the victim of an abusive psycho a few years ago, you go and shatter it all again, leaving me wondering just who I can trust in this messed up world.

You’re a pathetic excuse for a human being…

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Posted in Personal | 3 Comments »

A friendly tip…

Posted by Brian on August 28, 2007

If, like me, you’re interested in using the movie Snatch as inspiration for some fashion choices and want to find some pictures from the film, don’t google “snatch” and “pics,” especially at work. I had no idea just how much filth there was on the internet.

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Las Vegas

Posted by Brian on August 22, 2007

My wife and I will be going to Las Vegas early next month for a much needed vacation. Some things I plan on doing:

  • Play 7-card stud at a real table with real players (I prefer stud games to hold ’em).
  • Hit the town in my new ivory-colored linen suit.
  • Convince my wife to wear something a little bit sexier than she is used to… skirt a little bit shorter or pants a little bit tighter. What happens in Vegas… stays in Vegas.
  • Spend a lot of time at the pool (we’ll be staying at Caesar’s Palace).
  • Buffets, buffets, buffets.

I leave Korea on September 1st, then go to Las Vegas shortly after that, then start grad school in late September.

Posted in Personal | 4 Comments »

The Family Guy and the Democratic Party

Posted by Brian on August 17, 2007

Take a moment and enjoy this clip from The Family Guy: 

Besides being pretty funny, this clip resonated with me quite a bit because it brings together a few things on politics that I’ve read in a number of books over the past few months, most notably The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation by Drew Westen and The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies by Bryan Caplan.

In the clip above, Lois Griffin tries responding to a question about law enforcement from an undecided voter by going through her entire 12-point plan that answers the question in detail. She is buzzed out after 20 seconds and can’t even get to the first point and ends up being booed by the debate crowd for her efforts. The other candidate receives a question and responds by striding out into the audience, sitting on the questioner’s lap, and giving him a ridiculous non-answer. The questioner is wowed by this display (“He looked me in the eye”), and others are similarly impressed (“I’d like to have a beer with him”). According to Westen’s book, Lois is the democrat while the other guy, the one who can “connect” with the voters despite being an empty suit, is the republican.

The main thrust of Westen’s book is that democratic candidates and their advisors fail to grasp how voters really decide who to vote for. Polls show that dems beat repubs on the issues, so with that in mind, democratic candidates think they can win by throwing plans, programs, policies, and powerpoint presentations at voters, confident that they can win by simply reasoning with the electorate. Unfortunately, voters aren’t won over by dispassionate appeals to their intellect, but instead rely on feelings and gut instincts when casting their votes. Westen argues that voters ask the following questions when deciding who to vote for:

  • How do I feel about the candidates’ parties and their principles?
  • How does this candidate make me feel?
  • How do I feel about this candidate’s personal characteristics, such as integrity, leadership and empathy?
  • How do I feel about this candidate’s stands on issues that matter to me?

According to Westen, voters, for a number of reasons related to human pyschology, work from the top down when making voting decisions. The dem’s problem, Westen says, it that they assume voters start from the bottom and work their way up, which almost always dooms them to failure against the more savvy republican campaigns that better understand this hierarchy.

A common criticism, from both the right and the left, is that the Democratic Party lacks any over-arching themes that tie together policy positions into a coherent whole. The GOP, on the other hand, has done an excellent job of branding itself with a few main themes – lower taxes, smaller government, fiscal discipline, culture of life, etc. – that stands out in the minds of voters. Absent detailed knowledge of any particular issues, voters can vote for the GOP candidate because they have a more general sense of what the GOP stands for.

(Mind you, it’s important to note that the ideas a party embraces and the policies it actually implements don’t need to be consistent. The GOP claims to be the party of life, liberty, smaller government, and fiscal discipline, but the current GOP president continues policies that result in the deaths of thousands, trample civil rights at home, and increase the size of the government and our national debt; so much for political principles!)

Meanwhile, the democrats are known as a party with no message, no meaning. What exactly does the Democratic Party stand for? I’m sure many pro-dem partisans might have a hard time answering that question. I bet that to many, the Democratic party seems to represent nothing more than a loose coalition of single-issue voters (pro-choice, pro-union, anti-war) who have been driven out of the GOP camp. What can be done about this and other challenges the dems face?

Westen offers a few suggestions:

  • Make enemies: It’s easier to stand for something when you are standing against something. The GOP has turned liberal into a dirty word with its incessant slandering of the left and the progressive movement. They have no problems attacking entire American states (“Taxachuesetts”) and cities (“Hollywood liberals”) because they know it’s red meat for their base. It’s time the dems stop pussy-footing around for fear of offending this or that group of voters; they need to write off the demographic that will never vote for them under any circumstances: the anti-science, fag-hating American Taliban of the far right. These people make up a good chunk of the GOP’s base and no doubt the democrats would benefit greatly by tying the radical Christian right’s un-American agenda as closely as possible to their representatives in the GOP.
  • Find some themes: The dems need to stand for something more than just a disaparate collection of issues. What ideas or themes can be branded by the dems to tie it all together?
  • Get dirty: Westen writes that the two most decisive events in the 2004 election were when Kerry’s team responded limply to the flip-flopper charge and the Swift Boat attacks. Both cases show how the dems still haven’t figured out a good, effective way to deal with the inevitable smear tactics of the GOP. The dems have a bad habit of wimpy responses to these attacks, such as taking the high road in hopes of looking good to the voters or appealing to the voters’ sense of fair play. While such notions make for a nice sentiment, they simply don’t work, and it’s time the dems learn that the only response to a cheap shot is to punch back harder. This will send two messages: to their opponents, it’s a warning that they really don’t want to go down that path; and to the voters, it shows that the dems of balls.
  • Take it up a notch: To paraphrase a line from Training Day, the dems are out there playing checkers while the repubs are playing chess. Across the board, the GOP and their advisors show a much more sophisticated understanding of the entire political process, whether it’s media control, the use of language, or understanding how voters think and vote. I’ve read numerous books over the years that offer solid advice to the Democratic Party (which I’ll list below), yet the dems seem tied to the same old tactics espoused by the same old establishment consultants election after election and refuse to learn from their losses (“Sure, let’s have Bob Shrum run our campaign again”). The dems need to find their A game and bring it.

Bottom line: the Democratic Party needs to jettison its antiquated  approach to campaining and heed advice from modern linguists, psychologists, and political scientists who offer cutting-edge advice that can help the dems win elections. My hope is to see the dems win in 2008 (ideally with Gore or Edwards as the nominee with Obama as the veep candidate), demonstrate competent governance (remember that?) for 8 years, and then win again with Obama as the nominee in 2016.

Here’s a list of some of the books that came to mind while writing this post:

Posted in American Issues, Books | Leave a Comment »

Oh, the cynicism…

Posted by Brian on August 14, 2007

From Naked Villainy, via the Big Ho:

Of course, no candidate would agree to this debate format. Do you know why? Because not a single candidate out there could actually string together a cogent 30-minute statement on a single topic. Can you imagine Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, or Rudy Giuliani speaking on their plan for Iraq for a full 30 minutes? Your Maximum Leader can’t. Well, that isn’t exactly true. He can imagine them speaking in platitudes and obfuscations for 20 minutes and rephrasing the sound bite of their position on Iraq for 10 minutes. He can’t imagine them starting off with their own assessment of the situation in Iraq, then moving to a point by point analysis of what they would do to “solve” Iraq if they were elected.

Yet another casualty of the reign of President Halfwit Hotspur is our faith in the intellectual prowess of our elected officials. I in fact can imagine Edwards, Clinton, or Obama, all highly intelligent people with excellent communication skills, speaking at length and off the cuff on the situation in Iraq and what to do about it. The dems have several good candidates with real intellectual firepower to bear on the problems we face. The repubs, OTOH, offer three candidates who don’t believe in evolution… I can’t help but wonder where they stand on the theory of gravity.

Posted in American Issues | Leave a Comment »

On being a gentleman…

Posted by Brian on August 10, 2007

Maybe askmen.com isn’t the first place one would look for finding rules of etiquette for acting like a gentlemen, but I think this sums things up pretty well:

One only needs to take a quick glance around to notice that there are very few true gentlemen remaining among us. In times past, a gentleman was much appreciated and being gentlemanly was a noble thing.

Alas, things have changed in today’s society; some for the better and some for the worse. One thing that particularly irks me is the lack of good taste and etiquette most guys are guilty of at the turn of this new millennium.

I’m not saying that men should act like robots and be slaves to etiquette, but some basic good manners will go a long way in helping you during your ascent to the top.

What I’ve done is compile a quick list of tips that will help turn even the most blundering fool into a proper gentleman. Follow these simple tips and I can assure you that people will perceive you as a man of good breeding and taste, hence a man they wish to associate and conduct business with. Not to mention the fact that the ladies are always quite pleased to meet a real gentleman.

Always be polite
Even if you don’t like someone, there is no need to lower yourself to their level. Be polite and courteous; show that you’re the better man.

Do not curse
Swearing is a big no-no. It shows that you don’t have the vocabulary to express your thoughts appropriately. Furthermore, it is always very crude and impolite to be vulgar.

Do not speak loudly
When you speak loudly, it raises the stress level among company. It always implies that you can’t reason with people and rely on “brute force” to get your point across. It also draws attention — negative attention.

Do not lose your temper
When you lose your temper, you are showing everyone that you can’t control your emotions. If you can’t even control yourself, then how can you possibly control anything else? Keep your cool at all times (it won’t be easy but it is worth the effort) and people will take positive note of your levelheadedness.

Do not stare
Ogling someone is the equivalent of psychological aggression. You don’t want to intimidate people for no reason.

Do not interrupt
Let people finish what they are saying before adding your comments. Interrupting others is a sign of poor etiquette and a lack of social skills. If you want to come across as egotistical, you can do so by constantly interrupting.

Do not spit
A lot of men do this almost subconsciously. Spitting is very crude and not too pretty to look at. Do not spit in public unless you want to look like you were raised in a sewer.

Respect your elders
In fact, you should respect others as you would like them to respect you. I am specifying elders because it seems that today, young men think they know it all. Well, they don’t. Just think of yourself five years ago… you’re much smarter and experienced today, aren’t you? Of course, yet you thought you knew it all five years ago.

Do not laugh at others’ mistakes
This is perhaps one of the cruelest things one can do. When you mess up, the last thing you want is for someone not only to bring it to your attention, but to ridicule you on top of that.

Remove your hat indoors
This rule seems to have gone out the window these days. You should remove your headwear upon entering a building. Furthermore, never keep your hat on while at the dinner table. It reflects very poor etiquette.

Wait for seating before eating
When sitting down for a meal, you should wait until all the guests are properly seated and ready to commence the meal before eating. Everyone should start dining at the same time; this is a subtle but very important rule.

In addition to the aforementioned rules, gentlemen (in training) should follow these additional rules when in the presence of a lady. Chivalry may be on life support, but it is not dead yet. Be one of the few to keep this flame burning for many years to come.

Always open doors
This is perhaps the most basic rule of male etiquette out there. It is also one of the easiest to follow so you have no reason to forget it. Whether she is about to enter your car, restaurant, club, or anyplace with a door, you should always hold it open. If there are many doors, then hold them open one after the other.

Put on her coat
Always help a lady put on her coat or overgarment. This is a simple but powerful action.

Help with her seat
If an unaccompanied lady is sitting next to you, it is important that you help her be seated by pulling her chair out for her and gently pushing it back into place, with the lady seated of course.

Give up your seat
If a lady arrives at the table and there are no available seats, you should stand up and offer yours to her.

Stand at attention
Always stand when a lady enters or exits the room. This rule has been somewhat relaxed, so you can stand upon entrance but remain seated upon exit. Nonetheless, if you can do both, you should.

Give her your arm
When escorting a lady (that you know) to and from social events, you should offer her your arm. This is a little more intimate, but serves well when walking on uneven ground — especially if she’s wearing high heels.

Ask if she needs anything
This is one that most guys already do, but helps complete the gentleman in all of us nevertheless. When at social events, make sure to ask the lady if you can get her something to drink (or eat, depending on the event). Show her that you care about her comfort and needs.

Gentlemen, if I may call you that, these are the rules of etiquette you should observe in everyday life. Elevate yourself above the rabble and display the mannerisms of a true gentleman. The world will appreciate such a rarity and your career will most definitely benefit from your good manners and savoir-faire .

Posted in Other | 1 Comment »

I concur…

Posted by Brian on August 9, 2007

I agree with this analysis 100% (written in the letters section over at Salon.com):

Democrats should take over the White House in 2008, but they won’t. That is because they are likely to nominate Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton will not only lose the general election, she will get crushed. Her husband, who is infinitely more popular than she is, never carried more than 50 percent of the popular vote. Furthermore, Hillary is so polarizing she starts off in the hole with over 50 percent of voters stating that they would not vote for her under any circumstances. People say, “she can win, she just has to carry the Kerry states plus Ohio.” That assumes that only the states Bush carried are in play and not the states that Kerry carried. Not only will Hillary not carry Ohio, she will lose Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Hampshire, and most likely Minnesota, Wisconsin, and perhaps Oregon and Washington — all states Kerry barely carried. Democrats should wake up and realize that this country will never elect Hillary as President. It’s not that she’s a woman, it’s that she’s Hillary.

As for Senator Obama, I just love him, and he will be President some day. It just will not be in 2008. I actually think a President Obama is just what this country needs right now, especially in repairing America’s image in the eyes of the rest of the world. However, right now, in the eyes of American voters, he is simply too inexperienced for the voters to turn the keys of government over to him, especially this closely removed from 9-11. Senator Obama will lose the same states as Hillary. For all of his freshness and charisma, he just isn’t that exciting on the campaign trial, and couple that with his inexperience, he doesn’t stand a chance. It’s doubtful he will be nominated, but if he is, he will lose.

The only true chance that the democrats have is to nominate Gore or Edwards. Since Gore is unlikely to get in the race, Edwards stands the best chance. Edwards will not only carry the states Kerry won, but he will pick off Ohio, Iowa, Missouri, Virginia, Florida, New Mexico (okay Gov. Richardson could pick this one off too) and Louisiana, where he has built up good will in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and possibly North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas.

2008 should be the year of the democrats, but if they nominate a person half the country hates (Clinton), or a nominee that the country is unsure of (Obama), then the democrats will most certainly lose the White House in 2008. Although Sen. Edwards’ campaign has been nit-picked to death on trivial matters, such trivialities will be overcome when it comes crunch time and the country has to pick a new leader. Despite his campaign’s missteps, Edwards is still palpable to a majority of voters, his substantive ideas are driving the debate, at least in the democratic primary, he is a dynamic campaigner, has a compelling biography, and a terrific wife.

Edwards is a sure fire winner, and if you don’t believe it, just pay attention to how much effort the republican party and the chattering class are expending to knock him around on silly, non-sensical issues. Their hit jobs are evidence enough of how scared republicans are of him.

Edwards, if nominated, would walk into the presidency. Sad thing is that we will never know this, and instead democrats will watch Romney or Thompson take the oath office in Jan. 09, and I’ll be the guy who’ll come up to you and say, I told you so.

Gore and Edwards are the best chance for the Dems to win in ’08. I would love to see Gore throw his hat in the ring again, but if chooses not to, I could gladly vote for Edwards.

Hillary will lose. She’s a woman; she’s a Clinton; and I think (hope) people want a fresh start – so no more Bushes or Clintons. The problem is the Democratic primary voters who might be overwhelmed by her fundraising prowess and mistake that for electibility in the general election. I don’t care how much money she can raise with the help of her husband… I don’t want her as our nominee and would most likely not even cast a vote for her in the general.

As much as I like Obama, he is young and inexperienced, much like our current president when he started his job. The last 7 years of fuck-ups by the Bush team should remind voters that experience does matter. Obama would be a great veep pick, though.

Ideally, I would love to see a Gore-Obama ticket. That would crush the opposition and set the country up good for 2014, with an older, wiser Obama taking over the baton.

Posted in American Issues | 4 Comments »

Attack of the Clones

Posted by Brian on August 7, 2007

Here’s a pic of SM Entertainment’s latest Frankensteinian monstrosity, Age of Girls:

0804-times-of-girls.jpg

And no, you’re not seeing double (or triple, and so on…).

UPDATE: After much careful deliberation, I’ve decided that the guys in Super Junior are better looking than these girls.

Posted in Korean Issues | 2 Comments »