Participated in the Marina Run again this Saturday. I thought that we had signed up for the 5km version (with water pistols!), but it wound up to be 10km. No problem, I can walk as far as need be, and hey, another finisher T-shirt.
Did the pai tai sui ceremony before that, which involved a very long queue (obviously, I don't actually believe in it, but I'm willing to play nice to a reasonable extent). Quick overview: our local syncretic Chinese folk religion has borrowed the Jade Emperor from Taoism, and being the responsible sort, His Majesty appreciates timely censuses of his earthly subjects.
How this is done is, faithful believers get a standard form filled out with their name and date of birth (lunar, of course), together with a small transaction fee in an angpow. They then gather in batches as a presiding Taoist priest reads the rolls to register them in the Heavenly Database, whilst liberally spraying the congregation with holy water. Finally, paper offerings are burnt
Which brings us to the tai sui himself - since an Emperor can't be expected to stoop to handling the nitty-gritty of terrestrial administration, he has delegated the job to his personal junta. Originally, this comprised just twelve generals, but you know what happens with bureaucracies, and it eventually expanded to sixty guys, each of whom has their own idiosyncrasies. Basically, there's about a one-in-four chance in any particular year that the reigning general-in-charge doesn't like your face, in which case you had better go down to make amends.
One has to wonder what the fifty-nine other generals do when they're waiting their turn; probably take up some token directorship somewhere, which does seem a nice gig, if you can get it. Signing on isn't a bad life, lah.
A Rose By Any Name
I'm just a bad guy who gets paid to f**k up worse guys."
- A merc with a killer sense of humour
Eco on Fascism
[N.B. Eco-friendliness in MRT terms]
Superhero movies have come a long way. So long, in fact, that they're not even about superheroes any longer. And it might be for the best, if Deadpool is anything to go by.
Hitting theatres on Valentine's Day, Deadpool must be the top romantic comedy I have experienced - if from an admittedly shallow field - and is certainly without peer in the decapitation-to-flower-bouquet ratio metric. There are several valuable life lessons here, foremost that it might be good to ring up a few plastic surgeons, before murdering... what was it, sixty-plus people? But the laughs have got to come from somewhere, so.
The second takeaway is that true love is not superficial - but in that case, it helps greatly to have a huge you-know you-know.
And last but not least, the ladies love eloquent gentlemen... and come to think of it, so do moviegoers, if the fact that gentlemen's clubs have featured in three of the last four Hollywood films that I've gone out of my way to catch (The Wolf of Wall Street, The Big Short, now Deadpool); well, blame Batman Forever for starting the whole raisin trend. Oh, yes, there's the usual bellyaching [N.B. "hysterically" might not be particularly appropriate then, if you care about such things]
...which, if one thinks about it, is strange: nobody questions people who like to watch sunsets, landscapes or blossoms in bloom, because they're pretty and make them happy. But, show some shapely natural (okay, sometimes not that natural) healthy human figures, and puritan spoilsports emerge waving pitchforks. Fortunately for German engineering prowess, they never bought into such politically-correct hangups, and hopefully perceptions here will progress likewise as pushed.
To add on to that, I never quite understood the blowback on external appearance in some circles (not South Korea), either - in my opinion, "looks" is just another skill, i.e. a mix of innate "talent" and additional "effort". Clearly, it is true that a few are born with much more of the former, but then, this is the same for almost all other qualities. I'd gather that "top students", for example, by and large combine raw I.Q. advantages with actual hard work, and they don't get called out for their unearned gifts quite as often.
One last comment on Deadpool - it should really have been "Francis" instead of "Ajax" in the credits, just so you know.
The Genius That Is TRUMP
The best part comes at the end
Another Francis was the latest to get schlonged by NIMBLE NAVIGATOR TRUMP, but we'll lay off that for a bit to get the latest election news in: TRUMP has swept all fifty of South Carolina's delegates (but, as if that was ever in doubt). The GOP establishment and Democrats alike appear frozen in complete denial as the facts stare them in the face, but TRUMP is The Truth, and in all likelihood will be hailed as the 45th President of the United States in November. Obama for one won't be happy about that, but let's be honest, that will probably just bring in more votes for The Golden Don.
Back To The Bush Leagues
TRUMP: "Yo momma so strong, she should be running."
Before we continue, a moment for the fallen - Jeb!, he of the ancient and honourable Bush dynasty of Texas and Florida, has done the decent thing and pulled his own plug. Having burnt a hundred million dollars - actual U.S. greenbacks, not hell money, mind - to no discernable effect, the establishment default managed a paltry 8% of the vote in S.C., and was wise enough to recognize that his ill-starred campaign was done.
The reaction from polite quarters has been some combination of thanking Jeb! for his service and feeling sorry for him, which probably best explains his landslide defeat - honest, studious, well-mannered Jeb! (his mom said so) simply could not shake the air of being helplessly pantsed by TRUMP. Oh, Jeb! tried to be cool, self-deprecatingly handing out toy turtles and trying to masquerade as one of "the people" by adopting their quaint apparel, but he was never gonna pull that off.
Now, one could argue, that's uncalled-for. Jeb Bush is a good man. He's reasonably smart, loyal to his wife, a family guy. I can concede all of this. However, it should be added that I know many, many people who fit this description, and sad to say, I wouldn't nominate them for Leader of the Free World on these merits alone (relax, we'll get to TRUMP soon)
Also, I wouldn't feel too sorry for Jeb! either. All mentioned, he's had it easy, and seriously, are we supposed to mourn the Bush family for not getting its third President? The Republican electorate might have (unfairly) gotten some stick for backing TRUMP, but they unambiguously did the right thing in rejecting dynastic politics, even if it might have merely been a side-effect of the Donald's unprecedented magnificence.
In fact, I would go as far as to support a straight ban on relatives of those taking the highest public offices, from contesting those posts in the future - the higher the office, the more stringent the ban. The logic is nothing more than this: nations that claim democratic ideals should act the part, and in general, family succession (usually father-son) has produced questionable results, while accruing no obvious benefits (see Haiti, North Korea, Indonesia, the Philippines, USA, etc etc)
Basically, going by the spirit that heads of state are supposed to embody in modern democracies, there should frankly not ever be any respectable reason for the post to be captured and held by a single clan, which has in part been recognized by office term limits. Of course, one could just ignore this until it hurts... which historically, is almost always too late.
Well, it's not Jeb!'s problem now. He should take a holiday, spend time with his wife, whip up some guacamole, figure out hoodies. He deserves it. And really, he's dodged a bullet here.
WILL SOMEONE STOP THE DAMN MATCH?! THAT MAN HAS A FAMILY!
Raise Up This Wall!
Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"
TRUMP: "It's gonna be a real wall. A YUGGGEEE wall."
On to the Ever Victorious TRUMP's next scalp - the Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, and Sovereign of the Vatican City State had the effrontery to question the Judgment of TRUMP on Great America's self-evident right to construct a wall, and went as far as to suggest that His TRUMPNESS was Not A True Christian.
Okay, just to allow it to settle in: this is The TRUMP vs. The Pope - and what's more, a popular Pope. No way TRUMP comes out of this unscathed, right? He must be contrite now?
Well... nope. And, I've got to say this - the Pope had no idea what he was talking about, and TRUMP is in the right here.
Behold, Exhibit A:
Let he that liveth not in a walled city, cast the first stone;
and mostly because they tend to bounce back
As often tends to be the case, the Holy See's pronouncement turned out to be at best a well-meaning banality, and at worst, so much more hypocrisy. I mean, I kind of like this Pope, but given that he and most of his predecessors have resided behind massive stone fortifications, one has to wonder whether he remembers why they existed in the first place.
TRUMP certainly wasn't taking those disgraceful comments lying down, and diplomatically fingered His Holiness' "awfully big wall" (shame if anything were to happen to it). The Vatican got the message, and its spokesman more or less admitted that the Pope was sadly misinformed the very next day, which the magnanimous TRUMP accepted as an apology.
But, really - why is a border wall so controversial? From what I can make out, there are two major arguments against it, one at least reasonable, and the other, senseless.
Beginning with the senseless one first: there are "only" about eleven million undocumented migrants, and proper border controls would "only" prevent anybody from crossing willy-nilly, whenever they want to. Wait, what?
One of TRUMP's secret techniques, it turns out, is in making technically inaccurate and apparently outrageous claims... that however force even his opponents to think. A classic example was his December statement that "more British Muslims fight for ISIS than the British army". This led The Guardian to dig into the numbers, and triumphantly report that the number of British Muslims with ISIS is barely two-thirds of that with the British army... basically making TRUMP's point for him.
Same for the wall. What TRUMP is actually saying is, look, we got millions of people here, that are not supposed to be here. If you libs want to, you can just say that anybody who wants to come and stay in the U.S.A. can do so, but if Europe has shown us anything, it's that this is A Very Bad Idea - and which is why we have visas and green cards and such. But then, if you agree that immigration control laws are desirable, then they should be enforced - so why the objection?
Which brings us to the more reasonable argument: that a border wall wouldn't work, or at least wouldn't be cost-effective. This is harder to evaluate, and one does suspect that there exist better solutions, such as the creative if probably impractical cross-country canal, or heavier drone monitoring. However, the basics stand: America, like all other countries, has an inalienable right to safeguard its sovereignty, one that TRUMP has consistently vigorously defended, even unto the Pope. Score one, TRUMP.
And China, they're taking advantage of the United States...
But, you know what, they're alright in some respects
[N.B. Just a shout-out for campus drone deliveries here]
A word to His Holiness here: it could be a fine idea to get with the times. Like, I do get pro-life, I strongly dislike abortions myself, but proscribing contraceptives?! I get that unchecked birth remains the most effective method of promulgating religions, but still. Here's to hoping that the Pope gets it eventually, and drags his institution out of the Middle Ages.
All Abroad The TRUMP Train!
TRUMP: "The wall just got ten feet taller."
I have a confession here to make, folks - I'm sorry for having ever doubted TRUMP, as when I made the wholly irresponsible assertion that TRUMP could not prevail back in August; I can only plead that I was misled by FiveThirtyEight. Not only that, the full extent of the brilliance of TRUMP's masterplan had not yet been revealed to us mere mortals, and in my defence, I came around quickly once that was figured out.
But on The Man, there were always some facets of his personality that resonated - for example, his proposal to rebuild the Twin Towers as-was, I liked it, it just made sense. But it don't matter, yo - he don't need no campaign dollars, TRUMP has got this in the bag.
Plus, he's got the best taste in wives and daughters among all comers!
Objectively, TRUMP's dissenters are now the ones clutching at straws. As more unbiased commentators have observed, coming a very close second in Iowa and slaying it in New Hampshire and South Carolina would have had the GOP establishment rushing to crown their nominee in just about every other season. Moreover, there's nothing to indicate that TRUMP is anywhere near his ceiling, if he even has one.
The latest polls show him steamrolling Ruboto 50-16 in the northeastern state of Massachusetts, a similar margin as in Ruboto's home state of Florida. I repeat - the people that Marco Rubio has represented for five years aren't even picking him over TRUMP. And he can win how? A full 86% - 86%, mind you - of Republicans already think TRUMP can win the general election. Supporters at other rallies chant the name of their candidate, while TRUMP's gatherings roar out, USA! USA! USA! This, my friends, is what's special about TRUMP OF NEW YORK AND THE GREAT UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
Gentlemen, it's happening.
The puppeteers are trying vainly to stop him, of course, but they are empty suits rallying the remains of an empty party. NBC and the Wall Street Journal attempted to manipulate public opinion with inaccurate polling, and justly had their reputations shredded by TRUMP once the actual vote count vindicated him. You can't get away with this nowadays.
Ruboto apparently remains under the delusion that establishment endorsements will save him, as he scrambles to siphon crumbs from the decaying corpse of Jeb!'s campaign, but the Hard Truth is that there is next to no indication that other candidates dropping out will aid him particularly. As MASTER TRUMP has sagely pointed out, there's no way all or even most of them will consolidate under another candidate, and in support of that thesis, polls predict just 19% of Jeb! supporters migrating to Ruboto, even as 11% - the smarter ones - gather under the banner of TRUMP himself. Ditto for Cruz. Kasich and Carson have barely enough left to matter.
And, let's face it, Ruboto has barely been tested yet. TRUMP had been entertaining himself all along with reducing his mentor Jeb! into quivering jelly, while battering Cruz into submission at the same time. It'll be the turn of the do-nothing junior senator against the battle-hardened business baron next, and the ladies in the audience would do well to avert their eyes. It'll not be a pretty sight.
With that done with, over to the blue corner...
They have not yet begun to smear
Sorry, Berniebros, but it was never going to be. Honeymooning in the U.S.S.R? Praising Castro? Look, I get that promising free stuff is great to campaign on - and I do think America could really do better with its healthcare system - but you ain't gonna win a national election while spouting commie crap. I know, I know, TRUMP praised Putin, but let's get this straight: I know TRUMP, Bernie is no TRUMP, and that was just mutual admiration between Real Men anyway. TRUMP may have been panned for vague plans, but Bernie is straight up bullshitting his economics... and that's what his side says.
Articles are already appearing describing how a loss could be a win for Bernie, in that he could be entitled to make a speech at the Democratic Convention. Better than nothing, I guess.
It's more of an indictment of Hillary's weakness than anything, that she's still having trouble with such a poor challenger, but she'll most probably still make it through to face TRUMP in the generals. Yes, a lot has been made of TRUMP ostensibly having a "low favourability" rating, now at about 38%, but let's put this into perspective - it's the highest amongst all remaining GOP candidates. And, again, the slightly-slow uncle hanging out at the coffee shop might be liked by almost everyone, but would they vote for him?
No, you see, and that is the magic of TRUMP. TRUMP has figured out America's deepest desires, and this is simply that America loves a WINNER. And TRUMP is a WINNER. There's really nothing more to it. Follow this election closely, folks - there is a master of his craft at work.
DONALD of HOUSE TRUMP, KING OF THE IRON THRONE
Next: The President And No Pope
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