Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Might as well come clean about this

Just in case you don't monitor my profile page every day, in a few hours, the value of one of the attributes listed will change.

Here is a generous hint to those with twisted minds - my gender will remain as it is - a lesbian trapped in a man's body (My jokes will be better in the new era. Promise).

Warm words of condolence will be greatly appreciated, unlike those on the card I received 15 years ago at the tender age of 25.

"Oxymoron" is a contradiction in terms.
For example,
Military Intelligence,
Soviet Fashion,

and in your case...

Happy Birthday

Monday, March 20, 2006

If you knew what we know

The media, blogdom, and much of our day to day conversations are already saturated with highly polarized opinions of the war in Iraq, and I am fully aware that my voice probably adds very little value to the ongoing debate, but these are my thoughts if you care to read on.

This life long bedrock Reaganite Republican, who prides himself in never having voted for a single Democrat since filling out his first voter registration card right after the swearing in ceremony for new American citizens in 1986, strongly opposed the war from day one.

Let's set aside the morality of the war for a moment although it is replete with profound moral implications.

The most colossal mistake, in my opinion, that the President made from the get-go was his failure to secure overwhelmingly popular support for the war, and now chickens have come home to roost.

While I agree that our leaders should act out of deeply held principles in decision making, not based on the whims of the polls taken from the notoriously fickle populace, I believe popular support is the most critical ingredient in the successful prosecution of war. I don't need to tell you, if you are a student of US history, that we won every single battle in Vietnam, but the unpopularity of the war eventually did us in and the final outcome was the first war defeat in our nation's history.

People bear the costs of war with their very lives. Over 2,300 military men and women have lost their lives. Over 16,500 military men and women have been wounded in combat. Over 4,000 military men and women have been seriously maimed. The lives of these military men and women and those of their loved ones have been altered forever.

And it is far from over.

Sacrifices of such magnitude call for overwhelming and unyielding public support. We as a nation needed to be on the same page with the collective sense that we were all in this together as a people, but that was far from being the case before the invasion.

If you remember the months leading up to the war three years ago, the Bush administration's claims of the imminent threat posed by Saddam Hussein were met with widespread skepticism both here and abroad for very good reasons, which were summarily dismissed as unAmerican and unpatriotic. Much of the support for President Bush's push to invade Iraq was based on our wishful thinking that the government knew something that we didn’t.

This if-you-knew-what-we-know rhetoric from the proponents of the war did its magic and convinced a slim majority of Americans to support the invasion.

Now long vanished without a trace from Mr. Bush's vocabulary is the weapons of mass destruction.


Today, the President continues to beat the drumbeat of his wildly optimistic assessments of "progress" made in Iraq. His administration bitterly complains of how the media selectively concentrates on the negatives, and insists that the sectarian violence which has claimed thousands, if not tens of thousands, of Iraqis represents but a small fraction of the big picture.

He may very well be right. I am not in Iraq to witness all the wonderful developments that the President raves about, so I can’t say for sure. I know that.

But Mr. President, your if-you-knew-what-we-know sales pitch before the war has turned out to be baseless rhetoric, so why should we buy it again?

Friday, March 10, 2006

A Perfect Book for me

From Chapter 1
The word poetry sends chills down the spines of many otherwise strong and balanced people. Perhaps you have flashbacks of being called on in class to read a poem aloud....Or even today you're still not exactly sure what sets a poem apart from any other bunch of words thrown onto a blank page.

After the perusal of the above in the first chapter of the book, my eyes welled up as I hugged this bright yellow book without looking around to see if the coast was clear, which is what I usually do before affectionately caressing software engineering books on object oriented programming at the local Barnes and Noble store.

Perhaps I was too quick to blame my non-native linguistic background for my lack of appreciation for poetry. I cannot for the life of me understand what makes a literary piece poetic, and apparently I am not the only one who feels this way. Consider the following:

Crazy Horse came back to life
in a storage room of the Smithsonian


Other than the indentations and line breaks which appear artificial, it could very well be a normal sentence about the Indian chief who "came back to life" (whatever that means) in some storage room of the Smithsonian Institution. And I could take any one of my past blog entries, break it up into lines arbitrarily, and call it a poem, couldn't I?

You have the right
to remain
Everything you say
can and will
be used against you

The first cartoon in the book shows a cop reciting the Miranda right while placing a handcuff on a criminal. One of his fellow officers turns to the others and says, "Hey you guys, shut up! Listen to the way Hensen does this. It's beautiful." LOL.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Lady Lazarus

by Sylvia Plath

I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it

"Is this the poem that inspired Britney's Oops I did it again?"

Just imagine for a moment, in a classroom full of young women just a year or two removed from their high school prom, this balding man nearing his 40th birthday uttering what could be perceived as a creepy tribute to Britney Spears when in fact, he should be pretending to have never heard of her, not to mention her hits.

Thankfully, the instructor of the Creative Writing class did not solicit reaction from the class after the passionate reading of Lady Lazarus by Sylvia Plath before moving onto Oranges by Gary Soto, and my mouth remained shut while I found myself squirming in my seat.


I don't read poetry.
I don't write poetry.
I don't listen to poetry.
I don't recite poetry
I don't think about poetry.
I don't appreciate poetry.
Oops, did I just write a poem?

Well, let me back up a little here.

Growing up in Korea, I deeply loved literature especially poetry. As a child, I gobbled up every book I could put my hands on, and accumulated for myself a hefty collection of poems by famous Korean poets.

All that changed when we moved to the United States. With just three years to prepare for college, my literary appreciation took a back seat to a full blown crash course in English characterized by rote and dry learning techniques. The college years in the wilderness of barrenness which saw my nose buried in engineering and hardcore science textbooks were the final blow to my love for literature.

First impressions count, not just when it comes to people, but words as well. That most English words were introduced to me as dry scientific technical terms still poses a serious roadblock to literary appreciation. I think in order to be appreciative of literature, you need to feel the language, which is not an easy thing to do for non-native speakers.

Some words cannot be fully translated into another language because of built-in cultural nuances and feelings. I cannot possibly translate, for example, the word "salacious" to a Korean word without compromising certain feelings it evokes. Frequently I say, "I want to hear all the salacious details" of new powerful software development paradigms at high tech conventions. That is how much I love that word.

So I am dropping the Creative Writing course :-(