Friday links! A problem like Korea edition

North Korea

Can you imagine how weird it is to be the guy in the United States government—possibly there is a name for this position—in charge of dealing with North Korea? On one hand, they are clearly not a serious country; their economy alternates between collapse and starvation, and they can’t afford electricity at night. On the other hand, they keep threatening nuclear war. Perhaps most infuriatingly, their threats come in a form that insists everyone else is threatening them. It’s a weird combination of delusion, incompetence and crowing arrogance, and it is frustrating. How do you solve a problem like Korea? That’s the worst part: you ignore it. You don’t even get the pleasure of seeing the weirdo son of the weirdo son of the weirdo dictator get his comeuppance. You just have to let being Kim Jong Un be its own punishment. Today is Friday, and the high ground sucks. Fortunately, our decadent American lifestyle provides the internet to distract us. Won’t you ignore belligerence with me?

I don’t know about you, but nothing cheers me up more than this picture of Rand Paul and John McCain in an elevator. Apparently it was taken shortly after McCain said Paul’s filibuster against drones had “done a disservice to a lot of Americans.” Now they’re in an elevator! Social awkwardness aside, it may be that drones, of all things, are what finally forces open the ideological split within the contemporary Republican party. You can be into the war on terror or you can be into long-held conservative principles, but it’s getting harder to be into both.

You don’t care about the tension between ideology and pragmatism in the conservative tradition, though. You care about pro fighting, and more specifically about fictionalized but eerily accurate cartoon versions of pro fighters. That’s why you love this:


The Diaz brothers have to know about this, right? And they cannot be pleased. I, on the other hand, love it and them even more every time I watch it. I love that Nick’s fantasy involves the technically complex and utterly non-sexual gambit of feeding the arm to induce your opponent to open a triangle choke. I love that Nate’s natural conclusion to this fantasy is running in and whacking his brother on the butt with numchuks. Most of all, I love the spot-on voice acting. Incidentally, real Nick Diaz went insane in a press conference yesterday.

Particularly in sports, everybody loves a character—not as much as they love a big, slobbery hound dog, though. I keep declaring new favorite things about The Onion, but this story about the Hound Dog Pope reflects maybe my favorite thing about The Onion: gentle surrealism. It’s not the jarring surrealism of Ionesco; it’s a silly surrealism that takes everybody liking something everybody likes as part of its premise. Warm humor is something contemporary culture doesn’t do much, and no one could be offended by Hound Dog Pope. I can’t think of one group.

Meanwhile, in people more important to me than the Pope:


By 1:22, it’s the expectation that makes it funny. I bet Darth Vader was terrifying when people first saw him in a movie, and I know he was when I was a kid. Sometime in the last 25 years, though, I have begun to regard him as a clown. He’s just inherently funny—the mask, the voice, the stress of being the number-two man in a galactic empire, everything.

It starts as a terrifying evocation of fascism, and it ends as light entertainment. On a related note, KMFDM has a new album. Fifteen year-old me would be thrilled. Thirty-five year old me is kind of thrilled, too, because not much has changed in 20 years with either of us. Behold:


A drug against war, indeed. I’m not saying that you can kick the heavy bag for half an hour while listening to this album, but you also can’t not do that. I can’t, anyway.

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  1. You like a lot of stuff. I’m glad you like it, and can explain why, because it helps me like it too. For instance, “I love that Nick’s fantasy involves the technically complex and utterly non-sexual gambit of feeding the arm to induce your opponent to open a triangle choke.” Normally I’d watch something like that and be incensed by its inanity. Like Nyan cat, and pretty much all of But if you like it maybe it’s not the comedy which has failed, but me, the viewer.

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