Saturday, August 30, 2014

古池や 蛙飛び込む

Hi friends. So apparently all is still for the worst in this worst of all possible worlds. And oh my! Do we ever have a knack for outsourcing the consequences of that anthropogenic 'worst'-ness to cooler species.

Behold the noble coqui, Cassandra of frogkind

Not with a bang but a whimper. Isn't he majestic though?

So on that sad note: time to reboot this dog blog. Cuz I finished my doctorate and I need something to do.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The secret lives of animals, pt. 1

My friend Rob in Tokyo took this photo of a fish:

It made me think, wouldn't it be funny if there were Borscht Belt comedians in the fish world.  "Take my wife -- please! [laughter]. Yeah, take her.. my wife's so dumb, she swims downstream to spawn! [laughter]. She's not so fashionable either.  Goes to the beautician, they try to sell her some aqua-net. She says ain't that what they used to catch Uncle Mort? [laughter]. Yeah, it's funny to you! She's always on my ass. Always callin' me a bottom feeder [laughter] But what! Ya think plankton and tiny bits of decomposing organic matter grow on trees? [applause]"

Who else has some good fish jokes? It's good to have common interests with your friends.

Hey! Drop me a line kid. I can take you places. I know guys at the hottest night spots in the Marianas trench. I'm always looking for new talent.

Monday, December 13, 2010

coachella 2011

...and the cyber planning for the annual hipster exodus begins

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Korean peculiar treasures, pt. 2: "A long-haired, ghost-dispersing and valued animal of power."

In addition to being [National] Treasure of Historic Beauty Natural Treasure number 53, the Jindo dog is apparently "Korean Peculiar Pet Treasure number 3."  This prompted me to search for Korean peculiar pet treasures numbers 1 and 2.  The search was fruitful:

The Sapsaree (or Sapsali) is a shaggy indigenous Korean dog breed which, as well as being cute as beans, has formidable spirit powers: "Sap" 삽 means to chase away, and "sal" 살 means ghosts ("li" 견 is just a name suffix).  According to geneticist and amateur dog historian Ha Ji-Hong, the 'lion dogs' which crop up throughout East Asian art and architecture were modeled on the Sapsaree: "based on those historical materials, we can make sure that a Korean Sapsaree is a long-haired, ghost-dispersing and valued animal of power."

This makes the Sapsaree the natural dog enemy of Snoop Dogg circa 2001, a long-haired, ghostly and valued animal of power.

In addition to scouring art-historical and literary records, Professor Ha conducted extensive genetic testing on the Sapsaree.  While he does not mention whether he succeeded in isolating a ghost-dispersing gene, he does offer a webpage with many confusing graphs proving that Korean dog breeds display greater genetic purity than their Japanese counterparts: 

Professor Ha speculates that this may be because unlike Korean dogs, which entered from the north along with the Korean people, Japanese dogs were "affected by the southern dogs."  In any case, the refreshingly unpolluted bloodlines of Korean dogs can be "considered to be interesting historic material to prove an ethnically homogenous country of Korea indirectly."

I guess Japanese dogs are just bad at resisting strangers' temptation.

Cultural politics aside, it is always good to learn we have another ally in the millenia-old struggle between the living and the dead.  Especially now that Dan Aykroyd has forsaken his ghostbusting duties for hawking novelty vodka and voicing effing Yogi Bear.  I suppose I don't blame him as combating Gozer the Gozerian was no pic-a-nic.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Korean peculiar treasures, pt. 1: "National Treasure the Jindo dog."

I fancy this blog a means of sharing things that momentarily brighten my dismal corner of the world with a likely undeserving audience.  So behold such a thing, the Korean Jindo dog.

The Jindo is indigenous to Korea's Jindo Island.  Snowy, virile, and obscure, it is my new fantasy dog.

Naturally, I was curious about what kind of island could produce such a magnificent dog.  Though currently written in the Korean phonetic script as 진도, the island's name was originally written with the Chinese characters 珍島.  "To/do" 島 means island and "jin" 珍 means uncommon, curious, or peculiar.  So there you go.

The "jin"-ness of both island and dog is endorsed by the island's official website, which claims that "compared to other dogs, the Jindo Dog has many distinguished traits."  The website goes on to list its "superior characteristics:"

     "First, the character of loyalty to its master."
     "Second, it has a miraculous returning home instinct."

     "Third, indomitable hunting instinct."
     "Forth, not falling to strangers temptation."
     "Fifth, characteristic of fastidiousness."

Etc.  It is easy to see why Jindo islanders, and Koreans in general, are proud of their dog, to the point of designating the breed "[National] Treasure of Historic Beauty Natural Treasure number 53" in 1937, at which point "indiscriminate shipping of the dog" was prohibited.  Perhaps to prevent innocent Jindo dogs from falling to strangers' temptations in intemperate foreign lands.

Imagine my distress when I learned that the Jindo dog's initial examination, consideration and approval for National Treasure status was conducted not by a Korean, but a Japanese dog expert: one Professor Mori, also a senator in the colonial government!  Apparently, the "standard of the Jindo dog’s examination" was favorable comparison to "Japanese native dogs."  Might the Jindo's designation have been no more than an insidious attempt at cultural assimilationism by the hated Japanese?

Such doubts are compounded by the frightful possibility that the Jindo is not even native: "during 1970 (30 years after the announcement of its origination), there are concerns of which the rumors, verbally passed down, is believed to be true by our people: that the ancestors of the Jindo Dog are the Mongol dogs or dogs from Song dynasty, China."

One can only imagine that these rumors forced Korean Jindo owners of the 1970s to ask difficult questions: to which master is the characteristically loyal Jindo truly loyal?  Might my beloved Jindo's miraculous returning-home instinct some day drive it to flee to far Mongolia, or even Song-dynasty China?

Fortunately, as the island's website reassures us, later "document analysis and scientific research" proved these concerns to be ungrounded, confirming that the Jindo is, beyond a doubt, "our nation's native dog."

It's good to know that the Jindo dog is indeed as "jin" -- uncommon -- as whatever branch of the Korean government put such effort into proving its pedigree is "jin" -- peculiar.

Lest I sully this blog's inaugural post with an impression of 'post-colonial' cynicism, I'll end with a link to the genuinely heartwarming story of Baekgu, the Jindo whose 3-day vigil over his dead master's body moved neighbors to tears and made them "consider the dog to be better than human."  Fo' sho.

Happy birthday

A "web-log" is born.  Here is its cultural context: