27 February 2010
21 February 2010
So where are the Federales going to find a stash of ready cash to balance its books? You got it: Trillions of retirement dollars held in 401(k), 457, 403(b) and IRA accounts. There have been dangerous talks in DC of CONFISCATING these accounts in exchange for Treasury-backed annuities. Sounds incredulous?
Currently, these are just brainstorming conversations in DC, but lest we forget that all dangerous ideas started out as "brainstormers."
The fact that this is under discussion at all is discerning enough for us here at the Fairbank Report.
See Bob Brinker's comment on the CONFISCATION PROPOSAL in the link below:
16 February 2010
From Ask a Korean (http://askakorean.blogspot.com/2009/08/dog-its-whats-for-dinner.html)
Q: Why do Koreans eat dogs?
A: People eat what’s around them. Protein, especially obtained from a large animal, was traditionally scarce in Korea. Eating a cow was nearly out of the question – each household, if it were lucky, would have a single head of cattle to pull the plow. Pigs competed for the same food that humans ate. Dogs did not. Traditionally, dogs are eaten during the three high heat days of summer, called bok or sam-bok ("three bok").
Q: How prevalent is it?
A: Dog meat is not very prevalent in modern Korea – it is not what people eat every day. You have to visit a restaurant that specializes in dog meat-based dish to get it. There are apparently around 530 such restaurants in Seoul, which is not many for a 12 million people city. Roughly 1 million dogs are slaughtered for food each year. By weight, it is the fifth-most consumed meat in Korea, following chicken, pork, beef and duck.
Q: Is dog meat considered a gourmet delicacy?
A: No. It is traditionally a peasant food, and was never considered high-end. Reflecting this status, you would have to get out to the poorer outskirts of Seoul to encounter a good dog meat dish.
Q: What do Koreans think about dog-eating generally?
A: According to a survey conducted in 2000, 83 percent of Koreans (91.9 percent of males and 67.9 percent of females) have eaten dog meat. 86.3 percent of Koreans favored eating dog meat (92.3 percent of males and 72.1 percent of females).
Q: What do Koreans who own pet dogs think about dog-eating?
A: Some pet dog owners in Korea have become extremely vocal against dog-eating, citing all the reasons that are familiar to non-Koreans who find dog-eating unpalatable. Most pet dog owners are more moderate: in most cases, they wouldn’t eat a dog, but do not care about other people who do. Still others distinguish dogs raised as pets and dogs raised as food, and have no qualms about eating a dog. The Korean’s friend who lives in Korea owns a Yorkshire Terrier as a pet but is nonetheless a huge fan of dog meat. She frequently goes to the dog meat restaurant with her Terrier, and says she feels no inner conflict.
Apparently, looking at this mug does not dim the Korean's friend's appetite for dogs.
However, the distinction between edible dogs and pet dogs is not necessarily ironclad for sellers of dog meat. Recently there was a report that abandoned pet dogs were being trafficked to dog meat dealers instead of an animal shelter, where they are supposed to go. The movie Ddong Gae (English title: Mutt Boy) shows the main character fighting the bullies who ate his dog, which the main character picked up as a stray.
Q: I heard dog meat is illegal in Korea. Is that true?
A: It is more correct to say that dog meat is in legal grey area. Livestock Processing Act of Korea sets forth various standards for how livestock may be raised, slaughtered, processed, sold, inspected, etc. Oddly, dogs do not fall under the definition of “livestock”. This is an odd omission because the definition of “livestock” includes horses, which Koreans almost never eat. (The Korean's guess would be that whichever aid to the legislator who drafted the law copied a non-Korean law without thinking too much about it.) This does not mean that dog meat is illegal; it just means that Livestock Processing Act does not regulate the processing of dog meat. Instead, it is regulated by Food Hygiene Act, which simply defines “food” as “all foodstuff, except taken as medicine.”
But dog meat-abolitionists of Korea often argue that this indicates the Korean law’s recognition that dogs are not for eating. On the other hand, however, the National Tax Board of Korea issued an opinion that dog meat restaurants may receive the same tax treatment for their purchase of dog meat as, say, the tax treatment that a barbecue restaurant receives for its purchase of beef. So it’s fair to say that this issue is muddled.
Several years ago, there was some attempt on the part of Seoul city government to regulate dog meat processing in order to ensure it is processed in a hygienic manner. However, the vocal minority vigorously opposed the “legalization” of dog meat, and the idea was dropped.
Q: How are the dogs raised and slaughtered?
A: Because Livestock Processing Act does not cover dog meat, dog-ranchers (so to speak) and dog meat sellers essentially go for the raising/slaughtering method that generates maximum profit. This generally leads to unsightly living conditions for edible dogs, similar to those of pigs or chickens in industrialized farming in the U.S., only in a smaller scale. Dogs are raised in a small cage and sold alive until they get to meat market. Then they are generally electrocuted before being processed and shipped to restaurants.
Freshly slaughtered dogs in a market in Korea that specializes dog meat wholesale.
Q: Is it true that the dogs are tortured before they are killed?
A: Again, because Livestock Processing Act does not cover dog meat, there is no restriction about how to kill a dog for meat. At the meat market, the need to slaughter the dogs quickly usually means dogs are electrocuted, similar to cattle. However, especially in rural areas where people slaughter dogs to cook and eat on their own, the common method is to hang the dog and beat it to death, in an attempt to tenderize the meat. (This, however, may be counterproductive; while beating the meat does tenderize it, an animal that dies in a stressed state generally produces tougher and less tasty meat.) A figurative expression in Korean for a severe beating is “like beating a dog on bok day.”
Q: Enough with the cultural stuff, let’s get to the food – How is dog meat cooked? Is it like a Chinese restaurant, where you can get the same dish in different meat? (e.g. beef fried rice/chicken fried rice/shrimp fried rice/dog fried rice?)
A: The answer to the second question is no. Dog meat is generally cooked in two different ways – in a spicy soup or steamed and braised. (The same soup is sometimes made with goat meat.) In addition, dog meat broth made with herbs is considered medicinal, and is often prescribed by oriental medicine doctors in Korea. It is supposed to be an energy booster.
Dog meat, two styles
Q: What does dog meat taste like? Is it good?
A: It tastes closest to goat meat – like extremely lean beef, with a little bit of its own aroma (a little like lamb). Yes, it is very tasty.
Q: What does the Korean think about dog-eating in Korea?
A: Glad you asked, made-up-questioner!
The Korean’s Thoughts on Dog-Eating in Korea
The Korean has no problem with people who refuse to eat dog meat. Far be it from the Korean to quibble with other people’s preference in food. The Korean also has no problem with people who are repulsed by dog meat, or the process of turning dogs into dog meat. You are who you are, and if you are repulsed by a certain food for any reason, that’s completely fine. By all means, please go on eating what you like, and be happy.
But to everyone who is trying to stop anyone from eating dog meat, the Korean has only this to say: please, go fuck yourself. Seriously, please remove yourself from the Korean’s vicinity and give yourself a handjob. The Korean cannot disagree more with your position. Go eat what you want, be happy, and leave Koreans alone. Koreans will go on eating what they want, and be happy too.
Objection against Koreans’ eating meat usually comes in three flavors. The Korean will address each in turn.
1. Koreans should not be eating meat, period – and that includes dog meat.
Often, self-righteous vegetarians and vegans make the argument that no one should be eating meat, based on two arguments: (1) it is morally impermissible for humans to cause pain on sentient beings; (2) because meat is less efficient to produce than vegetables and grains, forgoing meat would significantly alleviate (if not eliminate) world hunger.
The Korean is receptive to the second argument – that argument alone was enough to turn the Korean into vegetarian for a year. But what makes the second argument very convincing turns the first argument unpersuasive, and even dangerous. What’s the difference between the first and the second argument? The second argument focuses on humans and their suffering. The first argument focuses on “sentient beings” – i.e. non-human animals; to which, the Korean has two objections.
First, let us soberly face our biological destiny. Humans are omnivores. We are biologically wired to be omnivores. There is no human society that does not eat meat, absent certain religious or personal creed that overrides the biological impulse. Our biological destiny is amoral. We do not think lions are immoral because they eat meat. That is what they do. Similarly, humans eat meat. That’s what we do. Even in places that have few animals to eat, humans turn to animal protein. For example, in traditional New Guinea society where there was no large animals (chicken counts as large) to eat, people ate mice, spiders and frogs.
One might think one would just turn vegetarian rather than going through the trouble of catching and eating these little critters.As biological omnivores, there can be no moral judgment attached to the fact that humans eat meat. In order to eat meat, pain must be caused on animals. This is not only inevitable, but also universal in a world in which animals eat other animals to survive. Sentient beings cause pain – and indeed, death – to other sentient beings all the time, as far as eating and survival are concerned. It is unpersuasive to say that humans must be an exception.
Second, while the Korean has problems with the “sentient being” argument itself, he has even bigger problem with the kinds of behavior that the argument justifies. Stated simply, the “sentient being” argument leads people to value animals more than humans. This is utter insanity, and completely unacceptable.
Case in point? The 23-month jail sentence of Michael Vick for running a dog-fighting ring. To be sure, animal cruelty – and specifically, what Vick did – is despicable. Animal abuse has to be illegal because we wish to discourage the abuser’s twisted desire for sadism. Regardless, the Korean was in utter shock when the news came out Vick received 23 months. Federal Sentencing Guideline (which is, as the name suggests, a guideline and not a hard rule) recommends level 10 for gambling rings that involve animal fighting, which translates to 0 to 6 months in prison for a person with no prior criminal history, like Vick. If you don’t think running a dog fighting ring (as opposed to, say, a cock fighting ring) had nothing to do with the between 4- and 23-times increase in Vick’s sentence, you are crazy.
Please take a look at the linked Federal Sentencing Guideline and see what crimes typically get 23 months in prison for a first time offender (which is level 15 and 16.) Involuntary manslaughter is at level 12. Aggravated assault is at level 14. Sexual abuse of a ward (i.e. a child in one's supervision, like a foster child) is level 14. Can you honestly say that dead dogs – no matter what the number and the manner of death – are more serious, or even equally serious, than a dead person, a person with severe injury, or a sexually molested child? If you answer yes, your priorities are severely misplaced.
Lest you think this is hypothetical, here is a real life example that parallels Michael Vick. Earlier this year, Donte Stallworth – another high-caliber NFL player like Vick – was driving under influence, hit 59-year-old Mario Reyes, and killed him. Here is a man who recklessly killed another man. How much jail time Stallworth receive? (You might to sit down for this one.) 30 days. If that does not make you indignant, the Korean does not know what to say to you. Reyes was a construction worker who worked all night and was trying to get home by catching a bus. Presumably, he had a family to feed. Did any of the dogs killed by Vick have a family to feed? If it stopped Reyes from dying, the Korean would gladly torture and kill any number of dogs with his own bare hands in the most horrendous manner imaginable. No word yet as to if a charitable society rushed to make sure Reyes’ family was taken care of in a high-profile photo-op, like the dogs rescued from Vick’s dog-fighting ring.
Seriously, the Korean couldn't even find the picture of Mario Reyes on line. But picture of Vick's former fighting dogs? They are everywhere.
But we do not even need to compare Reyes’ life and dogs’ lives. What about Vick’s life? Isn’t Michael Vick human? Isn’t his freedom important? Didn’t he deserve to be treated fairly, and receive the punishment that was proportional to his crime? Isn’t Vick’s constitutional right more important than lives of dogs? By any measure, Vick should not have received more than 6 months in prison. Instead, he got 23, and he was bankrupted in the process. And the pitchfork mob wants more blood out of Vick, staging petition drive to ban him from the NFL, depriving him of the only way in which he can earn a living.
Anyone with a functioning moral compass would say that human interest must come before animal interest. Yet when it comes to dogs, Americans just lose their minds – and the “sentient being” argument fuels this insanity. By imbuing morality into an amoral subject, the argument over-values animals’ pain and undervalues human interest. The result is that one high-profile NFL player kills a person and resumes his life after 30 days in jail with minimal publicity, while another high-profile NFL player kils dogs and gets his life nearly destroyed, with the media harping on and on and on. The “sentient being” argument encourages people value animals more than humans. That cannot stand.
(As an aside, it must also be noted that one rarely sees anyone other than white people in those PETA rallies, for a good reason – colored people of America have been fighting for the last few centuries trying to be treated like humans. Now that we are being treated like humans, we are not very much inclined to give the same status to dogs.)
Maybe the two girls in the back count as colored?
Furthermore, even the most orthodox “sentient being” proponents appear to get especially worked up over dog meat than, say, pesticides that kill millions of animals (insects) in order to grow the vegetables they eat. This leads to the next group.
2. Koreans may eat other meat, but not dog meat.
This is the most contemptible argument against eating dog meat – that while eating other meat is ok, eating dog meat is not. The argument is contemptible because it belies its proponents’ underlying conviction of cultural superiority, which is completely objectionable. It is pretty much a historical accident that Europeans/Americans developed a particular penchant for dogs. In a herding economy like old Europe, dogs were more useful as herding assistant than for their meat. But in an agricultural economy like old Asia, dogs had just about one use – meat. In that sense, dogs in East Asia were not much different from chickens. But no matter – to the opponents of dog meat, their historical accident is superior to any other people’s historical accident, regardless of how accidental their historical accident was.
In an attempt to forge an objective argument separate from the historical accident, opponents of dog meat basically make the case that dogs are more special over other animals, and therefore we cannot eat dogs. There are basically two sub-arguments as to why dogs are more special: (1) dogs are smart; (2) dogs are loyal, and therefore our friend. Let us discuss each in turn.
First, dogs are smart. Really? The Korean’s friend’s Maltese would not stop eating toilet paper and excrete white poop, although you can obviously tell it suffers from pain as the toilet paper passes through its digestive tracks. But regardless, why does intelligence determine what we eat? Pigs are known to be extremely intelligent – smarter than a three-year-old human child. Mother sows sing songs to piglets as they nurse, for crying out loud. Yet barbecue restaurants roasting dozens of whole pigs a day are innumerable everywhere in America. So that’s not a real argument – unless one is willing to argue that no human should eat (or kill) any animal, as above, partly because animals are intelligent.
And it's not as if pigs lose out on the cuteness factor either. Aww.
Second, dogs are loyal – “Man’s best friend”, as it were – and therefore special over other animals. But the value of dogs’ loyalty tends to be vastly overstated, because humans project their values and emotions onto creatures that cannot talk back. Humans are particularly good at projecting their own values and emotions with animals, distorting the truth of what happens in the social life of animals.
Here is an example: at Pier 39 in San Francisco, there is a sizeable colony of California sea lions, which serves as a tourist attraction. In front of Pier 39, there is a statue of three sea lions – a large one symbolizing the father figure, slightly smaller one for the mother figure, and a cute, tiny one for the baby. Cued by the statue, the visitors often try to figure out which sea lion would be mommy, daddy or the baby, often trying to find the smallest one and saying among themselves, “That must a baby!”
Sea lion statue at Pier 39, San Francisco
Truth is, no sea lion at Pier 39 is a baby. Moreover, no sea lion at Pier 39 is a nuclear family of father, mother and child as the statue suggests – the sea lion colony at Pier 39 is made entirely up of adult male sea lions. They are there because a regular colony of sea lions is made up of one male and up to thirty females and their babies. In other words, the sea lions at Pier 39 are the loser males – the males that would not get laid ever in their lives. But what kind of tourist attraction would celebrate a collection of dudes who lost out in the process of creating a harem of one alpha male and 30 women? Better to pretend that it’s a family, although the smallest sea lion may well be the oldest one among the bunch that just happened to have a small stature.
The same with dogs. The Korean will readily admit that dogs are generally loyal. But it is a mistake to ascribe the value of human loyalty to a dog’s loyalty. Dogs are not loyal because they choose to be loyal – dogs are loyal because that’s exactly what they are hard-wired to do. All domesticable animals – dogs, horses, cows – have the same trait: they are all pack animals, which follow the pack leader. Humans could domesticate those animals exactly because of that trait – human could assume the position of the pack leader, and the animals would follow them.
We do not think sea lions are immoral because they practice polygamy. That’s just what nature is making them do. For the same reason, dogs are not on a higher moral plane somehow because they are loyal – being loyal is just what nature is making them do. Can we admire it? Within reason, sure. Humans admire the lion’s strength and eagle’s swiftness, and often borrow their names for things for which we wish they embodied those qualities. (For example, national seals or sports teams.) By the same token, we can admire a dog’s loyalty. But that does not make dogs any better than any other animal.
3. Koreans should not eat dog meat because the process by which dogs are turned into meat is unnecessarily cruel
This argument has some merit in the Korean’s opinion. Even as an avid meat-eater, the Korean will readily accept this point – while there can be no moral judgment attached to the fact that humans eat meat, there can be moral judgment attached to how humans eat meat. This is just like the fact that humans are supposed to have sex, as it is their biological destiny to have sex. However, morality dictates that there are certain restrictions as to how sex may be conducted in human society.
Similarly, the Korean believes that humans need to treat the animal that sacrifices its life for our benefit with dignity and respect. That includes doing away with the most horrifying aspects of industrialized farming, which features heavily stressed out animals living in cages too small to move an inch, which in turn prompts massive use of antibiotics just to keep them from dying from stress.
This needs to stop.
(Aside: If the Korean were to choose the most notable difference in Korea and America with respect to the way in which its people approach their food, he would pick the level of respect towards food – Koreans are nearly reverential of their food, while Americans display almost no respect toward their food. It probably is not a coincidence that Korea is the thinnest country in the OECD, and America the fattest. But that’s a topic for another day.)
And yes, treating animals with dignity and respect means that the current way in which dogs raised for their meat in Korea must change. The tiny cages must go, and so must the unsanitary living condition for those dogs. The method of slaughtering the dogs must be regulated as well, so that the dogs may end their lives in a humane, dignified manner.
But – not so ironically – the greatest obstacle to regulating the processing of dog meat in Korea is not the dog meat restaurateurs or dog ranchers, but the opponents of dog-eating. As the Korean described in the “fact” section of this post, the lawmakers of Seoul city government attempted to regulate the dog meat processing procedure so that it would be more hygienic, and therefore humane. (Because after all, it is humane to have animals living in a clean condition.) But it was the opponents of dog-eating – who believe that currently dog meat is illegal in Korea – who rabidly attacked the proposal, fearing that it would “legalize” dog meat. The legislators saw no political gain to be made from pushing the proposal, and backed off.
In other words, while attempting to reduce the suffering of dogs raised for meat through regulation is a valid and worthy goal, boycotting dog meat is not the way to do that. Dog meat restaurateurs or dog ranchers are not a politically powerful group. They are, in general, very poor people with limited resources, and the poor condition of the dogs that they raise is a reflection of their human caretakers’ lot. They have no leverage at all if the Korean government – of any level – wanted to make the dog raising/slaughtering process more humane and sanitary (and presumably more expensive). Those who oppose eating dogs hold all the leverage. The best way to make the dogs’ lives less miserable, therefore, is to target those who blindly oppose any measure that attempts to regulate dog meat. They must be convinced that unregulated dog meat could be a human health hazard, and promotes the dogs’ suffering as well.
This post was rather long, so the Korean will distill it into three major takeaways:
(1) Koreans eat dog meat – not as much as beef, chicken or pork, but they do. Dog meat is tasty.
(2) If you don’t like it, fine – eat what you want, and be happy.
(3) If you want Koreans to stop eating dog meat – didn’t the Korean already tell you go away and fuck yourself?
-EDIT 9/1/09 8 p.m.-
As promised, the Korean will answer more questions from the comment section.
Q: What breed of dogs are most popular to be eaten?
A: Wikipedia entry claims that there is a specific Korean dog breed that is raised for meat, but that is not the most correct way to describe it. (Seriously, when it comes to Korean culture, don't trust Wikipedia.)
First, one must understand what kind of dogs live in Korea. Because Korea traditionally did not raise dogs as pets, few dogs were raised in a carefully selective manner enough to create any notable breed, with certain exceptions. At this point in time there is only one breed in Korea that is worth a name -- the famous Jindo dogs, bred for its intelligence and loyalty as hunting dogs. (But even with Jindos, there is a lot of problem figuring out exactly which dogs qualify as a purebred.) All other dogs in Korea are either imported dogs specifically for the purpose of being pets, or generic mutts that do not have any real breed.
So the most accurate way of describing the breed of dog eaten is: all dogs, except certain dogs protected by law as national treasure (i.e. Jindos) or pet dogs that are imported. Pets are usually owned by someone so they are generally not eaten, except in certain situations described above, i.e. some shady restaurants turning abandoned pet into dog meat. Jindos are national treasure, and it is illegal to take a purebred Jindo out of their native Jindo Island (for which their name is given), much less kill them for food. In practice, this means generic mutts in Korea are (by and large) the only dogs that are turned into food. But it is not as if those generic mutts belong to a particular breed.
Q: How popular is dog meat among younger Koreans?
A: Definitely less popular than among older Koreans. Younger Koreans are more likely to have dogs as pets, so they more often refrain from eating dogs. Reflecting this factor, dog meat abolitionists in Korea are overwhelmingly young women. But the Korean really hopes that dog meat does not fade into history. Seriously, it's tasty. Don't knock it until you try it.
Also, some corrections are in order:
- Commenter Jewook pointed out that in Animal Protection Act passed in 2008, which bans cruel methods of killing an animal (such as hanging) or killing an animal in a public place. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this law is not particularly well-enforced, but Jewook points out at least one news report where a man was arrested for killing a dog in a public place by hitting its head with a shovel before cooking it. So there is some restriction as to method of killing.
(The Korean's original point -- that formally regulating dogs as livestock would improve the dogs' welfare and therefore more humane -- still stands, because Animal Protection Act does not specifically regulate how dogs raised for their meat may be raised. It says in broad terms that "Owner of an animal must endeavor to provide suitable food and sufficient amount of water, exercise, rest and sleep" -- which may as well not be there, because it is not followed by how this clause may be enforced.)
- Robert Koehler, proprietor of the blog Marmot's Hole and a fan of dog meat, noted that dog meat dishes are not particularly cheap (between $10~$25 per person, depending on the dish,) and one does not need to go to the outskirts of Seoul to get it. That's a fair point -- it does not make dog meat a high-end food, but it is not random cheap food either. The Korean would note that, regardless, dog meat is more popular outside of Seoul, where there is less money and presumably less pet dogs to distort one's perspective.
Koehler also linked an interesting article on the current Korean president's favorite foods, which includes steamed and braised dog meat during summer.
-EDIT 9/3/2009 6:26 p.m.-
More questions are answered:
Q: What's the Korean name for the steamed and braised dog meat dish? Is it also served in boshintang restaurants?
A: It is called su-yuk, or gaegogi suyuk. Suyuk is actually generic term for steamed and braised meat, and gaegogi means "dog meat". Suyuk can also be made with pork, and the pork version is more popular. Boshintang is the name for the soup, and yes, boshintang and suyuk are almost always sold at the same place.
Q: In France/Europe we eat rabbit, and I heard in Korea they didn't eat rabbit because people think it is too cute of an animal. Is it so?
A: Nope, not at all. Rabbit meat is generally rare in Korea, but that's just because there aren't too many rabbits in Korea. The Korean had plenty of rabbit in his Europe trip, and is a massive fan.
-EDIT 9/20/2009 4:47 p.m.-
A reader sent an interesting New York Times article: archeological study says that dogs were first domesticated in southern China, for the purpose of eating them.
-EDIT 9/28/2009 3:27 p.m.-
Q: What do they feed the dogs raised for food in Korea? Is it cost effective to raise them in a large-scale setting, given that dogs require at least some meat to feed?
A: The Korean does not know exactly what the dogs are fed. But the Korean knows that not enough dog meat is consumed in Korea to justify a factory-style ranching like chickens or pigs -- in other words, dog-ranching is not a large-scale thing. Usually a dog farm would not involve more than about 30 dogs, and mind you, these are very primitive operations. Therefore, presumably, not much effort or thoughts go into the dogs' diet. But given that these dog farms are nonetheless doing business, it must be cost effective somehow.
Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at firstname.lastname@example.org.
15 February 2010
12 February 2010
07 February 2010
This American kid specializes in singing Chinese revolutionary songs -- in Mandarin Chinese. His "singing" Chinese is better than his speaking Chinese, but he's good and is a YouTube sensation.
Of course, the girls love him because he's a bit of an eye candy.
Check him out on YouTube under the name "Hong Laowai."