Caveat: Pesto on rye toast

I found some pesto-in-a-jar at the upscale supermarket in the basement of the Lotte department store (which I can go through when exiting the subway station at Jeongbalsan).   Earlier today I took some rye toast (made from that dark Russian bread I buy sometimes in Seoul’s “russiatown” as I call it) and spread the pesto on it. It was really delicious. I’m sure both Russians and Italians would be offended, not to mention Koreans.  I often like to imagine concocting odd cultural mixes:  lately I’ve been imagining making tteokbokki but with a Mexican-style mole poblano sauce. Seems like it would be delicious. I also occasionally concoct strange bibimbaps, using whatever’s on hand. I put peanuts in about a week ago, and it was pretty good.
I found a cellphone pic that I had taken of a bank advertisement I saw in “russiatown.”
It’s in Mongolian. Why do I think this kind of thing is cool? It’s stupid, really – you can see Mongolian anytime you want, just surfing around the internet.
Maybe it’s the same reason I find it easier (if only slightly easier) to try to learn Korean from signs and advertising and boring work-memos than from textbooks: it’s because it’s somehow more real. Relevant. Someone, somewhere, didn’t construct this sample of language just to instruct, but to communicate with other users in a concrete context I can identify in my physical environment.

Caveat: მონანიება

I watched a movie called მონანიება /monanieba/, which means “repentance” in the Georgian Language (Kartuli is the endonym, i.e. what the speakers call their own language).  I really like this movie… for a long time I was unable to find it, but I recently found it and downloaded it.  I first saw it shortly after it was originally released, a product of the lead-in to Gorbochev’s perestroika period, mid 80’s.  Very intense, symbolic movie about that most famous of Georgians:  Stalin.
I actually tried studying Kartuli, once.  I got as far as memorizing the alphabet and learning some basic verb and noun forms.  Maybe someday I’ll go there.  I could continue my career as a professional cultural imperialist (i.e. EFL teacher).

Caveat: The Past

"The past is full of mistakes.   That's why we left it there."  – Stephen Colbert, on his show dated 2009-06-22.

And, according to wikipedia:  "Electron degeneracy pressure is a consequence of the Pauli exclusion principle, which states that two fermions cannot occupy the same quantum state at the same time."  Hmm… electron degeneracy?  Is that something you do with an iPhone?

"Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence." –H.L Mencken

Caveat: The icons of my youth are dying

I awake this morning to news that not one, but two, of the pop-culture icons of my youth had died:  Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett.  I never idolized them, exactly.  But they were ubiquitous figures in the pop-cultural landscape of the late 70's and early 80's, those so-called "formative years." 

Is this what it's like, growing old?  Outliving the immortals…

Caveat: One year from today

Almost everyone likes to imagine the different possibilites that the future might hold.  "If I decide on X, then in one year, I might be doing Y.  If I start X now, in one year, I will have achieved Y."  Too often, we limit ourselves to our current path, and miss the many turnings that are all around us.  This list is in the spirit of capturing those turnings.  I tried to make a list of 5 things that I could visualize doing or having achieved exactly one year from today.  I tried not to spend a lot of time thinking about it — just used what pops into my head.  The point is to ignore "chance of success" and just imagine it happening.

One year from today I might be:

1.  Living in Lisbon, working on my "book" (not sure which book that is, but you get the idea).
2.  Back in Korea, teaching
3.  Looking forward to returning to graduate school
4.  Teaching English in Mongolia, after completing a short certification program
5.  Working in database design and administration again, maybe in Minneapolis or LA

Caveat: NOT a secular humanist

I was goofing around, and took an online quiz, which classified me as a secular humanist.   I hate that.  Why do I have to be a secular humanist?

Sure enough, I'm secular.  No denying that, really.  But humanist?  Where, in any of those questions, did I declare that I thought humans were the center of everything?  They most clearly are not the center of everything.  I rather prefer a philosophy like that elaborated once by the poet Robinson Jeffers:  I'm an inhumanist.  Not in the sense that I believe people should believe inhumanely.  Only that I believe that, ultimately, humankind is far from the center of things.

If we dethrone and reject superstitious things, such as god, isn't it hypocritical or at the least a bit stupid to then elevate our own selves into that dethroned god's place?  That would be like Copernicus saying, "well, obviously the Earth isn't the center of the universe… hmm, maybe I am the center of the universe."  It's going in the wrong direction.  The universe has no center.  No special god.  No special rules.  No special monkeys.

I saw a t-shirt:  "Nietzsche is my copilot"  


Caveat: Curses, ActiveX!

While surfing around looking for something else, I finally have figured out why I have to use MS Internet Explorer when visiting most Korean-based or Korean-designed websites:  ActiveX.   That's an internet technology that's not web-standard, and that only works in the Microsoft universe (microverse?), but which is apparently nearly universal in Korean website design.

Despite being at least a little bit computer savvy (although my expertise was mostly in "back end" stuff relating to databases), I confess I never knew that ActiveX was restricted to Microsoftland.   So… well… you learn something every day, right?

Here's the blog where I found it described fairly well, although it's also rather depressing, since it claims Google's Chrome browser will support ActiveX, which I have not found to be the case.  Maybe they're still working on it.

I like Kang's observation that Google is having a tougher time working with the Korean government than with the Chinese government.  I've speculated, before, that supposedly democratic and highly westernized South Korea may in fact be more protectionist and xenophobic in some respects than China, but without having spent time in China, I won't make any assertions.  It seems there's evidence out there to support the idea, though.  And the way the government here "runs" the internet is one of them.

Caveat: Confucian Immersion Therapy

For some reason, I regularly return to a gnomic little quote from Gilles Deleuze (his book, Spinoza) that somehow seems just perfect:  "ethical joy is the correlate of speculative affirmation." 

I've been meditating on simplicity.  On how deliberately putting boundaries around life's possibilities might, in fact, make life more livable.   Then there's my conviction that aesthetics can drive ethics.  This leads me to think about the relationship between constraints and aesthetics:   consider that fine art is about creating (or finding) constraints and then creating within those constraints.  Unconstrained creation is just chaos.

In this way, aesthetic creation is perhaps like other ludic activity — artistic praxis as game-playing.  The playful artist.  So, then, if you want an aesthetically grounded (ethically bounded?) life, you must accept arbitrary aesthetic constraints, just as in poetry or painting or whatever else.

Are the legalisms of Confucianism appealing to me in part because of the fact that they represent one such tried-and-tested set of "constraints on living"?  Can deliberately setting out to live inside such constraints make one mentally healthier, or does it just lead to repression?  Or is that dependent on other, unrelated factors.

Caveat: Language Soup

I went to see a movie called "Shinjuku Incident."  It's a project of Jackie Chan's, but it's not so much an action movie per se, more of a noir, violent drama.  It's set among the Chinese illegal immigrant communities in Japan in the 1990's, and the dialogue is about 75% Chinese, 25% Japanese.  Watching it with Korean subtitles made it into an Asian language soup.   I obviously didn't understand a great deal, but as is my tendency, I enjoyed trying to sort out the languages.  The ending was funny:  the Jackie Chan Chinese immigrant-gangster character is dying, floating away in a storm sewer, and says something profound — last words and all that.   The Japanese policeman character says something to the effect of, "what?!  I can't understand what you're saying!"  So the last words are unknown to the one witness of them.  My sentiments, exactly.

Caveat: “벼락 오버머” 사랑해!

I was correcting student workbooks earlier today. There’s an article in the most recent newspaper (an ESL “teaching” newspaper published in Korea) that features “Barak Obama” – our belovedly misspellable future Space Emperor.
I found this picture, above, in Julie’s workbook. It’s BHO’s best picture ever! And she wrote above his misspelled name her own personal misspelled transliteration: 벼락 오버머 (byeorak obeomeo, rather than the standard translilteration, 바락 오바마). Note the little lightning bolt above the “벼락” (byeorak means lightning bolt, I think).
Relatedly relevant:


Caveat: Monomanias

There's a strange man who's goal is to visit every Starbucks in the world.  Unfortunately, with recent downsizing, it's become challenging for him to "catch up" to all the different locations before they close.  It's a moving target, as locations open and close much faster than he can get through the list.  He hasn't even tried South Korea, yet even in my time here I've seen both openings and closings of numerous Starbucks just within my small range of famaliar haunts. 

Well, anyway… I can kind of empathasize with his monomania, in some ways.   I've flirted with various monomanias of my own, but in general I've been too lazy to really fall into them.  I remember once I wanted to try to visit every single subway station in Mexico City, when I lived there.  And I think, at one point, I had done it… but then they've added 3 or 4 new lines since I lived there, so I would have to go back and visit more.  Once, I was thinking I could go visit subway stations in Seoul.  But I really haven't had the singelmindedness to do that.  My explorations tend to be less goal oriented, and more just a sort of drifting across the landscape.

Like a ghost.

Caveat: 바보!

pictureI am now officially a baboizer – Ellie sent me this candid photo, retouched some way or another using her cell phone. Note that “babo” in Korean is “fool” or “idiot.” I don’t actually ever call my students “babo” – or “idiot” for that matter. I get the impression from the pragmatics that babo is fairly mild in most social contexts, though it’s far from polite, obviously.
I other news, I tried to be like the Space Emperor BHO today – by killing a fly with a single hand in mid-air. I wasn’t successful. But I did it in two tries, against the wall. The kids reaction: “disgusting, teacher.”
Normally, I don’t bother voting in shareholder actions… I own enough different stocks that I get quite a few opportunities to vote one way or another on various things.  Everything’s electronic, of course, but I rarely feel sufficiently informed to bother voting one way or another.  But today, for the first time since coming to Korea, I voted: I gave a “for” vote in the action for Sun Microsystems to merge with Oracle. Not that I think it makes much of a difference, but it was empowering to feel as if I had an opinion worth having and to be able to act on it, whether an accurate one or not. If the merger goes through at the declared price, I will more-or-less break even on my Sun investment. And we shall see if Oracle is able to make the merged result profitable or not.

Caveat: Threading… Computers vs Kids

When I check under XP, my computer is running about 300 threads at idle (that is, no programs running).  Does an O/S really need that many threads?  When I boot under Windows Server 2003, I find 500 threads at idle.  And when it's running under Vista, the number is almost 800 threads. 

Obviously, Vista works a lot harder to do the same amount of nothing.  No wonder my laptop crashes sometimes when I ask it to boot to Vista… it's saying "please, no, I'm tired!"  Just like when I ask my students to do more homework?

A few months back, I said goodbye to Ubuntu.  But now I'm reconsidering.  Vista is getting on my nerves, again.  Nevertheless, I had a major insight, yesterday, at work, as I was trying to do something (anything!) constructive with the new install of Microsoft Office 2007 (or some recent year).  It doesn't help, obviously, that I'm stuck with the Korean language version at work, and that it doesn't let you switch to English.  But why is it that every time Microsoft upgrades something, they change all the keyboard shortcuts?  Do they think that no one uses them?  I really despise relying on my mouse to get things done, and since I'm working with the Korean version, figuring out the keyboard shortcuts basically boils down to randomly pressing keys and collecting data on what it does. 

Oh, so, what was I talking about?  My major insight…  I prefer teaching to working with computers for one very simple reason:   computers always make me feel stupid, and kids at least sometimes make me feel smart.  There's nothing complicated about that.

Caveat: Do the multicultural…

We have had "multiculturalism" as our debate topic the last few weeks.  Specifically, multiculturalism as an emerging social phenomenon (very peripheral, so far) in Korea.  I actually have some thoughts and observations at a fairly serious level about this idea, but I'll save that for a later, more coherent post.

For the moment, it's interesting seeing the Korean kids trying to make sense of it.  One of my favorite quotes comes from Kevin, who says, "if we do the multicultural, then Korean men can be happy."

I think Kevin is referring to the fact that many Korean men, these days, have been in essence "importing" brides from Southeast Asian countries – enough so that it's becoming a "problem" the government has been trying to address.  But the way Kevin writes about it makes it sound like it's some kind of weird dance.

"Hey, everybody!  Let's do the multicultural!"

Caveat: No plot

pictureI woke from a strange dream this morning. It was plotless… sometimes that happens. This was almost like some sort of abstract conceptual film; but  it had a visual esthetic drawn from Architectural Digest magazine, maybe. I was in a building. Looking for someone, maybe. It was drawing heavily on the Folwell Hall archetype in my brain (that building being the place where I have spent the most time at my erstwhile academic home, University of Minnesota – see picture).
The interior wasn’t quite right, though.  It was as if the building had been converted into million-dollar yuppie condos. Actually, that might be kind of cool. There were a lot of open, loft-y spaces inside, and then there was a hanging rope suspension bridge between two modernist-looking living rooms.  Finally, I worked my way up to a top floor, and went up a spiral staircase. And through a door, and up a last flight… to find myself on a vast wooden deck.
The deck had no rails, and looking beyond, it was on open, unsullied prairie. No other buildings. No trees. It was at ground level – the Folwell Hall I’d been exploring was underground. The was a strong wind; the grasses swayed.  It was like standing at a rest area in North Dakota. I turned around to go back downstairs.  There was a man selling Korean dalk-kkochi (skewer chicken) from a stand by the doorway where I’d emerged. Other than that, it was utterly lonely and isolated.
That was the dream. Nothing more. As I said, no real plot. The images were quite vivid and strong, though.

Caveat: Strange Busyness

I had a strange day full of small things, nothing quite routine.
I went to a movie in a theater for the first time in more than year. It was a treat for some stellar students that Peter-teacher engineered, and he invited me along. It was fun, and mindless. Here’s a picture of Willy, standing in a statue, saying “no,” afterward.
And also, I took a picture of a movie star we apparently saw. A Korean, of course. Not someone I recognized. And… of the various random figures in the picture, I have no idea who the actual movie star is.
I went to work, and ate an actual sit-down meal with some coworkers at the place-of-work (as opposed to off campus at a restaurant), for the first time since I used to work at LinguaForum. That was fun, too, listening to them talk in Korean, understanding some of what they said, even.
I went to a wedding of a (former) coworker, Niki. But not a single other coworker that I knew was there, and I felt very isolated and out-of-place. That wasn’t so fun.  I fled.
I sat in a cafe and wrote some notes for my “If I ran the hagwon.”
I met Basil, and we went to Insadong and he went to a Buddhist temple gift shop. He was shopping for trinkets, I guess. I have a hard time completely relating to that. I also find the idea of “Buddhist consumerism” strangely uncomfortable, the same way I find overtly Christian consumerism. There’s some kind of disconnect between dogma and action, maybe. The temple neighborhood is full of stores selling Buddhist and “monk” paraphernalia.
We went to some bookstores, but I bought no books. That’s not my routine, either.
We went to a vegetarian restaurant. The food was good. I liked it. I daydreamed of someday becoming a vegetarian (as opposed to my current 5-days-a-week vegetarianism, I guess).
At the subway station, the train was stalled, because an old man had fallen into the tracks and had been hit by the train. A gruesome prospect… Basil was fascinated and had to go look. I walked the other way. We ended up separated and I went back home.
My computer pissed me off by crashing as I started it up, when I got home. What’s with Vista, anyhow? God I hate it.
Overall, it was a good day, though.

Caveat: 분노폭발

We have this newish thing at work, where we’re having the more advanced students post their typewritten writing assignments online, on a collaboration server that we’ve long used for posting work-related stuff. This is the wave of the future (or rather, of the recent past, really) – things like this are pretty much the standard in business, both in the US and Korea, nowadays. I think the parents appreciate it, since it’s not necessarily something the students at that grade level (4th~6th mostly) are being taught in public schools, nor even at their “math/science” academies, which focus almost exclusively on test prep. It gives them a small taste of how “grownups” need to be able to work with documents, computers, and the internet.
pictureAs can be expected, however, the student-destined collaboration directories fill up with some peculiar junk: weirdly named (and unnamed) documents in a hundred different (“I didn’t even know that was a format”) formats, etc. And today, in my Eldorado 2 class’ directory, I found a JPG picture of an enraged cartoon baby, with the quote “분노폭발” (see picture).
Is a student expressing frustration?  I have no idea who put it there – someone in that class, presumeably. Or just sharing something they thought funny? Or not having intended sharing it at all, maybe?

Notes for Korean
 변경 = change, modification (webpage context)
바람둥이 = playboy-type-guy, “playa” or don juan, braggart, boaster
철학 = philosophy
철학적인 = philosophical (I think?)
느끼다 = feel, experience, respond to (a stimulus)
폭발적 = tremendous popularity, population explosion
돌발영상 = spontaneous (unposed, candid) pictures
분노폭발 = explosion of wrath (see picture)


Caveat: Advanced Stupidity

"Any sufficiently advanced stupidity is indistinguishable from malice."  This is a corollary of Clarke's law, I guess.  I think I stumbled across it while surfing tvtropes, as I seem to do rather regularly.  It's a pop-culturally-inclined semiotician's goldmine.

Caveat: 63

I finally went to visit the “63 building” over the weekend, on Sunday. It’s the tallest skyscraper in Seoul. It has 60 floors. The name “63” is because it has three levels of basement, too, making a total of 63 levels. It’s a shiny coppery-colored building right on the Han River. Here is a picture I took looking straight north from the building toward the old part of the city, in the distance in the notch between the mountains. Yongsan is in the right center, and the Mapo area is in the left center. And in the foreground is the wide Hangang.

Caveat: A chaotic scattering of thoughts

I keep a collection of "blog ideas" that I go to when I can't think of something to write.  But the list has been growing unmanageable, and most of these ideas seem destined to never go anywhere.  So I'll throw a few of them out here.   Random quotes and observations, I guess.  

1.  "Juche is the opaque core of North Korean national solipsism."– Bruce Cumings quoted by Philip Gourevitch in the Guardian, 2003-11-2.   "National solipsism" has a nice ring, even as applied to the comparatively cosmopolitan south.  

2.  I wonder about this weird convergence of history, such that for the first time in 2 generations, the U.S. has a government farther to the left than either of its two main neighbors, Canada and Mexico. Currently the PANistas are running Mexico and appear to be closing in on a new party monopoly to replace the 70 year-long reign of the vaguely leftist PRI (at least, the PRI was rhetorically and theoretically leftist, if not always in practice), and the PAN is arguably farther right than even the US's Republicans, at least in traditional measures of conservatism. And the Conservatives are running Canada, under Harper.  See also… Ignatieff v Grant (his uncle, the red tory)

3.  "omgomg! my fans rock! the movie is doing great you guys! omg AND its all cause of you!!!! I LOVE U ALL! IF YOU HAVENT SEEN IT YET CHECK IT!," — Miley Cyrus, on the success of her new movie Hannah Montana (via Twitter).   I'm glad I'm still not on the Twitter bandwagon.  But, who knows… 

4.  "Crazy moms make crazy kids." — me, on the sometimes fraught interactions teachers must have with parents.

5.   Mixotricha paradoxa… In addition it has spherical bacteria inside the cell; these endosymbionts function as mitochondria, which Mixotricha lacks.   I knew that current theory says that mitochondria and chloroplasts arose as endosymbionts… but for some reason, I found this "halfway" adaptation that I discovered surfing wikipedia randomly one night rather fascinating.

6.  Quotes from the TV series "Dead Like Me":  "He's as dumb as a bag of hammers." — the character Dolores; and "Death is the one thing that always happens right on time." — the character George

7.  Another reason why Rush Limbaugh lacks credibility:  "Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society" — Rush Limbaugh, Aug 12, 2005.  

8.  El Kabong was just a persona of Quick Draw McGraw's.   I didn't know that!

9.  "There's a buzz to failing and not dying" — Stephen Colbert.  True.

Caveat: an antisocial consumer of social spaces

My latest epithet for myself:   I am "an antisocial consumer of social spaces."  Basically, that seems like it might just be a fancy way of saying I'm a people-watching nerd.  But… whatever. 


Notes for Korean
담임 = charge, duty, homeroom teacher
실지견학= fieldtrip, practicum
견학= observation, inspection (learning by~)
실지=practice, reality, actuality
so, that means a "fieldtrip" is, in fact, a "reality inspection" — nice.
이런=such, such…as, like this
유령=ghost, specter, phantom
유령학생="ghost student" i.e. "unknown student #10" in the school's database:  유령학생10


Caveat: 이안의 돌

My coworker Sean was celebrating his son Ian’s first birthday.  The first birthday is called 돌 (dol);  it’s a big deal in Korean culture, and is generally held in a catered location with entertainment, food, millions of relatives.  Rather like a wedding reception in the U.S., for example.  I went to Ian’s event, and sat around and ate hweh (raw fish) and fruit and people watched and chatted with Peter and Sarah (who were only other Lbridgists to show up).   It was mildly entertaining.  Sean is moving back to Guam (he’s Korean-Guamanian, I guess you might call it), but with the intention of leveraging his US citizenship into an Air Force career, apparently.  I wish him luck.  He has a family to support, and hagwon work doesn’t pay so hot… it’s understandable.
I walked home from where it was near Tanhyeonyeok (and the SBS studios out thattaway) with Peter.  We chatted about aimless walking and aimless roadtripping, which seems to be a trait we share.  It was fun.

Caveat: Argh, sycophancy

I was out at dinner with teams "D" and "C," along with the campus bosses, after work the other night.  One of those obligatory "let's all get drunk and pontificate and expiate ourselves at each other" that drives the Korean business environment, English-language schools included. 

And I began feeling really angry.  It was mostly at a certain brand-new coworker.  Speaking English, so I was comprehending… I would probably have felt the same sort of anger at the others, but they were mostly sticking to speaking Korean, and that made the pontifications inpenetrable, though still self-evidently pontifications, nevertheless.

The internal mantra that kept me quiet and inscrutable throughout the social experience was:  "If I've nothing good to say, I will say nothing."  But the speech-to-new-coworker that I kept reformulating through most of the second half of the evening was something along these lines:

You've only been at LBridge for less than a week.  What the hell do you know?  I've had more than 30 bosses in my life, including work in fortune 500 companies, non-profits, factories and union work, the US Army, mom-and-pop businesses, and more.  And beyond any doubt, our campus manager, this person whom you sycophantically are right now praising up, down and sideways, is the absolute worst manager I've ever had.

This job has other redeeming features, including the super-smart children, as well as Sarah's amazingly competent (if not always user-friendly) efforts at keeping a well-structured curriculum.  Please don't misunderstand me — our boss is not a bad person!  His heart may even be in the right place, although he seems to me to be stunningly superficial and unreflective, like the worst caricatures of G.W. Bush.

But as far as basic management skills are concerned…  as far as "caring for and mentoring" one's employees is concerned…  as far as showing consistency and business acumen is concerned…  well, forget it.  It ain't there.  And don't try to say that I'm applying "western" standards.  I had several Korean bosses before the current one, and although all of them annoyed me at one point or another, I would never have declared any of them to be fundamentally incompetent.

That was the "angry" speech.  I never said it.  All's the better.  But since then, I've also spent time composing another, much less scrutable statement.  I've managed to avoid uttering that one, too, but I relish playing it out in my head — if only because I would love to see the gears turning in this new person's head as my intended meaning becomes clear:

In North American mainstream culture, respect is something that is earned, and that can be lost, too.  In Korean traditional business culture, respect is due to one's superior regardless of merit.  I am trapped between cultures.

But I've managed to just stay quiet.  Except, now, this totally says-it-all internet post.  Hah.  So far, no one at my current job has shown any ability whatsoever to use the outside-of-Korea internets to find things out about me or anything else in the entire universe.  A lack of curiosity?  A lack of ability?  Korea manages to remain insular despite 100% internet connectivity, through a combination of walled-garden-variety internet portals and simple linguistic and cultural naivety.

And do I really give a damn, at this point, if they find these, my rantings?  Seems that I don't.

Caveat: Browser Skirmishes

I keep hoping I can find an alternative to Internet Explorer that allows me to navigate my work-based websites (which are Korean designed and based).  I'm not sure why… I don't necessarily have anything against Microsoft, at least with respect to their browser, in particular.  I guess I just like to keep my options open.

But the Korean-based websites are stunningly Microsoft-dependent.  Last night, I had a moment of elation when, messing around with my laptop at home, I downloaded and installed the latest Opera browser.  I went to my work website, successfully logged in, and saw normal-looking Korean hangeul writing instead of gobbledygook, which is what I get in both Google Chrome and Firefox.  Nevertheless, the work website was useless because the ActiveX embedded site-navigation widget that appears on the left hand side (which, in fact, loads in Firefox successfully) failed to load in Opera.  Net result:  a gain in one area (flash-based rendering of Korean characters) was offset by a loss in another (navigation widget broken).  Ultimately, I'm still married to Internet  Explorer.

I like the Opera interface, though.  I may end up spending some time with it.

Caveat: GM in bankruptcy, stockmarket soars

GM declared bankruptcy, and the Dow soared.  What does that mean?  At first,  I thought it was because GM was removed from the Dow, but in fact, that changeover doesn't actually happen until June 8, if you read the fine print in the financial press.  So Monday's soaring Dow is still home to now officially mostly worthless GM stock.  

I guess the traditional analysis would be that the market had already "priced" the GM bankruptcy, and therefore it didn't really impact the Dow's reaction to other news and issues.  It's also indicative of the extent to which cars, and heavy industrial production in general, are no longer core to the US and/or global economies.  In the Dow, GM is being replaced by Cisco.  Tech conglomerates are the new blue-chips.

One article I read was quoting criticisms of the US government's managing of the auto industry's collapse, including, specifically, a complaint that the government was "giving" Chrysler to a foreign auto company (Fiat) rather than merging it with GM.  The reason why Chrysler cannot be merged with GM is because of union resistance:  a merged 2-out-of-big-3 would introduce economies of scale that would result in further plant closures and layoffs, which the UAW obviously cannot favor.  I agree with that.   But on the other hand, I think merging Chrysler with Fiat is possibly smart for a reason that wasn't mentioned:  European automakers have a better chance at navigating the US's new "socialist" regulatory and government-owned and union-owned industrial landscape… they've been doing it successfully in Europe for decades, right?  What we're seeing, in other words, is a Europeanization of the US auto industry. 

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