Monthly Archives: November 2010

Putting A Price On A College Semester

I just finished paying off a semester of college — 3,227,000 Won; somewhere in the field of $3,100 I imagine, but after living here upwards of 5 years the dollar has ceased in relevance. Let’s put this money into ‘Good Times:’

2,689 bottles of Soju

645 liters of Chinese Beizu @ Korean prices Or Pepperoni pizzas from pizza school.

3,227 bottles of Seoul Makkoli

268 Indian dinners

129 (probably failed) dates

358 Kazakh dinners

403 fried chickens or Mongolian meals

448 double quarter pounders w/ cheese sets Or 620 Bacon Tomato Deluxes

215 FC Seoul games w/ enough drinks so you don’t care if you lose.

161 Standing Room Only tickets to Busan w/ mates — or 107 if you want to have enough drinks to make it not seem like 5 hours.

But… Now I have a better grasp on phenomenology, existentialism, Indian philosophy, Mahayana Buddhism and Hegel, and more people to eat, drink & be merry with.

… But it really makes you think twice when you see how much goddamned central Asian food you could’ve eaten.

Jasper Kim On The Six-Party Talks

I pretty much agree with everything the Ehwa University professor said here — the talks are all show and the Sunshine Policy that was previously out there has not succeeded on any scale of worth.

We’re in a situation where we only succeed in looking unrealistic and hopelessly idealistic when having faith in these talks:

“They’re basically useless. We’ve had rounds and rounds of six-party talks and look where it’s gotten us. It’s effectively a flashpoint faceoff, something out of a John Woo movie where the rivals are pointing guns at each other at point blank range.”

On South Korea’s response:

“There has to be some type of new foreign policy strategy. I think part of this South Korea has already done, and that’s ratcheting up the defense budget.”

“Basically outspend the North in terms of technology. And hopefully that creates some type of new awakening on the North that there has to be policy of true engagement not just pseudo- engagement.”

Bloomberg

China Linked To Google Attack

As the Wikileaks saga continues we are gaining more and more information on what governments have been doing around the world — another interesting and not so surprising fact has been brought to light:

IDG News Service – The cache of more than 250,000 U.S. Department of State cables that WikiLeaks began releasing on Sunday includes a document linking China’s Politburo to the December 2009 hack of Google‘s computer systems.

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing was told by an unidentified Chinese contact that China’s Politburo “directed the intrusion into Google’s computer systems,” the New York Times reported Sunday, citing a single leaked State Department cable.

“The Google hacking was part of a coordinated campaign of computer sabotage carried out by government operatives, private security experts and Internet outlaws recruited by the Chinese government. They have broken into American government computers and those of Western allies, the Dalai Lama and American businesses since 2002, cables said,” the Times reported.

The cable is another piece of evidence, albeit thinly sourced, linking China to the Google attack. Wikileaks is gradually releasing this latest set of cables, and the document in question was not available on WikiLeaks’ Web site at press time. The Times, along with a handful of other newspapers, was given early access to the documents.

Security experts have linked the attacks to servers at a university used by the Chinese military, and both Google and the State Department implied that they thought China was behind the attacks when they were first disclosed in January, but nobody has produced conclusive proof that they were state-sponsored.

Google was one of more than 30 companies targeted in the attacks, known as Aurora. Google said the primary goal of the hackers was to access the Gmail accounts of human rights activists, and that the attack apparently failed.

Computer World

It is interesting to see that we are now going to be getting access to concrete US intelligence documents that linked the attacks on Google to the Chinese so it is not just words and accusations and talks of people ‘trying to establish a link.’

It is hardly surprising that their targets were human rights activists, CEOs and the US government agencies themselves.

This provides another peak into the grim world of international espionage and reveals more and more how the Chinese focus their interests on shutting down the human rights activists.

The more that we learn about the Chinese government the more criticisms we have.

Swiss Vote On ‘Tough’ Deportation Law

I think it is funny that the media portrays this as a ‘tough’ law when this is standard practice in South Korea. Just read this:

Voters in Switzerland will go to the polls on Sunday to decide on a proposal to automatically deport foreigners who commit crimes.

Supporters of the proposal claim immigrants to Switzerland are disproportionately responsible for crime and should not be allowed to stay in the country.

The proposal is the initiative of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, the party which also masterminded last year’s successful campaign to ban the building of minarets in Switzerland.

The People’s Party points to the fact that foreigners are overrepresented in Swiss jails – about 70% of the inmates are foreign, while 23% of Switzerland’s overall population is foreign.

BBC

I do not understand how this is already not a standard law in most countries; people who do not respect the laws of the land that they visit or are not legally a full citizen of have no right to live in those places.

The fact that people consider this a ‘tough law’ is just baffling to me as one would think that this would be the standard policy of anyone, anywhere.

If someone comes to your house and steals from you or attacks someone there, it is only common sense to make them persona non grata.

But again… Somewhere in the world of bureaucracy common sense is forfeited.

Saudi Arabia Urged Attack On Iran

I am guessing this is the big piece of news that a lot of people will be talking about — read up on it — this is pretty interesting:

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has repeatedly urged the United States to attack Iran to destroy its nuclear programme, according to leaked US diplomatic cables that describe how other Arab allies have secretly agitated for military action against Tehran.

The revelations, in secret memos from US embassies across the Middle East, expose behind-the-scenes pressures in the scramble to contain the Islamic Republic, which the US, Arab states and Israel suspect is close to acquiring nuclear weapons. Bombing Iranian nuclear facilities has hitherto been viewed as a desperate last resort that could ignite a far wider war.

The Saudi king was recorded as having “frequently exhorted the US to attack Iran to put an end to its nuclear weapons programme”, one cable stated. “He told you [Americans] to cut off the head of the snake,” the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Adel al-Jubeir said, according to a report on Abdullah’s meeting with the US general David Petraeus in April 2008.

The cables also highlight Israel’s anxiety to preserve its regional nuclear monopoly, its readiness to go it alone against Iran – and its unstinting attempts to influence American policy. The defence minister, Ehud Barak, estimated in June 2009 that there was a window of “between six and 18 months from now in which stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons might still be viable”. After that, Barak said, “any military solution would result in unacceptable collateral damage.”

The leaked US cables also reveal that:

• Officials in Jordan and Bahrain have openly called for Iran’s nuclear programme to be stopped by any means, including military.

• Leaders in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt referred to Iran as “evil”, an “existential threat” and a power that “is going to take us to war”.

• Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, warned in February that if diplomatic efforts failed, “we risk nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, war prompted by an Israeli strike, or both”.

• Major General Amos Yadlin, Israeli’s military intelligence chief, warned last year: “Israel is not in a position to underestimate Iran and be surprised like the US was on 11 September 2001.”

Asked for a response to the statements, state department spokesman PJ Crowley said today it was US policy not to comment on materials, including classified documents, which may have been leaked.

Guardian

It is clear that the Saudis surely sense an extremely volatile Iranian regime, and I do not fault them for fear of a potentially hostile neighbor whose leaders have shown their cards more than a few times.

This can go back to the idea that these regimes are a threat; to everyone. Of course, we are not seeing the intelligence off of which they stake their claims and perhaps they are not as reliable as we would like but it is becoming clearer that much of the Arab world, for whatever reason, on the highest levels, dislikes Iran.

(Theoretically this could be because of a Sunni – Shi’ite divide, but I would not be able to comment on that in depth as I am not as informed as I would want to be. It could also be due to the Arab vs. Persian ethnic differences that incline the other regimes to take a harder stance on Iran.)

Perhaps this will serve to get more people thinking about Iran in different ways. They really could honestly be a bigger threat than we imagined.

This can also lead to more questions about Iraq: should they have been less of a priority than Iran? Should they have been regarded differently? Is it a mistake to have so many resources dedicated to what may have been in all actuality the lesser threat? Are the other Arab governments trustworthy, and is there concern something we should also be very concerned about?

This is a very big topic that I will be thinking about over the next few days, weeks and years.

Brazilian Gang Wars Need Proactive Government Response

This is a classic example of what happens when the government can be questioned by the thugs who control the streets:

Military police raided favelas in Brazil‘s second largest city yesterday, exchanging gunfire with suspected drugs gangs during a fifth day of violence.

Heavily armed officers and armoured cars targeted the hillside shantytowns on the city’s outskirts, including the Vila Cruzeiro slum in the north, considered the stronghold of a gang thought to be behind a number of attacks.

At least 10 armoured marine vehicles, never before used in battles in the city’s favelas, transported soldiers into Vila Cruzeiro, where barriers were erected by gangs and television pictures showed smoke rising from the shell of a bus.

Colonel Alvaro Rodrigues, head of the military police operation, said: “Our goal today is to take back ground from the drug traffickers. We’re taking it back and rescuing society from its position as a hostage to the drug trade.”

The violence began on Sunday as police stations and vehicles were attacked by gang members, reports said. Authorities blamed the assaults on orders from imprisoned gang members angry at police efforts to take control of their turf in more than a dozen favelas.

At least 30 people have been killed in this week’s violence, according to the military police. Among those was a 14-year-old girl hit on Wednesday by a stray bullet. She died in hospital.

The Guardian

The government needs to really take care of their people — this means defeating gangs in a proactive sense.

Gangs must be viewed as the symptom of a larger problem — the disenfranchisement of the people and lack of an ability for them to improve their lives. Gangs do not represent the entirety of the underclass but rather they are a manifestation of hopelessness.

As people have no means of advancing themselves from their poverty they turn to other means to acquire wealth, glory and all the things that young men starve for. Nations like Korea, although poverty still exists, offers the chance of bettering one’s life — it seems that the poor of Brazil feel that they have no such recourse.

Indeed, one would guess that they do not as they are apparently confident enough to even challenge the government in these sorts of street fights.

When America was formerly faced with similar problems during the Great Depression we found the answer in government work programs that enabled youth to labor for profit; it allowed us to take people and teach them skills and give them an amount of pay to get them back on their feet through outright, socialistic policies that gave birth to a larger national and state park system and beautified the region.

Perhaps Brazil could find an answer in offering similar work programs to the youth in the flavellas.

One sub-issue here can be the environment — Brazil does need to increase industrialization of its country and have more work programs that bring people to the rural areas to make futures for themselves, and unfortunately, this probably involves cutting down portions of the rain forest.

What needs to be done here is have these efforts be state lead, so there is an order within the chaos, and so that there is an exact plan to insure that the rain forest is not completely destroyed. Previously just allowing private business and thugs to do what they wanted to the land obviously did not work.

We are in a situation where even I, as an American, think that the answer will generally be found in socialistic policies that are able to direct the development of the economy to defeat the gangs at home.

Conservatism is not always about small government — sometimes it is about the betterment and strengthening of the nation, and right here the answer would be found in some larger government effort to fix the youth of the country and establish a superior value system.

In this case, we need a proactive and indeed a socialistic approach to fixing a problem that the private sector appears to not have the ability to do.

한겨레 “민간인희생 김정일 책임

좋은 말입니다:

북한의 연평도 포격으로 해병대 장병 2명과 민간인 2명이 목숨을 잃은 사건에 대해 한겨레가 김정일 북한 국방위원장의 궁극적 책임을 지목하며 사태 해결을 위한 결단을 촉구하고 나섰다.

한겨레는 25일자 사설 <북한, 민간인 희생시키고도 계속 적반하장인가>에서 북한의 이번 공격이 용납받을 수 없는 이유에 대해 “대한민국 영토에 휴전 이후 처음으로 포격을 가했다는 점도 있지만 더 큰 이유는 민간인 거주 지역까지 무차별적으로 포탄을 퍼부었다는 데 있다”며 “이는 어떤 명분으로도 정당화될 수 없는 지극히 비인도적이고 야만적인 폭거”라고 비판했다.

한겨레는 “그런데도 북한은 사태의 엄중함을 외면하고 있다”며 유엔군 사령부의 군 장성급 회담 개최 제의에 미온적인 분의 태도와 조선중앙TV에 보도된 북한군 최고사령부의 주장 등을 들었다.

미디어 오늘

북한은 민간인을 살인해서 북한이 다시 한 번도 우리에게 얼굴을 보여줬어요. 북한은 평화에 관심이 없고 진화하는 나라 아닙니다. 아직도 독재주의 나라 이고 해빛정책은 소용이 없는 정책입니다.

앞으로 이런 정책을 없어지고 북한에게 더 큰 압박해야합니다.

우리는 괴물이랑 협상할 수 없습니다. 북한의 정부가 테러주의자들이랑 다르지 않아서 앞으로 압박하기 밖에 우리가 할 수 없습니다.

US Prepping for Wikileaks Release

I understand the importance of truth but I also understand the importance of state secrets. Not everything the government does in a world that is bad is going to be purely good; sometimes you have to fight; sometimes you have to behave in a way that you do not find ideal.

And it looks like someone is going to publicize more of that information:

The U.S. government has notified Ottawa that the WikiLeaks website is preparing to release sensitive U.S. diplomatic files that could damage U.S. relations with allies around the world.

U.S. officials say the documents may contain accounts of compromising conversations with political dissidents and friendly politicians and could result in the expulsion of U.S. diplomats from foreign postings.

A Foreign Affairs spokeswoman said the U.S. ambassador to Canada, David Jacobson, has phoned Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon to inform him of the matter.

Melissa Lantsman said the Canadian Embassy in Washington is “currently engaging” with the U.S. State Department on the matter.

A State Department spokesman said Wednesday the release of confidential communications about foreign governments probably will erode trust in the United States as a diplomatic partner.

U.S. diplomatic outposts around the world have begun notifying other governments that WikiLeaks may release the documents in the next few days.

CBC

It sounds like this could be pretty bad. This is certainly not something that the US government should be forced to deal with — depending on the information, of course, as there are some secrets which i am sure when brought to light could allow for justice. However, it merely sounds like this will just be damaging.

I think if Wikileak’s original intent was to expose regimes like Burma, Iran or China, who actively fight democracy and freedom, it’d be a far superior organization.

Of course, this can always spark the debate of whether or not the US actually promotes democracy around the world. However, I think a big difference is that the US at least makes the regular attempts to instill a sense of justice, even if we do fail. I wish this was not used as a tool to constantly jeopardize the US.

Gender Difference According to a 12 Yr Old Korean

I assigned my students a paper on ‘the difference between men and women.’ The student who wrote this, Tommy, is an extremely smart, funny and confident kid who occasionally bullies other students and draw pictures of me as everything from a fish to a devil; I enjoy his antics and he delivered on this paper.

Below is its contents, unedited:

The men can’t bare but women can bare.
The men have a beard but women don’t have it.
The men have the testicals but women don’t have it.
The men like war but women like peace.
The men usually works but women usually took place in the home.

The men usually soldier but women usually person.
The men usually attacking from women
The men loves children but women always punish them.
The men usually drivers.

I simply wrote ‘Great job!’ and made a photocopy to put on my fridge.

I wish you could see the garbled, labored writing of testicle as I envisioned Tommy struggling with his cell phone dictionary and laughing while writing.

That day Tommy notified other male classmates what ‘the testical’ is and spent most of the day asking girls, “Do you like the testical?”

He asked the non-English speaking Korean teachers if they also liked “the testical,” and in every class I had to put up with boys writing testicle in every way you can possibly misspell it.

Most of the effort the boys made were to convince girls that ‘the testicle is good,’ and that they should ‘like the testicle,’ and when asked what the testicle was they would say it is ‘American food’ and then ask me to confirm it. There was always great despair and protest when I would have to say “It’s not food and you shouldn’t say it,” and the next five minutes would consist of girls frantically trying to learn how to spell the word so they could find out what it was. When they discovered the meaning they half-laughed and half-screamed in only the way children can.

This all happened after I watched a 6 year old draw a picture of a God robot and a Devil robot fighting, and a robot version of me looking on intently. I was told if the God robot won I would go to hell, and if the Devil robot won I would be eaten. Robot Verv looked disturbed and was saying “I’M DIE.” I felt a pang of sympathy for my robotic soul. I also had neither horns nor robotic weaponry limbs to defend myself. Robot Verv only had a large head of hair and a strange object in between his legs that I was told was a bell. I later asked for my robot to be given a weapon and I was given a spoon.

(I had asked the student to draw a picture of people running the Seoul marathon; these marathon runners were merely the stick man audience to this robotic battle. One marathon runner had a sign that said “EAT,” another had a sign that said “HELL.” Robot Verv was screwed.)

It was a good day.

North Korea Could Make 2 Nukes Per Year

This is exactly why you don’t want to sit by while fascist, hermit nations that define the word ‘rogue state’ build an arsenal:

Pyongyang, Nov 24: North Korea, which carried out attacks on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong yesterday, could make one or two bombs’ worth of enriched uranium per year once the new enrichment facility starts operating fullflegedly, according to a nuclear analyst.

Hui Zhang of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, made this assessment following the claims by an engineer and two nuclear policy experts from Stanford University in California that they saw an industrial-scale uranium enrichment plant in a visit a few days earlier to North Korea.

 Engineer Siegfried Hecker, former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, and his two colleagues had also said that they were “stunned” to see a major new enrichment facility at the country’s Yongbyon nuclear complex, saying: “We saw a modern, clean centrifuge plant of more than 1000 centrifuges all neatly aligned.”

 Daily India

We really messed up waiting, waiting, waiting while the north was growing, growing, growing. Things should have been handled differently from the start.

If you have a disease it is best to treat it early and to not let it grow into a life threatening illness. We’ve basically set ourselves up for failure by allowing this failed state to starve its people while developing a nuclear arsenal.

It is a grave situation.