Monday, October 20, 2003

le parcours

More evidence of the hard-wired nature of sexuality.

One reason why I sympathize with Blair: the poor guy's taken principled stands under a lot of pressure, and it's affecting his health.

Also in London: magician David Blaine thinks outside of the box.

Dan Darling of Regnum Crucis has some great analysis of Osama Bin Laden's rants to the American people and to the Muslim world, here and here.

Merde in France pisses warmly (if briefly) on Europe's economic fortunes.

Andrew Sullivan (I): Great article about "dream tickets" in the presidential race.

Andrew Sullivan (II): His personal crisis of faith, which is in my opinion a microcosm of a much larger thing happening between the Roman Church and American culture.

Satan's Anus hisses about media coverage in Iraq.

I noted this in the comments section of one of the Marmot's blogposts, but Anticipatory Retaliation lays it out nicely:

...creating linkage between North Korea non-aggression and Iraq peacekeeping, in light of the recent UN resolution, does create the awkward situation where the US is supporting a UN-backed peacekeeping force in South Korea while the South Koreans refuse to assist in a UN-backed peacekeeping operation in Iraq.

I think this is going to be very weird, and don't expect good results. Scroll one post down, and AR provides a very scatological post. Well, not as graphic as Hominid-style shittin' it old-school, but still pleasingly pungent.

Gweilo Diaries finally provides a girlie pic I truly enjoy.

Weblog@Oranckay has been following the Noh Mu Hyon flap and commenting on Noh's rocky relationship with the conservative Korean press. A recent post says:

I truly believe that the reason Roh's ratings have been so low is because those who have always hated him always have and always will (did I mention that Roh won a defamation case against the Chosun in 1991?), and those who have always supported him are angry that he's not handing them the whole country to do with it as they please. That includes the more spoiled of unions, the ones working for big concerns that exploit smaller interests with smaller unions, and others.

So, his ratings are not low because he has failed to show leadership, but because he has demonstrated leadership in making highly unpopular choices.

I don't see things this way, however. When I look at Noh, I see an idealistic president who's in over his head, who's spinelessly backtracked on stupid campaign promises (parity with the US, anyone?) in the face of realities he should have known existed, and who's going to whine "I feel my pain" any moment now. While I've drawn parallels between Noh and Clinton before, laurels go to Clinton for being far more adept at triangulation, and in that sense, a far superior politician to Noh. A call for a referendum/confidence vote smacks more of desperation than anything else. Noh is more reactive than proactive, all things considered.

I do, however, think that if a "recall" process were started here, it would be a mistake.

Chinabloggers are all over the issue of Chinese selfishness. Try here and here and here.

Old news at this point, but let's note that Mother Teresa has been beatified. Doesn't make her corpse any tastier when I chew on her humerus, but hey-- there are treasures stored up for her in heaven. You go, girl!

Glenn makes me envious.

Cobb on the Catholic problem.

Annika's familial spat may have ruined her mother's birthday. As commenters to her post said: I've been there & know the feeling. It'll pass. Just remember to keep communicating. Love conquers all, at least temporarily.

You've probably seen it elsewhere, but e-folks are commenting about Jessica's Well, wherein the discovery is made of a 1946 Life Magazine piece that shortsightedly bemoans the immediate results of World War 2. I link you to Den Beste on this one.

In a more recent post, Den Beste argues that certain anti-American rabble rousers in Iraq are not being hunted down and repressed because, well, we want Iraqis to have a taste of what free speech actually means. As he puts it:

Tolerating extremists like Al-Sadr is part of our long game of proving our commitment to free speech for Iraqis. We said we wanted Iraqis to be free, and part of that is toleration of dissent. When we ignore even extremists such as Al-Sadr, it's part of the process of proving that our word is good.

Al-Sadr and others like him are the canary in the free speech coal mine. As long as someone like Al-Sadr is tolerated, and permitted to spout his poison unmolested, others will feel secure.

Part of why we encourage public dissent is to encourage public support. Under Saddam, anyone could proclaim their support, but no one else would believe them even if it was true. When dissent is suppressed, support has no credibility. It is only when dissent is tolerated that one can publicly support the government and be believed.

The Iraqi people were not able to free themselves without outside help. Revolution was impossible, as they proved in 1991. It took outside force remove Saddam, which we just supplied. Too late, perhaps; I am ashamed that we did not actively support the 1991 revolution. But it's better late than never.

We have given the people of Iraq the opportunity to be free, but they must seize it and they must hold onto it. We are giving them a chance for freedom, but only they can keep their freedom.

And for my money, this is the most important point:

Instead of asking why the Americans don't do something about Al-Sadr, we need Iraqis to start thinking, "What are WE going to do about him?" But they also need to learn what kinds of things they should do, for if they deal with him and others like him the wrong way, it will destroy their liberty just as surely as he wants to destroy it.

Whenever Den Beste offers up the "real" reasons why our current government does what it does in Iraq, I usually leave with a funny suspicion that he's thought the matter through more deeply than the Bush Administration itself has. I find Den Beste's explanations plausible, but it's telling that Den Beste rarely, if ever, links directly to Admin sources to support how he derived his rationale. I get this same feeling from Andrew Sullivan on occasion. One of the major strategic aspects that still don't add up in my mind is how to reconcile nation-building with a flypaper strategy. As I've remarked before, I fail to see how it's possible to build while inviting hostile elements to tear down what's being built. What's the rationale behind the rationales?

In a disappointing move, the Bush Administration says it would consider a written guarantee to NK if NK made certain concessions. More reassuringly, however:

Bush said he would sign a security declaration if it were a joint agreement with the four other countries participating in the talks with North Korea -- China, Japan, Russia and South Korea. A senior administration official said Bush had ruled out a bilateral agreement on the principle that if North Korea violated a multiparty pact, "they would not only be dismissive of the United States, but they would also be dismissive of the other parties that participated in the assurance."

Verifiability is the watchword. In a sense, Bush's acceptance of the possibility of a written guarantee isn't the acceptance of anything. The conditions on which such a guarantee are predicated are-- as we all know because NK shouts it all the damn time-- unacceptable to the Dear Beaver. Knowing this, Bush can make "written guarantee" rhetoric with a smirk. So just as it's not a good idea to place too much weight on Pyongyang's bluster, Pyongyang needs to realize that it's probably not a good idea to place too much weight on Bush's rhetoric. Good. Good for Bush.

Some pundits feel that the US should be dealing with NK bilaterally, as a way to have more control over the terms of the discussions and to avoid treaties (or other documents) that are the inevitable watered-down result of design-by-committee. That's a good point. I think, though, that these pundits are forgetting the primary reason we're insisting on a multilateral approach here: the diffusion of responsibility also means diffusion of blame when things go wrong. Both China and North Korea, for their own reasons, are acutely aware of this. It's why NK has been relentlessly focused on the US in its propaganda and diplomacy, and it's why China is visibly uncomfortable about its current important role in the nuke problem.

Here's something disturbing:

With little notice or meaningful oversight, the Internet has become a pipeline for narcotics and other deadly drugs. Customers can pick from a vast array of painkillers, antidepressants, stimulants and steroids with few controls and virtually no medical monitoring.


The online merchants now feed a sprawling shadow market for prescription drugs, frustrating medical leaders alarmed by the threat to public health and investigators hard-pressed to keep up with nimble Web sites that can open and close at a moment's notice.

"It's like rabbits," said Wayne A. Michaels, a senior investigator for the Drug Enforcement Administration. "Every day, there are more of them. They're up, they're down, they're foreign, they're domestic."

The agency recently created a six-person task force solely to track the online trade in narcotics. But officials acknowledged the effort is a form of "triage" amid an escalating crisis. "We're afraid it's going to overwhelm us, once we've identified all these sites," said Elizabeth A. Willis, chief of the DEA's drug operations section.

The multimillion-dollar industry has appeared overnight, pumping millions of pills into some of America's smallest and most economically distressed communities.

Time to rethink the war on drugs?

Sigh... North Korea once again farts. Wank, wank, wank... CNN reports it this way:

Monday's test over the Sea of Japan is seen as part of North Korea's annual military exercises, a spokesman for South Korea's Joint Chief of Staff told news agencies.

While many Koreans are against sending troops to Iraq, some folks here are sporting hard-ons.

Korea Herald on troop dispatch, here.

Dong-A Ilbo comments that troop dispatch size would be around 6,000 to 10,000.

Something for all Koreans to be proud of.

A JoongAng Ilbo editorial that explores the power of Hollywood and concludes with a muddled mixture of awe and fear and resentment:

The power of the American movie as symbolized by Hollywood is perhaps the natural result of the cultural diversity of the United States as a nation of immigrants and its openness.

Its ideology is spread through the world by Hollywood movies, although moviegoers may scarcely realize the underlying tone.

There may be no more effective tool for ruling when those being ruled do not awake to the reality.

I suspect the author's a fan of American Marxist academe. America is, among other things, an "empire of the mind," as Bill Whittle argued.

In praise of game geekery. Why? Because it's news when a female gamer isolates herself from her friends for six months in order to become the best goddamn Starcraft player in cyberspace. If this article doesn't strike you as a little whacked, let me whack you.

Damn. NK seems to be researching how the Vietnamese economy works. I hope they factor Western investment and the gradual opening of markets into the equation if they plan on adopting the Vietnamese model.

QUESTION TO KOREABLOGGERS: Yesterday (19 Oct), I saw an interview on the online Chosun Ilbo titled "Iraq is No Vietnam, Retired Commander Says." Today, I searched the archives because I wanted to link to the article. I found the link, but it's either bad or stale-- it leads to a totally different article. Even stranger: when I use the Chosun Ilbo search engine to search the archives through keywords like "Vietnam" and "Iraq" and "colonel" (the interviewee is a retired colonel who advocates sending a large number of troops to Iraq), the article doesn't appear at all. Am I searching incorrectly? Was the article perhaps removed for some odd reason (cue sinister music)? What's up? And if you're a Korean-literate Koreablogger, do you see a link to the interview on the Korean-language site? If you do, please pass that link to me and I'll struggle through the article as best I can. I read parts of it in English yesterday and deemed it link-worthy, but didn't get around to linking until this evening.

So we end on a "Hmmm" this evening.

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