Tuesday, December 09, 2003

le parcours des blogueurs

The Vulture puts up a newer, more imposing logo, thereby scaring away the gentler half of his readership and attracting a more macho gangland crowd. He also notes, as you've no doubt discovered for yourself over the past couple days, that the Infidel has quit blogging-- at least temporarily, we hope. His link remains on my blogroll in the hope his blog reappears.

The Vulture also pecks at the carrion of Korean rudeness: the whole "foreigners speak Korean with a funny accent" thing. I agree it's rude, but it's also something that's not going to change anytime soon, like the fat jokes I constantly endure. If you can't get used to it, you end up bitter (word to angry minorities in the States: toughen up or go insane! work toward change, but thicken the skin in the meantime! lose the victim mentality and FIGHT!).

Kevin at IA posts on the Korean engineers who've decided to pack up from Iraq and head home due to the danger. Kevin's conclusion: can't blame the workers, since management didn't do shit to make their stay any safer. Given the SK government's (and public's) current reluctance on the issue of combat troops (here's hoping the Yangban has spotted a more positive trend), I'd have to agree with Kevin's attitude: SK will send its noncombatants out but won't think far enough ahead to protect them.

The Marmot takes South Korean farmers to the woodshed for-- once again-- their shortsightedness. The issue is free trade and farmers' protests of the soon-to-be-ratified ROK-Chile free trade agreement. The basic fear, I think, is that Korean farmers feel their livelihood will be threatened by the introduction of other countries' farm products (in this case, Chile's) into the Korean market. Competition may drive prices down, resulting in less income for farmers, who will suddenly have to become competitive. This is what tariffs and trade wars are all about-- managing competition, imposing strictures on free markets and trade. That's not always a bad thing, because an absolutist pro-free-trade approach isn't workable, but strictures like tariffs should be implemented with caution. This is why I think Bush's recent dropping of steel tariffs is a good move: US Steel will just have to get smarter and more competitive; meantime, trade is freer. That's good for US Steel, in the long run. Unions, to the extent they look out for workers, might be a positive force, but they tend to get out of hand in places like France and Korea. The US has its own (cough) little Teamster problem, of course, but as a country, we don't see monthly transportation strikes, actors' strikes, and farmers passionately stabbing themselves in the chest to protest perceived injustice.

Quotable Marmot:

If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times - you farmers will be the death of this nation if you keep this crap up. You're lucky that a number of other countries (the US and France come immediately to mind) still have their heads up their asses as far as their own agricultural industries are concerned so they can't (better, shouldn't) press Korea too hard on this. Korea is NO LONGER an agricultural country - the lifeblood of the nation is industry and information technologies. You CANNOT [choose] to compete in those industries [you're] good at while protecting the ones at which you aren't. Other nations tend to get VERY pissed off at this, and while Chile probably poses no threat, all you need to do is think back [to] when China threatened to close its markets to Korean telecom exports in retaliation for Korean barriers to Chinese garlic exports. As a nation that exports high-tech goods, Korea should be doing all it can to open markets abroad; the LAST thing it should be doing is maintaining anachronistic, neo-mercantilist trade barriers for a dying industry. Yes, food can be considered "security," but so can a gazillion other different industries (steel, semiconductors, electronics, cars) that Korea would not want to see other countries designate "industries necessary to national security."

Mike at Seeing Eye Blog shows us that Kim Jong Il's coiffe is all the rage.

Peter at Oranckay also has the goods on Korean worker strife in Iraq.

Charlie at Budae Chigae writes:

The bottom line is that the US believes that [troop] numbers are not an issue, and Korea looks at the numbers as a direct proportion to the level of commitment in the Area of Operations. The US side continues to stress technology and force projection rather than static defense.

I wrote in the comments section:

How much weapons tech does Korea make/provide on its own, and how much comes from the US/other sources? And what would modernization entail?

Charlie replied:

According to the South Korean Agency for Defense Development, (in Korean "guk bang gwahak yeon-gu so") approximately seventy percent of all weapons system development is now domestic. Korean Defense Industry still relies on the US, Russia, France and Germany for technology transfer packages for items such as aircraft and missile technology, armored vehicle power-trains, fire control systems, nav[i]gation system, and C3 (Command, Control, and Communication) Information systems.

[They] have an excellent facility near Changwon, in Gyongsang Nam-do, for Armament/Automotive R&D, called Changwon Proving Grounds. When I was stationed in Taegu, I had a chance to tour the base, and was impressed with the production of K1s.

As for the Modernization, they have the mantra (The MND's Defense Policy and Initiative) down, but it all boils down to money. See Gerry's article over at Korean Media Watch: Korea Ranks 66 in Defense Spending to GDP.

Fascinating stuff, and it makes you realize how little Korea actually needs from America, especially if 70% of weapons system development is in-house. All the more reason for us to bug outta there. The "defense spending to GDP" issue has been addressed by other Koreabloggers; the feeling seems to be that SK needs to widen that particular slice of the fiscal pie to shoulder its own defense burdens more fully. No disagreement here.

Jeff at Ruminations recounts his early experiences as a young Mormon in Korea.

Econo-speak is way over my head, but for those who can follow the terminology, Drambuie Man outlines a possible crisis scenario for the South Korean economy-- one that might lead to another IMF bailout/snafu. I understood the last part:

However this cannot go on forever; a bank will eventually fail. It may be a small one, but it will fail. This will cause all that "hot money" to leave Korea, therefore causing a currency meltdown, and TA-DA!!! another IMF crisis. As more [and] more capital leaves, more banks fail, and Korea tailspins.

Moving over to the China-related blogs now...

I posted recently about the problem we face in dealing with Islam-- the relentlessly religious perspective. I ended up rejecting the PC notion that the burden is always on Americans to be understanding. Richard of Peking Duck has a post up that quotes a writer who questions the Chinese contention that Westerners just don't understand the Chinese. The writer's point is that many Westerners DO understand the Chinese, but don't accept what they've observed and experienced (quoting Richard's quote):

What do you think is so special about your so-called culture (5000 years) that makes it impossible for a white-faced, big-nosed, hairy barbarian to understand? Plenty of foreigners understand China, you just mistake their complaints for misunderstandings. I think a lot of Chinese behaviour is stupid, racist, ignorant, and backward. I understand it, but I don't like it. When I say the concept of face is dumb, and you say, "You just don't understand Chinese culture," you're actually saying that you don't understand the words coming out of my mouth. I didn't say, "I don't understand this interesting, ancient, exotic, inscrutible concept of face, could you please educate me?" The underlying assumption seems to be that if the rest of the world could just understand China, we would all see that they've been right all along. Like green tea against cancer, an understanding of China could break down all barriers to world peace.

Richard's remark:

I don't agree by any means with all that Brad says, especially how it is impossible to change anyone's mind on anything related to China. (Hell, my own mind got changed, and fairly quickly, after witnessing the CCP's sins during the SARS debacle.) But he has an excellent point when it comes to those who would argue the onus is always on the Westerner to "understand" the Chinese, and that the Chinese are absolved of any responsibility to meet us half-way, let alone to understand us.

I agree with Richard. Dialogue is a two-way street. It does need to begin with listening, but that's an insight we each need to gain for ourselves, not something to be imposed on the interlocutor. "YOU listen to ME!" is not dialogue. Or maybe it can be the opening round of dialogue, but if so, at least one side's being a fucking asshole.

Gweilo Diaries, easily one of the most hilarious blogs out there, informs us of the Amish Tech Support Dead Pool, in which people attempt to predict just who is going to die next year. Jesus Christ, that's funny. Check out Conrad's post. And while you're at it, please join me in staring down this lady's top. Conrad put that pic up a while back, but I keep scrolling down to it like the easily-tempted fool I am.

Go visit Winds of Change. Just because. And if you think the field of hermeneutics is somehow irrelevant to you, get a load of this.

Bird Dog, guest blogging on Tacitus, links to a US News and World Report article about the relationship between al Qaeda terrorism and "the Saudi money trail." Also on Tacitus, guest blogger democritus quotes FDR's Pearl Harbor speech.

Also on tap at Tac: Reagan's face on a coin? The Maximum Leader told me he was against this a few days ago. I assumed most Republicans were for it (and many actually are), but Nancy Reagan herself is against.

Bowen's comic strips on Cobb aren't usually accessible to me. In fact, I'm not sure how accessible they are to most people. His art comes from a very private place and doubtless has appeal for a niche audience, but as a fellow "stripper" (to borrow Berke Breathed's term), I find Bowen's work more than quirky. John Cusack's work is quirky, but it's decipherable quirkiness. Bowen's on a different, foggier road. I realize this is a function of my ignorance: I don't know where he's coming from. But he's also making no effort to make his perspective available to blokes like me. This is very different from Bowen's prose work on Cobb: I'm often bowled over by where he goes, and think his writing is very accessible and insightful. So why the disconnect between his accessible writing and his more esoteric artwork? I don't know. We simply do what we do, and maybe there's no explanation. Anyway, today I went over to Cobb and saw this comic strip, which I had no trouble understanding.

Dan Darling at Regnum Crucis goes over the same US News article Tacitus covers, but in far greater detail. Darling also posts more on Islam and the Reformation, in which I've excreted a couple comments.

The blog Hi, I'm Black! never presents me with accessibility problems, because Glenn is all about making sure you GET his message. In this episode, Glenn has a Holden Caulfield moment. Glenn also links to a hilarious site called Rate My Teachers. I am, right now, getting revenge on high school teachers who sucked. True, it's sad how much pressure is put on teachers as things stand... but hey, why not pile on some more, right? Go and rate your old teachers, if they're listed.

Holy shit-- they list MR. DIRNER! I didn't think he was at Mount Vernon anymore! I wonder if he came back. Another MVHS rumor: Bob Ingalls, Zen Buddhist and English teacher, is now the surgically renewed Bobbie Ingalls. I don't know if this rumor is true, but this is what my brother Sean heard. Again, HOLY SHIT.

Whoa-- they list Mr. Ingalls. As MISTER Ingalls. I don't know how well this site is tracking where teachers go... there's a space for you to mark whether you think they're retired or still active... ah, just play it by ear.

Well, Mrs. Landgrabe is on the site, and she's being rated by people. I know for a fact she's retired, so obviously we can rate any teacher we want. I won't be rating her, but I've already zapped one or two other teachers, like Joyce Jones. Hee hee.

Glenn also links to... what appears to be Barney in a thong.

Satan's Anus has the news: al Qaeda seems to be abandoning Afghanistan. GOOD. Like roaches, they move around until exterminated.

If you're a conservative opposed to the Federal Marriage Amendment (whatever your feelings about gay marriage itself), Andrew Sullivan has a link for you. He's also got a full article on "The M Word."

Dr. Burgess-Jackson has several interesting posts. Here's one on deontology and consequentialism (deontology isn't related to ontology; it's from the Greek root "deon," meaning "duty"-- think Kant's Grundlegung for the Metaphysics of Morals). Here's another one on rescuing the Iraqi people. Unfortunately, it's a rehash of the moral argument I've already addressed on this blog-- compelling, but ultimately not enough in itself to justify our actions there. The obvious reply to Dr. Burgess-Jackson is that there are urgent cases in places other than Iraq-- North Korea comes to mind. And as soon as you mention NK, you realize you have to expand the context of the discussion to include more than the simple "drowning child" metaphor can allow. Context, Dr. Burgess-Jackson, context. By the way, that image is cross-cultural: Mencius used a similar illustration-- a child teetering on the edge of a well and our natural urge to save the child-- to argue for humanity's basic goodness. Dr. Burgess-Jackson also presents a bizarre argument in favor of capital punishment. Here, a straw man argument: the weird connection between homosexual marriage and genetically modified foods. How many pro-gay-marriage folks are also campaigning against genetically modified foods? Another straw man: the "sincerity test" for opponents of capital punishment. Whom is Dr. Burgess-Jackson actually critiquing here? I found this an interesting but ultimately useless post. Lastly, I'll note a post where the good professor dissects liberal rage. I agree with it, overall.

John Kerry, whom I respected long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, just makes me laugh these days. The macho posturing, the incessant "I served in Vietnam"-- these things make him look ridiculous, and he's giving more sober vets a bad name. And now for Kerry's new campaign strategy: the manly refusal to apologize for claiming Bush has "fucked it up" in Iraq. Gotta love this guy. I think the White House is wrong to ask for an apology; Bush and his flunkies shouldn't even pay attention to this shit. I'm curious whether polls will show Kerry earning macho points for his refusal to apologize.

And now, some spice from Drudge: a woman gets hacked up in a sword attack by her husband, who also shouted, "I'm God! Kill me!" at police. I need to spin that quote into a product for my store.

Lots of great material over at the Maximum Leader's cyberschloss:

The Air Marshal guest blogs on the glory that is whisky. Whiskey.

The Minister of Agriculture links to a David Brin article about Lord of the Rings. Brin shat on Tolkien in Salon a while back, so I'll take what he says with a grain of salt.

The M of A offers another great post on la vie champêtre:

We have moved the chickens into their winter quarters in the barn - the chicken tractor (a possible future post?) does not provide enough warmth. At any rate, I stepped into the coop portion of the barn to refill their waterer and check on the chickens. Bonnie did not approve of squandering my attention on non-mammals, so followed me into the chicken coop before I could turn to shut the door. Her bulk pushed me back and was quite disconcerting for the chickens.

Bonnie's a heifer, in case you're wondering. No, I mean it-- she's a real cow. Goddammit, I'm telling you she's not human!

One last thing: don't forget to recognize your essayist, fool.


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