The Marmot's Hole

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Category: Asides (page 2 of 85)

Ban Ki-moon Delivers A Message to Iceland

. . . The Snowden case is something I consider to be misuse.” The UN chief added that the opening up of digital communications should not be “misused in such a way as Snowden did” (from the Guardian)

This message came from the Secretary General while speaking to a gathering of the foreign affairs committee of the Icelandic parliament in Reykjavik on Tuesday.  This unprecedented personal comment from the Secretary General likely occurred because “Snowden identified Iceland as one of his top choices as a possible safe haven.  I wonder if the Secretary General is not delivering his opinion AND a message to the foreign affairs committee in Iceland (?).

Oddy enough, other people think that it was the NSA that “misused” their access to “digital communications”.

Something going down in Massachusets

Gunfire, explosions going on in Watertown, Massachusetts.

See also here.

Birthdays this week

I thought some of you readers might be interested in knowing that two of our long-time resident foreigners in Korea – Brother Anthony and Frederic Dustin celebrated/are celebrating their birthdays this week.  Both of these men have done a great deal for Korea -not only Korea Studies but also for their everyday acts of kindness.

Brother Anthony just had a piece come out in Korea Times a couple of days ago that I enjoyed reading.  I think it is a shame that so much of Korea’s past is being lost in the present.  Brother Anthony is also the president of the Royal Asiatic Society – Korea Branch (RAS-KB).

Fred Dustin has been – for the most part – in Korea since 1952 and lives on Korea’s self-proclaimed Hawaii of the Far East.  (I still remember the first time I went to the island with the military so many decades ago during the winter.  I was there for training and had been told it was a tropic paradise – I arrived to snow).  Mr. Dustin runs the Kimnyoung Maze Park (English tab at the top but the Korean site gives the best images of the park), cares for a large number of cats and does a lot of good work for the community that (his) modesty prevents me from going on about.

If you get a chance – come and see one of the RAS-KB’s lectures or go on one of their tours.  And speaking of tours – why don’t you visit the Kimnyoung Maze Park – the oldest maze park in Korea.  When you go to one of these events why don’t you say hi to the gentlemen and wish them a happy birthday.  Also tell them you read about them on The Hole.

Dave Brubeck, 1920 – 2012

Dave Brubeck passed away.  Brubeck was a pianist and composer who helped make jazz popular again in the 1950s and ’60s with recordings like “Time Out,” the first jazz album to sell a million copies, and “Take Five,”.  He would have been 92 this Thursday. Hats off, take five.

A Safe Fuel for Nuclear Power Plants

A safe Nuclear fuel cell

Safety checks at South Korea’s nuclear power plants could mean that there are rolling blackouts this winter as South Korea prepares for the cold season. Though there are plans to add 4,000 megawatts (MW) of power supply capacity through savings and new plants, the possibility of rolling blackouts remain.  A safer fuel source for nuclear plants, such as seen above, might help avoid blackouts.

The Government does have a plan for avoiding blackouts, of course, such as setting thermostats to 18˚ to 20˚ at home.  Considering the cooler thermostat setting and the season, playing Christmas music and drinking premium whiskey is another way to keep warm at home, making this a season to enjoy.  Cheers.

A Dangerous Place to Vacation

I occasionally hear from my family or friends “Isn’t it dangerous living so close to North Korea?” and, well, it could be given the wrong circumstances but, statistically, South Korea is, by far, more safe a place to vacation than certain other places that experience mysterious tourist deaths. Per the linked article:

. . . I used to work in Phuket in 5-star hotels and have seen it to be a common practice to poison foreigners. It has never been made public but I do know of the poisoning of an executive chef, a Swiss sales and marketing girl and a general manager who almost died… the police never took any action and neither did the owners and it was kept quiet…” You receive messages that echo your anger and frustration: “something is rotten in Thailand.” Messages that hint at cover ups and conspiracies: “Everyone blamed bug poison….but there is something scarier going on.”

Six Degrees of Separation – An Honorary Counsel of South Korea and Naughty Affairs?

It almost seems nowadays that anything involving ethics and sex can be connected to Korea within a few steps – even if things Korean are not implicated in any wrong-doing:

Jill Kelley, the Tampa socialite connected to ISAF Commander John Allen and former CIA Director David Petraeus, is an “honorary consul” of South Korea, a diplomatic official with direct knowledge of the arrangement told The Cable.

“She is an ‘honorary consul’ of the Republic of Korea,” the official said. “She assumed this position last August thanks to her good connections and network”. . . “She does not work as a real consul. They play a role to improve the relationship between the ROK and the U.S.,” . . . “Jill Kelley helped to get support for [the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement] and she arranged meetings between the ROK Ambassador to Washington and local businessmen when the ROK Ambassador visited the Tampa area.” . . . her work on behalf of the South Koreans may explain some of the 20,000 to 30,000 pages of e-mails between her and Allen that the Defense Department’s Inspector General’s office is investigating now.

Bizarre . . . and now, per the NY Times:

Ms. Kelley, whose house has been besieged by reporters and television crews, has called 911 several times to complain about snooping reporters, according to tapes and transcripts of the calls posted on the Web. In at least one call, she asked for “diplomatic protection,” saying she is an “honorary consul general,” a designation she reportedly received from South Korean diplomats.

So Korean diplomats are now involved.

Mitt Romney Style

If you don’t understand parody, just study it out and ask Psy about it.

A Warning & Reminder About Safety

This is intended as a public service, as to warn and remind people about opening their door to strangers, here in Korea.

While South Korea is a much safer place to live than many other cities I’ve lived in, there can still be problems that need to be avoided, for example: early this morning, I was awakened by the door bell and the sound of my young daughter talking to someone at the door.  When I came out, there was a man standing outside the doorway, wearing a black and white striped rugby-style shirt.  The man caught a glimpse of me and ran off.  This man claimed that he was from the water company and that there was a leak in my bathroom.

There is NO LEAK and water company workers DO NOT make house calls on Sundays nor do they show up without a prior invitation from home owners.

Bill Moyer’s interview with Chris Hedges

Bill Moyers, one of the best newsmen today, has a very deep and provocative interview (link here) with former NY Times reporter, Chris Hedges on the very dark and impending dangers of the “Inverted Totalitarianism” that is currently America and how this can impact our future and that of the world.

This is one of the finest interviews I’ve ever listened to, thus I encourage everyone to take the time and listen.  Here is one excerpt from the interview:

. . . Long-term unemployment or underemployment (USA) — you know, probably being 17 to 20 percent. This is an estimate by “The L.A. Times” rather than the official nine percent. I mean, the average worker at Wal-Mart works 28 hours a week, but their wages put them below the poverty line. Which is why when you work at Wal-Mart, they’ll give you applications for food stamps, so we can help as a government subsidize the family fortune of the Walton family.
It’s, you know these corporations know only one word, and that’s more, and because the mechanisms of governance can no longer control them, there is nothing now within the formal mechanisms of power to stop them from the creating, essentially, a corporate oligarchic state.
BILL MOYERS . . . and you say, though, we are accomplices in our own demise. Explain that paradox; that corporations are causing this, but we are cooperating with them.
CHRIS HEDGES This sort of notion that the corporate value of greed is good. I mean, these deformed values have sort of seeped down within the society at large and they’re corporate values, they’re not American values.
I mean, American values were effectively destroyed by Madison Avenue when, after world war one, it began to instill consumption as a kind of inner compulsion, but old values of thrift, of self-effacement, or hard work were replaced with this cult of the “self”, this hedonism, and in that sense, you know, we have become complicit, because we’ve accepted this as a kind of natural law and the acceptance of this kind of behavior, and even the celebration of it. is going to ultimately trigger our demise. Not only as a culture, not only as a country, but finally as a species that exists, you know, on planet Earth.

Continue reading

Around Kwanak-san . . .

New Health in Digging in The Dirt

Coutesy of Reuters, Kim HongJi

Park Iktae of Reuters has a nice article on how some Koreans are rediscovering the countryside as a way of living better and are moving back to a slower lifestyle.  Considering the financial crises in the rest of the world, this might be a reasonable alternative.

Not Just in Korea – More Chinese Fishing Boats

A Chinese fisherman was killed and 25 more are in custody after a confrontation in Palau waters.  One fisherman was killed (accidentally) Saturday after police fired on the fishing vessel as it tried to ram the officers’ boat. This sounds familiar . . .

Godwin’s Law in China

A state-run Chinese website has launched a bitter attack on the Dalai Lama, accusing the exiled Buddhist leader of “Nazi” racial policies and of inciting Tibetans to set themselves on fire.(1)

As Mike Godwin observed, “given enough time, in any online discussion—regardless of topic or scope—someone inevitably criticizes some point made in the discussion by comparing it to beliefs held by Hitler and the Nazis.”(2)
This is all very rich, considering how the current Chinese Government modeled part of their Olympic Complex in Beijing (2008) after Nazi themes, even employing the grand-son of Hitler’s architect for the Third Reich: Albert Speer.

Well played, indeed.

Dangerous Korean Paintball Players Run Amok

The police in South Korea are clamping down on paintball teams in South Korea under the guise of security ahead of the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul.  There is no word of or comment from the police about fight clubs however.

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