Saturday, November 02, 2002

THREE CHEERS (?) FOR DEVELOPMENT: A WHO report includes the following conclusion (link courtesy of Daniel W. Drezner )

"In low-income countries, the three most common causes of death were lack of food, unsafe sex and unsafe water. However, in middle-income countries the biggest three health risks were the same as for developed countries: alcohol, blood pressure and tobacco."

I feel sorry for Fritz Mondale. Pulled out of a comfortable and, by all accounts, lucrative retirement, the former vice-president has been thrown into the maelstrom that is politics in the new millennium. Still, if you're going to run, you should probably show up to debates.

A local's amusing take on Frtiz can be found here.

NORTH KOREA IS NOT IRAQ. Not exactly hot off the presses, but always good to remember. How different?
North Korea has not started a war in half a century—whereas Saddam has started several in the last 25 years and used weapons of mass destruction widely in the process. In addition, there's an ongoing diplomatic process between North Korea and the United States, as well as U.S. allies Japan and South Korea—a stark contrast to the near total absence of communication between the United States and its allies and Iraq.

And despite its secret nuclear program, North Korea has generally behaved itself over the last 10 years. In fact, this last decade has probably been the best in the country's history in terms of its relations with the outside world. In the 1980s, it brought down a South Korean airliner, assassinated several members of the South Korean government, sponsored other terrorism, and sold half a billion dollars' worth of arms a year to other extremist states.

But in the 1990s, Pyongyang began to open up to South Korea and engage the United States diplomatically. Its arms exports declined by a factor of almost 10 (more because of geopolitics than choice). Its active support for terrorism essentially stopped. It did continue to develop and launch long-range missiles until 1998, but then agreed to a moratorium on flight tests.

Friday, November 01, 2002

The Flash wars continue. Here is the sequel to the Democrats' ad on social security. The joys of democracy!

Monday, October 28, 2002

NOTE TO SELF: whenever driving to anti-war protests in a remodeled school bus, don't stand up and stick head out of sunroof while going through a tunnel. Ouch!

Nobel Peace prize winning Jimmy Carter weighed in on the current North Korean nuclear problem in a New York Times editorial yesterday. Most of it is predictable defending of negotiations rather than confrontation. I say predictable because it was largely due to Carter's intervention in 1994 that the United States pursued negotiations rather than military confrontation.

An aside here, Carter overstates his case a bit when he claims that
Responding to a standing invitation from North Korean President Kim Il Sung and with the approval of President Bill Clinton, I went to Pyongyang and helped to secure an agreement that North Korea would cease its nuclear program at Yongbyon and permit I.A.E.A. inspectors to return to the site to assure that the spent fuel was not reprocessed.
Don Oberdorfer's highly readable The Two Koreas notes that the State Department had asked Carter not to go in 1991, 1992, and 1993 because "his trip would complicate the Korean problem rather than help resolve it." The Republic of Korea expressed similar reservations. When Carter called Clinton and insisted he was going in 1994, Clinton "interposed no objection to the trip as long as Carter clearly stated that he was acting as a private citizen rather than as an official U.S. envoy." Oberdorfer goes on to describe the frustration of Clinton, Gore et al watching Carter make policy announcements on CNN that the Clinton administration more or less had no choice but to endorse after the fact.

Back to Carter's main point in yesterday's editorial: He argues that "It is clear that the world community cannot permit North Korea to develop a nuclear weapons capability." Yet, as I have argued before, this has never happened. I don't know of a single case in which the "world community" stopped a soveriegn nation-state from acquiring nuclear weapons once it seriously began pursuing them (the only quasi-exception being South Africa). As long as war with North Korea is off the table, we had better get used to the idea of a nuclear armed DPRK.

G.W. Bush-related rumor of the day. Slate's Jacob Weisberg publishes a Bushism of the Day, defining a "bushism" as "The president's accidental wit and wisdom." Today's entry is as follows:

"I would like to express my deep condolences for the loss of the Senate."—Commenting on Sen. Paul Wellstone's death, Crawford, Texas, Oct. 25, 2002.
The Best of the Web's James Taranto did some digging and found that the quote was from a joint press conference held by Bush and the PRC President Jiang Zemin. The money quote follows:
[PRESIDENT BUSH] Thank you for coming, President Jiang.

PRESIDENT JIANG: Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen. I just learned that one plane crashed. I would like to express my deep condolences for the loss of the Senate.

Now who looks silly?

Well, the Marine Corps Marathon is over. Here are the basic stats:
--number of runners starting the race: approximately 17,000
--number of runners who finished the race: 14,100
--place in which I finished: 12,500
--time in which I finished: 5:45:27
--number of places which hurt the morning after: 342
--number of times I will run a marathon again: ?

I actually started out doing and feeling pretty well (10K split: 1:11:27; Half Marathon split: 2:32:15; 18 mile split: 3:38:15) and was seemingly on course to finish in around five hours. This pace was somewhere in between my naively optimistic publicly stated goal of 4:45 (approximately 11-minute miles) and my secret-heart-of-hearts goal of 5:15 (approximately 12-minute miles). However, I hit the proverbial wall at around 16 miles and faded fast. By the end I, along with nearly everyone else who was still left on the course was walking nearly all the time. Many who ran were using a method promoted by Jeff Galloway. They ran in disciplined groups and alternated between running and walking according to a pre-determined ratio (e.g. run for eight miles and walk for one). By the time I reached the last leg of the marathon I was doing my own version of the Galloway method: walk for ten minutes, run for one. Still, it got me across the finish line, which was all I was aiming for.

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