Friday, November 21, 2003

JEFF IN KOREA HAS SEVERAL INTERESTING POSTS UP. Be sure to check out the post on demonstrators use of "starfish bombs" and his round up of posts on the rocket attacks in Baghdad that may have been (but probably weren't targeting Koreans. (Start on November 21 and scroll down). I have to confess that when I first heard of this particular attack and the allegation that Koreans were the target (the Marmot has the goods) I found the idea to be a bit far-fetched. Yes, the folks bombing Baghdad, Istanbul, Saudi Arabia etc. seem to be pretty equal opportunity about their targets. They certainly wouldn't try to avoid Koreans because they were Koreans. But to conclude that among a hotel full of foreigners Koreans were the specific target assumes too much (and assumes that the guys who launched the rockets from a donkey cart had really good intelligence and really good aim).

"WHAT HAS THE WORLD COME TO?" So asks one Jim Priest, an "urban pioneer" who was faced with the grim reality of the LA real estate market. Consider this sad plight:
He never wanted to be what he calls a "careerist," but now he tells his two children to "learn how to earn" so they can afford to be homeowners when they grow up. "I hate it, man," Priest laments. What has the world come to that a dad needs to give his kids advice like that?
Teaching your kids to "learn how to earn." The horror!

Thursday, November 20, 2003

AREA STUDIES EXPERTS NEED NOT APPLY. An interesting post on H-ASIA about the travails of an individual areas studies expert (Ph.D. and MBA) about the difficulties if not the near impossibility of finding an entry-level job in the U.S. government.
The federal civil service procedures, on-line resume construction, emphasis on hiring internally over externally, veteran preferences, and valorizing work over education all create large impediments for folks with graduate degrees who wish to work for the government. The Department of State, in not permitting area scholars to serve as such, in combination with its entry pay levels, provides serious disincentives to employment to young area scholars, as well.

Clearly, if the federal government wants area scholars who are broadly trained in the history, society, and language of a country, then it should make hiring such scholars reasonably possible.

In visiting those civil servants working with China related issues, there is a strong interest in hiring area scholars. GS 9 positions are entry level. They would welcome someone who needs a bit of training in how the government works, but who brings expertise in the area. It's hiring procedures that make access to government work especially difficult.

I don't know whether this case is representative or not but if it is, I find it a bit disturbing. Newly minted Ph.Ds (or Ph.Ds of any kind for that matter) do not have a monopoly on knowledge; far from it. But if hiring preferences and procedures are completely freezing such candidates from potential jobs, it would seem to rob the government of a valuable source of knowledge and insight.

PHOTOS OF THE AFTERMATH OF LATEST ROUND OF BOMBINGS IN ISTANBUL CAN BE VIEWED HERE (warning, some are quite graphic). I guess this will teach Turkey for sending troops to Iraq. Oops, I mean, it will show Turkey that it shouldn't be so vocal in its support for American unilateral action in the Middle East. Wait a minute . . . Well, at least it will teach Turkey for wanting to join the EU and have some semblance of a secular state. It is getting harder and harder to find any sort of method to the madness of terrorism.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003


STAGING CAR CRASHES FOR INSURANCE MONEY? Seeing Eye Blog links to a story on this phenomenon in Korea.As if driving in big cities in South Korea wasn't stressful enough already.

DON'T MESS WITH THAT NEWSPAPER! Free North Korea links to a Korea Times article which describes what happened when some South Korean KEDO workers had the teremity to crumple and throw away a copy of the Rodong Sinumn:
In October 1997, relations between the two Koreas ran into a crisis. This crisis was so serious that North Korea temporarily halted the construction of light-water nuclear reactors _ despite the immense importance the project had for the country’s economy. Pyongyang explained this was the only possible answer to the outrageous discovery that was made in the dormitory of the South Korean specialists who were involved in the reactors’ construction.

What actually happened? An issue of the Rodong Sinmun newspaper was found in the waste bin, torn and crumpled! Its first page was damaged! ``So what?’’ might ask a Western or South Korean reader, quite accustomed to the unceremonious treatment of newspapers. Foolish them, for the attitude towards newspapers in the North, and in particular to Rodong Sinmun, is very different. The newspapers’ front pages nearly always bear the sacred portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, and this alone entitles them to special respect and treatment. And, apart from this, Rodong Sinmun is, well, Rodong Sinmun.
This has shades of the North Korean cheerleaders running back to rescue a banner bearing the Dear Leader's visage that was poorly hung.
But they were emotional off the field as well. During the games, the women were shown on television overcome after passing a welcome poster hung by local residents that depicted the North Korean president shaking hands with former South Korean president Kim Dae Jung. The cheerleaders cried hysterically, insisting the poster was haphazardly mounted on street lights and hung too close to the ground. Pouring out of their bus, they ran a quarter of a mile to retrieve it. "How could you treat our dear leader this way?" one sobbed on camera.

NORTH KOREA TO JAPAN: Stop "terrorizing" ethnic Koreans in Japan.
North Korea's deputy ambassador to the United Nations asked Japan on Monday to stop what he termed "terrorist" acts, referring to harassment of pro-Pyongyang Korean residents in Japan.

Deputy Ambassador Kim Chang Guk told a human rights committee meeting at the U.N. General Assembly that Japan must immediately stop "terrorist" behaviors and referred to the harassment of students of pro-Pyongyang schools and recent incidents in which gunshots were fired at facilities of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon).

There's the dreaded "t-word" again. Someone needs to come up with a Godwin's law for the use of the word "terrorism." Having said that, I think it is interesting that the DPRK is trying to stand up for ethnic Koreans in Japan given that most of said ethnic Koreans have explicitly chosen not to become either North or South Korean citizens. Has anyone in Seoul spoken up on behalf of the Korean girls in Japan who have been harassed "because they wear the traditional "Chogori" uniform"? Beyond the obvious point that the treatment of Japanese-Koreans serves North Korea as a useful distraction from other, more uncomfortable, issues as well as a club with which to beat the Japanese, it seems that North Korea is asserting a position of representing ethnic Koreans beyond the DPRK's borders. Interesting.

FORECAST: ONLY A SLIGHT CHANCE OF MUCH BLOGGING IN THE NEAR-TERM FUTURE. Am insanely busy so probably won't have much to say in the near future. On the other hand, whenever I've said this in the past, I usually follow up with multiple postings. Sign of a sick addiction, no doubt.

Monday, November 17, 2003

"STRANGE FRUIT" Discriminations has a lengthy post on the recent controversy over Senator Zell Miller's statement that Janice Rogers Brown is being "lynched" by Democrats who oppose her nomination to the DC Court of Appeals. The post notes that Democrats who express outrage at Miller's use of the term are being somewhat selective in their wrath and includes a significant number of instances in which "lynching" or variations thereof have been used with little or no protest. Examples:
I hate to use a charged term, but it's my heart talking here. I really think it was a political lynching that happened in the United States Senate
• Sen. Barbara Boxer in interview with CBS’s Bob Shieffer on John Ashcroft’s opposing the nomination of Ronnie White to the Circuit Court of Appeals.

“He orchestrated the lynching of an innocent man”
• Sen. Ted Kennedy, commenting on Dominick Dunne’s argument that Kennedy cousin Tommy Skakel was a murderer, USA Today, 1 April 2002

“Hate crimes are modern day lynchings”
• Sen. Ted Kennedy, Associated Press, 19 October 1999
Personally, I think that Miller went way over the top by describing what happened to Brown as a "lynching." After all, we're talking about a powerful California judge not becoming a Circuit Court Justice in DC (she presumably will stay on the bench in California) not violence done to her person or livelihood. But the selectivity of outrage (and the post lists many more than the excerpts I have included here) is yet another troubling indication of the partisanship that is tearing at the political fabric of the U.S. Note: this partisanship is entirely equal opportunity: both Republicans and Democrats, both left and right do it. It appears that very few are willing to forgo short-term partisan advantage for E Pluribus Unum.

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