Saturday, April 24, 2004


Certain professors have, apparently, been "writing" op-ed pieces that were actually written by someone else
I started searching LexisNexis and other databases for op-eds written by academics the NEI touts as "experts." I printed out a healthy sampling, grouping them chronologically and by subject area. Searching on key phrases led me to other academics' op-eds. Once sorted, it didn't take a forensic crime lab to determine that one person's literary DNA is all over those articles.

Take the argument that the increased use of nuclear power leads to fewer greenhouse-gas emissions. Op-eds on that subject, for instance, ran between 1997 and 1999 with different bylines in three newspapers. Each writer dismissed the claims of "environmentalists" or "skeptics" that greenhouse-gas emissions "can be reduced" without nuclear power. "They are dreaming," said one op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Dec. 2, 1997. Yes, concurred another in the Record of Northern New Jersey on Jan. 5, 1998: "They are dreaming." And Dallas Morning News readers awoke on April 5, 1999, to learn from Landsberger that those lazy enviros were still in the sack: "They are dreaming," he wrote.

Or take the campaign to locate low-level nuclear waste facilities in various states. Between 1990 and 1996, three academics and a physician writing op-eds in newspapers in four states -- Nebraska, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Texas -- all assured readers that nearby sites would "be among the safest and best-engineered" waste facilities in the country.
And we're supposed to convince our students that plagiarism is bad.


Referring not to the worst song of all time but to the fact that South Korea is an increasingly urban and crowded place. Antti Leppanen has a series of interesting posts and photos of this phenomenon. Definitely worth a look.

Friday, April 23, 2004


My last foray into all things musical has garnered a few comments and some probably well-deserved criticism. I thought I'd follow that up with a list of bands whose popularity in 1980s-era South Korea was due primarily to the fact that they actually toured in Korea. If you weren't there, you may not have had the pleasure of experiencing:
Modern Talking. German Pop duo. Another German twosome, Joy, made waves with their hit single "Korean Girls (make me wonder)" but apparently have left no traces on the internet.

Boney M. Who could forget the scintillating beat of "Young, Free, and Single"?

Leif Garrett70s teen heartthrob, who was always trying to "Runaround Sue"

Iron Maiden. Who could forget . . . well, forget about it.

And though they're not foreign bands, thinking about this era forced me to remember such musical titans as


Chôn Yông-nok

Strange days!


And just what is the "it"? An evil gas-guzzling Chevy Suburban. What gives? Is Kerry not part of his own family?

UPDATE: Scott Ott has the following breaking news
Just hours after telling reporters that he doesn't own an SUV but his family does, Sen. John Forbes Kerry announced today that he had gained permission from his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, to drive the family's Chevy Suburban on brief trips to the grocery store or dry cleaner.

"I didn't ask to take it on the campaign trail because it gets lousy gas mileage which is bad for the environment," said Mr. Kerry. "But I was excited when Teresa told me that I could run out to the Piggly-Wiggly in the big rig."
Sounds about right.

UPDATE II: None of this matters, of course, because KERRY ROCKS!

Thursday, April 22, 2004


So says ESPN's Marc Stein:
Thomas has made no secret of his desire to return to coaching someday, and one team insider tells us "it's 1,000 percent" that Thomas will eventually coach the Knicks. Thomas' promise to Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan on the way in is that he wouldn't move to the bench until the timing made more sense, but that time is basically here.
Why would Gotham even want the guy who destroyed the CBA, did next to nothing for Toronto and coached the Indiana Pacers to a first-round exit in the 2003 playoffs? At least he won't be able to blame management for the team he will have to coach.


Check out the "village idiot" sign in the photo here and decide for yourself.


So reads the headline of a "news analysis" piece in the Korea Herald. What follows the headline is some of the more fluffy but empty reporting and analysis one can find:
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's visit to China this week has breathed new life into hopes for peace on the Korean Peninsula, as analysts at home and abroad are now turning optimistic about the outcome of the ongoing nuclear row.
Kim met his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, Wednesday and the two leaders said they were committed to ending the dispute over North Korea's nuclear weapons peacefully through dialogue.

China's Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhang Yesui said yesterday that in dealing with world security challenges, both Asia and Europe must "uphold multilateralism and enhance international cooperation."
So Kim and Hu meet and have discussions on matters they choose not to reveal to the public except in standard diplomatic boilerplate about "peace" and "dialogue." What else are we to conclude but that this means a resolution of the nuclear issue is just around the corner?
"I think North Korea had something very significant to say this time. The top meetings of Kim and Hu (mean) there was a major agreement," said an Asia-Pacific analyst from Sweden who asked not to be named. "North Korea is almost ready to give up its nuclear ambitions and wants to get down to bargain, and Kim wants to convince China to help the Stalinist state when it comes to dealing with (the) U.S. standoff."
Well, I hate to break it to the anonymous Swedish analyst, but given that the DPRK has repeatedly expressed that it is paying close attention to the U.S. Presidential race, and given that Kerry recently declared
"his No. 1 priority if elected would be to change the approach to North Korea. He has criticized the administration's insistence on only negotiating with Pyongyang in a multilateral setting and has said he would engage immediately in direct talks if elected president.
why should we expect that the DPRK will submit to the results of multilateral talks that it has opposed and resented when the promise of bilateral talks (and the hope for a better deal) appears to be just around the corner?

UPDATE: Conrad reports that the honeymoon is already over. That didn't take long.

UPDATE II: On the other hand, unattributable scuttlebutt around DC is that the PRC did warn Kim Jong Il not to wait around until Kerry takes office because Kerry too is likely to end up supporting the dismantling of the North Korean nuclear program. This may be the case but I still conclude that the North Koreans probably feel that at the very least they have little to lose and potentially much to gain by waiting for Kerry.


According to the New York Times (free registration required).
Hundreds of people were killed and injured when two trains loaded with fuel collided and exploded in a North Korean railroad station on Thursday, only hours after North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Il, had passed by, according to reports in South Korean news media.

The cable television network YTN estimated that up to 3,000 people had been killed or injured in huge explosions that followed the collision of a train carrying gasoline and a second carrying liquefied petroleum gas.


Train wrecks with large numbers of fatalities are rare in North Korea, largely because trains creak slowly along rails that were first laid during the Japanese occupation, more than 60 years ago.

The explosion took place on North Korea's busiest rail line, on the route from Pyongyang to China. A lifeline for the impoverished nation, the route brings in food and fuel from China, the North's leading trading partner and a major source of aid.

The blast took place around noon, near the time when North Korea's state-controlled news media first informed its people that Mr. Kim, the nation's leader, had made a rare trip abroad to China. Mr. Kim, who leaves the country only in a specially armored rail car, a gift to his father by Stalin, had secretly passed through Ryongchon station shortly before dawn, nine hours before the blast. Mr. Kim, known as the "Dear Leader," does not travel by airplane.

UPDATE: The Marmot has more details and a map.


Some intrepid soul did a Google search for "sheep Chomsky." This is what they got. I'm not sure whether I should be honored or frightened.



After years of research, publication and persuasion (see here for some examples), the United Nations is sticking with "Sea of Japan."
The United Nations will continue using the name "Sea of Japan" in its official documents to refer to the body of water encircled by Japan, the Korean Peninsula and Russia, despite South Korea's objections to the term, a Japanese official said Wednesday.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004


This according to some recently discovered rock carvings (hat tip to Marginal Revolution for the link).
Analysis of rock carvings at Bangu-Dae archaeological site in Ulsan in the southeast of the country revealed more than 46 depictions of large whales.

They also show evidence that humans used harpoons, floats and lines to catch their prey, which included sperm whales, right whales and humpbacks.

Some in Korea will, no doubt, conclude that this is yet another piece of evidence attesting to the ancient greatness of Korea. This may very well be the case, but as always, there is little to no evidence demonstrating that the people that lived on the Korean peninsula "between 6,000 and 1,000 BC" are related to present-day Koreans. They may be, but it is also possible that the waves of people coming into Korea from the Asian mainland wiped out the indigenous people who were already there.


Various corners of the blogosphere are atwitter by a recent list of "The 50 Worst Songs Ever" a list topped by Jefferson Starship's "We Built this City." Since I am, apparently, one who would rather comment on Western pop music than on pressing issues of the day, I offer the following for your consideration and criticism:


Most of these are well-known bands that have achieved considerable commercial success and/or cult followings. And yet, with exceptions to be noted below, whenever one of their songs comes on the radio, I invariably end up switching the station long before the song ends.

Any and all ex-Beatles. Just because you were part of one of the most influential rock-and-roll bands in history doesn’t mean that you can or should try to go it alone. Paul, John, George, and especially Ringo (along with his all-star band) should have moved on to other pursuits (I would say the same thing about ex-members of the Rolling Stones, but besides Mick Jagger’s laughable solo stuff, I don’t even know of any other attempts of other band members to even try to go solo).

The Grateful Dead. A dedicated posse of dead-heads, funky ties, dancing bears, and a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavor do not a good rock band make (possible exceptions: “A touch of gray” and “Fire on the mountain” but do these two marginal songs really earn the band the accolades it has received over the years?). Moreover, I’d bet good money that among the millions of Americans who mourned the passing of Jerry Garcia, more than half would be hard pressed to name or recognize a single Grateful Dead tune.

The Who (exception: “Behind blue eyes”). The band never did anything for me except make me want to listen to something else.

Elvis Costello. A perennial favorite of the “serious” music fan or critic, the man would be completely forgotten had he not stolen the name of a more famous (and worthy) rock musician. (Exceptions: “Allison,” “Watching the Detectives”; both came out decades ago). Not liking Elvis Costello (or his Attractions) probably makes me one of the unsophisticated masses who do not appreciate soulful song-writing but I’ll just have to learn to live with that.

Dave Matthews Band: See “Elvis Costello” (and he doesn’t even have a memorable name).

Van Morrison. I actually quite admire Van the Man as a songwriter. But, like Bob Dylan, his songs work far better when someone else sings them. I’ve heard that in concert Morrison has been known to insist that his audience not song along with his songs, a fact that probably speaks volumes about his pretentiousness.

The Doors. Nothing to say here. Move along.

Van Hagar (not to be confused with David Lee Roth-era Van Halen). While the original Van Halen may have been somewhat silly at times, once screamin’ Dave was booted out, things really went downhill.

The Clash (exception: “Should I stay or should I go"). Another one of those bands that serious music fans are supposed to like and appreciate because they were “influential.” Perhaps they were, but they also were, for the most part, un-listenable.

Kenny G/Yanni/John Tesh. You mean they’re not the same person/band?

There’s probably more, but that is enough for now. Talk amongst yourselves.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004


Former Japanese hostages to pay for their flight home.
Senior Vice Foreign Minister Ichiro Aisawa on Tuesday said the government will have three Japanese civilians taken hostage by a militant group on April 7 and freed last Thursday pay a total of about 660,000 yen for a chartered plane that took them from Baghdad to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
Ouch! According to my limited math skills (and prevailing exchange rates) that is over $6000!

Monday, April 19, 2004


So says Steven Taylor about the Kerry mantra that once he becomes president he will get the international community more involved in Iraq.
I continue to fail to see how just asking more nicely, or giving the UN a greater role (which it is rather uncler how much they want one, or, more importantly, what they would do with one) would "induce" greater international cooperation. This strikes me as patently incorrect. It is clear that the powers who don't want to be involved now will not want to be involved in the future just because of a UN imprimatur.
I find myself agreeing with this line of thinking. I think perhaps, I might take it one step further and argue that Kerry's firm assurance that all it will take is him living in the White House to secure the cooperations of legions of French, German, and Russian troops in stabilizing Iraq is actually a rather scathing indictment of said French, Germans and Russians. They are, apparently, withholding their support for the U.S.-led effort in Iraq, not because of genuine and sincere policy differences about whether the outside world should be in Iraq or because of a rational cost-benefit analysis that resulted in the conclusion that participation in Iraq would be detrimental to their interests but rather merely because it is George W. Bush (and not John F. Kerry) who is doing the asking. If our putative allies are really withholding support for a venture out of personal pique at Bush and could be so easily swayed by the stentorian nuance of Kerry, their support won't be worth much.


We've all heard about the stereotypical artist/university professor who assumes that it is his or her role to shock students out of their middle class innocence and complacency. But, as University Diaries notes, that was then. Now, the would-be shockers often find an audience that is way ahead of the curve:
Truth be told, though, rather than a confrontation between a liberated aesthete (creative writing professor) and a repressed bourgeois (student), this sort of classroom interaction is a marriage made in heaven -- an already sadistically oriented American kid links up with a 'sixties type who thinks Bertolucci's Dreamers is high art, and who assigns novels, poems, and plays that have precisely the same content as the video games he's been playing but are gussied up as high culture and taken seriously by adults. This is a dream come true for the kid - a glossy legitimation of his darkest drives.
There is a sort of poetic justice to this but the underlying reality is a bit troubling to me.

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