Thursday, March 24, 2005


I am going to die at 84. When are you? Click here to find out!


At least if they are also fugitive murderers (thanks to University Diaries for noticing this story; how does she find all this good stuff?).
In Chicago, he is one of the city's most beloved antiwar poets, an author of two books and a congregation leader at a West Side church. But in Massachusetts, he is notorious for executing a clerk at a Saugus clothing store in 1960, aiding in the murder of a Middlesex County jailer in 1961, and then escaping from a Norfolk County correction center in 1985.

Yesterday, his past and Massachusetts authorities caught up with Norman A. Porter Jr.

Now 65, the man on the ''Most Wanted" list has been living in Chicago for at least a decade as Jacob Jameson. As J.J. Jameson, he has been a frequent performer at Chicago lounges and was named's poet of the month in March 2004.
It seems that life as a fugitive poet may not have been all that enjoyable:
Horton said Porter is not married and ''looks like a sick old man who hasn't eaten a good meal in about 10 years."

Horton described Porter's home, a tiny second-floor apartment across the street from the church, as a wreck.

''He was living like a pig," Horton said, adding there was dog feces on the floor and clothes strewn about. ''It was a mess."


I would very much like to attend this conference but it will be held in the middle of the week, causing me to miss too many classes. Good to see Koguryo, Parhae and the rest finally get some well-deserved attention though.


Ken Lieberthal offers some sensible analysis and advice.
Regime change could produce a period of chaos. Millions of people would be likely to take to the roads seeking food and other assistance, with huge numbers desperate to cross the Chinese and South Korean borders. Forces from China, the US and South Korea could soon be drawn in to choke off those flows, seek to establish relief operations, and try to nail down the location and control of North Korea's stockpiles of nuclear weapons and/or weapons-grade plutonium.
Some lessons:
First, the Bush administration should seriously re-think regime change as a desired outcome.

Second, regime change in North Korea could lead to direct involvement of US, Chinese and South Korean military forces on what is now North Korean territory.

Given this possibility, the three militaries should hold quiet talks among operational commanders to reduce the chances of future distrust and miscommunication
All of this is, of course, prudent and sensible advice. If Iraq has taught us anything, it is that toppling an oppressive dictator doesn't automatically lead to peace and stability. My only qualm about such conclusions is that they seem to consign the North Korean people to what in all likelihood will be additional years if not decades of suffering. Yes, realists have to calculate the costs of any course of action. But all of the gloomy scenarios about the dangers of regime collapse carry with them the unspoken implication that as long as they don't have a direct impact on our lives, the North Korean people can go on suffering privation and oppression. After all, that's better than the unpredictable dangers of regime change, right?


So says the Korea Times. If the specifics of the article are any indication, they're not kidding about the "crawling" part.

Some workers are approaching the staggering salary of $10 @ month:
Some factory workers for a shoe manufacturer are paid as much as 10,000 won ($9.50), he said. The average monthly pay in North Korea stays somewhere between 2,000 won and 3,000 won. The introduction of a salary system was one of the biggest reform measures established in June 2002.
There are also signs of actually demanding practical competence of new public officials:
`Now applicants have to pass economics and politics exams to become public officials,’’ Kim said. ``In the past, applicants were only required to pass an interview, in which they had to present other officials’ recommendations.’’
And finally, the university curriculum is changing:
``The Kim Il-sung University has been teaching students market economy principles since March 2003,’’ Kim said. ``It means the North’s viewpoint on the market is changing. I think Pyongyang now thinks the market is not a target to reject.’’
Will any of these measures bear significant fruit? Too soon to tell.


Full text can be read here (executive summary here). A couple of snippets:
The official Chinese estimate of the number of North Koreans in China is 10,000, but the real figure is several times that number. It is possible that there were as many as 200,000 at the peak of the famine. The most active NGOs in the area estimate (based on extrapolation from village surveys) that there have been 300,000 or more, but this is probably an exaggeration. More distant (and thus perhaps more objective) organizations put the numbers at between 10,000 and 50,000 in the year 2002, and since then, well under 50,000.
I'm fascinated by the way in which the numbers in estimates such as these always seem to creep up to the high end (and beyond) in most media reports. When is the last time you read a report that didn't say something like "as many as 200,000" rather than "as few as 10,000"?

As is all too often the case, women don't fare well in situations like these:
Indeed, women face great hazards. They are often forced into sexual slavery, and are sometimes subject to rape. Despite this, today, more than three quarters of the North Korean immigrants are women. Female refugees have more options than do males. Many women have found employment and shelter as domestic workers, though they often end up in prostitution. Even women who find more orthodox employment often find themselves over-worked and under-paid.

Some women become wives. A few manage to marry men from Korea (either North or South), but more commonly they marry local ethnic Koreans. Sometimes this is arranged by brokers either in China or pre-arranged in North Korea; in other cases people sheltering the women arrange, or press, for them to marry locally. Although the arrangements can be exploitive, the women tend to consider themselves lucky ? compared with imprisonment or being hungry in North Korea. However, many of the women are virtual sex slaves, before leaving their country often having placed themselves in the hands of professional bride traffickers. Many North Korean parents think that it is better to send their daughters to China than for them to remain at home. At the same time, many of China’s ethnic Korean farmers have difficulty finding local wives (the young women being attracted to the cities to work). Sometimes the system produces satisfactory marriages to ethnic Koreans, but all too often, the purchased women are resold to other men, often ethnic Chinese; sooner or later they land in the hands of the police.

A first-person account of a forcible return to North Korea:
Human Rights Watch report describes the observations of a former border guard who was repatriated in Musan in April 2000:
While we were crying loudly, they brought us to the Chilsung customs house in Musan. A North Korean officer of the National Security Agency greeted us there, shaking hands with each of us, saying, ‘Good job!’ However, after the Chinese turned back, the officer shouted, ‘Kneel down, you son of a bitch’. They checked our pockets. They forced my wife to take off her talle-baji (tailored trousers) and took them away, because they symbolized capitalism. She had to stay, wearing only her underwear, even though it was very cold outside. They also took the South Korean clothing off people. They investigated whether the repatriated people had any relationship with South Korea…. If a person met South Koreans or reporters or wrote articles, or attended church or escaped after committing a crime in North Korea, they would be secretly killed, without even God knowing.
Read the whole thing.


Courtesy of WSJ's "Opinion Journal":
Measured in terms of profligate spending and a malleable ethics process, the Republican majority today is not so different from the Democratic majority it replaced. The ordinary idealism required to transform an opposition minority may not square with the extraordinary exercise of power in a ruling majority.
Why anyone should expect anything different (or why anyone should assume that they are on the side of the angels) is beyond me.

Monday, March 21, 2005


NCAA Sweet sixteen (according to seeding prediction) Mistaken predictions are in red)

Oklahoma State

Wake Forest





My Sweet sixteen


Oklahoma State

Wake Forest




OK, neither of us is very good at this...

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