Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The yanks are coming: AP pulls Pyongyang's faked flood photo

I'll write more on this week-old story when I'm in front of a computer, but for now I'll write that I find it encouraging that the Associated Press is willing to poke Pyongyang in the eye by yanking propaganda pictures.

If we end up with more and more "telling it like it is" stories and photos from AP's new Pyongyang bureau, that's a good thing.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Light posting for a few days

I'm in Clark County, Nevada, helping relatives with some serious family issues, but I'll be back to semi-regular posting by the end of the week. I actually had a lucid dream last night where I did an entire day's Daily Kor. I was quite proud of myself until I woke up.

In the meantime, I'll let you ponder whether "owling" (which my iPhone insists on correcting as "Peking") is the new planking.

This succinct email was sent from my iPhone.

Friday, July 22, 2011

musical notes: "Veronica" by Elvis Costello

This is a bit old, but it's a touching song about a grandmotherly figure important to the singer who is suffering from Alzheimer's or some form of dementia. My own octogenarian 고모부 uncle, a World War II veteran who fought on the US side at Iwo Jima, is in the final stages of Alzheimer's and my septuagenarian aunt is an emotional, financial, and physical wreck. It's utterly heartbreaking. And no matter how many times I listen to this song, it always gets me at least a little.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

musical notes: "Seven-Nation Army" by White Stripes

I think these people broke up. Never was sure if they were husband and wife or brother and sister. And how cool is it that there's a Jack White and a Jack Black.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Musical notes: "Lemon Tree" by 박혜경

This is something I also plan to make a regular feature. I am going to feature, via YouTube or some other embeddable service, various Korean songs and artists. Things that sound nice, things people recommend, things that pop into my head.

Where you, dear reader, come in to my plan is that I would love to receive suggestions. I'm open to all kinds of genres, time periods, artists, etc. In fact, I'd be happy to put up stuff from Japan, Taiwan, the US, etc. So email me suggestions (or leave them in the comments section). 

I'm going to start with "Lemon Tree" by 박혜경 (Park Hyegyŏng or Hyegyeong or Hyekyung or...), which I found by... well, I'm not sure how I found it. I like this song because the original, by Fool's Garden, reminds me of happy times with my ex-fiancée (if you've heard the original, I know that sounds a bit odd, but it was a favorite song of hers).

Ms Park's cover is a completely different direction from the last bit of music I put up on my blog, "Jump Around" by House of Pain, nice Irish fellows from a pleasant neighborhood in Boston.

What's on Kushibo's iPod:
miscellaneous Newshour pieces

All right, this is what's left for now, the stuff that doesn't fit into the economic, military, and political categories. At least not exactly. A lot of environmental stuff and education-related stories (for which I should make their own category in the future).

The first one, about a touching documentary on North Korean refugees and how they escape, is worth looking at as a preview to the actual documentary, which is a must-see.

In other blogs: Hello, Dalai!

Stuff I found that you should read. Go.
By the way, if you have something special that you'd really like highlighted among my seven readers or so, email me a link and I'll consider it when I do this again (I plan to make this a regular feature).

Riding in a black and white
(or silver and gray)

I'd been meaning to post on this for a while, this oft-repeated notion (see here, here, here, and here) that in Korea almost all the colors are black, white, silver, and gray, but since The Korean brought it up after his recent trip to South Korea, I thought I'd do a quickie post with a picture.

You see, while I agree that that is an apt description of cars in Korea, the thing is that it appears — from where I am at least — to be a more universal phenomenon. The above picture is in Honolulu, and it's not of a location I picked because there happen to be a lot of white, black, gray, or silver cars, but rather a location I had pre-decided before arrival to take a sample picture of, simply because I can get a lot of cars in the frame. (My vehicle is seventh counting from right.)

The picture below is in the other direction, the parking lot right behind me.

Note that in the first picture there are seventeen cars, and only three are some other color. And one of those is beige! The second picture is pretty much the same. Where I am at this moment in Orange County, I'd get almost the same results.

And if I'm right (and I always am), then this may be a case where we don't notice something that's around us until we encounter it outside our usual sphere. In this case, The Korean (from New York) when he's back in Korea, or all the bloggers and commenters who had written about it in the K-blogosphere. I myself didn't recognize it about Honolulu until someone started mentioning it about Seoul. (I think the phenomenon is also at play with racism and discrimination, sexism in various forms, work-related issues, etc., but that's a post for another time.)

The reason for this "problem," methinks, is that car manufacturers are trying to save money in the supply chain by providing fewer colors, particularly those that seem to be more popular. Every car I've owned, in fact, has been black (my current Honda Passport and the company Kia Carnival), white (my older Hyundai Sonata), or silver (my Acura Integra and my Hyundai Excel). I did once have a red Honda motor scooter.

Anybody else have a theory? Is it better resale value? I do see some color on Korean roads, especially if a certain smaller car looks especially cute (the green Matiz or the red Kia Pride come to mind), but otherwise it's that monochrome color pallet (there's an oxymoron for you).

I decided to do actual homework for this. According to this site, nearly two of every three vehicles in North America are white, black, silver, or gray (Dupont had similar numbers). globally, those colors make up more than three-fourths of all cars. Meanwhile, unusual colors are less likely to be stolen.

I like charts.

This reinforced my belief that people might be going toward bland colors for some other practical reason, like theft, resale value, or getting ticketed. While I chose black vehicles because I think SUVs and minivans look cooler when they're the same color as the window tint, others might choose other inconspicuous colors so they won't gain notice from the fuzz.

Indeed, according to Snopes, drivers of white and silver cars get disproportionately fewer tickets than their population would suggest, but drivers of gray cars get more. Also, drivers of red cars are no more likely to get ticketed than those of other vehicles, so maybe I'll go that way next time.

The pink-magenta is all right, but I'm not digging the 'fro.

Carmageddon condensed

If you were in California, there was no escaping hearing all about Carmageddon, the doom that was supposed to happen to the L.A. area freeway system when the ten miles of the 405 (the San Diego Freeway, which isn't actually in San Diego) between the 10 (Santa Monica Freeway) and the 101 (the Ventura Freeway, I think). We're talking some places that are super ultra mega crowded even on a good day.

Anyway, it was captured in this cool video, reminiscent of a recently popular time-lapse of Seoul (though not as cool as that).

Carmageddon turned out not to be, not because it shouldn't have been made a big deal, but because they made a big deal out of it. Just as Angelenos did during the 1984 Summer Olympics, they showed they were willing to stay off the freeways and off the nearby surface streets if it was needed.

The work finished ahead of schedule. In Los Angeles, it's easier to raze things than raise them.

And there may have been some game-changing results from this. People actually got on trains and rode bicycles (but the people who flew across town for $4 clearly didn't get it). With Carmageddon 2.0 eleven months away, when they knock down the other half of the bridge, maybe some of it will stick (with some people).

Sunday, July 17, 2011

What's on Kushibo's iPod: Newshour on the military, security, and space

Some of the best pieces on Newshour are related to military, security, and space matters. On military issues in particular, I would say they're rather objective and balanced, although I'm sure some in the military who are opposed to the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" may not not agree.

(I note also that when, at ROK Drop, I linked to what I thought was a good and sympathetic Newshour piece on mental health issues among military members, one of the other commenters was convinced that liberal PBS was just trying to turn those military members into victims, a common liberal tactic.)

Daily Kor for Sunday, July 17, 2011

story #3
It's a light news day, so let me take this chance to talk about something only peripherally related to South Korea: Tokyo will go ahead with its bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics, something that was in doubt after both the tsunami and nuclear disaster earlier this year (well, the nuclear disaster is still going on), followed by South Korea getting the 2018 Winter Olympics, which would hurt Japan's chances if the IOC sticks with the "continental rotation" scheme (they didn't with Sochi, Russia, in 2014, which follows London in 2012). Good luck, Japan!
  1. International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation (FIBT) endorses proposal for South and North Korea to field joint team at 2018 Pyongchang Winter Olympics (UPI, Korea Times, Yonhap)
    • Kushibo's note: Maybe this is just one elaborate escape plan, using bobsleds
    • Korea will spend 550 billion won in run-up to Pyongchang games in order to promote winter sports (Chosun Ilbo)
  2. Sweden to offer $2.94 million in medical aid to North Korea (Korea Times, Yonhap)
  3. Drowsy driver crossing bridge in southern city of Sach'ŏn smashes car into hikers, killing four (Yonhap)
  4. Gold reaches record high in Korea of 217.8K won per ton (Yonhap)
    • Kushibo's note: That's a Korean ton (돈), which is only 3.75 grams, not an English ton
  5. North Korea reports that homes have been destroyed, farmland flooded, and some lives lost following a second day of heavy rain (AP via WaPo)
    • Rains bring fresh concerns about food supply in North (Yonhap)
  6. Three more North Korean players fail doping tests at FIFA Women's World Cup; North Korean team blames musk deer medicine (Reuters, AP via WaPo, Bloomberg)
  7. Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise announce faking of second pregnancy (Reuters)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Daily Kor for Saturday, July 16, 2011

I'm late. So class-action lawsuit me.
  1. Somali pirates holding twenty-five South Koreans aboard the MV Gemini demand release of Somali pirates held in ROK prisons following a raid earlier this year, as well as compensation (AP via WaPo, YonhapKorea Herald)
  2. Bank of Korea cuts 2011 growth forecast to 4.3 percent amid worries over global uncertainties (AP via WaPo, BloombergWSJ)
  3. About 17,000 iPhone users in South Korea join group lawsuit over Apple's tracking of users (IT World, WSJ)
  4. US President Barack Obama urges compromise in order to pass FTAs with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama (Reuters, Bloomberg)
  5. ROK Ministry of Education okays SUNY Stony Brook campus in Inchon's Songdo development (WSJ)
  6. South Korean-manufactured KTX train forced to stop near Miryang after smoke comes out of back of train (YonhapJoongang Daily)
  7. South Korean and Chinese defense ministers decry any act that would destabilize Korean Peninsula (Joongang Daily)
  8. Hyundai Heavy Industries' orders surge 82 percent in first half of 2011, to US$18.1 billion (Yonhap)
  9. International association of tabloid newspapers rates South Korea's paparazzi as "world's lamest" (The World)

What's on Kushibo's iPod:
the Newshour economic reader

I'm still in the process of clearing out my SAVE list on iTunes. These are podcasts — almost all of the Newshour pieces — that I think are worth a listen (or a viewing, since they're actually original from television). The first few are very recent, although toward the bottom some of the are from much earlier in the year, when Obama's presidency was just around two years old but the Republicans were already beginning to say he'd been in charge for "almost three years." 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Daily Kor for Friday, July 15, 2011

A quick edition of the Daily Kor (i.e., fewer sources than usual). And June Gloom is getting me down. At least my mortgage not going up (story #2) is something cheer me up.
  1. South Korean court forces Apple to pay 1 million won (US$945) to plaintiff over secret iPhone tracking (WaPo, Reuters, Yonhap)
  2. With a watchful eye on Europe and rising inflation at home, South Korea's central bank leaves key interest rate at 3.25 percent (AP via WaPo, Korea Times, Bloomberg, Yonhap, Joongang Daily)
  3. IOC Chairman Jacques Rogge says North Korea will have no role in co-hosting 2018 Winter Olympics to be held in and around Pyongchang County (Reuters)
    • Rogge urges Tokyo to maintain its bid for 2020 Summer Olympiad despite South Korea hosting in 2018 (AP via WaPo)
  4. In-coming US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen says threat of North Korean provocations "remains very real" as Pyongyang works to strengthen leader Kim Jong Il’s successor, urges Beijing to play "a leadership role" in restraining DPRK (AP via WaPo, Reuters, AFPS, Bloomberg, Yonhap)
    • Japanese delegation in Washington urges US not to provide food aid to North Korea (AFP)
  5. Samsung-commissioned study says cancers at semiconductor facilities unrelated to work for Korean conglomerate (AP via WaPo, Yonhap)
  6. GM Korea workers reach wage deal that ends partial strike (WSJ)
  7. ROK Foreign Ministry slams Japanese counterparts after Tokyo calls for one-month boycott of Korean Air after flagship South Korean carrier flies around South Korea-held islets claimed by Japan in exhibition flight of new Airbus A380 carrier (Yonhap, Reuters)
  8. Thor and Ugba declare victory against Scandinavian condo (AFP)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Daily Kor for the half week ending Wednesday, July 13, 2011

story #4

Been too busy on the Mainland for daily Daily Kor. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. (And does anyone get the joke that it's supposed to be one letter off from "Daily Kos" in the hopes that people will wind up here when they mistype?)
  1. North Korea's IOC member expresses interest in co-hosting 2018 Winter Olympics recently awarded to Pyongchang County near inter-Korean border (Monster Island, AFP, Reuters, AP via WaPo, Yonhap, Korea Herald)
  2. South Korean unemployment in June remains at lowest level since November 2010 (Reuters, Bloomberg, Korea Herald)
  3. Local governments to hire 7000 more welfare workers by 2014 (Yonhap, Joongang Daily)
  4. Days of heavy rains from monsoons leave at least nine dead (AP via WaPo, Yonhap)
    • North Korea reportedly discharges water without warning from dam near DMZ (Yonhap, Korea Herald)
    • North Korea says Typhoon Meari caused significant damage and casualties (Yonhap)
  5. US Trade Representative Ron Kirk confident that free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama will be passed by August (Reuters)
    • US Secretary of State urges quick passage of FTAs, saying good diplomatic ties are crucial to job creation at home (AP via WaPo)
  6. Kim Jong-il holds dinner party for visiting Chinese delegation, pledging to maintain close ties with Beijing (AP via WaPo, Global Security Newswire, Yonhap)
  7. US sees no problem in North Korea temporarily heading UN body on nuclear disarmament, amid Canada's announcement it will boycott organization while North Korea heads it (AP via WaPo)
  8. South Korea to cut greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2020 (Chosun Ilbo)
  9. Ryu Soyeon wins US Women's Open (NYT, Reuters, Joongang Daily)
  10. Lie detectors to be used in growing soccer match-fixing scandal (AP via WaPo, Bloomberg)
  11. North Korea says it has developed world's largest smart phone (Yonhap)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Should North Korea co-host the 2018 Pyongchang Winter Olympics?

When Pyongchang (aka Pyeongchang) was selected to host the 2018 Winter Olympics, I knew it was only a matter of time before someone would make a serious suggestion that (a) South Korea and North Korea field a joint team, and (b) North Korea be allowed to host some of the events.

On cue, via AFP:
North Korea would like to share some events in the 2018 Winter Olympics with South Korea, a senior North Korean sports official was quoted as saying Wednesday.

Jang Ung, a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said it was "positive" for Asia to host only its third Winter Games, the South's Yonhap news agency reported from Tokyo.

Asked about the possibility of sharing some events with host town Pyeongchang, Jang replied, "I hope so."

"The political and military situations between the Koreas aren't good and they have to be improved," Jang was quoted as saying. "Otherwise, they could influence the Olympics."

Jang was visiting the Japanese capital for the general assembly of the Olympic Council of Asia.

Pyeongchang, making its third bid for the Winter Olympics, secured the right to host the 2018 event in an IOC vote last week.

The South's ruling and opposition parties have agreed to try to have North and South Korea field a unified team and train players jointly.

But Sohn Hak-Kyu, leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, went further Monday and said he would explore ways for them to co-host the event.

He said the Games should become "a turning point in the history of the divided Korean peninsula, as well as in global peace".
Should I start claiming the title of Kushibo the Clairvoyant? Hardly. What I predicted was the same thing that has been happening since the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics.

Just as in past years, we have someone like opposition leader Sohn Hakkyu saying this would be "a turning point in the history of the divided peninsula." That's long been the selling point, even becoming a key part of the bid for the 2014 games.

But will we see this come to any fruition? In the past, the best that's happened (as I recall) is the North and South teams walking in to the opening ceremonies together.

In the end, the prospect of a joint team ends up being a bargaining chip for Pyongyang, and they themselves back out in the end. The only way I see a joint team going through is if we actually see reunification between now and February 2018.

But I could be wrong. And that begs the question: is fielding a joint team fair or wise? Athletes on both sides of the DMZ work very hard to make the team, and maybe it's not right that they should lose their spot to bring on someone from another country (even if the same nation). There's also the issue of team cohesion: a joint team put together in the last few months might not be able to practice and play together often enough to make an effective team for events that require it.

Netflix can't compete with Netflix

Dammit! My Netflix is about to get 60 percent more expensive. While I was paying about ten bucks for unlimited streaming of movies and one DVD out at a time, I will soon have to pay about sixteen bucks for the same service:
In a reflection of the more challenging economics, the company faces to acquire digital content and ship DVDs, Netflix announced Tuesday that it will no longer offer combined DVD and streaming plans. Instead, the company's more than 22.8 million U.S. consumers will have to pay separately for each service.

Unlimited streaming will cost $7.99 per month, as will taking out one DVD at a time. The combined cost is $15.98 per month, a huge price increase for those who currently pay $9.99 for a combined streaming-plus-one-DVD plan.

In a blog post, the company positioned the price increase as a way to bolster its DVD business, which executives had previously deemphasized.

"Given the long life we think DVDs by mail will have, treating DVDs as a $2 add on to our unlimited streaming plan neither makes great financial sense nor satisfies people who just want DVDs," the corporate blog post said. "Creating an unlimited DVDs by mail plan (no streaming) at our lowest price ever, $7.99, does make sense and will ensure a long life for our DVDs by mail offering."
Perhaps I'm spoiled. After all, I originally signed up when it was just the DVDs for about $9 per month. When they added the streaming, that was gravy. The one-DVD-out-at-a-time service meant, if I watched movies the day I received them and got them out the next day, I could watch about two a week, or about $1.25 per film. That's a 25¢ more than at the Redbox or Blockbuster kiosk, for those keeping score.

But at the same time, I was able to watch as many movies and television programs as I wanted on their streaming service. Lately I've been going through the entire Battlestar Galactica reimagining, as well as South Park. I have a Hulu+ membership (about $8 per month) for more recent television shows.

The problem with Netflix's streaming service is that there are a lot of missing movies. Half the things I'd like to see are available only on DVD, including all the Harry Potter movies I might want to watch before I see the final installment. The question now is whether I want to keep the DVD service at all.

At least I have until September to decide. I should see how many recent movies are at the local library.

UPDATE (September 18, 2011):
Well, it looks like Netflix went and decided for me. If the change described in their blog does go through and there is little integration between sites, I will probably quit their mailing service, possibly even returning to Blockbuster (why I left is explained here).


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Kvetchpat of the day:
Hagwons and "human trafficking"

Okay, ignore for a moment that saying things like, “If you don’t pass training, you are thrown out onto the street and left for dead” (1:45) simply begs the question how many other claims are hyperbole, exaggeration, or just plain falsehood.

Instead, what is really galling is that these teachers who may actually have been defrauded by an unscrupulous hagwon (English-teaching academy, for those of you in Rio Linda), are declaring that this treatment is "human trafficking" (5:10).

The United Nations says, “Human Trafficking is a crime against humanity. It involves an act of recruiting, transporting, transfering, harbouring or receiving a person through a use of force, coercion or other means, for the purpose of exploiting them.”

Where is the use of force or coercion to make people come to Korea? Even if everything in the Chungdahm Survivors' “video” is 100% true, I think it’s hard to make the case that this is human trafficking. Fraud yes (if it’s all true), but no use of force or coercion to either get them to come or prevent them from leaving.

There really is human trafficking in South Korea. The sex industry is indeed a major culprit, and considering the suffering those women go through, it's disgusting that precious little lotus blossoms who can't get their white-collar act together with their employer are making out that they are even remotely similar to such victims.

Who are these people? Where are they filing the “class action lawsuit”? What action through regular channels have they taken that have failed? How many people are involved in the pending “class action lawsuit”? Is it one guy alone in his basement with voice-altering software? Are the people who have positive things to say about the same place simply lying?

What's on Kushibo's iPod (July 11, 2011 edition)

Every now and then I like to share what I'm listening to on my iPod Shuffle during my daily run. All of today's are from PBS's Newshour, what I consider to be the single best program for getting a thought-provoking, informative, and (most importantly) objective perspective on a wide breadth of political and social issues of the day.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Republican Time Warp Watch:
Pawlenty says "three years"

It's just a jump to the left
And then a step to the right
With your hands on your hips
You bring your knees in tight
But it's the pelvic thrust that really drives you insane,
Let's do the Time Warp again!

President Barack Hussein Obama, as of today, has been president for two years, five months, and twenty days, but the Republicans have for weeks or months insisted on calling his presidency (so far) "three years" or even "four years."

It is the Republican Time Warp, part of their Year Zero strategy where they try to make the American people believe that all the problems we now face began with the Obama administration and that the previous Republican administration and, two years before Obama took office, the GOP-run House and Senate, had nothing to do with soaring national debt, high unemployment, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, etc., etc.

Today, ten days shy of exactly two years and six months since Obama's inauguration, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, one of the candidates seeking to be the GOP nominee for president, made this strategy part of his rhetoric on NBC's Meet the Press today:
But we've had three years of a president of soaring rhetoric, gave all these false hopes and false promises to the country. If you want somebody who's had executive leadership, who has not just rhetoric, but results on taxes, on spending, on health care, on jobs and the like, then vote for me.
It wasn't a slip-up, as he said it twice, though in a slightly mitigating way:
He was blaming President Bush, blaming the weather, blaming the Republicans. We're almost three years into this administration. President Obama should look in the mirror to see who's to blame for the economy in its current state, and it's not doing well. And as to the debt ceiling...
Bonus points, Pawlenty, for trying to pin "the economy in its current state" on President Obama.

But 2.47 is not "almost three." Obama is barely halfway through his first/only term, and he inherited an awful lot or problems, and frankly, Republicans playing chicken with the debt ceiling and constantly talking down the economy even when it has been doing well are all eroding confidence, confidence which are part of what is needed to get things on track again. But I guess fuzzy math and keeping things bad long enough to propel Michele Bachmann looks like a winning strategy for the GOP.

I pressed PUBLISH before I heard this gem:
GOV. PAWLENTY: President Obama exponentially made the deficit worse and the debt worse. I mean, he's essentially tripled it. In March of 2009, David, he looked the American people in the eye and said, "I will cut the deficit in half during my first term."

MR. GREGORY: Well, let's not forget, his Republican predecessor did all the TARP, did all the bailout spending and ran up the deficit.
Not only does this include a suspect figure — Bush43 had a $500 billion debt largely because TARP and a number of other big-ticket expenses were discretionary spending that weren't included in the budget — but it is also spoken in such a way that it sounds like Obama tripled the debt.

In fact, the debt is about $10 trillion from Republican administrations and $4 trillion from Democrats (mostly Obama, who inherited Bush43's economic crisis and budget deficit). Also tripling something is not quite an exponential increase. Exponential increases typically involve at least squaring something.

And let's not forget that Obama's first term is nowhere near being finished, though I agree that the likelihood of halving the deficit by the 2013 budget (beginning October 2012) is getting less and less likely consider the impasse that the Tea Party-fearing GOP and the Democrats are at.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Hines Ward arrested for drunk driving

Oh, I wish he hadn't done that. I'm now torn between my strong liking of Hines Ward as a great role model for people of mixed Korean descent and an all-around great guy (and a snazzy dancer), and my intense dislike of drunk drivers.

From the Los Angeles Times:
Hines Ward is facing a DUI charge after being arrested on suspicion of drunk driving early Saturday morning in Georgia, according to sheriff’s officials there.

No more Mr Clean?
The Steelers star turned "Dancing With the Stars" champ was booked at 3:41 a.m. at DeKalb County Jail near Atlanta and later released on $1,300 bond (though according to the sheriff’s website it was $1,000).

Ward, 35, is a former Super Bowl MVP -- he has two Super Bowl rings -- and four-time Pro Bowl selection. He started his career in 1998 when he was drafted in the third round out of Georgia.

In May, Ward was held at gunpoint by police in Los Angeles in what turned out to be a mix-up over whether the car he was riding in was a stolen vehicle. It wasn't, and the wide receiver didn't make a big deal about it after the fact. "The police were just doing their job," he said on Twitter. "Apologies were made and it's now in the past."

The Pittsburgh Steelers hadn't yet publicly commented on the wide receiver's arrest. Paperwork has moved along from the sheriff’s office to the courts.
Like with the actors on Lost (I'm looking at you Daniel Dae Kim and Michelle Rodriguez), I'll probably have to force myself to re-like him again. Hate the sin but love the sinner and all that.

I do wonder what his blood alcohol level was. I'm also surprised that I missed that whole being-held-at-gunpoint story in May.

Over at ROK Drop, GI Korea wonders if Mr Ward is having a midlife crisis.

Public Health Reader: What's on Kushibo's iPod

I'll be making my "What's on Kushibo's iPod" posts a regular feature, but one of the things I'd like to do is split up into categories the noteworthy podcasts I think are worth a listen (mostly from PBS's Newshour, the single best program for getting a thought-provoking, informative, and objective perspective on a wide breadth of political, social, and health-related issues of the day).

So I will sometimes combine these posts with the occasional Public Health Reader (a subject near and dear to my heart), as in this post. Some of these are about stuff important to me or my views, such as the first one, which I believe underscores my own opinion — widely derided as xenophobic or "anti-teacher" by many in the K-blogosphere — that all people in South Korea (i.e., foreign nationals of all visa types as well as all ROK nationals) should be tested for HIV, with the former group being tested before they enter the country.
The last two are from an excellent series on autism put together by one of their main reporters, whose grandson has autism.

Daily Kor for the half week ending Sunday, July 10, 2011

I've got my hands full a bit here on the (US) Mainland, but I'd rather give a two- or three-day roundup than none at all, so here goes.
  1. Forty-six K-league players are indicted over soccer match-fixing (NYT, CNN)
  2. Delegates for Pyongchang's Olympic bid get heroes' welcome after their succes in Durban, South Africa (AFP, Yonhap)
    1. Ruling and opposition parties quickly agree on legislation to support Pyongchang's efforts to prepare for 2018 Winter Olympics (Joongang Daily
  3. South Korean government and corporations sign development deals in Congo and Ethiopia (YonhapBloomberg)
    • President Lee gets his hands dirty in Ethiopia (Yonhap)
  4. North Korean document from 1998 indicates that Pyongyang paid Pakistani military leaders US$3.5 million for nuclear weapons technology (AP via WaPo, CNN, UPIChosun Ilbo)
  5. Possible metallic drums found buried beneath military base where toxic Agent Orange is alleged to have been buried (Yonhap, Korea Times, Joongang Daily)
  6. Hana agrees to cut acquisition price of controlling stake in beleaguered Korea Exchange Bank 6 percent to US$4.1 billion and extend deadline by six months (Reuters, Bloomberg)
  7. Following Pyonchang's successful bid for 2018 Winter Olympics, Japanese Olympic Committee says it may consider withdrawing Tokyo's bid for 2020 Summer Olympics (AP via WaPo)
    • Kushibo's note: Nooooooo! (more later)
  8. South Korea breaks ground on new resettlement facility, to supplement existing Hanawon, for North Korean defectors (CNN)
  9. Standard Chartered to suspend branch operations in South Korea as strike approaches third week (Bloomberg)
  10. Defense Minister Kim Kwanjin orders review of military discipline following rampage on Kanghwa-do Island marine base that left four dead (Yonhap)
  11. Seoul proposes talks with Pyongyang next week to resolve issue of frozen assets at North Korea's Kŭmgangsan Resort (Korea Times, Yonhap)
    • South Korea may take its case to United Nations tourism agency (Yonhap)
  12. Opposition Democratic Party calls for renegotiation of Korea-US free-trade agreement to provide more balance (Yonhap)
    • Ruling party leader decides against further tax cuts large companies in order to seek votes from poor (Yonhap)
  13. Two North Korean players fail drug tests at FIFA Women's World Cup (AP via WaPo, AFP)
  14. Following Pyongchang's win for 2018 Winter Olympics hosting rights, the search is on for the world's ugliest mascot possible (AP via WaPo)

What's on Kushibo's iPod
(July 10, 2011 edition)

Every now and then I like to share what I'm listening to on my iPod Shuffle during my daily run. Most of it is from PBS's Newshour, what I consider to be the single best program for getting a thought-provoking, informative, and (most importantly) objective perspective on a wide breadth of political and social issues of the day. Others are from other public broadcasting shows, lately I've been listening a lot to On the Media, which has a unique perspective as well.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Do I need one of these?

This prosumer user is more than happy with his Nikon D60, but I sometimes like to use the iPhone4 because of its vivid color and everything.

It turns out the Photojojo Store has a $249 solution in the form of a special mount for the Nikon lenses I already have:
On Thursday the Photojojo Store released the iPhone SLR Mount, a hardware attachment that allows you to use your fancy Canon EOS or Nikon SLR lenses while shooting pictures with your iPhone. It costs $249 for the iPhone 4 version and $190 if you get it for the iPhone 3GS or iPhone 3G models.

"The iPhone4 takes pretty decent photos and gorgeous video, but its limitation is the lens built into it that can't go wide or give you shallow depth of field," said Amit Gupta, founder of Photojojo who worked with a company in Hong Kong to get this product made. "But if you use an SLR lens you can focus on a person or subject and blur out the background for that shallow depth of field effect."

It also allows you to zoom in without compromising the resolution.
I want one. But the whole grad school tuition thingee will probably get in the way of that dream.

No Daily Kor today

Just bask in the glow of Pyongchang having won the 2018 Winter Olympics hosting rights. I'm a bit too busy today, but I'll catch up with today's news tomorrow, just in case Monster Island is your primary source for all that's important and newsworthy on the Korean Peninsula (don't laugh, that is my intention!).

In a few hours, I’ll be on a plane to the Mainland, and then off to help out my aunt whose much older husband is an Iwo Jima veteran (on the American side, just so we're clear). He’s in the final stages of Alzheimer’s and is getting sustenance through a feeding tube. This trip will almost certainly be the last time I see him alive (though that's what I'd thought about my trip in March).

His Alzheimer's was really kicking in around the time of Clint Eastwood's film, Flags of Our Fathers*, about those who fought and died or survived on that crucial island. It sticks out in my head because he and my aunt came to meet us for dinner and he talked about having just seen it and how he really enjoyed it, and how he was there, etc., etc. Over the course of dinner, he recounted that story probably three times, each time as if it had just popped into his head.

In hindsight, I wish I’d videotaped “interviews” of the guy when his mind was still clear. Supposedly he lied about his age to enter the war (or he got permission somehow, depending on who’s telling the story) but he was seventeen, I think, when he was at Iwo Jima. His nursing home care has literally bankrupted my aunt.

* This movie was a two-part film series, with Letters From Iwo Jima being the Japanese-language second installment. This, too, was an excellent movie, told from the point of view of the Japanese soldiers who would mostly die in that desolate place. I had wished that I could persuade my uncle to see it, because I would have been curious about his reaction. Would he have been interested, all these decades later, in seeing the other side, or would it just have brought up negative memories and emotions? Clearly, by the time Letters came out, he was in no cognitive condition to see it and appreciate it on any level, and he had earlier stated he didn't have any desire to see it. It's probably my own selfish conceit to want to have a WWII veteran see this movie, although I think that's what Clint Eastwood intended in part. Sadly, Mr Eastwood's intentions themselves were a bit of a failure: most Americans only saw Flags, and most Japanese only saw Letters, and thus neither side got the big picture Mr Eastwood had hoped. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Daily Kor for Thursday, July 7, 2011:
The world to Pyongchang, ...
Pyongchang to the world

I'll have more on this later, but the big news today, of course, is that Pyongchang (aka Pyeongchang) has been awarded the 2018 Winter Olympics. And as you can imagine, the K-blogopshere commentariat has nothing but praise and congratulations for Korea on this accomplishment.

In case you didn't realize, I was being sarcastic.
  1. Pyongchang County awarded hosting rights for 2018 Winter Olympiad in first round of voting (BBC, Reuters, UPI, NYTBloomberg, WaPo, AP via NPR, WSJ videoYonhapJoongang Daily)
  2. Despite EU promises of food aid to North Korea, South Korea's Unification Ministry says it has no such plans for the time being (AP via WaPo)
  3. Defense Ministry investigators find that marine who went on killing rampage on forward deployed Kanghwa-do Island base, leaving four dead, may have had an accomplice (Joongang Daily)
  4. After finding no structural damage, local ward office in eastern Seoul says it plans to life eviction order on TechnoMart high-rise but will use monitoring equipment to pinpoint any further swaying and its cause (Yonhap)
  5. North Korea has scoreless draw with Colombia, 0-0, in inconsequential match of FIFA Women's World Cup, insuring that neither team scored any goals during the tournament (AP via WaPo)
  6. US State Department offers American citizens new recommendations for avoiding terrorism when traveling abroad (AP via WaPo)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Daily Kor for Wednesday, July 6, 2011

At a presentation in Durban, a bored Kim Yuna plays "screw marry kill" in her head.

Courtesy of the Washington Post, AP has a good overview of the three bids for the 2018 Winter Olympiad, along with pros and cons. I had planned to fisk it (just a little), but there's really nothing there I disagree with, except possibly the DMZ scare. I think the overwhelming support for the Olympics, both locally and nationally, will play in Pyongchang's favor, along with the potential to promote winter sports in an area where it's just now starting to gain popularity, plus the whole touchy-feely peace thing.

If Pyongchang narrowly loses a third time, though, we'll be faced with the tough decision of whether to try a fourth time or let Muju have a go at it. But let me tell you, if "Pyeongchang" wins, I'll be launching my "drop the E" campaign to bring back the superior variant of McCune-Reischauer Romanization that was in use during the last Olympics, before Retrograde Romanization took hold for the World Cup.

Oh, and "Boo!" to Frank Smith of PressTV for this highly skewed presentation of the tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
  1. Supporting South Korea's bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics, "Queen Yuna" says Pyongchang is "perfectly ready" for winter games (AP via WaPo)
    • Bidding selection boils down to choice between Asia and Europe (AP via WaPo)
    • "Seoul" makes final push for Pyongchang games (WSJ)
    • President Lee Myungbak calls for "unsparing efforts" in countdown to decision (Yonhap)
  2. Hundreds evacuate Kuŭi-dong district's TechnoMart high-rise in eastern Seoul after building shakes due to unknown origin (Yonhap, Korea Times, Korea Herald, Joongang Daily)
  3. Computer security software maker McAfee says cyber attack on South Korean government and banking websites linked to North Korea or its sympathizers and connected with massive attack in 2009 on US sites (AP via WaPo, Yonhap, Korea Herald, Joongang Daily)
  4. Marine who perpetrated massacre of fellow marines on Kanghwa-do claims to have been ostracized and maltreated by superiors and juniors (Yonhap, Korea Times)
  5. US House of Representatives Ways & Means Committee takes up free-trade agreement with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama, but not job training bill sought by Obama administration (AP via WaPo, Yonhap, Bloomberg)
  6. Bipartisan group of lawmakers arrives on Tokto to give Coast Guard personnel there a morale boost (Yonhap)
  7. Finance Ministry report says ROK national debt could reach 1 quadrillion won (US$938 billion) within ten years due in part to aging population (Yonhap)
  8. With boost from Thailand and China, inbound and outbound tourists to/from South Korea reach all-time high in first half of 2011 (Yonhap)
  9. Following abolition of corporal punishment, South Korean schools adopt controversial dunce-cap shaming strategy (AFP)