The parties are advised to chill.
Mattel, Inc. v. MCA Records, Inc., 296 F.3d 894, 908 (9th Cir. 2002)

Friday, February 27, 2004
Patriotic Dating?

This appears to be a new development in Korea - "Patriotic Blind Dates" (via Chosun Ilbo):

Around universities, "Patriotic Blind Dates" are the fad. Before going out on a "Patriotic Blind Date," the couple must remove articles of clothing and accessories, such as watches or shoes, which are made in Japan.

During the date, the couple does not go to coffee shops that play Japanese music, do not eat Japanese food such as udon, or go to Japanese restaurants like Robatayaki-style pubs. They are careful only to eat Korean food and drink Korean alcohols like soju and dongdongju.

It's not just Japanese "hardware" that's refused, either. The couple mustn't sing Japanese songs at karaoke clubs, and if one of the them slips and uses a borrowed Japanese word like "ip-pai" (meaning "full"), that person must pay the cost of the entire date.

Hoo, boy. My relatives set me up on several blind dates when I visited Korea a couple years ago. Given that I harbor no Korean nationalistic feelings of any kind, maybe it's better that I not visit Korea this year...

Update: Conrad contrasts this with the Chinese version.

Posted 1:32 PM by Tony


Pointless? Yes.

Then why do I want one?

Posted 8:23 AM by Tony


I was on the way to work this morning, and I saw drove past some guys who were on the sidewalk, overlooking the freeway. They were holding up a banner, but the side facing me was blank.

I got in the cloverleaf to get onto the freeway, and 270 degrees later, saw them again. As it turned out, they were waving at the rush hour commuter traffic, to draw attention to the word on their banner.


Twenty minutes later, the traffic report came on. An accident had occurred on the freeway, due to people being distracted by the banner. Traffic was backed up several miles, into the next town.

Nice job, jackholes.

Posted 7:46 AM by Tony

Thursday, February 26, 2004
Screen Quotas - Another Small Step

It looks like the Korean government may actually get rid of the screen quota system, after all (via Korea Times; see also here):

Fair Trade Commission Chairman Kang Chul-kyu said on Wednesday the screen quota system [that requires Korean theaters to show Korean films 146 days out of the year] needs to be overhauled due to its anti-competition nature and that the government will draft a revision bill within this year.

This brightened the possibility that Korea and the United States will sign a long-awaited bilateral investment treaty (BIT), which has been put on the backburner for the past six years.

[ . . . ]

The United States has showed willingness to sign a BIT with Korea if Seoul reduces, not necessarily scraps, the screen quota. Six years ago, Korea and the U.S. agreed to sign the BIT at the suggestion of then-President Kim Dae-jung. But the BIT has been put off due to the screen quota system.

I find it hard to believe that Korean movies lack sufficient merit to be competitive in their own right, given the success of Taegukgi and Silmido (see Joongang Ilbo; Washington Times; see Chosun Ilbo for background behind Taegukgi). And the data would suggest that, at this point, the Korean film industry is able to stand on its feet (see Chosun Ilbo here and here).

Personally, I'm really hoping to see Taegukgi once it gets to the US. I figure it will, since it's already showing with English subtitles in Korean theaters (via Korea Times).

In any event, this movement toward getting rid of the screen quotas can only be a good thing. I think Professor Cowen would approve.

Posted 9:55 AM by Tony

Benedict Arnolds

I think the word "treason," or its equivalents get used waaaay too often.*

Author Ann Coulter got slammed, and I think justifiably, for having called the Democratic Party a pack of traitors.

But she's not running for President. John Kerry, who characterized certain corporate CEOs as "Benedict Arnolds," is. (Benedict Arnold, as you'll remember, actually was a traitor.)

Which makes this story from the Washington Post rather interesting:

Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, frequently calls companies and chief executives "Benedict Arnolds" if they move jobs and operations overseas to avoid paying U.S. taxes.

But Kerry has accepted money and fundraising assistance from top executives at companies that fit the candidate's description of a notorious traitor of the American Revolution.

[ . . . ]

Executives and employees at such companies have contributed more than $140,000 to Kerry's presidential campaign, a review of his donor records shows. Additionally, two of Kerry's biggest fundraisers, who together have raised more than $400,000 for the candidate, are top executives at investment firms that helped set up companies in the world's best-known offshore tax havens, federal records show. Kerry has raised nearly $30 million overall for his White House run.

[ . . . ]

Kerry has come under attack from President Bush, as well as some Democrats, for criticizing laws he voted for and lambasting special interests after accepting more money from paid lobbyists than any other senator over the past 15 years. Some Democrats worry that Kerry is leaving himself open to similar attacks on the latest issue.

[ . . . ]

On Monday, Kerry was asked why two of his biggest fundraisers were involved with "Benedict Arnold" companies. "If they have done that, it's not to my knowledge and I would oppose it," Kerry told a New York television station. "I think it's wrong to do [it] solely to avoid taxes."

Then he sought to clarify his position: "What I've said is not that people don't have the right to go overseas and form a company if they want to avoid the tax. I don't believe the American taxpayer ought to be giving them a benefit. That's what I object to. I don't object to global commerce. I don't object to companies deciding they want to compete somewhere else.''

[ . . . ]

When asked for the definition of a "Benedict Arnold" company or CEO, Stephanie Cutter, Kerry's spokeswoman, said: "Companies that take advantage of tax loopholes to set up bank accounts or move jobs abroad simply to avoid taxes." She pointed to a list compiled by Citizen Works, a tax-exempt nonprofit group that monitors corporate influence, as a source on the companies that fit the candidate's definition.

This seems to fit a pattern that I've noticed before, as have several others.

As an aside - Kerry seems a tad unsuited to criticize intelligence failures, in light of actions such as his introduction of S.1826 (PDF here), which proposed, among other things, to cut 1 billion dollars from the intellligence budget. His accompanying remarks were made February 3, 1994, less than one year after the first World Trade Center attack:

Cutting programs that no longer serve more than a narrow sub-section of the Nation is the only way to restore fiscal sanity to our Federal budget, restore the faith of the American people that their elected representatives can be responsible with their tax dollars, and free up funds for our real national priorities.

The madness must end. And to end it, we each must be willing to vote to eliminate programs that we know are not in the national interest. I hope that my colleagues will examine our package and join us in our efforts.

How about that.

* In the interests of full disclosure, I point out that I called Jonathan Pollard and Robert Kim "traitors," in the colloquial and not legal sense, here.

Posted 9:09 AM by Tony

Wednesday, February 25, 2004
Correct Usages

This may be the first correct usage of the term "unilateral" by a European that I've seen in over a year (via SF Gate):

[French agricultural minister Herve] Gaymard said he was baffled by the move [to ban French imports of meat and poultry products, including foie gras], especially because he believes France has stricter safety standards on food exports than the United States. He is working with the European Commission to try to persuade the United States to back down.

"It's a unilateral decision on the part of the United States," Gaymard told reporters at a French agriculture fair.

[emphasis added]

Sure, it's a unilateral decision imposed by the United States. So what?

Gaymard is attempting, it seems, to provide a negative connotation to the decision, especially in light of recent usages of the term "unilateral."

But when's the last time you've heard of a country subordinating its decisions concerning food safety to a multilateral body?

Posted 4:57 PM by Tony

Tribunals Clarification

Looks like we're about to find out how well the "military tribunals" are going to work (via SF Chronicle):

Two men alleged to have been close associates and bodyguards of Osama bin Laden have been charged with conspiracy to commit war crimes and ordered to stand trial before the first U.S. military tribunals to be convened since World War II, the Pentagon announced Tuesday.

Ali Hamza Ahmad Sulayman al Bahlul of Yemen and Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al Qosi of Sudan are the first prisoners held at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to face criminal charges. The Pentagon says it expects more charges to follow against other prisoners.

You can read for yourself the Pentagon announcement here, and PDF versions of the indictments for Al Qosi and Al Bahlul.

The tribunals are administered by the Office of Military Commissions (could not find any other specific web site), and there's more background here. The elements of the various offenses can be fouind in Military Commission Instruction No. 2.

This should be interesting.

Posted 10:39 AM by Tony

Adscam Goes To The Top

Well, that didn't take long - it now looks like former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien was involved in Adscam from the very beginning (via Globe and Mail; to learn more about Canada, see IMAO):

Former prime minister Jean Chrétien personally signed off on the unofficial birth of the scandal-plagued sponsorship program in late 1997, alongside his then-minister of public works, Alfonso Gagliano, according to a cabinet document.

[ . . . ]

The cabinet document was released yesterday as Prime Minister Paul Martin moved to push the heads of three Crown corporations —including two prominent Liberals close to Mr. Chrétien — from their jobs over recent scandals.

The executives include one of the most prominent Liberal figures of the past 35 years: Canada Post chairman and former Liberal cabinet minister André Ouellet, who was suspended with pay while auditors study the postal service's own sponsorship activities and management.

Two other presidents of Crown corporations, Via Rail's Marc LeFrançois and the Business Development Bank of Canada's Michel Vennat, were effectively given notice that they will be fired in a week unless they can explain their actions.

Mr. Martin said both were suspended with pay until March 1 so they could offer a "formal response as to why there should not be further actions."

Remember how Chretien was criticizing the United States last year for its lack of fiscal responsibility?

Posted 9:40 AM by Tony

Tuesday, February 24, 2004
Comedy Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

"It’s quite comical and cute but it’s a serious comment on politics."
- Colin Greenslade, exhibitions coordinator, Royal Scottish Academy
(via Sunday Herald)

"Comical and cute"?

Alan Bennie, "Mickey's Taliban Adventure"
(via Allah)

Allah's right on point on this:

The exhibition coordinator says it's about "making you think." What it makes Allah think is that it's real fucking easy to get an art degree in Scotland.

As is one of his commenters:

Good news, Colin. Because you're gonna just love my next piece of performance art. It's 10 pounds of haggis in a flaming crib.

I call it "Lockerbie Lullaby."


Posted 7:40 PM by Tony

Who's Afraid Of Naomi Wolf?

Nobody, it seems. (via Fox News; also Sydney Morning Herald; Yale Daily News; my apologies for the bad pun):

A feminist author has written a magazine article accusing a noted Yale University professor of sexually harassing her while she was an undergraduate in the 1980s, and alleging a long history of such events at Yale.

The article is to appear in Monday's issue of New York Magazine and accuses Harold Bloom, a prominent literary critic and Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale.

Naomi Wolf, author of "The Beauty Myth," was a consultant to Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign. She advised Gore on changing his image, including advice on how to convince voters that he was an "alpha male" who should be in charge. [and how well did that work out? - ed.]

Bloom has written more than 20 books about the Bible, Milton and poetry.

Naomi Wolf, it should be noted, is not known for her sense of humor.

Regardless of the merits of Wolf's allegations, I find the reactions pretty interesting.

First, there's the Yale Provost Susan Hockfield (via Yale Daily News):

Although historically women have been disproportionately the victims of sexual harassment, the protections apply to men as well.

Then there's columnist Zoe Williams (via UK Guardian, which is hardly a conservative paper):

Ultimately, sexual politics is the one thing that really dates feminism, that makes it "old school" and lets it down. Equal pay for equal work will never go out of fashion. But blanket assumptions of female victimhood and weakness, the inevitability of male exploitation, the drive to politicise every ambiguous physical gesture as if we're all working shoulder to shoulder against malevolent men - this is not feminism. To bundle it all together as such catches a lot of us who cannot agree, like dolphins in a tuna net. No wonder we thrash about so much.

And columnist Margaret Wente (via Globe and Mail):

The incident, she writes, "devastated my sense of being valuable to Yale as a student rather than as a pawn of powerful men." But Ms. Wolf (who, it must be noted, is ravishingly beautiful) is getting precious little sympathy from the sisterhood. "It's a desperate power grab," says Katie Roiphe, a well-known feminist who wrote a book on date rape. "People didn't pay attention to her last book on motherhood. She wants to regain the sense of outrage of the feminism of the early 1990s."

"How many times do we have to relive Naomi Wolf's growing up?" fumes the redoubtable Camille Paglia. "Move on! Move on! Get on to the menopause next!"

Mercifully, Ms. Wolf's version of victim feminism is out of date. Most people would agree that her 20-year-old effort to get even (and her extravagant claims for the trauma she suffered at the time) are a bit bizarre. But they are no more bizarre than campus sexual-harassment policies, where victim feminism still reigns supreme. These policies treat every case of boorish, drunk behaviour as sexual predation, and they define sex between faculty and students as essentially illicit. Consensual sex across the lines is deemed to be impossible because of built-in power imbalances.

Finally, there's feminist Camille Paglia (via Sydney Morning Herald):
Paglia said it was "indecent" of Wolf to wait for 20 years "to bring all of this down on an elderly man who has health problems, to drag him into a 'he said/she said' scenario so late in the game".

"How many books, how many articles, Naomi, are you going to impose on us so we have to be dragged back to your teenage heartbreak years?

"This is regressive. It's childish. Move on! Get on to menopause next!"

I have to say, this totally took me by surprise. In college, it seemed that the reigning paradigm was the politics of victimization. See, for example, this 1992 commencement speech by Ms. Wolf at Scripps College. Admittedly, I never kept up in that area, so my perceptions were frozen in time.

Has "victim feminism" become truly out of date, and moved into a more self-confident mode? I can only hope so.

Update: Columnist Anne Applebaum weights in (via Washington Post, found via Instapundit):

But in the end, what is most extraordinary about Wolf is the way in which she has voluntarily stripped herself of her achievements and her status, and reduced herself to a victim, nothing more. The implication here is that women are psychologically weak: One hand on the thigh, and they never get over it. The implication is also that women are naive, and powerless as well: Even Yale undergraduates are not savvy enough to avoid late-night encounters with male professors whose romantic intentions don't interest them.

Update: Naomi Wolf's piece in New York magazine can be found here.

Posted 7:10 PM by Tony

Don't Mess With The Harabeoji

There's a survey of random Korean opinion in the Korea Herald concerning the new six-way talks. This one quote shows that old Korean guys are not to be screwed with:

Retired teacher Kim Hak-jun, 76, expects a positive outcome from the talks but no matter he has no fear of the North Koreans.

"Can anyone believe everything North Korea says? If it doesn't work out again, then I guess we'll just have to fight it out," said the Korean War veteran. "I'm old but I can still pick up a gun and go to war. I've done it before, I can do it again."

Right on.

Posted 4:55 PM by Tony

Kiss My Grits

According to this test for Yankee/Dixie tendencies, I'm:

61% (Dixie). A definitive Southern score!

Which is weird since I've only visited the South once. Does being from Southern California count?

(found via The Patriette)

Posted 1:12 PM by Tony

Anti-Michael Moore

I'm not a big Michael Moore fan. However, I just found someone who's a lot more eloquent at it - check out Dizzy Girl's take on Bowling for Columbine:

Jason and myself decided to put our disgust for Michael "miserable failure" Moore aside for a couple hours and watch "Bowling for Columbine". I've restrained from bitching about the movie only because I had yet to see it, and didn't think I could form an honest opinion of it until I did. I've tried watching the movie three times already, but haven't been able to stomach more than 20-30 minutes at the most each time. So here I am, one hour and 50 minutes into the movie, and I have just one question: what the fuck crawled up Michael "miserable failure" Moore's massive ass? Is he really as stupid in real life as he's coming off in the movie? The man is a master at playing on people's fears and stupidity, as evident in his bestsellers and that undeserved Oscar sitting on his million dollar mantle. How can any person, with just a little bit of intelligence, ever take this man seriously? Am I the only one to see that he's feeding people a line of bullshit? He's kissed the ass of every anti-American, anti-gun, hippie son-of-a-bitch, and he's gotten rich off of it.

I think she may be the successor to Rachel Lucas, and definitely gives Frank J. a run for his money.

And to answer Dizzy Girl's question, yes, Michael Moore is that stupid, as Conrad explains in a letter to Michael Moore:

I read your recent open letter to George W. Bush, in which you graciously offer to "share a few truths" with the President. In response, may I suggest to you, to paraphrase a renowned American educator, that "fat, tedious and stupid is no way to go through life son."

Posted 10:39 AM by Tony

A North Korean In Seoul

Here's a poignant story of a North Korean woman (via SF Chronicle, thanks to the Gweilo):

Joo [Sun Young] was a 16-year-old violin student in 1981 when communist party talent scouts came to her high school in the northeastern town of Kyongsong and took her away. She was handed a baggy military uniform and told she was joining the military.

Reminiscent of the screenings of maidens for the kings of ancient Korea, party officials inspected "every inch" of her body for imperfections. She did not mind.

"I was proud and excited that the party chose me," Joo says.

For six years she served in the Pyongyang Garrison Command's esteemed performing arts troupe -- and was allowed to visit her parents only once.

Joo got a powerful boost when Kim Jong Il, son and heir of then President Kim Il Sung, handed her the "Class-One" title, reserved for the few actors portraying members of the Kim family. The job was so sacred she was barred from taking other roles.

[ . . . ]

Twice she was deported, but bribed North Korean guards to let her back into China. Finally, a South Korean government agent in China realized who she was and arranged her flight to Seoul in January 2003.

In August, she borrowed $60,000 from a bank to open her bar, Taedongkang Hof, named after the river that runs through Pyongyang. She hired two North Korean women, who, like her, left children behind.

Her background is her attraction, and she entertains customers with nonpolitical South and North Korean ditties, including the popular "Women Are Flowers."

"I am doing very well," she says, "but some customers insult me when they don't like our food and say, 'Is this what you give your men in the North?' I wonder whether they know people are starving in the North."

She's 39 now, and dreams of running a hotel and living to see the reunification of the Koreas and of her family -- parents, husband, 15-year-old son and 12-year daughter.

"I want to be a rich businesswoman," Joo says. "I concentrate on work not to think about my children, but when I see delicious food, I can't help crying. I wonder whether my children are not starving."

There are no phone or mail links between the Koreas. [though there are underground links; see GoNomad, USFK]

Someone should really tell Irwin Oostindie that there's a famine on. (See also NKZone; the Marmot; the Gweilo)

Please note: The recognition that a regime is truly "evil" hardly makes one a "right-wing war hawk", as Mr. Oostindie suggests.

Posted 10:07 AM by Tony

Another Investigation

So the UN's going to investigate a massacre in the Congo (via Globe and Mail):

The UN Congo mission is investigating reports of massacres of about 100 civilians and seven soldiers by Mayi-Mayi tribal fighters in the country's southeast, a United Nations spokesman said Tuesday.

Congo's army and rights groups have attributed the killings to a Mayi-Mayi commander who goes by the name of Cut-Throat and is said to mutilate many of his victims. In one case, Mayi-Mayi fighters threw a grenade into a church, killing 25 people inside, Congo General Dieugentil Mpia Nzambe Nzambe said.

The killings were alleged to have happened in January in Katanga province, 1,545 kilometres from the capital, Kinshasa, of the former Zaire. A UN Congo mission team set out for the remote area earlier this month to investigate.

[ . . . ]

The Mayi-Mayi are known for severing the tongues, fingers and other parts of their victims, said Bin Masudi, co-ordinator of the private Committee to Defend Human Rights in Kinshasa.

Investigation is all fine and well, but will something be done about it? Given the UN's past inaction in the Congo, I kind of doubt it.

Posted 8:40 AM by Tony

Monday, February 23, 2004
Comanche Gets The Chop

Well, I'm not sure how I feel about this one (via SF Gate):

The Army has decided to cancel its Comanche helicopter program, a multibillion-dollar project to build a new-generation chopper for armed reconnaissance missions, officials said Monday.

The contractors for Comanche are Boeing Co. and Sikorsky Aircraft Corp.

With about $8 billion already invested in the program, and the production line not yet started, the cancellation is one of the largest in the history of the Army. It follows the Pentagon's decision in 2002 to cancel the Crusader artillery program -- against the wishes of Army leaders.

[ . . . ]

As envisioned by the Army, the Comanche's primary missions were to collect and share battlefield intelligence information and attack enemy forces. It is a twin-engine, two-pilot helicopter with stealth technology designed to make it more difficult to track and target by enemy forces. Its armaments include a 20mm gun, 2.75-inch aerial rockets and an air-to-air missile.

Posted 11:12 AM by Tony

Friday, February 20, 2004
It Must Be A Scandal...

... if it has a name. I previously mentioned the sponsorship scandal up in Canada. (See Colby Cosh for more.)

Well, via Andrew Coyne, a reporter for the National Post, the scandal now has a name - Adscam

I find the name rather amusing, for historical reasons.

Posted 8:25 AM by Tony

Thursday, February 19, 2004
Vocabulary Review

Let's review the word "unilateral," shall we?

Now, some might see "unilateral" as being this:

US 2nd Infantry Division soldier, Mosul, Iraq (from Reuters/Yahoo)

Or this:

I MEF Marine, Rumeila oil field, 2003

But then again, would this also be unilateral?

Dutch soldier in Samawa (from AFP/Yahoo)

Or this?

Japanese soldier in Samawa (from Reuters/Yahoo)

How about these?

Polish soldiers in Hilla (from AFP/Yahoo)

Polish GROM special forces, Umm Qasr, 2003
(the middle photo is allegedly a joint GROM/SEAL photo)


Australian soldier guarding the Australian Representative Office in Baghdad, 2003 (from AFP/Yahoo)

Or this?

Lithuanian soldiers in Hilla (from AFP/Yahoo)

I guess this would be "unilateral"?

Korean soldier in Iraq (taken from Flying Yangban)

Or perhaps this is?

British 2d Light Tank Regiment, Basra, 2003

"Unilateral." Yep.

(Don't mind me - I'm just venting)

Update: Then there's Canada, whose participation was under the radar (via CNews; see post from Nov. 2003):

While Ottawa chose not to join the Iraq war, Canadian exchange officers have numbered in the dozens in Iraq. Natynczyk is the only Canadian now in the theatre and the most senior to have been deployed.

He is the coalition's deputy chief of strategy, policy and plans, helping direct the movements of 130,000 troops from the United States, Britain and Australia. [and deputy commander of US III Corps]

Posted 7:44 PM by Tony

Leon LaPorte And The "Netizens"

General Leon LaPorte (bio at USFK web site)participated in a Internet discussion with four Korean panelists (via KoreaTimes):

"There is no plan like a preemptive strike on North Korea,’’ the commander replied to a question by one of four panelists, Lee Jong-suk, 45, who asked about the possibility of such an attack amid the mounting threats of North Korean nuclear weapons. He also stressed the real threat of North Korea on the Korean peninsula.

In the live debate, Lee Yu-li, 17, talked about the deep sorrow that she felt when two middle school girls, of about her own age, were killed in an accident involving a U.S. armored vehicle in 2002. She suggested to LaPorte that the USFK should take further measures to prevent the recurrence of such a tragedy. The commander promised such measures and showed a piece of paper containing all the names of Koreans who died in accidents by U.S. troop personnel since he came in Korea.

(Korean transcript here, will link to English version if and when available)

Why does this matter?

General LaPorte has a dual position. First, he is commader of the US Forces Korea, all 37,000 of them. Second, he is in command of the Combined Forces Command, which gives him operational command of most of the South Korean military. (see FAS for more background)

The American military have taken a beating (unjustifiably, in my opinion) in Korean public opinion as of late. I think this marks an important step in correcting that trend.

Update: Budaechigae has more.

Posted 6:43 PM by Tony


Whoa. (via Houston Chornicle):

Results from a clinical trial published in Wednesday's Journal of the National Cancer Institute show that some patients with lung cancer who were injected with the vaccine, called GVAX, had no occurrence of the disease for more than three years afterward.

[ . . . ]

In the study, each patient was treated with a vaccine that included cells from his or her tumors. A gene called CM-CSF was placed in the cancer cells to change the surface of the cells so the body could identify them as cancerous. Once the vaccine was injected, the body's immune cells traveled to the injection site and began attacking and destroying the cancer cells.

The study is at Journal of National Cancer Institute, vol. 96, pages 326-331 (abstract here).

And I apologize for the bad pun.

Posted 5:02 PM by Tony

Canadian News Bits - Retreads And Brain Chips

1. There's a story in the Toronto Star which makes me wonder whether Paul Martin really is the reformer that he markets himself to be:

The federal government will compensate former soldiers used in poison gas experiments that began in 1941.

Veterans Affairs Minister John McCallum said today that 3,500 soldiers were subjected to the tests and about 2,000 are still alive.

[emphasis added]

What the heck?

John McCallum was the Defense Minister under the previous Chretien regime. While I defer to the Canadian bloggers on assessing McCallum's tenure in Defense, it seems curious that Paul Martin would keep McCallum. It seems more of a reshuffling than the advertised clean sweep, though admittedly, Martin did get rid of the odious Herb Dhaliwal.

Well, at least he now knows that it's "Vimy" Ridge.

2. And from the University of Calgary is an advance in combining biology with electronics (via Globe and Mail):

Researchers at the University of Calgary have found that nerve cells grown on a microchip can learn and memorize information which can be communicated to the brain.

[ . . . ] The team cultured nerve cells from a snail and placed them on a specially designed silicon chip. Using a microcapacitor on the chip, scientists stimulated one nerve cell to communicate with a second cell, which transmitted that signal to multiple cells within the network.

Simply amazing.

Posted 3:11 PM by Tony

Wednesday, February 18, 2004
Oriental Sagehen

Check out this story (via Opinion Journal; see also Volokh Conspiracy for legal commentary).

It's a story of a silly stunt:

But the 14 or so members of OAD, so dubbed in the style of a Greek fraternity, became the latest lightning rod for controversy over race relations at Pomona College. An e-mail from group leaders suggested that members snap "a photo with 10 or more Asians," an ethnic group that makes up about 13 percent of students.

Rumors about the photo scavenger hunt, which also asked members to photograph themselves doing things like standing on a roof, mooning fellow students, or blocking traffic, soon passed from students angered by its racial overtones to college administrators.

Surpassed by an even sillier, if not illegal, response:

Ann Quinley, the dean of students, sent an e-mail to all students denouncing the incident, quickly making it the buzz of Pomona College's 1,500 students.

"The potential of having numerous students run around campus trying to snap photographs with 10 or more Asian or Asian American people is racist, offensive, and in violation of shared community values," Quinley wrote on behalf of the Incident Response Team, a committee that responds to "bias-related incidents and hate crimes."

She noted that the team had heard from numerous Asian students who expressed anger and fear "at the thought of being treated like "zoo animals' or "rare specimens.'"

Later in the story, there's this:

But many minority groups and students felt the incident [four drunk students taking a cross created by an art student and burning it in front of a dorm] exemplified the hostile climate they believe non-white students face at the colleges and in society.

[emphasis added]

This is simply ridiculous. I feel qualified to give an opinion on this matter, being a) of Oriental (or Asian, take your pick) descent; and b) an alum of Pomona College.

In my experience, non-white students have to work pretty darned hard to feel a "hostile climate" at Pomona. Out of a school of 1500 students, the following organizations exist to foster non-white group identity:

Asian Pacific Islander Awareness Committee
Asian American Students Association
Chinese Student Association
Hui Laule'a, Hawaiian students' organization
International Club
International/Intercultural Association
Korean Students Association
Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA)
Muslim Students' Association
Pan-African Students Association
Vietnamese American Student Association
Asian American Student Alliance
Central American Concern
Association International des Etudiantes des Sciences Economique et Commercial (AIESEC)
Minority Student Action Program
Racial Awareness and Cultural Experience (R.A.C.E.)

Remember, this is for 1500 students. And that's not even including gender/sexual identity groups.

I never joined any of these organizations.

That said, I never experienced racism or any sort of hostile climate at Pomona. Well, almost. The only race-related problems I had came from the Korean Student Association. I figure that being called a "traitor" by a KSA member for not wanting to learn Korean qualifies.

I suspect that some of this is a result of Pomona culture. As much as I love my alma mater, honesty compels me to admit that the school fosters an atmosphere of hypersensitivity. Every single perceived slight or insult gets magnified in this small community, and the school's administration and institutions, in my mind, actively assists in nurturing a sense of grievance and victimhood.

Example: When I attended Pomona, there were nine on-campus "fraternities," unaffiliated with any national Greek system. I use the term in quotes because of the nine, six were co-ed, and the other three were for men only. There were no sororities - I can only imagine the scorn that would have been heaped on any women (or "womyn," as the Women's Union styled it) unfortunate enough to join one. Each "fraternity" had a basement room underneath the various dorms, to use for their own purposes.

A controversy arose - why was the school subsidizing the "fraternities" by giving them rooms, when three of them refused to go co-ed? The rooms soon became a symbol of the college supporting heinous gender discrimination; the men-only groups represented an outdated paradigm that created grave inequalities. If anything, I'm understating the language used in the debate (or what passed for one). Even the term "dialectic" had been thrown about, much like a carelessly tossed verbal hand grenade.

The three fraternities refused to go co-ed, despite pressure from the Women's Union (which had its own newspaper), a vocal section of the student population, and the administration. Ultimately, all nine "fraternities" were forced to give up their rooms and had to go off-campus.

Admittedly, that was a long time ago, and no, I wasn't in a fraternity. But I doubt the general environment has changed. (see, e.g., Feb. 18, 2000 student opinion article ("This doesn’t mean that members of all-male fraternities hate women, or that they want to oppress people. But by maintaining traditions that exclude certain groups, they choose to continue to discriminate against them."); alumni letter in Winter 2001 Pomona College Magazine ("The College will be a better--and safer--place to live and learn when the all-male fraternity tradition is ended.")

I'm not defending the cross-burning by any stretch of the imagination. I do think that administration is acting inappropriately to the scavenger hunt, though.

Update: Somewhat unsurprisingly, Angry Asian Man is, well, angry (no permalinks, see also Feb. archive).

Update 2: For campus reaction, see the February 20 issue of The Student Life, Pomona College's student newspaper.

Posted 8:25 PM by Tony

Tourism Hazards

This is probably one of the dumbest tourism development ideas I've seen (via Chosun Ilbo):

Efforts are underway to turn the Demilitarized Zone into a tourist attraction. Not only is the DMZ the world's most heavily fortified border that separates the two Koreas but it's also been the haven for endangered species like the white crane and the habitat of over 1,600 different kinds of plants and animals for decades. Waterfalls and natural reservoirs can also be found within the 248 kilometer long, four kilometer-wide zone.

The idea is to turn the area into an ecotourism attraction, showing off the beauties of Mother Nature in and around an area where civilians have not been allowed to enter for over 50 years. The Korea National Tourism Organization and a team of ecologists at Seoul National University mapped out the basic guidelines of the envisioned project on Wednesday with a blueprint still underway.

One wonders exactly when the KNTO plans to implement this bright idea.

On the other hand, it's true that the DMZ is one of the most ecologically pristine areas in Korea. While living in Korea to learn Korean, I had a buddy in the same language program, who was a senior US Army NCO. He used to be stationed at the DMZ when he was younger, and saw some interesting stuff.

One night, he watched a crane fly around in the DMZ. You don't see many of them around in Korea any more. This was through a night vision scope, so everything was in shades of green; nonetheless, it was one of the most beautiful and graceful things he had seen.

Then it landed on a mine.

Posted 9:43 AM by Tony

Newsom Noise

Professors Volokh and Levy have pretty good posts up about the legal aspects of Mayor Gavin Newsom's decision to have San Francisco issue marriage license to same-sex couples. And I have to agree with their analyses.

But what I think is being underexplored is the political aspect.

Has anyone considered that this decision by Newsom makes a great deal of political sense?

Here's my reasoning, and feel free to comment:

1. The political paradigm in San Francisco, unlike other places, is not Left versus Right. It's Left versus Further Left. As much as I hate to say it (though I have before, Republicans are only a factor in very close elections.

2. Newsom only recently came into office, having won a close campaign against Matt Gonzalez. Rightly or wrongly, Newsom was cast as the Establishment type, a protege of former mayor and Assembly Speaker Willie Brown. Gonzalez's image was that of the self-made working man. Gonzalez was much more left-leaning than Newsom, and, in my opinion, had a more committed grassroots organization (think Howard Dean, basically). You can see where Gonzalez's stance on the issues at his old campaign site.

3. As a result, Newsom needs to change his image, to show that he's in touch with the concerns of ordinary San Franciscans. Especially since Gonzalez is still President of the SF Board of Supervisors. (note: SF is both a city and a county, and so has both a mayor and a board of supervisors)

4. Newsom's recent visits to crime scenes appears to reflect that need.

So, it would seem to me that the whole gay marriage thing benefits Newsom by:

a. showing that he can stand up for San Francisco, against higher authorities,
b. changing his image to one as a man who is in touch with ordinary San Franciscans, and
c. building up a reservoir of goodwill, allowing him to propose changes that would otherwise meet stiffer resistance from the Supervisors, and neatly undercutting Gonzalez.

Remember, it's still early in his term, so he hasn't proposed anything controversial, at least not so far as I know.

So, say what you want about the questionable legal merits of this, but you have to admire the smart political timing involved.

Posted 8:41 AM by Tony

Tuesday, February 17, 2004
Shake It (Or Not)

From the Polaroid customer help desk (via Fox News):

[Question:] Ever since the song "Hey Ya" by Andre 3000 of Outkast came out, everyone is shaking their Polaroid pictures. I have always been told that you should not shake a Polaroid picture, but I'm having a hard time convincing those around me that this is true. What is the answer?

[Answer:] The short answer is no, you don't have to (and shouldn't) "shake it like a Polaroid picture."

Peel-apart films are still used for some applications, such as for photographing gels.* So thankfully, those of you in the biological sciences can still shake it like a Polaroid picture.
* Quick explanation on gel electrophoresis: When you chop up DNA, you need to find out the size of the pieces. You can do this by putting up the chopped DNA into a gel and applying an electric field. The DNA pieces separate out by size. After some chemical treatment, the DNA will light up when exposed to UV light, and you can then take a picture of it (via UIUC)

Posted 7:33 PM by Tony

On The Wait-And-See List

French Ambassador to the United States, Jean-David Levitte, at the Naval War College (via The Newport Daily News ):

He said that June 6 is the 60th anniversary of D-Day and at D-Day observances, "The French people will say, 'Thank you, America. We will never forget what you did.'" The audience applauded.

On the positive side, he did acknowledge that nature of the enemy in Iraq:

He said the Iraqi people don't kill other Iraqi people. "The terrorists are coming from outside Iraq," he said. "They were not there before the war."

Posted 11:17 AM by Tony

About Frickin' Time!

The California State GOP is finally supporting gay candidates, if this SF Chronicle story is to be believed:

At a time when same-sex marriage has emerged as an issue that the national Republican leadership hopes to use against Democrats, 11 Log Cabin Republicans are on the March 2 ballot running for legislative office, seven for the Assembly and four for the Senate.

If they become the party nominees -- and seven are running unopposed in the March primary -- that guarantees the Log Cabin members a seat on the state GOP central committee and the possibility of more seats, depending on how well the candidate runs.

"We want people to have a true choice," said Shane Connolly, 35, a corporate finance manager and a Log Cabin Republican running in the 13th Senate District, a South Bay seat. "We want to send a message that the Republican Party isn't what you may think it is."

It's a message that some Republican leaders are happy to send.

"We are the party that allows for diverse positions on any number of issues," said California Republican Party Chairman Duf Sundheim, who spoke supportively of the efforts of the Log Cabin members.

[ . . . ]

"Gay rights ultimately will be won through the Republican Party because the only way we're going to win is when middle America gets it, and middle America is Republican," [Log Cabin state chairman Jeffrey] Bissiri said.

I think that 1) it's about time, and 2) more of middle America "gets it" than Bessiri would believe.

More power to them, and Louis Sheldon be damned.

Posted 9:46 AM by Tony

Quote Of The Day

Comes from Christie Blatchford at the Globe and Mail, one of my favorite columnists:

In Toronto, in Ottawa, in the central vote-heavy part of the nation, that sound you hear is the hiss of dissipating anger.

I first heard it myself on Saturday night, or less than a week after the full sponsorship scandal engulfed the PM and his government, at dinner with some bright professional friends.

They said all the right things, of course. They just aren't going to do the right thing, which is to vote anybody but Liberal.

[ . . . ]

Mr. Martin's curiously worded pledge made over the airwaves last weekend ("Anybody who is found to have known that people are kiting cheques, that people are falsifying invoices -- me or anybody else -- should resign") is hardly a bedrock pledge to quit if implicated.

Indeed, it is rather more reminiscent of the difficulty Shelley Martel, a former member of the Bob Rae New Democratic Party government in Ontario, once found herself suffering. Accused of spreading confidential information about a Sudbury doctor, Ms. Martel actually took a lie-detector test to prove she had been blowing smoke out of her ass, and not private data.

On the scale of reassurances, the flavour of Mr. Martin's promise is closer to Ms. Martel's bizarre action.

Does anyone really believe that any Liberals, after winning the next election, would voluntarily resign even if excoriated by a public inquiry?

The current sponsorship scandal relates to Auditor General Sheila Fraser's findings in her November 2003 report relating to government spending, as reported to Parliament:

In a small number of very troubling cases, sponsorship funds were transferred to Crown corporations by highly questionable methods. This wasn't just a matter of missing documentation or bending the rules.

These transfers were apparently designed to pay commissions to communications agencies while hiding the source of the funds. And the amounts were significant. These practices failed to respect both the parliamentary appropriations process and Parliament itself.

You can see the November 2003 report here (just click on the links for Chapters 3, 4 and 5).

Update: See Carnival of the Canucks for more, as well as Colby Cosh. And see Frank J. for some gratuitous tongue-in-cheek commentary.

Posted 9:27 AM by Tony

Real Money In Canada

The phrase, "A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking real money" is commonly (though perhaps erroneously) attributed to Senator Everett Dirksen.

It looks like it may be "real money" time, if this CBC report is correct:

Nearly $2 billion has either been spent on or committed to the federal program since it was introduced in the mid-1990s, according to documents obtained by Zone Libre of CBC's French news service.

The figure is roughly twice as much as an official government estimate that caused an uproar across the country.

The gun registry was originally supposed to cost less than $2 million. In December 2002, Auditor General Sheila Fraser revealed that the program would run up bills of at least $1 billion by 2005.

But the calculations remained incomplete, so CBC News obtained documents through the Access to Information Act and crunched the numbers.

A large part of the $2 billion expense is a computer system that's supposed to track registered guns, according to one document. Officials initially estimated it would cost about $1 million. Expenses now hover close to $750 million and the electronic system is still not fully operational.

Other errors and unforeseen expenses include $8 million in refunds to people who registered their guns, and millions more in legal fees that mounted during court challenges.

I previously mentioned the registry here and here, and you can see the Auditor General's report here. (Note the Auditor General's citation to the lack of cooperation from the government.)

I'm inclined to give the CBC report some credence, given the CBC's own biases on the issue, e.g, characterizing opposition by the governments of 7 provinces and territories (over half the total) to the registry as "several."

We're talking "real money" territory now.

Update: Just found out that Colby hit this issue before I did; as he points out, the government was only off by one letter. He advises:

Remember, friends, when you go to shoot your Liberal MP this afternoon, make sure you do it with a legally registered firearm. It's the Canadian way.


Posted 9:04 AM by Tony

Random Korean News

These two items look pretty interesting:

From the Joongang Ilbo:

The Seoul Public Administration Court ruled yesterday that local prosecutors should make public the investigation records on the deaths in 2002 of two teenage girls crushed under a U.S. armored vehicle.

The fathers of the two girls had filed a suit against the Uijeongbu prosecution office, Gyeonggi province saying that the government should release documents it holds containing information from the investigation conducted by the United States Forces in Korea.

Quick background - the two girls were run over by an armored vehicle launched bridge (basically a bridge on a tank chassis). The vehicle crewmen were later acquitted of negligent homicide and sent home. (see BBC here and here).

I'd be interested to see what the investigation results were. And, by the way, the refusal to hand over soldiers to Korean authorities for prosecution is not a blanket rule, as the recent three-year sentence imposed in the Onken case shows (see Stars and Stripes; International Herald Tribune)

And this article in the Chosun Ilbo suggests that, if reunification ever happens, the reality is going to be a lot uglier than the fantasy vision that exists in the minds of many South Koreans:

Excluding the government support given to defectors, 84.5 percent of defectors made less than W1.99 million, 3.5 percent made between W2 million and W2.99 million, and 0.5 percent made between W3 million and W3.99 million.

[current exchange rate: 1150 won = 1 US dollar]

Compare that to the South Korean per capita income, which was $10,013 in 2002. There are perils in over-extrapolating data from 200 people to a nation of millions, but the survey does suggest that Reunification Minister Jeong Se-hyun's head needs to spend less time in the clouds (or up unmentionable portions of the anatomy), and more in the real world.

The article also caught my eye because of the byline. Heh.

Posted 8:25 AM by Tony

Monday, February 16, 2004
Clinton At Qatar

I wrote about Clinton at the US-Islamic World Forum in Qatar a couple weeks back, saying that I wanted to hold off judgment until I saw the transcript. Well, I finally found a transcript (in PDF format here). Finding it was a lot harder than it should have been, incidentally. The video is available at the US-Islamic World forum site.

Overall, I'm more impressed than I thought I would be, but less impressed than I though I should be:

I never thought my support for Israel's existence and right to live in peace with its neighbors was inconsistent with my support for a Palestinian state and decent treatment from the Palestinians, whom I believe have been abused by just about everybody who had a chance to abuse them for a long time, including their own leaders and a lot of their neighbors besides Israel. They have provided a convenient football. I will say more about that in a moment.

[ . . . ]

I think what stunned us in America on September the 11th more than the method of the attack was the depth of hatred and cold calculation behind it. And let me say in that context, one of the things that I think has to be examined is the kind of education offered by Education City here as opposed to that which concentrates on a highly selective reading of the Koran in a religion-only education, designed to blame other people for current problems. I respect religious education. When I was a boy, I went to a Catholic school for a couple of years.

I respect families' rights to send their children to any religious schools they want. But I think it is important that even schools that are religious at their base both teach science and arts and not teach hatred and dehumanization.

[emphasis added]

Translation - Quit funding the frickin' madrasas. [This may be my only area of agreement with Senator Schumber, incidentally.]

In all fairness, I think it was the best he could do, given the audience.

Posted 4:57 PM by Tony

Barbary Pirates Of North Korea And The Case Of Mr. Ri

Item the First:

Today's Globe and Mail has an article relating to the Canada's joining the Proliferation Security Initiative in the last minutes of the Chretien government (see Global Security for background):

The scheme has an innocuous name, the Proliferation Security Initiative, yet it has major implications for global security. It encourages its 16 member countries to intercept any ships suspected of carrying missiles or nuclear material -- even if those ships are outside the member countries' home waters. The primary targets would be ships from North Korea, though some reports suggest that Iranian ships also might be intercepted.

[ . . . ]

The founding members of the PSI group -- the United States, Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Spain -- were joined in December by Canada, Denmark, Norway, Singapore and Turkey. Ottawa has yet to publicly announce its participation.

[ . . . ]

[former foreign minister] Mr. [Lloyd] Axworthy believes PSI is a clear violation of international law and a breach of Canadian diplomatic rule-of-law traditions.

"You don't simply climb onto your horse or your frigate and head off to stop the bad guys. It's a posse mentality, pure and simple. We have begun to forgo our basic principles . . . all for the sake of becoming bandwagon cowboys. We're back with the Barbary pirates, ready to shoot cannonballs across the bow."

There is also a danger that PSI could encourage a violent reaction or further conflicts on the high seas, Mr. Axworthy said. "Any time you set a precedent for unilateral intervention, you're giving a licence to everyone else to do the same. We wouldn't like it too much if East Asian nations decide to intercept Canadian grain shipments to check if they have proper disease control."

First, Mr. Axworthy would be well advised to look up "unilateral". A 16-nation initiative is hardly "done or undertaken by one person or party."

Second, Mr. Axworthy should really read up on the Barbary Pirates. It's a valid historical analogy with respect to North Korea, but not the way Axworthy intended. For background, see Washington Post, History News Network, FAS. Here are some salient points to consider:

1. The United States paid bribes to the pirates in return for peace.
2. The pirates kept raising the price of peace.
3. The United States took unilateral action.
4. The pasha of Tripoli got serious about negotiations, courtesy the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps.

The United States rallied against the Barbary pirates under the slogan, "Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute!" Given the state of Canada's defense (here, here, here, and here), one suspects Axworthy would turn the slogan 180 degrees.

Item the Second:

I previously blogged about the case of Song Dae Ri, a North Korean defector who was denied asylum by the Immigration and Refugee Board in Canada. It seems that Bonnie Milliner, who wrote the decision, is asking for police protection.

The report is available in PDF format at the Globe and Mail. I find it curious that Ms. Milliner acknowledged the draconian punishments meted out for those who do not conform to the party line (at p. 19), yet at the same time, holds Mr. Ri's fear of those consequences against him (at p. 21).

Under those standards, even a person with the moral fiber of Graf von Stauffenberg would be denied asylum (via Wikipedia):

While his uncle, Graf Niklaus von Uxkull, approached him to join the resistance movement after the Polish campaign in 1939, it was Stauffenberg's individual conscience and his religious convictions that urged him to act. Initially he felt powerless as he was in no position of authority to help organise a coup, but finally in 1943 after recuperating from his wounds he was posted as a staff officer to the Replacement Army located in an office on the Bendlerstrasse in Berlin. Here, one of his superiors was General Friedrich Olbricht, a committed member of the resistance movement. In the Replacement Army they had a unique opportunity to launch a coup as one of its functions was to have "Operation Valkyrie" in place - a contingency measure to which would let the Replacement Army assume control of the Reich in the event of internal disturbances where communications with the military high command were blocked. Ironically, this plan had been agreed to by Hitler and was now secretly to become the means of sweeping him from power.

[note the four year delay between knowledge and action]

Posted 4:16 PM by Tony

Photo Ops

John Kerry is criticizing the President for a photo op at a NASCAR race (via SF Chronicle):

Kerry, who has a commanding lead in the race to oppose Bush this fall, chided the president for taking time out Sunday to attend the Daytona 500, saying the country was bleeding jobs while he posed for a "photo opportunity." Bush had donned a racing jacket to officially open NASCAR's most prestigious event in front of some 180,000 fans.

I don't see what the problem is, since the photo op has been a political tool for a very, very long time.

One would suspect that Kerry's criticism stems, at least, in part, from his own execrable experience with photo opportunities.

For example, there's the bit with the cheesesteak in Philadelphia (via Philadelphia Inquirer):

Kerry, you may have heard, failed miserably.

He ordered a cheesesteak with Swiss cheese.

Now I suppose in some corners of the world, Swiss is a perfectly acceptable sandwich ingredient. Switzerland, maybe.

But in Philadelphia, ordering Swiss on a cheesesteak is like rooting for Dallas at an Eagles game. It isn't just politically incorrect; it could get you a poke in the nose.

(found at Tien Mao)

And, of course, there was the T-shirt thing in New Hampshire (via Washington Post):

As if things weren't going badly enough for John F. Kerry, the senator from Massachusetts has been bitten by a Psycho Chihuahua.

The attack occurred 10 days ago in Hopkinton, N.H., when Kerry went to speak to a class at Hopkinton High. This appearance resulted in a most unhelpful photo for the onetime front-runner for the Democratic nomination, snapped by Concord Monitor photo editor Dan Habib. The image is of Kerry making an earnest point to student Mark LaGuardia, who, unbeknownst to the candidate, is wearing a T-shirt that proclaims on the back: "Your mouth keeps moving but all I hear is 'BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.' "

(Washington Post)

Compare that to President Bush at Daytona:

(via Yahoo/Reuters)

So, who looks more at home? I can't help but wonder how the Kerry campaign would react to similar criticism, if he ever manages to look good in a photo op.

But then again, I have been accused of cynicism where this stuff is concerned.

Posted 3:02 PM by Tony

Twisted Logic

So, it's a rainy Monday, and a co-worker and I were on our way to lunch in lovely downtown Palo Alto. A couple of protestors are standing on the corner, supporting a huge banner that says "Stop U.S. Support of Israeli Aparthead" with a picture of a bulldozer with dollar symbols on the blade.

One of the protestors is holding a sign that has a picture of Rachel Corrie, with a caption alleging that she's a victim of Israeli racism. Of course, it's a "normal picture" of Corrie, and not this picture of her.

That sets off my co-worker, who callled the protestors anti-Semites. One of the protestors responded, "The Zionists are the true anti-Semites, not us!"


I'm still trying to figure out the kind of logic under which a Jewish government can be accused of "hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group."

Posted 2:31 PM by Tony

Thursday, February 12, 2004

What is it with the interns (via Drudge Report)

In an off-the-record conversation with a dozen reporters earlier this week, General Wesley Clark plainly stated: "Kerry will implode over an intern issue." [Three reporters in attendance confirm Clark made the startling comments.]

I can't help but wonder: was she an heiress?

Posted 9:21 AM by Tony

Bizarre Yet Amusing Lead-Ins

This story in the Korea Herald is worth noting, if only for the way that Valentine's Day is being tied into the club scene.

Tomorrow [today is the 13th in Korea] is Valentine's Day, a day when Cupid and mass commerce collide to wring the living daylights out of your bank account, and Western-Islam relations go up in flames once more as Pakistani girls burn card shops and rant about their cultural existence being on the brink of extinction (before going home and crying about not having a boyfriend).
What they don't realize is, their cultural existence is already on the brink of extinction. When was the last time Tyler Stadius, Cass and The Specialist all played blazing gigs within a two-kilometer radius in Islamabad?

All that money earned proliferating nuclear technology around the Middle East could at least have booked Danny Rampling, or one of the Canadians who come here with a DJ moniker nobody can recognize.

Hard-house DJ Lisa Lashes is out to break a few hearts on the dance floor tomorrow night at the Sheraton Walker Hill.

Yep, tomorrow's all about giving - girls, instead of guys, for a change - and when it comes to hard house so deep and dirty you could draw water from it, nobody gives more than Miss Mash-up herself, Lisa Lashes.

[links added, but accuracy not vouched for]

Now, I realize that it's been a while since I've been in Korea, but I hadn't thought that Valentine's Day was such a big deal there. But, I have to say, that's one heck of a lead-in.

Posted 8:27 AM by Tony

Monday, February 09, 2004
A Thousand Words For Rumsfeld

Oranckay and the Marmot both point to this speech by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in Munich. Instapundit points out a related Q&A session, here.

This bit from Rumsfeld's speech, relating to Korea, struck me:

And I said to this woman, you know, that would have been a fair question for an American journalist to ask 50 years ago -- why in the world should an American go halfway around the world to South Korea and get wounded or killed?

We were in a building that looked out on the city of Seoul and I said, I'll tell you why. Look out the window. And out that window you could see lights and cars and energy and a vibrant economy and a robust democracy. And of course I said to her if you look above the demilitarized zone from satellite pictures of the Korean Peninsula, above the DMZ is darkness, nothing but darkness and a little portion (Inaudible.) of light where Pyongyang is. The same people had the same population, the same resources. And look at the difference. There are concentration camps. They're starving. They've lowered the height for the people who go in the Army down to 4 feet 10 inches because people aren't tall enough. They take people in the military below a hundred pounds. They're 17, 18, 19 years old and frequently they look like they're 13, 14, and 15 years old.

[emphasis added]

Indeed, look at the difference:

(attribution forgotten - found it earlier last year)

FYI, the big splotch of light to the west, just south of the North Korean border, is Seoul. The solitary point of light in the North, on the west side, is Pyongyang.

Posted 3:30 PM by Tony

Thursday, February 05, 2004

I thought this was an interesting application of the intellectual property laws. It's a lawsuit relating to the practice of yoga at high temperatures (via SF Chronicle):

Now, a San Francisco nonprofit organization of yoga enthusiasts from San Rafael to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., is countering with a federal lawsuit attacking the guru's [Bikram Choudhury] claim that yoga is proprietary. They say that yoga is a 5,000-year- old tradition that cannot be owned. The suit is asking the judge to determine whether Choudhury is entitled to copyright and trademark his material under federal copyright laws. A trial date has been set for next February.

"We're not disputing that Mr. Choudhury did something creative and useful in putting the postures together in a certain order,'' said Elizabeth Rader, a copyright attorney representing the nonprofit Open Source Yoga Unity. She says Choudhury took the 26 postures from 84 classical ones that have been taught in India for centuries.

[ . . . ]

Speaking in a lilting accent, Choudhury said he has copyrighted the sequence, not the postures. He arranged the poses in a certain way, matched each pose to a precise dialogue used by the instructor and set the 90 minutes of exercises in a mirrored, carpeted room heated like a sauna. That, he says, is his intellectual property.

"Do-re-mi is in the public domain until you make a melody and turn it into a song and copyright it,'' Choudhury said. "The English language is public domain but if you write a book, on any subject, you get a copyright."

This is a rather interesting departure from the current DMCA sucks/doesn't suck dispute. Plus, the pracititioners are certainly easier to look at than your average programmer:

(via SF Chronicle)

Posted 3:40 PM by Tony

Likely To Be Executed, But Not A Refugee

In the recent case of Martin Arar, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin demanded that no more Canadians be deported to third countries. He said (via CBC:

Canadian passports must be respected

I have to wonder at the sensitivities of the Canadian government, in light of stuff like this (via Globe and Mail, from Incestuous Amplification):

Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board has rejected the asylum case of a North Korean dissident even though the board agrees the man will likely be executed for treason if deported to his homeland.

The IRB has allowed the man's six-year-old son to remain in Canada, because as the son of a dissident he would face persecution, while a removal order has been issued for his father, his only living parent.

Song Dae Ri, a trade official, was posted to North Korea's embassy in Beijing before he defected to Canada with his son and wife in August, 2001. His wife was lured home by her parents before she had a chance to make a refugee claim, and in April, 2002, was executed in North Korea.

"When I came to Canada, I was relieved to have escaped alive. Now I fear I will die and my son will be an orphan here. It is so terrible," said Mr. Ri, shredding a tissue in his long, thin fingers and weeping as he cast a glance at his cherubic-faced son, Chang-Il, seated beside him playing with his GameBoy.

IRB member Bonnie Milliner ruled that Mr. Ri will likely be executed for treason if returned home, but said he was not "deserving of Canada's protection" because he was complicit in crimes against humanity merely for being a member of Kim Jong-il's government. She made that ruling despite written assurances from Canada's War Crimes Unit that Mr. Ri was "not a person of interest to them" and that there was no evidence he had committed crimes against humanity.

"While [Mr. Ri] may not have personally committed any atrocities, I believe that on a balance of probabilities he was aware of the North Korean government's excesses . . . and waited 10 years [to leave]," she concluded in her September, 2003, decision. "He was a high-level North Korean government official with weighty responsibilities."

[ . . . ]

Ms. Milliner observed that North Korea is one of the world's most repressive regimes, bringing misery to its people through dictatorial control and subjugation. The country's criminal code specifies that all those who engage in espionage or treason will be executed, and that the families of political prisoners "must be wiped out for three generations" to come. She suggested Mr. Ri avail himself of "other Canadian remedies" in an attempt to stay in Canada, an apparent reference to a humanitarian and compassionate appeal.

Ms. Milliner questioned why Mr. Ri failed to dissociate himself from government abuses at the first available opportunity, and defected only when he feared his own life was in danger.

(For more pieces on North Korea, see this Anne Applebaum column in the Washington Post.)

Let me see if I get this straight, and feel free to correct me:

The wife went back to North Korea and was executed.
The father is in Canada with his son.
The IRB acknowledges the father will be executed if he goes back to North Korea, and that the criminal code requires the execution of political prisoners' families for three generations.
The Canadian agency specializing in war crimes states that there was no evidence the father had committed crimes against humanity.
Yet, the IRB concluded that "the balance of probabilities" was that he was aware of such crimes.
The IRB decides to deport the father, but leave the six-year old son, parentless in Canada.

How in the world does this make any sort of sense? By such logic, even Paul Martin would fail the burden the IRB imposes - Martin's an official in a high position, certainly aware of North Korean atrocities, and has failed to do anything about it.

This last part was particular bemusing:

Ms. Milliner questioned why Mr. Ri failed to dissociate himself from government abuses at the first available opportunity, and defected only when he feared his own life was in danger.

One wonders if Ms. Millner would react the same way if the word "government" had been replaced with "domestic."

A cheap shot? Perhaps, but it only serves to illustrate the irrationality of the Board's decision.

Update: Jean-Guy Fleury, chair of the IRB, responded to the article in a letter to the Globe and Mail. I just want to point out one thing, where he points out:

It is important to note that in this case the Federal Court decided not to review the IRB's decision.

First off, that doesn't excuse the IRB, nor does it mean the IRB made the right decision- it simply means what it says, that the court decided not to review the decision. I don't know Canadian law, but it would seem to me that the certainty of being executed after deportation to North Korea makes a pretty strong case for refugee status.

Second, the failure to review the decision may have had something to do with the court's standard of review. The court may have had a standard of review that allows reversal of an administrative decision only when there's absolutely no evidence to support the decision, or if the IRB basically went nuts. Here, the IRB's determination may have been supported by just enough evidence for the court to decide not to review the decision. Again, I don't know Canadian law, so I can only speculate.

Update 2: Well, it looks like Ri has a shot at staying in Canada (via Globe and Mail, more here):

Mr. Ri appealed his case in two ways: He applied to the Department of Citizenship and Immigration for permission to stay on a humanitarian grounds, and yesterday he asked the newly created Canadian Border Services Agency for a preremoval risk assessment. The agency will assess the risk to his life if he is returned home and decide whether he can stay in Canada.

Although Mr. Ri was disappointed by Ms. Sgro's response, he was heartened to hear that a source at the border services agency had said that a decision on his preremoval risk assessment could be made as soon as today. The appeal to Citizenship and Immigration could take two years.

Posted 1:58 PM by Tony

Wednesday, February 04, 2004
Helping An Oath Breaker

This kind of stuff really irritates me (via Korea Times):

Singer Lee Soo-young, 24, is in the public spotlight for donating 5 million won to support Robert Kim, who is imprisoned in a U.S. prison for espionage.

In a personal letter attached to the monetary gift, Lee expressed her sympathy for Kim, whose Korean name is Kim Chae-kon, being parted from his family, adding that she understands how harsh it is from having lost her parents at an early age.

She also wrote words of encouragement in the letter, noting how many people in South Korea are impressed and moved by his perseverance and bravery. She expressed a resolution to learn from his patriotism to give her best to her approaching debut in Japan.

Kim, 63, will rejoin his family after eight years of separation once he is released on July 27 from the Winchester Regional Jail in Virginia.

What patriotism?

Patriotism is defined as "love for or devotion to one's country."

Which country?

Robert Kim was a naturalized American citizen. He held a position of trust working for an American naval intelligence agency. He handed over classified documents without authorization to a foreign officer. He pled guilty to conspiracy to commit espionage, and ended up with a nine-year sentence.

He chose to become an American citizen, and swore an oath:

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.

He chose the United States as his country. So how is what he did, by any stretch of the imagination, "love for or devotion to one's country"?

Consider that, typically, pleas are entered in exchange for a reduced sentence. What we have then, is Robert Kim admitting that he committed a serious crime, and the probability that he would have been found guilty on other charges, with an increase in his sentence.

Nine years is way too short for someone who intentionally betrayed his allegiance to his country, as far as I'm concerned.

I've blogged about this oath breaker here, and here. More recently, the Marmot also brought up the issue. I don't agree that Robert Kim should be executed (saving that for those who spy for hostile nations), but I am in complete agreement with his characterization of the guy.

Calling Robert Kim a patriot is not simply inaccurate, it's insulting.

And Lee So-young is either too stupid or too naive to know better. Given that she's 24, naivete can't be ruled out.

Update: Incestuous Amplification points to this Joongang Ilbo interview with Robert Kim. I echo IA's sentiments. I only point out that Robert Kim, a naturalized citizen of the United States, still doesn't get the concept of citizenship, as his reference to South Korea as "my government" indicates.

Posted 4:57 PM by Tony

But Did He Answer The Question?

Eric Fettman writes in the New York Post about Terry McAuliffe attacking Bush's service record:

In fact, host [of ABC's This Week] George Stephanopoulos, a one-time Clinton aide, brought McAuliffe back down to Earth. "Wait a second," he said, "Democrats all defended Bill Clinton back in 1992, despite the questions about his draft record. Isn't this hypocrisy here?"

"How is this hypocrisy?" McAuliffe responded - and then abruptly changed the subject to domestic issues.

I was curious whether McAuliffe actually failed to answer the hypocrisy question, and found the transcript at the New York Times:

STEPHANOPOULOS: So how do you answer, then, people who would say, Wait a second, Democrats all defended Bill Clinton back in 1992, despite the questions about his draft record. Isn't this hypocrisy here?

MCAULIFFE: How is it hypocrisy? When our -- this election's going to be fought about what all Americans will tell you it's going to be fought about, on domestic issues. It's going to be fought on jobs, jobs, jobs, education, and health care.

And there will be legitimate questions on the president's conduct as it relates to Iraq. But gigantic budget deficits -- I mean, look at this week, George. The president had to come out and admit that he misled the American people and he misled members of Congress by saying that his Medicare plan would cost $400 billion. Lo and behold, this week we find out that it's $130 billion more.

The president has misled us day in and day out on every single issue.

But I warn Democrats, this is not going to be an easy fight, because you know what they will do, George. They outed a CIA operative, they put this woman's life in jeopardy because they had the audacity to question the president, what he had said in his speech in the State of the Union a year ago.

Now we got a criminal investigation going on.

I look forward to this contest. Look what happened, George, in Iowa and New Hampshire, record turnout in Iowa, 55 percent new voters. New Hampshire, 220,000 voters, broke every record, 45 percent were independent voters. New Hampshire's in play. We're going to win Iowa.

There's something going on.

As far as I can tell, McAuliffe never did answer the question.

Posted 4:30 PM by Tony

An Orange County native trapped in the SF Bay Area. Email at

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