Nonsense, horsefeathers, and idle musings from a decade in South Korea (2002-2012).

09 January, 2013

A Wednesday Buffet of Goodness

By Aaron
09 January, 2013

Embedded Video: George Will - "The Political Argument Today"

  • Two videos from George Will, who speaks with more eloquence than most can write and who gets better with each passing year. The first, which I've embedded above, is from more than a year ago but I only recently discovered it. The second, which you can see over at C-Span's site, is from last month and is entitled "Religion and Politics in the First Modern Nation." You'll profit greatly by watching both.

  • South Korea, which takes ethnic homogeneity as a point of pride, can be - shall we say - indelicate when it comes to the topic of race. I can't say that my (Korean) wife and I experienced much of what is described in this NYT article, but then, I'm a caucasian American and we always lived in Central Seoul. I suspect our story would be different if I hailed from the Indian Subcontinent and sported a higher melanin content. On the topic of race in South Korea, it's always interesting to note that, while South Koreans are awfully proud of their 'clean' bloodlines, they haven't exactly welcomed with open arms their North Korean siblings who've managed to escape to the South. The definition of 'cleanliness,' then, remains a matter of some dispute.

  • Speaking of the northern side of the 38th parallel: Joshua Stanton and Sung-Yoon Lee argue in Foreign Policy that the U.S. Treasury Department should ramp up its interdiction efforts toward North Korean money-laundering schemes as a way to bankrupt the DPRK's palace economy. As foreign adventures go, I have less objection to this idea than to most suggestions involving the military. That said, history has shown that unintended consequences have a way of arising when one starts fiddling with the knobs and levers of geopolitics. 

  • And since we're on the topic of the DRPK, the US Congressional Report expects China to intervene in North Korea at some point. Not a surprising or risky prediction, if you ask me.

  • Writing at The New York Times, Steven Asma illustrates the problem facing a true altruist who seeks to treat everyone with equal love, compassion, and generosity (a topic I hit from a different angle here): 
Say I bought a fancy pair of shoes for my son. In light of [Peter Singer's] one-tribe calculus of interests, I should probably give these shoes to someone who doesn’t have any. I do research and find a child in a poor part of Chicago who needs shoes to walk to school every day. So, I take them off my son (replacing them with Walmart tennis shoes) and head off to the impoverished Westside. On the way, I see a newspaper story about five children who are malnourished in Cambodia. Now I can’t give the shoeless Chicago child the shoes, because I should sell the shoes for money and use the money to get food for the five malnourished kids. On my way to sell the shoes, I remember that my son has an important job interview for a clean-water nonprofit organization and if he gets the job, he’ll be able to help save whole villages from contaminated water. But he won’t get the job if he shows up in Walmart tennis shoes. As I head back home, it dawns on me that for many people in the developing world, Walmart tennis shoes are truly luxurious when compared with burlap sack shoes, and since needs always trump luxuries I’ll need to sell the tennis shoes too; and on, and on, and on.
  • Oh, and happy birthday to Jimmy Page, who turns 68 today. 

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