Monthly Archives: April 2013
I have known my friend Julie since 2005, when I came back from living in Germany. She and my other friend, Kendra, had become roommates while I was gone. They moved in together in a rambling old house on Hinkson in Columbia. The house was old, the apartment was upstairs, and I remember the first time I walked in and met Julie. It didn’t take long until I felt as though I’d known her for years. Maybe it was because she reminded me of my cousin, Kari. In any case, I’m so glad that Kendra and Julie happened to meet and decide to be roomies, or I would never have known this extraordinary woman.
I have always said and still maintain that Julie is the sort of person that you can come to if you have a problem and get a hug, guidance, and cheering up. There is something about her presence that is calming and mothering. It is not contrived; it is simply her. Maybe it’s because of her spirituality. Although I would never call Julie a religious person, she is deeply spiritual, and I am convinced that she helped guide me along the path to my own acceptance of the universe and the development of my personal belief system.
I recall most vividly one night, hanging out at “the tree house,” as Kendra and I took to calling it. (There were squirrels and bats in the roof. Tree house was an appropriate moniker.) It was one of those late spring nights that was pregnant with an impending thunderstorm. Kendra and I were sitting on the porch, breathing in the humid air, and we heard the door at the bottom of the steps slam, announcing Julie was home.
“Oh my God!” she exclaimed. “The air is just electric!” She sort of shivered and moved her body, and I knew exactly what she meant. It was as though nature was anticipating the coming deluge, and it was just one of those nights that was ripe with magic. We all sat around with some lit candles. Julie gave us tarot readings, and we pondered over our futures and where our lives might take us, where we would be when the rain stopped.
That was almost 10 years ago, if you can believe it. I don’t think any of us could have guessed or imagined where life would take us in the in-between times. I certainly never imagined that I’d be married with a child and living in Asia. I certainly would never have put Kendra in a classroom teaching ESL, although I might have envisioned her in NOLA. Julie is currently in American Samoa, preparing to make her journey home and take the next step forward. And that is why I am writing this particular entry.
Julie is going into training to become a midwife. I spoke with her last week for the first time in a long time (too long!), and she conveyed to me her plans and explained that this had long been a dream of hers that, until recently, she hadn’t felt ready to pursue. I told her the story of my daughter’s birth and how I had wanted to give birth as naturally as possible. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out the way we wanted due to health reasons, but there were issues along the way that I certainly feel would have been better understood by a midwife or doula. Trust me when I say that being told you “have no stamina” when you’ve been induced with Pitocin and couldn’t have an epidural are NOT the words you want to hear from your nurse!
Julie has saved money to get her started on her endeavor, but she will need lots more before it’s all over. She has started a fundraiser on gofundme.com to help her bulk up the bank account. Normally, I don’t post things like this on my blog. However, I genuinely believe that Julie is right for this calling. I’m honestly amazed that it never occurred to me earlier that she would be perfect as a midwife.
I am a believer in herbalism, acupuncture, chiropractic, wellness, and natural healing. Where modern medicine fails or stops short, I believe that alternative healing methods can fill the gaps and even improve on what we currently believe is the only way. I wish that there were more people who felt like I do, but I think there are changes coming, and I’m so glad to know that I have friends who are spearheading that change.
The other reason I am doing this is because I believe a return to community is necessary. Student loans and grants have helped innumerable people attain the goal of higher education, but unfortunately, our current system is not a sustainable one. I am strongly in favor of friends, family, neighbors, and even total strangers helping each other in big and small ways. By keeping money within communities, we will be better able, as a whole, to live within our means and not overextend ourselves.
I am posting the link to Julie’s fundraiser, and you can read her story in her own words there. If this is a cause that is near to your heart, or if you are intrigued, or you are just a very giving person, I encourage you to help her in any way you can. I would not write this if I didn’t believe in it myself. I appreciate my readers taking the time to read this!
Does anyone else follow celebrity gossip like I do? If you do, you were probably as shocked as I was when you saw the headlines that Reese Witherspoon, the Southern belle of Hollywood, got arrested along with her husband over the weekend. Her husband was arrested for driving in the wrong line while intoxicated. Reese, however, got arrested for running her fool mouth and playing the “don’t you know who I am?” card with the police officer. Apparently, he didn’t care who she was.
Let me preface this whole thing now by saying that I’ve never liked Reese Witherspoon. Maybe it’s her too-pointy chin. Maybe it’s the fact that I think she’s grossly overrated. Maybe it’s the fact that I think she has a weird body shape. Yes, I know two of those things are ridiculously shallow, but you, following Hollywood gossip and caring about celebs in general is shallow. Celebs are supposed to be the ideal, and for that reason, I don’t feel too awful to criticizing. As Miranda said on SATC, “I love it, it’s my thing, let it go.”
I have heard rumblings for years that Reese isn’t quite the Southern sweetheart that her PR team would have us believe. It’s been fairly well known among pro gossips for years that she and director Kevin Smith (Clerks, Mallrats, the infamous Southwest Airlines incident) don’t get on. Well, he basically thinks she’s a bitch and, if his story about her behavior towards him and his then-girlfriend are to be believed, she is. I’ve also heard that directors who work with her come out of the experience hating her. Even articles that paint her in a glowing light admit she’s Type A. There’s nothing wrong with being Type A, but if you use your powers for evil, well, that sucks.
For my part, she just rubs me the wrong way. She always has. I’ve never bought that sweet-as-sugar-pie act. I think when someone tries hard to sell you something, particularly an image, it’s probably not true. If someone has to tell you over and over again that they’re a good person, they probably aren’t. Actions speak louder than words. I’ve never noticed in interviews that Reese is anything other than blunt, anal, and a bit judgy. She has also made remarks, directly and indirectly, about coworkers and other actors that just don’t line up with that sweet image. Basically, I don’t like her. Whatever.
This whole incident sort of proves to me that my suspicions were right on the money. Like most of Hollywood, she came out of the arrest as an entitled, spoiled brat who thinks she’s above the law because she’s an actress. Whoa, is this Lindsay Lohan or A-list Reese we’re talking about here? I think Hollywood is chalk-a-block full of that kind of crap. It’s a town full of narcissists who get special treatment all the time. I would imagine that they come to expect such things as the norm.
I would have let her get away with her bratty behavior and not written an article about it, but what goads me about this situation is that her husband’s (or her) PR team has released a statement basically saying that he dragged her into the situation and made her look back. Bitch, please! I have been wasted enough times to know that you’d have to be at the blackout stage before you forgot that getting into a car with someone who has had too many drinks is wrong, and if girlfriend had her wits about her enough to get out of the car and resist arrest, she had the brains functioning to know that she made the wrong decision.
It really fries my egg when grown-ass adults act like they’ve been coerced into some situation by a friend, spouse, or lover and paint it like they’re hostages and victims of circumstance. JUST OWN IT. You fucked up. Don’t make all of these namby-pamby excuses to try and preserve the good person image. We all know what you’re really like now. The American public is stupid, but we’re not that stupid. I really resent reading People and having them try to sell me that load of bull. Reese Witherspoon, you are not a child. You got into that car of your own volition when you had the means and money to call a cab or even a limo service. You chose to get belligerent with a police officer in Hotlanta. Everyone I have ever known who has driven through Georgia has come out of the other side with a bullshit ticket and a story to tell about an asshole cop giving them hell. I hope she wasn’t offended by a cop telling her to sit her butt down, because trust me sister, it could have been worse.
Is this scenario just typical of Hollywood, or are more people becoming like this? Entitled, arrogant, and expecting that they can get out of something just because? I feel like more and more people make excuses like this, as though they’ve been coerced into doing something in spite of overwhelming evidence that they are, in fact, adults, capable of making their own decisions. I feel like anymore, when people screw up, they will do anything and everything to deflect blame from themselves and onto someone else or onto the situation. I hate that “victim of circumstance” line.
This is really all I have to say. I don’t know why, but reading that crap from the Jim Toth statement just hit a nerve. It really makes me mad when celebs think we’re stupid, kind of like it makes me mad when the government treats us like we’re stupid. Sometimes, I wish I could just move to an island, put a flag in it, name it Mudgeland, and declare it a libertarian paradise where people with IQs below 115 or obnoxious political views (left or right) have to stay the hell out. I can dream, can’t I?
The Senate is going to vote on CISPA today, which is basically SOPA in different clothes. I saw massive protest to that monstrosity, and the Interwebs has been curiously quiet about this one. If you haven’t already done so, email your senators and let them know that you believe in freedom of the Internet! Signing off!
I just turned 29 on Tuesday, and I haven’t really had much of anything to look forward to regarding that this year – no party, not enough friends around anymore with whom to celebrate, and so on and so forth. One thing I noticed a few weeks ago though, was that one of my old favorite bands, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, had a new album, Mosquito, coming out on my birthday. Excitement! I thought. The YYYs haven’t released an album in about four years. I’ll finally have some new music from an old favorite to buoy me until something new comes along.
Boy, was I wrong.
I have loved Karen O. & Co. since my friend Julie introduced me to them after I got back from Germany. By that time, Fever to Tell had already become an indie-hipster smash success, and I was a little bit behind the times. I quickly got with them and devoured their subsequent albums, Show Your Bones and It’s Blitz! I also have the EP albums, Rockers to Swallow and the self-titled album, which I always called “Master” to myself, since that’s what the necklace on the cover says. Ever since I first heard them, I’ve loved the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I went to see them in concert when they came to Columbia, back when I was still there. Karen O. was awesome, and I don’t care what anyone else thinks about her performances. It was great fun. Well, it was until my friend passed out for some mysterious reason and we had to leave part of the way through the second set.
I was surprised by the sound on It’s Blitz!, but the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have been adapting their sound on each of their albums and, as a fan of electro bands like Ladytron and Goldfrapp, I was more than willing to accept the synthetic sound that replaced the hardcore sounds of Rockers to Swallow or the mellow, acoustic ones of Show Your Bones. Let’s not forget that Lady Gaga had just appeared on the scene then and, regardless of what you think of her or her music, she was taking the music world by storm. Electro-pop that was reminiscent of the 80s was the hot thing in 2008 and 2009. I loved it – still do. I still think It’s Blitz! was a damn good album and very listenable. I rocked it out that entire spring, thinking to myself that “Off With Your Head” and “Zero” must be tributes to Michael Jackson, who at that time had only recently passed away. Like I said – the 1980s was back, if only for a couple of years.
I wasn’t sure what to expect with Mosquito. Would it feature a return to the YYY’s former punk-indie-rock roots, more electro-synth, a nice mix of the two, or none of the above? Well… I’m still not quite sure how to answer that question, and I’m not sure the album does, either. That’s the problem: it doesn’t know what it wants to be. And that’s not a good thing. Mosquito is all over the place, and none of it comes out sounding good.
For the most part, all of the previous albums, including the EP albums, have had at least one or two standout single tracks (“Maps,” “Zero,” “Bang!,” “Rockers to Swallow”) that could stoke the initial fires of interest. Mosquito utterly lacks that great hook track. I think it was supposed to be “Sacrilege,” but from the moment I heard it, I was worried. The track is all over the place (like the rest of the album) and, frankly, it’s not that interesting. The lyrics are bland and the music isn’t good enough to compensate. I was really disappointed when I previewed the album today to find out that the rest of the album is more of the same.
There have been a lot of other reviewers stating issues with Karen O’s vocals and other things, and while they aren’t as good as usual, the real problem is that this album is just fucking boring. If there is one thing that this band shouldn’t be, it’s boring. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have been an integral part of the hipster-counterculture scene with which I’ve been familiar for as long as I’ve been a part of it. (It pains me that, on some level, at some point, I’ve been a damn hipster. Dammit.) Everything in the (pseudo?) artsy hipster world has to be ironic, interesting, offensive, or some combination of those things and more. The YYYs have been all of that, at various points, but boring? My God, never!
I’ve asked myself a few times if they sold out with the last album, but this album makes me think that they haven’t. The album was supposedly put together in a basement studio in Brooklyn. I don’t think a major production team would have allowed the band to be so wobbly and meandering. The album lacks direction and purpose. You have this feeling of never knowing what the point is. Granted, most of the time, when pressed, you wouldn’t be able to tell me the point of most of your favorite albums, but believe it or not, they are put together to achieve flow and a kind of agreement between songs. The only thing these songs agree on is that they’re directionless.
I really hope that this is a transitional album, that the YYYs are trying to regain their footing after what on the American music scene could be termed a relatively lengthy hiatus. I hope that their next album, if one ever comes, will redeem this one, including the God-awful artwork that I’m not even going to touch here. As it stands right now, I’ve lost a bit of faith in the YYYs. Are they running out of gas after a good 10-year run? That would make me sad, but it certainly wouldn’t be out of the question. Alas, many of my favorite bands have shut the door behind them – Queenadreena, Daisy Chainsaw, the Pixies, Fugazi… Honestly, I’d rather see the YYYs walk away from it than hang on in slow, painful decline, attempting to eke out as many dollars from a loyal fan base as possible.
For my part, I will not be purchasing this album. If someone offered it to me for free, I’d probably take it, but it wouldn’t go into regular rotation the way my old YYYs albums have. My recommendation to all YYYs fans is not to go in expecting much, and then you might come away happier than I did. I hold my favorite bands to their highest moments, and this album is more like a collection of the YYYs lowest moments. I’m going to wait it out and hope that any future albums don’t make me cringe the way this one did.
Does anyone else remember that episode of Sex and the City where Miranda starts Weight Watchers? She meets a guy who has “Big Boned” on his name tag, and she introduces herself as “Miranda: Baby Weight.” Well, that’s exactly where I am right now, minus the picking up guys at a Weight Watchers meeting and, come to think of it, minus Weight Watchers. It’s no secret to those who know me or who regularly read my blog (you are out there, right?) that I’ve always struggled with my weight. At this point in my life, I have just accepted the fact that I will never be one of those lucky people who doesn’t need to pay attention to what goes in their mouth and who enjoys exercise. I will never be that person.
As a direct result of my penchant for eating – I really love eating – coupled with the fact that I don’t get enough exercise, being a stay-at-home mom, I haven’t had the easiest time shifting the baby weight. I gained about 27 pounds with Brett. Compared to Jessica Simpson or Kim Kardassian (typo and it stays, as Michael K at Dlisted would say), that’s a whole lotta nothing, but for someone who started off fat, it’s not a good thing. I tend to have borderline high blood pressure anyway, and I developed very mild preeclampsia at the tail end of my pregnancy. Pre-E is scary stuff and can seriously harm or even kill the mother and baby. For the record, my blood pressure seems to be genetic. Even when I weighed 140 lbs. (skinny-skinny for me!) and was running a daily 10K and lifting weights every night, my blood pressure was still about 135/80. That was in high school, and little has changed today. I’m just that person, a natural stroke candidate. Thanks, Dad.
The annoying thing is that I did everything right while I was pregnant. I ate lots of vegetables, fruit, and lean meat. I almost never ate anything with sugar in it, no chocolate, and no caffeine. I did have some pasta and cereal here and there, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but I tried as best I could to continue the general Somersize program. I still consider 27 pounds to be fairly heroic, in terms of pregnancy weight or lack thereof.
The problem now is getting rid of it. When I first gave birth, my weight dropped by about 15 pounds overnight. It was crazy. In the days after we brought Brett home, I dropped down even further. I was so nervous and tired that I wasn’t eating or drinking much of anything, and I actually dropped about five pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight. The problem with starvation diets, of course, is that as soon as you reintroduce food, you gain weight right back. That’s exactly what happened to me. Within about two weeks of returning to somewhat normal albeit non-Somersized eating patterns, I was back to within about five pounds of my final pregnancy weight, and I’ve stayed there ever since.
Now that spring is here and the weather is getting good, I’m ready to lose the weight. I worked really hard to lose a lot of weight before I got pregnant with Brett, and it bugs me to no end that I’ve allowed myself to blimp 20 pounds back on. My husband pointed out a few nights ago that I wasn’t losing anything, and I decided it was time to make the effort. We threw away the last of the bread and snack food, and now the fridge has nothing in it but fruit, salad, cheese, and meat. Good old Somersize.
Spring is always a good motivator for me. For one thing, you can actually get outside and exercise. I like walking and running. Okay, I don’t like running, but I remember when I was younger and thinner how much I really enjoyed my daily run. It gave me time to clear my head and think through everything going on in my life. I don’t have the time necessary anymore to devote to a daily 10K, nor am I 16 years old anymore. Actually, I’m almost twice that age now, horrifying as that thought is. I will be 29 years old next week. Crap. There’s almost no excuse anymore! I’m an adult!
Thinking of being 16 again though, I have these visions of my younger, svelter self dancing through my head. I’ve never been really thin. A size 10 was about as good as it ever got for me, and I was thrilled to be that close to a single digit size. I still have my button up “skinny” jeans. No, not jeans that fit skinny legs, but the jeans I could wear at my thinnest. They’re the standard by which I’ve always measured myself. And if you don’t mind my saying so, my arse looked really good in those jeans. I know that now, especially given that I’ve had a baby and some of my body parts seem to have lost their former elasticity, I will probably never look that good in those jeans ever again. But I can dream, dammit. It motivates me.
The moral of this blog is that I want to lose the baby weight and maybe a bit more. I bought a pair of skinny (cut, not size-wise) jeans about a month before I got pregnant. I could get them zipped, but they weren’t a comfortable fit. I want to comfortably fit into those pants before mid-summer. Think I can do it? Yeah, I don’t know either, but I’m off to a good start. Most of that start is probably water weight, but I’ll take it where I can get it.
To all of those people out there who never struggled with portion control, motivation to get moving, or wanting copious amounts of sugar, I salute you and envy you. It must be nice. I wish there was some secret to turn myself into one of those naturally slender people. Korea seems to be full of them, although anymore, I tend to think that it’s also full of eating disorders. I’ve had middle school girls here, girls who couldn’t possibly weigh more than 95 to 105 pounds, tell me that their mothers refuse to give them snacks after school because they might get fat. Whatever the case, I admire people who have never been overweight. That would be harder for me than passing advanced calculus, and I’ve never been mathematically inclined.
The moral of this post is that I’m going back on Somersize and, God willing, I’ll get the baby weight off and then some. It’s time.
Unless you have your head buried in the sand or live on top of a mountain like a hermit, you’ve probably heard at least a few things about North Korea over the past few weeks. They’ve been making threats and warning about imminent war lately, and everyone is getting themselves worked up into a good lather about it. Well, I figured I’d throw in my two cents about everyone’s favorite hermit kingdom, the little Korea that couldn’t.
I’ll admit that I’m more nervous about things this time around than I ever have been before. North Korea is treated mostly as a joke around these parts. The South Koreans are so used to hearing their noise that they don’t hear it, if that makes sense. I suppose another way to put it might be “Familiarity breeds contempt.” To be honest, there are a lot of things to feel contemptuous about when it comes to North Korea. Still, when you’re living this close to them and they do have the potential to at least hurl some bullets your direction, it does create a sense of general unease.
I can put your fears to rest about at least a few things. Yes, North Korea has nukes. The ones that were tested underground were about half the size of the ones the US dropped on Japan, and the Norks have no way to mount them on missiles. Yes, a Nork general threatened to turn Washington into a “sea of fire.” Yes, he was also delusional or just blatantly lying. They could no more get a nuke on a missile at this point than Kim Jong-Il could rise up out of his grave and do the Charleston. North Korea’s technology is woefully behind on all fronts. They are using Soviet-era military machinery, and the Russians aren’t giving them any more freebies, so basically, they’re using equipment that was outdated by the time the Vietnam War was in full swing.
The translation for this is that there is no earthly way, at this point, that they could harm the mainland USA or Europe. They can hit South Korea (lucky us) and Japan, but going much further than that would be out of the question. So if someone asks the question, “Is North Korea an immediate threat to the US?” the answer is an unequivocal, “NO!”
Unfortunately, the same is not true for those of us in South Korea. North Korea could cause some serious damage to Seoul, probably killing hundreds of thousands quite quickly, should they decide to attack. I’m glad I don’t live in Seoul! Of course, they also have to realize that if they were to do that, the US has warships and its own long-range machinery that could be put to very quick, effective use against Pyongyang. I am sure this also factors into their calculations.
North Korea would never (assuming it has any sense at all) want to get into a ground skirmish with SoKo and US troops. It would lose in a heartbeat. Yes, their numbers are greater than those in the South. Remember though, that these people are malnourished and badly equipped. They probably don’t have enough fuel to run their tanks. Remember, they’re using Soviet-era equipment, some of which hasn’t been used for decades. In a ground fight, they lose, and they know that.
Ultimately, North Korea is playing a dangerous game, but one that has worked for them so often in the past. Because they do have the capability to cause gross instability in a key area of Asia, they throw their weight around to gain concessions that will lead to the longevity of the regime. They ramp up their nuclear program (their only card to play, frankly), everyone cuts off their aid, and then they pretend to abandon their nukes in exchange for food, electricity, fuel, etc. They receive something like 80-90% of their electricity and fuel from China, as well as 45% of their food. Most of the rest comes in aid packages from the South and the US. I mean, we’re paying to prop that idiot Kim family up. Does that make sense to anyone else?
Anyway, this is a game North Korea has played reasonably well since the 90s. Yes, they’d shell or sink something every once in awhile, but ultimately, nothing truly dangerous to the South Korean or Japanese masses ever lit up. Kim Jong-Il studied beside his father for many years before taking over leadership of the country. Kim Jong-Un was an unknown until two years ago. In fact, I do believe he went to Swiss boarding school. He is the youngest Kim son, and he was not expected to be the one taking over when his father died. But lo and behold, here he is: Fatty the Third, as the Chinese citizens call him.
Young Kim is playing a dangerous game of brinkmanship. Is this because he’s crazy? Probably not. I suspect, as do other analysts who have looked at North Korea, that there are internal power struggles happening, and Kim is trying to cement his position of authority amongst the people, his generals, and the rest of the government. If he doesn’t appear strong, he may not be in his position for long. I suspect that by pushing things further than usual, he is trying to affirm his position. The problem is the potential for human error and miscalculation.
I don’t think that Kim III wants war. I think he’s a fat blowhard with little experience in war games. He probably isn’t going to do something so drastic that it will provoke real war. However, there is always the possibility that a sign will be misread or someone else will push too far, leaving no other option but attack. This is the danger in this sort of “bargaining.” I’m sure Kim is aware of this, unless he really is that big of a fool. Washington certainly knows this, which is why it is making efforts to dial down the situation before it turns dire.
The thing to bear in mind about the American presence here is that ultimately, it has nothing to do with wanting to protect South Korea. I constantly hear South Koreans parrot this line, that America is here and wants to protect them. That is a load of bullshit. America protects her own interests, and Korea is convenient. Korea is close to China. China and America trust each other about as much as a cat and a dog; both are suspicious of each other’s motives, quite rightly. We are here to keep an eye on China. China, for its part, tolerates the asshattery up North because it provides a buffer. American troops are already dangerously close to Chinese (and a small bit of Russian) soil. Believe me, China does not want us on the back door. I am reasonably convinced that the only reason Korea remains divided is because America wants to watch China and China wants to keep America out.
China, by all accounts, is a bit fed up of North Korea right now. They’re misbehaving. They’re creating a situation where China might have to step in militarily, and they don’t want that. They don’t want open confrontation with the US, their biggest trading partner and sometime-ally, sometime-enemy. Both the US and China know that such a situation would likely prove disastrous. So they continue with the status quo. I am firmly convinced that if North Korea goes too far, China will step into the ring and punch them squarely on the nose and sit their asses down in the process. China will make the North’s position in the world clear to them and remind them that, without China’s goodwill, they have nothing. The aid from the West will not sustain them. They will fall into total turmoil, and that would end the regime, something the Kim family doesn’t want.
This probably makes it sound like I don’t think North Korea is dangerous. Well, yes and no. I think it’s dangerous to South Korea for certain, which sucks, because I live here. I’m thinking of getting the hell out, in case you were curious. I do not think it’s a danger to the US. You can rest easy at night. Kim Jong-Un can’t get you. And let’s face it, even if he could and did decide to light up the sky somewhere over North America, retribution would be swift and devastating. When it the smoke cleared from that confrontation, there wouldn’t be enough of North Korea left to fill an ajeosshi’s ashtray. And they know this. They do.
As I stated, my real worry is that some human error will cause the powder keg to blow. That’s a very real possibility. I expect a skirmish at sea is likely, as well as another nuclear test. I do hope that at the end of the month, when the joint drills are over, the whole thing calms down. Of course, that’s still 24 days away from today. A lot can happen in 24 days.
Getting away from the possibility of fighting, the sad truth about North Korea is that it has robbed so many people of a good and decent life. Over 200,000 people are in gulag-style penal camps. There is no public Internet, no cell phones, little food, and little in the way of modern convenience. The infrastructure is old and decrepit. You can go to prison for not praising Little Lord Kim highly enough. There are state-approved hair styles for both men and women. Cannibalism is not unheard of during the really hard time when food is scarce.
The worst part about this is that continuing to give in and aid them is not helping the situation. You might argue that more people would die without the food aid, and in the short run, that’s unfortunately true. However, ceasing any sort of aid at all would speed the demise of the Kim family and their stranglehold on the country. I suspect China is fine with that situation for reasons previously stated. However, America is really not receiving any great benefits from being here, except ringing China in. To my mind, putting 28,500 US troops in danger’s path is not an advantage, even if we do have some trade agreements with Korea. Like we wouldn’t do business with them, anyway.
The point is that we are, in some respects, harming the North Korean people by aiding the Kim regime. Most of that aid does not go to the people; it goes to the party and the military. It’s a bit like giving aid to African countries, only to have the stuff wind up in the hands of warlords who kill the people. It’s the same damn situation here, and it’s really unfortunate that our policy aims are, in some significant ways, doing more long-term harm to people who have already suffered so much.
So yes, the bottom line is that North Korea sucks. Kim Jong-Un sucks. He’s fat, ugly, has a bad haircut, and doesn’t seem to know what the hell he’s doing, running a country. The people are miserable and live in fear. The only reason they have anything at all is because of nukes. Hell of a life.
Do I think war is going to break out? I don’t know. I hope to God it doesn’t. I think things will probably slowly calm down. They might get worse before they get better. Shots might ring out on an island or at sea. I doubt an attack will be made on the mainland. It will probably be something that Kim can use to display power without actually killing many people. I hope that this doesn’t ignite further skirmishes, but the bottom line is that we don’t know. North Korea hasn’t been this vocal in a long, long time. Unfortunately, only time will tell what will happen.
For my part, I don’t think there will be war today or even this year. I do think that, at some point in the future, if North Korea finally comes close to developing long-rang nukes, you may see the CIA going in there and destabilizing the country, getting it ready for a ground invasion. Should North Korea survive long enough to become a legitimate threat, well… Frankly, I don’t know what will happen in that case. I’m no CIA analyst. Only time will tell.