Did South Korea Blink?

Yesterday, the South Korean military cancelled some military exercises that were to be held on the island the North Koreans bombed last week.  No explanation was given for the canellation.  When I got up this morning and checked the news (it's about 8:20 AM right now), there was no mention of any significant happenings last night.  There is still no panic over here, people are going on with their daily lives as though there were no cloud hanging over the peninsula.  We have no indication of what might happen.

Again, why South Korea cancelled the planned military exercises is unknown to the public.  Perhaps it was an act of good-will, a desire to show the North that no aggressive intent is intended by the South and its allies.  How North Korea will interpret the act is anybody's guess.  Usually, the thug dictatorships see such actions as weakness and attempt to prey on them.  We'll see.  Right now things are calm and we're all hoping they stay that way.

On the weather front, we had about a half-inch of snowfall two nights ago, but there's no indication that winter has set in full force yet.  It's in the high-30s right now and should be close to 50 by the time the day is over.  Still, snow in November is not something I'm used to.  Kinda nice actually, since I like winter.  All the students arrived safely so the school is open for business.  I'm told that snow doesn't slow things down much over here.  I guess you get used to it.

Current Event Ramblings, November 27

We got a dusting of snow last night; not much, but it's visible on the ground.  A lot more of that to come, from what I've been told.  It's supposed to warm up over the next few days, though.

The tensions between North and South Korea haven't cooled down any.  The North is still blustering about a possible war, and the South is massing troops in various vulnerable regions.  I...don't...think it's going to happen (war), but then, nobody ever believes a war is going to happen until it does.  I really don't see what North Korea would gain by it, or what they would even hope to gain by it.  A united peninsula under Northern control?  That's not going to happen, surely Kim Jong-il is smart enough to know that.  North Korea couldn't win a war, not without China's help, and a war with the west doesn't appear to be in China's best interests, either.

But only Pyongyang and Beijing know what is going on in the halls of Pyongyang and Beijing....

Regarding China, I do have this interesting quote I'd like to share with my readers.  I've actually put this on my blog before, but it's been over a year and it may have some relevance here.  It's about Japan, not China:

"The history of Japan is an unfinished drama in which three acts have been played.  The first...is classical Buddhist Japan (522-1603 A.D.), suddently civilized by China and Korea, refined and softened by religion, and creating the historic masterpieces of Japanese literature and art.  The second is feudal and peaceful Japan of the Tokugawa Shogunate (1603-1868), isolated and self-contained, seeking no alien territoy and no external trade, content with agriculture and wedded to art and philosophy.  The third act is modern Japan, opened up in 1853 by an American fleet, forced by conditions within and without into trade and industry, seeking foreign materials and markets, fighting wars of irrepressible expansion, imitating the imperialistic ardor and methods of the West, and threatening both the ascendancy of the white race and the peace of the world.  By every historical precedent the next act will be war."

That was written (by Will Durant) in 1936, five years before Pearl Harbor.  It sounds an awful, awful lot like China of 2010.

11/25, Nothing New

Except that North Korea announced, yesterday, that the "region is on the brink of war."  I'm getting all my info off the Internet, which anyone else can do.  The happenings here at English Village are personal, of course, but there's nothing new to report.  If something comes up, I'll put it on this blog.  But I haven't gotten blown up yet.

Another War in Korea? Part Two

This week in Gyeonggi Englsih Village we were teaching middle school students.  I arrrived at work this morning and found out that they are all going home because they would "feel safer" there (they are all from a city south of Seoul).  Our "head teachers" were at pains to tell us "not that they ARE safer at home, but that they FEEL safer."  The parents and schools of the children are no doubt behind this, and it's understandable.

I'd feel safer south of Seoul, too.

Another War in Korea?

I've had three people so far email me, expressing concern over North Korea's "attack" on South Korea yesterday, with a limited southern response. It was the most serious military confrontation between the two countries since the armistice ending the fighting in the Korean War was signed in 1953. The island that was struck by over 200 North Korean missiles is not very far from the English Village where I work; perhaps 50 miles.  We are in the northeastern corner of South Korea, and can see North Korea across a nearby river. The EV administration has already sent us an email saying "business as usual;" they are in contact with Korean officials who are obviously trying to stave off concern and panic. At the moment (Wednesday morning in Korea), that's where things stand.

I don't know why, of course, North Korea launched these missiles; they claim the South fired first (not an impossibility), and they are upset that South Korea continues to hold military exercises in the area (something the South has been doing for years). Kim Jong-il is near death; perhaps he wishes to do more, before he dies, than just spit at the South. But, there is greater concern than that. The recent launching of a missile close to the California border is suspicious; are the Chinese (who, in effect, control North Korea), testing the will and strength of the Obama administration? Mr. Obama responded to the attack yesterday, saying he was “outraged.” Only time will tell if he intends more than just words. Or if more than just words are needed. South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has replied with some restraint; he warns of strong measures if the North Koreans continue their aggression. We’ll all have to wait and see what happens. I’ll keep you informed from this end, but there is no mass panic yet over here.

Hopefully, the thing will blow over soon. As I mentioned, the Chinese might be testing Obama; I have no doubt that they would be willing to fight to the last North Korean soldier, much as the Soviet Union used the Cuban military at will. But I’m still not convinced the Chinese want a war. They are winning the economic battle with America now, and I can see no advantage to a war. And I don’t think that’s what they want—even a war on the Korean peninsula would gain them nothing, especially since they would have to supply much of North Korea’s military material. But a more frightened America, weakened American markets and currency, the United States taken down a notch—the latter Mr. Obama himself has, in effect, been preaching around the world. Maybe the Chinese are asking him if he really means it. I have no answers at the moment.

Stay tuned.

Current Event Ramblings, November 19

Things are still a little dry on the news front and it will probably remain that way through the holiday season.  As expected, the G20 in Seoul accomplished nothing but adding to global warming with a lot of hot air.  Obama and the GOP are getting set to fight over taxes.  Obama can't wait to raise them some more under the lie of cutting them.  The Republicans want to keep the Bush tax rates, which would be a good thing, of course.  The problem is not that people are undertaxed, but that government spends too much money.  But that's the way politicians buy votes.  The Democrats found out earlier this month that spending other people's money and giving it to people who don't deserve it isn't always appreciated; they found that out, but I'm sure they didn't learn from it.  Stealing is simply a mantra cut in stone for the Democrats.

I want to publicly thank once more Rick and Julie Comer and the church of Christ in Wartburg, Tennessee, who are putting together another "care package" and sending it my way.  There are just some things I haven't been able to find in Korea, even at Costco, which is the main place I shop.  But it's a 30 buck cab fare from the school here.  There are no grocery or department stores nearby; there are a few 7-11 type places, but, like 7-11 back home, they are expensive and don't have a whole lot of what I want or need anyway.  So, I really appreciate Rick and the brethren in Wartburg volunteering and spending the money to send me a package.  Any mail is nice to get, especially something I can use and can't get here.

Speaking of the church, our Wednesday night Bible study is churning along.  We're going to settle in to having about 6, on average.  We're dealing mainly with Westerners here and, as in the states, any excuse can be shoved in front of Bible study.  But there's a core that's attending and we're having some good studies.  I'll teach as and when I can and let the Lord provide whatever increase there might be.

I haven't done much writing on my Bible blogs in recent days simply because I haven't felt like it.  Work and depression take too much out of me, but hopefully, that will change soon.  Work won't, in fact, in a few weeks we're going to have a realy busy session.  Twice a year, here at the Village, they have this thing called "VIP," which doesn't stand for Very Important Person.  I don't know what it stands for except more work for the teachers.  We had a VIP just after I arrived in the summer.  It lasts 4-5 weeks.  Some of the work here is a farce, frankly.  I'm under commission at the moment to write an English lesson for elementary kids based on some scientific matter.  I let it be known that I thought that an historian with nearly a PhD in that subject and who has spent his entire academic career working with college students and adults is not terribly qualified to write a English/science lesson for elementary kids, indeed, that it's absurd.  There are tons of ESL lessons available for use for that age group, but English Village insists on unqualified "teachers" writing lessons about topics they have no business writing about.  It's not a good thing and the kids suffer because of it, which is a shame.  On the writing front, I feel bad about not writing as much, but I feel bad most of the time, period.  I'll work on things as I can.

Current Event Ramblings, November 13

The New York Times had a headline a day or so ago, "Obama's Economic Views Rejected on World Stage," meaning at the G20 Summit, of course. Well, they were rejected in America last week, too. But get this. Some people are just so desperate to defend the man...the New York Daily News had this report: "Body Language Expert Says Barack Obama Runs the Show in Meeting with Chinese Premier Hu Jintao" A "body language expert"?? Yeah, this guy says Obama wiped the floor with Hu because the Prez looked cool and relaxed and the Chinaman was "defensive." Well, the Chinaman told the Prez to go fly a kite, but that doesn't matter. Obama still "won" his meeting (confrontation) with Hu. Body language expert....that shows just how low Obama has sunk when that's the best his supporters can do to defend him. The man is a complete and utter failure as President of the United States, which doesn't surprise anyone with a modicum of intelligence. Obama was never qualified for the position anyway and every one of his political beliefs has been proven unsuccessful throughout history wherever applied. History, folks...but, as Hegel said, "history teaches us that men learn nothing from history."

Rush is reporting that there is an undercurrent in the Democratic Party that Obama is going to destroy the party, completely disintegrate it. That's not going to happen. The same thing was being said about the Republicans after the 1932 election (FDR's win over Hoover during the Great Depression). The problem is, the Republicans won't succeed, either, because the underlying belief of most politicians in both parties is that government can solve most of the country's ills. It can't, and until that lesson is learned, the two parties will continue to play ping-pong with political authority in America. The people keep giving power to one party or another because both fail when in the leadership, and the sheep--the flock that's being fleeced (the people)--just don't have the knowledge or intelligence to recognize that they are betting on a loser--government. There are only certain things government is good at; get it out of its field, and it will miscarry like any other entitiy trying to accomplish what it cannot competently do. Another lesson of history that men never learn. Our Founding Fathers knew it, but we left them in the dustbin a long time ago.

To illustrate the above, Bobby Jindal, the current governor of Louisiana, and considered a political conservative, has just published a book basically lambasting Obama for his incompetence in handling the BP oil spill. Again, Jindal's premise is that the federal government should have been able to deal with this crisis in an effective manner. No, Governor Jindal, it is simply not in the provence of government to solve private industry problems; it will only muck things up, as proven not only the the BP oil spill, but the Hurricane Katrina disaster, when a Republican president was in power. The feds' failures in those two cases were not the fault of Bush and Obama; their fault was in continuing to let people believe the myth that government is the solution to these sorts of problems.

One strike against Bobby Jindal, who is probably positioning himself for a run at the presidency in 2012.

And in the "why teachers don't like administration" category, we have this item. Last week, I went to the hospital/pharmacy to get my depression prescription refilled. The pharmacy didn't have enough of the medicine, so the lady said she would order it and send it to me here at English Village. I received an email from someone in admin yesterday saying that the medication which I had left at the pharmacy by mistake had arrived and I could pick it up at his desk. "By mistake." It was automatically assumed that the fault was mine. I guess school administration--like government--is the same everywhere in the world.

Current Event Ramblings, November 12

Kinda slow right now, everywhere, at least regarding things I want to comment on.  The weather in Korea is getting colder, but then, it's that time of the year so that's not really news.  The G20 Summit is in Seoul this week and, surprisingly, the North Koreans--at least that I've heard--aren't threatening to launch at attack on the moon, whatever other idiocy that fat little dictator up there can think of.  The G20 will accomplish nothing but the wasting of taxpayers' money.  But politicians will never learn that it is consumers who control economies, not governments, 90% of what the latter does is interference and harmful.  Regarding North Korea, nobody knows yet, of course, what his son/successor will do, but it's doubtful Kim Jong-Il would have appointed him if he thought the kid was going to be mush.  We'll see.  If anolybody cares.

The Dallas Cowboys fired their coach, Wade Phillips, after an utterly disastrous first half of the season.  It was quite obvious, even from Korea, that the Cowboys have given up on the year.  I wish they'd hire Bill Cowher as head coach; he's a great football coach, but I don't think it's going to happen because he's pretty bull-headed, Jerry Jones knows it, and Jones wants to run the team his way.  The Cowboy are in disarray at the moment, and it will interesting to see if and when they can put the pieces back together again.  I guess it will be interesting.  We'll see...if anybody cares.

Not surprisingly, Barack Obama was AWOL from his country on Veteran's Day.  George W. Bush spoke to a veteran's group in Ohio.  It would be nice if Obama would just stay gone for the next two years.

And I've just got to share this.  Some weeks here at English Village we don't have adult students, so I work with middle school students.  At the end of the week (Friday), they write a "post card" to their favorite teacher.  Here's one I received today:

"Dear Mark.  Hello, Mark.  My name is Sun Hu.  I had a good time in EV because of your humor.  You look like 75-year-od grandpa.  Get your face better.  Bye. 

From Sun Hu"

I'm going to go kill that kid....

They Had Their Chance and Blew It

As we all know by now, the GOP won control of the House of Representatives--by a rather substantial margin--but the Democrats retained a majority in the Senate.  That latter figure is not set yet, as I write this.  These results are pretty much what most had predicted and expected in the last few days leading up to the election.  Fortunately, we will no longer have to put up with Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House, but unfortunately, Harry Reid won re-election in the Senate and remains Senate Majority Leader.  And Barack  Obama is still President for two more years, but hopefully no longer than that.

What does it all mean?  I'm not an alarmist, nor do I get overly jubilant about matters pertaining to politics.  It's nice that the GOP controls the House; all money bills must originate in that chamber, so the Republicans should be able to put some brakes on the reckless spending of the Obama administration.  The Democrats cannot say they didn't have a chance.  They have controlled both houses of Congress since 2007 and the presidency since 2009.  They had solid majorities in both chambers; there was absolutely nothing the Republicans could do to stop anything the Democrats wanted.  The Democrats could simply have out-voted the Republicans on any bill.  But the only really significant piece of legislation passed these past two years was the health care bill, something a solid majority of Americans did not want.  Well, there were also the stimulus bills, something else which peeved the people.  That elitism--ramming laws down Americans' throats that they disapproved of--plus the utter inability of the Democrats to improve the economy, are major reasons they took a pounding in this election.  It was a well-deserved rebuke, but the chances that Obama and his cronies have learned anything are zero and none.  He'll have to compromise on some things, but he'll still get as much of his radical left agenda as he can.  That's what the takeover of the GOP in the House can prevent.  And it's not a small thing.

Yet, the Republicans won't be able to do very much in a positive vein simply because the Democrats will still control the Senate and the presidency.  I've already, in this blog, and more than once, expressed my approval of gridlock, and so that may be the biggest positive the GOP brings to Washington.  They won't be able to undo, however, anything Obama has done to this point; don't look for a repeal of the health care bill in the next two years.  It's not going to happen.  And keep in mind, Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer, and a few others of that ilk got re-elected; there are still massive numbers of people in the United States who are woefully ignorant of the principles of proper government and civilization, and unfortunately, they have as much right to vote as people who do have such knowledge.  That is the curse of democracy and the ultimate reason it always fails.  Ignorance can always be demogogued and will inevitably fall prey to a philosophy of dependence and "feel good-ism." 

Yet, there are obviously still enough perceptive people in America who want to put a stop to the unbounded radical agenda of Obama, Pelosi, and Reid.  This election will go a long way in doing that, even if it won't go very far in returning America to a course of righteousness, decency, individual responsibility, and hard work.  That, I fear, will never happen, not until the crisis comes.  And then, as Israel learned in Biblical times, it will be too late. 

Current Event Ramblings, November 1

The Texas Rangers are fixing to get wiped off the World Series map.  As I write this, they trail game 4 of the Series 4-0 in the 9th inning.  That would put them in a 3 games to 1 deficit.  It's not impossible they could still win, of course, but highly unlikely.  Disappointing if they do lose, but it was a much better season than they expected to have.  Maybe next year the Rangers and the Astros will both be in the World Series.  Yes, and maybe Barack Obama will cut taxes and admit he was wrong about the health care bill....

The elections are to be held tomorrow, and everyone is still predicting a big GOP swamp.  The reason is simple:  Obama and the Democrats have failed to turn the country around.  The GDP in the 3rd quarter came in at a meager 2%, which is the second straight quarter that has happened.  That is not economic growth, especially when inflation ran at 2.2%.  With the unemployment rate still hovering near 10%, the "summer of recovery" did not happen.  The massive stimulus plan did not pull the country out of the recession, which is no surprise to anyone who knows the first thing about economics.  Obama and the Democrat's big mistake is thinking that the government can run the economy.  It cannot do so, and if they would only take the merest glance at history, they would know that.  All the Marxist countries (that have survived, save Cuba) have turned to more free market economies, and are largely thriving.  And here's Obama and the Democrats heading in the opposite direction.  Stupidity, thy name is Democratic Party.  Business runs the economy, not government, and the tax, spend, and regulatory policies the Democrats have pursued have had eminently predictable results. 

Liberalism does not work.  It has never worked and it never will.  But it's the only religion those people have, so they cannot give it up without giving up the very purpose for their existence.