Living dangerously

I seem to be on a roll this week with photos of Korean women. So on one extreme we have the transgendered pop group Lady, and on the other Unit 707, ROK female special forces. I think they are likely a quite effective fighting force. I for one would do WHATEVER they told me. But then, I’m a firm believer in international cooperation and understanding…..

Just sayin’.

Via The Asia Pages

Going native?

Oh yeah, I actually watched this soccer game last night. Korea beat Uzbekistan 2-1. I know NOTHING about this sport, but Koreans are pretty fanatical about thier team. Even in my ignorance of the game, I thought ROK played very poorly against an overmatched opponent. Which is why this account from The Lost Nomad was vindication for my opinion.

The game against Uzbekistan has to be one of the worst soccer games I’ve watched in a while. Yes, the Korean team pulled it out with a win in the second half, but if they want to do anything at all in the 2006 world cup, they have a long, long way to go.

The score should have been at least 10 to 0. The Uzbek team had zero skills – they couldn’t dribble, pass, shoot, defend, or mount anything that remotely looked like offense. The Koreans had ball control at least 75% of the game (I think it was a lot more) yet it took them till the 2nd half to score against a team that played like it was their first time out on the field.

That FIFA ranking isn’t undeserved or unfair, as I’ve heard some of the local soccer fans say and the boys in red better do some serious practicing or it’ll be a very short world cup indeed.

Anyway, I think seeing a soccer match in person is going on my list of things to do while I’m here. That and Korean baseball.

A visit to the clinic

Saw my first Korean doc yesterday. Dr. Kim (what are the odds?). Used the International Clinic in Itaewon. Everyone I encountered spoke decent English, which is good. It was like going to a “doc in the box” back in the States, although rather than make sit and wait they gave me a time to come back, which I appreciated.

They did the weight and blood pressure thing then I had my “interview” with Dr. Kim. Not exactly an examination in the sense I’m used to. He sat at his computer, asked some questions, typed in my responses, had a perfunctory look at the problem areas, then gave me a referral to another doc for one problem, and some meds for another. Took less than 10 minutes. And 73000 WON.

Not to worry, there is nothing wrong with me that is going to be fatal (beyond the fact that I seem to be aging rapidly). Just some irksome things that are occasionally painful that I’m wanting to nip in the bud so to speak.

Big day coming up at work and I really need to be productive. Which is my way of saying adios for now. Oh wait, make that anyonghee gaesayo.

Social Security: something worse than no reform?

According to this story in the Wall Stree Journal, the Democrats do have a plan for Social Security reform, and the reality of that plan may actually be worse than doing nothing. The window for the Republican controlled Congress to push through a sensible plan is rapidly closing. Now is the time for action, or we may be dealing with the consequences for lifetimes.

That’s an opening Republicans might try driving a reform plan through. But in granting this opening, Mr. Hoyer has revealed a broader political strategy. Without control of Congress or the White House, the left has been looking for a new power source, and they may have found one in large pension funds. The AFL-CIO and other labor unions are testing the waters by publicly protesting against Charles Schwab, Edward Jones and other investment houses in hopes of scaring them away from the Social Security debate. The Labor Department is now looking into accusations that Big Labor is threatening to pull pension funds from investment houses that refuse to play along. Making such a threat may violate a union’s fiduciary responsibility.

Regardless of what the Labor Department finds, this is where Republicans might want to start considering what will happen if they do not pass Social Security reform this year. One popular theory in Washington is that President Bush has firmly implanted the idea of reform in the national consciousness, but that it now must take root there over the next four years or so–into the next president’s term–before it can be enacted into law. There’s even a sound bite: President Hillary Clinton will sign Social Security reform into law, just as Bill Clinton signed welfare reform.

The symmetry is appealing, but misleading. The danger in losing the Social Security fight this year isn’t that President Bush’s reform agenda will die along with it, but rather that it will live on. President Clinton had to be brought to welfare reform kicking and screaming. But President Hillary or another Democrat will likely be more shrewd and embrace reform. Doing so would allow Democrats to infuse those reforms with Mr. Hoyer’s ideas of using the government to invest funds in the stock market. We’ll likely get a mix of higher taxes, reduced benefits for some, and “diversified risk” with publicly invested money. It will sound like a middle-of-the-road compromise. But if it comes to pass, it will give the secretary of labor and the other trustees a new tool to influence financial markets for political reasons.

Republicans didn’t have to let this genie out of the bottle. But they were sent to Washington to make fundamental changes to the welfare state, and now they have a limited time to get their ownership society wish. If they miss this opportunity, it may turn out that all Republicans will have succeeded at doing is setting the stage for a massive expansion of the federal government.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Hat tip: PowerLine

Cross posted at The Wide Awakes


Ok, last time I posted a photo of a Korean pop singer I took some undeserved heat about whether my motives were truly innocent. Nevertheless I feel compelled to brave those waters once again by offering this image of the group known as Lady:

Ok fellas, when you are done admiring these young women, I invite you to read why this particular group is in the news.

Continue reading

What I do


I am an Army Civilian – a member of the Army Team

I am dedicated to the Army, its Soldiers and Civilians

I will always support the mission

I provide stability and continuity during war and peace

I support and defend the Constitution of the United States
and consider it an honor to serve the Nation and its Army

I live the Army values of Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service,
Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage

I am an Army Civilian

Morning reflections

Had a very quiet night last night. Took a nap as soon as I got home from work trying to escape from a pretty serious case of the blahs. Woke around 7:30, made some dinner, and listened to a Neil Young CD. Then I watched “Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind” on DVD. Caught an episode of “The Simpsons” with Hangul subtitles (I wonder how much gets lost in translation?) then it was back to bed and the peace one finds in sleep.

This morning as I pondered what might be of interest to post on my blog I realized that after just two months in Korea I am beginning to feel a disconnect with the day-to-day politics in my homeland. I imagine this is just a temporary phenomenon (at least I hope so). Right now, I’m feeling somewhat like Mr. Young sang “well all those headlines they just bore me now, I’m deep inside myself, but I’ll get out somehow…”

Anyway, I decided to read some blogs from other expats in Korea this morning. I’m curious about Korea, it’s politics and its people, so I think I may start sharing some of what’s going on here with y’all on a more regular basis. No time this morning, as work beckons.

I did come across a blog called “Big Hominid’s Hairy Chasms”, which I have occasionally read but not as regularly as he deserves. Excellent writer and some pretty deep insights into the world we share as Americans living in the ROK. I invite you to go have a read.

His Good Friday post really resonated with me for some reason. And I thought I might share some of the wisdom of his words with you this morning:

Since I and a few people I know are all going through a painful period, each of us for various reasons, I thought it might be good to write about “putting it down.”

In Zen Buddhism, the maxim is “don’t make anything.” Your mind is so often the source of your troubles. You choose to face the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune either negatively or positively. Often, at the beginning of a troublesome period in your life, it is difficult to realize how responsible you are for your own choices. It’s easier to shift blame to your surroundings. But ultimately, the healthiest route out of the forest of troubles is to start by looking in a mirror. Behold what’s actually there; don’t needlessly manufacture problems for yourself and others.

I’m not a scriptural literalist, so I don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead. But the story of the passion and resurrection nevertheless holds power for me, because it’s a story about a man who put everything down, including his own life, for the sake of love. How many of us can claim to be ready and willing to do something like that? Not many, I suspect.

Most of us, like little children, cling desperately to our cherished notions, preconceptions, and delusions, unwilling to countenance truth and change. We face the world with fear, and create clever rationales for our spiritual cowardice. In a crisis period, this instinct intensifies. The ego swells to enormous size– everything is about getting hurt, everything is about me, me, me. The world doesn’t understand my pain, and only I am in pain!

I’ve felt like that before. I’ve looked out at a street full of people and wondered why they didn’t see my agony, which was plain as day to me. The world kept right on turning, resisting my egocentric interpretation of it.

And there’s a lesson in that. Life is change, ceaseless change. All we have is this moment. If we try to keep the past with us, we merely create more suffering for ourselves. If we try to hold on to our anger, or our hurt, or whatever it is we’re feeling, we poison ourselves.

It’s better simply to put it all down.

People need time to do this. It can’t be done immediately. If, for example, you’ve just experienced a family tragedy, you can’t be expected to act like the Taoist writer Chuang-tzu, banging on pots and celebrating your wife’s death. No; most of us need time to mourn, grieve, recover. But after that period, we should be ready and willing to move on with our lives, to follow the constant flow of the river.

You can’t see the new life of Easter if you’re always looking backward. Easter points simultaneously to the present and to the future, to hope and happiness and fulfillment. Think positively. Embrace goodness where you find it. Actively seek the good, don’t wait passively for it.

Good advice for us all and certainly words to live by. I feel better already.

Happy Easter

Well, it may be Monday morning on this side of the dateline, but it is not too late to wish my Christian friends and family a happy Easter. Consider it done.

For those of you who have read the DaVinci Code I thought you might find this post over at Captain’s Quarters quite interesting.

Meanwhile, I’m off to work. More later.

My day off

Well it looks like I broke my promise to post something here everyday, but I think it depends on how you define “day”. After all, it is still Saturday in the USA! Lame excuses aside, I was pretty busy yesterday and missed my window of opportunity for posting.

I started the day by sleeping in. It was well after eight before I drug my sorry behind outta bed (I’m usually up at 6, even on weekends). Then I made scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast and it was actually quite good (you would have to have seen my failed attempts at getting the bacon right and the eggs not scorched to understand why that is newsworthy). Did some housecleaning and laundry and next thing I knew it was noon.

The weather was pretty nice yesterday. Overcast and hazy, but warm enough to where I only needed my windbreaker, which is a first since I’ve been in country. So I took a walk into town to check out the furniture stores. I’ve been looking for a chair or bench to put in my entry alcove. You know, I’m down with this no shoes in the house tradition but I find it a real inconvenience to be bending over all the time tying and untying shoes. Anyway, I saw some chairs I liked that cost more than I cared to spend, so I settled for a stool like thing. I bought it in an antique store but of course that does not mean that it is an antique. What I liked about it, besides its functionality for the purpose intended, was it is solid. A lot of Korean furniture I looked at does not appear designed to withstand the daily onslaught of my American-sized ass. But I think my new stool will stand the test of time. It is kinda interesting visually, with a slightly curved seat. Rather than describe it, here’s a picture:

After carrying my treasure home, I took a drive to the commissary to restock my larder. You know, driving here is a real pain in the rear. I am not freaked out anymore, but you definitely have to maintain a heightened sense of situational awareness. Koreans are masters of offensive driving, so you have to keep on your toes. Common courtesy is non-existent, and in fact practicing it will result in horn blowing and get you pegged as a foreigner or wimp or both. So in my estimation the hierarchy of danger goes like this: 1. bus drivers (They go where they want, when they want to go there. Your choices are to get out of their way, or not. They have the size advantage and use it. I am convinced they don’t care and would just as soon hit you as not. In other words, they are not bluffing!) 2. Taxi drivers. (They are much like the bus drivers attitude wise, but don’t have as much steel to back up their bravado. So, if you return their aggression, they will sometimes back off). 3. Motorbikes. (These guys are more of a nuisance than anything else. They observe NO traffic laws. Wrong side of the street, red lights, sidewalks, they just drive like maniacs. They are pretty masterful at it and I give them credit for that. They will normally avoid you, so you don’t have to take much evasive action where they are concerned. Still, it’s like having a bunch of pesky mosquitoes buzzing around which can be annoying). 4. Everyone else. (I am still getting used to the whole your lane is my lane attitude and that fact that more than two or three inches between cars, front, rear, and sides, is simply wasted space). I had no incidents on yesterday’s drive though and made it safely home with my groceries.

After putting the food away, it was time to get ready for dinner at my second-level supervisor’s home. They gave me a map written in Hangul so it should have been an easy enough thing to hand it to the cab driver and have him take me there. Since I had never been there and my only point of reference was that it was in the vicinity of the US Embassy, I decided to walk to the base and catch an AAFES cab (where the driver’s speak English). That turned out to be a mistake. What should have been a 15 minute drive took 45 as the driver repeatedly got lost and managed to find the most gridlocked roads in the city. I did get a nice tour of downtown Seoul though. I eventually arrived within the window that would keep me in the “fashionably late” category, as opposed to being rude.

Sharon and Bruce have a wonderful place which is much larger and nicer than mine (I paid a premium for my proximity to the base). Sharon is originally from Texas and she prepared a Texas style meal. Grilled steaks, pork ribs, chicken. Potato salad, and the best baked beans I have ever tasted (sorry Carol). My boss and his new Korean wife also joined us and we had a great time. I miss being with Mrs. LTG often, but never so much as when I am at a social function with other couples. Carol is the extrovert and conversationalist so I have to really polish my small talk skills to be a good guest. I did alright I suppose, but I do feel like the guy who can’t get a date at these functions.

It is also my turn now to host a get-together. I think waiting until the Mrs. visits in October might be pushing it, but my cooking skills are rudimentary at best. Hmm, maybe I can fix one of her great meals by proxy. She can talk me through it step-by-step on the phone or something. We shall see.

So, I got home just before midnight, watched TV till I fell asleep on the couch (which is pretty much my normal routine these days), then made my way to bed around 3 a.m. Woke up, made my coffee, and came here to bore y’all with stories like this.

Today is suppose to be in the 60s, so I am thinking of taking a nice walk along the Han River. They have a walking path that I understand is really nice and I could use a change of scenery. It’s also my cooking day, and since my repertoire consists of only three or four items, it looks like burritos are next up in rotation. I bought some Korean bananas (well, not grown here, but you know what I mean) and I am going to make a banana cream pudding for my Sunday dessert. Yum!

Alright then, sorry I missed you yesterday but now you at least know what I was up to. I will be back later and maybe even have a political rant or two.

Iraqi thugs massacre 85 freedom fighters

85 brave soldiers of liberation were killed north of Baghdad yesterday by puppet troops of the American occupation forces. In a cowardly sneak attack the traitorous Iraqi forces took no prisoners. Among the dead were brave volunteers from Syria, Iran, Sudan, Algeria, and Saudi Arabia. Large quantities of tools necessary for the fight against oppression, including car bombs, suicide vests, and RPGs, were stolen by the traitors after battle. Prior to their murder the fierce forces of liberation were able to inflict massive casualties on the poorly trained Iraqi forces, including 3 killed. Praise be to Allah!

Coupled with an unprovoked attack by misguided Iraqi shopkeepers last week on innocent freedom fighters bravely preparing to attack an elementary school, the forces of jihad have been unable to overcome the entrenched enemy. A spokesman attributed the setbacks to a citizenry brainwashed by the Americans with promises of so-called democracy. “The occupiers’ anti-Islamic rhetoric exemplified by free elections has been a serious distraction that has left many Iraqis confused and disheartened. We will continue the struggle to liberate our nation from the curse of the oppressors, or die as martyrs.” An unnamed source with the Quisling Iraqi government indicated that it was up to Allah to decide who would achieve martyrdom, but that the government would continue to facilitate transportation for those who seek Allah.

Michael Moore had no comment on the unjustified murder of militia troops he calls minutemen.

Actually, I wanted to write a parody this morning, but Al-Reuters beat me to it. Alas, I will never have the talent to play with the big boys in the MSM.

Even for the masters of the media, it is difficult to spin this event into anything other than good news for the future of a free Iraq. But oh how they try.

Cross posted at The Wide Awakes

We should end the suffering

It’s hard to dispute Frank J.’s logic here. After all these years, can anyone really believe there is hope for recovery? Isn’t the humane thing to do to just let nature take its course? Feeding through artificial means is wrong on so many levels, and there is anecdotal evidence that being kept alive to endure more years of suffering goes against desires expressed in the past. Besides, who are we to intervene? If God’s will means death, then so be it. Frankly it has gone on long enough. No more debate. The recent court precedent should settle this matter once and for all. If a little life insurance changes hands as a result, so what? That’s what life insurance is for. The focus needs to be on doing what is right. And clearly, seeing an end to a miserable existence should be an obvious choice. It’s our duty as right thinking people. So let every voice ring with the resounding mantra of “let ’em starve.”

(it’s called satire folks)

It could always be worse

A reader noted some of the serious problems America is facing these days. Staggering deficits, trade imbalances that boggle the mind, the weak dollar, exporting jobs, crime, poverty, unaffordable health care, involvement in an expensive war against terror that is probably still closer to the beginning than the end. Yep, we do have our share of problems and our society is a long way from perfection.

But let us pause and give thanks for our many blessings. One of which is we are not Europe. Admittedly, like many Americans I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to the goings on in the land of my forefathers. Face it, Europe is increasingly irrelevant in the global scheme of things. But one can’t help but notice how Europe’s death spiral seems to be escalating. Demographics that will not support the socialist programs they love to tout and a lack of political will to deal with the problem. Immigration and birth rates that will likely lead to Muslim majorities in a generation. Double digit unemployment. Crushing tax burdens. A lack of moral compass or vision. Antiquated militaries that are incapable of projecting power and likely could not even provide adequate self defense from a determined enemy (absent American intervention). Societies every bit as sick as ours (although admittedly less violent). And a blind unwillingness to recognize these threats, let alone the courage to face up to them. In short, Europe is an ostrich, and the wolves are on the hunt. It’s gonna get real ugly sooner rather than later.

While I am sometimes offended by the arrogance of our European cousins, I don’t take the ramblings of doddering old fools much to heart. Despite their grand dreams and delusions of grandeur, Europe’s time has passed. Their contributions in science, art and literature will certainly live on in history books, but I see little evidence that these pathetic welfare states will have much to say about the shape of the world in the 21st century (although I expect there will be many headlines as they fall one by one under the oppressive boot of Islamofacism.

So America needs to look east. It is in Asia that we will find our greatest opportunities and our greatest challenges. China, not Europe, will provide the counterbalance to American power that Mr. Chirac has been dreaming of. Other great democracies like India will fill the void in world leadership that Europe has abdicated. And that is as it should and must be.

It has been said that all things must pass. Perhaps that is true. But unlike Europe, America will never surrender. We are still ascending (hell, we are only two hundred years into Jefferson’s great experiment). Our current problems will be overcome and new ones will appear. But we thrive on that kind of dynamism.

These are interesting times indeed. And I will always be thankful for having the good fortune to be living them as an American.

Oh yeah, I was inspired to write this post after reading this article and some gentle goading by the irascible EuroYank. America will neither repent nor perish, my friend. We‘ve only just begun, and our best days still lie ahead of us. Today’s problems are simply tomorrow’s victories. Bring it on. Let’s roll. Remember the Alamo. And all that jazz.

Hat Tip: Asymmetrical Information

A joke from home…

Maybe you have already heard this one, but here it is anyway:

A guy is driving around and he sees a sign in front of a house:

“Talking Dog For Sale.”

He rings the bell, and the owner tells him the dog is in the backyard. The
guy goes into the backyard and sees a Labrador Retriever sitting there.

“You talk?” he asks.

“Yep,” the lab replies.

“So, what’s your story?”

The Lab looks up and says, “Well, I discovered that I could talk when I was
pretty young, and I wanted to help the government; so I told the CIA about
my gift, and in no time at all they had me jetting from country to country,
sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders, because no one figured a dog
would be eavesdropping. I was one of their most valuable spies for eight
years running.” “But the jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I
wasn’t getting any younger so I wanted to settle down. I signed up for a
job at the airport to do some undercover security work, mostly wandering
near suspicious characters and listening in. I uncovered some incredible
dealings and was awarded a batch of medals. I got married, had a mess of
puppies, and now I’m just retired.”

The guy is amazed. He goes back in and asks the owner what he wants for the

“Ten dollars.”

The guy says, “This dog is amazing. Why on earth are you selling him so

“Because he’s a liar. He didn’t do any of that shit.”

Botta bing!

Eye candy

Not wanting to be accused of sexism by posting a gratuitous photo of a Korean lovely, I will note for the record that this person is a popular singer here who has launched a new line of lipsticks which will be marketed in 67 countries. Her name is Lee Hyolee. See, this is newsworthy. Really.

Via The Lost Nomad

Just so you know

Everything is well here with me in Korea. Just not much going on. My focus is mostly work these days. I am trying to recruit someone to fill a critical vacancy, and we are in the midst of a military exercise so our office hours have been extended.

I treated myself to dinner last night at Gecko’s Terrace, a place run by a Canadian as I understand it. Had beef tenderloin which was quite good, but also too expensive. What with the dollar being so weak and all, good deals are hard to find these days off post.

Weather has turned pretty nice. Highs in the mid-50s yesterday. Won’t be long now till the cherry blossoms come out. I understand this part of Korea is very beautiful in the spring.

So that’s about it on the personal front. I’m starting to regain my feet here on the blog, although I am not satisfied with the quality of my posts. The laziness shines through, but I figure getting words on paper is the best cure for writer’s block. Profound words on paper is a bit tougher, but I will keep plugging away.

Thanks to everyone for hanging in there.

Federalism and Terri Schiavo

I noticed that one of the commenters over at The Wide Awakes stated that Congress’ intervention on Ms. Schiavo’s behalf was an unwarranted intrusion on state’s rights. And of course she accused the conservatives who have championed states rights in the past of hypocrisy.

Ann Althouse, a law professor at the University of Wisconsin has some great perspective in a post that deals with just the points the above referenced commenter made.

It is well worth the read.

The world turned upside down (part 2)

I have pontificated previously on how the left has abandoned its traditional values of supporting the spread of democracy (much as the right has left behind its more isolationist leanings). Stephen Green of Vodka Pundit offers another example of the left’s descent into madness on the issue of arms sales to China:

”This is not the right time to lift the embargo,” Friedbert Pflueger, foreign affairs spokesman for the Christian Democrats, said in an interview.

”It sends the wrong signal to China. It is also damaging for Europe’s relations with the United States. We are going to bring this issue to the parliament and vote on the matter.”

The European Union imposed the arms embargo after the Tiananmen Square massacres in 1989. Pushed by France and Germany, which have substantial economic interests in China and whose leaders are eager to increase sluggish growth rates, the EU is preparing to lift the embargo, saying the human rights situation in China has improved.

As Mr. Green succinctly notes:

Remember when the lefties told us selling arms to dictators was a bad idea? Remember when righties were accused of being little more than shameless money grubbers with no interest in human rights?

Remember that? Wasn’t that cool?

Yeah, I remember. I’m still a liberal, it’s just that in this bizarro universe they call me a neo-con.


Next steps in the GWOT

It appears we continue to gain momentum in the global war on terror, which begs the question: what next? Final Historian offers some interesting perspectives on what phase 3 may look like. Well worth the read.

The India Daily reports that the U.S. has 3 carrier groups on the move to the Middle East. That does not bode well for Syria and/or Iran.

As I have said before the only way we will lose this war is if we lose our will to fight it. As democracy spreads, the terrorists are going to be kept on the defensive and as we are starting to see in Iraq and Lebanon, there will be no more hiding amongst the local populace.

Things are moving quickly now. We must maintain the offensive.

Hat tip: Winds of Change