Korea, A Nation with No Real National Holiday

“We are the accursed of the world,” laments K, a Korean high school alum of mine (class of 1956), “with no rallying national holiday that brings Koreans together like Christmas for Christians or Fourth of July for Americans.”

“What about today, Aug 15, 2019, 74th anniversary of liberation from Japan?” I ask.

“Liberation? More like a day of infamy staging a change of the guards from Japanese to Soviet and American. For once North Korea has the right idea, erasing the day from memory. Unlike the Americans throwing out the British and gaining independence, we did zilch to ouster Japan.”

“But on Mar 1, 1919, the country rose up to march and shout hooray to Korean independence, nearly 10,000 getting killed.”

“Accomplishing nothing, only consolidating Japan’s hold on Korea, which would have gone on forever, unless WW II had come along and wrenched it off. No wonder there is no enthusiasm for it among Koreans, especially overseas Koreans like us who or whose ancestors have fled the country to live elsewhere like America.”

Rodent Infested East Baltimore: A Litmus Test for Racism

When Trump deplores the rodent infestation in East Baltimore, CNN, NBC, and their ilk jump all over him as a racist, taking offense especially at the word “infestation.” The next day Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, comes out swinging in defense of Trump and reaffirms the horrible conditions there. Deliberately choosing almost identical vocabulary, he adds more graphic details based on his long residence in the area as a pediatrician, how at times he ordered additional tests for his young patients to delay their return to the rodent “infested” homes. But we don’t hear a peep about his being a racist.

For calling a spade a spade, using the same words, one is crucified but the other is not. Why? Because Carson is black and Trump is white and they are going strictly by the color of the skin, not by merit. But isn’t that called racism? Damn right! So who is the real racist here?

The fake media! Moreover, why is it that in their ferocity we detect such a strident ring of authenticity? Because these media pundits, mostly white, are projecting their inner soul, what’s deep inside them, their ineradicable white supremacist racism.  

Educated humanists, they have struggled long and hard with this unholy, un-American demon, to no avail. So, like a brood of chicks that mercilessly peck away at the wound of one of their number until it dies, they vent their frustration on a scapegoat, Donald Trump, whose success they cannot abide.

Interestingly, the key word that unleashes their mania to gang up on the patsy seems to be “infestation” as its denotation easily transfers from rodents to humans, the blacks. This duality of perception is innate in the white race, as shown in the sonnet sung by the Statue of Liberty, the mighty “white” woman with the torch, the protective goddess of immigrants. As she stretches her hand out to “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” she can’t help dropping an aside, sotto voce, “the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” Teeming, yes, infested, hideous!

Would I as an Asian, a yellow man and therefore colored and not white, be accorded the same immunity as Carson if I portrayed East Baltimore as rat infested? Or does one have to be totally black, not just colored (though to date I haven’t seen a yellow Asian unless jaundiced)? Bizarre and grotesque is this latest American media binge of self-flagellation.

The Squad Serves a Purpose

“What percentage of the US population does the call to Communism by the Squad of freshmen Congresswomen resonate with?” S asks.

“About 55%, because that many are dirt poor and would like nothing better than to take from the rich,” I answer offhand.

“Then America, a democracy where head count rules, will turn Communist momentarily,” S is alarmed.

“Not anytime soon, because of upward mobility. For example, getting paid $200 grand a year in wages and a lot more in tips, living in multi-million dollar homes, hobnobbing with the rich and famous, formerly enemies of the proletariat, and birthing kids who expect them to endow a library, lab, or chair to get into top schools despite their low SAT scores, the Squad will soon sing a different tune, litanies in praise of capitalism, and urge their followers to do a one-eighty. Just as we have.”

“I remember you shouting ‘Equal share of wealth for all’ in our social studies class one day.”

“Oh that. I had just read the Communist Manifesto.”  

“No. Most of us were with you, though the old teacher, startled, had to tell you to go to North Korea. During the early 50’s in Korea, the war still raging or just ended, we were all starving and were mad at the elite, politically well-connected, with a lock on industry and finance. That’s why we came here.”

Some 5 dozen or so of us, high school alums in the class of 1956, have lived in the US upwards of 6 decades, naturalized, in their 80’s, financially established, some with a net-worth approaching 10 digits thanks to the Trump boom.

“No chance of the Squad winning us over,” S reflects. “Only if they would read what the protagonist Peter Bach says about Communism in your novel, The Polyglot: Union of Korea and Japan, amazon.com:

A naïve, dangerous, and ultimately self-defeating ideology, Senator, based on a misconception of human nature. Humans will be most productive when they compete for a larger, not equal, share of wealth. A huge bureaucracy, installed to replace free market competition, will in time grind down and implode for lack of motivation and built-in indolence.

“But the Squad serves a purpose,” I surmise, “sounding a wakeup call lest we get embroiled in upheavals like the French Revolution of 1792 or the Russian Revolution of 1917 by making America anything less than a land of opportunity for lack of fluid upward mobility.”

Mueller as “Exonerator” Flies in the Face of Presumption of Innocence

Jul 24, 2019, the day of Mueller’s pathetic performance before Congress, will go down as another day of infamy that has irretrievably trashed those in the upper echelons of government, especially those with the power to investigate, indict, and imprison Americans.

The Dems and fake media are having a field day quoting Mueller’s smug reaffirmation that his report does not exonerate Trump, not aware that he thereby directly contradicts presumption of innocence, that is, exoneration, before proven guilty. By declaring that his report “does not exonerate,” Mueller turns this principle on its head. As pointed out by Ratcliffe, nowhere in American criminal law is an investigator or prosecutor authorized to exonerate or not exonerate. Yet he, one time FBI Director, the nation’s top law man, does not know it. Nevertheless, amazingly, the American system elevates a cretin like him to such eminence, as it does another specimen, Comey, who flagrantly fails to prosecute Hillary though finding her extremely negligent.

Not understanding or recognizing citations from his own report, thereby transforming the “Mueller report” into a “staff report,” Mueller does not follow Collins’s line of reasoning that having reversed his own previous distinction of “collusion” and “conspiracy,” only the latter criminally chargeable, by saying that in common parlance they are synonymous, Mueller is concluding that no charge can be brought against Trump for lack of indictable collusion or conspiracy, not because he is a sitting President.

Mueller has difficulty comprehending Jordan’s simple question why he has charged so many of Trump’s associates with perjury whereas he has let go scot free the initiators of the disinformation that has launched Mueller’s investigation and tied up the nation in knots, getting no real work done, namely, Simpson of Democrat-funded Fusion GPS who procures the infamous Steele dossier or Mifsud who first tells Papadopoulos that Russians have dirt on Hillary, both said to have lied repeatedly to the FBI in the report. When he does at last, he dodges, saying he can’t go into charging decisions, confirming the bias Jordan is highlighting, oblivious to his “good news” that such evasion on Mueller’s part only dooms his fate in the investigation of investigators being unleashed by Barr and Durham.

As well as arousing indignation the day of infamy gives pause to parents, especially naturalized citizens, who encourage their children to go to law school and seek government employment, in particular with DOJ or FBI, as it looks like a short cut to power.

Stoning the Adulteress: A Cause for Feminist Ire?

“Apart from repealing medical privacy to deter adultery would you consider stoning the guilty as set forth in the Bible?” I ask B in jest, continuing our discussion (see Down with Medical Privacy, a Shelter for Adultery, 7-19-2019, typakmusings.com).

“Not if enforced only against the woman,” explodes B, who has six granddaughters he adores. “In the single reference to its enforcement the accusers bring to Jesus only the woman for stoning (John 8:4). By daring the sinless among them to cast the first stone he causes the mob to disperse but I am disappointed with him for not demanding the production of the guy, her partner in sin, probably her seducer and more culpable, as a procedural requirement at the outset.”

“Perhaps the bias against women was too entrenched even for him to rectify,” I hazard. “The Book was written by men who controlled money and owned women like chattel.”

“My girls, educated professionals, are no men’s chattel and won’t stand for such lop-sided justice. My heart bleeds for the countless women that have perished so cruelly. Imagine a hail of stones pelting you from all directions. One hits you in the shank, breaking the tibia, but before you reach down reflexively to touch the wound, another hits you smack in the eye popping it out, and so on until you fall dead.”

“That reminds me of a picture I saw way back, a tribe of aborigines in Australia shooting poison darts, the kind used for hunting boars, at an adulterous man up in a tree, hopping from branch to branch to avoid being hit.”

“How horrible! Does that sort of thing still go on?”

“No. Now everywhere both partners in sin equally share guilt and punishment. Civil, not criminal, because divorce, division of property, alimony, child support, custody, visitation, reconfiguration of social, occupational relationships are felt to be punitive enough in a modern urban society.”

Down With Medical Privacy, A Shelter for Adultery!

“I am suing Kaiser?” seethes B, a high school alum of mine, naturalized, and 6-decade resident in this country.

“What about?” I ask, surprised.

“They wouldn’t give me my wife’s lab test results nor let me make an appointment for her, saying she should call. I explained she was at work and had asked me to take care of it but that snooty receptionist refused, invoking medical privacy. I identified myself as her husband, giving my Social Security Number, date of birth, etc., but no dice.”

“It’s not just Kaiser but all medical service providers that are bound by the same rule.”

“Even between husband and wife? I know every inch of Jungja’s body.”

“Yeah, but there can still be secrets.”

“Like what?”

“Like genetic problems running in the family that she would rather keep to herself.”

“No, we had full disclosure early on, prior to having children. My grandfather died of a stroke but otherwise no genetic disease to speak of on my side. Hers is clean, too. There is nothing we hide from each other.”

“Unlike you, other husbands or wives may have things to hide from each other, though not genetic.”

“Like what?”

“Someone contracting an STD by extramarital sex will defend medical privacy tooth and nail so he or she can get it treated without the spouse’s knowledge.”

“Disgusting! So its sole purpose is to protect and encourage adultery on a national scale. No wonder there is so much cheating and divorce going on. We should launch a national movement to abolish it and save the country from moral decay and perdition.”

“How?”

“Start at the grass roots, talk to our pastors and get it going within our churches, then expand to other churches in town, in the county, in the state, in the whole nation. The ground swell of moral indignation will compel the Congress to repeal medical privacy between husband and wife.”

“It may be tough going because privacy of whatever stripe is sacrosanct in the American psyche like a basic human right. Particularly tough will be the last hurdle, Congress, few of its members untouched by an affair, perhaps thereby accurately representing their constituencies.”

To Assimilate or Not To, That is the Question!

Episode 38 of July 17, 2019, in the serialization of The Polyglot: Union of Korea and Japan, amazon.com, in the New York Ilbo Daily, attached below, is the scene where Seiji Oda, 25, a top-ranking Japanese official in the Government General, Korea, a colony of Japan (1910-45), is having lunch with Dr. Ina Yoon, 25, a brilliant ER resident at Seoul Imperial University Medical Center, who thinks Seiji a rich and influential fellow countryman with good connections to the Government General and capable of securing the release of her fiance, poet laureate of Korea, held on charges of sedition for inspiring the independence uprising of March 1, 1919, with his stirring verses.   

Epitomized is the terrible conflict Koreans must have faced over the issue of Japanese name adoption (창씨), somewhat reminiscent of what most Americans or immigrant groups worldwide must experience, at least in the first or second generation: whether to assimilate to the mainstream or preserve their distinctive identity and heritage, a matter of pride but also a cause for marginalization.

The dilemma gives us pause about the simplistic denunciation of 친일파 chinilpa, pro-Japanese toadies, by some vocal Korean patriotic groups shortly after liberation from Japan in 1945.

One laudable thing Syngman Rhee, South Korea’s first president (1948-60), does is massive employment and advancement of the chinilpa. Not because he is wise or magnanimous but because otherwise the country would have come to a screeching halt. Not only the educated and professional but the whole Korean population was chinil if they went to school, looked for good jobs, strove for success.

The predicament recurs throughout the novel, as it tracks the Korean diaspora to Siberia, Central Asia, Japan, and America.

Readers are urged to forward the series to friends and have them write to EySong0726@hotmail.com for free electronic subscription and back issues.

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         “On the contrary we feel preordained. Our marriage will bring about their reconciliation,” she said with finality and confidence. “Enough said about me and Jongnay. It’s time you told me who you are. Why on a Sunday don’t you stay home and eat the food your wife cooks?”

         “반대로 우리는 그렇게 운명지여 졌다고 봅니다. 단 우리의 결혼은 두 집안을 화해 시킬 것입니다” 하고 그녀는 단호하게 자신 만만한 어조로 말했다. “나와 종내에 대하여는 할만큼 얘기를 많이 했습니다. 이제 선생님이 누구인지 말해줄 차례가 되였습니다. 왜 오늘같은 일요일 날 집에 계시며 부인이 차려 주는 음식을 들지 않으십니까?”

         “I have no wife,” Seiji said. “I’ve never been married.”

         “나는 처가 없습니다” 세이지가 말했다. “한번도 결혼한 적이 없습니다.”

         “I am sorry. I assumed….” Ina suddenly felt irritated. “Who are you?”

         “죄송합니다. 그런줄 모르고…” 인아는 갑자기 신경질이 났다. “도대체 누구 십니까?”

         At first Seiji considered evasion with a joke but thought better of it after one glance at her intense gaze, demanding a straight answer. 

         처음에는 농으로 넘겨보려 했으나 솔직한 답을 요구하는 그녀의 강한 응시를 보고 마음을 바꿨다.

         “I have a Japanese name.”

         “나는 일본 이름을 가졌습니다.”

         “Oh, your family has adopted a Japanese name, too,” she said, well aware that adoption of Japanese names, to be made compulsory in a few more years under the stepped-up policy of Japanization, was still only voluntary, though strongly encouraged with various incentives like employment and advancement. As a result many Korean families had taken Japanese names, either completely or alongside their Korean names.

         “아, 당신 집안에서도 일본 이름을 채택하셨군요”하고 그녀는 일본 이름 채택이 수년 후면 강화된 일본화 정책하에 강제되나 고용 승진 면에서 여러 가지 혜택으로 강력하게 권장되고 있으나 아직은 자의에 맡겨져 있음을 알면서 말했다. 결과적으로 많은 조선인 가족들이 일본 이름을 완전히 또는 조선 이름과 병행하여 쓰고 있었다.

         “Hasn’t your father considered it?”

         “댁의 아버님은 이걸 고려하지 않으셨습니까?”

         “He has but hesitates, for fear our ancestors might turn over in their graves. So what is your Japanese name?”

         “고려했지만 우리 조상들이 무덤에서 놀라 뒤틀릴까 봐 주저하십니다. 그럼 댁의 일본 이름이 뭡니까?”

         “Seiji Oda.”

         “세이지 오다.”

         “Do you still use your Korean name along with your Japanese?”

         “일본 이름에 병행해서 조선 이름도 계속 쓰십니까?”

         “I don’t have any Korean name,” Seiji said after a beat.

         “조선 이름은 없습니다” 하고 잠간 지체후 세이지가 말했다.

         “What do you mean?” she asked, puzzled. “You mean you have made a clean break with your Korean heritage?”

         “무슨 뜻입니까?” 하고 그녀는 어리둥절하여 물었다. “조선의 전통과는 깨끗이 인연을 끊으셨다는 의미입니까?”

         “I have no Korean heritage,” Seiji said.

         “내게는 조선의 전통은 없습니다” 하고 세이지가 말했다.

         “You mean figuratively, of course.”

         “물론 비유적인 의미에서요.”

         “No, literally. I am Japanese.”

         “아니요. 문자 그대로 입니다. 나는 일본 사람입니다.”

         “By birth?”

         “태생이요?”

         “Yes.”

         “네.”

         “Mr. Oda, are you by any chance related to Katsuo Oda, Minister of the Treasury and leader of the Liberal Party?” She had read about the Odas of Osaka, descended from Nobunaga Oda, the first man to almost unify Japan. The family had controlling interests in the Bank of Japan, Hinomaru Shipping, Shimizu Gumi Construction, among others.

         “오다씨, 혹 대장성 장관이며 자유당 지도자 가쓰오 오다와 인척 관계가 되십니까?” 그녀는 일본을 처음으로 거의 통일한 노부나가 오다로부터 내려온 오사가의 오다 가문에 대하여 읽은 바가 있었다. 그 집안이 일본 은행, 히노마루 해운, 시미즈 구미 건축 기타 많은 업체의 지배 이권을 장악하고 있었다.

         “He is my father,” Seiji admitted.

         “그 분이 제 아버지입니다” 하고 세이지가 실토했다.

         “What are you doing in the backwater of Korea?” Ina asked with an effort at nonchalance, disguising her alarm and bewilderment. She could not figure out why he had undertaken to be Jongnay’s champion. Had it been some kind of trap?

         “조선같은 벽지에서 뭘 하고 계십니까?” 하고 그녀의 놀람과 당혹을 감추고 태연 자약을 노력하며 물었다. 왜 이자가 종내의 옹호자로 나섰는지 알 수가 없었다. 이 모든 것이 하나의 덫이였던가?

A Tribute to Park Place, the Shangri-la of Norwood, NJ

Dear Jin Lee,

         Our first plenary meeting of the new Board last night, Jul 2, 2019, turned Park Place from an array of stately but forbidding castles into a community of affable and agreeable denizens, all committed to preserving and enhancing the beauty and dignity, even grandeur, of their neighborhood, a shangri-la at the foot of the majestic forest that rises gently, irresistibly to the crest, beribboned by the Palisades Parkway and overlooking the Hudson with a panoramic view of Manhattan and its environs. 

Ownership here despite the high taxes and maintenance bespeaks financial status but I cannot suppress the urge to discover everybody’s occupation, the one thing that tells more about a person than even net worth and therefore a taboo and assiduously avoided by well-mannered Americans. Well, who cares? I am the Korean boor, too old to learn. My nosiness pays off and I know what my neighbors do, what their values and goals are, to be exhilarated by their exceptional accomplishments in their respective fields. Verily feel I live among the chosen.

Meeting Sangjo Kim for the first time and thinking him a kid just out of college, I ask pointblank how he manages to live in Park Place, hinting that he is probably born with a silver spoon. Lo and behold, he turns out to be an established anesthesiologist! Michael Laginestra, accessible, always ready and glad to share his knowledge and experience, generous with praise and encouragement, turns out to be a multimillionaire with business interests all over the country. Ben and Susan Gutmann, my closest neighbors, who host the meeting, are captains of industry with a global clientele, including Korean businesses. I know Sam Park to be independently wealthy, free to take on the nitty gritty of Park Place presidency, interviewing contractors, checking their references, inspecting their performances, a full time job, somewhat like Trump donating all his salaries. I haven’t found out what SK Kim does, a tad older than Sangjo but not by much, who has the dash and verve of an up and coming CEO. Determined, nevertheless, to buttonhole him after the meeting, I look around and find him checking the terrain and storm drains with Ben Gutmann, as responsible Board members should.

Jin, I am glad I have asked for your business card, confirming everybody’s knowledge of your unique qualification to sit on the Board, as there may be potential litigations involving delinquencies and other issues that threaten the financial health of Park Place. Like the homeowner who has put up a fence behind his house on the mountainside and reengineered the storm drains to interfere with the community system. Two notices of correction have been serenely ignored. But nobody is really worried all that much. We can hire and get the work done, then send him the bill, a deep pocket owning the biggest Korean supermarket chain in the States, the bill certified by your law offices to be more persuasive.

By the way, 11 of the 19 homeowners are Korean, immigrants ranging from one to six decades in this country but equally passionate in their attachment to real estate, second nature to them. Undaunted by the downturn in the NJ housing market because of the irrational property tax rate, they doggedly hold on for the next inevitable upswing, in the meantime making serious upgrades inside and out, with frequent reference to the Bylaws regarding the exterior.

         From their glowing emails immediately afterwards I am glad other attendees have found the meeting enjoyable and informative. I hope this letter to you will put you in our group mail list. 

         Also I write to apologize. Asked by the Board to bring as many home owners to the meeting as possible and eager to show myself as a worthy asset, I screw up my courage and go over to your front door at 5:40 p.m. to invite your father to the house next-door, presuming on my acquaintance with him, however fleeting. Apparently caught at a bad time he refuses. So I try to give him some issues of the Korean New York Ilbo Daily which is serializing my novel, The Polyglot: Union of Korea and Japan, running to the 27th installment as of today. A couple of years my senior he would find the subject matter interesting, I think.  But he declines, pleading his poor eyesight. That’s no problem, though, with online magnification. Attached therefore are the first introductory article and the 16th installment, featuring the recurring motif, love at first sight, that transformative vision of the opposite sex guaranteeing our survival as a species. Perhaps you can help him write to EySong0726@hotmail.com and ask for free subscription for daily email delivery and for back issues. I hope you’ll give it a read, too. 

          Ty Pak

P.S. Trying to figure out how to insert the files.

An Epitaph to a Noble Breed of Canines and Human Ingratitude

“A poop-eating dog sees only poop everywhere (똥개 눈에는 똥 밖에 안 보인다).”

I drop the Korean adage to describe the frenzy of some Democrats who still find fresh evidence of Russian collusion in everything Trump does during and since his election, even after presentation of the Mueller report to Congress on April 18, 2019, with necessary redactions.

“Eat what?” snaps S, 62, a Korean who immigrated to the States in 1975 and puts on airs as an old timer, more American than American and ardently anti-Trump, as may be expected.

“Coprophagy,” I say, betting he hasn’t heard the term.

“From Greek phagein ‘to eat’ and copros ‘feces’.” His erudition is impressive. “But what has it got to do with a mutt, ddong-gay 똥개?”

“Because the very word means poop-eating dog,” I explain patiently.

“Begging your pardon, Professor,” he spits out the honorific, “ddong-gay has 2 syllables, the first feces, the other dog, meaning a crappy mongrel.”

“No,” I protest, “these dogs cleaned up after us. When as babies we made mess, generally diarrheal, they came in and licked up the anus, buttocks, thighs, bedding. Unable to afford cloth diapers that needed washing every time most families kept dogs for the purpose, disposable diapers unknown. Then, these dogs make the ultimate sacrifice, feeding …”

I stop, noting that my historical perspective is lost on S, now busy tapping his fingers on his i-Pad.

“Look here, Professor,” he thrusts the screen triumphantly before me. “똥개 is defined as mutt, mongrel, cur, with no mention of copraphagy, certainly not on human feces.”

Deflated, I go home and look through the Korean dictionaries and encyclopedias, including the Korean version of Wikipedia. Indeed there is no mention of the real etymology for my breed of canines. Equally untraceable is the adage, based on it. In a decade or two after I left Korea my native language metamorphoses beyond recognition, at least as far as this word is concerned, the country in the meantime becoming a mini-America: dogs are pets with animal rights, fed on dog food, toilet trained, picked after, and interred in cemeteries with tombstones, while eating dog meat, once a national staple, becomes abhorrent like cannibalism.

I can now understand S’s disdain for a fuddy-duddy like me, why he twists his mouth to get out “Professor,” as the stuffy Korean code dictates, instead of being on a first name basis. Only if he’d read my post (see Donald, Champion of Political Incorrectness, Mandate the First Name Basis Across the Board by Executive Order One!, 9-11-2015, typakmusings.com)! But that’s in English. When speaking Korean, we have no option but to stay in our lanes, registers of speech determined by seniority and rank (see American English and Radical Democracy, 9-5-3025, typakmusings.com).

In defiance I start writing an epitaph: “To the memory of the noble breed, caprophagic canine servers joyfully cleaning up after babies …”

Suddenly I am struck by the incongruity of this with the maxim, “A poop-eating dog sees only poop everywhere,” the poop eater here definitely not held in high esteem.

Then I recall watching at age 5 or 6 our beloved and faithful Goldie, so named because of his glorious golden hair, being strangled for his meat, probably the only source of animal protein in those days. I still remember his glazed eyes of rebuke fixed on me.

The epitaph now reads: To the noble breed of coprophagic canines despite human ingratitude. Strictly forbidden is citation or application of that irreverent dictum about canine obsession with excrement to Russian collusion delusion or anything else, however to the point, even among the fuddy-duddies who understand its metaphor.

Fine Dust from China

On Mar 4, 2019, a couple in their thirties, both native-born Americans of Korean descent, take their two daughters, 3 and 1, on a flight to Korea for a 2-week vacation. Upon deplaning at the destination after 12 hours of flight, however, they get immediately engulfed in a thick fog of fine dust, the worst on record, and have to put on masks, to no avail. In a day or two everyone of them comes down with one form or another of respiratory and pulmonary disorder, coughing, wheezing, scratchy throat, runny nose, the worst happening to the youngest, high fever and difficulty breathing from pneumonia. She has to be rushed to the ER by ambulance.

After two weeks of vigils night and day and a succession of pediatric and specialist clinics and labs taking hours to navigate a few blocks, congested worse than in Manhattan, they limp back home, miraculously alive, though the young one seems still to hover on the brink.

“We should make the Chinese pay for this,” mutters K, the 82-year-old grandfather, almost in tears, looking at his youngest granddaughter’s haggard face.

“But they deny responsibility, Dad,” the father points out.

“Deny responsibility when on airvisual.com and earth.nullschool.net you can track real time the dust airborne back to China, ruthlessly deforested and desertified in its quest for rich-quick industrialization?”

“Korea is too small to force China to do the right thing.”

“Don’t go to Korea,” K orders in disgust. “I left it six decades ago because, among other reasons, it couldn’t stand up for itself.”

“But it’s still my ancestral land,” the son declares. “We’ll go back maybe next year when the girls will have more immunity. Even if they don’t, its medical services are superb and cheap, too, one-tenth of the US rates. No wonder they live longer than us.”

Darkest Before Dawn?

Japanese colonial oppression of Korea peaked as World War II was ending in 1945. A 7-year-old kid growing up in Korea, I heard my elders whisper, “It’s darkest before dawn,” and saw it come true with Japan’s withdrawal soon afterwards.

Then, during the last days of the 3-month North Korean occupation of Seoul at the start of the Korean War (Jun 25, 1950 – Jul 27, 1953), I heard the adage repeated among the ordinary citizenry, not in collaboration with the conquerors and starved, in constant fear of house raids and street roundups, futilely diving into makeshift shelters against bombs and shells unleashed from the sky and the sea in support of MacArthur’s landing at Incheon to liberate the capital. Watching the US Marines march into the city, I, a 7th grader, reaffirmed the truth of the dictum, “Darkest before dawn.”

Later, my English studies led me to its equivalents: “It is always darkest just before the day dawneth,” found in Thomas Fuller’s travelogue (1650), probably putting in print what’s already around, or “The darkest hour of all is the hour before day” in Samuel Lover’s Irish Songs and Ballads (1858). Koreans could have adopted the translation from the English, Irish, and American missionaries, the westernizers of Korea, but my cultural pride inclines me to think it a universal motif popping up independently.

Lately, during a Korean high school reunion (class of 1956) of those living in the northeast of America the conversation turned to the threatened Barr probe into the Mueller investigation and, lamenting the spiraling rancor of US party politics, I happened to drop the aphorism.

“We always went out on our penetration missions across the DMZ predawn when visibility was at its shortest,” interjects B, formerly with the Korean Army Special Forces.  

“Because it’s darkest?” I ask, intrigued by this literal vista of the maxim opening up.

“Not necessarily,” offers K, a former air controller. “Thick fog, smog, or fine Chinese dust in Korea can zero out visibility even at midday.”

“Did you mount any of your missions during the day because of zero visibility?” I persist.

“No, always shortly before daybreak,” B clarifies. “Remember it was the late 50’s when there was no smog, no fine dust nor yellow rain, Chinese desertification not starting until a couple of decades later when Deng hugs Nixon.”

Determined to see how much factual validity there was to this old proverb I woke up at 4 a.m. on two successive mornings, Apr 23 and 24, 2019, two hours before the 6 a.m. sunrise in my area to give an hour’s lead to the Irish hour, and watched. At no point, especially at 5 a.m., did any dip, sudden or subtle, occur in visibility or illumination.

Another myth laid to rest (see The Myth of the Pre-Death Panoramic Epiphany, 12-26-2018, typakmusings.com)!

Instead of triumph, however, I am gripped with grief over our gullibility or need for it. To dramatize and impart a finality to the message, perseverance no matter how tough the going, our collective imagination pounces on a fact statement not likely to be challenged for veracity: acutely sleepy before getting up for the day few would bother to fact-check. I wouldn’t have, either, except for that darn B disturbing my metaphorical serenity. If asked about the success rate of those predawn missions of his, bound to be iffy as the basis is faulty science, he would have attributed it to the North Koreans wising up and getting ready.

The Scourge of Romantic Love

“A Korean high school alum of mine, class of 1956, naturalized over half a century ago and resident in NY, is devastated,” I report. “Jilted, his grandson, 16, killed himself by jumping off a 500-foot cliff. A math genius, precociously enrolled at a ranking university, he was the hope and pride of the whole family. My friend, the 82-year-old grandpa, blames himself for coming to America to start his American dynasty. Actually, I feel partly responsible because, singing America the Beautiful, I had urged him to immigrate, though he doesn’t seem to remember.”

“The boy would have killed himself in Korea, unless the culture is different there and does not blow sex out of proportion into the hallucinogen, romantic love, that kills Romeo and Juliet,” Tom reasons.

“Not to the extent of Greek and Roman deification of love as a goddess with modern romantic sublimation via Medieval courtly love, compliments of your greatest writers, artists, musicians,” I point out.

“The drug cartel,” he snorts.

“But Korea has earthy folklore and folksong galore that takes for granted obsession with one’s object of love, which perhaps argues its universality,” I conjecture wildly, “with perhaps an evolutionary design: to snare and bind a breeding pair so they stay together long enough to raise the young and ensure the survival of the species.”

“So we end up with 7 billion and counting, 8, 10, 15, …a trillion,” he shudders. “We’ve got to reconfigure this blind engine, romantic love, before it suffocates us all.”

“Do you therefore dismiss love-engendered fatalities like my friend’s grandson as some kind of natural selection?” I challenge his seeming insensitivity.

“Not at all,” he retorts. “Romantic love reconfigured or, more correctly, gutted, will kill two birds with one stone, preventing your Romeo and Juliet tragedies.”

“Except this case is a little different: unrequited love, unlike Romeo and Juliet, the love birds.” I add, “With an American twist: the girl’s white parents didn’t care for an Asian son-in-law, however smart.”

“Poor boy!” Tom laments. “Only if he had torn off the blinders and looked around at the dozens, hundreds of nubile females available and interchangeable, white, yellow, black, brown, …”

“Unfortunately, once caught in the trap of romantic love, interchangeability is anathema, simply unthinkable.”

“There is only one way to save humanity from the monomaniac fixation of romantic love: reduction of its ultimate goal, orgasm by coitus, to excretion,” Tom declares agitatedly. “The program should start early, like preschool. The toddlers will undress and pee and poop in plain view of each other to familiarize themselves with their excretory anatomy with gender differentiation, soon to be supplemented in elementary school by physical education that incorporates induced orgasm so as to reduce it to the third dimension of excretion in addition to the two they already know.”

“But how do you induce orgasm with these little kids?” I ask aghast.

“Masturbation and communal manual excitation of the penis or clitoris of the next kid in a circle, for example, a phys ed routine like basketball, gymnastics, or what have you.”

“You are kidding, right?” I shake my head. “Parents will tar and feather you for even thinking such thoughts about their darling little angels.”

“But these angels do it anyway, only in secret and in shame, with untold psychological damage that renders them more susceptible to romantic love,” Tom shouts. “This way we bring it out into the open and trivialize it, so Romeo wouldn’t kill himself because he knows there is a whole ocean of Juliets out there.”  

“Just for argument’s sake, does the inducement of orgasm include coitus?”

“Absolutely not. Penile penetration of the vagina is forbidden and allowed once or twice after marriage in estrus strictly for planned breeding purposes upon proof of the couple’s financial capability by depositing, say, $10 million per child in escrow, to see the new born through graduate or professional school.”

“You mean only 0.1% of the population can fuck their wives and that only as many times as the number of children they can have in their whole lives?” I scream. “Now you’ll have the whole world coming after you.”

“Only the primitive antediluvian males, prior to our new phys ed regimen, but not the women, not even the antediluvians, who have never really wanted it, only enduring it all these millions of years, partly because of the faint hope during estrus for this marginal means of achieving orgasm but mainly because of their economic dependence on men who thought vaginal penetration the only road to heaven. With the new educational system in place a new era of peace and creativity dawns on humanity: with fewer of us around, population under control and freed from the scourge of romantic insanity, cooperation will be the guiding principle, not competition, and prepare us for intergalactic exploration.”

To Hunt Down the Witch Hunters or Not To, That Is the Question

“It’s like pulling teeth but he gets his words out at last,” I summarize Barr’s Congressional testimony on Apr 9, 2019, and its impact. “Spying has occurred against Trump, he says, the genesis and conduct of which should be looked into to ensure that governmental agencies with investigative powers operate properly, that is, drive in their assigned lanes, his figure of speech. Understandably, the Dems and fake media are up in arms, in a conniption fit, calling him Trump’s running dog, not the Attorney General of the United States.”

“Funny they use a canine metaphor because with his jowls and growls he looks a bit like a bull dog,” grunts Tom, the misanthrope, my nonagenarian neighbor. “He’ll bite big time, though, a new traffic cop in town. They’ll get what’s coming, these Trump haters: massive and swift indictments and prison terms.”

“But wouldn’t it create a never-ending feud cycle, Dems biding their time to get back at Reps, and so on, in the meantime national security and economy kicked aside?” I give him a synopsis of the four centuries of partisan politics in Korea which enables Japan to trample it down at will in 1592 and finally colonize it in the first half of the 20th century, to be liberated only in 1945 by the US. “Wouldn’t it be presidential of Trump to lean on Barr to go easy, content with the moral victory, burying the Dems and fake media in their eternal shame?”

“Was your Korean dynasty a constitutional democracy like ours?” Tom asks.

“No. Democracy is America’s gift, barely half a century old.”

“Then the Korean analogy does not apply. We have partisan politics, too, but in the end all parties submit to the rule of law as set forth in the Constitution, aware that the alternative, crime unpunished and justice ignored, is the road to hell. The evil-doer gloats over his escape as vindication and victory and waits for an opportunity to strike back, gathering sympathizers and fellow travelers, weakening and destroying the body politic.”

“But the fake media keep spinning,” I point out. “Unrepentant and defiant, Schiff, Brennan, CNN, NBC go on characterizing the looming Barr investigation as a Spanish Inquisition.”

“Luckily, we live in the internet age and won’t be hoodwinked by them, there being countervailing sources of information like Fox News, tweets by Trump supporters, blogs like yours, showing what these Witch Hunters have done – buying the phony Steele dossier to obtain the FISA warrant and authorizing surveillance on the Trump campaign and subsequent Mueller investigation, which violates the core American value, freedom from such tyranny. Even the hard-core Dems will recoil from the implications of the Witch Hunt and acquiesce in the culprits’ fall and punishment. Sure the convicted felons will grind their teeth and plot revenge but the public at large will ignore them and the feud cycle you fear will never get off the ground.”

“How wide should Barr prosecute, CIA, FBI, Congress, fake media?” I ask, shuddering.

“Let the chips fall where they may. You are mistaken, though, to think that Trump faces some kind of dilemma, whether to be magnanimous and forgive all those awful attacks, or clean up the house, drain the swamp, once and for all, to prevent recurrence of such misuse of power that may hamstring future administrations, somewhat reminiscent of Hamlet’s soliloquy:

To be or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them.

He opts to oppose and end the offenders. But Trump does not have to choose. Barr will do it, not as his running dog but as US AG to uphold the Republic.”

Tom, the Recluse, My Nearest Neighbor

For four years after moving into the gated community neighbors had been telling me about Tom the Recluse, piquing my curiosity. Though sharing the same driveway I had not run into him until about a couple of months ago in February, 2019, when there was the first respectable snowfall of the season, dumping close to a foot overnight.

At 4 a.m. I came out the front door holding the garbage wrapped in a shopping bag. It was too early for the snow crew to show up. Gingerly I pulled up one sinking foot after another down the walkway knee-deep in snow, hoping it would keep the deer and other scavengers away. I needed to sleep past the garbage pickup time having worked through the wee hours to post an article on my blog, typakmusings.com. Normally, upon hearing the truck around 8, I would run out with my offering to zero out the possibility of the bag being torn up and the mess scattered. I had the Borough take back its trash and recycle bins, hating to take them back in. Catching on, a few of the neighbors mimicked my practice, though I couldn’t determine whether they had the bins returned, too. With a degree of satisfaction I had noticed Tom, the Recluse, to be among the copycats.

A thud and a yell jerked me out of my trance. A figure lay prostrate at the foot of the 35-degree driveway. Throwing down my bag I ran to him, losing my footing a few times.

The ice on the pavers must have caused the poor guy to slip and fall backward, then slide straight down on his back like a toboggan, his garbage bag flung aside.

“Let me help you up,” I whispered, thrusting my hand under his shoulder. He stirred, came to, and tried to get up on his own, disoriented, arms flailing. I helped him up. Muttering, he pulled away, picked up the bundle, and placed it by his mailbox post.

“Are you okay?” I asked anxiously. Grunting, he went back into his house through the open garage door, which came clattering down behind him.

Stung by his rudeness, though forewarned, but concerned that the trauma to his head, unawares, might have serious consequences like a concussion or intracerebral hemorrhage, I went up to his front door and knocked. No response. I banged louder, shouting his name. No sound or stir inside. Panicked that he might have collapsed, possibly on the verge of death, I came back to my house and called 911. An ambulance and two squad cars arrived. The patrolmen and medics converged on the house, some going around to the deck in the back facing the woods.

“What’s all this commotion about?” Tom opened the front door, resplendent in full nightgown regalia.

“Are you all right, sir?” one medic asked.

“Until now.”

They all turned to me for an explanation.

“But, sir, you had a bad fall and lay there, passed out,” I said, pointing at the driveway.

“What do you mean? I have been soundly asleep. I am no somnambulist like some people, seeing things,” he said, staring at me askance.

“Since we are here anyway, what if we check you out?” the medic asked.

“No,” Tom shouted back and slammed the door closed.

“Please look at this trench in the snow,” I pointed out to the medics and patrolmen carefully picking their way down the slope back to their vehicles. “That’s where he lay sprawled, flailing his arms.”

“His head would have cracked had it not been for the cushion of snow,” the ambulance driver noted, believing me.

I had just gotten back into the house after waving goodbye to the responders, swearing I’d never play a good Samaritan again, even if someone dropped dead right in front of me, when the doorbell rang.

“Came to thank you for the neighborliness, though misplaced,” Tom said. “I am pretty resilient, well-nigh indestructible.”

“But you almost got me into trouble,” I protested.

“I had to send them packing and knew they would believe you, dismissing me as a crackpot geezer. This is my peace offering,” he said, pushing a bottle of cognac toward me.

“No, take it back. There is no cause for it. Besides I don’t drink.”

“All right, then. Come around any time and we’ll talk.”

“Sure but do you have an email address? We can communicate that way.”

“What is yours? I’ll write you, so you can answer back.”

I gave him my card. He wrote a few days later, saying he had enjoyed my blog, especially my take on Trump, a former student of his at Wharton where he had taught marketing. We hit it off right away, fabulously.

Fart and Burp Loud and Clear, Proudly!: Recipe for Restoration of Honesty and Morality

“Come and worship with us at our church on Easter Sunday, Apr 21, 2019,” I invite my neighbor Tom, 92, an ornery widower and recluse, few on the block ever see, let alone talk to. It is through an extraordinary circumstance to be reported in the next post that I got to be on speaking terms with him. “We expect the sanctuary to fill up with as many as 500 people.”

“How long is the service going to last?” Tom asks.

“A couple of hours because of the Easter play and music,” I answer expectantly.

“To breathe 5 gallons of fart?” he demands.

Getting over the puzzlement I rally, “It’s a big church, 50 feet wide, 100 feet deep, and 40 feet high, almost like being outdoors. Five gallons, 10, a drop in the ocean. But are you sure it would be that much?”

“One farts a pint or 16 ounces in 24 hours, which makes nearly 3 tablespoons in 2 hours. Multiply that by 500.”

“But worshippers would be on their best behavior and …”

“Bacteria don’t teach manners to the gas they generate in the gut. How do you fart in church?”

The utter frankness and directness of the question, not asked except perhaps by my doctor, stuns me at first but soon disarms me.

“Slowly in small puffs, timing with the blast of the organ, lest even the most carefully modulated squeeze of the rectal sphincter should vocalize by accident.”

“Let out loud and clear, as Benjamin Franklin bids in his 1781 essay, Fart Proudly,” he thunders.

“To be shunned forever like a leper?” I scream.

“Sneaks and cheats, these holier-than-thou Christians, strutting around and preaching honesty, decency, and decorum, only to turn viciously on the truly honest among them and eat them alive like cannibals! They are responsible for the decay of morality in America. Have you heard your pastor fart loud and clear?”

“Well, I haven’t paid attention exactly…” I mumble.

“He is the worst of the lot, not having to bother to regulate his sphincter like the sneaks out there in the pews but just as sneaky, taking advantage of his exalted position up at the altar, out of earshot, close to the organ to boot, cocksure that nobody hears his anal music. I tell you what. I’ll join your church the moment your pastor farts and burps loud into the microphone as he begins his sermon. Yes, burping is just as integral to the health of our God-given gut.”

“That would be a turning point in Christian ministry, perhaps more epochal than even the Reformation, but our pastor or any other ordained minister is no Martin Luther. I have an idea, though. Since this is such a radical, momentous departure, on the same order of magnitude as termination of political correctness, the role should fall on someone with proven leadership in such matters like Trump (see Donald, Champion of Political Incorrectness, Mandate the First Name Basis Across the Board by Executive Order One!, 9-11-2015, and Lighten Up, America, and Follow The Donald, George Washington of New America, 9-27-2015, typakmusings.com). Typically, he should open all his public speeches, say, the State of the Union message at the House, with a fart and burp duet, accompany the delivery with a medley of farts and burps, and close with a fanfare of the same. All his cabinet members will copy, lest they get fired, and so will others in time, Supreme Court justices, Senators and Representatives, then cardinals, bishops, pastors, the whole country, the moral imperative of honesty finally sinking in. I’ll compose the letter, hoping you’ll get it delivered. I understand you have a direct line of communication to Donald.”

“Yeah, but your blog will serve the purpose better.”

Has he been lying about his White House connection? No, he wouldn’t, not at his age, about such a triviality. I acquiesce, taking his refusal to be the herald as a compliment.

Import Korean Egalitarianism to Defuse Envy in America

Half of America, the younger misguided half, is rallying to the banner of communism. Yes, I say communism, calling a spade a spade, not a whitewashed euphemism. Actually, communism as originally proposed by Marx and Engels was a beautiful word, like utopia or brotherhood.

Communism derives its appeal by stirring up envy, hatred of those with more money than oneself and promise of equal distribution. However, its toxicity is spelled out by Peter Bach, the protagonist of The Polyglot: Union of Korea and Japan (2018), amazon.com, pages 420-421, during his Senate hearing for confirmation as President Eisenhower’s Special Envoy to South Korea in turmoil after the Student Revolution of 1960. He calls communism

“A naive, dangerous, and ultimately self-defeating ideology, based on a misconception of human nature. Humans are most productive when they compete for a larger, not equal, share of wealth. A huge bureaucracy, installed to replace free market competition, will in time grind down and implode for lack of motivation and built-in indolence.”

The truth of this characterization has been verified beyond a shadow of doubt by the sea trials of communism, Soviet, Cuban, Venezuelan, proving it to be unfit as a practical solution. We have to work with the free market system, accepting inequality as a necessary evil or blessing. Peter goes on to warn:

“But Communism serves as a wakeup call lest a free society should lapse into complacency. It should be constantly vigilant against perpetuation of gross inequalities, leveling the playfield to forestall upheavals like the French Revolution of 1792 or the Russian Revolution of 1917?”
“How?”
“The US has in place anti-trust and welfare legislations, as well as widespread private charity by the wealthy, which will serve as vents. If the balance is maintained, there won’t be any explosive revolutions to wreck America.”

In other words, with progressive taxation, social security, supplemental security income, private charity, and other leveling devices already in place, we are managing. Granted that’s not enough but we have to be patient and do what we can, in the meantime suppressing, defusing and reining in the discontent of the young and radical. To this end suggested is cultivation of insensitivity or immunity to envy, the green-eyed monster, the root cause of discontent, by looking to the Korean model.
From time immemorial Koreans have coped with their less than dominant places in their social totem pole in reliance on a peculiar brand of egalitarianism, expressed by the phrase, “a sheet of paper difference (종이 한 장 차이).” For example, a bondservant can mentally stare down at his master, while bowing and scraping to do his bidding, because it’s just the title deed that separates them. Similarly dismissive of his billionaire employer is a day laborer living hand to mouth. In time the idiom mutates to mean “paper thin,” reducing the vast differences in the pecking order to a triviality. This mentality may make them the world’s worst hypocrites, obsequious outside but arrogant inside but sure gives them peace of mind and physical health by freeing them from envy, the mental cancer that eventually metastasizes to the body and kills.
Lately the egalitarian motto has mutated again to “a click difference,” reflecting post-Information Revolution accessibility to the cutting edge of knowledge in any field, the seriousness of which cannot be overstated.

If the previous “paper thin difference” is irreverence, rebelliousness, denial, a matter of attitude, this “click difference” is substantive. By clicking the right link on line one can instantly come to the cutting edge of knowledge in any field. If knowledge is power, this click difference is none other than universal empowerment, destined to erode and erase the invidious differences in the pecking order, rendering obsolete certifications, licenses, charters as artificial intelligence and virtual training in the professions and trades advance (see The Bounty of De-Schooling, 3-20-2019, typakmusings.com).

This ultra-egalitarianism will prevent America from tilting too far to the left and keeling over and keep it on track to becoming an earthly utopia, where differences exist enough to keep competition going but not suffocate.

Soomin Kim, Miss Korea 2018, and Donald Trump, 45th President, USA

Soomin Kim, 24, the charming, refreshing Miss Korea 2018, may hold the key to the enigma of Trump’s election and success.

Dubbed the controversial or off-beat beauty queen, the Dickinson College graduate with a degree in International Business, enters the pageant competition for fun. Not expecting to win she acts and answers freely, being herself, hugely enjoying every moment of it, and thoroughly enchanting her jury.

That is exactly Trump’s style – off script spontaneity, speaking his mind, saying what he means, baring his soul, which resonates with his audience. Liking him they trust him to lead the way to the promised land and to date their faith in him has been amply rewarded by the booming economy, excision of ISIS, termination of the Russian Witch Hunt, and respect from foreign adversaries like China and Russia.

By the way the Korean beauty is one of a kind. Above all she is a multilingual. Her Korean is witty and eloquent but she floors you with her native-grade English, as well as her ease and poise during an interview with an American journalist, explainable only by American birth and education through college before moving back to Korea, reverse immigration as Koreans call it, though not verifiable by cursory search through her videos and writeups. Or she could have gone to American school in Korea or studied with totally virtual English teaching videos before enrolling in Dickinson as a foreign student. While at Dickinson she studies a year at a Beijing university under an exchange program, again learning to speak Chinese like a native. Amazing!

She has her heart set on becoming an international journalist and has already produced fabulous informational videos, but she may serve best as the first lady of any country, except she would steal the thunder from her husband, Individual One.

That term turning up in Cohen’s testimony gives rise to an impious thought. What a fine match she would make for Donald, who alone will be able to hold his own and not be eclipsed by her brilliance. Melania may actually want to call it quits and join the growing rank of his ex-wives and mistresses, giving Soomin a chance to be America’s First Lady, that is, before 2025, in view of its multiple benefits.

1. Equal Opportunity for Women

The whole thing is of course subject to consent by Melania, who may actually want to explore. After all life is short. She knows she will be financially well provided and honored like all his former wives and mistresses, except she would have the extra prestige of having been a First Lady which, on top of her own merits as a modeling star, will make her irresistible to all types of men worldwide, even other heads of state, billionaires, athletes, especially the young bucks.

2. Global Humanism

Marriage to the Korean beauty will demonstrate once and for all that Trump is no racist, interracial marriage being the true measure of one’s freedom from racial or ethnic hang-ups (see The Polyglot: Union of Korea and Japan, amazon.com).

3. Hope for the Aged

His marriage to Soomin, half a century his junior, will be proof positive of vitality and libido even when within striking distance of the century mark and will make him a hero to all the Oncs of the world (see Immortality Club, 8-2-2018, typakmusings.com).

Russians in Deep Mourning as Their Best Weapon Against America Fizzles Out

On Monday, Mar 25, 2019, the best weapon Russians could have devised in their wildest dream against their arch enemy, America, at zero cost to boot, fizzles out beyond any hope of resurrection or re-deployment. American Democrats’ frenzy to sabotage the resurgence of America, otherwise known as MAGA, Make America Great Again, comes to an irreversible screeching end. Mueller, their own Special Counsel aided by a pack of highly motivated henchmen to take down Trump they still cannot accept as President, declares his zero collusion with Russia where, understandably, the belly laugh (see Russians Having a Belly Laugh, 7-19-2017, typakmusings.com) is turning into a heartbreak, as the country stares at a skyrocketing defense budget to match America’s growing might, something it cannot afford, the price of oil, its only export, hitting rock bottom (see Low Gas Price, Not Mild Winter: Time to Pat Ourselves on the Back for Stumbling into Picking the Right Guy for the Job, 1-16-2019, typakmusings.com), a re-enactment of the post-Reagan Soviet years.

Let Dead Dogs Lie and Don’t Beat a Dead Horse?: In Defense of Trump’s Comment on McCain

Grandstanders, haughtily shaking your heads and pouring contempt on Trump for attacking McCain, the deceased, during his stirring rally at the Abrams tank manufacturing plant in Lima, OH, on Mar 20, 2019:

You are nothing but a bunch of proverbial zombies, mindlessly chanting proverbs, well known for their ambiguity: if one tells you to go right, another is sure to tell you to go left.

In Julius Caesar (1599) Shakespeare has Brutus publicly denounce Caesar as too ambitious and therefore deserving to die, which is followed by Antony’s oration:

I have come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.

Does Antony just bury Caesar, as he promises? No, he doesn’t stop praising, until he masterfully demolishes the accusations, rehabilitates, apotheosizes Caesar, and turns the wrath of the masses on Brutus and his clique.

Note how Antony prefaces his defense of Caesar: the evil that men do lives after them. In other words, Brutus has every right to accuse and condemn Caesar, if only to be hoist with his own petard.

However, if any of you zombies want to be the modern-day Antony to praise McCain and bury Trump, the Brutus, think again!

First, it’s not unseemly to attack a decedent simply because he is dead and can’t defend himself. Unlike dogs or horses we are human precisely because our works, good and bad, survive us, as Antony points out.

To dispel any doubt on this score, consider whether the probate court is unseemly just because it delves into the decedent’s will and estate. Note its publicity, how typically a notice of the probate is published in newspapers inviting the whole world to the reckoning.

Trump is doing the probate, going through the deceased’s legacy to the nation, because he was a public figure. Topping the list is his instigation of the Russian Witch Hunt. It was McCain who, instead of tipping Trump off about the phony Steele dossier when he gets it, as a friend should, turns it over to the FBI and sets off the Mueller investigation that drags on nearly two years, wasting tens of millions of taxpayer dollars and metastasizing to a Congressional investigation, now that the Democrats are in control of the House. Meanwhile fallen by the wayside is the proper work of government, America’s security and economic wellbeing and world peace and prosperity.

Next on the probate calendar is McCain casting the deciding vote to defeat Trump’s bill to Repeal and Replace Obamacare, purely out of spite because all along, prior to the vote, he had been in favor.

The Trump detractors should note that he does not talk about McCain’s reputation as an American hero, though the heroism of his Vietcong captivity has been debunked by many, including Biden, the Democratic primary front runner. In fact, burying the hatchet Trump signs off on the military transport of McCain’s body to Washington for his funeral at the National Cathedral, though with no thanks from the family or anybody else. On the contrary, unable to resist the temptation to jump on the Trump-bashing train, the Cathedral gratuitously comes out to deny the need for his approval to host the funeral, apparently unaware that by diminishing and blocking Trump out the funeral is deprived of the presidential cachet, presumably contrary to the decedent’s wishes.

The Bounty of De-Schooling

“How many hours a day do you guys spend Googling, You-Tubing, Wikipedia-ing?” asks Paul, a retired psychologist and an Onc (see Immortality Club, 8-2-2018, typakmusings.com).

“Almost every waking hour,” admits Richard, a retired tax lawyer. “A sad commentary on my education, with which there is almost a complete disconnect.”

“Inevitable under pressure to specialize,” assents Bob, a retired ophthalmologist. “In college we have to choose a major and, in grad school, a field. Then as a professional you specialize. What was your major, Richard?”

“English. The disconnect between English and law school is total. All the poetry and prose I’ve read and analyzed is absolutely useless. But there is another disconnect between law school and tax law, because you have to forget just about everything you study in law school, to learn the tax laws, federal, state, local, levied on income, payroll, property, sales, capital gains, dividends, imports, estates, gifts, fees, to make sure the government collects a quarter of the GDP. Then they revise and redact every now and then just for the heck of it to keep you on your toes and leave no time for anything else.”

“Nobody has mentioned the 12 pre-college years of elementary and secondary schooling,” Paul notes, “meaning tacit acceptance of it as useful intellectual foundation for subsequent college and beyond for what it is, I presume.”

“Are you kidding?” Richard huffs. “What rubbish I had to memorize for finals and the SAT, geography, history, math, science, and literature! What a waste of intellectual energy! Actually, I agree with the Korean system, prior to the 2007 American style reform, that allows a high school graduate to sit for the bar exam (see Revise the 3 R’s to 4 R’s and Make America the First All-Lawyer Nation to Root Out Violence, 11-22-2018, typakmusings.com).”

“Ditto for medicine,” Bob adds. “You don’t need to fool around with 4 years of premed. A high school grad can go directly into the regular medical course.”

“Actually, in Korea before 2007 all professional schooling began at college level,” I weigh in, “College of law, engineering, medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, agriculture, music, fine art, liberal arts, divinity, or what have you.”

“But, Richard, didn’t you say one didn’t have to graduate from law college to take the bar?” asks Bill, a retired captain and graduate of the Merchant Marine Academy. “Why, then, bother to go to law college if it is not required to take the bar?”

“For the cachet of LL.B. or BA in Law,” I say. “Many took the bar while in law college, the passage rate naturally higher than high school graduates. On the other hand, some law graduates couldn’t pass year after year.”

“That is enlightening, Ty!” exclaims Bob. “If Korean high school graduates could pass the bar, then our American kids can do the same and pass other professional exams, too, especially given the increasing sophistication of educational and professional YouTube videos, if they are allowed to watch them instead of wasting 4 years, trudging back and forth to high school classes, jumping through hoops.”

“Granted we eliminate high school, grades 9 through 12, for independent study,” posits Paul, “do we leave alone pre-high school grades 1 – 8, elementary and middle, to provide the 3 R’s necessary for them to read and understand the subjects, law, engineering, medicine, and so forth?”

“Scrapping elementary and middle school is a cinch, given the abundance of state of the art online resources to teach the 3 R’s,” I assert. “But even the traditional 3 R’s are largely wasteful, cramming the young minds with useless names, dates, places, which should be replaced by a curriculum on rules or law (see Revise the 3 R’s to 4 R’s), so that by the time they graduate from high school they’ll all be lawyers.”

“But that means the demise of my profession?” Richard moans.

“No, not everybody can be a good advocate even for their own cause and would rather hire those with greater aptitude for it who advertise themselves as Attorney at Law, Barrister, Lawyer, Esquire,” I explain. “It’s only for law that I call for this, because law is one of the 4 R’s and the entire population beyond the 12th grade should be able to access the courts as lawyers to prevent blood feuds and vendettas. The other professions, founded on the 4 R’s, are certified by some national agency to ensure the practitioners’ qualifications.”

I stop to take a breath and resume.

“That proposal, however, was on the assumption that high school existed and enforced some form of certification like a GED test on the 4R’s. Since this is no longer the case and no school exists including high school, it’s not 4 R’s any more but are open to all the professions or fields of knowledge to explore. Spared the waste and drudgery of going to elementary and middle school day in and day out for 8 years, children, not particularly precocious, can go on to prepare not only for the bar exam but for medical board exam, engineering exam, or even merchant marine test Bill had to pass at, how old were you?”

“24, but I see your point,” Bill nods. “We now do most of our navigational training virtually and I can imagine a teenager or even a preteen getting the hang of it just as well as a 24-year-old, provided he learns all the other stuff.”

“So you make them start working that young?” Richard asks, astounded.

“Certainly,” I reassure him. “I envision the average professional working age to be 15, which, combined with the retirement age of 90 (see 90 (=85+5), the New Retirement Age, Incorporating the Mortality Constant, 11-16-2018, typakmusings.com), will multiply the working population, stanching Social Security hemorrhage.”

“I have just one concern,” Paul interjects. “What about cutting-edge scientists, writers, thinkers, typically ensconced in the ivory tower of academia?”

“They’ll find their niches in industries, the majority of them small, one-person outfits of self-employment and, unencumbered by academia, civilization will take off like a rocket.”

Stop Admission Scandals by Abolishing Elite Universities!

This is a corollary to abolition of schools across the board from elementary through graduate and professional, proposed earlier (see New Education in Response to Developments in Artificial Intelligence, 12-23-2018, typakmusings.com).

Kindergarten and even preschool children amaze us with the rapidity with which they learn intricate games and follow Sesame Street and other children’s shows online. As they grow older, they can connect online to the best video programs for different subjects, far surpassing any elementary through high school classroom presentations.

Some are concerned that clicking a laptop or iPad may deprive the child of vital classroom socialization. Baloney! The child has enough social exposure at home, in the neighborhood, at church, birthday parties, sleep overs, concerts, parades. Besides slouching at desk in rows watching or pretending to watch the teacher hardly qualifiess as socialization. But even that can be adequately supplied virtually online.

However, preteen children, especially those whose parents both work, may be sent to neighborhood daycare centers strictly to gather and have fun, not to learn. For this purpose a medium-sized home will suffice to service a city block or rural village, not a typical multistoried building with long hallways and series of classrooms, to be demolished if not converted to other productive use.

Online self-education is made to order for college and beyond, as the student is now an independent adult with tremendous mnemonic and intellectual prowess, agility, creativity. There isn’t a single discipline, liberal arts or science, that cannot be learned online, including a virtual biology or physics lab. However, virtual expertise may be confirmed and supplemented by field trips to actual facilities.

In this educational system no degree, academic or professional, will be handed out. An employer will advertise a position and video-examine a candidate’s competence. No inquiry will ever be made to the nonexistent college one went to. Professional qualifications will be similarly certified by passing a bar, medical board, or professional engineering exams, with practical demonstrations as needed.

Nor is one-time certification the end of self-education. To excel in their work professionals will be Googling diligently till the end of their lives, as will anybody who enjoys learning and does his or her share in advancing civilization.

Uproar Over the College Admission Scam: An Epitome of Myopia

America’s recent uproar over some 33 parents being indicted for bribery, laying out a total of $25 million, to get their children into elite colleges is the epitome of myopia, ignorance and hypocrisy.

Only $25 million? Peanuts and that’s where the problem is. They were cheap and also dumb, choosing the back door, bribery, a low-grade crime, to give their children a break. The real offenders achieve the same purpose by going through the front door and shaking hands with the college president to stick a big check on his palm. With the billions, trillions so collected over the years these colleges build cutting edge science complexes, libraries, auditoriums, theaters, endowed chairs, becoming elite indeed.

Instructive in this regard is Cohen’s congressional testimony on the business negotiations for the failed Trump Tower across from the Kremlin (see Cohen, a Dream Witness for Trump, 3-3-2019, typakmusings.com). Offered right off the bat is the best suite in the building for Putin, a bribe to be sure but also a cost of doing business: a distinguished patron boosts its goodwill. It’s a win-win deal benefiting both parties.

Every college in the world will welcome Trump’s children among its alums. But lack of such fame can be amended by money, a lot of money.

Much has been said about Trump being not bright enough to have gotten into Wharton on his own. If that is true, Fred Trump, a dime a dozen multimillionaire, must have made a substantial donation. Democrats, where is your diligence, not digging into his ancestors’ graves?

Is this obsession with a prestigious college diploma really good for civilization? No, because it is a travesty of real knowledge and competence, nevertheless religiously maintained so long as an employer’s first inquiry is an applicant’s alma mater.

More in the next post.

Global Grassroots Movement for Rat Extermination

This is a follow-up to An Open Letter to the Mayor of NYC (2-28-2019, typakmusings.com) and is motivated by a communication received from a friend whose son has spent over $1,000 hiring an extermination company to get rid of rats and mice gnawing and scratching in the walls and ceilings of his house, the goal still elusive.

Predictably, De Blasio has neither replied nor complied, forfeiting the historic opportunity to lead the global movement, eradication of this scourge as old as the beginning of our species. It is time for homeowners here in America and worldwide to take over and let their grassroots cause culminate in a miracle as epochal as the extinction of polio.

Recommended in the open letter are pipe bombs, that is, anticoagulant bait blocks placed in the middle of a 6-inch length of 1.25-inch diameter PVC pipe, to prevent pilfering by cats, dogs, or birds. Subsequent research has come up with an even cheaper and more copious method of deployment: the gallon milk jug, with an 1.5-inch diameter hole cut on each of its four sides halfway above the bottom, packed with double or triple layers of bait blocks, the lid off unless exposed to the weather. The jug is secured by burying into the soil up to the base of the 4 holes so the rodents can enter at ground level or, in the absence of soil, held down with brick or stone up to the holes. Set outdoors in frequent rodent traffic areas, the jug or jugs may be camouflaged or even dressed up aesthetically, if readily visible.

Concern has been voiced about the possibility of poisoned rats crawling into the house and dying, fouling the air indoors for weeks. This has never happened in my own experience. Nor have I found them dead in the open, leading me to believe they seek and die in more natural outdoor burrows. At least they have time, 4 or 5 days, to pick their own mausoleum after ingestion and awareness of their fate.

As mentioned in the letter rats have a superhighway of communication and come to feed on the bait from all over, including from inside the house.

A Discourse on Precocity

My granddaughter Naomie, 3 years and 3 months old, goes to a preschool that charges as much as an Ivy League college. Because both her parents are at work, my wife Young takes her there in the morning and picks her up in the afternoon and hears the mothers, especially Korean mothers, talk in awed whispers about their children playing the piano, reading books, drawing, or doing something phenomenal way ahead of their age.

Each such exposure depresses Young. Though she knows Naomie to be smart and articulate, with the largest functional vocabulary according to her favorite teacher Joanne, she is yet to learn to spell a word or read. Though an organist, Young hasn’t been able to teach her granddaughter to play the piano: Naomie (featured in Grandparent Spoiling, 2-14-2019, typakmusings.com) doesn’t have the patience.

“She is precocious in a way few others are, if any,” I comfort her.

“What way?” she asks.

“Social sensitivity, awareness of socio-dynamics, everybody’s place in society and interaction, that is, human existence and relationship, in stasis and in motion, microscopic and macroscopic.”

“Gobbledygook! Is she special or not?”

“Extremely so. You saw it nearly a year ago, when she hugged your Mom’s legs protectively after you chewed her out for something trivial.” See Innate Sense of Justice at 2.5 Years of Age, 1-9-2019, typakmusings.com.

“That was cute of her,” she concedes. “But something like that is not what people mean by precocity.”

“They should. In terms of its importance it should rank the highest. But few ever achieve it and so is not noticed or discussed. Not even Toddler Jesus. Only in his adolescence he amazes his elders and priests with his intelligence and wisdom.”

“Don’t use Naomie for your blasphemy,” she warns severely. She silences me for now but another occasion soon pops up to prove my point.

We take Naomie to her third pediatric dentist to have her cavities filled. The two previous ones couldn’t get her to open her mouth. A little over half an hour away from our house, Edgewater, NJ, nevertheless feels like the other side of the moon, given my aversion to driving. No, Young doesn’t drive if we are in the car together, a violation of her gender according to her code. Thankfully, Naomie doesn’t make an issue of her Grandma sitting in the front passenger seat instead of in the back next to her, aware that the driver, too old to follow GPS, needs help with the directions.

I drop them off in front of the building. Luckily another car is pulling up behind me and, hastily telling her I’ll let her know where I am parked so she can find me when done, I drive off before Young can object.

“Why aren’t you here?” she sounds distraught, when I call.

“Walk out the building by the Manhattan-facing front door and keep walking straight toward to the Hudson. I’ll stay in the car and take care of some business and do some writing.” I hang up.

They arrive, Naomie composed enough to show me a happy face drawn with white filling composite on her right index fingernail. That’s how Dr. Rose has coaxed her to sit in the mini dental chair. Rose then asks her to open her mouth so happy faces can be put on her teeth, too. After a little hesitation she does as told. Instantly the nurse holds it open, probably inserting some kind of bite block. Discovering the trickery Naomie starts balling, biting, and flailing to get out. Holding her hands down Young sings a whole repertoire of her favorite songs. Thank God, her resistance does not rise to denial. If she really makes up her mind to oppose, she can kick and writhe so violently, as it has happened with her two previous dentists when her parents took her, that there is no way to overcome except by traumatizing brute force. Perhaps she felt sorry for her Grandma, singing louder and louder to match her clamor, and decided to comply, though under protest.

Apparently exhausted by the stress she is nodding off on our drive back and by the time we reach her preschool a little past 11 we have to wake her.

“I don’t want to go,” she starts balling. Young cajoles and wheedles. I am running out of patience. Every hour is costing her parents so much tuition money that shouldn’t go to waste. Besides I have some unfinished business myself at home.

“I’ll never let you come to my house,” I shout, regretting immediately.

She stops and stares at me, then obviously deciding that I don’t mean it, goes back to her resistance mode. Young names her favorite haunts one by one, including our house, as the destination after school, to no effect. Young slips and nearly falls on the patch of ice the car is parked on, the March temperature hovering in the 20’s to make up for the mild winter. After steadying Young, I lift Naomie out of her car seat and plump her down on the ice. Sliding she almost falls and grabs my legs, the close call delighting her. I pick her up and, ignoring her protests but gingerly lest we collapse a broken heap, carry her to the class and open the door.

“Tell us about the visit to the dentist’s,” the teacher invites Naomie, leaving the large communal table where the toddlers are having snacks. Naomie is still inconsolable but some of her friends come over and the teacher and Young take turns to change Naomie’s mind. I leave, because both doors on the passenger side have been left open, the car parked in a no parking zone. After closing the doors I back up and reposition the car, leaving the engine on and wait, so Young can get into the warmth. I see her come out the door, walk all the way down the path to the car, then walk right back, open the door half an inch to peek, reclose and return.

“The teacher is shaking her head as if in disbelief, though she knows I always check back,” she anticipates my query.

“Is Naomie okay?”

“Yes, she is with her friends.”

At 3:30 p.m., Young goes to pick her up. Naomie is her cheerful self again and the first thing she says is, “Thank you, Grandma, for dropping me off at the school.”

“You are certainly welcome, my precious little princess,” Young replies.

“Also thank you, my precious little Grandma, and Grandpa for driving me to the dentist’s.”

That floors Young and also me, hearing the report. Quickly recovering I seize the opportunity. “Now do you believe her precocity? What child of her age could think of thanking her grandparents? We have a rare gift from God.”

“But I can’t tell anybody about it. A precocious pianist can be a Beethoven, a precocious reader a Shakespeare, but where does her precocity take her?”

“All places. First off, she’ll be a leader, because social sensitivity draws people like a magnet. She can be a political leader like Trump or even a religious leader like Jesus.”

“Stop blaspheming. He is the Son of God.”

“Daughter of God, then. About time you Feminists woke up to it.”

Cohen Elevates “Racist” to “All American” by Counter-Euphemism

By lifting up Cohen, the Rat, as their oracle, the Democrats have succeeded in setting off a phenomenon, best called “counter-euphemism,” that is, exaltation of what used to be offensive.

For example, “poop room” being called “rest room” is euphemism, but when the reverse happens, as it does, it’s counter-euphemism. Suppose “poop” is shouted and trumpeted by an odious Judas Iscariot as something he hates, our oppositional instinct kicks in and reappraises the object until it loses its stench and even transmogrifies into fragrant manna fallen from heaven.

Conspicuous among the many targets of counter-euphemism unleashed by the Rat to stab and gore Trump, German on his father’s side and Scottish on his mother’s (see Cohen, a Dream Witness for Trump, 3-3-2019, typakmusings.com) is the word “racist,” which undergoes a sudden lexical shift into a complimentary attribute of every American, consistent with their long-standing compulsive-obsessive search for ancestry and identity that climaxes in recent explosive genealogical DNA testing and matching, motivates and reinforces family, tribal, ethnic reunions and celebrations:

St. Patrick’s Day parades and festivals, wearing green attire and shamrocks; Scottish Tartan Day singing the Tunes of Glory and marching through the streets of New York with pipes and drums; Mexican American Cinco de Mayo fiestas; Chinese and Korean Lunar New Year festivities, etc.

America is America because of its racial, ethnic, cultural diversity, not erased in the melting pot. Red, blue, white, and many other colors, as many as there are in the different continents we come from, together we produce a spectacular kaleidoscope of endless achievements and possibilities, a grand, majestic harmony.

Long live Racism, counter-euphemized, compliments of Cohen and his groupies!

Cohen, a Dream Witness for Trump

“Trump is toast now,” cheers Steve, an avowed never-Trumper, jabbing at the New York Times front-page article on Cohen’s Congressional testimony, Feb 27, 2019.

“What makes you think so?” asks Paul.

“Read it for yourself,” Casey shouts indignantly, thrusting the paper towards his friend.

“No need,” Paul sidesteps. “I’ve watched the whole dog and pony show on TV, a coronation, an apotheosis of Citizen Trump, an American icon. The ratting jackass is a dream witness for Trump, the best ally imaginable.”

“A racist, con man, cheat, mobster, bruiser is an American icon?” Casey stares, shocked and incredulous.

“Item One. Every American is a racist, proud of their racial, ethnic heritage, Italian, Irish, Jewish, Scottish, Anglo-Saxon, French, German, Spanish, Black, Arab, Chinese, Japanese, Korean. But they are also fiercely American and fight to the death for America against any of them, their own kind included.

“Item Two. Every tax-paying American is a con artist and a cheat. Haven’t you gone to the Bergen County Tax Commission to get the assessment on your mansion reduced from $10 million to $3 million?”

“Yeah, but that’s different. It’s a down market here in New Jersey because of its insanely high property tax rate, hurting high-end properties most…”

“Exactly what Donald’s accountants have done, resonating with any home owner. This has also an unintended consequence: inflation of Trump’s net worth way over the publicly stated figure, maybe by a factor of 10, making him richer than Bezos or Gates. They like it that way, their President the richest billionaire, not just a billionaire. Moreover, his wealth is real estate, so much more tangible than something you read on paper.”

“But he lied about the Moscow Trump Tower, where Putin was promised a suite, a clear proof of collusion,” Casey retorts.

“Any American would have been proud to see an American hotel, the largest in Europe or the whole world, go up right across from the Kremlin. Cohen revealed that the offer of the suite as a gift to Putin is a calculated commercial ploy to upgrade the property, something done all the time, not a national security issue, driving the final nail in the coffin of Mueller’s witch hunt. Too bad the whole thing has come to naught because they couldn’t get the land to build the Tower on.”

“But what about his mobster tactics, threatening his enemies with retribution 500 times?”

“In the same breath the jackass brays that he has never heard him actually order anyone, including himself, to physically hurt someone, because he doesn’t have to do that, the implication being that knowing his unsaid wishes his minions, an army of them, takes care of it. Again pressed whether such a wish would include taking out someone physically, Cohen’s answer is a resounding No, the harm threatened being mostly a lawsuit, a notification, as it were, which is totally legal. Desperate to salvage something a Democrat asks whether Trump has ever told him to lie to Congress and Cohen categorically denies it, reiterating the implicit code of the cosa nostra, which Cohen, the enforcer, carries out. In other words, it is his, Cohen’s, understanding and decision. That just about insulates Trump completely, because it would be a Herculean burden of proof to raise such understanding to the level of criminal witness tampering.”

“What do you think of his cheating on Melania and fighting with her in the elevator?” asks Casey, changing tack. “I don’t understand how she could stand living with a multi-timer like him.”

“Very easily. He is the Emperor and no woman, no matter what her public or conscious protestations, refuses to be an Empress. The crowning moment of that narrative was when Cohen was asked by another Democrat, eager for confirmation, whether Donald struck Melania. Cohen shakes his head vigorously and declares he is not that kind of man. So Donald is not a wife beater, which redeems him in the eyes of most upstanding American males.”

“What about his cheating, incorrigible, pathological sex addiction?”

“Living the fantasy of every red-blooded American male, which makes him their secret hero, though publicly condemned and denounced.”

“I bet Democrats will impeach him, nevertheless,” Casey predicts defiantly.

“Spinning their wheels for nothing, because the Senate will defeat it,” Paul concludes. “Trump will have his second term by an overwhelming mandate, the country divided as ever but held together, tranquil and prosperous as never before.”

An Open Letter to the Mayor of New York: Launch a War of Extermination on Rats!

Dear Mayor de Blasio:

Dismayed and embarrassed to see big brown rats scurry across subway tracks or hear them scratch and squeak in the walls and attics, sewers and drains of your great city, the UN-headquartered capital of the world, I urge you to launch an all-out war of extermination, which will be followed not only by other municipalities of the US but also by the rest of the world, ridding humanity of this ancient pest.

The war is a moral imperative and brushed aside should be the false sensibilities of animal lovers, who should be asked whether their love extends to cockroaches, mosquitoes, bedbugs, lice, fleas, ringworms, polio, malaria, plague, syphilis, small pox, leprosy, and other scourges. Likewise twisted individuals who want to have rats as pets should be invited to sleep with a bedbug or flea. The pampered rats can escape and undo all previous efforts with their astounding reproductivity: 2 to 15,000 in a year. Only those necessary for scientific or medical research will be allowed to live strictly under guard.

The cost of the war is negligible as the warfare consists of liberal city-wide deployment of bait stations, accessible only to rats, not cats, dogs or children, which can be a simple DIY device like a 6-inch length of thin-wall 1-inch (ID) PVC pipe, into the center of which is shoved a chunk or block of long-acting anticoagulant bait, the total price tag under a dollar with room to crunch upon mass production.

Fortunately, rats haven’t figured out that it is the bait that kills them, perhaps because subsequent death from unstoppable bleeding occurs a week or two later, too far apart for their intelligence to make the causal connection. Given their huge number, however, a Newton among them might make the discovery any minute, which would soon become common knowledge among the entire species as they have an uncanny communication system. Hence the urgency of this war.

Sincerely,

Ty Pak
Feb 28, 2019

How Beautiful the Trees of New Jersey!

“Do you know much about trees?” asks Jay, a Korean Onc, during fellowship after service (see Immortality Club, 8-2-2018, typakmusings.com).

“Not much, except they enhance a property,” I say, visualizing his yard, practically an arboretum of majestic oaks and Norfolk pines, skirting which a graveled driveway leads to a spacious parking lot before an ornate garage. “Any problem?”

“I’ve trimmed the low hanging branches on the fringe of the parking lot, lest they brush and scrape the top of SUVs or other high-profile vehicles. Now I am worried. I may have overdone it. What if the unbalanced trees topple over?”

“If they didn’t when you cut off the branches, probably they wouldn’t, but let’s see what an expert has to say about it,” I suggest, waving to Charles, a retired forester, who comes over. “How does a tree manage to keep standing straight when it is off balance as a result of overzealous pruning?” I ask, explaining Jay’s problem.

“It balances by adjusting cell growth to gravity, pressure resistant on the heavy side and pull or tension resistant on the light side.”

“Even when shorn of branches entirely on one side?” Jay asks.

“Gravity adjustment affects the root system, too, as far as I know. It’s practically impossible to knock over a tree by imbalance. They’ll get over the crisis and keep standing, regaining balance, even growing back the lost branches over time.”

“Well, you are off the hook, Jay,” I reassure him.

“How do they tell apart pressure from tension?” he shakes his head unbelievingly.

“Just as you feel it when you are off balance, except you take corrective measures with whole body motions, whereas the tree does it on the cellular level.”

“But I have the brain that orders the limbs to move,” Jay persists. “Where are the equivalents of the brain, nerves, and limbs in a cell? And not one but zillions of them working in concert so the whole comes out as a unified, directed action. I just can’t understand.”

“That’s the mystery of life where God comes in, though you can choose to remain in ignorance, if you can handle the desolation, bleakness, fear.”

“Doggone it!” Jay swears. “You sound like our pastor.”

“We are all cowards, I guess,” Charles reflects.

“Okay, Reverend Doctor Charles of Arboriculture,” I interject. “What do you say about the trees around my house at the foot of a wooded hill? Beyond a grassy sloped clearing about 100 feet wide stands a line of trees even taller than that like a bulwark against the forest that rises steadily all the way to the Palisades Parkway to overlook the Hudson. Lately I noticed quite a few trees fallen over behind the rampart, scaring me with the possibility of the same fate befalling it and sending the trees crashing down on my roof.”

“When’s the last time you saw a tree fall over?”

“I haven’t seen any. It must have happened before we moved in four years ago.”

“Natural selection, again divinely ordained,” Charles concludes. “When there is over-forestation, the weaker trees lose out, unable to compete with the more robust. As far as I know there is no fungal or other epidemic nor any insect infestation afoot in the northeastern hills of New Jersey. But for your peace of mind communicate your concern to your home insurance company. They’ll send out an arborist to check out the soil as well as the health of the trees. At their expense because it’s in their interest to inspect and take preventative measures, if necessary.”

The Smollett Hoax: Hubris in an Aristotelian Tragedy

How pitiful the sight of the fake media eating humble pie after falling hook line and sinker for Smollett’s hoax on Jan 29, 2019! We recall the subsequent field day CNN and its cohorts had, center-staging Smollett prime time, lapping up all that garbage spilling out of his mouth, dancing and clapping at the imminent collapse of the Trump regime.

“It’s a typical Aristotelian tragedy, the hero undone by hubris, hoist by his own petard,” observes Peter, a scholarly Onc (see Immortality Club, 8-2-2019, typakmusings.com).

“Yeah, Smollett is out on bail for multiple crimes,” I agree.

“Who cares?” Bob explodes in exasperation. “He is nothing. It’s the fake media, the hubris their conceit that their pen is mightier than the sword, even when wielded by the likes of Trump. They almost succeed, using toxic fakery to poison half of America with Trump hatred. But this success is the petard that blows them up: it inspires two-bit copycats to turn the trick on the fakers themselves with low-grade inventions like two men in ski masks putting a lynch noose around his neck and shouting MAGA.”

In-Law Syndrome: Its Etiology and Cure

The moment they hear their son or daughter say the wedding vows of total commitment and exclusive love to their bride or groom the parents’ hearts sink and ache. The child they have raised is no longer theirs alone to have but must be shared, if allowed, with the usurper in-law. Resentment, if not outright hostility, is the reaction, which in turn sets off a counter-reaction in the newcomer whose disappointment in finding something less than total acceptance turns into bitterness and anger at the parents-in-law, which, perceived as disrespect, intensifies the latter’s ill disposition toward the daughter- or son-in-law. In no time the self-feeding vicious circle spins out of control and wreaks havoc, the prevention of which is of paramount importance.

(1) Long Maturation

The basic cause of it all is that humans take an awful long time to mature, 3 decades, give or take, if you add graduate schooling and professional training. So far no 3D printer has been invented that stamps out on demand a fully functional adult human.

Sexual intercourse still remains the primary method of fertilization, that is, combination of male and female gametes into the zygote with 23 paired chromosomes which must gestate 40 weeks in the mother’s womb for live birth. Artificial insemination may replace sexual intercourse and in vitro gestation the womb, which however takes just as long.

But birth is only the beginning. The helpless infant must be brought up through childhood, adolescence, and puberty to become physically mature, which, however, is a far cry from social maturity to function as an independent productive member of society. Who carries them during these years of dependency? The parents, who devote all their energy and resources to their upbringing, deservingly earning their gratitude and affection, as well as social recognition of parental authority, absolute and exclusive. But at one stroke the wedding vows obliterate this relationship, the wedding couple now seemingly dedicating their love entirely to each other with nothing to spare for anybody else.

No owner gives up his right to his property without a fight. Hence Archie Bunker’s perpetual meanness to his “dumb Pollack” son-in-law in the 1970’s sitcom and the brutality of Korean mothers-in-law to their daughters-in-law in 90% of current Korean drama, all striking a sympathetic cord.

(2) The Cure

But sympathy should not translate to acquiescence which is the recipe for disaster. We must stop it at the source, the parents who refuse to let go their obsessive love for their child. As a parent who has had three children married, I have this to say to them.

First, understand that it is nothing but sheer ignorance that perceives as your loss when your child pledges all his or her love to their spouse, the inability to distinguish the different shades of meaning in the English word “love.” The Greeks weren’t so dumb and any half-baked seminarian will tell you that “love” could mean, among others, eros sexual (romantic) love, ludus playful love, philia deep friendship, or agape cosmic compassion, as embodied in Jesus. What the bride and groom are promising each other is obviously eros with a touch of ludus and even philia, because eros in the long run matures into that. The relationship between parent and child is definitely philia, perhaps with a touch of ludus. Granted there are some overlaps on the fringe but the essential parent-child relationship cannot possibly be threatened by the child’s romantic relationship.

But if this intellectual leap is too difficult, let’s play a game: put yourself in your child’s place and your parents, whether living or dead, in yours. You must have done to your parents exactly what your child is doing to you by marrying your spouse. You broke their hearts then and it’s only fair that this time around it’s your turn to get yours broken.

Moreover, way back when you married, you didn’t even suspect that you were hurting your parents’ feelings the way you are hurting now. If you had been told that, you would have laughed it off as the most ridiculous thing. All you wanted and expected was your parents’ unreserved acceptance of your bride or groom.

The romantic love you promise your bride or groom is categorically different from the deep affection (philia) you feel for your parents and does not in any way compromise or diminish it. Besides they should know that what you’ve got with them can never end the way marriage can by divorce.

Returning to the present – bear in mind that your daughter- or son-in-law is some other parents’ dear child, just as valuable as your own is to you. Don’t ever think your child deserves a better mate. We are truly all equal, regardless of position, power, money (see The Lottery: The Equalizer, 11-3-2018, typakmusings.com). Be content that you have done your best to bring up your child so as to be acceptable as a mate to someone else’s.

Because it is philia you have with your child, it doesn’t matter whether he or she and their spouse live under the same roof with you. Sex being its primary element, eros can be best enjoyed in private space, as you know. So if they want to set up house by themselves miles away, don’t take it as your rejection. Bless them, though you’ll miss seeing them around, and help them with the furnishing. Be gracious and generous with your gifts and loans, because you have more resources now, though the young ones will hopefully soon catch up and surpass you.

On this score remember you are getting on in years and won’t be able to go on carrying your child as a dependent the way you used to. You are lucky that your child, married, has a spouse to support and depend on.

Turning now to the children, the other branch in the in-law dichotomy, I have no special advice for you. If the water is clean upstream, so is it downstream, the Korean saying goes (웃물이 맑으면 아랫물도 맑다). I have straightened your parents out, so you won’t have any more grief from them. Just carry on, make love, and support and defend each other in all things. Your marital harmony and peace means everything to your enlightened parents. Please do not fight, because that hurts them worse than dagger thrusts. Once in a while call your parents and tell them you love them, sending cards on their birthdays. That will put them on cloud nine every time.

Wives’ Revenge: Switching of Exteriority

It’s a pleasure to see Kenneth, a fellow countryman and Onc (see Immortality Club, 8-2-2018, typakmusings.com), always upbeat with a wry sense of fatalism, an epitome of the Korean adage, “Bounce back up the 8th time, though knocked over 7 times (7전 8기).”

“So how is your life as a homebody?” I ask, referring to the reversal of roles or polarity between himself, the “outward or exterior lord” (바깥 양반), another word for husband in Korean, describing how he goes out into the world to bring home the bacon, and his wife, “home person” (집 사람) or “interior person” (안 사람), left behind to take care of the house. Notice the honorific “lord” for the former, contrasting with the plebeian status of the latter.

Biology brings about the switch of polarity, not legislation nor cultural, social pressure. Men, too feeble to go out, get to stay home, but their mates, on average 5 years younger due to hypergamy on top of their longer lifespan by 7 years in the States, go shopping, stop at the bank, post office, gas station, and perform other necessary “exterior” activities, which may even include bringing home a paycheck, as in Kenneth’s case: Alice is a church musician.

But, as is often the case with the nouveau riche, the female “lords” can be pretty bossy toward their homebodies, putting them under strict orders to wash dishes, put out the garbage and recyclables, clean the whole house spic and span, inside and out, water the plants, and do repairs on the furniture and the house. Mercifully, he doesn’t have to cook. Nor does she do much of it anyway, ready-made Korean and Western cuisine being available at supermarkets and specialty stores. Except she spends hours cooking for Emily, their 3-year-old granddaughter, she babysits and takes to preschool.

“Alice has finally stopped bitching about having to rewash the dishes, especially Emily’s,” Kenneth replies triumphantly. “This happened one day when she gave me a frying pan coated thick with lard after pan frying steak. I couldn’t rinse it under the faucet for fear of clogging up the drain. So I scraped the pan with scrap paper, then kept scraping with more and more wads of paper until no trace of grease remained and, in fact, no water washing was needed with or without soap. Then and there I decided to apply the same method to everything else, dishes, pots and pans, utensils. Alice hasn’t figured out yet why it’s been months since she bought the last bottle of dish detergent.”

“But doesn’t it take long?”

“A couple of hours along with my eating but it’s healthy. No more acid reflux.”

Grandparent Spoiling

How do grandparents get hooked on their grandchildren and spoil them? How bad is it or is it?

In her New Year letter Margaret, my wife Young’s long-time friend, explains why she had to leave New Jersey where she had lived all her life, raising her three children, and head west: to follow her youngest daughter, her husband, and their one-year-old son Jack, who has “stolen my heart.”

It certainly rings a bell, because that’s more or less what we have done, moving east from Hawaii to be near Naomie, our then 6th and youngest new-born granddaughter. Both her parents working full time in Manhattan it made sense to terminate our second Hawaiian residence of a dozen years and come over to help with her rearing. Besides we were getting on in years, even my wife, 20 years my junior, and this might be the last opportunity to practice grandparenting, of which we had a taste with Jamie, our first granddaughter, nostalgia for which had crescendoed to an unbearable degree at times – her stayovers with us, the special room we had painstakingly furnished for her, her merry laughter, the restaurants we enjoyed, everybody gathering around her, the cutest thing in the world, our day-long trips to the amusement parks, museums, beaches, lakes. Then, in her kindergarten year, we had to pack up and move to Hawaii, too far away to do anything with her or with her younger twin sisters and two cousins.

Enlisted in our cause is Young’s mother, a 40-year-resident of Hawaii: my wife has a medical condition that limits her full-time employment and disqualifies her in one vital respect, living at her son’s house to tend to the infant waking up in the middle of the night interrupting the distance-commuters’ sleep. Not to mention our need for space, including a master bedroom suite of our own. Young’s mother, the epitome of health and energy at 88, didn’t mind, especially when promised the services of a full-time nanny and part timers for pre-midnight and weekend attendance. She goes to sleep early like 8 p.m. and is more or less awake in the small hours of the night.

In no time Naomie, half the time called Jamie by us, does to Young what Jack has done to Margaret: bewitchment.

“Oh, I miss her,” Young sighs as soon as she steps into our house, the painful separation routine still vivid in her mind when she drops Naomie off at her house 4.2 miles away from ours after picking her up at the preschool. Never directly, though, because they generally stop at a few stores, including the Palisades Park Plaza with the carousel and toy land. When they finally get to her house, she makes Young read books, a whole library of them, both English and Korean, work on puzzles, play the piano and sing with her. Gladys, the full timer, distracts her with the TV or the videos of herself Young has taken, so she can slip out but as often as not she gets caught by Naomie who runs out crying to the car.

Young tinkers a couple of hours in the kitchen preparing Naomie’s school lunch shaped into an elephant, dinosaur, horse, or something novel and imaginative, aided by Google graphics, to pass muster with Naomie who without fail demands to have her lunch box opened for inspection upon Young’s arrival at her house the next morning to take her to school.

At last, climbing into bed to sleep, Young sobs, “Oh, how I miss her!”

In the second week of February, 2019, Naomie comes over to stay with us for four nights, so her parents can take a skiing vacation by themselves in Colorado. Her 10-month old sister Naela is staying home with her great grandma, whose stay has now been automatically and indefinitely extended.

This isn’t the first time Naomie has stayed with us. Shortly after Naela’s birth the whole family had to come over for a few days while the attic was being remodeled for a live-in nanny. Absolutely to no purpose because the few they have tried out have all washed out. So this is the first time Naomie is with us by herself to be the focus of our undivided attention.

All three of us are on cloud nine. Whatever Naomie wants is hers. She pulls out all the toys from the parlor closet, brings out her table with the play dough from the study into the living room, visits the pink cloth castle with the spire in a corner of the dining room, noticing and approving the witch’s hat put on top by Young. We have fun all along. After the first dinner she even lets me brush her teeth, Young hanging over me to make sure I do a thorough job, reminding me that she was found to have three cavities on her last dental visit. I pull up her lip four times, upper and lower lip, left and right, to squeeze in the tooth brush and stroke down, first inside, then out, calculated to loosen any food particles caught between teeth, reminiscent of the precision work watch repairmen used to perform looking through a magnifying monocle over an eye. Are they tears in her eyes? Is she stoically enduring the indignity and discomfort, if not pain, of the whole operation? No, I have been extra careful not to pinch or poke. Still not sure of extricating all hiding food particles I propose to dental floss her, but Young forbids it, citing absence of the dentist’s instruction, though it seems a matter of common sense, flossing being far less traumatic than brushing. I am sure Naomie would see it my way, if explained, but who am I to argue with her majesty, my wife?

After a pleasant breakfast the next morning I smile and ask Naomie to come to the bathroom and sit on the stool to brush her teeth before she changes to school clothes.

“No!” the deafening scream is so sudden and violent it takes my breath away.

“Come and take over, honey,” I plead, vanquished, only to be struck by another thunderbolt.

“You should be able to take care of that small detail,” Young roars from the balcony. “I have to pack Naomie’s stuff and change her before getting myself ready to take her to school. I’ll be down in ten minutes with her clothes.”

“Okay, Sweetie,” I turn to Naomie and cajole her, “How about flossing?” I show her how it’s done.

“No!” She is adamant.

I almost think of forcing her, because this is an emergency. Three cavities! Then with a shock I recall a replica of the scene over four decades ago with my own children, her father included, who resist all reasonable attempts to make them do something necessary though I am in a hurry to drop them off at school and hurry to the university for my class. I was still teaching then. I would have definitely resorted to force. After a sharp slap or two I would have grabbed the chin, pulled open the mouth, shoved in the brush, and rubbed roughly, not so much to remove the food deposits as a routine. How destructive such violence would have been to their little ego, if not their teeth! I am smitten with regret and guilt. Thank God they have grown up normal, productive, creative individuals, with no grudges toward me that I can tell. Now with no class to teach or compulsion to earn money, I certainly won’t repeat such criminal behavior.

Young comes on the scene and immediately sizes up the situation. Instead of flying into a passion as I have feared, she bends down and tells her to let me brush her teeth, only to be met with another unequivocal “No!”

“We’ll take you home, then. Do you want that?”

Naomie is silent.

“All right, then,” Young says, getting ready to take her to the car.

“Yes,” Naomie says.

“Go home or brush teeth?”

“Go home.”

All hell has broken loose, the little one calling our bluff.

“Okay,” Young says. “But you are going straight to Moo-su-woon-day (Scary Place).”

It is the broom closet under the stairway to the attic, where Naomie’s mother banishes her for infractions like running around the house naked, refusing to wear her clothes after a bath, or taking forever to eat. Of course Young has never sent her there but invoked it now and then to frighten her into obedience.

“But Mommy is not home,” Naomie says confidently.

“Yeah but the Monster is there, Bad Monster, who will carry you in there,” Young growls and scowls, giving the best enactment of an enforcing monster, which impresses Naomie enough to scream, “No!”

“So not go home and brush teeth?”

Naomie nods in defeat but decides to make up for her submission. When the brushing is done and the clothes put on, she refuses to go down to the garage, and wants to keep watching the laptop at home. I have half a mind to pick her up, take her to the car, and plump her down in her seat.

“But there is a Happy Monster waiting outside to meet you, Naomie,” Young announces, looking out the window, too high for Naomie to look through. She wants to be picked up and shown, but Young suggests they go to the garage and meet him outside. Naomie follows and wants to see the Happy Monster before entering the car. Young takes her out and goes around the house to look, surprised to see him gone.

“I know,” Young explains. “He went to school first to wait for us. Let’s go and meet him there.”

Half doubtful, half credulous, Naomie enters the car and gets buckled in. At the school the first thing she asks is, “Where is the Happy Monster?” Young looks all over the parking lot and around the building to pronounce, “Oh, he must be in class with Teacher Jo Anne, waiting for you. Let’s go.” Naomie follows Young to the class to be met by a chorus of welcome, because she is popular with her peers and teachers. Young quietly leaves, unnoticed.

It’s Saturday, the day set aside for our visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. Wishing to leave the house by 9:30 so as not to miss the Lunar New Year parade and other events, we sit for breakfast at 8:30 and urge Naomie to eat the pieces of beef, not just noodles, in the bowl, along with boiled vegetables and milk.

“I want strawberry and banana smoothie,” Naomie declares.

“No, you have to drink the milk first,” Young counters but, fearing revolt, changes tack. “Okay, you can drink along with milk, one sip of smoothie, then one sip of milk, okay?”

Naomie remains noncommittal. When the 4-ounce bottle with the straw stuck in it is placed before her, she grabs, sucks, and doesn’t stop, until the whole bottle is drained. We let it go and plan on putting the cup of milk to her lips as often as she takes any mouthful of the solid food, except she is back to her usual trick of holding the food in her mouth like a bird’s crop. Eventually she swallows but at a glacial speed and Young is waiting with a spoonful ready to shove in her mouth at the first sign of deflation in the cheeks. It’s going to last the whole morning at this rate.

Young brings her laptop over and plays Naomie’s favorite tunes with the videos, Wheels on the Bus, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Old MacDonald, London Bridge Is Falling Down, and so on. Diverted, she starts swallowing faster. By 9:30 she finishes about half of the food laid out. The usual resistance happens about brushing her teeth but by telling her about the trip to the city she is made halfway cooperative. At 10 we are finally on our way and I am actually happy to be driving because of the special passenger, Naomie, all excitement, taking in the gliding scenery along the Parkway, despite my avowed animus against travel (see Myth of Travel, 11-10-2018, typakmusings.com).

If the start is late, the numerous errors we make on the road delay us even further. First, I think we are going to the Museum of Natural History despite Young’s mentioning the Metropolitan Museum. That’s why I’ve told Naomie that we’ll be seeing dinosaurs and mammoths. Remembering our visits there a few times with Jamie I confidently leave Hudson Parkway South at 96th and intend to turn right at either close to the park or the street before, but 96th is blocked and I have to turn left, then turn right onto 97th which only goes straight through the park.

“I have to turn right before the park but now I must cross it,” I moan.

“No, you are on the right track. Cross the park and turn right on Fifth right out of the park to the Metropolitan,” Young assures me. “Its parking garage is on Fifth at 80th.”

But even after this enlightenment I miss the museum parking entirely, not having noticed it on our previous visits by taxi or subway. I look only left, thinking that there could be no garage built on the park itself. Nor is there a garage on the east side of Fifth, either, lined with multimillion dollar residential condos. I turn left on 80th and find two garages, whose attendants of course don’t know where the museum parking per se is because people park at their garages and walk half a block to the museum. I return to the car parked at a hydrant with the hazard blinkers on to find Young on the phone talking to a human voice at the museum information. Hanging up she orders me to get back to Fifth and look right at 80th where we will see the garage.

After parking we get into the ground floor lobby, packed full with people in long lines to buy tickets. Hearing that we could go upstairs to the main lobby, Young decides to split up and, ordering me to stay in line, goes upstairs with Naomie, hoping to get the tickets quicker that way. After about 30 minutes my turn is coming up with only a couple of people ahead. I can’t buy the tickets in case Young has bought them already. In panic I call Young and the screen says, Emergency calls only. A few tries show the same results. Instead of stepping up to the counter, I leave and head for the stairs only to be told by the security to exit the building and enter by the main front entrance, unless I had tickets.

In the big lobby, milling with people, my heart sinks, the chance of running into Young and Naomie one in a thousand, maybe a million. I go to the information kiosk and ask if they can page them. They laugh and tell me to use my phone. I tell them that they should know better, calls other than emergency being blocked. Not comprehending, they tell me to try again. I dial and at least the emergency advisory does not display, though only Young’s recording comes on. After about the fifth try she answers. She is at the children’s crafts area downstairs, coloring, making paper shapes. She orders me to get the tickets and come look for them. There are dozens of machines where one gets tickets almost instantly. Why the long lines and the emergency blocking at the ground level, unbeknownst to the information one floor up? Anyway I buy one adult and one senior. Armed, I can now take indoor stairs or elevators freely and go look for my relatives.

When I find them, after going to all the wrong places, it’s 1 p.m., way past lunch time. Naomie is hungry. So we go to the cafeteria downstairs but the lines to pay for the items one places on the tray are miles long. The dining room is also full and people wait for tables to vacate. I am ready to give up, suggesting that we go out to eat and return, but Young has a better idea. We go in and find an empty table where Naomie and I wait, while Young goes back to get our lunch. Minutes pass but there is no sign of our provider. Naomie wants to go to the bathroom, which presents a real dilemma. To take our stroller, coats, bags would be giving up the hard-won table. On the other hand the stuff left behind may get stolen. Choosing the latter risk I navigate to the men’s outside the cafeteria only to stand in a line. When finally we get inside a vacated toilet, Naomie refuses to use it, saying she will wait until we get to our house. I end up taking her to the bathroom two more times and Young one time more during our lunch to the women’s thinking that may make a difference. No dice. The poor girl will hold. Such sensitivity!

After lunch we go to the Korean art room, Chinese gallery, Egyptian pavilion with the pond, etc. At the theater we line up to see a Chinese New Year lion dance. I choose to wait outside, unable to risk our stroller getting mixed up among the dozens parked, unattended. Besides I’ve seen the dance countless times. Naomie emerges well and tired, practically falling asleep. I offer to take her one more time to the bathroom but she refuses, betraying no sign of discomfort. What a feat of continence! Praying it does not damage her bladder, I eagerly second Young’s decision to head home, though we haven’t had our money’s worth. It’s 3:25 p.m. As soon as she gets into the car and buckled in, Naomie falls asleep.

As we return her to her parents, a few things cross my mind. It’s been exhausting 4 days of pure joy despite the bumps, and we already miss her. Why are we so willing to go through so much trouble for our grandchildren?

I believe our affection is an instinctual response to an aesthetic armor God puts on the young like protective coloring to disable or suspend the predatory ferocity in the adult, human or beast. Lions or wolves are known to fondle lambs or puppies. Most humans love babies, as we have confirmed time and again with Jamie and Naomie. Add to it the biological factor, our genetic torch bearers giving us biological immortality, be it only a quarter of their genetic makeup, and you have a megaton of affection.

At the same time this is extremely time sensitive. As I look at Jamie, our first granddaughter, whose name we still confuse with Naomie’s, whose earlier photos indistinguishable from the other one’s, I can’t believe she is now 21, a college sophomore, who gets A+ for a sociology paper coolly, microscopically dissecting us as the “first generation of immigrants struggling with their cultural shock in America.” I know for a fact that this brainy and stately young lady would be scandalized at the merest hint that I used to do to her what she just saw me do in passing to her much younger cousin Naomie: wipe her bottom after a toilet sitting.

Exhausted after having Naomie all to ourselves for four days we leave her at her home to wait for their parents, relieved. Upon return to our house, however, our eyes tear up at the empty bed recently vacated, leaving an imprint of her little body. We had better enjoy and spoil her as much as we can while we can, because it doesn’t last long. In fact, it ends rather quickly, when they turn kindergarten age, if not earlier, when it becomes clear to the little ones that it is their parents, no matter how uptight or strict, who have the last word on their shelter, clothing, food, what school they go to, what extracurricular lessons to take, what careers to pursue, etc. In these vital choices and commitments, whose importance begins to sink in and impress, they realize that grandparents with all their fondness, leniency, and indulgence are orbital, incidental and dispensable in a way the nuclear parents are not. Slowly they begin detaching, distancing themselves from us, the first step toward development, individuality, maturity, marriage, family, dynasty, as we walk off into the sunset, into oblivion. But that’s how it is, as it should be, no harm done, nothing to apologize for or bemoan.

Our only regret is that we will never be able to spoil those four grandchildren of ours, born between Jamie and Naomie, and Naela, Naomi’s younger sister, of whom Naomie is fiercely jealous. Whenever Young goes near her, Naomie comes around to play tackle, putting herself between them and pushing Young away. Hopefully, she will get over it in a year or two and become more tolerant of her sister, our last chance, unless their parents spring another surprise on us.

Revival of the Lunar New Year: Too Many Holidays?

Early this morning, Feb 5, 2019, I was startled by a New Year message for the Year of the Pig from a high school alum and from a Korean community leader of Metropolitan NY, both successful professionals, naturalized and resident in the States more than half a century. In the course of the day there followed altogether over a dozen, including one from a white American professor of mathematics, married to a Korean wife.

What a 180! Still ringing in my ears is the strident official motto, One New Year Only, calling for abolition of the old New Year, according to Korea’s modernization program, which decreed a wholesale repudiation of the backward hermit kingdom that had allowed its colonization by Japan in the first half of the 20th century. Naturally generations of Koreans grew up culturally conflicted with a deep inferiority complex that dogged them even when they emigrated to the US.

Until well into the new millennium many Koreans arriving in America hesitated to disclose their nationality, not minding identification with the Chinese or Japanese, already well established and in the main stream. Anxious to assimilate and Americanize they wouldn’t dream of resuscitating the Lunar New Year, discredited in their home country. Taking the math professor’s case, his Korean wife wouldn’t have demeaned her wonderful American husband with her own cultural baggage. Lo and behold, she has turned him into a militant practitioner. Assertive and demanding, she is anything but shy about who she is.

All thanks to Korea’s phenomenal economic growth. Were Korea still at the bottom of global GDP ranking, instead of near the top, Korean Americans would have been less than so enthusiastic to identify themselves as Korean. Again it is money that talks, makes all the difference. So Korean Americans have to thank their mother country for pulling itself up the ladder of success and restoring Korean Americans their national pride.

But how should we go about it? The reinstatement of the old Korean holiday creates a problem, too many holidays. Back in Korea, before my 1965 emigration to the States, I was amazed by the privileged foreigners, chiefly American military and diplomatic personnel, stationed in Korea, enjoying three kinds of holidays, UN, American (President, Memorial, Independence, Labor, and Veterans), and Korean. Were they in Korea for serious work or for a lark?

Now my countrymen in America seem headed in the same direction. Citing local ordinances for Hanukkah and other Jewish holidays, Tenafly in Bergen County, NJ, known for its high concentration of Koreans, has succeeded in getting Lunar New Year’s Day declared a holiday by its city council. Notice the change to “Lunar” from “Chinese,” as previously known, to emphasize its wider East Asian scope and thereby restore Korean identity. This has inspired other cities and boroughs in the county and elsewhere to emulate the example. Thank God they are not asking for inclusion of other holidays of theirs like March 1, the patriotic uprising in 1919 against Japanese occupation, and Aug 15, Liberation Day. Not so far anyway.

The Bounty of Ambidexterity: Life Extending and Invigorating Better Than Viagra

“How many of us are ambidextrous?” asks Paul, an Onc and retired psychologist, during fellowship after church service (see Immortality Club, 8-2-2018, typakmusings.com), looking around for a show of hands.

“Nobody,” he confirms. “That figures. Only 1% of the population is genetically so endowed and there are too few of us here to produce a sample. But left handers achieve quasi-ambidexterity due to social pressure and adaptation to equipment and facilities designed for right-hand use. So how many of us are lefties?”

Albert, a retired ophthalmologist, defiantly raises his hand, though superfluously because everybody already knows.

“Good, Al,” Paul cheers. “There is one like you in 10. You should be proud of your minority, because statistically as a group you are smarter, richer, and more successful, present company included. Eight of our 45 Presidents are left-handed, 18%, which is almost double your demographic weight of 10%. Apparently what may be called the sinister bias of society has worked to your advantage, giving you the drive to overcome.”

“I wish I had known about that,” regrets James. “I had high hopes for Angela, my first born. I wanted her to be the first female President. When we found her left-leaning at about age one, we firmly corrected her, switching the spoon or fork to the right hand. Same thing with crayon or pencil as she drew or wrote, poor girl. Eventually she became right handed, probably nixing her chances to be President.”

“A top Wall Street lawyer!” snorts Tom. “You have nothing to complain about her.”

“With the 8% nudge she could have been President but that’s water under the bridge. What I don’t get is that the orientation can be modified at all. If it’s genetically hemisphere-specific, it should remain unalterably so.”

“Apparently not,” Paul explains. “Just as the shape of the head can be modified with a corrective helmet, when young, like a few months old, the hemispheric specialization of manual dexterity can be altered. Not only in infancy but after maturity, as in the case of Peter Bach, the protagonist of The Polyglot: Union of Korea and Japan, amazon.com. I assume you guys have all read it.”

Heads nod, the result of arm twisting by Paul, its rave reviewer.

“But you are partly right,” he reassures James. “The original genetic orientation remains, because the modification is just that, modification. The left hand gains dexterity without wiping out that of the right. In other words, it’s transition from mono-dexterity to ambidexterity, not to another mono-dexterity. Peter Bach can use chopsticks with both hands, throw and push, or write with both. I bet Angela is both handed, too.”

“Maybe in sleep. Awake, she is strictly right.”

“Subconsciously she is both, even awake,” Paul insists. “Ambidexterity enables the person fuller use of both hemispheres. Angela’s success is due to your compulsion to correct her. So you’ve done nothing wrong, which reminds me of my main point. We should all teach ourselves to be ambidextrous. That includes you, Al. You have a head start over us but have some ways to go to be as ambidextrous as Peter Bach. Can you write with your right hand, for example?”

“No, I haven’t tried,” Albert replies.

“Time you did,” Paul suggests.

“What’s the point, though?” Albert dares him. “Peter, your hero, is in prison, under solitary confinement, with nothing else to do. He himself confesses that it is on a whim, just to see if he can do it, for no practical purpose.”

“What makes him such a consummate polyglot, diplomat, administrator, and peacemaker, a phenomenon of the century as Walter Cronkite of CBS says?” Paul retorts. “His ambidexterity gives him an intuitive panoramic perspective, balance and clarity of judgment.”

“Do you have stats on the 1% congenitally ambidextrous?” James asks. “They must be off the charts as rich and famous.”

“No, but my hunch is that acquired ambidexterity or quasi-ambidexterity gives us the advantage over the congenital, the same kind of advantage the lefties get, as we have to work for it, whereas when given at birth one is apt to take it for granted. The acquired ambidexterity opens up traffic between the left and right hemispheres, mobilizing the unused parts of each, a fact confirmed by my own practice: every patient taught to use the formerly gauche hand while the dominant hand is temporarily out of commission due to injury gets endorphin-soaked, brimming over with a sense of euphoria, liberation, a new lease on life. So I urge all of you to try.”

“You are talking to the wrong crowd, Paul,” objects Tim. “We are all Oncs, the terminals, with only a few more years left, if that. Peter Bach is less than half our age, in his late thirties, and has all the time in the world to shift from one hemisphere to another. Ours are frozen stuck, each in its place, with no prospect of crossover.”

“The bridge, corpus callosum, remains open and nothing blocks it, regardless of age. Just let the traffic start and the body will take over to complete the job. Even if there is only one year left to live, we should try it, as I have, after my open heart surgery. Bed-ridden, I tried to do more things with my left hand than right, recalling my clinical experience. The sensation of pleasure was immediate. I felt better, had a positive outlook on life, and my recovery was so rapid that the cardiologist couldn’t believe it. Besides there is some evidence, according to recent research, that acquisition of ambidexterity may be life-extending and even ED-reversing, more effectively than Viagra.”

“What’s a shaft good for with no hole to shove it in?” mutters Adam, a widower, sotto voce.

“Go jerk off,” Ralph, 102, much decorated and celebrated, rasps so loud that the whole hall hisses. “Get what you can.”

Hail to America, the Melting Pot!

“I totally disagree with your article about America being anything but a melting pot (see America, the Separator, Not a Melting Pot, for Naturalized Americans, 1-13-2019, typakmusings.com),” George, a Korean Onc, dares me openly during fellowship after church service (see Immortality Club, 8-2-2018, typakmusings.com). “We Koreans, for one, do not form ghettos or barrios.”

“But, George, you’ve relocated from Hawaii to Norwood, NJ, where the Koreans account for about 30% of the population,” intervenes Andrew, Lay Leader, generally conciliatory but firm upon sniffing a brawl ahead. “In fact, Park Place, the posh gated community you’ve bought into, has 12 Korean out of 19 residences and has just elected a Korean for President of the Home Owners Association.”

“I didn’t know that,” George digs in. “That Ashley my wife hired as realtor just because she was her high school alumna from Korea didn’t tell me, perhaps tipped off by Jane about my Koreanophobia.”

“Why do you hate your own kind so much?” asks Peter, the Cantor, amused.

“Because they take advantage of you, don’t know the meaning of give and take, one good turn deserving another,” George expounds. “For example, all this Ashley broad did after selling the house to us for a full 6% commission is buy a pot of palms. Promptly she and her husband take off on a two-week Caribbean cruise, which should have been ours, at the least. More properly she should have refunded us half of her commission.”

“How do you figure that?” asks Richard, a real estate attorney, retired.

“Because if we had hired a stranger, a regular American, White, Black, Latino, Chinese, anyone but Korean, we could have reduced the commission to 3%, as we did when we sold our Maplewood, NJ house in 2005 for our move to Hawaii.”

“Jane is happy and so are you with the house, a mansion, 3-car garage, 4-bedroom, 4-bath, 2-fireplace, marble and hardwood floors, 5,000 square feet, the price holding up in the down market,” points out Andrew who has been there bearing a house-warming gift from the church. “Ashley was a good choice as realtor. Maybe you should hire her back next time around when you buy or sell another house.”

“No,” George is emphatic. “I won’t let her come anywhere near. Who cares about such triviality as small talk in your own lingo, when you can save big bucks dealing with strangers at arm’s length? Thank God for America, the big melting pot chock full of strangers.”

Stat, An Immediate Moratorium on NJ Property Tax, More Than Double the National Average!

“Did you guys get the belated New Year card from the Campbells in Denver?” asks Charles.

As soon as they sold their house to the first bidder, Tom and Mary had an estate sale, Goodwill cleaning up what’s left, and drove merrily off to the high country, without a second glance at their stately 7-bedroom mansion where they had raised all their three children, thumbing their nose at Trenton, the blood suckers.

“Yeah, we did,” chorus several voices.

“The photo – our view of Denver from the 30th floor condo we’re renting for the year – about all we’ve got in this cubbyhole. Hoping our marriage survives the crunch, we wish you and yours a prosperous 2019!” reads Don.

“You think their marriage is on the rocks with all the trauma of relocation thousands of miles, practically across the continent,” worries Dave. “I hear relocation is the second most frequent reason for divorce.”

“A 100-ton power puller wouldn’t pull them apart,” dismisses Charles. “It’s just Mary howling and yowling as usual. Tom wouldn’t care and never wrote a card in his life.”

“Maybe we should relocate to Colorado or Florida or somewhere where there is zero or close to zero property tax, even though we have no children in the prosecutor’s office,” Adam chimes in. Margaret Campbell, Tom and Mary’s youngest, got the offer of city prosecutor by Denver.

“Trenton and the Democrats should wake up and declare an immediate moratorium on property tax before they lose all their good residents and businesses.”

“Have you guys noticed that big pothole on Flagstone Ave? My brand new Kia almost got swallowed up in it yesterday. What do they do with all our tax money? We should write to that strutting greenhorn Mayor.”

“Better write to Trump, a petition of all NJ residents, starting with Ridgewood and Glen Rock, so he can start cleaning up the swamp, not only in DC but here, too.”

No Eating Out, Period

“Can I take you out somewhere to celebrate your 95th birthday, Bill?” asks Adam, a junior Onc (see Immortality Club, 8-2-2018, typakmusings.com), during fellowship after church service.

“I don’t eat out,” Bill answers, staring from his untouched cup of coffee somebody has poured him, unasked, to Adam’s full plate of beef sandwich, salad, fruit.

“If it’s BM (see Billionaire Mentality, 1-20-2019, typakmusings.com), I’ll take you to the Rainbow Room in Manhattan.”

“Isn’t it private?”

“Yeah, but I can use my son-in-law’s membership.”

“Oh, the billionaire,” Bill snorts.

“At least his fund is multibillion,” Adam nods.

“I seldom eat out,” Bill declares. “Why bother? I can easily fix up what little I eat with my own hands, not anybody else’s.”

“Oh, I’ve heard about Alfonso spitting on steak (see Ask Three Times Before Taking No For an Answer: Quirky Korean Etiquette, 10-31-2018, typakmusings.com) but not every chef is like Alfonso.”

“No, my sources indicate few wash their hands after scratching their genitals or wiping their nose. In fact, to soothe their inferiority complex for catering to our digestive tract…”

“But it’s the top end, not the bottom.”

“Same difference, feeding or voiding. They spite us by dispensing their bodily discharge along with the dish they serve.”

“How long ago was it that your wife passed away, Bill?”

“Fifteen years.”

“While she was alive, you ate the food she prepared.”

“Of course. She was my wife. Don’t you?”

“Of course. The other day my wife forgot to set the alarm. She jumps out of bed, tears downstairs, clangs and clatters to slap together a breakfast so we could leave the house in five minutes. Would I have cared if she hadn’t washed her hands, had wiped her nose or scratched under her panties?”

“She is your wife.”

“Exactly. Because I kiss her in the mouth and all over. But before we met and married to live 60 years together we were total strangers, like the kitchen hands at any restaurant, anyone of whom could have been my wife, under different circumstances (see Eat Others’ Leftovers: A Shortcut to the Golden Rule, Love Your Neighbor as Yourself, 8-27-2015, typakmusings.com). So we might eat out as well as in. Besides the chefs at reputable places like the Rainbow Room are proud of their professional standing, with culinary certificates in full display on the wall. I think they wash hands but, if not, consider them your wife’s before you married her. So do we have a deal.”

“I don’t know. Let me think about it.”

“Have you heard about an Arab scandalized by an American using both hands to hold and eat a sandwich”

“No, I heard they use hands, too, only hands, no utensils.”

“Yeah, but not both hands. Only the right hand, not the left reserved for the other end, to wipe off.”

“Disgusting! Are you sure you heard it right? The Arabs will sue you for racism, cultural bigotry, or something.”

“With all the oil money they forget their nomadic past when they had to travel light. Utensils would have been in the way and, definitely, toilet tissue. Moreover, using the hand to wipe off is perfectly sanitary in the dry desert, the dab drying up and falling off in a matter of minutes.”

“Minutes? You mean they carry it around that long?”

“They may wipe off on their clothes, shoes, or their camel. Won’t matter because dried up, the crust would fall off harmlessly. Likewise, even if our food preparers don’t wash their hands, the smudge of saliva, phlegm, mucus, poop, or whatever left on their hands, will dry up into minuscule strips or granules of various organic molecules you would find in dry packed food.”

“They start cooking before they dry up but, even dried up, the strips and granules, however minuscule,… It’s revolting. I can puke. No eating out, period. That’s my answer.”

No, Three and A Half!

“How old are you, Emily?” asks Peter, charmed by Donald’s youngest granddaughter. They are both Oncs (see Immortality Club, 8-2-2018, typakmusings.com).

Promptly Emily raises her right hand, three fingers pointing straight up and the pinky crooked.

“Oh, you are three,” Peter confirms.

“No, three and a half,” she retorts.

“The half-bent pinky, of course. I apologize, Emily.”

Watching, Donald guffaws and observes, “What a contrast! She can’t wait to get older. Not Nancy, her Grandma, who just had her birthday. Her 39th, of course. She will wring my neck, if I told anyone how old it really makes her. The women have such a complex about getting old.”

“Not men?” I ask.

“Not as much as our women,” Peter explains, “probably victims of our sexism that sees them mostly as sex objects.”

“Female sex slavery from lack of financial independence,” Donald weighs in. “No longer, though, with more female lawyers around than male, for example. It’s our turn to be coy about our age and sexuality, the polarity turning, as it were.”

“It has turned already,” Peter declares. “The other day I went to the website of a charity and guess what I found. Its director, maybe a faggot, has put down under his age, Not telling, as if it is the cutest thing to say.”

“That’s awful,” I deplore. “There shouldn’t be any question of polarity. Emily as our role model we should flaunt every growth ring added to our trunk, proud of our advancing years. This coyness about age is dumb (see Quit Pussyfooting Around Your Age, America, 1-21-2018 and Candor About Age, 1-23-2018, typakmusings.com). In East Asia under the influence of Confucius respect for the elder was engrained in us, except it is now being subverted under American influence, actually itself a subversion of the Western ethos. Christ decrees respect for one’s parents, which extrapolates to elders in general. Granted time was when the New World had to be reclaimed with sheer brawn, the domain of youth. But things have changed with automation and robotics and our wisdom, maturity of judgment, experience should more than make up for our supposed physical infirmity (see Robotics, 9-17-2018 and 90 (85+5), the New Retirement Age, typakmusings.com).”

Any Attention Is Better Than None

“I envy Trump,” sighs W, a senior Onc (see Immortality Club, 8-2-2018, typakmusings.com).

“I thought you despised him,” perks up K, a junior Onc and a Trump supporter.

“That hasn’t changed but I envy all the attention he is getting.”

“But it’s negative attention, the kind that demoralizes and destroys you. It’s like getting dunked in a vat of Clorax, blistering, corrosive. If I got even a scintilla of the kind of criticism he gets all the time from the media and their Pavlovian dogs, I would be a goner by now.”

“No, attention of any kind is better than no attention, which is what we get at our age, no mail, no phone call, no email, a worse toxin. You are submerged and don’t even rise to the surface to take a breath, as when you get dunked in the other vat. Attention is nutrition that refreshes and recharges you.”

Korean Pastor on His Deathbed Refusing A Chaplain

“How is your new chaplaincy going, Don?” Charles asks during fellowship after service, noticing him uncharacteristically glum. A charismatic preacher in his prime at a big church with over a thousand members and bishop of a big NJ diocese before his retirement and membership in the ONCS (see Immortality Club, 8-2-2018, typakmusings.com) he is usually the life of the party. Recently he has accepted chaplaincy on call at the Valley Hospital in Ridgewood just to do something.

“Lousy,” Don replies reluctantly. “I am trying to get over the shock I had this morning. The ER calls at about 5 a.m. to ask me over, stat, for a patient involved in a car accident on the point of death from multiple rib fractures and pulmonary edema. I run a few red lights, squeal through the gate, and park in my reserved stall in front of the ER, when Carol, the nurse who called me earlier, rings again to say that the patient refuses to have a chaplain. I tell her that I am right outside the door and will come in to comfort him and the family. Carol says no, because when told that a chaplain is on the way, the patient declares with a degree of vehemence unexpected of someone in his condition, that as Pastor Doojin Back of First Korean Methodist Church, Fort Lee, he needs no pastor. I vaguely recognized the name, a Korean, your countryman.”

“Well, Carol should have checked sooner to spare you a trip for nothing,” points out Charles, a junior Onc, indignantly. “You are entitled to the full fee.”

“No, I can forget the fee, peanuts anyway. What bothers me is that Back, a pastor, should reject a fellow pastor in his last hour of need.”

“Maybe he thought you were a Catholic,” Charles hazards a guess.

“No, I even told Carol that I was a Methodist like him but she said the patient’s order was categorical: no man of the cloth, regardless of religion or denomination. What kind of pastor is that? Believers, let alone pastors, pray for each other especially before death. Unless they don’t believe. That’s it. I don’t think he was ever a true believer. Poor fellow, to have labored all this time living a lie! To go to seminary in Korea he must have sworn he believed, right?”

“One can always lie, especially if one’s livelihood depends on it,” Charles holds forth. “Buddhism, the dominant religion of Korea right up to the end of the Korean War, was notorious for its large priesthood, scoundrels with shaved heads in grey monk’s garb. Christianity, its successor, can’t be that much different, given the same population base. But there is an important difference, the US factor, a strong motivation for ordinary Koreans to lie about their Christianity. Modernization of Korea is actually Americanization as laid down by its missionaries. Syngman Rhee, the first President of South Korea, and other so-called leaders of Korea were all church altar boys sponsored by the missionaries to come to the States for American education. Aware of this bias in the US immigration policy many aspiring Koreans became Christians overnight and went to seminary as the shortcut to the US. Even in the 1960’s when I came over, these charlatans had to just wave their seminary or church affiliation to breeze through the INS gate, whereas the rest of us had to prove our academic and professional credentials. Once here, in the land of opportunity, some of them would quickly doff their clerical vestments and go into business, but most stuck around, finding American Christianity, especially among the immigrant communities, soft and juicy for the squeezing.”

“Okay,” Don cuts him short. “This dying fellow countryman of yours has opened my eyes. I am no better than he, a parasite on the body of Christ. Too old to start over, I can’t revoke my Social Security benefit or the Methodist pension, but at least I don’t have to go on sucking for more.” Pulling out his cell phone he punches in the Valley Hospital number. “Carol, Bishop Don here. Don’t call me any more… No, it’s got nothing to do with this morning. Just tell the Board I have quit. Goodbye.”