On Republication (Bo-Leaf Books, 2019) of A Korean Decameron (Seoul, 1961) by Tae-yong Pak, alias Ty Pak, under a Grant from Harvard University: boleafbooks.com/catalog and amazon.com

It is with an eerie feeling that I greet the reappearance of this book, my first, after 58 years. I might as well behold my own resurrection, not in 3 days but after a whole lifetime, Dem Dry Bones coming together as in the black spiritual.

The 41 stories included in the book are my transcriptions of the tales told me during my preteen years by Daybay Pak, my grandfather, a compulsive storyteller, to whose memory the new edition is dedicated. As described in the Foreword, it is the merest chance to which the book owes its rescue from oblivion: in 1984 Heinz Insu Fenkl, the publisher’s husband and premier scholar on Korean literature and folklore, serendipitously came upon an original copy, discolored and dust covered, at a Seoul hotel gift shop.

The book’s publication in 1961 at age 23 was a turning point in my life. Its first printing of a thousand copies sold out. Elated, the publisher ran a second printing of 5,000, which again sold out in the American PX’s, at the Bando and Chosun hotels, then patronized primarily by Americans. I had a pocketful of US dollars, the open sesame at the time. I forget the amount but it was big enough to make me cocky and flippant about money.

General Junghee Park, entitled Chairman of the Supreme Council after his successful coup, decreed a vigorous stock market as the first step toward the modernization of Korea. As translator of his book, The Path for My Fatherland, I believed in him totally and bought a large chunk of the Korean Stock Exchange shares. The next day their value jumped 20-fold.

In its infancy the Korean stock market had two types of transaction, current and futures: in the former a stock certificate is handed over for cash and in the latter shares were sold short to a long buyer. Discovering that I could leverage my portfolio tenfold by using it as security for futures transactions, I began doing nothing but futures, mostly buying long. By means of bold, more accurately reckless, moves practically every session, morning and afternoon, day in, day out, my net worth exploded more than 10,000-fold in the course of the next few months, making me a legend among traders and brokers who accosted me incessantly to learn my next move or entice my business to their firm.

One of them was a high school alum Gwangmoo Song (fictitious, especially since he is deceased), who had just started working for a stock brokerage and wouldn’t leave me alone until I transferred all my accounts to his firm, resulting in his instant promotion to VP. He said I had the most liquidity among our entire class of 1956, which was saying a lot because we had sons from the richest families of Korea at the time.

After the market closed for the week when I had again doubled my net worth Song suggested that I think of taking over the nation’s largest textile mill in Daegoo, which would launch me as a tycoon of the industry. I wasn’t too excited because I would be immediately involved in running the behemoth with its tens of thousands of employees, whereas I could keep doubling my money doing nothing. Telling him I would think about it over the weekend, I went to the Bando where I had a suite like an American for dinner and a rendezvous with a great lady, whose name shall remain undisclosed forever.

The sky came crashing down the next Monday. Park froze all stock transactions, creating the Stock Market Crash 증권파동of 1962 so he could plunder the mobilized liquidity and give it to his favorites, one of whom happened to be another high school alum of mine, who went on to become a multinational tycoon.

For a whole month or so the market was closed. Stocks traded at drastically reduced prices on the black market but they were current transactions, not futures. My entire wealth evaporated.

No longer one of them, I have nothing but utter contempt for the billionaires, knowing full well that they don’t care, because I don’t belong and am therefore nothing. So the contempt is mutual. I know sheer luck has got them where they are, just as at one time by sheer luck I was catapulted to the apex of my fortune, not any innate intelligence or merit (see The Lottery: the Equalizer, 11-3-2018, typakmusings.com). I was buying or selling on a whim which happened to turn out right. My not getting off the roller coaster in time and losing everything might argue stupidity in hindsight but how was I to know Park was such a crook? Though I attribute extraordinary street smarts to Trump (see Low Gas Price, Not Mild Winter, 1-16-2019, typakmusings.com), he is just a lucky dude with perhaps good advisors around him, though Michael Cohen makes dubious his sanity, let alone smarts.

Betrayed by Park and disillusioned with Korea, I couldn’t wait to get out of the country and come to the States to perfect my English. Resurgent was the passion that had possessed me since 12 when as 7th grader I first came into contact with the English alphabet. To speak and write English like a native I had to live in the States. Writing a column in The Korea Times, I had a fan, an economics professor from Bowling Green State University, Ohio, on loan to the Bank of Korea, who gave my name to the head of the English Department there. In a few months the invitation came through, teaching fellowship with admission to the doctoral program in English, quite a coup considering I had no English BA, not that a Korean English BA would have measured up to an American one. I didn’t have even that.

My exit from Korea still pending, a dicey proposition when one hadn’t completed military service, the publisher of my book wanted me to write a second volume. I did and had a book signing party at the house of a US Army Colonel, whose wife was another fan of mine, in Yongsan where the Eighth US Army Headquarters was based. However, once in the States, busy teaching and writing, I forgot all about it. Now, after publishing the first volume, Bo-Leaf Books wants to issue the second one likewise but not a single copy of it has turned up to date. The serendipity for the first volume doesn’t seem to extend to the second. So if anyone reading this has a copy of A Korean Decameron, Volume II (Seoul, 1963), please contact me at typakmusings.com@gmail.com.

Low Gas Price, Not Mild Winter: Time to Pat Ourselves on the Back for Stumbling into Picking the Right Guy for the Job

The recent (Jan 12-13, 2019) snowstorm that paralyzed parts of the mid-Atlantic states, particularly around Washington, D.C., may have cramped the style of Global Warming Alarmists who had been triumphantly pointing at the mild winter, though to me, a near 3-decade resident of Hawaii, the weather along the Eastern seaboard is anything but mild, the thermometer hovering around freezing.

But this doesn’t faze me a bit. All I have to do is set the thermostat at 80 to bring Hawaii back into the house, if not outside. Nor do I hesitate to throw windows and doors wide open to let the slicing cold air rush in (see Winterize but Ventilate: Korean Winter Pallor, 1-1-2018, typakmusings.com). What a contrast to the way I used to behave on the continental US where I had also lived previously nearly 3 decades. Come winter, I literally battened down the hatches, putting on layers of clothes and setting the thermostat at 69, tops. To set it at 70 or higher would take a grim resolution like a kamikaze pilot getting into his plane for the final mission, rarely in deference to extraordinary company.

But I am not the only one to be so relaxed about the thermostat. Throughout the continental US most homeowners are no longer uptight and set the thermostat nonchalantly in the upper 70’s for a “mild, pleasant winter.” Gone is paying through the nose for heating. Also pleasant is outdoors as on a whim they dash off on drives for nothing, heaters on full blast, or fly off to Timbuktu, as air fares are bargains.

But no American is talking about this, certainly not the media, preoccupied with the government shutdown, trying to put the blame on Trump. There is no mention of the root cause of the “mild winter”: rock bottom gas price about $2 per gallon, less than half of what I paid in Honolulu scant 3 years ago.

I am the last person to idolize Trump or anyone else for that matter (see Manifesto of Radical Democracy, 5-25-2014, typakmusings.com). In truth, I like the vitriol the press hurls at him, day in, day out, and hope it to become the pattern going forward for all future American presidents, so as to cut them down to size, our size, because they are not that different from us. With one proviso, though: no distorting nor hiding of the facts.

Trump may be crude, vindictive, narcistic, childishly boastful of his high IQ, not unlike an overgrown adolescent. But where it counts he is mature, his street smartness about getting rich quite off the charts. Knowing he can’t go on being rich unless America is, he extrapolates his personal money-making skills to the global arena for America. His instincts were right about fracking and America is now the premier oil producer in the world, transforming an ordinary frigid winter into a global warming threat for the Green Peace militant.

Incidentally, his oil policy is benefiting the whole earth. The CO2 content in the oceans has been found slowly depleting, portending an eventual extermination of life. So CO2 emission by internal combustion engines may be a blessing in disguise after all. Fortunately, we have a few centuries worth of fossil fuel to burn during which we will figure out solarization or fusion to meet our energy needs, while supplementing CO2.

In the meantime let’s give credit where credit is due and compliment Trump on a job well done, not to magnify his ego, which is already huge, but to pat ourselves on the back for stumbling into picking the right guy for the job through the much maligned electoral process.

America, the Separator, not a Melting Pot, for Naturalized Americans

Even after naturalization foreign born immigrants have a hard time melding into the American melting pot. Feeling excluded they keep associating among themselves with a vengeance, more than they’ve ever done back in their old country, often torn with regional, tribal, political, or other dissension.

Fortunately, this alienation, due to the language barrier which prevents them from living fully American, does not survive their generation. Their children and grandchildren, born and raised here, are right at home in their workplaces and neighborhoods, marrying across the racial boundaries as much as not. Hurray, America, the melting pot! United we stand.

But can we extrapolate this to the rest of the world, realizing true globalism? No, unless Koreans, Japanese, Chinese, Indians, Russians, French, Germans, Mexicans, Hondurans,… are all born and raised in America, an impossibility, as the imperative for the southern Border Wall shows, though falsely denied by the fake media and the Dems, just to spite Trump.

The new mega-caravan just forming, bent on storming the border, wall or no wall, hell or high water, may well be warned about the sobering fact that at least in their generation they will endure segregation and isolation, however successful they may get in America, huddling among themselves, if not in ghettos or barrios, then socially, spiritually.

A case in point is the Korean compulsion to attend school reunions. For example, K Boys’ High School in Seoul boasts alum associations, often subdivided into graduating years, my class of 1956 having 8 declared local chapters, Boston, New York City, Washington, DC, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Chicago. The dozen or so members belonging to the New York Chapter travel hours, crossing state lines, to come to their biannual get-togethers. CG, a retired ophthalmologist living in Lancaster, PA, drives 3 hours with his wife to come to the restaurant in Flushing, NY. KS, another Pennsylvanian living in the Poconos pays an Uber cab $150 one way to come to the Mecca taking a couple of hours. YI, a retired cardiovascular surgeon, comes from CT also taking nearly 2 hours. A few live scattered in NJ but their travel time is well over an hour. Those living in New York don’t get much of a break, either, as many live scattered in Long Island or upstate, and must travel at least an hour. In fact, YM lived in Buffalo where he was law professor at SUNY before his move to NJ upon retirement and didn’t miss a single pilgrimage driving over 6 hours.

“Maybe we should meet only once a year,” suggest I, recently relocated from Hawaii to NJ to be near my children and still baffled by the maze of roadways in Metropolitan New York.

“Twice a year is half of what it used to be, quarterly,” observes YT, part owner of a brewery in Korea and current President of the NY Chapter. “Nobody seems to mind.”

“Night driving is getting harder,” I murmur.

“I let my wife drive,” YW points out, brightly. “Her night vision is still good, as it should be.” His wife is his junior by 10 years, mine bettering with 20.

“But she won’t drive,” I blurt out.

“Can’t she drive?” asks JC, the former oil man, surprised.

“She can and does when alone, but, when we are together, I must drive. To do otherwise is violation of her gender, according to her feminism.”

Incidentally, according to the hallowed Korean custom, wives have their own table and talk among themselves out of earshot of their husbands.

“Count your blessings,” interjects SS, a retired psychiatrist, who lives in Montauk at the tip of Long Island. “My wife’s Class of 1962, E Girl’s High, still meets every other month, in Fort Lee, NJ, so I end up going to 8 reunions a year, hers and mine, me driving like you. For a different reason, though. Her vision is much worse than mine and she cannot be trusted with distance driving, day or night, though she still has a valid license.”

“Do they meet as often in Korea as we do, YT?” I ask feebly, giving up my cause.

“No, once a year but attendance has been dwindling to less than a quarter of the survivors,” answers YT.

I recall that only about 300 of the 500 of us are still around, the US mortality rate about half of that in Korea, for which perhaps we should thank America after all, eternal strangers though we may be.

Laotzu, The Great or The Gross

Recently circulated among the members of the ONCS (see Immortality Club, 8-2-2018, typakmusings.com) is the portrait of an old Asian male, white haired and bearded, shoulders wrapped in a blue-striped shawl, against a backdrop of mountains, “The Clarity of Philosophy” written across the top, and the lower half filled with the inscription: The Great Lao-Tzu said: “It is only when you see a mosquito landing on your testicles that you realize that there is always a way to solve problems without using violence.”

“Typical Oriental mumbo jumbo,” explodes JS, a Korean Onc and CEO of a mega-fund. “You swat the bug as soon as you eyeball it before it injects you with malarial or encephalitic virus.”

“But remember where it lands, on his testicles,” counters KS, a Korean who came to the States in the early 1960’s and is now a hermit in the Poconos after retirement from banking.

“Scrotum, because the nuts are exposed only by slashing deep through the rather thick resilient layers of covering,” corrects JC, a retiree from oil prospecting. The trio have been featured in a previous post (see Innate Sense of Justice at 2.5 Years of Age, 1-9-2019, typakmusings.com).

“Same difference,” KS dismisses. “The swat may cause serious collateral damage. Haven’t you seen a boxer sag and fall, breath knocked out, following a low blow, that is, testicular blow? So naturally we have to think twice before whacking the mosquito and look for some other nonviolent means of control.”

“I won’t shoo it away because it will fly to other victims like my family or neighbors,” counters JS, impatiently. “Extermination is the only way and there is no such animal as nonviolent extermination. Not to use violence is either selfish or dumb. By not destroying the pest when he can because of his squeamishness to use violence he puts the whole community at risk. But more probably he is dumb, thinking he can persuade the bug to go away somehow, not knowing that it can contaminate him almost the instant it lands. His shillyshallying in deference to his dick may cost his life.”

“Maybe he is an epidemiologist and knows there is no malaria or encephalitis going around, that the worst thing that can come from it is a sting and itch, whereas he knows testicular trauma can be really bad, maybe even fatal,” conjectures JC. “So after all he is a great thinker.”

“But certainly not that clear,” KS points out. “Look how long it has taken us to come to that conclusion.”

“That’s why it’s called the clarity of philosophy, satirically,” JC adds. “Deep thinking is not readily transparent to nitwits like us. It takes smarts to figure it out.”

“No, I don’t think he is a scientist or philosopher,” JS puts his foot down. “He is either a victim early on of a low blow that nearly knocks him out, poor guy, or is just dick-driven, like most of us, and panders to the gonads, throwing caution to the wind, come hell or high water.”

Innate Sense of Justice at 2.5 Years of Age

“Did you hear the puke spill out of the mouths of the Muslim and Latina freshman Congresswomen after their swearing in the other day?” asks JC, a junior Onc (see Immortality Club, 8-2-2018, typakmusings.com). “What is the world coming to? We should have stricter qualifications for the House.”

“What do you suggest?” KS, another Onc, chimes in. “Certainly not lawyers. See what mess they have made of DOJ and FBI, their reputation in the gutter after the Steele dossier fiasco. Nor doctorates, because they get dumber with more education. Maybe membership in ONCS, because at least age burns out all the bugs, greed, vanity, vengeance. That’s it. All applicants for public offices, including the President, should be 80 or older.”

“What if we reverse the polarity, so we pick them before the bugs get to them?” declares JS, another Onc. They had all gone to the same high school in Korea, JS known for his offbeat brainstorms.

“What age does that make?” KS asks, guardedly.

“Two and a half years old, my granddaughter Naomie’s age.”

“You are off your rocker,” JC chuckles. “They can barely walk.”

“No, she jumps and runs, much better than any of us. What counts is her judgment.”

“Judgment? At that age, she is a genius if she knows her ass from her elbow, begging your pardon for my French.”

“That’s not as important as the sense of justice, which she has innately. Lately my wife Nancy took her along with her Great Grandma, Nancy’s Mom, to a Korean restaurant. Both Naomie’s parents work and the two older generations look after her, Great Grandma living at their house and my wife commuting from ours. After lunch Nancy announces their next destination for desserts to be a fashionable Korean bakery, Naomie’s favorite. On the way she asks Nancy what they are having and is told that everybody is getting a big bowl of either shave ice or smoothie. At once Great Grandma objects, saying she would take Naomie’s leftover. Though appreciating her motive to save her money, Nancy doesn’t like her mother’s negativity and chews her out. As soon as she is unbuckled upon arrival at the parking lot, Naomi runs to Great Grandma, hugs her legs, and won’t let go, watching Nancy warily. Both the elderly women have a belly laugh at her protectiveness toward the weak and oppressed, a sense of justice absent in the Department of Justice.”
“Validity of her perception of oppression in this particular case aside, her scope is limited,” reasons JC solemnly. “It will be a while before she sees beyond her immediate family and functions as a credible Congresswoman with the whole nation, nay the whole world, in her purview.”

“She knows which is her house and which mine, and makes sure she doesn’t leave anything of hers in mine, once making Nancy drive all the way back when she discovers she has left her teddy bear behind. We can expand her scope in no time. What are advisors for? Believe me she will intuit and act correctly and justly, farther and deeper than you and me or any of the jokers in the House or Senate.”

Cruelty, Thy Name is Humankind: The Dying Cry of “A-i-go 아이고” from Korean Galley Slaves

“No nostalgia, no lingering memories for the country you left 55 years ago in 1965 when you were 27?” asks Marcia Noh, incredulous, a 2nd generation Korean American reporter with a major national newspaper.

“No,” explodes Dr. Charles Song, an eminent pathologist, retired. “I’d seen enough revenge killings between North and South Korea during the War (1950-53), my father its victim, then the smoldering hatreds, jealousies, discriminations, machinations afterwards. I can puke just thinking about them.”

“I didn’t mean to distress you, Dr. Song,” she says, pushing the box of tissue on the table toward him. “I apologize for having been so insistent on the interview. Our generation, your children and grandchildren born and raised here, are still slope-head, slit-eye Koreans to the rest of America, and need something to be proud of about their ethnic heritage. As a prominent Korean American I thought you would be able to help. But I understand. Your generation has been through a lot. So forget it. We’ll find something on our own, like looking up Admiral Sun-sin Yi (1545-98) in Wikipedea. When asked, after imprisonment, torture, and demotion to a private due to false accusations by his jealous enemies, he still steps up to the plate and saves his country from Japanese occupation by defeating their navy battle after battle. He redeems Korea, however irredeemable it gets.”

“In his War Diary (1592-98) there is a curious footnote to his great victory at the Myungnyang Strait on Oct 26, 1597,” Charles recalls, brows knit. “Moments before the burning Japanese ships sink he hears a group of men, galley slaves finally unshackled from their oars, bring up the rear after all hands had abandoned ship, and jump off, screaming A-i-go, the Korean lamentation before death, in utter despair, facing the sea roaring and rushing up in pitch darkness.”

“Koreans snatched by the Japanese marauders, the waygoo, 왜구, a constant scourge throughout Korea’s history, raiding not only coastal villages but deep into the country, capturing Koreans left and right,” Marcia notes. “Doesn’t that enrage you as a Korean? No wonder some consider your friend Ty Pak an anti-Korean traitor whose novel, The Polyglot, calls for the union of Korea and Japan.”

“You might as well fume and rage at a tornado, drought, or meteor strike. They raided the coasts of China, too. The Japanese were the Vikings of Asia. Do the British or French hold it against the Danes, Swedes, and Norwegians today after these many years? Besides the Japanese pirates were probably like the Somalian bandits today, no money, no food, at the end of their rope. Need for survival drives humans to extreme cruelty. I bet Koreans would have taken to piracy just as readily under the same circumstances which governments have a duty to prevent.”

“So you are full of understanding and compassion for the Japanese, Scandinavians, Somalians, but not for your own people, Koreans.”

“It’s harder with people close to you. Look how Sunnis and Shiites can’t get along, nor South Koreans and North Koreans.”

“But you are now here in America and should detach yourself from the bitterness of the bygone days. I thought Koreans from both halves should all be brought over here to give them some perspective so they can embrace and unite, but there is no point in that, if they are anything like you, Doctor Song.”

“Okay, you win, you and your Soonshin Yee. By the way, the other spelling is all wrong. If he can forgive and serve that lily-livered moron, coward, and joke of a king Sunjo who almost kills him, I guess I should be able to do the same with the current inhabitants of Korea, North and South, like Ty Pak’s characters vis-a-vis the Japanese. Read the book more closely. He is no traitor to his heritage.”

ED: A New Era of Conjugal Harmony and Bliss

“I should have waited until I was 30 or 40 so I could marry someone much younger like you,” declares Duggyoo Chay, 65, a successful Korean American realtor. “As it is, Moonhee and I are the same age. Always competitive going to the same high school and college in Korea we’ve been downright belligerent since our marriage there in our early twenties. I bet it’s peace and quiet at home with you, a figure of elderly wisdom respected by your gracious wife.”

“Respect?” shouts Dr. Wilson Jung, 85, a Korean American cardiologist, born in Korea but raised in the States. “Even a god forfeits his divinity upon grinding away at a woman’s groin. Remember Socrates and his shrewish wife, Xanthippe, who so despises him that she pours a piss pot over his head? He must have been one hell of a fornicator.”

“Was she younger than Socrates?”

“Yeah, her behavior fits the pattern. After marrying older men for security or whatever they soon feel shortchanged for trading off their youth too cheap and go on goading and needling their old husband to exact their pound of flesh.”

“Gee, I am glad Moonhee is my age.”

“Don’t bet on it. My wife says Japanese women now clamor to marry men at least 10 years younger to compensate for their shorter life expectancy, some even calling for another extension of 10 years as potency makeup.”

“What the hell is that?”

“ED! While theirs goes on receiving indefinitely, the wood starts quitting the pecker once into the 6th decade, right?” Wilson stares at Duggyoo pointedly.

“I am doing all right so far,” Duggyoo retorts defiantly. “10 plus 10 is 20. I don’t know whether I can deal with a wife that much older and pruny.”

“Yeah, that’s what I tell my wife. Older wives would get as much grief from their younger husbands as the other way around. Actually a lot worse as I see it but they’d have asked for it. First off, they are lying through their teeth when they complain about our impotence. At heart they are relieved to be spared the pelvic assault and battery, day in and day out, by Neanderthal oafs equating their ejaculation with female orgasm.”

“But cessation of intercourse will deprive them of the endorphin bath only orgasm sets off.”

“Who said cessation? The nourishment continues, purified, enriched. From the ashes rises a consummate artist, a mighty warrior, with a brand new arsenal and skill set, manual, oral dexterity to stroke the clitoris, G-spot, or other erogenous zones with unerring accuracy. Contented, the younger wife catches on and reciprocates in kind. So dawns a new era of conjugal harmony and bliss. Forget about riding up to her rescue as the knight in shining armor.”

“I wasn’t thinking anything of the sort.”

“A general statement. Nothing personal. The first thought that occurs to any young buck coming face to face with a younger wife yoked to an older husband is personal intervention to right what he perceives as a mismatch.”

“I am no young buck but let’s drop the whole thing and get back to where we started, age difference in marriage. If neither parity nor disparity in either direction seems to work, how can we marry?”

“Not to worry. They’ll fall in love, however delusional, and mate and breed, always thinking theirs is a union made in heaven, unique and special. Fumble along they will, disgusted or aggrieved, full of regret, feeling trapped, trading potshots at each other. If they can’t bear it, they divorce, which however is still only about 15% of marriages according to the most reliable statistics. The majority sticks it out, because the cost of divorce is prohibitive. So tightly woven gets the web of ties and connections after a few years of living together, even without children. Add that complication to the mix and you are a goner, beyond redemption.

“But I have strayed,” Wilson brings himself up short. “If disparity there must be, the wife should be the youthful partner, at least until women attain total equality to men not only financially and socially but also in brute strength by some genetic engineering. Never mind the life expectancy and potency shit Japanese women bring up. As a medical practitioner I hate to see hospitals inundated with serious injuries inflicted on older women by their disgruntled younger husbands, who won’t stop at goading and needling or pouring a piss pot but will act out with physical violence.”

How Your 3-Year-Old Granddaughter’s Gloves Can Tweak Your Heart Strings

New Year coming on apace winter is here with a vengeance, erasing the mildness of the last few weeks. Prior to venturing out, I make sure my 3-year-old granddaughter is well protected in her coat, boots, hat with ear flaps, though her free hands are doing most of the work, even to the extent of pushing my clumsy hands away to do the zippers herself, showing off her independence. All set and finally it’s time to insert her small hands into her knit gloves, soft, salmon colored, five-fingered, so tiny, the wrist hardly wide enough for two of my fingers.

Hastily I blink away the incipient tears, lest she should notice and think me weird. What is it that is so touching about this miniature joke of a pair of gloves? Not only has it melted my heart of stone but turned me, a rank skeptic, scoffing atheist, into a fervent believer:

“Lord in heaven, spare her, this little budding seedling, the frost, hail, storm, the grazer’s tongue, so she grows into a magnificent tree, dwarfing and replacing me soon to upend, fall, decay, a distant memory, …”

A Discourse on Postmortem Decomposition

“What part of our body do you think will go first, that is, decay, when they inter us in midsummer?” asks Big Bob, a senior Onc (see Immortality Club, 8-2-2018, typakmusings.com).

“I don’t know,” grunts Charles, a junior Onc. “I’ve never thought about it. What difference does it make, summer or winter? Sooner or later they’ll all go, leaving only bare bones.”

“I think it would be the dick for us and the bean for the chicks.”

“Why those? Aren’t the softer parts like the liver or brain more likely to go first?”

“No, destruction will be prioritized according to the intensity of pleasure they have given us.”

“Who does the prioritizing? Certainly not us, dead and buried.”

“God, the jealous one, who finds offensive even a relic of our earthly heaven.”

The Myth of the Pre-Death Panoramic Epiphany

After more than six decades I still remember the gut-wrenching shock of despair and protest at the end of Ambrose Bierce’s short story, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (1890),” when the vivid idyllic narrative of Farquhar’s life as a Southern planter, caught in the crosshairs of the Civil War, snaps shut just as he runs into his loving wife’s arms after making good his escape from his Northern captors, revealing him hung and dead. Pounding the desk top, I wept and yelled, No, No. The beautiful panoramic epiphany had been nothing but Farquhar’s hallucination, instantaneous in the few seconds prior to his execution. After that shattering experience I took pre-death epiphany for granted, thanking Bierce for the enlightenment.

Subsequently, however, I was surprised to find many people entertaining similar thoughts on the subject though they hadn’t read the story and had to conclude the notion to be pretty universal, probably because it agrees with the sense of closure we all need, with a bit of wisdom, even an insight into eternity, at least for our own individual satisfaction, though not sharable with any other soul. Bierce is probably a modern practitioner in this ancient belief system, not its originator.

Primeval or innate though the belief may be, I am now convinced that it is a myth, wishful thinking that has no basis in fact, after witnessing my wife’s aunt, a few years my senior but vivacious, charming, articulate with a razor sharp mind, pass away recently from lung cancer a few months after diagnosis. When told it was terminal, she declined rapidly. We called her daughter who had been staying at her bedside 24/7 to let her know of our plan to visit over the weekend but were told that she might not last that long. We went over right away.

A breathing tube in her nose, eyes bleary, she didn’t seem to know what was going on around her.

“Aunt, it’s me and this is my husband,” my wife was choking with tears, pulling me closer. “We love you and want to see you up and about…”

There was no sign of recognition. Then she started gurgling.

“Oh, that’s something new,” her daughter said and called the doctor, who came over, checked her out, and left, telling the daughter to keep an eye on her.

The next morning we heard that she had passed away, her daughter sobbing and blaming herself for leaving the room briefly to go downstairs for a cup of coffee. Upon return she found her no longer breathing.

No, our sweet aunt had never regained consciousness. Her cells had been shutting down irreversibly one by one all over her body and couldn’t have suddenly rallied for an epiphany. Had it been otherwise and she had been alert all along, she would have thought about her children, grandchildren, and sundries that normally occupied her or whatever pain or discomfort that she feared might fell her, hardly conducive to a panoramic epiphany. We just drag on and then stop, none the wiser than in our prime.

New Education in Response to Developments in Artificial Intelligence

Humanity is said to face an existential crisis, even after World Government becomes a reality (see An Open Letter to Chairman Jongun Kim, North Korea: Be the Savior of Humankind, 12-7-2018, typakmusings.com), because of replacement by human or superhuman robots according to pundits of AI, artificial intelligence. How real is this prospect and what should be our response?

1. AI, Weak and Strong

Every human tool is a device of artificial intelligence or robot that obeys our commands and amplifies our brute strength or skill. It has been the dream of humanity to have an alter ego of our self that can take care of our chores. With advancement in computer technology so-called weak AI has become common place like robots performing automated, repetitive, even complicated jobs in assembly lines. Human ingenuity being what it is, however, robots are now given more open, wider capabilities, or strong AI, by programming them with complex algorithms as in face recognition, driverless cars, drones that deliver packages, or Alphago Zero.

It is a favorite pastime of commentators on this strong phase of AI to exaggerate and frighten us by calling it “machine learning” which might eventually lead to robots with human or superhuman intelligence that would replace humanity altogether (see Hirari’s Histories: Incoherent Fantasy, 9-2-2018, typakmusings.com). Often Alphago Zero is given as an example, a robot that can master as many moves as 10 to the 170th power, and can take the appropriate move and defeat the human opponent every time. This is indeed mind boggling since all the atoms of the observable universe numbers only 10 to the 80th power.

But the basic rules of the game Go are simple: surround the enemy stones completely (see Sport, Not War: MMA and East Asian Game of Go (Weichi, Badoog), 3-7-2015, typakmusings.com). The necessary winning algorithm is therefore rather identical in all those myriad situations with adjustments to fit the topography, the shape and location of the enemy stones to be surrounded and captured with a view to maximizing one’s overall territory. Indeed the calculations to be made are enormous, millions, billions, but the computer can perform them almost instantaneously, 3 million times faster than the human neural network. It is therefore a leap of logic to conclude that this algorithm is fundamentally different from the algorithm in other weaker AI.

Unfortunately or fortunately, AI will never be human strong, let alone superhuman, and replace humanity, however wild the fantasies of its devotees. Curiously, they always keep pushing their deadline, a century, a quarter century, 5 years, 2 years hence, which never shrinks to zero. Nor will it ever.

For example, they have no clue how to make robots carry on small talk, because the variables are infinite, higher than the Go moves mentioned above. Just as prime numbers are infinite, because you can always create another by adding 1 to an alleged last prime number, small talk is unbound because you can always jump outside whatever boundary may have been drawn. In other words, there are always the odd ones who think and talk outside the box. The very concept “outside the box” is foreign to AI, firmly encased in its box, the circuit board.

When it comes to emotions, the limbic region of the brain, again there is an infinity: you can always have weird emotions, outside the box. Infinity is also the hallmark of the cerebral cortex. There is no such thing as exhaustion of reasoning: one can always cogitate outside the box. AI cannot rise to human intelligence, let alone superhuman or divine: there can be no genesis of algorithm without its pedestrian human creator with an unpredictable brain.

But, as shown in Alphago Zero, strong AI is getting stronger by the day and is getting almost human, making questionable the rationale for traditional education with a curriculum designed to produce so-called intelligent humans.

2. Redefinition of Intelligence and Education

Intelligence, as underlies the concept IQ, Intelligence Quotient, is quickness of perception of a meaningful structure in a given set of stimuli, something AI can be programed to perform extremely well, literally zillions of times faster than humans and goof proof. Why, then, do we go on drilling our children through the conventional schooling system to do what the high-grade robots can do in seconds? It is simply insane to turn them into inferior copies of what can be mass produced to replace human labor, which makes demographic flexibility imperative (see Robotics and Population Control, 9-11-2018, typakmusings.com).

Even more imperative, however, is reformation of education worldwide. Instead of condemning our children to 20 years or more at hard labor, jumping through hoops to get a Ph.D., we should do away with schools altogether and teach them how to Google or do other internet search to obtain cutting edge knowledge in any field and manage the population of near human robotic servants (see Humanity in Transition from Epoch 1 to Epoch 2, 11-28-2014, typakmusings.com, in particular Section 2, Abolition of Schools and Degrees). So liberated, with time on their hands, they can follow their creative instincts, predilections, penchants, fancies outside the box, pushing the envelope of technology and the arts.

Fortunately, we are well on our way. Most toddlers know what button to push to open the garage door, where to click on the TV remote or on the iPhone to get to their favorite games. As responsible parents we should guide them to gain literacy, master the 3 R’s or 4 (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), learn more about the universe, and interact constructively with other humans to build a global civilization robust enough to outlast the extinction of the sun 4.5 billion years from now.

A Veiled Threat of Retribution for Complicity in the Obama Forgery?

A reader writes: “In your last post you sincerely hope no harm comes to either of the women, that is, Ah’Nee or Booth. Coming from the writer of The Slaying of North Korea’s No. 2, the King-Maker, 12-2-2013, typakmusings.com, it sure sounds like a veiled threat of dire retribution for complicity in the forgery of Obama’s fake birth certificate. Is it?”

My answer is No, definitely not. There is a radical difference in timing. Generally, the king slays his benefactors right upon ascension for fear they might exact an exorbitant reward that threatens his royalty, but in this case the reign is over. Obama is no longer the President. Even if he were and we were at the beginning of his reign, say, 2009, and his election is being contested in court with the Hawaii duo as possible witnesses, I doubt Obama has the stomach to send assassins to do away with them, though looks are deceiving. As it is, his presidency is over and his name as the 44th President of the US is carved in stone, indelible for eternity.

On the other hand, can the Congress or Supreme Court invalidate and dis-enroll even a completed presidency? That certainly would make history.

The more likely scenario is that Arpaio or some concerned civic group may persist and bring the matter to court and win, resulting in a decree of forgery with criminal penalties for Obama and his agents, like the two Hawaiian duo, witting or not. In that case, they may serve some jail time, which is nothing compared to the cruel death Jongun Kim’s uncle has met.

Forgery of Obama’s Birth Certificate: a JPEG Document Created in the White House

America has decided not to question the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate, released on Apr 27, 2011, despite Arizona Sheriff Arpaio’s conclusive proof of its forgery (see the Youtube dated Dec 15, 2016). What was posted on the White House website and widely copied and circulated by the media was a JPEG document digitally created in the White House by copying and altering the birth certificate of one Johanna Ah’Nee, born in Hawaii on Aug 20, 1961, 16 days after Obama’s alleged date of birth.

Eight days after release of the Obama certificate Arpaio’s investigators accessed Ah’Nee’s birth certificate, lent to her friend Mickey Booth, and had forensic and digital authorities of international repute declare it forgery unequivocally. We sincerely hope no harm comes to either of the women.

That such a simple matter is still allowed to go unsettled in this day and age of digital technology is unbelievable but is explainable, given the unique political, social dynamics of Obama’s presidency. The nation as a whole but particularly the politically correct media does not want to appear to have a racist bias against the first black president of America. In addition, there is determined local resistance to any serious probing. The State of Hawaii government doesn’t want its incredibly messy vital statistics in the 1960’s to be exposed to global derision. Then there is the pride of the Hawaiian population to have produced a US President.

This may be all to the good, though. Finally, Americans may realize the unnaturalness of the natural birth requirement, its unconstitutionality and utter inconsistency. It is unconstitutional because the first Presidents including George Washington had to be naturalized, not natural born. It is also inconsistent because no such requirement is laid down for a whole lot of public offices, Vice President, Speaker of the House, President of the Senate, or Cabinet members, who are in line of succession in the event of presidential incapacity, death, resignation, or removal (see Ty Pak for President, 6-1-2014, typakmusings.com).

Voice as an Aphrodisiac: Love between Stella and Peter in The Polyglot: Union of Korea and Japan, amazon.com

Why is it that one lapses into romantic or erotic fantasy about the unknown person of the opposite sex on the phone after exchanging only a few words?

Because, disembodied, the voice is a mating call and acts as an instant, powerful, irresistible aphrodisiac. Once caught, the parties must meet, overcoming great odds like intercontinental distances, and consummate, barring extraordinary wreckers like obesity, wrinkles, twisted nose, limp, bad breath, body odor, etc., as the case may be.

That’s what happens in my novel, The Polyglot: Union of Korea and Japan, amazon.com. Stella Sullivan falls head over heels in love with Peter Bach after talking to him only a few seconds and flies over before the day is out to Honolulu from Washington, DC, in Air Force One, lent to her by President Eisenhower.

All Aboard Choo Choo Train to Trump Land MAGA!: Witch Hunt Is Over!

Finally, it is full speed ahead all the way to the Trump Land of American Greatness, Mueller’s Witch Hunt wrecked by a triple whammy and cleared off the tracks.

1. Indicted Russians Demand Discovery

To look good, to prove that he is not wasting time (for nearly 2 years) and money ($25 million of tax payer money and counting) Mueller casually dashes off 13 indictments (see Mueller’s Russian Indictments: A Copout, 7-24-2018, typakmusings.com), cocksure that would be the end of it. The indicted Russians, none of whom have come to the States before (and yet of course colluded with Trump) would bother to travel all the way across the ocean, spending time and money. In the meantime by the grandstanding he accomplishes two things: (a) names and shames the absentees thereby fixing the suspicion of collusion more firmly on Trump’s head and (b) shrugs the Trumpers off his back and gets his tenure extended, until at least past the midterm elections in November, 2018, when a Blue Wave brings a Democratic majority to the House and impeaches Trump, regardless how his Special Investigation fares.

Lo and behold, the darn Russians show up and demand disclosure of his evidence against them. This time he cannot hem and haw or redact, as his DOJ and FBI cronies do, thumbing their nose at Congress. This is a US Federal Court, where a defendant’s right to discovery is constitutionally guaranteed. But compliance means the end of the Witch Hunt, as it incriminates the top echelons of DOJ and FBI, including Mueller himself and his pal Rosenstein, who signs off on FISA applications and appoints him Special Counsel.

Mueller and his minions, yes, all those smug elite lawyers are currently not smirking but racking their brains, brows knit, to figure out how they may extricate themselves from this hole of their own digging. They can’t. The game’s up. They have no alternative but to drop the indictments in toto, refusing discovery for national security reasons, and become the laughing stock of the whole world.

But in defeat is Mueller man enough to throw in the towel and own up, confessing that the Hunt has been a hoax all along? No, he still has Manafort who, threatened with a 3 centuries-plus jail term, might flip on Trump, just as Cohen did, though in vain.

2. Rick Gates, the Embezzler and Fraud

But the Manafort trial on which Mueller has been betting his bottom dollar is falling apart. His star witness Rick Gates, a long-time associate of Manafort’s plea-bargained to squeal on Manafort, turns out to have zero credibility: an embezzler, liar, adulterer. Whatever he has to say against Manafort will only boost him who, so reinforced, won’t turn on Trump, however deep Mueller may dig, maybe way back to his conception.

How absurd, how sad for America! Mueller and vermin of his ilk should have been squelched at the outset and the responsibility for the omission rests squarely with Ellis, the presiding judge. Granted he has repeatedly come down hard on Mueller for minutiae, like looking down, not up when talking to his Highness, and is steering the trial toward acquittal or guilty verdict on some charge unrelated to the purpose of Mueller’s appointment. In fact, Ellis is responsible for the whole Witch Hunt dragging out this long, ruling as he did in May 2017 upon perusal of Rosenstein’s appointment letter, that Mueller is indeed empowered to pursue “any links” whatsoever related to Russia and Trump, laying the blame on Rosenstein for giving such an unfettered fishing license to Mueller.

Attached below is the one-page document which clearly shows that Ellis has not read it closely enough and has allowed himself to be manipulated by Rosenstein’s deliberately ambiguous verbiage, thereby missing the whole point of the investigation, Russian collusion with Trump. Often woodsmen lose sight of the forest on account of the trees.

Instead of focusing on the headline in bold letters, investigate Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election and related matters, Ellis is lost in the text and gets fixated on one phrase, “any links,” perhaps betraying his penchant for minutiae, and strays from the controlling clause, “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.” The key words are “related” and “directly”. Of course such degree of ambiguity wouldn’t pass muster in English 101 but Rosenstein, the elite genius, composes this garbage, perhaps counting on its misinterpretation by his elite fellow jurists. Ellis rebukes Mueller for obsessing with Manafort’s lavish lifestyle, not because it is strictly forbidden by the language of the charging document but out of common sense. Had the mandate been properly interpreted, the nation would have been spared the tragicomic agony of the charade called Manafort trial.

3. A Giant Red Wave

Mueller’s calculation to hang on and ride the Blue Wave has been shattered. In Ohio Balderson, a Trump Republican, is a winner (though his opponent does not concede as of this writing, 11:16 p.m. EDT, 8-8-2018), making Republican gains 8 out of 9 and confirming the Republican majority of the House. Mueller’s hopes for Trump impeachment by Congress have a snowflake’s chance in hell.

[The PDF file is not copying and other means are being sought. In the meantime Google “Mueller Appointment Letter.]

Who Wins the Trade War, US or China?

On Aug 5, 2018, the first Sunday of the month, the ONCS at Ridgewood United Methodist Church, Ridgewood, NJ (see Immortality Club, 8-2-2018, typakmusings.com) had as its guest speaker J, who had grown up in the church before going off to teach political science at universities in Asia.

Dispensing with a formal presentation he invites the group’s participation in a Q&A session and goes straight to the burning question of the day, especially in the Democrat majority state: will America survive the consequences of the trade war set off by Trump’s foolhardy tariffs on Chinese goods?

“For a while,” J concludes after surveying the statistics, billions, even trillions of dollars worth of goods across the board to sustain modern American lifestyle. “With stopgap subsidies to those who scream like the soybean growers. The Chinese are smart and punch back right where it hurts most, the soft underbelly of America.”

“But the EU has offered to buy our soybeans?” I suggest, hoping for the superfluity of their subsidy.

“Only a fraction of what China can buy,” counters M, an Onc and dedicated Trump detractor. “Tofu is still not a staple of European diet.”

“Right,” J is on a roll. “But American vulnerability is not limited to soybeans. The American body is soft everywhere, not just the underbelly. For the last few decades it has soaked, submerged in the numbing sweet elixir of Chinese manufacture and the subsidies will multiply ballooning the budget until it pops. Either subsidies will cease or rampant inflation stalk the land, Americans everywhere screaming for Trump’s blood.”

“But the Chinese will suffer, too,” I hazard. “Look at the steel furnaces firing up all over America. China has mountains of steel they cannot dump anywhere except maybe in the South China Sea to build their idiotic islands.”

“Okay,” J concedes. “It comes down to pain tolerance and, unlike Americans, the Chinese are known for unlimited capacity. Their whole history is endurance. They just suffer and wait for years and years, generation after generation. Remember Deng Xiaoping’s answer when asked by an American journalist what he thought of the French Revolution (1789-99): it’s too early to tell.”

“After two centuries?” I laugh in disbelief. “I don’t think he went to school beyond sixth grade. No, the Chinese I know bleed and scream just as much as any American, and are just as incontinent and foolhardy like us. Okay, like Trump. But he has a better chance of prevailing because Chinese exposure is greater than ours. Suppose trading stops this instant. They’ll have ten times more stuff rotting on the docks of Shanghai than ours on both coasts. Look at all the megacities they have built and can’t fill, the trillion dollar One Belt One Road Plan, including the New Eurasian Land Bridge (Railroad), to dominate global trade, all a flop. No capacity can take that much hurt.”

“Look,” M, an idealist and humanist at heart, tries to raise the discussion to a higher level. “All these tariffs and trade wars will disappear if we have a global government, a global United States or EU magnified. Just as Massachusetts won’t drop a nuclear bomb on Vermont for deep sea fishing rights, we won’t bomb Russia or China or vice versa about who makes what.”

“Speaking of nuclear bombs, we should get along with Russia and China to survive and trade wars are certainly not the way to go about it,” J agrees. “Clinton let slip a golden opportunity right after the collapse of the USSR. Weak and clueless, Russia would have joined NATO and a Transatlantic Federation, TF, could have emerged, which would have eventually brought China into the fold, the rest of the world following suit. But he had to bow to the Polish lobby.”

“Isn’t Trump’s meeting with Putin in Helsinki a prelude to TF?” I jump to peddle my idea (see Helsinki 2018: the Finest Hour of American Diplomacy, 7-19-2018, typakmusings.com).

“Not immediately after he beefs up the NATO budget by hundreds of billions with new member contributions,” opines S, a recognized sage among the Oncs. “But in time the additional financial burden may make the Europeans or the Americans howl or even the Russians for that matter. The best scenario is for them all to blink and yell, Enough! at the same time, instead of playing chicken to the bitter end, towards MAD, mutual assured destruction.”

“Such simultaneity would be facilitated by interracial, intercultural, international marriage like J’s,” I mention, referring to his gracious Chinese wife who has given him two gorgeous Eurasian children, and go on to plug my book. “That is exactly the theme of The Polyglot: Union of Korea and Japan, amazon.com, where the protagonist, a Korean with Russian and Central Asian upbringing, marries an American girl, and also discovers that his biological father is a Japanese tycoon, not a famous Korean patriotic poet married to his Korean doctor mother. It urges the union of the two historic rivals, Korea and Japan, a similar invitation to China in its sights. Asia so unified will join the TF. Your World Union, M, would ensue as a superstructure anchored to such firm regional bases, rather than a federation of individual states.”

“I can’t agree more strongly,” J chimes in, and takes down the title of the book, promising to incorporate it in his curriculum. I love this guy. Too bad I cannot talk more fully about his identity or vision about US and China relations. Perhaps I have given away too much as it is, catching him off guard. He must have thought he is with his old home church crowd, especially its Oncs, the terminals, who would surely take whatever they learn to the grave. In addition to his scholarly work and teaching he has close dealings with the Chinee government in an advisory capacity under an implicit NDA (nondisclosure agreement). I hope what I have disclosed so far does not come to haunt him. To be fair, however, he hasn’t revealed anything all that secret. Anyone with internet access could have figured it out.

Jim Jordan: Next Speaker and President

On May 21, 2018, at a gathering of the Freedom Caucus in Washington, D.C., Rep. Jim Jordan gave a talk on the basic values of America, work, discipline, willingness to take risks to get things done, ignoring easy-goers, naysayers. It was verily a breath of fresh air, a “pin drop speech” as billed by YouTube.

A natural, extemporaneous speaker he articulates his thoughts simultaneously as they form in the head, or so it seems. With no time for selection or labored embellishment they shoot out like machine gun bullets to blow the cocky smile off the face of Deputy AG Rosenstein and compel his compliance with congressional demand for the FISA documents.

But in a friendly setting as now they shower flower petals, jewels, or manna, as the case may be, that soothe, cheer, thrill, or inflame. His lifelong motto has been Do what you said you would do. “There is one guy doing that in town,” he says, namely, President Trump, who has cut taxes, shored up the economy, defeated ISIS, … In comparison, the Congress has failed miserably time and again, he illustrates, taking the easy way out.

His voice rings out clarion clear with no hint of hoarseness (due to laryngeal impairment by acid reflux or otherwise), thanks perhaps to his “majoring in wrestling”: in college he was top state wrestler year after year, as well as serving as assistant wrestling coach. Making light of his formal education, MA in economics and JD, he is a quick study, distinguishing himself as an innovative and responsible legislator (Ohio State Legislature 1995-2006, US Congress 2007 – current). More recently, he has been brilliant in the House oversight role breaking open the deep-state hangers-on in the DOJ and FBI to prevent their complicity in the Witch Hunt for Russian collusion from imploding America (Overhaul of DOJ and Government Staffing: No Lawyers, 7-5-2018, typakmusings.com).

Firmly rooted in his Midwest upbringing and grateful and humble to serve and lead when elected in whatever role, he is not likely to put on elitist airs and will carry the torch passed on by Trump in 2024 to KEEP AMERICA GREAT (see Manifesto of Radical Democracy, 5-26-2014, typakmusings.com). The country should rally behind his bid for Speaker of the House now and give him full 6 years of tutelage alongside his exemplar and congenial colleague and companion to be 46th President of the US.

Immortality Club

Earlier this year we had the induction, willy-nilly, of S, a Korean American, as the youngest Onc, that is, a member of ONCS, Octo-Nona-Centenarian Society, formed informally at Ridgewood United Methodist Church, Ridgewood, NJ, subsequent to the posting of Candor about Age (1-23-2018, typakmusings.com).

Understandably he wasn’t all that thrilled, a reluctance shared by the others: it’s not like induction into a Hall of Fame. I have had to twist their arms to quit pussyfooting about their age (1-21-2018, typakmusings.com). Reciting Candor, I point out, uncharitably, that their declaration of Onchood comes as no surprise. They have been carrying the flashing beacons: droopy jowls, collapsed look at the mouth despite extensive dental work, grey hair, sneaking roots belying the dye, shuffling gait, geriatric stoop, generally sagging, sinking appearance, some wheelchair bound, too obvious to escape anyone’s notice, unlike the subtler signs displayed by the younger “I am not telling” or “forever 39” crowd.

But S has a particular reason to refuse identification with the other Oncs. He still is or imagines himself to be full of energy, playing golf 3 or 4 days a week. No, he is not one of those living dead, zombie like. Besides he has heard somewhere that in America those above 80, considered terminal cases, are looked upon with pity, if not loathing. Disingenuously I have persuaded him that ONCS is actually like the Biblical Senate to which all the rest of the church look up as repository of wisdom and guidance, that unlike Koreans who pay lip service to respect for the elderly Americans show it in action like Senior Supplemental Security Income.

Of course I haven’t told him that America, a youth worshiping culture, looks askance at Eithgy-plussers. During fellowship after church service the younger crowd shy away from us. Rubbing elbows with Oncs is bad investment timewise: they’ll all be goners in a few years, before or shortly after they turn 90, a knockout blow coming unpredictably from any part of the body, somewhat reminiscent of the punishment meted out in the old Chinese (Korean or Japanese?) military: a company of men is ordered to stand around and keep kicking the sack in which the prisoner is enclosed, until it slumps and goes still. No wonder they look upon us as residents of a hospice wheeled out for an outing, for social exposure, like a good meal before the execution.

Though the centenarian label is tacked on, that is, 100 or older, it’s just a wishful thought. The likelihood of any of us joining that stratum is 0.005%. Besides 99.99% of those few hundred thousand worldwide who cross the threshold perish in the first decade, and only a few dozen make the Supercentenarian rank, 115 or above. There is only one verified Supra-supercentenarian, Jeanne Calment (1875–1997) of France, who died at the age of 122 years, 164 days. There is no question of any human making it to the 8th or 9th century like some Old Testament patriarchs, let alone the millennium, not contemplated even in fertile Jewish memory. Not that it matters one way or another in the spectrum of eternity.

Actually we are glad they leave us alone. We don’t have much to say. No dicta impress us. Few of us ever quote anyone, be it a sage or a god. Not because our memory is failing but because so-called insight or wisdom sounds all so tawdry.

But we, hospice residents, may be rendering one salutary public service. Like the Anchor Boy graduating last and feted by the whole class at the Naval Academy for making everybody else look good in comparison, the Oncs give the non-Oncs a sense of safety and wellbeing, akin to that of a gladiator standing over a fallen opponent.

“Let’s change our group name to Immortality Club dedicated to the promotion of research and industry to bring about immortality,” S declares.

“But there is cellular senescence,” I add my two bits. “Our cells shut down after 50 cycles of division, because telomeres capping DNA wear out.”

“Nanotechnology will repair DNA damage and ultimately reverse senescence,” S is confident. “Humans will live forever, not in deep freeze or suspended animation, but in the prime of life, active and productive. Just imagine what the world will be like.”

“Can it be done before the end of the year?” asks W, the oldest Onc at 98.

“Not that soon. That’s why we should push it as a national movement and get it funded by the government, even setting up a new Department of Immortality.”

“That would be long after I am gone,” wails W. “So unfair! No, I want no part of it.”

CNN’s Modus Operandi: Decontextualization

On Jul 24, 2018 CNN does it again, confirming its modus operandi: decontextualization.

To refute Trump’s latest tweet that Russia might aid the Democrats in the 2018 mid-term elections because contrary to expectations he has been tough to Russia, Wolf Blitzer plays a clip from the Helsinki summit news conference 8 days before and asks viewers to judge for themselves whether Putin is pro-Trump or pro-Democrats.

A reporter asks a compound question: (1) Did Putin want Trump to win? and (2) Did Putin help him win in 2016?

Putin answers yes and goes on to address Question 1, explaining the reason for his preference: Trump wants to get along with Russia. Cutting him off Blitzer looks triumphantly at the camera, unspoken words shouting, QED. If the viewer had not watched the press conference in full, he or she would believe that Putin has admitted to meddling and collusion in 2016 and will do so again in 2018.

Had Blitzer left the video run a few more seconds the viewer would have heard Putin categorically say No to Question 2 and dismiss collusion as an absurdity.

History will show CNN and others for the fake media they are, depriving the world of knowledge (see CNN Fakery on the 8-22-2017 Trump Rally, 8-25-2017, typakmusings.com).

Mueller’s Russian Indictments: A Copout

In defiance of White House efforts at dissuasion the Mueller Russian collusion probe, on which the Impeach (Lynch) Trump mob has pinned its hopes, grandly announces indictments against 12 Russian nationals to coincide with the Trump-Putin summit on Jul 16, 2018.

If meant to be a dramatic warning of some sort to Trump as he meets Putin, it has made absolutely no impression. Right chummy with Putin, Trump has asked him to the White House, the first such invitation to a Russian head of state since Khrushchev in 1959. Actually, Mueller has made that gesture, knowing full well that the indictments cannot be enforced, there being no extradition treaty with Russia, underscored by Putin’s offer to Mueller to come over and interrogate the Russians charged, aware that Mueller will do no such thing.

Apart from their vacuity the Russian indictment strays into a fishing trip not sanctioned by his May 17, 2017 Special Counsel charter: Investigation into

“any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump, and any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”

Despite the misleading “any” it must be strictly interpreted to mean discovery of proof of Trump’s collusion with Putin rising to treason. After 1.2 years of digging there isn’t a “scintilla of evidence” supporting it, according to Rep. Gowdy. Moreover, if there is such collusion, it will show in action, such as Trump’s easing up on sanctions against Russia or giving other concessions. There is no hint of that. In fact, the opposite is the case, Trump escalating the sanctions. If Putin had been stiffed thereby, he would have stepped forward by now to get the welsher’s blood. He has not.

Nor do the 12 indictments stem “directly” from the specified purpose of the probe: Trump’s collusion. Instead they merely allege Russian meddling in US elections, as if that’s news. Russian meddling has been going on and will never stop. It’s part of their national policy. Nor should we be self-righteous and indignant: our CIA, NSA, FBI, etc. may have been doing something similar or worse to Russia and others all along.

But in the performance of this gratuitous labor Mueller’s team has been bewildered by the profligacy of their quarry. The Russians are simply drunk with meddling, lashing out in every which way with no direction or purpose. It would be nice and neat if they had hacked Hillary’s campaign only to dig up dirt on her to share and collude with Trump. Instead Russian operatives, all supposedly under Putin’s control, hack Trump, too, and supply Steele with material to script the Dossier for Hillary which in turn emboldens Rosenstein and crew to apply for FISA surveillance on the Trump campaign and appoint Mueller as Special Counsel.

Rep. Gowdy demands Mueller to end the witch hunt immediately, lest it should tear the nation apart, by bringing anybody to be charged to the “damn grand jury.” The vacuous Russian indictment won’t cut it. Devin Nunes and other Congressmen ask Trump to dissolve the probe but he won’t, because the I(L)T mob will go on forever with their litany that he did so because Mueller was getting too close for comfort.

Will Mueller terminate it voluntarily? No way. Because the facts protected by on-going investigation will all out and send to jail Rosenstein, Mueller, and a whole lot of the I(L)T mob for not only knowingly going on with the Dossier, even after its bogus nature became obvious only a few months into the probe, but also extending the fishing trip to the Middle East. Mueller will probably drag out the hunt until a Democratic President comes along to pardon him and his pals.

In the meantime the Russians are patting themselves on the back for embroiling America serendipitously in an unending feud which may, they hope, lead to its implosion and collapse (see Russians Having a Belly Laugh, 7-19-2017, typakmusings.com).

Helsinki 2018, the Finest Hour of American Diplomacy: Redemption for the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962

The reactions of the American media to the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki on Jul 16, 2018 certify them as myopic, partisan, fake news and prove once and for all the old adage about the blind calling an elephant a snake as they feel only its trunk. They think Trump has diminished America by truckling to Putin, the big winner. On the contrary, Trump emerges the elder statesman and global peace maker/strategist showing the way for America and Russia to get along and hold in check China as well as other minor bullies, rogues, and terrorists.

One may even go as far as to say that Helsinki 2018 is the finest hour of American diplomacy and redeems the horror of the American macho “toughness” (more accurately, foolhardiness) displayed by Kennedy vis-a-vis Khrushchev 56 years ago over the Cuban Crisis, which could have ended life on earth. The blind talking heads and pundits are insensitive to the paramount imperative for America and Russia to get along, the chilling specter still hanging over our heads: 90% of the world’s nuclear warheads in the hands of the duo, each capable, if provoked, of turning the Earth singlehandedly into a dead planet many times over in the twinkling of an eye.

(1) Competitor, not Adversary

Adroitly, Trump turns a reporter’s ploy to trap the two men into an adversarial relationship by calling Russia a competitor, a compliment because competition is the mantra of capitalism, endorsed by Putin and other post-Soviet Russians. He foils another reporter’s attempt to make him eat his word, telling Merkel not to buy Russian gas and make Germany vulnerable, language reminiscent of the Cold War: it’s just salesmanship, he jests, trying to sell American surplus gas and oil. Trump, the master dealer, defuses the tension between the two countries by transforming possible armed conflict into humdrum commercial negotiation.

(2) Mum on Crimea

The blind fakes denounce Trump for failing to order the KGB thug to get out of Crimea, failing to note that the annexation is not so cut and dried or single dimensional. A seaside way station since time immemorial for every tribal or troop movement from the continent to the Black Sea and vice versa, Crimea was made part of Russia in 1783 and was assigned in 1954 from Russia to Ukraine, then both in the USSR, for rezoning purposes, and left as an “autonomous” appendage to Ukraine following the Soviet collapse in 1991 until its recent Russian takeover, which is not exactly a grab and gulp in the old imperialistic mode. It would be quixotic of America to rise up in indignation and go to war to force Russia to cough up Crimea. Wisely, therefore, Trump lets Putin state his case. Noting Trump’s standing opposition to the Russian intervention in 2014, Putin cites the overwhelming (95%) referendum in favor, 90% of the Crimeans speaking Russian. Trump lets it rest there, not because he is ignorant of the inflated statistics but because the alternative, restoration to Ukraine for whatever reason, is just not worth rocking the boat of friendship just launched between the two countries.

(3) Throwing US Intelligence Under the Bus on Russian Collusion and Meddling

In reply to a reporter’s question whether he wanted Trump to win, Putin frankly admits he did because Trump wanted to get along with Russia whereas Hillary didn’t, but categorically denies doing anything to bury her, like hacking into the Hillary campaign and digging up dirt on her to share and collude with Trump. “I didn’t know him in 2016 to collude with,” he says, though the translation seems somewhat mangled.

Citing Mueller’s indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers a reporter tenaciously points out that based on indisputable US intelligence Russia has hacked into Hillary’s DNC. Putin denies this unequivocally and invites Mueller to come over and interrogate the persons charged. At this point the guy, a fake news stoolie with no qualms about putting his President on the spot, asks point blank whether he takes Putin’s word against his own US intelligence. Is Trump to wreck this once in a lifetime opportunity to get along with Russia by calling Putin a liar? Trump dodges the frontal attack and questions the infallibility of any intelligence service, including that of the US which to date has not produced Hillary’s server or missing emails. Of course this evasion, more accurately diplomatic finesse, is fuel for the firestorm at home, one CNN know-all solemnly declaring that Trump has thrown his own intelligence people under the bus.

Actually, Trump could have told Putin something like “collusion no but meddling yes,” even if it may have been to help him, and rebuked him, though good-naturedly. He is known to be blunt at his own expense. But there is no clear-cut evidence for meddling in his favor. In fact, hacking or false hacking went on in the other direction fueling the Witch Hunt unleashed by the FISA application based on the Trump dossier, Russian fabricated. If Russia was meddling, it was doing so in the most bizarre fashion imaginable, “peeing in both directions,” as a Korean saying goes about a drunken fool not knowing where the piss pot is. Trump is wise to stay clear of Russian meddling as it would question the sanity of the man whose goodwill he wants to win.

(4) Airing Dirty Laundry All Over the World

The visually impaired self-righteous patriotic media cannot fathom why Trump should mention Hillary’s destroyed emails and server, his running a clean campaign, and even slime like FBI agent Strzok, all domestic issues, not for the whole world to gloat over. Never has an American President behaved so despicably at an international forum. So unseemly, un-presidential, nay treasonous!

On the contrary, the self-styled patriots in fact diminish America, thinking these matters purely domestic, dirty laundry. They underestimate the importance of what goes on in American politics to Russia and the rest of the world, all getting a real time lesson on how democracy works, with all its limitations, ultimately for application to their own politics and government. Truly un-American are these Americans, who take an insular view of their role as the path finder for the whole world (see The American Age, 6-9-2014, typakmusings.com).

Just as we Americans appreciate Donald for his candor and transparency, so does the world, lapping up whatever the President of the US airs, especially his dirty laundry, to assure them we are all human after all, no matter our circumstances.

(5) Who is the Big Winner?

Particularly pathetic is a female talking head lamenting Trump’s appearance, a wimp compared to the manly self-assured Putin. Is she jealous of Melania? Throughout the whole encounter Trump comes across as a gracious, indulgent elder ready to take anything the junior might throw at him. Nor is Putin brash or cocky. If he is indeed the big winner as the fake media would have it, at least he doesn’t lord it over the loser. In fact, the opposite is the case: right cordial, deferential, respectful is he throughout. We can feel the good vibes between the two. Collusion? Putin with something on Trump? Give me a break. The tension has snapped “4 hours ago”, Helsinki time, Jul 16, 2018, and we may have just been ushered into a new era of coexistence and peace. The verdict:

Both have won big for the whole world.

Abolish Speed Limits: US Public Enemy Number One

It is taken for granted in America that speed limits are posted to be ignored and exceeded, safely by 10 miles but, with progressive riskiness, by 20, 30, or more, “risk” here meaning not physical or mechanical danger associated with high speed but the likelihood of getting nailed by the cops. The trick is to look out for them hiding in ambush with their speed gun and slow down in time. This cat and mouse game is honed to a fine art, starting from the moment one leaves the privacy of home and jumps in the car to interact with society, with the world, where law kicks in, until he or she returns home.

Is such behavior, such mentality consistent with a conscientious law-abiding citizenry? Not at all. America will end up a country of cynics who despise and flout the law, play with it, sneak around it, the more expertly the more they learn about it, say, by going to law school, as shown recently by the DOJ and FBI lawyers shamelessly, arrogantly lying and defying the Congress, a degree of deviousness abhorrent and unthinkable to the Puritan founders of the nation.

The damage has been done, the US recording the world’s highest incarceration rate, 655 out of 100,000, which is 15 times Japan’s 45 and 6 times South Korea’s 109. The US murder rate is 5.35 per 100,000, which is 20 times Japan’s 0.28 and 8 times South Korea’s 0.7. Nor is the home safe from the inroads of fundamental duplicity mirroring the public mindset, the US divorce rate inching above 60%.

The only way to turn the tide is to take down all the speed signs and trust the individual driver’s good judgment by instituting a rigorous and thorough driver education regime prior to licensing, modeled after the fighter pilot training program. Considering the deadly consequences of mishandling an automobile, truly astonishing is the laxity with which driver licenses are handed out, seemingly in collusion with the auto industry lobby to maximize car ownership and operation. DMV should require each applicant to complete weeks or months of video assisted classes subject to tough graduation exams, followed by virtual road tests in all possible situations. Only then the applicant is taken out for an actual road test, thorough and rigorous enough to certify the right instincts and reflexes in all conceivable driving as well as parking scenarios. So licensed, the novice driver will be as good as a veteran and know not to slow down in a school zone, for example, when the school is closed and no children are around.

Only on freeways with no traffic controls physically, mechanically unsafe limits, say 100 MPH, may be enforced with electronic surveillance and automatic fining. On arrow straight roadways stretching from horizon to horizon in states like Utah 200 MPH may be considered, if auto technology supports it.

Overhaul of DOJ and Government Staffing: No Lawyers

On Jun 28, 2018, America watched in amazement Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, currently the top law enforcement officer of the land next to Trump, thanks to Jeff Sessions, the dead man walking, fudge and dodge, refusing to answer the simple question asked by Rep. Gohmert, “Did you read the FISA application you signed?”

Understandably so, because he is caught between a rock and a hard place. To say yes is to admit that he is the ultimate villain who has unleashed the Spygate against Trump and the subsequent 2-year-long Russian collusion probe but to say no is admission of perjury for swearing to and signing an unread affidavit. Either way he goes to jail. How pitifully he wriggles, twists and turns like a worm, impaled by a hook, though one wouldn’t suspect it from his cocky smirk and demeanor.

But his first maneuver of evasion is rather stupid: he turns to FBI Director Wray seated to his right at the congressional witness table. Getting no help there and at the reminder by the impatient Congressman that the question is for him to answer Rosenstein says that he doesn’t need to read every FISA warrant he signs, that he merely need to understand what’s in it. To anyone who understands English that means, No, he hasn’t read it.

Gohmert expresses his surprise somewhat uncertainly, perhaps too shocked to believe what he has heard: “When you approve a FISA application, in your mind, does that mean you should read it and understand what’s part of it?” He should have said “you should read it,” period. If he must add anything, it would be: “and understand every part of it.” Instead, under the shock effect mentioned, he says “and understand what’s part of it”.

This is the opening he needs and Rosenstein jumps in with both feet: “You should certainly understand what’s part of it, sir.”
Belatedly realizing his error Gohmert orders Rosenstein not to “parse words” and tries to pin him down to his answer: “So, that doesn’t mean you need to read it, in your opinion – is that correct?” Actually, he intends to say, “So, that means you need not read it,” but the negative is shifted to the auxiliary verb, a frequent colloquialism. Perhaps encouraged by this grammatical slip Rosenstein unhesitatingly declares: “It depends on the circumstances.”

In exasperation Gohmert says: “Well, I am telling you, being a former felony state judge, if I had somebody like you come before me and now it was revealed later that the guy that signed and approved an application for a warrant had not even read the application that would allow spying on somebody, I would look at everything he signed from then on with a jaundiced eye.” And let that guy go on signing applications, whether looked at with a jaundiced eye or not, instead of throwing him in jail immediately?

Eventually we learn that as supervisor of over a hundred thousand employees he routinely signs off on thousands of documents all the time, apparently not reading but understanding it by telepathy, hearsay, or something and that only partially. How can Congress with its duty of oversight let these arrogant clowns occupy such high positions? Or is it the built-in impotence of Congress, as one may wonder watching the game Rosenstein is allowed to play with Congressional demand for documents? With a smug, taunting smile he says he has produced over a million. Irrelevant trash intended to head off and drown Congress, whereas only a fraction of what is really wanted has been served up, and that heavily “redacted”, that is, blacked out, speciously for national security’s sake. Baloney! Upon restoration, because there is technology for it, it is innocuous stuff, security-wise, but dynamite, destroying the integrity and credibility of Rosenstein and company.

Frustrated and disgusted, Rep. Gowdy tells Rosenstein to wrap up the whole Russia probe, which is tearing the nation apart. Indeed, it is a pity this tragicomedy is allowed to drag on. But there may be a silver lining. In the end Congress will get what it wants. Summoned to testify are the rank and file staffers of the DOJ ad FBI, some bound to blow the whistle on the collusion among the top dogs, Rosenstein, Wray, and others, all deeply involved in a vast corruption scheme, like coverup for Hillary’s uranium deal, and send the whole lot of them to jail.

Will the system remain clean and wholesome after their purge? Not if staffed with another crop of lawyers, professionally trained to fudge and dodge expertly like Rosenstein. Maybe it’s high time lawyers were barred from government employment, especially DOJ. Most legal work can be done by college freshman interns, thanks to the internet, video, and other devices. When necessary outside contractors can be consulted for a flat fee. We certainly don’t need lawyers in the upper echelons of government, to sign off without reading. See how America is getting great again with Trump at the helm rather than a career politician, that is, a lawyer. We need many more businessmen, engineers, builders, doctors, and other real-life experts in government, not politicians. The very idea of anyone making a career of government service should make us puke (see Manifesto of Radical Democracy, 5-25-2014, typakmusings.com).

Trump, the Eternal Juvenal

On Jun 28, 2018 in Mt Pleasant, WI, President Trump broke ground for the construction of a $10 billion Foxconn electronics manufacturing plant to produce half or more of all the electronic devices in use throughout the world. But this is the tip of the iceberg. Committed is the infusion of 10 times as much Foxconn capital to get the plant going, which would in turn trigger the influx of even more from all over. “The 8th Wonder of the World,” Trump rhapsodizes and so should the rest of America. The economy is really turning around and this is just the beginning.

But there is a typical Trumpian twist in handing out merit badges and honorable mentions. Complimenting Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, “a very talented person,” on “running 2,000 yards” with the ball passed to him, that is, paving the way to locate Foxconn in Mt Pleasant, he immediately regrets conceding so much to a potential adversary. “That comment will come back to haunt me,” he says, in all sincerity, and, continuing with the football analogy, adds that he hopes Scott won’t “run” against him.

Is this presidential, hanging out his juvenal combativeness, still stuck on his campaign trail, because he never saw beyond it and still can’t believe he is President because he isn’t, no matter the electoral verdict, a fraud and collusion, soon to be exposed and trashed, as his haters vow?

The answer is a resounding yes. He is paying a genuine, heart-felt compliment, every bit presidential, in the true sense of it (see Manifesto of Radical Democracy, 5-25-2014, typakmusings.com), neither truckling nor fawning. Donald elevates Scott to presidential candidacy capable of challenging him in 2020. Such is his esteem for contributions to the 8th Wonder of the World. But, acutely aware of the temporary tenure of his office at the pleasure and sufferance of his master, the people, he voices his opinion as an equal to Scott or anyone at all, not some superior being on his high horse handing out grades and medals. If that is juvenile, then so be it, the mind set we want of all our elected servants.

Let him tweet, speak off the cuff, putting his foot in his mouth now and then, and never grow up through his two terms, so etched indelibly on the psyche of every American, especially his successors and other office seekers, will be his basic humility.

Indolence of the Lion (Alpha Male): No Longer Defense for Slobs

There were days when husbands, nagged by their wives for being a slob, not picking up or cleaning up, doing the dishes, laundry, or other work around the house, could get away with it by playing an animal kingdom video: after lazing about, yawning and sleeping, while the lionesses pant and work a whole day to bring down prey, the lion saunters up lordly to the kill, driving them off, and gorges on the choicest part. No more, unless they risk direr consequences than nagging, like divorce.

The toil of housekeeping, coupled with child raising, is now widely appreciated with vocal demands for its elevation to a multi-level profession of expertise and skill to be certified and degreed. However dignified and ennobled, its hardship is bound to motivate women, whether highly educated and professionally trained or not, to get out of the house to find a job and make money to hire others to do the work, especially in times of full employment. But this exodus from home in turn creates shortage of labor willing to stay there and jacks up the wages. Gone are the days when one could get a babysitter for a song, maybe a meal or two and some change. Now $25 per hour is the going rate. Someone fresh off the boat with no schooling or English can hold out for a fully furnished HVAC room plus a substantial salary, say $3,000 a month as a live-in. Moreover anathema are job titles like “domestic help” or “au pair”: it is “domestic care provider” on the same level of respectability as lawyer, doctor, or engineer. As a result, unless the wife has a 7-digit or higher income, the job that enables her flight from home ends up barely paying the domestic hire at home, making no financial sense.

That’s why a slob can no longer cite the indolence of the lion as argument for his preferred lifestyle. He must either earn enough to afford a domestic provider or get off his butt and serve as one. Of course the logic is double edged and cuts both ways. Wives, if the traditional roles are reversed, you bringing home the bacon and your spouse staying home, treat your “house husband” with respect and pitch in.

A comment on the female leonine docility touched upon above. It’s mind boggling why the lionesses put up with the lion’s brutish conduct with no consideration for his female folk. Granted he is stronger than any one of them but, highly intelligent team players, they can easily gang up on him and tear him to pieces in no time, if they have a mind to. Instead, they slink away from their fruit of labor to return for the leftovers after his departure.

In obedience to some genetic code fashioned over millions of years of evolution? But evolution is supposed to promote the survival of the species. How does the pride benefit from the lion’s utterly selfish behavior? As a mighty defender against harm? The only threat he ever responds to seems the appearance of a stray male trying to muscle in for a piece of the harem. To secure his sexual security he fights off the intruder with life and death ferocity but the benefit to the pride or species is dubious: the intruder may have donated superior genes. From their growls and hisses of unmistakable though futile anger as they skulk off to let the lion feed, they clearly question the wisdom of their gender-wide deference to the brute but are unable to figure out the next step: coup d’etat. At least their human counterparts are not that dumb and would, given the same provocations, up and throw him over and run off to the first stranger that comes along in a heart beat, no matter he turns out just as brutish or worse.

True Globalism: A Review of The Polyglot: Union of Korea and Japan, amazon.com

Editor’s Note: The following review of The Polyglot: Union of Korea and Japan is copied from its Reader Column, amazon.com, by permission. The reviewer is Dr. Paul Sharar, 87, formerly on the NYU faculty and YMCA national director.

As a psychologist and YMCA director with broad experience with international groups I am delighted with Ty Pak’s novel, The Polyglot, for its combination of pertinent themes relevant to our world today, its salient and imaginative story line, its clearly drawn characters placed in a revealing history of an era he knows well and we all need to know better, and its focus on the many ways we communicate with one another with language-attitudes-tones-inflections-double meanings-misunderstandings all in a split second.
Dipping to the depths of depravity with clinical detachment and realism, the work soars to the heights of nobility, painted on a wide canvas, the whole globe, with characters ranging from the top rulers to the masses, a seemingly random sampling of them revealing a world of wonder, pathos, triumph, grandeur, especially as the ranks interact, showing how our lives are determined largely by luck and chance, the uncertainty binding us all and teaching us humility, understanding, forgiveness, love.
Early on there is a shocking and heart-breaking scene where Ina, 27, a brilliant surgeon, renounces maternity of her 2-year-old boy Peter as well as wifehood to her poet laureate husband, after coming all the way to Vladivostok from Japan occupied Korea to join him, only to find he has a second pregnant wife so committed to keeping him that she threatens with a pistol to Ina’s head to kill her and her son unless Ina renounces her marriage and gives her son to the second wife to raise with her soon to be born child, and never to make contact again.
This concession by Ina regarding Peter’s birth holds the key to the development of the story that takes place between 1919 and 1960 when Korea is forced to wake up to the modern age. The Stalin forced transport of Siberian Koreans to central Asia during which Peter is able to save many from death, China and Russia’s drive to make Korea communist, the US efforts to keep WW II outcomes in place, Japan’s economic revitalization all add to the evolving complexity of the story as Peter with an amazing gift for languages, speaking 16 with native fluency due to his forced trials, is pushed into many different leadership roles in these nations before, during and after the Korean War.
Then Peter’s identity is shattered, his old Soviet birth certificate turns out to be a fraud. Peter’s poet father assumed to have died in a Soviet gulag has been in the US, teaching literature at an American university, and is comatose with renal failure after contacting Peter. The kidney transplant campaign to save him leads to the discovery of Peter’s real parentage. His mother is Ina, as we have all known though hidden from him, but the DNA test for the kidney transplant shows his biological father is Japanese, not the patriotic Korean poet.
Hence the propriety of the eye-catching subtitle, Union of Korea and Japan, to this edition of The Polyglot. At first glance, given the history of the two countries, the idea seems an improbable fantasy. Not so with Peter, whose biology with Korean and Japanese parentage is an embodiment of this union. Nominated US Ambassador to South Korea but running into opposition from both Korea and Japan, who see him as 50% not like them, Peter calls on them to see him as 50% like them and to federate, especially in view of their common origins 10 millennia ago judging from the affinity of their two languages, as well as their close DNA. Nor is the federation proposed a ceremonial fellowship like the British Commonwealth but a functional polity like the USA.
Ty Pak gets us to think beyond regional geopolitical expedients and look once again at the possibilities for our global community to bring nations, languages, and cultures together. If Koreans and Japanese with their deep historical resentments will try, so might the rest of the world.

The Black White Cure for Racism

The influx into South Korea of thousands of black skinned but anatomically white, that is, Caucasian featured immigrants from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka may have solved the labor needs of its booming economy but, given its negrophobia and caucasophilia, creates an epistemological crisis (see Caucasian Mutation of Korean Faces, 4-4-2015, typakmusings.com): what to make of the contradiction, black white.

Ever resilient, however, they get over their bewilderment quickly enough by falling back on their instinct for survival: smile at those titled and affluent but scowl otherwise (see Mr. Khan, a Bangladeshi Single Father in Korea, typakusings.com).

In the process, however, they cannot help rethinking their former paradigm of racism, black at the bottom, white at the top, with themselves somewhere in between or outside. The lines are definitely blurring and areas overlapping to make the trichotomy practically meaningless. Every person must be judged on his or her own individual merits, regardless of color or anatomy.

But that’s abolition of racism called for by sensible people everywhere (The Polyglot: Union of Korea and Japan, amazon.com). So the Indian subcontinent that has sent its black white sons and daughters to South Korea is to be credited with initiating, if not completing, its liberation from the hell of racial prejudice. Perhaps the same kudos should go to the huge black-white swath from Morocco to the Middle East, home to the Moors, Libyans, Egyptians, Arabs, Iranians, Iraquis, Afghans, and so forth, for the relative racial tolerance among Europeans and Africans.

Should we therefore import the black-whites from India and its Middle Eastern and North African extension to make America racism free? Not so fast. The black whites themselves may be the fiercest racists that kill. Extreme vetting is necessary before admission. Moreover, they are already here in strength, as many as 7 million or 2% of the American population. South Korea did it with little over 10,000 or 0.02% of its population.

Candor about Age: Step One in the Anti-Privacy Movement

Liberation from obsession with privacy is the first priority for America’s survival from terrorism (see Privacy or Safety, 12-27-2013, and Scan Our Faces All You Want, 7-14-2017, typakmusings.com) but also for true civilization, predicated on socialization, getting to know neighbors, near and far, and becoming friends, on exposure and vulnerability by pulling down the multiple walls of privacy that cocoon Americans.

The Anti-Privacy Movement proposes demolition of the first wall, age: no more coyness about telling your age nor disdain for innocent inquiries by those from other cultures, East Asian in particular (see Quit Pussyfooting Around Your Age, 1-21-2018).

To go beyond passive endurance, however, urged is proactive use of age as a social ice breaker instead of the inane weather. Ask each other how old you are, talk about your years, events, highlights, celebrities, villains. You’ll soon be exchanging phone numbers, email addresses, and become friends forever, no matter your race, creed, or culture.

Quit Pussyfooting Around Your Age, America!

Watching the extravaganza of fireworks at midnight, Dec 31, 2017, livestreamed from all over the world, including North Korea, of all places, Americans may well rethink their political correctness or taboo about asking or telling one’s age. Those in the Sinosphere, namely, China, Japan, and Korea, accounting for more than a quarter of the world’s population, grow exactly one year older at the same time promptly after midnight, Dec 31, and freely ask and tell each other how old they have gotten.

That’s absurd, you may say, because it’s counting age by the year of birth, resulting in 365 people born on different days of the year having the same age. Not any more than 24 x 60 x 60 x (1 million microseconds or billion nanoseconds if you want to go that far) people born on the same day having the same age.

Of course even these Orientals have their own birthdays and celebrate them but strictly as a birthday, not as a turning point in age. If a date-based American-style age is required for the military draft, to determine adulthood, etc., they use the term “age” with a modifier “full”.

In any event East Asians have never had the kind of American shyness about age. Maybe counting by the year makes them more cosmically aware and dismissive of dissimulation, especially when it’s futile. The body trumpets it no matter how you disguise it. Let’s face it. One simply grows to maturity, is the master of the universe for a season, then wilts. This grim realization is tempered by respect for the elderly, the weak and unproductive, the quintessence of which is the Social Security Act. So your heart is in the right place, America. It’s just that darn fancy of yours, political correctness about age.

Winterize but Ventilate: Korean “Winter Pallor”

With temperatures dipping to single digits or below zero Fahrenheit in many parts of the country American homeowners bemoan their neglect to winterize, weather-strip, draft stop, staring at their higher heating bills. But don’t be too hard on yourself. You may be paying for better health.

Until the middle of the last century Koreans stayed indoors for months, battening down the hatches as soon as the winter laid siege, proud to emerge in the spring with their “white skin” restored. This was pre-Caucasophilia (see Caucasian Mutation of Korean Faces, 4-4-2015, typakmusings.com), before the country opened up in a hurry to the outside world with the avalanche of American troops, mostly Caucasian, during the Korean War (1950-53), and of Western technology, economy, and culture afterwards, which reinforced the traditional obsession with white skin, the emblem of aristocracy, freedom from manual labor under the scorching sun.

Of course they didn’t know any better about their wonderful winter-reclaimed pallor, an unmistakable symptom of incipient hypoxemia, low oxygen in blood, due to the poor indoor air quality, and paid for it with tuberculosis and other diseases, dying young.

Let’s not have that Korean “winter pallor” in enlightened America. Winterize by all means but ventilate by opening a window or two for a few minutes a day.

Anatomy of Prayer

Everybody prays. Nobody is too strong, too smart, too proud to pray. But, as we all know by experience, answers are slow in coming, if ever. This is why.

While you are praying for Outcome A (say, you get the Nobel Prize), there may be others who may secretly wish, a weak form of prayer, if not outwardly or expressly pray, that Outcome A never happens because they think you haven’t got what it takes or they simply hate your guts, as the case may be.

All seeing, all knowing, and omnipresent, God hears all these prayers, whispered or spoken, from everybody, including those sent up from the departed, whether dearly beloved or otherwise. In general, you can count on your ancestors rooting for you, though some may not have forgiven you for the mean things you’ve done to them while alive, but you can bet your bottom dollar that your enemy’s ancestors will be raising a hell of a chorus to defeat your suit.

Imagine a crowded court, much bigger than any on earth, but God the omniscient, a supercomputer, hears every testimony, weighs one against another and metes out his decision. So just keep praying fervently and you’ll hear from him, hopefully soon.

Hate Mongers: True Name for the Fake Media

On this Christmas Day of 2017, as we hear church bells ringing joy to the world for the lord of love has come, one cannot help being struck by the perversity of the fake media that reported the gathering of Christian leaders Trump addressed on Oct 13, 2017 as a hate group, because hate is the furthest thing from their minds, as they celebrate Christmas, calling it Christmas again thanks to Trump, unless love is hate by some arcane psychoanalytic reasoning.

No, there is no hint of that. Nor are they all that cerebral. They mean hate when they say hate. But what they call hate is in fact the opposite, love. It’s like calling white black. How can they do that?

Because somewhere along the line in their education their minds got distorted, most probably from their enlightened education, learning about other life styles, cultures, languages, and, yes, religions, without perspective. Just as those of my generation born in the 20’s and 30’s of Korea were fascinated with Marxism, so are these new intelligentsia with Islam and the Middle East. Let’s face it. To learn a language, say, Arabic, is to embrace its history, culture, and religion, jihadism in particular, whose Commandment #1 is: Hate the hate group, Christians, and their leaders, like Trump who wants to call Christmas Christmas instead of Holiday, which would have relativized Christianity and canonized Islam.

Lest the unwary and indifferent be misled and take at face value what the fakers report, we should call them by their correct name: hate mongers. Yes, they want to infect America with an epidemic of hatred, knowing that it will gut and destroy America from inside. This calling a love group bar none a hate group is a frontal attack strategy they have recently come up with. The lexical inversion is particularly effective because Christianity, that is, love, in one form or another, is all over America, and their defacement or distortion into hatred, its opposite, would be the shortest path to victory.

We know they pray fervently for our destruction, since their attempts at doing real damage have been thwarted promptly by Homeland Security, Trump led and inspired. Thank God their prayers are not heard. In fact, prayer in general is not meant to be heard. If it were, then life would be really messy. God is apparently not easily swayed and grants our prayers after much deliberation or never, which may frustrate some of us, even to the point of cursing and renouncing him forever, as it happened in South Korea when 299 high schoolers drowned in the sinking of the Sewol ferry on Apr 16, 2014 despite fervent prayers by Christians (see 4-27-2014 typakmusings.com). But resist the temptation and think of God, the omniscient, unequivocally saying no to the jihadist prayer for our annihilation.

E Duobus Unum: Love Among Siblings with Different (Mother or Father) Surnames

E duobus unum (one out of two) shall be the motto of Neo-Feminism, the movement to ensure maternal as well as paternal lineage. Just as e pluribus unum (one out of many) was chosen to bring the 13 colonies into one nation, the Neo-Feminist motto ushers in a new age, where true gender equality reigns, unleashing the tremendous potential of women suppressed heretofore to nurture humanity to greater heights of achievement and civilization.

The motto is designed to dispel any concern about division or discord in the nuclear family on account of different surnames. Children have no sense of alienation from their brothers or sisters on account of having different personal (first and/or middle) names and adding a second or third element to their identity won’t bother them. Moreover, if the millions from different continents and cultures can live together, enjoying the miracle that is the United States, surely two groups, consanguineous but with mother or father surnames, should certainly get along and be loving brothers and sisters.

E duobus unum is best illustrated by the two prime ministers of Japan: Nobusuke Kishi (1957-60) and Eisaku Sato (l964-72), both siblings with the same father and mother. Their different surnames are the result of Kishi’s adoption by the wealthy Kishi family, not by Neo-Feminism, but the brothers’ continued love and support throughout their lives proves the point of Neo-Feminism, highlighted by the following excerpt from The Polyglot (Amazon.com).

********************************

Ike and Kishi stayed close together and mixed small talk with references to politics, both feeling totally at ease because of Peter’s unobtrusive but thoroughly reassuring translation. At one point Kishi beckoned to one of his companions and introduced him to Eisenhower.
“Meet Eisaku Sato, my Minister of Finance, who is also my brother.”
“It’s remarkable to have two brothers so prominent in government service. So who is the elder?”
“He is five years senior to me, Mr. President,” said Sato.
“But the real boss in our ruling Liberal Democratic Party,” Kishi added, “he defers to me because I am older but his buddies are impatient to put him in my place.”
Sato was to serve three terms as Prime Minister from l964 to 1972, the longest tenure as Prime Minister in Japanese history.
“It must be truly gratifying to work as partners in adult life, as well as being siblings in private life. I know the post of Minister of Finance is the most vital in the Japanese cabinet, in any cabinet, like the Treasury in the States and the Exchequer in Britain, Mr. Kishi.”
“I am Sato, Mr. President. We have different surnames.”
“Oh, you are half brothers with different fathers.”
“No, we have the same biological father as well as mother.”
“Is there something I have missed about Japanese culture? I thought the children took the father’s name there as here.”
Puzzled, Ike turned to Peter, forcing him out of his transparency as translating medium.
“They do in general, Mr. President, but in some rare cases they take the mother’s name, when there is no claimed father or more importantly when the father marries into the wife’s family on condition of adopting her family’s when its line might come to an end for lack of a male heir. But in every case the children would take one or the other, and not both to have different names from each other. Early on Prime Minister Kishi left his birth family because he was adopted by the affluent Kishi family.”
Sato, who had followed the English, smiled and said, in Japanese, “You seem well acquainted with our pedigree.”
“Your families are among the most preeminent in Japan.”
“As a Kishi my elder brother Nobusuke has been a lot of help to the Satos.”
“No, Eisaku did it all on his own, passing the senior civil service examination quite young and distinguishing himself in all the posts he was assigned to.”

***********************

It may be noted that Kishi happens to be the maternal grandfather of Shinzo Abe, Japan’s current Prime Minister (2006-7, 2012-present). Had the country known Neo-Feminism in the 50’s when Abe was born, he could very well be Shinzo Kishi now. Nobusuke might be turning in his grave with vexation at this lost opportunity for his lineage.

Americans Worship God, not Government: Korean Royal Laundry

CNN has done it again: immortalize Trump for coinage of an aphorism, Americans worship God, not government, bound to embed in the American psyche.
Who needs a friend when you have an enemy like CNN?

Unnoticed by most of us this priceless jewel, delivered a couple of months ago on Oct 13, 2017, at an annual gathering of Christian leaders, dubbed a “hate group” by fakers, would have sunk into oblivion. But CNN, the faker bar none, wouldn’t let it. In its relentless vendetta against Trump CNN has one of its harpies air the clip, cocksure that she would hogtie him once and for all as a Christian bigot. On the contrary, she has only energized and consolidated his base, the majority that has put him in office.

Moreover, by his decisive repudiation of government as an object of worship, he parts company with kings of old or some heads of state even today. Unspoiled by pomp and circumstance as President he has no illusions of his divinity (see Magna Carta 12-20-2013 and Radical Democracy 5-25-2014, typakmusings.com), nor would he tolerate, let alone encourage, servility, bowing and scraping, as if he were God, epitomized by Korean royal laundry. A Korean king routinely rewarded his loyal servants, prime ministers, generals, eulogists, as the case may be, with his soiled clothes, the awardee falling apart in gratitude. Donald would not dream of giving his laundry to Kelly, Mattis, or Hannity, nor would they appreciate the favor.

But in this regard they are exceeded by CNN and other fake media goons, who may spit at him (on pain of criminal prosecution for assault and battery), but not wear his laundry nor bow and scrape, thereby acting as disinfectant to keep a democracy from spoiling into an autocracy.

But no matter how contemptuous, they should keep their eyes open, because the penalty otherwise is suicidal. It is blindness that has driven them to bog the nation down in frivolous Russian investigation, tying up its resources, legislative, judicial, and administrative, and preventing their proper use to make America great again.

Gender Equality: No More 출가외인, Married and Dumped

This is another appeal for the equality of the sexes, that is, the elevation of women to the same status as that of men.

Men, abandon your built-in arrogance, your unconscious male chauvinism. It’s time you owned up to the gross injustice your race has done to women.

Women, where is your pride and passion for feminism, for gender equality? Rise up in indignation and wrath and seize your dignity, immortal identity.

The single most formidable obstacle to gender equality is patronymics or naming children after the father’s family name, either by law or by custom, the mother’s identity thereby lost forever. This lack of lineage is the single most powerful reason why sons are preferred everywhere and daughters considered a burden soon to be ejected, most shamelessly and brutally expressed in the pitiless Korean phrase, 출가외인, married and dumped, as if the daughter had never been.

We of Neo-Feminism propose to correct this injustice, not by abolition of patronymics, though that seems fair enough in view of accumulated injustice over the millennia, but by implementation of matronymics, so men and women have an equal chance to pass on their family names. In a few generations equality of lineage will result globally and women, now capable of lineal descent, will no longer be the inferior sex.

Neo-Feminism: Movement for Women’s Right to Keep and Pass On Their Family Names

For the sake of brevity Neo-Feminism is the name by which is to be known henceforth our Movement for Women’s Right to Keep and Pass On Their Family Names, launched on 11-11-2017, typakmusings.com.

In a recent meeting of Neo-Feminists the following resolutions have been adopted.

1. Neo-Feminism

This shall be the official title of the movement, subject to reconsideration.

2. Prospective Implementation

The proposed measures, retention of the wife’s maiden name and equal proration of parental names for children, are prospective and not retroactive, as the latter may be unduly disruptive. Neo-Feminists are conservatives, not revolutionaries, and espouse the spirit of the U.S. Constitution prohibiting ex post facto legislation (Article 1, Section 9, Clause 3).

3. Paranoia about Different Clans in the Same Family

There is the fear voiced by some that different surnames in the family may be divisive. But it is paranoia, dispelled upon reflection.

We are dealing with two names, father’s and mother’s, not a multiple. If duality is acceptable for parents, so it is for their offspring. If nothing else, it will be a tribute to the awesome mystery and beauty of sexual reproduction.

The children, given their different surnames at birth, will grow up, thinking nothing of it. The concern for divisiveness is the relic of the pre-Movement era, destined to disappear in one generation upon demise of the parents.

4. Agenda

As the Movement attains critical mass, it will have an office and staff to maintain the Register, contact the media, and organize awareness events, conferences, rallies, etc. Also at this point the Movement will apply for donations from organizations and individuals such as the Clinton Foundation, whose founders have only a daughter and the Obamas who also have only daughters.

5. Registration as a Non-Profit and Trademark

The Movement will be registered in New Jersey as a nonprofit along with its trademark, Neo-Feminism, and articles of incorporation. However, other states may be considered as its national and global base.

6. Subscription to Neo-Feminism

To join the Movement send in your name for inclusion in the Neo-Feminist Register, along with your affirmation of support and any particulars about yourself you care to share with the membership, such as your profession, family history, phone number, mailing address, etc. to typakmusings.com@gmail.com or dr.youngicklee@gmail.com. No dues or donation is solicited.

Movement for Women’s Right to Keep and Pass On Their Family Names

We call on all good people of the world to rise up and give their women true equality by letting them keep and pass on their family names to their children.

It is downright unfair and mean to deny them this right to lineage, to immortality, that men take for granted as they marry. It is in fact no less a crime than matricide (No More Matricide, 1-17-2014, typakmusings.com).

America is very much behind the Europeans in this all important effort to right the wrong humanity has been guilty of for thousands of millennia.

In 1978 the Council of Europe declared equality of rights in the transmission of family names. Likewise, in 1979, the United Nations adopted a Convention calling for gender equal rights to choose a “family name”. Similar measures were anticipated by Germany (1976) and adopted by Sweden (1982), Denmark (1983), Spain (1999), France (2005), and Italy (2014).

Gender equality in surnaming children is a moral and practical imperative worldwide as we go forward with civilization in the 3rd millennium. (1) It will end global preference for male lineal heirs, (2) prevent female feticide and infanticide, practiced on a massive scale in China, for example, under its one-child policy, and (3) stop overpopulation, as couples with daughters won’t keep having more children just to get a son.

For immediate implementation we therefore propose the following procedure:

1. First Child to Take the Mother’s Surname

This is only fair to make amends for humanity’s accumulated wrongs, unless the mother agrees otherwise.

2. Alternation among Subsequent Children

In other words, the 2nd child after the father, 3rd the mother, 4th the father, and so on.

In case of an odd number, the last one will be given either parent’s by drawing lots or by consent of the resulting minority parent.

3. Maiden Name After Marriage

Upon marriage a woman shall retain her surname and not change to her husband’s.

In particular there shall no longer be the monstrosity, hyphenation of both spouses’ surnames.

3.1. First, it is unequal, because the husband gets to keep his family name, smugly looking on his inferior partner’s contortions. On the off chance he adopts the hyphenation, he would probably insist on having his surname as the first element of the compound.

3.2. Secondly, the hyphenated form cannot be bequeathed to the children. In the unlikely event it is, the hyphenated child may marry another hyphenated child, whereupon we end up with multiple hyphenations.

All who agree with this cause to realize gender equality are invited to send in their names and other identifying information to typakmusings.com@gmail.com for inclusion in the national, nay, global register of membership in the Movement for Women’s Right to Keep and Pass On Their Family Names.

Goodbye to God

Gathered at our house in Norwood, NJ, on Sunday, Sep 24, 2017, is the whole tribe to celebrate the end of summer, though conspicuously absent and sorely missed are our oldest granddaughter now up at Brandeis as freshman and our other son and his family in Korea.

First to arrive is our nephew, unattached and eager to revisit the place where he has stayed his first summer on the East Coast, followed by our daughter, her husband, and twin daughters, exactly on time, 4:30 p.m. Not too soon for our son-in-law in charge of the first barbecue outdoors on the deck breaking in the brand new propane gas grill. He checks out the equipment and starts working on pans of marinated chicken and spare ribs of beef, while my wife adds the last-minute touches to the all organic salad bar.

Our daughter and her twin girls return from their workout at the tennis court to find that our youngest son, his wife, 21-month old daughter, and grandma haven’t arrived yet, a full hour past the start time, egregious even by his standards though he is stopping at a gourmet restaurant in Piermont to pick up some pasta dishes. Disappointed, because the girls have hoped to have their uncle join them at the tennis court, and heading for different bathrooms to wash up, they swear us to a pact to tell him henceforth to come one hour ahead of the real time.

Finally all accounted for and the barbecue completed, they surround the table and ask me to bless the food, catching me by surprise. I have had plenty of notice but procrastinated, thinking I would need only one hour to compose and memorize, but got distracted by little errands and emergencies.

“You do it,” I order my daughter. As a corporate lawyer she has the poise and gravitas and has emceed and moderated numerous gatherings but, above all, she has the real faith under my wife’s influence. “Be the chaplain for the occasion.”

“No, you should be it, Dad,” she refuses out of filial piety, Korean style. Even if she were the Pope herself, she would defer to me, thinking this wretched business a privilege rather than a burden.

“Just get it over with, Dad,” barks her husband, an experienced moderator having been a managing director at Goldman Sachs and chaired charities and nonprofits. But I cannot bounce the ball back to him. A son-in-law is not like your own son, not that the latter are any more tractable. Look at my youngest, who chooses to be an hour late. But to them I can shout an order, not expecting to be obeyed, but not to my son-in-law, with whom I must be on my best behavior at all times. The Korean saying goes: “Son-in-laws are guests forever.”

I am under tremendous pressure. Here are my two teenage granddaughters and one 21-month-old just learning to say a few words. I have to mind my manners, none of the heathen stuff I pull with my wife. It’s not that I am an atheist. I am not that brave. When something close to my heart is at stake like health or work of myself or my children and grandchildren, I am begging abjectly on my knees for God to help. It’s just that I know too much, growing up in Korea going to the temple, burning incense and bowing down to the statue of a fat Oriental buddha sitting with his legs crossed and folded. Simultaneously and more persistently we went to our ancestral tombs on New Year’s, Jan 1, or on Autumn Eve, Aug 15, by the lunar calendar. Also I had Christianity from my father who went to an American missionary school in Japan and my mother, a born again Christian. Then I married a pastor’s daughter who married me to save my soul. Living in the States I have of course learned about Hinduism and Islam with its Jihadist agenda and many others throughout the globe, each sacred for the believer but inane or downright insane to the outsider.

I plunge in and zip through, “Thank you, Lord, for bringing us all together on this last Sunday of the summer. Bless the hands that have prepared the food. Also bless our work, our studies, our projects and plans. Let us all eat heartily and have fun. Goodbye!”

The gale of laughter subsides with my son-in-law’s authoritative comment, “You’ve been doing this for years and are getting worse.”

“Goodbye?” my wife shakes her head in disgust. “What happened to Amen, your usual hurried ending, if not the proper one, In the name of my savior Jesus Christ?”

“I don’t know,” I blush and stammer, genuinely befuddled, because Goodbye has never been part of the inventory before.

“Every night I have corrected him for the last 40 years,” she continues. “Even a dog at a temple learns to chant the sutras after three years but not your Dad.”

Yes, she makes me pray every night before going to bed, which is not hard, as I get to pray for my children and grandchildren, but my hasty Amen must be followed up each time with the correction, “In the name of my savior Jesus Christ.”

“Give him a break,” comes my daughter to my rescue. “He was having a tete-a-tete with God and bidding goodbye when done.”

“That’s it,” I grab at the lifeline. “I am so into it, because I am talking straight from the heart to God. That’s how prayer should end, with plain Goodbye and no denominational, sectarian, or other signature.”

“We’ll talk about it later,” my wife warns ominously, rushing off as the oven alarm goes off for the heated pasta.

The Axiom of Reciprocity

A 79-year-old Korean American resident of New Jersey writes to his 34-year-old nephew, his younger sister’s son, from California, who has stayed the whole summer of 2017 at his house, attending community college.

Aug 23, 2017

Dear Tom,

Congratulations on your excellent grades for all the intensive summer courses. Determined as you are to make up for the years lost you’ll keep up the momentum to complete BA and post-graduate degrees and pursue a professional career.

You are also to be commended for saving enough money in a few weeks, working part time, to finance a trip home over the Labor Day holiday, proof that you are a capable adult who need not depend on the charity of your relatives or friends. Dependence is despicable, because it violates the fundamental principle of life, reciprocity. That’s why I have told everybody that you were staying with us only for a short visit.

The time has come for us to end that visit as it has become untenable. We have been avoiding each other, a relatively easy proposition because your semi-basement suite is accessible through the garage without intruding on us. For meals, however, you have to come upstairs to the kitchen on the first level, making sure I am not there eating. But occasional brushes are inevitable and I beat a hasty retreat to my study grabbing whatever containers of food at hand to give you free rein. Obviously, we can’t go on like this.

In hindsight we shouldn’t have embarked on our communal experiment. Your Mom sounded upbeat, telling me that she and your father were finally closing on the sale of their Japanese restaurant in San Francisco, and I thought they must have cleared a million bucks at least. In the next breath, however, she said their net was zero after paying off accumulated debts, including the 10-year-old debt of some $50,000 to Brenda, my daughter. Penniless, they were moving in with your brother Frank and his wife Liz, both doctors in Los Angeles, to be their infant son’s full time babysitters. But when asked about you, she said matter-of-factly that you would be left where you were to fend for yourself, Frank’s two-bedroom apartment being overcrowded as it was. All I had heard about you was that you had dropped out of college after falling into bad company and got addicted to drugs but had miraculously kicked the habit and worked as sushi chef at your parents’ and other restaurants.

I don’t know whether it was your Mom misleading me, knowing how I always felt about her (I was 12 and she 1, when our father died in October 1950 during the Korean war) or me overreacting and misreading the signals. It just tore me up to hear her ending up with nothing after working her butt off for 20 years and going off to live in Los Angles leaving you behind, evocative of black family members being sold off to different owners in the olden days. Of course the analogy is all wrong because there was no such tragedy afoot. You had been on your own and not living with your parents for quite some time. Also your parents are parents, not live-in servants, to Frank and Liz, who were buying a multi-bedroom house to accommodate them. But the imagery of slavery stuck and compelled me to step in as the magnanimous uncle to keep the family together. I gave your Mom enough money for all three of you to come over for a visit to my house in New Jersey after the sale closed. In addition, I told her you could stay with us, if you so chose. Obsessed by the urgency to prevent the crisis of family breakup, I had given little or no thought to post-crisis management, except some vague notion that the arrangement might turn out mutually beneficial over the long haul. You could get a good job as a sushi chef and bring home left over sashimi, or help with house cleaning, maintenance, or remodeling. We might even go into business together, buying old houses and remodeling, then selling for profit. In other words, I hoped for some monetary or other return for your room and board, worth at least $3,000 a month, the sum offered by a Korean family wanting us to take in their high school child. Naturally I was miffed, when you came enrolled in community college, so you could go on to be a doctor like Frank this late in your life. Not only was there to be no big payoff from your live-in labor but, unbeknownst to me, I was inextricably committed to making huge scholarship payments, a suspicion confirmed soon enough.

Preoccupied with job hunting and school work you couldn’t spare any of yourself for us but even if you had all the time in the world you wouldn’t have bothered. A born slob you don’t even clean your suite, let alone the rest of the house. I hinted at thinking out of the box and going into construction, rather than following the academic routine, and you dismissed it out of hand. With a visceral aversion to manual labor in general you refused to continue as a chef and opted for salesmanship at a department store though I couldn’t see much difference.

Your careless wastefulness got on my nerves. There was plenty of natural light but you turned on all the lights and wouldn’t turn them off when leaving the house. Despite numerous reminders you flipped the wrong switch and turned on the outdoor lights. It’s a wonder our Samsung washer and dryer are still holding up after such abuse from all your laundry, not only your daily quota of sweat-drenched clothes explained below but what you had brought over from San Francisco, including blankets, mats, tennis shoes. Then there was your gargantuan appetite, about five times mine. We had no choice but to refuse supporting your no carb “royal diet,” a typical meal consisting of a couple of pounds of animal protein mixed in a 12-inch diameter metal bowl, for no ordinary plate would serve the purpose, with spinach, kimchee, dwenjang stew, red pepper sauce, etc. (but no rice or noodle we plebeians eat), and you started buying pork, steak, and chicken, but not the other Korean dishes, doubling, tripling Auntie’s visits to the Korean supermarket and delis with their toll on her colitis. Since you started cooking, the paper towel on the two holders had to be replaced in a matter of days, not weeks, and the dish washing liquid refilled three times quicker, not to mention the torrents of water, always hot, splashed and wasted, not metered to trickles, always cold, as before.

To seal the leak in your shower door I needed the stall to be dry and told you to shower upstairs or, better still, at the 24-hour fitness center where you went every day without fail, which would incidentally shrink our water and gas bill big time because you showered prodigiously. I was astounded by your flat refusal, though it made absolutely no sense not to wash off all the sweat worked up and let it soil the clothes. I saw it only as some kind of malice to go on wasting my gas and water but the reason given was inconvenience of carrying in all your stuff. What stuff other than a towel and soap, unless you were a woman? You were to shower at the gym but your shower was wet when checked a few days later. Your excuse this time was that one’s shower was private and not to be shared with others. But, then, what about dorms, military bases, YMCA’s, public baths, club houses? You countered that the gym showers were dirty. On the contrary, they were cleaned daily, unlike yours you never had cleaned, I pointed out. You then said you hated seeing naked men, their dongs swinging. But why should that bother you when you had one, too? Telling you how I had showered at a gym every day and enjoyed it enormously because I didn’t have to clean or maintain when I lived a whole year in an office as my family had moved to New York ahead of me, I repeated the decree to stop showering at home, only to be ignored.

The tensions mounting between us came to a head on June 19, 2017, my birthday as it happens, a couple of weeks after your parents’ return to California. No sooner had we all sat down to eat than I had to leave the table to service a business call in the study. When I returned about five minutes later, you were polishing off your royal diet in the metal bowl. Then I noticed the empty dish that had about 2 pounds of stir-fried beef with onion, mushroom, and Chinese cabbage, Auntie’s specialty, apparently all tossed into the gigantic bowl and dispatched. Auntie was back in the kitchen cleaning up and putting away. I said you could have saved some of the stir-fried out of common decency and you flew off the handle. Jumping up from the table, you swore you wouldn’t eat my food. We shouted at each other, calling names, and I was ordering you to get out instantly. Auntie intervened, pushed me upstairs, and, pointing out you didn’t have enough money to rent as you had just started working, told me to give you at least until the end of the summer session.

That was the deadline announced upon my smelling cigarette odor as you entered the house on the first day: either you had to quit smoking by the end of the summer session or had to find alternative housing, because I couldn’t abide smokers, period. You laughed and said you would try. I reiterated the seriousness of the deadline now and then but each time you waved it off as if it were a big joke. You were opening and closing your garage door several times at night, the grinding of the motor audible upstairs, so you could go out and smoke. You would have left it open all night, had I not objected lest rodents should stampede in from the surrounding woods. Instead I urged you to take the simple solution of quitting altogether. You laughed it off. Once I put on your hood a mug found outside the garage door with a cigarette butt stubbed out in dried coffee. No response. Next I resorted to a similar display of cigarette butts collected from the front yard. This time you reacted with denial: they were not even your brand, a lie because nobody came around to our gated community to litter like that. Later you told Auntie that you were smoking away from the house, as if that were a big concession.

Suppressing my chagrin, because I had not yelled so loud at another human being, I have waited until now when your summer classes ended. Look for a new place to move out to when you return from California. Search online. I told you about my year-long stay in an office for around $200, utilities included, where I could keep a refrigerator and cook, though I had to shower at a 24-hour fitness gym, a point of honor for which you see fit to defy me, but when push comes to shove I am sure you are flexible and resilient enough to adjust. Likewise with smoking. If necessary, when you find a good place to stay, except for the iron rule excluding smokers from the community, I am sure you’ll adjust and quit. Moreover, you may soon find all this talk about cheap rent irrelevant. I hear Frank has a business partner in Fort Lee who is going to hire you at a much better salary than at your present job.

Even living away from us, you will always be invited to our family gatherings, as you have been, but don’t think you are doing us a favor by coming and spreading your charm. They cost but we want to include you. Likewise your cousins go out of their way to help you, as Brenda did with your school work, though she is a full time executive. I am glad to see this affection among you but, bearing in mind that axiom, reciprocity, remember to do to those as you have been done to by them. Ingratitude is a vile thing and takers or users are beyond the pale.

Your Uncle

Blame for North Korean Nukes

For a perspective on which US President is most to blame for appeasement with North Korea bringing about its nuclear power status consider the following graffiti on the tombstone of President Daejung Kim (1998-2003) of South Korea:

시발 놈아 북핵 개발
네 놈이 책임 져라.
개 새끼 김 대중 대통령 묘소

Fucker, North Korea’s nuclear development
Is on your head.
Son of a bitch President Daejung Kim’s tomb.

The superscription completely buries the original 8-lettet inscription, “김 대중 대통령 묘소,” President Daejung Kim’s tomb

Amazingly many South Koreans are applauding this posthumous defacement, alleging that Kim, sometimes referred to as the Nelson Mandela of Asia, paid North Korea to arrange a summit meeting between its head and himself, for which he got the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000. The amount paid is variously estimated at half a billion to 4 billion dollars, equaling or exceeding what the US is said to have paid so far as bribes to that rogue regime.

So in the perception of these South Koreans their one president eclipses all his American counterparts put together in the blame game for enabling North Korea’s nuclear capability. It doesn’t seem to be nationalistic pride to be head of a pack, no matter what. Simply, they are focused only on Daejung and no outsiders, as if they haven’t heard of the controversy raging in the US. So he hogs the credit? But it would be such an anomaly because in other ways they are supersensitive to American goings on. The graffiti, perhaps a more effective means of destruction than excavation of the tombstone or exhumation, may well have been suggested by statue demolitions now in fashion here.