American Banks Post TARP, Stress, Disorder : I.O.U. Holdings

Signs of the times :

* Taliban consultants from the Boston SWOT Valley cling to their regressive vision of economy : "we don't understand what's happening, we are the ones who planted IEDs and we are the ones treated for PTSD"

* A.I.G. is still hesitating for its new name : "A.I.U. Holdings sounds nice, but I.O.U. Holdings would make more sense".

* Barack Obama is looking for a Swine Flu czar : "how about John McCain ? Somehow, it's about fighting pork. John would just need some training to search nosemarks beyond earmarks".

* The GOP wants Arlen Specter back : "we'll do whatever it takes, even hiring Sarah to build this ultimate bridge to nowhere".

* Chrysler and GM shall survive, but Nardelli remains a little bit nervous : "I feel comfortable with Italian backers and stronger trade unions, and I love the designer shoes they offered me. I get the idea behind the material used (steel), but I'd rather have them branded 'Jimmy Choo' than 'Jimmy Hoffa'".


A Greater Wall Of China - Bonus, Korea Inside (The Great Hanschluss)

As soon as I heard about a new Chinese study extending the Great Wall from 5,000 to 8,850km, I knew it would mean more trouble for neighboring Korea.

This report is logically stamped by the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping and the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, but make no mistake : here, "Cultural Heritage" points well beyond the Great Wall of China, towards the new territories claimed by Beijing and the chunks of history and culture that come with them.

As expected, the main news is not the length of the Wall but the "fact" that it goes much further into ancient Korea.

This "information" is not "collateral damage" but the very aim of the game.

The political agenda looks more obvious when you consider how the news are delivered :
=> "Diplomatically", the "new" section dating from the Ming Dynasty stops at today's borders with North Korea (around Hu mountains), and the lines circling around Pyongyang date from ancient times that are not too distant
=> The report announces further investigations over the next 18 months focusing on the Qin (221-206BC) and Han (206BC-9AD) Dynasties. In other words : at the root of Goguryeo civilisation, the actual target of this study for China.
=> Beijing is playing it "double stage". An "innocuous" first delivery to provide the "neutral and scientific" alibi (while testing the waters during a shaky period for NK), and a second serve to slam and literally drive home the key political message : in spite of all historic and scientific evidences, Goguryeo was not a Korean kingdom but a Chinese fiefdom, and we are not only rewriting founding moments of Korean History as parts of Chinese History, but also artificially relocating Goguryeo's political, cultural and geographic epicenter within China's (newly extended) ancient borders.

Goguryeo a Chinese phenomenon ?!? This outrageous claim has been at the core of Beijing's revisionist propaganda against Korean heritage for over thirty years, and particularily over the past few years* : modeled after the Southwest Project (for Tibet) and the Northwest Project (for the Uyghurs), the "Northeast Project of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences" was ignited in 2002 as the main vehicle of their pervasive strategy of sinicization of Korean civilisation.

Unlike Tibetan or Uyghur territories and population, Beijing doesn’t control Korea nowadays… except a portion of what used to be the Korean kingdom of Goguryeo. No problem when you excel at manipulating information and distorting history. Western countries realized only last year how far the regime could go in revisionism with the infamous "pedagogical" exhibition on Tibet (part of a series of unfortunate events covered with the fingerprints of the controversial State Administration of Cultural Heritage).

Traditionally, China considers Korea as some kind of familial spin-off. Now it wants Korea heritage to be fully recognized as Chinese. Because according to the script, beyond Goguryo, even gimchi becomes Chinese !

A cultural Anschluss or rather, pardon the sick pun, the ultimate "Hanschluss"...

Why would Chinese leaders act so crazily ? As far as I know, China's Korean minority is not claiming independence, and its armies are not exactly occupying North Korea and South Korea... But the Central Government cannot accept the idea of part of its empire being, even potentially, under any kind of foreign influence. Especially from a neighboring country and that's one of the reasons why Beijing has always been doing its best to postpone the Reunification of the Peninsula : a stronger and united Korea would threaten the Middle Kingdom's sacred unity and furthermore, it's monopoly on unification. The Chinese regime simply cannot allow Korea to reunite outside of China.

Their solution ? Turning Korea into a part of China, a Chinese province founded by China in ancient times on Chinese territory.

This imposture is not only a defensive move to put a lock on the Korean Chinese minorities : the North East project may also pave the way for a glorious and "legitimate reunification" of North Korea with its "motherland", should Pyongyang regime negociate, as a last resort, its survival against a passive and "friendly" Anschluss*.

This may sound extreme but as the Tibetan example shows, Chinese leaders are masters in underground asymmetric warfare over long periods of time. Think of it as a game of go where one player would place a hundred pieces at each round while the other would not be aware of the stakes... nor even of the existence of the game. And when someone refuses the diktat (ie the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso), he simply cannot outlive the system.

Remember : China invented strategy, and in the country of Sun Tzu rulers think decades or centuries, where others think months and years. In the country of Bae Yong-joon ? The unit of measure seems to be converging towards a Twit (I'm not mentioning this pathetic Michael Jackson wannabe because the full content of his brain can be displayed within 140 characters, but because the Northeast Project may have been precipitated by the success of the Korean Wave across Asia and especially in China). So Seoul was caught off guard when Beijing released its massive campaign claiming the Goguryeo Heritage.

Up to now I haven't seen any reaction from either the South or the North about the report on the Great Wall, so Beijing can candidly launch its second rocket and 18 months from now, one can expect a few bomb "revelations" (ie Goguryeo confirmed to be a Chinese fiefdom). There is already a Wikipedia stub about a certain "Great Wall of Goguryeo" related to the "History of China" !!! Why Goguryeo leaders would ever want to protect themselves from themselves is another question...

Let's be clear : I love China as much as Korea, Korea and Korean culture owe a lot to China, and at certain points in history, parts of Korean land may have been claimed by China in the past as they were by Japan much later... but denying Korean culture its authenticity is not only bold revisionism but a first step towards cultural genocide.

History belongs to those who write it, territory belongs to those who draw the map.

But China doesn't own Korea.


* see previous warnings : "China ready to bail out North Korea", "Korean hubs", "China's revisionism - No to the Chinese cultural Anschluss"


initially published on Seoul Village.


I.Q. can help measure handicaps, not intelligence

When I read Nicholas D. Kristof on Pr. Richard Nisbett's "Intelligence and How to Get It"*, I had in mind the image of labels on boxes of cereals, you know, the ones featuring a few good scores on key items just to persuade the consumer that he or she is not eating completely junk food. In Kristof's op-ed, the idea is to help Americans get better IQ scores.

Unfortunately, I.Q. is an heresy : you simply cannot sum up intelligence in one dimension. Actually, that would mean destroying it.

Intelligence is not something absolute. You can be very intelligent in certain situations and dumb in others, and there is no such thing as one kind of intelligence.

I defined** intelligence as "the capacity to apprehend (ie your environment, other people, situations...), understand, and give sense beyond your own senses, what you see, feel, touch, smell, or hear". Many people consider the ability to memorize a lot of information as a sign of intelligence, but the cleverest people I know make complex things look simple - simplicity is not always a sign of stupidity but often the key to intelligibility, apprehensibility.

If I.Q. measures something, it can't be intelligence. What it does measure for sure is the capacity to apprehend an I.Q. test. It somehow helps pointing out handicaps : it measures the ability to survive in the society that designed the set of questions. Call that a part of the Social Quotient if you please, but please don't call that Intelligence with a capital I.

blogules 2009

* "
How to Raise Our I.Q." (NY Times 20090415)

** "
Define: intelligence vs information"


"Insects placed in a confinement box" (welcome on waterboard)

"In releasing these memos, it is our intention to assure those who carrying out their duties relying in good faith upon the legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution".

Some may cringe at this weakness : we want to bring down a system, and the guys who did the waterboarding are as guilty as those who obeyed orders from the IIIrd Reich, so they should be brought to justice as well.

Obama is fighting the good fight,
at the root of extremism and fundamentalism, starting from enemies from within.

But Barack Obama is not pointing the finger at anybody : he is showing the direction for Justice. As the head of executive power, his job is not to define what is legal and what is illegal, and certainly not to tell what is good from what is evil (see "
True v. False vs Good v. Evil").

Justice will eventually prevail, and the most rotten apples fall by themselves. Not by exposing the dark side but the best side of everyone : it's not about being with us or against us, but about embracing justice or refusing it. Some of the torturers will be jailed, many will walk free. But Justice will have won when the main culprits are behind bars or at least officially condemned : Jay Bybee, John Yoo, David Addington, Alberto Gonzales, Dick Cheney.

Cheney will fall only when his protégés feel that his protection won't save them. Thus his panic as George W. Bush refused to pardon Scooter Libby. Lord Dubya ? He will do what he does best : play dumb. Torture memos have Lobby Dick's fingerprints all over them, but The Fundamentalist in Chief himself grew very prudent following Abu Ghraib "revelations". What, me worry ?

Their torture memos led to such atrocities as "insects placed in a confinement box"* and ironically, that's exactly the image I have of this disgraceful mob.

I can't wait to enjoy the show. A perfect way of celebrating Darwin Bicentennial.

* "
Interrogation Memos Detail Harsh Tactics by the C.I.A." (20090416 - New York Times Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane)


Last Throes of Democracy : India Votes

The World's biggest democracy votes. Ahead of Iran, and after Israel (another candidate for theocracy*).

Soon, we can actually measure the "
Lessons from Mumbai" : either fundamentalists and nationalists gain ground, or moderates secure the country. Or politics at its worst wins : an unnatural coalition cripling democracy and fueling the rise of hatred upon which radicals feed.

Manmohan Singh is far from being Mr Perfect, but he somehow managed to minimize the impact at home of Pakistan's gradual collapse under Pervez Musharraf. India is far from being a model democracy, and it suffered its share of terror well before Mumbai, but the central Government kept some distance from fundamentalism as well as from ultranationalism.

Yet the main issues for voters will be economy, inegalities, not politics. But precisely : beyond these elections, the best way to prevent radicalism from rising is to eradicate poverty and unfairness. May India strengthen its so rich and diverse identity around that noble mission, may India sent the right message of mutual respect to our troubled world.

* "
Beyond the Iranian people, Obama is addressing Israel"
see "Justice in America, No Democracy in Israel ?" in "
Bush's Farewell : Mission Accomplished... as Fundamentalist in Chief"


G20 on Twitter

@barackobama.com : "uh... hem... Look : 120 characters left. Good day : we reached an agreement. Bonus: prevented a fight btwn Sarko and Hu."

@nicolassarkozy.fr : "Good day : I made the headlines and saved the World as usual. Bonus : prevented war btwn US & China."

@hujintao.com.cn : "Good day : saved Macau & HK, purchased the US, cut ties btwn France & Dalai Lama. Bonus: spied UK in the process."

@gordonbrown.co.uk : "Good day : managed to kept my chin up, and my jaw not too low."

@tayyiperdogan.com.tr : "Good day : Shimon Peres wasn't there."

@robertzoellick.us : "Good day : if a Bushite like me gets a hike during this slump, there's still hope for easy money."

@bankimoon.un.org : "Good day : wish we had the same cast at the Security Council."

@abhisitvejjajiva.com.th : "Good day : was right behind Obama on the photo. Bad day : his smiles eclipsed mine."

@taroaso.co.jp : "Good day : wasn't caught sippin' sake."

@dmitrymedvedev.ru : "Good day : I kept those morons busy while Vlady nuked Georgia. Even got an Obama autograph."

@stephenharper.ca : "Bad day : got locked in the johns during the official photo op."

@mbtious.co.kr : "Good day : Kim Jong-il helped me get an itw w. BO."

@lula.com.br : "Good day : was hired as a bodyguard for Brown and the Queen. Kept that French lunatic away from Barack."

@angelamerkel.de : "Good day : was seated next to Oby for dinner, far from Sarko on the final picture."

@dskimf.com : "Good day : I got a budget to purchase flowers for Michelle Obama."

@silvioberlusconi.it : "Good day for plastic surgery : on the pixes, I look younger than Obama and Medvedev combined."

@kevinrudd.com.au : "G'day and seeya."
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