Friday, April 23, 2010


Those who have been watching the sinking of the ROK naval vessel Cheonan and its aftermath suspected this was coming, but now official government organs are concluding that the ship was likely sunk by a North Korean torpedo. The political pressure for some kind of response is likely to be fairly strong.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


At dinner following one of the days of the aforementioned conference, the discussion somehow turned to the practice of embalming and displaying the remains of rulers in the 20th century. Though there are certainly older precedents (Buddhist monks etc.) of keeping and acknowledging relics or remains of the departed, the practice of preserving and displaying the entire bodies of political leaders appears to have begun with Lenin. Others, Stalin (for a time at least), Mao, Ho Chi Minh, and, of course, the Eternal President of the DPRK, Kim Il Sung, have followed suit (Kim's mausoleum even appears on North Korean currency).

I didn't know (or had forgotten) that Ferdinand Marcos had similar designs. Now, he's back in the news. Plus ca change...


I am in the Vancouver Airport awaiting a return flight from what has been a very interesting and stimulating conference on (East) Asian international relations (1400-1800). I may relay some of my thoughts/conclusions about the conference a bit later.

But for now, a delightful parting anecdote:

The taxi driver who took me to the airport has lived in Vancouver for a couple of decades but is originally from India (Punjab) and still speaks with a thick Punjabi accent. What did we talk about on the drive to the airport? The Utah Jazz, with heavy emphasis on Stockton and Malone and how close they came to a championship against the Chicago Bulls in the late 1990s. He clearly has taken the defeat harder than I have.

What a fascinating, interconnected, globalized world we live in!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


In case anyone was wondering, the mammoth North Korea-produced statue in Senegal is now complete:
Senegal on Saturday unveiled a colossal statue during a lavish ceremony amid reports of criticism over the monument's construction at a time when the western African nation is struggling financially.

The 164-foot structure -- about a foot taller than the Statue of Liberty -- shows the figures of a man, a woman and a child, arms outstretched, facing the Atlantic Ocean.

President Abdoulaye Wade says the statue, which he designed, is a monument to Africa's renaissance. Critics say the opulent copper structure is merely the product of the president's own self-indulgent vision and poor governance.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


A little congratulations for my august institution of learning:

In three weeks, the Shanghai Expo 2010 will open. One interesting aspect of the USA Pavilion there:
“I am particularly proud that Chinese and foreign guests will be greeted by 160 Mandarin-speaking American college students working as ‘Pavilion Student Ambassadors.’ Drawn from across the United States, from schools small and large, they will add a friendly human touch to America's representation at the Expo.”
Based on my quick perusal of this interactive map, it appears that BYU will send the single-largest contingent of U.S. college students (with USC in second).

Well done!