Monday, April 30, 2018

Kim Jong-un: What to do? What to do?

Let's play pretend for a moment.

Let's pretend you're Kim Jong-un. You've been pissing on the world by setting off nuclear tests under Mount Mantap for a while. The last test, though, was more powerful than the others...and the mountain collapsed on itself. Now, there's a small amount of radiation leaking from the rubble. China is jumping up and down, The American Carrot is jumping up and down. 

What to do? What to do?

It doesn't take a PhD in geology to know that if you keep blowing up stuff under something else, eventually the something else part will collapse. And that collapse is not exactly tidy. 

Kim Jong-un may be crazy, but he's may not be stupid, either. He knows what's at stake. And he knows that if he wants to keep his job, he needs to make some fundamental changes so he can continue being Fearless Leader. But right now, he's got to deal with seismic shifts in his teutonic plates. 

Mount Mantap is not the first mountain North Korea's nuclear tests have disturbed. Last October, the North Korean's "Sacred Mountain of the Revolution," Mount Paektu, is only 60 miles from the September 3rd detonations. Paetku is a volcano that also happens to sit on the North Korean-Chinese border. Minor details, I suppose. But if you're Lil' Kim, you might have some concerns about your relationship with China, your trading partner and close ally. You might find yourself in the hot seat for breaking parts of the planet that are near China. And you might find yourself between two broken mountains both of which are seismic rumblers. 

Know what happens when you got a couple o'rumblers out there?

So going back to our game, let's pretend back in October of '17, your scientists (and you do believe your scientists, unlike the American Carrot) tell you how the repeated detonations at Punggye-ri nuclear test at Mount Mantap are causing new and unusual seismic activity, at least 4 earthquakes, and activity is being felt as far away as Russia:
Shortly afterward, Chinese authorities closed part of the tourist park on their side of the border because of rock slides. Chinese authorities would not say definitively whether the nuclear test was to blame, but seismologists think it is likely. The explosion registered as a 6.3 magnitude earthquake and was blamed for water bottles rolling off tables and furniture toppling in China, and apartment buildings rattling all the way to the Russian port city of Vladivostok. 
 Barbara Demick for the Los Angeles TIMES - Oct. 7, 2017     
And now, Russia is eyeing you as a possible target because you're damaging their stuff, too.  And if China and Russia join forces, well, kiss your dictatorship goodbye. But you want to be a grown up and show them all how your leadership is important and global, but you need someone to take on who will allow you to act like a leader.

What to do? What to do?

You take on an easy target: The American Carrot. He's so egocentric he can't tell when he's being played and that makes him the perfect patsy. You tell the Carrot you'll meet with him, you'll give up your nuclear testing program, and in return all you want is to have American military leave the Korean peninsula, and to promise they will never-ever attack North Korea. You know the Carrot will hail himself hero, he will blow his own whatever, and never notice that Mt. Mantap is not completely collapsed, and is still a viable research site that no one ever has to know exists. 

But that's not your biggest aim. The end game, a reunification of Korea, would give you more power and more prestige. Play their game until the last minute, then strike....and take over South Korea when they least expect it. 

This is not a sudden gesture of peace and friendship; this is an end-game. Kim Jong-un is jockeying for position. He's expecting to be top man in Korea, and he's expecting to be protected from a US attack. 

Folks, this is not exactly hard to figure out. Of course, we haven't see Putin's marching orders on this. Frankly I don't trust any of them.

All of this from a collapsing mountain. 


Feckless thinks he's gonna get a Nobel Peace Prize for this.  Good luck with that.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
It may say May on the calendar,
but do not rush to put out our plants.         

READER BONUS: Reader Laurie Hayes sent me this from the UNZ REVIEW; it's an interesting perspective and worth a read:

Monday, April 23, 2018

Natalie, Netanyahu, and Narishkeit.

There's nothing like locking the door and heading to the airport the day after 19.5" of snow....then coming home to 60°F weather. Even Mount St. Snirty has significantly diminished in size and scope. In a nutshell, it was a great holiday away from here. The beach was lovely, the Getty was a charming experience, and the L.A. Philharmonic a total wall of sound. I highly recommend it!

But that was then, this is now, and I'm still trying to figure out where I want this blog-thing to go next. 

Despite that, I am compelled to write about something I rarely write about: Israel.

The Western Wall - October 2017
This past week, the State of Israel celebrated its 70th birthday. I have never lived in a world without Israel. I believe with my complete heart and soul that Jews have the same right to live in their own country as the French, the British, and yes, the Indigenous Peoples of North America. I will not go into the history of the land itself, but let's just say the Jews built the temple in Jerusalem, the Mosque of Omar sits atop Temple Mount where both the First and Second Temples stood, and we have been a continuous presence in that city and on that land, despite exiles, persecution, and derision for more than 3000 historically verifiable years. That counts for a lot. 


I am neither fan nor supporter of Netanyahu and his current government. In fact, I believe the PM is an existential danger to the State of Israel. He should be charged with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. His only loyalty is to himself and his re-election. He has  ignored the most basic tenet in Judaism: you were once strangers in the land of Egypt. He has wantonly sliced the fabric that binds Diaspora Jews to Israel by allowing the ultra-Orthodox to run the government. His policies on land annexation, Palestinian rights, and migrants are unacceptable to anyone with a moral compass and a sense of ethics. 

If invited to share a dais with him, I would most unceremoniously decline. 

Which is exactly what Natalie Portman did in declining to accept The Genesis Prize

The crackpots calling her traitor and other assorted foul things would call her EXACTLY the same thing if she sat on a dais with Feckless Leader. 

There is no difference.

In Israel, a friend's daughter has chosen to leave Israel behind because she can no longer support the direction in which the state is moving. Another friend's daughter, American by birth and Israeli by choice, author Jessica Fishman, has remained in Israel to fight the fight, but I cannot see her sitting on a dais with Netanyahu either. Recently, she wrote on her Facebook page:

April 11 at 9:30pm
With today being the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, I want to remind everybody why we say never forget. We are reminding the rest of the world that they cannot forget the Holocaust. We are reminding the world so that it will never happen again to anyone, no matter creed, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or any other difference. This is more important now than ever. With the current nationalist undertones, with the world turning a blind eye to the massacres in Syria, with the famine in Yemen, with Israel sending away asylum seekers, with black people being systematically targeted in the American justice system, and so much more, it is more important than ever to remind the world. And now to turn this political, to those of you, especially to the Jewish people who voted for Trump, a race baiter, you have forgotten.
Natalie Portman is an Israeli citizen, no qualifications, no hesitations. As an Israeli, she gets to have an opinion. Not supporting Netanyahu is not the same as supporting anti-Israeli movements.

Ms Portman responded to accusations she had gone over to the dark side of BDS:
Let me speak for myself. I chose not to attend because I did not want to appear as endorsing Benjamin Netanyahu, who was to be giving a speech at the ceremony. Like many Israelis and Jews around the world, I can be critical of the leadership in Israel without wanting to boycott the entire nation.  I treasure my Israeli friends and family, Israeli food, books, art, cinema, and dance....Do not take any words that do not come directly from me as my own.
How is that different from a variety of people declining an invitation to visit the White House while Feckless squats in the Oval Office? 

It is not.

Back in the 60s, there was a popular bumper sticker that read:

Those of us who chose to oppose the Vietnam War were spit on, ridiculed, and told to leave. We, in turn, believed we were patriots, doing what needed to be done for the good and welfare of America. Were we disloyal? No. We were standing up against a war we thought was immoral and unjustifiable. And we ultimately stopped the war.

How is that different from what Natalie Portman is doing? 

It is not.

Labels implying she is anything else beside an outspoken (aka normal) Israeli, are garbage. I may not agree with how she's doing it, but hey! she has the right...nay, the obligation to stand up against a government with which she disagrees. 

I do it every week. Does that make me disloyal? Hardly.

There is plenty to disagree with over at the Knesset. Condemning her for that is pure narishkeit...nonsense. Why shouldn't she exercise the same right?

The Wifely Person's tip o'the Week
Israel is the only functional democracy in the Middle East.
Just as we are fighting to preserve ours, they get to fight to preserve theirs. 
Support dissenters; they form the bridge of compromise.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Live from La La Land

This was my view on Saturday afternoon. My blueberry bush is somewhere under that mound of ugh.

Beginning Friday night and continuing well into Sunday, we had over a foot of snow. Even by Minnesota standards, that was a ridiculous amount, given it's the middle of April and all. 

I've had about all I'm gonna take of this faux April stuff, so I got me on a jet plane and flew over some mountains...

just so I can ride around southern California....

in a 1988 cherry red, classic BMW 325is. That is one sweet little piece of glamour, complete with sheepskin seats. I feel like a movie star.

Here's the straight skinny: I need a break. I sound shrill even to me. I don't want to talk about Michael Cohen, his clients, or his ethics. I don't want to talk about Feckless Leader or the attempt to reverse the 2020 emissions standard. I don't want to waste any more energy giving those boggarts what they want: our anger and our fears on which to feast. Nope.

We may be at the beginning of the end of this presidency for profit. I am guardedly optimistic. That, however, won't solve the problem. Much of what has been undone must be re-done, and hopefully, done better. That process should begin with the 2018 midterms. BEGIN people; this is going to be a long, painful process.

During the 2 hour lay-over in Salt Lake City, I chatted with a young woman, a high school English teacher, on her way back to New Jersey. I asked her, "Does the current government represent you?" She thought about it for a moment, but when she answered, the answer was a soft, but definitive, "No." 

In the end, that's the only question that counts, y'know.

I need to think about that, and a few other things she said, the most painful of which was, "Sometimes I'm embarrassed to tell people I am a teacher." She explained what she meant, and let me reassure you, it was not a flip statement. In a way, that is the crux of the current American Tragedy. 

If we can't respect the people who teach our kids, how can we respect anyone else?

But for this moment, I'm going to focus my attention on visiting one of the original gang-of-six, going to meet more friends for lunch, going to the beach, going to the Getty, and going to hear Gustavo Dudamel conduct Beethoven's Ninth.

Chris Christodoulou, London
Nothin' wrong with that itinerary. How can anyone not want to watch Dudamel conduct?

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Talk amongst yourselves:
Does the current government represent you?
Feel free to share and/or respond in comments.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Losing Bonny

Y' know what a makkes is? My mother and grandmother used that word a lot. I don't know if I'm spelling the transliteration correctly or not, but makkes isn't a good thing. It's an affliction, a plague; something you can bring on by talking about it. Like the malach ha'mavet from last week. 

Aunty Bonny (z"l)
The malach ha'mavet paid us a visit this week, and took away my friend, my extra-mom, the kids' godmother, and all 'round force of nature, Aunty Bonny. She was a constant presence in our lives, even when there were disagreements, we could always find something to agree on. She was my ballast when I was tipping over. I talked to her more than most people realized, and we often commiserated about the harshness of real life and just getting on with it. We told each other things we didn't tell other people. And she knew about grommets. If you've ever had to make 24 little burlap vests for 24 OLIVER! orphans, you night know a little bit about grommets. Aunty Bonny was a major expert in grommets. She was a great cheerleader, truth-teller, and stiff-upper-lip Brit. Yeah, she was a Brit, born in Manchester, England, but you'd never know it unless you really knew her. Truth be told, she'd not been doing well of late, but when I called a couple of weeks ago to tell her all about Young Sir's bris and to assure her pictures were being readied for the mail, she sounded better than I had heard her in a while. Then lots of things happened... and she was gone. And like her family and so many of her friends, I am having a hard time grokking I won't hear her laugh any more. 

I don't want to write about Gaza or Syria. I really don't want to write about American politics or growing antisemitism in the British Labor Party. I don't want to write about what is wrong with the world right now because I'm already sad and I don't have anything add that's gonna make anyone feel any better.

So I am going to stop here. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week

[That is so Bonny.]

Monday, April 2, 2018

Anatevka On My Mind

Pesach ain't easy for me. Never mind that I turn my kitchen inside-out and cook into insensibility. Never mind the big Rubbermaid bins and the moving of entire sets of dishes, pots, and pans. None of that comes close to the emotional upheaval that is Passover. 

Over the course of the last nine years, I've lived with the constant companionship of the angel of death. I was the caretaker, the overseer, the one who walked as far as I could before the malach ha'mavet took over. There was a sense of finality during those years, knowing about the inevitable, and being completely powerless to change any of it. Never mind I ran up against cancer in my own body. In so many ways, it was really an out-of-body experience; probably because that was the only way I could deal with it. So I did.

That was then. 

I don't pay much attention to the angel of death these days. We're on reasonably friendly terms. The malach ha'mavet ignores me, I ignore the malach ha'mavet. There's a certain equanimity achieved. And I can live with that. 

This is now. 

The weird part of now? I am less optimistic about the future than I was even 2 years ago when Mom died right before Pesach. I believed I'd survived it all, was still standing, and forward motion was the order of the day.

I'm not so sure We, the People are moving forward.

These days, I watch as much of what We, the People were striving for as a nation being dismembered, disassembled, and discarded. Regulations for clean air and water are being repealed. Schools are being further reduced to educational rubble with funding cuts. Health care availability that had taken such a great step forward is disintegrating. And families are being destroyed by unnecessary, mean, and morally reprehensible deportations. 

The establishment of Sinclair Broadcasting as some sort of standard is terrifying, and the lock step announcement its anchors were compelled to read is Orwellian:

Between the new attempts to parlez with the North Koreans and White House invitation for Putin, I keep thinking I've crossed into some alternative universe. None of this can be real....and you know how I know that? Because lots of people are supporting this lunacy and We, the People in the regular universe are saner than that.

Or are we?

This is no longer the country that inspired Emma Lazarus to write:

"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

America was a great idea 242 years. I'm no longer convinced this country has a future I will recognize; if we keep heading in this direction, the road will have detention centers and internment camps on either side. Concentration camps and crematoria cannot be far behind. 

Meanwhile, ANATEVKA is my new ear-worm.

The Wifely Person' Tip o'the Week

Maybe We, the People, should pack up Lady Liberty 
and ship her someplace where 
she would be more welcome than she is here.