Political Cartoonists love to portray North Korea as an irrational and infantile force, reports today’s Asia Times “It’s either a baby with a nuclear rattle or a little truant in need of a timeout. The relative youth of the country’s leader, Kim Jong-eun, encourages such representations, but the practice predates his ascension to power. According to the dictates of their profession, cartoonists must exaggerate to make their points. But these exaggerations also frequently show up in the comments of pundits and politicians, who need not resort to caricature.
“So, for instance, observers describe North Koreans as “childlike” and their leader as a “spoiled child”. Chinese leaders, according to WikiLeaks, have viewed North Korean behavior as an attempt to get the attention of the “adult”. Even top US politicians fall prey to these stereotypes. In 2009, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton accused North Korea of “acting out” like an unruly child. And President Barack Obama said during the latest crisis, “You don’t get to bang your spoon on the table and somehow you get your way.”
“As we slowly step back from the edge of the current conflict, it’s important to revisit these characterizations of North Korea as a fundamentally immature creature. There are many problems with US policy toward the country, including lack of information, a limited number of policy options, and a preference to ignore the situation in favor of other hotspots around the world.
“But we also have a metaphor problem with North Korea. We commonly treat the country as if it were a donkey that responds only to carrots or sticks and doesn’t have an independent thought inside its equine head (not even horse sense). Or we view North Korea as a criminal that breaks every agreement it signs and whose recidivism rate is off the charts.
“But the metaphor that dominates our thinking about North Korea is even more insulting. Donkeys and criminals at least make calculations based on costs and benefits. Infants are nothing but unbridled ids whose pre-lingual motivations are largely opaque to the adult world. They go on crying jags and knock cereal bowls off trays for no apparently good reason. That North Korea is often cast as the “younger brother” in its relationships with both South Korea and China means that Pyongyang is acutely sensitive to any such infantilizing metaphors.”
More at: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Korea/KOR-02-130513.html
Things must be pretty bad in California if it takes the New York Tims to assemble a coherent argument to save their universities. But this is what happened today in an NYT editorial stating that current plans to force the universities to shift to online teaching will probably wreck the UC system, fail students who need the university most, and damage the California economy to boot:
“Even before the recession hit, the public colleges and universities that educate more than 70 percent of the nation’s students were suffering from dwindling state revenue. Their response, not surprisingly, was to raise tuition, slash course offerings and, in some cases, freeze or even reduce student enrollment. The damage was acute in California, whose once-glorious system of higher education effectively cannibalized itself, shutting out a growing number of well-qualified students.
“The same California State Legislature that cut the higher education budget to ribbons, while spending ever larger sums on prisons, now proposes to magically set things right by requiring public colleges and universities to offer more online courses. The problem is that online courses as generally configured are not broadly useful. They work well for highly skilled, highly motivated students but are potentially disastrous for large numbers of struggling students who lack basic competencies and require remedial education. These courses would be a questionable fit for first-time freshmen in the 23-campus California State University system, more than 60 percent of whom need remedial instruction in math, English or both. Continue reading “How not to wreck California’s universities”
Eighty-eight percent of Americans say preventing future acts of international terrorism should be a very important foreign policy goal of the U.S., top among nine issues, reports the Gallup organization.
“Americans also give a high priority to preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and to securing adequate energy supplies for the U.S. Americans are less likely to see promoting economic development in other countries and helping other countries to build democracies as very important U.S. foreign policy goals. Continue reading “Americans still fear terrorism”
Facebook’s new search tool can allow strangers (like police, employers, or marketers), along with “friends” on Facebook, to discover who you are, what you like and where you go. the New York Times says that “While Facebook insists it is up to you to decide how much you want others to see, you cannot entirely opt out of Facebook searches. So right now Facebook is quietly nudging each of its billion subscribers to take a look at privacy setting and policies to be sure they know what is happening.
“The nudge could not have been more timely, said Sarah Downey, a lawyer with the Boston company Abine, which markets tools to help users control their visibility online. “It is more important than ever to lock down your Facebook privacy settings now that everything you post will be even easier to find,” she said. That is to say, your settings will determine, to a large extent, who can find you when they search for women who buy dresses for toddlers or, more unsettling, women who jog a particular secluded trail. Continue reading “Thinking about Facebook privacy”
Over the past decade a dramatic shift has occurred in California’s immigration demographics, as Asian immigrants have begun to come to California faster than Latinos.
In 2001, 42 percent of immigrants coming to California were from Latin America, primarily Mexico, while 37 percent were from Asia. In 2011, 57 percent of new immigrants were from Asia, and just
22 percent were from Latin America, reports Huffington Post.
“’This is a pretty astounding change over a short period of time,’ Hans Johnson, co-director of the Public Policy Institute of California, told the Sacremento Bee, citing census data. The demographic breakdown of California’s swearing-in of new citizens Wednesday was as follows: 450 from Asia (100 from India, 94 from the Philippines, 63 from Vietnam, 33 from China, 29 from Laos) 160 from Latin America (119 people from Mexico)35 from Ukraine to see which countries immigrants to California came from in 2011. Continue reading “More Asians than Latinos coming to California”