Casey Lartigue speech in Seoul

I will be speaking in Seoul on October 26 from 7-9 p.m. at the TOZ Business center (Shinchon subway station, line 2, near Yonsei University).

The working title of the talk: "Rome is Coming to You: Living in a Globalized World."



Mayor Fenty booted out

1) I already knew it four years ago

I've read the various analysis about why DC Mayor Adrian Fenty got booted out of office by voters just four years after winning a landslide election., In addition to all of the other explanations, I'll add one that I have yet to read, but knew four years ago: He's an asshole.

2) Would they boo his kids, too?

I was at Fenty's inauguration party back in 2006. People were protesting him that night. That's because he waited until after he won the primary in 2005 to announce that he was taking over the schools. A lot of the people who supported him would not have voted for him if he had mentioned he would take over the schools. So he lied his way into office anyway. Not the first to do so, I know.

3) Activists in DC want a listener

I have mixed feelings about Fenty getting kicked out. Yes, he's an asshole, but then, he did some stuff as mayor that was pretty good. Such as taking over the schools (actually, I would have given a voucher to every student). DC is a city where community activists and others can talk you to death. After enough input, someone needs to make a decision. A problem with Fenty is that he was great at keeping his actions a secret and did not even bother with the input phrase. Community people would show up at meetings to find out that things had been decided. People who went along with it were kept involved, people raising questions got squeezed out.

Fenty (and his predecessor, Anthony Williams) didn't realize that one of the things that makes Marion Barry so popular even today. Barry was also a talker, but he seemed to realize as a former activist that activists want to have their say almost as much as love to be given jobs and money.

4) You give hardball, you get hardball in return

Fenty plays hardball all of the time. Some people may not remember the way he kicked out former superintendent Janey--he kept the guy twisting in the wind for a month, then just before he gained control of the schools, he cut off Janey's email and (I'm guessing) gave him about 8 minutes to clean out his office. That's how fast it happened. I'm not saying that style is wrong, I may have done the same thing, but then, I would not have pretended that I was a man of the people who listened to everyone. And you don't see me running for mayor.

Before the Janey-Rhee switcheroo, Fenty had kept the city council and the entire city in the dark before he suddenly announced that he was appointing a white chick to be police chief. There was outrage about that and other Fenty appointments.

5) Not a bean-counting mayor

The main thing that probably did Fenty in was that he refused to be the black people's mayor. He tried to be multicultural by appointing Asians. Latinos, whites, and (I'm guessing) gays to prominent positions in the government and his cabinet. I actually believed him when he said he was trying to find the best people for the job. The non-blacks he hired then brought non-black people with them. That strategy worked perfectly if his goal was to be a one-term mayor.

6) Obama ain't dumb

Some are comparing Obama to Fenty but I don't think the comparison holds. One, Obama is much smarter than Fenty. Two, Obama is the only black choice blacks have. If some other black person with credibility were in a position to challenge Obama then President Fo-Fo might be in trouble. But the two main candidates in DC are both black, and it was for mayor, not president, so no biggie.

7) Michelle Rhee

Another big factor is definitely Michelle Rhee. She was a lot like Fenty--secretive, tough. But the biggest problem is that she's Asian and was unknown to district people before she became chancellor. Her midnight appointment drove the activists crazy, they were on a mission to have her booted out and worked against Fenty almost from the start. No matter what nice things anyone says, she will not remain in a Gray administration. She will head off to Sacramento to be with Kevin Johnson and mull over her offers that will come through. I heard she will be on Oprah's show on September 20 (along with Bill Gates). She is big enough that she will not want to wait for Gray to make a decision about whether or not to keep her. Her next job, whatever it is, will be much softer than being chancellor of DC public schools.

8) Lost his supporters

Here's how bad it got for Fenty--there were allegations in the past few weeks that Fenty beat his wife. Some of the black talk shows hosts who had supported him early on didn't challenge the rumors. Rather, they listened patiently and mentioned that they had heard similar rumors.



Fan Death homicide attempt?

the air conditioner is broken at work...
my coworker located a fan, and pointed it directly at me--then closed the door when he left.
is this an attempt on my life?
Check out fan death, still one of my all-time favorite Web sites.
I wonder, have there any been any attempts at killing someone through fan death? Such as, a wife closing the door and turning on the fan while her drunk husband slept.
Or attempted fan death suicides?



Accidental crimes on the rise in South Korea?

Updated: Korea Herald, April 24, 2013 

The key numbers here (from yesterday's Korea Herald) in an article about rape in Korea.

* In 2011: 22,034 rapes were reported, according to the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office in Korea.
* Of those, 18,591 cases resulted in arrests with a total of 18,880 offenders being convicted.
*Only 12 percent of those found guilty, or 2,289, were sentenced to jail time.

* Based on a 2010 survey by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, it is believed that the sexual crime reporting rate in Korea is about 10 percent.
The article provides some information about what to do after getting raped, phone numbers to call. I don't mean to dismiss those things, but obviously the reporter ran out of space addressing: "How to protect yourself" or "How to reduce the chance you'll be raped."

Sun-Flower Women and Children’s Centerl. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)
This site (in an article written by James Fenske) advises:

* Be armed
* Be alert when out as well as when home

* Be careful about drinking too much
* Take physical defense classes

I know the Mayor of Seoul has dubbed himself the "Welfare Mayor," is focused on tourism and shutting down profitable businesses, but one practical thing he could do is to distribute pepper spray and other self-defense items to women in the city.
* * *

from August 27, 2010

The Korea Times has a breakdown on the increase in violent crimes in South Korea.

A few things caught my attention:

The NPA’s white paper also reported that police apprehended 2.33 million criminals across the nation in 2009. (bold added by me)
I'm no bleeding heart liberal when it comes to criminals, but being arrested doesn't make you a criminal. Giving the reporter or translator the benefit of the doubt, I will guess it means that these people have already been prosecuted, so it is safe to call them criminals?
Of the 2.33 million [people arrested in Korea last year], 448,420 committed crimes “by accident,” accounting for 19.2 percent of the total.
So that means that the other 80.8% committed the crimes "on purpose"?

The reporter doesn't mention whether or not crimes committed on accident are also on the rise.

The reporter then adds an editorial comment, in bold here:

The recidivism rates for robbery, arson, violence, theft and rape stood at 64.7 percent, 65.7 percent, 54 percent, 50 percent and 47.9 percent, respectively, indicating a more effective rehabilitation program should be introduced for violent criminals while they are in jail to stop them from repeating offenses.
Why is that the conclusion? Perhaps it is "indicating" that the death penalty needs to be used more often or that criminals need to spend more time in jail before being returned to society. 
A couple of random statistics I'll bookmark here for future reference. 
* However, five types of violent crime — murder, robbery, rape, theft and violence — jumped 8.4 percent to 590,087 last year from 544,527 in 2008. 
* The number of murders soared 24 percent to 1,374 nationwide over the one-year period, while robberies surged 32 percent to 6,351. 
* The number of burglaries reached 256,423, up 15 percent from 2008, with rape and other sex crimes rising 6.4 percent to 18,351. 
* Murders occurred most frequently from July through September when the weather was hot and humid. Robberies took place most often in May. 
The article also mentions various measures police have taken to stop crime. 
I'm sure there was a previous article hailing those measures.



Walter E. Williams on Rush Limbaugh

Professor Walter E. Williams will be hosting the Rush Limbaugh Show 8/24/10 from noon-3 p.m. EST. Thomas Sowell will be his featured guest the second hour.

In case you can't hear the show or can't wait, you can listen to me interview him back in 2007 (hit the free user button, wait for countdown, then download). We discussed reparations for slavery during one show and the minimum wage on another.

By the way, I was really thankful that he agreed to be on my show twice during the three months I was on the air. I interviewed him another time when I was a guest host and he interviewed me on the Rush Limbaugh about a paper I wrote about education in Washington, D.C.

When I contacted him and told him that I was going to have my own show and that I would be delighted if he would come on from time to time, he hesitated at first. I waited. He then said it would be okay. I know he won't do anything if it is inconvenient for himself, so I asked if there was a conflict. He said he had to be sure it would fit in his schedule because on Saturday mornings he was taking Mrs. Williams to the hospital for treatment.

She died later that year, around Christmas. I only met her once, at a retirement party for Professor Williams. He was infamous for cracking jokes about buying her insensitive gifts--such as a smaller shovel so she would not hurt her back while she was out shoveling the snow. It was hilarious stuff.

So when I met her, I asked about the things he would say on the radio. She started laughing, saying I should not believe those things he said about her, that he was a sweet guy who treated her like a princess.



Memorandum 46

The Root lists its top 10 racial conspiracy theories.

How can there be a list of racial conspiracy theories on a black website without Memorandum 46 being highlighted, if not #1 on the list?

Here's the memo.

Here's a piece Eliot Morgan and I wrote about it in 2007.

Here's a rebuttal from Rev. Walter E. Fauntroy, a former member of Congress.



North Koreans love me--really!

I have a piece in today's Korea Times.


Surprise — North Koreans love me! By Casey Lartigue Jr.

Irish novelist Oscar Wilde once quipped, ``Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.” I can’t help but conclude that my friends, while professing love and concern for me, believe that others are unhappy whenever I ``arrive.”

When I was first leaving America to live and work in Taiwan, I was warned by friends that the locals might discriminate against me. I had a great time. Before I later left Taiwan for South Korea, I was warned by Korean friends and others in Taiwan that I might get discriminated here. Again, I had a great time.

Things came full circle when I was leaving Korea to return to America. I was warned that rather than the preferential treatment I had received as a college professor in South Korea that I might get discriminated against in my own country!

So I wasn't surprised when I told friends and colleagues that I would be attending a conference last July 10 with North Koreans in Seoul that I was warned that the attendees might be afraid of me. Instead, I was welcomed by the 35 or so North Koreans at the event sponsored by the South Korea-based Center for Free Enterprise (CFE).

Because I wasn’t a scheduled speaker and the attendees had not been warned in advance that I would be there, I suppose the North Koreans were shocked to find an American freely mingling with them during the final day of their two day conference. Surprised, yes. Fearful, no.

One of my colleagues who organized the event was more surprised than anyone when he came out of the main auditorium to see me comfortably seated on the couch with about seven North Koreans huddled around me, peppering me with questions in Korean, Chinese and broken English about myself and America. Two of the people there who could speak some English made it clear that they wanted to be friends with me, demanding that I call them soon.

I was getting along with them so well that Kim Chung-ho, president of the CFE, asked me if I would like to speak to all of the attendees after he finished his opening lecture.

I’ve never met a working microphone that I didn’t like so I accepted the invitation, encouraging the newcomers to first, not be embarrassed to make money, that money gives the freedom to do the things they want to do. Second that business people may not care about their customers, but that’s okay, because they care about ``themselves” so they will work hard for others in a market economy, and third that they had fulfilled their dream to escape North Korea, and they should enjoy their lives here or wherever they go.

At lunch, I talked with them individually and in small groups, learning that many of them wanted to learn English because it would help them get better jobs here in South Korea or to travel abroad. They had heard only bad things about America when they were growing up but had a positive view of America and Americans, the more they learned.

That gathering was a reminder that politicians and arbitrary borders get in the way of people from around the world getting to know each other, with one of the worst friendship blockers being the DMZ. Forget Barack Obama, Lee Myung-bak and Kim Jong-il. It seems that we could have resolved problems between North and South Korea that morning before lunch.

When I left a few hours later, it was clear that they were not happy to see me go, with several reminding me to contact them.


What do you like to do?

I have an article in today's Korea Times. I wrote it Sunday afternoon as I ate lunch at the Isaac sandwich shop in Suwon.

In it, I mention meeting Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. I'm sure that most Koreans will have no idea who he is. But according to surveys, most Americans don't know he is, either, and aren't familiar with the other 8 justices.

What do you like to do?
By Casey Lartigue Jr.

When I was working as a policy analyst and radio talk show host in Washington, D.C., I had the honor of meeting U.S. Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas on several occasions.

The first time, at a dinner party, I listened as others asked him serious questions about recent court cases. When it was my turn I started to introduce myself, but he interrupted me to say, ``Casey, I know who you are. You are that young man at the Cato Institute causing so much trouble about school choice."

What a surprise! Justice Thomas knew who I was! Instead of choosing one of the difficult policy wonk questions swimming around in my head, I asked him: What do you like to do?

It is a question that we don't ask others often enough. Justice Thomas burst out laughing with the deep powerful laugh he is known for. It turned out, among many things, that he loves bodybuilding. Whereas he was careful with his responses about court cases, he gave a hilarious and animated impromptu lecture on the history of bodybuilding.

I was reminded of that conversation with Justice Thomas as I recently prepared to be the MC for a networking event in Seoul hosted by the Korea Foreign Company Employees Human Network (KOFEN at www.kofen.org) on June 18. I usually revise my prepared remarks for speeches after I meet with audience members so I chatted with Korean staff members and guests who arrived early. They gave serious, almost apologetic, responses about their jobs. But when I asked them ``What do you like to do?" I got the same types of responses I got from Justice Thomas: Laughter and joyful discussion!

I scrapped my original remarks, encouraging everyone at the event 1) not to be shy 2) not to sit or talk with friends/colleagues and, most importantly 3) to ask each other, ``What do you like to do?" I stressed: Many people dislike their jobs or do them to get paid until they can find something else better. So why spend this wonderful evening discussing something you don't really like? ``What do you like to do" became the evening's theme, as people gleefully discovered similar interests.

At work, we must report to and work with superiors, clients, coworkers, customers. But our free time is our time to do what we like so it should be fun. And talking about it should be fun. Eventually the ``what do you do" questions were asked, but they were by people who felt they already had a connection.

Very often when I ask Koreans what they like to do, I get two responses. One, ``sleeping." Two, they don't have (or lack time for) a favorite activity. I'm surprised when people must ``think" about what it is that they like to do. I rattle off mine without thinking: Sing, dance, read, write, talk. You could wake me up at 1 a.m. from a deep sleep and I could answer the question (and would be ready after a quick shower to go out after I figured who you are and where you were!).

I'm also surprised when Koreans who have ``known" each other for years know very little about each other. I recently started meeting with two Korean linguistic professors who have known each other for a number of years. We discuss politics, life, education, Korea, history. At our first meeting I asked both ``What do you like to do?" They were looking at each other, shocked at what they learned about each other. The second time we met, we celebrated by doing things they both loved to do.


Reporting live, from Hankook

The Republic of Hankook

Michael Breen suggests that South Korea should change its name to differentiate itself from North Korea. It may make sense, but it is so unrealistic that if it happened, Breen would probably be the most surprised. He suggests the name be changed to Hankook.

Okay, I'll play along.

Mathias Specht writes about the importance of branding Hankook for tourism purposes. Specht, unfortunately, is not a very clear writer. He does finally say: "In the case of Korea, a similar storyline could rather convincingly (and truthfully) be built around its recent economic achievements, which are nothing short of breathtaking."

Does he seriously believe that people will want to visit Korea today because of its economic improvement?

* * *

Suppose you were an idiot. Suppose you were Charles Schumer. But we repeat ourselves

Charles Schumer, idiot Congressman from New York, is determined to force American consumers to pay more for honey. Of course, that's not what he says, but that's what his actions cause. He's upset because Chinese honey sellers are trying to get around stiff U.S. tariffs on honey. Of course, Schumer focuses on the Chinese and that they are "breaking" the law, but the consequence is that he and other members of Congress force American consumers to pay more for honey.

Mark Twain famously said, "Suppose you were an idiot. Suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself."

Meanwhile, there's a news story about millions of Americans waiting for food stamps. What type of mischief have Schumer and others engaged in to cause so many people to be dependent on government?

* * *

Disconnecting from Facebook

Lacey Klingensmith has disconnected from Facebook. While we did the same action, we have completely different reasons for doing so.

He writes some silly stuff, such as: "If the general consensus admits a suspicion that these technologies are not really paving the way toward better communication, then why are we still keeping them around?"

We keep them around because we like them. We can pick and choose which ones we like. Those who don't like them can drop out. I'm not on Facebook, that doesn't mean I want some type of a vote or U.N. resolution to determine we should keep it around.

S/He concludes, somewhat dramatically:

"All I know is that somewhere in the midst of this confusion, I realized I forgot who I was. I chose to disconnect to reconnect with myself, and through myself, to rediscover the world of others.
For real communication to take place, it takes a self to know a self.'

1) I have no problem with people clicking over to talk to someone else and leave me hanging. I usually start counting. After 10 seconds I am likely to hang up. People I know become aware of this. So they don't feel the hurry to click back over to me and they know to call me back.
2) He/she may be right that he is not a good conversationalist. If he is as whiny with family members as he is in the column then there may be a good reason others look to get off the phone or click over to others.

* * *

Message to Jeremiah Masoli: Stop breaking the law, asshole!!!

He has been kicked off the football team at the University of Oregon. He's talented, but he also keeps doing stuff to attract the attention of law-enforcement.



Upcoming events

I'm scheduled to be a featured guest on Mind Yo' Business hosted by Brian Higgins on XM 169 The Power.

Briwn will be interviewing me from America, I'll be talking on my cell phone from South Korea, I should be on the air from 9:15 or 10:15 a.m. ET (10:15 or 11:15 p.m. Korea time).

I'll be talking about a number of things related to South Korea, including traveling and working here, Korean politics, North Korea, education.

* * *

June 18 I will be the MC for a Wine Business Party of Korean and American professionals in South Korea. Will give more details. I've convinced them to give a discount to anyone who mentions my name.

* * *

At the end of the month I'll be speaking to a group of freshmen reporters at one of the universities here.



I (still) believe North Korea!

I (Still) Believe North Korea!
The Korea Times (May 26, 2010)
by Casey Lartigue, Jr.

I believe North Korea when it says the South started the Korean War in 1950. I didn't believe former Russian leader Boris Yeltsin in 1994 when he released declassified documents revealing that North Korea started the War.

I believe North Korea didn't send 31 commandos into Seoul in 1968 to kill Park Chung-hee. I believe North Korea didn't send armed guerrillas onto the East Coast area of Uljin and Samcheok in 1968, or Heuksan in 1969, or Heukchon in 1970.

I believe the assassin who killed the South Korean first lady in 1974 wasn't a North Korean agent. I believe several North Korean agents did not cross the border in October 1979. I believe the Earth moved and they only appeared to be in South Korea. I believe that three North Korean agents shot near the Han River in March 1980 were just out for a swim. I believe that North Korean agents shot to death in November 1980 in Hwanggando got lost while hiking. I believe that three North Korean agents shot to death in Namhae a few months later were part of a search party looking for those lost hikers.

I believe that three agents who infiltrated into Geumhwa in March 1981 were sleepwalking. I believe it is routine for North Korean agents to go to sleep in North Korea and magically wake up in South Korea the next morning, fully armed with grenades, machine guns and dreams of reunification.

I believe North Korea didn't dig tunnels underground in the 1970s. I didn't believe South Korean leaders when they showed the pictures of the tunnels to the world. I believe the mob of North Koreans who chopped up two U.S. army officers in 1976 did it in self-defense. I believe nine North Korean agents shot to death after their boat sank off the coast of Seosan in 1981 were lost fishermen. I believe that North Korean agents shot to death near the Imjin River in July 1981 and June 1983 were wayward scuba divers. I believe North Korea agents spotted along South Korea's east coast in 1982 were tourists.

I believe that reports of North Korean soldiers entering the DMZ is South Korean and American propaganda to justify increased military spending. I believe the ``imperialists and puppets" from the U.S., Japan and South Korea who are feeding starving North Koreans want war.

I believe North Koreans didn't set off the bomb killing South Korean government officials in Rangoon in 1983. I believe the North Korean agent who killed three South Korean civilians in September 1984 was a South Korean agent. I believe that Kim Hyun-hee, who helped blow up a South Korean plane in 1987 (killing all 115 on board), is a forgetful woman who left her bomb on the plane.

I believe North Korean agents shot to death in May 1992 (three along the West Coast) and October 1995 (two in Buyeo) were bringing reunification messages. I believe that the North Korean government official who threatened to turn Seoul into a ``sea of flames" meant to say a ``country of happiness." I believe defectors from North Korea are, as a spokesman said, ``rats," ``criminals," and ``cowards." I believe that only rats, criminals and cowards would leave if North Korea opened its border. I believe North Korea is protecting South Korea from rats, criminals and cowards.

I believed North Korea when it said that its submarines ``drifted" to the South because of ``engine trouble" in 1996 and 1997. I believe North Korea cannot prevent such incidents because North Korean subs naturally drift to the South when they have engine trouble. I believe the South uses a large magnet to attract drifting North Korean subs.

I believe the dead man discovered washed up on a beach wearing North Korean clothing and armed with North Korean weapons was an actor. I believe the South Korean tourist shot to death in 2008 on Mt. Kumgang in North Korea shot herself. I believe the Hyundai Asan employee held hostage in North Korea last year for criticizing North Korea was lost for four months. I believe North Korea acted in self defense in 2000 when it threatened to ``blow up" the Chosun Ilbo newspaper for ``slandering our Republic" for claiming the North started the War. I believe it is ridiculous to suspect North Korea had a role in the sinking of the Cheonan warship on March 26.

I believe all of this because I don't believe that North Korea actually exists. I believe Boris Yeltsin had the secret documents to prove it.

The writer, a former policy analyst with the Cato Institute and formerly host of the Casey Lartigue Show on XM 169 in Lanham, Md., is now a freelance education consultant based in South Korea. He can be reached at www.caseylartigue.blogspot.com.


Original Korea Times link.

Note: The day before I published this article in the Korea Times, North Korea had threatened to blow up speakers in the DMZ.

Shooting loudspeakers


Some days I really enjoy the things I eat here. This is one of my favorites, I ate it last night.

Koreans constantly tell me that it is a summer dish and that restaurants don't serve it now. Yet, for the past few months, I have constantly found places that serve it year-around. I guess I am one of those people who likes what he likes when he likes it, I don't wait for a particular season or time to eat something. That is not just about Korean food. I don't particularly like turkey and would never choose it at a restaurant. I don't like it more on Thanksgiving Day than I do on other dates.

But...I'm not even sure what those things below were. I didn't bother asking. I just made sure those things were cooked thoroughly when they got to my table a few minutes later.

* * *


I happened to be in South Korea in 1994 when North Korea's founder, Kim Il-sung, finally kicked the bucket. North Korea closed the border for a month and cut off communication with the world. I remember that friends and relatives were alarmed that I might get caught up in a civil war.

Today's Korea Times tells us: "North Korea said Tuesday that it will cut all relations with South Korea and will have no contact with the Southern authorities during the remaining tenure of President Lee Myung-bak."

Such promises.

Assuming he serves out his term, Myung-bak will be in power until 2013.

So North Korea will go without handouts from the South for at least three years? Or do they plan on being good communists and just TAKING what they want?

* * *

I have been asking my Korean friends about the North. Their main two responses:

* MB is crazy and eager to start a war.

These seem to be the same people who thought the ship that sank may have been an inside job.

* The two previous liberal South Korean presidents were too soft and have encouraged North Korea to feel like an entitled bully.

I haven't yet told them what I think about it, I really wanted to hear what they thought.

* * *

A wonderful thing is happening. My comments about the Civil Rights Act violating private property rights were posted on a black issues blog. So far, none of the people commenting have called me a sell-out or questioned my sanity as a black man.

Of course, that can always change, especially after pointing it out. I think it helps that I'm not in America now. I'm clearly not angling to get a job with Republicans or selling out in some other way (that seems to be a major concern of blacks who lean to the left). I'm really saying what I think and I guess they are accepting it.

In response to questions, I recently told a black friend in Korea that one wonderful thing about being here is that no one can accuse me of doing well here because of affirmative action.

Things I get here are despite my race.

* * *


NBA player suffered a broken nose during a game the other night. He kept playing in the game.

Let's just say that if I suffered a broken nose that I wouldn't play basketball for a while. Or probably do many other things.

Incredibly, he adjusted his broken nose himself during the game!

* * *

According to the Korea Times:
North Korea threatened to fire at South Korean loudspeakers along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and destroy them, Monday, if Seoul resumes propaganda broadcasting suspended since 2004.

"If South Korea installs new speakers for psychological warfare, we will directly aim at them and open fire to destroy them," an unnamed North Korean military commander said in a statement, carried by Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency.

"If the South Korean traitors challenge our rightful response, we will counter with mightier physical strikes to eliminate the root cause of their provocation," the statement said.
I know North Korean leadership hates freedom of speech but this is ridiculous even for them. If the Korean War resumes then I hope it won't be because of some idiots shooting at loudspeakers.



Random political stuff

I agree with Rand Paul's point that private businesses should be exempt from the Civil Rights Act. That should be a restriction on government, not on private business.
I can say that because I'm not interested in being a politician and my job doesn't depend on me keeping myself from saying what I think.

Nevertheless, if I had been alive in 1964 and somehow found myself in Congress then I would have voted to pass the Civil Rights Act even though it was not been perfect. There's a difference between political decisions and what's correct.

* * *

WEW hosting RUSH

Walter E. Williams will be hosting the Rush Limbaugh Show 5/25/10 from noon EST.

* * *


I briefly met former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick at an education conference a few years ago. He was bigger than life, had a Marion Barry larger-than-life type of personality, and he greeted everyone, including me, like they were long-lost friends.
He was booted out of office a few years ago when it was revealed in sexual text messages that he had lied under oath. He has been struggling since then and now faces jail time again.

Amazing. Just a few years ago he was heralded as part of a new generation of black leaders. According to the article, "Kilpatrick pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in 2008 after sexually explicit text messages became public, showing he had lied under oath about an affair with a staff member in a whistle-blowers' lawsuit. He resigned, served 99 days in jail, agreed to give up his law license, repay the city $1 million, and stay out of politics for five years."

* * *


A writer in the Korea Times opines: "Several decades ago, with fewer gadgets, life was happier and suicide less common."

I really hate it when people try to explain why people commit suicide. We really don't know. Of course, everyone ties the increasing number of suicides to whatever they believe is a problem in society. It may be that more people are committing suicide because with more gadgets and better technology they can live longer, but some get tired of it. I'm not saying that is true, just to point out that explanations are like statistics--as the saying goes, 42.7% of statistics are made up on the spot.

The writer adds: "
Without any hindrance in face to face conversations (i.e. the constant ringing or vibration of a cell phone), people could put more effort into hearty discussions. Conversations then were neither disrupted nor disturbed; they were more meaningful in effect."

People who know me know that I ignore my cell phone when I choose to do so. I may be the last man on the planet without Facebook. I've never done MySpace. I don't remember my Skype account number. If people want to do something their own way then they can!

* * *


'Living wage' kills projects, Mayor Bloomberg says, according to the New York Daily News. Should not be surprising that artificially setting wages at an arbitrary level will result in bad economic results.

How long will it be until Bloomberg says that the minimum wage prices a lot of people out of the job market. 

An option to have a job at a low wage is better than a theoretical job at a higher wage.

* * *


This kind of story pops up from time to time:: Piles of undelivered mail found in Mich. shed.

How long could a FedEx or UPS driver get away with not delivering packages? The guy says he was overwhelmed. He may have disrupted lives by not delivering mail, some of which could have been payments, letters to loved ones, etc.

* * *


One of the absolutely dumbest statistics that people keep track of is trade deficits. Today the Korea Times informs us that North Korea has 'suffered' a trade deficit for two decades.

1) Does anyone expect that countries will always have "balanced" trade? It is a stupid premise to begin with.

2) According to the article: "North Korea exported a total of $790 million worth of merchandise to China in 2009 while importing $1.9 billion made-in-China products. Pyongyang mainly bought crude oil, machinery and electronic goods."

What should the balance be?

3) So...the North Koreans who suffered from the "deficit" didn't get anything in exchange? Think about your everyday life, you have "deficits" with most of the business people you meet--grocers, pharmacists, department stores.

When is the last time Bill Gates or Steve Jobs bought something from you?

4) According to the article: "Transactions with South Korea were excluded from the survey because the two are of the same ethnicity. Inter-Korean trade in 2009 was $1.7 billion, down 7.8 percent from 2008. "

So if a Korean person in China buys something from a North Korean in North Korea then it is part of a "trade deficit." But a Korean person in South Korea buying something from a someone in North Korea then that "deficit" isn't included.

5) Okay, I'm not the first to make this point. Adam Smith (1776) wrote:
"Nothing, however, can be more absurd than this whole doctrine of the balance of trade, upon which, not only these restraints, but almost all the other regulations of commerce are founded. When two places trade with one another, this doctrine supposes that, if the balance be even, neither of them either loses or gains; but if it leans in any degree to one side, that one of them loses and the other gains in proportion to its declension from the exact equilibrium. Both suppositions are false."

6) As I wrote in the Korea Times nine years ago: As [James] Ingram explained it, an unknown entrepreneur discovers a way to turn wheat and lumber into cars. His factory, which had been built on the edge of town near the sea, was off-limits to protect his secret process. As wheat and lumber were turned into products consumers wanted the businessman was hailed as a hero across the country.
Then, a journalist investigates. He finds a former employee who reveals that the large factory is empty. There was a large hole in the back of the factory, where ships imported cars and exported grain. Because of the news story, the businessman was vilified for driving up the nation's trade deficit, eliminating U.S. jobs, and destroying the nation's automobile market.



Random photos from today

I went walking around today. Whereas some people like to go walking in the mountains, I enjoy walking around in the city. Well, not D.C. or other cities with many homeless, crazy and/or armed people walking around...

* * *

Here's where I had lunch today. About $1.90 for a hamburger hamberger.

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Ha-ha! Bet you never would have guessed that Batman is a drinking place in Korea!

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Man Clinic? The Koreans walking by seemed to be very curious about why I was taking a photo of a "Man Clinic." They may know something I don't know...Actually, I wasn't curious enough to go in and find out what it was...

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Right down the street from the Man Clinic...there's a Love Shop! I love the euphemism. "Love Shop" sounds much better than Sex Shop. I'm guessing that if you don't go to the "Love Shop" to buy condoms that you may need to visit the Man Clinic a short time later?

* * *

Nobody in South Korea has guns. Apparently that's because they are all at this gun shop I passed by today.

Updated: Gun statistics in Korea, April 22, 2013, Korea Herald

* Around 187,000 firearms, including handguns, rifles, and shotguns were legally held by civilians.
* In 2011, 416 crimes involving guns occurred in Korea.
* 141 illegal firearms were seized in 2012.

4 shooting incidents in Korea in the last month--an average afternoon in Chicago.

* A 42 year old man shot a 38 year old man who had been having an affair with his wife. He had held the weapon for years to fend off wild animals--turned out that the wild animal was on 2, not 4, legs.

Three of the incidents involved unauthorized guns.

According to the article: "In Korea, gun possession is prohibited except for soldiers, police officers, hunters and other specially licensed people. However, civilians can hold air guns with a caliber of 0.20 (50 mm) or smaller."



Busy week for fakers

What about "No" would they not understand?

The Korea Times identifies a new problem: freeloading Koreans visiting relatives in America. The cause: it is now easier for Koreans to travel to America because of a visa waiver.

1) I am amazed at some of the people that reporters can find and about the things people will say to reporters. Complaining because you can't say no to family? Even if I did want to complain about such a thing I would not do so to a reporter.

2) Perhaps Koreans need a return to the good old days, back to 1987 when martial law prevented most Koreans from traveling abroad without a good reason (education, religion or business). A great thing about freedom is that we can complain about trivial things, and even be taking seriously by reporters. When Koreans were living under dictators they wished for the chance to travel abroad.

3) The most obvious solution, besides saying no the first time relatives and friends ask: Say no the second and third times they ask. Is it better to be known as the unfriendly relatives who won't let others stay at her place for a month or to live with visiting relatives for a month when you don't want to do so? That's a choice everyone must make. The people complaining apparently made the choice to say yes to relatives.

4) Send the link CouchSurfing to all of your Korean relatives--people apparently enter a network that allows them to crash at the homes of other people, as long as they allow others to crash with them. But only send the link if you are sure you won't need to crash at a relative's home for a month. I do wonder how many of the Koreans in America griping about freeloading relatives crash with them when they come to South Korea?

5) How many people do say no to relatives or find an excuse? It would be nice to hear that in such an article although people may not want to admit it. It may be that just a handful of people don't know how to say know.

6) Sometimes it may seem that I hate reporters. Not completely true.

* * *

Conspiracy Theories

I had been thinking about writing a book about education in Korea. But the longer I am here, the more I think about writing a book about conspiracy theories. The latest one is that the Korean government sank the Cheonan, killing 46 South Korean sailors. By government, I mean the South Korean government.

More than a few South Koreans have said this to me, apparently they were being serious. The conspiracies started based on the government's slow response. Then, suddenly, the government's quick response helped explain why it was a conspiracy--they had been caught and had to cover up what they had been doing by appearing to be busy. Upcoming elections--a handy explanation for any conspiracy theories--were cited as proof of a conspiracy.

The conspiracy theorists are also quite sure that former South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun, who reportedly committed suicide, was killed.

Of course, I don't know the truth in either case. They don't either, by the way.

* * *


I may eventually buy a camera because I have learned that I enjoy taking photos. I wasn't always this way, I guess it is a sign of old age.

So I can appreciate the picture-taking culture here. As I've previously blogged, I often see Koreans taking photos of themselves.

I was in a sandwich shop earlier today...

There must have been an announcement in Korean, "Please take photos of yourselves." The two middle school girls at the table across from me were taking photos of each other and themselves. The couple sitting on my left were taking photos of themselves and each other (the woman started it by taking photos of herself. A minute later, two women sitting together started taking photos of themselves.

I really, really wanted to take photos of them all...

* * *

Busy Week for Fakers

Item 1:
"A Texas man with no military experience managed to trick the Army into letting him enter a reserve unit as a noncommissioned officer earlier this year, putting an untrained soldier in a leadership position in a time of war, an Associated Press investigation has found."

Item 2:
"A former Harvard University senior is facing 20 criminal charges for allegedly creating a fraudulent life history that led to his admission to Harvard, and for using forged academic materials from Harvard when he applied for the prestigious Rhodes and Fulbright scholarships."

Item 3:
"When does Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick plan to quit lying about his military service? It's been a week since it was first pointed out that Walt had been misrepresenting his service on his campaign Facebook page and, as shown below, still no change. Today that lie was repeated nationally by KIDO radio's Austin Hill."

What's next? As some have pointed out, Obama faked his way into the White House, so that could be the next big story.



Drunk people don't whisper


Was talking to a friend a few days ago, she mentioned that she saw a cook from a Korean restaurant she has eaten at digging into his nose with his finger as he walked down the street. I'm sure the cook may say he was off-duty, but I think she should tell the people at the restaurant and that the guy should get fired. Of course, he may do such a thing when he is in the kitchen at the restaurant, but he should never let his customers see him do anything strange...

* * *


I am not a baseball fan. I do love playing softball. But I haven't watched a baseball game in years. I just read about a baseball announcer falling asleep during a baseball game. He's paid to talk about baseball so I guess it should be a problem that he was sleeping on the job.

I haven't been to a baseball game since I was 12 years old. But I may go to a baseball game here in Korea.

1) Korean fans are GREAT at games. Not even dead people can sleep while they are cheering. I've only seen this at basketball games, but apparently the same thing happens at baseball games.

2) There are cheerleaders at baseball games in Korea. So that is a second reason I may go.

(Actually, the cheerleaders are the main reason I'd go to a Korean baseball game.)

* * *


I stayed out all night last weekend, on a retreat. We drank a lot during the night. I finally went to sleep at 5:40 a.m. Actually, I wasn't sleepy, but I thought I should sleep. Several guys STILL didn't want to sleep, and they were talking so loudly.

This seems to be an international phenomenon. Drunk people don't whisper. Mind you, we were in a remote area, not a nightclub. I wonder...is it that drunk people lose their inhibitions, so they speak loudly? Or is it that the beer drowns their ears, so they speak louder so they can hear themselves?

* * *


One of Yahoo's recently featured stories was: "10 Places You're Guaranteed to Meet Men."

The one that should be on the list, but isn't: A good place to meet men is wherever they happen to be standing or sitting.


A few years ago a friend of mine asked me where is a good place to meet women.

Here was the conversation:

Friend: I went to a wine-tasting last night but I didn't meet any women.

CJL: Since when did you start drinking wine?

Friend: I'm not a wine-drinker. But I heard that's a good place to meet women.

CJL: So why would you go to a place to meet women doing something you don't enjoy doing?

Friend: Because that's where women go. Women were there.

CJL: With that logic, you may want to open a nail business. Women go there to get their nails done. You do realize that if you meet a woman at a wine-tasting event that she may want to go there again in the future?

Friend: So where do you think I should go to meet women?

CJL: Why don't you meet the women at the places you enjoy going? Open your eyes to the women already around you. That way, you will have something in common with the women you meet.

I don't disagree with the title of the article, the author is correct that women can "meet" men at the places she listed. It doesn't mean the women who take her advice will be meeting men they have anything in common with. If the women don't enjoy going to Home Depot then it is a bad idea to meet a guy who enjoys going.

* * *


Over the years I have noticed that people can agree on analysis and disagree with their conclusions. An example is socialists and capitalists agreeing on problems--then coming to completely different conclusions about what should be done.

I've also noticed the opposite--people completely disagreeing in their analysis but still coming to the same conclusion. That happens on the issue of immigration.

I agree with a lot of what Walter E. Williams writes, but I typically disagree with him on one main issue: Immigration. Here's his latest column on immigration. He argued a few years ago in a TV interview that immigrants should be shot on sight.

He concludes his latest column: "Start strict enforcement of immigration law, as Arizona has begun. Strictly enforce border security. Most importantly, modernize and streamline our cumbersome immigration laws so that people can more easily migrate to our country."

I disagree with his analysis leading up to the conclusion, but strict enforcement of immigration (or any law)? Sure! Either the law should be on the books or it should be taken off the books. Otherwise, the law can be enforced at any time rather than enforced when violated. I also favor strict border security. And I agree with that the immigration laws should make it easier to migrate to America.



useless hoops history

There's a breaking story about Joan Sloan, a backup player on an NCAA Division II team who has applied to play in the NBA.

I recall that Dick Whitmore, then a player at Brown University, did the same thing in 1989 as a junior at Brown. He also had a few minutes of fame.



Random Notes: Fastest Man in Korea

Life after death...another thing I don't worry about

Saw a news article saying that there is new proof of life after death. I don't doubt it. It would be a pleasant surprise. I must admit that I'm more interested in life before death. This is the only ticket on the Life Train that I'm sure of, so I'll ride this one out until I hit the end of the line.

* * *

Except Resigning

Obama says consider everything in tackling debt

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When I was applying for my current job in Korea, one of the job application questions asked if I had any tattoos. Of course, I wrote "no." But I will admit that from time to time I do think about getting a tattoo, or perhaps a series of tattoos. That's because of "presumed consent."

Some jackass A New York assemblyman has introduced a bill aimed at making the state the first to presume people want to donate their organs unless they specifically say otherwise. People aren't willing to give up their organs for free so the lawmaker wants to just take them. There might even be some cash, $1,000, as compensation for them just taking your stuff. That is the equivalent of raping you in your bed, then leaving a small tip on the nightstand.

So I'm debating which of the tattoos I should get:

"Do not remove parts upon death."
"Presumed consent DENIED."
"Not to be Donated or Dismembered Without Payment in Advance."
"Keep Intact, especially after death in New York."
"Deliver Directly to Undertaker!"

I mean it, I will never go to New York again if they pass that law.

* * *

Does he need more time?

One of the triggermen in the assassination of Malcolm X just got out of the joint.

From the article:

Hagan declined to comment after his release.

"I really haven't had any time to gather my thoughts on anything," he told The Associated Press by telephone.

He hasn't had time in 45 years to gather his thoughts? Guess I was wrong when I said that criminals needed time to figure out the "root causes" of their crimes, then they could explain them after 20 to 30 years. If they can't even explain themselves, I won't try to figure them out, either.

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Fastest Man in Korea...until Usain Bolt arrives

Koreans often seem to be in a hurry. The morning and afternoon commutes, however, don't begin to compare to the midnight rush to catch connecting trains. As lively as Seoul is, the subway system shuts down around midnight. Meaning, if you don't catch your connecting train by then that you a) take a taxi home b) wait for the buses or subway to start in the morning c) go to a bus stop and hope it is one that runs later.

Saturday night, I had that dilemma, and chose to catch my connecting train, then decide if I would stay out all night to meet a friend whose birthday party was still in progress. One day, I was Casey Cool. I walked while others ran. So I missed my connecting train, but I guess I looked cool doing it. Thankfully, there was a bus nearby so I didn't need to find out how much it would cost to get home. Saturday night, I ran. I outran everybody, even though I was carrying a laptop in a bag.

Usain Bolt will be running in Daegu, South Korea, later this year, so I guess I'm still the fastest man in Seoul.
(Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, unless I'm rushing to catch the train at midnight)

* * *

So this is not a political story?

I've seen a few headlines in the Korea Times about "foot-and-mouth" disease. I had assumed that it was about another politician sticking his foot in his mouth by saying something stupid.



Happy Earth Day! Please, die already (The Korea Times, April 22, 2010)

Happy Earth Day! And Please, Live,

By Casey Lartigue Jr.

The annual Earth Day celebration (marking its 40th anniversary today) makes one point clear about
the issue of overpopulation: There are too many people who think there are too many people.

Doomsayers have long warned that Earth would soon be overburdened with too many mouths to feed. Despite a continuous rise in living standards and continued success in feeding more people with less land and labor, alarmists continue to bombard us with deadlines and dire warnings.

``Our numbers are burdensome to the world, which can hardly support us," warned the theologian Tertullian of Carthage. The keynote speaker at an Earth Day rally? No. He was talking in the second century about the 190 million people he believed were rapidly depleting the Earth's resources.

When British economist-cum-clergyman Thomas Malthus warned against overpopulation in 1798, there were fewer than one billion people on the planet. There were 3.5 billion people on the planet in 1968 when Paul Ehrlich hysterically warned in ``The Population Bomb" that ``hundreds of millions" would starve in the 1970s and 1980s.

No such thing happened. Widespread famines now occur in areas that are not very populated, are in the midst of war or where dictators reign. Could Tertullian, Malthus or Ehrlich have ever imagined Earth today with almost seven billion humans inhabiting it? There you have the crux of the population control arguments. How many is too many ― and who decides what is too many?

Rather than seeing the increased population as human ingenuity delaying death, doomsayers present charts and graphs highlighting potential catastrophe. Like cult leaders predicting that the world will end on a particular date, doomsayers look to the future with fear. You can extrapolate just about any trend into disaster, if you ignore reality.

For example, has anyone else noticed that the average temperature in Seoul has gone up since January? At this rate we are sure to burn up by December 2011. Extrapolating like this about population and resources without considering that humans will always create and adapt is similar to not realizing that the Earth will spin us back into a different season.

As economist Julian Simon argued: The ultimate resource is people. The ``natural" resources to create the modern conveniences we enjoy today have existed since the beginning of time. They were useless resources until people ― often motivated by greed ― used ingenuity to turn those raw materials into life-improving conveniences and life-saving technologies. Even those inventions that have helped us push back death are seen as a threat because they allegedly cause ``global cooling," ``global warming" or ``climate change."

Despite the numerous advancements, some continue to insist that doom is just around the corner. ``Population Outgrows Food, Scientists Warn the World." This could have been the latest report from an environmental group faxed in to the New York Times. It was actually a New York Times front-page headline on Sept. 15, 1948. The American Society for the Advancement of Science (ASAS) warned in 1994 that domestic oil wells would go dry in twenty years and that America would no longer be able to export food by the year 2025. In reality, we are constantly warned about the future threat of starvation from overpopulation, even as overweight people join health clubs and drink diet shakes. Some governments pay farmers to destroy produce or not to farm at all to keep prices high and just about all governments impose duties and taxes on agricultural imports.

So we've reached another Earth Day, with life for the poor surpassing that of the affluent from yesteryear. Yet the dire warnings and demands continue. The unofficial kick off for Earth Day is Earth Hour, held in March, when people demonstrate their commitment to the environment by turning off their lights for one hour. Don Boudreaux of George Mason University suggests that Earth Hour's founders (the World Wildlife Fund) should ``create a special Lifetime Achievement Award for North Korea's Dear Leader, Kim Jong-il."

Why? North Korea celebrates ``Earth Hour" year around.

2006 satellite photo of the Korean peninsula

We can only speculate what that one light on in North Korea may be. Kim Jong-il watching his dancing girls perform?

Whatever the case may be, the photo is striking. Those of us in Seoul may sometimes regret the bustling activity. Cars everywhere. People everywhere. Bright lights on 24 hours a day. Seoul is crowded, not overpopulated. If things had gone differently in the 1950s, then we might be using candles as they still do in North Korea, wishing one day that we could have Neon Light Hour.

Original Korea Times link


"Who would be free themselves must strike the blow?" --Lord Byron

Frederick Douglass loved that quote. Booker T. Washington would say it sometimes, too.

I recently met two women from North Korea. That's right, that North Korea. I asked them many questions but held back somewhat. I suppose they still must be careful and I don't want them to think I'm a spy. Hey, I used to be a host on black talk radio, I was accused of many things then.

Plus, if North Koreans are trying to track those folks down I suppose the last thing they'd want would be to have their photos posted on a blog.

At some point I will write about meeting those ladies.

* * *

Yesterday I got interviewed by a Korean reporter about various political and social issues. After I confirm that my interview made it past the station's producers then I'll post the info here.



Foreigners? Come on in, and out the exit!

I went to E-Mart (a large Korean grocery/department store). Bought a pair of earphones because the pair that came with my iPOD stopped working a few weeks ago. I just couldn't bring myself to buy another pair. That's because I have about 5 pairs of earphones back in storage in Virginia. It was getting kind of bad because I could only hear Ray Charles in the duet song, "Baby, It's Cold Outside." Sounds good, but Ray can't carry the song alone...But the option was to spend $1,500 on a ticket to Virginia to get several pairs of earphones.

* * *

After E-Mart I stopped at a PC room to check my email.

Seemed okay when I first walked into the building. The name of the place is "Game Holic."

There's even a welcome mat at the front of the door of the place.


But wait...was it a grammatical problem? I don't mean "f" in "foreigner."

As in..."No! foreigner, please." Please, what? Please, come in?

In many cases, when Americans ask a question like, "Wouldn't you like to eat some ice cream," Americans will answer either, "Yes, I would," or "No, I wouldn't." Koreans would answer the opposite.

* * *

A few days ago in Suwon I stopped at a book store, with "Book Store" written in English on the side of the building. Imagine my surprise when I found only Korean books in a store with "Book Store" written on the side of the building. At least the sign wasn't written, "No! english books." Or would that mean that there were English books there?

* * *

At the PC room I wasn't in the mood to be Martin Luther King Jr., but I decided to walk in just to check their reaction. The employee on duty was playing a game, but he hopped up and rushed to me. Seemed nice enough, he was ready to seat me.

I've always admired those civil rights activists from the past who demanded to be served at all-white restaurants, knowing full well in many cases that the white employees would spit in their food. I asked the guy in Korean if they had a business card I could have but he said they didn't have any. So I decided to go to a different place. This one is named "Thank U". I did thank them when I came in...

* * *

Back during the mid-1990s there was a minor controversy in Itaewon (an area where a lot of non-Koreans live). There were various drinking establishments there that had competing "No foreigner" or "No Koreans Allowed" signs. A friend of mine at the time had his birthday party at one of the "No Koreans Allowed" places (I think it was called the Nashville Club). A Korean friend who joined at the last minute stopped in his tracks when he saw the sign, "No Koreans Allowed."

I told him, "No problem, we'll get you in." Actually, I didn't know about the sign before we arrived, but was willing to raise a ruckus to get him into the place. I've always been a libertarian at heart recognizing the rights of owners to prohibit undesirable customers, but I also recognize that it isn't unlibertarian to make an argument to owners that I'll do everything I can to embarrass them if they don't change their ways.

So at that time at the Nashville I didn't mind playing Martin Luther King Jr.--or in that case, the late Pee Wee Reese (the Dodgers white shortstop who wrapped his arm around Jackie Robinson at a time other players avoided him).

I was ready for a battle...instead, we got a welcome mat that wasn't pulled under our feet. We walked in, sat down, and ordered food and drinks. We were both surprised to see so many Koreans inside. I later learned that the sign was (allegedly) put there to keep groups of Korean males from entering the place and harassing Korean females hanging out with non-Koreans. So it may be that the place today would let me in by myself, meaning the sign should have been written, "No! korean, please."

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Things I love about Korea!

Okay, so readers of Lonely Planet say that Seoul is a lousy city. The New York Times says it is a great city to visit.

How do you choose sides when two idiots disagree? How can you tell who is telling the truth when two liars tell different stories?

* * *

I was on the subway the other day when I began writing a list of things I love about Korea. This is not a final list, by the way.

* The tax rate is 3.3%. That's right. 3.3%. Not 33.3%.

* Even better, I won't have to go through the April 15 IRS game. The government here just TAKES the money. They don't force to also send in forms by a certain date.

* Every company working with Western employees seems to have a manager who will show up when called on a Friday night to help you when your heating system stops working. On the other hand, he is also likely to get you stranded on the highway when his van runs out of gas. (Yes, both things happened recently.)

* The seats on subway line 4 are heated. The next time my heating system at home stops working I may just ride up and down line 4.

* People can look at themselves in a mirror without others thinking they are strange. Many Koreans in fact do this. There seems to be mirrors everywhere. One thing I've noticed is that Korean women seem to enjoy taking photos of themselves, especially when they are seated at cafes or donut shops.

* You can slurp your food without people staring at you. You can even pick up your bowl and drink from it. Americans (at least others I've eaten cereal with) seem to do the same thing but for some reason Americans here think it is strange when Koreans do that with noodles.

* Koreans are eager to meet, greet, and host non-Koreans, especially those who are from Western countries.

* Singing rooms. In some areas there are singing rooms on every corner. I recently went singing in a ritzy part of town for about $9 an hour.

* Seoul seems to be the Swing Dance Capital of the world!

* Koreans will praise me for saying very simple things such as "hello" in Korean.

* One of the best things in the world is a Korean friend who is concerned with how you are doing in Korea.

* Cell reception is great everywhere, apparently for every type of cell service. The downside is that cell reception is great everywhere, meaning you need a good excuse for not answering the phone.

* Korea is extremely safe.

* Tipping is not allowed or expected. I've never enjoyed tipping, it should be enough that I return.

* * *

Things I don't like about Korea? I've only been back for a few weeks. Check back in about 6 months.