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[ 0 ] November 18, 2007 |

Oregon really does look like this.

I’m not sure Farley would have signed off on my gig here if he’d known I’d never been to Oregon before, say, last night. The entire state — best I can tell from my time in the Portland airport and the nearby Embassy Suites — appears to be in the midst of a staggering depression, the source of which remains a mystery.

I’m on my way to Norman Rockwell country for the week. If any of our readers happen to be at the Portland Airport, I’ll be at gate B2 for the next 30 minutes. I have alcohol.

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Sunday Deposed Monarch Blogging: Joeson Dynasty

[ 13 ] November 17, 2007 |

In the second half of the 14th the rulership of northeast Asia was in a state of flux. The Mongols ruled China as the Yuan Dynasty until 1371, when they were replaced by the Mings and chased back to Mongolia. This had the effect of seriously weakening the rule of the Korean royal house, which had survived under the occupation of the Mongols. The son of a minor Mongol official of Korean descent, Yi Seong-gye rose to prominence as a general in the disorder that accompanied the disintegration of Mongol power. After fighting off Mongol remnants and major expeditions by Japanese pirates, Yi Seong-gye turned his interest inward, and deposed the 500 year old Goryeo dynasty. In 1392 he established a new dynasty, claiming connection with the Joeson, an ancient, near-legendary Korean family. He took the name King Taejo, but remains a controversial figure because of his close association with the Ming.

Twenty-six kings of the Joeson dynasty would rule Korea over the next 504 years. Korea under the Joeson successfully turned away a pair of Japanese invasions in the late 16th century, and a Manchu invasion in 1627. During the former, the Koreans employed turtle ships, cannon-armed covered warships resistant to small arms fire. A second Manchu invasion in 1636 (shortly before the Qing Dynasty assumed power in China) reduced Korea to tributary status, where it would remain for roughly 250 years. The Joeson failed, however, to modernize in the 19th century at the same rate as the Japanese. A French punitive expedition in 1866 occupied some Korean territory, and two American raids killed many Koreans. The central threat remained the Japanese, however; Japanese victory in the 1894 Sino-Japanese War made Korea the field of a contest for influence between Russia and Japan. The Japanese assassinated the wife of King Gojong in 1895 after she sought Russian assistance.

In 1897, increasing pressure from the Japanese forced King Gojong to declare formal independence from China and establish the Empire of Korea. Gojong and his circle had bitterly resisted this move, since it amounted to a recognition that Japan would dominate Korean affairs for the foreseeable future. The Russo-Japanese War of 1905 further consolidated Japanese power, and led to a series of unequal treaties between Korea and Japan that left the former a virtual protectorate of the latter. Emperor Gojong protested these moves by sending representatives to the Hague Peace Convention of 1907, but these representatives were prohibited from speaking. The Japanese then quickly moved to force Gojong out; he abdicated to his fourth son, who became Emperor Sunjong. Sunjong’s reign was brief, as in 1910 the Japanese moved to end the fiction of Korean independence and enact a formal annexation.

Emperor Gojong died in 1919, and Emperor Sunjong in 1926. Sunjong was succeeded as head of the dynasty by his brother Euimin, who assumed the title Grand Prince. Euimin had a long career in the Japanese Army, serving in several capacities in World War II. After the war, Euimin sought to return to Korea, but this was blocked by Syngman Rhee. Some consideration was given in the United States to supporting a return of the Korean monarchy, but such efforts came to nothing. Euimin returned to South Korea in 1963, and died in 1970. Euimin was succeded by his son Gu, who died in 2005. The claim to the monarchy has since fallen into dispute, with claimants including Princess Haewon, the 88 year old niece of Emperor Sunjong, Prince Won, the 45 year old cousin and adopted son of Prince Gu (currently employed as the manager of Hyundai Home Shopping), and Prince Seok, a 66 year old cousin of Gu (currently employed as a history professor). The evidence seems to lean most heavily towards of the claim of Prince Won, but prospects for a return to the throne are grim in any case. Although the monarchy has some supporters in Korea, the taint of collaboration with the Japanese remains on the family. As far as I can tell there are no major monarchist parties in the South, and the Kim family remains in secure control of the north. Even allowing for the possibility of reunification, the return of the Joeson Dynasty (now known as the Yi family) to the throne is unlikely.

Trivia: The heir to which throne has called for UN interference in his home country in order to re-establish the constitution and hold free elections?

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Some Thoughts on Dennis Dixon

[ 24 ] November 17, 2007 |

I know I swore that it would never be spoken of again, but the report that Dixon played knowing he had a torn ACL demands comment. My first thought is that Bellotti and the training staff shouldn’t have allowed him to play; players are always going to want to play through an injury, and it’s a coach’s responsibility to protect his players.

Then again, a torn ACL was probably going to require surgery anyway, whether or not Dixon had aggravated it in the Arizona game. Thus, Dixon’s future prospects were going to take a hit whether or not he had been allowed to play. Given the stakes for Dixon (winning the Heisman is a pretty big deal, both personally and financially) and for the Ducks (Bellotti must have understood the hit that the Ducks national championship hopes would take in Dixon’s absence), allowing him to play is a defensible decision.

The situation doesn’t look quite as bleak now as it did on Thursday night; the Ducks still have a pretty solid chance of beating UCLA and OSU and going to the Rose Bowl against either Michigan or Ohio State. Brady Leaf isn’t as bad as he looked Thursday, and hopefully it will be possible to make some adjustments between now and next Saturday. The Ducks defense on Thursday looked worse than it actually was; they ended up giving up only 20 points on the road (one touchdown was an interception return, and another a punt return), and only 3 in the second half. A Rose Bowl season is disappointing given what might have been, but it’s nothing to sneeze at.

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We’re Losing Ground…

[ 0 ] November 17, 2007 |

Farley is now the 849th most common surname in America, down 23 from 1990. The Lemieux’s have apparently suffered some sort of holocaust in the last seventeen years, as they’ve dropped from 2876 to 4456; breed, Scott, breed! Watkins carries the banner for LGM at 222 (down 48 since 1990), and Bean clocks in at 713 (down 133). Noon, I’m sad to say, doesn’t appear in the top 5000.

We’re facing a demographic crisis, people.

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Talkin’ Turkey

[ 0 ] November 17, 2007 |

I bought a turkey yesterday. A kosher organic 14.25 pounder. It felt more like 40 pounds.

It’s going to be the first turkey I ever cook. I’ve prepared Thanksgiving dinner once before, but then I prepared all the side dishes and someone else took care of the main event. I’m planning on using this recipe, which seems easy enough.

But still. It’s a serious bird and, frankly, the bird is intimidating.

So, anyone with indispensable turkey roast advice — something I absolutely must know before getting to work on this thing on Thursday morning — please enlighten me.

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Uncle Ted

[ 0 ] November 16, 2007 |

Shorter Practically verbatim Ted Stevens:

That’s a nice newspaper you have there. Be a shame if something happened to it.

Crikey. Stevens appears to believe that he can cut off federal funding for the Anchorage Daily News.

What’s truly pathetic about all of this is that Stevens is eventually going to be indicted and, I suspect, convicted on corruption charges; he’s also going to run for re-election and win by his usual staggering margin next fall. The state Democratic party doesn’t see much point in actually running a candidate against Stevens, so we’ll probably be stuck with another low-frequency freak show, much as we had in 2002:

Both Democrats running for the right to face Ted Stevens in November’s general election say the state’s senior U.S. senator is out to get them.

In his campaign material, Frank Vondersaar of Homer calls himself “a political prisoner of Stevens and his criminal co-conspirators” since 1986. Theresa Nangle Obermeyer of Anchorage also calls herself a “political prisoner” and claims Stevens “jailed me for 29 days” in 1996, the first time she ran against the Republican U.S. senator. . . .

Vondersaar, a lawyer and engineer, said he worked in nuclear weapons intelligence for the U.S. Air Force from 1972 to 1985. After deciding he was under surveillance by the Department of Defense, he said he wrote Stevens asking for help. Vondersaar said he was sent to a psychiatric ward for six months, discharged and kept under surveillance.

Vondersaar, who lost to Obermeyer in the 1996 U.S. Senate Democratic primary, said since moving to Alaska, “they have me in a bubble.” And he claimed Stevens is part of the “they.”

“I don’t know how closely he was involved in the original conspiracy, but the conspiracy continues,” Vondersaar said from a Homer radio station where he arranged to use the phone for an interview because he has no home phone.

Obermeyer, an educator, real estate broker and frequent candidate who served one term on the Anchorage School Board, has claimed for years that Stevens repeatedly blocked her husband Tom’s attempts to enter the Alaska Bar. She also alleged Stevens’ entry to the bar was improper.

She was charged with disorderly conduct in 1995 after an altercation with a secretary in a federal building in Anchorage. She was placed on probation but served time, including some at an out-of-state federal prison, for violating probation. She also was arrested in 1998 after allegedly disrupting an Anchorage School Board meeting.

“I … have been jailed and targeted for many years for telling the truth. I have weathered a total of 14 fabricated court charges. Alaska Bench and Bar have spent millions to attempt to silence my husband and me,” she wrote in an e-mail message answering campaign questions.

Of course six years later, none of this sounds quite as implausible as it used to.

As it happened, Vondersaar won the primary and received about 10% of the vote, putting him solidly in second place. With an additional six years to mull over his plight, Vondersaar is apparently running again.

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Things that are Very Bad

[ 15 ] November 16, 2007 |

Securing your nuclear weapons with the equivalent of a bicycle lock is pretty high on the list. I know that Scott Sagan has taught us that accidents are inevitable, no matter how good our procedures are, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

I’m also a bit dismayed to learn that Royal Navy boomer commanders can still launch their missiles without signal from headquarters. Again, let’s at least try to pretend that we’re safeguarding the most dangerous weapons humanity has ever conceived of…

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Why So Much Poop?

[ 0 ] November 16, 2007 |

This is awesome. I especially like #23.

Via Battlepanda.

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Cautious Optimism

[ 0 ] November 16, 2007 |

A long way to go, but this is obviously excellent news. The state enlisting private entities to reveal information about their customer will be a major privacy issue, and it’s critical that incentives remain in place that would force companies to actually consider the rights of their consumers before assisting in illegal government activity.

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For those in need of a laugh . . .

[ 9 ] November 16, 2007 |

. . . and that would presumably include everyone watching the Ducks’ game tonight, I’d just like to point out that Victor Davis Hanson — one of this site’s great laxatives for writer’s blockage — was awarded a National Humanities Medal today for his “scholarship on civilizations past and present.” As the Preznit explained, Hanson — one assumes by spreading loads of pigshit wherever he goes — “has cultivated the fields of history and brought forth an abundant harvest of wisdom for our times.” (Not surprisingly, my victory in the 2006 VDH Invitational was not acknowledged in the ceremony.)

Next year’s list recipients is widely expected to include Stephen Hayes (for his valuable children’s biography of Dick Cheney; William Kristol (for his keen moral sensitivity to the plight of convicted perjurors); and Jonah Goldberg, whose decades of research on Hillary Clinton’s debt to Mussolini produced a “very serious, thoughtful, argument that has never been made in such detail or with such care.”

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[ 0 ] November 16, 2007 |

alright, time for the bourbon and ice cream.

you know you’re fucked when ryan leaf is embarrassed for you…

…fuck. fuckety fuck fuck a-fuck. I don’t know that I’ve ever in my life been as unhappy as I am now. No one shall speak of this. Ever.

…”Laying around in the aftermath, It’s all worse than you think”. Did I really finish off that bottle of Wild Turkey, or was it one of the cats?

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Life as an Ex-Con is Going to be SOOOO Awesome…

[ 5 ] November 15, 2007 |

I haven’t had a chance to read the article yet, but the Transylvania Book Heist thieves appear to have told their story in this month’s Vanity Fair. As suspected, the plot was hatched in a haze of marijuana smoke and Ocean’s Eleven/Reservoir Dogs-born enthusiasm. Of interest; they apparently had lined up a fence for the books before stealing them, but then for some reason decided to try Christie’s instead.

Warren Lipka:

“In a few years we’ll be released,” Lipka says in Vanity Fair. “We’ll all be … still young. We will be stronger, better, wiser for going through this together, the three of us. Before, in college, growing up, we were being funneled into this mundane, nickel-and-dime existence. Now we can’t ever go back there. Even if we wanted to, they won’t let us.”

That’s true, I suppose; I’ve often pined for the excitement of having to visit my parole officer every week….

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