Plunge Pontificates

A place for my thoughts.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Future of this blog / Guide to Korean Characters

I'm thinking of pulling down all but my 'favorite' posts. There is a lot of just stuff here, but some posts I think were important. So, over the next while, I'm going back through and reading everything I've written and decide what will stay and go.

If there is something here you think should stay, let me know.

Also, many years ago, I helped create an online version of the basic Chinese Characters used by Koreans. Took about 6 months. I did it with Bruce Grant, an amazing American that lived in Korea for a LONG time. His Korean is spectacular, in fact, probably the best Korean I've heard spoken by a non-native. He depth of vocabulary is mind-boggling and his understanding of characters impressive. He wrote, A Guide To Korean Characters, the basis for our online version.

It has long since disappeared off the web, but I still have a version of it. If any are interested, I'm going to see if I can get permission to post it here. I think it could be useful.

Anyway, if any of you have any thoughts about this let me know.

Monday, June 19, 2006


Looks about a month of posts were lost... I'll see about getting them back, or not, oh well. The important things are I'm retired from blogging except for the occasional comment. The right people know what they need to know.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

History Book a Top-Seller in China, Japan and Korea

Written to counter the anemic history books being used in various schools in Japan, this history book has become a huge seller on the open market as well. Publishers are shocked, considering it is a history book, at the numbers sold.

An academic history book of the Japanese invasion of a number of Asian countries during WWII has become a best seller in China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK).

More than 110,000 copies have been sold in China, 70,000 copieswere sold in Japan and 50,000 in the ROK.

Rong Weimu, a Chinese editor on the non-governmental trilateraleditorial board, said here Tuesday in an interview with Xinhua, the sales in both Japan and the ROK were quite impressive considering the book is a historical publication.

"Many local education authorities in Japan and the ROK have listed the book as supplementary reading to textbooks," said Rong,who is also a senior researcher at the Institute of Contemporary History of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) .

The book, titled The Contemporary and Modern History of Three East Asian Countries, details the atrocities committed by Japaneseinvaders in China and Korea.

The book is aimed at countering the holocaust-denying textbookspublished by ultra-nationalistic press in Japan.

"In editing the history book," Rong said, "scholars from the three countries shared the same basic historical views although they have some minor differences relating to their cultural backgrounds and research methodologies."
I find this very impressive. Kudos to the historians for being able to set aside minor differences and produce a book covering these difficult subjects. An English version is rumored to be in the works, I'd love to read it.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Koizumi Tries to Avoid Yasukuni Controversy

So, Henry Hyde rips Koizumi a new one and tells him to stop visiting the shrine. Basically says he wouldn't be welcome speaking in front of congress without his promise that he wouldn't visit anymore. So, how does the PM respond?

"Not only are there no plans for a Congressional speech, we've expressed no desire for one,'' Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said today at a regular press conference. "If there's a misunderstanding over the Prime Minister's Yasukuni visits, we must work to gain understanding.''
What a cop out.

Still, I'm glad to see this gaining more and more attention. Here's hoping this becomes a major issue during his visit, enough so that he is forced to respond. Also, here's hoping the President doesn't try and smooth this over or avoid the issue altogether as he seems want to do when it comes to Japan. As more of the world takes notice the leaders of Japan are going to have to respond or find themselves becoming the pariah of Asia.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Moonbats Run For Office

GAHHHHHH!!!!! Just when I thought I wouldn't hear much more until the trial, we get this:

Hwang Woo-suk and his team of embryonic stem cell researchers may be internationally disgraced and under indictment for research fraud and embezzlement. However, Hwang's supporters are taking his cause to the ballot box and are fielding candidates for public office.

Hwang backers plan to run candidates in the upcoming local elections in South Korea and the lead agenda item on their platform is a move to press the Asian nation to allow Hwang to resume his controversial cloning and stem cell research.

The Korea Herald reports that, yesterday, they launched the "HwangWoo National Solidarity" to nominate candidates for gubernatorial and mayoral positions throughout the nation.

Elections will be held on May 31 in the nation's 16 provinces and cities across the country.

"Candidates will promote the resumption of his research and the protection of his patent rights (for stem-cell technology)," the new party said in a statement. "They will also repeat our assertion that those with vested interests are responsible for the scandal."

The Herald reports that the group plans to field 101 candidates, a symbolic representation of the 101 human embryos they say Hwang successfully cloned. The candidates will have no party affiliation other than their link to the pro-Hwang group.
What are these morons thinking?!? Hwang is a joke, an embarrassment, a crook, a fiend and on and on. How in the bloody hell could anyone, ANYONE, still support this worthless pile of bones and skin?

Makoto Koga says GET RID OF EM!

Awesome! Of course, it will never happen but it is nice to dream.

Hoping to sway the Liberal Democratic Party presidential race, an LDP veteran lawmaker is set to suggest that Yasukuni Shrine separate its 14 Class-A war criminals from the rest of the war dead enshrined there.

Makoto Koga, the influential faction leader, former LDP secretary-general and head of Nippon Izokukai, an association for bereaved families of the nation's war dead, will announce the proposal this week, sources said.
It's nice to see someone in a position of power make this kind of suggestion. It seems to be rare given the current mood in Japan, especially among those in government.

A Yasukuni Shrine official said separating the Class-A war dead is out of the question, as it would be incompatible with the shrine's ritual principles.
Ah, the standard reply. *sigh*

Sunday, May 14, 2006

What's Going Good in Iraq

Let's take a break from my normal routine of trying to save Japan from itself and make it the leader of Asia that it should be, and focus a bit on Iraq.

As some of you know, I used to run a website for Chief Wiggles and was one of the founders of Operation Give an ongoing charity. Because of both of these and other things, I've been a huge supporter of the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan as well a believer in the cause. I believe that Iraq will be a great nation one day. There are some incredible people there, working tirelessly to make Iraq and its people free and prosperous. Given support and time, they will win.

With that, let's look at some of the good stuff going on there thanks to Winds of Change.

First, Bill Roggio has some interesting stuff on the Iraq Army.

Nearly one year ago, the media questioned the "readiness" of the Iraqi Army and declared "few Iraqi battalions are operational." This stemmed from Multinational-Forces Iraq's attempts to establish metrics for the readiness of the Iraq military, and the media's lack of understanding of the meaning of these metrics.

The media focused on "Level 1" battalions, units which could operate with complete independence from Coalition forces, and ignored the significance of Level 2 & 3 Iraqi Army units. Level 2 & 3 battalions lack the organic logistical capabilities (Level 2) or required Coalition forces to operate alongside in combat (Level 3). Level 2 units gather their own intelligence, conduct their own planning and are deemed "in the lead" during combat operations. Both Level 2 & 3 units are in the fight against the insurgency.

Late last summer, 36 Iraqi Army combat battalions were rated as Level 2. Less than one year later, 75 battalions are rated as in the lead, according to Major General Rick Lynch. About 30% of the company-sized operations and above are independent Iraqi Army operations, and about 50% are conducted by combined Iraqi and Coalition units. During combined operations, the Iraqi Army conducts the search, while Coalition forces provide the outer security cordon.
Folks, this is some amazing stuff. They are organizing and rebuilding the army at an amazing rate. It's also important because we can't leave until that army is strong and sound. Bill has a lot more to say as well, just keep reading here.

The Army released parts of some documents found showing the terrorists are trying to start a civil war in Iraq. Needless to say, the US Army is doing its best to let every Iraqi know just what scum the terrorists are and what they are trying to do to their country.

The U.S. military on Thursday revealed parts of a memo attributed to Al Qaeda in Iraq that outlines plans to ignite sectarian war by targeting Shiite Muslims and to shift the battle toward the capital and religiously mixed parts of the country.

The memo, which the military said was seized during a raid last month, ordered followers to "make the struggle entirely between Shiites and the mujahedin," as the militants refer to themselves, and lambasted moderate Sunni groups. It included a call for insurgents to "displace the Shiites and displace their shops and businesses from our areas. Expel those black market sellers of gas, bread or meat or anyone that is suspected of spying against us."

The memo, if authentic, provides some of the strongest evidence to date to support an accusation U.S. officials repeatedly have made — that Abu Musab Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, has been deliberately trying to exploit the country's simmering sectarian and ethnic tensions to spark a full-blown civil war.
You know, completely off the topic but still, I'm sick of them being called insurgents. They are terrorists, scum, toejam, etc. But giving them the neutral term of 'insurgent' is just annoying.

USAid is planning on turning over its projects to the Iraqi government in 2007.

USAid, one of the biggest development agencies operating in Iraq, plans to turn over the running of its reconstruction projects, funded to the tune of $5.1bn (€4bn, £2.7bn) since 2003, to the Iraqi government by the end of 2007, Dawn Liberi, the outgoing mission director, told the FT on Monday.
Way to go guys! The Iraqi government is starting to show its competence.

Iraq's oil exports hit a post war high!

Iraq's oil exports hit a postwar high of an average 1.619 million barrels per day (bpd) in April, Oil Minister Hashem Al Hashemi said.

Ah, the good news abounds!

I'm worried though. I'm worried at the loss of support the war has in the public. It shows what people around the world have been thinking of Americans. We are wishy washy. We lose our resolve when things get tough. This isn't the time to act like that. This is the time when I support should be growing. It doesn't matter whether you wanted the war or not, we have it, and with our troops there and in harms way, showing any weakness is just wrong. Yes, I know all the arguments from the other side. I've heard them time and time again. To me though, it comes down to what I just mentioned, troops are on the ground in harms way. Do I agree with everything we've done over there? Hell no. In fact, I probably disagree with more than I agree with. But overall, I support the war.

God Bless our Soldiers!

President Al Gore

Even being the hard core conservative that I am, I nearly busted a gut laughing while watching this.

Well, it was funny until they pulled it for copyright issues.

Taro Aso castigated by former British POWs

This moron is finally getting his due. He is being ripped up one side and down the other from people and nations around the world. I wonder what it will take for him to come around and realize there is a problem?

This is one of the harshest articles I've read outside of Korea and China towards Aso and Japan in general for their failure to face the past. Hopefully Japan will start to realize that it isn't only China and Korea that are appalled by this lack of contrition.

Japan's embattled Foreign Minister, Taro Aso, has been denounced by British former PoWs for his connection to Allied prisoners forced to work in slave-like conditions in his family's coalmines during the Second World War.

Aso, under harsh criticism from Washington to Beijing for what the New York Times called his 'offensive and inflammatory' attitudes, has never admitted or apologised for his firm's use of slave labour. Nor has the Japanese government paid compensation to the hundreds of thousands of enslaved workers, or to the families of the many who died.


Arthur Titherington, 84, chairman of the Japanese Labour Camps Survivors' Association, said: 'It's quite disgraceful, but it's absolutely typical of Japanese politicians from the Prime Minister down. Taro Aso is obviously as two-faced as it's possible to get. This is quite normal with the Japanese. They refuse flatly to admit to anything. I've been attempting to get a meaningful apology since 1946. Over the years they've been killing the story with silence.'

Yet, to Japan's surprise and irritation, its silence and indifference over this and other unresolved war crimes have now become its main obstacle to good relations with Asian neighbours. They suffered the most from its atrocities, which began even before the 1931 invasion of northern China, and caused the deaths of millions across the Far East.

Aso's coal mines exploited an estimated 12,000 Korean slave labourers as well as 101 British prisoners at its Yoshikuma pit in the southern island of Kyushu. Enslaved workers there - and in other firms' pits - were kept in appalling and dangerous conditions. They were starved and beaten. Many died.

Authorities in Tokyo ordered records destroyed in 1945, but three amateur historians in Kyushu have documented what happened from local sources. They found the workers were underground for 15 hours a day seven days a week.


'The Japanese didn't care because they knew the men were replaceable,' Cairns said. 'They were callous and indifferent and we've always been horrified that these people were able to get away with not just murder, but sadistic murder, and have never had to say sorry.'

Neither Aso nor the Foreign Ministry answered Observer inquiries about the forced labour issue.
And they wonder why people have a problem with how they have dealt with the past?

Oxygen for Sale

I think this is kind of a cool idea.

Japanese convenience store operator Seven-Eleven Japan has breathed fresh air into its product lineup by announcing it will add cans of oxygen to its shelves.

The firm said it would make an entry into the rapidly expanding oxygen market and begin selling cans of oxygen on May 24.


A drop in the amount of oxygen in the body can make people start to yawn and sigh. Normal air contains only about 21 percent oxygen, but the oxygen concentration in the cans is 95 percent, and breathing it in can reportedly bring on a feeling of invigoration.

Each can contains enough oxygen for 35 two-second inhalations, meaning each can lasts for roughly a week if it is used five or six times a day. At first the canned oxygen will be sold in Tokyo, Kanagawa and Chiba prefectures, then at all 11,000 of Seven-Eleven Japan's nationwide stores from June 14.
I wouldn't mind getting a blast of O2 every now and then when I'm feeling worn out.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Japan Calls Korea's Claim "Illegal"

Japan has now decided to call Korea's claim on Tokdo and their 'occupation' of the islands illegal. This is just gonna create warm fuzzys.

The Japanese government repeated its claim over the South Korean-controlled islets of Takeshima, saying Seoul has illegally occupied the islets since 1954.
The Japanese government has previously claimed that the islets of Takeshima, known as Dokdo in Korean, belong to Japan. However, this is apaprently the first time that it has called the South Korean claim to the area illegal.