Saturday, November 27, 2010

another WTF moment from Google maps....swimming pools IN the DMZ?

recently while looking at North Korea on Google, I found what appears to be not one, but two giant swimming pools on the South Korean side of the DMZ....they look nicer (e.g. emptier) than anything else in the republic....maybe I should sign up for the army so I don't have to bump elbows in the pool all the time...
Google gave the address as San 168 Jajak-ri, Jangnam-myeon, Yeoncheon-gun, Gyeonggi-do but I think you'll have better luck with the coordinates. (37.991794,126.840302 )  The two pools are literally 'across the street' from the DMZ (that denuded border running along the north of them is the southern limit of the 'strip' aka The No Man Zone, which also allegedly has deer and other mammalian fauna pretty much extinct in the two Koreas...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Non zero sum games, Relativity, and other ramblings....

I haven't posted in some time, but the recent rumblings of warmongering in the north (Yong Pyeong Island, 2 minutes by artillery shell from my house) have given me some momenti mori, and reminded me that it might be my last chance to blog (I know, it's a waste of one's last moments)....
Recently in class we were covering a chapter about the environment (titled "Carbon Footprint"), which was actually a lot of fun to do with Chemistry and Engineering majors, since they actually are studying Thermodynamics and Entropy in English and actually 'understand' that our options are severely limited as we pass into the period of Peak boils down to that the best battery we've ever known, millions of years of solar energy built into Carbon single and double bonds in the form of dead flora/dinosaurs trapped under the earth, is running out.
If the age of Industrialism and Post Modernism could be said to be limited only by imagination, increasingly we must concede that we are being limited by resources; space, energy, water, etc. These sorts of limitations naturally lend themselves to the stringent qualities of the Prisoner's dilemma, The Peace-War game, the dilemma of the Commons, and so forth. While I don't want to go into the nitty gritty of the P. dilemma here, what interests me is that precisely it becomes more relevant as we run into resource limitations here on this planet.
How does Relativity come into all of this? Well, it seemed to me that just as two people cannot observe the same phenomenon in exactly the same way unless they are in the same reference frame, so we humans seem unable to observe the world from another person's viewpoint, or more importantly, from the external viewpoint of what is best for the human race, namely to avert a self-created climate change disaster scenario. This larger dilemma is repeated in so many micro dilemmas, such as the one which confronts this country and their more aggressive brothers to the north.

Best case scenario 1: nothing significant will happen. North Korea will achieve its mysterious goals of either garnering the West's attention, achieving greater internal solidarity, or the successful coronation of a new prince (Kim Jong Eun)in the dynasty. Or, they will attack in a similar manner a few weeks or months down the road. (I give this one more than 80% probability)
Best case scenario 2 (from a Hollywood film, actually Moon Over Parador):
Kim Jong Eun will take the helm and lead the country in an unexpected direction of openness to the West and democracy. (I give this about 1% probability, like most Hollywood plots)

Worst case scenario 1: nothing significant will happen....minor escalation in the form of iterated, isolated attacks and counter attacks from North and South, or in the form of increased sanctioning. I give this one about 18%
Worst case scenario 2: (from a Video Game plotline): North Korea goes balls-out for invasion and ultimately their own extermination, including a possible scene involving the first-since 1945 use of nuclear devices on a battlefield. (this one gets the other 1% probability). I also find this one interesting considering the most recent history of sneak attacks:

1. Serb separatist assasinates Archduke Ferdinand- (Semi-Fail!) Greater Serbia did become a reality (e.g. Yugoslavia) only forty years later, but look at it now....still messed up...)
2. Hitler invades Russia (Uber-Fail!)
3. Pearl Harbor (won the battle, lost the war)
4. 9-11 (garnered enormous sympathy for the US in Europe and elsewhere, goodwill soon squandered by George W.) - but ultimately too soon to decide if this sneak attack was successful - far more successful than the actual attack has been the reaction of the US to label a priori all of its own citizens as terrorists (AQ FTW so far).

So if Kim Jeong Eun decides to start lobbing shells at us in the wee hours when I'm watching Boardwalk Empire, well, then, I have to say, you got me there...but it seems rather improbable statistically, so I'll stick to the big killers here, and by way of comparison:

Traffic: (2 friends killed in last ten years)
North Korea: (1 cousin once removed killed in the last sixty years)
Pollution: (ongoing, statistics murky)