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I'm sure it goes well with Hennessy
June 12, 2004 9:52 PM   Subscribe

We deliver to Pyongyang in 30 minutes or it's free. Well, not quite. But this is what happens when Kim Jong Il orders a pizza.
posted by pieoverdone (33 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

North Korea missile test 'brings US within range'

posted by homunculus at 10:01 PM on June 12, 2004

Given North Korea's habit of abducting people who might prove "useful", I find it hard to believe that the chefs would agree to this trip, and worse, take their wives with them.
posted by SPrintF at 10:27 PM on June 12, 2004

Hey, you didn't link to part 3!
posted by whatnotever at 10:30 PM on June 12, 2004

Two-fisted pizza stories, nice post.
posted by crunchburger at 10:31 PM on June 12, 2004

SPrintF - I don't think most people (outside of Japan) took the abduction stories seriously until fairly recently. These articles seem to take place when Kim Il Sung was in power, so that makes them pretty old. I know I didn't believe my wife's tales of North Koreans abducting innocent Japanese of the northern coastal beaches, until they finally admitted it and it became global news. I thought even the North Koreans were not that insane, but I was wrong. I guess there aren't easier ways for NK to train Japanese speaking spies.
posted by bashos_frog at 10:41 PM on June 12, 2004

err.. off the northern coastal beaches
posted by bashos_frog at 10:42 PM on June 12, 2004

bashos_frog, it took place after Kim Il Sung's death. In the third part, they visit a statue of Kim Il Sung (at first thinking "he was embalmed"), and it says they were cooking for his son.
posted by whatnotever at 10:49 PM on June 12, 2004

Upon reading part 3, I see I was mistaken. I guess it was the references to "Long live [or long life and glory to] comrade Kim Il-sung" and also the Old Man, Young Man which I took to be the old leader and his son.
If this took place any time within the last three years, I would say the Italians were fucking nuts for going. But, being half Italian, and knowing that all my Italian friends are fucking nuts, too - it kind of makes sense.
posted by bashos_frog at 11:02 PM on June 12, 2004

wow. great post pieoverdone.
posted by y0bhgu0d at 11:17 PM on June 12, 2004

Deja vu
posted by y2karl at 11:48 PM on June 12, 2004

Hey, you didn't link to part 3!

I'm sorry. 'Twas a late night post. I saw that I didn't, and decided not to worry and go to bed.

If this took place any time within the last three years,

It's from 2001. Pre 9/11 and the declaration of them being the 'axis of evil'.

North Korea missile test 'brings US within range'

You know, I could make a post about cupcakes and you people would still find a way to newsfilter it.
posted by pieoverdone at 5:48 AM on June 13, 2004

This is good. Thanks pieoverdone.

No More Cupcakes
posted by thebabelfish at 5:52 AM on June 13, 2004

North Korea missile test 'brings US within range'

Well, it was amusing that homunculus was singing from the same book
the second time I Made Pizza For Kim Jong Il appeared here.
posted by y2karl at 6:08 AM on June 13, 2004

Cupcakes are the new pancakes, dude. Delicious newsy cupcakes.
posted by reklaw at 6:35 AM on June 13, 2004

so, what was up with all the "people asleep at night in the middle of the roads, forcing our car to weave around them in dangerous evasive manoeuvres, people standing immobile in thick woods, or inside a cold tunnels, old men embracing their grandchildren, stock still out in the middle of deserted fields, far away from anything or anyone..."?
posted by quonsar at 7:17 AM on June 13, 2004 [1 favorite]

Good story, somewhat marred by lousy translation (As neo-sympathizers, though perhaps a bit more moderate then them...; The trip was rather longish...; Another exhibit literally stunned my wife...; The effect was reeling.), casual racism (When a train finally pulled in we were swept off our feet by a human tide: the crowd one invariably encounters in the Orient where the individual counts for little and only the Leader is important; The Orient always remains the same...), and idiocy (I was moved by this affirmation and after the solidarity we had witnessed the night before it wasn't hard to believe; He said he felt as if he had seen God, and I still envy him this experience.).

WTF, homunculus?
posted by languagehat at 7:32 AM on June 13, 2004

Excellent post, pieoverdone - fascinating read. Thanks.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:41 AM on June 13, 2004

great link, quite interesting. I liked the Soccer match with the bizarrely 'non-existent' islanders.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 8:06 AM on June 13, 2004

Great read. Thank you.
posted by Tacodog at 9:50 AM on June 13, 2004

casual racism

Is it not accurate to make the observation that the Orient is ridiculously crowded without tossing "racism" around?

I sentence you to a Seoul subway rush-hour (both ways) commute for one week as penance, where you will be sardined, kneaded, and forcibly compressed in a writhing mass of miserable commuters, unable to do anything but sweat profusely, gasp vainly for oxygen, and watch hopelessly as the endless filthy tunnel walls rush by outside the tightly closed windows forever.
posted by hama7 at 1:17 PM on June 13, 2004

So NYC is part of the Orient now? 'Cause the IRT gets like that too. Give me a break, hama. It's one thing to complain about crowded trains, quite another to spew about "the Orient where the individual counts for little and only the Leader is important."

And I've experienced the crowds in Taipei and Tokyo, so I don't think I need to do the Seoul tour. Crowds are crowds, East or West.
posted by languagehat at 2:01 PM on June 13, 2004

It's one thing to complain about crowded trains, quite another to spew about "the Orient where the individual counts for little and only the Leader is important."

Would it be "racist" if the author had substituted "orient" for "North Korea"? How about "America"? I'm just not buying the race angle. "Oriental" is not a race. But just ask a Korean if he thinks his race is the same as a Japanese or a Vietnamese. There are a lot of things you could say about such an observation, but "racism" isn't one of them.

Making critical observations about relatively homogenous societies is not "racist", as it would not be "racist" to observe that Russians and Peruvians have little sense of personal space compared to Americans, or that East Germans are shorter and smellier than their West German counterparts, to paraphrase a description by P.J. O'Rourke. Would it be "racist" to suggest that Koreans eat Kim-chee and garlic?

There's real racism, but this is just not it. Bandying the word around just confuses the issue, is all.
posted by hama7 at 4:00 PM on June 13, 2004

OK, it's not racist as much as it is just fucking stupid. And wrong. Let alone blithely supportive of the kind of asinine misconceptions and generalizations that keep being repeated by clueless armchair Asia 'analysts' decade after decade.

Making critical observations about relatively homogenous societies is not "racist"

Perhaps you misunderstand the word 'critical'. It does not mean 'negative' by its nature, it means 'characterized by careful, exact evaluation and judgment.' The statement in question is clearly not those things.

Still want to defend the statement LH took issue with? Go ahead. I'd love to see you try. While you're at it though, since you're keen to tell us what 'race' isn't, perhaps you'd like to fill us in on what it is.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:48 PM on June 13, 2004

What stavros said. Also:

"Oriental" is not a race.

Nothing "is" a race; race is scientifically a vacuous concept. In practice, race is what racists think it is, and if you think American racists don't consider Japanese, Koreans, and Chinese to be all one "Oriental" race, you've spent too long over there and need to return to your roots.
posted by languagehat at 5:07 PM on June 13, 2004

Um, or Italian racists either.
posted by languagehat at 5:07 PM on June 13, 2004

[this is good]
thanks pieoverdone
posted by tcp at 1:30 AM on June 14, 2004

Nothing "is" a race; race is scientifically a vacuous concept.

I disagree wholeheartedly, but by your reasoning how in the ever loving name of all that is holy can you call the statement made above "racist"??

Race does not exist, but racism does?? I need an aspirin.
posted by hama7 at 9:28 AM on June 14, 2004

Yes, exactly, race does not exist, but racism does. Why is that unclear? Racists are people who hold negative opinions about other people based on what they consider their race. The onward march of science has dismantled the latter concept, but somehow this haas not made racists go away, any more than the lack of verifiable ghosts has made ghost stories disappear. Sorry about your headache.

*hands hama7 aspirin*
posted by languagehat at 10:26 AM on June 14, 2004

Aspirin does not exist.
posted by hama7 at 2:28 PM on June 14, 2004

Yeah, the apparently unwitting cultural chauvinism, or whatever it was, annoyed me, too. But it was a darn interesting article. Especially after having read that recent other account of a visit to NK.

It also made me hungry.

Hama7, really, trust me on this (and I think languagehat will agree): "race" means something because people think it means something. However, it doesn't mean what they think it means, because it can't. That is to say, that the phenotypal differences we use to roughly categorize race correspond in a categorical fashion with genotypal differences. They don't. The easiest way to understand this is to think that all red colored objects could be fundamentally related, qualitatively the "same sort of thing". But are they? In fact, we know they're not. Something can be red for a variety of different reasons, and two different red things might be only coincidentally red. It is the same way with race. Yeah, those phenotypes correspond to genotypes in the sense that there are genes for brown hair, for example. On the other hand, all brown haired people are not more closely related to each other than they are to blondes, for example. They might be; but, in fact, they're not. Just so with race. For the phenotypal markers that we associate with "race" to have the significance we associate with "race"—that is, that they correspond both to genetic relatedness and to overall similarity and shared characteristics (say, athletic ability)—then the things that we associate with "race" would have to be more intrinsic than contingent, which most of them aren't. Skin color is a pretty bad marker for a presumed deeper genetic relatedness—there's lots of reasons people could have darker or lighter skin colors, each unrelated to other characteristics.

Anyway, the direct, presumed relationship is known, from numerous studies, to not exist. "Race" doesn't correspond, across the total human population, with genetic relatedness. Regional populations are another matter, and for obvious reasons many regional populations are relatively closely related. If they happen to share a "racial" characteristic, this complicates matter for those accustomed to thinking racially as this relatedness coupled with racial similarity seems to validate the concept of "race". Specifically, it happens that almost all American blacks are actually relatively closely related. They do, in fact, share a common genetic heritage and are more closely related to each other than to, say, Europeans. Thus, in the context of the US, one can generalize about "negroid" skeletal features, not to mention sickle-cell anemia, for example. But as soon as you start looking at other African populations, or other dark-skinned people worldwide, all those relationships disappear...except the dark skin. As is often mentioned, genetic diversity is actually greatest on the African continent and a given African sub-population might be more closely related to a given European sub-population than they are to another African sub-population.

All this means that "race" can't mean, what it is assumed to scientifically mean. And, make no mistake, this notion of "race" is entirely modern and built around what were at the time reputable ideas about genetics and biology in the late part of the nineteenth into the the twentieth centuries. Prior to that, "race" as people used the term didn't correlate to, say, skin color, it correlated to ehtnicity. Say, the "Irish" and "English" "races". So it's not irrelevant to debunk this scientific notion of race since its very roots are scientific. A now-known-to-be-false science.

Does this mean that "race" doesn't mean effectively what "ethnicity" means, with some built-in assumptions about limited populations, genetic relatedness, and shared characteristics? No, it can still mean those things. Interestingly enough, though, all those things fit pretty well into "ethnicity". So why, exactly, do we need to talk about "race"? I submit the reason that people still do is because they consciously or unconsciously subscribe to this false scientific idea of race. In this context, you can see why it's both important, and has many ramifications, to combat this misconception.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:53 PM on June 14, 2004

That's the long way of saying "race does not exist". But fortunately, as I have said before, at a glance, I can tell the difference between a mallard and a pintail, even though genetically they might be almost indistinguishable. And even as members of the bird species, they're not chickens either. Neither sex nor race are "social constructs".

Racial Reality's purpose is to discount the proliferation of pseudo-scholarship that has arisen in Nordicist (White Nationalist), Afrocentric, multicultural and race-abolitionist circles.

Race Is Not A Social Construct - Robert Locke

This article includes an interview with Joseph L. Graves, a proponent of the social constructionist fairy tale that race does not exist. A highlight:

"So is the denial that race exists a harmless, if comical, sophistry, the sort of thing that confirms Orwell’s observation that some ideas are so ridiculous that only intellectuals can believe in them? Unfortunately not."
posted by hama7 at 11:52 AM on June 15, 2004

I didn't say that sex was a social construct, by the way.

Your duck example is interesting. What do you think it means that you can tell the difference between a mallard and a pintail? Just that you can distinguish one from the other is a sort of tautology, isn't it?

(In what follows, substitute a generic "you" for "you" if you prefer.)

If I have two cubes, identical in every way except color, and I call one of them a "whoosel" and the other a "snod", and you ask me, "What's the difference between those two besides their color?" and you respond, "'What's the difference?' Why, they're different things: one's a whoosel and one's a snod. A whoosel is red and a snod is green. That's obvious."

"Yeah", I reply, "I understand they have different names, and that you tell one from the other on the basis of their color...but aren't they the same thing except for their color?"

"No, no, no. They're not the same thing, they're different. Surely you can't be denying that they're different things. One of them is over here, the other over there. Clearly they're different things. And one's red colored, so it's a whoosel, and the other's green colored, so it's a snod."

So, you know, I'm not disagreeing with you that "race" is meaningful and that when you say "His race is 'negro'" and "His race is 'caucasian'", you're saying something meaningful. You're saying that one is a negro and one is a caucasian. How could I dispute that?

Well, I might if I pointed out that the negro would have been light-skinned if it weren't for an obscure childhood disease that profoundly affected his melanin-producing cells.

"Ah", but you say, "then he's not really a 'negro'".

Hmm. So you're saying it's not just color, then, right? It's something else that skin color is a marker for? So what is it?

"Well, mallards and pintails look different, act different, they're both ducks, but they are different kinds of animals. Two mallards don't breed and produce a pintail."

I see. So you're saying that their obvious different appearance is a marker for their relative genetic (un)relatedness and, implicitly, a distinct evolution (or, if you like, distinct creation)?

"Yep. They're obviously very similar, but clearly they're different kinds of animals."

I ask if you believe in genetics and contemporary molecular biology, DNA, etc.


So I ask if you expect these differences to show up in their genetics?

"Of course"

Now, let's be clear here. When I say "genetics", I don't just mean that if we found a mallard that looked a lot like a pintail that we could find the various genes that control the various things associated with the appearance of mallards and pintails and show that, due to an unlikely but possible combination of genetic accidents, we've found a mallard that looks just like a pintail. In that case would you say that the mallard really was a pintail? I suspect not. Because you're assuming that those appearances are not the important difference in themselves, but a marker for the important differences.

"Okay, I think I agree with that."

Fine. So, when I say "genetics" I mean that if we looked at the DNA, we'd still be able to tell that although our mallard had some things that caused it to look like a pintail, it really and truly was a mallard. Because, as we've supposed, mallards and pintails, though very similar, are really two different things. Either evolution, through adaptation in different environments, or creation, through design for different purposes, has made these two qualitatively different things, though similar.


So, to test our theories about mallards and pintails being very similar, though different things in a way beyond just their superficial appearances, we just have to look at the DNA of mallards and pintails. If we're right, we'll be able to confirm it. If wrong, we'll discover we are.


Aha! Good for us! DNA testing reveals that mallards and pintails are different in exactly the way we think. Not a lot, but obviously and reliably!


Yep. Now let's look at humans and races.

Uh oh.

Wherever we look, however we define "race", we find that the superficial appearances we've chosen to serve as the distinguishing characteristics don't reliably correspond to the genetics in the way that it did with mallards and pintails. Yeah, if we find a dark-skinned human, and another dark-skinned human, we can find a genetic reason that each is dark-skinned. Unfortunately, it's not always the same reason. (Actually, in the case of skin color, it probably always is. But other racially distinctive features, controlled by a combination of genes interacting along with developmental factors in gestation, may have multiple genetic paths to the same superficial outcome and thus, the two seemingly "similar" things may be in every other respect than the similar superficial outcome, quite different.) There's genes that control for eye color, but those genes do not a racial distinction make. Because we know (only because of the high variation) that eye-color doesn't indicate those presumed widespread genetic differences. They just indicate genetic difference in eye color. No more, no less.

That people differ by appearance in ways that correspond to how we categorize "races", and that these differences are genetically determined, is indisputable. No more, no less.

But people assume it means more than that. Specifically, for example (as with all racial characteristics), they assume that black skin is a marker for two things:

A) Genetic Relatedness: that black skin indicates an ancestral relationship between all black-skinned people; and,

B) An identical for a racial members, deeper genetic differentiation that affects everything from stature, to intelligence, to personality, to muscle mass.

The assumption here, when coupled with the nascent sciences of genetics and evolution in the last two centuries, has been that different races represent different human populations that have diverged from each other over time. Thus, if "negroid" means what we think it means, then all negros, everywhere, must share an identical genetic heritage.

These assumptions are empirically testable. Not until recently, but now they are. And it turns out that they're false. They just are.

It's important to understand that different human races are not mallards, pintails, or even collies and beagles. It's also to important that they could have been. That is, what people have thought "race" meant it could have meant. Human populations could have been isolated and diverged in ways that cumulative genotypal differences caused exclusively the phenotypal differences we associate with "race".

But it didn't happen that way. The genetics proves this: absolutely no racial criterion reliably corresponds to a genetic distinction. As I said, within subpopulation they often do, and that's because, for example, all American black people are actually genetically related. But as it happens, all American and all African black people are not. You can pick any racial feature that's used as a distinguishing characteristic, and test for a genetic difference across all human populations. And you want find a correlation. Within subpopulations, yes.

In contrast, the mallard/pintail distinction will hold, genetically, across all ducks everywhere on Earth.

Why aren't human races like subspecies of ducks, or breeds of dogs? Mostly, the answer is, because no human population has been isolated from the others for long enough for such a differentiation to have happened. It took no time at all to create breeds of dogs, but that's because we created them. You can see, then, why eugenics would probably actually work, and relatively quickly compared to what has failed to have happened through the history of human evolution. But, you see, any farmer or breeder can tell you that.

Finally, what we're left with here is that our whoosels and snods are only whoosels and snods contingently, not intrinsically. Some schlub on an assembly chose which uncolored cubes to paint red or green, and other than that, they're the same damn thing. One could have been the other. Their whooselness and snodishness tell us nothing at all about those cubes other than what color they were painted. Nothing at all.

Which doesn't mean that it doesn't tell you that. I'm not sure what that's good for beyond what is served by simply saying that one is red and one is green.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:01 AM on June 16, 2004

And it turns out that they're false. They just are.

Simple as that, eh? It couldn't be coincidentally related to the fundamentalist fervor and pervasiveness of postmodern theory and relativist proselytizing, could it? I vehemently disagree with such "deconstructive" theories because they rely solely on the validity of the position that the exception disproves the rule, and are virulently predisposed toward nihilist abandonment or severance of Western Culture and its manifest value.

In contrast, the mallard/pintail distinction will hold, genetically, across all ducks everywhere on Earth.

Unless they interbreed and hybridize, but if so they are still hybrids and not the original species or "race". They are genetically capable of miscegenation, as far as I know, unlike horses and donkeys whose mule offspring are sterile.

I'm not sure what that's good for beyond what is served by simply saying that one is red and one is green.

Well, certain diseases, physical conditions and genetic predispositions are often determined racially.

The idea that race is a concept created by racists is absurd. But then, that would make race-based quotas and awarding students extra university-entry points for the color of their skin racist, right? It's interesting to note that students from the races of Asia are not awarded points for their "race", nor are what are known as "white" people, only the (non-existent, if the comments in this thread are to taken seriously) students representing the black and hispanic (which is a lineage) races. I would call the racist condescension of quota-peddlers racist a thousand times loudly through a megaphone before I'd denounce once a comment about "Orientals" not behaving individually, or whatever the comment was.

Deigning to award students for not being of European or Asian descent is a priceless cultural gift, right? Nope, it's from the same strain of cultural relativist virus that has grown malignant.

The Real Problem With Multiculturalism - Robert Locke
posted by hama7 at 11:41 AM on June 16, 2004

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