Obama’s Second Victory—In Korea

This report comes to you live from an American on the other side of the world.

I had been nervous about the election for a long time because, despite the polling and Nate Silver and the general incompetence of the Romney campaign, I was afraid that Obama would lose. I really was. I had superstitious reasons for feeling this way. You see, I wasn’t born on the fourth of July, I’m not a yankee doodle dandy, but I was born on the sixth of November, and that means that every once in awhile election day falls on my birthday. The last time it happened was in the year 2000, on the day America somehow found itself with George W. Bush as president. In a solipsistic way a part of me really believed that I was to blame for this disaster, and that the heavily grinding gears of time, the beating wings of thousands of butterflies, had sufficiently fanned the winds of fate to doom America to eight years of catastrophe. Like a bellows to a roaring furnace. And now it would happen again. My birthday would push each wing and gear a little harder in the wrong direction, just barely tipping the balance…

The Pow Pow Malian Boubou

Second from the left.

My wife snapped this one with her phone, at my desperate command, as we were navigating the rigors of Canal Street in a medium-sized red vehicle of modern make manufactured by the robots of Honda Soichiro, one that was thankfully in possession of an automatic transmission, as the constant slow stop-and-go nature of Friday afternoon Manhattan would have worn out my right arm and my left foot long before we made it out of the city, had I been forced to drive the standard left back in Maine.

Convincing The Korean Wife To Move To America

The time has come to work. For the last week I’ve been traveling about the great continental expanse of America, exhausting myself and my family on a caravan of discovery to the red brick towers of Portland, Maine, where the seagulls are always singing!, to the suburbs of Worcester, Massachusetts, an area inhabited by the ancestors of my grandfather for almost four centuries, and thence onward to the colleges of Amherst and a spotlessly clean home belonging to a band of rather amazing Iranians, to the mansion that is also a Victorian museum owned by another grandfather, and into New York City and the city-within-a-city that is perhaps my only home, Brooklyn, to the forests under the Catskills, and then back here, to Maine, where rainwater is dripping down between the fat green oak leaves, and the crickets are singing along with a lone rooster at the end of a silent road.

America’s Decline

You might not believe this, but the first summer I was home from college I still thought I wanted to be president, and had spent two semesters studying history, with the eventual goal of following the cursus honorum to the very top, going to a good law school, practicing for a few years, and eventually running for increasingly important political offices. The first step was to study history at a decent liberal arts college, and I had taken it; the second was to intern in a law office, and I took that, as well.

Call Them Concentration Camps

I’m partaking in an example of supreme 21st century decadence and reading an ebook on my cellphone while walking around on a mossy grassy lawn barefoot. The book is Escape From Camp 14, only the third book I’ve read about North Korea but, like the rest (The Cleanest Race and The Aquariums Of Pyongyang), nearly impossible to put down, except when there is blogging to be done.

This is a brand new book, completely up-to-date, and all about a man who was born into a North Korean concentration camp—usually but not always referred to as gulag or prison in English, the North Koreans call them Kwaliso, or what I think translates to Management Stations—and who somehow managed to escape.

Lotus Eaters

There haven’t been any posts for twelve days because I was busy finishing up work at my university, getting ready to go to America, leaving for America (which took at least two days), and then lost several more days getting over the debilitations of very intense jet lag, which have reduced my wife and my son and I to utter zombitude, leaving us all exhausted during the day and wide awake in the very middle of the night. I’ve made the trip back and forth to Asia several times now and it always seems much more difficult to come to America than to head back to the world’s factory.

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