I’m reading a biography of Kim Jong Un who Donald Trump seems to admire. One thing that fascinates me about North Korea is how an army of government apparatchiks use language (and song and art and media) to create as comprehensive a cult of personality as the world has ever seen.
What intrigues me seemingly inspires The Republican Congress and Donald Trump.
In an article titled “How the Kim cult of personality came to dominate North Korean life,” Fyodor Tertitskiy shares the most extensive title he has ever seen published in the Rodong Sinmun in December 1972, when Kim Jong Un’s grandfather was elected president for the first time. In one sentence, he was referred to as:
“Peerless patriot, National Hero, Ever-Victorious Iron-Willed Brilliant Commander, One of the Outstanding leaders of the International Communist and Workers’ Movement, the Great Leader of our Party and of our people respected comrade Kim Il Sung, who founded the Marxist-Leninist Party – the Workers’ Party of Korea and the true state of workers and farmers – the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and steadily leads our Revolution on the way of victories.”
How long until Trump’s Republican backers “borrow” from the North Koreans minus the references to communism and begin addressing him along these lines:
“Dear Leader Trump Peerless patriot, National Hero, Ever-Victorious Iron-Willed Brilliant Commander, One of the Outstanding leaders of the World, the Great Leader of the United States and our people who resuscitated the Republican Party, made America Great Again, and leads our Revolution on the way of victories.”
Would that earn a retweet or is it insufficiently flattering?
It will come as no surprise to people who know me that I’m often befuddled. I might even go so far as to say befuddlement is my default state-of-mind.
Why I wonder, do drivers do 35 mph when merging onto the damn freeway?
Why I wonder, in team sports, do analysts and fans talk incessantly about Most Valuable Player candidates?
Why I wonder, does the President’s base blame liberal Dems for being arrogant when Trump tweets “No President has ever achieved so much in so little time.”?
Why I wonder, are some people so susceptible to authoritarian, narcissistic cult figures? And why is Bikram still a free man? And why are people in Mexico and Spain still studying yoga with him when it’s been proven he’s a sexual predator/rapist?
Why I wonder, when no athlete has ever achieved so much in so little time, am I not taken seriously as a Most Valuable Player candidate?
1. What swimming in my underwear taught me about Donald Trump and getting away with it. Funny, but rest assured Briggs YMCA patrons, I do not condone swimming in one’s underwear. That’s the reason the swimming backpack has a second just in case suit and pair of underwear. More spontaneous peeps should adhere to a strict “forget your suit, forget the workout” life philosophy. (Thanks DB.)
2. Why shade is a mark of privilege in Los Angeles. My conservative friends will say this is ridiculous. As someone far too experienced with skin cancer, I respectfully beg to differ.
“As the world warms, the issue of shade has drawn more attention from urban planners. The writer Sam Bloch, in an article in Places Journal this year that focused on Los Angeles, called shade ‘an index of inequality, a requirement for public health, and a mandate for urban planners and designers.'”
3. I learned to play the piano without a piano. Passion personified.
“I was 11 years old when I asked my mum for piano lessons, in 2010. We were in the fallout of the recession and she’d recently been made redundant. She said a polite ‘no’.
That didn’t deter me. I Googled the dimensions of a keyboard, drew the keys on to a piece of paper and stuck it on my desk. I would click notes on an online keyboard and “play” them back on my paper one – keeping the sound they made on the computer in my head. After a while I could hear the notes in my head while pressing the keys on the paper. I spent six months playing scales and chord sequences without touching a real piano. Once my mum saw it wasn’t a fad, she borrowed some money from family and friends, and bought me 10 lessons.”
“There’s my husband in the corner, who’s married to someone always wondering just how solid the ground beneath her feet is, and who always reassures her that it’s good. There’s my ring on my finger. There are all my friends, rising up from the ashes of their old marriages and seeking out new bodies to bond to. What is more romantic—more optimistic and life-affirming—than the fact that we know how all of this might end and still we continue to try?”
5. It’s that time of the year when you start wondering what to get your favorite blogger for Christmas.
1. Japanese hotel room costs $1. But there’s a catch.
“Young people nowadays don’t care much about the privacy.”
“As long as dead-ender subscribers continue to make Alden’s properties profitable, the company will have little incentive to improve its newspapers. The best that most Alden cities can hope for right now is the sale of their newspapers to local or better owners, as has happened to the Salt Lake Tribune, the Berkshire Eagle, and the New Haven Register.”
3. Best non-fiction books of 2019. I used this list to find my next book on North Korea. Ana Fifield, The Great Successor: The Divinely Perfect Destiny of Brilliant Comrade Kim Jong Un.
4. The lies of (Netflix’s) the Irishman. Long story short, Frank Sheeran (Robert DeNiro) made it all up. Apparently never killed anyone. This isn’t an important/contested chapter of US history, so I don’t care, a great film regardless.
Because you can only take so much of President Big Stuff, more of the most astute NBA analysis going.
On rookie Memphis point guard Ja Morant.
“Morant is real . . . Morant. . . is absolutely electric with the ball. When he gets a head of steam, he can finish right through bigger defenders:The league is awash in water bug point guards who get inside the foul line at will. What separates the greats is the ability to explode through traffic to the rim instead of settling for floaters. Morant has that extra gear.
Morant is shifty in tight spaces. He has a knack for changing speed and direction with an abruptness that confuses defenders. He already is smart about weaponizing his speed as an off-ball cutter.
Teams are going under picks and daring Morant to shoot 3s. He is accepting some of those invitations and is 12-of-29 from deep — great early signs.
Like almost every rookie point guard, Morant has a long way to go on defense. He has the tools and grit to grow into a plus on that end. In his third NBA game, Morant swatted Kyrie Irving’s game-winning attempt at the buzzer and talked all sorts of trash. He looks like a star in every sense.”
And what about De’Aaron Fox?
“I’m a De’Aaron Fox true believer, but Fox’s early-season defense was disappointing: He was flat-footed, upright in his stance, not as engaged as he needed to be.”
Proving no one’s perfect, Lowe shoulda used “is disappointing”, “is flat-footed”, and “he needs to be” since we’re still in the early going.
And on Laker cast off Moe Wagner:
“Wagner might. . . be the leagues’ cheeriest teammate. Basket mics constantly pick him up shouting encouragement at teammates. I would purchase a Moe Wagner Encouragement app that reinforced positive life behaviors: ‘You are killing it on the treadmill, Zach! Great job ordering salad instead of fries! You’re taking a lot of steps today, Zach! Keep it up!'”
Postscript: Richie Z, Guilford College noon ball legend, checks all of Morant’s boxes except the “all sorts of trash”. That can be learned though.
Even better than your fave romantic comedy.
The coolest things about being a famous blogger are annoying your friends with tongue-in-check hyperbole, having readers from lots of other countries, and having people tell you they enjoyed a particular post.
But the coolest may be what happened after I posted “Looking for Love—Introducing The Romantic Love Score” four years ago.
I ended that post this way.
“My friend’s RL score? Currently hovering in the high teens, but she’s committed to changing that. Hope I get invited to the wedding.”
The friend, actually a former student, the one who inspired the post, really took it to heart.* She made lots of changes to her life, some I assisted her with, like what used car to buy, and she committed to updating me on the results every six months. I awaited each update with great anticipation.
Then she went silent. For a year. Last I had heard she was dating someone she liked a lot, but I did not know what to make of the delay. Turns out, she was busy falling deeply in love. And planning her wedding.
Here’s part of what she just wrote:
“The wedding was held in my hometown Lutheran church. We kept the wedding invite list very short. To be honest, we felt uncomfortable asking people to travel to PA knowing that it was a significant cost (in more ways than one) with limited time with the person(s) you are celebrating. We had about 50 people in attendance and it was perfect for us.”
Typically considerate of her, but I sure would’ve loved being there, but maybe it was best I wasn’t since the two pics she included in her recent message nearly brought me to tears.
Her crediting my post and subsequent encouragement with helping her make more friends and meeting her husband moved me.
If you know someone like my friend pictured below, full of life, but wanting to share it with someone special, consider forwarding the aforementioned link to them. The more weddings, the better my daughter’s photog business.
*Ironically, I never had my “former student” in a single class. We met while making S’mores one night at a First Year student retreat. We hit it off and she ditched her small group for mine. Following the retreat, we talked off and on during her remaining three and half undergraduate years. She gets the credit for staying in sporadic touch since then via email.