Mark James Russell

Books, blog and other blather

Month: November 2010

Wikileaks

So, Wikileaks has disclosed another big swatch of documents, ranging from the Middle East to Zimbabwe, from the 1970s to just a few months ago. And I understand the need for secrecy in governmental and international affairs, and as such, Wikileaks is breaking the law and doing bad things. But somehow, I cannot shake the feeling that in the long run, the open disclosure of what is really going on with governments around the world is a net positive and a good thing.

In fact, when I look at the financial criss, the war on terror, environmentalism, or any of the major issues we face, I think more transparency and accountability would help them all.

(I intended to go trolling through Wikileaks, looking for Korea-related stuff, or anything relevant to things I have been working on over the past few years. But I was having trouble accessing the database, so I just posted this little note as is).

UPDATE: Okay, apparently Wikileaks was suffering from a DoS attack when I was trying to check it out last week. But it is back up and running now. I did some searching and came up with these Korea-related cables… Nothing too juicy, but a little interesting.

Ketosis With the Mostest

I must admit, I do not understand this New York Times story at all — the thesis, that for some forms of extreme epilepsy in children, an extreme low-carb diet can greatly reduce or even eliminate seizures.

Yes, it is very interesting. But it is hardly groundbreaking. I know that the Johns Hopkins University Press has been talking about this issue since the mid-1990s (when I was working there, I remember one acquisitions editor talking about this a lot).

Anyhow, I have been quite interested in the low-carb thing and its many variations for some time. I don’t really subscribe to any one low-carb house of worship, but in general I like to eat healthier, and for me, when I try to low carb, it means a lot more vegetables and little/no junk food. And I like how I feel when I eat this way.

The NY Times article suggests some interesting implications of this diet, in addition to the anti-epilepsy thing:

There has been so much buzz around keto that neurologists and scientists have begun wondering what else it can do. Could it be used to treat seizures in adults? What about Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, A.L.S. and certain cancers? Tumors typically need glucose to grow. There is very little of this simple sugar in a keto diet, and there have been interesting results with mice that suggest the diet might slow tumor growth. These scientific explorations are in their early stages and may not amount to much. Nonetheless, researchers are taking them seriously.

Bits and Pieces

– My music blog, the Korea Gig Guide, was just named the blog of the month for November by 10 Magazine, probably the best of the English-language, dead-paper publications about life in Korea. That is rather nice of them. Many thanks.

– Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade invests in TV dramas and movies? Really? That seems like such a bad idea, for so many reasons. The Ministry invested in the movie BAREFOOT DREAM, and is contemplating investing in a TV drama.

– A documentary about a Korean missionary to the Sudan, titled DON’T CRY FOR ME SUDAN, has rung up over 160,000 admissions. Is that the best showing for a documentary in Korea since OLD PARTNER? Anyhow, SUDAN was produced by KBS.

Something’s Off About Korea’s Online Music

There is a very interesting article over at the Hankyoreh’s website about the state of online music in Korea, in particular the bum deal that the artists receive from most music portals.

The lede comes from the recent death of Lee Jin-won, the singer behind Moonlight Nymph (aka, Moonlight Come From Behind Grand Slam), which the Hankyoreh relates to his money problems. I did not know the singer, and I think he had not performed in about a year, or at least quite some time. But it is sad news, regardless.

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The main problem mentioned in the article is the very low rates artists receive for their music here. In the rare instances where someone actually pays for a download (what a radical thought, I know), Korean portals typically charge 500 won, less than half of what iTunes charges. And then, the portals share much less of the money than Apple does, around 55 percent. Then there is 13.5 percent that goes to various rights groups (some of whom are extremely dodgy in Korea, and do not distribute their money fairly, if at all). So in the end, the artist and production company get just around 200 won to share.

Of course, the music sales sites would point out that they have to compete with streaming websites and all sorts of illegal downloading, so have no choice but to pick a low price point. But I think that misses the point. It is in the portals’ interest to have a strong, flourishing local music scene, so more people want to listen to more music. It is in the portals’ interest to support that scene. By being so short-sighted, the portals are just hurting themselves … not to mention all the artists struggling to make a living.

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