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Monday, November 17, 2014

FALL CIRCLE PACIFIC ADVENTURE 2014: Day #15B : A Few Interesting Things I Have Learned


My posting on comfort women was filed earlier today.  Please scroll down to the next article.  As this is about halfway through my FCP Adventure, I thought I would today also summarize my experiences as I get ready to leave South Korea for Thailand.

Every trip is unique and memorable in different ways.  Here is what I have thus far learned on this trip:
  • My body must not like to be at sea, for my blood pressure shot up.  Either I began to adjust, or my reduction of alcohol and salt helped, or both, as the extreme highs dropped to a still uncomfortable 140-160/85-95.  When I landed in New Zealand, the pressures returned to almost normal.
  • I haven't yet checked my blood pressure before, during and after air flights, but I'll do that on my final leg back to Honolulu.  I don't want to spook myself too much for I still need to return home.
  • There is no tipping on the Crystal Symphony, New Zealand, and South Korea, and this will continue throughThailand and Japan.
  • When I first visited Auckland forty years ago, there were hardly any Asians.  By 2021, the proportion could jump to one-third.
  • South Korea is the biggest success story today.  From the depths of despair after the Korean War 60 years ago to what CNN cited as 50 reasons why Seoul is the world's greatest city, the progress has been remarkable.  
  • Life, however is essentially impossible for many, as there is immense pressure to get into the right schools, beginning with kindergarten, find the ideal job and marry the perfect person.  Then, they push their children through the same agony.  All the while, keeping up with the Kims leads to unpayable debts for many.   It is reported that 70,000 university students each year borrow funds at a 30% annual interest rate or higher to support themselves.  It is not uncommon for entire families to collectively commit suicide.  As this graph shows, the elderly are most prone.  On a subway, excluding small kids and old people, at least two-thirds of the passengers are interacting in some way with a smart phone.  There is a zeal to succeed.  No time is to be wasted. 
  • Mapo Bridge across the Han River is known as "Suicide Bridge."  The government, recognizing this problem, created a "Bridge of Life" campaign featuring this crossing.  A year later the suicide rate jumped by 600% over the Mapo.
  • For the record (suicides/year/100,000):
    • #1   Greenland     83
    • #2   Lithuania       31
    • #3   South Korea  29
    • #7   Japan             21
    • #34 USA               12
    • #38 New Zealand 12
    • #66 Thailand          6
    • Several countries such as Nepal, Haiti, Egypt, Jordan and Syria are close to zero.  Oh, committing suicide is strictly forbidden by the Koran.
  • The emperor of Asia is Xi Jinping.  He is into year two of a ten-year reign,   While many have said he is an economist, his university degree was in chemical engineering, from Tsinghua University.  Former China leader Hu Jintao was also an engineer.
  • President Vladimir Putin has a had a rough week.  You say, why was he there in the first place as didn't Russia get kicked out of these international organizations?  Turns out the country got suspended from the Group of 8 (so it's now the G7), and this particular club did not host anything this past week.  First, at the APEC gathering in Beijing, he was largely shunned:
       
Then at the G20 meeting in Brisbane, Putin was serially condemned, so left early for home.
  • China finally showed off its new stealth fighter, the Shengyand J-31.  They hope to sell it to countries like Iran and Pakistan.  It is said to be much cheaper than Lockheed's F-35, which is a lemon.  However, as bad as the F-35 is, it is far superior to the J-31.  No great surprise, but they look alike.  China reportedly has a more capable Chengdu J-20 still under wraps, but this plane is said to be almost as good as our F-22 Raptor, which is being phased out.  Click here for a review of these 5th generation fighters, including one from Russia.
  • Oh, the military industrial complex is active and well, for DARPA is seeking ideas for a flying aircraft carrier.  Don't get too excited.   Nothing like the above. This inquiry just uses conventional large planes to mostly hold drones.
Skybus, incidentally, has patented a flying donut for their future:

Which looks awfully similar to my Blue Revolution Plantship (torus, or donut):


Yes, the shape of the future is a donut.

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