Thoughtful Context on North Korea

A thoughtful and concise article in the LA Times lays out some interesting context surrounding North Korea’s recent executions, and why this start (or continuation) of a “youthful revolution” may very well lead to substantially more instability and uncertainty. A few excerpts:

“At 30, Kim Jong Un may well be the world’s youngest head of state. His brother, Kim Jong Chul, two years older, is best known as an avid Eric Clapton fan but is also said to keep an eye on the leader’s security.”

“‘He couldn’t be a boss with subordinates who are twice his age, who don’t understand him and don’t take him seriously.’

Kim’s tactics in some ways are reminiscent of China’s Cultural Revolution, launched by Mao Tse-tung in 1966, in which youthful Red Guards terrorized their teachers and other authority figures.”

“‘Jang oversaw most of North Korea’s trade, maintaining the balance between various military-run companies that sell coal, iron ore and seafood in China and in turn import most of the country’s consumer goods.

‘In running North Korea Inc., he was very effective at making money for the regime. The question now is who is going to replace him,’ said John Park of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.”


Iceland’s First Armed Police Incident

I saw this this morning. While it’s unfortunate, the fact that Icelandic police have never used lethal force in any operation until yesterday says a lot about the country. From the BBC:

Icelandic police have shot dead a man who was firing a shotgun in his apartment in the early hours of Monday.

It is the first time someone has been killed in an armed police operation in Iceland, officials say.

Tear gas canisters were fired through the windows in an attempt to subdue the 59-year-old, who lived in the east of the capital, Reykjavik.

When this failed he was shot after firing at police entering the building. Between 15 and 20 officers took part…

The incident was “without precedent” in Iceland, he said.

The apartment block was evacuated as neighbours were considered to be in danger.

Iceland, with a population of 322,000, has one of the lowest crime rates in the world and shooting incidents are unusual.

More from NPR here.

Southie Development Time Lapse

I have three good friends who all live in this building, a few blocks up the street from my place. A year ago it was in pretty rough shape, likely abandoned and condemned. This time lapse below, covering the gutting and development of the building, is pretty great. Especially since my friends get to have a professional video of their homes being built.

It seems like every fifth lot in the neighborhood is undergoing something similar.

Bob Lefsetz on Changing Markets and Jeff Bezos

I thought this was thoughtful:

“You double down in a crisis.

When the stock market tanks, you don’t pull your money out, you buy.

This was the record labels’ biggest mistake, it haunts them to this day, when Napster hit they should have started spending, getting ready for the new reality, instead they kept cutting and no one under thirty works there anymore, certainly not anybody with any ambition.

Just because newspapers are financially challenged, that does not mean there’s no more need for NEWS! And that’s the dirty little secret, despite all the opinionated bloviating online, there’s very little newsgathering going on online, certainly not when it comes to the big issues of the day…finance, politics and international developments. This is what newspapers do best.


There’s no reporting at the TV station. Local outlets are all talking heads, models in a contest to air that which will get ratings. Cable outlets are not much better. And they and the networks take their talking points from newspapers. The “New York Times” might be struggling when it comes to income, but in terms of influence, the paper’s never been bigger, it’s a powerhouse. Because the “Times” has boots on the ground, and none of its competitors do…except for the “Wall Street Journal” and the “Washington Post.”

That’s what Bezos is buying. An army of newsgatherers. And if you don’t think this is valuable, you don’t know the aphorism “knowledge is power.” And it is. You can learn more about the music business by sitting home and reading than going to any number of endless lunches. That’s what separates the winners from the losers…information. He who has it wins. He who controls it has more power than any banker, any manufacturing titan. Yup, while the Grahams were asleep at the wheel, figuring they had to save the family fortune, Jeff Bezos saw an opportunity.

Does tomorrow’s newspaper look like today’s?

Hell, Yahoo’s directory was eclipsed by Google’s search engine. How information is accessed always changes, especially in the digital era. But he who writes the news, he always survives, as long as he continues to evaluate and change distribution.

Paywalls are for pussies. It’s a head-scratcher why all publications are erecting them. They learned none of the lessons from the music industry. Foremost of which is your enemy is not reduced revenues, but obscurity. The key is to be the paper of record, to be available to everybody. And not everybody is concerned with everything, but when you break a story…be sure it can go viral.

In other words, if you make people buy your music to hear it, you’re never going to make it in today’s marketplace. And it’s always about the music. Thom Yorke can get everybody to pay attention to his opinion on Spotify, but he can get almost nobody to listen to Atoms For Peace. And that’s backward.

There’s a huge desire for news. By pulling back from the audience, the paywall police are doing it wrong.

How do you do it today?

You decide what to cover and then own the sphere. That’s the Apple paradigm. The iPod lesson. They OWNED portable music. Who will own the news of the future? Not TV, certainly not the “Los Angeles Times” and the other papers that have punted, who’ve closed foreign bureaus and cut staff in order to maintain margins, there’s nothing left there, no reason for people to pay attention.

So what does Bezos do with his asset?

Who knows?

But he comes from a completely different background from yesterday’s newspaper owners. He knows you invest and reap profits way down the line, when you’ve eliminated the competition. Amazon killed Borders. Its only real competition is the struggling Barnes & Noble. Like a venture capitalist, Bezos is investing today for rewards tomorrow.”

More here.

“I imagine the Chinese do a better job at spying on Canadians than the Canadians do”

My friend Paul, a Canadian, in response to the recent NSA events:

“[The stories] made me wonder what the Canadian spy agency does.  This is one of the stories that came up first:

‘There are reports Canada’s spy agency is appealing for the return of a top-secret document stolen from an agent’s car parked outside a hockey arena in downtown Toronto. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) document was taken by some drug addicts last month, according to police.

It was inside a briefcase in the back seat of a vehicle, parked outside the Air Canada Centre, where the Toronto Maple Leafs now play their home games. Police say the thieves were caught a few days later. They had been looking for money and credit cars.

But the briefcase is still missing — leaving a worrisome spy case for CSIS. The thieves said they tossed the case in a garbage dumpster, which has since been emptied. The document outlines intelligence operations planned for the next year. CSIS considers it the most serious internal security breach in the agency’s 15-year history.’

I imagine the Chinese do a better job at spying on Canadians than the Canadians do.”