Category Archives: Blogs & Blogging

New blog template

Thanks for your patience for the flurry of design experiments and changes to this site over the weekend. No, it’s not because the North Koreans hacked the site again. The culprit is actually Google, which just announced a policy that sites that aren’t mobile-friendly will be buried in SEO rankings. For the last four or five years, this site had been using an extensively hacked version of this template, which I liked very much, but which was also the reason why the site wasn’t mobile friendly. Unfortunately, the developers stopped supporting it a year ago, so there wasn’t a newer version to upgrade to. The majority of my traffic comes from Google searches, so the old template had to go.

Having been forced to change something I liked the way it was, my secondary goal was to change the site’s look and functionality as little as possible. It took many hours of work, about two dozen tries with various templates, and a few hours of stylesheet modifications, but I think I finally got to a reasonable facsimile of last week’s version. One of the things I don’t like is the “read more” buttons at the bottom of each post, whether there’s more to read or not. That’s an incompatibility between the excerpt function and the plugin that overrides it, and I’ll be looking for a solution to that in the coming weeks. One thing I do like is that the site seems to load faster now. Meanwhile, let me know how you like it.

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Putin is already censoring your news.

Granted, Buzzfeed has never been known as a paragon of journalistic integrity, but it should have to register as a foreign agent for giving in to this.

Separately, Anne Applebaum writes about state-sponsored comment trolls, who I’ve often suspected of having an outsized presence at the Post’s own comments section, and of commenting at this humble site on occasion.

Most of the best comments and corrections I get come by e-mail, which is why I often wonder whether enabling comments is worth the hassle.

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Technical Help Wanted

One of the things they didn’t teach me us in law school was web design, and I will soon have to take on a significant project on this site that I lack the time and the technical sophistication to do myself.

In short, I need some technical help from someone with a solid understanding of WordPress, databases, sql files, and such things.  Ideally, I’m asking for a referral to a known, reputable, and affordable commercial service to consult with.  (The affordable part matters, because this is not a revenue-generating site, but one that I run and fund with my own time and money.)

Lacking that, I’d accept technical advice from someone I know and trust.  To respond, please email me at onefreekorea “at” yahoo “dot” com.  Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.

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Hey, where’s my comment?

Recently, you’ve probably noticed how many spam comments my plugins aren’t catching. I don’t like seeing it get though. It gives the site a weedy look, and never more so than when it’s hawking some questionable product or service. If I didn’t have other life priorities, I suppose I should just find better plugins, but that’s a near impossibility with my decrepit version of WordPress, and an upgrade is a bigger project than I’m willing to take on right now. The second choice would be to identify the keywords associated with comment spam, but I think I’ve exhausted that one. That leaves one reasonably sure way to block the spam out, which is to send any comment containing a hyperlink into the moderation filter. That’s unfortunate, because many of the best comments are either from other bloggers or (as my rules encourage) contain supporting links to buttress their assertions. I’m going to try this for a while and see how it works; meanwhile, thanks for being patient. I have two time windows a day when I should hopefully have the chance to liberate comments from the moderation filter.

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Light Blogging for the Foreseeable Future

You’ve no doubt noticed the relative lack of postings in the last few months, and that trend is going to continue for the next few months. This is the collateral effect of good things happening in the family and work parts of my life. Unfortunately, as those responsibilities grow, they leave relatively less time for other things. So for the foreseeable future, my prime blogging time — my commute — will have to be spent reading and studying other things, and whatever time remains is taken up with Nerf duels with my kids. This isn’t the end of OFK, but it will mean that posting will be less frequent, and will be driven more by major events than minor ones. Thanks for continuing to stop by.

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Celebrating Seven Years of Obscure Futility

On this day, way back in 2004, I published the first OFK post. Had you asked me then what I’d be blogging about now, I’d have have said that I wouldn’t be. Then, I might have suggested reconstruction efforts, or possibly a low-intensity conflict between Chinese “advisors” and North Korean insurgents. Seven billion dollars in South Korean aid, Chinese money, and unsteady American policies have prolonged the inevitable, but it still looks inevitable, if different.

Then, I imagined that a broad-based popular uprising would eventually bring this horrible episode to an end. Today, I see little possibility of this anytime soon. Time has changed my idea of regime collapse to a more gradual concept in which regions, markets, constituencies, and units slowly drift away from central control, in which chaos arises from totalitarian order, and in which the regime will be forced to choose between extorting its neighbors and controlling its subjects. It could take years for that process to play out, depending on how long Kim Jong Il lives, and there will be much more needless misery and more crises before it does. But at least it can’t go on forever.

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I’m thinking of switching to a Mac, and I’d like your advice

I blame a series of developments for this. First, I can’t forgive that virus known as Windows Vista and the manufacturers who foisted it on us. Second, my iPod turns out to have been a gateway drug. It’s just a thing of beauty, and I’m still amazed by its functions and capability, all fit into such a tiny object. Third, my old Dell is about dead from sheer exhaustion. I’ve preliminarily settled on a Macbook Air, and am leaning toward the 11-inch screen version for blogging on the Metro. So, what’s your advice on the following:

1. What’s the best place and time to buy one?
2. How tough the switch is going to be, in terms of adjustment and compatibility?
3. I don’t do gaming. As if. So is it worth it for me to upgrade from 1.4 GHz to 1.8 GHz?
4. I often have multiple programs open at once, including Google Earth, which takes up a lot of RAM. I suppose that means I should upgrade to 4GB?
5. Do Macs work with most commercially available wireless internet services? Or is there some better option for going wireless with a Mac?

Thank you in advance. Hopefully, I’ll repay your advice with more and better output.

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Blogged With Love

I’ve been working on posting audio of Vitit Muntarbhorn’s address last Friday at PSCORE but have gotten bogged down in researching and learning some of the technology involved (long story – eg, Korea’s “real ID” online requirements are a hassle in addition to being just plain wrong).

In the meantime, I want to pass along a link to a friend’s blog, which I’ve enjoyed reading since she started it last month. Lauren is a friend and fellow JFNK campaigner (she usually plays the role of the caught NK refugee in our weekly street theater) who seemingly appeared out of nowhere one night at a Catacombs meeting (scroll down) a little over a year ago. Since then she’s revitalized JFNK and also given generously of her time to several other groups as well.

Lauren is chock full of energy, ideas, and love for the NK people — and now is packing 1000 shoelaces to boot!

Check out her list of places to volunteer in Seoul while you’re at it.

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The Daily NK on OFK

As a member of the U.S. military almost ten years ago, he was surprised by what he saw as the obvious contradiction between the public reaction to the deaths of two young South Korean schoolgirls in an accident involving a U.S. military vehicle and what he calls “the nearly unanimous apathy about the millions of North Koreans being starved by Kim Jong Il, or the hundreds of thousands of dead and dying in his political prison camps.

Thanks to the Daily NK’s Chris Green for the shout-out here, where he profiles this blog and NK Econ Watch.

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Tonight Is the Night for Kim Jong Il to Take a Satellite Photo of Washington, D.C.

Like about 200,000 of our neighbors, we’re all freezing in the dark here. The roads probably won’t be clear by Monday, and more snow is forecast for Tuesday. Our governor says it’s breaking all previous records.

We’re shivering in good spirits and have plenty to eat — my son has now beaten me in three straight games of Monopoly — but this may be the last post for a while until power is restored, meaning the unfortunate delay of Part II of the Cao de Benos interview and other regularly scheduled programming.

In conclusion, I blame Al Gore for global cooling, caused by his dangerous manipulation of our supply of greenhouse gases.

OFK, signing off for now.

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Blog Find: North Korea Leadership Watch

This is one of the best finds I’ve seen in a long time — prolific, funny, and full of information I hadn’t heard anywhere else. That’s all the more impressive given that blogger Michael Madden was ambitious enough to choose subject matter that most would consider droll, stultifying, opaque, and impervious to verifiable empirical analysis. Not just anyone could begin with material like that and come up with posts like, “Habemus Successor? Or Thaek it to the Limit?.”

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Sorrow for a friend I’ve never met

It’s been a terrible thing reading Kevin, a/k/a The Big Hominid, describing the terminal cancer of his mom, someone he obviously loves and respects very much. Kevin is a founding father of the Korea blogosphere, one who never really fit into any of the standard categories — who else could manage to bridge the spiritual, philosophical, and scatological the way Kevin does? I’ve never quite managed to meet Kevin, and yet I’m really at a loss to explain just how saddened I am at this. Words fail me, so I’ll just suggest that you stop by and leave your good wishes at his blog.

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