Slave to the Blog: When the Phrase “Beyond Satire” is Inadequate



My direct experience with hallucinogens is limited so my point of reference is probably not the most informed, but the past week has seemed like nothing other than some collective mass flashback. Today, four stories where the phrase “beyond satire” is just not adequate.

Let’s start with the widely reported story of North Korea’s “endorsement” of Flim-Flam Donald presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. First, we should clarify that, despite my wife’s insistence over the dinner table, Kim Jong-un did not endorse Trump (“No, honey, Kim Jong-un endorsed Ted Cruz.”) The endorsement was actually attributed to a “scholar” identified as Han Yong Muk, whose existence, like those sketchy people who contact you on Facebook and Linkedin, appears to be more fiction than fact. You might remember this moldy oldie “we didn’t actually say it—this fellow said it” attribution tactic from when KCNA came out with this beauty: “it would be perfect for [President] Obama to live with a group of monkeys in the world’s largest African natural zoo and lick the breadcrumbs thrown by spectators” and ascribed it to some random Comrade Park they encountered on the street.

Normally we could just dismiss this as typical North Korean insanity, except it has sent Kent Boydston (and how many more?) into an infinite regress reminiscent of the protagonists in Peter Hanke’s novel Die Angst des Tormanns beim Elfmeter (The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick). At issue is the infinite loop confronting a goalkeeper at the penalty kick: “should I jump left or should I jump right? If I jump left, then the striker will kick right. But if I know he will kick right, then I should jump right. But if he knows I know that he will kick right and I will jump right, then he should kick left. But if I know….” This guy experiences a breakdown and commits murder. Poor Kent has been wandering around mumbling something about “If they want Trump they should endorse him. But if they know that their endorsement is the kiss of death, then the endorsement means that they really want Clinton. But if they know that we know that their endorsement is the kiss of death and that the endorsement signals their support for Clinton, then that means they want Trump. But if we know that they know…” I just hope Kent doesn’t kill anyone under the strain. At least not his boss.

Who is his economic advisor, Nigel Tufnel?

But the week did not stop with an ersatz Korean version of Teutonic madness. In a more typical North Korean fashion, the government announced a new economic policy: “Work Harder!” No, I am not making this up. Not satisfied with a 70-day speed battle campaign, Kim Jong-un has thrown his weight behind a 200-day speed battle campaign to jack up GDP. Who is his economic advisor, Nigel Tufnel?

I won’t embarrass anyone by including links to commentaries that have taken this seriously, but, really, it's 2016 and warmed-over Stakhanovite thrashing is the best we can do?

No, of course not. Why work hard when you can just rob banks? My compadre Steph Haggard had a great post earlier in the week on alleged North Korean involvement in bank heists, including a $81 million haul from the Bangladesh central bank. We’ve been consulting with various experts who know more about this than we do (ok, admittedly a low threshold) and we will probably return to the topic next week. But one nugget that didn’t make it into Steph’s post was that as the robbers laundered their money, part of it went directly into Filipino casino chips. Turns out that these come in denominations as high as $130,000, or as one of my colleagues put it, “the bitcoin of the 20th century!” I want a walk on part in the movie that will surely be made of this episode…

We’re Number 1! Last but not least, North Korea took first rank in the Global Slavery Index, with an estimated 1.1 million people in modern bondage. As one of my colleagues pointed out, with less than 5 percent of the population enslaved, there is a lot of room for growth.

Work harder!

And turn it up to 11.

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