Stuck in the Middle with You

North Korea, Kim Jong-un, nuclear testing, nuclear test, missiles, DPRKThere is that great lyric from the Stealers Wheel’s song Stuck in the Middle with You, “clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right” that makes me think it is Kim Jong-un’s favourite song to hum in the morning while his toadies judiciously part his hair down the middle. Neither China nor the United States have the gumption to do more than to vocally condemn North Korea’s continuous testing of its nascent nuclear capabilities.

The latest test by North Korea in early September, of a warhead capacity nuclear device with a 10kt capacity (that’s ‘kiloton’ not ‘karat’), raised the ire of the better part of the free world.

UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, condemned the test in the strongest possible language: “I am deeply, deeply concerned and sad about this kind of continuing situation.”

This was the fifth, and largest, test of its kind by North Korea.

US President Barack Obama issued this harsh statement on the situation: “The United States condemns North Korea’s September 9 nuclear test in the strongest possible terms as a grave threat to regional security and to international peace and stability.”

The test created a significant earthquake with a magnitude of 5.3. 5.3 on the Richter Scale is within the ‘moderate’ range for an earthquake, meaning that it is felt but no significant damage is done to the region in which it originates.

China, with its typical confucian stoicism, duly (dully) noted: “The DPRK’s persisting nuclear weapon development and nuclear tests run counter to the expectations of the international community, escalate tension on the peninsula and is not conducive to the peace and stability there.”

There is a great Aussie comedy, to which I was introduced some time ago, that satirizes government bureaucracy. One of my favourite take-aways from ‘The Hollowmen‘ is the great ability of government machinery to put forward strongly worded statements that have no foreseeable impact on a crisis situation.

Poli-speak (policy speak).

Until the UN, until the United States, until China, et al, actually develop more than just an appropriate statement to chastise Kim Jong-un, North Korea will eventually develop a fully operational nuclear warhead capable of reaching other continents.

Right now, things have died down again relative to North Korea, but another nuclear test, which will likely be stronger than the last one, will stir up the pot of poli-speak across the globe. And still nothing will actually be done about managing this rogue nation.

Is there even a solution to nipping North Korea’s nuclear dreams in the bud?

Why not actually enforce an embargo? Perhaps putting that country under siege might actually stem its missile and nuclear testing. After all, how is it that North Korea keeps obtaining the capabilities and materials to conduct these and other kinds of military tests?

We may be civilized, and embargoes affect countries like Russia (to a certain extent re: Crimea), but we have no such viable impact on North Korea, so perhaps it’s time to come up with a more effective management of the North Korean issue than empty words.

In the meantime, Kim Jong-un keeps humming his tune.



Babcia’s First Hockey Game”

Some of you may remember Babcia’s playoff hockey pool sheet, teams and players carefully noted, in pencil, on scrap paper, from last year. I won’t pretend to understand what is going on here but avid hockey fans are sure to recognize the tallies, players, and teams. Note the attractive grandmotherly tablecloth in the background. 

I was fortunate enough to obtain a pair of pre-season hockey tickets to watch the Vancouver Canucks take on the Calgary Flames on home turf. Babcia is an avid Canucks’ fan, though her favorite player is Sidney Crosby (and I secretly think she’d love to bear his children if she were much, much, much younger). Notwithstanding the attractive Mr. Crosby, I of course did the only possible thing one can do with a pair of tickets.

I took my gran to see the Canucks last night. Her first live game, in person, off the kitchen table, Canucks’ home, not her home. 

I contacted Roger’s Arena ahead of time to help with the logistics of getting my gran, who is mobile, albeit a 97 year-old kind of mobile, from the drop-off to out excellent seats in row 8, a bit behind the goalie’s net. Oscar, from the Canucks guest services, was amazing.  He not only helped to arrange a wheelchair escort directly from the gate to our section, but had a ‘my first game’ certificate drawn up for, met us at the gate, certificate in hand, foam finger ready to place on her hand, and presented Babcia with a complimentary hockey puck and Canucks’ stickers. Monica, one of the concierges, helped to wheel Babcia to our section, and Oscar and helped her to our seats. Joanna was the host in our section, made sure that we were comfortable, and helped me when I needed assistance with my gran. 

Oscar also arranged a great surprise to honour my gran, and just after the 10th minute of the first period, they put my gran on the jumbotron. 10, 000 people cheered for Babcia. 
She waved her foam hand, delighting in the attention. The Canucks promptly scored right after, and ended up winning 4-0. Just saying. 

During and after the game, people kept coming up to her, congratulating her on her age, her first game, the luck she was bringing to the Canucks. She sopped up every compliment. One fellow, at the end of the game, even came up to take a selfie with her, not that she knows what that is. So much happiness generated that evening.

This morning, she kept saying, “I feel as though I was in a dream last night, it was so fantastic. This was the most exciting thing I’ve ever done in my life.” High praise, considering she lived through the second world war, was a postwar refugee, immigrated twice, has traveled to over 20 countries, seen over 1,000 musical and theatrical performances, been to hundreds of museums and galleries. Hockey is the highlight. 

Thank you so much to the Canucks fan team and staff for making her life!