A Few Answers To Questions You Always Wondered About

September 6, 2017 | 6 Comments » | Topics: Interesting, Answers

  • 28

Is Kim Jong Un Crazy?

It’s clear that Kim Jong Un is not crazy. He’s acting logically and near-ideally from what someone in his position would want to do.

A big part of that is looking crazy. He wants to look crazy. Here’s why:

Let’s say you’re the dictator of an internationally condemned country. You didn’t intentionally choose this route – it’s just that your dad was the Dear Leader, and now he’s the dearly departed leader.

People in other countries spend some time reviewing military options to oust you. If your government collapses (or actually gets into a military conflict), the best-case scenario for you is a quick death. You have ambitious people all around you – some better connected and more well-respected than you are, as a young nobody. Any serious attempt at reform is only going to empower the people around you who are threatening to your assumption of power.

First order of business, you order a bunch of generals and family members killed. Anyone well-respected, powerful, really anyone who could even be thought of as “second in command.” The 2nd person can easily take over if they remove the 1st person. It needs to be clear that the well-being of the leaders and elites depends upon you being alive and in control, and them being subservient to you.

Check – this is exactly what Kim Jong Un did. He wasn’t deranged to kill a bunch of people immediately after assuming power; he was making sure nobody thought of replacing him, killing him, or otherwise taking advantage of “a new guy who doesn’t know how things work.”

But we’re getting off topic. What about nukes?

Well, a dictator would want to walk a razor line. We need to talk strategy. With all the other countries happy to see you removed and things changed, you want to make it really clear that:

This is your goal above all others. You want the total summation of international politics to be “it’s not worth it,” when dealing with your country. To accomplish that, two things need to be true:

1) You need to have a strong military force. Not best-in-the-world, but strong enough to inflict serious damage.

2) You need people to believe #1. The best military in the world doesn’t help you if everyone thinks you’re weak and ineffective; critical to your goals is how other stronger nations perceive you.

So, what’s a good thing to do all the time? Military parades. Show the world all your soldiers, equipment, etc. Make sure the media is working for you; have the military do plays for you, whatever. Just make sure that whenever anyone even thinks about your country, their first thought is about your huge-ass military force marching down the street. Put a ton of artillery on the border, too. Hide some of it, but keep tons of it out to see. You want your neighbors to know there’s artillery pointing at them. Let Google Images show maps of your military emplacements. It doesn’t need to be a secret.

Is this matching the Kim family’s actions? Check. Think about all the crazy things they force their military to do. Is it starting to make sense from a calculated, logical perspective now? It should. You should be starting to think, “Hmm, maybe that whole family isn’t crazy. Maybe this is all on purpose. Maybe this is an act. Maybe they know exactly what they’re doing.”

But that’s not enough. Your technology is falling behind all the time. You know that a fading military force will negate your #1 and #2 rules above. But realistically, you can’t match other countries’ stealth bombers, or aircraft carriers, or submarines. But there’s a certain piece of 1945-era technology that might help even the playing field, and you hope it will make people forever say “it isn’t worth getting involved in North Korea.” Nuclear weapons. But getting there isn’t easy.

Here’s the razor line you walk: Don’t look dangerous enough, and someone will want to intervene before things get worse. Look too dangerous, and someone will want to invade because it’s inevitable, anyway.

So here’s an option: Don’t actually make or test WMDs, because that’s really hard to do and could be a red line. The response could be, “Oh shit, this dangerous place has nukes. We’ve got to stop them before they get more, even if it means immediate war. It’s only going to get worse in the future.” (This is the “don’t look dangerous enough” problem.) So, again, don’t make nukes – but make people think you probably have nukes, or are close to it.

Best of both worlds, right? No hard evidence to justify a pre-emptive attack, so you’re safe from that. No certainty about your capabilities, which discourages anyone from poking around your dictatorship. Problem: Some other dictator (who was smart and had power for decades) tried this. His ass got invaded in 2003. Nice try, Saddam Hussein. (People in his own government were convinced, up to the US invasion, that he had WMDs but was overseeing it personally.)

So, you’ve got to actually make and test the nukes. Roll the dice, and see where that gets you.

October 2006 – successful nuclear test. Oh. The world’s pissed off, but nobody sends in the marines. Perfect.

So now you’re a nuclear country. How do you walk that line? You need to look dangerous, right? You want to coerce minor diplomatic concessions for other countries to at least somewhat leave you alone. You’re pretty separated from the global economy to begin with, but you don’t have a stable economy yourself. You can’t afford to be entirely cut off, but you’re okay with the lower classes starving a bit because of a few UN resolutions.

You anticipate a problem. You can’t say “Do this or I’ll nuke you.” The response is obviously, “No you won’t. The rest of the world would tear your ass a new one.” North Korea is a little kid trying to bully a linebacker. But there’s one simple trick they don’t want you to know! Look crazy.

Now when the crazy kid at school tells you that he’s going to fight you unless you give him your applesauce, maybe you figure it isn’t worth your time to argue over it. If someone else said that, you’d figure your friends are joking, you’d figure the huge bully means it and could win, but the crazy kid… You don’t really know. North Korea’s threats and posturing are so much more effective if everyone thinks in the back of their head – you know, just maybe, they’d actually do it.

Again, if you actually look like you’re about to use the nukes, it’s possible other nations could attack pre-emptively. Don’t look like you’re about to use them, but look like you’re capable of using them first. Don’t posture your nuclear weapons as defensive provisions, which they really are. Utilize them as potential weapons of aggression when it comes to diplomacy. And since that’s obviously a crazy thing to suggest you’re capable of doing, you’ll have to look crazy to match.

From a large scale: North Korea is threatening to attack other countries unprovoked with nuclear weapons, when it knows it just can’t match the capacity that a half-dozen countries could respond with. It’s obviously a crazy threat. They aren’t suicidal from some religious zealotry. It’s a carefully crafted persona for diplomacy.

I’m sorry this turned into an essay, but it’s important to understand, because part of this whole charade depends upon people knowing it’s made-up. The un-nuanced view shown on the news is that they’re just crazy. If we believe that, we get into a 2003-era mistake all over again: Well, guess we gotta go to war because otherwise, this person is going to hurt us. God knows how many lives later, we see that “Oh, guess he wasn’t really going to do that.”

We have to see it for what it is: A country that isn’t perfectly stable is playing up that instability on a nuclear stage. They want us to leave them alone and let those in power stay in power. They do silly and unpredictable things so that we will continue to see them as silly and unpredictable. North Korea isn’t going to wake up one day and nuke California. But if we try something on the ground, they probably can hit Seoul – and with enough conventional artillery that it may not even matter if they get a nuke in or not.

It’s a horrific tragedy that for everyone except the North Korean people, leaving them alone may be the best option.




How would Japan have fared in a fight, had the USA landed on mainland Japan and continued WWII and had no nukes been dropped or developed?

Japan would have lost, horribly.

And it would have been a blood bath for the invaders. I personally question how much of Japan or Japanese culture would have survived such an invasion.

If the US had landed in Kyushu as originally planned, they would have been fighting against about 1,000,000 well fortified troops; troops that were well dug in. The Japanese would have been heavily bombed and heavily shelled for months, and it still would have been hell for the invaders and death for the defenders. Just like the battle of Okinawa, the Japanese would have lost inflicting horrible casualties.

By the planned invasion date, Nov 1945, there would likely have been mass starvation in Japan. The Japanese had been on short rations for years, there were zero food imports, the US Navy had destroyed a large portion of the fishing fleet and the 1945 rice harvest was expected to be poor.

By the summer of 1945 it [Japanese civilian food ration] was about 1,680 calories per capita. Coal miners and heavy industrial workers received higher-than-average rations, the remaining populace, less. The average diet suffered even more drastically from reductions in fats, vitamins and minerals required for balance and adversely affected rates of recovery and mortality from disease and bomb injuries. Summary Report (Pacific War)

Japan had very limited air capability – 10,000 planes sounds impressive, but they had very limited fuel and very few fully trained / experienced pilots. The assumption is that the planes would have been used as kamikaze against the invasion force. Given that the kamikaze were not particularly effective late in the war, and with the growing size of the US carrier force, superior US long range fighter planes, the vast supply of fuel for US planes, the large pool of trained US pilots, it is expected that would have been a very expensive slaughter of the less experienced Japanese pilots.

Japan had virtually no remaining navy, so absent Japanese airplanes (torpedo bombers) the US navy could sit within range of shore and shell targets – this was done. Also, all of Japan was within range of B29 bombers, and the US was building air bases on Okinawa so the pace and intensity of bombing of targets in Japan would have continued to accelerate up to the invasion date. The army air corp was concerned about running out of targets in Japan – prior to Hiroshima they had already completely destroyed 41 Japanese cities and severely damaged 60 plus more. One assumes they would have burned Kyoto, which had become a manufacturing center. Presumably the bombing would have completely destroyed Japan’s remaining rail lines / rail hubs, bridges, harbors, etc.

Civilians would have been involved in defenses – school children were given sharpened pieces of bamboo to use as spears – you can image how that would work against GIs with semi-automatic rifles and machine guns. One can also imagine that in response to guerilla attacks, troops would burn or destroy Japanese villages and cities.

The US was discussing moving the first landing to Honshu – near Tokyo – rather than Kyushu – this would have meant dramatically less air cover for the invasion fleet, but far fewer fortifications, and the bulk of the Japanese troops and artillery were hundreds of miles south in Kyushu. Japan would have had a shortage of fuel, trucks and rail to move troops long distances. The area around Tokyo is the largest flat area in Japan – the Kanto plain – in November it would be dry or frozen and would have been one of the few places in Japan that US armor could have been used en masse.

Fortunately Japan surrendered prior to any invasion, prior to widespread famine.

– George Sawyer




What is it like to train on steroids?

This answer is based on testosterone. Other steroids can vary… although broadly similar.

Once they start to kick in, you’ll notice:

  1. Improved strength – nothing crazy, but you will consistently increase your current max weights every week of your cycle. In every exercise. If you have hit a plateau anywhere you’ll smash through it. You need to be careful you don’t damage joints and tendons (although with testosterone the added water helps with this).
  2. Improved endurance. You’ll be able to do more reps and more sets before you run out of power. There’s just more gas in the tank.
  3. Improved focus. It’s much easier to make the mind-muscle connection. Rather then dragging your tired ass through a difficult workout – you’ll be fully focused on every movement and what muscle you are hitting. You’ll be able to channel the added focus/aggression to your goals.
  4. Improved recovery. You’ll be able to hit it hard in the gym every time – because you won’t be sore from the previous punishing you gave yourself. You can train every day of the week without significant soreness. Sometimes you feel like you can train twice a day. I always give the example of my leg day. On cycle I can do an insane squatting session, then wake up the next day like nothing happened. Normally that would be me effectively disabled for a couple of days. I get bad DOMS in the legs… but not on cycle.
  5. Improved libido. Be careful which hot gym girls you look at and what you let wander into your thoughts, because you’ll have yourself a giant unwanted erection. It’s happened to me on a treadmill before to the point where I had to stop!
  6. Overall feeling of well being and that “everything is gonna be ok”.

What they won’t do:

  1. Change your personality. If you are getting “roid rage” then chances are you are a jackass already.
  2. Improve your shit form. Learn the correct moves before you start.
  3. Turn you into the Hulk on your first cycle.

Don’t forget that this is all temporary – when you stop taking them you’ll face a steady journey downhill to weakness. Sure you can keep SOME gains, but not anywhere near as much as you’ll want to. Your body strives to return to it’s natural baseline. This is not pleasant and it will make you want to stay on the gear 24–7 for life.

Of course there are some other major “safety” considerations, but the question was specifically about what it feels like so I’ll leave it there.

– Dave




What are the downside of living in Japan?

Lots of mindless, pointless paperwork for everything. If you want a new phone contract, for example, come back in two weeks because the phone company had to contact the manager of the branch, who has to contact the district manager, who has to contact the regional manager, who has to contact the president of the company to approve it, and all of them have to hanko (sign via a special stamp) the documents approving you. (This may be slightly exaggerated, but only slightly.)

Houses are generally built on top of each other. Most places you can literally reach out your window and touch the next house… assuming you can find a house and not just a tiny apartment. Houses are also not an investment here. They’re more like cars–once you drive them off the lot, they depreciate in value immediately. No one wants a “used” house, here. After 30 years they just tear them down and build new ones. (Or they just keep living in dumps for years and years because of money/legal reasons.) Land is what is valuable, but they have loads of rules about how much you can own, what you can build on it, and so forth. If you want a modest house with a big yard for your dog, don’t come to Japan. (Case in point, I live in a cute, tiny old run down Japanese house by myself. All of my American friends, upon seeing photos, say, “It’s so cute and small!” All of my Japanese co-workers say, “Don’t you feel lonely by yourself in that big house?”)

No napkins or paper towels anywhere. Also, no trash cans. You have to carry your trash with you until you find either a convenience store or your house to throw it away. (Also they take recycling to an extreme here. Which I totally approve of. But making sure you’re properly washing and sorting your garbage and disposing of it on the right days can be an ordeal.)

Because I am not Japanese, I will always be a foreigner. Even if I live in Japan for 80 years and learn perfect fluent Japanese and have a Japanese spouse and Japanese kids, I will always be assumed to be an ignorant foreigner and treated differently as such. Obviously people I see every day would eventually know better, but it’s frustrating to say “konnichiwa” and have a stranger go “WOW YOU SPEAK SUCH GOOD JAPANESE” based on that single word. Or questions like, “Can you use chopsticks?” or “Can you eat sushi?” etc can get tiresome. Not the end of the world, but worth mentioning.

The price of fruit is really high, usually. I suck it up and deal, but it is a downside, especially because I really like fruit.

EVERYTHING is “seasonal.” (Not EVERYTHING but almost everything.) If it’s not the season for corn, you pretty much can’t find corn in the supermarket. If it’s not the season for strawberries, forget it. If it’s not the season for grapes you can’t find them. Some of it makes sense, some of it has taken a lot of getting used to. Japan LOVES it’s seasons, and really celebrates them with a changing menu. I’ve learned to embrace and look forward to the changes, but it can be frustrating.

Cars are expensive, parking cars is expensive, and toll ways/freeways are even more expensive. This isn’t an aspect I deal with much because I don’t have a car, but it is part of the reason why I don’t. Too expensive!

Gay rights are lagging behind the rest of the world, if that bothers you. The country isn’t very religious (and the dominant religion is not Christianity) so there isn’t bigotry for gays in the way that there is in America, but same-sex marriage isn’t recognized here, and it’s extremely rare to see openly gay people out and about. Partially due to Japanese intensely private home lives, but also due to a general attitude about gay people kind of just not existing. (Which is obviously false.) It’s getting better, but it’s still got a long way to go.

Censored porn. With the internet it’s not really a big deal, but it is still nevertheless mind-boggling.

Racism is real here. Not so much against blacks (though there is some of that), but against other asians. All Japanese seem to hate Chinese and Koreans. There’s good reasons for it too, considering the wars and the hoards of rude tourists from those countries… but it’s a blanket statement that tends to bother me. “I hate rude Chinese tourists” is very different than “I hate Chinese people”, you know? Most of my elementary school aged students hate Korean and Chinese people–for no reason other than that their parents do.

Which leads me to the fact that individuality and critical thinking is not valued well here. Japan works well the way it does because of the “group think.” The reason people don’t steal your wallet is because they wouldn’t want someone to steal THEIR wallet. It’s a polite world where no one wants to stand out. They have a saying that the “nail that sticks out gets hammered down” and so forth. Conformity is key. Don’t express your opinions, don’t stand out, don’t draw attention to yourself. This is great when you’re on a super crowded train and everyone is quiet and polite and it’s almost peaceful despite the crowds. It’s not so great when you’re trying to encourage an eight-year-old to think for themselves, to express their opinions. Even getting them to say what their favorite fruit is sometimes can be difficult. By the time they’re in junior high school, it’s impossible. They don’t want to ‘think’… they want to know the right answer so they can regurgitate it to me.

The education system here is all kinds of broken… but that’s true of America as well. They’re broken in completely different ways, but they are still both quite broken. The Japanese education system is maddening. Too much focus on tests and memorizing answers.

– JustVan

You Might Like