Today's Blogs

Party of Six Rerun

Bloggers cast a wary eye on North Korea’s decision to return to six-party nuclear talks. They also weigh the waifish benefits of the calorie-restriction diet, while online Singaporeans attack and defend an 18-year-old girl with a blog and a big mouth.

In the wake of its alarming nuclear-bomb test last month, North Korea agreed Tuesday to return to six-party disarmament talks, perhaps to buy more time to expand the very arsenal in question. But bloggers think regional players China and Japan will have more to do with how events unfold.

Party of six rerun: At The Hill’s Congress Blog, Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell writes of the regalvanized diplomacy: “The President was right to call for additional, tough measures at the United Nations, and the first results are clear. His decision to have the response to this threat be a multinational response was the right one.”

Jeff, at his foreign-policy blog Kinshasa on the Potomac, argues that rather than “thank” China for its muscular response to the atomic test last month, the United States should acknowledge that the Communist power is the main actor in this whole geopolitical cycle: “China has an interest in seeing US power in Asia broken and their own ascendancy as a Great Power secured as rapidly as possible. … [T]he Chinese leadership would be willing to take a serious political gamble - and one that would almost certainly have mixed results - in order to achieve the goal of breaking US power.”

Viaggiatore at the China Analyst highlights the potential cooling of China’s relationship with its southern neighbor: “China has beefed up its border of late, especially around Dandong. The border town is the busiest crossing between the tentative allies.” Viaggiatore also notes that China supplies North Korea with 90 percent of its oil, but none was shipped at all for the month of September.

What about Japan, which imposed a ban on all imports from North Korea on Oct. 14 and has threatened to overcome its pacifist disposition and produce nukes in response to Pyongyang’s aggression? Bill Belew at Japan-focused blog Rising Sun of Nihon opines, “The DPRK will only feel the pain of no business with Japan if other countries follow Japan’s lead rather than pick up the slack that Japan has left. … Economic sanctions, in theory, should have an impact on a country. But, from where I sit, it just means life is tougher for the average folk, and business as usual for the idiots in charge.”

Read more about North Korea’s tilt toward diplomacy.

Only the fed die young: The hot new thing in dieting is calorie restriction, where you more or less starve your cells into longevity. New York magazine made CRD its cover story last week, and the New York Timespiece on the wan regimen is currently “Most E-Mailed.” Reaction in cyberspace to the diet is mixed.

Clinical lab scientist Dennis Mangan responds to a calorie-restriction naysayer at his site, Mangan’s Miscellany: “The idea that longevity is desirable and that some people want to pursue their chances of a longer and healthier life through lifestyle changes drives some other people crazy, though it’s hard to see why. Some people make lifestyle choices wholly at odds with health and longevity, such as overeating and smoking, and personally I think it a rational choice to choose to say, smoke cigarettes, if one deems that choice to enhance one’s pleasure in life and one is aware of and willing to accept the consequences.”

Sephora beauty editor Laura Kenney at Beauty and the Blog is of two minds: “Aside from direct genetic manipulation, calorie restriction is the only strategy known to extend life consistently in a variety of animal species. It’s really intriguing, but is it worth it? Would I give up cupcakes in favor of a few more years and a few less wrinkles? I’m not so sure…I really love cupcakes.”

But Karen DeCoster at libertarian site violently condemns calorie restriction as an unhealthy longevity dodge that only leads to the “Auschwitz look”: “A restricted calorie diet eats up gobs of human muscle, reduces metabolism, kills energy, destroys hair and skin and nails, numbs brain function, and depletes necessary nutrition to dangerously low levels. Only these pro-starvation crackpots would possibly claim that people on these nutbag diets can still get adequate vitamins, minerals, and overall nutrition. They claim that breaking down your body is, in essence, really ‘building it up’ for the long run.”

Read more on CRD. Slate’s William Saletan wrote about CRD here.

Trackback backlash: Wee Shu Min is the 18-year-old undergraduate daughter of a Singapore MP and a college student. She had a blog up until last week, when she posted a snarky—and, according to some, class-arrogant—post in response to fellow blogger Derek Wee’s fears about Singapore’s struggling labor market. She called Wee one of her country’s “wretched, undermotivated, overassuming leeches” and declared, “If uncertainty of success offends you so much, you will certainly be poor and miserable.” This has become the “let them eat cake” of the South Asian blogosphere.

“Political correspondent wannabe” The Kway Teow Man doesn’t defend Wee Shu Min, but calls for a sense of proportion given all the fury surrounding her remarks: “18-year-olds spout nonsense all the time. Why only non-MPs’ children can spout nonsense and MPs’ children cannot meh?”

Not so fast, replies Singapore Media Watch, which sees Wee’s blithe blogging as a metaphor for everything that’s wrong with Singapore and its current government: “Mr Derek Wee’s predicament is one that many Singaporeans can relate to and empathize with. The influx of foreign labor, both skilled and unskilled, in an increasingly competitive global economy has led to many middle-aged Singaporeans fearing and fighting for their rice bowls.”

Read more about Wee Shu Min.