A growing number of South Koreans are dying alone, with no relative willing to claim their remains and perform a ritual Koreans believe is essential to easing the deceased’s passage to the other world.
The surge in so-called lonely deaths — to 1,008 last year from 682 in 2011, according to government statistics — provides a small but poignant glimpse of how South Korea’s long-cherished traditional family structure is changing. Though South Koreans have mostly benefited from a strong economy in recent decades, families have come under strain from economic and demographic upheaval…
[O]bservers trace the problem to the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, when lifetime employment, once a given in South Korea, evaporated. Many who lost jobs then never recovered, as an already fast-paced society got even more competitive.
Now in their late 40s or older, some of these unfortunates are found sleeping in cardboard boxes in Seoul’s subway stations or underpasses — scenes reminiscent of the desperate years after the Korean War.
|Seoul at night.|
For what it’s worth, I was in Korea right after the financial crisis, and I remember its aftermath well. A lot of our KATUSA soldiers (Koreans integrated directly into American units) were from good families who could no longer afford to send their sons to universities overseas. The families spent whatever they had left to get the boys into the American Army instead of the ROK Army.
2. Meet America’s First Offshore Wind Farm (Slate)
Around the world, and especially in northern Europe, anchoring wind turbines to the bed of the sea—where the wind is consistent and strong—has become a huge business. Denmark has installed so many offshore wind turbines that it often produces far more wind power than it can actually use. Earlier this week, DONG Energy announced plans to develop the largest offshore wind farm in the world, an 87-turbine site off the coast of Wales with a capacity of 660 megawatts. That’s about the size of a decent coal-fired plant.
The U.S. has pursued a different path, in part due to geography…
This is absolutely true, but I still think that the author misses the point. It’s much easier to build offshore wind in Northern Europe because there are a lot of shallow shelves in the area that make construction cheaper and easier. By contrast, the Atlantic Ocean off the East Coast is generally deeper, which makes these projects relatively more expensive, which in turn affects their profitability.
Something startling is happening to middle-aged white Americans. Unlike every other age group, unlike every other racial and ethnic group, unlike their counterparts in other rich countries, death rates in this group have been rising, not falling.
That finding was reported Monday by two Princeton economists, Angus Deaton, who last month won the 2015 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science, and Anne Case. Analyzing health and mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and from other sources, they concluded that rising annual death rates among this group are being driven not by the big killers like heart disease and diabetes but by an epidemic of suicides and afflictions stemming from substance abuse: alcoholic liver disease and overdoses of heroin and prescription opioids.
For what it’s worth, this is how both of my parents died—as a consequence of voluntary actions.
I’ve often thought that it came from the mentality of their peer group, the one that thought that folks could do whatever they wanted without consequences. It’s clear to me that neither of my folks understood the link between their health and the way that they treated their bodies. Even my father, who was an avid runner and weight-lifter, only exercised to be macho. He never stopped smoking, he ate like shit, and he drank non-stop. What did he think was going to happen? He had the physical tools to be a starting safety for the NY Giants, but he didn’t have the discipline. The same could be said of my mother, minus the years of exercise. Her body literally fell apart from the inside out at age sixty-four. It was horrifying.
What I’ve learned is that people have to want to live. You can’t make them stop drinking or smoking or doing drugs. You can’t make them exercise. You can’t make them care—about themselves or anything else. All that you can do is try to take care of yourself, provide a good example to your kids, and try to be there for your friends when the inevitably rough patches come.
4. Star Wars Update
If you’re looking for conspiracy theories, Darth Jar Jar is the way to go.
|Darth Jar Jar.|
If you prefer Twitter, I strongly recommend following The First Order.
I, of course, have spent most of my time on Instagram. This is how I found Urban Sith.
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While we’re talking about it, my buddy Chris thinks that Andy Serkis is the Sith Lord we’ve all been looking for.
5. Friday Hair Metal: Tool
I'll leave you with a little mood music...
Have a nice weekend!