Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Marmot has a bowel movement...

Beowulf Fights the Dragon
Illustration by J. R. Skelton
(New York: E. P. Dutton & Company, 1908)
(Image from Wikipedia)

The Marmot had the living 'sheet' scared out of him in a civil defense drill yesterday. I admit that I was worried myself. Seoul is only about 20 miles from the DMZ, so one of Kim Jong-il's state-of-the-art nuclear boomlets hefted onto a cart and hauled from the North by a donkey could reach Seoul in about seven hours.

So when the sirens started, I figured that I had just about enough time to finish my two afternoon lectures, take the subway home, do my exercises, drink a couple of ice-cold beers, have dinner, and tutor my two kids in English before taking shelter under some protective blankets until morning.

I seem to have survived.

I recall these drills from 1995, so when the sirens started at a little past 2:00 p.m., I knew exactly what was happening. As the sirens wailed on and on, the young students in my Medieval literature course looked around at each other, clueless, so I told them that Kim Jong-il was attacking. That got some nervous laughter. About that time, the screaming jets flew over low, and actual fear crossed some of their faces.

"Those are the missiles," I said, eliciting still more fear.

Then, I laughed and went on teaching ... though I considered reminding them of this heartening statement:

"Wyrd oft nereð unfaégne eorl þonne his ellen déah."

These are Beowulf's words to Unferth after the latter has questioned the hero's ability to defeat the monster Grendel, and they can be found in lines 572b-573 of the manuscript. Translated, they say:
"Fate often spares an undoomed man if his courage endures."
Still ... if the missiles were actually falling all around, then like The Marmot, I just might need a new pair of britches myself.

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6 Comments:

At 8:47 AM, Blogger Conservative in Virginia said...

Asked the best place to be if an H-bomb goes off, the gadget's legendary father, Edward Teller, responded, "Standing next to somebody who says: 'What was that?"

Source: opinionjournal.com

 
At 9:40 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Words that I'll likely never hear...

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:51 AM, Anonymous Erdal said...

Sorry to intrude on this thread, but the official answer and rebuttal to the Pope's lecture is in. All the eight schools of thought and jurisprudence in Islam are represented, 38 top clerics. This is as close to a definitive, official answer as it will ever get. Actually, this is totally without precedent.

Read it all! They cover all the "hot iron" topics, including a surprising answer to Manuel II Paleologus' question

"Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached"

It is:
"What the emperor failed to realize — aside from the fact... that no such command has ever existed in Islam — is that the Prophet never claimed to be bringing anything fundamentally new.

I bet you didn't see that one coming, huh?

Link to pdf of open letter

 
At 10:00 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Erdal. I'll take a look at the link as soon as I find some time.

By the way, you need not post on a recent entry to reach me. For each comment posted, I receive an email with the comment itself and also with a link leading me directly to the blog entry hosting the comment so that I can reply.

That's actually how I noticed this one.

In fact, for the sake of those folks reading the entries on the Pope's quote of the Byzantine emperor, may I suggest that you post your message on one of those?

If so, then I can delete this one here so as not to confuse the discussion.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 12:33 PM, Blogger kimcheemonster said...

I remember those times. Good stuff. Kim, Jong-il's daddy, the great leader Kim, Il-sung, said he would turn Seoul into a Sea of Fire. Sounds quite nice! About that same time, three Mig jets scrambled from an airbase in North Korea. Two jets flew the scheduled route, but one flew due south, crossed the border on the yellow sea and veered the plane towards Seoul. Why were there no sirens as an enemy Mig was approaching a megapolis of 10 million+ people? The Korean guys manning the radar could successfully communicate to others that the Mig was coming. Ended up the pilot defected at Suwon Air Base, but still, I'd like an opportunity to get a head up that a fully-loaded Mig was in the area. Anyway, I have a good pair of running shoes at work and at home and I know which way to run; That would be south. And stay away from the high rise apartments. I think getting hit by a chunk of a building that had a missle go through it is a more plausible scenario than getting hit by a missle.

 
At 1:19 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Kimchee Monster, that sea-of-fire stuff reminds me of the lake-of-fire scene in the book of Revelation, where all the unwashed get their chance to bathe themselves for eternity in the flames that never cleanse.

Hmmm ... I guess that flames never do cleanse. Not flesh and bones, anyway.

And on that eschatological topic, I wonder if Kim Il-sung borrowed his apocalyptic scenario from memories of his childhood in Sunday school. Pyeongyang was known as the "Jerusalem of the East" before the Japanese suppressed Christianity and the Great Leader took over that role.

I'm getting too old to run far, but I'll keep in mind your advice about high-rise apartments.

Uh ... wait a minute. I live in a high rise apartment, 23rd floor!

The tumbling chunk that strikes you could be me...

If so, "Greetings!"

Jeffery Hodges

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