north korea rocket

An Open Letter to 2016

Here it goes, to you 2016, a year we will all remember.  You started the year off with a bang putting El Chapo back in jail, only to have the WHO announce an epidemic of the Zika virus, trading one thing that kills for another.  You then saw how North Korea launched a rocket into space and no one did much about it. Heading to a more peaceful route, the Havana Declaration was signed.  However, you then reminded us that the world isn’t as peaceful as we would hope when the ICC convicted Jean-Pierre Bemba with crimes of sexual violence.  The ugliness continued with the bombings in Brussels and ISIS reminded us of its presence while we continued with our everyday lives. Only a few days later, another blast went off in Lahore killing 75 people but not covered by the media as much. Why 2016? Why did you bring so many horrible things but why do only certain things get talked about?  You then gave us the Four Day War, but still many people don’t know what that is.  After two decades, the world’s longest and deepest railway tunnel was finally opened, an exciting accomplishment for us.  But then you reminded us of how ignorant we are when the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union.  We didn’t expect it but boy were we wrong.  You did things that shocked us this year 2016.  However, we didn’t concentrate long on the Brexit because ISIS attacked again a few days later.  “45 killed at an airport in Istanbul” announced the broadcasters.  We then moved on though, quite quickly because that’s something easy for us to do as humans.  You kept demanding our attention though and gave us some positive news, the June spacecraft entered orbit around Jupiter and Solar Impulse 2 circumnavigated the Earth, becoming the first solar-powered aircraft to do so.  After that, we entered the Olympics in Brazil, weighed down with lots of controversy.  Held in a country with a lot of political tension, the Brazilian President was impeached a few days after the Olympics.  You reminded us how if we don’t take care of the place we live in we could be reaching the end of us so we saw two countries ratify the Paris Agreement. North Korea continued to conduct its nuclear tests and we continued to sit back while you probably laughed at us 2016. The world then began to look closely at the United States to see who they would elect.  If they would either elect their first woman and be as progressive as they claim to be or if they would elect the man who reminded people of previous dictators.  You probably smiled at us because you knew.  You knew that we are entering a different age, not one of enlightment, and this was a taste of what was to come.  A then came the death of the dictator, a death many celebrated but also some mourned.  By the end of the year, we saw the murder of a Russian ambassador, leaving us with a bitter and familiar taste of a death that began another war.  Wrapping the year up you saw us finally finding the first proven vaccine against the Ebola virus.  You allowed a cease fire in Syria, something many people had been praying for after seeing, hearing, or experiencing the bombings we saw through the last few months.  However, you couldn’t leave us on a happy note.  You had to remind us just how against each other we are with a move that had us questioning if the Cold War had ever ended.  So, what gives 2016? Why did you do this to us?  You took away people that made us smile and sing. David Bowie. Laugh and believe.   Alan Rickman.  People that inspired us with their words and stories.  Harper Lee, Elie Wiesel.  People that made us happy when we saw them.  Patty Duke, Prince, Anton Yelchin.  People that changed us.  Muhammad Ali, Gene Wilder.  People whose voice touched other’s lives.  Juan Gabriel, Leonard Cohen, George Michael.  And people who reminded us to reach for the stars and beyond. Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds. You certainly left us in quite a state 2016 and you just watch and laugh.  Why do this to us 2016?  I think it’s because you didn’t do this to us, is it? We did this to ourselves.  We were the ones who fucked ourselves over but I guess we need to blame you.  Because I mean we’ve never actually taken responsibility for our actions, why would we start now?

Templeton Sees Kospi Reaching 3,000, Unfazed by Missile Threat

North Korea’s renewed missile threat won’t stop Seoul’s benchmark stock index from rising more than 25 percent in the next two to three years, provided that there’s peace, Franklin Templeton Investments said.

The fund, which managed $744 billion as of end-May, predicts the Kospi will reach 3,000 as technology companies including Samsung Electronics Co. continue to lead the gauge higher, according to JJ Kang, head of equities at Franklin Templeton Investment Trust Management in Seoul. The North fired an intercontinental ballistic missile on Tuesday, spurring the Kospi’s steepest drop in three weeks on concern the totalitarian state crossed a line that may draw a U.S. response. The index gained 0.2 percent to 2,384.84 as of 1:36 p.m. in Seoul on Wednesday.

More from Bloomberg.com: U.S. Says North Korea Rocket Was ICBM, Warns of UN Action

“Unless there is a war, there won’t be any major change in markets,” Kang said in an interview on Tuesday, after North Korea announced the missile was an ICBM. “Political and economic issues should be dealt with separately.”

Templeton remains bullish even as foreign investors were net sellers of Korean stocks for a second day and dumped 2.7 trillion won ($2.4 billion) worth of the nation’s debt on a settlement basis on July 3, the biggest single-day outflow since at least 2011. The bond selloff may have been led by Franklin Templeton, according to a note by Seung-Won Kang, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities. The U.S. fund on Tuesday declined to comment on the report.

More from Bloomberg.com: China, Germany Step Up as U.S. Retires From World Leadership

The Kospi is still up almost 18 percent this year as improved corporate governance, higher dividends and earnings growth have attracted $15 billion of foreign funds this year, the biggest inflow in the region after China. Earnings reached a record high during the first quarter with shares on the Kospi trading at about 10 times 12-month forward earnings compared with almost 13 times for the MSCI Emerging Markets Index. The won has strengthened more than 5 percent against the dollar this year.

“The Kospi is still about 20 percent cheaper than other emerging markets,” Kang said. “If earnings continue to meet expectations and sentiment on Korea markets is improved, under the current pace, it’s not a burden for the index to reach 3,000 points within two or three years. For this year? It would not be a problem to reach about 2,520.”

More from Bloomberg.com: Europeans Are Drinking Themselves to Death

More from Bloomberg.com

Read Templeton Sees Kospi Reaching 3,000, Unfazed by Missile Threat on bloomberg.com

The Great PeeJar Shortage of '04

I still experience waves of nausea when I think back to the Great PeeJar Shortage of ‘04. In fact, just writing this post will be detrimental to my health, but I believe in preserving the truths of history, and so it is my duty to lay down my experiences so that my children and their children can be sure to never allow such a catastrophe to demolish our great country ever again.

In keeping with my purpose of writing a history that can be understood by future generations, I feel that I should begin with a brief explanation of the PeeJar that factors so prominently into the massacres that occurred. 

Although the simple device may not stand the test of time, there was a period when PeeJars were the most highly sought after technology on our little blue planet. A simple device, the PeeJar was originally designed to make life easier for the physically disabled, providing a safe and discreet way to urinate in almost any environment. Very quickly these handy tools were adopted into mainstream culture (pun noted, but not intended) as the able bodied discovered the allure of peeing in elevators, in their cars, at their desks, and everywhere else the PeeJar allowed. Big business seized the opportunity, and before long, owning a PeeJar was a status symbol in our society. A red plastic jar set us apart from the lowly third world degenerates who continued the Dark Age ritual of peeing in toilets. Soon, owning more PeeJars was better than owning less PeeJars, and it came to be known that a person could be measured by the number of PeeJars he or she owned. This, my future readers, was the beginning of the end, but we were all too busy pissing in jars to recognize it.

I’ll never forget the day our President openly peed into a PeeJar during his annual State of the Union Address. Right wing media criticized the duration of his stream, arguing that any man who could afford to waste 37 seconds urinating did not deserve to lead a country. Left wingers felt that he wasted a valuable opportunity to further his Education agenda, as he paused to shake off the last few drops and stuttered through that segment of the speech. No one, though, took issue with the President peeing on national television in front of millions of people. PeeJar sales nearly quadrupled that month.

Then the trouble began. I first caught wind of the shortage in late '03 when a man wearing a suit and a red badge stopped by my house on a summer evening.

“We are doing some friendly field research to get a sense of how many PeeJars exist within America,” he said. He asked to see my PeeJars. Thinking it odd but not entirely unreasonable, I gathered up what bottles I could easily find within my home—some full, some empty—and returned to the front door. The researcher gasped at my 17 PeeJars and asked if he could take them to his truck for identification and classification purposes. Again, not the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever been asked, so I dumped the bottles into his Collection Bag and went inside to make myself a cup of tea. When I came back he was gone. Skid marks were present on my driveway where he apparently took off in a hurry.

Damn crooks, I thought. What was the world coming to? 

I got in my car and drove to Wal-Mart to restock on PeeJars. I was running dangerously low after the theft, and the tea was beginning to make its way to the end of my urethra.

I was greeted by an unnerving site when I pulled into the parking lot. A large banner was hung out front of the store: “PEEJARS SOLD OUT.” That was surely strange. Together, government and big businesses like Apple and Nike had been churning out extraordinary numbers of PeeJars every month for as long as I could remember. No store was ever sold out.

My nerves grew more tense the further I drove.

Bed, Bath, and Beyond: PEEJARS SOLD OUT.

Home Depot: PEEJARS SOLD OUT.

MCDONALDS: OUT OF PEEJARS, SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE.

All the while I felt a growing pressure in my bladder. Something was not right.

Finally, I came upon our local shopping mall and saw another banner outside, but this one read: YES, WE HAVE PEEJARS!

The lot was utter chaos. I realized in a few brief moments that life as we knew it was coming to an end. Grown men fought to the death on the pavement. Mobs of protestors demanded answers with pitchforks and torches, like a scene right out of a fucking horror movie. A young couple sidled up to my car window and offered to sell me their newborn for any PeeJars I could offer. I sped to the entrance and ran inside.

Within the doors, I was stopped by a mall employee touting an automatic rifle. “The ATM is to your left sir. We’ve removed all withdrawal limits for today only.”

I punched in my code and took out my entire savings, 49 years of hard work. Another employee quickly whisked me off to a separate section of the mall where I was informed that my $380,000 would get me exactly two PeeJars. I bought them.

How quickly the parking lot frenzy had escalated!  Everything was set ablaze when I came out of the mall. A pack of teens crashed down on me and tore the precious PeeJars from my hands. I remember blood. I remember screaming. I saw things that I’ve tried to forget every day since then to no avail.

Somehow I made it back to my house and into hiding, where I spent the next few years huddled in the darkness of our ravaged country. For meals I ate worms dug from my back yard. I murdered innocent children for attempting to take the only PeeJar I had left. They were only kids! Around the world conditions deteriorated as well. Italy invaded Germany. China invaded Russia. Australia built a massive wall around its border, trapping and coincidentally killing its population from lack of resources. North Korea fired rockets indiscriminately and with no real idea what the conflict was. Factions were created, wars were fought, millions of people died, both overseas and right here on our own land.

If you’re reading this, it means that I am probably gone, but it also means that you are alive, and hopefully living in a world free of the atrocities that I witnessed. Near the end of my days, things started to cool down, and it seemed as if life might return to how it was Before.  

I hope that you know sunshine and happiness. I hope you know love. I hope that your world is bursting with more PeeJars than you can possibly ever need, and I hope that you use them wisely. Please do not make the same mistakes that we made.