Why Kim Jong-un Isn't Crazy



Kim Jong-un is not crazy — like any other political leader he is governed by a harsh set of tactical and strategic imperatives. He is dangerous, however. Sue Mi Terry, a former intelligence analyst at the CIA, explains what makes Kim Jong-un tick in this essential interview from The Octavian Report.



The best-known Carol Reed adaptation of a story by Graham Greene is, of course, THE THIRD MAN — a twisting tale about a naive pulp writer and his war-profiteer friend set against the backdrop of a bombed-out post-war Vienna under the joint occupation of four great powers.

THE FALLEN IDOL preceded THE THIRD MAN by one year. Though it occupies a much smaller canvas, it is equally deserving of your consideration. Philippe, the neglected son of a wealthy British diplomat, worships the family butler Baines. Baines, trapped in a suffocating marriage to a volatile and unloving woman, finds Philippe’s company a small bright spot. But his real solace comes from furtive but joyous meeting with his mistress Julie. When Baines’ wife falls to her death, Philippe believes Baines to be guilty — and does everything in his power to divert attention from his beloved friend, with all the disastrous consequences a child’s distorted understanding of the world might bestow. Claustrophobic, nerve-racking, oblique, and highly funny, THE FALLEN IDOL shares the dark tone of THE THIRD MAN, though there are glimmers of hope here unseen in that movie.



It was on a cold St. Stephen’s day in 1606 that Shakespeare first presented his tragedy of tragedies to stand the test of time and critics alike, King Lear. From the mortification of the eponymous royal to his ill-fated contest of love — throughout the Fool’s soul-scuttling truths and alongside Gloucester’s brilliantly staged leap of faith — this is a play about a disease of nothingness steadily overtaking the British throne. And unlike life for the airy Don Quixote that Spanish readers first encountered in these same opening years of the 17th century, a harsh materiality grounds the world of Lear. Shakespeare’s gritty, pre-Christian setting does not allow for fantastic quests to be pulled out of life’s emptiness à la Cervantes; this is the realm of the Old Gods, where roaring thunderstorms and raw violence are the ultimate power brokers. When characters lose battles, kingdoms, or loved ones, expect them to rupture in a supremely mortal way — the idea of an immaterial salvation is lost on Lear and his entourage.

What makes this particular story of power and loss so popular with scholars and lay readers alike? As with Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment or Cormac McCarthy’s The Road — worthy books in their own regard — the reader earns whatever small redemption lies at the end of the tunnel after braving the darkest of moral decay. Experts still disagree over the extent to which that tunnel applies to Lear’s arc in the play, but the underlying ambiguity of the King’s torturous transition from empty vanity to one thin sliver of substantive compassion in his last words has been compelling enough to engross fans for centuries. “Nothing will come of nothing,” Lear famously declares in the first scene; does it?


ON THIS DAY IN 1930 . . .

The art of the cartoon has seen some of the most explosive growth of talent and technology in any field over the course of the 20th century: from the very earliest Felix the Cat shorts to the latest Disney spectacular. But a key development in the history of the cartoon was the fusion of color film and sound film technology. Without that, the modern world of animation would not exist as it does.

On this day in 1930, all of that change with the premiere of FIDDLESTICKS,  a cartoon from the legendary Ub Iwerks.

If there is someone other than Walt Disney deserves credit for the flowering of animation in America, it’s Iwerks. He was one of Disney’s oldest friends — they started professional life together as cartoonists for the Kansas City Slide Newspaper Company — and certainly for many years his closest artistic collaborator. It was Iwerks who drew and animated the first big Disney property for Universal, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. When Disney went independent, it was Iwerks who designed and animated the early versions of Mickey Mouse. The world-famous and groundbreaking Steamboat Willie short was an Iwerks production. In short, Iwerks should be as big a name as Disney himself. Yet he lingers in obscurity, perhaps due to the fact that he and Disney parted ways (allegedly due to Disney’s authoritarian habits as an employer) and to the commercial irrelevance of the studio Iwerks went on to found.

Fiddlesticks is a product of that studio, featuring one of Iwerk’s creations: Flip the Frog. The short is whimsical and a bit surreal, well worth watching on its own — even if it were not a hallmark in the history of film.