Yugoslavia – The Scientist and the Poet

This post is dedicated to Zuska, a brilliant mind and champion of children’s literature, April 24, 2018

Nikola Tesla, the great scientist, detail from front of Yugoslavian 1992 series banknote.

The brilliant scientist, Nikola Tesla, featured on the banknote below, visited his homeland just once following his emigration to America. The renowned literary light, Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj, featured on the other banknote below, is said to have read his own poetry just once in public, and that upon Nikola Tesla’s homeland visit. As reported by another, “Dazed by the warm words of his literary idol, the young genius, apparently shaken, cried and kissed Dragon (translation of “Zmaj”) in his hand. Officials cried with him. If there is something noble and sacred in the experience of national identity and closeness that deletes geographical distance, then it happened in Serbia at that moment….”



1993 Yugoslavia series banknote featuring Jovan Jovanocich Zmaj

It was 1892 when they met. Jovan Jovanovich’s literary career had begun four decades earlier and compassed many genres; but what had most endeared him to his nation were his poems and stories for children. By 1892, his stature was national, his stories beloved, and his rhymes sung by parents to children throughout the land. Now 60 years old, Zmaj had been summoned by the King to join with many dignitaries in welcoming home a renowned son of Serbia. He had outlived his beloved wife and all five of their children. He wrote a poem for the occasion.

1992 series Yugoslavia banknote featuring Nikola Tesla

It was early July, 1892, when Nikola Tesla’s train arrived in Belgrade. He was 35 years old. It was a year of triumph. He was to be granted 40 patents in America, that year, for his inventions of all of the technologies surrounding the utilization AC power which would power the world ever since. What was known as “the War of the Currents”, concluded with the triumph of Tesla’s inventions over those of Edison. But it was a triumph reached through much pain. Having arrived in America a decade earlier with 4 cents in his pocket and a book of Zmaj’s poems, he went to work for his idol, Thomas Edison. After substantial successful work, Edison reneged on his agreement to pay; and Tesla was left in poverty. For awhile Telsa was reduced to digging the ditches for Edison’s DC current cables. It was a dark and difficult period for Nikola Tesla.

One can imagine Zmaj, walking to the podium, grey headed and worn, but stately and beloved; and Tesla watching nearby, famous in that assembly, but filled with the recent battle-scars which none could see. Carefully, Zmaj unfolded a sheet of paper before the rapt audience, and then began reading a poem he had specially created for the occasion.

1992 series banknote of Yugoslavia, back

He began, fittingly, by lauding the mysterious powers of electricity, which until Tesla, had been unreachable for humankind. And as he traveled in his poem through the pride of Serbia in their now renowned son, and then to the appropriateness of Tesla’s necessary return to America, tears began to fill Nikola’s eyes. He continued to listen to the words of this man, whose rhymes had painted his distant childhood with happiness, and whose verses had brightened his darkest hours in America; and his feelings began to overmaster his countenance. Tears streamed unwiped down his cheeks.

Tesla coil

And as the Master wove his tale towards its conclusion, poetically illustrating that Other Power, (which he knew so well), and which he declared now bound Tesla, “the Electrician”, forever to the bosom of his homeland over distances infinite, “without wires and without cables”, Nikola was sobbing. The Poet finished, and no one spoke. And to the sounds of sobbing Nikola, the entire assemblage of the nations’ dignitaries descended into tears, crying, melting into oneness in that magical moment. And with the old poet’s words lingering in the air, and the room filled with not a word but the sounds of many crying, the great scientist stood and approached the poet. Reaching for his outstretched hand, he grasped it and kissed it through his tears, and said, (in a poor translation of his Serbian), when I was a hardest in America and when I was of all rejected and misunderstood, with bitter tears I read Your poetry, and I promise to You now Your verses translated into English and in Amer go to publish “

It was a promise kept.

Below are five poems. Below the poems are two references regarding the meeting described above.



The following five poems are by Jovan Jovanovich Zmaj and translated by Nikola Tesla with Robert Underwood Johnson, editor of The Century Magazine. The poems and associate images are selected from a large collection on a wonderful website here and, more specifically, here . From the About page: “This site is dedicated to poetry written in the Serbo-Croatian language. It aims to bring the poets and their works to a wider audience through a collaborative effort to translate the poems into other languages and by consolidating them in one place. One is easily impressed by the beauty and wealth of culture embedded in this poetry. It is remarkable how little of this artistic output can be found on the Internet, particularly from the 19th and 20th centuries. This site hopes to change that! ”

I urge you to visit that website and read the poems. They are quite beautiful!

The Gipsy Praises His Horse

You’re admiring my horse, sir, I see.
He’s so light that you ‘d think it ‘s a bird
Say a swallow. Ah me!
He’s a prize!
It’s absurd
To suppose you can take him all in as he passes
With the best pair of eyes,
Or the powerful aid
Of your best pair of glasses :
Take ’em off, and let’s trade. What! “Is Selim as good as he seems?”
Never fear,
Uncle dear,
He’s as good as the best of your dreams,
And as sound as your sleep.
It’s only that kind that a gipsy would keep.
The emperor’s stables can’t furnish his mate.
But his grit and his gait,
And his wind and his ways,
A gipsy like me doesn’t know how to praise.
But (if truth must be told)
Although you should cover him over with gold
He’d be worth one more sovereign still.” Is he old?”
Oh, don’t look at his teeth, my dear sir!
I never have seen ’em myself.
Age has nothing to do with an elf;
So it’s fair to infer
My fairy can never grow old.
Oh, don’t look (Here, my friend,
Will you do me the kindness to hold
For a moment these reins while I ‘tend
To that fly on his shanks?) …
As I said (Ah now thanks!)
The longer you drive
The better he’11 thrive.
He’11 never be laid on the shelf!
The older that colt is, the younger he’11 grow.
I’ve tried him for years, and I know.” Eat? Eat?” do you say?
Oh, that nag isn’t nice
About eating! Whatever you have will suffice.
He takes everything raw
Some oats or some hay,
Or a small wisp of straw,
If you have it. If not, never mind
Selim won’t even neigh.
What kind of a feeder is he? That’s the kind!” Is he clever at jumping a fence?”
What a question to ask! He’s immense
At a leap!
How absurd!
Why, the trouble’s to keep
Such a Pegasus down to the ground.
He takes every fence at a bound
With the grace of a bird;
And so great is his strength,
And so keen is his sense,
He goes over a fence
Not across, but the way of its length!” Under saddle?” No saddle for Selim!
Why, you’ve only to mount him, and feel him
Fly level and steady, to see
What disgrace that would be.
No, you couldn’t more deeply insult him, unless
You attempted to guess
And pry into his pedigree.
Now why should you speak of his eyes?
Does he seem like a horse that would need
An eye-glass to add to his speed
Or, perchance, to look wise?
No indeed.
Why, not only’s the night to that steed
Just the same as the day,
But he knows all that passes
Both before and behind, either way.
Oh, he doesn’t need glasses!” Has he any defect?” What a question, my friend!
That is why, my dear sir, I am willing to sell.
You know very well
It is only the horse that you give or you lend
That has glanders, or springhalt, or something to mend:
‘T is because not a breath
Of defect or of death
Can be found on my Selim that he’s at your pleasure.
Alas! not for gipsies the care of such treasure. And now about speed. “Is he fast?” I should say!
Just listen I’11 tell you.
One equinox day,
Coming home from Erdout in the usual way,
A terrible storm overtook us. ‘T was plain
There was nothing to do but to run for it. Rain,
Like the blackness of night, gave us chase. But that nag,
Though he’d had a hard day, didn’t tremble or sag.
Then the lightning would flash,
And the thunder would crash
With a terrible din.
They were eager to catch him; but he would just neigh,
Squint back to make sure, and then gallop away.
Well, this made the storm the more furious yet,
And we raced and we raced, but he was n’t upset,
And he wouldn’t give in!
At last when we got to the foot of the hill
At the end of the trail,
By the stream where our white gipsy castle was set,
And the boys from the camp came a-waving their caps,
At a word he stood still,
To be hugged by the girls and be praised by the chaps.
We had beaten the gale,
And Selim was dry as a bone well, perhaps,
Just a little bit damp on the tip of his tail.*

[Tesla’s note: * Readers will be reminded by this conclusion of Mark Twain’s story of the fast horse as told to him by Oudinot, of the Sandwich Islands, and recorded in ” The Galaxy ” for April, 1871. In that veracious narrative it is related that not a single drop fell on the driver, but the dog was swimming behind the wagon all the way.]

I Begged a Kiss of a Little Maid

I begged a kiss of a little maid;
Shyly, sweetly, she consented;
Then of a sudden, all afraid,
After she gave it, she repented;
And now as penance for that one kiss
She asks a poem I’ll give her this.
But how can my song be my very best
When she, with a voice as soft as Circe’s,
Has charmed the heart from my lonely breast –
The heart, the fountain of all true verses?
Why, oh, why should a maid do this?
No I must give her back her kiss.

A Fairy From The Sun-Shower

[When the Servians see the sun-rays of a summer shower they
say it is the fairies combing their hair.]

OVER the meadow a shower is roaming ;
Just beyond is the summer sun ;
Fair is the hair that the fays are combing
Myth come true ! here ‘s my dainty one
Tripping the path in the wind’s soft blowing ;
Her slender form through her gown is showing,
Her foot scarce whispers the way she ‘s going.
” Come, my bright one, come, my soul,
Let my kisses be your goal.” But the path has heard my sighing,
Turns aside, and leads my fay
Into the forest, love defying.
Path, accursed be ! but stay !
Lost to love each moment gliding,
What if in the woodland hiding
Still for me my fay be biding ! . . .
” Wait, my bright one, wait, my soul,
Your sweet kisses are my goal.”

Why The Army Became Quiet

Some said they did but play at war,—
How that may be, ah! who can tell?
I know the gallant army corps
Upon their fleeing foemen fell,
And sacked their camp, and took their town,
And won both victory and renown. Now home returning, wild with song,
They come, the colors flying free.
But as within the door they throng,
Why does the army suddenly
Hush the fierce din, and silence keep?—
Why, little brother is asleep.

The Monster

” IN place of the heart, a serpent ;
Rage for the mind’s command ;
An eye aflame with wildness ;
A weapon in the hand ;” A brow with midnight clouded ;
On the lips a cynic smile
That tells of a curse unmatchable
Born of a sin most vile.” Of longing, or hope, or virtue,
No vestige may there be ;
You, even in vice inhuman
What can you want of me ?” You in its maddest moment
The Deepest Pit designed,
Let loose to sow confusion
In the order of mankind ;” Here Hatred found you crawling
Like vermin, groveling, prone,
Filled you with blood of others
And poisoned all your own.” Your very thoughts are fiendish
Smoke of the fires of Hell.
Weird as you are, how is it
I seem to know you well ?” Why with your wild delirium
Do you infect my sleep ?
Why with my daily footstep
An equal measure keep ? “The monster mutely beckons me
Back with his ghostly hand,
And dreading his fearful answer
I heed the grim command.” Nay, softly,” he says ; ” I pray thee,
Silence thy frightened moan,
And wipe the sweat from thy forehead
My kinsman thou, my own!” Look at me well, good cousin ;
Such wert thou fashioned of !
Thou, too, wouldst me resemble
Without that magic Love!”


some referenced materials regarding the meeting between Nikola Tesla and Jovan Jovanovich Zmaj:

Nikola Tesla and Jovan Jovanovic Zmaj met when only Tesla’s visit to Belgrade, 2. July 1892. year, when the train, via Novi Sad, come to Serbia, and in Belgrade was organized a festive new year’s Eve. Words of welcome, and with great enthusiasm Tesla is welcomed Serbian King, many famous people of the time, many citizens who have come to greet the famous genius, and one of the speakers at the ceremony he was none other than Tesla’s favorite poet, Jovan Jovanović Zmaj.

He is the scientist welcomed lyrics, which is the only time that Dragon publicly reads his poems. Tesla, sincerely moved by this encounter, approached by a poet and he kissed my hand and said: when I was a hardest in America and when I was of all rejected and misunderstood, with bitter tears I read Your poetry, and I promise to You now Your verses translated into English and in Amer go to publish “.

Upon his return to America, Tesla with passion to translate The songs and started writing about Serbian history. So he arose and Tesla’s essay from 1897. years of bitter fate of the Serbian people, in which Tesla uses and Dragons lyrics and thoughts together with their interpretations of the Kosovo and pokosovske the tragedy of the Serb people.

from Avant Art Magazin 10/07/14.


The following is taken from the website listed below.

“His annotated literary thoughts, both literature and writers, speak of being proud of his Serbian origin and birth, and that his patriotism could be brought into line with the universalist view of the world, which was derived from the desire to do all that he does – to the benefit of the whole mankind.

The awareness that everyone can be good with you, but that no one can love you as your neighbor, radiates from a string of Tesla records, and came to the fore when it came to Belgrade in 1892 when it came to a delightful welcome compatriots. Hence, from a feeling of closeness, and his enthusiasm with Belgrade, the dragonship of the Dragon and his later translation effort.

During the Tesla and Dragon meetings, more than a hundred names, the Dragon wanted to underscore this moment by not only writing the song in honor of Tesla’s arrival, but also for the first time publicly reading his verses.”

(The following welcome poem is a poor computer generated translation, alas, taken from the website’s original, below. But the eager mind, nevertheless, will glimpse the truths therein. I have been searching for an adequate English translation and would be very grateful should any reader point me in that right direction.)

Hello Nikola Tesla when he arrived in Belgrade

I do not know what it is, it’s essence
The only thing that does is misunderstand
As soon as we hear you come to us,
You immediately electrified us
What the rope wire
Electricity is jury wide,
The jet will be a compound
(After maybe an ethereal).
Stoji a tree, says Srpstvo,
Mother every leaf – son;
His biggest list blinked
So go away in the distance.
Thou didst Tesla, thou exclaimed,
He went far stronger
In far Colombia,
To have you tumble collapsed.
And you, Tesla, where you are
Inspired minds of the guard,
You will return to the neodymium,
To kiss your tree.
He loves a tree, his lungs,
Inside breast, son’s spine;
Every branch of the Serbian tree
Tesla tep, Tesla.
Today, Belgrade is happy
Handling with Serbian dikom
And he reveals his heart
Before the Serbs.
But you have to go back again
The meeting lasts for a while
Al ‘toplotu is carried by itself
Bratimski hugs
Realized j ‘yours
Mis’o divna i golema:
There will be links between us,
And there is no distance, no.
He understands the list again
Every tree’s shaft,
The electrician will connect us
(Electricity of Our Hearts)
And without wire and without cables.

“Dazed by the warm words of his literary idol, the young genius, apparently shaken, cried and kissed Dragon in his hand. Officials cried with him. If there is something noble and sacred in the experience of national identity and closeness that deletes geographical distance, then it happened in Serbia at that moment.”

from this online magazine.



Ukraine – Vladimir the Great, 10th Century

Vladimir Putin will never give up Ukraine, for, you see, among other reasons, his namesake is Ukrainian.

Below is the story of Vladimir the Great, followed by a brief history of the present.

Vladimir The Great
Yaroslav The Wise

Vladimir, afterwards known as “The Great”, and his son Yaroslav, afterwards known as “The Wise”, brought the kingdom of Kiev-Rus to its zenith in the 10th and 11th centuries.   The modern states, Ukraine, Russia and Belarus all draw upon them for their heritage.


Vladimir the Great

Historians consider the Kievan state to have been founded around 880. A hundred years later, Vladimir, upon the death of his father and a subsequent fratricidal war, fled the region, to his kinsmen in Norway. Returning in 978 with as many Norse soldiers as he could muster, he quickly captured Kiev, (present day capital of Ukraine), and expanded his dominion throughout the region. Within a few years, Vladimir consolidated the regions of eastern Europe from Kiev to the Baltic Sea, including present day Ukraine, Belarus, and a portion of Russia. During his reign and that of his son, Yaroslav, the kingdom known as Kiev-Rus reached its zenith.

A little later, Vladimir, having know great military success, and his dominion at peace around him, grew troubled in his thoughts and his mind pondered. Sensing the inferiority of his pagan shrines to the religions flourishing in the world, he sent emissaries to all parts to learn of the great religions that he may determine the best. Of Islam, upon learning that alcoholic drinks were forbidden said, “Drinking is the joy of all Rus. We cannot exist without that pleasure.” Upon questioning the ambassadors from the Jews, and learning of their loss of their home city Jerusalem, he concluded that they had been abandoned by God. His emmisaries visiter the Christian church of Germany and were unimpressed. But upon visiting the Byzantine church in Constantinople, and witnessing the majesty of their ceremonies during the festival, his emissaries reported back, “We know longer knew whether we were in Heaven or on Earth.”

His decision made, he was baptized, wed the daughter of royalty, returned to his land, destroyed the pagan landmarks, and commanded his people to follow Christian faith. Thus, was the Russian Orthodox Church born.

Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev

Yaroslav encountered family battles too following the death of his father in 1015, but by 1019, he had became the grand prince of Kiev, and by 1036 uncontested ruller of Kievan-Rus.  Culture expanded in his days.  He built Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev and Saint Sophia Cathedral in Novogrod.  He was a great patron of learning and books, also promulgated the first east Slavic law code, the Rus Justice, which was further advanced by his sons upon his death in 1054.



In 2016, Vladimir Putin presented a statue honoring his namesake.  The statue was erected in Moscow where Putin declared him a “unifier and defender of Russian lands.”

As one contemporary has noted, “Russia without Ukraine is a country; Russia with Ukraine is an empire.”  Putin will never give up on Ukraine.


Portrait of Volodymyr the Great (c. 958 – 1015), the Grand Prince of Kyiv (Kiev), also known as Vladimir Sviatoslavich the Great, the Prince of Novgorod. Orthodox saints and acolyte during church ceremony. Tryzub, the national coat of arms of Ukraine. Stylised grivna from the times of Kievan Rus as registration device.
Diorama of Volodymyr’s Burg in Kyiv (Detynets; Citadel) with the Church of the Tithes or Church of the Dormition of the Virgin (built by the order of Volodymyr the Great) in the front. Artistic composition depicting a battle axe, a fullered arming sword, a cross, a flail and an eagle as elements of design from the times of Volodymyr the Great. Logo emblem of the National Bank of Ukraine.








Portrait of Yaroslav The Wise (c. 978 – 1054), the Grand Prince of Kyiv (Kiev), also known as Yaroslav I, Grand Prince of Kievan Rus’. Silver coin of Yaroslav Mudriy . Tryzub, the national coat of arms of Ukraine. Stylised grivna from the times of Kievan Rus as registration device.
Diorama of the original Holy Saint Sophia’s Cathedral (Sobor Svyatoi Sofii) in Kiev where Yaroslav the Wise was buried. Artistic composition depicting two different battle axes, a ceremonial bowl and the legal code of Kievan Rus’ “Pravda Rus’ka” as elements of design from the times of Yaroslav The Wise. Logo emblem of the National Bank of Ukraine















Korea, Uncategorized

Korea – Like Two Brothers Separated at Birth

As of January 18, 2018, North Koreans and South Koreans will be marching under one banner, together, in the 2018 Olympics.  I was asked if I was surprised.  “No”, I said.  It seemed to me to be entirely likely, for, you see, it seems to me that the Korean problem is a family problem.

Korea (1947), front, 50 chon.
Korea (1947), back, 50 chon. 1 Korean won is divisible into 100 chon.

For five hundred years preceding the 20th century, Korea was one nation, united and independent.  Amid the rampant colonialization movements of the 18th and 19th centuries, Korea moved towards a policy of isolationism.  For a time, it refused to even trade with western nations, endeavoring to preserve its inherited culture.

But the advancing industrialization of nations left Korea increasingly behind. In the late 1800s Korea shifted to a policy called “eastern ethics, western technology”, to preserve its culture while modernizing.  But this policy was resisted by many Koreans, and political unrest ensued.  The Emporer sought outside aid from both Japan and from China, which consequently increased their influence within Korea.  And then, upon Japan’s defeat of China at the close of the century, Japanese influence began to dominate Korea. In 1910, Japan annexed Korea.  By the time of the beginning of WW2, the Korean peninsula was considered a part of the Japanese empire.


Korea (1947), front, 20 chon.
Korea (1947), back, 20 chon. 1 Korean won is divisible into 100 chon.

The Japanese occupation began badly, and grew worse with time.  Japan sought to make the Korean territory into an efficient food supplier for a growing Japanese empire.  While building and modernizing Korean infrastructure, they were also destroying them as a people.

In the initial decade following the 1910 annexation, tens of thousands of Koreans were arrested for political reasons; and many were executed. Koreans call this decade “amhukki”, ‘the dark period’. In 1919, a peaceful independence protest was held.  The “March 1st Movement” as it became known, was inspired by the publication of Woodrow Wilson’s 14 points following WW1. Two million people marched in fifteen hundred demonstrations. Thousands were massacred by the alarmed Japanese, and many more thousands wounded, and tens of thousands arrested. In the 1930s, the Japanese urged Koreans to adopt Japanese names. By 1938, children were prohibited from speaking Korean, and all school classes were taught in Japanese. During WW2, Korean men were drafted into the armed services, and Korean women were drafted as “comfort slaves” for Japanese soldiers. Koreans were even urged to adopt the religion of Japan, Shintosim, but without much success. The flourishing of Christianity during this period, appears to be, in part, a rebellion against Japan.

Korea, (1947), front, 15 chon.

As WW2 drew to a close, and Japan’s defeat anticipated, hopes of independence revived among Koreans.  The UN plan was for a brief trusteeship of the Korean territory, administrated by the victorious “Allies”, leading to full independence in five years or less.  Looking at a map the night before Japan’s surrender, two young army staffers proposed the 38th latitude as the arbitrary line of demarcation between a Soviet occupation and an American occupation. It was a hasty and convenient selection, although it “made no sense economically or geographically”.

Many Koreans wanted independence immediately; but others, most notably the Korean Communist Party, supported the idea of trusteeship.  The Korean Communist Party was founded in the second decade of, and in resistance to, the Japanese occupation.  Many were exiled to China, where, allying with a growing Chinese Communist Party, they performed many guerrilla operations against the Japanese during occupation.  The Soviet Union, having rapidly occupied the northern peninsula at the close of the war, began to rely extensively upon returning communist exiles, and emigres from the large Korean population in the USSR.  By the close of 1945, the North Korea Bureau of the Communist Party of Korea was established and led by Kim Il-sung.   Over the next five years, as the relationship between the major powers deteriorated, and the Cold War set in, the negotiations for unified Korean independence stalled.  In 1946, Winston Churchill gave his “Iron Curtain” speech, and in 1949, USSR detonated its first atomic bomb.  The Korean brothers were separated.

Korea, (1947), front, 10 won. The won became the currency of North Korea on December 6, 1947.

“The South hit first”, says the North; “The North hit first”, says the South.  Whatever the truth, in 1950 the Koreans began to fight.

The Soviet Union had been arming the North for several years. The UN was preoccupied with the security of Japan, and considered a non-communist Korea on its border to be important to that security. China, having just concluded the Chinese Communist Revolution in 1949, had border issues too; and was uncomfortable with a non-communist “allied” presence on its Korean border. It was a war which was never “declared”; out of this conflict the term “police action” entered the international lexicon; and it became known as the Korean War.

The North, with Soviet arms, rapidly overran the South, until just a small corner of the peninsula remained unoccupied. Then US backed UN forces entered the fray; and the South overran the North almost to the Chinese border. Then China sent troops across the northern border, and pushed back to south of the 38th; and then the South pushed back again.  The war front moved up and down the peninsula, Seoul changing hands four times, until it ended. The Korean War began and ended with pretty much the same boundary, the 38th parallel.  The brothers’ hope for united independence was gone; and the world had five million less people.

Korea, (1947), front, 5 won. The won became the currency of North Korea on December 6, 1947.

The next generation grew up separated, northerners from southerners, and with the memory of war.  The North, substantially sponsored by the Soviet Union, grew and prospered. The South, largely on its own in the world, languished and became impoverished. Both bore the memory of the recent war between them.  And then the subsequent generation came alone, and the brother’s fortunes began to switch, dramatically.



Korea, (1947), front, 1 won. The won became the currency of North Korea on December 6, 1947.
Korea, (1947), back, 1 won. Illustration of a farmer and a worker.

South Korea , seeing the surging economic success of what was becoming known as “Japan Inc.”, began to emulate its neighbor’s activities.  In the next decades, they too began to realize economic success and burgeoning prosperity.  For this generation, the Korean war was little more than a history lesson in school. For them, the North was distant, and a little like a crazy brother across the border that occasionally popped off bombs, but had little effect on their growing prosperity.

Coincident with the South’s rising prosperity, the North began to decline.  The North’s chief sponsor, the Soviet Union, having grown increasingly bankrupt, finally dissolved at the end of 1989. With their dissolution, the primary sponsor of North Korea was gone. The North found itself essentially alone in the world.  With renewed determination, and new leadership, the North’s new generation renewed its focus on military development, the one thing it felt it could really excel in.

The present generation knows South Korea as one of the most prosperous and modern societies in the world, and North Korea as one of the very few nations with nuclear bombs.  And now what?


It is a curious thing to me, an American, and, I am guessing here, to many others too, that South Koreans appear far less concerned about North Korea than we do.  See this recent article.

I can’t help but think that this is a family affair; a family affair looking for a family solution.  The Koreans, who wanted to be left alone in the 19th century, and were torn apart in the 20th century, have little hope of being left alone now.  But, what if they could be, just for a little while, truly alone together, to work it out?

In my mind’s eye I see myriads of people; and amid a cacophony of conversations, I zoom in on one, and then another, and then another, all similar but completely unique…  “your father is from where? Really! Then that means we’re cousins!  ….. The story I heard about our family is…. and I heard that grandfather went to….. and what happened after that….., and …. how’s your mother?”


Uncategorized, Venezuela

Venezuela – Look Alikes, Hyperinflation and Unconcerned Birds

October 29, 2013 100 Bolivares banknote, front, Venezuela
December 7, 2017 100 Thousand Bolivares banknote, front, Venezuela

The banknote on the left was issued in late 2013. The banknote on the right was issued in late 2017.  The denominations, bolivares, are the same.


The front and back images are the same.  The left banknote is more beige in color and the right banknote is more yellow in color.

Both banknotes have the numeral 100 displayed prominently.  The banknote on the right, however, adds the word “mil”, thousand, after the word “cien”, hundred.  The banknote on the left is 100 Bolivares.  The banknote on the right is 100,000 Bolivares.

At the time of issuance of the 100 bolivares banknote in 2013, it was equivalent to approximately 10 US dollars.  So that means that, at that time, 100,000 bolivares would buy pretty much the same thing as would 10,000 US dollars.

At the time of issuance of the 100,000 bolivares banknote in 2017, it was equivalent to about 1 US dollar.

That means that, in December 2017, it takes ten times 100,000 bolivares, or 1 million bolivares, to buy what could be bought for 100 bolivares just 4 years ago, in 2013.  Another way of saying this that the value of the bolivares has been divided by 10,000; or, yet another way of saying this, is that, the price of things to buy in Venezuela have gone up by a factor of 10,000, in 4 years.  Life today is ten thousand times more expensive then it was 4 years ago.  And, think of this, Venezuela has the largest known oil reserves in the world.  Why then, is it not among the richest nations of the world?


detail from back of 100 bolivares banknote, Venezuela (2013)

Said a man of old: “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?”  This is natural Law.  Hyperinflation occurs when men make a mess of things.

image from internet

The birds illustrated on the back of our banknotes are Cardenalitos.  They are native to Venezuela in Parque Nacional El Avila and found also in verly limited surrounding areas.








Bahamas – The Beautiful

detail from front of 1 dollar (1992) commemorative banknote, The Bahamas.
front of 1 dollar (1992) commemorative banknote, The Bahamas.

The Bahamas issued a beautiful banknote commemorating the 500th anniversary of Columbus setting foot in the New World, which happened to be, The Bahamas.




detail from back of 1 dollar (1992) commemorative banknote, The Bahamas.
back of of 1 dollar (1992) commemorative banknote, The Bahamas.

In this map of The Bahamas on the left, the island group is shown, and the individual island, San Salvador, is labeled. San Salvador is the island accepted by preponderance of scholarship as the island upon which Columbus first set foot October 12, 1994.




detail from back of 1 dollar (1992) commemorative banknote, The Bahamas.

It was morning.  And we might imagine the sun rising distant and glorious, illuminating the paradise before those three little sailing ships.  It was October 12, 1492, Friday according to our reckoning.  Christopher Columbus climbed down from the Santa Maria, into a little excursion boat, rowed the short distance to the little island, and stepped ashore.

This pre-Industrial Age, pre-Age of Enlightenment, pre-Scientific Revolution, pre-Reformation, Admiral, armored and weaponed, with his fleet of three ships anchored behind him, and the monarchy of Spain behind them, stood before a handful of curious and naked inhabitants of Guanahani, for so they called their island home.

I cannot imagine a more fateful meeting in world history.

The record of this first day ashore is reproduced below.


detail from back of 1 dollar (1992) commemorative banknote, The Bahamas.

To be sure, the Bahamas are very beautiful islands.   Columbus reports seeing only parrots on his first venture.  And these parrots are beautiful as illustrated here on our banknote.

These parrots live in there island nations of the Caribbean Sea; the Bahamas and Cuba and the Cayman Islands.  Leucocephala Bahamensis are also known as the Cuban Parrot and the Rose Throated Parrot.

These beautiful birds gather in gorgeous flocks during the Winter, and then disperse into mating pairs from March to September.


detail from back of 1 dollar (1992) commemorative banknote, The Bahamas.

Phoenicopterus Ruber, or, the American Flamingo, is also known as the Caribbean flamingo, although it lives also in the Galapagos islands in the Pacific ocean. It is the only species of flamingo native to North America.

This beautiful bird grows to 4 feet or 5 feet tall and lives for 40 years, one of the longest life spans in the kingdom of fliers.

detail from back of 1 dollar (1992) commemorative banknote, The Bahamas.

Our Cylura Rileyi, or San Salvador Rock Iquana lives on three island groups in The Bahamas.  Our iguana grows to about 15 inches long and can be very colorful with colors varying from subspecies to subspecies and among individuals in a subspecies.


detail from back of 1 dollar (1992) commemorative banknote, The Bahamas.

The Coat of Arms of The Bahamas has a shield at center with the shining sun over the Santa Maria , the sailing ship of Columbus.  Overhead is a conch shell brimmed with five palm fronds.  To the left is a marlin and to the right is a flamingo, the national wildlife of the Bahamas illustrating its island nature.




The following is the record of October 11 and 12, 1492, from the Journals of Christopher Columbus:

detail from front of 1 dollar (1992) commemorative banknote, The Bahamas.

Thursday, 11 October. Steered west-southwest; and encountered a heavier sea than they had met with before in the whole voyage. Saw pardelas and a green rush near the vessel. The crew of the Pinta saw a cane and a log; they also picked up a stick which appeared to have been carved with an iron tool, a piece of cane, a plant which grows on land, and a board. The crew of the Nina saw other signs of land, and a stalk loaded with rose berries. These signs encouraged them, and they all grew cheerful. Sailed this day till sunset, twenty-seven leagues.

After sunset steered their original course west and sailed twelve miles an hour till two hours after midnight, going ninety miles, which are twenty-two leagues and a half; and as the Pinta was the swiftest sailer, and kept ahead of the Admiral, she discovered land and made the signals which had been ordered. The land was first seen by a sailor called Rodrigo de Triana, although the Admiral at ten o’clock that evening standing on the quarter-deck saw a light, but so small a body that he could not affirm it to be land; calling to Pero Gutierrez, groom of the King’s wardrobe, he told him he saw a light, and bid him look that way, which he did and saw it; he did the same to Rodrigo Sanchez of Segovia, whom the King and Queen had sent with the squadron as comptroller, but he was unable to see it from his situation. The Admiral again perceived it once or twice, appearing like the light of a wax candle moving up and down, which some thought an indication of land. But the Admiral held it for certain that land was near; for which reason, after they had said the Salve which the seamen are accustomed to repeat and chant after their fashion, the Admiral directed them to keep a strict watch upon the forecastle and look out diligently for land, and to him who should first discover it he promised a silken jacket, besides the reward which the King and Queen had offered, which was an annuity of ten thousand maravedis.

At two o’clock in the morning the land was discovered, at two leagues’ distance; they took in sail and remained under the square-sail lying to till day, which was Friday, when they found themselves near a small island, one of the Lucayos, called in the Indian language Guanahani.

Presently they descried people, naked, and the Admiral landed in the boat, which was armed, along with Martin Alonzo Pinzon, and Vincent Yanez his brother, captain of the Nina. The Admiral bore the royal standard, and the two captains each a banner of the Green Cross, which all the ships had carried; this contained the initials of the names of the King and Queen each side of the cross, and a crown over each letter Arrived on shore, they saw trees very green many streams of water, and diverse sorts of fruits.

The Admiral called upon the two Captains, and the rest of the crew who landed, as also to Rodrigo de Escovedo notary of the fleet, and Rodrigo Sanchez, of Segovia, to bear witness that he before all others took possession (as in fact he did) of that island for the King and Queen his sovereigns, making the requisite declarations, which are more at large set down here in writing.

Numbers of the people of the island straightway collected together. Here follow the precise words of the Admiral: “As I saw that they were very friendly to us, and perceived that they could be much more easily converted to our holy faith by gentle means than by force, I presented them with some red caps, and strings of beads to wear upon the neck, and many other trifles of small value, wherewith they were much delighted, and became wonderfully attached to us.

Afterwards they came swimming to the boats, bringing parrots, balls of cotton thread, javelins, and many other things which they exchanged for articles we gave them, such as glass beads, and hawk’s bells; which trade was carried on with the utmost good will. But they seemed on the whole to me, to be a very poor people. They all go completely naked, even the women, though I saw but one girl. All whom I saw were young, not above thirty years of age, well made, with fine shapes and faces; their hair short, and coarse like that of a horse’s tail, combed toward the forehead, except a small portion which they suffer to hang down behind, and never cut. Some paint themselves with black, which makes them appear like those of the Canaries, neither black nor white; others with white, others with red, and others with such colors as they can find. Some paint the face, and some the whole body; others only the eyes, and others the nose. Weapons they have none, nor are acquainted with them, for I showed them swords which they grasped by the blades, and cut themselves through ignorance. They have no iron, their javelins being without it, and nothing more than sticks, though some have fish-bones or other things at the ends. They are all of a good size and stature, and handsomely formed. I saw some with scars of wounds upon their bodies, and demanded by signs the of them; they answered me in the same way, that there came people from the other islands in the neighborhood who endeavored to make prisoners of them, and they defended themselves. I thought then, and still believe, that these were from the continent. It appears to me, that the people are ingenious, and would be good servants and I am of opinion that they would very readily become Christians, as they appear to have no religion. They very quickly learn such words as are spoken to them. If it please our Lord, I intend at my return to carry home six of them to your Highnesses, that they may learn our language. I saw no beasts in the island, nor any sort of animals except parrots.” These are the words of the Admiral.