ID these Bees and butterflies?

May 26, 2014

If anyone reads this post, can they ID these bees or this butterfly?  A quick google search didn’t help.bees and bugs (1) bees and bugs (3 b) bees and bugs (4 b) bees and bugs (15 b)

Wye Marsh and Waggle Dances

May 25, 2014

My previous workplace, the wonderful Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre, has recently installed a glass-walled beehive that allows visitors to observe activity inside.  This reminds me of my second year at university as our Animal Behavior class included a few weeks of staring at bees in a similar manner.  I cannot remember what my group worked on but I do remember the empowering feeling of mastery when suddenly I could find waggle dances.

There might be a photo here.  I am attempting to embed a Facebook image.  If it doesn’t work, try this link.  Or, try this link anyway for more Wye Marsh stuff.

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My excellent friend and onetime co-worker at the Marsh, Nick, loved the Fibonacci sequence and I suspect it was demonstrated here.  For around thirteen minutes, I saw nothing but squirming bees in a well-lit but claustrophobically tight box. I was about to give up. Then I saw my first waggle dance.  More squirming bees for another, let’s say, eight minutes followed by my sighting of another waggle dance.  Five minutes later, I saw another.  Three minutes later, two minutes later, one minute later and one minute later I saw them again. Then I was keyed to see any waggle dance.  Some time afterward, I was able to find the queen after a brief search.  It really felt like magic.

 

For most youth, now and probably in my day too (ah, Jumpman), the playing of computer games is what teaches similar concentration and patience.
I was going to make this post some kind of lesson or sermon, but heck, learn how to spot bee waggle dances – it takes a few minutes but it really wows friends!

Updated: …And use your knowledge of waggle dances to find the healthiest environments!

 The researchers chose an area of 94 square kilometers around the hives that included urban, agricultural and protected areas, and divided that area into 60 square blocks. Then, by videotaping and painstakingly decoding over 5,000 waggle dances over the course of two years, they could see where the bees preferred to go.

The scientists found that overall, bees were significantly more likely to give an approving waggle to land that had been targeted for more intensive restoration of grasslands or of margins around the edges of agricultural fields compared with areas having less stringent requirements. Oddly, they also found that bees seemed to specifically avoid some areas that had been targeted for low-level restoration. Couvillon says that this may be due to how these schemes are managed—frequent mowing, for instance, may reduce the number of flowers. But the bees were often on target. The scientists found that two blocks most frequently tagged with a waggle—after correcting for distance from the hives—each contained a protected nature reserve.

zb

What is the Korea Times for?

May 1, 2014

Updated:  This is how it should have been written!

 

——————————————

Terrible editing casts doubts on the paper’s raison d’etre (The online version has this error corrected).

coast guard 1

It would be nice if the jerk at the Korea Times did some research before writing his editorial.

In this attack piece the author either has an ax to grind or has no critical thinking ability.  Let’s dig in:

They did save people ― the captain and the crew. It is an ABC of maritime rescue that the crew should be the last to leave the ship not only for moral but for realistic reasons too: they should help the relief squad, mainly by informing them of the structure of the vessel. The Coast Guard should have told the crew to go back to the ship, as was the case of Italian rescuers years ago. Again, the officers said they could not tell passengers from the crew, but the latter would have been recognizable due to their clothing.

Here is the captain.  Would you recognize him as such?  Image from Channel Asia News.  He is wearing a sweater and boxers.  To be fair, they are navy boxers.

We are lost for words after hearing that an officer reported that the Sewol was sinking to the Mokpo Coast Guard by means of a “ax”[sic] instead of using a telephone. More surprisingly, when the Mokpo office received an SOS call from a student, it asked him to provide the “latitude and longitude” of the location.

I’m pretty sure the print edition had the word “fax”.  At 8:00PM Thursday night, the online edition still had “ax”.  Why by fax?  I can’t say for certain, but numbers and letters are more easily sent in print than aloud.  People read faster than they speak.  I could only wish the editorial-writer were lost for words.

Why would the Coast Guard ask for latitude and longitude?  It doesn’t take much thought offer ideas. 1) There were fake calls after the disaster.  It doesn’t seem unreasonable to imagine that there have been other false alarms.  2) The Sewol was way off course.  To be told the ship was near islands and might have hit one would reasonably be greeted with skepticism when there were no rocks on its intended route.

[A] Coast Guard executive stunned people by saying, “We did our best. Rescuing 80 people is no small feat.” The other 94 people were saved by fishermen on vessels smaller and older than those of the Coast Guard.

There was a lot of confusion during the initial stages of the rescue.  The Coast Guard is not blameless and there is always room for improvement.  Still, there were many fishing boats; it was not one vessel crewed by old sea-salts that somehow loaded 94 in their boat.

I approve of a free press and would not want to see it muzzled.  On the other hand, if the author really wants the Coast Guard to be the subject of” a vast and meticulous report on who did what (wrong) with respect to this tragic incident, not omitting even a single and minor mistake or misdeed”, perhaps the Times should suffer the same.  After all “What matters is not a lack of manuals or agencies but those of training and experts” and the Times appears to be lacking both.

 

Ferry with nearly 500 passengers sank near Jindo

April 16, 2014

Terrible news today of a large ferry, around half-full, that apparently struck a reef and sank about two hours later.

Well, there is a lot of good news.  Thanks to massive efforts by Coast Guard and Navy vessels, most of the people on board were rescued.  Approximately 100 more are thought to remain in the sunken ship.

 

From images given by the papers, if those hundred are alive, there are in dire, Poseidon Adventure conditions.

English papers in Korea have good details (Chosun, Herald, Times) but the best work seems to be from the NY Daily.  The photos below are from the NY Daily:Screen shot 2014-04-16 at 4.13.00 PM

Screen shot 2014-04-16 at 4.14.36 PM

Haeundae Bicycle Service Center

April 16, 2014

At the Haps, I learned of the Haeundae Bicycle Service Center.  I love the idea and hope it does well.  Now to get my son and I out there to ride.

korea law and cycling

April 14, 2014

The Korea Law Blog has  a post on cycling in Korea.  There’s a lot of good stuff there but here is a piece:

2. Rules Applying Only to Bicycles

a) To stay on the far right side when riding a bicycle on the road.

b) To get off and drag one’s bicycle when crossing a crosswalk.

c) To refrain from riding a bicycle on the sidewalk.

d) To refrain from operating a bicycle while being drunk, etc.

e) Overtaking through the “right side” is allowed.

3. Rules That Do Not Apply to Bicycles

a) Regular speed limits do not apply to bicycles.

b) Driving w/o a license do not apply to bicycles.

c) Drunk driving (forbidden, but no specific punishment for a cyclist is currently outlined).

d) The ban on the use of cell phones (while cycling) do not apply to bicycles.

 

Via James Turnbull.

tough day at the farm

March 23, 2014

Today’s work was on the orchard hill.  Or maybe it is a very low, stoneless mesa.  In the midst of hectares of flat rice, cabbage, potato and such fields, my father-in-law’s orchard is on a flat hill maybe three metres above the fields.

The main crop on the hill is persimmon fruit.I asked my brother-in-law about the strange bottoms of the tree and he suggested it was because of the way the tree grew from cuttings.    That was only his guess but it seems possible.  More on growing trees from cuttings.manure work (5) I have always loved the tree frogs at the farm.  After a year away, it was good to see a few again.  This guy could sit on the final joint of my thumb.  Please excuse the blurriness.  I really like my new phone but I seem to have trouble holding it still enough.manure work (4) Korea’s wonderful little tractor, the kyeongungi.  I can drive one when it is attached to a cart, but would leave a terrible plow line.manure work (3) manure work (2) I have a really annoying cold right now.  Despite the great weather, I was pretty miserable at the farm.  I think this pic captures my whininess during the day.  Oh, behind me are little piles of manure under each tree that I carted by wheelbarrow.  I guess I should be grateful my sense of smell was sub-par today.manure work (1)As is so often the case, I usually more proud of my farm work and adventures after a few days.  Perhaps in a week or so, when the smell is gone from my SUV, I will look back on the work as character building rather than horrible.

 

Help with ‘Trust rating’ pop-up, please

March 19, 2014

HELP!!

Here are four examples of this, uh, virus? that has shown up on more than half the pages that I visit.ad virus 1 ad virus 2 ad virus 3 ad virus 4

These ads never show up for Facebook or Feedly.

The only thing I can think of as the source for these ads is I recently added a Chrome extension to download videos.  It was Video Downloader Professional.

Updated mere minutes after original post:

The problem was likely Lucky Leap. which has since been removed.  From the limited surfing I have done, that seems to have fixed the problem.

Best Teachers and tests

March 16, 2014

I read a post by one Wangjangnim at KoreaBridge and raced off a quick comment. Briefly, Wangjangnim appears to be a hagwon owner and his post attacked teachers for two things – claiming to be skilled, to be the Best Teacher and for making and using tests that aren’t appropriate.

How do teachers measure their effectiveness, and here you will slowly realize why I am against how they do it.  Scores.  Teachers effectiveness are measured by the students scores, but there is a problem.  These tests are created by the teacher.  The lesson are prepped by same teacher.  The lessons are given by same teacher.  The test is given by same teacher.  The test is corrected by same teacher.  Anyone with half a brain immediately understands the problem.  Anyone with a smidgen of understanding of HR practices and ethics revolving around test taking knows that this is simply ineffective.

Tests cannot be objective under those circumstances.  OOOO you say, but that is why we have SAT tests and the like.  Generalized tests that are the same for all students and not dependent on the teacher.  Really?  Those tests are made by teachers.  At least, as far as I understand the Education Industry, tests are manufactured by those mostly occupied with the profession of teaching.  Nothing wrong with that.  Everything wrong with that.

My response there (very slightly edited to remove the silly typos):

There is a real problem with judging how effective a teacher is and I don’t think there is any good method to judge all teachers.  Well, there is no easy method.  If you want to judge a teacher, first test his/her students when they arrive, inform the teacher precisely what you want from him(skipping the ‘/her’ for the rest of my comment) and then test the student again after some time has passed.  Also, do this to more than one teacher so you can see if one is doing better than the other.  Then, make sure you understand, and use, statistics to properly decide if improvement has been made

You will soon find that making and administering a good test takes a whole lot of work.  As you appear to want communication skills instead of grammar and vocab, I suggest asking students oral questions or long answer written questions.  Then you will need to read every essay or listen to every single answer.

I don’t know any teacher that wants to teach TOEIC.  My students are required to take a TOEIC test and that affects their grade but we have never seen the test nor know when our students take it.  Administrators seem to like because it is the opposite of what I described above: it is easy to administer and easy to grade.  If you make a better test of English communication that is relatively easy to administer and grade, you will make a lot of teachers very happy.

I haven’t read your posts before, Wangjangnim, and I don’t know you or your place of business.  Your writing shows you have better English than most of the Hagwon owners I have known.  I am not attacking you personally, but your claim that:

“General Tests are scams.  Huge scams with children, an parents, as victims”

is probably true but, only in the same way, “Hagwon owners are scammers.  Huge scammers with children and parents as victims.” is.  Teachers teach to the test because parents and hagwon owners (and some university Deans) require them to.

I just feel you are attacking a group – teachers – that is not a free agent on the issue.  If you can make a better test, I really want to see it.

Now, there are parts to his post that I like and suggest I may have been too hasty in attacking it.  for example, how to do well in a job interview:

If you truly love your profession, a better strategy would be to show me your passion for teaching and to give indication to things you helped master in- and outside of the classroom.

And he includes some kernel of an idea of how to fix the problem:

We will only know who is truly a great teacher, once teachers stop evaluating themselves, and start being evaluated by the results they achieved with their students through proper assessment tools.  Until then, the ESL mess we are in will remain unchanged.

Teachers are indeed somewhat at fault with poorly learning outcomes in their students.  At the same time, many teachers are often given close instruction in how and what they are to teach.  I am mostly grateful for that as I could really get sidetracked into teaching zombie epidemic survival skills and anti-religious rants, neither of which have much value outside of Youtube comment threads.

On the other hand, I have been told to teach TOEIC skills from a TOIEC book and many teachers here are expected to do the same.  I have taught at a hagwon where the owner required me to be the parrot for movie lines.  We spent months watching Avatar, repeating each line “three to five times”.

I don’t know this Wangjangnim but I would sincerely love to hear if he has a test that can accurately test student’s abilities even when teachers do not ‘teach to the test’. One valid test I can think of would be to parachute students who have finished classes into central Canada and see how quickly they get out.   Ah, maybe a more urban area would be appropriate – we are testing English not wilderness survival skills.  I guess we could test for student’s motivations and their strengths to see how much immersion they can handle but then we run into the Hagwon problem – the owner has two clients: the child and the parent and the latter seems to want TOIEC.

 

I want to be fair to Wangjangnim and I really want to hear what a fairly articulate hagwon owner really thinks.  I hope that my attacks on his post are not fueled by the standard hagwon teacher/ hagwon owner tension and will be following his blog for a bit.

Wangjangnim’s original post.

Unnecessary canals

March 2, 2014

I used an ocean of pixels in attacking Lee Myoung Bak’s plan for a canal from Incheon up the Han River to Gangwondo and across to the Nakdong River (which also starts in Gangwon Province) and south to Busan.  The whole canal idea was ridiculous; the ocean offers a open water route between Incheon or Seoul and Busan and there are never traffic jams or delays for locks to fill and empty.  See here and here if you are interested.

A new canal is in the news, and although not in Korea, it might be similarly redundant.  Nicaragua may soon get a canal to compete with Panama’s.

The environmental impacts could be considerable.

A final route for the canal has not yet been announced, but the proposed routes pass through Lake Nicaragua, which covers about six times the area of Los Angeles and is Central America’s largest lake.

The lake is a major source of drinking water and irrigation, and home to rare freshwater sharks and other fish of commercial and scientific value, Huete-Pérez and Meyer say. The forest around it is home to howler monkeys, tapirs, jaguars, and countless tropical birds–not to mention several groups of indigenous people (some of whom have challenged the project in court, so far to no avail).

I’m a citizen of the world and benefit from international commerce.  I know nothing about the environmental impact of either Central American canal but I know I benefit from the one that currently exists.  It will be interesting to see what arguments are made against the proposed new canal and how the current one succeeds or fails on those aspects.


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