Archive for July, 2010

Still not quite ready for an eBook reader – so close, though

July 29, 2010

The new Kindle looks great and is entirely in my price range…well, not quite.

Okay, it does look great and the features are about where I want them to be and the price is fantastic.

On the other hand, I checked out a few books I am interested in:

A Charlie Stross science fiction novel:

Ken Robinson: The Element:

and, Greg Mortenson, Stones into schools:

The kindle edition is more expensive and I don’t understand why.  After reading the Mortenson paper book, I am likely to lend it to my mother or friends and that is difficult to impossible to do with the Kindle version – without lending away my Kindle, that is.  I could easily understand making paperbacks more expensive  because they can be read by several people – I wouldn’t like it, but i would understand.  The Kindle version doesn’t need to be printed, it isn’t taking up space on a shelf…why does it cost more?

Now, I do understand that the Kindle does have some benefits price-wise.  Two, are very clear to me.  First, I can download out-of-copyright books for free.  I can even see myself doing this.  I would dig into Orwell and Kipling and into pulp and classic SF – John Carter of Mars, Mysterious Island and more.  I would load up on Darwin’s books and other science texts.

But, I don’t want to kid myself.   The reason I haven’t read a lot of Orwell is that I was never thrilled by him – I know he was a great writer, but that doesn’t mean I really want to read him.  I think I once heard a damning quote of the nouveau riche, “their shelves lined with classic books, never opened.”*  I don’t need that for my Kindle.

Cory Doctorow offers his books up for free, with the expectation that people will become interested, then buy other books of his or as a sign of honesty.  I have done this; I tried to read “Someone comes to town…” off my computer screen and didn’t care for the experience, but I did later buy, “Little Brother”.

Second, I might save a little money by downloading an Amazon book, even with the higher price, when including shipping to South Korea. There is no super saver deal for me.  Still, this is nickel and diming my way to saving money.  I might be able to do it, but there is no reason to expect the Kindle to be the proper device to read from after five years.  Woo-hoo, I finally broke even on my purchase, and now it is obsolete.

I am very tempted.

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*Dang, I can’t find that quote.  I think I have the spirit of it, although I am not at all close to the letter.

Online Educational symposium starts Friday

July 27, 2010

A 48 hour symposium about educational reform (which I take to mean updating- to include more online content) begins this Friday, American Pacific time.  I, uh, hope the time it right – it starts at 2:00pm, LA time.

From the website:

After an Edchat conversation about education reform,Chris Rogers, Jason Bedell, Kelly Tenkely, and I collaborated to organize The Reform Symposium, a 48 hour free e-conference for educators that will begin Friday, July 30th at 2pm PDT (LA Time) and end Sunday, August 1st at 2:30pm PDT (LA Time). The entire conference will take place online in Elluminate web rooms and will feature 20 presentations (30 minutes), 14 keynotes (1 hour), and 1 panel discussion (1 hour) on the this year’s theme, Innovative Practices in Education. Presentations will focus on the effective use of technology and various issues for education reform. This free virtual conference is more than any of us imagined and opened to learners worldwide! All you need to attend is an Internet connection!

Many of you are on summer vacation so why else should you attend this free e-conference?

I have been curious about online content – do people actually pay attention to it?  I will attend a few seminars and see how it goes.

Bus Rapid Transit systems in China

July 17, 2010

I lived in Masan thirteen years ago and one thing I particularly noticed was the number of buses on the road.  If there were ten cars, there were eight buses.  I’m mostly talking about public transit buses, so add on the myriad shuttle buses that every hagwon and dojang has.  The roads were already crowded, but everything moved pretty quickly.

Thirteen years later, there are many more drivers (including me) and more private cars (including mine)*.  I would like to see more buses but I do wonder if Busan has reached a saturation point with buses.  More are needed, as I have been turned away from full buses in the past -they were too full to accept new passengers.  Yet,the bus lanes are full of parked cars so the buses are swerving into other lanes.

—-my son is asking to go outside and I don’t have a full conclusion or ending to this post.  I mostly wanted to describe the problem.  I’ll finish here, by quoting an article about Bus Rapid Transit in China:

With their rising incomes and access to freshly paved roads, many will be tempted to emulate Americans and buy cars. Some will ride the gleaming rail networks funded by Beijing. But in the past two years, China has also become the world’s fastest-growing market for high-speed city buses.

In February, the southern city of Guangzhou rolled out China’s latest effort, a 14-mile stretch of a main road striped with bus-only lanes down the middle. The sleek buses race between raised stations that resemble train stops. Ridership has already shattered the figures of other bus systems in Asia. Now the system beats out the ridership of every metro line in mainland China except Beijing’s.

——————-

* Note The Onion: 98% of the US commuters favor public transportation.  Seriously, I would prefer a bus ride if I could sit down and read during the trip.  That would provide added value for me.

Korea and gender parity in education

July 15, 2010

Follow the link to a blogpost and graph showing the average number of years of education  the people of a country get and how evenly that is shared by gender.

Note they use the phrase ‘school life expectancy’, which sounds a little weird to me.

From the post:

On the vertical axis in the figure below (click to enlarge) is total life expectancy in school and on the horizontal axis the ratio of female to male life expectancy in school.  The figure tells us a number of interesting things.  First, the largest imbalances are against women and these tend to occur in countries with a low level of total education.  South Korea is an interesting outlier.

A few island nations (to stretch a little the definition of ‘island’) seem to lead teh way, education-wise.

Following the links back to the source (the UN statistics division), I looked for Canada, as I couldn’t find it on the cluttered graph.  Below are Canada and a few other countries, for those who can’t find their country or who prefer numerical, rather than visual, presentation of data. Actually, I have not tried to make a chart with WordPress before.  With Blogger, the extra spaces would be ignored and the characters jammed together.  I hope there is a usable chart below.

Country or area     Men   Women    Total/ Average

Australia                        20         21                      21

Canada                           16          16                      16

RO Korea                        18          16                      17

US                                  15            17                     16

It looks like the data at the UN is very easily manipulated.  I don’t mean that in the spin-doctor sense; it is possible to make your own charts and tables on-site.

Data Centre

Access data and build your own statistical tables related to UNESCO’s fields of action.

The Data Centre contains over 1,000 types of indicators and raw data on education, literacy, science and technology, culture and communication.

Via Marginal Revolution.

This is goshdarned strange!

July 9, 2010

I recently wrote a blogpost about malaria and the death of two entertainers from South Korea who contracted malaria in South Africa.  I have Google reader set to look for posts about Gangwondo, as I used to live and blog from there, and found another blog had picked up my content.

Verbatim.  pasted twice into one post.

Well, not verbatim.  The title now had two words added: weight loss. They had randomly added the word ‘health’ with links to other posts they had written.  The blog claims to be about ‘health care’ and my post discussed the subject but there was no added commentary nor links back to me or this site.  They also killed the various links I had placed in the post – referring to the newspaper article and other blogposts on the subject.

A few quotes (oh, I should link back to them; that’s the polite thing to do, after all):

Heck, it’s my blogpost: I have quoted a long section and added one thing.  Bolding to their added links.  The paragraph does start as “wonder..” Did I skip the “I” or did they somehow remove it?

wonder so very glamorous life in the mid-level Korean entertainers are the problem. Extra! Korea posted recently about a newspaper article about an entertainer incomes and living arrangements. I also did it years ago at Gangwon Notes *.< p style = “text-align: left;”> ——< p style = “text-align: left;” > * Yes, I linked to me twice in this post. I do not know how many people read this and what percentage of them also read Gangwon Notes, but I have discussed malaria on my blogs for four or five years, and SurprisesAplenty. does not show that the background. Also, I’m a great writer and you should feel lucky to have a chance to read further in my work.

Tags: traffic, health, malaria

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There are two reports in the news about Korean dancers in South Africa staining of malaria.

Spelling proposed the “stain” after me wrong

wrote “die” – certainly their words mean to add

color for clothes and such though. What is the right word?

first, my condolences to the families of Koh Eun-joo and Kim Su-Yeon.

Secondly, how can it happen? The Korea Herald article (KH is no longer appears on my browser as a malware site) about Miss Kim is short and simply reports her health care name and occupation. The JoongAng article on Miss Koh throws more light. I dislike using such lengthy excerpts from a newspaper article, but malaria is a serious matter.

Kim Su-Yeon, 27, was one of two artists in the 45-member troupe to contract the disease, and one of eleven members who had received chloroquine, a malaria pill that is “not very effective in Africa,” said an official of the Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention, who asked to be identified only as Im.

“The pills were prescribed by a village doctor before they left. The health other 34 received medication prior to their departure from National Medical Center,” Im said. “It would have been better had they been better informed before this happened because this information is not hard to get. It’s on our Web site .”

Im said 11 artists given chloroquine were all from Namwon the National Center for Korean People’s Performing Arts is located. He said mefloquine is usually prescribed as a protection against malaria.

Kim began to show signs of malaria, 3 June, but thought it was simply a cold. The day after she returned to Korea health from Egypt, 5 June, a hospital diagnosed her as suffering from the mosquito-borne parasitic diseases, illness, said Park Min-Kwon from the Korean Culture and Information Services, who directed the Korean Cultural Festival.

“Another member was also diagnosed with symptoms worse than Kim, but she is doing better now,” Park said. “All 45 people got malaria pills before we left .”< p style =” text-align: left; “> Okay, more news on Malaria in Korea and elsewhere: Gangwon Notes *, CDC and Wikipedia’s page of chloroquine.

Now prevention is better than cure, as there are few good health care cures for malaria. Part of prevention is through drugs, but I wonder if the dancers were also preventing mosquito bites. Net or fans are important at night (to avoid malaria is more important than fear fandeath, after all) but these are for affordable housing. Prestigious hotels should have been properly sealed room with AC where necessary – there should have been no need to open a window at night.

wonder so very glamorous life in the mid-level Korean entertainers are the problem. Extra! Korea posted recently about a newspaper article about an entertainer incomes and living arrangements. health I also did it years ago at Gangwon Notes *.< p style = “text-align: left;”> ——< p style = “text-align: left;” > * Yes, I linked to me twice in this post. I do not know how many people read this and what percentage of them also read Gangwon Notes, but I have discussed malaria on my blogs for four or five years, and SurprisesAplenty. does not show that the background. Also, I’m a great writer and you should feel lucky to have a chance to read further in my work.

———————–

So, what should I do? What is this about?  Ideas?

Koreans in South Africa aren’t taking their medicine?

July 9, 2010

There are two reports in the news about Korean dancers in South Africa dyeing of malaria.

Spellcheck suggested “dyeing” after I incorrectly

typed “dieing” – surely their word means adding

colour to clothes and such though.  What is the right word?

First, my condolences to the families of Koh Eun-joo and Kim Su-yeon.

Second, how could this happen?  The Korea Herald article (KH is no longer appearing on my browser as a malware site) on Miss Kim is short and merely reports her name and occupation.  The Joongang article on Miss Koh sheds more light.  I don’t like to use such long excerpts from a newspaper article, but malaria is serious business.

Kim Su-yeon, 27, was one of two performers in the 45-member troupe to contract the disease, and one of 11 members who had been given chloroquine, a malaria pill that is “not very effective in Africa,” said an official from the Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention who asked to be identified only as Im.

“The pills were prescribed by a village doctor before they left. The other 34 were given drugs before their departure by the National Medical Center,” Im said. “It would have been better if they had been given better information before this happened, because that information is not hard to get. It’s on our Web site.”

Im said the 11 performers given chloroquine were all from Namwon, where the National Center for Korean Folk Performing Arts is located. He said mefloquine is usually prescribed as a preventive against malaria.

Kim started showing signs of malaria on June 3 but thought it was simply a cold. The day after she returned to Korea from Egypt on June 5, a hospital diagnosed her as suffering from the mosquito-borne parasitic disease, said Park Min-kwon from the Korean Culture and Information Service, which directed the Korean Culture Festival.

“Another member was also diagnosed with worse symptoms than Kim, but she’s doing better now,” Park said. “All 45 team members were given malaria pills before we left.”

Alright, more news on Malaria in Korea and elsewhere: Gangwon Notes*, the CDC and Wikipedia’s page on chloroquine.

Now, prevention is better than cure, as there are few good cures for malaria.  Part of prevention is done through drugs, but I wonder if the dancers were also preventing mosquito bites.  Nets or fans are important at night (preventing malaria is more important than fears of fandeath, after all) but these are for cheap accommodations.  Reputable hotels should have had properly sealed rooms with AC  if necessary – there should have been no need to open a window at night.

I wonder if the so very glamourous life of mid-level Korean entertainers is the problem.  Extra! Korea posted recently on a newspaper article about  entertainer’s incomes and living arrangements.  I also did so years ago at Gangwon Notes*.

—————–

* Yes, I linked to myself twice in this post.  I don’t know how many people read this and what percent of them also read Gangwon Notes, but I’ve discussed malaria on my blogs for four or five years and SurprisesAplenty.wordpress doesn’t show that background.  Also, I am a great writer and you should feel lucky to have a chance to read further of my work.

Cry me an iRiver

July 8, 2010

I’ve blogged in the past about my interest in ebook readers.  I finally got my hands on one for a few moments today.

I liked it.  The screen is plenty big enough and the device is small enough that I could easily see myself carrying one around.  The page change is fairly slow – I think that is common to all eReaders – and I could see myself getting to the second last line, then clicking and racing through the final line before the screen changed.

Yes, it looked good and felt right in my hands, but at trustedreviews they weren’t so thrilled with it.  The device comes with a good keyboard but there are few reasons to use it.  There are some good features – I think the article says “almost good features” – like a calendar and appointment book, but they don’t sync with outside hardware.  You could write yourself a note, but you’d have to retype it when you reached your computer, you couldn’t transfer it.

The shop, iRiver, was between Lotte Department Store and Migliore in Seomyeon in Busan.  The reader costs around 360,000 won or 390,000won for the ‘edu’ version which includes a dictionary.  I like it but I’ll continue to wait.

UPDATED a day later.  Here is a study comparing reading speed over four formats: paper book, iPad, Kindle and PC.  The result showed that reading a book is faster.  I like the post on it’s own merits as it describes the research format in detail.

Shamans along the shore

July 8, 2010

Should that be shamen or shawomen, instead, I wonder?

I took these at the mouth of the Nakdonggang.  I lightly retouched the faces in two photos to obscure features to allow us to see the ritual without recognizing individuals.

Student’s rights

July 7, 2010

Do they have any?

In a poorly-editted article at the Donga Ilbo, and a shorter article at Korea Beat, the subject is discussed.

From the Donga:

In response, the conservative Korean Federation of Teachers’ Associations released a commentary Tuesday saying, “Legislating laws on students’ human rights encourages conflict between teachers and students.”

“Rules on students’ human rights do not respect a school and see things only from the perspective of universal human rights,” the commentary said. “Too much emphasis on an individual student’s human rights could infringe on other students’ right to learn and teachers’ right to teach.”

I am not sure if ‘right to teach’ is the best possible phrase.  Maybe, “need to teach”, or “duty to teach”.

They give some examples of problems with the so-called student’s rights:

Teachers say introducing rules at a time when students lack a good understanding of human rights could bring chaos in class. A high school teacher in Seoul said, “A student says he’s hungry in class and wants to get something to eat. I say that because you’re in class now, go there on a break,” adding, “Then the student cries violation of his human rights.”

A high school student said, “A student was studying another subject in class. I told him to stop but he didn’t budge and call it a human rights violation.

One of the many things I have learned from my sister is a good attitude to approach this problem.  At or near the beginning of a class, she would remind students they were here to learn from her and she was here to teach them.  Actions that prevented these goals or reduced their effectiveness were clearly wrong.  Eating in a class that is not scheduled for eating (hey, I bring snacks in to class once in a while) is wrong.  Studying for another subject, though.  That’s a tougher one but still wrong.  In a similar situation, I taught university students for several hours each morning and many of the students arrived late.  When I asked why, I was told they had been studying English until too late the previous night.  Studying the material in class is (or should be) the best way to learn.

I would like to say, if you don’t want to study my material, don’t come to class.  This doesn’t work because my students are marked for attendance.

Back to the article:

The criticism did not stop youth groups and the progressive teachers’ union from claiming that the human rights of youths must be protected. The union’s Seoul chapter said in a commentary celebrating the election of Kwak Roh-hyun as the city superintendant of schools, “We hope that students fight for guaranteeing of basic rights, securing political freedom, and creating an entity for education.

A member of the youth group Asunaro said on an Internet forum, “Education is rather very political,” adding, “We cannot agree that youths are immature, however. Being mature is not a matter of how old you are but a matter of what kind of experience and thoughts you have.”

GI Korea knows what this is code for. “Being mature is not a matter of how old you are but a matter of what kind of experience and thought you have – especially if your thoughts match our political agenda”  Oh, this is my quote, but I think the GI would think it acceptable.

Koreabeat has translated an article from the Kyunhyang Shinmun which explores student rights from the perspective of parents and students.  Their opinion: students need more protections and rights:

Sexual misconduct and bribery remain common as well. One couple said, “our daughter’s headroom teacher secretly molested her… we demanded that the teacher be punished but to get out of it the school said students love that teacher so her story was hard to believe.” Another couple were upset that a teacher, apparently seeking a bribe, called them on the telephone making veiled threats such as “your daughter is very strange.”

Mr. Park, head of the organization, said, “protections for students’ rights at school must be strengthened.”

I have to chuckle at the end of the first paragraph.  “Your daughter is very strange” must be a threat, right?  There’s no way the daughter really is strange, after all.

————–

UPDATED: teens also need to learn about their rights as employees.

Interest in part-time jobs is soaring among teens, according to a report commissioned by the ministry. The survey of 3,202 teenagers aged 15 through 18 showed that 90.8 percent showed interest in taking a part-time job if the right opportunity came along.

But teens on the job hunt would be wise to know their rights before taking up employment, the ministry said.

“The report identified that in many workplaces, labor standards were not observed, including minimum wage and respecting working hours for teens,” a ministry spokesperson said.

Air Conditioning and blackouts

July 7, 2010

The Joongnang Ilbo reports that blackouts are possible this summer due to air conditioner use or overuse.

If reserves fall below the 4 million kilowatt level, the government has the right to demand power cuts and control electricity usage.

Of course, the threat of power cuts has been raised in previous summers, and in some winters, but they’ve always been avoided.

One method was through conservation measures, and the ministry is planning to restrict the use of air-conditioning starting next month during the peak hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. for buildings that consume more than 2,000 ton-oil-equivalents (or TOEs) of energy.

The government will advise buildings to turn off the air-conditioners for 10 minutes every hour.

Regular readers (well, of Gangwon Notes, I guess I haven’t discussed it on this blog, yet.  Okay, look here, if you are interested) will know my solution:  close the freaking door to the rooms and buildings you are heating or cooling!  I admit this is only a partial solution, but it is an easy first step and one so unfathomably overlooked.  Do Korean moms not tell their kids they don’t want to heat (or cool) all of Muskoka (or, you know, wherever)?

Other solutions, also from the Jungang, include cooling to only 25 or 26 degrees, rather than the so-very-wonderful 20 degrees.

I do love cool air in the summer and recently started introducing the idea of air conditioning to the wife, hoping she would subliminally absorb it and even suggest it to me.  Then, I would be able to appear surprised and reluctantly agree.  I am getting by without AC but I shudder at what our water and water heating bill will look like.  Let’s see, a shower before bed, one in the morning, and one after some exercise.  Indeed, sometimes I exercise on my bike, finish at the pool -and have a shower- then ride home and feel sweaty enough to have another shower!

Anyway, let’s see what other problems AC is connected to.

From the American Lion:

Having spent the last few years in Central Maryland, the heat there is stifling and the air conditioning pervasive. The humidity was always a nightmare for me because I tend to sweat profusely whenever the temperature hits 80 degrees or more. We spent thousands of dollars each year keeping the house cool.

Compare that with Germany. The home where we live now has no air conditioning. No one has it. No one needs it. And we regularly hit 80 degrees in the summer. The weather and climate here are much cooler, granted, but even when there is warm weather, one opens up the house and uses a few fans to cool the house. We have skylights and large windows that can be tilted open or left open to let cool air in and hot air out through the roof.

This may not be scientific, but when we last lived in Maryland, our sinus issues, family-wide, were legendary. We were accused of being manufacturers of methamphetamine–that’s how much Sudafed we were using.

After a few months abroad, all of our issues are cleared up. Everyone feels better. Everyone sleeps better and there are no issues. We are inundated with fresh air and cool breezes and we spend a great deal more time outdoors. And don’t forget the walking. The walking keeps us fit and trim.

I don’t get the connection between AC and walking.  I think that is a Moving-to-Germany thing and not directly connected to the main point.  On the other hand, the connection to breathing problems also appears in this Salon article reviewing “Losing our Cool”, a book by Stan Cox:

In the last half century, air conditioning has joined fireworks, swimming pools and charred hamburgers as a ubiquitous ingredient of an American summer. It’s no exaggeration to say it has changed the way this country functions, shaping everything from where we’re willing to live (Las Vegas, anyone?) to the amount of sex we have (more: It’s never too hot to get it on when the A.C. is blasting). Nine out of 10 new homes in this country are built with central air conditioning, and Americans now use as much electricity to power our A.C. as the entire continent of Africa uses for, well, everything. It has so thoroughly scrambled our way of life that when the National Academy of Engineering chose its 20 greatest engineering accomplishments of the last century, A.C. not only made the list, it clocked in ahead of spacecraft, highways and even the Internet.

Yes, AC did make the list, but only as part of refrigeration technology.  Cooling ourselves is merely a luxury, cooling and freezing food is a little more then that.

…Air conditioning is one of those technologies that are very good at generating more demand for themselves. The most obvious way that it’s doing that now is in adding to greenhouse emissions, which will mean even hotter summers in the future and even greater demand for air conditioning….

…Plus, one thing that all commuters are familiar with is that it’s necessary now on city streets and freeways to run the air conditioning in even slightly warm weather to be able to keep the windows rolled up against the exhaust from other cars….

I think that would be true, with or without air conditioning.  Twenty years ago, many friends set their fans to re-circulate to avoid the products of incomplete combustion from still-cold engines.  I have to admit, I love the air conditioning in my car and that is at least partially because I can more easily hear the podcasts and music I listen to while driving.  Also, Busan can be a smelly place.

…If you look at how we use our air conditioning, it’s shocking. Take a 3,000-square-foot house on a summer day — only about 3 percent of the cooling power from the central air conditioning is going for people cooling. That is to say, 3 percent is being used to help remove heat from people’s bodies. The other 97 percent is going to cool the structure of the house, all the tens of thousands of cubic feet of air that aren’t even coming in contact with these people. …

On how to keep cool without air conditioning: …But they told me it’s actually pretty much just the old-fashioned advice that people used to follow. They will close windows to keep the cool air in and only open them when they need to. In the evening they have a house fan to draw the cooler air back in, but a lot of the time they don’t even use that. The day I visited them it was the second-hottest day of 2009. They go through a lot of ice water….

(Question from Salon) There have been some positive health consequences from air conditioning — making it safer for people during heat waves, for instance. How do you reconcile this with wanting to ratchet down our A.C. use?

Yeah, it does have a Jekyll-and-Hyde character in that respect. But I think we need to look at it is as a fail-safe mechanism and recognize that a lot of the health problems that we need A.C. to solve, it may have contributed to in the first place. We need to look at the conditions under which people die in heat waves, the harsh life conditions that they’re enduring more generally. That’s the real root of the problem.

Also, a lot of people run air conditioning because they’re concerned about their allergies or asthma, but we need to consider the hypotheses that say that the current epidemic of those conditions is partly caused by lack of outdoor exposure to soil and friendly organisms. Maybe if children were out in the yard making mud pies instead of in a cool, sterile environment all day long, they might have a lot more defense against those problems.

My mother felt the same way and she was also concerned that, in cooling the air, AC also dried it, irritating nose and throat linings and such.  I had always assumed she simply wanted to save money and was telling us stories.  Sorry, mom.

There is a lot more to the Salon article.  Oh, What the Book can order Losing Our Cool ( And is moving.  The new store looks to be on the main street in Itaewon; I guess they are doing well.  Congratulations to them).

Back to AC and Electricity consumption.  This is a big problem, especially since “[e]lectricity is a mystery…We cannot even say where electricity comes from.  Some scientists think that the sun may be the source of most electricity…”

comic from cartoonstock.


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