Archive for September, 2010

Want to know about religion? Ask me

September 29, 2010

Via blogs and news reports too numerous to link to them all (here is the New York Times on the subject), The Pew Forum ran a survey entitled, “How much do you know about religion?”

The result was that atheists and agnostics knew the most about religion.

As for me, according the New York Times quiz – six of the original 32 questions – I did great 6/6.

According to the quiz the Pew Forum– 15 of the original 32 questions-I scored better than 97% of the public. To brag even more, here is the screen shot.


The East Sea will get very salty

September 28, 2010

Or so claims the Donga Ilbo.

In an article titled “East Sea to Turn Into ‘Dead Sea’ in 100 Years: Report“, the writer seems to have mixed up “Dead Sea” with “The Dead Sea”.

From the article:

Japanese researchers say the East Sea will turn into an oxygen-less body of water like the Dead Sea in 100 years, the Japanese daily Mainichi Shimbun said Tuesday.

“The Dead Sea”, of course, is in the Middle East and has a huge salt content that is lethal for any fish that wanders down the river into the Sea.  More here.

I found the wording funny, but the threat seems plausible – that is, that the East Sea will become anoxic and unable to support sea life.

Water on the sea surface, which cools off in winter, circulates and conveys oxygen to the deep sea, and surface water will not adequately cool off due to global warming, the study said. This in turn will block the seamless circulation of water.

It’s his honesty I’m concerned about.

September 27, 2010

A fellow Canuck, a Mr. Kokoski, has written an opinion piece in the Korea Times about Pope Ratzinger’s visit to the UK.  He has many kind words for the Pope and all of them may well be true.  However, we can find good points for most people.  The way the Pope is unwilling to take responsibility for obstructing justice for children molested by RC clergy is enough of a negative to make all Kokoski’s  points irrelevant.

However, even if I wish to stick to the Pope’s UK visit, there is plenty for room for concern.  The Pope may be, “…a man rich in spiritual passion, humility, self-denial and love for the cause of God and of man. ” but still be a liar.

Immediately upon landing in the UK, Pope Ratzinger praised Britain’s efforts to fight the Nazi’s and their atheistic ways.  This is strange for a man who once belonged to a Hitler’s youth group, and considering that a previous Pope had quickly signed a treaty with the Nazis in the 1930s.

The Roman Catholics weren’t precisely proponents or defenders of Nazi claims and goals, but they clearly weren’t opponents either.

Further, Hitler himself used remarkably religious imagery and quotes for an atheist:

“The anti-Semitism of the new movement (Christian Social movement) was based on religious ideas instead of racial knowledge.”

[Adolf Hitler, “Mein Kampf”, Vol. 1, Chapter 3]

“I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews I am fighting for the Lord’s work.”

[Adolph Hitler, Speech, Reichstag, 1936]

Quotes taken from here, where many more can be found.

Mr Kokoski started his opinion piece with, “The press should have paid more [attention] to the pope’s message…” and I fully agree with him. The press should take a closer look at the Pope’s message, particularly on his personal activities during WW11 and on shielding pedophiliac priests.  I suspect the press will take a dimmer view than Mr Kokoski would hope. Added later:  A commenter called me on this subject – and others – and I have to agree with him.  Ratzinger was a member of the Hitler Youth, but that was mandatory and he was apparently considered an “unenthusiastic member”.  I defended myself with rude vigour immediately upon reading the comment, but now that I have thought about it, the commenter was correct on this score.  I still think the Roman Catholic Church showed undue respect to Nazi Germany but Ratzinger, at 14, cannot be blamed for that.

rural rooftop solar energy collectors

September 23, 2010

My understanding is that the warmth of the building extends the growing season somewhat for these squashes.

My presentation at the Local Kotesol Meeting

September 18, 2010

Yesterday, I discussed ‘Creativity in the classroom’ at the Busan-Kyeongnam branch of KOTESOL.  My talk went for about a hundred minutes and I am mostly satisfied with it.

I posted about the upcoming meeting a week or so beforehand and mentioned that I was nervous about it.  I can say now that I was indeed nervous, very nervous, for the first few minutes of my talk.  Teaching students now seems comfortable.  Speaking before my peers remains, well, less comfortable.

In my talk, I described how teachers could encourage creativity and even teach how to be creative, but to be careful because sometimes you don’t want creativity in a specific lesson.

The last point first; When it comes to memorizing multiplication tables, there is little room for creative thinking for the student.  In a more scholarly vein, according to Bloom’s Taxonomy of education, one first builds knowledge and comprehension, then works towards using that knowledge creatively.  Beginners are not ready to be creative in most fields.

In how to teach creativity, I discussed a few exercises designed to ‘force connections’.  Creative thinking can be defined as deliberately focusing and loosening your concentration.   You think specifically about your problem – perhaps how to flood-proof your house.  Then you think generally about houses.  Hey, a turtle carries it’s house.  A mobile house might be flood-proof.

To encourage creativity, I referred to Drive, By Daniel Pink.  It’s an interesting read about motivation.

I am not sure if these slides will be all that useful without the one-hour-plus of narration that accompanied them, but have a look, if you like.

Hmm.  I can’t embed the Google Doc.  Alright, time to give up a little more privacy.  Here is a link to creativitiproject.  Someone else had already taken the name with ‘creativity’ spelled right.  The linked blog feels a little rougher than this one as I wrote it mostly for myself and left links that I could check up on later and such. Still, it includes just about everything discussed in the presentation and has the slides.

Here’s another target for Dokdoisours.

September 14, 2010

Satirical blog Dokdoisours has had a lot of fun with the Korea Times.  The Times’ is infamous for it’s poor editing .

The Korea Herald is a little more professional but is trying a new advertising technique.  Oh, I wrote new, but I first noticed it a month ago or so.  They hyperlink more or less random words in their articles.  Let’s see if the links are visible -broken or not- after I paste:

Ubiquitous access to my email account has cut down a lot of unnecessary time spent looking for the Internet, and it also helps me take care of necessary business more promptly,” Lee said.

This is why the government also is pushing for the so-called “smarter way of working,” he pointed out.

Lee added that the developments were not just happening with phones, but also televisions and computers.

South Korea hopes to commercialize smart TVs by 2012 so that television viewers may have instant access to the Internet while they watch their favorite programs.

From Is it time to get phone smart?  None of these links are for translation or further information related to the article.  Further, in accidentally dragging the mouse over a link, I get a little box obscuring part of the text.  The box has an ‘x’ and will fade after a few seconds but is really annoying.

I am not sure which is worse, the money grubbing links in the Korea Herald or the lack of professionalism at the Korea Times.

Sept 10: World Suicide Prevention Day

September 9, 2010

I am not sure what value having a ‘day’ is, but suicide is a big problem in Korea, with one suicide occurring every 34 minutes (as tweeted by James – did that link work?  I haven’t linked to a tweet before).

For more information on the day or warning signs or the like, visit Dr Deb.


Hmm, this post is nearly short enough to go on Twitter.

Saturday the 18th. Now I’m nervous.

September 6, 2010

I wrote at the beginning of the semester that I was concerned that I wasn’t nervous enough.  Now I am:

And there goes any anonymity I might have had.  The Busan Gyeongnam branch of KOTESOL can be found here and you can register now for the international conference held October 16-17 in Seoul elsewhere on the site.


Do the Italians compare to Ajummas?

September 4, 2010

In a study comparing (French) Canadian, Italian and French parents, the Italians were found to be the most strict (Medical New Today, via Yahoo News):

Of all three countries, Italian mothers and fathers are perceived as using the most constraining practices,” says first author Michel Claes, a University of Montreal psychology professor. “Italian parents are seen as more demanding in rules and authorizations. They take more punitive actions when rules are broken and are less tolerant of peer socialization. They uphold family regulations and require their adolescents to ask for authorizations until a much later age.”

However, the Italian and the French parents grouped quite closely with Canadian parents being unusually lenient.

I have to say I am the soft touch in our family.  Don’t break one of my wife’s rules!

Hand out lecture notes before class: Research Digest blog

September 2, 2010

The Research Digest Blog (Since 2005, bringing you reports on the latest psychology research) offers 9 Evidence-based study tips.

Few of the tips are surprising – having good sleeping habits is not particularly controversial – and a few are attitudinal – “Adopt a growth mindset” and “Believe in yourself” – but one caught my eye as it was for educators rather than students:

Get handouts prior to the lecture. Students given Powerpoint slide handouts before a lecture made fewer notes but performed the same or better in a later test of the lecture material than students who weren’t given the handouts until the lecture was over.

I suspect that, having seen the direction of the lecture, the students knew what was important (to the instructor, at least) and what wasn’t.

When I use google Presentation slides for my classes – I try to do so often, but only a few classes have functioning computers and projectors – I usually post them to the class blog or on edu 2.0, but that is after the class.  I guess I will now post them a few days before class when I can.