Korean and Guest English Teachers Working Together Webcast

ELT Live:  Korean and Guest English Teachers Working Together
September 5, 2013

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Korean Public School teachers and  Guest English Teachers discuss cultural issues, teaching tips, and basic survival skills for surviving and thriving in school. 

The Revolution will be Humanized: The Glass Age Approaches

The Revolution will be Humanized: The Glass Age Approaches

May 27, 2013

Alexander Hayes's profile photoSteve Mann's profile photoJeff Lebow's profile photodave cormier's profile photoVance Stevens's profile photoMaria Droujkova's profile photoRob Perhamus's profile photoMattias Davidsson's profile photoMichael Coghlan's profile photo
Particpants; Alexander Hayes, Steve Mann, Jeff Lebow, Dave Cormier, Vance Stevens, Maria Droujkova, Rob Permanus, Mattias Davidsson, Michael Coughlin

Google Glass provides us all with a reason to question what it will mean to be interacting with our peers, family and loved ones through the fashion filter of a networked and location aware device. Body worn technologies such as Memoto and Autographer also join the list of data logging devices that we use to monitor and transmit data from our daily activities, either for health awareness, entertainment or myriad of other reasons.We discuss the benefits, risks and perhaps harm that may arise with the rollout of second generation intelligent (smart) wearable technologies in our society. 


The USS Nimitz in our front yard and more Views from My Window

Our 41st floor apartment overlooks the Korean Navy's Busan Fleet Headquarters.  As such, we get some great views of all sorts of ships, including U.S. aircraft carriers when they visit.  While I'm no fan of  bloated military spending, these are impressive machines. 

News Story: http://asitimes.blogspot.kr/2013/05/photos-uss-nimitz-arrives-in-busan-to.html

USS Nimitiz Info: http://www.nimitz.navy.mil/    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Nimitz_(CVN-68)


More Views from My Window

Am I concerned about North Korea?


I've lived in South Korea since 1995. I'm used to family and friends outside of Korea asking about the dangers of living here, especially whenever the current leader of the Crazy Kim Clan issues some ridiculous Dr. Evil-sounding threat. This latest 'next generation' round of bluster from Kim Jeong Eun* seems to have resulted in an all-time high of concern/fear from outside of Korea. Even some of the expats here seem worried as evidenced by 45% of people responding that they were "Very concerned and thinking of leaving" in a recent Koreabridge poll.  I suspect many of them are relative newcomers to the peninsula. Most of the oldtimers I've spoken with seem more concerned about calming family members than planning evacuation routes. 

Why the heightened level of concern?  Well, the young dictator does seem to be trying to impress the world with his ability to amp up the family tradition of nutty apocalyptic rhetoric.  He's also has taken several overtly provocative actions, even if some of them were photoshopped.  Another major reason for the level of concern is that apparently the global media needs to make every 'breaking news alert' feel as urgent and scary as possible.  Rather than talk about the complexity of issues or the the long history of North Korean rhetoric followed by no major action, it's better for ratings to show dire looking military exercises and focus on worst case scenarios. Most of us who have been here a while, feel much like Andrei Lankov when asked how seriously the latest NK threats should be taken. 

"Frankly, not too seriously and I would say that it would probably be better if the world paid no attention whatsoever to all these threats. North Koreans are not going to attack. And we have seen very similar, not exactly the same, but very similar developments, many, many times before."

Actually, I think this could turn out to be the storm before the calm.  It seems to me that once he's proven his toughness domestically, he will be better able to step up bridge-building with South Korea and the international community.  Even though the Kaesong joint economic zone was recently closed by the North, I suspect it will be reopened soon. Also, amidst all the recent verbal aggression, Kim Jeong Eun just appointed a premier who is considered an economic reformer. In fact, he was once considered so 'radical' that he was fired from the position in 2007 be Kim's father.  Dennis Rodman jokes aside, I really do think this young 'Supreme Leader' would love nothing more than be seen shaking hands with international leaders and now he's recreated all sorts of concessions North Korea can make all over again - OK, we'll re-open Kaesong, we won't restart the nuke plant, we'll accept the armistice again, and we'll stop threatening to engulf you all in a "sea of fire".  
I would not be surprised to see major diplomatic progress happening with North Korea during the next year or two.  Here on the peninsula, I think the biggest long-term threat from the North comes not from their bombs or photoshopped amphibious ships, but from economic implosion.  I'm not sure how they can recover from decades of having such a closed, decrepit economy while still managing to maintain an authoritarian regime.  Easing international tensions would help and they can certainly learn a few lessons from the Chinese who have managed to do quite well economically while maintaining  pretty tight political control.  The chances of that going smoothly are slim, and the fallout of economic and/or political collapse would be very messy.  Still, I think that's a much more likely problem we'll be facing than North Korean nukes falling anywhere.  

Ultimately, I'm a believer in self-interest, and while domestic political squabbles around the world sometimes seem to get in the way of national interest (e.g. Italian elections and U.S. sequesters), I can't think of many historical examples where nations entered into major military conflict knowing that the outcome would be suicidal. 

So, a genuine thanks to all for the concern, but please don't be worried. If you can, listen to NPR instead of CNN or Fox, and please try to make sure the U.S. Congress passes some sane gun laws. I'm tired of people here asking me about how scary it must be in America with the  constant threat of getting shot. When it comes to being killed by something that goes BANG!, that's 7500% more likely to happen in the U.S. than in South Korea.  

In any event, below are some links that provide what I consider to be fairly reasonable takes on what's really happening on the peninsula.

* First a quick note to all the newscasters out there. Dr. Evil Jr's name is pronounced Jeong  Eun (most similar to the vowel in wood,  not moon or fun).  While I'm being a pronunciation nag, the viral hit is called Gang (like Gone+g) Nam (like Vietnam, rhymes with 'mom') Style, not Gang 'em (like gang up on them). 

Most Entertaining Synopsis
    first 9 minutes of the April 2nd
Daily Show

Factoid to put things in perspective
2013 Deaths by things that go Bang! 
      South Korea: 5   U.S.A.: 2689
TRACY BOWDEN: South Korea and the US though have warned of a strong military response to provocation. Is there a chance this could escalate?

ANDREI LANKOV: Well, first of all, there is very little chance of provocation. The experience has shown us when North Koreans are threatening this attack, they never attack. When they attack, they attack suddenly without any warning. So, basically, I don't expect any provocation.

TRACY BOWDEN: Is there in any danger that Kim Jong-un has talked the talk and ultimately may have to walk to walk?

ANDREI LANKOV: Why? Is he stupid? Is he suicidal? Is he zealot? Does he believe in any ideology? Does he want to destroy the world in the name of God or whoever? Of course not. He loves his life. He loves his wife. He loves his cars and his toys. He's not going to start a war; he has no chances to win.

Remembering Dad - 10 Years Later


It was 10 years ago, around this time of night, that 'the call' came from my sister letting me know our dad had died. He's still so easy to remember, but 10 years is a long time. I always say that I remember my dad with a smile (and I do), but the loss never goes away. I think of the things we never got to share - Skype, YouTube, NH's old man in the mountain crumbling, the Red Sox winning the Series, Zak driving, $1900/oz gold, Obama, our view from 41st floor - countless moments, personal and communal, that I would have loved to hear his enthusiastic take on. 

Dad, you live on in me (and all of us who knew you plus some who didn't) in lots of fun ways. Aside from hearing you in my own voice more and more, your five-letter word game has been a hit during class 'play days' for years and I've begun sharing some of your sayings as well. Benjie had been writing quite a bit during his last few years and (aside from odes to unicycles) this included maintaining a list of 'Lebow Sayings' - things he heard and/or made up that rang true with him for a variety of reasons. Some of them are pure LOL Benjie, some kinda profound. 

So, 10 years on, here are my 10 Faves...

Miss you Dad. 
33. If you want to have a happy life, have happy days.
9. If you don't want a speeding ticket, don't speed. (still makes me lol)
46. Not much is ever accomplished without enthusiastic dedication.
14. If you aren't going to do something about it, then stop complaining. 
17. Just because you heard it, doesn't mean you understand it.
19. Let your actions do your bragging and not your mouth.
10. If you hate your job, get another one you like. If you still hate your job, start your own business.
28. Don't buy it unless you love it. (suspect that one was inspired by the shoppers in the family)
32. If you want to save on long distance calls, don't talk so long. (before the days of skype and nationwide minutes)
35. A lifetime is a long time looking ahead and a very short time looking back.

The Camera that Changed My Life


Casio QV100A bit of personal site building history here.  Six months ago, Pusanweb was getting less than 10 visitors a day and the internet cafe it was originally designed to promote was in terminal condition.  I planned to abandon the site and started to think about finishing my contract and finally getting around to my long delayed learning excursion to Guatemala. Then, I visited my folks in NH and gave them a Casio QV100 to celebrate the renewal of their vows.  As I got to know that camera, I knew I would have to have one of my own.  
(2013 Note: That QV100 was cutting edge - capable of taking 320x240 pixel photos)

    I returned to Pusan on a steamy August day. Those of you familiar with the scene here know that there is always a lot of coming & going that time of year.  That particular night we were bidding farewell to one of Pusan's most colorful residents, Nick.  Out came the camera and the era of being known as "the guy with the camera"  began.  

     The response from people (mostly partiers and their parents) was enough to re-energize my sense of potential for this site and to awaken me to the amazing possibilities of combining the latest multimedia recording technologies with all this internetting going on.  An old school project, Worldbridges, returned to life in the form of an internet based multimedia broadcasting network dedicated to exploring cultural diversity.  So, six months after planning to abandon the world of website creation, I now plan to  make it my life's work (at least for the foreseeable future) and  I don't think this would have happened without the camera. Once again plans for Guatemala have been delayed but I'll get there eventually and when I do, you'll probably see it posted somewhere on the Net. 

    Since that night at Nick's, I've taken over 3,000 pictures.  A lot of them have been too dark, or too blurry, or just not that interesting, but some of them I've grown quite fond of.  Here are my favorites - some for the sake of aesthetics, others for the sake of remembering the moment. Lots of others are in the Pusanweb Photo Section.  Thanks to all those who have participated in creating and sharing these moments.

My Very Favorites 

 Other Favorites
1108009.jpgCame out of the health club one day and these adjumas were banging away on some drums and dancing wildly. I was later told that this was a traditional Korean exorcism.   piff055.jpgA clown overwhelmed with reaction to his own creations.  Hmmm, that has a familiar ring to it. Taken at Pusan's premiere event of '97, PIFF.
1010009.jpgKwangju & Yoon Hee are the English Dept. secretaries at Sungsim, where I work.  They have a been a great help in many ways.  This was taken in back of a bus on our way to visit Dave, an injured coworker.   978041.jpgJust a perfect Ron and Liane picture. I wouldn't be where I am without Ron's camaraderie in dweebness or Liane's social helmsmanship.
xmas010.jpgChristmas '97 
I'm not exactly a churchgoer, but the energy and warmth of this service truly filled me with the Spirit of Christmas.
  906053.jpgAlthough Mondo Pepper has faded from the scene lately, they provided some of 97's best music, fun, and photo ops.
927023.jpgWhat a mix - Dried squid (the movie munchie of preference here), the Golden Arches, and a fallen soju soldier.   103154.jpgGranted, this was a posed photo, but it captures a victorious moment of connection with this student after a somewhat depressing midterm conference.
1297251.jpgLooking at life through a soju glass - part of the Pusan experience.   1297386.jpgThe beer cases of Happy Marts have probably heard a lot of interesting conversations.
919027.jpgNever pour your own. Receive and pour with your right hand, two hands if you're younger.   qvlin022.jpgVinnie is going to be a star.  I think the Expatriate is going to do pretty well for itself too.

Ritualized Demonstrations are part of the social fabric here.  
I don't pretend to understand all of the dynamics involved, but 
they make for some very interesting  photos.

ThesBest of the Rest

1108178.jpg 1297201.jpg 906076.jpg
qvlin017.jpg stroll.jpg sung034.jpg sung012.jpg
927034.jpg 912043.jpg piff085.jpg 919016.jpg
927052.jpg 927047.jpg tnxmas018.jpg ahrin028.jpg
piff2022.jpg hllwn044.jpg india054.jpg
mondo080.jpg india096.jpg india101.jpg mondo070.jpg
piff2081.jpg ahrin094.jpg nickj039.jpg sungs084.jpg


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