Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Boys II Men

I have tickets to see them perform a week from now. I've been wanting to see them live for years now. Funny how I come to Korea and catch them here.

They are performing with Big Momma here in Seoul. I'll write more after I see it.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


As you may (or may not have) noticed, my blogging action has been at a minimum of late. No, I have not given up writing, but instead have moved to higher ground.

The past fews days have been filled with the normal day's duties plus an added little quirk, WE"VE MOVED! That's right, the day has finally arrived and myself and the Moonie are on our way.

*dances around singing "The Jefferson's" Movin' on up!

I'll write more when we're settled but until then, I leave you with this promo pic for our place.


Sunday, October 16, 2005

Hegemony or Survival

Noam Chomsky. Now there is a name that garners respect. I've found that whenever I say the phrase "I'm reading Chomsky" I automatically get respectful nods. I suspect it's less because those I'm talking to have read his works but rather because he has one of "those" names. He has a Russian name, and for some reason if you ever say you are reading anything by a Russian (sounding) author you get the respectful nod.

I've made attempts at reading his works before and could never seem to get through them. He is a prof. at MIT in Linguistics and Philosophy but (for those who do not know) often writes/talks about "the state of the nation" and other such exciting topics.

truth be told, I have never been a fan of his. NOT, because of his thoughts on subjects but more because his books are ridiculously hard to get through. I KNOW he is a linguist and I KNOW that he knows what he is doing when it comes to writing "correctly" but come on... If you are going to write about a topic that people that are not linguists have an interest in, please try to write so that average reader has a chance of understanding you. I liken him to Shakespeare. You may understand the words, and occasionally you may even understand the meaning, but if you really want to get it all, it is best to spend hours surrounding yourself with it.

Hegemony or Survival deals with US foreign policy in this century and asks the question (basically) when is it too much? When, if ever, is it possible for the US to overstep it's bounds.

I enjoyed the parts that dealt with S. America, Cuba, and Iraq, but I wish he would have organized the chapters into clearer categories. His sentences are thick with quotes and he often brandishes odd-ball "titles" on those he thinks are villains. Consequently diminishing his arguments against terms like "terrorist". I enjoyed the book but would not recommend it to the average reader.

Enemy Territory
Those who want to face their responsibilities with a genuine commitment to democracy and freedom -- even to decent survival -- should recognize the barriers that stand in the way. In violent states these are not concealed. In more democratic societies barriers are more subtle. While methods differ sharply from more brutal to more free societies, the goals are in many ways similar: to ensure that the "great beast," as Alexander Hamilton called the people, does not stray from its proper confines.

Controlling the general population has always been a dominant concern of power and privilege, particularly since the first modern democratic revolution in seventeenth-century England. The self-described "men of best quality" were appalled as a "giddy multitude of beasts in men's shapes" rejected the basic framework of the civil conflict raging in England between king and Parliament, and called for government" by countrymen like ourselves, that know our wants," not by "knights and gentlemen that make us laws, that are chosen for fear and do but oppress us, and do not know the people's sores." The men of best quality recognized that if the people are so "depraved and corrupt" as to "confer places of power and trust upon wicked and undeserving men, they forfeit their power in this behalf unto those that are good, though but a few." Almost three centuries later, Wilsonian idealism, as it is standardly termed, adopted a rather similar stance. Abroad, it is Washington's responsibility to ensure that government is in the hands of "the good, though but a few." At home, it is necessary to safeguard a system of elite decision-making and public ratification -- "polyarchy," in the terminology of political science -- not democracy.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Kang Chol-hwan (Aquariums of Pyongyang)

Well this evening was an exciting one. I went to the Seoul club to listen to, and hopefully meet the author of one of my favorite books on North Korea. Kang Chol-hwan was giving a talk at the joint invitation of the Democrats and Republicans abroad.

Before tonight though, I re-read his book. It had been a few years since I last looked at it (actually I had to go and actually buy a copy) and I felt I had better brush up. The book itself is a facinating glimpse of life in a North Korean labour camp and of Kang's life and death struggles to survive in the tyranical DPRK regime.

"The sweatbox is one of the harshest punishments imaginable, and since it could be used as retribution for the most trifling of offenses - offenses that would seem downright ridiculous on the outside - it was perpetually dangled over our heads. I exagerate when I say "our heads": it wasn't used on kids. But when a relative was sent to the sweatbox the whole family was scared, not knowing whether the loved one would make it out alive. Stealing three ears of corn, responding to a guard's command with insufficient zeal, missing a role call, even if the absence clearly had no wrongful intent - any of these was reason enough for being sent to the sweatbox. Yet all were "faults" that anyone could commit - and often had to commit - to survive."

Kang made mention during the talks that "one of the biggest pillars supporting the regime were the labour camps" and that "South Korean students are facinated by an illusion... (where as this) sentiment is affecting the DPRK and extending it's tyranny."

I took a number of notes but I do not have the time to put them down here tonight. Basically, he held a lot of my views on aid to the North, that it should be monitored and measured against a backdrop of concessions from both sides. He seemed like a level headed guy and impressed me as a survivor. I wish him the best and hope that his nightmares are behind him.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


If you are wondering how I am downloading all these cool movies you can download the Bitcomet program here and then search for movies/files here.

It is really just that easy.

(thanks go to my favorite idiot )

Bumping this for some friends.

Monday, October 03, 2005


A good friend of mine Al recommended I read about book he had read on persuasion. I must admit I was less than a little enthusiastic. I had read too many self-help books over the years and I have never been a fan of pop-psychology.

Anyway, I decided to take Al's advice and get the book INFLUENCE. He told me the authors name and the title but when I went to the book stor they did not have exactly what he had described. Instead, I bought something similar and as it turns out that might just have been in my favor.

From what I understand, the top photo is of his "pop=psychology/ easy reading" book. While the second phot is slightly more accademic (with foot notes and all!!). I'm not sure if I would have liked the pop version but the second one (minus the lame introduction) was really good. So good in fact that I am thinking of incorporating it into some of my lesson plans. Shhh, don't tell the author though ok.

Here is an excerpt:


"This parallel form of human automaticity is aptly demonstrated in an experiment by social psychologist Ellen Langer and her co-workers (Langer, Blank, & Chanowitz, 1978). A well-known principle of human behavior says that when we ask someone to do us a favor we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do. Langer demonstrated this unsurprising fact by asking a small favor or people waiting in line to use a library copying machine: "Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I'm in a rush?" The effectiveness of this request plus-reasons was nearly total: 94 percent of those asked let her skip ahead of them in line. Compare this success rate to the results when she make the request only: "Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine?" Under those circumstances only 60 percent of those asked complied. At first glance, it appears that the crucial difference between the two request was the additional information provided by the words because I'm in a rush. However, a third type of request tried by Langer showed that this was not the case. It seems that it was not the whole series of words, but the first one, because, that made the different. Instead of including a real reason for compliance, Langer's third type of request used the word because and then, adding nothing new, merely restate the obvious: "Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine because I have to make some copies?" The result was that once again nearly all (93 percent) agree, even though no real reason, no new information was added to justify their compliance."