I'm reading a book by Oh Ju-seok about Korean Choson Dynasty painting. It's translated into English, of course.
There's a chapter dedicated to a painting called 송하맹호도 (which is translated as Tiger underneath a pine tree, but I have no idea how the title translates more perfectly). It's by an 18th century artist called Kim Hong-do (김홍도 / 金弘道 [1745∼1806?]). I like the painting and can see why the author talks about it a lot. A close-up of the tiger's face is the cover of the edition of the book that I have:
I'm not sure that Roberts' siding with the constitutionality of ACA is a good thing. First and foremost, because I'm not sure there's much that's progressive about the ACA – it's always struck me as being so compromised with the insurance industry and the status quo that it wasn't likely to really offer much genuine reform. All Roberts has shown is that he will take the side of corporations – which we already knew from e.g. Citizens United. And as many commentators have already pointed out, he nevertheless managed to reject that the ACA was valid due to the Commerce Clause in the Constitution, calling the mandate fines a tax instead. As a result, he's provided ammunation to the Republicans who can attack Obama as "tax-and-spend" – thus doing Obama no favors while nevertheless avoiding besmirching the court's allegedly non-partisan reputation. He gets the best of both worlds, and plants the seeds for further erosion of the Commerce Clause.
One blog, Stop Me Before I Vote Again, had what I found to be a bitter, cynical, but largely accurate summary of what's going on with this. And one commentor on that blog post, going by the name "Picador," had a thought that I feel is worth quoting:
Roberts has actually done us a favour here: he's pulled back the curtain a bit on the whole "government of enumerated powers" illusion. His decision is perfectly in line with legal precedent: after all, the government essentially already has an individual mandate for every citizen to buy a predator drone or a cluster bomb from a defence contractor (stored and maintained by the CIA and US Army, of course), so why not health insurance too? Once the power to tax is unrestricted, do you really even need the commerce clause anymore?
Indeed. Via our taxes, we've been mandated to support a vast, planetary-scale war-machine for decades. How is mandating that people buy healthcare coverage that different?
On a lighter note, the humor/meme site, Buzzfeed, has a posting of people who have – no kidding – announced via Twitter that they're moving to Canada due to their disgust with the creeping socialism in the U.S. This is hilarious.
Kids know more than we sometimes give them credit for. Exhibit A:
My student presented me with a spontaneously created drawing today. She said it was her 원어민 (won-eo-min = native-speaking [English] teacher, i.e. a foreigner) at her public school – his name is George.
Look at what he's drinking. The green bottles say 소주 (soju, i.e. Korean vodka). He's saying "에헤라디야" [e-he-ra-di-ya] which is a sort of interjection that means something like "Oh, yeah!" as in "I'm very happy."
A fourth-grader either knows these things about her foreign teacher because they're obvious, or because he's told his students about them directly. I'm not sure that's really very professional, either way. I think this revealing little moment points up some of the big issues with Korean EFL education – i.e. the lack of professionalism in so many of the teachers that come over here to work. I don't blame the foreigners – it's a lack of quality control.
Just don't ever forget – kids know: they see through you.
I confirmed the dates of my vacation yesterday, and made my airline ticket purchase this morning. I'm coming to North America for about 11 days, July 28 to August 10. Minimally, I will be visiting Minneapolis and Los Angeles – other destinations to be determined.
It will have been more than two and a half years since being in the U.S. I anticipate major reverse-culture-shock.
In a side note – why are Korean websites so difficult to navigate – even the English versions (or especially the English versions?)
I ran across a quote from Dave Packard, one of the co-founders of Hewlitt-Packard fame, and thus one of the original "creators" of Silicon Valley. It seemed very relevant to the Karma-devouring-ex-LBridge scenario currently playing out at my place of work.
Here's the quote:
"More companies die of indigestion than starvation."
Karma hagwon is definitely up against a major digestive challenge, in trying to absorb a bigger prey and maintain its identity. But in the current hagwon market, organic growth is almost impossible – so I understand the thinking: it's growth-through-acquistion.
Well, anyway. I passed the quote on to my boss in a good-natured way. He could have taken it badly, but he didn't. We had a good conversation about it. That's why he's the best boss I've had since coming to Korea.
What I'm listening to right now.
Molotov, "Hit Me." The Mexican sexenio election is approaching. I predict the PRI candidate, Peña Nieto, will win.
Molotov – Hit me
Cuando era chico quería ser como superman pero ahora ya quiero ser un diputado del PAN o del PRI o del PRD o cualquier cosa que tenga un poco de poder quiero convertirme en músico político y construirle un piso al periferico quiero acabar con el tráfico tengo que entrar en la historia de México y luego miro al pecero que va medio pedo jugando carreras con los pasajeros pero el tiene que pasar primero sin luces sin frenos junto al patrullero aunque no sepa leer no sepa hablar el es el que te brinda la seguridad asi lo tienes que respetar porque el representa nuestra autoridad
(Coro) So you think you gonna hit me but now We gonna hit you back
Te metera en el bolsillo una sustancia ilegal y te va a consignar al poder judicial y ahí seguro que te ira muy mal porque te haran cocowash con agua mineral porque en ti creiamos todos los mexicanos te dimos trabajo pagado y honrado te dimos un arma para cuidarnos y el arma que usas la usas para robarnos y aunque quieras quejarte con papa gobierno les pides ayuda y te mandan al infierno porque tendremos que tirar buen pedo solo te van a dar atole con el dedo y en la fila del departamento de quejas toparas con un mar de secretarias pendejas el siguiente en la fila y asi te la pelas pero algunos al final nunca se traspapela
México solidario acabo alos tiranos sin la necesidad de ensuciarnos las manos no podemos pedir resultado inmediato de un legado de 75 años todos unidos pedimos un cambio piedra sobre piedra y peldaño a peldaño solo poder expresarnos es palaba de honor de nuestro jefe de estado te arrepentiras de todo lo que trabajas se te ira la mitad de todo lo que tu ganas manteniendo los puestos de copias piratas que no pagan impuestos pero son más baratas veo una fuerte campaña de tele y de radio promoviendo la union entre los ciudadanos mensaje de un pueblo libre y soberano IGUAL QUE TU MOLOTOV TAMBIEN ES MEXICANO!!!!!
(Nos quieren pegar pegar) So you think you gonna hit me (y nos la van a pagar) but now we gonna hit you back
Michael T. Klare at Guernica magazine makes a what I find a convincing case that Barack Obama's energy policy is a near perfect continuation of Dick Cheney's, as developed both while he was Bush II's vice president but even when he was Secretary of Defense under Bush I (due to said energy policy's notably heavy geopolitical elements).
Let's add to that the almost transparent way in which Obama is continuing the Cheneyesque national security policy (e.g. drones, subterfuges against Iran, Guantanamo, etc., etc.), and I have hard time not believe that Cheney somehow, eerily, still seems to be pupeteering the White House, despite his protoge's replacement by a zombie from the other team.
I'm so discouraged. I'm trying to decide what third-party candidate to support.
Fourth-grader Jeonghyeon impressed me today, because she gave me a picture of a fish school. It was impressive because this was a fairly accurate representation of something we'd talked about during my "phone-teaching" with her last Friday. It was a sign that her comprehension skills are actually improving, and it's a credit to the phone-teaching concept. She's a difficult student – a befuddling combination of a sunny, positive attitude and stubborn resistance to actually learning something.
Here's her fish school.
I'm extremely tired tonight. I think I slept badly over the last several days. I'm not sure why.
Slavoj Žižek's new book, Less Than Nothing, is reviewed in the New York Review of Books by John Gray. I haven't read the book, though I might buy it and make an attempt to read it if I came across it – it's about topics that interest me, including Hegel and the dialectic. But Gray's review is withering. Having previously explained Žižek's concept called "paraconsistent logic," he deploys it in his conclusion:
"Achieving a deceptive substance by endlessly reiterating an essentially empty vision, Žižek’s work—nicely illustrating the principles of paraconsistent logic—amounts in the end to less than nothing."
Bam. Takedown. Or is it?
I'm not anti-Žižek, but I get that he seems, well… like a self-parody. And Gray's point about his obsession with violence is valid. He's not a comfortable philosopher, but I'm utterly confident that his incoherence is deliberate. Whether it's deliberate because he's pulling it off as a sort of intellectual deception (a la Sokal affair), or because he's using it as a sort of dialectical "tool-of-instruction" (a la the Socratic Method), I'm not sure.
Again, although I haven't read the book, it seems to me that Gray didn't get what Žižek was doing. It's supposed to be less than nothing. The title says so.
Last night I dreamed I returned to Yeonggwang, but that Yeonggwang resembled Humboldt County, as Humboldt County would be if it were occupied by Koreans. Interesting.
Koreans don't call the Korean War the Korean War. Mostly, they call it 육이오 [yuk-i-o], which is just six-two-five, i.e., the date the war started. On this day in 1950, the North invaded the South. It's not a holiday, but some stores and businesses close, and there are a lot of flags, and some people seem a bit somber, if they're thinking of it.
At work, because of the merger, there are more meetings than usual. I find them frustrating, because a lot of important stuff is being said and decided, and with my poor Korean, I'm marginalized. I got an agenda for a big meeting tomorrow, and I spent nearly an hour studying it. I'm shocked and dismayed and saddened by how little vocabulary I know, still, after all these years. Sigh.
I was in the Gyeongbokgung subway station yesterday and happened to notice this piece of inspirational poetry posted on the "anti-suicide" doors (there are doors in many subway stations now along the platform edges, which prevents people from falling or jumping into the track area before the train comes – so I think of them as anti-suicide doors, though I'm sure they have other justifications as well). I snapped a picture.
The poem is by an American, Douglas Malloch, apparently a Freemason and lumberjack, among other things. The text on the door is in English on the right, translated to Korean on the left.
The tone and message of the poem is so "Korean" I can see why it was selected for inspiriational subway poetry. There is a lot of subway poetry, these days, but most of it is Korean, of course – as is only right.
Oddly, there is no wikipedia entry about Malloch – doesn't anyone who ever wrote a book have a wikipedia entry? But I googled a masonic website with a page dedicated to his work. Here's the poem from the subway door.
Be the Best of Whatever You Are
If you can't be a pine on the top of the hill, Be a scrub in the valley — but be The best little scrub by the side of the rill; Be a bush if you can't be a tree.
If you can't be a bush be a bit of the grass, And some highway happier make; If you can't be a muskie then just be a bass — But the liveliest bass in the lake!
We can't all be captains, we've got to be crew, There's something for all of us here, There's big work to do, and there's lesser to do, And the task you must do is the near.
If you can't be a highway then just be a trail, If you can't be the sun be a star; It isn't by size that you win or you fail — Be the best of whatever you are!
It's preceded by this quote:
"We all dream of great deeds and high positions, away from the pettiness and humdrum of ordinary life. Yet success is not occupying a lofty place or doing conspicuous work; it is being the best that is in you. Rattling around in too big a job is worse than filling a small one to overflowing. Dream, aspire by all means; but do not ruin the life you must lead by dreaming pipe dreams of the one you would like to lead. Make the most of what you have and are. Perhaps your trivial, immediate task is your one sure way of proving your mettle. Do the thing near at hand, and great things will come to your hand to be done."
There's an artist named Tim O'Brian. I recently ran across an illustration of his that struck me as symbolically correct. To those who feel that Obama is too far left, I can only say that I feel you are deeply, deeply mistaken. I'm among those who perceive Obama to be turning out to be one of the most conservative Democratic presidents in more than 100 years. That's why this illustration makes sense to me. Plus it looks cool.
I had made a decision to call Obama "The FutureSpaceEmperor" way back when he first appeared to be winning the 2008 election, but I haven't stuck with it. If you stick with that metaphor, though – BHO as Palpatine – does that mean that Reagan is the dark side of the Force? Darth Ronald. Nice. Continuing the metaphor, I like the sound of Darth Romney, too. …Rolls off the tongue. We could view the current election as just a minor squabble among the Sith Lords within the Coruscant Beltway.
As I've admitted before, I voted for him. And I still view the currently psychotic Republican party as an unacceptable alternative. But I'm less and less enamored of Obama, too, if I ever was.
Yo voy soñando caminos de la tarde. ¡Las colinas doradas, los verdes pinos, las polvorientas encinas!… ¿Adónde el camino irá? Yo voy cantando, viajero a lo largo del sendero… -la tarde cayendo está-. "En el corazón tenía la espina de una pasión; logré arrancármela un día: "ya no siento el corazón".
Y todo el campo un momento se queda, mudo y sombrío, meditando. Suena el viento en los álamos del río.
La tarde más se oscurece; y el camino que serpea y débilmente blanquea se enturbia y desaparece.
Mi cantar vuelve a plañir: "Aguda espina dorada, quién te pudiera sentir en el corazón clavada".
– Antonio Machado
I hadn't thought about Machado in quite a while, then out of nothing a line of his poetry popped into my head. I don't think of him as one of my "main poets" – he doesn't occupy those recurring thoughts of poetry like Jeffers or García Lorca or Neruda or Stevens. But I guess he must have made an impression at some point, or his line would not have appeared in my mind.
I was sharing with my boss an opinion: given that a lot of parents are expressing distrust of the merger between Karma and Woongjin, he should call them all, personally. That's always been one my "if I ran the hagwon" ideas, anyway – the owner or on-site manage should be intimately involved in building and maintaining relationships with ALL the parents, since they are, after all, the paying customers. The students, for better or worse, are essentially product. This is not to depreciate them in any way – they are the thing I like about my job, and they're why I do it. But applying the lessons I learned from a decade of working in real-world business settings, you can't ever forget your customers.
Curt has been stressed, lately, though. In response to my suggestion, he just said in a kind of a lighthearted way, "개소리" [gae-so-ri = "bullshit" (literally, it means "dog-noise")]. It was kind meant as, "yeah, right, like I'm going to find time to do that." I laughed it off. And my feelings were in no way hurt. But I nevertheless felt (and feel) that he's making a mistake in this matter, maybe.
During the CC class (karaoke) I taught today, the boys insisted in hearing / seeing the video for a song called "Party Rock." It has a zombie-themed shuffle-dance-craze-including video. Those fifth-grade boys are utterly enraptured by this video and song. I can't figure it out.
I'm not sure what, exactly, to make of this abstract of a recent social sciences study (the article itself is paywalled, and I have little interest in actually trying to read it). But to control-c-control-v the abstract here:
Recent research has revealed that specific tastes can influence moral processing, with sweet tastes inducing prosocial behavior and disgusting tastes harshening moral judgments. Do similar effects apply to different food types (comfort foods, organic foods, etc.)? Although organic foods are often marketed with moral terms (e.g., Honest Tea, Purity Life, and Smart Balance), no research to date has investigated the extent to which exposure to organic foods influences moral judgments or behavior. After viewing a few organic foods, comfort foods, or control foods, participants who were exposed to organic foods volunteered significantly less time to help a needy stranger, and they judged moral transgressions significantly harsher than those who viewed nonorganic foods. These results suggest that exposure to organic foods may lead people to affirm their moral identities, which attenuates their desire to be altruistic.
On the one hand, I want to say that there was always something about the organic-foods-only people that got on my nerves, and now I have proof. On the other hand, I want to ask, if crappy food promotes "prosocial" behavior, why is everyone so antisocial when everyone eats so badly in, e.g., the USA? It depends on how one defines a term like "prosocial," I suppose. Lastly, I wonder, what is this broader purpose of this research? What is their broader social hypothesis? Where are the researchers going with this?
"Yes, insofar as I am immortal, I will be immortal. To me, young has no meaning- something you can do nothing about, nothing at all. But youth is a quality and if you have it, you never lose it. And when they put you into the box, that's your immortality." – Frank Lloyd Wright
My student Ahyeon was angry at me today. But unlike most elementary students, instead of acting out, she approached her anger in an unusual way: she ignored the class proceedings for about 20 minutes (I could tell she was angry – it was about some issue related to the awarding of points on homework), and spent the time carefully making a "black card" for me (picture at right), which she presented to me with a shy smile at the end of class. It was very unusual, but I was pleased with it, in a strange way. It was so communicative – which as a language teacher, is much more valuable than the content of the communication, if that makes any sense.
– Notes for Korean – 냄새 [naem-sae] – smell (I was excited to learn this word from context based on overhearing someone talking – that's so unusual, and it's a much, much better way to learn vocabulary than repeatedly trying to memorize it) 두음법칙 [du-eum-beop-chik] – liaison (initial sound-[change] rules)
At work yesterday, the front-desk person was handing out some student-placement spreadsheet printouts and she skipped me. This always annoys me, because I have a genuine interest in what's happening to the students.
I think they leave me out because they assume I'm not interested, since I don't often don't join in the discussions they have over these printouts (given that they are in Korean and/or they often seem to take place at times when I'm off teaching a class – my schedule is thicker in the afternoons whereas many of the teachers have a thin afternoon schedule and a thicker evening schedule, and so meetings are often in the afternoons).
So this time, I said something like, "why are you forgetting me, can I have one too?" and she happily complied.
But then Curt remarked, muttering, "빈정상했어" [bin-jeong-sang-haess-eo]. And of course I had no idea what this meant. And I wanted to know.
It therefore became a long, drawn-out discussion over what, exactly, this phrase means. The verb (빈정상하다 [binjeongsanghada] / alternate form 빈정사다 [binjeongsada]) doesn't appear any online Korean-English dictionaries we consulted. Google translate doesn't even try.
After some back-and-forth, we decided it meant something roughly like "peeve" as in, "he's/you're peeved" (the subject is left out in Korean and so you can fill in whatever verb subject fits the situation). But I wasn't really satisfied with this.
The Korean-Korean dictionaries online don't have the verb (or the pre-derived verb-noun 빈정상) either. For the near-match 비정상, they offer definitions as follows. The definitions are hard enough to understand – my "translations" of the definitions are tentative at best.
1.) 어떤 것이 바뀌어 달라지거나 탈이 생겨 나타나는 제대로가 아닌 상태. "The condition of [something] not being as one desires [such] that some kind of trouble or revised change appears." 2.) 바르거나 떳떳하지 못한 상태. "The condition of being unable to be honorable or upright."
These definitions utterly fail to match Curt's off-the-cuff definition and don't match my intuition of verb's actual meaning. They don't make any sense at all, in my opinion. So that's not it. Just a lexical wild-goose-chase.
Looking at the verb in parts (which isn't always a smart or correct thing to do with Korean verbs, as my Korean tutor is constantly insisting), I see the first part is 빈정, which appears bound in other verbs like 빈정거리다, which means "to make a sarcastic remark." And the second part is 상하다, which includes a definition "to be hurt, to be offended, to be troubled with." This latter is promising – it seems to match Curt's definition much better. If you add in a shading of sarcasm, it actually seems to capture my actual expression and manner pretty well.
So I'm going to offer a tentative English definition of the phrase "빈정상했어" as "he's/you're sarcastically peeved" … but in slangy pragmatics (and dating myself to the 1980s) as "don't have a cow, man."