Caveat: Comics About Aliens

In my Betelgeuse반 (no, I didn't come up with that name), which is a very small class currently consisting of two elementary third graders, we have been making comics about aliens. They are beginning level students – their class is the first class in our curriculum after completing the Phonics classes (Alpha, Beta – yes,  I did come up with those names). I believe strongly that getting kids to make up their own stories even in the most rudimentary English is a very productive way to help them internalize new vocabulary and grammatical structures. So I essentially allow them free reign to make their own stories, providing them with the words or sentences they ask me for in order to tell them.

Here are the stories about aliens. I like the pictures – they are pretty expressive. 



[daily log: walking, 6 km]

Caveat: 반말송

What I’m listening to right now.

정용화 (씨엔블루), “처음 사랑하는 연인들을 위해 (반말송).” I don’t really like this song, but it’s sociolinguistically interesting – it tackles the moment in a Korean romantic relationship when potential lovers switch to “banmal” – the less formal register of the Korean language used between intimates.

맨 처음 너를 보던 날
수줍기만 하던 너의 맑은 미소도
오늘이 지나면 가까워질 거야
매일 설레는 기대를 해
무슨 말을 건네 볼까
어떻게 하면 네가 웃어줄까
손을 건네보다 어색해질까 봐
멋쩍은 웃음만 웃어봐
우리 서로 반말하는 사이가 되기를
아직 조금 서투르고 어색한데도
고마워요 라는 말투 대신 좀 더 친하게 말을 해줄래
우리 서로 반말하는 사이가 될 거야
한 걸음씩 천천히 다가와
이젠 내 두 눈을 바라보며 말을 해줄래
널 사랑해
너와의 손을 잡던 날
심장이 멈춘듯한 기분들에
무슨 말 했는지 기억조차 안 나
마냥 설레는 기분인걸
우리 서로 반말하는 사이가 되기를
아직 조금 서투르고 어색한데도
고마워요 라는 말투 대신 좀 더 친하게 말을 해줄래
우리 서로 반말하는 사이가 될 거야
한 걸음씩 천천히 다가와
이젠 내 두 눈을 바라보며 말을 해줄래
널 사랑해
우리 서로 사랑하는 사이가 되기를
잡은 두 손 영원히 놓지 않을 거야
바라보는 너의 눈빛 속에 행복한 미소만 있길 바래
우리 서로 사랑하는 사이가 될 거야
아껴주고 편히 기대면 돼
너를 보는 나의 두 눈빛이 말하고 있어
널 사랑해

[daily log: walking 6 km]

Caveat: 혁신도시

Korea’s “New Cities” have always fascinated me, given my own proclivities as an unfulfilled urban planner as well as my current long-standing residence in one of Korea’s largest and most successful New Cities, Ilsan. There are many aspects of the the New City concept and process that are interesting to me, but perhaps what I’m most curious about is why some can be so successful, while others fail. What are the factors which cause this? What decisions are made that influence the success or failure, and what sociological factors beyond the control of planners influences the success or failure?
Ilsan is quite successful. If you came to this city of half a million residents, you might be surprised to learn it was less than 30 years old, and that nothing existed but a small village when when I first visited the area in 1991, while in the US Army stationed in Korea.
On the other hand, there are large New Cities which feel like ghost towns. They are not empty, but they have not managed to coalesce into a city-type place. They have atmospherics which resemble those of some US suburbs (or exurbs), contrasting only in being much higher density.
I was thinking about this recently, having watched on the TV a fairly in-depth report on a New City being built down near Gwangju, the other Korean metropolitan area that I have called home. The report first caught my attention because the name of the city is 빛가람 [bitgaram], which struck me as a weird name for a New City – it means “Bright Monastery” or “Bright Cathedral” and so what struck me as odd was the apparent religious aspect of the name. I suppose it could be seen as a “Cathedral of Capitalism.”
It is being called “혁신도시” [hyeoksindosi = “Innovation New City”] – the term “innovation” in the name seems to be… an innovation. What are they trying to build? Gwangju has a history of trying to reinvent itself as a high tech city, from its old character as agricultural center and “car town” (it is the original home to KIA motors in that company’s pre-Hyundai merger days, as well as home to the Kumho chaebol, maker of car parts and tires and buses). I have described it as Korea’s Detroit. I’m not sure how accurate that is, but I think there is a reputational aspect that matches up, too.
Bitgaram Innovation New City is being built in the city of Naju, which is Gwangju’s older but much smaller neighbor to the south, but which is now absorbed into the Gwangju metropolis. Naju was one of two capitals of the pre-modern Jeolla province, and dates back to the Baekje kingdom era, I think.
Toponymically (and to digress), the name of the other capital, Jeonju, along with the name Naju, are the origins of the name of Jeolla province, since Naju was originally La-ju (a natural sound change from medieval to modern Korean), and thus Jeon+La = Jeonla->Jeolla. Originally, there were two provinces, Jeonju and Laju (“ju” just means place or province, after all).  I have always wondered why, when the modern Korean government decided to split Jeolla, they named them North Jeolla and South Jeolla. Why not just return to Jeon and La (Na)? It would be as if, say, Iowa and Minnesota merged, to form Minnesotiowa, and then split again to form North Minnesotiowa and South Minnesotiowa.
This blog post is rambling a bit.
My real question is, will this New City if Bitgaram be successful, like Ilsan, or less successful, like e.g. Ilsan’s western neighbor, Unjeong? I have been to Unjeong many times, and even have had coworkers and students who live there. But despite the ambitions attached to it, it has so far never evolved into anything more than a bedroom suburb, unlike Ilsan. It’s a bit younger than Ilsan, but that doesn’t explain its failure to develop its own city character – Ilsan had its own city character well-established even 15 years ago, which is Unjeong’s age now. Unjeongians always commute to Ilsan for their city-type activities. I wonder why.
The one trend that I find disturbing is that the newer New Cities seem to lack the commitment to diverse public transit that the older New Cities seemed pretty good at. Thus Unjeong is not built along a subway line (as is the case with Ilsan, really along two lines) but rather off to the side of one. Gwangju’s subway (which is, anyway, a joke) will not connect to Bitgaram, as far as I can tell.
Here is an image of Bitgaram, fished off the internet. It is a “rendering” – not an actual view – the city is still under construction.
[daily log: walking, ]

Caveat: Made

This was interesting, especially the way the story kept "branching" out from the original effort to explain the Zipf phenomenon. This is the the kind of thing I like to think about, "for fun."

I liked the Emerson quote near the end, but, I am unsure if it is truly his. Wikiquote says it's "unsourced," whatever that means.

"I cannot remember the books I've read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me." – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

[daily log: stairs, 18 flights]

Caveat: Just empty streets and me walking home

What I'm listening to right now.

Late Night Alumni, "Empty Street."


The city feels clean this time of night
Just empty streets and me walking home
To clear my head, I know it came as no surprise
I'm affected more than I had guessed on what was said

If this love's not meant to be
If the heart's not ready to open
If we make it I won't see it's broken

If this love's not meant to be
If the heart's not ready to open
If we make it I won't see how it's broken

It's the quiet time before the dawn
And I'm half past making sense of it
Was I wrong?

Should I think to give it all
In a world where not much
Ever seems to last long?

If the love's not meant to be
If the heart's not ready to open
If we make it I won't see it's broken

If this love's not meant to be
If the heart's not ready to open
If we make it I won't see how it's broken

How it's broken

If this love's not meant to be
If the heart's not ready to open
If we make it I won't see it's broken

If this love's not meant to be
If the heart's not ready to open
If we make it I won't see it's broken

If this love's not meant to be
If the heart's not ready to open
If we make it I won't see how it's broken

How it's broken
How it's broken
How it's broken

[daily log: 추석]

Caveat: Screwed

I have a 4th-grade elementary student. He goes by Alex. His English is quite poor, and sometimes I wonder if he understands anything I say in class at all. Meanwhile, his habit is to just sit and grin about everything. So he gets points for good attitude.

Yesterday we had a speech test in his class. I give the students print-outs of their speeches that they have written and that I have corrected, to help them prepare. Alex sent me the following email a few hours prior to the class:

Teacher, my speech is at the school. I’m screw.

This was funny, as the pragmatics were perfect, despite the grammatical mistakes. Nevertheless, I was puzzled as to how he came to write this. If he wrote it, himself, then he is more resourceful than I thought. Unlike some messages I get from students, I doubt this was composed by a parent, since they would adopt a different tone, even if their English was good enough to be familiar with the idiom, “I’m screwed.” So, I puzzled for a while as to how he came up with this phrase.

Then, I had a brainstorm. I typed “망했다” into googletranslate. Alex (along with most other elementary students) says this bit of Korean slang often enough when things go badly. Although no “official” Korean-English dictionary would say so, a rough translation of this extremely common phrase could easily be “I’m screwed.”

Lo and behold, googletranslate (which relies on statistical correlations rather than the judgments of lexicographers) said “screwed.” Well, that explains it: Alex typed his bit of slang into some translation gadget, either google’s or someone else’s, and got screwed.

[daily log: walking, around]

Caveat: Woodchucks should chuck wood

Some time ago, I did as I often do, and was teaching a group of students in my Honors1 cohort the tongue twister that goes:

Q: How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

A: A woodchuck could chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.

This is one of my favorite tongue twisters.
But I did something rather innovative with it for this class, these past two weeks. I made it into a debate.

Proposition: “If a woodchuck could chuck wood, a woodchuck should chuck wood.” 

We divided into PRO team and CON teams on this proposition. Because we have five students, to make the teams even I ended up on participating, on the PRO team. This made for 3 speakers on each team, with each speaker speaking twice.
The students brainstormed ideas and wrote speeches. Then yesterday, we had our final debate. All but one student presented their ideas entirely without notes – the one relying on notes is new to the class so I gave her some leeway.

I rewrote the debate reasons that we came up with in class with cleaned up grammar and throwing in a few additional bits of humor or word-play. This can serve as a guide (but not a verbatim script) of the debate in the video above.

Jared PRO Introduction

Hello everyone. Today we are here to debate on the proposition: if a woodchuck could chuck wood, a woodchuck should chuck wood. I am here representing the PRO team, which also includes Sophia and Narin. We believe that woodchucks should chuck wood, and we are going to explain to you why we believe this. You might think this is not important, but we think that if a woodchuck could chuck wood, it must do so. First, Sophia will explain about the need not to waste other food. Next, Narin will talk about the woodchuck’s name. Finally, I will talk about the woodchuck’s cute teeth. Please, listen to our ideas, and then make a smart decision about whether to support our proposition today.


Hi, I’m John. Today’s proposition is whether, if a woodchuck could chuck wood, a woodchuck should chuck wood. Roy, Alisha and I are on the CON team, which means we don’t think that’s a good idea. A woodchuck should chuck whatever it wants to chuck, don’t you think? Alisha will talk about our first reason, which is about saving the forests. Roy will explain that wood isn’t exactly delicious. I will give our third reason, which is that woodchucks have a right to be free to chuck what they want to chuck. Please listen to our speeches, and make a smart choice.

Sophia PRO First Reason

Our PRO team’s second reason why woodchucks should chuck wood is because if they ate other food, it would waste that other food. For example, let’s say some woodchucks chuck something like fruit or chicken or pizza, or your own favorite food whatever that is. Those foods will then disappear, because woodchucks are hungry, and they will eat it all up. I don’t even want to think about if ice cream disappeared. Can you imagine, your food disappearing because of a woodchuck. Isn’t that weird? You’ll end up fighting the woodchuck. Isn’t that sad? I know this sounds really weird, but you have to understand. Don’t let woodchucks chuck your chow, let’s have woodchucks chuck wood instead.

Alisha CON Team Reason 1

Our team’s first reason is that if we make woodchucks chuck wood, that will just waste a lot of wood. Do you know how many trees are already gone? A soccer-sized area of forest is disappearing every 10 seconds! Then do you really think we should tell woodchucks to chuck wood, with the forests disappearing? I don’t think so. We already waste wood in so many other ways, for example it is not easy for us to not use paper or other non-recyclable things. So if we want to save forests, let’s not have woodchucks eat wood.

Narin PRO Team Reason 2

Our team’s second reason why we think a woodchuck should chuck wood is because of the animal’s name. Think about it. The name is “wood” plus “chuck.” Wood is wood, of course, and “chuck” can mean “eat.”  So really the animal’s name is simply “eats wood.” Don’t you think that if the animal should eat something besides wood, it would have a different name? If it was going to eat flowers, it would be a flowerchuck, right? Or if it ate pizza, it would be a pizzachuck. But it’s not a pizzachuck. It’s a woodchuck. That’s why if a woodchuck could chuck wood, it should.

Roy Con-team’s second reason:

Hi, I’m Roy, and I’m on the CON team in today’s debate. We are talking about if a woodchuck could chuck wood, a woodchuck should chuck wood. I’ll tell our second reason why we disagree with this proposition. You see, wood tastes terrible. Wood is dirty, and disgusting. For example, Alvin the chipmunk doesn’t eat wood, because it is horrible to chuck wood. So woodchucks don’t have to chuck wood either, because it is terribly disgusting to chuck wood. Let them eat other, delicious foods. If we force a woodchuck to chuck wood, probably the poor animal will only end up upchucking the wood it chucked.

Jared PRO Reason 3

Hi, I’m Jared. Let me tell you my reason why if woodchucks could chuck would, I think they should. Look at this picture of a woodchuck. See, he has cute teeth. These teeth are like a beaver’s teeth, don’t you think? We all know that beavers eat eat wood. So, in this same way, I think it’s clear that woodchucks should eat wood too. On the other hand, do a woodchuck’s teeth look like human’s teeth? They don’t. Thus, woodchucks should not eat things like pizza or ramen or steak or rice. These might even be difficult for a woodchuck to eat. This is why I believe very strongly that a woodchuck should chuck wood.


Hi, I’m John, again. Remember me? Our CON team’s last reason is that woodchucks have rights, you know. On TV, on some interesting documentary, when we see some woodchucks, maybe we see them chucking some wood. We might think, then, “well, woodchucks must chuck wood.” But think about this: we know people have rights, right? Well, animals have rights too. So whatever we see on TV, there is no reason why a woodchuck must chuck wood. This is just a kind of prejudice. Please, cast away your prejudice, and respect every woodchuck’s right to chuck what it pleases.

Sophia PRO Rebuttal

Our team has a strong rebuttal to the CON team’s idea that “wood tastes terrible.” There is a simple thing that can shoot you down. Have you ever actually eaten wood? If you have, well, then, you can say that. But I don’t believe it. Here, here is some wood. Will you eat it? Unless you will eat it, I don’t think you can fairly say that wood tastes terrible. Maybe it’s delicious. Also, you know, different people like different things. Maybe even if wood tastes terrible to you, maybe it tastes delicious to a woodchuck. Think about it.

Roy Con-team’s rebuttal:

Hi, my name is Roy. I want to give a rebuttal to the PRO team’s third reason. Jared said that a woodchuck should chuck wood because of his teeth, which are very cute. Jared is wrong, however. If a woodchuck has teeth, of course he could chuck wood, but he could eat lots of different delicious foods, too. Teeth can be used for lots of things, not just wood. Woodchucks don’t have to chuck wood because their teeth can be for lots of non-disgusting things, not only wood. In fact, I think we should help them so they don’t chuck wood anymore. The PRO team is so wrong: “wrong” times infinity!

Narin PRO Team Conclusion

Today we talked about three reasons why if a woodchuck could chuck wood, it should chuck wood. First, Sophia said it was important not to waste other food. Second, I said that the animal’s name means he should chuck wood. Then Jared explained that it was because of his teeth, which are very cute. Finally, Sophia gave a rebuttal to the CON team’s ridiculous idea that wood tastes bad. How can we know how the woodchuck feels about that? The CON team is clearly wrong, and I hope if you are woodchuck who could chuck wood, you go home tonight and chuck lots of wood.

Alisha CON Team Conclusion

We really think a woodchuck should not chuck wood. We gave three reasons and a rebuttal why we think that way. First, chucking wood wastes wood and destroys forests. Second, wood doesn’t taste very good. Thirst, a woodchuck has a right to eat what it wants. We should not force woodchucks to chuck wood. Lastly, we gave a rebuttal why the PRO team is wrong. I think if you can agree with our opinion, you will be very happy that you have paper to write on, since otherwise the wood that made that paper might have been chucked by a woodchuck instead.

I very much recommend this topic (and this type of topic) when teaching debate to elementary students. They find it much more entertaining than “serious” debate but learn the language and critical thinking skills just as effectively, I think.
picture[daily log: walking, 4.5 km]

Caveat: Anchovy Harvest

pictureEvery year it is Korean custom upon the approaching Chuseok holiday (“Korean Thanksgiving” i.e. the yearly lunar harvest festival) for employers to give gifts to their employees. The things that are chosen for gifts are often quite peculiar by Western standards, but generally involve either something edible or some kind of household good, wrapped up in Chuseok-specific gift sets.
One year, I received a spam gift set. Several years I have received fresh fruits (e.g. apples), always wrapped in a plethora of packaging, including little foam cushions for each individual piece of fruit. Two years ago I received cooking oil (in a gift set) – I still have some of it.
This year, I received a gift set of “Premium Anchovies.” Koreans call these 멸치 [myeolchi], and I do not dislike them. But I have always viewed them as a kind of seasoning – I don’t enjoy trying to scarf them down by the mouthful, as some kind of main course or snack, as I have seen Koreans do.
This gift set of anchovies, however… I can’t imagine consuming this much myeolchi in an entire lifetime. This morning I put some in my noodle soup (guksu) that I’m currently in the habit of making for breakfast – I was generous, given my new oversupply, and ended up putting too much – the saltiness was overwhelming – salt being one of the flavors I am able to taste best given my handicapped tongue. I threw away my breakfast soup and tried again, with fewer mini fish.
picture[daily log: walking, 6 km]

Caveat: Zombie Costumes

A few weeks ago, before the start of the current test-prep session, I was having a final “fun” class with my TOEFL2 cohort, and a humorous incident happened that I meant to write about but which I put in my little queue-o-possible-posts and promptly forgot.

We were playing a game called “Things” – with slightly modified rules to make it a bit simpler. The idea behind the game is for players to list things you need in response to various prompts (e.g. “Things you want to do before you die” for a rather banal example) and then the students have to guess who wrote which things. So there is a chance for humor and deception as students try to list things that won’t point back to them.

Anyway, we had a prompt which was, “Things you need for the zombie apocalypse.” After explaining the meaning of “apocalypse,” the students wrote their responses, I collected their responses, and we went through them and they tried to guess who said what.

One student wrote, “zombie costume.” This never would have occurred to me, and I thought it was quite brilliant, so I was laughing and commenting on it. After we ended that turn, we discussed for a while if such an approach would really be useful. We decided it would depend on how the zombies detect humans – is it based on smell, or appearance, or behavior, or something else?

This in turn led me back to one of my favorite pop-culture interpretations of zombism, which is the “Party Rock” video by LMFAO that I posted here a few years back. In that video, clearly the main characters are able to trick the zombies by mimicking their behavior – another type of zombie costume.

picture[daily log: log, walking, 6 km]

Caveat: Gingerbread Man

I was happy with some kids in my lowest-level Betelgeuse-반 yesterday.

They put on a very nice performance of an adaptation of the old "Gingerbread Man" fairy tale, using stick-puppets.

Here is the video.

I like the little songs, and I was daydreaming about making some kind of postmodern adaptation of the story. I think it would be good as a kind of background theme for an AI-goes-amuck type story.

[daily log: walking, 6.5 km]

Caveat: my soul for a wish

What I'm listening to right now.

Carly Rae Jepsen, "Call Me Maybe."

There is actually a rather surprisingly sophisticated write-up of this song, from a musicological perspective, on a blog I have sometimes looked at. It gave me a new appreciation for this song that otherwise would just be one of the pop bits I tolerate because my students enjoy them. 


I threw a wish in the well,
Don't ask me, I'll never tell
I looked to you as it fell,
And now you're in my way

I'd trade my soul for a wish,
Pennies and dimes for a kiss
I wasn't looking for this,
But now you're in my way

Your stare was holdin',
Ripped jeans, skin was showin'
Hot night, wind was blowin'
Where do you think you're going, baby?

Hey, I just met you,
And this is crazy,
But here's my number,
So call me, maybe!

It's hard to look right
At you baby,
But here's my number,
So call me, maybe!

Hey, I just met you,
And this is crazy,
But here's my number,
So call me, maybe!

And all the other boys,
Try to chase me,
But here's my number,
So call me, maybe!

You took your time with the call,
I took no time with the fall
You gave me nothing at all,
But still, you're in my way

I beg, and borrow and steal
At first sight and it's real
I didn't know I would feel it,
But it's in my way

Your stare was holdin',
Ripped jeans, skin was showin'
Hot night, wind was blowin'
Where you think you're going, baby?

Hey, I just met you,
And this is crazy,
But here's my number,
So call me, maybe!

It's hard to look right
At you baby,
But here's my number,
So call me, maybe!

Hey, I just met you,
And this is crazy,
But here's my number,
So call me, maybe!

And all the other boys,
Try to chase me,
But here's my number,
So call me, maybe!

Before you came into my life
I missed you so bad
I missed you so bad
I missed you so, so bad

Before you came into my life
I missed you so bad
And you should know that
I missed you so, so bad (bad, bad)

It's hard to look right
At you baby,
But here's my number,
So call me, maybe!

Hey, I just met you,
And this is crazy,
But here's my number,
So call me, maybe!

And all the other boys,
Try to chase me,
But here's my number,
So call me, maybe!

Before you came into my life
I missed you so bad
I missed you so bad
I missed you so, so bad

Before you came into my life
I missed you so bad
And you should know that

So call me, maybe!

[daily log: ]

Caveat: 선문오종

Like other religions, Buddhist canon is full of obscure and strange symbolism. Christianity has the book of Revelations, Judaism has Kabbalah. Sometimes I run across this kind of thing in my Korean-English dictionary of Buddhism (which I read recreationally, because I’m weird). They are always presented quite matter-of-factly, as if any reader would know what it was about.
In the article on 선문오종 [seonmunojong = five Chinese schools of Chan (zen)], the dictionary quotes extensively from someone called Venerable Seosan [서산] (1520-1604). These quotes include little gnomic almost-koans summarizing each of the five schools. These are fascinating because they are so hard to understand what they might be symbolizing.

법안종 Fayan School: “The cloud is chased over the mountain by the wind, and the moonlight is passing over the bridge in company with flowing water.”

운문종 Yunmen School: “All sorts of Buddha are preaching in the confinement of a cup when the Dharma staff has already flown into the sky.”

위앙종 Weiyang School: “A broken stone monument is lying by the ancient road, and an iron bull is sleeping in the house.”

임제종 Linji School: “Behold the thunder in the clear blue sky and the huge sea waves on the land.”

조동종 Caodong School: “It is the right view of non-discrimination of existence and non-existence that existed before the advent of Buddha and patriarchs, and before the time when there was not a thing in the universe.”

So, based on the summaries presented, which school of Zen do you find most appealing? I think I will look into Weiyang. But I need to study more.
[daily log: walking by the ancient road]

Caveat: The lines in your palm shouldn’t give you grief

What I'm listening to right now.

Yeasayer, "Damaged Goods." Is this song about karma?

Lyrics (websourced – not sure about accuracy).

Her eyes are waiting
This calls to panels sustained brown
Everyone's tiring
September thudding quickens with a serious slope
We're in it together but no one pulls

As soon as the circus disappears
Damaged goods, damaged goods
The saints only preach when the coast is clear
Damaged goods, damaged goods
The lines in your palm shouldn't give you grief
Damaged goods, damaged goods
And quickly the bloom on the rose does leave
Damaged goods, damaged goods

No matter what he thought she was
No matter what he thought she was before
Professional, a working stiff
It's over now, damaged goods

As soon as the circus disappears
Damaged goods, damaged goods
The saints only preach when the coast is clear
Damaged goods, damaged goods
The lines in your palm shouldn't give you grief
Damaged goods, damaged goods
And quickly the bloom on the rose does leave
Damaged goods, damaged goods

No doubts, no doubts
What's done is done
No doubts, no doubts
What's done is done
No doubts, no doubts
What's done is done

[daily log: walking, km]

Caveat: Shploink

Really I selected this more for the video than for the music. It's not something I would necessarily seek out, as music goes, but the animated video by Simon Landerin is quite entertaining.

Silkie, "Love Affair."

[daily log: walking, 6 km]

Caveat: A Joke With Legs

I ran across this joke, unattributed, posted at speculativegrammarian blog under the feature "Non-Gricean Humor":

"What has 34 legs in the morning, 69 at midday and 136 in the evening? A man who collects legs."

I have no idea why I found it so funny. If you know why I found it so funny, let me know – it may provide deep insight into my dysfunctions. 

Actually, on further reflection, I think the fact that it was under the specific heading that it was under influenced my reaction – which it to say, the heading "Non-Gricean" primed my mind for the subsequent punchline, which would not have had the same "punch" if it had not been primed by the heading. Of course, that means finding the joke funny relies in part on knowing something about Grice's work in linguistic pragmatics.

Relatedly, but at a deeper level, I recently was granted an insight into the nature of humor while reading a kind of throwaway article at The Register (an IT-based humor-plus-news website) by Tim Worstall (who deserves credit). He was writing about some kind of google-translate-related disaster at a Moravian tourism website. But he said, in an aside, "I might even advance a theory of linguistics where our delight in such puns is in itself a reinforcement mechanism to make us think about those multiple meanings possible." 

I liked this idea, finding it much more entertaining than the problems Moravians have been having with automated translation algorithms, and would reformulate and extend it as follows: 

Our delight in puns and jokes is an evolutionary adaptation which is rooted in a feedback-based reinforcement of the cognitive mechanisms that allow us to cope with polysemy, which in turn is at the basis of abstract thought, metaphor and hypothesizing.

[daily log: walking, 6 km]


Caveat: To lerne all language, and it to spake aptely

John Skelton was an English poet, born in 1463 and died in 1529. Thus, like Chaucer, his English is less accessible than Shakespeare's, given the huge changes that English underwent in the subsequent century. 

Some Dutch scholars have been making readings of his work in the presumed reconstructed original pronunciation of the Middle English – when I ran across the reading and first listened to it, I said to myself, "that sounds like Dutch." My question is, did it sound like Dutch because they're Dutch scholars reading Middle English with a Dutch accent, or did it sound like Dutch because that's what Middle English really sounded like (in which case, it's quite handy to have Dutch scholars working on it)? Dutch has always fascinated me – I took a single quarter of Dutch among the many "one quarter languages" I studied at the University of Minnesota. I have always felt that Dutch is what English would sound like if I didn't understand English. 

What I'm listening to right now. 

John Skelton (read by some Dutch guy), "Speke Parott." Anyway, I like this poem – it's quite cosmopolitan for 15th/16th century.

Lectoribus auctor recipit opusculi huius auxesim.

Crescet in immensum me vivo pagina presens;
Hinc mea dicetur Skeltonidis aurea fama.


My name is Parrot, a byrd of Paradyse,
By Nature devised of a wonderowus kynde,
Deyntely dyeted with dyvers dylycate spyce,
Tyl Euphrates, that flode, dryveth me into Inde;
Where men of that countrey by fortune me fynde,
And send me to greate ladyes of estate;
Then Parot must have an almon or a date.

A cage curyously carven, with sylver pyn,
Properly paynted, to be my covertowre;
A myrrour of glasse, that I may toote therin;
These maidens ful mekely with many a divers flowre
Freshly they dresse, and make swete my bowre,
With, ‘Speke, Parrot, I pray you,’ full curtesly they say;
‘Parrot is a goodly byrd, a prety popagey.’

With my becke bent, my lyttyl wanton eye,
My fedders freshe as is the emrawde grene,
About my neck a cyrculet lyke the ryche rubye,
My lytyll leggys, my feet both fete and clene,
I am a mynyon to wayt uppon a quene;
‘My proper Parrot, my lyttyl prety foole.’
With ladyes I lerne, and go with them to scole.

‘Hagh, ha, ha, Parrot, ye can laugh pretyly!’
‘Parrot hath not dyned of al this long day;’
‘Lyke ower pus cate, Parrot can mewte and cry.’
In Lattyn, in Ebrew, Araby, and Caldey;
In Greke tong Parrot can bothe speke and say,
As Percyus, that poet, doth reporte of me,
Quis expedivit psittaco suum chaire?

Dowse French of Parryse Parrot can lerne,
Pronounsynge my purpose after my properte,
With, Perliez byen, Parrot, ou perlez rien;
With Douch, with Spanysh, my tong can agre;
In Englysh to God Parrot can supple:
Cryst save Kyng Henry the viii., our royall kyng,
The red rose honour to florysh and sprynge!

With Kateryne incomparable, our ryall quene also,
That pereles pomegarnet, Chryst save her noble grace!
Parrot, saves habler Castiliano,
With fidasso de cosso in Turkey and in Trace;
Vis consilii expers, as techith me Horace,
Mole ruit sua, whose dictes ar pregnaunte,
Soventez foys, Parrot, en sovenaunte.

My lady maystres, dame Philology,
Gave me a gyfte in my nest whan I laye,
To lerne all language, and it to spake aptely:
Now pandez mory, wax frantycke, some men saye;
Phroneses for Freneses may not holde her way.
An almon now for Parrot, dilycatly drest;
In Salve festa dies, toto ys the beste.

Moderata juvant, but toto doth excede;
Dyscressyon is moder of noble vertues all;
Myden agan in Greke tonge we rede;
But reason and wyt wantyth theyr provyncyall,
When wylfulnes is vycar general.
Hec res acu tangitur, Parrot, par ma foy:
Ticez vous, Parrot, tenez vous coye.

Besy, besy, besy, and besynes agayne!
Que pensez voz, Parrot? What meneth this besynes?
Vitulus in Oreb troubled Arons brayne,
Melchisedeck mercyfull made Moloc mercyles;
To wyse is no vertue, to medlyng, to restles;
In mesure is tresure, cum sensu maturato,
Ne tropo sanno, ne tropo mato.

Aram was fyred with Caldies fyer called Ur;
Iobab was brought up in the lande of Hus;
The lynage of Lot supporte of Assur;
Iereboseth is Ebrue, who lyst the cause dyscus.
Peace, Parrot, ye prate, as ye were ebrius:
Howst the, lyver God van Hemrik, ic seg;
In Popering grew peres, whan Parrot was an eg.

What is this to purpose? Over in a whynnymeg!
Hop Lobyn of Lowdeon wald have e byt of bred;
The Jebet of Baldock was made for Jack Leg.
An arrow unfethered and without an hed,
A bagpype wihout blowynge standeth in no sted:
Some run to far before, some run to far behynde,
Some be to churlysshe, and some be to kynde.

Ic dien serveth for the erstych fether,
Ic dien is the language of the land of Beme;
In Affryc tongue byrsa is a thonge of lether;
In Palestina here is Jerusalem.
Colostrum now for Parrot, whyte bred and swete creme!
Our Thomasen she doth trip, our Jenet she doth shayle;
Parrot hath a blacke beard and a fayre grene tayle.

‘Moryshe myne owne shelfe,’ the costermonger sayth;
‘Fate, fate, fate, ye Irysh water lag.’
In flattryng fables men fynde but lyttyl fayth;
But moveatur terra, let the world wag,
Let syr Wrig-Wrag wrastell with Syr Delarag:
Every man after his maner of wayes,
Pawbe une aruer, so the Welche man sayes.

Suche shredis of sentence, strowed in the shop
Of auncyent Aristippus and such other mo,
I gader togyther and close in my crop,
Of my wanton conseyt, unde depromo
Dilemmata docta in paedagogio
Sacro vatum, whereof to you I breke:
I pray you, let Parot have lyberte to speke.

But ware the cat, Parot, ware the fals cat!
With, ‘Who is there? A mayd? Nay, nay, I trow;
Ware ryat, Parrot, ware ryot, ware that!
Mete, mete, for Parrot, mete I say, how!’
Thus dyvers of language by lernyng I grow:
With, ‘Bas me, swete Parrot, bas me, swete swete;’
To dwell amonge ladyes, Parrot, is mete.

‘Parrot, Parrot, Parrot, praty popigay!’
With my beke I can pyke my lyttel praty too;
My delyght is solas, pleasure, dysporte and pley;
Lyke a wanton, whan I wyll, I rele to and froo;
Parot can say, ‘Caesar, ave,’ also;
But Parrot hath no favour to Esebon:
Above all other byrdis, set Parrot alone.

Ulula, Esebon, for Jeromy doth wepe!
Sion is in sadnes, Rachell ruly doth loke;
Madionita Jetro, our Moyses kepyth his shepe;
Gedeon is gon, that Zalmane undertoke,
Oret et Zeb, of Judicum rede the boke;
Now Geball, Amon, and Amaloch, – harke, harke!
Parrot pretendith to be a bybyll clarke.

O Esebon, Esebon! To the is cum agayne
Seon, the regent Amorraeorum,
And Og, that fat hog of Basan, doth retayne,
The crafty coistronus Cananaeorum;
And asylum, whilom refugium miserorum,
Non fanum, sed profanum, standyth in lytyll sted;
Ulula, Esebon, for Jepte is starke ded!

Esebon, Marybon, Wheston next Barnet;
A trym tram for an horse myll it were a nyse thyng;
Deyntes for dammoysels, chaffer far fet:
Bo ho doth bark wel, but Hough ho he rulyth the ring;
From Scarpary to Tartary renoun therin doth spryng,
With, ‘He sayd,’ and ‘We said.’ Ich wot now what ich wot,
Quod magnus est dominus Judas Scarioth.

Tholomye and Haly were cunnynd and wyse
In the volvell, in the quadrant, and in the astroloby,
To pronostycate truly the chaunce of fortunys dyse;
Some trete of theyr tirykis, som of astrology,
Som pseudo-propheta with ciromancy:
Yf fortune be frendly, and grace be the guyde,
Honowre with renowne wyll ren on that syde.

Monon Calon Agaton,
Quod Parato
In Graeco.

Let Parrot, I pray you, have lyberte to prate,
For aurea lingua Graeca ought to be magnyfyed,
As lingua Latina, in scole matter occupyed;
But our Grekis theyr Greke so well have applyed,
That they cannot say in Greke, rydynge by the way,
How, hosteler, fetche my hors a botell of hay!

Neyther frame a silogisme in phrisesomorum,
Formaliter et Graece, cum medio termino;
Our Grekys ye walow in the washbol Argolicorum;
For though ye can tell in Greke what is phormio
Yet ye seke out your Greke in Capricornio;
For they scrape out good scrypture, and set in gall,
Ye go about to amende, and ye mare all.

Some argue secundum quid ad simpliciter,
And yet he wolde be rekenyd pro Areopagita;
And some make distinctions multipliciter,
Whether ita were before non, or non before ita,
Nether wise nor wel lernid, but like hermaphrodita:
Set Sophia asyde, for every Jack Raker
And every mad medler must now be a maker.

In Academia Parrot dare no probleme kepe,
For Graece fari so occupyeth the chayre,
That Latinum fari may fall to rest and slepe,
And syllogisari was drowned at Sturbrydge fayre;
Tryvyals and qatryvyals so sore now they appayre,
That Parrot the popagay hath pytye to beholde
How the rest of good lernyng is roufled up and trold.

Albertus de modo significandi,
And Donatus be dryven out of scole;
Prisians hed broken now handy dandy,
And Inter didascolos is rekened for a fole;
Alexander, a gander of Menanders pole,
With Da Cansales, is cast out of the gate,
And Da Racionales dare not shew his pate.

Plauti in his comedies a chyld shall now reherse,
And medyll with Quintylyan in his Declamacyons,
That Pety Caton can scantly construe a verse,
With Aveto in Graeco, and such solempne salutacyons,
Can skantly the tensis of his conjugacyons;
Settynge theyr myndys so moche of eloquens,
That of theyr scole maters lost is the hole sentens.

Now a nutmeg, a nutmeg, cum gariopholo,
For Parrot to pyke upon, his brayne for to stable,
Swete synamum styckis and pleris com musco!
In Paradyce, that place of pleasure perdurable,
The progeny of Parrottis were fayre and favorable;
Nowe in valle Ebron Parrot is fayne to fede:
‘Cristecrosse and Saynt Nicholas, Parrot, be your good spede!’

The myrrour that I tote in, quasi diaphanum,
Vel quasi speculum, in aenigmate,
Elencticum, or ells enthymematicum,
For logicion to loke on, somwhat sophistice:
Retoricyons and oratours in freshe humanyte,
Support Parrot, I pray you, with your suffrage ornate,
Of confuse tantum avoydynge the chekmate.

But of that suppociyon that callyd is arte,
Confuse distributive, as Parrot hath devysed,
Let every man after his merit take his parte,
For in this processe Parrot nothing had surmysed,
No matter pretendyd, nor nothyng enterprysed,
But that metaphora, allegoria with all,
Shall be his pretectyon, his pavys, and his wall.

For Parrot is no churlish chowgh, nor flekyd pye,
Parrot is no pendugum that men call a carlyng,
Parrot is no woodecocke, nor no butterfly,
Parrot is no stameryng stare, that men call a starlyng;
But Parrot is my owne dere harte and my dere derling.
Melpomene, that fayre mayde, she burneshed his beke:
I pray you, let Parrot have lyberte to speke.

Parrot is a fayre byrd for a lady;
God of his goodnes him framed and wrought;
When Parrot is ded, he dothe not putrefy:
Ye, all thyng mortall shall torne unto nought,
Except mannes soule, that Chryst so dere bought;
That never may dye, nor never dye shall:
Make moche of Parrot, the popegay ryall.

For that pereles prynce that Parrot dyd create,
He made you of nothynge by his magistye:
Poynt well this probleme that Parrot doth prate,
And remembre amonge how Parrot and ye
Shall lepe from this lyfe as mery as we be;
Pompe, pryde, honour, ryches, and wordly lust,
Parrot sayth playnly, shall tourne all to dust.

Thus Parrot dothe pray you
With hert most tender,
To rekyn with this recule now,
And it to remember.

Psittacus, ecce, cano, nec sunt mea carmina Phebo
Digna scio, tamen est plena camena deo.

Secundum Skeltonida famigeratum,
In Piereorum catalogo numeratum.

Itaque consolamini invicem in verbis istis, &c.
Candidi lectores, callide callete; vestrum fovete Psittacum, &c.

[daily log: walking, 6 km]

Caveat: The Half Century

I don't really feel very happy about this milestone, today. 

By the typical Western metric, I "turn" 50. No matter that because of the way Koreans count a person's age, I've been having to tell everyone I'm 50 for more than year already. Nevertheless, I can still accurately say that 50 years ago, today (well, almost tomorrow, given the time zone differences, too), [broken link! FIXME] I was born

At one level, I am quite frankly surprised to be here, given the fact that on at least 3 occasions I have looked death squarely in the eyes. Each time, I have beat the odds, and death has quietly but firmly told me, "not yet."

The passage of time is ineluctable.

[daily log: walking 3.5 km]

Caveat: 丹脣皓齒

This is a four-character aphorism from my elevator. Let me explain: my building’s elevator has this video display that plays news or advertising. Sometimes they put up these Chinese aphorisms, like this one. I decided to look it up, as I stood there staring at the screen.

단순 호치 = 丹脣皓齒

According to the daum online dictionary, this means “red lips white teeth” and references the face a beautiful woman. It seems very Chinese to me.
picture[daily log: walking, 6 km]

Caveat: Не считая, что это сон

что я сейчас слушаешь.

Виктор Цой – Звезда по имени солнце

текст песни.

Белый снег, серый лед,
На растрескавшейся земле.
Одеялом лоскутным на ней –
Город в дорожной петле.
А над городом плывут облака,
Закрывая небесный свет.
А над городом – желтый дым,
Городу две тысячи лет,
Прожитых под светом Звезды
По имени Солнце…

И две тысячи лет – война,
Война без особых причин.
Война – дело молодых,
Лекарство против морщин.
Красная, красная кровь –
Через час уже просто земля,
Через два на ней цветы и трава,
Через три она снова жива
И согрета лучами Звезды
По имени Солнце…

И мы знаем, что так было всегда,
Что Судьбою больше любим,
Кто живет по законам другим
И кому умирать молодым.
Он не помнит слово "да" и слово "нет",
Он не помнит ни чинов, ни имен.
И способен дотянуться до звезд,
Не считая, что это сон,
И упасть, опаленным Звездой
По имени Солнце…

[daily log: walking, i2 + 1] 

Caveat: the whole dream of these things

The Delight Song of Tsoai-talee

I am a feather on the bright sky
I am the blue horse that runs in the plain
I am the fish that rolls, shining, in the water
I am the shadow that follows a child
I am the evening light, the lustre of meadows
I am an eagle playing with the wind
I am a cluster of bright beads
I am the farthest star
I am the cold of dawn
I am the roaring of the rain
I am the glitter on the crust of the snow
I am the long track of the moon in a lake
I am a flame of four colors
I am a deer standing away in the dusk
I am a field of sumac and the pomme blanche
I am an angle of geese in the winter sky
I am the hunger of a young wolf
I am the whole dream of these things

You see, I am alive, I am alive
I stand in good relation to the earth
I stand in good relation to the gods
I stand in good relation to all that is beautiful
I stand in good relation to the daughter of Tsen-tainte
You see, I am alive, I am alive
– N. Scott Momaday (American poet, b. 1934)

[daily log: walking 1 km]

Caveat: Hypotheticals

Some criticism has been leveled at Barack Obama, over the years, for being a perhaps excessively cerebral president. I understand such criticism, but I cannot wrap my head around the vernacular American resistance to the idea of an intelligent president – this is a problem that has puzzled me since my youth.

Anyway, it looks like this tendency is being taken to a new level by Republican candidate Scott Walker, who recently said, in response to a question about how he might handle the Syrian refugee crisis if he were president:

"Everybody wants to talk about hypotheticals; there is no such thing as a hypothetical"

Let me present a hypothetical: are we now ready for a president who is not only anti-intellectual (a la Reagan) but who a priori denies a capacity for abstract thought?

[daily log: walking, 6 km]

Caveat: Hot Pigeons

I was walking to work the other day and saw a sight common enough for Korea – even in such urbanized and upper-middle-class locations as Ilsan: hot red peppers drying in the sun. People grow them in balcony planters and in community gardens, and then set them out to cure in the sun in the fall.
This time, however, some pigeons had decided the peppers might be delicious. I didn’t know pigeons would find peppers edible, much less delicious, but they seemed to be enjoying their capsaicinated feast. They were flapping and dancing around, and fighting with each other over bits of red pepper.
I have to say that this makes me somewhat wary of the idea of consuming home-grown red peppers – no one seemed to notice or care that the pigeons were slobbering all over the peppers, and I can imagine an oblivious halmoni gathering up her peppers at dusk and chopping them into her kimchi or stew, clueless that they included pigeon detritus.
picture[daily log: walking, 6 km]

Caveat: Kevin the Alligator, RIP

A truly sad day: my large green plastic alligator died yesterday. He fell on the floor and broke his fat, plastic head. 

He has been with me for 6 years, having been given to me in 2009 by my friend Tammy's daughter in Moorhead, Minnesota. He has worked hard in my many classes, and has appeared in many blog entries.

His head is severely damaged, and he can no longer bite children. Perhaps this is for the best. On a spontaneous whim, I had one of my writing classes write letters of condolence. They were quite touching:

Dear silly Alligator, how are you feeling. I'm so happy to heard you got hurt. You are so ugly, but now you are uglier. Your ayes are very big, but your face is very big. Your face not match. I hope you do cosmetic sugary [surgery]. I know you don't have girlfriend. You have to handsome andy ou have to diet, your weigh is 68kg. Your age is 12, but you are so fat. You have to eat vegetables. Don't be sad by my advice. It is very important for yourself. I think I'm so kindness friend. From Rena.

Here is a picture – you can see the large crack in his head. The hinge is also broken inside. He is unrepairable.

2015-09-07 20.41.47

In another class, we had a moment of silence – this was the students' suggestion, not mine.

[daily log: walking, 6 km]

Caveat: introspecting

I'm stressed because August grades are due today at work, and I procrastinated more than usual because last week was kind of a burnout week, with too much going on. 

So I'll leave it at that. More later.

"If you don't know what introspection is, you need to take a long, hard look at yourself." – Ian Smith

[daily log: walking, 6 km]

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