Learning to Read and Other Skills


It’s still amazing to me how many people are unable to understand text. Now, I don’t mean the people who are actually illiterate, which is a genuine concern, I mean people despite being able to read cannot actually understand what is being said and the context and content fully. Such people are the type who have been gifted with the ability to actually read, unlike so many deprived of the skill, but who cannot use it to living a fulfilling life. What’s more is that these same people apparently feel that they are above those who do not have the same level of intellect and opportunity to advance in society. I’d say it’s a cultural superiority, but that would be polite and aiding their pseudo intellectual commentary. I think it’s best to label them as trolls.

Let’s find some definitions for trolls:

A troll is a supernatural being in Norse mythology and Scandinavian folklore. In origin, troll may have been a negative synonym for a jötunn (plural jötnar), a being in Norse mythology. In Old Norse sources, beings described as trolls dwell in isolated rocks, mountains, or caves, live together in small family units, and are rarely helpful to human beings.” – Yee Olde Wikipedia

An evil troll, Torok, the transformed state of the ex-husband of an old friendly witch named Eunice St. Clair, has chosen her apartment building to be the heart of the restoration of the world he once knew. To do this he uses an Emerald ring, and takes possession of a little girl named Wendy, whose brother Harry immediately suspects something wrong. Torok, often in the form of the little girl, goes into each occupant’s apartment, hideously transforming people into plant pods.” – IMDB

The savage trolls of Azeroth are infamous for their cruelty, dark mysticism, and seething hatred for all other races. Yet one exception among the trolls is the Darkspear tribe and its cunning leader, Vol’jin. Plagued by a history of subservience and exile, this proud tribe was on the brink of extinction when Warchief Thrall and his mighty Horde forces were driven to the trolls’ remote island home in the South Seas during a violent storm.” – World of Warcraft

Of course each of these explanations is as likely as anything you’ll find on the Urban Dictionary or wherever else.

Now, this here lovely site doesn’t get much in the way of trolls, or indeed comments at all, and for the most part comments are nice and congratulatory. If I’m lucky I get an inquisitive one or two. Then I get a few comments every so often to one or two of my Korea criticism links, which are apparently quite high on a ‘I hate Korea’ Google search, at least that’s what I’ve been because I haven’t checked – which is probably an indication of how much I care.

In one particular post I have a number of comments which all relate to the fact that my site is a forum for hatred and that it’s OK to just blast out criticism, and I mean really nasty and narrow focused attacks on pretty much every Korean ever born – which includes my wife and daughter – and I’ve given up authorising those comments. I did go through a period initially where I allowed them, but I changed my mind because it is something that I actually feel pretty strongly against, and that’s essentially the belief that Koreans are the bottom feeders of the earth and everyone who has ever met anyone who knows anything or nothing about Korea should be told this. I could go on but I won’t. To give you an idea of the level of intellect we’re dealing with here, allow me to share with you a recent comment which I still have yet to delete:

Fuck Koreans. Everything about them sucks ass, and if you wanna see what happens to the world when Korean idiocy is left unchecked….North Korea…Nuffield said. I know for a fact MANY comments on this forum aren’t making it because several of mines haven’t, and I have a friend in busan who couldn’t post either. Too much truth in his post maybe. Bring on the comments, I don’t give a good god damn. I hate Koreans, most of my friends hate Koreans, and here in Australia, my neck of the woods, most of the people in my community don’t like Koreans either. A kid came to my university from South Korea, and no one liked him. He would get the same criticisms…racist, pig headed, closed minded, arrogant, superiority complex, lack of common sense, poor manners, lack of courtesy, rude in general and annoying to be around. Fuck Koreans. I have visited SK for a month, and it made me hate them even more. My school should stop allowing these fuckers to come here, all they do is sit in their annoying little groups “tee-heeing” about shiny objects and what some asswipe k-slop bugger is on about. The Korean asswipe in one of my classes actually tried to explain to us why Koreans are a superior race, and that they are pure by blood…not according to my research. At any rate, fuck korea, there I said it. And I’ll copy and paste this to word, so I can re-post if this doesn’t make the forum.” – Aussie who hates korrie (2014)

Of course, Mr/Ms AWHK doesn’t realise that WordPress is pretty well equipped for tracking down gombeens who can’t read the context of a post but who feel that the comment section is where their true calling in life lies. With that in mind I popped the IP address of the above into an IP finder. I’ll leave this here and you can make your own assumptions.

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Anyway, this post is about an inability to read and what concerns me is that seemingly educated people, as I assume all these people are, feel that they are above an entire nation of people yet they can’t even understand a blog post. “But it’s the internet” I hear you quip, and yes you’re right I should set my standards a little lower.

With that in mind I’m going to finish with another lesson in how to read, or how not to read.

As I teach English writing here in Korea, one thing I’m always certain to do is to reiterate the necessity of confirming and knowing the sources where you get your material. I’m not against using online sources at all, in fact I encourage it as there is great variety in the internet. Of course there are problems with encouraging reliance on the internet. We do find ourselves sinking into our own personal information clique. Here we feel that without criticism we can read and post and read and post whatever we like without ever crossing paths with an alternative voice. Twitter is a perfect example of this, and if it weren’t for having friends who I really know (and vice versa) who share a variety of opinions and news articles, from preachy Godist stuff and unrealistic out of context idealistic quotes from people I’ve never heard of heard, right up to the usual conspiracy theory and American politics we all love to slobber over in a fit of middle class apathetic rage, Facebook would be the same.

So it’s important that when you read a blog or website you’ve never come across you should click the about page. If you have the time whilst lazily bullying yourself about the internet some more articles from said website might be worth your unbridled scrutiny also. But I can see how this can be difficult for some, who may have concerns for conserving their wrist’s energy.

Again my poor misfortunate blog was left open to scrutiny. Again some genius, this time a clever fella ‘Wayginkorea’ felt he was more adept at internetting than your humble author, not that I am a master or anything. Fortunately, at time of going to press, even Reddit defeated its evil ways but I think I have some of my fellow Korea based bloggers to thank for a down vote or two.

On that post that this individual was so displeased by, a defense if you please. I get it that my poem and recording of it didn’t resonate so strongly with other people, but since the actual tragedy so much has come about that the poem’s message has been completely swamped by the controversy surrounding the actual tragedy. If you asked me the kind of people who decided they knew so much about the accident and Korean culture and are only nodding their heads into whiplash with I-told-you-sos will find something like this only abhorrent. I myself do my best to stand out of the way of truth, and just try to accept the current.

This was an account of something I did on my personal blog, so if you didn’t like it go back and read teacher blogs about how little Jimmy couldn’t control his wee wee and then spelled kuntin kandy instead of cotton candy. Life, my friends, is not all about everything meeting your own standards.

The thing is that gets to me is that there’s a great market out there for absolute Korea related vitriol, but you won’t find it here. It’s not that I don’t have things to complain about that stem from life in Korea, and it’s not that I wouldn’t be in a position to rant on and on and on about them. Because I could. In fact I’ve about three or four half finished drafts of such vitriol which have seen the sobering light of a night’s sleep and have remained where they belong. Perhaps someday they will materialise as some class of content but for now they are merely writing practice.

I don’t see any point in ranting in hate here, or in any class of media, be it online or in traditional formats. It serves little function, and even in front of real live people the distance and use is relegated to just pissing more people off. I’m not suggesting the internet is a place only for happy stories and cute puppies, which some people actually enjoy. But there is a place for anger and unless it is serving a purpose that will effect change I can only see it as a waste of time, yours and mine, and a reason to be more angry about nothing in particular. An English written blog about an individuals life in a very foreign country is an example of where anger is a waste of time.

If anything my beloved but few readers, when you read, read deep. Read more than just the link. As long as the internet is open there will be more than just a link to click, and with that more information, images, reactions, and perspective more can be gained. Find out for yourself, and don’t let some moderator or Google search decide for you. Don’t be afraid of your mouse, or your eyes, or spending a little extra time to work out where you really stand on some bull shit argument some half-wit blogger posted on the internet.

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Rando Man


The photo below does not inspire much, I imagine. It is in many respects quite depressing. A dry and slightly burnt piece of toast, a cold strip of streaky bacon, and the end of a rather watery looking class of orange juice, all wrapped around a white circular border. It is, other than the leftovers from my breakfast, a pitifully ordinary scene worth no moment of fame in any media. It is not artistic, so don’t go thinking it is. The loose crumb is only a loose crumb, the juice was as I left it, as was the toast and bacon. Just to the right was a eggy plate and a mug with a thin brown layer of leftover coffee. The photo was entirely random. So why bother?

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Regulars to this blog are probably familiar with my use of instagram and flickr, and even on this blog itself my photographs can take up a large amount of many posts, although not all. I use an iphone 4, which by today’s standards is quite a simple piece of phone tech, but it does have a camera on it, which I have with me always and which is very easy to operate and relatively decent quality pics. I also use a Sony DSC-H9 and a Nikon D5100 of course, but my phone is undoubtedly my main camera.

As well as being addicted to taking pictures, I’m also quite interested in new apps and phone related tech, including of course new phones which I cannot afford, or indeed apps that I don’t want to pay for because I’m cheap. It’s quite a dynamic area of the tech market now, and unless an app is successful you can see many being replaced by something similar within a short period of time. For example, I’ve lost count of the amount of different apps I’ve downloaded to help arrange my time, for want of a better description, and I have deleted all of them, prefering to use my regular phone calendar and Evernote. The thing is if you visit the Apple App Store you will always find some new fangled app lauded as app of the week or something which promises to be the next best thing in productive time saving organisational technology.

I’m ranting. I should stop before I lose control.

The point I’ve been getting to is there are always loads of apps which always seem to have some greater purpose, some means for making your life better, or for making your smart technology experience smarter and more wholesome. This takes all apps, from photograph taking, games, organisers, and social networks, to spirit levels and voice recorders, into consideration. But with this little camera app which took the photograph above, there seems to be absolutely no real significant purpose whatsoever. And that’s why it’s worth talking about.

Now don’t take this the wrong way. I’m not selling out, not that I was every sold in or anything. The app is free, or comes at no cost to you, Mr or Mrs/Ms Downloader. I, like every other single person on this planet, am a consumer, and I, like every other consumer on the planet, like to flaunt my consumed goods. So please allow me this moment.

I want to look at what the app actually does, and how what it does fits in with how I often look at how the world exists with so many people in it. I think it does something kind of special, something which we don’t look at enough in the realms of technology and even in terms of human existence. I’m getting pretty deep here, so let me take a couple of steps back and explain what the hell is going on.

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The name of the app is Rando, and it’s a camera app. It functions by simply taking a photograph of something within a white circular border, such as some of the images in the examples above. There is no title, there is no ability to like or share, there is no way to edit, stylise, or even upload a particular photograph. All you know is that there was a photograph taken and more often than not, you can find out where it was taken. It is then sent to the great cloud in the sky where it is randomly sent (although I’m sure there’s some algorithm at play) to another user somewhere in the world. In return you recieve another users photograph. There is no way you can tell who sent or received the photograph. You may or may not find where this user is. It’s as complicated as that.

So says social media addicted world, what’s in it for me? Nothing whatsoever. And that’s what is so great about it.

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It’s no secret that the internet has been inundated with egotism since social media took off. And the greater its influence grows the more we see the egos expand, myself included. One word which is constantly bandied about with social media which is generally not used in the correct context is the word ‘share’. We see it all the time, and particular websites use this term to insinuate that they are providing a fantastic opportunity for you to provide your loved ones and friends with snippets of your life. Of course, this is the idealistic perspective, because anyone who uses social media knows that it is rarely used as a place for sharing, more as a means of displaying.

What this particular app does is different. It is not in any way social, it is more voyeuristic, but not in the sense that you actually know what you are looking at. It sends a picture of nothing, really, other than something which is happening or exists in another place which you cannot see. There’s no liking or sharing of this photo, there’s no applause or means of advertising, there is simply a picture within a white round border. It’s simple but it is effective in its own little way.

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This little app has a fair amount going for it in terms of how we interpret the world. Take exactly where you are sitting or standing at this very moment. Look around you, and while you’re looking make sure to closely examine some fairly rudimentary objects in your proximity. I’m writing at my desk in work so obviously I’ve my computer with a printer just to the side left of it, and too the right I’ve a phone and pen holder, a jar with a dried flower, some paper clips, a stress ball (never used), some throat sweets, photographs, and other nondescript objects which on their own are unnoticable and insignificant. But they are there, sitting, minding their own businness and waiting to be interacted with, much like everything else in the world.

How we choose to interact with much of the world is our own decision. It is unfortunate that humans have chosen that our interaction is mostly on the phyisical and destructive level, rather than a visual one, where we just accept and appreciate each individual element. With Rando though we are seeing tiny scraps of originality, perspectives of this huge planet shared indiscriminately for the purpose of … well I’d like to say enlightenment but I’ve a feeling it’s a lot simpler than that.

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If you think of it in the way that it is simply just informing you or whoever views the photograph that this part of the world exists, and that someone is here, doing something similar to you. We get that impression that the world is not that small, and that we are all less unique. Despite how much we like to think about it people everywhere share the same gripes and concerns, and they see the same things, granted they may be in different shapes.

To conclude, if you could imagine yourself flying on a transcontinental flight as I have done many times, flying over the massive Eurasian continent, and somewhere over Kazakhstan or the Ural Mountains, you look at the flightshow and all you see is a green expanse of country with a few rivets here and there to imply terrain. You stretch your head into the window as much as possible to try and glance down at the land below. There is nothing you can see but you know without a doubt that something is happening there, and someone is there living away and not trying to fly with you. If you thought for a minute what they are doing you would not find a recognisable image, or anything remotely familiar.

I don’t think that this phone app really bridges any gaps here, as it’s completely random, but it does allow you the simple moment, like flying 20,000 metres above or even just driving by fast in a car, where we can catch a closeup of another part of the world. For a minute, we are given the opportunity to consider it. That is all. And then let the world continue to rotate again, until you take another picture that is.

You can download Rando here if you want.

This blog post is not intended as a review and I don’t get any money or kudos from the company who made the app. It was just something that struck me as being worth talking about.

P.S. It seems there’s an incredible amount of Korean pictures coming through. What’s up with that?

The Internet: How Much Time is Too Much Time?


This is kind of an old argument…

If someone told you that you spend too much time on the internet, how would you respond?

Maybe I would say that don’t spend that much time on the actual internet, but I do spend a lot of time using various social network services or websites. I think I wouldn’t say I spend too much time, but I would admit that I am an avid addict of the world of knowing someone else’s business whilst trying to make my own business look, well, fascinating.

Let’s take a little look at where I am:

– Blog (you’re reading it)
Tumblr – reading and posting instagram photographs.
Twitter – reading and sharing, as well as commenting on, well, everything…
Flickr – photographs!
– Instagram – more photographs
Youtube – for videos and slideshows I make…
Linkedin – networking…for work…and looking important…
– Facebook – believe it or not, mostly just for keeping in touch with friends and family – after the big ordeal of getting off Facebook a few years ago, I just said ‘fuck it’ and signed back on. +1 kind of influenced this, but also the fact that I missed what little communication I had with many people I knew. Sad, I know.
– Meetup – Mostly for IAK stuff but can be useful for other events.
– Pinterest – yeah, apparently it’s a bit girly and I’m not sure why I joined it, but we’ll see what happens.

There might be one or two that I’m forgetting (I deleted bebo and haven’t looked at Myspace for at least a year, but if it gets you wet you can read some really old blog posts of mine there)

And I’ve profiles on a whole host of other websites which I comment on or receive daily or weekly updates on in my email, and I read these emails most of the time (I don’t necessarily always click the links).

So I make myself busy on the internet.

I thought that I’d ask this question after a comment from my old man on my last post, ‘Letter From Korea, August 2012’, telling me that if I turned off some of my internet distractions I’d probably get more work done. He’s probably right, but then again he’s probably wrong. You see despite the fact that I have a lot of activity on the internet, it’s worth asking how much of a distraction it really is, because I honestly think that I would be distracted even if I was chained up in a fucking desert.

Despite this notion, there’s been a fair amount of discussion on the viability and destructive nature that social media has on traditional media and the way we find information. I would be of the opinion that if you’re going to sit back and complain about something it will have overtaken you by the time you think you have people listening to you – and perhaps this is how I feel about Facebook. Perhaps.

How much time does it take to read a facebook status update? Or a tweet? And how long does it take to write one? While that’s a short amount of time, if it’s a link to a news or blog post (depending on the site) that is where the benefit comes from. It’s about content. That’s what keeps pulling me back to the internet. You see, when I started using twitter it was, I think, to get a regular feed of different links from whoever was tweeting them out. I’ve never been that interested in reading the links of individual people and their mannerisms (there are exceptions of course). I like to think now that I know more about stuff I never knew before. Things like this make finding this information out a lot easier, and they benefit the suppliers too because it’s easier to be found.

There are more questions that I should ask. I hope that I can answer them. Here I go.

Is it worthwhile being on a social network? Well, yes and no. It all depends on what you’re trying to do and what you’re looking to achieve from it. A lot of people initially start out using these because everyone else is there, and this is especially the case with facebook. Other people start out using them because they are looking to use some of the services for publicity or sharing, such as photographs on flickr. Twitter was destined to be a constant stream of neurotic teenagers tweeting in text language until journalists and the media got onto it, making it more valuable. A bit like much in life, it all boils down to finding out what’s the point of using these things? Knowing your, options, alternatives, and goals can probably help you to know this answer easily. There are many of us who don’t actually need to use social networks or the media.

I’ll give you an example of what social networks can do for someone who is living and working in a place like Korea. They definitely operate as a network where you can connect and hear about events, new restaurants, and news (I suppose), where before you would have had to visit different websites individually, now you can source all your information on one. In Korea, Facebook is definitely the most useful website to use as practically any event that takes place is publicised through facebook, at least in the foreign community here. When I initially deleted my facebook account I found that I had automatically lost my source for event postings and get-togethers (and also it has to be said, a pile of useless and irrelevant stuff). Could I have survived without much of it? Yes. Did I? Yes. Will I continue you to? Surely.

But still I am here and there (and some would say everywhere) online. I have to say that I enjoy it. I do spend quite a lot of time online, perhaps an hour or two every day, but to be honest I know when I spend too much time on social networks – it actually feels like it has been too much time. Sometimes I get a headache, but usually I know when I’ve had enough. I could blame it for distracting me from getting work done, but as I read from an interview from Margaret Atwood recently, essentially it doesn’t matter who are and what you do, you will find distractions when work has to be done and you don’t have a boss beating down on you.

Of course there has been an increase in arguments about why the internet is tearing apart social structures and prescribed practices (esepecially the traditional media), but at the end of the day the internet and all its follicles are here to stay. There are obvious conflicts with common sense, especially when you see how much money is spent on developing internet products and websites. I reckon people who complain about that kind of stuff are just jealous they couldn’t have thought of something as simple.

The amount of benefits can struggle to counter the obvious ridiculous and negative aspects. But like any game it all depends how you play it. I’d like to think that I can utilise it and not turn it into an enemy, and that I can learn to use it to my own benefit – whatever that may be.

So in answer to my initial question, do I spend too much time on the internet. Yes I do. What can you do?

 

After posting this I found this article in my #twitter stream. Very worthwhile read and one the more balanced and well supported arguments. As I said though, what can you do?

Normalised into Indifference: MBC etc.


I think I’m normalised to a lot of the larger complaints made about living in Korea. Complaints like ‘Korea is soooo racist’ and other ones, but I’ll stick to the racist thing here because it’s topical. By topical I’m obviously talking about the video of the naïve and innocent foreigners who admitted to MBC about having sex with Korean women, which in turn encouraged further reporting of rumours about someone’s friend who may have overheard something in a Caffé Bene.

I’ve had a bit of time to think about this, but I’ll keep it short as there isn’t really much to say. I have no doubt that all that was said in the video was true. Whether it was reported on ethically and the footage actually involved the aggrieved is debatable.

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I was bored so I Googled myself…


You can thank Sheila Squillante at We Who Are About To Die for the inspiration behind this post

So, I was bored. I was sitting around thinking how the internet consumes me daily – here, twitter, newspapers, videos, information, contact with friends and family. I thought to myself, surely I have some sort of an online profile or presence. I write a lot and most of it goes on the internet, so why not? I don’t mean like a falsified facebook page or fancified linkedin account for work. I mean something like a digital footprint of my own actions on the internet.

So, I googled myself.

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