January 2007 Archives

January 30, 2007

How hard can it be?

How hard can it be? at Lost Nomad

I’ve been here a long time and I like this country. I know enough of the language to squeak by if I’m on my own, I probably eat more Korean food than most Koreans, I can get just about anything I need, and 99.999% of the time, life is copacetic and I make it through the day without having the urge to punch someone in the throat because something or someone pisses me off. Today was one of those .001% days.

Oh yeah. I've been there; done that. Saddly enough, Nomad has been in Korea a whole lot longer than I was, so you'd think that it'd be a lesser issue. Things to work on.....

Conscious spending: How my friend spends $21,000/year on going out

I Will Teach You To Be Rich: Conscious spending: How my friend spends $21,000/year on going out

A few weeks ago, a couple of friends and I were talking about where we want to travel this year, and one of them said something that surprised me. "You probably wouldn't approve, but I want to go to the Caribbean this year."

Huh? Why wouldn't I approve?

I thought about this in a pensive stare for many moments, taking the form of Rodin's Thinking Man and wishing that I had a pipe and perhaps a tweed jacket. Then I figured it out. Apparently, I'm the personal-finance guy to some people. And, I realized with a sinking feeling, to many people, "the personal-finance guy" means "the guy who tells me I can't do stuff because it costs too much money."

Nothing could be further from the truth. Now, I will call your ass out when you're being stupid about money. But I'm not the finger-wagging parent who tells you not to spend money on lattes. Instead of taking a simplistic "don't spend money on expensive things!!!" view, I believe there's a nuanced approach to spending. Today, I'm going to tell you about 3 friends who are spending lots and lots of money on things you might consider frivolous--like shoes and going out--but I'm going to tell you exactly why I think they're perfectly justified.

Another excellent post. Most people probably won't read through, and that's exactly why they'll be stuck with incorrectly pre-conceived notions about how and why they spend their money.


otoño, originally uploaded by blancucha.

January 29, 2007

Back to the semester setup

I'm in my second week of classes; time to get serious. I'll maintain the postings, but they'll continue to be more of a "webbed interest" ilk than some of the more recent, opinionated pieces.

Mapping New Testament Social Networks

Things Japanese can't do when they're older

Impossible: Santa Claus, baths with parents, and skimpy clothes in winter »«– What Japan Thinks - Japanese Opinion Polls and Market Research Translated into English

goo Rankings published another one of their silly yet slightly unsettling polls recently, when they looked at what things are impossible to do now that they are an adult. The original Japanese version is phrased to have a suggestion of regret, I feel. The survey was conducted between the 18th and 20th of December last year.

This is one of those quirky blogs where you can't imagine why someone would make it....but it's just so darn interesting. My specific interest in this piece is that, while it is relatively low, Writing Kanji was listed in this top 20 list. Enter Leftsider, enrolled in Japanese II this semester--which focuses on Kanji learning. Hmm.

Twitter quote of the day

Twitter quote of the day

"You realize that NYC stopping mattering 5 years ago, right? The future is on the west coast. Conde Naste has been subsumed by YouTube."

Yeah, I'm totally feeling that. I don't know about the whole CondeNast/YouTube analogy, but what is NYC really good for these days? Besides people who love the overhyped normalcies of NYC?

January 24, 2007

What to do about the Philippines

Imelda Marcos (And what to do about the Philippines) ォ The Asia Pages

To me, the Philippines seems like the Haiti of Asia. All the foreign aid in the world won窶冲 solve its problems and the country seems to find itself in everlasting debt. The people haven窶冲 seemed to find the necessary empowerment needed to provoke a positive difference in their lives and the government enjoys its access to power at the expense of its citizens.

Can the country ever pull itself together and meet the potential I窶冦 sure it has? My personal opinion would be to revamp the government and get Glorio Arroyo out of office and someone else in her position through a fair, democratic election (which I don窶冲 believe Arroyo窶冱 re-election was).

I admit, I don窶冲 know a lot about the Philippines at all, mainly because my interest in the country is quite low. I know very, very little, in fact. But from what I can gather of it, nothing seems to change there and perhaps for that reason, it has a very dim light on my Asia radar. Those more informed, however are invited to educate me.

Being married to a Pinay-American, I think I was a little put off by this entry. I'm usually in agreement with Jodi (or at least willing to accept her POV) but I feel like this time it's completely subjective, un-researched and speculative--which is so unlike her usual writing. I don't however, feel I have the level of information to set the record straight. Hmm...new ethnographical study, anyone?

Dumb Or Really Dumb?

defective yeti: Dumb Or Really Dumb?

Of course, the real weakness of Deal Or No Deal is that the show is all carrot and no stick -- I mean, even a "loser" still walks away a penny richer. That's why I'm currently pitching an even better show to ABC called "Ten Grand Or Tennis Ball To The Nuts?"

lo-def analogue

DSCF6221, originally uploaded by ebilflindas.

Cheap, safe drug kills most cancers

Cheap, safe drug kills most cancers - health - 17 January 2007 - New Scientist

DCA can cause pain, numbness and gait disturbances in some patients, but this may be a price worth paying if it turns out to be effective against all cancers. The next step is to run clinical trials of DCA in people with cancer. These may have to be funded by charities, universities and governments: pharmaceutical companies are unlikely to pay because they can’t make money on unpatented medicines. The pay-off is that if DCA does work, it will be easy to manufacture and dirt cheap.

There are a lot of things I find interesting about this. It's possible that you would have to use this drug for an extended period of time--perhaps indefinitely. Would a lifetime of pain be worth delaying death? Also very sad to be reminded of how little pharmaceutical companies are interested in helping heal. But I shouldn't be surprised, right? A company is a company, remember that.

Urban Computing class at NYU

Urban Computing: It begins. ォ Speedbird

I won't even ask if a class like this is available at my school. Because when I ask, I'll only be letting myself down.
UPDATE: No, they still don't have it at my school, but here's an interview with one of the professors, who also is the author of the aforementioned blog.

theif returns purse after text messages

Phone thief repents after 21 text messages|Oddly Enough|Reuters.com

"Keep the 4,900 yuan if you really need it, but please return the other things to me. You are still young. To err is human. Correcting your mistakes is more important than anything," Pan wrote.

She gave up hope of seeing her possessions again after sending 21 text messages without a reply.

But on her way out on Sunday morning, she stumbled over a package that had been left in her courtyard only to discover it was her stolen bag. Nothing had been taken.

I can't help but wonder if this is more than just an "oddly enough" piece. Lately I've been berating the masses (nagging my friends) over the irresponsible nature of American suburban living. We tire of the cramped spaces, lack of privacy, noise, crime, pollution; so we move out to the suburban areas, build a big house, a car and enjoy the quiet, peaceful life.

Problem is, we become isolated. The only people we interact with are the ones we let into our lives; as a result we have very little protocol for dealing with people we don't know and do not meet. Additionally, we forget that no one likes to live in unpleasant environments--which almost guarantees that the negative aspects of urban living will be transmitted into these suburban havens. This is what happens when you change the location instead of fixing the problem.

So. Now you are in the suburbs with noisy neighbors, kids who knock over your mailbox or mill around on the streets near your house. You are a prisoner in your castle because you have no interaction with anyone outside of your circle; the only time you even see these people is as you walk to your car. You moved to a gated community. The cycle continues.

What about facing issues? It's harder to steal/vandalize/misuse something that belongs to someone you know. It's also hard to be afraid of someone who you have consistent personal interaction with, no matter what walk of life they are from. What if we stopped running from problems and started walking towards them? Everyone would be improved in the long run. Like the lady in this article, what if we stopped trying to get people thrown in prison and actually, tangibly, tried freeing them from debilitating situations? I'm not talking tossing money at the problem; I'm talking visibility. Personal association.

Hey, I'm just as guilty. But we can work on it together, can't we?

January 22, 2007

Korean Vs. U.S. Soaps

Digital Chosunilbo (English Edition) : Daily News in English About Korea

Why do people love U.S. soaps so much? It is mainly because they offer something different from the familiar fare of domestically produced dramas. The Chosun Ilbo asked translators of subtitles of U.S. dramas to compare shows produced in the two countries.

My favorite part of this article is where they consider their dependence upon in curable diseases as a benefit over U.S. dramas. Actually, this is the one thing that all purveyors of K-Drama can agree to, though perhaps for different reasons. :)

January 21, 2007

Top 5 Reasons why the iPhone is not for you

Here's why the iPhone isn't something you'd fret over.

5. It would throw off your well-balanced life statement. Just holding that wonderfully slender piece of machinery in your grubby little paws says, "I'm a person who knows quality, loves cutting edge technology, and is living the life of tomorrow." But your sweatshirt says "i'm bummy, not athletic," your apartment says, "Ikea and Target ARE my design sense," your bank book is screaming from neglect and your car is just spewing last-century rhetoric. Then again, the iPhone could be a new start. Unfortunately, so could a new shower curtain.

4. The world is your entertainment center.
Don't you just hate those loudmouths who won't quit on their phones? And all the people who wear these bluetooth devices 24-7 like they're in a hologram training from the Starship Enterprise? What about the guy with his headphones so loud that the whole bus/train/carpool/group crossing at the corner can sing along? Well, if you can't beat them, you can join them with 8gigs of music, movies, pictures and more. Just forget about the pulse of the city, the birds, the sound of schoolkids playing. The real world is sooooo not gonna be on your iTunes playlist, is it?

3. All those sensors make it way too sensitive. If you lived in a jeans-and-mock-turtleneck world like Mr. Jobs you could work with this phone. You're on your way, but you're not there yet. Your phone is lucky if it gets a clip or holster on the belt. Matter of fact, when was the last time you owned a phone that you never dropped? Just a minute ago we were talking lawsuits about how easily the Nano's were scratching. Does that proximity sensor activate shields when it senses it's about to slip out of your pocket and slide under your driver's seat? What about on the way to the concrete as you stumble and try to save the 4,000 orders of Starbucks that you were holding in the other hand?

2. Your good karma bill is past due. Take an iPod and a smartphone's cost and you're already around the iPhone's price range. But even if you wear a LIVESTRONG band, your favorite color is (RED), and you think we should get out of Baghdad, Iraq and into Darfur, Sudan, you're still gonna be a materialistic prick once you pick one of these boys up. Hundreds of kids could be immunized, a loan could be made to a third-world entrepreneur, or if you're really in a good mood, you could alleviate the burden of a couple people for at least a year. What? You still want it? Yeah, I guess it does match well with your new Hummer in the fourth garage of your slave-maintained plantation with the "Kill the Poor" flag waving in the front yard. Hmm.

1. You wouldn't even use it. You've used the crappy camera on your current phone, like, twice. You do use your iPod pretty regularly, but just for music and maybe a game--never anything more like for language training or schedule-keeping. You have a contact list on your home computer but you don't maintain it with any consistency. The last time you were on a conference call you didn't initiate it. You never knew that even your current crappy phone can send text, picture messages and email while on call. And that my friend, is the number one reason--and reason enough--that the iPhone is not for you.

January 19, 2007

Elections to Watch in 2007

January 18, 2007

10 Most Underreported Humanitarian Crises

No More Simply Slowing for Traffic Cameras

Digital Chosunilbo (English Edition) : Daily News in English About Korea

"With more and more cars using GPS systems, many drivers slow down only for the surveillance cameras and speed up as soon as they pass. This new system should put an end to that practice," an official from the National Police Agency said

Every single person I know who drives in Korea does this. I hope they get the memo. :(

January 14, 2007


~~, originally uploaded by a song under the sugar sugar.

20 x 20

-- noticias -- arquitectura :: arte :: diseño

La casa 20x20 es el resultado de la exploración de un módulo cuadrado referido por un material y sometido a prueba mediante un programa. El proceso se inició mediante la elección del revestimiento: cerámica 20x20. Luego se generó tres condiciones: Primero, toda la casa debía estar dividida en módulos perfectos de 20 centímetros. En segundo lugar, todos los recintos, vanos, muebles, iluminación, etc. estarían referidos a una trama de 20x20 centímetros que operaría como plano regulador tanto dentro como afuera de la casa. Y por último, la casa debía tener una planta cuadrada. Esto último, por tratarse de un ejercicio que en parte opera bajo la idea de esquematización del espacio y su consecuencia de la referencia directa con las proporciones del material.

Is this my first post in spanish? hmm...Just today one of my neighbors was shocked when I spoke spanish to her. I explained that my mother is Costarricense. Now I expect she'll try to talk to me only in spanish, and I'll suffer.

Back at the topic. this is an article (with lots of pictures, non-linguists) about a modern-styled modular house which is completely open on three sides (glass walls) and completely closed on the fourth.

Beautiful design, but is it practical? I tend to think it could be, if positioned correctly. I think that American ideas about what makes a home and what is acceptable as living space are underdeveloped and lacking true foundation. We have vast expanses of land and resources so we can do anything we want--even if it is excessive, inefficient and alienating. When dealing with spatial, resource, or financial limitations, the human mind is capable of coming up with much better methods.

I've been thinking about this a lot, as I received two wonderful books on design and spatial architecture over the holidays. I've been poring over them and even redesigned our living space to be more deliberate and indicative of our lifestyle. Maybe I'll at pics of the house at a later date.

The snow words myth

Language Log: The snow words myth: progress at last

You may think it couldn't possibly be that a language could have words with such complex meaning, but let me just add this. I once browsed for a while in the wonderful Comparative Eskimo Dictionary and came to the conclusion that it looked as if you should be able to make up a single word that would mean "They were wandering about gathering up lots of stuff that smelled like dead fish." I sent an email to Jerry Sadock, who is a serious Eskimologist, asking whether this was true. Back came an email. It contained one (West Greenlandic Inuit) word.

That is absolutely fascinating. I must admit that I'm guilty of using the snow words myth, though I thought it to be true. It was an interesting anecdote that helped bring non-inclined minds to a somewhat esoteric concept. I guess I'll need to find a new object lesson.

January 13, 2007

iPhone observations (probably part 1)

Why Apple is the only company that matters ォ Speedbird

While I'm not so sure that the iPhone is the revolution it claims to be (or perhaps it is a revolution while I'm looking for an evolution), This post does point out a lot of the things I think are important about this new toy.

Q-TARO.COM POST: Will Apple iPhone succeed in Japan?

Here is a perspective that has some of the same reservations that I do. I think if you put these two post together you'd be somewhere close to where I am about the product currently. Yes, iPhone is cool; but is it really cool?

The Perfect Human

Wired 15.01: The Perfect Human

Dean Karnazes ran 50 marathons in 50 days. He does 200 miles just for fun. He'll race in 120-degree heat. 12 secrets to his success.

Freedom is Slavery

January 12, 2007

13 Photographs That Changed the World

January 11, 2007

innovative lighting

January 10, 2007

Dental Reflections

I've been spending a significant amount of time in the dental office recently. Nothing too bad, but because I've been without a dentist for about 3-4 years, it definitely was overdue.

I've decided that I probably would not make a good dentist or dental hygienist. The primary reason is because of my attention to detail. I love making things just right, and it would seem to be a problem if my patients had to endure me an extra 30 minutes so that I could perfect what was already just fine. Imagine their horror as I place sharp, pointy objects in their mouth and strive for the pinnacle of dental repair.

Speaking of focus and diligence, I was fascinated by how quickly I became a non-person once in the chair. As my hygienist received me we chatted amicably, cracking jokes and talking intelligently. Once my mouth opened, however, I became a task--an assignment. I guess it helps that you're unable to talk while someone's hands are in your mouth, but what I initially thought was a glaze-over what actually an acute focus of attention to work. Dental practitioners pore over their work in the same way that a surgeon does, or an engineer, or a top-notch college student. Or an honest cubicle drone, for that matter.

Questions from these visits: At what point does excellent work cross the line into painful precision? What are the rules of social interaction when you are a non-person? Not only in the chair at the dental office, but at the massage parlor, the shoe store, the makeup counter. Do we ever put those who work for us in a non-person role? The bus boy, the bus driver, the cashier?

January 8, 2007

Where is my favorite record!?

Most Koreans See a Bleak Future

Digital Chosunilbo (English Edition) : Daily News in English About Korea

Seo Woo-seok, a professor at the University of Seoul's College of Urban Science, said Koreans’ confidence in their ability to overcome social obstacles has weakened and the nation’s growth engines such as aspirations to greater democracy have faded over the last 20 years.

The article says that the idea of a unified Korea is steadily becoming a pipe dream to South Koreans, but they assert that the reasoning is because the prospect of economic growth has become more appealing.

I find this interesting after reading this tidbit from the same paper, on the same day. Now that Korea is slated to be next to last in economic growth in 2007, do you think that would rejuvenate the reunification spirit again? Just thinking.

How to Kill a personality

Anil Dash: How to kill a personality

There must be some lesson to be learned here, about the telephone game. Or about how the fact that any of us can be quoted out of context as public figures at virtually any time. But what I see right now is the depressing reality that everybody can be completely reasonable, and the end result is that nobody is allowed to show the most engaging, interesting and unique parts of their personality.

I can see both sides of the fence here. On one side, a person is dulled down to something nondescript in order to be a representative face of a company, its employees and investors. He loses self in order to speak for many, and that seems to be a loss.

On the other hand, he is speaking for an organization. The organization is an entity, not a spirit or a living thing. It has no characteristics. It cannot emit emotion of any kind. As such, any ideas you have about the personality of a company are solely based upon the personalities of the people you identify as that company. Microsoft is bad because you don't like Bill Gates. Apple is aesthetically inclined and somewhat snobbish. Enron is scandalous.

No, No, No. All companies listed are simply that--companies. They provide services for a price and generate profit. They are machines. They have no soul, no right/wrong mechanisms. They are no more personable than your toaster is sweet. So any personality or flair that a CEO or PR person shows that endears or repulses you is false if you apply it to the company.

In the case of this CEO, his comments were pertinent. I don't buy the spin that Anil later reports of. What he said was accurate, and it revealed a way of thinking in an informal and unpolished manner. If he gets heat for it, he deserves it. When on the record, you speak for your company; not for yourself. This is important for all of us to remember.

Wired 15.01: How To Build a Better Body

Pills? Pop 'em. The scalpel? Sharpen it. New ways to train? Bring them on. The Wired way to max out your bod.

January 5, 2007

Can Humans Hibernate?

LiveScience.com - 'Hibernating' Man Survives For Three Weeks

A man who went missing in western Japan survived in near-freezing weather without food and water for over three weeks by falling into a state similar to hibernation, doctors said.

Mitsutaka Uchikoshi had almost no pulse, his organs had all but shut down and his body temperature was 71 degrees Fahrenheit when he was discovered on Rokko mountain in late October, said doctors who treated him at the nearby Kobe City General Hospital. He had been missing for 24 days.

Food and Finance similarities

I Will Teach You To Be Rich: Food and personal finance are similar

This guy is incredible. He's a real inspiration by the way he is able to simply and effectively reinforce a single theme: You are responsible for your financial environment, and doing so does not need to be exceedingly complex. It only needs to be deliberate.

I've been going on for the past two weeks in conversational ramblings that have revolved around a few key words: deliberacy, perception, and purpose. How many of us really live are lives in a way that can truly incorporate these ideals? If so, we'd find as Ramit has that there everything about living is connected and reference-capable.

Anyway, he's got a little booklet he's selling. I might just buy it as paybacks for all the information he's given thus far. Definitely worth checking.

business is brutal, example #372

Maniacal Rage. You might remember a post...(04 January, 2007)

You might remember a post I wrote back in August about selling xPad. It didn't turn out as planned, and I want to talk about it here for a moment because I think it's important for everyone to know what happened.

It takes a lot of work to make something successful. And when you want to set it free you have a lot of anticipation. The problem is that the ones who oversee it after you step back rarely have the same care and concern as you. Quite often, they're also more interested in gain than progress. This is why things like this happen to all of us. I sincerely wish it wouldn't.

What are you optimistic about?

Joi Ito's Web: EDGE Question 2007: What are you optimistic about?

I think Joi has a great answer here. It exudes hope, reinforces his optimistic nature and, most importantly to me, tells where he sees things going. Let's be honest; the only reason I'm a fanboy of Mr. Ito is because I think he has a good view of what tomorrow can be. So a post like this is pure gold to me.

The post also links to others' answers. See also Kottke's would be answer; compare and contrast on your own.

How about you? what are you optimistic about?

January 4, 2007


Shinjuku, originally uploaded by kasei.co.uk.

your new boss is losing it

Job opportunities for expatriates in Seoul, courtesy of the Seoul Metropolitan Government

Please note that your email address often can say a lot about you, where you are in your life, and whether what you're offering is worth taking. This is a service announcement from Leftsider: Helping you spot the clues that can make your life more enjoyable.

We are looking for native speaker who has experience of creating script/question of listening comprehension test for middle school students. If you don't have experience but think you are qualified, you can apply.

The work: You will be given sample listening comprehension test and create new one based on it. So you must have good paraphrasing and writing skills. Just 4 year college degree is required. Monthly pay is 2,500,000 won(negotiable), Monday through Friday. If you think you are qualified, please send your resume to sucidal@hanmail.net

gaming as the non-game

Q-TARO.COM POST: Kabutore カブトレ!Learn how to trade Japanese stocks on your Nintendo DS lite

Kabu カブ means "stock" and tore トレ is short for "trade." I bought this game for the DS out of curiousity. It's an interactive tutorial about how to do online stock trading put out by Konami. When I bought the game they gave me this net trading beginner's guide by Zai magazine and a form to sign up for an account at Monex Securities. In Japan, a great part of the DS lite's success is the huge number of non-gaming adults buying them to play educational games.

Gaming is often vilified, and sometimes for good reason. Yet I've recently postulated that perhaps there is more to gaming than just pushing buttons.

Nintendo seems to be most keen to this. One of the reasons that I've really been excited about Nintendo recently is that it seems that they have started to redefine what it means to "game." (previously noted)

All of a sudden people are excited about games again. With the Wii's new controller it's hard to find gamers seated, which kills the primary point of contention about video games--lethargy. A video game now can teach you, train you, get you moving.

While I'm not an avid gamer, I'm really intrigued by this new direction and am eager to explor the potential for social and intellectual stimulus in an area that desperately needs it.

Wired vaporware awards

Wired News: Vaporware '06: Return of the King

Pull back the red curtain and dim the lights. It's the 9th annual presentation of the Wired News Vaporware Awards, our ode to the year's top technology products promised, hyped and scheduled, but not delivered.

I look forward to reading these every year. The number one position is so far out of reach....Now that Vista has arrived I wonder if anything can compete with that track record. Pure geek hilarity.

The youtube effect

Foreign Policy: The YouTube Effect

Welcome to the YouTube effect. It is the phenomenon whereby video clips, often produced by individuals acting on their own, are rapidly disseminated throughout the world thanks to video-sharing Web sites such as YouTube, Google Video, and others. Every month, YouTube receives 20 million visitors, who watch 100 million video clips a day. There are 65,000 new videos posted every day. Most of the videos are frivolous, produced by and for teenagers. But some are serious. YouTube includes videos posted by terrorists, human rights groups, and U.S. soldiers in Iraq. Some are clips of incidents that have political consequences or document important trends, such as global warming, illegal immigration, and corruption. Some videos reveal truths. Others spread disinformation, propaganda, and outright lies. All are part of the YouTube effect.