Thursday, February 28, 2008

Song of the Day!

Stiff Little Fingers - Tinderbox

Then the rain came down
And washed all hope away
And your life's a train
But it only goes one way

What about the times when you were happy
Balance them against the times you're sad
Was there once a time when you felt lucky
Or do you regret the times you've had[

Cos sometimes I feel
I live in a tinderbox
And just one spark
Sets the whole thing off
And sometimes I see
The light die within me
And the flame go out
Leave me in the dark

When your world's a mess
And imbecility gets you down
When you can't accept
The stupidity that's around

What about the times when you were focused
What about the times you know who you are
Do you find it hard containing your emotions
Do you find it hard to just get out the door

I'm hangin' in you're hangin' on

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Figured it was too good to be true...

February, normally the worst month for weather in Korea, has been so mild this year I was thinking that maybe spring was coming early. Ooops. Today I woke up to:

Monday, February 18, 2008

Literacy and the Dumbing Down of America and the World

Two Op-Ed pieces in the Washington Post today caught my eye. Howard Gardner's, "The End of Literacy? Don't Stop Reading.", which speaks to the changing nature of literacy around the world, and Susan Jacoby's, "The Dumbing Of America", which, as the title indicates, talks to how American's are not only becoming more ignorant, but are actually proud of this ignorance. They offer and interesting juxtaposition in that they both use the same ideas to reach different conclusions. Both Jacoby and Gardner agree on the obvious point that technological advances have changed the nature of learning and the acquisition of information. Where they diverge is on the effects of these changes.

Jacoby contends that the advent of video technology has not only affected the America's reading habits (as proved by the oft decried decline in book, newspaper, and magazine sales) but has affected the ability of people to focus on anything for any sustained period of time. She also states that Americans are going through an appalling period where learning seems to have become unimportant or, even worse, "elitist". It's not important to know WHERE Iraq is as long as we know something bad is happening there. Understanding the historical, political and cultural ideas and events that are the cornerstone of American society are now considered irrelevent. According to Jacoby, American's are keeping themselves purposely ignorant.

Gardner, on the other hand, seems to believe that technology doesn't effect the nature of literacy and knowledge in a negative way, but has simply changed the way we approach the wriitten word. While print media may be on the decline, literacy itself is under no threat. The written word will continue in new forms and a literate population will remain. There is the fact that 70% or more of all information on the internet is in written form. The explosion of the blogosphere has created a whole new medium for people to express their ideas. People aren't reading books, but they are reading.

I tend to agree with Jacoby. I am often frightened by the fact that a fairly large percentage of Americans couldn't find Canada on a map if you paid them or that we could elect a president that doesn't seem to have a decent grasp of the English language. It bothers me that Americans in general have little regard for, or knowledge of, the world beyond the national borders. Politics has been reduced to a sound bite filled beauty pageant rather than a discussion of ideas. Historical knowledge is a thing of the past (pun very much intended). The era of great thinkers has degenerated into an age of self-help, new-age, pyramid schemers more interested in a quick buck than actually having anything important to say. Literacy may not die, but critical thinking, reason, and rational thought are in rapid decline.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Namdaenum (The Great South Gate) destroyed by fire.

Sungnyemun (Gate of Exalted Ceremonies) or Namdaemun (Great South Gate), as it is widely known, was one of South Korea's most recognizable landmarks. Almost every travel advertisement featured at least one image of Korea's National Treasure No. 1. This beautiful two-tiered pagoda which was completed during in 1398 during the height of the Joseun Dynasty, was destroyed Feb. 10 by a fire started by a 70 year old Korean man who was angry at the government.

You see more images of the fire HERE.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The search is over. The Skins hire Jim Zorn as Head Coach.

I really do not know what to make of this. The Danny hiring Jim Zorn as Head coach. I'm puzzled, perplexed, befuddled, confused, bewildered and any number of words synonymous with "What the F**k?!?"

Jim Zorn?!?

Jim Zorn, former Seattle Seahawks QB who has spent the years since his playing days coaching quarterbacks at places like Boise State, Utah, and Minnesota Universities; finally ending up as QB coach for his former team. Granted, Zorn is credited with taking Matt Hasselbeck from bumbling rookie to perennial pro-bowler, but does that make him HC material?

The spin from Redskins Park is, of course, overwhelmingly positive. The buzz is that Zorn, who by all accounts is a straight-talking, even-tempered, Christian gentleman, is, or could be, the second coming of Saint Joe: a Joe Gibbs Lite. Zorn gets high praise from Seattle players and coaches alike as a "players coach". That's all well and good provided he has the will and tenacity to stand up against The Danny when it comes to the personnel decisions for which Danny Boy has proven time and time again he has no skill at all. Fan reaction to Zorn has been more positive than expected, especially in the light of the vitriol spewed forth at the announcement that Jim Fassel was the leading candidate for the job.

Is Zorn the guy? Maybe. Maybe not. One thing is certain: he has his work cut out for him. He is taking over a team that wanted Gregg Williams as its next leader and is trying to maintain the cohesion as a unit forged last season. He has to work with a fickle owner who seemingly has no idea how to run a football team (will The Danny keep Zorn next year if he has a losing season and some bigger name coach i.e., Bill Cowher, becomes available?) . Finally, he has to appease a fan base which may cautiously support him in the beginning but will turn on him like a rabid dog should he stumble.

I, as a dyed-in-the-wool Skins fan, am willing to give Zorn the benefit of the doubt. As I have for the past 15 years, I'm approaching the 2008 season cautiously optimistic. If the Skins, with a new and unproven head coach, can make the playoffs again, I'll be ecstatic. If they manage a winning record, I'll be happy with that. If they completely implode, I'll say, "Saw that coming."

Monday, February 04, 2008

Pats choke on the big one! Giants 17 - Patriots 14

Going into this game, I really couldn't be bothered to root for either team. All I wanted was to see a good game. Well, I certainly got that. In a game that no one could have predicted, the Giants took it to the once perfect Pats and pulled off one of the great upsets in NFL Super Bowl history.

The Giants defense was in Brady's face all day and kept the vaunted Pats offense in check. Then, in what has to be one of the most spectacular plays I've ever seen, Eli Manning pulled a Houdini, escaping a massive Pats pass rush and hit David Tyree, who made a Lynn Swann type circus catch, on a vital third and long. After that, it was just a couple of plays, some blown coverage, and, Bam! Game over.

Sorry Pats fans, but y'all got out-played, out-hustled, and out-classed today.