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Oh! Music


Some of the group agreed to help out with some music because they wanted to record a fundraiser track to support Sarah Graydon while she was in hospital and in debt; the rest of us agreed. When we heard she liked The Beatles, Katerina suggested this song.

It’s been a lot of fun and great luck to get to play a little music with some great locally based musicians recently during the vacation. Having had a couple of practises and chosen four songs, we decided to try and record them. Fortunately, the Gwangju Community Center let us book a few sessions. Unfortunately, most of us were not very experienced at recording. Fortunately, some friends were able to figure it out. Unfortunately, we ran out of time for the fourth but were very happy to get three “in the can.” Fortunately, we met Paul Mossine. He agreed to film us live as we recorded one song.


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The Jeolla Safety Alliance

The Jeolla Safety Alliance has been well and truly established with the launch of this video.

Congratulations to Maria Lisak and William Harris for getting this video made. I hope it never needs to be used in a practical way; however, it is a very positive thing that this information is available and very clearly set out for anyone who speaks English in or around Gwangju.

Congratulations too, to Nancy Harcar and Laura Sparley for helping set up the Jeolla Safety Alliance. This group is, just like the video, a greatly positive initiative set up to address one of the worst negative realities of pretty much any given society.

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Girls Do Science

I’m really glad to have discovered this TED talk today. This is what I like most about TED; the voices of reason and experience exploding some of the most dangerous societal myths.

A word or phrase in English which I possibly heard in my undergraduate women’s studies papers but was certainly outlined here is “implicit gender bias.” Dr Randy Newman talks about it from 12:30 in the clip below, but, her whole talk is really worth anyone listening to and discussing fully, even in Aotearoa/ New Zealand.

I especially like her conclusion from about the point of 15:30 onward. Indeed, perhaps the greatest benefit of the shared wisdom that is consciously communicated effort of higher education is the conclusions we can learn to draw from experience. Many – I dare say most – women experience similar bias within the varied contexts of their many different lives and cultures each day, yet few can consider and then communicate the full weight of them so eloquently as delivered here by Dr Newman.

With regard to implicit gender bias, does not have an entry on that specific phrase; however, it has links on both implicit stereotypes and also implicit attitude. It’s great to see these and other expressions written out and explained with clear examples so well in English. I really hope someone can translate even just a little of these entries into Korean on wikipedia soon. Our sisters need to learn this stuff. I think maybe it’s missing from the general Korean education syllabus.

The positive side of this last point is that I’m very proud to be teaching “mixed classes” at GIST. In my first class I taught this morning there was an equal number of each. The second class is nearly the same, with five out of eleven students being female. This is immensely encouraging, although given that this is a language class, it’s worth wondering whether the same holds true in all the students’ main subject research labs.

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Cop out #18?

You may well know that one of the most important international meetings ever to occur is currently underway. The strangely named COP 18 is being held in Doha, Qatar, until this Friday. It’s the COP 18 meeting of nearly 200 countries who are tasked this year with finding and agreeing to the details of an effective replacement for the Kyoto Protocol.

Then again, you may well not know about it. Judging by one major online news source, New Zealand certainly seems to be facing a virtual media blackout on the very mention of the two week long conference. One of the nation’s leading news websites, the appropriately named “,” returns merely one single article on proceedings, and that’s for all three of the searches under the separate terms: Doha, Qatar, and Cop 18. Appearing as the fourth result of a search for the term Qatar [edit/ update: now the third, perhaps as a result of ranking improvement], but, crucially, NOT appearing under either COP 18 or even Doha, the tone of the article is quite rancid with acrimony and bitterness, virtually espousing a negativity akin to passive/aggressive ranting. Furthermore, it deals not even with the current proceedings of the meeting, but rather questions the “rights” of the host nation to hold the talks in the first place. But more on this tone of implicit vitriol later.


This overt failing of the website demands answers to a string of questions. Foremost in my mind: Why have the editors clearly deliberately avoided making up-to-date news on this conference able to be searched under the most obvious term: COP18, the name of the event itself? Even Qatar, as the name of the country, would be useful as a reference point for some people searching for current stories of this world-shaping event.

This gross negligence leads me to wonder: Why would the editors want to deliberately bury this, the one and only story referring to this, the major environmental meeting on the calendar and concerning all related issues and nations?

To be quite clear: is an aggregate news site. It supposedly presents ALL major news articles from ALL the nation’s local daily newspapers throughout the nation. Perhaps such stories have been carried in print but not put online, however, this in itself would be markedly unusual and would raise the question of why those stories have not been published online. Clearly then, there is something extraordinarily strange going on here, for which the editors of all the local daily papers would seem to have something to say which is not being said, online at the very least. Perhaps, for example, editors are venting their views and highlighting the meeting via their editorials, which are generally not included on this site.

To return to the tone of the article, it is rare to find any article on any subject which presents such a litany of examples of negativity in so many different contexts. From the title itself to the quotes, the attitudes presented are critical of the host nation in a way which belies New Zealand’s own hypocritical attitude as a developed nation, reliant on the huge amounts of methane and carbon pollution produced by the livestock industry, and our reliance on the majorly disastrous airplane to get us anywhere beyond Auckland’s beaches.

Clearly, the approach of bodes badly for the likely attitude of New Zealand’s representatives in Doha, Qatar, at the COP18 conference itself. Fortunately or not, the bad news for the rest of the world as presented by NZ’s governmental representatives is in fact the case, as is borne out by articles presented by the other news site, The tone of defensiveness continues even in this most recent of articles from yesterday’s news, though gratefully, the absurd vitriol has abated. Rather, as the title of another piece pointed out a day or two before, “Climate change talks may be ’embarrassing’ for NZ.” Why anyone would bother with the straw man attempt at a handshake pass with the words “may be” here is a laughable question in itself. There is no question, and the better verb form here is an emphatic: ARE. This state of affairs is in fact so offensive to the rest of the world, that even the online activist group has been called to arms with this petition they are ready to present to the NZ Prime Minister.

In the 1970s New Zealand citizens repeatedly raised record amounts of money for charity on nationwide “telethon” events, and we also learned to feel good about our identity as a naive young nation by doing relatively well in such irrelevant events as the Commonwealth and the Olympic Games (on a strictly per capita basis, of course). In the 1980s we, the people, faced down the might of the US with regard the imposition of the threat of nuclear catastrophe by resisting the visits of nuclear powered and possibly nuclear weapon-equipped ships. We, the people of New Zealand, also stood against the governments of both New Zealand and South Africa, demanding introspection of our own cultures. In a dramatic string of events which saw the streets and the rugby fields covered with riot police, we asked hard questions, namely: the place of politics in sport, and the place of racism in the very structure of our daily lives. It was a time of maturing as a nation; of facing ourselves and taking on our own responsibilities as a people.

And yet in this new century where the major threat is the weather bomb of our own making, we have not enough foresight to insist, loudly and clearly, that our very own leaders stand with those low carbon footprint countries who will suffer most as a consequence of our recent luxuriously oil-soaked lifestyle.

Clearly, that website needs to be renamed immediately. The only question is which is better: stuffall,, or…?

As you contemplate the answer, please go ahead and help the New Zealand government to grow up a bit, do the right thing, and change their tune: please vote in Avaaz’s petition and forward to others who might appreciate the opportunity too.

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Dear Mum and Adrian,

Today I had to walk to the office and class because of another typhoon. It was raining hard this morning when I left my apartment, so I did not take my bike, although it’s still only about five minutes’ walk.

Typhoon Samba is perhaps the third large storm we have had in the last month or two. This one has passed further away from Gwangju though, and as a result of its more inland path, we have had only a fairly constant wind and an annoyingly ongoing drizzly rain for a few days now.  I am looking forward to cycling to work again soon, and then going for a longer bike ride to explore the countryside after work too. Maybe tomorrow!

In the meantime, I am enjoying the swimming pool. It is very peaceful and quiet, and yet also sociable. In many other pools around Gwangju there are too many people, but I still meet nice people in the GIST pool. Two weeks ago I met a nice Filipino guy named Joey. Yesterday I met one woman from Tanzania and another from Thailand, and there’s the new guy from the Czech Republic. His name is Bohuslav, and he eats in the cafeteria. Sometimes I see Tanya from Russia who swims in the early afternoons, just after lunch. There’s also a tall European or middle-eastern guy who swims in the mid-afternoon. He seems like a very confident swimmer. Finally, my coworker John’s wife and young children swim there at least a couple of afternoons per week, so, the pool is not exactly empty.

As for work this week, I am glad to have now started all my courses. It is a large variety of different papers to be teaching. I have to do a lot of preparation and planning each day for the next day’s lessons. But, the students are varied, and interested, and they are interesting too. I am looking forward to actually talking with them about their lives here at GIST and elsewhere, and not only talking about the business of learning English.

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Kill your golf course

That we here in Korea were facing a severe drought situation served to highlight the impact and the danger of the fires of Colorado.

In some ways replacing one set of bad news with another, the fires were getting under way just as the Rio+20 debacle was drawing to its ghastly conclusion on June 15th. After the second, third, and fourth fires started on June 21st, 22nd, and 23rd, respectively, another friend confirmed just now tonight that thanks to both the firefighters and a few days of recent rain, those fires are now finally out. In the nearly three weeks of burning though, the first major revolution of rationality took place:

Fox News published sensibly of the credible existence of global warming and climate change. It’s rare that the news becomes news itself. If ever there was such an occasion though, this is surely it.

 A Fox News report dated July 6th, 2012.
It actually takes global warming seriously;
there’s not one weak joke about the weather.

Following this outburst of raw truth from Fox News came the obvious and expected over-compensatory swing-back. We knew it had to come, didn’t we?! One example was that of George Will overplaying his hand by telling everyone at a televised table-seat discussion he can explain it in one word: “Summer. Get over it.”

Wow. I wonder if he’d like to say that to the families of the 15,000 French people who died in the European heat wave of 2003? Or maybe the 20,000 other Europeans who died that year from the same mere “summer”? Or any of the families who lost their homes in the Colorado fires this summer not even ten very hot years later?

 Dan Turner, editorial writer.
LA Times, July 10th.

If that’s too emotionally challenging for the clearly emotionally stunted George Will to contemplate though, perhaps he should have a quiet, unemotional chat with some statisticians. As Dan Turner points out in the LA Times today:

“If you take the average U.S. temperature each month for the last 13 months and compare it with past average temperatures for that month, what you find is that each month has ranked in the top third of its historical distribution — the first time that has happened in recorded history. In other words, June 2011 was in the top third of hottest Junes on record, as was July 2011, and August, and so on. According to NOAA, the odds of this occurring randomly are 1 in 1,594,323.” 

In just the next paragraph he further points out:

“Arctic sea ice reached its second-lowest summer minimum extent in 2011 (the worst melt-off was in 2007). Globally, average temperatures were actually cooler in 2011 than in 2010, but 2011 was still among the 15 warmest years on record worldwide despite La Nina.”

Fortunately, on the televised discussion other people at the table talked on and replied and put Will’s nonsense into context quickly, quoting such facts and explaining the situation in terms he could hopefully understand, much as Turner has done here.

It is certainly past the point when debate needs to be had as to its existence when even Fox News finally essentially admits the reality of climate change and global warming. Let’s get on with changing ourselves, our societies, and our cultures to reduce and eventually start to at least try to reverse the process as much as possible. Our grand-children’s quality of life depends on the actions we take today, as individuals.

We will need more international sit down and talk about it brainstorming and negotiation sessions. We will need more personal, private, business, and government investment in all the renewable forms of energy. We will also need other more creative types of solutions to add to the productive mix. I’d like to suggest one, and the memory of the idea was sparked by the picture the LA Times featured in Dan Turner’s story. It is of a particularly dry-looking golf course.

The LA Times’ inspirational image:
the global warming-era golf course.
In a world where we all need all the trees we can grow
it is time to use this ground for something more productive than a few old people
spoiling their walks while wearing strange clothes and hitting small balls into little holes.

Given the Occupy Movement around the world and their highlighting of the excesses of the financial elite’s bankers and politicians all working in their favour, and given the oil industry (including the Koch brothers) and their crony spin doctors and lying liars for hire, and given their complicit involvement in the financial crisis and the great delay in the US-led western world’s response to climate change (within which I count first New Zealand), I wonder: What is the one sport all these types would play? What IS the common sport actually enjoyed actively by the 1%?


What is one quick and easy way we can start to address global warming?

Plant trees!

Where are some typically fairly easily accessible places with good water supply and good land to get the seedlings off to a good start?

Golf courses!

I read on a friend’s status update tonight a quote she had borrowed from another friend. He had not attributed his quote to anyone else, so I will presume that this is by Tom Hayden:

“I believe in hopeless causes. They told us 50 years ago there would be nuclear war over Cuba. They told us California needed 60 nuclear plants. None of that happened. So don’t believe the destruction of the planet is inevitable. Each generation has its chance to surprise the world.”

 Tom Hayden,
the activist extraordinaire and debonair.

It’s a lovely, encouraging sentiment. The world and especially the younger generation sure needs a bit of encouragement right now. The Rio+20 meeting was yet another international sit-down session ripe with potential for forging a new path towards a constructive shared future; again, it was a non-event, and the entire youth contingent simply walked out in disgust. Words are not the same as actions, and too many politicians and representatives have been bought into a silent complicity which sees them sacrificing the world for their own personal short term gain. “We” – whether the 99 or the 1% – need to start doing a LOT.

Planting over golf courses is just one easy beginning point, the idea to which I happily lay claim. I challenge you to think of, and enact, your own!

For another example, roof-top gardens are easy. All exposed concrete could be covered by vegetation of some sort. Concrete itself should be banned; the stuff creates way too much CO2. Hempcrete should be encouraged by every level of government just as hemp should be subsidized in tax-cuts for farmers to grow, just as it was during the war effort of World War Two, before it was promptly made illegal again so as to help the synthetic (oil-based) industry, and the tobacco industries continue developing apace.

We’re going to put more pressure on the already rapidly depleting water tables around the world as we desperately try to grow more trees over the near future. To that end, governments should also create tax breaks for industries which produce innovative solutions such as gray-water pumps and water recycling initiatives such as “How to” classes for both industry and individuals to implement the changes which they will be adopting.

But all these and other suggestions and ideas you and others can imagine, create, and initiate require the sacrifice of time, energy, and money. Planting trees, after all, is a relatively simple and cheap affair – if the access to land is a given – the main sacrifice it will require, of course, is the loss of space for playing golf.

 “Golf Tree” by Ian Pollock.
Gratefully stolen from his good site here.

Just like some plants use the ash and the space created by fire as fertilizer, and to gain direct access to the sun, the fires of Colorado have produced new growth in the form of Fox News finally reflecting the voice of its questioning, truth-seeking viewership. As the impact of this new version of reality slowly seeps through the consciousness – and hopefully consciences – of all viewerships, whether wealthy or struggling alike, it will be interesting to see how the collective response is finally formed.

We cannot continue to allow the fossil fuel industry to continue to sway our minds and dictate the terms of the conversation. That way lies the stench of oil-soaked death. People need to take back the conversation of our shared future. The people of every country need to find ways to creatively, constructively address the challenges of the corrupt part of the one percent, and global warming (and, as Fox News itself has even more recently pointed out, global warming’s “evil twin”  of “ocean acidification“).

It will be interesting to see what the reaction of the 1% is to the death of their hallowed symbol of excess which is the golf course. My only interest here though now is not if, but when, we will finally get around to planting the awfully, absurdly old-fashioned, out-of-date, and hideously bourgeois things over, and start really dealing seriously with such demand as our shared future of needing the space for new growth trees.

Yes, it might take a bit of time for the idea to grow on some certain sections of society. But change we are already most certainly seeing. Just ask Fox News.

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Extra: Immediately upon turning from this page I note that even Mitt Romney’s campaign rhetoric has again changed in tune, and he also is now officially no longer denying the existence of global warming. Again.

How politic of him.

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Update: May 23, 2014

Glad to have just found this article, at last:

If Your Lawn Is Green, It’s Pretty Likely You Aren’t

Update #2

Upon further review of the original post above, a further correlation to the current news is clear,

as Jon Stewart just pointed out and the Washington Post just highlighted:

‘Daily Show’s’ Jon Stewart highlight’s Fox News climate change alarm

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