Friday, 31 December 2010

Another Year in Retrospect

This is the third end-of-the-year since I started this blog. I took inventory of the previous years both in 2008 and in 2009, and it seems like a good habit to keep up. So here is a summary of my life during 2010.

January

I started 2010 in Hong Kong where I stopped over for a couple of days on my way to South Africa. I experienced many different cultural highlights like doing Tai Chi on the harbour, attending a Cantonese opera appreciation class, experiencing the magnificent Symphony of Light show, attending a kung fu exhibit, and so on. One of the great highlights is the mango desert with coconut noodles. Undoubtedly the best desert I have had in my whole life and by itself worth visiting Hong Kong again.

In South Africa I spent some blessed time with many loved ones in the Vaal Triangle, North West Province, Gauteng Province, Limpopo Province

February

Still in South Africa I travelled from the Limpopo Province to the Western Cape, there to spent some time with my youngest brother, where I was also a guest in an episode of the television discussion program Consider This, produced by my brother. Exploring Cape Town a little bit as a "tourist" was also fun. There was also the exquisite Cinderella on Ice performance that I thoroughly enjoyed.

From the Cape I went to my "home" -- KwaZulu Natal Province, to visit Joa and other friends, spending time in Durban, Pinetown, and Mtunzini.

My last two weeks in South Africa was spent mostly in the Vaal Triangle and Potchefstroom areas -- particularly in Potchefstroom at my Alma Mater, spending time with my Taekwon-Do gym, my academic department, and friends. An old professor of mine complimented me; a compliment that touched the very centre of my being.

I returned to Korea to find my apartment full of evil rice weevils.

March

It snowed the most beautiful white landscapes I've ever witnessed. My first "white birthday," which I celebrated a week later with some friends, serving them bunny chows.

I took some of my students from my Literature & Visual Arts: Shakespeare Films class to "A Night of Shakespeare" performance.

I started up Pyp-Online.

I was interviewed by Master George Vitale and Mr Laun Van Le for the documentary film about Taekwon-Do, Our Moral Armor.

April

Attended Jamie Cullum's fantastic concert in Seoul.

Contemplated Hamlet. What an excellent play.

Saw a vampire slayer.


May

Went to David Choi's concert.

Was shocked at the death of Kakashi.

Saw Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake.

Discovered two new places in Korea. The beautiful Yeongsuri outside of Seoul, and the artsy Garosu-gil, in Seoul. 

June

Made the difficult decision to stop attending the Hapkido dojang and instead study Hapkido by myself and with the aid of Hapkido instructors outside of the formal dojang and started the arduous journey of finding my own "do" /도.

Attended Mika's concert in Seoul, followed up by the Korea vs Greece FIFA World Cup match, showed on the big screen. It was an excellent and highly memorable night out.

Started the Seoul Martial Art Circle.

Went to Cheongju(?) to visit a friend and took a ferry trip on the biggest lake in Korea.

July

Nothing much happened. Read some books, watched some movies, thought some thoughts.

August

Went to Thailand. What a wonderful experience. I definitely want to go back there as soon as possible. The food is great. The people are nice. The weather is tropical, just as I like it.

In Korea I travelled to Gyeongju Province. Went to the sea, Pohang and also went to see martial art sculptures from the Sylla Dynasty that I've always wanted to see in Gyeongju.

Attended a FC Seoul Soccer Game.

Went to Ocean World with the Taekwon-Do club gang. 

September

Took a First Aid course and a CPR ccourse.

Got a scuba diving open water license. Went to Jeju Island where I did sea dives. On Jeju-Do I also got lost in a maze.

October

Saw the best fireworks show ever.

Competed in a grappling tournament.

Hosted a Hapkido workshop.

Hosted a parkour workshop.

Went to a karaoke with friends to celebrate a friend's birthday.


Went zip-lining.

Attended a Back to the Future trilogy movie marathon session. Some of the best fun I've had in a long time.

November

Acted as father-of-the bride at a wedding, and also did a flower arrangement for the bride's table.

Hosted a parkour session.

Went to see Jump! for the fourth time.  That is now once for every year I've been in Korea.

December

Worked mostly, but had the opportunity to catch up with some friends whom I haven't seen in a very long time, like Young and Laura Soh.


..ooOoo...

Many other things happened. I worked A LOT, but admittedly enjoyed most of it. I love teaching, not to mention that I taught some fabulous classes like Romantic Poetry, Shakespeare Films, and the like. I started with Taekkyeon again. I read many excellent books that helped to mould my construct of the world and watched many films. I even started to feel in love again with someone I haven't seen in a very, very long time. I also started to write regular articles for the martial art website Totally Tae Kwon Do, which in turn inspired me to become very active on my Soo Shim Kwan blog. The mere fact that I've been to two new countries this year makes me feel very blessed. While I think that the world has gone from bad to worse this year, I think it was a mostly good year for me on a personal level.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Dream a Little Dream

It's the end of the year. I hope all the sweet dreams you dreamt at the beginning of 2010 came into being.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

35 Movies in 2 Minutes

Do recognise them all?


35mm from Pascal Monaco on Vimeo.

See other people's lists here.

Monday, 27 December 2010

'n Baie kort storie

Eendag lank lank gelede was daar 'n minnaar. Maar ook 'n wewenaar. Hulle was bure. Die minnaar het gevry na die wewenaar se vrou -- voor haar dood natuurlik.

Andy Lau and Detective Dee

Last night I watched the highly entertaining detective / kung fu / fantasy film Detective Dee again. "An exiled detective is recruited to solve a series of mysterious deaths that threaten to delay the inauguration of Empress Wu" -- IMDB. Detective Dí Rénjié is played by famed Cantonese Pop singer and actor Andy Lau.



After watching his performance in this film again I was anew impressed by this veteran entertainer. The first time I saw him was in the kung fu-romance film House of Flying Daggers (2004) and then in Battle of Wits (2006), one of my favourite Asian films. Apart from acting (he has acted in almost 150 films), Andy Lau is also a producer and has produced 16 films including Crazy Stone (2006), which I plan to see soon, for which he was awarded Asian Filmmaker of the Year at the 2006 Pusan International Film Festival (PIFF) in Korea. PIFF is the biggest film festival in Asia.

He is also a celebrated CantoPop singer and labelled one of Hong Kong's Four Heavenly Kings of Cantopop, alongside Jacky Cheung, Aaron Kwon and Leon Lai. Andy Lau released his first album in 1985 and is currently doing his Andy Lau: Unforgettable Concert 2010 tour. While I appreciate him as an entertainer, it is his films, rather than his music that I enjoy, mostly because I'm not much into pop music.

Looking at his picture above, would you believe that Andy Lau is almost 50 years old?! Like many Asians, he looks much younger than his actual age. I hope to have that body twenty years from now too. I guess I'll need to cut down on the ice cream. (I had some Häagen-Dazs ice cream again today.)

Saturday, 25 December 2010

An Atypical Christmas

I got up late this morning, but thought if I make haste I could get to the closest Sabbath keeping church on time, for they will surely have good food prepared for afterwards, seeing that it's Christmas and all. And then I got this impression: “So you just wanna go to church so you can get free food?” With my less than admirable motivation thus pointed out I decided not to go to church, but rather to listen to some sermons online. I like how the Holy Spirit convicts us — in a soft whisper.

Soon afterwards a friend of mine came over. He had had a terrible Christmas Eve. I guess his Korean wife doesn't get the Christmas thing or something for they had a fight and what not, and she gave him the silent treatment even after he gave her her Christmas gift—I'm not even sure if she gave him something in return. Be that as it may, he came over this morning in a bad mood. I kinda tried to tell him that I don't celebrate Christmas much, so I had a pretty normal Friday night. Being Sabbath evening I listened to some sermons (like this one) and watched an animal documentary called Eternal Enemies, about lions and hyenas.

That was my Christmas. A friend of mine is DJing at Lounge Purple Z in Itaewon tonight. The way she promoted it made it sound like quite a swell event. It goes by the name of 아싸! Assa!, which is the Korean equivalent of cool! Unfortunately the freez-your-butt-off-weather, with temperatures around -15° Celcius, is keeping me inside like a hermit with agoraphobia. No thank you. While I'm sure it will be an assa! event, I'd much rather stay inside where it's nice and warm. I'm planning to watch a nice movie like Crazy Heart or Detective Dee instead.

Well, to keep with the spirit of things, here is a Christmas song by Sheryl Crow:

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Top 10 Indie Korean Music for 2010

IndieROK's latest post reveals the 2010 Bugs Awards for Korean Indie Music. They are:

1. Lucid Fall - 고등어
2. 10cm - Good Night
3. Springloll - 허밍
4. Dalmoon - 옥상달빛
5. Kyu Won - 기찻길
6. Misty Blue - 하나
7. Daybreak - 팝콘
8. Dr.Core 911 - The Escape
9. Mono Diary - 추억이라 부르는 이름의 노래
10. cheezstereo - 화성 로맨스

You can watch the YouTube playlist of all the songs below:

The Eb and Flow of Friends

Over the last few weeks I've seen many old friends and had many farewells.

About three weeks ago I went to the farewell party of Leo. He worked as a director of sorts (I forgot what his actual title was) for the big nationwide language institute for which I worked the first time I came to Korea. He was one of the people responsible for my training during the first two weeks I was in Korea. Leo is a South Africa and after about ten years of living in Korea is now returning to South Africa to resume his position as a school teacher.

Another South African I saw at Leo's farewell was Mimie. I met Mimie at Kangnam Institute where I worked that first round in Korea. She took me under her wing and showed me the ropes. Mimie has been told that her contract will not be renewed. At around 70 years old she is still fit as a fiddle and put many younger teachers to shame. Unfortunately the retirement age in Korea is 65. She really enjoys her mission in Korea and is sad to leave, but I know she will be a blessing wherever she goes. She told me that she may take up tutoring mathematics again when she returns. She's not the type of person to sit around doing nothing.

At the party I also saw another South African friend with whom I worked at Kangnam Institute and who has also left Korea for the time being. She doesn't like to be talked about, so I won't say much more.

Patricia is yet another South African I know from my first time in Korea. We started together as part of the same batch of teachers and went through orientation together. We also worked together for a short time at the same language institute (in Kangnam). Patricia and I were instant friends. Both of us had come and gone and come back again to Korea – Korea does that to a person. Patricia's contract is finishing this coming week. The two of us had lunch today – decadent grilled mackerel. She is a fish lover from the Cape and when I visit South Africa I hope to meet up with her and her family, while I visit my one brother living in the Cape.

Laura is a mutual friend of Patricia and I. Laura also worked at the headquarters of the language institute with Leo and was one of the instructors during my orientation in Korea. With time, we too, became friends. She has finished her time in Korea around three years ago but still visit Korea annually, at which time we usually meet-up, enjoy good food and hang out together. We did so recently as well.

Two Saturdays ago Patricia, Laura and I went to the Kangnam Institute where we worked together for a while, there to meet up with many of our old colleagues. It was wonderful to see so many of them and was quite nostalgic to be back there. Although the language school had had a facelift since I've been there the previous time, it still smells the same and feels the same. Many happy memories of my time in Kangnam flushed back. I had lots of fun there, although I can undoubtedly say that my current job as a university lecturer is much better. That afternoon we went to a choir festival – a number of churches in the Kangnam area came together with each performing one or two items. A close acquaintance happened to be the conductor for one of the choirs. It was nice to see him and his wife again too.

Laura and I have a favourite restaurant in Daehangro that serves traditional Korean food with lots of side dishes at a very reasonable price where we always go. This past Saturday night, Laura, a friend of hers named Susan, Patricia and I went there. Afterwards we went to a Starbucks. Students of mine gave me a Starbucks voucher so I treated the lot of us to some drinks and deserts.


There after we decided to go to Tteoksam Resort, there to find a street food vendor that Laura always fafs about. It's been three years since the last time Laura's been there, resulting in us getting completely lost both on our way there and back.
Nonetheless, it was one of the most fun evenings I had in a long time. Getting lost in Seoul is always an interesting experience. For instance we stumbled into the street where every store has in front of it a sofa or two.
  Getting lost resulted in us missing the last subway train. It took us quite some time before we could get a bus – probably the last bus too – on which to worm ourselves in as it was so overcrowded. The bus only took us so far and we had to eventually take a taxi to get all the way home. Laura has returned home, to America, in the meantime.


Yet another friend, Christine (from Bookish-Bohemian aka Korea Has Seoul), finished her contract in Korea at a public school and decided to return to America. She's considering taking up a master's degree. We never worked together, but did work for the same company and moved in some of the same circles. Christine left me with two and half suitcases of books that I'll keep for her in case she returns. If she doesn't return, we'll work something out. Having some extra books around will help me stave of the temptation to buy more books.

On Monday I went for lunch with a colleague of mine. Chonghee and I became friends after her first semester work in our department and it has been a joy. Our offices were next to each other (basically one room partitioned in two) but luckily we have similar taste in music so we didn't bother each other too much. Chonghee and I often went to concerts together. For instance we went to see Rent, Jamie Cullum and Mika together. Her contract finished and she decided to go back to America. I will surely miss her, but completely understand why she decided not to extend her contract. While she worked here for the last two years her husband has been in America, visiting every couple of months.They need to be together and since they recently bought a home in Pittsburg, that is where they will live for now.

A week back I saw my friend Chanyang who recently went to America to study. While there he decided that that particular major is not for him, not to mention the exuberant study fees in America. He returned a couple of weeks back. I saw him last week at the Taekwon-dojang and was surprised at how happy I felt to see him again. I've really grown fond of him and am happy that he is back.

Another Korean friend who studies in America is also currently in Korea. Unfortunately Young is only here for a visit and will return to America within two weeks or so. Young and I also worked together at the Kangnam Institute where we both taught English. His fun-loving character was a great compliment to my moments of seriousness. He enjoys my creative side and when we are together we usually have lots of “silly” fun. Young and his wife, and their baby daughter came to Korea to attend Young's brother's wedding, to which I also went last week. It brought back memories of Young's wedding during which I functioned as an MC and other best-man activities like the Han-ceremony. I'm really happy to catch up with Young again, but am also quite sad that he will be leaving soon again.

But then again, so am I. I'll be visiting South Africa for a couple of weeks coming January during which time I will get to see many of my loved ones. I'm very much looking forward to it, even though I know I'll be quite exhausted from all the travelling. Nonetheless, it's worth every kilometre of dreaded public transport. A year is a long time not to see your loved ones and I'm eager to see them again.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Some Christmas Thoughts

Last year I mentioned why I do not celebrate Christmas as a holy-day. The following little animation illustrate my points in an entertaining way.



As the video points out, there is a beautiful message to Christ-mas, and although I don't consider December 25th as particularly special, I do have great appreciation for the historic event when Love became embodied in a human being who would have it as part of His mission to demonstrate to us what love-in-action is. And by implication also to demonstrate to us our sinful nature -- that when Love foils our selfishness, we would kill Love to silence it. Luckily, Love, like Truth (for the two are intimately related), cannot stay dead, and even if we were to bury it, eventually it will always come out again -- it will always rise from the dead.

Incidentally, we see this motif in the WikiLeaks-saga. When the Truth of corrupt governments come to light, the messengers of truth are persecuted. But Truth, like Love, will eventually prevail.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

North Korea -- A Rocketboom Perspective

Mollie from Rocketboom gives a nice little contextualized overview of the recent North Korea / South Korea incidents.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Gedig: Wie?

Wie, hier, kan vir my sê
waar die westewind
haar kop neelê;
waar die oostewind
haar skuiling vind;
waarom my mooi liefling
weggegaan het,
waarom sy my hier
agter gelaat het?
Wie?

Mmm


"Information is the currency of democracy." -- Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, 12 December 2010

WikiLeaks and the Fight for Internet Freedom

Molley from Rocketboom gives a rundown on the WikiLeaks debate in the video below.



An important point she is making is that Julian Asange's arrest has nothing to do with Wikileaks, but regards a sexual assault allegation. So why are WikiLeaks being bullied? It's servers are attacked. MasterCard, Visa and PayPal are all pressured to discontinue sources of income to Wikileaks, and even their Swiss Bank Account has been shut down. This is clearly an outright attack on WikiLeaks.

Since I support WikiLeaks, I am in favour of the backlash. The powers-that-be has gone to war against WikiLeaks, so they should not be surprised if hackers all over--who holds at heart the principle of free access of information--start to rise up and fight back. The most important hacker-ethic is that information should be freely available and free access to information has a positive effect on society. They thousands of hackers out there, Wikileaks embodies this ethic of free access to information. An attack on WikiLeaks is an attack on everyone that holds to this core value of free information and freedom of speech. The "unjust restrictions [governments] impose on [WikiLeaks] . . . will . . . only strengthen . . . [the] resolve [of people adhering to the value of freedom of information and freedom of speech] to disobey and rebel against [ such governmental] tyranny":





Corrupt governments of the world, we are anonymous. For some time now, voices have been crying out in unison against the new ACTA laws. The gross inadequacies of the new laws being passed internationally have been pointed out repeatedly. Our chief complaint is that such measures would restrict people's access to the internet.

In these modern times access to the internet is fast becoming a basic human right. Just like any other basic human right, we believe that it is wrong to infringe upon it. To threaten to cut people off from the global consciousness as you have is criminal and abhorrent. To move to censor content on the internet based on your own prejudice is at best laughably impossible, at worst, morally reprehensible.

The unjust restrictions you impose on us will meet with disaster and only strengthen our resolve to disobey and rebel against your tyranny. Such actions taken against you, and those you out source your malignant litigation too, are inevitable, unavoidable and unstoppable.

We Are Anonymous,

We Are Legion And Divided By Zero.

We Do Not Forgive Internet Censorship

And We Do Not Forget Free Speech.

We Are Over 9000,

Expect Us!

Sufjan Stevens -- "You Are the Blood" and "Joy to the World"



I recently discovered Sufjan Stevens' music. I definitely plan to get much more acquinted with this artist. The song above is a cover of "You Are the Blood," originally by Castanents. And seeing as it is the Christmas season, below is a rendition of "Joy to the World" by Sufjan Stevens.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Flower Arrangement

Last month when I was father-of-the-bride, I also made a flower arrangement (the one above) for the celebration. It was my first time to make an arrangement of this sort.The closest I have come to it was to pick some flowers and bundle them together in a rough bouquet. Making an actual arrangement was a new and fun experience. I have this dream for retirement one day. I want to open a little shop that combines a flower shop, a second hand book shop, an arts-and-crafts shop and a coffee shop. I guess my little flower arrangement last month is the first step in that direction. After all, I'm  not getting any younger.

Handtekening

Soms, wanneer ek na iets luister (byvoorbeeld 'n preek of 'n seminaar of so iets), dan teken ek graag. Ek is een van daai mense wat beter luister terwyl ek "doodle." Die probleem is dat ek nie altyd papier byderhand het nie. Dis nie noodwendig 'n probleem nie aangesien ek altyd 'n hand byderhand het. Onderaan is 'n tekening wat ek gemaak het, sommer so op my linkerhand.

My Korea -or- Why Am I in Korea?


I'm sometimes posed with the question, Why did I come to Korea? This question is not to be confused with why am I working abroad, but very specifically what made me choose this particularly country; why didn't I go to, say, Japan or Taiwan? Why Korea?

The answer is actually quite simple. Around 16 or so years ago I took up the martial art Taekwon-Do. My brother and I were actually searching for a kung-fu school—we were very much into kung-fu movies growing up. Quite accidentally we saw a flyer advertising Taekwon-Do and promoting it “as seen in Best of the Best.” We had seen the film and was impressed by the techniques we saw. Although it wasn't kung-fu, it was significantly different enough from Karate. We knew we were not interested in Karate. My brother and I attended a class and the rest, as far as me becoming a serious martial artist, is history.

In the version of Taekwon-Do that I do there are things called “teul,” translated into English as patterns. They are movements arranged into a sequences of attacks and defences against imaginary opponents. The purpose of teul is to teach you combinations of movements, certain ways of manoeuvring, fighting strategies, and so on. Each teul has a name with a special meaning somehow related to Korean culture and history. Some are named after historic figures like Korean kings, philosophers, scholars, freedom fighters; others are named after philosophical or ideological ideas that are part of Korean culture. It was inevitable, as I learned the teul and the people and things they represent, not to become enchanted by Korea.

Then one day my sister-in-law told me about the possibility of going to Korea. There were different options. One could go through a church organization as a teacher-missionary. Or you could go through an educational institute as a teacher—usually an English teacher. As soon as I had finished my master's degree I was on the plane to Korea.

[Image Source]
It was nothing as I had imagined it. My imaginings were based on the Korean folk heroes I learned about in Taekwon-Do, media-based conceptions about the Far East, and readings of Oriental philosophy. After a year and a half in Korea, and with a black belt in another Korean martial art (Hapkido), I returned back to South Africa. Even while I sat on the aeroplane I knew that I was not yet finished with Korea. About a year later I returned to Korea once more and I am here still.

In all, I have been in Korea for about four years now. The honeymoon phase is long over and I've been thoroughly disillusioned. I have an enigmatic love-hate relationship with this country. And while I think that my time here is slowly drawing to a close, I also know that as of yet, I am still not finished with it. Eventually, when I do depart, I know that I will always have strong ties with Korea. My Korea.

WikiLeaks: Stop the Crackdown

The vicious intimidation campaign against WikiLeaks is a dangerous attack on freedom of expression and the press. Top US politicians have branded WikiLeaks a terrorist organization, and urged corporations to shut it down. Commentators have even suggested assassinating its staff.

Whatever we think of WikiLeaks, legal experts say it has likely broken no laws, and the group works with leading newspapers (NYT, Guardian, Spiegel) to carefully vet what it publishes - so far less than 1% of the cables leaked to it.

We urgently need a massive public outcry to defend our basic democratic freedoms. Sign the petition to stop the crackdown!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

I Support Wikileaks


In a world where governments lie to their citizens on a near constant basis, a group dedicated to exposing the truth is of crucial value. How can we hold our governments accountable if we don't know what atrocities they are committing? Such lies like "weapons of mass destruction" that cost the lives of thousands of innocent people could have been avoided had the truth been known.

For his resolute purpose to make truth available Julian Assange is under attack. Prominent people in government has called for his assassination. Some even call him a terrorist. Comparing Julian Assange to a terrorist just shows how corrupt these governments have become. It is only in an Orwellian world where one could liken someone dedicated to the truth to a terrorist. Corrupt politicians, torturer-presidents and spying-encouraging ministers get off scott free, but those fighting for truth and justice are called terrorists.



Personally I believe Mr Assange's arrest is linked to a smear campaign, if not a set-up. It is unprecedented -- read, "never hear off!" -- to put out an Interpol warrant on a person suspected of sexual harassment or rape. And since when is it illegal to have consensual sex without a condom? Does it even matter that the first woman involved in the rape charges is "a known radical feminist in Sweden who wrote a blog post on Seven Steps for Legal Revenge." Now would it surprise you to hear that she may be a CIA operative?

Whatever the case may be, most people know in their gut that his arrest has little to do with his promiscuity or being a sexual predator and everything to do with him being an activist for truth.

Wikileaks is supposedly participating in illegal activities. What makes it illegal? The fact that it makes available the truth to the general public? These are truths that are in the public interest. The Wikileaks-documents are embarrassing to many governments, particularly the United States, and that is why they want him muzzled. It is embarrassing because the governments ought to be embarrassed. They want to keep these things quiet because they know that they are in the wrong and ought to be ashamed. The leaks demonstrate their killing of innocent people, their torture tactics, their extortion, their manipulations, their briberies not only in wartime but even at international meetings like the Climate Change Summit. Governments are involved in despicable spectacles, never letting the citizens of those governments in on what they are doing. This is absolutely contrary to everything that democracy stands for. Governments, contrary to the term's original meaning, do not govern its citizens. In a democracy it is the citizens that have authority over the government. Democratic governments are supposed to perform the will of the people, not the other way round. Instead governments are involved in acts that are shockingly contrary to the will of the people it is supposed to represent, and for this very reason they are keeping their dirty deeds secret. And for this very reason, organizations like Wikileaks ought to be praised as they are returning the power to where it belongs, with the people, not with a deceiving oligarchical elite!

Does the information released on Wikileaks put some people at risk? Possibly. Still, we cannot keep silent as to the multiple thousands of people that have already been harassed, tortured, and killed and conveniently kept quiet about. Nor can governments be allowed to think that they can continue to act in this manner. We do not live in ancient times where we are governed; the foundation of democracy is that we, all citizens of a democratic nation, are the governors. As such, we ought to have access to all information related to the government.

In the meantime the domain name for Wikileaks is taken down and the host for the site is changing frequently. The direct FTP-address is http://213.251.145.96/ . Attempts to shut down Wikileaks is a direct attack on all Internet freedom.


"Whatever you think of WikiLeaks, they have not been charged with a crime, let alone indicted or convicted. Yet look what has happened to them. They have been removed from Internet … their funds have been frozen … media figures and politicians have called for their assassination and to be labelled a terrorist organization. What is really going on here is a war over control of the Internet, and whether or not the Internet can actually serve its ultimate purpose—which is to allow citizens to band together and democratize the checks on the world’s most powerful factions." -- Glen Greenwald.

The (cyber-) attacks on Wikileaks is just the beginning. These governments, the United States of America in particular, will use the Wikileaks incident to pass legislation to tighten control over the Internet. In the name of "Cyber Security" they will take away Net Neutrality and the free access to information and with it freedom of speech. Their excuses for doing so will range from "Cyber Bullying" to "Cyber Terrorism." They will convince, in other words deceive, the public into thinking it is for their own safety. Nonsense! They are just megalomaniacs that will not be satisfied lest they control every facet of your life and turn you into a serf, if not a slave.

I support Wikileaks!

Hallelujah!

I wish I was there.



Better yet, I wish I was part of this.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Bankrun2010; Now What?

So maybe you joined Bankrun 2010 and withdrew your money from the bank? Now what?

First, put aside the money you need to pay your basic bills. Pay it in cash. Many general bills like phone bills, water & electricity, and the like can be paid at convenient centres like the Post Office, or certain shopping centres.

Second, take what ever you have remaining and buy gold. If you cannot afford gold, buy silver. Precious metals are generally safer than monetary currency as their value is much stabler. Also, whenever normal currencies are unstable (as is the case at present), physical currency, i.e. gold, increases in value. Such great financial and trend forecasters like Mark Faber and Gerald Celente have been warning of the economic collapse for a very long time (long before it occured) and have also held gold up as a safe investment. Looking at their track records and considering the logic, I agree. I've suggested buying gold on this blog before and to my family and friends I've been recommending this for probably two years now. I hope they listened, for if they did, they would have increased their savings quite a bit buy now. Once you have your gold, find a safe place to keep it.

Third, for most people it has become too difficult to live without the functionality and convenience of the banks. Nonetheless, remember that banks do not have your best interest at heart. Banks are businesses that try to get as much money from you as they possibly can. They will do it through exuberantly expensive services, but also through immoral exploitation. Yes, we cannot function in a bank-dependent society without using banks, so I'm not suggesting closing down your bank accounts and never using banks. However, see how you can use banks less, by saving in physical assets (gold, property, etc.) and using banks only as necessary.

Fourthly, be frugal. Don't waste your money. Saving in gold may help you in that because you are less likely to convert your gold into currency on the whim. The global economy is still far from on its way to recovery, no matter what the big banks are telling you. In fact, quite the opposite is true. If you are going to spend money, do so on quality -- things that will last long and truly bring value to life.

Lastly, if you want to spend money on yourself, do so on things that will improve you. Invest in yourself. Consider investing in your education, health and long term happiness. If you are American I strongly suggest that you do not study in America. American colleges and universities are ridiculously over-priced. You can get just as good and sometimes even better quality education in other countries for cheaper.

Finally, some thoughts on the value of Bankrun2010. In my previous post I did not comment why I see value in this. And I don't have the energy to do so now. (It's late, I need to get to bed.) However, I believe that anyone with one ear to the ground (i.e. proper information sources), and a little insight into the global economic collapse, will know that the big bank cartels are hugely (although not exclusively) to blame. A bank run will not only show these banks that they ought to be service providers, not manipulators, it will also send a clear signal to other oligarchical systems and would-be plutocracies that we will have none of that. The big bank systems have been manipulating economies and made serfs of the common man for far too long.

Another reason why it may be good to withdraw money and invest it somewhere else (like gold), is because many prominent economist and trend forecasters think that if things are continuing as they are, we could see a bank holiday. What does this mean? A bank holiday is when the bank temporarily closes, say for a week or two, during which time you cannot withdraw any money. When it reopens, the monetary economy will have been revalued (read devalued), and your money will be less worth than what it was before the bank holiday. It is therefore pertinent that you have some savings invested somewhere other than banks. Remember that money in the bank is not the only way one can save and in times of economic and global unrest like now, it may not even be the most secure place to have your savings. With the "currency war" going on, you stand the risk of losing your banked money anyway; why not take it out and invest in gold and silver?

Spud: The Movie

I mentioned the novel Spud in a post around this time last year. Well, in the meantime the movie has started doing the circuit recently in South Africa. The movie features a well established South African cast, with some English surprises, like John Cleese.



I'm very much looking forward to seeing Spud: The Movie and can only hope that it will still be showing in theatres when I get there in January.

Ek sal miskien ook Bakgat 2 kyk indien ek in Suid-Afrika is. Nie omdat ek dink dis noodwendig op dieselfde vlak as Spud nie, maar bloot omdat alle Suid-Afrikaanse films ondersteun moet word. Vernaam nie-Engelse Suid-Afrikaanse films.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Classes for Next Semester

Next semester I will be teaching very much the same classes I taught last semester, minus one class, Research Methodology. This is quite a relief. Research Methodology is a time consuming class, especially when you are working with over 40 students! My list of classes includes:

  • Intermediate English Listening and Speaking
  • Basic Vocabulary
  • 19th Century British Poetry (Romantics)
  • British and American Essays
  • Literature and Visual Arts (Shakespeare Films)

The first list I got did not include the Romantics, which had me very disappointed. Instead I was going to teach Media English, whatever that is. Luckily the lecturer that was assigned 19th Century British Poetry (my favourite class) was willing to trade Media English with me so we suggested it to the department chair. He said he'd think about it. I haven't heard from him yet, but this afternoon when I went to the department office I saw the administrative personnel busy preparing the rosters for the different classes, so I saw my list of classes.

Update, 8 Dec 10:

I just had a department meeting this morning during which time the department chair told me that I may be required to teach Research Methodology after all . . .

Friday, 3 December 2010

Happy Sabbath

Luke 14:5: "[Jesus] answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?"

May you have a blessed Sabbath, with no incidents of asses, oxen or other properties, physical or otherwise, fallen into any literal or figurative pits. Happy Sabbath!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Christianity vs Secularism and I

My brother informed me that the episode of Consider This in which I was a guest speaker and spoke about Christianity vs Secularism has aired and that it is available on the counter.act media YouTube channel. The thought of me sharing ideas—particularly religious ideas—on television is somewhat troubling. When speaking about God and "oughts" and "naughts," one has to be very careful. As I mentioned elsewhere, I hope my views are sound.

At first I wasn't sure if I actually wanted to see myself on television. I felt a little like Johnny Depp who refuses to watch his own movies. Eventually I did gather up the courage and looked at the episode to see how I applied my 15 minutes . . . uhm, 8 minutes . . . of fame.

The three videos below are the three segments of the episode. I feature in the middle segment.







Consider This is a counter.act media production and was produced by my brother, Nethan.

Liefling -- Die Movie

My broer het onlangs die nuwe Afrikaanse musical "Liefling - Die Movie" gekyk en sê dat dit verbasend goed was. Ek geniet musicals en aangesien die laaste Afrikaanse musical film wat ek gesien het -- een met Ge Korsten -- jare gelede was toe ek nog 'n tjokkertjie was, sal ek graag wil sien waarmee hulle in 2010 voorendag kon kom.



Ek hoop dit wys nog in teaters teen die tyd wat ek in Suid-Afrika gaan aankom in Januarie. Dis, natuurlik, indien ek 'n kaartjie gekoop kan kry.

Ek is geensins 'n fan van ligte Afrikaanse musiek nie, en al weet ek dat Bobby van Jaarsveld (die hoofkarakter in die film) sy oomblikke het, sal die musiek nie noodwendig die rede wees dat ek die film wil sien nie. Ek wil net graag sien wat gebeur in Afrikaans deesdae. Ek verlang na Afrikaans. Boonop, dis nie al dag dat Suid-Afrika 'n musical maak nie en ek hou graag die Afrikaanse film bedryf dop.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

World AIDS Day


Today is World Aids Day. Like all such "days" the purpose is creating awareness about a specific social issue. Do you remember when people started to speak about AIDS in the 80s? I was still in elementary school when I first heard of the dreaded AIDS. Back then it was a "homosexual disease". I'm glad that we have passed such ignorance, but it is still far from appropriate to think the we (the world) have enlightened notions about AIDS.

In South Africa AIDS is still a rampant epidemic. For a long time I've heard that some African people believe that AIDS was invented by white people in an attempt to reduce their population. There are also superstitious beliefs that sex with a virgin will cure AIDS. While things have improved, South Africa has a history of presidents with questionable views regarding AIDS. There is the legacy of President Thabo Mbeki and of course the shocking example of the current president, Jacob Zuma, who took a shower after having unprotected sex with an HIV+ woman. Such examples nullifies years of sex and AIDS education. The real effects of this disease will be felt ten or twenty years from now when a great chunk of a whole generation in South Africa's will have died to AIDS-related deaths, leaving behind another generation of orphans.

In South Korea it is difficult to assess the affect of AIDS. As a far eastern country, saving face is an important part of the Korean culture, so statistics are often under reported. At least it is not considered a homosexual disease. It may, however, be considered a foreign English teachers' disease.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

My Alter-Ego: Dash Snow

Het jy al ooit jouself in iemand gesien? Tot 'n skokkende insig gekom dat daardie persoon is wie jy kon gewees het, maar eintlik bly is dat dit nie is hoe jou lewe uitgedraai het nie?

My ander-ek is Dash Snow, 'n Amerikaanse kunstenaar wat in 2009 op die ouderdom van 27(?) gesterf het. Ek lees oor die lewe van Dash Snow en ek sien hoe klomp geleenthede daar was vir my lewe om soortgelyk aan syne te kon uitdraai. Het ek drie of vier ander keuses tydens kneloomblikke in my lewe gemaak, was ek ook dalk nou al dood nadat ek 'n uitspattige kunstenaarslewe geleef het. Ek probeer nie sê dat ek ook so bekend en opsprakend wekkend as Dash Snow sou gewees het. Dit is nie die punt wat ek probeer maak nie. Wat ek probeer sê is dat ek ook op 'n stadium daardie tipe lewe wou leef en dat ek die geleentheid gehad het om in soortgelyke destruktiewe (kunstenaars/dwelm/ens.) kringe te beweeg.

Om eerlik te wees, partykeer dink ek aan van daardie keuses—daardie “sensible” keuses wat ek gemaak het—en ek wonder of ek die regte keuses gemaak het. Soms wonder ek of ek uitgemis het op iets. Oor party keuses is ek soms spyt. Maar meestal dank ek God dat ek nie sekere paaie langs gestap het toe die opsies daarvoor oopgegaan het nie. Ek is oortuig daarvan dat sekere mense se gebede, veral die van my ouma en ma, gehelp het dat my lewenspad anders uitgedraai het. Ek leef dalk nou 'n minder “opwindende” lewe, maar dis 'n baie gesonder een.

Daar is steeds 'n bietjie Dash Snow in my; my ongesonde alter-ego is nie dood nie, net relatief getem. Dash Snow steek nog steeds kopuit by tye, maar hy's redelik onderbeheer. Die mense wat my ken sal weet van daardie kant van my. Daardie eksibisionistiese kant. Daardie kant wat so maklik verslaaf kan raak en wie ek van byna elke gewoontevormingde ding weerhou. (Ek vermy dwelms, alkohol, sigarette, kaffeïen en selfs videospeletjies!) Daar is steeds 'n rebel, 'n anti-establishment drang, bietjie van 'n anarchis, effense paranoïa. Alles onderbeheer, maar steeds daar. Krokkedille in die onderbewussyn, soos Steven King sou sê.

Beny ek Dash Snow? Nee. My lewe is opwindend genoeg en ryk aan ervaringe. Ek het 'n vrede wat Dash Snow nie het nie. Daar is 'n stabiliteit wat ek nou het, 'n fokus, wat ek nie wil verruil nie. Ek is bewus van my blekke, maar is ook bewus van God se goedheid.

Life Clock

Apparently, if I go by the fact that I'm South African, I'm expected to live until around 58. That means that I've lived more than half of my expected life so far. If I pretend to be from another country, like South Korea, I can expect to live to around 74 or so. Not what I was hoping, but still better.


Poodwaddle.com

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Another Week

Another week has come to and end, another week ahead. Last Sunday I taught a Parkour workshop again. I enjoyed the group of people that attended, from various countries. They members also learned the techniques with a fair amount of ease, and after only about 30 minutes they were able to do a basic run.




On Thursday night last week the senior students, for whom the current semester is their final one, organized a banquet in honour of the teachers. In Korea senior students host such a banquet to thank their lecturers for what they have done for them during their years at university. As a teacher I can only say that it is a much appreciated gesture. This was the first such a banquet I've attended, and was definitely the best one so far. We were taken to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Kangnam, which included an excellent buffet.

There are only two weeks of classes remaining at the university where I work, which means that we are very focussed on finish the material in time. Of course this means that I've started doing lots of grading in order to finish the assignments and class tests before the final exams start December 13.
Saturday night I met up with a dance instructor focussing on Jazz and contemporary dance. We had a very interesting conversation, mostly comparing the similarities between dance and the martial arts. I learned a lot.

Today (Sunday), I attended a Taekkyeon tournament (as a spectator). Although I have seen Taekkyeon tournaments online, todays one was the first time for me to see in person. Most of the events were group events, with five members per group. If a fighter wins his bout, he stays on to fight the next challenger from the opposing group. In one of the sets, a girl stepped up and won against all the members of the opposing team. She was quite good. Of course, I enjoyed the adults fights much better, as they used much more intriguing techniques. I took my video camera with and will put together a video once I have time.

The tournament ended around 7PM, it was supposed to end at 5PM. Starving by then two of my fellow Taekkyeon mates and I went to Itaewon for dinner. We had fabulous Thai food, including tongue smackingly good Thai deserts. While having dinner it started to snow.

By the time I headed home it was snowing quite hard. At first I was tempted to take a taxi from the subway station to my house so that I do not have to walk to far, but then I decided to rather take the bus and enjoy the fifteen minute walk in the snow to my apartment. Although I've experienced it now for a number of years, snow is still a novelty to me—I grew up in Africa, after all. That white blanket that covers everything is to me a beautiful spectacle year after year.

Today America and South Korea performed their joint naval exercises in the West Sea; the largest ever naval drills.I guess they were pretty intimidating as North Korea didn't react much. Then again, there is still a couple of days to go as the naval exercises are planned to continue till Wednesday.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Round Midnight



I spend far too little time listening to jazz. And I spend far too much time being awake round midnight.

Natural Disasters and Other Calamities

My friend from Mjix sent me a link to the map below depicting natural disaster hot zones around the world.


You can see a big version of the image above here. A look at Korea on the map would suggest that Korea is part of a hot zone. (You don't know where Korea is? Shame on you. It the peninsula that protrudes from China on the east, with the Japanese islands cupping it on the right. You are not to sure where China and Japan are either?! . . .  Now that is sad. Well, they, including Mongolia, are all part of the "Far East." See a map here.)

Korea is actually quite safe as far as natural disasters go. There are no significant earthquakes plaguing Korea; it is Japan that suffer from those. Not only is Japan directly over the Sagami Trough (#25 on the map), an oceanic trench that is known for around 7.9 scale quakes, Japan has also a number of temperamental volcanoes. (South) Korea's only volcano is Halla Mountain, generally considered dormant with its last eruption in 1007. Mount Halla is on Jeju Island, so an eruption there, while serious, will not affect mainland Korea that much. Now, Mount Baekdu which borders North Korea and China is another story. Signs indicate that it is ready to blow and it is suggested that it will be more devastating than when Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted and darkened big parts of Europe for days. I've been hoping to visit Mount Baekdu, but since trees started to die there because of volcanic gasses, I don't think it is safe to visit it any time soon.

The only natural disaster that does seem to hit South Korea on occasion are floods during the monsoon season and the occasional typhoon, but South Korea seems quite capable of handling these.

South Africa seems like one of the best places to live as far as natural disasters go. Southern Africa do not suffer much from serious natural disasters, except an occasional drought, which are usually not as severe as far as droughts can go in other places, like droughts in Eastern Africa (#37 on the map).

But then, who needs natural disasters if an HIV/AIDS pandemic and violent crimes kills people annually at equal staggering rates? Seen in this light, South Korea is still much safer to live. Or is it?

Safety in South Korea is relative, of course. The DMZ, the border between South Korea and North Korea, is the heaviest military fortified border on the planet. And this coming Sunday's activities in the disputed West Sea (Yellow Sea) may be as cataclysmic as Mount Baekdu erupting.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Happy Thanksgiving




To all my American friends and American blog visitors -- may you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving and may your recurring dreams be premonitions of positive futures.

My Brother's Work

I've mentioned in a previous post that I am jealous of my younger brother. He was in high school when he set his mind on becoming a video editor. Ever since then he has resolutely followed this dream and is working towards that goal. Unlike him, I'm still not sure what I want to be -- or to put it more accurately, there are too many things I want to do and be, causing me to be the proverbial Jack.

The video below is a reel that my brother recently made, showcasing some of the projects he was involved with over the last two years, including the work he did while interning at LifeStyleTV in Sweden and SID Media in South Africa.  My brother is establishing himself in the television industry, with special focus on Christian lifestyle programming, but he hopes to expand into film eventually.




He has set up a website for his freelance work that you can check out here: SilverSpark.

War in the Air? Part 2

So America and South Korea are planning another joint naval exercise in the West Sea this coming Sunday. Is it just me or does it really look like they are trying to provoke more reactions from North Korea?




I am not pro-North Korea. Far from it. I wish the dictatorial regime to come to an end as soon as possible. Still, the current South Korean government seems to be quite hard-headed and keen for war. I'm still not fully convinced that the torpedo that sunk a South Korean vessel earlier this year was indeed North Korean.

In the meantime, the American Dollar has strengthened since the recent attack. A Korean War, which will definitely involve America may actually strengthen the USA which has been suffering under the global recession and losing respect in the eyes of the world over the last few years. Here's the problem with these corrupt governments, be it North Korea, America or any other oligarchical system, once their power and popularity fail, they try to reclaim power through war. Most people were against George W. Bush, but then came 9/11 and people flocked to him like he was their saver, during which time he led America into two immoral wars. President Obama is losing popularity fast and many analysts predict some kind of war or terror event (whether actual or staged) is to be used to regain his popularity. Advisers have actually suggested that he should go to war with either Iran or Korea in an attempt to stimulate the economy. Might it be with North Korea?


May I remind you that my gut -- fuelled by a consumption of many independent and alternative news sources -- has been telling me that's something was coming and it is something I especially expected to happen in November. I wrote a post on November 11 with the title "We Are Waiting." Will this South Korea-North Korea skirmish-turned-aggressive-retaliation be the event that my and other open minded people's intuition have warned us about? I'm not sure, but it could possibly escalate into something of the sort. I followed that post with another one the next day titled "War in the Air?" Where can this lead? Well, if the ceasefire should officially come to an end, the USA will definitely become very much involved. Keep further in mind that China and Russia will feel highly uncomfortable with aggressive American forces practically on there doorstep. Basically, a Korean War will not only involve the Koreas -- it is inevitable for America, as well as the neighbouring countries (Japan, Russia, and China) to also become involved.

Read an interesting article in which America's involvement in both North Korean and South Korea is highlighted.

In the meantime life is continuing as usual for me. I'm making dinner, might grade some more papers and afterwards, as I usually do on a Wednesday night, I'm going to train Taekkyeon in Insadong under the instruction of this scary man.

Are You Joining BANKRUN2010?

Are you joining the Bankrun on December 7th? O, you don't know about it? Well, basically people are saying that they are disgusted with the corrupt banks and fraudulent monetary system and to show their protest they will withdraw all their money from the banks on December 7th, 2010. The problem I see is that banks do not have enough money in their vaults to pay everybody that will come on that day; a better strategy would probably not be a single Bankrun Day, but rather a Bankrun Week or Bunkrun Month. If you do go to the bank on 7 December and they are out of money, just go back the next day, or the next, or the day there after. The idea with the Bankrun, be it a single day or over a longer period is to send a clear signal to the oligarchy that we, the people, are still in control and refuse to be made into serfs. There are many protests groups that you can join in many different countries. See for instance this facebook page or the original Bankrun2010 French website (all thorough revolutions start in France!); the website has an English viewing option.

For an emotional appeal, watch the video below. (That is unless it is censored again.)

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

North Korea Strikes South Korean Island

So this is how I understand it. There is an area in the West Sea (often called the Yellow Sea) of Korea that is disputed territory between South Korean and North Korea. For this reason the area have been one of high tension, but also one of avoidance by the two Koreas over the last thirteen years. However, earlier this year South Korea and America have been doing naval exercises in this area, something that obviously had North Korea uncomfortable. North Korea warned South Korea than if they were to practise in this area again, they will be forced to see it as a provocation. Yesterday or earlier today (I'm not sure exactly) South Korea had another naval exercise which included shooting missiles into this area of the sea. North Korea, who claims that this area is part of their ocean waters, saw it as an attack and retaliated by firing dozens of shells towards a small South Korean island. Some houses were hit and South Korean civilians two South Korean navy soldiers were killed and injured. "North Korea is threatening to continue launching strikes against South Korea if it violates their disputed sea border . . ."

Analysts say that the reason for North Korea's attack is because of its "growing frustration toward the conservative South Korean government as well as the need to hold one-on-one talks with Washington for aid." I think it is much simpler. The South Korean navy did suspicious military exercises in waters they know to be disputed. Do they really expect North Korea to ignore such a blatantly arrogant move?

And now the the South Korean government announced that it may retaliate by shooting at the North Korean missile launch base. If this kind of tit-for-tat mentality continues it might escalate into something truly unpleasant. Since the current South Korean president has been in office, the tension between the two Koreas have risen uncomfortably. Is this part of some greater strategy he has? I don't think it is working.

As for my worried family and friends, do not stress too much.