Saturday, 28 February 2009

Backfired Courtesy

A Creative Commons-image from Ooki_Op.

The problem with inviting people out somewhere is that they often invite people of their own; the latter are bound to be people you don’t like. If you liked them, you would have invited them with in the first place. Dreaded is that question: “Would you mind if I invite someone with?” Now, one can’t say no – that wouldn’t be nice. So I follow my hospitable upbringing and concede to the request, but all the while my thoughts are bemoaning the loss of what would have been a nice evening. Instead, I foresee hours of jaw-clenching frustration.

The problem is most likely that I’m not in the mood to actively practise the Virtues. See, it’s easy to “flow” with the Virtues; things like good behaviour, courtesy, patience, and so on are easy with people you like, or at least with people that do not annoy you. But, as C. S. Lewis says: "Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment." Practising such Virtues as patience and friendliness with annoying company takes effort – and effort is not what I had in mind when I was thinking of a relaxing night out in town.

My annoyance, it seems, reveals more about me than about the annoying people. Firstly, annoying people are seldom annoying to everyone. What irritates me does not necessarily irritate you. So apparently annoyance is a preference, similar to a like or dislike in a certain genre of music, rather than a clearly identifiable trouble, for instance an illness. The annoyance, therefore, is more my problem, than their problem. Secondly, few people actively try to be annoying. Most adults, at least, has grown past the phase of deliberately attempting to annoy someone. It is likely that most annoying people are annoying despite themselves. Call it a character flaw if you will; and if so, it is more like an infirmity than a choice, which means there is not much to do about it. Again, therefore, the problem is more mine than it is theirs, since I do have a choice. Being quickly irritable is not an infirmity, it is not an illness – it is something I can work at.

I think I better take a nap now, as I will probably need the energy tonight when I’ll be practising the Virtues. "If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it quite intolerable: think of it as a place of training and correction and it’s not so bad" – C. S. Lewis.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Staat en Kerk in die Nuwe-Nuwe Suid-Afrika?

Ek het ernstig oorweeg om vir COPE te stem – dis nou as buite landse Suid-Afrikaners wel gaan kan stem. Maar COPE se aanstelling van ’n biskop as hulle presidentskandidaat maak my baie onseker. Vanuit die staanspoor voel ek baie sterk dat politiek en religie (Staat en Kerk) verwyderd van mekaar moet bly. Die geskiedenis wys ons sonder skaamte hoedat religie (enige religie) met staatsmag, ’n dodelike kombinasie is.

Dit is waar dat Suid-Afrika ’n tradisie het van kerkmanne wat die politiek betree het; sommige goed, ander sleg. Nietemin, hierdie aanstelling van Biskop Mvume Dandale, voormalige hoof van die Metodiste Kerk van Suid-Afrika, maak my ongemaklik. Hoe seker is ons dat Dandala nie gaan probeer om Staat en Kerk te meng nie?

Indien Dandala sy kerklike toga neerlê, en homself fokus as staatsman – ’n eerlike man met intergriteit is tog die beeld wat COPE hiermee probeer weerspieël – dan kan Dandala dalk ’n goeie kandidaat wees. Baie Suid-Afrikaners is moeg vir die korrupte politici. Dandala se voorstelling is ook ’n kompromie, wat betref die ondersteuningsfaksies tussen COPE se hoofleiers Lekotla en Shilowa.

’n Ander belangrike vraag is of Dandala ’n politikus is? Dis eending om ’n leier van ’n kerkgemeenskap te wees. Dis ’n ander ding om landspolitiek te speel.


Op ’n ander noot: Lyk die COPE-logo nie vir jou ook soos die X-Men logo nie? Dalk is Terror Lekota ’n aanhanger van Marvel Comics! Met ’n bynaam soos "Terror" kan hy maklik ’n X-Men kakarter gewees het.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Women wanting to change men

“That won’t work,” she said. “Women always think that they can change a man.”

I had a nice discussion with an elderly friend of mine today. I told her my worry about some women that I suspect are interested in me, but for whom I do not feel the same interest. I mentioned how I did not show much overt attention to them; in the hope that they would get that I’m “just not that into [them]”. Her response was somewhat surprising, and quite enlightening. “Women believe that they can change how you feel, given the opportunity and enough time.”

We did not discuss the success of women in “changing” a man, but it was not necessary. I won’t be changed. I know what I want and what I don’t want in a partner and out of a relationship. Attempting to change my mind is futile.

I just wish I had a nice way of telling them that they are wasting their time.

Book Review: Philsophy -- The Basics

I finished one of my subway-reads a day or two ago.

In 2004 the 4th edition of Philosophy: The Basics, by Nigel Warburton, was printed; and by 2008 it was in its fourth reprint; clearly a good seller. I found it a nice introduction to philosophy covering the prominent philosophical topics: God, Ethics, Politics, Reality, Science, Mind and Art. For each Warburton introduces some of the main ideas and also some common arguments against these ideas (and occasionally counter-arguments against the arguments).

It is definitely a good introductory book to philosophy. It is regretful that an attentive reader is able to infer Warburon’s personal preferences from his writing. This is especially unfortunate for a book of this type – an introduction to philosophy, which I believe ought to be consistently unbiased. While Warburton does supply good arguments for and against the major topics, his writing gives away (although not overtly) his preferences to some ideas.

Philosophy: The Basics is a good introductory book, but for referencing I’d rather consult a Dictionary of Philosophy.


I think my next subway-book will be Die Mugu, by Etienne Le Roux.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Classes I'll Be Teaching

It seems that my class schedule is settled. I’m teaching five modules this semester:
  • 19th Century British Poetry (Romantics)
  • British & American Essays
  • Essay Writing
  • Intermediate English Listening & Conversation
  • Research Methodology
Of course, I am especially looking forward to the first two, which are literature subjects. I’ve been working many hours already in preparing for them. For the poetry course I’m covering all the great Romantics: William Blake, William Worsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Byron, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Alfred Tennyson (the latter is technically a Victorian poet). Since my class is the first poetry module in the program (second year, first semester), I’ll be focusing on the major poetic devices as well, such as Form, Imagery, Symbolism, Rhythm & Rhyme, Narrator and Persona, Irony, Parody and Intertext, etc.

I think that the British and American Essays module is also going to be an exciting one. We will be reading some of the great essays written in English, both old and recent. Such classics as George Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant”, Virginia Woolf’s “The Death of a Moth” and “Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King, Jr. will be read alongside modern reads, like Ellen Goodman’s “Company Man”, Susan Sontag’s “A Woman’s Beauty: Putting Down or Power Source?” and the funny Dave Barry’s “Road Warrior”. I’ve selected 14 main essays (one per week), plus an additional eight essays for comparative reading; in all, 22 essays.

I’m also interested in the Essay Writing course. Last semester I taught Basic Composition, which is the springboard for this Essay Writing module. I’m keen to see how the students progress in their writing ability. The Research Methodology is also going to be an interesting course to teach. I’m basically going to tutor the students on writing a proper academic article, starting with finding a topic, practical research, the format of an article and the details of citing sources. While only an hour a week, this is going to be an intense hands-on module. Remaining is the Intermediate Listening & Conversation module. I taught this language skills module last semester and feel quite comfortable with it; however, we’ve decided to try out a new textbook this semester. I think this new textbook is much more focussed on Listening and Speaking. The previous textbook was diluted from these objective because it also spent time on the other two language skills, reading & writing, which is better covered in other modules.

So this week is all about preparing for the classes starting next week.

Gay until Graduation

Met ’n besoek aan ’n ou professor by my Alma Mater verlede week, vertel hy vir my van ’n obskure fenomeen by die universiteit. Glo is daar ’n sterk subkultuur van GUGs (“Gay Until Graduation”) op kampus. ’n Gug is nie regtig homoseksueel nie (of ten minste nie offisiëel nie), maar geniet die gay-leefstyl en omhelsende gaygemeenskap vir die ruk terwyl hy (of sy) studeer. Na graduasie skakel die persoon eenvoudig terug na ’n konvensionele heteroseksuele leefstyl, trou, kry kinders, gaan Sondae Gerevormeerde Kerk toe en direk daarna na die supermark om vleis te koop vir die middag se braai.

Omdat die gesprek oor ’n verskeidenheid van wye idees gehandel het, het ek nie onmiddelik die GUG-gedagte bepeins nie. (Ek benodig in elkgeval bietjie tyd om oor dinge te dink, voordat die gewig daarvan my tref.) Ek kan nie sê dat ek bewus was van die GUG-subkultuur terwyl ek gestudeer het nie, maar moet sê dat ek nog altyd gefassineerd was deur seksualiteit – in besonder die vloeibaarheid by sommige mense, en die gestoldheid by ander. Party mense blyk gebore te wees sonder enige afwyking in hulle voorkeur. Ander mense vloei heen en weer oor die seksuelespektrum; sommige in hulle adollosensie, ander tydens ’n midderjarige krisis, en ander weer deurentyd, asof hulle nooit kan besluit op tieties of totties nie. En dan is daar die paar wat al drie soek.

Is die GUG-verskynsel blote eksperimentering? Is dit ’n soeke na ’n inklusiewe (of dalk ’n ekslusiewe) subkultuur? Het hulle na mode-ontwerper Tom Ford geluister?
There’s one indulgence every man should try in his lifetime: If you’re straight, sleep with a man at least once, and if you’re gay, don’t go through life without sleeping with a woman. Either way, you might be surprised at how natural it will feel if you can get past the mind-f*** of stereotypes. In the end, it’s just another person that you are relating to in a physical way. – Tom Ford
As daar een persoon is wat weet hoe om met seks te verkoop is dit die Tom Ford. (Kyk byvoorbeeld na hoe hy brille verkoop – Waarskuwing: Naaktheid en Seksuele Innoënsie2008 Eyeware Collection.)

So wat sit agter die GUG-fenomeen? Is dit ’n mode gier? Is die nuwe postmoderne identeit so vloeibaar dat seksuele oriëntasie ’n keuse geword het? Regtig?! Is seksuele oriëntasie ’n keuse? Wat het geword van al die gaykampvegters wat glo dat seksuele oriëntasie "nature" is, nie "nurture" nie, en beslis nie "choice" nie.

Ek het baie vrae, ’n paar bedenkinge, maar min antwoorde.

Korean Dancing

I wrote before about great Korean dancers. Below is just a random clip of Jin Young Park, founder of JYP Entertainment. I don't know much about Jin Young Park except that he is considered a leader in Asian entertainment. He is a singer, songwriter and producer with JYP centres in Korea, America (Manhattan) and China (Beijing). He is known for his slogan: "We don't make music; we make stars."

Anyway, here's a clip from YouTube of Park practising a routine...

In Korea Again...

I'm back in Korea again. We've started with faculty meetings already. I foresee a busy week in preparation of the classes starting next week.

South Africa was great, albeit somewhat exhausting. If I have time I'll post about it soon.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009


Daar’s baie blomme om jou mee te vergelyk,
maar eens woorde droog word soos sand
of ink klaar raak nes sap uit ’n vrug,
kies ek dan nou ’n sonneblom –
geel soos ’n vinkhaantjie flink aan die werk,
aan’t kasteel bou, wat Goddank klou
aan ’n slanggroen takkie soos ’n baba bobbejaantjie
aan teertepel en fisantgrys pels.
Geel soos die son se brandende oorloop
aan’t warm maak soos sussende arms
soos gemmer en songeel heuning
en smerend nes olyfolie-liefde.
Lawageel soos die aarde se goue bloed,
bruisend soos die hartstog
ontroerend soos heilige genade
En met jou gesig na bo getilt
soos ’n kind wat reën in haar mond vang
al spinnende nes mot en kers
nes planeet en son
nes verliefde en geliefde
nes ons in God en God in ons.
My lief – jy’s ’n sonneblom.

Self-Portrait: Veldt 2

Self-Portrait: Veldt 1

New Martial Arts Resource

A friend and I recently started a resource website for martial arts. The site is still in its infancy-stages, and still needs lots of bulking up and over-all editing. I wrote the main "Martial Arts" article on the landing page, as well as some of the other articles.

It is our aim to make it the most authoritive website on martial arts on the Internet (basically a martial art encyclopedia of sorts). We plan to surpass Wikipedia as the top site when searching for "martial arts" on Google. If you have anything to contribute (essays, articles, ideas), please let me know.

Feel free to visit our martial arts resource website; you can actually help us attain our goal by linking to the site.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

In South Africa . . . Still

I'm still enjoying my time in South Africa. It's great seeing family and friends. I'm quite busy with a variety of projects as well. In the meantime I'm also preparing for the modules I'll be teaching this semester; I'm looking forward to it. It's going well.