Thursday, May 27, 2010

Dear Canadian citizen

An email I received from the Canadian embassy in Seoul (my bold):
Dear Canadian Citizen,

In May 2010, a multinational investigation team concluded that North Korea (DPRK) was responsible for the sinking of a South Korean warship resulting in 46 casualties. The evolving political response is likely to cause even greater inter-Korean tensions, which could escalate into other forms of confrontation. This situation has been extensively covered by international news media over the last week.


Hello again - sorry for the "radio silence". Here's an update on the North-South tension as I see it. Most of this will be links to helpful and informative news articles which provide much better analysis than I can.

First, the newsy updates: not much tangible has happened since last Thursday. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited China and South Korea and tried some diplomacy, the South announced small punitive actions and did some military posturing, and the North cut off all (well, most) contact and did its own military posturing.

What does this all mean?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

If you're following my blog...

... you should also be following the increased tensions between South and North Korea over the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan in March.

The recent development: an international panel has concluded that a North Korean torpedo (Korea Herald) sunk the Cheonan.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Korean pop-quiz

Since I learned to (haltingly) read Hangul characters, one of my favourite things to do is spot English words disguised as Korean. They're everywhere: Korean is almost as accepting a language as English itself, so newer additions to Korean culture as well as many product names are just transliterated English words.

Now you can play the game too with my quiz! A warmup: what does the Korean word on the left say? (I'll give you a hint: the left syllable is "pep" and the right is "si").

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Open mic

A couple weekends ago, I went to an open mic at our local hangout, Happidus. There weren't many people who wanted to play, so I jammed with Andrew (drums) and Bill (guitar) for about an hour and a half - I had to pull out every trick in my high-school-jazz-band book. I wanted to wait until I had a picture, so here it is!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

이문세! 이문세!

The volleyball folks took me to a concert last night! It was a 이문세 (Lee Moon Sae) concert - apparently he's quite famous here, so one of my Korean friends was very jealous of me going.

Concert review and description after the jump!

The man on top of the world

In my park there is a globe with many
Clocks, all facing different ways and set to
Different times.

Kiev, Melbourne, Albany.

Perched atop and framed by the streetlight through
Drizzling rain there is a man with one clock.
It eclipses his face; he seems to peer
Through as though vainly trying to take stock
Of his own corner of existence. Here
And now he sees the world, on local time.


I drink in the stillness of the night,
Revel in the soft rain and let my mind
Wonder if the man atop the world might
Sometimes wish to change his time.

Hong Kong, Rome,

I smile: a reminder of home.


Picture: A clock near the river in Anyang. The sign says "Anyang-Si", meaning Anyang City.

Bonus points to the first person to identify the poem structure in the comments.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I will never buy socks in Korea...

... because I keep being given them! A month or so ago at volleyball, I was given some volleyball socks by one of the guys, and just yesterday one of my students approached me to offer me a "Teacher's Day" gift (though in my understanding it's not Teacher's Day yet). It was socks, of course!

Monday, May 10, 2010

What Steve's Reading

Hey all, sorry for the blog-silence. I haven't really done anything exciting enough to write about, that's all. Last weekend I went to Itaewon and with the help of some friends found an English bookstore. This meant a lazy Sunday in the park reading!

I'm also still reading online, tonight about math!

A primer: Steven Strogatz for the New York Times has written a multi-part series explaining math concepts in lay terms. If you have ever wondered about the math behind infinity, the square root of minus one, or the area under a curve, read up!

For the more mathematically literate: The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences. Thoughts are appreciated in the comments.

Also, a couple things from le monde homo.

President Barack Obama may have just nominated the first lesbian to the U.S. Supreme Court. Is it disreputable Harvard rumours or common insider knowledge? Washington Post. And should we be even talking about it? Andrew Sullivan.

Finally - surprise! A leading anti-gay crusader in the States takes a week-long European vacation with an escort hired from Miami New Times.

Monday, May 3, 2010

My travels so far

(The pins in Hay River, NWT and Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia are places I am planning to go, all others are places I have been. Click the map for a higher quality version. So much more to see!)