Wednesday, April 02, 2008


The time has come, Dear Reader, to send this perverse, chaotic mass of verbiage and imagery off to its bedroom for a year(s)-long siesta. As noted before, this isn't the end of the Hairy Chasms; I'll be posting here every now and again over the course of the next year or two.

But for those among you who have been dedicated readers, willing to follow me through thick and thin (or, in this case, from thick to thin as my upcoming Walk whittles me down to a less freakish size), I encourage you to keep tabs on the madness over at Kevin's Walk.

The time has come to focus more acutely on what lies ahead, which means the tomfoolery has got to go. It's been fun, and it'll be fun again: this isn't adios, after all... it's merely one last, desperate French kiss and boob squeeze to tide us over until we meet again.

See you at the other blog. In the meantime:

may rainbows shine from your anus,
may you shit gold nuggets and filthy little leprechauns,
and may you never accidentally fuck anyone's pet.

ONE LAST UPDATE: We had our "midterm" evaluations last week, and I got the results back just now.

My 7:40AM Level 2 class gave me a 96.7%.
My 8:50AM Level 2 class gave me a 90%, the bastards.
My noon Current Events English class gave me a 100%. The love is mutual.
My 1:30PM Level 2 class gave me a 100%.
My Pronunciation Clinic class gave me a 94.7%.

If we simply average the five classes, my final average is 96.28%.

If we calculate the whole mess by taking the average of all the individual sheets, we get 945 points out of 980 (each student can award a maximum of 35 points), which is a 96.4%.

A 96% either way. Story of my life.

In case you were wondering about student numbers:

My 7:40AM Level 2 class turned in 7 eval forms.
My 8:50AM Level 2 class turned in 4 eval forms, the bastards.
My noon Current Events English class turned in 8 eval forms. The love is mutual.
My 1:30PM Level 2 class turned in 2 eval forms (only 3 students in this class).
My Pronunciation Clinic class turned in 7 eval forms (10 students were there that day... did 3 students abstain?).


one last ass-kicking from Alan Cook

Alan Cook holds my feet to the fire again, this time in his blistering critique of my essay on philosophy of mind. While I reject some of his criticisms, I think many (and there are many!) of them are valid and deserve to be addressed, but this blog is going dormant as of tonight (dormant isn't dead-- occasional posts will appear here over the coming year or two), so I doubt I'll be responding anytime soon.

Of note is one critique Alan made about my qualia/Taoism association. Sperwer made almost exactly the same critique long ago, and this is indeed a point that needs fixing. In Alan's case, the critique runs thus:

Here, it seems to me that Kevin commits an elementary logical error: from the facts that a is F and b is F, it does not follow that a=b. Just because the Dao is ineffable and must be directly experienced to be known, and the same can be said about qualia, it does not follow that the two terms refer to the same thing.

I don't think I actually equated the Tao with qualia, so I'm not sure I'm guilty of the fallacy described above. What I was doing was trying to point out a thematic resemblance. I may have failed in the attempt, however, and for that reason I might have to leave the Taoism illustration aside since it seems to muddy the waters rather than clarify them. Sperwer's own remarks were similar in spirit to Alan's, which leads me to believe that, as written, the passage to which Alan is referring can easily be read as committing the "a-b-F" fallacy. That alone is reason enough for a rewrite.

(NB: A second edition of Water from a Skull-- perhaps one in which the essay on philosophy of mind is an actual paper and not merely a superficial meditation-- won't be appearing for a long, long while.)


were you April fooled?

I want to thank the kind commenters who thought my previous post was serious. It was indeed an April Fool's joke (a lame one, as Charles comments), but not malicious in intent.

I don't know whether you tried this, but if you drag your cursor across that post and highlight the entire thing, you'll find a hidden message.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

the bad news I haven't revealed yet

While I've been farting around with Walk graphics and accepting cash donations (thank you all; you know who you are), there's one thing I haven't wanted to reveal to my readership, largely because it's more than a tad embarrassing:

I've decided to nix the Walk and stay in Korea.

I'm in the process of refunding my plane ticket, and am mentally rehearsing what I'm going to say to my bosses, who are likely to be pissed off.

This may seem sudden to you, but that's only because I've been... well, to be honest, I've been rather afraid of everyone's reaction. "Pulling a Boyle, are you?" I can hear someone saying. No, I'm not pulling a Boyle. To do that, I'd have to actually start the Walk. It's better this way, yes? I can refund the donations I've received, I can save the walk graphics for when they'll be useful, I can begin when I'm more physically fit.

So I'm writing this at around 11:30PM because I'm hoping my Korea-bound readership will be away from their computers and hobnobbing with the Sandman. I don't know what my Stateside and European readers will do or think, but... be kind, OK? People sometimes pull a 180.

Sorry, folks.
And if you actually believe this post, I should tell you about my two-meter penis.


o-hae hajimaseyo!

This morning, I brought in a mess of cheese, crackers, juice, and figs for my noon Current Events class to consume. Around 11:15AM, I saw one of my Pronunciation Clinic students dipping into my big red Costco bag, examining its contents item by item, without any fear of being caught. I thought this was pretty fucking brazen, but I held my temper and approached her with my usual loud, blustery, humorous routine, acting the part of the scandalized merchant who has caught a shopper rifling through the wares in the back room.

"Oh! Please don't take this the wrong way!" she said in Korean (o-hae hajimaseyo-- literally, "don't misunderstand").

Why the Korean? you bellow. Why isn't she speaking to you in English? A number of reasons, actually. One is that her own English is awful; she lived in China for a year and speaks great Chinese, from what I've heard, but her English needs some major surgery. Another is that she's not one of my regular students (i.e., not one of my Level 2 students), so I feel little obligation to push her to speak English with me. Some teachers have a standing policy about speaking English to all students all the time, and I respect that. It's just not what I do. That brings me to the third reason for speaking Korean with her: selfish bastard that I am, I try to seek out opportunities to practice the tattered Korean I have.

This student is hilarious, actually; she's Student Number One in the pronunciation class (all the students are numbered; this makes it easier for me to assign file names to the audio recordings everyone makes for me), and on the first day, she failed to understand when I asked, at the beginning of her very first audio recording session with me, "What's your student number?" All she had to say was, "One," but instead she gave this weird little gasp as if she had just caught me whacking off. My response to this sounds far worse on the recording than it did in reality. I leaned closer to the mike and repeated, "What's your student number?" in a strident voice that eerily reminded me of the way my dad used to sound on those rare occasions when he was pissed off. On the recording, I sound positively scary; in real life, I was smiling and feeling rather amused by how flustered the student was. I really need to put that recording up on YouTube.

Anyway, I cheerfully needled the poor girl about her brazen rummagery, calling her "thief!" and questioning how she'd been raised. She laughed-- a show of how mortified she was, not of how she appreciated my cruel sense of humor. I stopped busting her balls after a while, but I did want to make it very clear that you just-- don't-- root-- around-- other-- people's-- shit. I ended my harassment on an ominous note: "Don't ever do that if you go to America!"



Ave, Malcolm!

Malcolm emailed me this YouTube link. I just about puked from laughing. Apparently, this video's gone viral.



Is "nomophobia" the fear of Hideo Nomo?

No: it's "no-mobile phobia"—the fear of being out of cell phone contact.

That has to be the dumbest phobia ever. It's dumb on at least two levels: first, people with nomophobia are lame. Second, the Greek nomos means law, so to my ears, nomophobia means "fear of law." Applying such a dignified-sounding term to cell-phone addiction is just wrong.

It's possible to establish a connection between the lame nomophobia and the fear-of-law nomophobia: our route lies through the work of Peter Berger, the sociologist who wrote the classic The Sacred Canopy, a succinct overview of the sociology of religion. Berger gently conflates* two Greek notions: law and order (nomos and kosmos) to give us his term nomos, which refers to the overarching and undergirding social order. A teenager experiencing anomie feels somehow separate or detached from this order. In a sense, then, a cell-phone addict deprived of his or her phone might feel great anxiety because of a perception (however false and distorted) that s/he has been cut off from the greater order.

I suspect that introverts are less susceptible to this nonsense than extraverts, who can be godawful needy. Come to think of it, that's one of the happiest aspects of my departure from Korea: while I'm going to miss the country and its people terribly, I will most assuredly NOT miss having a damn cell phone.

*To be fair, law and order imply each other, so I'm not accusing Berger of doing anything sneaky here. A system that runs on laws will automatically manifest order, and an ordered system must needs contain constraints (i.e., laws).