Sunday, May 25, 2014

Citations and links for Korea Around the World

UPDATE: For my ESL students, I have another blog.  At the English Cafe in my university, I prepare English content, including posters.  The poster series that went up today is titled "Korea around the world".  I thought that I had posted this content on the ESL blog instead of here.  One of the posters includes a QR Code that leads to this post so i cannot delete it until after the posters come down on Jun 5.  Oops.  Sorry if anyone was confused about this content.

The posters on display at the English Cafe from May 26 to June 5 contain images from these locations:
Korea around the world
1) Cars, Phones
2) Food
Choco Boy 초코송이
“Kimchi, a part of Korean culture, isn’t too big in the United States. By mixing it with tacos, we’re bringing it to mainstream New York. I love introducing people to something they don’t know about.”

Who: Christian Manzo, 27
What: Part-time worker at the Kimchi Taco Truck, which serves up Korean barbecue-inspired tacos stuffed with marinated beef, braised pork, and chicken. The truck’s owners fused their Korean heritage with their Philadelphia roots, resulting in a Kim-Cheesesteak Sandwich. All kimchi is made in-house.

3) Athletes: Bak Chan-ho, Kim Yeo-na, Pak Se-ri, Bak Tae-hwan
4) Korea Towns

5) Korean Karate

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Authors talking about writing and great free art!

A real mixed bag today.  In addition to the usual authors talking about writing I am sharing links to locations where historic artwork is available, and probably some less famous work, too.  Authors first:

Writer's block might be ...
Problem: You don’t believe in yourself or your ability to do this work well. Your vision of the work in your head fails to match the execution on the page. I used to watch my aunt paint watercolor and think, “YEAH SHIT BRO I CAN DO THAT,” then I’d try and it would look like I splashed gray garbage water on a once-nice piece of paper. And so I gave up because of the unrealistic expectation that I held for myself. We are frequently holding ourselves to unrealistic expectations and that fucks us up. The pressure builds a wall between us and the work.
Solution: Care less. Calm down. You’re not curing cancer. Enjoy your ability to suck. Realize we all suck when we begin (and often throughout). Recognize that sucking during a first draft means that later you can come up behind your own shitty manuscript like a motherfucking editorial ninja and snap its neck and then use its blood to redline the work to make it better. Very few people are awesome the first time they try something, anything, and yet we’re trained to believe that writing is easy. “Just write,” people offer as their reductive writing advice, which makes this sound as easy as taking your first steps as an infant — and maybe it is, but also remember the infant only managed six first steps before taking a header into the dog’s waterbowl. The way through this block is to write. Write through your lack of confidence and write through your limited ability. Writing through the suck is how you get better at it.
Via this tweet:
Goodreads has started an Ask your favorite author section to their site.
Five things Paul Acampora learned while writing a novel.

Zen and the art of fantasy writing.
Author's Alliance and fair use.

The Authors Alliance has both inward facing and outward facing roles. The inward facing role is to provide authors with information about copyrights, licensing agreements, alternative contract terms, the pros and cons of open access, the reversion of rights, and the termination of transfer. A lot of people who have works from 10 or 15 years ago that they want to make more widely available don’t necessarily know that much about copyright and licensing. In other words, “What are the options, how do you talk to your publisher about them, and what can you try to negotiate for?” We also seek to take advantage of the opportunities of networked digital environments that were not in place 10, 15, or 20 years ago when a lot of the works that authors want to make available were originally published.
An outward facing role is representing the interests of authors who want to make their works more widely available in public policy debates. 

All of Bach online.
The Book of Kells.
400, 000 works of art in high res from the MET.
North Korean science fiction - I probably am not allowed to read this stuff here.
NASA and how to communicate with aliens.
Interstitial art.
The editors of Interfictions Online are happy to announce the birth of the journal's latest issue, the third in the past twelve months of the trailblazing journal of the weird, the interstitial, and the uncategorizable. 
Imaginary games.

from Dream Park - Larry Niven and Steven Barnes (1981)
What It Is:
In the year 2051, grownups go on multi-day live-action role-playing adventures staged at site-based installations at super-high-end amusement parks. The adventures have hugely elaborate implementations - they build a massive illusory world out of actors, sets, sealed domes with artificial skies and practical weather effects, and tons of animated holograms(!) (only in the 1981 book - in later sequels these are retconned into augmented-reality goggles).
The world building is top-notch. They pay a great deal of attention to the limits of 2051 technology, how all the illusions are managed and where exactly they break down. The authors put in their time with the LARPing community and paid close attention, and it shows - they have a sharp eye for the mechanics and the social conventions, the fun and the awkwardness. How players challenge the rules and narrative expectations and mechanics, and the game masters scramble to keep up.
The plot involves a murder, I think? I barely remember because I truly don't care how many people have to die for this to become a real thing.
What I Learned:
Grownups want to play too. And they show up to play for different reasons. To meet other people, or to beat the opponent, or try to lose themselves in the fantasy, or a hundred other reasons. Just like in online games people mix and match their play experience, role-play when they want to or step of character.
Also that when you play in the world, implementation is complicated. Illusions aren't complete, even with 2051 technology, virtual reality gaming requires a little suspension of disbelief. Site-based augmented reality extravaganzas are big business and big money.
Monster Skies.  Outre music.  Oops, there is a problem with the link.  Boingboing (at the link on the left) has a sample but their link goes nowhere.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Tolstoy and others on writing, plus teaching help

From War, Peace and Listicles:
The pursuit of that praise became a religion at the altar of which Tolstoy began to worship zealously as he came to believe that the artist’s goal was to teach mankind — a proposition at which he winces in hindsight, realizing that to teach requires to know what is meaningful to be taught:
I was considered an admirable artist and poet, and therefore it was very natural for me to adopt this theory. I, artist and poet, wrote and taught without myself knowing what. For this I was paid money; I had excellent food, lodging, women, and society; and I had fame, which showed that what I taught was very good.
This faith in the meaning of poetry and in the development of life was a religion, and I was one of its priests. To be its priest was very pleasant and profitable. And I lived a considerable time in this faith without doubting its validity.

But in a couple of years, he began to doubt this religion of authorship-as-sainthood and to notice its toxic hypocrisies, which both he and his circle of peers — his “personal micro-culture,” as William Gibson might say — embodied. And still, he found himself at once repelled by the duplicity of the acclaim he had worked so hard for and attracted to the status it bestowed upon him:

Quora has a two-fer.  First, How can we both clearly see the beauty of the world and clearly write it onto a page? of the great myths surrounding gifted writers is that they are born with superior faculties to interpret their surrounding world, that their heightened senses allow them to see a magnified sense of beauty in each thing. 
However, if we think about some of the finest writers of any era, the likes of Homer, Dante, Shakespeare and Joyce, on closer reading we find that they are equally capable of conveying the unrelenting ugliness of certain aspects of the world and human nature as well. 
If you wish to see beauty, you must be prepared to absorb ugliness in all its forms as well; the best writers are capable on drawing on beauty, ugliness and everything in between. Sounds hard? In truth, it is achievable, and here are some ideas to help you:
The second is more of a poster for a writers wall. Ten steps to becoming a better writer - each step involves writing more.
Lesson planning and creativity.
1. Reduce Anxiety...
When teachers help students feel safe and in control of their potentials for success, they reduce affective filters and reduce the test-anxiety that may have lowered test performance in previous years. Gauge the assumptions students have about what is expected of them and how they will be assessed.
This one is a big one.  Whether for elementary or university age or even older, make people comfortable so they can share their ideas.
Strategy three was "Use choice boards".  This strategy has the least explanation, about two sentences, and they are written for an audience already familiar with the concept.
As I am not, I looked a little further.  The concept is to offer choices in how or show their knowledge or skill set.  Here is an example from Hillary Kiser's blog:
With less fanfare, my wonderfully skilled sister had similar offerings for her high school English classes.  To demonstrate understanding, students could write a standard essay, make a song, act out a scene or, well, I can't recall all the choices she gave her students.

My university students need to write five blog posts of 25 words each (this is an ESL class).  They can write about anything but I think that open-endedness scares them a little.  A choice board or similar listing of foci might help them.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

TWIC (Mid May Edition)

From the Hanoi grapevine:
M Literary Residency 2015-2016 in Shanghai/Bangalore: call for applications
Deadline of applications: 20 Jun 2014
Residency duration: from late 2015 to early 2016 (10-12 weeks)
From the open call:The M Literary Residency Programme, fully funded by M Restaurants, grew from our Literary Festivals, as we heard from writers about what was needed to nurture and produce the best writing in this region.
Applicants may apply for ONE of two M Literary Residencies:Bangalore, India: A 10-12 week residency at Sangam House, in a rural setting near Bangalore, South India from late 2015 to early 2016. (Please note: Residency dates are set by Sangam House.)
Shanghai, China: 10-12 week residency in Shanghai. The residency must be taken up before March 1st, 2016, and be completed in one continuous period.
EligibilityThe residencies are open to all writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and dramatic prose. There are no nationality restrictions, however, applicants should be over 21 years old at the time of application and be writing in English. Unpublished authors and past applicants are also eligible.
FundingThe successful applicants will have transportation costs to and from the residencies covered by the M Residency and a total stipend of US$1,000 to cover additional living costs during their stay. Applicants are responsible for their travel/medical insurance and visas.
I just finished an online class titled "Creativity: Music to my ears" - You can guess why I signed up.  The main project was to choose a problem and think of a hundred (or more) ways to solve.  My group looked at using music to encourage people to read.  Completely independent of our work comes this news from Scientific American. Most of the article is gated; Here is an excerpt:
 Today a symphony of research trumpets the many links among language, reading and music, including several that reveal a connection between rhythm and reading skills.
12 principles of animation:
As action starts, we have more drawings near the starting pose, one or two in the middle, and more drawings near the next pose. Fewer drawings make the action faster and more drawings make the action slower. Slow-ins and slow-outs soften the action, making it more life-like. For a gag action, we may omit some slow-out or slow-ins for shock appeal or the surprise element. This will give more snap to the scene.
Inequality and the arts
There’s a reason why a lot of modern culture was produced by people living on a shoestring, from the New York intellectuals to all those poets and painters starving in their fabled garrets. It’s time-consuming to do something original; it requires bad manners, or at least a lack of automatic deference for received wisdom; and it helps to have an abundance of low-paid but undemanding jobs around–mailman, night watchman, librarian, clerical worker–that one can drift in and out of, as well as a few cheap urban neighborhoods where like-minded artistic riff-raff can congregate. (Russell Jacoby’s description, in The Last Intellectuals, of the ecology of the freelance intellectual has never been bettered.)
Science Fiction from South East Asia - including Korea which I didn't consider all that southerly.
The RIAA isn't doing much to help artists even as it squeezes companies, apparently to collect royalties for them.

A writer on writing. An acquaintance, Gord Sellar, doesn't really care for the device of making the main character of a story a writer.  I guess he thinks it is a kind of a cheat.  I do recall several books by Stephen King that featured writers.  Still, he (back to Mr Sellar) likes this bit by Paul Auster:
There were other decisions to be made, of course, a host of significant details that still had to be conjured up  and worked into the scene–for purposes of fullness and authenticity, for narrative ballast. How long has Rosa been living in New York? for example. What does she do there? Does she have a job and, if so, is the job important to her or simply a means of generating enough money to cover the rent? What about the status of her love life? Is she single or married, attached or unattached, on the prowl or patiently waiting for the right person to come along? My first impulse was to make her a photographer, or perhaps an assistant film editor–work that was connected to images, not words, just as Grace’s job was. Definitely unmarried, definitely never married, but perhaps involved with someone, or, even better, perhaps recently broken up after a long, tortured affair.
Giving characters a backstory that might not appear necessary appears to be an important part of writing believeable characters.
Storium - turning writing into a multiplayer game:
With just your computer, tablet, or smartphone, you can choose from a library of imaginary worlds to play in, or build your own. You create your story's characters and decide what happens to them. You can tell any kind of story with Storium. The only limit is your imagination.
Storium uses familiar game concepts inspired by card games, role-playing games, video games, and more. In each Storium game, one player is the narrator, and everyone else takes on the role of a character in the story. The narrator creates dramatic challenges for the other players to overcome. In doing so, they move the story forward in a new direction. Everyone gets their turn at telling the story."
Storium offers worlds to play in created by authors, transmedia writers, and game designers, and one of the perks of supporting the Kickstarter campaign is instant access to the already-running beta.
Advice from on beating writer's block Ask TON, One excerpt:
Rose Eveleth, freelance writer and producer and BBC Future columnist:I have a tiered strategy for dealing with writer’s block. The first tier is prevention (is it cheating to include that?) which means that before I write, I make sure that I’m ready to write. That sounds obvious, but I’ve found that the easiest way for me to get stuck on something is for me to not be fully mentally prepared to put words to page (er, screen, or whatever). I put on my writing music (usually this Songza playlist) close all my social media distractions, and set a goal for myself. Sometimes that’s “write an outline of this story” or maybe it’s “just vomit everything out so we can fix it later,” but whatever it is, I find that having a goal that’s more specific than just “write” is really helpful to make sure that I actually do write something.
What is good writing?  Quora took a shot at answering the question.
Anne Zahra tells us, "Good writing is writing that makes you forget you are reading.

If you can make me forget that I'm sitting in my rocking chair and tracing your train of thought across a page or a screen, it's because you know what you're doing."I gotta agree.Many e-books are poorly edited and tripping over a misspelled word knocks me back into my seat and out of the story.

Dinesh Dharme offers a list of 9 points.  Here is part of four:
3. Good writing is like good teaching. Good writing strives to explain, to make things a little bit clearer, to make sense of our world… even if it’s just a product description.“A writer always tries… to be part of the solution, to understand a little about life and to pass this on,” says Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird.
4. Good writing tells a full story.  Good writing roots out opposing viewpoints. AsJoe Chernov says, “There’s a name for something with a single point of view: It’s called a press release.” Incorporate multiple perspectives when the issue lends itself to that. At the very least, don’t ignore the fact that other points of view might exist; to do so makes your reader not trust you.So make sure he or she knows you’re watching out for them. To quoteHemingway: “The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof, shit detector.”
5. Good writing comes on the rewrite. That implies that there is a rewrite, of course. And there should be.Writing is hard work, and producing a shitty first draft is often depressing. But the important thing is to get something down to start chipping into something that resembles a coherent narrative.As Don Murray said, “The draft needs fixing, but first it needs writing.” Or Mark Twain: “Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.”
6. Good writing is like math. I mean this in two ways: First, good writing has logic and structure. It feels solid to the reader: The writer is in control and has taken on the heavy burden of shaping a lumpy jumble of thoughts into something clear and accessible.It might not follow a formula, exactly. But there’s a kind of architecture to it. Good writing has more logic to it than you might think.Second, good writing is inherently teachable—just as trigonometry or algebra or balancing a balance sheet is a skill any of us can master. Journalism professorMatt Waite writes in his essay, How I Faced My Fears and Learned to Be Good at Math: “The difference between good at math and bad at math is hard work. It’s trying. It’s trying hard. It’s trying harder than you’ve ever tried before. That’s it.”

Not entirely on topic, but I liked this breakdown of Jesus' abilities as a charismatic leader.
(3) Jesus always does something unexpected
On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, and a women was there who was crippled for 18 years, bent over and unable to straighten up. Jesus called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.Indignant that Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue leader said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not of the Sabbath.”  Jesus answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham... be set free on the Sabbath from what bound her?” When he said this, all his opponents were humiliated, but the people were delighted.  (Luke 13: 10-17.  Similar conflicts about healing on the Sabbath are in Luke 6: 6-11; Matthew 12: 1-14; and Luke 14: 1-6, which ends by silencing the opposition.)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Go for a walk

Updated July 2015:

Open Culture has an article on the value of walking. It is based on the research on the same people in this 2014 post so it fits best here but is good as a reminder for me.
Oppezzo and Schwartz speculate that “future studies would likely determine a complex pathway that extends from the physical act of walking to physiological changes to the cognitive control of imagination.” They recognize that this discovery must also account for such variables as when one walks, and—as so many notable walkers have stressed—where. Researchers at the University of Michigan have approached the where question in a paper titled “The Cognitive Benefits of Interacting with Nature” that documents a study in which, writes Jabr, “students who ambled through an arboretum improved their performance on a memory test more than students who walked along city streets.”
This makes intuitive sense but it is nice to see the numbers that back the idea up.

Walks make you more creative.

While Oppezzo and Schwartz didn't test for the mechanism behind why walking leads to more ideas — that's for another study — they did form a few hypotheses. It might be that walking takes a fair amount of attention, so you don't have as much mental energy available to filter out uncommon ideas. It might also be that walking lets you make broader associations or spreads your area of focus. How to walk more
walk ideas
Courtesy of the American Psychological Association.People who went for walks had more original thoughts.
Thankfully for us office workers, the positive effects of the walk aren't reliant on trotting around an idyllic California campus: The Stanford researchers found the same creativity-inducing effects when people walked on a treadmill in a dark, windowless room.
So even if you're stuck in a cubicle, you can insert walks into your workday. 
My hero Darwin knew the value of a good walk.  The story was, he would get so involved in his thoughts that he deliberately left a set of pine cones on the path and would knock one away with each lap.  His mischievous children would sometimes replace them so he would walk further.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Learning to write

 I still am and always will be.  Will Hindmark discusses his journey at Wil Wheaton's site.

When the student is ready, the blank page shall appear.
It takes many forms. I’ve logged a gazillion hours telling collaborative stories through tabletop RPGs, which are a great way to learn adaptation, improvisation, and quick development of ideas as they happen. It’s a great medium for learning — you can imagine how excited I am by the prospect of a tabletop RPG show from my friend, games master Wil Wheaton.
...[big-ass ellipses]
Who makes you Storyteller? You do. You are. Go play.