Monday, August 9, 2010

Whiny, Self-Centered White People in Northeast Asia

Ampontan on the type of Canadian or sometimes American English teacher you'll often run into in these parts — The dirty little open secret. The first three paragraphs:
    WHEN BLOGGING SOFTWARE went mainstream, the native English speakers in South Korea took advantage of it more quickly than those in Japan. People with an interest in Japan also often have an interest in Korea (and vice-versa), so I began reading several of the blogs written by expatriates in that country. It soon became apparent that more than a few of them shared some attitudes with expatriates in Japan: They had very little complimentary to say about the country in which they now lived. Their posts were clogged with whiny, whingeing, self-centered rants about a nation that failed to live up to their expectations. I’d heard the same for years from foreigners in Japan; only the names and places were different.

    Fancy that; they came to the other side of the world to broaden their horizons but expected everything to be much the same as it is where they came from, including television program content, informal interaction in public among strangers, and supermarkets selling bucket-sized containers of diet ice cream. You know the expression, “Youth is wasted on the young”? In this case, the experience of life overseas is wasted on the people who live overseas.

    Among the reasons for this phenomenon is that some people are not as open-minded as they like to pretend when they preen in front of their psychological mirrors. Most people come to terms with a world that isn’t going to conform to one’s demands or expectations before they’ve left school. Some of those who haven’t wind up in Northeast Asia.

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23 Comments:

Blogger The Sanity Inspector said...

Kushibo coined a terrific word for these types: "Kvetchpats".

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Kristoff said...

As someone who believes in a God for which there is zero evidence and various associated dogmata, what makes you think you're open-minded?

Going to be with other socially conservative people is not a real accomplishment IMO. It's just a change from white to off-white. I'll believe you're open-minded when you go to a dance club where rivetheads hang out and stay there for at least an hour.

1:58 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

When did I say I was open-minded? I am absolutely closed-minded when it comes to things like dance clubs and "rivetheads" (about which I happily know nothing), because there's only room for so much experience and knowledge.

Why waste precious mental energy on useless things? As the old United Negro College Fund ad used to say, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste."

If anything, I need to resolve to be far more closed-minded.

12:04 AM  
Anonymous Kristoff said...

When did I say I was open-minded?

You didn't but you seemed to portray it as a virtue.

I am absolutely closed-minded when it comes to things like dance clubs and "rivetheads" (about which I happily know nothing)

You're close-minded about something you don't even know about and yet critical of people who realize (through hard experience) that they don't like Japan. Say whatever else you want about them, at least they tried it before they said they didn't like it.

And, for the record, a rivethead is someone who listens to industrial music.

Why waste precious mental energy on useless things?

Yes good point. Why waste "precious mental energy" on backwards Christian and Confucian philosophy that no one will care about a thousand years years from now when you could spend it on things that are cool instead? Looking at the reading log I've kept for the past few months I see books such as:

* Bio-Inspired Artificial Intelligence: Theories, Methods, and Technologies
* Cellular Automata: A Discrete View of the World
* Computer to Brain: Foundations of Computational Neuroscience
* Digital People – From Bionic Humans to Androids
* Ecological Economics: Principles and Applications
* Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth
* Gaia In Turmoil
* Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots
* Mind as Machine: A History of Cognitive Science
* Swarm Intelligence (Morgan Kaufmann Series in Evolutionary Computation)
* Why Intelligent Design Fails

I'm a busy man. Mind as Machine alone encompassed two volumes and about 1500 pages. I'd totally be wasting my time with the Analects or the Summa Theologica. Too bad you are though.

If anything, I need to resolve to be far more closed-minded.

It's all you can do to ignore the fact that your besieged antiquarianism has no value in the 21st century.

I feel for you pal.

7:35 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

I feel for you, transhumanist new age dope. Confucianism and Catholicism have been around for millennia, and have withstood the revolutions of the ages. Both built enduring civilizations, the two most powerful the world has ever known.

Your pseudoscientific cult will have about as much influence as the Raelians.

About industrial music, is that still around? I was listening to that when you were still diapers, but I prefered hardcore punk. Now, I listen to Palestrina or Bach.

When it comes to music, and everything else, I prefer the Permanent Things. Passing fads are what they are: passing.

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Kristoff said...

Confucianism and Catholicism have been around for millennia

Astrology, Islam, and hangnails have also persisted for centuries if not millennia. So what?

Both built enduring civilizations, the two most powerful the world has ever known.

[In] northwest China’s Shanxi Province, a farmer named Qiao Sanshi sits on a low wooden stool near his rainwater collection “cellar,” a tank barely below ground, patiently waiting for a visitor. He is clutching in his hand the most precious gift he can offer that person: a glass of water. Because over five thousand such cellars for collecting rain have been installed in his small Hequ County, he can provide to a guest something which most of us still take for granted. But in many parts of north China, where water tables are dropping by a meter or more every year, this is impossible. One in three people living outside cities in China have no access to safe drinking water.

Dropping water tables are also affecting China’s food supply. Its wheat harvest, grown largely in the semi-arid north, has dropped precipitously in this century. From 2002 to 2004 China went from being essentially self-sufficient in wheat to being the world’s largest importer (Brown 2005: 102). In a country where jobs created by industrial development barely stay ahead of population growth, farmers regularly lose the water battle with industry.[3] As long as the world wheat supply can provide imports to feed the Chinese, this is viable. But with water tables falling worldwide and rivers being drained, China’s dependence on grain imports may not be sustainable over the long term. The country’s water emergency is dire. With 22 percent of the world’s population and only 6 percent of its water resources, China is among the world’s thirstiest countries. According to China’s own news organization,[4] over 400 of China’s 699 major cities are water short and 50 of those are labeled “seriously threatened,” including Beijing, whose depleted groundwater led a Beijing wit to send relatives an email invitation to the 2008 Olympics with B.Y.O.W. at the bottom: Bring your own water.

...

Prime Minister Wen Jiabao himself, as early as 1999, had warned that the very “survival of the Chinese nation” was threatened by looming water shortages.[5] Officials outside the country have now begun to fear that China’s water crisis responses will profoundly affect their own countries. For example, the Chinese construction of several huge dams on the upper Mekong River threatens the downstream countries Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, whose economies and food supplies are almost totally dependent on the natural flows of the Mekong.

One can imagine a scenario in which, as China’s industrial development takes precedence, water is increasingly drained and polluted, leaving the country without adequate drinking water for its billion-plus people, and without water for crop irrigation, power-plant cooling, or hydroelectric production. In desperation, China may look around its neighborhood for water sources it can appropriate.


Without water, the party's over.

>>Your pseudoscientific cult

What makes my views "pseudoscientific"?

Since I'm an actual scientist I'd like to see you define "science" and "pseudoscience" in your own words.

This should be good.

9:54 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Geology = science. Gaia = pseudoscience.

Biology = science. Transhumanism = pseudeoscience.

I'm not an "actual scientist" like you, but I work at a top science and tech uni, proofreading peer-reviewed papers that end up in major journals and coaching presentations given at international conferences, mostly in biology. You'd be surprised at the number of Christian perofessors there are. The perceived conflict between science and religion is largely a Western, post-Enlightenment construct.

10:17 AM  
Anonymous Kristoff said...

Geology = science. Gaia = pseudoscience.

Biology = science. Transhumanism = pseudeoscience.


See this doesn't help me.

It's just a shallow, bald assertion that doesn't add to your original knee-jerk reaction.

What makes them pseudoscience?

You'd be surprised at the number of Christian perofessors there are.

No I wouldn't. That being said most scientists are atheists.

The perceived conflict between science and religion is largely a Western, post-Enlightenment construct.

Yeah right.

"Problem, Hypatia?"

10:25 AM  
Anonymous Kristoff said...

This is why people "perceive" a conflict between science and religion:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_affair#Modern_Church_views

Galileo "vindicated" in 1992? At this rate of progress maybe they'll excommunicate at least one Nazi by 2050.

10:31 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

"'Problem, Hypatia?'"

Historian David B. Hart clarified that she murdered not "because she was a woman (female intellectuals were not at all uncommon in the Eastern Empire, among either pagans or Christians), or because she was a scientist and philosopher (the scientific and philosophical class of Alexandria comprised pagans, Jews, and Christians, and there was no popular Christian prejudice against science or philosophy)" or "because she was perceived as an enemy of the Christian faith" — Hypatia in the Agora.

We are informed "she got on quite well with the educated Christians of Alexandria, numbered many among her friends and students, and was intellectually far closer to them than to the temple cultists of the lower city; and the frankest account of her murder was written by the Christian historian Socrates, who obviously admired her immensely." Mr. Hart writes, "It seems likely that she died simply because she became inadvertently involved in a vicious political squabble between the city’s imperial prefect and the city’s patriarch, and some of the savages of the lower city decided to take matters into their own hands."

12:26 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Galileo? Thanks for bringing him up.

Thomas Henry Huxley, famously known as "Darwin's bulldog," who coined the term "agnoistic" obviously "had no brief for Catholicism, once examined the case and concluded that 'the Church had the best of it'" — The Galielo Affair.

Thomas Woods reminds us that "even if the Galileo incident had been every bit as bad as people think it was, John Henry Cardinal Newman, the celebrated nineteenth-century convert from Anglicanism, found it revealing that this is practically the only example that ever comes to mind" — The Galileo Myth.

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Kristoff said...

Yet even she fell a victim to the political jealousy which at that time prevailed. For as she had frequent interviews with Orestes, it was calumniously reported among the Christian populace, that it was she who prevented Orestes from being reconciled to the bishop. Some of them therefore, hurried away by a fierce and bigoted zeal, whose ringleader was a reader named Peter, waylaid her returning home, and dragging her from her carriage, they took her to the church called Caesareum, where they completely stripped her, and then murdered her by scraping her skin off with tiles and bits of shell. After tearing her body in pieces, they took her mangled limbs to a place called Cinaron, and there burnt them.

No religious overtones.

ps how Christian of them

Galileo? Thanks for bringing him up.

Yeah why did his book keep being banned by the Church for years?

Also when are they going to excommunicate some high-ranking Nazis? Besides Josef Goebbels (who married a Protestant!)

Also I see you haven't taken up my science / pseudoscience challenge. Good job, lol.

1:33 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

"No religious overtones"?

Sure, there were religious overtones. There usually are. But she was not killed because she was a woman.

"Yeah why did his book keep being banned by the Church for years?"

The Church banned a lot of books. She should again.

Anyway, as an "actual scientist" you'll know that Galileo's science was wrong, that Copernicus was a priest, and that Kepler's theories were proven in a cathedral (Bologna's, if I remember correctly).

The Catholic Church does not excommunicate the dead.

"Pseudo-" means fake. Do you really need a definition? Your Transhumanism and Gaia theology both claim the mantle of science but are supported by unfounded assertions like the "Singularity" and whatnot, and are thus pseudoscientific.

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Kristoff said...

Sure, there were religious overtones. There usually are.

Thanks.

But she was not killed because she was a woman.

Didn't say that.

The Church banned a lot of books. She should again.

Which ones and I take it you don't care this is a blatant violation of free speech.

Anyway, as an "actual scientist" you'll know that Galileo's science was wrong

Europa doesn't orbit Jupiter. Sad but true.

ps I'm a biologist we're not all the same.

that Copernicus was a priest, and that Kepler's theories were proven in a cathedral

And Newton was an occultist who believed in astrology.

So?

Your assumption that I should want to idolize Copernicus or whoever blindly is more a reflection on your mind than mine.

The Catholic Church does not excommunicate the dead.

They had plenty of time to excommunicate high-ranking Nazis, including before the Downfall. Why didn't they? Because the Catholic Church is weak?

Do you really need a definition?

Considering this is a major issue in philosophy of science, yes. You haven't, for example, shown how Gaia is non-falsifiable (like the idea of there being a God or a Sanctus Coreæ) or doesn't predict novel facts. In your profound intellectual laziness you've just said you don't like it, tarred it as pseudoscience, and pretended that was good enough. It's not, and you are scientifically illiterate.

Your Transhumanism and Gaia theology both claim the mantle of science but are supported by unfounded assertions like the "Singularity" and whatnot, and are thus pseudoscientific.

Here you've revealed your ignorance wonderfully.

Transhumanism is simply the enhancement of human ability with technology. Because I cannot see as well as I can without glasses, I am a transhumanist by default. (And apparently so are you.) Singularitarianism is not integral to transhumanism and I don't consider myself an adherent.

The idea that we could go beyond eyeglasses, bicycles, computers, etc. through, e.g., neural engineering, is firmly in the realm of science, because scientific concepts of cognition are materialistic. I.e., changing the nervous system will cause its cognition to be altered and perhaps improved. I don't know what planet you live on, but on this one, the prevailing scientific view is that the mind is some kind of machine.

You totally fail to understand Gaia as well. As a scientific theory, it's simply the explanation of diverse facts about phenomena favorable to life on Earth and the claim that the Earth is kept habitable through cybernetic processes that entail its own biology. These (the carbon cycle, the biotic circulation of sulfur and iodine, the maintenance of oxygen at stable concentrations, etc.) are all clearly observable and predictions Gaia theory makes about them are testable. (Unlike claims about God.)

Does this look like theology to you, genius?

http://www.pik-potsdam.de/~bloh/

Maybe you should actually learn about things you don't like before dismissing them out of hand.

2:31 PM  
Anonymous Kristoff said...

Btw by using "theology" to tar Gaia theory you made a nice fat tacit admission that religion is foolish. Congratulations.

2:54 PM  
Anonymous Kristoff said...

About industrial music, is that still around? I was listening to that when you were still diapers, but I prefered hardcore punk. Now, I listen to Palestrina or Bach.

Nice ninja edit. I'm 43, thank you.

When it comes to music, and everything else, I prefer the Permanent Things. Passing fads are what they are: passing.

"Here again the Catholic Church has a lesson to teach us. Though sometimes, and often quite unnecessarily, its dogmatic system is in conflict with the exact sciences and with scientific discoveries, it is not disposed to sacrifice a syllable of its teachings. It has rightly recognized that its powers of resistance would be weakened by introducing greater or less doctrinal adaptations to meet the temporary conclusions of science, which in reality are always vacillating. And thus it holds fast to its fixed and established dogmas which alone can give to the whole system the character of a faith. And that is the reason why it stands firmer today than ever before. We may prophesy that, as a fixed pole amid fleeting phenomena, it will continue to attract increasing numbers of people who will be blindly attached to it the more rapid the rhythm of changing phenomena around it."

http://www.hitler.org/writings/Mein_Kampf/mkv2ch05.html

3:28 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

"Your assumption that I should want to idolize Copernicus or whoever blindly is more a reflection on your mind than mine."

No, I was just showing that your one-word "argument" -- "Galileo" -- was stupid.

"Btw by using 'theology' to tar Gaia theory you made a nice fat tacit admission that religion is foolish. Congratulations."

Not at all. Just rectifying names. Athiesm is a theology as well.

More later...

4:04 PM  
Anonymous Kristoff said...

No, I was just showing that your one-word "argument" -- "Galileo" -- was stupid.

So do you think the Church was right to hound him

Athiesm is a theology as well.

I guess it's a theological standpoint.

But only in the same way that my lack of belief in an invisible dragon in the garage is a form of invisibledragonology.

More later...

Are you reading up on philosophy of science so you can try to rebut me?

Might I recommend a few names and titles?

Mario Bunge is very stringent and I don't agree with him on everything, but he is very thought-provoking all the same. You might want to look into him.

4:13 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

"So do you think the Church was right to hound him[?]"

Yes. If you read about the trial, it was quite a friendly affair. The Church was right, because he was trying to impose upon the Church his own theological views.

"Are you reading up on philosophy of science so you can try to rebut me?"

No. I'm playing with my kids. Got any? Trying not to waste too much of my time on this, but happy you are wasting yours.

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Kristoff said...

Yes. If you read about the trial, it was quite a friendly affair.

He was only threatened with torture.

The Church was right, because he was trying to impose upon the Church his own theological views.

How so? By disagreeing with them? What babies.

No. I'm playing with my kids. Got any?

No.

Trying not to waste too much of my time on this, but happy you are wasting yours.

So you don't know what pseudoscience is. And you're a proud bigot. Thanks.

5:36 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

"Does this look like theology to you, genius?"

No, I have to admit, it didn't. It looked like New Age quackery with some equations thrown in. I know Scientism when I see it; I have the unfortunate distinction of having been an education major.

"And you're a proud bigot."

Against Transhumanism and the Gaia cult? Yes.

10:38 PM  
Blogger The Sanity Inspector said...

You totally fail to understand Gaia as well. As a scientific theory, it's simply the explanation of diverse facts about phenomena favorable to life on Earth and the claim that the Earth is kept habitable through cybernetic processes that entail its own biology.

Whatever moorings in actual science Gaia may once have had, they've long since been severed by the crystal rubbing New Agers who appropriated it. Now it's just a degraded, simplistic pop-pantheism, immanence for agnostics. I think I read an interview someplace with the originator of the theory, about how grieved he was at how hippified it had become.

5:55 AM  
Anonymous Kristoff said...

No, I have to admit, it didn't. It looked like New Age quackery with some equations thrown in.

How so?

This is the abstract from the paper:

The intention of geophysiological modelling is the analysis of the feedback mechanisms acting between geo- and biosphere (Lovelock, 1989, Lovelock, 1991). It is one approach to Earth System Analysis (Schellnhuber and Wenzel, 1998). The planet Earth can be understood as a "superorganism" which itself regulates to a state allowing life on Earth. (Gaia hypothesis, see, e.g., Lovelock and Margulis, 1974, Lenton, 1998). First attempts were done by Vernadsky (1927) on a qualitative level in the form of an idea about the interdependence between vegetation and climate (see, e.g., Vernadsky, 1998). Later on Kostitzin (1935) realized this idea in the first mathematical model for the coevolution of atmosphere and biota. So-called "minimal models" of the Earth are described in (Svirezhev and von Bloh, 1996, 1997). According to the "virtual biospheres" concept (Svirezhev and von Bloh, 1999) the evolution of the Earth system can be understood as a sequence of bifurcations.

An example of geophysiological regulation behaviour can be found in the Earth system: Silicate-rock weathering as a process to regulate the surface temperature. Due to silicate rock weathering carbon dioxide is taken out of the atmosphere. At geologic time scales there is an equilibrium between this sink of carbon and the sources by volcanic emissions. An increase in temperature accelerates the chemical processes of weathering reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Due to the lower greenhouse effect the temperature decreases; we have a negative feedback regulating the surface temperature.

Based on the work of Lovelock and Whitfield (1982) Caldeira and Kasting (1992) have developed a model to estimate the life span of the biosphere taken into account the above mentioned feedback mechanism. In Fig. 1 the global surface temperature is plotted under increase of the solar luminosity for the whole history of the Earth. In contrast to the curve for fixed carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere the temperature is always above the freezing point of water. Such a regulation mechanism can be an explanation for the "faint young Sun" paradox (Sagan and Mullen, 1972), where we have at least for 3.8 Gyr in the past always liquid water on the surface of Earth. The role of the biosphere is to increase the weathering rate.

The Caldeira/Kasting model assumes constant volcanic activity and continental area during the Earth evolution, Franck et al. (2000) extend this model by adding a geodynamic description of the geospheric processes. A short description of the model used can be found here. Such a model can be used to determine the habitability of Earth-like planets in the solar system and for extrasolar planetary systems.


What looks "new age" about it?

Against Transhumanism and the Gaia cult? Yes.

You haven't even told me why you don't like them (barring insubstantial claims that they were pseudoscientific) and that's awfully ironic given the original post is a complaint about others' close-mindedness.

Whatever moorings in actual science Gaia may once have had, they've long since been severed by the crystal rubbing New Agers who appropriated it.

Have you actually read any of the peer-reviewed literature or are you just indulging in more bigotry?

Furthermore an idea is not responsible for the people who glom onto it.

12:14 PM  

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