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Soon I will go back to school to get a teaching license. I am a little worried that I am not going to be able to go back to being a student. It has been five years since I left college and I have been a teacher ever since. I hope that I can get back into the groove of studying again.
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Why is it that I always have plenty I want to do when I am working and then when I have a vacation I find myself uninterested in all those things? It's too bad I can't keep that motivation when I have more time.
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I have some time between my old job and going back to America so I'm going to give this another shot. Although as I look at the communities that I joined months ago the still seem inactive. Perhaps I need to develop other interests to make this interesting.

Oh, I Wish

Nov. 6th, 2010 11:11 pm
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Here's my new wish. I want to see someone who is constantly blabbering on about how awesome alternative medicine is and how evil all real doctors are get really sick. Not something minor, like a cold or made up, like adrenal fatigue. I want to see one of those conspiracy spinning nutcases get something really nasty, like necrotizing fasciitis (commonly called flesh-eating bacteria). Then I want everyone to watch as this person either dies while taking their own favorite brand of woo based "medicine" or gives in and takes real medicine. I don't think it would take that long. There are some examples of this already (read about Hulda Clarke), so I guess what I really want is some famous promoter of woo to face this situation. Although I think that the problem with my plan is that it counts on people being smart enough to see someone choose real medicine or die while taking fake medicine and realize the meaning of this. It counts on people seeing reality and changing their beliefs, and I am not sure that that ever happens.

Save Us

Nov. 3rd, 2010 03:56 pm
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It just amazes me how much being smart is becoming a handicap in America when it comes to politics and general popularity. In the recent election there was a great demonstration of this in Alabama where one gubernatorial candidate accused the other of "believing in evolution" and "only believing that the Bible is mostly true, not word for word, literally true." What's worse is that the "accused" immediately released a statement that this was not true, that he was a Creationist and did indeed believe that the Bible was word for word literally true. It doesn't matter which is true, the fact is that his campaign deemed that it was dangerous to his chances for success to be known as a person who accepted science. Denying the truth is evidently the best strategy for victory. Ignorant and proud wins elections, and that's just pathetic.

This same topic came up in the 2008 Presidential election. My wife astutely pointed out that is was insane that Republicans were calling President Obama "elite" as an insult. Shouldn't we want elite people as our leaders? I want the person who leads my country to be brilliant or at least to be smart enough to know that they aren't an expert on everything. As President Bush showed us, the ability to admit a mistake and rethink your plans wouldn't hurt either. You would think that ignoring reality would be something to be proud of, but apparently it is. Hopefully my generation can fix it.

I See...

Oct. 17th, 2010 08:17 pm
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I had an odd experience recently while talking with some of my friends. Certain things just don't often come up in regular conversation but when they do, you learn a lot about people. I'm a skeptical empiricist and so are most of my friends. Not all of them are though, and recently I discovered one who is not.

I was suddenly reminded that even smart people can start to believe strange things. Of course there is a wide range of woo and pseudoscience that people buy into. It's one thing to find out that your friend sees a chiropractor, it's another to find out that they regularly visit a psychic or something like that.

The key point that my recent experience reminded me of is that your average skeptic doesn't really care what their friends believe. Of course people that are very different can't be friends easily, but most people would be surprised and how different two friends can be. So often I hear people complain that skeptics aren't accepting of people who are different, that they won't tolerate other people's beliefs. But that's not true at all. While we fight to make sure that people don't force their beliefs on others we don't oppose belief in general. I still plan to keep my friendships, regardless of certain small differences.
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I live in Japan and this has helped me come to a conclusion about communication in which at least one person is working outside of their native language. Communication between two people who don't share a native language is a tricky thing at times. In my opinion perfect communication between two people starts with the involved parties using some of both acceptable languages. Over time you feel out each other's ability in the foreign language. Eventually if you realize that one person has a higher skill level you stick to that language. To put it plainly, if I'm talking to someone whose English is far better than my Japanese, I stick with English. If my Japanese is better than their English I stick with Japanese. In this way you get the most out of your communication.

What gets really annoying is when you're dealing with someone who refuses to, or is unable to, follow this basic pattern. This mostly happens to me because Japanese people don't often get chances to talk to native speakers of English. This is fine when the obstinate person's English is acceptable or good, the problem is when their English is poor or abysmal. I've run into this many times and it gets more and more annoying the longer I live here. Not to mention, the longer I live here the better my Japanese gets and so more people seem to me to have poor English.

My worst experience with this was at the immigration office when I was trying to get my visa renewed. Despite the fact that I kept using good Japanese with him, the clerk at the window kept plugging away with his broken English that he had clearly learned at a seminar about five years ago. I can understand not wanting to feel like the few hours you spent were wasted, and if I didn't speak any Japanese, as some people who go to that office, I would be grateful for his broken English. But despite all that I was annoyed that he kept trying to force out English creating dialogs such as:

"Here is my completed form, I trust that everything is acceptable."
"This...revenue stamp! You. Stamp!"
"If you would like to speak Japanese with me, that would be fine sir. I am not sure I understand the problem that you are trying to explain to me."
"Money. You need pay."
"Please, if you would not mind explaining this in Japanese I think it would go faster."
"........money?"
"May I pay here?"
"No. You go, down. Pay at the...the...post."
"Do you mean that I should pay at the post office downstairs?"
*nods*

Everything I said was in Japanese and everything he said was in English. Clearly I could understand Japanese, it isn't as if I was reading haltingly from a phrase book. I was even carrying a Japanese novel that I was reading while I was waiting in line. There were more than enough clues that I could speak Japanese just fine. Clearly he just didn't care. I try to keep this in mind when I'm talking to Japanese people who can speak English. I might want to to practice, but if the communication is to some end then sticking to English might be helpful. If communication is the end, then different rules apply. I recommend that anyone who regularly communicates in different languages keep this in mind. You may not realize it, but your attempts to practice might be annoying someone else.

First

Sep. 30th, 2010 04:42 pm
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This is my first post, I have no idea how much I'll like this or how long it will last. Hello to everyone out there.

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