October 27, 2011

Just When You Thought...

It seems, sometimes, that every time I try to do something positive for myself, the world conspires against me to stop me achieving it! Let me give you an example.

A few years ago I was walking under some scaffolding alongside a building when a disabled person started walking towards me. I, trying to be a good Samaritan, did everything I could to get out of the way of this person, and let him by. I proceeded to walk on, only for my brand new, expensive jacket to snag on the scaffolding and tear from shoulder to waist! I hate it when you do something positive, and the world shits in your mouth!

Now I
m not moping, I have a wry smile writing this, Im not depressed but check this lot out

Four weeks ago I started studying for an online Masters Degree. In the first week my PC monitor went kaput and I had to fork out for a new one. Since then, my 500GB hard drive, which I
ve had for years with no problem, has also been on the blink.

One of my best friends back home died of cancer after a long illness. Not good.

I was told I have demo class (very stressful and time consuming) two weeks ago, right in the middle of my studying
normally you would get six weeks notice for a demo class.

My demo class was today, and this morning before setting off to work I opened an email from my sister to say my poor old mother has been hospitalised!

Now, world, why don
t you stop it! My mum doesnt deserve to be ill, I didnt need all the computer problems (why now??!!?), my friend didnt deserve to die, and you should have told me about open class bloody months ago! (it went OK but I lost so much study time grrrrr).

Oh, and I have a cold.

Get well soon Mum. Love you.

Rest of the world? Kiss my arse until you can treat me better ;)

October 08, 2011

Things I Can’t Do

There are millions of things I can’t do. I can’t tightrope, juggle or skateboard. I tried skateboarding once. Hospital. I can’t play darts, snowboard or ski. I tried skiing once. Hospital. I could, and no doubt you also could, fill this page with things we cannot do.

Some things I can’t do, but believe I could do, if I had the time and patience, like play a musical instrument. I reckon I’m quite musical. I’ve always loved music, and dancing, I can whistle a tune, I can even sing a bit, but I’ve never had the patience and stick-to-it-ness to play an instrument.

And I’m not that bothered.

However, there’s one thing I wish I could do, but I can’t, and that’s draw. I can’t draw to save my life. I’m jealous of people who can knock up a funny face in a few seconds with a few lines. I long to be able to sit and draw, well, anything. When I draw something, it looks like a spastic did it on an etch-a-sketch whilst riding a bus over an assault course.

I think I’m quite a creative chap. I write, I’ve done a fair bit of design work, I have a degree in the arts, I’ve made ‘art’, not the traditional kind but art nonetheless. I’ve dabbled a wee bit in music, and drama too, so I do have a creative bent, but dammit I wish I could draw.

Now, no advice please, no suggesting I go to drawing class, or practice this-or-that, because I fucking know already. It’s not that I couldn’t improve, I know I could, but I’d only go from terrible to mediocre – in short, I still wouldn’t be able to draw. 

I believe that drawing is an inherited ability, like being funny, or musical, or a good at sports. Some people, no matter how much they practice, will always look like an ironing board on a dancefloor. Comedy is the same. I’ve tried a little comedy acting, and I worked with some very funny people (one of whom passed away this week – RIP DW), and their comic timing was, in my opinion, in-built. A gift. A talent. Comic acting relies on that innate timing that funny people have. We are all funny sometimes, but genuinely funny people are funnier more often. Georg Christoph Lichtenberg said

“Everyone is a genius at least once a year.  The real geniuses simply have their bright ideas closer together.”

In my opinion comedy is the same – everyone is funny once a year, but… Incidentally, Lichtenberg was a German scientist.

So that’s it. I can’t draw, and I wish I could. I can however, spell. It’s my own personal theory, and I have no evidence other than personal experience to back this up, that you can either draw or spell. Are you good at spelling? Can you draw? Are you good at drawing? Can you spell? Bet you can’t do both well.
Now, go and check my entire oeuvre for errors, you pedant!

September 06, 2011

News Round Up

A blog about nothing in particular.

Normally I’m ranting about something I have a strong opinion about, like electric sliding doors (WHICH I F**KING HATE! Because they always close on you or break your stride and serve no purpose other than looking swish. A f**king spring will auto-close a door for f**k’s sake) or hand dryers that don’t dry your hands. This isn’t one of those rants, unless I think of something while I’m writing and it ends up that way.

So wot’s bin apnin? Petman is leaving. Nick is one of those guys I’ve known almost all the time I’ve been out here. He, I, and 2 or 3 others hung around together endlessly, and he’s the first one of the ‘gang’ to leave. So that’s a bit sad. I wish him well as he goes back to the UK to study. As one door closes…an electric one traps your hand.

It’s getting a little cooler out here in Korea. Autumn is creeping up. Actually running up. The seasons change quite quickly out here. It’s been a weird year, weather-wise. Monsoons and landslides in what-was-supposed-to-be summer, followed by baking heat followed by autumn. Throw in two weeks where I got frazzled in Laos and my skin will celebrate the onset of these cooler days. My skin hates everything. Mosquito bites? Skin sulks, itches, and swells up. And itches some more. Sunshine? I look like I’ve been in a nuclear accident, leaving a trail of flakes wherever I go. I think I was a ginger in a previous life. Incidentally, I have a cure for mosquito bite itchiness. Toothpaste! Works a treat for me. I literally never travel without an extra tube, just for bites. Mosquitoes love me. The little bastards. I hate them. And any twat that thinks I’ve incorrectly used the word literally, can f**k off. When I say ‘travel’, I mean TRAVEL, not get a f**king bus into town.

I’m starting a Masters Degree soon. This means I’ll be busy. I like being busy. I am at heart, like many people, a little lazy. But give me something to do and I’ll get it done. I’m a little worried about doing this MA, cuz it’s in teaching, and I’m not 100% sure I wanna be a teacher forever, but meh! It’s only an 18 month course. I can always switch in a few years if I change my mind. See I told you this blog was about nothing in particular.

I have a guitar. Can’t play the guitar, but I have one, courtesy of the aforementioned Nick Petman. Thanks! I’m trying to tune it right now. I’d be as well enlisting Helen Keller’s assistance for all the expertise I have. Mind you, my iPhone has an app for tuning guitars. Technology is amazing these days isn’t it?

Right that’s enough talking about nothing. Be well, wherever you are. 

August 17, 2011

So They're Rioting Now?

I would have liked to write the article last week, but I just got back from holiday. I appreciate a lot’s been said already, but I really want to state my piece on this. Also, what I’m about to say below, my experiences and opinions, I’ve not read from a book. Nor is this based on, or aspiring to be, high-brow sociological or anthropological comment. This is my own first hand experience, and my own opinions and solutions, in my own language. I have no political alliance or agenda (I’m not the anarchist saying “Hurrah it’s started!”, the racist saying “It’s them!”, the socialist blaming societal inequality, or the government-hater filled with glee at them ‘getting a bit back’.). I’ve lived on the council estates, drank in the pubs, talked to the families, and heard the crime stories. I’ve mixed with, and been part of, both as a youngster, and as a teacher and adult, the types of people and events I’m talking about. I’ve experienced it first hand, both from inside, and outside, as will many of you.

Who Are These Rioters?

There’s a term in England that I’m going to use throughout this article: ‘Feral Youth’. Not all youth are feral, merely a minority. Feral means, roughly, ‘was once domesticated, but is now wild’. Feral cats are the most common example. Allow me to give you an explanation and a few examples of the feral youth in Britain, because if you don’t live there, I imagine it would be quite hard to grasp just how bad this section of our society really is.

Feral youth are, ostensibly and unsurprisingly, young. They could be as young as 11 or 12, or as old as 30 or more. They behave very badly, they lack, generally, any form of decency, are, generally, rude, jobless-and-not-looking, they refuse education both at school level and beyond, they are aggressive, drugs and alcohol are usually ‘around’, there may be low, and often higher, levels of criminality, for example; stealing bikes, burglary, vandalism etc. If you walk by them in the street, you are likely to be abused. If you address their behaviour, it is very likely you will be set upon. Don’t believe me? Just click this link which is a Google search for “kicked to death”. Note that it is ‘kicked’, not stabbed, beaten, punched. Feral youth want no part of accepted society. In my opinion, feral youth are the biggest problem in UK society bar none. I have been accused of having an ‘ism’ about this section of society. I do. Let’s call it feral-youthism.

Why Did They Riot?

People are blaming the rioting, and the underlying attitudes of these feral youths, on things like; global recessions, politicians fiddling their expenses, the current austerity measures, police spending cuts, and myriad recent events. I cannot agree with this in any way. In my experience, this particular section of humanity (I use the word loosely) stretches back to the late, and prosperous, ‘90s. Since before the global recession, or any other downturn of the ilk, so let’s stop blaming that right now. These exact types of behaviour are not new – and I’m not talking about that historically long relationship between crime and poverty, I’m talking about the “kick-to-deathers”, the ambulance brickers, the “you can’t walk past them without abuse” types. The feral youth. Their history is short, I would say 15 years at the most. Anyone who is now saying the last four years have brought about this section of society, and their related behaviour, is woefully off-the-mark. They rioted because they are badly behaved little shits with bad attitudes who, to quote the deputy mayor of London “fancied a new pair of trainers”. Other than in the first riot, there were no politics or protest, just a notion of ‘let’s fuck things up and grab some stuff’, or as some have called it simply ‘shoplifting with violence’. There were, as far as I can ascertain, no public/council buildings attacked, no placards, no agenda, no desire for change, nothing. Just mindless looting of desirable retail outlets. That tells its own story as to the motives of these little shits. There wasn’t one, other than destruction and robbery.

So We Know Who They Are. How Do We Deal With Them?

Let’s not confuse or combine two issues. There are, undoubtedly, genuine problems with society in general like, say, the police, the government, and inequality. But for once, let’s actually blame the people responsible for these riots rather than ‘the wider social issue’. Assuming that if we fixed the police, government and inequality then that would solve the problem is absolute pie-in-the-sky because these rioters, and ferals in general, have no political motive whatsoever. These wider social issues are problems, sure, but I’m focusing on the one problem here – feral youth. They are their own problem, and, as I’ve stated, the biggest ill in society in the UK in my opinion.

Many people seem to be saying it’s a complex issue. And I guess it is. But I do think getting tougher is the answer. We need to be stronger in the schools to begin with. Not more liberal – less liberal. I’m not advocating bringing back corporal punishment or rubber bullets, but we need to be stronger. I’ve taught in many schools, and the behaviour therein is absolutely shocking. Teachers are constantly sworn at, abused, kicked and punched, pushed down stairs, have things thrown at them, and defied in every possible way imaginable (a ‘you can’t tell me what to do’ attitude). And let me stress something very important here, EIGHTY PERCENT of pupils in schools are not like this. 80% of pupils in schools are fine, behaviour wise. It’s the 20% I’m talking about. I don’t want to hear any arguments about “the majority of kids being OK” because that’s a given. It’s the same with teenagers and young adults. The vast majority are fine. We’re talking here about the problem kids/youth/young adults.

Perhaps a ‘3/5/10 strikes and you’re out’ system in schools might work? Swearing at a teacher? 1 strike. Getting up and walking out of class? 1 strike. Punching a teacher? Strike out. Maximum number of strikes reached? Some form of agreed punishment - suspension, removed to special area of school, or similar. I would think twice about swearing at a teacher if I were a pupil with one strike left which would mean 10 days exclusion if I opened my mouth. This is only one tiny idea, but generally and certainly, start in the schools. Support the teachers, give them the powers to be able to discipline pupils. Let the pupils, and the parents and wider society in the area, know that we’re not taking that bullshit in the classroom any more. In my opinion that would be a good start. Schools still need to be a pleasant place to learn, and teachers would still need to be friendly, but, for example, like any decent household, there are, and there needs to be, rules that are followed, and an awareness that if they are not, there will be consequences.

The main problem with this section of society though, is attitude. They believe that everyone and everything in authority – teachers, policemen, ambulance drivers, firemen, nurses, everyone – is the enemy. Somehow, we need to convince them that we are all on the same side, batting for the same team. Attitude adjustment. I still believe in stronger punishments for this type of behaviour, but overall, lastingly, we need to change the attitude of these people – their rebellion should be, and has historically been, art, music, politics, not ‘you can’t tell me what to do’ and smashing old aged pensioners heads in.

What Will Happen?

Unfortunately, not fucking much will happen. The liberal types, you know the ones, they call you ‘racist’ if you suggest people from Wales are sheep fondlers (true story – a shop in Aberdeen was labelled as racist because they sold ABE [anyone but England] t-shirts during the World Cup. Who do think instigated that complaint? ‘Them’!), will be spouting all manner of long-winded political dross, boring everyone to death to the point where no one cares any more, and time will move on, and lawyers will make millions appealing for little Johnny Feral because they think his 18 month sentence for setting a bus on fire was too harsh and everyone who took part in the rioting will think it was worth it and would happily do it again.

What irks me as much as anything is it is always middle class ‘fluffy’ types who end up getting their way, yet they don’t have to live on Bilton Grange (where I lived) or Berkeley Street (where I lived) where you can’t walk down the street at night, where you can’t say anything to anyone vandalising old Mr Jones’ newly painted fence because you’ll get your head caved in. I may sound flippant, but I’m perfectly serious – nothing, or not nearly enough, will happen to these people, and it will carry on the same because the liberals think they are ‘doing a good thing’ but they’re just, at best, maintaining the status quo, and at worst, making it worse by, ironically, not acting appropriately, or strongly enough.

Attitude Reinvention

In the long term, there needs to be a serious attitude adjustment in that particular section of society. I’ve heard politicians speak of tough love, and I would say that’s just about right. We do care about you, we want you to have important, successful, creative, and above all, peaceful futures in OUR society, but we must let them know that we will not, and cannot, accept this type of feral behaviour any longer. And the only way to let them know that is strong punishment. We’ll be fluffy and caring after that, but only after. Cross the line, and you’ve got it coming. What happened last week was not some ‘kick against the government’, it was mere looting and chaos, not caused by some sense of disenfranchisement, but just feral youth being feral. It’s time to stop it.

Our society is riddled with faults and flaws, but it’s still one of the better ones in the world. I’d like it to stay that way, and get better. Whilst there are problems ‘above our heads’, the biggest problem is, in my opinion, and not to sound snobbish, ‘beneath our feet’. There are people out there, and I know because I’ve talked to them, who want their own little autonomous communities, with no police, and mob rule. Really. We can’t let this happen. We need to change their attitudes. We’re not the enemy. Teachers are not the enemy. Nurses, firemen (I won’t say the police!), ambulance drivers, are not the enemy. There needs to be more respect, because at the moment we as a society are smouldering from the inside out.

It won’t be easy building those bridges, it will take a long time, but if we do these two things – strong deterring punishments, and develop a more respectful caring, inclusive society afterwards - we’ll be at least heading in the right direction.

July 29, 2011

America I Love You

OK, I have been accused of USA bashing on this blog. And it’s true, sometimes I have done.

No country is without its problems and issues. I’m from the England, and whilst it may have a reputation for rolling green hillsides and country gentlemen, in the main that’s not England at all. Our inner cities are as bad as anywhere else; gun and knife crime is rising, our teenagers are little shits that only a right good hiding would remedy, drug crimes are a problem, and we have some of the worst rates for violence in Europe, if not the worst. (Can’t be bothered to look it up, you have Google, you go do it).

But I love the UK. I’m proud to be British.

There are many things I like that are American, so it’s time to balance the scales a little.

Firstly, I’ve been, retrospectively, a ‘60s and ‘ 70s Soul fan for a long time! And whilst (it’s fair to say) that that type of Soul is more popular in the UK than it the USA, the music itself 99.99% American. Pretty much all the music I listen to is American. So there’s one thing.

If you ask anyone their all-time top 10 movies, how many people would not have at least one American movie in there? I certainly would. Several in fact.

My favourite TV show has to be The Simpsons. Classic satire that still makes me laugh. And American. Curb Your Enthusiam? Brilliant. Family Guy? Awesome. South Park? Love it. The recent Breaking Bad? Fantastic. I love UK TV too, and our comedy has to be up there with best around, but the USA can certainly churn out some masterpieces too.

I have many American friends over here in Korea. They are nice people. They use some strange phrases! But they are nice people. They are friendly. Really. They are. Are they ‘dumb’ (stupid) as per the American stereotype? Nope. Really, they aren’t. And we have more than our fair share of low IQ in the UK.

Um, what else? I suppose that will do for now. If you look through my blog most anti-American things I’ve said are spelling/grammar/pronunciation related – and as a British English teacher teaching American English to foreigners I have a right, I think, to be bothered by this. It doesn’t mean I hate Americana, I certainly don’t.

Might even visit the place one day. I just hope the notoriously strict American airport security people haven’t read my previous blog entries.

July 20, 2011


You might not know the word captcha, but if you're a regular internet user, you'll know what they are. They are those little pictures of text that you have to type in to prove you are human.

Their scientific name is 'reverse Turing test' - i.e. a computer asks a question to prove that that answerer is not a robot. Simple right? Makes sense? It stops computer hackers setting up auto-bots and sweeping the internet and downloading everything in sight.

Recently, I've noticed that some of these captchas are getting a little obscure. These below are real captchas that I've seen and saved. They are frankly ridiculous:

Come on! How am I supposed to enter this?

Japanese? Chinese? All the keyboards in the world have a Roman alphabet on them as well as the native language. So why have captchas in Japanese?

Just simply illegible.


Anyone who can type in that first symbol wins a cyber-coconut. What is it? A steering wheel?

tuTues esse.......................................eh?


So I need a Russian and a Japanese keyboard?

Looks like someone squashed a bug.

Sorry, Russian, Japanese and Greek?

Apparently I need to type with a scientific calculator.

Just fack off.


"Honey, will you get my upside-down keyboard please?"

All of the above are real captchas I downloaded in half an hour. Incidentally, most captchas have a small 'reload' button next to them, so can can scroll through and see for yourself.

July 06, 2011


I’m an occasional smoker, and am getting ready to quit again. The best ways to stop smoking are the tried and tested ones – pure undiluted will power, joining an NHS (Local Medical Centre) Anti-Smoking Programme, reading Allen Carr’s book, getting some patches or gum, or having the doctor tell you you’re gonna drop dead in six weeks if you don’t quit. All of these methods have a proven track-record.

But what if you wanna stop, right, but…..you know. What if you’re a rebel? What if you’re a bit ‘funky’?

Alternative Methods Of Beating Nicotine Addiction.

Let’s not beat about the tobacco bush here – smoking is nicotine addiction. You DO NOT do it because it tastes nice, because you find it relieves stress or for any other reason. You do it because you are addicted. To nicotine. The only stress you are relieving is the stress of your inner self saying ‘where’s my nicotine hit you bastard? I will cwy and cwy and cwy unless you feed me now.’

Beating it is a bitch. I’ve smoked on and off for years (more off), and have had several successful stops. When I say successful, I mean I lasted at least a year, not just a couple of weeks etc. You may be wondering at this point why I haven’t stayed permanently stopped? Well, being around other smokers and so on….just the usual stuff. But I’ve used many methods of stopping, some recommended, and some not. Here’s three I’ve tried, which really work.


This is a method I’ve employed to varying degrees. In essence, what this means is that when stopping, and especially during those crucial first few days, deny yourself NOTHING except nicotine. Wanna cake? Have one. Want two cakes? Have three. Want cake, orgasm and whisky simultaneously? Off you go, so to speak. In short, deny yourself nothing pleasurable whatsoever, until the nicotine pangs go away. Three Cadbury’s Flakes and a milkshake might not replace the urges for a ciggie, but they won’t half cheer you up while you’re waiting.

Obviously this has after effects, and shouldn’t be done for longer than a week or two, especially if you put on weight easily, but worth it if you beat smoking.


This is simply a reversal of Method 1. STOP EVERYTHING. Sex/masturbation. Chocolate. Desserts. Caffeine. Alcohol. Everything bad. FOR ONE WEEK. Then, give yourself one thing back per day in the second week, or whatever you feel like.

What works here is that your mind is taken off smoking during that first week because you haven’t had your caffeine/booze/orgasm that your body/mind likes. You are distracting your nicotine cravings with more subtle cravings for other things. This helps to put smoking in perspective with your other (real) desires, and also, actually, stops some situations where you are likely to want to smoke – eg, with booze, after tea and coffee or after sex. Genius. Live like a monk for a week. Worth doing in itself. This works. I’ve tried it.

It’s a great exercise in self-control – and you’ll be proud of yourself for achieving it.

It’s also a lot cheaper than method one, unless you own a corner shop.


You don’t hear about this one from the NHS, for obvious reasons. But it works. Also please note, that this is only achievable in countries where certain things are either legal, or is highly available and not-that-illegal. If you live in Korea, only some of this below is relevant. Read on…

If, like many, you have partaken in the occasional ‘illegal’ cigarette – you know, a spliff, well, it’s possible to make joints without tobacco – or even better, make a bong, or buy a small pipe, available cheaply from most good head shops, and just smoke the weed, sans-tobacco. This really helps and works if you are a pot smoker wanting to give up tobacco. You might find yourself stoned a lot during those first few days though, as the points in the day where you might have just had a ciggie, e.g. first thing in the morning, you find yourself getting the bong out. Make no mistake, nicotine cravings are a bitch to handle.

Also, you can try herbal cigarettes if marijuana is not your thing. Again, especially for those first crucial three or four days, having something to smoke that contains no nicotine can be extremely helpful in relieving those nicotine cravings.

You can also make joints with these in place of tobacco if needs be.

Both marijuana and herbal cigarettes are non-addictive, although if you’ve never smoked pot, I wouldn’t recommend that to start with. Get some herbal fags.

The point here is that smoking SOMETHING ELSE, something non-addictive, during that first week, can really help you. I’ve tried this (though I’m not saying whether I tried herbal ciggies or pot!) and it really works, by helping you when you really REALLY wanna smoke….something.

The three methods above all work, as do the traditional ones mentioned at the top of the article.

I’m about to stop again. I’m not sure which method I’ll pick. I’ll write about it afterwards.

Smoking is evil. It’s an addiction. Almost everyone I know who smokes wants to stop. Why don’t they? Coz it’s fucking hard that’s why, so give them a break and show them this article, and if you’re his/her lover, you better hope he doesn’t pick method one.

July 04, 2011

If You Enjoy These Songs, There Is No Hope For You

Every mother-funking time I go into a so-called dance club, or a bar that’s playing dance music I hear these three shit fucking songs over and over and fucking over. And to be fair to Korea, none of them are Korean.

Before going further, I am aware that posting them on here gives them yet more undeserved air time due to my millions (dozens, if that) readers.

However, I must say, if you have debased yourself by enjoying any of these songs in a club or bar, or you don’t hate them with a passion, well, simply, eat my turds. These three songs are the worst, shittiest, lowest-common-denominator stupid-assed bullshit retard songs I’ve ever heard passed off as ‘credible’ dance music in my entire life. And if that wasn’t bad enough, they are lapped up by us westerners in bars over and over and goddam fucking over again.

It’s not like there aren’t thousands of classics in the dance music genre to choose from. There are! Just take techno and house for example – anyone with a smattering of knowledge could name dozens of credible, acceptable, beautiful dance tracks. Also, every week hundreds of no-doubt-superior cheezy dance tracks are released. Why do we have to listen to the same shitty three? And like I said, if the songs weren’t bad enough, hearing the fuckers over and over again everywhere, for months on end, is a fucking insult to all but the entirely uncultured.

I know Korea has good clubs and bars – it does – I love it here, but I swear, any bar that thinks these three tracks are good, seemingly most of the ones I end up in or walk by, needs to take a time-out and check out some proper dance music. There is much, much better stuff out there, stuff that’s not embarrassing. Find it.

Lastly, if you’re a DJ playing any of these tracks. Just shoot yourself.

June 30, 2011

A Powerpoint and General Graphics Issue That Is Very Easily Avoided

Im just back from a three-day training course with my job. The course material and presentation had way too much of a corporate feel to it for my liking. Big lecture halls, getting everyone to shout woohooooo! etc to get them motivated, and some really, really badly designed PowerPoint presentations.

Before I go any further, I must emphasise that the course itself wasnt too bad. The speakers knew their stuff, and the ladies running it worked extra hard, and they are great and friendly people, but Im here to rant, and rant I will.

Secondly, Im talking about design here, the overall look and feel of these PPT presentations, not the content. Those giving the lectures certainly knew what they were talking about, it just, sometimes, looked like shit on-screen. I wont mention one lecturer who was so scruffy that it actually irked me. Buy some shoe polish and a fucking iron.

Right everyone, stop doing this. I mean it. Stop. Right now.
What in the name of fuck are you doing? This is not a fucking hall of mirrors. Keep things in their original proportions and ratios! The coins and faces mistake were both on PPTs I saw at this course. Dont do this!! I mean holy fuck, were not all artists, but you dont have to make everyone look like theyve had their head in a vice. A circle is a circle is a circle. Why is yours egg-shaped? Why? Why cant you see it? If you think no one notices, you are wrong! One of the lecturers spent a good hour talking about body language, that is - non-verbal communication, yet his non-verbal communication (the look and feel of the PPT) stunk! Its easily avoided in PPT just drag THE FUCKING CORNERS ONLY not the middle-of-the-edge of the images. If you need to change the proportion/ratio crop the image first. That is, if its too wide, chop a bit off rather than just dragging it in. Theres a crop tool in PPT its icon looks like this.

Jeezo! Dont do this. If I see you doing this on any handout, worksheet, PPT or anything else I will send you dog poop in the post. In an oddly proportioned box. See how you like it.

Colours (Fuck the American Spelling).

One lady lecturer decided that the headers/titles in each of her slides should, for some reason be a) the same size as the rest (itself not a crime) and b) of a more faded tone compared to the body text. Something like this

I mean come on. The point of a fucking header is that, well, its a fucking header. The thing that shouts loudest and the thing you read first. A lead-in. Not much fucking use if I only notice it after Ive read the thing my eye is drawn to first is it? Your headline should be at least as big as the body text, or bigger, it should of course be at the top, and it should NOT be in a less bold or obvious colour/tone than the body text.

Another thing, though this wasnt something I noticed at the training course, as this is more of a tip for teachers of kids, not adults. Add some fucking pictures to your slides (without squashing them for fucks sake). Kids love looking at boring slide-after-slide of text dont they? No of course they fucking dont. Pictures also look a lot more professional with borders on, so add some fucking borders, it aint hard. If you dont know how go figure it out, thats what fucking Google is for.

And while Im talking about pictures dont use these (pixelated) or these (watermarked). Why? Because youll look like a c*nt. Get a nice clean picture without watermarks or pixelisation, that is a decent size, big enough to resize without becoming pixelated, and slap a border on it. Its not hard. In fact its very easy for anyone with an IQ above 12. Incidentally the use of clip art. Some hate it (professional designers especially) but for us teachers, its cartoony quality can be pretty useful.

Also, pick interesting fonts. There is more to life than Times New Roman and Arial. I use this website http://1001freefonts.com. If youre doing a presentation about, say, computers, use a techno font. Shakespeare? Use an Olde English font. Use your fucking imagination anyway. Also, the variation of typefaces might just challenge the kids reading a little. Dont know how to install a font? Google.

Body language is important in communication. Design is equally important in presentation. Theres no excuse for making the obvious-as-a-turd-on-your-face mistakes above.

You may never win designer of the year, I know I wouldnt, but if you eradicate/use the above, youll at least look like less of a twat by reaching the VERY BASIC STANDARD of design. Who knows, maybe you will start looking professional? OK, I doubt that, but give it a try. And iron them fucking trousers.

NB: The above is not directed at anyone in particular. The course I went on was actually pretty good, Powerpoints aside...

June 10, 2011

How Come? Social Norms That Baffle Me

How comeif you read the newspaper before you go to work in the morning, you will be considered enlightened, well-read, up-to-date and well-informed, but if you spend half an hour reading the internet in the morning you will be considered weird?

How come if you walk down the street whistling, you
'll be considered a happy-go-lucky type with not a care in the world, but if you walk down the street humming, or even worse, singing, everyone would think you've just escaped from somewhere?

'm sure I have some more of these. But my ageing memory has put a stop to them being reproduced here. More soon

June 09, 2011

The Problem with Banning Corporal Punishment.

Corporal Punishment, 'CP' in the rest of this article, has just been outlawed in Korea well a few months ago this is not today's news. I'm old enough to remember CP at school back in England, and have also seen it first hand, both at school, and out here in Asia. I've also taught in both environments, where CP is both banned and used. Here's my take on why banning it is a bad thing.

Firstly, let me say that banning altogether has some plusses. No doubt there are teachers who take it too far, but in my experience these are extremely isolated incidents. Really, they are. Has anyone ever seen, or heard, of anyone, not via the media, that was severely beaten by a teacher? I haven


Secondly, let me say that personally, I'm not in favour of hitting kids. I don't have any myself, but if I did I doubt I'd hit them. My parents never hit me though I was CP'd many times at school. Even when it was legal here I didn't CP anyone.

But the problem with actually BANNING it is that once you do this, you essentially hand over the leadership of the school to the pupils therein. NOT because you now have no means to discipline them, but because they know that they have the law on THEIR side. A pupil could, if he or she took a dislike to you, report you for a friendly tap on the shoulder or pat on the head. And they will. This adds massive pressure to the job of teaching, so now of course you have a policy of no physical contact whatsoever. (And let
's be adult here, I am not talking, suggesting, implying or inferring sexuality in any of this.)

When I first started teaching in
Korea, I literally never touched the kids, having taught in England previously, that was the norm, but I was eventually pretty-much ordered to! I was at first considered a 'cold' teacher. This was elementary school, and it was/is very normal here to, say, put your arm round a kid's shoulder when you're talking to them etc. It's not so normal back in the UK, and actually I feel a bit weird typing this what with the west's/our predilection with calling everyone a paedo at the drop of a hat. But the west's obsession with that is for another article. I digress

In short, the pupils now know that they have the law, and therefore the power, on THEIR side. 99% of my pupils are well behaved and a healthy rapport is maintained. But, I
'll tell you one thing I jokingly, and smilingly, I shook my fist at a kid in a mock "why I oughta!" kind of way recently. His response? "Teacher, if you do that again I will contact the police!" he meant it.  They know. They know the power has shifted. They know that they are the ones who can get you into trouble. It shifted in the UK, and it will shift here. I used to pat my kids on the back when they fell asleep. I daren't now. I have a drum and cymbal at home I'm bringing that in that should wake them up! However, I reiterate the power has shifted now. Be warned.

May 28, 2011

Bands and Singers I Hate, That Everyone Else Likes.

[Please note that I have the greatest respect for some of these peoples’ achievements, but simply cannot abide the music.]

I’ll start with Massive Attack. Everyone loves this band. Not me. Have you ever seen a bad thing written about them? They must be one of the most lauded bands of the last 30 years, but I just don’t get them at all. Here’s a quote from the very first video on YouTube I looked up:

” Massive Attack are more than musicians, they are artists in the true sense of the word, this track is beauty personified.”

Really? It’s just a song, and a nothing special song at that.

A definite case of Emperor’s New Clothes, as they have that kind of indestructible reputation that no one dare challenge lest the challenger looks uncool.

Joy Division. Controversial one this, as the singer, as you probably are aware, tragically killed himself. The remaining band members went on to become New Order. JD were, in my opinion, no better than your average student band, who, had they simply stopped what they were doing and split up in 1980, and Ian Curtis not killed himself, would not be remembered at all. Are they entirely overrated out of sympathy for the Ian Curtis tragedy? Yes, in my opinion.

Miles Davis and all that 50s be-bop Blue Note freestyle jazz stuff. Now I know these guys broke boundaries, and are much admired, and probably deservedly so, but my ears cannot abide listening to this stuff, in fact experimental music/jazz at all. Experimental music needs to exist, otherwise there would be no progress, but I don’t have to like it, and I don’t. Painful.

The Beatles. Now, I don’t hate The Beatles, but in all my life I have never had a favourite Beatles album, have never spent an enjoyable hour listening to them. I love old music from the 50s, 60s and 70s, and I honestly can’t pinpoint why I’m not a Beatles fan, it’s just none of their songs has ever grabbed me. I actually prefer John Lennon’s solo stuff after the Beatles.

Johnny Cash. Another guy who it is impossible to dislike because he’s so ‘cool’. It’s cool to like Johnny Cash. You’re hip to the tip if you like Johnny Cash. Guess I’m just not hip., because I’ve never heard a Johnny Cash song that did anything for me whatsoever.

Small Faces. Little fancy dress weirdos (Mods) all over England praise this band to high heaven. There’s nothing wrong with the Small Faces, but again, don’t dislike them or everyone will hate you. I prefer The Exploited’s Fuck a Mod myself.

The Who. Just fuck off. I hate The Who. Their music is shit and they come across like cunts in interviews.

So there you go. Obviously everyone’s musical tastes are different, but ask yourself, truthfully. Do you like any of the above just because everyone else does?

April 29, 2011

Hongdae is for Suckers and Douchebags (Mostly)

Well, sometimes anyway.

Ok, I
've got friends, good friends, who regularly go to Hongdae on a weekend. If you fit into that category, you WILL be offended by the rest of this, so go read something else!

Hongdae is, for non-familiar-with-Seoul,
South Korea readers, a nightclubby, party-time suburb of Seoul. Big. Busy. And full of twats.  Here are my last three trips there.

1) Minding our business, my group of friends and I are dancing next to this very drunken guy who, after, it has to be said, nothing whatsoever, threatened my friend with
"I'm gonna kick your fucking head in" or words to that effect. Five minutes later, and nothing to do with us, this guy is being escorted out by some burly Korean doormen.

2) In another nightclub, on another night, I
'm walking back from the bar across the club, again, entirely minding my own business (in case anyone thinks I was scowling or whatever) when a spotty skinny little ginger nerd steps out of a crowd and shoves me, quite blatantly, halfway across the dancefloor! I had very strong words said spotty little ginger nerd, who immediately shat himself and started profusely apologising! Can anyone tell me what the actual fuck this is about? Why do people whom no doubt (it would seem anyway) are away from home for the first time, feel the need to pick fights with random strangers? "Let-loose" syndrome? Who knows?

Oh, the best, by far, is yet to come!

My friends and I, on another night, around a month ago, are in a club in Hongdae. It
's around 3am, so everyone had been drinking. Still, that's no excuse for THIS. I'm literally just standing around, just watching the dancefloor, sipping a beer, not talking to anyone, when some utter, undeniable clusterfuck of a douchebag, with shit hair and a bad attitude, walks up to me, again out of nowhere. The conversation went something like:

Clusterfuck douchebag extraordinaire: Who the fuck are you?

Me: Eh?

CfDbE: I said who the fuck are you?

Me: Paul.

CfDbE: Listen you prick. I don
't like the look of you, and I've got way more life experience than you, I've been in Korea longer than you, and I'm older than you, so you better fucking watch yourself.

Me: Listen dude, I don
't know what you're on about, or who you are

CfDbE: I
'm gonna put you on the fucking floor!

(by now I
'd had enough, as the conversation carried on like this for a minute or two).

Me: *Headbutt* (sorry Mum if you
're reading this, but enough was enough).

CfDbE: *Dragged off by friends*

Me: *pointing and gesturing*
me and you outside now sunshine.

Etc etc.

Half an hour later this CfDbE is all over me apologising and buying me drinks. It turned out to be a very cheap night in fact. Oh and for the record, he was American (sounding) and about 30 years old. I
'm 43!

Also, I don
't wanna come across like I'm some kind of hard man, because I'm not. But there's a line, walking up to me, or indeed anyone, in a nightclub and telling them that 'you're gonna put them on the floor' is surely asking, literally, for trouble?

Every time this little prick came up to me with another drink I
'd say thank you, and tell him, again, what a cocksucker he'd been, to which he readily agreed, every time!

I should have walloped the guy, but decorum, and a sense of not wanting to get thrown out a nightclub at 3 or
4 am after the trains had stopped running, curtailed me from taking it further, though my offer to take it outside at the time was genuine. He bottled it saying "look, I don't wanna fight you!'. You weren't saying that half an hour ago you cocksucker. Etc

So that
's Hongdae, a hotbed of utter fannies. Oh and the music they play is fucking dreadful in these places as well, usually. Lowest common denominator cheesy-dance-music-by-numbers. I like dancing, but not to any old shit. The music in nightclubs in  Korea, frankly, leaves a lot to be desired, though in fairness I only know what I hear in these crappy places. I'm sure there's good stuff around.

In summary, if you
're a westerner in Korea, and maybe you're away from home for the first time, and maybe you're not that used to being drunk in nightclubs at 3am, here's some advice BEHAVE YOURSELF!