Facebook Chat

Man, I used to really think facebook chat was just too creepy to ever ‘make it’ as a facebook platform, but after chatting with a couple of people who are in various places around the world, I see myself using it on an almost daily basis. I don’t log onto AIM every day, but I’m a facebook whore who happens to use it a lot.

Over

International Week and Night is finally finished. It was extremely stressful running the event, but even though I’m glad the work load is finished, I can’t help but feel like a part of me is now gone. No more late Wednesday evenings or early morning chalking.

Last night’s turnout was amazing. For a while, I doubted that anyone would show up, but we pulled through and got a ton of people to come. I was down in the kitchen for most of the day and missed the show, but I was able to take part in the fashion show, so I was able to see the audience.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who came and helped out.

Do you REALLY believe that?

Something I’ve noticed: in 95% of the arguments I’ve witnessed or partaken in, any of the two positions the debaters take is logically defensible. Excluding the irrational arguments I’ve witnessed, arguments generally center around a small group of positive statements with the disagreements being concerned with normative statements.In high school forensics, we always, always played devils advocate as an exercise in argumentative discourse. The point was not so much as to understand the other side’s view as much as it was to see how easy it was to construct a defensible position on almost any public policy question.

To change subjects slightly (I’ll bring them back around in the end… I promise), my own personal beliefs have been constructed via the following process: investigate the positives, reconcile my normatives with the positives, and form my own beliefs around them. But after starting college, I noticed an interesting trend; friends started adopting other friend’s normatives, then seeking out positives to support them. While I feel my normatives are based on a philosophical structure (in which I hope none of my opinions cause me to ‘backtrack’), I felt because my friends normative values were unstructured because they weren’t a result of their own investigations. In listening to their opinions on various public policy, I’ve found them to have stances on an issue that cause them to contradict a stand on another. I’m by no means saying I’m not guilty of the exact same thing; in fact, I’ll go out on a limb and say I have one or two beliefs that may contradict each other (but when they come to light, I’ll do my best to reconcile them). My concern is that I feel people are taking positions on policy because their friends are taking them. Just because a person can defend a piece of public policy doesn’t mean they’ve thought out how that piece of policy reflects their own personal philosophy. In other words, I really feel that people advocate positions without contemplating how those policies, or what those policies imply on their moral/ethic/philisophical structure (the dashes are ‘or’s because some people have no ‘moral’ structure for philosophic reasons).

In one sense, I really don’t believe it matters, based on my own personal philosophy, but on another level, I think it’s sad for the person because having been easily swayed one way, it’s simple for a person who is adapt at arguing to sway the other person, and that person’s position based on their own highest values is never realized.

Removing the Crutch

I discovered this while studying Japanese, but I think it applies to all learning. The experts that troll this blog can comment and say otherwise if I’m wrong (I’m looking at you, Adelle).

After 1 term of studying Japanese, we had learned both Japanese phonetic alphabets. Each of us had the ability to pronounce any of the characters, but it took us a considerable amount of time. At the end of the first term, and for the rest of our time spent studying Japanese, our instructors posted all lessons in the Japanese phonetic alphabet.

The first time we had to read entire scripts in Japanese was humorous to say the least! Everyone read extremely slow. What’s more, we hated reading using Japanese characters. It was such a struggle because it felt like such a topical regression. In English, native speakers have become so accustomed to recognizing words that we don’t bother looking at spelling for pronunciation as much as we look at word recognition. In Japanese, we experience somewhat of the same phenomenon. Instead of being able to recognize entire words, we were forced to examine and consider every pronunciation. Word distinction at that stage was nigh impossible given that there are no word break markers in pure hiragana/katakana (phonetic reading) Japanese.

But as time went on, and as we learned additional Chinese symbols (they go a long way in helping with word recognition and word breaks), we all became much more proficient in reading comprehension and pronunciation. I can read a Japanese text MUCH quicker than I was able beforehand.

I’m grateful my instructors removed the roman letters crutch. I know for a fact that had I been studying by myself, I would have been much more reluctant to use only Japanese characters… or maybe I would have never done it. But by removing that crutch, we were forced to adapt, and that’s something I think we as a species are amazing at doing. The problem, of course, is us not wanting to step outside our comfort zone. But the more we do, the more we learn and grow, and the more that a particular subject/area we’re working with becomes a comfort zone.

Being quick to abandon what’s comfortable, always looking toward the unseen path… that’s a personality trait I hope to develop.

Ron Paul

An Oregon Daily Emerald columnist writes an article not exactly bashing Ron Paul. Within 24 hours, 64 comments, most of which attack the columnist’s criticism of Paul, have been posted on the Emerald’s website. The only other article receiving this sort of attention was the one bashing Anime.

Screw Liberals posts “Ron Paul sucks” repeatedly. 73 comments.

In fact, search Google blogs “Ron Paul sucks” and take a look at the number of reactionary comments received (I’m expecting a huge increase in the number of hits I receive for typing “Ron Paul Sucks.”)

All this despite the man not even being one of the top 7 candidates. Barack Obama, despite being ahead in the USA Today poll, doesn’t have nearly the internet presence of Paul.

So even though Paul doesn’t have much of a shot winning this term’s election, what does this mean for internet candidates in the future? With the rise in the number of people using the internet and an increasing number of older people logging in constantly, will the internet play a larger role in which candidate is selected? If Paul were to be the most popular candidate on the internet four years from now, would he have a significantly larger fan base?

Fooded

I made my first real batch of fried rice today!

I went to market of choice because I was out of food and starving to death. Picked up some pork, green onions, eggs, oyster sauce, basil, and extra virgin olive oil. Cooked the rice while cutting the pork into strips and mixing oyster sauce, basil, green onions, fish sauce, and soy sauce in one bowl. After the rice was done prepared a pan and a pot by covering them with olive oil. Set the pan on 6 and the pot on 5 (oven settings), threw the sauce concoction into the pot and the pork into the pan. While the meat was cooking, I added a sweet garlic sauce mix I got from Market of Choice to the pan so that the meat could cook in it. Next, I whisked an egg and added it to the pot and stirred until the egg was 90% cooked. Then, I added the rice and stirred while keeping an eye on my pork. The rice was finished much quicker than the pork was, so I used my rice cooker cover to keep the rice from getting cold.

In hindsight, the rice was a little too salty and could have benefited from some chili powder, but it was delicious still. The sweet garlic sauce definitely regulated the flavor. And the best part is, my cooking didn’t kill me!

Hectic!

Last night was perhaps one of the most successful Halloween events ever put on by the International Student Association. We had 200 students show up by 9:00 p.m. with two more hours to go. I’m sure we breached the 300 person guest list.

However, nothing comes for free. In exchange for an amazing event, ISA personnel sacrificed an enormous amount of  capital in the forms of time, money, and sanity. Everyone put in a lot of time, and I’m sure by the end some of us were questioning whether or not all the effort was worth it.

But in the end, it surely was! We were justified in choosing a larger venue for our Halloween event (in response to record-breaking coffee hour attendance) as the traditional venue would not have been able to hold 300 guests. We’ve instilled the ISA name into a good 300+ attendees who hopefully in turn attend our other events. We had excellent programming for our attendees.

Hats off to everyone who worked to make it happen.

週末 (My Weekend)

Two things:

One: Had a good weekend. The ISA co-directors were invited to a formal dinner to commemorate the opening of the Mills International center. We were served a three-course meal and had the opportunity to interact with University of Oregon faculty and donors. I was fortunate enough to be seated with the provost of International Affairs and the director of the EMU (along with two other guests whose names escape me).  Also, the University of Oregon president was seated next to me (but at the opposite table; we didn’t have any opportunity to interact).

Hung out with Sean and Adelle that night and all of the next day. We went to the football game (in which Oregon proceeded to slaughter the Washington State Cougars 52-7) and then over to Sean’s house where we were treated to a variety of different foods. My contribution was the wine for the Sanagria (spelled correctly, Sean?). After that was an onslaught of Guitar Hero, Halo, and American Idol Karaoke.  Loads of fun.

Two: I received a message on my Mixi account (a japanese style facebook or myspace) from one of my friends in Japan, all of which was in Japanese. She wrote it  in Japanese, and I could tell she wrote it so that 90% of it utilized grammar and vocabulary I already knew and that 10% of it was new vocabulary and grammar, forcing me to do a little research on my own.

Even now, 3 months after most of those guys have gone back to Japan, I’m still amazed at how much they care about foreigners learning their language. All of my Japanese exchange student friends from last year (and there was a lot of them) always took five minutes out of their day to make sure I was speaking correctly and encouraging me to persist when studying the language became difficult. They always tried to make it interesting and relevant, going out of their way to introduce me to phrases that were appropriate for whatever situation I was in (especially the 飲んで,飲んで,飲んで song… what a horrible song!).

I guess what I’m trying to say is that (1) I have never met any group of people who were enthusiastic about teaching something as they were about teaching me their language and (2) its remarkable that they were so eager to welcome me into their groups of friends and become a part of my group. I think without them, I would have failed out of Japanese Class.