Audaces fortuna juvat

Working towards my dream

Archive for December, 2007

Anywhere Door

Posted by C Moon on December 22, 2007

Sometimes, I think back a comic book called Doraemon that I read when I was young. Doraemon is a robotic cat from the future, and his pocket is a conduit to the future. More specifically, out of numerous gadgets that he pulls out from his pocket, I fondly remember the gadget called “Anywhere Door.”

This week my brothers returned from the USA for the winter break. That is, I was not able to see my brothers face-to-face for a long long time. The advanced technology enables us to communicate each other through msn and by telephone. But skype, for example, which is the most intimate connection at the present time, seems to lack in some elements and be an unsatisfactory alternative to a personal meeting. I can hear them and see them, but cannot feel them or touch them. Hence, when I miss the actual presence of my brothers, I want to meet them through “Anywhere Door.”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have something like Anywhere Door? Well, with it you can go on to a vacation without spending hours caught in traffic jam. When you are almost late for an appointment, you go to an alley and through Anywhere Door instantly go to the place you want to go. Do you also want to have it? What do you want to do if you have Anywhere Door with you, transcending time and space?

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Photo Credits: “Anywhere Door – Doraemon” by Apostolos Letov

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Piano and a Man

Posted by C Moon on December 20, 2007

It seems that in playing piano, we need more than just two hands. Last Saturday, I went to a solo piano concert by Jeongwon Kim (also known as Julius Kim). He is a quite popular pianist in Korea, appearing in a movie called “For Horowitz.” I won’t say that his sounds and skills were the best I’ve ever heard. (Personally, I thought he made a mistake in arranging the pieces.) But I was definitely moved by his passion. He hopped, ducked, paused, and startled to the wave of sounds, closing his eyes. His whole body followed the movement of his fingers. Piano seemed to be an instrument played not by fingers alone but by the whole body and inner passion.

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Photo Credits: “piano inclinato” by regolare on Flickr

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Reflection

Posted by C Moon on December 14, 2007

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Time flies. I still feel as though the semester started a few days ago, but today the semester ended.

Yesterday I finished all my final exams, but somehow I feel empty now. Throughout the semester, I was chased by assignments and tests. And I was worn out finishing one project after another, and one test after another. Well, I managed to handle all workloads. But all along I had hoped to have some time to appreciate and explore these materials deep enough.

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Photo Credits: Original

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Predicting Mathematical Ability?

Posted by C Moon on December 7, 2007

According to Keith Devlin in his post Predicting Mathematical Ability, it seems that the psychologist Daniela O’Neill recently proposed that we can predict the mathematical ability of a 3- or 4-year-old pre-schooler.

The interesting aspect of this research is not that we can predict the mathematical ability of a toddler, but the way in which we can predict it. O’Neill says that while the arithmetic skill may reflect child’s future mathematical ability to some extent, it is the narrative skill that actually help people to predict child’s future mathematical ability. For a long time, people thought that math/science and literature/art were relatively exclusive (e.g., Many friends of mine oftentimes say that they are not math persons but literature persons.). This finding seems to propose a thread to the connection between math and literature, logic and emotion, and experiment and imagination.

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Photo Credits: “The Number Eight” by Lab2112 on Flickr

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Rejected Articles Can Be Rejected Again!!!

Posted by C Moon on December 7, 2007

While surfing around the internet, I’ve found an interesting posting. Have you heard of Rejecta Mathematica?

It seems that there are many steps that a mathematics article has to go through in order to be published. And in the process, many articles fail to survive the intense reviews from peer mathematicians. Only selected few get to see the light. Rejecta Mathematica is a new home for the “abandoned” papers. They are revived to see the world.

In order to be published in Rejecta Mathematica, the paper has to satisfy several requirements. First, the mathematician has to include a letter describing the reasons why the paper was rejected and any other flaws the paper might have. Submissions are not peer reviewed, and results are required to be neither correct nor new. But if the paper is considered to be either incomprehensible or not mathematical, the submission can be rejected. What a tough world!
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Photo Credits: “College Math Papers” by sweatpea.loty30 on Flickr

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Goals versus Happiness

Posted by C Moon on December 7, 2007

In his essay Coming Home Again, Chang-Rae Lee remembers the last days with his mother. Because she was suffering from cancer, the whole family, i.e., Chang-Rae, his sister, and his father, were trying to create a last fond memory if possible. Particularly, Chang-Rae tries to cook many tasty cuisines to stimulate his mother’s appetite. Actually, her last days with her family are a compensation for her long sacrifice. By setting her goal to be her husband’s success and her children’s happiness, Chang-Rae’s mother constantly lowers herself. Moreover, she sends Chang-Rae to a boarding school solely for his success. Even when she cries in the car, the one who makes her cry, Chang-Rae, does not even know that. Though the mother sacrificed her early goals, she was only able to get a slight happiness when her life reached the end.

Chang-Rae’s mother left aside her goals and devoted herself for the others; however, she ultimately failed to attain her happiness. When people seek their own goals, people are more likely to achieve their happiness. After all, people set their goals because they do know what they need for their own happiness.

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Photo Credits: “Happiness is warm puppy” by hale_popoki on Flickr

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Korean Presidential Election and the Movie, Boiler Room (2000)

Posted by C Moon on December 7, 2007

boiler-room.pngKorean presidential election is slated for December 19, 2007, only 12 days from today. The hottest news for the last two weeks has been the allegations made by Mr. Kyung Joon Kim, who made counterfeit documents in the past and fled to USA after transferring in secret a huge sum of money to his clandestine account in the USA. On December 5, 2007, Korean attorney general’s office indicated that Mr. Kim’s scheme mimicked the tricks in the movie, Boiler Room. Suddenly Boiler Room became the most demanding movie in Korea and a cable TV called CGV aired the movie twice.

I watched Boiler Room October 2006 to complete the assignment from the economics class. In the class, we discussed business ethics in general and the misconduct of the key characters in Boiler Room specifically. One question of the assignment asked “In the movie Seth Davis has to make a decision, he must either sacrifice himself to bring down a unscrupulous company or know that the money he is making is actually ruining other people’s life. If put in a similar situation what would you do?” My answer was “I will either simply leave the company as soon as I know that its practice is unethical, or I will help FBI to bring the company down but I will also try to save friends like Chris and Debbie.”

If you want to learn more about the movie itself, read this post, Boiler Room — Echoes of Wall Street on blogcritics.

It is sad to know that well-educated Mr. Kim mimicked Boiler Room, collecting money from innocent investors, secretly transferring the money to his clandestine account, and fleeing to USA. For the last two weeks, he has been very active, trying to manipulate the media and the Korean political arena. For the most recent development on the situation, read Prosecutors clear Lee Myung-bak.

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Photo Credits: “Boiler Room” by yonhapnews.co.kr

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On Censorship

Posted by C Moon on December 7, 2007

Censorship prohibits inappropriate information from reaching the public. Whatever the reason is, censorship is not justified since it is a mere excuse for enforcing the ideals of the authority on the mass. The negative aspect of censorship is easily seen from Aldous Huxleys Brave New World, Frederick Douglass autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, and Iris Changs Rape of Nanking.

In Brave New World, the society operates in an extremely systematical manner. People are educated as intended according to their social classes, ranging from Alpha, the highest, to Epsilon, the lowest. People are tuned to satisfy to their destined situation and people are censored not to know beyond what is fed to them, e.g., they are ignorant of the concept of pain. However, whether the system is actually providing the maximum amount of happiness or is merely trying to maintain the stability of the society is the issue. John, the protagonist who understands both pain and happiness, chooses pain over blind happiness.

Similarly, the African Americans who were enslaved during the early days of the USA were not allowed to access information. Frederick Douglass wrote about how the slave owners and the Whites restricted the slaves from learning about their situation in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. The White slave owners intentionally took human rights away from the slaves. They did not teach the slaves how to read or write, and they also isolated the black infants from their mothers before they could even form a sense of attachment. Slaves were raised to know neither family nor love. Even Frederick Douglass, who was able to learn about human rights and eventually won his own freedom, recounted that he was not affected at all when he heard that his mother passed away. Prohibiting the slaves from forming any relation with another, the slave owners were able to control the African Americans for decades.

In Rape of Nanking, Iris Chang reports the long-concealed holocaust, which was on par with the Holocaust in both magnitude and cruelty. Despite Nanking citizens having opened up the gate without any resistance, Japan ordered its soldiers to Kill All the Captives. While strictly restricting the access of foreigners and reporters to the city, Japanese soldiers slaughtered and raped the citizens. Only after cleaning up certain districts and roads of the city, foreigners were allowed to tour designated areas. While the corpses were decomposing on one side of the city, surviving citizens on the other side were forced to cheer for the Japanese troops. Japanese military effectively manipulated the media and only favorable scenes were allowed to be published. Not only foreigners but also common Japanese were not aware of the massacre by the end of the war.

Censorship enables the authority to abuse and manipulate the public, depriving it of free choice and will.

For more information about censorship, check out this interesting posting about censorship, featuring the history and arguments of both side.

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Photo Credits: “control” by sacrifice_87 on Flickr

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Skirts for Girls

Posted by C Moon on December 7, 2007

Since my family relocated to Korea from the USA when I was five, I studied under the Korean public school system for ten and a half years until I entered Korean International School as a junior. Differently from US schools, Korean middle and high schools require their students to wear school uniforms: usually shirts and pants for boys, and blouses and skirts for girls.

When I reached this point, I had to make a decision. In principle, girls were allowed to substitute pants for skirts only with the school’s permission, and the few schools that adopted this new rule did it only nominally. Both the school community and Korean society considered it “normal” for girls to wear skirts. Having spent my first five years of life in the US and with my active and tomboyish lifestyle, I was more comfortable wearing pants. When I chose according to my preference, I became the only pants-wearing girl in my entire school. Initially, teachers, male students, and even female students did not understand my decision and deemed me eccentric. However, their open and covert attention on my pants dissipated over time as they got to know who “Catherine Moon” was. Many changed their perception toward girls wearing pants, showed their respect for my choice, and expressed their support, even though people on the street continued to cast disapproving eyes. At least in my old schools, I did initiate changes in school’s and students’ perception toward girls wearing pants in school.

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Photo Credits: “school girls” by SMOKEHARD on Flickr

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GEO-4 Calls for Real Action to Curb Climate Change

Posted by C Moon on December 7, 2007

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GEO-4 (Global Environment Outlook 4 by United Nations Environment Programme) provides hesitant nations such as USA with scientific evidence that the sharply rising trend in global warming is ascribed to human activities. Unfortunately, prior to GEO-4, USA has been one of a few advanced countries refusing to ratify Kyoto Protocol, insisting that there is no clear evidence that global warming is man-made. Now, with the publication of GEO-4, both advanced and developing countries should get together, executing a real plan for action. Read the progress on the issue at the post by Andrew Revkin, A 4th Climate Warning. Anyone Listening?

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Photo Credits: “I’m Melting!” by dru! on Flickr

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