KPop Saturdays: Wonder Girls “Like Money”

Another video in our recurring Saturday Kpop series is Wonder Girls‘ new video “Like Money” featuring Senegalese-American rapper Akon:

The first thing I love about this video is the special effects. The girls are depicted as androids, completed with wires, robotic skeletons, etc. Very clever. If you are a sci-fi fan and a KPop fan, this is a great video.

Second, the video is entirely in English! English lyrics in Japanese/Korean music is nothing new, but a whole song in English, let alone really good English? That’s something new. :) Wonder Girls gave an interview to Eat Your Kimchi a few months back, and it’s obvious they speak English extremely good. They have been practicing. :-)

Lastly, I thought it was a good collaboration between Wonder Girls and Akon. They sang great together.

Anyhow, enjoy!


Posted in KPop, Music | Leave a comment

Beginner Buddhist Part Nine: Buddhist Deities

I’ve been pretty busy these past weeks, but I am happy to report that I have finally finished making a video on Buddhist deities:

This is not a complete overview, but shows a lot of the major Buddhist deities, their origins and why they are an integral part of Buddhism. I had some editing problems toward the end, but hopefully it doesn’t prevent people from learning something useful.

And as stated in the previous post, plus the video, I intend to do another video in Japan (it won’t be published until after I get back of course… no video-editing tools) of Buddhist temples there, etiquette, etc.

Posted in Buddhism, Religion | 4 Comments

Blog Updates

Hi all,

Just to give some quick updates:

  • I am flying out to Japan on Monday, US time. I will be there for 3 weeks, and have very few plans other than some rest, and a lot of peaceful temple visits. Work has been very chaotic, stressful and busy lately, so I am happy to get away for a while.1
  • I’ve been playing with the blog schedule lately, hence it hasn’t been fitting the usual MWF pattern like before. Things might get even more chaotic while in Japan depending on computer access.
  • I plan on making one more Beginner Buddhism video before I leave, but it’s not guaranteed. After that, I may try to do one or two Beginner Buddhism videos in Japan because it’s a unique opportunity. If not, I’ll just post them when I get back.
  • I’ve been seeing a lot of new faces lately on the blog, and if I haven’t said “welcome” to you, or haven’t been timely about replying to comments, please forgive me. I’ve been pretty distracted lately.

So, that’s all for now.

1 Work has been bringing out the worst in me lately, and so in this trip, I hope to rest, reconnect with the Buddhist teachings, and approach work better.

Posted in General | 8 Comments

Language Studies: Keep It Simple, Stupid

Recently I was inspired by this website, which shows how to learn Welsh language. Welsh is a language I don’t know anything about, but the page’s offer provided very simple solutions to learn the language. The first one that struck me was to avoid complicated solutions. Most of it just creates extra work, when really all you need to do is get more and more exposure to the language.

Really, the whole point of a language is communication, so if you focus on reading and listening, as the web page suggests, you will be able to communicate more and more over time. As the author explains, a lot of this is as simple as having Welsh radio playing in the background all the time, while you get used to the sounds and pace of the language.1

But I tend to get discouraged by this kind of approach because there is no instant-gratification, no way to easily measure my progress. Coincidentally, Khatzumoto at AJATT wrote about this using the example of famous story, The Tortoise and the Hare:

In real life, human “tortoises” are laid-back, nonchalant, happy. Meanwhile, human “hares” are destructively disciplinarian, destructively obsessive, and destructively obsessed with quick results.

What happens is that the hares self-flagellate to the point of burnout. Their very obsession with the “race” and “running” it better, faster and longer causes them to come to hate anything to do with “running” and thus avoid it at all costs (here, running = action; race = project).

That’s why hares are always resting and procrastinating instead of moving — it’s not arrogance, it’s self-preservation: hares are refugees from a war being waged by, on and within themselves. They’re not shirkers; they’re not lazy; they’re just trying to get a break from their own mental violence, their constant negative self-talk, their tantalusian expectations.

Reading this made me realize that I tend to approach many projects like the hare. A good example was the JLPT N2 exam. I would study very hard for a month, then the next month I would procrastinate, and then repeat over and over again. By the time the exam was done, I was completely burned out, and never wanted to take another exam.

Similarly, I tend to spend a lot of time worry about how I will learn a language, rather than just taking it day by day. The problem isn’t the languages or the resources, just my attitude. I want the instant, now-now-now gratification, and put too much pressure as a result. Then I get mad at myself and give up. But I’ve also done this with non-language projects like meditation and other habits.

It’s part of a cycle of binging and purging, which isn’t really healthy.

Instead, I should take the advice (more advice here) of Xunzi the old Confucian scholar. He used the example of the old nag, which will inevitably walk a thousand li if it keeps going step by step. It won’t get there first, but it will still get there.

Or take the example of Frodo who just walks and walks and walks, rather than worrying about methods or techniques.

The point of all these examples is this:

  • True success is not based on instant-gratification. Long-term goals and instant-gratification do not mix.
  • Keep things simple and straightforward. Don’t get fancy.
  • Small persistent efforts are much more effective than heroic, self-denying ones.
  • You’re much more likely to succeed in a long-term goal if you relax and enjoy it like a game or a hobby, than “work”. Don’t binge-and-purge.

It is the attitude and outlook is what matters. You can accomplish anything with a healthy attitude, not a neurotic one.

P.S. I found that has a lot of free radio stations for both Japanese and Korean. It’s hard to get connected sometimes. Also, depending on the time, the shows will be very boring or sometimes not broadcasting, so you may want to supplement with other sources (i.e. podcasts), or adjust your schedule to follow Japanese/Korean day time.

1 Speaking of which, if you want to hear what Welsh sounds like, check out Radio Cymru by the BBC. It’s sounds pretty interesting, and vaguely reminds me of Irish, which I occasionally heard while living in Ireland.

Posted in Japanese, JLPT, Korean, Language | 2 Comments

Welcome to Mars, Curiosity Rover!

Hi folks,

I’ve been avidly following the Curiosity rover’s trip to Mars for the past few weeks, and as I write this, I’ve been watching the landing live on JPL TV. It’s been pretty exciting to watch. Up to eight years of complicated planning and testing are required before sending the rover into space, and then it’s a very long, tense trip onto Mars.

Like Earth, Mars has an atmosphere and gravity, though much weaker and thinner (30% of Earth’s gravity, 1% Earth’s air pressure), but it’s still enough to destroy the rover if it lands wrong. Getting to Mars is difficult enough. If the JPL makes a mistake, the rover will completely miss the planet, but even if it reached the planet, it has to enter just the right way. If it enters wrong, it will bounce off the planet, or smash into it.

So, on JPL TV, you can see a large team of technicians carefully watching the entire flight into Mars, carefully checking each system and each milestone. But the last few minutes are the most tense because the rover stops communicating with Earth. However, other satellites already orbiting Mars are able to track the rover as it lands. One of them was even able to snap a photo of the rover and its parachute.

Another problem is the parachute. If the parachute didn’t open, the rover would crash, but thankfully this didn’t happen. In fact, the rover successfully reached the surface at 22:34 my time (Seattle). :) This post comes about 15 minutes later.

NASA posted the first photos of the rover on the surface of Mars here and here. Enjoy!

P.S. More photos of Mars will be posted later here.

Posted in Astronomy, Science, Technology | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Nuclear Weapons Are No Joke

Hi all,

On a more serious matter, August 6th is the memorial for the Hiroshima atomic bombing, and August 8th is the memorial for the Nagasaki. Because of the timezone differences, my wife, daughter and I watched the memorial for Hiroshima this afternoon (the 5th).

Anyhow, instead of doing some kind of long-winded, sanctimonious post about peace and the evils of nuclear weapons, I thought I would do something different.

I’ve been saving this video footage for months so I could post it today. This is a short film by the US Department of Defense, probably in the 1950′s or sometime early in the Cold War:

Watch 1:20 onward and you’ll why nuclear weapons are very scary.

Even more frightening to me is the infamous Castle Bravo test that happened on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, mentioned in this old post:

But I feel I’ve said enough. The videos should speak for themselves.

P.S. A visual history of nuclear warfare.

Namo Shaka Nyorai

Edit: Found a clip of the actual Castle Bravo explosion at Bikini Atoll, so updated the second Youtube video link.

Posted in Japan | Tagged , | 2 Comments

PSY’s song for Korean Olympic team

Just a quick post, but I wanted to share another video by Psy, whom I mentioned in this post. He put together a video to cheer on the South Korean Olympic team here:

I thought this video was pretty well-done, catchy song, but the ending with the Korean flag was a nice touch. It’s an interesting mix of traditional Korean music with modern hip-hop too. Very clever from an artist who has a track-record of very clever songs/videos. :)

Personally, I seldom watch the Olympics anymore, but it’s nice to see how different people cheer on their local athletes.


P.S. If you know of other videos for other countries that you like, please do share! A lot of readers are from other countries outside of the US, Korea or Japan, so it’s fun to see how people experience the Olympics differently. :)

Posted in KPop, Music | Tagged | 2 Comments