Archive for November, 2008

Serial Plagiarists

Every semester there is always a student who reaches a certain level of infamy among his or her professors.

One semester it was Capt. Moon who had his wife do all his work. Since she had not actually experienced any of the sample lessons it was impossible for her to reflect on them. Consequently she would cut and paste random comments about teaching and teaching practice, hand them to her husband and he would pass that in as his thoughts about what he had experienced. He also managed to have his wife plagiarize all his reflections on culture for Glenda.  

This semester its Marilyn O (BTW “O” stands for OHMYFUCKINGOD!) She’s a serial plagiarist as well, but she is perhaps even worse than Capt. Moon. He, or his, wife at least did the readings for Materials Development; because he/she actually read the text since the answers were taken straight out of the coursebook. Marilyn, on the other hand, didn’t even bother to copy the answers out of the coursebook. She would plug the whole guided reading question into Google and cut and paste what ever she found. Sadly she didn’t even bother to read or skim what she had found because sometimes (most of the time) the results wouldn’t match the spirit of the reading.

However, she did learn from this, because in culture with Glenda instead of plagiarism she used Babblefish, an online translation program, to translate a reflection on stereotypes. Here’s a few samples from her work:

With the devastation which poorly of the metropolises follows prejudiced because like this from bankruptcy the black themselves short median life expectancy, the social pathology which reaches to the human unhappiness of high crimes and drug abuses and all types occurred.

Now does not write the word which is an unwed mothers from the world wide various countries and not to be the word which is single wool adopts. The unwed mothers alone are competent fostering and fostering boiling of the usual child, many Koreans it naturally, accepts.

Decimal racial group happen about prejudice the research of most the loach was advanced a focus.

Glenda’s in-paper comments for the above were: “I have NOidea what you are trying to say here.” Glenda wondered if this was too harsh. Both Dave Boesch and I, after reading the passages, assured her that it wasn’t. If fact I think “What the fuck?” would also be appropriate.

Some background information on Marilyn O: She is an art curator who is in the TESOL certificate to improve her English. She is very busy because she works, is married with children and supposedly has recently become pregnant again. Her husband who cannot speak English helps her with the ideas.

If she is trying to improve her English, I am not sure if a TESOL Certificate Program designed to teach teachers how to teach English is the right place for her. The program assumes a high level of English has already be attained. We interview all prospective students to ascertain their English proficiency, so I’m not sure how she slipped through the interview process, but she did. Interestingly, I’m not sure how she thinks she will improve her English if she doesn’t do the work.

Capt. Moon and Marilyn O are fairly common. I have been teaching in Korea for over ten years and there are several students each and every semester who beleive that they can get away with plagiarism. It doesn’t matter if you tell them ahead of time, which I have done every semester since 2000. My first few years in Korea I assumed that submitting one’s own work was the norm and that Korean had better ethics than to pass off someone else’s writing as their own. I guess I was a bit naive, but I have learned.

I can remember one paper that was submitted to me by a student at KAIST. He didn’t even bother to synchronize the fonts and font sizes. It looked like a kind of crazy quilt except it was supposed to be an original essay. When you confront the students about their plagiarism, many don’t even realize that it is wrong. When I ask the questions: Would you do this in a Korean class? They usual answer, “Yes, all the time.”Consequently, I want to blame the education system which focus on rote memory and knowledge retention. Since the system down plays student’s ability to synthesize, organize and apply the knowledge they have learned. When given tasks that require them to actually use and process what they know, they struggle.  Because they struggle to organize their own thoughts and ideas, they, in desperation, turn to the Internet and take whatever they can find to submit for their assignment.  

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

The Case of the Hospice Care Worker and the Missing Money

Thursday 20th of November

Life as usual is moving quicker than I can write about it. In my last blog, I wrote about how I was swamped with work and how Anna’s mother had returned to stay with us only to have her just as suddenly leave us again because a space opened up in a long-term care facility. What I didn’t write about in that post was that on the day Anna’s mother was taken to the long-term care facility some money was stolen from our house.

As I mentioned in the previous blog, the morning of Tuesday Noveber fourth started out with Anna’s mother projectile vomiting. I had been planning to run some errands such as go to the bank to pay bills and deposit money. Derek, the person who subleases my Seoul apartment, had just paid me this months rent, so there was about $400 in an envelope on the kitchen table. The envelope, however, was under a pile of utility bills that I was intending to use the rent money to pay with the the remainder of the money being deposited in our bank account.

Unfortunately this money never made it to the bank. We suspect the hospice care worker who was in the house while we were making ready for the departure of Anna’s mother. We believe she pocketedthe money, because she was told that this would be her last day.  She, of course, denies it and it is out word against hers. Anna has logged a complaint with her placement service, but it is her first offense, so they are unwilling to get involved.

The timing is just too perfect for it to be anyone else. the kids were at school, Anna and I were busy getting things ready and the hospice care worker knew that this would be her last day.  She knew her crime would be successful. She knew she’d be able to walk out of our house without us suspecting her. She could see that the confusion and commotion would cover her theft. She could tell that we wouldn’t discover the theft until later possible later that night, but most likely sometime the next day. Finally she knew she would never have to see us again making guilt or pains of conscious highly unlikely.

I am really angry at myself for leaving it out in the open. It’s my fault. I should have put it in the satchel I carry around. I should have taken care of business. I should have been watchful of the worker who had been allowed into our house, but one tends to forget that one needs to be vigilant even at home..

That weekend I came across and article in The Korea Times. The article describes how Korean adolescents are the least honest adolescents of the those surveyed. In light of what happened, I think I know where Korean youths have learned their morality and ethics; they have learned them from their parents.

It it now a fortnight and two days since the incident and Anna and I have turned the house upside down hoping that the envelope with the cash got misplaced. It has not been found. The leading suspect is still the hospice care worker, but we have no proof and even if we did the cash is probably long gone.

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Visa Waiver Program & Dual Citizenship

South Korea was recently added to the to the United States Visa Waiver Program. I think the Announcement was made back in the middle of October by President Bush.

Today, after Anna’s, BoA’s, and Andy’s new electronic Korean Passports arrive, I jumped on line and went to the Department of Homeland Security’s ESTA website, and filled out the application form. I was pleasantly surprised. There had been a lot of complaints in the Korean media about it, but I didn’t find it a challenge at all. in fact I thought it was all pretty straightforward.  

Most surprisingly of all was the quickness of Andy’s approval. It could only have taken thirty or so seconds.

This means we are all set to travel to the US. There are still a few loose ends regrading our return to Korea. For example I need to renew my Alien Registration Card (ARC) because it will expire while I am away. The ARC is similar to an American Green Card. It it my Korean identification card which informs officials about my status and eligibility to work in Korea. We also have to make a trip to immigration with Noah, so he can get his Korean passport. That way BoA and Noah can leave Korea as Korean citizens, enter American and US citizens, leave America as US citizens and then re-enter Korea as Korean citizens. Although it may seem overly complicated and unnecessary, it does have one advantage. It will allow Noah and BoA to escape from the long lines at immigration that Anna and Andy will be stuck in when we enter the US in Detroit and that I will be stuck in upon my return to Korea. Let me tell you after you’ve been traveling for twenty or more hours straight any thing that saves time is worth the preparation and hassle.  

Dual citizenship does have its small advantages. Unfortunately for Koreans they will be force to choose when they turn 18. Both Noah and BoA and eventually Andy when we finish the US adoption process will have to decide: Are they Korean or are they American because Korea doesn’t allow it’s citizens to hold dual citizenship into adulthood.

I think it is a stupid policy and I suspect it will be change in time. I have read conflicting statistics, but one newspaper said that 1 out of 8 Korean marriges are occurring between couple of mixed nationalities and then in another paper I read that 1 out of 5 Korean marriages are occurring between couple of mixed nationalities. In either case that is a significant amount of the population, and if those marriages produce children, then those children often have dual citizenship. 

Interestingly Korean women tend to marry western men and Korean men; especially tradesmen and farmers, are marrying women from Southeast Asia and China. The purported purity of the Korean race seems to be under siege. Personally I think its a good idea. I still remember the cab driver who corrected my pronunciation of Boston. He said I was pronouncing it wrong.

I looked at him and said, ‘Excuse me. I’m from Boston. I think I know how to pronounce it.’

He said no, it should be pronounced like this.’ He then proceeded to write how Koreans have transliterated the city name into Hanguel. When reading the Hangeul, the /o/ sounds become long and the /st/ creates a additional syllable, so it sound like (BO-SEU-TON). He then said something along the lines of: ‘Hanguel is the most perfect language because it can correctly capture the sounds of any language.’

I decided to let it drop. How can you argue against that?

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Swamped or The Comings and Goings fo Jangmonim

It’s been another hectic ten or so day. I am ten weeks into my sixteen week semester and that means it is prime time for grading student work and projects. Also in that time we have had Jangmonim’s returnfrom the hospital and Jangmonim’s return to the hospital. 

Grading and marking currently has me swamped. I have about sixty lesson plans and each lesson’s materials to grade and give feedback on for my Material Design and Development classes. I also have 25 SLA essays to grade, and 25 projects for Young Learners Speaking and Listening Methodology to mark. So far, the faithful have stayed away from the SLA essays.

Last Tuesday Jangmonim, Anna’s mother, returned from the hospital we had sent her to so that Anna could have a short break from the role of primary caregiver for her mother and her son. Prior to her arrival, Anna had found out about a program that will allow us to get reimbursed for medical equipment needed for the care of invalids at home. Anna went about purchasing about $1500 in equipment such as a hospital bed, a wheel chair, a mattress that combats bed-sores, and some physical therapy items. 

Life is always unpredictable so the return of her mother happened before the arrival of the medical equipment.  It was suppose to happen the other way around, but that would have made life unnecessarily boring, so of course the hospital dropped Jangmonim off early and the medical supply distributor came late.

Anna’s mother was pleased to be out of the hospital that we had sent her too. Even though it was pricey just under $100 a day, the quality of its service and the friendliness of it staff were substantially below our expectations. If Anna hadn’t needed the break we probably wouldn’t have sent Jangmonim there.

Yesterday, Anna’s mother began projectile vomitting. Neither Anna nor I could figure out why. We were debating whether or not we needed to call 119 (the Korean version of 911) when a long-term care facility in Ilsan called us about an opening at their facility. Anna explained the situation to them and the trouble we were having and they immediately sent an ambulance to us.

Ironically the medical supply equipment we purchased no longer seems necessary. Of course, if we hadn’t purchased them life would have conspired against us and no opening in a long-term care facility would have materialized.

We visitied the hospital yesterday right after Jangmonim arrived. It a nice place. It’s near Lake Park in Ilsan and it came recommended by Jangmonim’s closest friend, Sister Han. Sister Han is the former Mother Superior of Sacred Heart Order in Korea and her mother is currently a resident of this same long term care facility. Although it is in the upper level of our affordability range, we are nevertheless grateful to have a place for Anna’s mother.

Most of the places that are in the mid-range of our budget are far to the south which will make visiting difficult. The current hospital is 30-40 minutes away depending on traffic. Ilsan is the satellite city just to the north and west of Seoul. Paju, where I currently live, is the city just north and west of Ilsan. My apartment is just a short distance from the North Korean borders.

To find my apartment using google earth go to Latitude: 37°46’34.97″N and Longitude: 126°41’50.31″E.  The yellow line just to the north and west is the DMZ.

Friday, November 7th, 2008

Same as it ever was

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

I was surfing the net the other day and I ran into this:

The Progressive Party, Platform (August, 1912)
The conscience of the people, in a time of grave national problems, has called into being a new party, born of the nation’s sense of justice.

We of the Progressive party here dedicate ourselves to the fulfillment of the duty laid upon us by our fathers to- maintain the government of the people, by the people and for the people whose foundations they laid.




Political parties exist to secure responsible government and to execute the will of the people.


From these great tasks both of the old parties have turned aside. Instead of instruments to promote the general welfare, they have become the tools of corrupt interests which use them impartially to serve their selfish purposes. Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people.


To destroy this invisible government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day.

The deliberate betrayal of its trust by the Republican party, the fatal incapacity of the Democratic party to deal with the new issues of the new time, have compelled the people to forge a new instrument of government through which to give effect to their will in laws and institutions.


Unhampered by tradition, uncorrupted by power, undismayed by the magnitude of the task, the new party offers itself as the instrument of the people to sweep away old abuses, to build a new and nobler commonwealth. 


To think that this was written in 1912; I guess it only goes to show that the more things change the more things remain the same. I especially found the part that spoke of the deliberate betrayal of the people’s trust by a war mongering Republican party and the fatal incapacity of the Democratic party to deal with the issues of our times to be prophetic.


Too bad third, fourth and fifth parties can’t make a go of it in the US. I think it would improve the quality of our government, but they really don’t have a chance according to FAIR.

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Still No Absentee Ballot!

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

It’s looking like I won’t be able to participate in this year’s election. My absentee ballot still hasn’t arrived and unless it appears today in Newington with my votes magically cast, there won’t be time to get it back in time for it to be counted.  Even with over-night delivery and time zones that meander in my favor, receiving it today will be absolutely too late.

As I’ve noted before, the absentee ballot always arrives late. I typically only have a few days rather than a few weeks to get it back. In the past I have expressed mailed my ballot so that it could arrive in time to be counted. There has got to be a better way for absentee ballots to be handled. Unfortunately, there seems to be too many problems with electronic voting, so I’m not sure if snail mail voting will ever be replaced with electronic voting.

Although I have been pretty apathetic about the whole election process this year, I, nevertheless, want to vote.  As I said in an earlier post, if you don’t vote, you really abdicate your right to complain, and I certainly don’t want to do that.  Complaining, after all, is what blogging is all about, so I’m really ticked off that I won’t be able to vote.

One of the reasons that I like blogging is because it allows me to think that my life is premised around some obscure Tritone, Nuns-on-Skates, Gangsta Fun aka David Minnick song lyrics:

“I don’t want to listen I just want to complain”

I was hoping I could link to David’s sight, but I couldn’t seem to find one, so I’ll link to his brother, Chris, instead.

In life one is typically expected to listen more than one complains, but blogs turn life on its ear. Bloggers tend to be complainers and the lucky few may actually have a few listeners/readers. Currently, based on my blog stats, I have relatively few listeners, but that’s not going to stop me from complaining.

Since I’m not going to get my chance to cast my vote in the election, I suppose I ought to cast my vote into the realm of public opinion. Thus I will try to take back my right to complain from the tardy town clerk who knowingly or unknowingly has tried to usurp it.

Based on the listing of candidates on this website, I would have cast my votes as follows:

  1. Obama & Biden (US President & Vice President
  2. Jeanne Shaheen (US Senator)
  3. Carol Shea Porter (US Representative District 1)

Obviously there are other local candidates and local ballot initiatives, but I occasionally don’t cast my vote for individuals that I have no knowledge of. I like to act as an informed voter. I would rarely cast my ballot for someone I don’t know unless of course I am casting my vote against the incumbent who I do know and dislike. 


Tuesday, November 4th, 2008