Saturday, March 31, 2007

A Moving Experience...

Farewell, O Sole Soul Scene of Seoul
Not that this was my scenic view...
(Image from Wikipedia)

The Gypsy Scholar -- as befits a Gypsy -- is moving today, so this brief but boring note is posted by way of explanation.

Technically, of course, this blog isn't going anywhere, and since "Gypsy Scholar" is an online persona, then Sir Gypsy Scholar also isn't going anywhere.

In the offline world, Jeffery Hodges and his family are picking up and moving all of the material accoutrements of their lives from the 23rd floor of Saehan Apartments to the second floor of a different apartment complex several blocks away.

The major advantages for me are that I'll no longer have to wait so long for the elevator but can simply walk down the steps and that I'll be able to catch bus 273 directly and ride to Kyung Hee University without transferring.

The major disadvantages for me are that I'll have less room for my books in our smaller apartment, I'll have no broad view of Seoul from my balcony, and I'll no longer be able to notice and report upon any minor earthquakes that rattle the Korean peninsula.

I reckon that I can live with these. I hope to be online again tomorrow.


Friday, March 30, 2007

Two senses of "going to happen"

Free Will Taxonomy
But if it's free, why is it being taxed?
(Image from Wikipedia)

In yesterday's post, I noted the Big Ho's citation of 'my' words on middle-knowledge theology. Among other claims, this theology maintains that human free will is compatible with God's foreknowledge because God's foreknowledge of a free act does not cause that free act to occur. The free agent who freely chooses a particular action could have chosen a different action. If the free agent had done so, then God would have foreknown that free act. The Big Ho objects that this scenario assumes that the agent had a real possibility of choosing some other act than the one chosen:
There's a real question, though, whether divine omniscience, classically conceived, allows room for possibilities. Not being a compatibilist, I believe the answer is no: if God knows what's going to happen down to the minutest detail, there are no possibilities from God's point of view. Unconstrained by time, God perceives the universe from the aerie of his eternal Now, like a person who takes a roll of film off the movie projector, unrolls the entire thing, and can see at a glance how all the moments of the movie play out. What seems possible to us is actual to God. There are no other possible universes: if God knows you're going to sneeze in five minutes, you're going to sneeze in five minutes. God can't know what's not there to be known. Your sneeze is known to God because it's going to happen. The story of your sneeze was written before the world was born. (Kevin Kim, Water from a Skull, page 116; cf. Kevin's blog entry)
I should probably note here that the Big Ho is using "compatibilism" to refer not to the putative compatibilism of free will and determinism (as in the above taxonomy) but to the debatable compatibilism of free will and God's omniscience.

Be that as it may, I think that the Big Ho is conflating two senses of "going to happen" that ought to be kept distinct.

One sense is causal. For instance, I may look out the window and see that dark clouds are gathering, the wind is whipping up, and lightning is flashing. From the physical circumstances, I predict that it's going to rain. I'm using "going to" to describe a causal necessity. Now, I could be wrong, but that's due to the limits of my knowledge. If I knew enough about the physical conditions, I could inerrantly foreknow that rain would causally result if the conditions are such that it truly is going to rain.

The other sense is decisional. For instance, I may be watching a friend whom I know very well select among chocolate and various other candies. From long experience, I know his desires and his habits. I know for instance, that he likes chocolate more than any other candy, so as I watch him contemplating a selection of either chocolate or some other candy, I predict that he's going to choose chocolate. Here, I'm using "going to" to describe a decision. I might be wrong in my prediction, but once again, that's due to the limits of my knowledge. If I knew enough about my friend, I could inerrantly foreknow that he would decide upon chocolate if he truly is going to choose chocolate.

Now, I make the further assumption that my friend has libertarian free will. By this, I mean that his choice is not the result of a causal chain, either internal or external. My foreknowledge that my friend will choose chocolate thus does not cause his choice. I merely know his choice.

God happens to be in the position of omnisciently foreknowing choices, but this does not mean that he causes those choices.

At least, I don't see why omniscient foreknowledge would collapse the decisional sense of "going to happen" into the causal sense of "going to happen."

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Kevin Kim's Water from a Skull

Kevin Kim, Water from a Skull

The Big Hominid's book has finally arrived on my desk, along with a handwritten note from the Big Ho himself:

Enjoy! I hope this little tome passes mustard.

Nice humor in the oxymoronic "little tome" remark. And he hopes that it passes mustard.


What the hell? Wait a second . . . (rubbing eyes, adjusting glasses) . . . oh, it's "muster," not "mustard." Does it pass muster?

Sorry about the confusion, but I've just gotten up . . . at 3:00 a.m.

Anyway, does it pass muster? Well, let's take a look by checking the index for "Hodges, Horace Jeffery" . . . hmmm . . . no entry for "Hodges," so that's a strike against the book.

Hold on, there's no index either, so strike that strike, but add another strike for lack of an index.

(flipping through book...)

Wait, here's something in the dedications:
To the folks who, through the written and spoken word, have inspired me to think more deeply about the things that matter: blah, blah, Horace Jeffery Hodges, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and other blahs.
How nice! The Big Ho has dedicated his book to me! Thanks. Looks like it's gonna pass muster.

But let's look further...

(flipping further through book...)

Ah, this looks good:
Dr. Horace Jeffery Hodges of Korea University wrote me an excellent explanation of middle knowledge once. In part, his explanation says:

Note three logical "moments" in God's knowledge: natural, middle, and free.

In God's natural knowledge, he knows all necessary truths, and all possibilities -- what could be true if God were to create worlds, including what free creatures could do. This knowledge is essential, or "natural" to God as God.

In God's free knowledge, he knows the true propositions about an actual world, including his omniscience of what will happen, e.g., what free creatures will do. It is "free" knowledge because it depends upon God's free act of creation. This knowledge is not essential to God's nature.

Between these two logical moments of God's knowing lies his middle knowledge, the knowledge that God has about particular worlds that he has not yet created but may freely create. This knowledge includes knowledge of what every free creature would do (not just could do). Like God's natural knowledge, this knowledge is logically prior to his free act to create, but like God's free knowledge, the content of this knowledge is dependent upon the actions of free creatures. Thus, "middle" -- between the other two types -- of knowledge.
I remember that explanation. It was one that I sent the Big Ho in an email way back in August 2004. He posted my email on his blog entry for August 10, 2004, then commented on it his blog entry for October 30, 2005.

Talk about a prompt response...

Anyway, I see that his entry for October 30, 2005 has been reworked for inclusion in the book that is now lying before me on my desk.

I ought to note that my above remarks on middle knowledge are indebted to William Lane Craig, The Only Wise God: The Compatibility of Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2000), 128-131. The Big Ho had noted this in his blog entry for August 10, 2004, but I want to again emphasize my intellectual debt to Dr. Craig, for the Big Ho's blog entry of October 30, 2005 neglects to mention this debt, and the book -- which reworks this entry -- neglects it as well.

So . . . one strike against muster for dropping a footnote, but a plus for making me look good. I guess that these two even out.

I'll have to read the book to see if I'm mentioned elsewhere, but any other mention of me would definitely add a big plus to the Big Ho's book. I'll get back to you on this after more 'research'...

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Europe at Fifty: Asia Inconceivable?

Seventh-Century-Inspired T/O Map of the World
Isidore of Seville (ca. 560-636), Etymologiae (12th-Century Copy)
(Image from Wikipedia)

Last Sunday, Europeans celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the European Union (EU) -- if one assigns the EU's origins not to the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), formed in 1951 through the Treaty of Paris, but to the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which among other things established the European Economic Community (ECC) on March 25, 1957.

I happen to have come into the world about eight weeks later, so I've pretty much grown up with the new Europe and recall very clearly that American term for the EEC, the "Common Market," an expression that perhaps dates from 1968, when internal tariffs were abolished in the EEC (but I'm not sure).

My first understanding that something more than economics was going on came in 1981, when I was helping to cater an official event at Stanford University. Several Stanford graduate students and I were taking a break in the kitchen when a young, handsome fellow from the French consulate in San Francisco noticed the correspondingly young, lovely women with whom I was working and stepped inside to flirt with them. But he was charming and intelligent, which made up for his being also French, and he happened to make a remark that caught my attention as he was discussing the Common Market:
"We Europeans call it the European Community."
Officially, it was called the European Economic Community, so he must have meant that the Europeans called it the "European Community" as a convenience, for only with the Maastricht Treaty of 1992 did the term "Economic" get officially dropped.

But I recall thinking, "Oh, it's not just a market, it's a community." That word seemed to me to imply a political unity. I didn't know much about the EEC at that time, but I guess that my hunch was correct.

At any rate, it's certainly political these days, as a deluge of newspaper articles have recently affirmed, not only over the weekend but last week and this week as well.

One commenter, Roger Cohen, whose weekly articles I always enjoy, published a piece in the New York Times under the title "For Europe, a Moment to Ponder" (March 25, 2007), but which I read here in Korea in the International Herald Tribune under the title "A transformed Europe celebrates uncertainty: The EU, at 50, is still a work in progress" (March 24-25, 2007). In the IHT's European edition, the title was slightly different: "For a Europe remade, a celebration in uncertainty" (March 23, 2007).

Sometimes, I think that I try to be a little bit too precise.

Anyway, Cohen remarked upon European unification in a manner concise but connecting a lot of points:
What began in limited fashion in 1957 as a drive to remove tariff barriers and promote commercial exchange has ended by banishing war from Europe, enriching it beyond measure, and producing what [the Polish writer] Mr. [Adam] Michnik called "the first revolution that has been absolutely positive."

Asia, still beset by nationalisms and open World War II wounds, can only envy Europe's conjuring away agonizing history, a process that involved a voluntary dilution of national sovereignty unthinkable in the United States.
I like this sort of intelligent, informed, and broad-ranging but clear writing that comes from the pen of Mr. Cohen. Look at how many things he brings together in two brief paragraphs: free market economics, World Wars I and II, Poland's Solidarity Movement, the American, French, and Russian revolutions, Asian and European nationalism, and American exceptionalism.

Did I miss anything?

Note that Cohen mentions Asian "nationalisms." Not merely by coincidence, Stanford professor Shin Gi-wook, who currently acts as Director of Stanford's Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, wrote an article, "Conflicting memories hinder unity in N.E. Asia" (March 27, 2007), for The Korea Herald, which is currently publishing a series on nationalism in Northeast Asia.

Shin notes that Northeast Asia is developing economic and cultural links that are drawing the nations in this region closer together but that the nations of this region are pushing emotional nationalisms that are threatening to tear it apart:
Growing economic ties and a new interest in cultural exchanges are bringing the countries of Northeast Asia closer together. Yet wounds from past wrongs -- committed in times of colonialism, war, and dictatorship -- are not fully healed. All nations have some sense of victimization -- Japan vis-a-vis the United States and Russia, and China and Korea vis-a-vis Japan -- and often blame others, rather than taking responsibility.
Shin proposes some solutions, among these: 1) developing a common understanding of the past; 2) using the shared past to promote regional reconciliation; and 3) encouraging critical, independent thinking to young Asians about their pasts.

Easier said than done, but Shin also presents suggestions on how to accomplish these things -- the reading of which, I'll leave to those interested.

These issues are currently on my mind because I and my poli-sci friend at Yonsei University, Kim Myongsob, are frantically working on a paper for an upcoming political science conference sponsored jointly by Korean Political Science Association and the Academy of East Asian Studies, Sungkyunkwan University: The Rise of Asia and Its Future: Global Impacts, Regional Implications, and National Ramifications (April 13-14, 2007).

Our paper will be presented in the first session (9:40-12:00) on April 13th, and we've tentatively given it the title "When Asia Matters: What Asia, Why and How?"

I can't reveal much about the paper at this time, but suffice it to say that Myongsob is a broad thinker and has me stretching the limits of my knowledge on this project. It ain't easy defining what Asia is, for it's so many things that imagining an Asian identity seems nearly impossible without falling back upon Eurocentric images to help us. So . . . we actually do a bit of that back-falling. And despite Edward Said, such views were never uniformly 'orientalistic' -- as the above T/O Map of the world demonstrates, for by placing Asia with its Garden of Eden at the top, where Christ's head would be on the crucifix pictorially alluded to, such representations of Isidore of Seville's description of the world privileged Asia both cartographically and iconographically.

And that's not a small thing for Westerners to do.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

"I'm a Man You Don't Meet Every Day"

Flag of the United Nations
(Image from UN Website)

Not every day does one meet Lee Myung-Hoon (이명훈) -- Secretary General of the United Nations (UN사무총장), President of the Korean Peninsula, Professor of Management Somewhere, and Important Guy Wearing a Woolen Cap -- but I met him yesterday on Bus 273 as I was heading for Kyung Hee University to teach my British and American Culture course.

Secretary General Lee of the UN is also running for an office of some sort (차기경선후보), despite what must be an already busy schedule, given the four important jobs that he already holds. In spite his busy responsibilities, Secretary Lee invited me for a coffee on his coin, which turned out to be my coin, perhaps because he hadn't "always a shilling to spare" after all.

In our wide-ranging conversation, Secretary Lee spoke nearly flawless English and expressed his opinion on an impressive variety of topics.

According to Secretary Lee, Satan differs from demons because Satan only attempts to twist life into an evil direction, whereas the demons try to destroy life.

"Take Jesus, for example," Secretary Lee offered. "Satan tempted him in the field . . . uh, wilderness, because he wanted to twist Jesus toward evil, but he didn't try to kill him."

"I thought that Christians believed that Satan arranged to have Jesus killed," I pointed out.

"No," retorted the Secretary, "God did that."

"Okay," I acknowledged, "that was the soteriological plan, but according to the Bible, Satan played the effective role in bringing about Jesus's death."

"Jesus didn't die," the Secretary informed me.

"Well, yes," I insisted, "he did die."

"No, he survived," the Secretary insisted.

"He survived?" I inquired.

"I mean..." the Secretary groped for the right word, "he was resuscitated."

"Okay," I said, "but it would still seem that he died."

Perhaps sensing that he wasn't going to get far in convincing me of the UN's policy statement on the difference between Satan and demons, the Secretary turned to political positions.

"Bush knew about 9/11 in advance," the Secretary whispered, looking askance toward the door.

"In advance," I murmured -- my tone not questioning, but skeptical.

"Yes," the Secretary confirmed, "in advance. On September 10th, I was outside the U.S. embassy, and two officers came out to talk with me. They had a camera, took several pictures, and asked me a lot of questions. Also, a Jewish Master Sergeant gave a talk and said some very curious things. The Jews are a very curious people, always wanting to understand everything. And then, the photos of the World Trade Center exploding -- they were too perfect. The cameras had been arranged in advance to catch the best possible images."

Unsure which dangling strand of this complex fabric to pull on first, I finally just observed that with thousands of New Yorkers and tourists wandering around the WTC on the morning of 9/11, somebody with a camera was bound to take the perfect shot at precisely the right moment.

Secretary Lee, however, was unmoved. "I sent a letter to George Bush," he revealed, "and I called him 'Bullsh*tter' in my letter."

The Secretary then showed me his literary cleverness, printing "Bu(ll)sh(itter)" on the newspaper that he was carrying.

"This is how I wrote it," he boasted. "It made Bush very angry."

The Secretary writes a lot of letters. He has written President Vladimir Putin, President Bill Clinton, and even Mr. Lee Myung-bak (이명박), the former mayor of Seoul.

"Lee Myung-bak's name is very similar to my own," Secretary Lee Myung-Hoon proudly noted, adding that the former mayor would be running for president of South Korea in the upcoming national elections. Lee Myung-bak's candidacy will be supported by Lee Myung-Hoon, but whether in the latter's official position as Secretary General of the United Nations or as President of the Korean Peninsula, I don't know. Perhaps Lee Myung-Hoon is offering merely private support in his role as Professor of Management Somewhere or as Important Guy Wearing a Woolen Cap.

At this point in our fascinating conversation, I had to break off and head for my teaching duties. The Secretary asked for my email address. I didn't want to seem discourteous by refusing, so I wrote it down for him ... correctly, too, though I was tempted to write a false one (but I don't like to deceive people).

The Secretary then copied my email into his address book, but he made the same, usually annoying error that countless people make, misspelling my "jefferyhodges" as "jeffreyhodges." This time, however, my heart leapt up in joy -- the one time in my life that I've been thankful for the unconventional spelling that my parents gave to my middle name.

Smiling, I rose from our table, thanked him for the pleasant conversation, told him to enjoy his coffee, and exited the cafe without once glancing back at the quixotic Lee Myung-Hoon, Secretary General of the United Nations and President of the Korean Peninsula...


Monday, March 26, 2007

"The crux of the biscuit..."

(Image from Wikipedia)

". . . is the apostrophe."

And that makes me wonder ... what's an apostrophe? I'd write a long blog entry detailing its usage, but academia's a small world, and it's already been zapped. More is zapped on the apostrophe than I'd've imagined. If I were changing places with Christina Cavella and Robin A. Kernodle, I'd've lodged for myself a niche in the world of punctuation.

Which makes 8 apostrophes so far . . . though I could've used 9. The apostrophe, however, is all about leaving things out:

In 1559, the apostrophe appeared in England in William Cunningham's The Cosmographical Glasse (Parkes, 1993, p. 55). Sixteenth century English printers developed the mark to indicate omissions, but this convention is not as simple as it might sound. Initially, the apostrophe was intended to demonstrate the elision of a vowel, meaning the vowel sound had been omitted, assimilated, or slurred in pronunciation, as in th' inevitable end, but the apostrophe was also used to indicate a missing letter when the vowel no longer existed in the spoken form, as in can't (Parkes, 1993, p.55). Not surprisingly, there was much confusion concerning its usage until the middle of the 19th century, when printers and grammarians attempted to devise rules to govern the usage of apostrophes (Crystal, 1995, p. 203). Despite their efforts, however, much confusion remains today.

The use of the apostrophe to denote possession has its origins in Old English, which frequently attached the genitive singular ending –es to nouns. Hook (1999), points out that 60% of all nouns in Old English formed their genitive cases in this manner (p. 44); it is therefore not surprising that the current genitive ending –s has survived in Modern English. The apostrophe could be viewed as a way in which to mark the deleted vowel –e of the –es possessive ending, "derived from the Old English strong masculine genitive singular inflection" (Blockley, 2001, p. 35). Adrian Room (1989, p. 21) provides support for this view, citing the Old English word for stone, stän, whose genitive form was stänes.

Hook (1999) maintains, however, that the apostrophe is "a mere printer's gimmick, doubtless born of the mistaken notion that the genitive ending was a contraction of his" (p. 44). An invention of mortals, the apostrophe has indeed been subject to human error. The –es genitive ending,

often spelled and pronounced –ies or –ys in early Middle English, was confused as early as the thirteenth century with his, the possessive of he, so that Shakespeare could later write 'the count his gally', and even expressions like 'my sister her watch' appeared (qtd. in Hook, 1999, pp. 44-45).
The unstressed pronunciation of the genitive –es seemed to have caused many speakers to believe they were saying his. This usage presumably caused pronunciation problems and gender confusion with a noun such as woman or girl, or a plural noun like winners, but nevertheless was quite common (Hook, 1975, p.160). The apostrophe became a sort of "compromise" to indicate either the missing –e in the genitive ending –es, or the hi of the mistaken possessive indicator his (Hook, 1999, p. 45).
So, the scholars still aren't sure on this one -- or weren't sure circa 2004, when Cavella and Kernodle -- two M.A. students in the TESOL program at American University, Washington, D.C. -- wrote "How the Past Affects the Future: The Story of the Apostrophe" (pdf), AU TESOL Working Papers 2.

For their information, of course, they relied upon other scholars: e.g., M. B. Parkes, Pause and Effect: An Introduction to the History of Punctuation in the West (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993); David Crystal, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995); Donald Hook, "The Apostrophe: Use and Misuse," English Today: The International Review of the English Language, 15 (3), 1999, 42-29; Mary Blockley, "Its Time for a Sound Change," English Today: The International Review of the English Language, 17 (4), 2001, 35-37; and Adrian Room, "Axing the Apostrophe," English Today: The International Review ofthe English Language, 5 (3), 1989, 21-23.

I know that this is boring for most people, but my interest was piqued by an Angry Flower cartoon about "Its and It's, You Idiots," which the Big Ho linked to, prompting Addofio to wonder how the apostrophe came to be used with "it's" but excluded from "its." Well, the answer is that the pronoun-verb contraction "it's" lacks an "i," whereas the genitive pronoun "its" lacks nothing, and as we now know, the apostrophe is all about elision, about leaving things out, and therefore...

But let us now, O Attentive Reader, turn away from the apostrophe...


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Update on the Arrest of Tariq Ramadan

Subjected to an Althusserian Interpellation?
"Interpellé et placé en garde à vue..."
(Image from "Innovators" at

Over at The Terror Finance Blog, Jean-Charles Brisard posted a March 16th update on the arrest of that pillar of European Islam, Tariq Ramadan, in Paris's Roissy Airport on March 12 for "offensive misconduct" -- including some insulting epithets hurled forcefully enough by Ramadan to land in the report below (for which I issue the standard faintheart alert):
UPDATE: Tariq Ramadan in his own words: According to the own Tariq Ramadan’s account of his detention in Paris last week, published by a Swiss newspaper today, he acknowledged he insulted a policewoman, calling her a "bitch" after she stopped him from going through a security gate without a boarding pass. When a second police officer arrived to assist the first, Ramadan admitted he shouted "you are real bastards". Ramadan claims he had to spend the whole night in a dirty cell because of the police "overzealousness".
Brisard was thoughtful enough to provide a link to site that has posted the article from the Tribune de Genève for Tuesday, March 20, 2007:
Tariq Ramadan interpellé en France

L'Intellectuel genevois Tariq Ramadan a été interpellé à l'aéroport parisien de Roissy le 12 mars, pour avoir insulté des fonctionnaires de police. Il a passé une nuit au commissariat. «Dans une cellule pourrrie», dit-il.

Le quotidien français Le Figaro a révélé qu'en transit pour Londres à Roissy, l'intellectuel a emprunté un chemin non autorisé, ce que lui a fait remarquer une fonctionnaire de police.

Tariq Ramadan l'a alors insultée à deux reprises. La jeune femme a porté plainte.

Interpellé et placé en garde à vue, l'homme est poursuivi pour «outrage». Il est convoqué le 6 avril par le Parquet de Bobigny.

Joint hier par téléphone, Tariq Ramadan raconte sa version de l'histoire. «J'arrivais de Mulhouse avec 35 minutes de retard. Il me restait 3 minutes pour attraper le vol pour Londres. Très fatigué après un week-end chargé, je courais d'un terminal à l'autre. A un endroit, on doit présenter sa carte d'embarquement pour entrer dans une zone, hors Schengen. Je n'avais que mon passeport. Mais l'employé m'a quand même fait passer. Puis une dame m'a barré la route. Je lui ai expliqué la situation, que je n'avais que 2 minutes pour prendre mon avion, mais elle m'a montré la file à suivre. En ajoutant «la loi c'est la loi», avec un sourire sournois. C'est le sourire qui m'a énervé.»

«Je suis passé, elle m'a couru après. Et là, je lui ai dit: «Vous êtes conne, Madame.» Un collègue est arrivé, je lui ai redit qu'il s'agissait d'une erreur de leur part. Il m'a affirmé que non et que j'allais rater mon avion. Excédé, j'ai lâché: «Vous êtes vraiment deux connards.» Je n'aurais pas dû. Ce sont deux mots malvenus. Mais ce que j'ai pu entendre après! Un policier m'a poussé dans la voiture bruutalement puis m'a insulté: «Je m'en bats les c ... et je t'emm ... » J'ai passé la nuit dans une cellule pourrie pour un excès de zèle inutile. C'est une expérience qui rappelle qu'on n'est jamais à l'abri de rien.»
From my lack of time (i.e., sheer laziness), I again implored the Big Homind's assistance in translating the French, and the big guy with the big brain and even bigger heart complied, doing this over his Friday lunch break (a really big sacrifice for a food blogger like the Big Ho):
Tariq Ramadan Arrested in France

The Genevese intellectual Tariq Ramadan was arrested in the Parisian airport of Roissy on March 12 for having insulted two police officers. He spent the night in a police station, "in a rotten cell," he says.

The French daily Le Figaro revealed that, while at Roissy in transit for London, the intellectual took an unauthorized route through the airport and was told so by a policewoman. Tariq Ramadan then insulted her twice. The young woman filed a complaint.

Arrested and placed in custody, Ramadan was charged with "offensive misconduct." He has been summoned to appear before the Criminal Court of Bobigny on April 6.

Joined yesterday by telephone, Tariq Ramadan recounted his version of events.

"I was coming in from Mulhouse 35 minutes late. I had three minutes to catch the flight to London. Very tired after a full weekend, I was running from one terminal to another. In one place, you have to present your boarding pass to enter the out-of-Schengen zone [NB: "hors Schengen" = outside of countries participating in the Schengen Convention; countries that signed this convention allow free, uninspected passage from one member country to another. England doesn't participate in this agreement.]. I had only my passport with me, but the employee let me pass through, anyway. Then a woman blocked my way. I explained the situation to her, that I had only two minutes to get on my flight, but she directed me toward the path I was supposed to follow. Then she added, "The law is the law" with a sly smile. It's the smile that annoyed me.

"I passed on; she ran after me. And there, I said to her, "Ma'am, you are a bitch." A coworker showed up and I told him again that this was their problem, not mine. He said no, it wasn't, and that I was going to miss my plane. This was too much, so I blurted, "You really are two a**holes." I shouldn't have said that; that was the wrong thing to say. But the things I heard after that! A policeman brutally shoved me into the police car and insulted me -- 'I don't give a f*ck' and 'F*ck you!' I spent the night in a rotten cell for needless overzealousness. This is an experience that reminds us that we're not safe from anything."
Reminds "us"? As in "us passengers"? Or "us Muslims"? Many of "us passengers" would side with the "Ideological State Apparatus" on this one and insist that anyone trying to slip through an airport security system be interpelled by an official crying out "Hey you!"

Without that official zealousness, we're not safe from anything.

Actually, I do feel rather sorry for Ramadan because I can imagine overreacting in such a situation. Indeed, I don't have to imagine, for I've cursed a few times myself in frustration under comparable circumstances -- but not quite so vociferously as Mr. Ramadan.

So, Tariq, you have my sympathies.

Unfortunately, the law is definitely the law in this case, for airlines have had to become extremely careful ever since 9/11, as you should know very well. The employee who let you through was a nice guy but decidedly in the wrong for being so lenient as to allow a security breach.

I'd prefer that airport security be zealous beyond the zealots...


Saturday, March 24, 2007

"Dance Me To The End Of Love..."

(Image from Wikipedia)

In 1986, I flew out of the States on a low-budget one-way flight courtesy of People's Express Airlines and a ne'er-do-well Berkeley landlord who'd skipped town and left me without having to pay rent for six months.

The unexpected financial windfall took me to Europe in late October, where I ended up in the still Medieval town of Fribourg, Switzerland staying with a friend from my undergrad university who was working on archaeological digs from the Bronze Age and had a spare room with an old skull to keep me company.

I hung out once with a half-Czech, half-Jewish, half-Polish, half-crazy multilingual woman named Ana Prazak and watched huge flakes of wet snow waft past an expatriate window to slip wistfully down and melt into the ground as we listened to Leonard Cohen sing "Dance Me To The End Of Love."

Ana wasn't the one, but we shared that fine moment over fine chocolate.

Some twenty-one years later -- or just the other day -- I found the perfected film-noir moment in this Cohen video as Sun-Ae and I sang along to its lyrics and remembered how our time together first unfolded in Europe:
Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic 'til I'm gathered safely in
Lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Oh let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone
Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon
Show me slowly what I only know the limits of
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on
Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long
We're both of us beneath our love, we're both of us above
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the children who are asking to be born
Dance me through the curtains that our kisses have outworn
Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn
Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic till I'm gathered safely in
Touch me with your naked hand or touch me with your glove
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love
Dance me to the end of love
First heard by my half-Europeanized self in 1986, but already sung and copyrighted in 1984 by Leonard Cohen, who could masterfully combine "Lift me like an olive branch" with "be my homeward dove" to suggest a subtle biblical image of postdiluvian peace, if only even for a brief moment in God's metronomic timing of our lives...

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Not the best advertisement for Cafe Nicolia...

Hard Job for Peter to Stand Up So Long
(Image from Wikipedia)

Some individuals will go to a lot of trouble to advertise in counterproductive ways.

A couple of days ago, on my at my blog post of March 21 ("In a moment of mental abstraction..."), someone named 'Pete' -- but registered under the name "Seoul Art" -- posted the following, somewhat telegraphic ad:
Hi, nice site^^ email? Hope you can drop by the gorgeous Cafe Nicolia sometime in Pucheon... (line one) Pete
Although annoyed by this and more than a little put off, I decided to give the ad a chance since 'Pete' was advertising something neither offensive nor illegal, so I followed the link to Cafe Nicolia.

Two things at the Cafe Nicolia website annoyed me: 1) the pop-up and 2) the music.

I hate pop-ups. I don't care what they pop up to inform me of. Even if a pop-up were to announce, in all honesty, that I had won a million dollars for being the lucky one-millionth person to view the pop-up, I'd still hate that pop-up.

I love good music, however, and the cafe website's music was good, but I don't like music imposed upon me, and I saw no way to switch the music off, so I had to endure it as I looked around Cafe Nicolia.

Other than raising those two objections, I had nothing negative to say about Cafe Nicolia, so I allowed the comment from 'Pete' to stand, along with my response:
'Pete', this looks like an advertisement, which I usually don't allow, but I'll let this one pass even though you've not commented on my blog entry and give no evidence that you've actually read anything here (so why should I read anything at Cafe Nicolia?).

One suggestion. Include an icon on the Cafe Nicolia site that allows visitors to turn off the music. Although the music was good, I found it loud and distracting while I was trying to read the website.

If the music can't be turned off, I'll never visit Cafe Nicolia again.
Of course, I would have to visit Cafe Nicolia again to hear if 'Pete' had followed my advice and enabled visitors to switch the music off, but I had no strong inclination to find out. My new friend 'Pete' didn't easily give up, for on yesterday's blog entry ("Wikipedia is Good for Academia"), he posted a similar but even more telegraphic ad:
Great site... please visit: European cafe in Pucheon
I deleted this ad and explained:
Seoul Art, you've already advertised once on Gypsy Scholar. One time was enough, so the [second] one above has been deleted.
Although these two attempts by 'Pete' at using my blog to advertise Cafe Nicolia are not nearly so egregious as those by a certain 'Celia' who posted ads for bongs and other drug paraphernalia to a couple of my entries on 'drinking' smoke, they are nevertheless annoying and counterproductive.

I'd normally think that people would realize the counterproductiveness of posting ads in this manner, especially since my comments function has been set up to block spam. 'Pete' had to go to the trouble of registering with blogger, entering a name and code, copying down some letters arranged randomly, and then composing a short comment -- yet not once did he pause to muse to himself, "You know, this Gypsy Scholar fellow might have made comments hard to post because he doesn't actually want advertisements on his blog."

On the other hand, maybe it worked. The comment by 'Pete' has spurred me to post this blog entry on Cafe Nicolia, and bad publicity is still publicity...


Thursday, March 22, 2007

"Wikipedia is Good for Academia"

(Image from Wikipedia)

U.C. Davis history professor Eric Rauchway has written a defense of Wikipedia for The New Republic: "Wikipedia is Good for Academia" (3/21/2007).

It's a learned piece with an interesting argument on the changing ways in which knowledge has gotten disseminated over the centuries:
People with money, reputation, and control over public information have historically used their power to retain control over the means of producing knowledge, as the philosopher Jürgen Habermas noted. To crudely reduce Habermas: In the Middle Ages, the only public things were the symbols of authority, displayed to the people by kings and the Church, who told them what to think and do. As market towns arose, so did a new public culture. Now information didn't just move down from above, it moved horizontally and, by the seventeenth century, vigorously: in print journals and coffee houses and also (as my former colleague Peter Thompson would point out) in taverns where political and literary discourse flourished.

As Habermas noted, the rise of public opinion annoyed the experts. "The conflict about lay judgment, about the public as a critical authority, was most severe ... where hitherto a circle of connoisseurs had combined social privileges with a specialized competence." But, once public, knowledge became so cheap to make and spread that it demanded attention. Everyone who was anyone was reading and listening. And, throughout the period of liberalization in the West, the great and good, the ambitious and the worthy, learned to reckon with "the sense of the people."

The rise of the modern state and the expensive apparatus of modern media undid this revolution in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As Al Gore noted, borrowing from Habermas, it meant a "refeudalization of the public sphere."

Now the Internet is defeudalizing it again. There's no point romanticizing what's going on--defeudalization doesn't mean democratization. Like the coffee-house culture, the Internet's public sphere is noticeably male, crude, and given to the concerns of the rich middle class. But it's not subject to the control of press barons, either.
I largely agree with this assessment of how knowledge has gotten 'democratized', and I'm all for Wikipedia as a resource in learning. I draw the line, however, in allowing it as a source for student papers -- though I'd allow such online encyclopedias as The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, for it is a professionally peer-reviewed work. This raises the issue of accuracy, and Rauchway comments on the charge that Wikipedia is inaccurate:

On examination, this argument has itself proved inaccurate. As Roy Rosenzweig wrote, "Wikipedia for the most part gets its facts right," and contrariwise, "[y]ou can find bad history in the library." In pitting Wikipedia against the Britannica, Nature found that:

The exercise revealed numerous errors in both encyclopedias, but among 42 entries tested, the difference in accuracy was not particularly great: the average science entry in Wikipedia contained around four inaccuracies; Britannica, about three.
If you care about accuracy, you don't want to take up the cudgels against Wikipedia. Nor should you if you care about the free production and promulgation of information.
If true, these are excellent and even telling points -- about Wikipedia's science articles. But on non-science articles, Wikipedia can be terribly inaccurate, as has been not only claimed but also demonstrated in one of Maverick Philosopher William Vallicella's blog entries and the accompanying remarks by commenters.

One point often raised in defense of Wikipedia as a source is that it can be corrected -- and often is corrected. Even granting -- for the sake of argument -- that this is the case, the fact that Wikipedia can be 'corrected' at any time means that it can be rewritten at any time, so how can one cite it as a source? By the time that a student's paper reaches my desk, the Wikipedia article cited may have gone through several changes, so how can I verify the student's accuracy -- or even veracity? I am not raising an abstract academic point; I'm raising a concrete academic point. I've encountered this very problem in student papers that -- despite my repeated warnings -- have cited Wikipedia. By the time that I checked the Wikipedia articles, the material cited had been altered.

So, I'll stick to my rule: Wikipedia as a resource but not as a source.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"In a moment of mental abstraction..."

Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest (1895)
Algernon (Allan Aynesworth, left) and Jack (George Alexander, right)
Grappling over the missing ice cream...
(Image from Wikipedia)

After dining out on a hearty lunch in a Japanese restaurant near Bonghwasan Station last Sunday, the kids and I decided on a postprandial bit of ice cream.

To be precise, I should say that the kids decided ... except that they didn't call it postprandial. Technically, the ice cream might have been considered dessert and therefore prandial -- which might explain why neither Sa-Rah nor En-Uk requested postprandial ice cream. However, they didn't ask for prandial ice cream either, perhaps because we bought the ice cream in a store rather than in the restaurant, which tends to support a postprandial classification.

Since we'd eaten sushi, the kids could have asked for postprawndial ice cream, but my offspring would never stoop to such a stupid pun.

Despite our inability to classify what we did, we did it anyway, thus proving once again that life defies abstractions.

Speaking of abstractions, as we approached the cashier to pay for our postprawndial ice cream, En-Uk had a "Miss Prism" moment.

I placed two identical cones on the counter, one for myself and one for my wife. Sa-Rah placed a cone there of exactly the same kind. Three cones lay on the counter, but En-Uk's ice cream bar did not appear. Sa-Rah and I looked at En-Uk, who looked at us. We all three looked at the counter. No ice cream bar. Sa-Rah and I looked again at En-Uk. He looked at us.

"En-Uk," I finally said, "put your ice cream bar on the counter."

"I gave it to you," he protested, though this was manifestly untrue, for I didn't have his ice cream bar and wouldn't have had time or opportunity to misplace it in the short distance from the ice box to the counter.

"No, you didn't," I told him. "What did you do with your ice cream?"

"I don't know," he retorted -- rather crossly, in fact, as though I were asking for some impossibly complex mental activity like calculating pi to thousands of decimal places.

"Well," I concluded, "you must have left your ice cream at the ice box. Go back and get it."

The cashier, Sa-Rah, and I all watched as En-Uk turned and began walking back, the ice cream bar firmly clutched in his right hand.

"En-Uk!" Sa-Rah and I cried.

En-Uk wheeled about in annoyance. "Now what?!"

"You're holding your ice cream," I pointed out.

En-Uk looked down in astonishment to discover the previously missing ice cream, which had, apparently, materialized in his hand. Or possibly, he was wondering how I had managed to slip it back into his hand after telling him to go back to the ice box for it -- which, of course, I had not done. Then, perhaps deciding that the most reasonable response was to pretend to be reasonable, he laughed -- laudably "displaying signs of triviality" at his own "moment of mental abstraction" -- and placed the ice cream on the counter.

The cashier, Sa-Rah, and I then joined En-Uk in his ironic laughter, following which, I paid the bill for the ice cream and in leaving reflected -- not for the first time -- on the vital importance of not being too earnest.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Writing Fiction: Driven by Character or Plot?

Honoré Daumier's Don Quixote and Sancho Panza
Two Characters in Quest of a Plot
(Image from Wikipedia)

Yesterday, as I was preparing my lesson for today's literature class, I came upon an interesting passage on the role of "character" in stories:
Although the average reader may consider plot the basic element of fiction, writers often remark that stories begin with characters. They imagine a certain person and then wait to see what that character will do. "By the time I write a story," remarked Katherine Anne Porter, "my people are up and alive and walking around and taking things into their own hands." The action of a story usually grows out of the personality of its protagonist and the situation he or she faces. As critic Phyllis Bottome observed, "If a writer is true to his characters they will give him his plot." (X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia, Backpack Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama (New York: Pearson, 2006), 82)
This contrasts with a point about character versus plot made by a contemporary writer, Olen Steinhauer, whom I have gotten to know online and have occasionally blogged about. In a blog entry of mine titled "Plotting Character" (May 11, 2006), I noted that Olen, who blogs at Contemporary Nomad with three other published writers, tells of learning a fact about fiction from his own experience -- but also from the novelist Tim O'Brien, who insists that:
"Stories are about plot. Only about plot. Nothing else. They're not about character. Characters exist only to serve the plot. They have no other reason to exist!"
Upon hearing O'Brien's views, Olen confessed:
I was immensely relieved. He was voicing something I never felt comfortable saying aloud in my grad school classes, where everyone went on about their characters as if they were real people....

I find myself continually making notes to alter the characters who have come before. As the story unfolds -- that is, as I learn more about the story I'm telling -- I find out that the character who existed earlier just won't satisfy the needs for this later part of the story. I sometimes alter my expectations of the story, but within severe limits. Because the plot -- even when I'm still figuring it out -- is the master, and the characters must bow to it....

[O]thers deal with character differently, and they come up with fantastic results. But having spent so much time in school being taught the maxim that "plot springs from character", I think it's worth mentioning that I've found this to be wrong. For me, characters spring from a story, and almost (because nothing in the craft of writing is absolute) never the other way around.
So, who's right? Kennedy and Gioia? Or O'Brien and Steinhauer?

We don't have to choose, of course. For some writers, character offers the key to writing. For others writers, plot shows the way to write.

Back when I was writing short stories for Morse Hamilton's creative writing class, I composed them as riffs on character, writing quickly and letting my story be led wherever the characters wanted to go. My approach was the literary equivalent of playing jazz, I guess.

My poems have generally developed the same way, though usually not led by character -- unless the character is the poetic voice that takes over a poem as I write it, which is perhaps what happens in lyrical poetry.

But I wonder what happens in epic poetry. Did Milton follow his characters or his plot? Satan's rough character, or God's omniscient plan?


Monday, March 19, 2007

Finally, my expertise is acknowledged!

(Image from Wikipedia)

I'm the plagiarism expert!

Appearing on my Yahoo Mail site yesterday afternoon and requesting my views on student plagiarism was an email from a certain Sharon Tse, who works as a reporter for Korea University's student magazine, The Granite Tower (pop-up alert). Concerning plagiarism, she posed approximately seven questions, to which I replied in a rather telegraphic fashion, referring her rather to my blog for more details.

For those of my readers with time on their hands and an inordinate interest in the trivial details of my life, read on as I quote Ms. Tse and myself -- intersplicing her queries with my replies:

Tse: Hi! This is Sharon Tse, a reporter of Granite Tower -- the English magazine of the Korea University. We are currently working on an article about plagiarism for our next issue. Knowing that ... [you were] a professor in KU before, we would like to know about your opinion on the the issue of plagiarism in Korea. We notice that you [have] now moved to a new university, so it may be a bit hard for us to meet up for an interview. In view of this, we are sending some questions that we want to ... [have answered] in this email.

Hodges: I'll try to respond to your questions in sequence.

Tse: 1/ Are there ... standard guidelines ... on plagiarism around the world/universities in Korea?

Hodges: 1. A standard definition for plagiarism exists, but it's not rigorously applied everywhere in the world. My impression is that plagiarism hasn't been taken very seriously in Korea. Here's an online plagiarism checker that can be used to check for plagiarism anywhere in the world -- if the plagiarist has used online sources:

Plagiarism Checker

Tse: 2/ Have you ever caught any cases of plagiarism of students? If yes, can you tell us the cases in details?

Hodges: 2. Yes, I have encountered very many cases of plagiarism in Korea, and I can provide some details. Go to my blog and read these entries:

Catching Plagiarists:

Netting Plagiarists
The Cleverest Plagiarists...
Most Egregious Plagiarism Ever!

Dealing with Plagiarists:

A student claims not to have plagiarized...
Prosecuting artful writing: another clever plagiarist bites the dust...
Most foolish plagiarism ever...
Serious Interlude: Plagiarism

Tse: 2-1/ Why do you think students plagiarize? What are circumstances that make students want to do it?

Hodges: 2.1 Why Students Plagiarize: Because they aren't taught to think for themselves and probably think that everyone cheats:

Cho Se-mi on the 'Korean mindset'
How the mighty are fallen...
Problems with the Korean Education System: Education Minister Kim Byong-joon

Tse: 3/ Are there any changes in the standard on plagiarism throughout the years?

Hodges: 3. I think that Korean universities are gradually becoming more aware of the problem. Korea University has recently gotten tougher on its professors.

Tse: 4/ How do you judge whether an essay/homework has plagiarized information from internet/books? How much efforts do the academy pay to caught cases of plagiarism?

Hodges: 4. Perceiving plagiarism is very easy after a few years of experience. Ascertaining plagiarism is particularly easy in Korea, for the plagiarized passages are so much better written than the passages composed by the student. Besides, online plagiarism is so easy to trace that the proof is obvious. Plagiarism from books is also obvious but harder to prove. I simply request that the suspected plagiarist bring the books used in the research and have the plagiarist show me the passages used. Plagiarism then becomes obvious.

I don't know if the academy in Korea takes plagiarism seriously enough yet.

Tse: 5/ What is the penalty for plagiarizing in your class?

Hodges: 5. The penalty was usually an "F" on the paper. An "F" on the final essay usually resulted in an "F" for the course.

Tse: 6/ Do you think Korean students think plagiarizing is not a serious crime? If so why?

Hodges: 6. Yes, I think that Korean students generally think this way. See my response to 2.1.

Tse: 7/ Why is plagiarizing considered a crime? (Why is it bad?)

Hodges: 7. Plagiarism is stealing. It's intellectual theft. Aside from the criminal aspect, plagiarism is dishonest and thus unethical.

Tse: Thank you very much for reading through this email and I am looking forward to receiving your reply soon.

Hodges: I hope that I've been of some help. If you have questions, please contact me.

Ms. Tse later responded to my replies:
Thank you very much for your prompt and comprehensive reply! Would it be okay if we put your answers in our article? Also, we would like to quote some cases in your blog too, would that be possible? Thank you very much again.
I gave permission. Indeed, I had expected them to quote from the stories of student plagiarizing as recounted in my blog, which is so much more interesting than my email replies (as those of you who have trudged along this far will certainly affirm). However, I voiced some reservations on being quoted:
Yes, you may quote. My email response was a bit telegraphic, so it's not particularly quote-worthy. If you want me to fill in some details on a specific response to one of the '7' questions posed, then contact me.

I would add one additional point on why plagiarism is so widespread in Korea. The Confucian tradition of scholarship was a rigorous one, but it lacked the concept of footnotes -- largely because footnotes were unnecessary for the scholars, who were so well trained in the classics and the important commentaries that they knew who and what was being quoted or alluded to without the need to be explicitly told. Footnotes become necessary when one is dealing with a more complex tradition, a combination of traditions, or a large and increasing body of knowledge because readers need to know who said what.

I could say more, but I'll refrain and only write more if you have specific questions.

You'll want to be careful quoting my blog, which is at times ironic, satirical, or even a bit sarcastic. If some remark seems strange, incomprehensible, or weird, you might want to check with me to find out what I meant.

Would I be allowed to see the article before it goes into print -- just in case I've been misunderstood? Plagiarism is a very sensitive issue, especially these days, and I don't want to offend anybody.

And please be careful in quoting examples of plagiarism from my blog, for the students -- despite being unnamed in my blog -- are perhaps still attending Korea University and might be embarrassed to find their 'crime' published in the Granite Tower even though they are not named.
I'll be interested in seeing what becomes of this online interview. For those of you interested in knowing more about Sharon Tse, if you visit this Korea University site, you'll learn that she's an exchange student from the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) -- and you'll also see her lovely photo. Too bad my interview is only online...


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Some earthshattering minor details...

Now digital but still posing problems...
(Image from Wikipedia)

Well, the details shattered my small world. Let me explain.

Recently, I researched the theme of kinslaying in Beowulf and wrote an article -- titled "Cain's Fratricide: Original Violence as 'Original Sin' in Beowulf" -- that has now been published in Medieval and Early Modern English Studies 15.1 (February 2007). The journal, along with several offprints, arrived yesterday, and I was dismayed.

I'll explain why in my typically roundabout manner.

Round about the 20th of February, I received the penultimate, edited draft of my Beowulf article from Dongin Publishing Company for my last chance to proofread it. I found a few minor errors, mostly my own, corrected these, and returned the draft immediately. I was pleased with Dongin's professionalism, especially for the way that this publisher handled block quotes. Here's an example from my article:

Though Beowulf presents a world full of violence, a world repeatedly threatened by evil, nowhere does this epic poem even hint at the traditional story of the Adam and Eve's first sin and subsequent fall. Instead, we twice find references to the story of Cain slaying his brother Abel, whence come the evil, monstrous offspring that strive with God (ll 107-114), of whom Grendel seems to be one. Indeed, Grendel's violent intrusion into Heorot recalls that primeval intrusion of violence that ended the Golden Age:

[Grendel] intrudes into the narrative of Beowulf just as lord Hrothgar's poet is singing of the creation the world -- a bright song which begins with the shaping of the earth (91-2) and ends at its populating (97-8), before the introduction of original sin. Hrothgar's warriors are by conjunction immediately brought into this Golden Age ("Swá ðá drihtguman dréamum lifdon," "So the men lived in joy," 99), until Grendel suddenly intervenes. (Cohen, para. 3)
Cohen refers to creation's gentle moment penultimate to "original sin" in the poet's song, and the Beowulf text itself extends that gentle moment to include the time of Hrothgar's men living in joy until an act of original violence interrupts. This original violence committed by Cain is treated in the poem as a primeval act that explains all subsequent violence.
The Cohen reference is to Jeffrey Jerome Cohen's online article "Monsters, Cannibalism, and the Fragile Body in Early England" -- and I now see that some information was deleted in the citation, which should have read: Cohen, "Monsters" [Section: 'The Letter Killeth,' paragraph 3]. I hadn't noticed that when I proofread the edited draft, so that's my fault, I guess (but why would the publisher remove essential information?).

Anyway, I was quite pleased with the overall result, particularly for how block quotes were handled. Previously, I had encountered difficulties publishing in Korea because the publishers had always indented the line after a block quote. Thus, I expected to discover that Dongin had indented the line that begins with the words "Cohen refers to" because it follows the block quote of Cohen's statements on Grendel's intrusion into Hrothgar's idyllic community. The line, however, was quite properly un-indented.

I was so pleased with this small blessing that I complimented the publisher in the email of February 21st that I sent along with the attached, proofread manuscript of my article:

Dear Staff at Dongin Publishing:

Thank you for performing a job well done -- your editing work is among the best that I have encountered in my time here in Korea.

I have accepted corrections that were noted in red font, and I have made a number of other corrections myself. I hope that the resulting text will be acceptable. The alterations are not major.

Please let me know if there is anything else that you need from me.

Best Regards,

Jeffery Hodges
Alas, I wrote those words too soon, for when I opened the journal yesterday, what did I find but ... that feared, improper indentation following the block quote, as though the words "Cohen refers to" were the opening line of a new paragraph. Moreover, this error was pervasive in my article. Also in other articles ... but not all of the articles. For some reason, all of the articles by non-Koreans suffered from this error, while the articles by Koreans were correct. Why this should have happened totally mystifies me, and I'd like an explanation please.

Perhaps I'll even receive a reply, for I notified a Korean friend of mine who is a professor in a prominent Korean university, is a very good Medievalist, and is unafraid to inquire about the error. Here's what I wrote:
I just today received two copies of the journal Medieval and Early Modern English Studies, along with the offprints of my article on 'original sin' in Beowulf -- the one that you read and helped me on. Oddly, there were some changes in formatting that slipped in after my checking of the penultimate draft. For some reason, after each block quote came an indented line, as if a new paragraph were beginning.

Apparently, the program used for setting the pages for printing must have automatically indented (though only on mine, Skupin's, and Nokes's -- and possibly Brother Anthony's). This is not good, for it makes our final proofreading partly superfluous. Also, I had praised the printer for avoiding this very problem in the penultimate draft. My praise was premature.

This is not good, for it makes the journal look unprofessional. Can't the printer be told to watch for this problem? It happens rather often here in Korea, so publishers should be aware of the problem.

Sorry to complain, but perhaps you could relay the information.
I hope that my complaint will make the Dongin Publishing Company more careful in the future, but I won't get my hopes up too much since this problem occurs again and again.


Saturday, March 17, 2007

Copy machines have hard drives? Uh-oh...

Your Local Copier:
Does it know too much?
(Image from Wikipedia)

Christopher Null has a worrying article, "Copier + Hard Drive: A Dangerous Combination," over in his Working Guy column at the Yahoo!Tech site:

It sounds like a slam dunk: Put a hard drive into a standard photocopier, so you can have a digital version of anything you run through the machine. That way, if the original is ever lost, you can always run back to the backup. (I hadn't realized this, but copiers have been including hard drives for five years now.)

But now people are finally waking up to the wrinkle in this plan, which should have been obvious: What do people use copiers for, anyway? Yes, for company flyers and employee manuals, but also for tax returns, insurance cards, photo IDs, and Social Security paperwork. Now what happens when that copier gets old and is sold on eBay? Gulp. Computerworld has more of the story.
Some of the commenters' remarks are funny. Take comment number 5, by timothykinney, who apparently thinks so little of himself that he declines to capitalize the vertical pronoun:
i photocopied my butt one time. should i be worried its going to end up on the internet?
No, Mr. Kinney, your butt will remain firmly attached, end down. Only digital materials can go onto the internet. You might have a problem, however, if you ever photocopied your fingers.

Commenter number 26, jimmyb20032003, has a bigger problem:

darn.... I made photo-copies of my plans to take over the world. Let's hope no one comes across those little snippets of info.
"Let's hope"? Include me out! I don't want you to take over the world. In fact, I'm going to devote my life to ensuring that you fail! Finally, I've got a life...

Commenter 27, lheredia1, coins a portmanteau word:
Wao that info is really screepy but according to technology nothing is impossible
But what's packed into "screepy"? Perhaps "screaming creepy"? Incidentally, since when has 'technology' ever had an opinion? Or to paraphrase Henry Kissenger, "What telephone number do you dial to reach technology?"

Commenter 40, frenchiet, asks a serious question:
Okay - I have a HP Color LaserJet 2840 all in one. I bought this about six months ago and paid nearly a grand for teh thing. Does this model indeed have a hard-drive and if so, how can this be shredded/disabled. Yes, this devise is networked and accessible via the Internet - it has it's own IP Address that HP has accessed remotely when I've called for help with troubleshooting. Thank you.
Dear frenchiet, please supply me with your printer's IP Address so that I can do the troubleshooting that you require. Nah ... just joking. You do have a serious problem, but I can indeed help you in disposing of your printer's hard drive. Open your printer and remove the hard drive. Take it outside and place it on your lawn. Run your lawnmower over it. You may have to set the mower's blades to low clearance for best effects and run the mower to and fro over the hard disk several times, but if you follow my instructions properly, your hard drive will certainly be "shredded/disabled," which is what you asked for.

Commenter 60, lesliebogdandy, confessed:

I photo copied my peanuis once!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope NO one sees that picture.
I can't even picture what a "peanuis" is. A piano? Or an organ?

Commenter 64, mat_cougher has what I assume is an oddly named body part:

Oh no, my azz is going to be seen by millions!
You wish. But is anybody morbidly curious enough to even want to find out what an 'azz' is?

Well, I could go on and on, but that would defeat the purpose of today's blog entry, which was to avoid the sort of intensive work that I did for yesterday's post.


Friday, March 16, 2007

The Extremely Moderate Tariq Ramadan?

The Arresting Tariq Ramadan
(Image from

According to the Terror Finance Blog -- a website that I've never previously heard of -- the "'Moderate' Muslim Tariq Ramadan was detained, charged and ordered to trial in France after insulting a police officer" (March 13, 2007):
Tariq Ramadan, the so-called "moderate" Islamic "intellectual", was briefly detained and charged for "insulting a public agent" on Sunday at Paris Roissy Charles de Gaulle International Airport, while in transit to London.

From informed police sources, we have learned that when Ramadan tried to enter a prohibited area, a young policewoman stopped him. He began shouting at her and was then taken into police custody; the officer filed a complaint against him.

While in custody, he admitted the offense and was ordered to appear before a criminal court of Bobigny on April 6. Tariq Ramadan faces up to 6 months of imprisonment and 7,500 Euros of penalty.
This report wasn't very clear to me, and I have to admit that my own streak of Ozark rebelliousness makes me sympathetic to anyone charged with the overly vague 'crime' of "insulting a public agent" -- if that's really what Tariq Ramadan has been charged with.

I therefore conducted a Google websearch seeking more information about Ramadan's alleged actions and found a French report, "Tarik Ramadan brièvement interpellé à l'aéroport de Roissy," by Jean Chichizola for the March 13, 2007 edition of Le
Il aurait insulté à deux reprises une fonctionnaire de police.

Tarik Ramadan se souviendra de son dernier passage en France. Citoyen suisse, cet intellectuel musulman, critiqué notamment en France pour ses déclarations sur la lapidation, se trouvait dimanche soir à Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle, en transit pour Londres. De source policière, Tarik Ramadan aurait emprunté un itinéraire non autorisé avant qu'une fonctionnaire de police le lui fasse remarquer. Il aurait alors insulté à deux reprises la jeune femme, qui a porté plainte. Tarik Ramadan a été interpellé et placé en garde à vue par la police aux frontières. Il est poursuivi pour « outrage ». Relâché, Tarik Ramadan aurait reconnu les faits et a été convoqué le 6 avril par le parquet de Bobigny après reconnaissance préalable de culpabilité.
Lacking time and linguistic expertise for attempting a translation effort from the Gallic -- especially concerning the official Frence charge of "outrage" -- I turned to blogger buddy Kevin Kim (who suffers from near-native proficiency in French), and asked his assistance, a request fulfilled with alacrity. To wit:
"He [i.e., Tarik Ramadan] allegedly insulted a policewoman twice."

Tarik Ramadan will remember his most recent trip to France. A Swiss citizen, this Muslim intellectual who has been criticized, especially in France, for his pronouncements about stoning, found himself Sunday evening at Roissy/Charles de Gaulle Airport, in transit for London. According to a police source, Tarik Ramadan had been trying to move through an unauthorized area when a female police officer brought this to his attention. He twice insulted the young woman, who filed a complaint. Tarik Ramadan was arrested and placed under guard; he was charged with "offensive misconduct." When released, Tarik Ramadan acknowledged the facts and was summoned to appear on April 6 at the criminal court in Bobigny after prior admission of guilt.
Hmmm ... so, "outrage" -- which the Terror Finance Blog reported as "insulting a public agent" -- means "offensive misconduct." Kevin, however, added a disclaimer to his translation:
My translation of "outrage" as "offensive misconduct" is an attempt to sound like I know legal and police terms. Here as well, there is probably an exact English equivalent to the term, but I don't know it offhand. In French, "outrage" can refer to an outrage, an insult, or in the legal sense, some sort of behavioral infraction that carries an insulting import. The English-language article forwarded to me translates "outrage" as "insulting a public agent," which is something of a stretch if the charge is just "outrage." Or maybe the French paper isn't quoting the entire charge...? I don't know.
Kevin's uncertainty here leaves me still unsure of the precise charge against Ramadan. It sounds relatively minor, though it doesn't add to the luster of Ramadan's reputation. I can't imagine that he will end up in prison for six months, but he might have to pay a fine. At any rate, he has acknowledged culpability for whatever it was that he has been charged with having done.

The French article refers to criticisms of Ramadan's declarations concerning "lapidation," which Kevin has rendered as "stoning" -- though I've been told that moderate Muslims prefer to call it lapidation in English as well (for the euphemism, I suppose) -- but the article doesn't say why Ramadan has been criticized. For the curious, I refer you to a previous blog entry of mine, "Ian Buruma on Tariq Ramadan," which comments on Ian Buruma's New York Times report ("Tariq Ramadan Has an Identity Issue," February 4, 2007) on the controversy:
[O]n French television in 2003 with Nicolas Sarkozy, the French interior minister (now running for president as the candidate of the conservative Union for a Popular Movement party), . . . accused Ramadan of defending the stoning of adulterers, a punishment stipulated in the section of the Islamic penal code known as huddud. Ramadan replied that he favored "a moratorium" on such practices but refused to condemn the law outright. Many people, including Sarkozy, were outraged.
Despite the French interior member's feelings of "outrage," Ramadan escaped being detained and charged with "insulting a public agent" on that occasion. Interestingly, whereas Sarkozy and other non-Muslims criticized Ramadan's refusal to condemn stoning, many Muslims criticized him for advocating a "moratorium," as noted in an alt.muslim article, "Anwar Ibrahim Is Proof That Tariq Ramadan Has A Point" (April 1, 2005), by Irfan Yusuf, an Australian lawyer:
Recently Dr. Ramadan has made the headlines with his claim that there should be a moratorium on corporal punishment, stoning and the death penalty (collectively known as hudud) in the Islamic world. His comments have been condemned by Muslim writers and scholars, including those claiming to follow the legacy of Dr. Ramadan's grandfather.
That grandfather would be Hasan al-Bana, one of the founders of the Muslim Brotherhood, a pro-Shariah Islamist organization in Egypt. Anyway, Irfan Yusuf -- another possibly moderate Muslim like Ramadan -- gives his own opinion on huddud punishments:
Before pro-Ikhwan writers attack Dr. Ramadan over his [moratorium] proposal, they should provide one example of a Muslim country where the rule of law is supreme, where judges are qualified to understand and justly enforce hudud and where police and other law enforcement agencies are relatively corruption-free. Sharia may be (and I believe is) a divinely-inspired legal system. But in the hands of the wrong people, it's (sic) criminal punishments can become part of the devil's handiwork.

The late Syed Maududi, a chief proponent of the introduction of sharia into Pakistani law, was also strongly opposed to the introduction of hudud until the moral, social and educational conditions were right. No point chopping hands for theft when the entire economy is based on a reverse Robin Hood system -- stealing from the poor majority to give to the rich minority.

And what a nightmare it would be if the proponents of sharia turn out to be the ones behind the creation of a system in which sharia lost all credibility in the eyes of the people it was meant to guide and save. Imagine an international Muslim community fillied with millions of Amina Lawals.

Caliph Umar had the right idea. He suspended the punishment for theft during times of severe poverty arising from a famine. When people are forced to steal just to survive, amputating their limbs hardly seems just.
If you've read my blog entry on Buruma's interview with Ramadan, you'll already have seen the following remarks by Ramadan:
"Personally," he said, "I'm against capital punishment, not only in Muslim countries, but also in the U.S. But when you want to be heard in Muslim countries, when you are addressing religious issues, you can't just say it has to stop. I think it has to stop. But you have to discuss it within the religious context. There are texts involved. I am not just talking to Muslims in Europe, but addressing the implementation of huddud everywhere, in Indonesia, Pakistan and the Middle East. And I'm speaking from the inside to Muslims.
About these words, I asked:
What does he mean by "personally" being against capital punishment? Does he mean that in his subjective feelings, he is horrified by capital punishment, but that in a proper Islamic society, capital punishment, e.g., by stoning, would nonetheless have to be objectively instituted because the authoritative texts teach this?
I strongly suspect that Ramadan's views are similar to the 'moderate' position advocated by Irfan Yusuf, namely, that huddud punishments should be suspended until "the moral, social and educational conditions" of an Islamic society are right.

I could support such a position if the requirements for the necessary "moral, social and educational conditions" were raised so high that they could never be met, but I can imagine a lot of pious Muslims asking what could possibly have been on Allah's mind in revealing laws demanding such punishments as amputation for theft if the conditions necessary for applying the punitive measures could never be met.

Incidentally, Tariq Ramadan is not the only moderate Muslim in his illustrious family. According to a Memri report by A. Dankowitz and Y. Feldner, "Sheikh Gamal Al-Bana: Social and Religious Moderation vs. Political Extremism," the Muslim thinker Gamal al-Bana -- brother to the late Hasan al-Bana (grandfather of Ramadan and founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, as noted above) -- advocates a reinterpretation of Islam for our modern era:
Sheikh Gamal Al-Bana seeks to adapt the Islamic lifestyle to the modern era. He says that the practice of ijtihad -- the use of independent judgment in matters of religious law -- should be brought back. Freedom of thought is inherent in Islam, he says, and therefore a Muslim must interpret the Koran and the hadith (traditions of the Prophet Muhammad) personally and intellectually, without reliance on ancient or modern Koran commentators and clerics. In accordance with this approach, he believes, for example, that Islam does not contradict democracy; the Islamic punishment of death for Muslims who leave the fold of Islam [murtadd] should not be implemented; and customs such as the veil, female circumcision, and the male monopoly on leading prayers have no basis whatsoever in Islam. Sheikh Al-Bana also maintains that additions can be made to shari'a law, and that elements can also be removed from it, based on the principle of justice, which is the guiding principle in the Koran.
On the other hand, Memri goes on to report that this moderate also believes some rather disturbing things:
To mark the fifth anniversary of 9/11, Sheikh Al-Bana published an article praising the attacks, which he called "extremely courageous." The article, which enraged Muslim liberals, stated that such attacks, and such acts of "martyrdom" as Palestinian suicide bombings, will in the future be the lot of the U.S. and Europe, and will be carried out by residents of Europe and the U.S., as long as "barbaric capitalism and the enslavement of the peoples" continues. In the article, Sheikh Al-Bana presented the attacks as "dreadful and splendid" and "a new way of settling old accounts."
Let us call such 'moderate' Muslims as Gamal Al-Bana "extremely moderate" and hope that Tariq Ramadan does not hold to his Great-Uncle Al-Bana's sort of moderation. Instead, Ramadan should stuggle inwardly in the greater jihad of restraining his immoderate impulses toward "insulting ... public agent[s]."

I promise to do the same.