Media Literacy Debate

My brain hurts. Dana Boyd gave the keynote speech (1 hour) at SXSWedu (an annual media conference with an educational add-on). I first caught wind of the controversy through Stephen Downes’ blog. I read Dana Boyd’s original post, and a response by Benjamin Doxtdator.

Before reading Dana Boyd’s follow-up on Medium, I decided to watch the video, the whole hour. This is where I am now. She has raised issues that I had not considered and am still working on integrating into my framework. A challenge. The reason this is so important is that I teach English in Tokyo and use a lot of tech doing so.

Slide from Dana Boyd’S SXSWedu Keynote of web page by Elita Saulle at

Moreso, this year, I am concentrating on providing a wide range of online opportunities in most of my classes this year.  I have added a series of activities (self-evaluation, introspection on motivation, communication, and learning, along with goal setting and planning) to give students both more freedom and more autonomy, and make sure they have the tools to handle it. Then I let them loose (well, with a semi-curated set of content) to explore and work with the results of those first few activities.

I am not so sure I can do that, now. I really need to rethink how I approach my use of online materials. I have moved away from teaching English directly as a subject, and promote self-learning of English by using it as a thinking tool. I can get away with this because most of my students are solid intermediate level and above. But the concerns she raises mean I have to look at how a non-native speaker should treat the media landscape (ie the web). In some ways, my students and the culture in Japan can (and have) teach me about how to hold two conflicting ideas at the same time and not go crazy. The problem is that this ability is not usually applied to content and interaction on the web.

Discounting everything is the road to nihilism. Blind belief is the road to becoming a patsy. But foisting your opinion, even with scientific evidence, is also not an answer. Recognizing that individuals and institutions such as shock vloggers and Cambridge Analytica play the media regularly to their own ends, and more important work to devalue the media and all other forms of authority is becoming an indispensable skill. This is Howard Rheingold’s crap detection on steroids and taken to another orbit.

One of the keys is being able to recognize toxic information and walking away. Ignoring things is something I have been taught is completely wrong. But now, with manufactured content designed to create a visceral gut reaction and a response, realizing the Buddhist idea of impermanence may help. Lots more thinking to do first, though. And learn how to discuss with people who disagree with me while avoid being gaslighted.

Interactive Fiction and Time Travel

I have been delving into Interactive Fiction lately, becoming more consumed by both reading (watching, playing) branching fiction stories (Choose Your Own Adventure, or CYOA) and the like. Zork is probably the first digital instance of branching fiction. There is an annual competition of IF stories (record 72 submissions) you can try out if you like.

I also read a lot of science fiction, the latest being D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson (my favorite author) and Nicole Galland, collaborator with Neal and 4 others on The Mongoliad Trilogy (another kind of interactiveness). D.O.D.O. is a story about magic, and its recursive recovery and application in modern times through time travel. A very complicated treatment of time travel, with varios threads of the story intertwining like the infinite branches in the universe.

I teach a course that uses Twine for students to create their own interactive fiction. I find it the easiest of the different story engines (word processors for branching fiction) out there.

So when I saw this video, it made me happy to see a physicist treat the plots of time travel movies in such a logical way. This is important to both Interactive Fiction (IF) and storytelling.

No video

I just realized. I have not seen a video in more than 3 weeks.  Let you know when a month rolls round.

Fiction and Non in Yangon

I have been chewing through the books this week, catching up on non-fiction but reading a surprising amount of fiction.

After Writing Interactive Fiction with Twine (more a manual than a real book), I lit into Tropic of Kansas: A Novel, about a dystopian near future where the US has been balkanized and there is a high wall between the mess there and the freedom of Canada. Our hero is a teen who is good at escaping and living rough. He smuggles supplies north across the border, and guns and (more importantly) information south. Caught in a trap he is incarcerated, escapes and becomes a sought-after pawn in the contest between a usurper president who was a war hero but is now only interested in control and sucking the life out of the economy to enrich his company. The rebels were headed by the vice-president, in line until the usurpation. Spread across lo-tech analog networks (think video tapes) and jerry-rigged mesh networks, the uprising faces daunting odds, especially in the badlands of Kansas and Iowa. Well written and plausible actions lead to an ending that is a bit surprising.

Ready Player One is another dystopian near-future novel where the teen in question lives in a stacked mobile home after gas runs out and the climate crumples. The only saving grace is that a genius gamer creates an online world that becomes a default cyberspace for millions, a way to hide out from reality. The genius dies and leaves his unimaginable fortune to the winner of a game he created. Winning depends on deciphering clues from the genius’ childhood in the 80’s. Online games that I am familiar with, avoiding study in graduate school. The story is rich, with a set of intriguing characters. The author is an amazing world-builder.

The non-fiction in this series is Stealing Fire: How Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALs, and Maverick Scientists Are Revolutionizing the Way We Live and Work. The pursuit of ecstasy using new technology and drugs to advance the mind of man means we can harness the unconscious powers to reach higher goals. Kotler and Wheal are part of an organization that networks exploratory efforts from places like the Navy, Google, and Microsoft. The goal is to explore selflessness, timelessness, effortlessness and richness. A very insightful read on how culture has lead us to ignore these tools, and how some organizations are harnessing this power. Not a self-help book.

If you are a linguist or love good world-building and cultural stories, you must read Embassytown. Set on a small planet at the edge of the known galaxy in the third universe (the first two had time that was too fast), our young heroine gets called into become a simile. She learns she has a special ability to withstand the overlying grid of energy that allows for communication with the extos (many different kinds) and transportation in hyperspace. It only hurts a little to offer herself as a tabula rasa for others to converse, if that is what you can call it. The Hosts on Embassytown speak in two voices simultaneously, but cannot understand simple sounds. They need to be coordinated sounds from two similar but different sources, and must have feeling behind the sound. She marries a Linguist who is, for me, the more interesting character. I am still only halfway through, but the richness of the new vocabulary and the worlds she visits are remarkable.

Myanmar 2017 Day 3

Day 3

Wake up early, pounding rain outside, novel until it gets light out. About 7 AM a bunch of teens unload a truck full of sand at the bungalow next door, under construction. We are literally at the end of the road and have to jump puddles to get to our place.

We wait for the pickup, but as breakfast approaches, we start walking and meet him just before arriving at “downtown”, two lanes with thatch covered roofs between, some of the most interesting wood carving I have ever seen, set up like an exhibit. At the bottom of the hill is the cafeteria, all open air, but with fans to blow the sweat around.

Breakfast of mohinga, traditional noodles and curry soup with lime and cilantro toppings, delicious. But also some dal chana (soybean curry) and chapati bread, which I get my fill of 3 helpings. Really good food here.

The classroom is also open air, about 50 meters down the road, but on the way we observe the assembly of the children’s school, with about 300 kids all lined up in their uniforms, lead in chanting by the most senior student. A sight to behold. Then they break, the older ones distribute flowers to the younger ones, and they all pay tribute to a pair of old ladies, donors to the school, lining up and giving them the flowers, about 200 of them.

It seems that the head monk here is a real businessman, promoting the wooden sculptures for sale, some for hundreds of thousands of dollars. He has the masters training acolytes to make this sustainable. He buys land and puts up dormitories for the children, enlarging the school from a couple dozen 5 years ago when he came, to the current 400 or so. Next year’s target is 600. It is some of the teachers of these students we are training.

Class time arrives and we have 17 students. 13 are elementary school teachers, 5 of whom teach English. 4 are not teachers. Our target audience, high school English teachers, is nowhere to be seen. The organizers arrive 10 minutes after we have launched into class. They leave before we finish our first hour. We need to have a discussion. Likelihood of a return next year plummet.

We slog through the day, and the students enjoy it without really understanding. We decide to have fun and not worry about the learning. The philosophical attitude helps. At the end of the day, though, they say there are busy tomorrow morning and can’t come to class. We find out later there is a huge assembly of students from all over the area with a famous author (we shake hands at dinner, he is in the bungalow next door), speaking to 2,000 on youth concerns. So we have the morning off.

We take a short walk around the compound on the way back in the dark after dinner. Have to remember to bring a flashlight next time.

Myanmar 2017 Day 1

August 2nd, last day of teaching an intensive summer course in Tokyo, and get my grades in after that. I have been going “a tope” (Spanish for “full out”) for 3 weeks while battling a foot infection (40.5, or 105 fever), not because I am an athlete, but because it attacks almost yearly in July during rainy season. Get the usual medicine, but it is a slow recovery.

Pack at night, and to the airport the next day. Super smooth connections on the express trains get me to the airport. Pick up my baggage (delivered the day before) and spy a money changer without a line, buy crisp $100 bills because those are the most accepted at the Myanmar money changers. No real way to change directly Yen to Kyat.

Immigration, no line, time to buy a couple of bottles of whiskey at Duty Free, one for Wunna, one for Moe. Dig into a new novel for the flight. Board and get a bulkhead seat with nobody next to me. We leave 15 minutes early and arrive half an hour early. I mistakenly get into the diplomat line, and the immigration person processes me anyway. Baggage comes through in record time and I am out into the lobby before Frank and Wunna arrive to pick me up.

The drive to dinner is remarkable only in the lack of things. The city is much improved, with far far fewer piles of garbage. Cleaner, and more cosmopolitan is my first impression. And the dogs, far fewer of them too.

On to Moe’s new restaurant, Rakhine food in a simple atmosphere, lots of tile and bright lights, looks like a cafeteria line, at the back, lots of trays of food, but they are brought to us. We have a pleasant dinner with the organizers of the program, Chang, Yin Law Mon, Wunna and Pyoe.

We finish up the pleasantries, I pay the multifaceted Moe, our restauranteur and travel agent, for the trips he has arranged for us during the next 6 weeks. Wunna drives us back to Frank’s place.

At this point Myanmar kicks in. Frank lives on the 8th floor of a newish building, next to Wunna’s building and next to the rice shop of a good friend. The elevator does not stop on his floor, so we go one floor up and lug the luggage down a flight of stairs.

Frank has lived in this 100m2 apartment for almost a year, but he has never moved in. Almost no furniture, beyond the what came with the flat. The two tables in the kitchen are piled with stuff, making them unusable. True bachelor life.

I roll into the futon on the floor, in the one room with air conditioning, and listen to the drip drip drip of the humidity pulled out of the air but with drainage blocked. Next morning I wait for Frank to wake up, more novel. Forgot to get the wifi password, so can’t tell my wife I have arrived.

On Looking: Reading slowly and carefully

Andrew Sullivan at The Dish asked Maria Popova at Brain Pickings to choose the new book for the second installment of a big Book Club discussion.

As a long time reader of Brain Pickings, I ordered whatever she picked. On Looking: Eleven walks with expert eyes is all it is purported to be in Maria’s review.

The book is so well written that it is hard to believe it is non fiction. The main focus of Attention is only a vehicle to explore, well, eleven different viewpoints of the same city block, where the author lives. Making the banal interesting and exciting is the goal achieved.

It is one of those books that you want to savor. Read a chapter, turn it over in your head, look at it closely, enjoy the taste and all the other sesations, and ponder before moving on. I hope to finish before the Book Club begins next week. join me?

Snow Day in Tokyo

Not really, but i am going to take the day to do grades from home. No  classes anyway.

Testing out my new Galaxy Note 3. I now am fully mobile.


Shakespeare in Celebrity Voices

This impressionist is advertising for his show. I wish I could see it. The impressions of famous people are amazing, all while quoting Shakespeare. What a memory this guy has, and what a rubbery face!

Fast Food and Society

Super Size Me

I teach Rhetoric and Hamburgers, a class about how to convince people about eating things like hamburgers. I start with a book, Fast Food Nation, then do a movie (documentary) Super Size Me, and finish with a computer game (McDonald’s).

Two interesting posts related to this topic came to me while browsing at Slate. One is about a guy that went on a beer-and-water diet for lent (40 days). Another is about violence at fast food restaurants. The more I see, the lest I like about fast food. My next movie is Food, Inc. Even better than Super Size Me.

Hawaii pictures

Ruka's Wedding
Ruka's Wedding

Maki and Julia had a wonderful time in Hawaii for our niece Ruka’s wedding. They spent 5 days at the Moana Surfrider hotel with Ginger and Anri, in from Colorado. Maki’s sister, her daughter-in-law Jazelle and her son were also enjoying the meet. Ginger rented a van and got people beyond the confines of Waikiki. I’ve only heard a few stories, Julia and Anri fell asleep about 9PM. More later.

Earthquake Day 13

For now, some bits and babs.

Woke up this morning and almost got shook out of bed by another earthquake. Late afternoon, another small shake. Learning to live with this daily wobble is difficult. The shake this morning put the kitchen door out of whack, so it won’t close. Have to get the sander out and shave down the door. Maybe that is what got Maki stuck in the bathroom while I was gone.
Good news is that the radiation level in the water has dropped so babies can drink from the faucet (but only if they can reach it). We were supposed to have 3 hours blackout this afternoon, but that was cancelled (yeah!). But it is looking like these blackouts will continue for at least a year. Summer is going to be really sticky…will have to plan to be at school. The grid is being refined now for the blackout groups, with the number rising from 5 to 25 so they can manage to keep energy use up to capacity. So I guess we will be having, along with the daily weather forecast and radiation/pollen count, a blackout map.
The slightly derogatory term for a foreigner here in Japan is “gaijin”. A little more formal, and a little more neutral, “gaikokujin” (outside-country-person). New term in the foreign community is for residents that left the country and are now coming back: flyjin. Your language lesson for the day.
Had a good laugh when somebody told me my picture during the blackout made me look like Qaddafi. Green hat and scarf matched, and I am working on the putty face. Just wish I had somebody to dictate to (hmmm, students?…I’m getting some ideas here….).
Our graduation was rescheduled, and now cancelled. I feel sorry for the students. Lines for gasoline and other products have disappeared. Only milk is hard to find. And bottled water. I bought in haste 12 days ago, and we served sparkling water to the cat by mistake. He wouldn’t drink it. The rest of the bottle we mixed with crystal light to make a weird soda-pop.

Earthquake Update Day 9

Not much happened yesterday, so there was no Update Day 8.

This morning we awoke to reports that Reactors 5&6 were under control. They are still working on 2 & 3, trying to get electricity to the pumps or water to the reactors. Work is proceeding slowly but surely.
Weather has moderated, yesterday it got up to 70 degrees. Today should get to 65 degrees. It may rain, though. Because of the mild weather, electric usage is down and there have not been any power outages yesterday or today.
Radiation levels look safe for now, except for some milk and spinach harvested just after the leak. Most Chernobyl victims got their radiation through eating tainted foods. Good to see people monitoring the radiation.
Aftershocks continue, but at a much reduced frequency. See this map and wait for all 611 aftershocks (and counting) in the last week. Relief efforts are being organized, finally there is gasoline up in the north, and the roads are being repaired to allow access to the devastated areas. Even the Yakuza (Japanese mafia) is sending up trucks of supplies.
The biggest news here in Japan is the backlash against the over-dramatization of the situation by the western media, Fox news in particular, along with the HuffPost. People have been seeing reports of panic, fleeing and the like, and not seeing that here on the ground. The US Government advises evacuation for people living 50 miles from the nuclear reactors, and has gone on to set up flights out of the country, and trains from Sendai to Tokyo, for US citizens. They advise us to leave the country, the only foreign government that is suggesting this. My friend’s daughter returned from Minneapolis yesterday on a flight only 1/3 occupied. She stretched out across the 5 middle seats. Other friends are returning from a teaching conference in New Orleans, and report similar occupancies.
Meanwhile the cherry is about to blossom. Dad will remember that from 2 years ago. An utterly beautiful time of year here in Japan. I may get an early glimpse of that because I have a meeting for conference planning in Kyushu, the southernmost island tomorrow through Wednesday. Julia has work today, she takes information for insurance claims, and said yesterday was boring, not many accidents, as people were staying in. The train schedules are returning to normal, and there is bread and instant ramen back on the shelves, the only thing missing now is milk.

Earthquake Day 7: Questions Answered

People have been writing back to our family, mostly with support, but also with some questions. I hope this will help.
How far are you from the nuclear plants?
We live west and south of Tokyo. Kawasaki is like Oak Brook to Chicago, or Englewood to Denver. Kawasaki is wedged in between Tokyo and Yokohama, splitting the two with the narrow point at Tokyo Bay, where all the factories are, and the wider part up the river, mostly residential where we live. The nuclear plants are in Fukushima, north and east, just south of Sendai, about 300 km (180 miles) from Tokyo. So we are about 200 miles away from the coast of Fukushima (good map).
Is the Japanese government trustworthy?
When it comes to nuclear accidents, the track record is not very good. Facts were stretched, and important information not disclosed. But that was when Japan had a one-party system (Liberal Democrats..who are very conservative). A second party (Social Democrats…who are not too popular because they have gone back on some promises to support families with kids) is now in power, and has taken a new view toward information. The Assistant Prime Minister Edano has been unfailing in keeping the country up to date so far. I think the Japanese public understand that this is an unprecedented situation, but they do have trust in the government.
Are people leaving Japan in droves?
Although the airports are full, this is normal for this time of year. The school year just finished, and spring vacation means a great exodus anyway. Those fleeing the zones of destruction tend to visit relatives or friends in other parts of Japan. Foreigners are leaving in greater than usual numbers. The UK and Australia are advising movement away from the areas of destruction, but only within Japan. The US is the only one sponsoring flights out of the country for government workers and citizens (to Taiwan, on an Army transport plane, and you have to pay them back at commercial rates). Flights out are from Narita, Tokyo’s international airport (3 hours by train toward the destruction for us), or Nagoya (2 hours away).

When you have electricity, can you point your fans to blow the radiation north and west to cover North Korea?
Good idea.

Do your ATMs take coins?
They certainly do. I went into the bank proper and talked to a real person, a nice young lady (half of our graduates used to become bank clerks), and they took care of my coins. The one bank had their computers down (maybe we should call Jeff Brazel at TierTwo), but all the other banking, finance, stock markets, retail stores and services are trying to get back to normal, with the only thing holding them back are the 3-hour blackouts. So they make announcements “Ladies and Gentlemen, please proceed to the exit, we will be closing in 10 minutes because of blackout.” People are cooperative here. Note that there are 2 main electric grids in Japan. Western Japan (Osaka and west) run on 110v and 60 cycles like the US. Eastern Japan (Tokyo and north) run on 110v and 50 cycles. (US made clocks run slow here in Tokyo.) So the blackouts are mostly in the Tokyo area.

Do you think you might leave if it gets worse?
All three of us are on break between school years. We’ve talked about hopping down to Guam, but just want to wait and see for now. We feel that the probability of any radiation of significant strength making it all the way to Tokyo is close to zero. Up north, that is another story. My friends living just west of Fukushima city moved away for now, just in case. There is one family I know who I can’t get a hold of. Our university has a small retreat facility about 50 miles away from the nuclear facility. They were thinking about selling it last year…too late now.

Was there mismanagement at the nuclear facilities?
The facilities were built up over the years, with the first one being installed by GE, and others by other companies like Toshiba. Tokyo Electric has followed all the government regulations. The 50 guys staying on are seen as heroes right now, and are a result of the Prime Minister putting pressure on Tokyo Electric. The plants may have been constructed too close together. There is a saying here in Japan, “Fix the problem before you fix the blame.” We are still in the first stage on that one.

Is it deserted there?
Even though all the businesses are up and running in Tokyo, the blackouts and uncertainty have caused a great reduction of normal living activity. I liken it to New Year’s here. You wake up on the morning of Jan. 1, eat a very nice (but cold) breakfast and drink some rice wine, and then hang out for 3 days, sitting under the short heated table with a blanket and watch really boring foot races, and contemplate the past year and the year ahead. You eat a lot of tangerines (in season and delicious), and more of the cold food (so the women don’t have to cook). You might venture out to the local hot bath place in the afternoon, but stay at home otherwise. It is kind of like that here. The constant Earthquake coverage on TV is now yielding back to the silly contest shows and melodramatic series. Trains are back up and running at about half the frequency of normal. People will be going out soon.

Are you getting on each other’s nerves?

Maki had us tape up all the windows, then after a shower opens the bathroom to get the steam out. There was a booming sound the other day with the wind, so I had to go buy a fricking ladder and climb up on the roof to see if there might be something loose. I have discovered I don’t really like heights any more. I fall off, try to find an ambulance? Ha. Julia continues to drop her coat on the floor, mistaking it for a hangar. Julia and Maki insist on getting Dexter the cat a harness and leash, and torturing him to try it out in case he needs to go out if there is an earthquake. Me: He’s not a dog. There won’t be enough time to get that on if there is an earthquake. He’s not a toy. Sheesh. Julia: Yeah, but at least we should have some fun preparing for a nuclear explosion.

And complaints from everybody at home. Not out in public, mind you, but at home. Just have to remember we have it really good compared to the people up north. We feel lucky.

How can we help?

There are a lot of organizations out there that are lending support to Japan right now. There are also a lot of fake places accepting money. Stick to the ones you know. Doctors without Borders has been mentioned. While most of the local information is in Japanese, there is ourteacher’s organization that is organizing support on many levels.

Do you see any light at the end of the tunnel?

We are all hoping for a resolution to the nuclear problem soon, and it looks like the reactors are cooling, finally. But the overall effects will be felt for weeks, months and even years. But they are not insurmountable.

Well, better get this off. It is getting dark, and the power will be cut 6-9 tonight. Reading by flashlight under the covers in order. Makes me feel like a kid again. Tomorrow will be in the 70’s. Maybe time try out the new Weber.


Earthquake update Day 6

Six days since the earthquake, and things are looking very uncertain. Last night Julia and I stayed up until about 2 AM watching TV, and then some House and Glee we got off the web.

Julia as Tigger keeping warm
Julia as Tigger keeping warm

We had a much cooler day today, dipping to about 35 degrees (F) at 6 AM when we had our power cut for the first time. Maki had made coffee by then so we had a little warmth as I got up at 7, and as the day progressed. Power on at about 10 AM. We watched in the morning news with the baptism of the reactors by helicopter. It looked very ineffective. It was also just in time for Julia to get up. Maki cleaned and then I took her to the closest shopping center. Shopping here in Tokyo is usually more vertical than horizontal. You get free parking for 2 hours if you spend at least $20 in the stores. The roads were eerily quiet, and for the first time ever, I got a parking place on the bottom of the 8 floors. The bank was having problems with their computers, so I could only deposit the $2,400 in coins (they have a $6 coin in Japan, and Maki has been collecting them for 5 years) to spend on the trip in Hawaii. Have to look forward.

Kevin in reading gear
Kevin in reading gear

I bought cheese from Europe, and we got a wonderful nice warm baguette, as bread has reappeared for the first time since the earthquake. We got back home to turn on the TV to get the announcement that because of the cold weather, people were using too much electricity, and a second black-out was due at 2. I finished off the book “Reality is Broken” by Jane McGonigal, while bundled up and at the window with the most daylight. I reminded Maki that we had lived just like this in China 20 years ago, when volunteer teaching in Nanjing. After the lights came back on at 5 we sat down with a nice bottle of wine, some soup, and the cheese and bread for dinner, and hung around in the kitchen, with the gas heating, to avoid using electricity.

The temblors continued throughout the day, a little wiggle right now, but with 3 significan shakes in the afternoon, all of which were mercifully short, not enough time to get to the door. The electric company guy said that we are still using too much electricity, and they may have to shut off all the power across the area later tonight. Let’s hope people go to sleep early,as Maki has done.

Maki Day 6 with Dexter
Maki Day 6 with Dexter

Now starting the new book by David Brooks about brain, physiology, emotions, and society, called “The Social Animal”. Will curl up under the covers and get up early tomorrow to get stuff done before our blackout from dinner time to 9PM tomorrow. We get blacked out at different times each day. I may ride the bike into my office, which doesn’t have any blackouts (the capital is exempt) to get some work done there.

More worries, but still distant

We got our electricity back in the middle of the night last night. I went to work today. When I returned, I finally was able to see the devastation.

A new worry comes today, but it is still at a significant distance, about 300 miles away.

Radiation in Japan
One of the six power plants next to each other in Fukushima exploded at 4 PM this afternoon. The authorities are still “measuring”, but have expanded the area of evacuation from 10 km to 20 km radius.

Currently the radiation emitting is about 1,000 microseiverts, or 1 seivert, per HOUR. Normally there is about 1 seivert per YEAR. Each Seivert is equal to 100 rems. That is about 10,000 xrays. (1 chest xray = 10 mrem, or .01 rem)

There is a long history of the authorities massaging the data and outright lying to the public in cases like this. We are all watching carefully.

They may have to cut our electricity about 3 hours each day because they have closed most power plants. Nuclear accounts for about a third of electric power in Japan. Gas and water are also rumored to be under discussion for rationing, but those are only rumors.

Foreign Service Language Courses now free

The Foreign Service institute, the school that teaches diplomats languages, has free courses available. These courses were developed with government money and are old enough (before 1989) to be in the public domain. Although dated, these courses include texts (in pdf) and tapes (in mp3), all ported to the Internet by a wonderful non-profit group. Via BoingBoing. The site was mentioned by LifeHacker and so too many people tried to download at the same time. When the servers are available again, you should check it out, or even Czeck it out. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)