Moral Issues

MoralIssuesPew Reports of Global Moral issues. The page itself is a wonderful interface. You can use it to look at how your country compares with others, or use it to focus in on one of the 40 countries that are represented here. Japan, for example, is the most morally accepting of drinking alcohol.

 

Burma Bound

MyanmarSchool3A friend of the family has wrangled me into volunteering as a teacher trainer for a week next January in Myanmar. The group is small, and works through a travel agent and has connections to the Education Network, founded by the National League for Democracy (NLD), the political party founded by Aung San Suu Kyi.

At first, I was a bit apprehensive. I had to raise funding to get there, and stay there, and also find someone else to match that. I was extremely fortunate to ask Frank Berberich, longtime friend, who has recently retired. He immediately signed on, saying he had been looking for something exactly like this.

We are in the process of raising funds now, and getting visas. It looks like we will be training about 100 high school teachers in the Yangon (Rangoon) area. These teachers are part of a network of schools that teach the poorest and most disadvantaged children in Myanmar.

MyanmarSchool2So here I am, an expert in using computers to teach adults languages, and I am going to try to train teachers on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Instead of polite Japanese school girls as students, we will have harried teachers, trying to add to their arsenal of teaching tools, so as to open up Myanmar to the world.

As we approach deadlines and prepare for the training, Frank and I are getting more and more excited. We are going along with 6 others on the trip, and will meet them in Yangon shortly after the new year. I will keep you updated on events as they happen.

Japan a market so mature it is dying

A good friend in the business has been long telling me that Japan is a mature market for language learning books, materials and software. The shrinking commercial areas at language conferences attest to this. Now, another indication I came across this morning. Mindsnacks is a new software for language games, with apps for iPads and iPhones. If you will notice below, we have a nice app for learning English as a Second Language (ESL). The interfaces for learning have lots of different interfaces. If you speak Spanish, Korean or Chinese, and many other languages, you have instructions in your language to learn English. The notable exception? Japanese.

mindsnacks
Koreans and Chinese can use Mindsnacks easily

Crystal Ball Gazing

Looking into the future, or prognosticating, predicting, punditry, or guessing, is a skill. Recent results from a study at Hamilton College shows that some are better than others.

“We discovered that a few factors impacted a prediction’s accuracy.  The first is whether or not the prediction is a conditional; conditional predictions were more likely to not come true.  The second was partisanship; liberals were more likely than conservatives to predict correctly.  The final significant factor in a prediction’s outcome was having a law degree; lawyers predicted incorrectly more often. Partisanship had an impact on predictions even when removing political predictions about the Presidential, Vice Presidential, House, and Senate elections.”

So there you have it. Conservative lawyers are the worst. Liberal economists are the best.