A spinoff in proper "Rhoda" style of my patented e-mail blastograms, this blog was created with the intention of keeping friends and family updated on and amused by my life.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The World Cup of Football: The Invisible Killer

Right now the whole world is viberating with the hot World Cup of Football. Although the every-four-year competitions between excellent teams are exciting and valuable, it's actually an invisible killer threating people's lifes because it resets people's time skedules unscientifically, traggers bloody conflicts, and moreover, it causes dangerous diseases.

The tournament's skedule disrupts people's oridinary work and rest, especially for foreign countries. People have to stay up late at night to watch the match, but they won't have energy to keeping awake in working and studying.

Second, the matches may lead to the increasing violent conflicts between fans. Many fans can't control their emotion when their team fails, they often rely on violence such as beating other fans or wifes.

Third, the exciting matches greatly deteroate people's heath condition. The old people and who have heart attack may easily affected by it. The newspaper says there have been 6 Chinese died suddenly due to the World Cup.

It is clear to conclude that the World Cup is a killer can be easily overlooked, it has affected our life skedule, caused violence, and even killed people. All of us should watch it with a clear mind rather than go crazy to lose in it.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Leaving Haiku

I just love posting work from my students. I like posting good things people say about me even better (yay for shameless self-promotion!). And, one can never miss with haiku. So, posting haiku (which I taught my students how to write last week) about me written by my lovey students was just about a no-brainer! So here it goes:

Jeff with a mild smile
Gets along with us as friends
Sad to say farewell

Years ago you came
Now you're leaving for your home
We wish you good luck

Jeff Knezovich
Who loves his dog very much
Is full of knowledge

American boy
Conscientious, kind-hearted
Popular teacher

Quietly you came
Englightening as winter sun
Quietly you go

Jeff Knezovich
Tall, handsome, even-tempered
Always kind to us

Silently you come
Just like you will leave
Miss you forever

Our English teacher
Two years in China will leave
Please come back again

Jeff, a sexy guy
Always attracts beauties' eye
Bachelors' rival

Jeff Knezovich
Will live with us forever
A patient teacher

Jeff, we will miss you
Although you are in England
Best wishes to you

Sweet smile, witty words
Make difficulties easy
Pity--Jeff leaves us

A humorous guy
Jeff likes playing jokes with us
Is making face now

Tall, strong, handsome Jeff
Talks like a running river
Humourous and kind

Jeff moans in the room
Looks out through the window pane
Say nothing but cry

The man with big smile
Is our benign, clever Jeff
Best wishes to you

Humorous man Jeff
With imaginative head
What a good teacher!

Your bright shinning [sic] smile
Give me the sunshin [sic] of life
Oh, the kindly Jeff!

Beloved Jeff has gone
His image is in our hearts
Miss him forever

And a cinquain to finish it off:

Benign, beloved
Came, taught, went
As dedicated as a candle

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Population Rant

Well, the semester is coming to an end, which means only one thing: GRADING. And that is one thing that I cannot stand for! In that vein, I thought I'd procrastinate by posting to my blog. Today's topic, the world's population problems.

I just read an interesting article in the IHT (where else?) by Philip Bowring entitled "Who will replace us?."

Writing from Tokyo, Bowring explores an interesting problem "plaguing" developed nations, that of decreasing populations. He quite accurately notes that Japan has the oldest population in the world. In fact, several months ago I read an interesting article (again in the IHT, though originally from the NY Times) about one of the first Japanese villages to disappear. The elders of the village got together and sold their land to be used as a waste disposal site (if I remember correctly, which, since I can't read it again due to the NY Times' archiving policy, is going to have to suffice). What sons and daughters these people had had deserted the village for better prospects in neighboring cities. And so it begins.

According to the CIA world factbook, the net growth rate of Japan is 0.05%, with a fertility rate of 1.25 according to Bowring's article. Let's put that in perspective.

In Japan, according to their most recent census (I'm guessing probably in 2000, so the data is a touch old at this point), a baby was born on average every 26 seconds. This is comparable to the birthrate of Iran at 28 seconds per birth. In the US (also in 2000) a baby was born every 8 seconds. In China, every 2 seconds. In India, a new child was born every second!

Of course, this isn't the whole picture. One must consider the rates of death (every 28 seconds in Japan, every 13 in the US, every three seconds in China, every four in India) and the net immigrant rates (basically even in Japan, whereas the US gained an immigrant every 32 seconds, the fastest rate in the world!). This also doesn't necessarily paint a fair picture, because it doesn't take into consideration the size of the original population, so it's hard to compare across countries.

Having said that, the US gained a person every 12 seconds in 2000. In China, they netted a person every 4 seconds. It's every two in India. In Japan, however, it's easier to talk about net gain in minutes. It took just under 8 minutes (476 seconds) to gain a person in 2000, which ain't bad considering South Africa lost a person every four minutes or so. Of course, this rate in Japan has continued to decrease since then.

As Bowring notes, this is a "problem" seen around the world in developed countries. In Europe, Portugal and Italy have fertility rates almost on par with those in Japan. Singapore has an even lower rate, which has caused the government to intervene; beyond heavy advertising and continuing to consider homosexual acts as illegal, the Singaporean government goes as far as to sponsor official matchmaking soirees!

If we look at the decreasing fertility rates in the developed world at a national level, problems are obvious. Bowring mentions the effect of such a problem on the welfare state. In the US, for example, aging baby boomers are getting ready to start collecting their Social Security payments. Of course, the problem is in the system. Instead of using money saved from when these people actually started paying into the system, money paid in today is paid out today. It's a system that works great when there are more younger people entering the workforce than older people leaving it. But, with a top-heavy (old-heavy?) society, there is no monetary base to support such a system.

In many Eastern countries where welfare is not as prevalent, it still poses problems. There is a heavy strain on middle-aged Chinese today who must take care of their aging parents by themselves. Work cannot be passed on to other siblings, as there aren't any others thanks to decades under the One-Child Policy.

And in terms of nationalistic pride, imagining a world where one's country no longer exists because people failed to make enough babies to keep it going is less than comforting.

However, I think it's important to look at this so-called population "problem" on a larger, more global scale. In the last century, the world's population has increased exponentially. The fact of the matter is that the world, and indeed every ecosystem, can only support a certain number of beings. If I remember UN statistics correctly (which is questionable), it is estimated that the world's population will peak somewhere between 8.5-13 billion people. If we're on the higher end of that estimate, we're looking at roughly twice the population of the world today!

Though statistically I believe it is hard to prove global warming at this point (30 years of data out of 4.55 billion years of existence is hardly enough to declare a trend!), it doesn't absolve humans from being considerate shepherds of Mother Earth. The fact of the matter is, though Earth can certainly handle more people, it would be irresponsible to allow its overpopulation, not only on an environmental level but also with consideration to humanity itself. Living in China has helped me to appreciate what it's like to live in cramped quarters (remember, China is roughly equivalent in size to the US but has over 4 times the population!), and likewise, to appreciate those remote areas where there is nobody else within 15 meters of you. I would hate to see all refuges gone.

Now, to be clear, I'm not advocating for population controls such as China's One-Child Policy. Rather, I'd encourage people to, instead of considering a decreasing population a problem, look at the larger picture and consider it as a goal to strive for (I'm looking at you, India). The world should be congratulating countries like Singapore and Japan which are helping to reduce future problems related to pollution and consumption simply by doing their part to help decrease future populations!