Category Archives: General

Battle for the Net is today!

Today is a very important day for the internet. Net neutrality is vitally important to us, and to you. The concept relates to our digital rights as published by the Global Trust Centre. Net neutrality, they say, is our access to information (see Rights and Responsibilities for Citizens in the Digital World). Net neutrality was never really embodied in law in many countries around the world, as it was just assumed by default, but it was enshrined in law in some countries including the US. However, some governments have censored the internet and the most famous is the “Great Firewall of China”. The United States government is considering ending net neutrality, and allowing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to slow or even block traffic from particular websites. This is effectively allowing commercially decided censorship in the United States. The ramifications are that websites like Winjeel.Com could be blocked if US based ISPs wanted to demand a ransom. Ending net neutrality would also set a dangerous precedent, where other countries may follow suit.

Consequently, the Fight for the Future and Demand Progress digital rights groups, and over 70,000 internet-based companies are protesting the US process of ending net neutrality. If you support net neutrality, I strongly urge you to add your name to this petition on the Battle for the Net.

How does a teacher spend his holidays?

A lot of people think that teaching is a great job. You work for a while, and then you get long holidays. In fact, the opposite is true. In Japan, the academic year runs from April to January the following year, which means the holidays is but a week away now. During semester, most teachers work nearly seven days a week during semester. We spend our free time marking student work, planning, preparing, and getting ahead on tasks. Actually, for the first few weeks of each semester I struggle to keep my head above water with all the tasks that need to be done. So, what about holidays?

Person holding coffee cup. CC0 PicJumbo.com, https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-holding-white-ceramic-teacup-in-front-of-a-macbook-pro-210658/
Person holding coffee cup. CC0 PicJumbo.com, https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-holding-white-ceramic-teacup-in-front-of-a-macbook-pro-210658/

The holiday time is a busy time for me. A point lost on a lot of people. They work Monday to Friday, from nine to five, and when they leave work, they completely stop thinking about work. In contrast, I have research to do. I have syllabuses to prepare. I have exams to mark and submit. I have reading to do (reading about the latest educational psychology theories), and so forth. However, most importantly, I have write my thesis and try to get published. Consequently, when the holidays come, it’s not a relief for me, it’s a chance to catch up on the things I need to do.

Voice actors needed

Four voice actors needed to help produce dialogues for classroom materials.
Date: Thursday 15th (9am – 3pm), or Sunday 18th September (11am – 5pm, may be flexible), or Sunday 25th September (11am to 5pm).
Location: Nanzan University.
Role: Voice actors.
Pay: ¥5,000 to ¥8,000 (depending on skills).
Transportation fee: Maximum (about) ¥500 each way.
Others: Additional work may be required in 2017. Voice actors will need to sign an industry standard talent release form (available only in English).

Studio mixing audio board. CC0 by Grupo Glam For 2016, https://www.pexels.com/photo/studio-mixing-audio-board-38125/
Studio mixing audio board. CC0 by Grupo Glam For 2016, https://www.pexels.com/photo/studio-mixing-audio-board-38125/

Applicants
Age: 18 to about 29
Gender: 2 Males & 2 females. Preferred: one male and one female native speakers (of any region), and one male Korean and one female Chinese speakers of English with very good or near native-like pronunciation (the female Chinese speaker can be from China, Hong Kong, Macao, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, etc).
English skills: Very good to native-like pronunciation.
Other skills: Voice acting skills, especially able to use a range of emotions.
Other info: Preferred: people who are likely to stay in Nagoya for more than a year for additional work. May need to meet for a brief interview and script reading on Friday 9th Sept, or Thursday 15th Sept. Contact me for details of application including what voice sample files are required for application.

Deadline:  Applications accepted until positions are filled. Contact Andrew Blyth via the email address here to apply and for more information.

Managing Stress

Stress is a normal part of life. Having too much and too little is damaging. We need to have a work-life balance to live normally. This means we need about a third (⅓) of the day work, ⅓ play (family & friends), and ⅓ sleep. If this balance is different, then you will have problems managing stress. This presentation is a brief introduction to stress and how to manage it. This presentation was given at the annual meeting of Aichi Gogaku Volunteers on the 18th June 2016.

Presentation slides & notes: Stress Managing in everyday life.pdf.

CC0 Startup Stock Photos 2014, from https://www.pexels.com/photo/notes-macbook-study-conference-7102/.
CC0 Startup Stock Photos 2014, from https://www.pexels.com/photo/notes-macbook-study-conference-7102/.

What is stress? Selye was a famous psychologist who studied stress. He said:

“Nowadays, everyone seems to be talking about stress. You hear it not only in daily conversation, but also through television, radio, the newspapers and the constantly increasing number of conferences, stress centres, and university courses that are devoted to the topic… The businessman thinks of it as frustration or emotional tension, the air traffic controller as a problem in concentration, the biochemist and endocrinologist as a purely chemical event, the athlete as muscular tension. This list could be extended to almost every human experience or activity, and somewhat surprisingly, most people… think of their own occupation as being the most stressful. Similarly, most of us believe that ours is “the age of stress”, forgetting that the caveman’s fear of being attacked by wild animals while he slept, or dying from hunger, cold, or exhaustion, must have been just as stressful as our fear of a world war, the crash of the stock exchange, overpopulation or the unpredictability of the future.”

– Hans Selye (1907 – 1983, cited in Walker, Burnham, & Borland, 1994, p704).

Walker, M., Burnham, D., & Borland, R. (1994) Psychology, 2nd Edition. John Wiley & Sons.

28th Jan is Data Privacy Day

I didn’t know there was such a thing called “Data Privacy Day” until I got an email from the CEO from Tresorit, sent to all his service’s users. What is interesting is that privacy’s such an important concept that ensures freedom of speech and democracy, but Data Privacy Day has never been talked about in the media, at least, I’ve never seen it in the media, and so today was the first time I’ve heard of it.

Why is data protection and privacy important? It protects journalists who wish to report on corrupt politicians, or wish to inform the public of the illicit deals politicians make. It protects journalists and allows them to inform us of significant events that affect the quality of our democracy. And it’s not just journalists who need protection, it’s us too.

HackNY Spring 2013 Student Hackathon. CC Matylda Czarnecka 2013. https://flic.kr/p/edufZT
HackNY Spring 2013 Student Hackathon. CC Matylda Czarnecka 2013. https://flic.kr/p/edufZT

George Bush junior used the phrase that if you’ve done nothing wrong, then you’ve got nothing to hide. An American friend of mine echoes this saying, “I’ve got nothing to hide, so if it helps to catch terrorists, then great”. However, not one single terrorist has ever been caught from a dragnet mass surveillance programme. Not one single terrorist plot, we know of, has ever been prevented. We see that terrorist groups are still able to recruit members openly on the internet and spread their propaganda. We see journalists and their sources arrested. Instead of an erosion of our enemies, we see an erosion of our freedoms and democracies (see The Guardian, The Hill, Wired). So, safe, secure access to information and communication is important.

It’s not just an issue with a belligerent government; criminal groups do exploit unsecured communications. Consider your Amazon account, your bank’s online access, your eBay account, too. I’d like to bet you use an email service like Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo and the like, or even the Apple iCloud system. All of which have been hacked, and passwords obtained and identities stolen (BBC, The Guardian). Thus allowing the criminals to spend your money, or just steal information that may be damaging to your reputation. Consequently, a secure internet is important.

Credit Card Theft, CC Don Hankins 2007, https://flic.kr/p/3qTLZW
Credit Card Theft, CC Don Hankins 2007, https://flic.kr/p/3qTLZW

How can the internet be secured? http://fried.com/privacy/ has a long list of over 150 tools you can use to secure your interaction with the internet and keep you safe. In short, you really must have at least these:

  • Encrypted email (like ProtonMail), especially to protect your SNS passwords
  • Encrypted cloud storage (like Tresorit, TeamDrive)
  • Encrypted messaging service (like Threema or CryptoCat)
  • Avoid Facebook
  • Use Firefox with Blur and HTTPS Everywhere (I think not all of these are compatible with each other).
  • A Virtual Private Network (VPN)
  • Avoid using your real name on most social networks like Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and others.

Why avoid FaceBook? I’ve written before that it’s just the most creepy organisation there is. The CEO of Tresorit reminds us of this with this simple quote (https://tresorit.com/data-privacy-day):

Facebook conducted a massive psychological experiment on 689,003 users, manipulating their news feeds to assess the effects on their emotions. – Forbes, 2014

I hope you don’t want to be controlled in the future. They also see your data to companies, which results in targeted advertising.

Arrested for a Facebook post

Next month I have an article that’s going to be published called Social Media Ethics in English Language Teaching in The JALT CALL Journal (my publications). One of the key points in it is that there can be repercussions for people if a conservative society does not like what they post. This story of two reporters who where arrested for posting on Facebook a story of financial incompetence illustrates that point chilling well. See Human Rights Watch, Mozambique: Two men facing trial for a Facebook post. You can support the the journalists by writing to the Minister of Justice and the Public Prosecutor to demand their release.

Internet censorship. Image CC from OpenSource.Com, at https://flic.kr/p/aZbzAx
Internet censorship. Image CC from OpenSource.Com, at https://flic.kr/p/aZbzAx

Blog action day

As apart of my support for WalkFree.Org, is today’s call to action. If you’re able to read this, then I can say that everyday we live our lives happily and comfortably. We wake up, have a nice breakfast, get dressed in nice clothes, take safe and nice public transport, and then go to a nice job or university to work or study. The people around us are nice, cooperative and respectful. However, that is true if you’re able to read this. You’re probably reading this on your smartphone or computer, two devices that are ubiquitous for rich people. Actually, according to WalkFree.Org, 28 million people globally are enslaved, about 80,000 people in Japan are enslaved. Most of these enslaved are probably factory workers under Prime Minister Abe’s foreign worker training programme, women brought to Japan as “entertainers”, and even Japanese women brought into via the hostess industry. These people lack the freedom to communicate to friends or family, and are forced to work, packing boxes, making clothes, packing food, many things that make your life nice and comfortable. They get little or no salary. These people work here in Japan, and in every country around the world.

Blog Action Day 2014.
Blog Action Day 2014.

Does this really affect you? Do you like to go shopping at Zara? Do you have a Nintendo? Zara sources its cotton from Uzbek slaves. Nintendo uses minerals to make its devices from slave labour mines. And remember, slaves that make some of your clothes, electronic devices, and other things, can be as young as 6 years old. Learn more here, WalkFree.Org.

People protesting against Zara.
People protesting against Zara.

No welfare for Permanent Residents in Japan

This matter is so vitally important for so many reasons. Permanent Resident is an official visa status. Being a Permanent Resident allows a person to take out bank loans, have credit cards, live independently, seek work independently, and all the legal benefits of a Japanese citizens, but they are not allowed to vote. Even though Permanent Residents pay taxes, contribute to the welfare and benefit of Japan, Permanent Residents cannot choose who to democratically represent them. However, here is this court ruling that will have serious repercussions, I’m sure. The Japan Times reports that Permanent Residents are no eligible for welfare benefits, even if they are retired and poor, and paid a lifetime of taxes to this country, they are effectively discarded (Japan Times). The repercussions are that long-term experts will be discouraged from staying, which affects Japanese company’s abilities to recruit experts that are not locally available. It also means that people like me, education experts, should in fact be looking for permanent work in any other country but here. That means, only inexperienced young people will remain, but other countries will benefit from having experienced and highly knowledgeable experts. It also means that as Japan’s populations shrink, it will not be able to effectively recruit anyone who can stay in the country to take care of the elderly in nursing homes. Oh well. Japan is allowed to ruin it’s future if it wants. It sadly seems that the supreme court has not taken into consideration human rights issues, moral issues, nor a long term view and repercussions of its decision.

Weather: Sunny today!

It’s going to be Sunny in Nagoya today, with a high of 11°C and a low of 1°C, and it’s currently 7°C. Today’s humidity will be 76%, and the UV index will be 0.0, with Northwest wind at 48km/h. Sunrise on March 14, 2014 at 06:05AM and sunset will be at March 14, 2014 at 05:58PM. Enjoy your day.

This report was automatically generated at 6.45am (+9GMT) from IFTTT. For more information see the Japan Meteorlogical Agency website.