I’m a 4 Green on the Green/green spectrum, measured from 1 to 5 like this:
1. Feral greens – it’s a crime to vote.
2. Fringe Greens – coalitions with other parties are anathema to be considered only after an election.
3. Middling Greens – moving between categories 2 and 4.
4. Realist Greens – coalitions are needed to achieve green ends.
5. National Party greens who probably belong to Forest and Bird and wish the Nationals would be nice to the environment.
Years ago we lost a local government election by 16 votes. I blamed the feral greens of whom there were many in our networks. The National Party and their property developer mates gleefully rolled back our reforms and hacked away at the social structure and environment with dollars signs in their eyes and hatred in their hearts.
Don’t get me wrong. Elsevier isn’t the only publisher infamous for publishing fake research, fake journals and generally trying to extract super-profits from academics. But today it has shot itself in the face in spectacular fashion.
It has forced the removal of an academic paper on academica.edu who then said “Academia.edu is committed to enabling the transition to a world where there is open access to academic literature. Elsevier takes a different view, and is currently upping the ante in its opposition to academics sharing their own papers online.” (my italics)
I don’t think you need me to paraphrase, but why not, it’s so much fun? “We, Elsevier, are a bunch of stupid dinosaurs wearing King Canute clothing.” I wish I could draw a cartoon of that.
And let’s not forget, a huge bulk of this research has already been paid for by taxpayers.
Now for some history.
Elsevier and Merck Published Fake Journals – Merck paid an undisclosed sum to Elsevier to produce several volumes of a publication that had the look of a peer-reviewed medical journal, but contained only reprinted or summarized articles–most of which presented data favorable to Merck products.
Elsevier, Wolters Kluwer, and Sage all accepted bogus science papers – One paper was so bad that a science review said, “I thought it was a joke.”
Elsevier admits it publishes 6 fake journals – Journals sponsored by pharmaceutical companies pretending to look like medical journals: Australasian Journal of Neurology, Australasian Journal of Cardiology, Australasian Journal of Clinical Pharmacy, Australasian Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine, Australasian Journal of Bone & Joint [Medicine]
Now for some good news: Lots of scientists have pledged they will not publish with Elsevier, referee for Elsevier, or do editorial work for Elsevier.
Good. I now make my own pledge I will continue to do whatever I can to support Elsevier shooting itself in the face!
Someone asked me about the Pimsleur method of learning a language. No, I didn’t use it and cannot see the point of hearing stuff in my own language. Though with a good teacher “substitution drills” are fine. Also, learning to read, particularly with Chinese is a totally different skill to learning to speak.
I began learning Chinese when I enrolled in night-school in Sydney in 1984 at Sydney Institute of Technical and Further Education (TAFE). As a kid learning about Orwell’s 1984, that date had always seemed impossibly far away. Once a week for a couple of hours we had a teacher and a language lab. The lab work focused on hearing tones. The text was something along the lines of “Chinese 300″ which was 300 sentences in 10 chapters of situations like: personal introductions, restaurant, directions, buying tickets, buying stuff at shops etc. The teachers were a tag team – Madeleine Lee and her husband Philip. Thanks guys, you were great.
I used to drive to and from work at the jail, 1/2 hour each way. I had the Chinese 300 cassette tape in the car and I recited along together with it as I drove. I must have looked funny in the car talking to myself. But by the end of 8 months, before I left to go to China, I could recite the whole tape like a parrot. (请问，到汽车站怎么走？Can you tell me the way to the bus stop please.) After I got to China I could ask simple stuff. The problem was understanding the replies.
Before I left I wrote to four or five institutions in Beijing which offered Chinese programs for foreigners. I got one written response from Beijing Normal Teachers College 北京师范学院 (now Beijing Normal University) which was non-committal. But Madeleine and Philip told me that it was very important because it was a formal letter from them to me, it was on their letterhead and it had opened communications between us. So I set out.
I flew to Hong Kong and caught the train to Beijing. In HK I bought the best little cassette recorder you could get at that time. I arrived at the school’s accommodation on a Sunday afternoon, showed the fuwuyuan (服务员) receptionist the letter, which flummoxed her, but a student passing by persuaded her and the caretaker she consulted to rent me a room for the night so that that it could be sorted out next day. I was in! And I had had my first lesson in guanxi and Chinese generosity! Next morning they asked me how long I wanted to stay and I said I wasn’t sure, but I booked a week to try it out. I ended up staying six weeks before I went off travellling. There were only 4 other foreign students there! For some classes I had one to one tuition. Now there are hundreds and they’ve built a new building for them.
Back then we were housed in the ‘Foreign Experts’ accommodation. The first thing I did was to get the fuwuyuan waitress to read out the restaurant blackboard menu onto my tape recorder. I then learned to recite the menu by listening, winding back the tape, speaking, and repeating the whole process. I copied her as exactly as I could. I vividly remember parts of the menu to this day (chicken cubes and roasted cashews 宫爆鸡丁) and say them with her lilting intonation even now.
At one time I wanted to buy a little fruit knife and went confidently off to the shops. They had no idea what I was talking about. These days many Chinese people are much more used to foreigners mangling the language and can guess what they are trying to say. So it was back to my tutor, learn the sentence properly with the right tones and try again.
My biggest aid was the tape recorder and my personal notebook of phrases and vocab.
I set out to learn the days of the week, months, numbers, family relations (every Chinese person I met wanted to know about my family), jobs and income. Oh, and most importantly I wanted to learn how to ask questions about the language. Vital was 请你再说慢一点 – Could you please say it again slowly. I quickly learned not to tell the truth about my income because the income disparity between ordinary Chinese people and me (from a wealthy western nation) was astronomical. One guy, trying to figure out our relative wealth, asked me how many donkeys I owned – I think I said four. The idea of a personal car was unthinkable. When I told someone about high-rise buildings of fifty stories and high-speed elevators, they seriously thought I was deranged – it was so far out of their ken. I remember flicking a spent biro into the bin and my tutor being horrified. She just as quickly retrieved it and showed me that in China they take out the little plastic ink tube and replace only that. Likewise when I got back to sleepy little Australia sitting quietly down in the remote Pacific with six jets at the terminal, and then I tried to tell people about population pressures, pollution, etc, it was beyond their ken.
From the very beginning in China I arranged tutors (students usually) who could drill me on Minimal Pairs. Some tutors weren’t very patient with this, because it can be a hard boring slog. Eventually I found the right person. I remember in one of the formal classes asking the teacher to teach me how to use a Chinese dictionary. She refused, saying I wasn’t ready. I stopped going to her class and found another class. Boy was she mad. She stormed into the class I had checked myself into and ranted and raved. It was my first big lesson in “loss of face”. She lost heaps of face because I had spurned her class and no one had ever done that before. The teacher in the new class took a communicative approach with listening and substitution drills and was brilliant.
After six weeks in school I travelled around in China for six weeks, unconsciously taking pretty much the same route as in all the language dialogues I’d learnt. Then, back in Australia, TAFE let me skip a year in their Chinese program. At the end of the year I was back in China for another three months – this time I simply got a shared room in the foreign students dormitory at 北京语言学院 Beijing Languages Institute (now Beijing Languages University) where I had a contact – more guanxi. I then lined up my own personal tutors. I used to tape sentences from them, and from the local radio and do the old wind back and listen trick. The radio was a bit too hard for me but was great for learning numbers (the Chinese love statistics, even though a lot of them in the political and economic realm are completely fabricated). I soon found a structured book of newspaper readings with vocab lists. I have to say that China is amazing with the range of resources for learning Chinese which are available, especially compared to Indonesia or other parts of Asia, or Latin America.
Later on I used “Business 900″ (same idea as “Chinese 300″) and learned lots of business and trade stuff as I began to prepare for NAATI exams. By this time there had begun to be neat little computer programs where you could set the wind-back time to the number of seconds you wanted. And I remember now that tiny mp3 players were coming into use and they were pretty nifty.
All in all, it was hard work. I remember describing my wife as a “mandarin widow” because she would go out with friends or to films and I would stay at home learning Chinese.
It was only in about Year 3 of my studies that I decided the time was right to begin seriously learning Chinese characters – the next project was going to be learning to read. I wanted to be able to sit near the fire at night and curl up with a good book. During the night-classes I had paid lip-service and pretended I was learning to write Chinese characters, which was what they all believed in, but I had decided to myself that I wanted to speak first and read second. Years later before a trip to Japan, I spent time with the Lonely Planet Japanese Phrase Book and audio and learned off the phrases like a parrot using the same method of listen, speak, wind back, listen, speak, wind back. It served me well.
But before I close, I must pay the highest tribute to my teacher Sue Tang in Canberra. By the early 1990′s Joanna and I had become bureaucrats and I enrolled in lunch time reading classes with Sue at the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). She was brilliant. Thanks Sue!! With her (no thanks to AusAID which tried its darnedest to stop me) I got a great boost and was able to sit the DFAT test and soon after the NAATI test, gaining accrediation as a professional Chinese to English translator.
I was an English language teacher before becoming a professional Chinese to English translator. That doesn’t make what follows right, but I think the science is on my side. I know some will argue, but unless you have hard science, not personal anecdote, could you please avoid posting on this issue, as I’m pretty busy.
Grammar versus structure
1. Never ever use a grammar-based approach. Learn language “structures”, yes; grammar, no. You can learn structures with a teacher or textbook or by recognising them for yourself. Your brain will often do it automatically without your knowledge. Anyone who wants to teach you grammar is on the wrong track. So, now that I’ve got that out of the way, let me qualify it slightly. It may sometimes be useful to know the differences between verbs, nouns and adjectives. When your vocabulary is ahead of your ability to decode structures, then you’ve already made good strides in the language. Now you need to listen more, read more, speak more (and ask questions to clarify). Grammar is for linguists, not for people wanting to speak a second language. Think of driving a car; you don’t need to be a mechanic to drive a car. You don’t need to know the past perfect tense or the pluperfect tense (and grammarians like to argue about that) to know what ‘I had arrived before she left’ means.
Minimal Pair (MP)
2. Your second language will probably have sounds in it that are not in your language. Your ear may not even hear the difference. You need a good teacher to help you hear, then produce, the sounds. This can involve learning new ways to place lips and tongue. To hear and produce the sounds, a “minimal pair” (MP) is the ONLY way. An MP is two items which sound the same to a non-native speaker, but which are actually quite different and simple for a native speaker. An MP sets up two items which are pretty close ie minimally different. Your aim is first to hear the difference, then reproduce the difference. Here’s how a typical MP session works. The teacher writes down the MP. It can be two sounds, words, tones (for tonal languages), phrases or sentences. The teacher says one of the MP at random and the student points to which one they hear. AFTER the student can hear the difference correctly, the student says them at random and the teacher points to what they hear. After the teacher can hear correctly what the student is trying to say, then you’ve probably made a good start. It takes patience and some native speakers who aren’t familiar with MPs cannot believe that you cannot hear the difference or speak the difference.
3. Practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect. Ten minutes working hard on one sentence again and again is much better than twenty minutes on 40 sentences. Here’s how a good session goes. Listen to the sentence a few times. Your software must allow you to slow it down if you need to. You should break it up into smaller pieces and listen again and again, trying to figure it out. Then and only then, check the written copy. NOW it’s time for you to speak. Listen once more then speak the item. Listen again to see if you think it sounds right (once you are a little advanced and you’ve mastered MPs for the items in the sentence, this should be ok to do without the teacher). Listen and speak the item again. If it’s a sentence you might want to start with just the first few words. Repeat these, and each time through, add the next word or phrase. Listen/speak. Listen/speak. Let me say again, ten minutes on one sentence can actually be very valuable. Don’t skimp on the speaking, even if it sounds like a waste of time. One day you’ll find yourself speaking the same words or, more importantly, “structures” and sentences you’ve made up, and you won’t know where it has come from. It will be perfect and your brain will have figured it out for itself. I once got great marks in a grammar-based test without having a clue about the grammar. My brain knew what “sounded” right.
4. This can be a lot more tricky than you think. Reading is an active process. Your brain guesses what it expects then you read the rest of a sentence to see if you were right: it’s automatic. The aim is to keep up the pace. Force yourself on a bit to extract some meaning. Don’t worry about every little vocab item or confusing structure. Think of reading a pretty bad Google Translate piece; you can get the idea, even though there are gaps. What you are aiming for is fluency, not word for word slow translation in your head. If you’ve done speed-reading training you will have a good start. Once again, your brain will be learning more than you think. You’ll reach a new plateau; you’ll level off and think progress has stopped, then suddenly there will be another jump. This applies to listening too.
5. Revision is the key. Time spent on solid revision is time well spent. The more you progress, the greater the ratio of revision to new learning you need. Set yourself a revision cycle and stick to it. Best is to revise new stuff a few minutes after you learn it, then a few hours later or the next day, then a week, then a month etc. Keep a notebook and make sure you use it.
It is puerile, infantile and destructive of community.
Yes Mr Calthorpe has been convicted.
But if you seriously think that making disparaging remarks about his personal appearance, if you seriously think that your crowing about him spending 2 years in jail for non-violent crime is a good idea, then I suggest you have not bothered to research what you are talking about: criminology.
Have a read of a great New Zealander’s book: Professor John Pratt, Contrasts in Punishment: An Explanation of Anglophone Excess and Nordic Exceptionalism (Routledge, ISBN: 9780415524735). Then you might understand that prisons should be an absolute last resort and even then should be totally redesigned. Then you might understand that prisons, as they are known in New Zealand, are wasting our money and destroying our society.
If you want to live in a New Zealand where your sort of hate speech is used to rouse up righteous ill-informed anger, if you want to live in a New Zealand where the anti-science fools of the Sensible Sentencing Trust can ignore the research, if you want to live in an eye-for-an-eye society – you just go right ahead with stupidity like your page on Mr Calthorpe.
In the meantime, why don’t you try to stick to your business and try to make trademe a decent site for all New Zealanders instead of a nasty money-grubbing monopoly totally unconcerned with responding to customer needs.
I write to complain formally about your reporting about the Department of Conservation (DoC) deciding to submit a short submission versus an earlier longer draft submission on the proposed Ruataniwha Dam in Hawke’s Bay. The final DoC Submission, unlike the earlier draft, expressed concern about Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s plan, or otherwise, to manage water quality as a result of cow manure.
You have breached the broadcasting standards: 4 (Controverisal Issues – Viewpoints), 5 (Accuracy) 6 (Fairness) and 8 (Responsible Programming).
My complaint relates to two phrases. 1. Your radio broadcasts and webpages have used the phrase “version of events”. You have stated variously that DoC or DoC’s Doris Johnson “backed Dr Smith’s version of events”. 2. You report that DoC or Doris Johnson say Nick Smith “did not know about the submission until Tuesday”. This is clearly spin in your reporting – knowing about and seeing a document are clearly two different things and you have no quote, to my knowledge, that any DoC representative said Nick Smith did not “know” about the longer draft submission. Your quote from Doris is “”He never saw the draft submission.” Lazy reporting to confuse the knowing and seeing. And not only lazy but a breach of standards.
This “version of events” reporting clearly sets up a dichotomy between differing versions of events, notably that of Nick Smith versus Russel Norman of The Greens.
Apart from it being lazy and inaccurate journalism, the phrase covers many items which comprime the “events”.
DOC or its spokespeople did not address their comments to all the “events” and so cannot be taken to support anybody’s “version” above anybody else’s version.
Your reporting clearly leaves listeners with the wrong impression that Russel Norman is wrong and DoC supports Nick Smith’s “version of events”.
I understand that the “version of events” wording was used by your journalist Dean Bedford despite other journalists saying that such lazy phraseology was against your guidelines.
Eddie Bosomworth was a well known custom New Zealand frame builder. His ambition was to make bikes good enough to be used at the Commonwealth and Olympic Games.
An industry source said that Bosomworth sold the “Bosomworth” naming rights to Frank Clavis, currently at Velomaster. You can check Frank’s reputation elsewhere. My summary, which I’m happy to be corrected on, is that Frank is probably a better frame builder than businessman.
Anyway, my same industry source says Frank then imported a couple of hundred Chinese-made tandems and put the Bosomworth label on them. Charming.
These tandems are junk. The wheels buckle over the first bump and have non-cassette hubs (so the axle bends more easily too). The cranks are one-piece kiddies style. The drop outs are thin pressed steel. They have six or seven gears and the chain drive is all on one side. You don’t usually go touring on a tandem like this.
If you want a cheap simple tandem bike to ride gingerly then this might be the bike for you.
One industry guy said a strongly laced tandem wheel with a cassette hub will make a lot of difference, but I don’t know enough to judge this. Another industry expert I respect said that would be ok but you are left with the problem of “flimsy pressed steel dropouts”. He couldn’t say how long they would last. If you know, let me know!
My wife summed it up and deserves the last word, only on this occasion: “So you can’t really call them a Bosomworth, can you?”