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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 78420 times)
WingsofCrystal
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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #4830 on: Aug 19th, 2011, 1:09pm »

on Aug 19th, 2011, 12:49pm, Iˈrônçəs wrote:
Just a soul-lightening song from gentler times long past...well it is for me anyway. grin





Thank you Iˈrônçəs and Hello!

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« Reply #4831 on: Aug 19th, 2011, 1:19pm »

Geeky Gadgets

Sony Digital Binoculars Can Record 3D Video And Snap Photos
By Julian Horsey
Friday 19th August 2011 1:28 pm
in Gadgets


Sony has unveiled a new range of digital binoculars in the form of the DEV3 and DEV5 this week. The DEV Digital Binoculars are equipped with a two electronic eyepieces replacing the light-folding optical prism thats fitted to standard binoculars.

The DEV3 & 5 are also constructed using Exor R CMOS sensors supported by BIONZ image processors, fitted behind a matched pair of precision G Lens optics. The using this new technology the DEV3 and DEV5 Sony digital binoculars provide enhanced image quality while viewing at higher zoom levels.


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They are also equipped with a recording mode that allows you to capture exactly what’s being seen through the viewfinders in either 2D 1920×1080 AVCHD 2.0 format, or as 3D footage for playback on compatible TVs via the included HDMI port.

Sony has included the same Optical SteadyShot technology that is used in its Handycam and Cyber-shot cameras. With the DEV-3 offering 10x optical zoom, and the DEV-5 increasing that to 20x digital zoom.

Both models will be arriving in the US during November and will be $1,400 for the DEV 3 and $2,000 for the DEV 5 model.

http://www.geeky-gadgets.com/sony-digital-binoculars-can-record-3d-video-and-snap-photos-19-08-2011/

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« Reply #4832 on: Aug 20th, 2011, 08:20am »

Reuters

Moody's managers pressured analysts: ex-staffer

By Sarah N. Lynch
WASHINGTON | Fri Aug 19, 2011 4:50pm EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An ex-Moody's Corp derivatives analyst said the credit-rating agency intimidated and pressured analysts to issue glowing ratings of toxic complex, structured mortgage securities.

In a 78-page letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission, William Harrington outlined how the committees that make the ratings decisions are not independent and how managers often intimidated analysts.

"The management of Moody's, the management of Moody's Corporation and the board of Moody's Corporation are squarely responsible for the poor quality of previous Moody's opinions that ushered in the financial crisis," he wrote.

"The track record of management influence in committees speaks for itself -- it produced hollowed-out (collateralized debt obligation) opinions that were at great odds with the private opinions of committees and which were not durable for even a short period after publication," he added.

Harrington's August 8 letter, which was sent in response to a 517-page proposal by the SEC on credit-rating regulations, raises similar issues that are already at the heart of a Justice Department probe into McGraw-Hill's Standard & Poor's.

"We cannot emphasize strongly enough the importance Moody's places on the quality of our ratings and the integrity of our ratings process," said Moody's Corp spokesman Michael Adler. "For that very reason, we have robust protections in place to separate the commercial and analytical aspects of our business, and our ratings are assigned by a committee -- not by any individual analyst."

The Justice Department has been looking into what S&P analysts wanted to do with ratings during the financial crisis, and what they were told to do, according to one source familiar with the matter.

A second source has said the department also has been investigating Moody's in connection with structured product ratings during the crisis, although the exact focus on that probe is unclear.

Earlier this year, a U.S. Senate panel led by Michigan Democrat Carl Levin found that Moody's and S&P helped trigger the financial crisis after the two rating agencies gave overly positive ratings to toxic mortgage-related products and then later downgraded those ratings en masse.

Last year's Dodd-Frank Wall Street overhaul law tightens regulations for raters, including improving the transparency of the methodology used and curbing potential conflicts of interest. The SEC in May issued a proposal seeking comments on many of the Dodd-Frank provisions on rating agencies.

Harrington, who said he worked as an analyst in the derivatives group from 1999 until July 2010, said he thinks that if the SEC's proposed rules had been in place in 2002, they would still not have gotten to the heart of the problems at Moody's.

"Many of the proposed rules still give more license to the management of Moody's to step up its long-standing intimidation and harassment of analysts, to the detriment of opinion formation," he said.

(Additional reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/19/us-sec-moodys-idUSTRE77I6C320110819

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« Reply #4833 on: Aug 20th, 2011, 12:28pm »

Geek Tyrant

Crazy Promo Art for AMERICAN HORROR STORY
20 August 2011
by Venkman

This new FX series American Horror Story looks insanely crazy, and that's why I think it's going to be awesome. The network has released this great sinisterly unpleasant promo poster for the upcoming new series. If you haven't seen the teaser trailer yet, you should check it out: http://geektyrant.com/news/2011/8/19/creepy-teaser-trailer-for-fxs-america-horror-story.html
it's got a great creepy vibe.



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The series has been described as a psychosexual thriller, that centers on a therapist and his wife who, dealing with the aftermath of the husband's adultery, move along with their kids into a new house that seems to know all about their fears and plays on them.

The series premieres October 5th. What do you think of the promo poster?

http://geektyrant.com/news/2011/8/20/crazy-promo-art-for-american-horror-story.html

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« Reply #4834 on: Aug 20th, 2011, 12:33pm »

Wired

Navigating the Puzzle of Google Street View ‘Authorship’
By Pete Brook
August 19, 2011 | 10:25 am
Categories: Internet, Public Domain, Street Shooting


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Left: Michael Wolf; right: Jon Rafman.


During the research for Raw File’s gallery earlier this week, Google’s Mapping Tools Spawn New Breed of Art Projects, I noticed several seemingly identical images in the projects of Jon Rafman and Michael Wolf. But in my discussions with the artists, I found it interesting that they considered them completely different images, altered by their own hand.

I decided to explore how a casual observer who hasn’t spent years thinking about authorship, photography and the nature of art and artist may dismiss the images as obviously identical, but an art history buff could fall down the conceptual rabbit hole lurking in that assumption. If you’re as intrigued as I was, take the red pill with me and read on. (Warning: No intellectual lifeguard on duty.)

Rafman’s Nine Eyes and Wolf’s A Series of Unfortunate Events are the two most well-known and most circulated projects of the Google Street View (GSV) ilk. Rafman continues to add images to Nine Eyes, while Wolf has since ventured into newer sets with a geographical focus on Paris and New York.

With billions of images stitched together in the street-view matrix, it is highly unlikely two artists operating independently of one another would happen upon nine identical scenes. On the other hand, in the huge dataset that is GSV, it’s understandable that artists would gravitate towards scenes that appeal to human emotion once they are identified and permalinked.

The overlap is explained by both artists using forums such as Google Sightseeing and GoogleStreetFunny to find images and spending hundreds of hours trawling the virtual streets for unique vignettes. It seems they both simply have similar tastes.

“I strongly disagree that mine or Jon’s images are repetitions of each other,” says Wolf. “The only thing they have in common is they were taken from the same street-view page. But the resulting images are very different. It’s as if you would say an image taken by Martin Parr of a beach in Rimini is a repetition of an image taken by Massimo Vitali at the same beach. They both happened to have photographed the same location, but their images are not in the least similar, or ‘repetitions’ of each other.”

To be fair, for this analogy to hold, time would have to stand still on the beach and both Parr and Vitali would have to stand in the exact same place, but if we take Wolf’s point, the murkiness of authorship of these images starts to emerge.

more after the jump
http://www.wired.com/rawfile/2011/08/google-street-view-and-the-anatomy-of-authorship-in-the-age-of-digital-images/

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« Reply #4835 on: Aug 20th, 2011, 12:35pm »

MSN

'UFO' Over Chinese Airport Just an Unusual Cloud
By Benjamin Radford

updated 8/19/2011 5:21:55 PM ET

According to the newspaper Shanghai Daily, air traffic at a major Chinese airport was temporarily halted on Wednesday (Aug. 17) — not because of a power failure or bad weather, but because of a potentially threatening Unidentified Floating Object.

Details about the incident remain sketchy, but someone (it's not clear whether it was pilots, air traffic controllers or people on the ground) reported seeing the mysterious UFO hovering over Jiangbei International Airport in southwestern China. The white doughnut-shaped object stayed in the sky for nearly an hour before fading away.

The newspaper said that some airport workers dismissed the UFO as a huge balloon or Chinese lantern, and though these skeptical explanations may have been responsible for earlier UFO sightings, this particular UFO has a much more prosaic explanation. [ Look! Up in the Sky! A Recent History of UFO Sightings ]

In fact, the UFO seen over Jiangbei looks almost exactly like a UFO seen over Moscow last year. And that UFO, in turn, was identified by meteorologists as an optical illusion caused by sunlight hitting a cloud disturbed by wind (or, when it occurs near an airport, plane traffic) under the right circumstances.

It's what known as a hole-punch cloud, which can form in two types of clouds, cirrus and cirrostratus. These clouds are composed of ice crystals and super-cooled water droplets, and when disturbed freeze instantly or evaporate. The droplets that re-freeze rejoin the rest of the cloud; the ones that evaporate form a strange hole in the cloud.

This is only the most recent of a series of UFO reports coming out of China. Many of the Chinese reports have been debunked as astronomical phenomenon, military tests and so on. For example, some of the UFO reports described the appearance and location of Venus; and Wang Sichao, a planetary astronomer with the Chinese Academy of Science, found that some of the UFO photos were actually created by reflections of outdoor lamps on camera lenses.

Assuming the news report is true (and the Chinese government and media are not known for prompt and accurate reporting), it's not clear why airport officials would have thought that a cloud — albeit a very unusual one — might be a threat to aviation safety. Then again, airports around the world are known for overreacting to minor or nonexistent security threats and err on the side of caution. Most airplane passengers would likely agree: Better safe than sorry, whatever the UFO is.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44208252

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« Reply #4836 on: Aug 20th, 2011, 12:36pm »

.





Uploaded by TatooineChoppers on Aug 19, 2011

Eine Runde Huttenball, aufgenommen in der GamesCom.
One round Huttball, presented in GamesCom.
Have fun

SWTOR bei der GamesCom 2011
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33iEMjMOkuc

http://www.tatooinechoppers.com

~

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« Reply #4837 on: Aug 21st, 2011, 08:14am »

LA Times

Congresswomen hear economic, unemployment woes at Inglewood event

Hundreds gather to share their stories and urge Reps. Maxine Waters, Karen Bass and Laura Richardson to push corporations to help fix the economy and devise ways to put people back to work.

By Ann M. Simmons, Los Angeles Times
August 21, 2011

Sabino Fernandez lost his job assembling auto parts three years ago. With that, he said, he lost his ability to sustain his family.

"My American dream ended because at that moment I had no excuse to share with my family about why I was not able to provide food for the table," said Fernandez, 43, a resident of Compton. "Sometimes my children don't understand what's going on. All they want is something to eat."

Fernandez was among hundreds of people from Los Angeles-area communities who gathered Saturday to share their stories of hardship and to urge local members of Congress to push corporations to help fix the economy and devise ways to put people back to work. Three Democratic U.S. representatives attended the event: Maxine Waters and Karen Bass of Los Angeles and Laura Richardson of Long Beach.

"There is just so much anger and so much frustration," said Refugio Mata, communications coordinator for Good Jobs LA, a coalition that advocates for working families and organized Saturday's Kitchen Table Summit. "We hope that Congress will listen and they will get the focus back on creating jobs."

The recession has slammed Los Angeles County, where 1 in 4 workers are jobless or underemployed, according to Good Jobs LA. This summer, L.A. businesses announced 5,700 layoffs, the jobs advocacy group said.

At the same time, corporations are hoarding almost $2 trillion in cash but failing to invest in jobs, the advocacy group said. The group also cited skyrocketing bonuses for many chief executives and big tax breaks for some of the nation's largest companies.

"I want to know why corporations are not paying their fair share," said Lisa Agcaoili, a part-time teacher who said she supports five grandchildren and hasn't had a pay raise in four years.

Agcaoili joined other forum participants who gathered around tables in the Inglewood High School gymnasium and vented outrage over what they view as government's willingness to cut budgets while protecting tax breaks for profitable corporations. Many residents came looking for answers and advice.

Amed Moore, 46, a father of two who has been on disability for the last year, wanted to find out how "to get on a bandwagon" of people getting positioned to rejoin the workforce. Jonesha Williams, 22, a cosmetology student, was hoping to get some reassurance that work would be available when she finishes her course. Brian Smith, 51, desired to hear "something positive, something with real substance" to keep him motivated in his job search, which has so far lasted three years.

Waters, Richardson and Bass wandered among the tables listening to residents' wants and woes.

"It's most important leaving Washington and coming to L.A. and hearing from people who are hurting, and taking their stories back to Washington and demanding that we have the resources to take the jobs back to these communities," Bass said.

Later, Waters told residents about job fairs the Congressional Black Caucus is organizing nationwide, including one such event scheduled for Aug. 31 in Los Angeles. She encouraged residents to continue their push to make government get big businesses' help to fix the problem.

"You got to stand with me to fight this," Waters said.

LaNordo Conn, 53, wasn't entirely convinced the members of Congress have the community's interest at heart. Homeless and unemployed for three years after losing his job as an architectural designer — a field in which he worked for more than two decades — Conn challenged the congresswomen to take a pay cut or try living without a roof over their heads for a week.

Fernandez, the former auto parts assembler, invited the congresswomen to visit communities to see firsthand how people are struggling.

Richardson didn't take up the challenge of being homeless but offered to accompany Conn to the upcoming L.A. job fair in hopes of helping him find work. She also agreed to spend time with Fernandez in his Compton neighborhood next weekend.

After the forum, scores of poster-waving residents marched on local businesses, urging them to sign a petition supporting efforts to create good jobs.


http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0821-jobs-summit-20110821,0,2753581.story

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« Reply #4838 on: Aug 21st, 2011, 08:14am »

back in a bit...........
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« Reply #4839 on: Aug 21st, 2011, 1:29pm »

The Union (California)

Sunday, August 21, 2011
UFO sightings: Seeing is believing
By Tom Kellar
Special to The Union

I swear it happened just like this: In 1998, I was driving my beater over the Pacheco Pass between Santa Nella and Watsonville about 1 in the morning.

I had promised my significant other that I would drive down from Sacramento to meet her at my in-laws as soon as the workday had ended.

There didn't seem to be another car on the road and I was getting pretty sleepy when, without warning, everything around me was engulfed in a brilliant light.

It was as though the sun had decided to make a surprise appearance and I was able to see the surrounding landscape perfectly for at least a mile or so.

The whole episode lasted about 10 seconds and then night reasserted itself, making everything dark again. I was shaking. I had to pull over and get my bearings. What the heck had just happened?

I wanted to call someone, but everyone I knew would be asleep and I wasn't totally convinced that my eyes had not somehow deceived me.

So when I got a call from Nevada County artist Gloria Beth Edwards wanting to go public about a similar experience she had more than 40 years ago, I was more than a little interested.

Edwards has lived and worked in Nevada County since the early 1970s, having carved out a reputation as a wilderness artist. She has had her work admired by late president Ronald Reagan, funny woman Phyllis Diller and Yosemite photographer Ansel Adams.

When I arrived at her place to conduct our interview, the first thing I noticed was the photos, drawings and paintings. They hung everywhere. Unadorned wall space was nearly nonexistent.

Gloria told me she was in her 80s, but seems much younger than that. She is still incredibly vibrant and continues painting regularly. We sat down and she launched into a story that she says she has been holding onto for decades.

“Back in 1965, I got off work at Harvey's Wagon Wheel (in South Lake Tahoe) and a chum who rode to work with me and I went up Kingsbury to go home after midnight and all of a sudden the sky lit up,” Edwards said.

“I thought that maybe there had been an explosion or a fire. We kept going for about a block and then saw this thing come over the mountains. It lit everything up like one of those torches used for welding. It came right at us and I thought it was going to hit us.”

Edwards was not able to see much more than an outline of the object because the light emanating from it was nearly blinding.

“It was huge, not quite as long as my house and it was round,” Edwards said. “It came right over us and then stopped like it was looking at us for a second. There was no sound. Then it was gone.

“My friend and I looked at each other and we said, ‘That was a UFO.' It had gotten so close to us that I swear with a ladder I could have reached up and poked it.”

Edwards then did what any artist would do.

“I was so shook up that I went home and decided that I had better write down what I had seen,” Edwards said. “I sketched a picture with the shape of it, showing how big it was.”

Edwards pushed the notion of talking about what she had witnessed out of her mind.

“We decided we couldn't tell our bosses, because this was back in the '60s and we had heard that people could lose their jobs if they started talking about stuff like flying saucers,” Edwards said.

“In those days, you would be considered nutty if people heard you talk about that kind of thing. I had my mother living with me at the time and the last thing I could afford was to be out of work.”

Just a few days later something happened to Edwards that was almost as startling as seeing a UFO. She heard an airman discussing a strange occurrence he had recently witnessed over the Pacific Ocean.

“He said that he had seen a UFO while coming in from the Pacific,” Edwards said. “He said this thing came out of the blue and followed the plane he was in. The pilot told him to take pictures, but by the time he had gotten his camera ready, the bright light had disappeared. The way he described it, made it sound exactly like the UFO I had seen, and I had not said anything to him about my experience.”

Edwards is not smitten by the idea of little green men navigating saucers over the American landscape, however. She believes that whatever she saw was more likely man-made.

“After thinking about it over the years, I think it was something our government was doing,” she said.

Edwards then reminded me again of my own experience on Highway 152.

“When it happens, your mind almost stops, because it's such a shock,” Edwards said. “It's hard to explain — really hard to explain.”

http://www.theunion.com/article/20110821/NEWS/110819741

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« Reply #4840 on: Aug 21st, 2011, 1:39pm »

Hollywood Reporter

Ray Bradbury, Mike Medavoy Adapting 'Dandelion Wine' Into Feature Film
11:13 PM 8/19/2011
by Gregg Kilday



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Ray Bradbury, who turns 91 Monday
photo: Getty



Ray Bradbury is joining forces with Phoenix Pictures’ Mike Medavoy to produce a film version of the author’s semi-autobiographical 1957 novel Dandelion Wine.

The book is set in 1928 and centers on a 12-year-old boy as he experiences small-town, summer life.

RGI Prods.’ Rodion Nahapetov is writing the screenplay.

Medavoy and Phoenix vp of production Doug McKay will produce along with Bradbury, Nahapetov and Natasha Shliapnikoff.

Bradbury, who turns 91 on Monday, said, “This is the best birthday gift I could ask for. Today, I have been reborn! Dandelion Wine is my most deeply personal work and brings back memories of sheer joy as well as terror. This is the story of me as a young boy and the magic of an unforgettable summer which still holds a mystical power over me.”

Medavoy, whose most recent films include Shutter Island and Black Swan, is currently producing What to Expect When You’re Expecting, which Lionsgate will release in May.

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/ray-bradbury-mike-medavoy-adapting-225558

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« Reply #4841 on: Aug 21st, 2011, 1:42pm »

Wired

6 More Ridley Scott Films Ready for Sci-Fi Reboots
By Angela Watercutter
August 19, 2011 | 2:46 pm
Categories: comedy, movies, video

Once he finishes with Alien spinoff Prometheus, Ridley Scott will get to work on some kind of new Blade Runner film — a sequel, prequel, reboot or something. In the world of nerdia that's big news, but it also leaves a lot of unanswered questions about what he plans to do with one of sci-fi's essential films.

Since there's little to do between now and the time the cameras start rolling except speculate (and worry) about what this new Blade Runner will look like (Blade Walker starring Harrison Ford?), we're cranking the conjecture up to 11 and taking wild guesses at what other reboots of Scott's back-catalog could look like.

Without further adieu, may we present our Wildly Speculative List of Top Six Potential (But Highly Unlikely) Ridley Scott Reboots.

gallery after the jump
http://www.wired.com/underwire/2011/08/ridley-scott-reboots/?pid=4663&viewall=true

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« Reply #4842 on: Aug 22nd, 2011, 08:14am »

Seacoast Online

By Karen Dandurant
August 22, 2011 2:00 AM
GREENLAND — We are not alone.

A group of people who believe in aliens and unidentified flying objects met Friday night to discuss the history of UFOs in many places, particularly New Hampshire. "Social Saucers" was hosted by Andy Kitt, founder of the Kitt Center for Consciousness Studies in Greenland.

Farmington resident Michael Stevens is a paranormal investigator with the Kitt Research Center. He is also responsible for the new historical marker in Lincoln, honoring former Portsmouth residents Betty and Barney Hill. The marker details their alleged UFO encounter and abduction in 1961. Lincoln is where the Hills say they were abducted, a story well known to many Seacoast residents.

"There have been UFO sightings here before this was even a state," Stevens said. "In fact, New Hampshire even has its own version of the Bermuda Triangle. The Ossipee Triangle has been the location for many reports."

Stevens detailed the state's history of UFO sightings. The first recorded photo he showed was taken at the Mount Washington observatory in 1870.

"In 1896, officers from the Portsmouth naval base shot at an unidentified flying object," Stevens said. "The bullets just pinged off it, with no effect."

Stevens said that after Betty Hill's alleged abduction, she drew a star map that she said was shown to her during the encounter. Stevens said it wasn't until five years later that the map was identified as the system Zeda Reticuli in the Milky Way. Side by side, the drawing and a star chart of the system are eerily similar.

In 1965, Exeter resident Norman Muscarello reported a sighting to police. The "Incident at Exeter," as it became known, has been documented in publications, and the town has an annual UFO festival. (The next is in September, on the anniversary of the sighting. For information, visit www.exeterufofestival.com.)

"Pease Air Force Base personnel later claimed they had five bombers in the air at the time," Stevens said. "A report from Project Blue Book said it was a military training mission. But, a police officer went out later that night and he saw it, too."

Stevens said he has been interested in UFOs his entire life and believes he had experiences of his own as a child. He is working with a local medium to try to get information about his own sightings.

Stevens believes there is a government coverup of UFO sightings. "I think the government covers it up because it would cause mass chaos if it were known," he said. "People would panic."

Social Saucers meets twice a month to discuss UFOs and paranormal topics at the Center for Consciousness Studies. For details, call 436-5740 or visit www.theCenterNH.com.

http://www.seacoastonline.com/articles/20110822-NEWS-108220319

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« Reply #4843 on: Aug 22nd, 2011, 08:18am »

LA Times

Seoul's intellectual pressure cooker

Welcome to hyper-competitive Exam Village, where 20,000 people study around the clock for law school entrance tests, civil service exams and other trials.

By John M. Glionna, Times Staff Writer
7:46 PM PDT, August 21, 2011
Reporting from Seoul

When he was 35, Park Jin-hun quit his job, left his family and moved to Exam Village.

Pursuing his dream of practicing law, the salaryman told his wife he would see her and their young son only once a month until he passed the bar. He gave himself two years maximum.

Five years in a row, he failed the exam, each time resolving to stick it out for one more attempt. He spent his days in neurotic study rooms that demanded total silence (no paper rustling, please!), too consumed to think of anything but the intricacies of South Korean law. Sometimes he thought he was going mad.

With each failure, he ratcheted up his study hours and became increasingly antisocial, driven by fear of failure. At night in bed, he dreamed of studying.

He had become a prisoner of Exam Village, an area of Seoul where 20,000 people of all ages and backgrounds lead monkish lives — cramming nearly round the clock for law school entrance tests, civil service exams and other trials of knowledge and memorization, living on family loans, cafeteria meals and too little sleep.

In hyper-competitive South Korea, Exam Village is both an intellectual isolation chamber and an emotional pressure cooker, the center of a dizzying array of preparation courses and private study rooms, where the only thing that counts is a passing grade.

Lawyers here brag of surviving not law school but their sentences in Exam Village, or gosichon. Years later, the name still makes many shiver.

Park, a wiry, bookish man in spectacles, never passed the bar. Now 48, he has found a new career: selling textbooks to those toiling in Exam Village.

To other repeat exam-takers, he offers discounts and words of encouragement, especially to those who have failed so many times — sometimes 10 times or more — that they've become the butt of jokes: "I tell people they're almost there."

Park's wife, Cho Hyun-suk, says her husband's obsession tested their marriage. Forced to live alone, paying the bills on her civil-servant salary while her husband went through their hard-earned savings, she felt emotionally divorced.

"At first, I secretly hoped he wouldn't pass the bar. He was a bit too arrogant. I thought that as a lawyer he would be overbearing," said Cho, also 48.

But he emerged from his trials a changed man, she said. "His continued failure made him more humble. And I didn't know he had such good business instincts. He looked around that environment and recognized a good opportunity."

*

Park arrived in Exam Village in the fall of 1998. He had gotten his undergraduate degree in law years before and had worked in the electronics business. But he always dreamed of taking the bar and doing careful preparations for the big test as a resident of the blue-collar neighborhood that sits in the shadow of prestigious Seoul National University.

People trudged along the narrow streets with backpacks and faraway looks. Businesses had names like the Smartville apartments, Pizza School and Exam cafeteria. Walls were papered with ads for private prep classes whose guarantees for passing grades had the boastful cheesiness of late-night TV commercials for low-cost lawyers or kitchen gadgets.

For some, studying isn't enough: They rely on superstition. Real estate agents hawked apartments by touting the passing grade of the previous tenants. Coffee houses displayed window signs lauding successful students who had once frequented the premises.

Park found a room just large enough for a desk and sleeping mat for $150 a month. He budgeted $5 a day for meals, buying books of discount meal coupons.

Buying a membership in one of the private study rooms, he soon learned a strict code of conduct: no talking, whispering, pen clicking, throat clearing, loud page turning, text messaging, foot tapping, book jostling or wrapper crinkling.

Once he was admonished for shaking his leg and coughing. To preserve the quiet, the complainer waited until Park rose to go the bathroom and then left a scolding note. (A confrontation would only have created more noise.) "Once you've failed an exam a few times, you can get on edge," Park said.

He soon exhibited that edginess himself. He failed the bar exam once, then a second time. He changed apartments, hoping for better luck. On a subsequent attempt, he passed the first part of the exam, but failed the second, a four-day marathon.

"At times, I felt like I was going crazy. I was suffering economically," he said. "I didn't socialize well. I felt uncomfortable around others."

One day, he went home unexpectedly to see his wife. He found her at a park, a lonely-looking figure. He said his heart broke.

He also watched Exam Village deteriorate. Bars, pool halls and brothels moved in to lure students frustrated from too much study. He did his best to ignore the temptation.

During his third year, Park was browsing in a crowded bookstore when it struck him that the area's support businesses seemed to be making a killing.

He tapped his savings and bought an interest in a study room, and later a bookstore, where he worked the front desk for two years while (still) studying for the bar.

After five years, he ended his career as a professional student. His wife left her civil service job and joined him in the bookselling business. Now they have two stores and an online outlet.

*

Park's wife is philosophical about the turn in their lives.

"I wish I supported him more to help him pass," she said. "I see now that he's not arrogant and would actually have made a good lawyer."

She paused, gazing past stacks of books that blocked out the sun.

"And this book-selling business is really hard work."

Park said he is happy with his life. But sometimes, when the stress of running a business weighs on him, he has dreamed of giving the bar exam one more try.

Then he'll catch himself. Seeing a young man walk into his store, looking tense and underfed, Park said softly, "I'm too old for this life."

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-south-korea-exam-village-20110822,0,2209797.story

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« Reply #4844 on: Aug 22nd, 2011, 08:21am »

Telegraph

German's quest to repay pint debt ends after Telegraph track down British man he owed.

When Sebastian Steinzen says he owes someone a drink, he really means it.

By Richard Alleyne
12:50AM BST 22 Aug 2011

The German has spent five years, travelled across three countries and spent thousands of pounds trying to repay a wager of a pint he owed to a British man he met playing golf.

Now thanks to the Daily Telegraph he has tracked down the man – identified as Patrick Burns – and will travel to this country in autumn to pay off his debt.

Mr Steinzen, 34, a politics and history teacher from Gladbeck, West Germany, lost a bet with Mr Burns during a round of golf while on holiday in Majorca with his girlfriend Nina in 2005.

He failed to pay his debt against the man he knew only as Pat during their 10 – day stay and returned to his homeland.

However the burden of guilt became too much and last month, Mr Steinzer spent £1,000 travelling to England to try to find Pat and buy him that pint.

He went to Portishead, north Somerset, where Patrick told him he was from, and spent a week traipsing around the streets, pubs and golf courses, with a picture of his holiday friend.

But he had to return home without tracking down Pat, who was holidaying with his partner Pam when they met.

Before he went home, his quest was highlighted in the Daily Telegraph and when Mr Burns, 73, a retired advertising executive, read it in the paper he made contact with his German friend.

Now they have planned to meet next month in Mr Burn's local pub – the Black Horse.

Mr Steinzen, said it was a great relief his search had finally ended.

"I know it sounds crazy but I feel very relieved. It has been on my mind for five and a half years and it is great that my quest has ended.

"I'm a man who likes to pay his debts. I believe that if you have a bet and you lose you have to pay it. Especially when it is owed to such as lovely guy like Patrick."

Mr Steinzen and his girlfriend had played three rounds of golf with the British couple during the holiday.

During the final match, Mr Steinzen bet Patrick that he could land his ball no more than two yards away from the pin from a distance of about 130 yards.

Mr Steinzen said: "I am normally good at that distance but unfortunately I missed the green."

It was the day before Patrick and Pam flew home and the German never had the chance to buy the pint he owed him.

Two months after returning from the holiday, during which the two men had discussed English history, Mr Steinzen received from Patrick a copy of the book The Collapse of British Power, by Correlli Barnett, published in 1972.

However, during a house move from Munster to Gladbeck, Mr Steinzen lost Mr Burns' address.

So he travelled to England after remembering that Patrick said he regularly drank at The Black Horse pub.

During his week in north Somerset, Sebastian has spent every evening at the watering hole and days travelling to golf courses with a photograph of the couple. His search proved fruitless.

He said: "I just thought the people at the golf courses or the pub would know him.

In a last-ditch effort he contacted the newspaper and shortly after the article Mr Burns got in contact with him by email.

"It was a lovely surprise," Mr Steinzer said.

Yesterday friends and neighbours said Mr Burns was delighted at the prospect of being paid his debt.

Unfortunately he was unable to comment because he was out playing golf.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/8714249/Germans-quest-to-repay-pint-debt-ends-after-Telegraph-track-down-British-man-he-owed.html

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