So, who’s going to watch Atheist TV on July 29th, 2014?

July 25, 2014

What is it they’re offering?

the channel will broadcast 24 hours, mostly with licenses and pre-recorded content, such as documentaries by the Richard Dawkins Foundation as well as a talk show titled “Atheist Viewpoint” and a call-in show, “Atheist Experience”.

It’ll be available to anyone using Roku (which I’ve never heard of) but will also be viewable at its website.

Hopefully it’ll be accessible in Canada. I wouldn’t mind checking it out once in a while. I’ll have to watch what they advertise as upcoming content.


Reality TV picks the next Jesus

May 6, 2012

Back in university I’d heard the music but it wasn’t until the Man confessed his great love for Jesus Christ Superstar that I finally sat down to watch the production. I think if it ran in the city at some ponit I’d certainly consider spending the money for a ticket.

A new cast is in the works in the UK and Australian atheist and comedian is getting the headlines as the pick for Judas.

He will join the pop singer Nicole Scherzinger, playing Mary Magdalene, in an arena tour of the musical by Lord Lloyd Webber and Sir Tim Rice which will open at London’s O2 arena this summer.

The character of Jesus will be cast via a television talent competition next month, where contestants will compete for the lead role in the musical telling the story of Christ’s final week.

The television show has been criticised by Sir Tim, who wrote the musical’s lyrics and has described plans to ask a panel of celebrity judges and public voters to pick the “next Jesus” as “tasteless” and “tacky”.

I don’t watch much in the way of television shows, let alone the talent related programs. I don’t know if I’m prepared to agree or disagree with Sir Tim, though. Audiences have grown used to seeing the process of elimination in action and having a front row view of both the new-found fame for the winner and heart-aching misery of those who fail. Maybe they’d be more likely to purchase a ticket to the show itself if they got to be part of the story that star will later tell, too.

Sure, it’s not classy but neither is the music, man. The lyrics and score don’t hearken an audience back to the good old days of 18th century opera. It’s a modern rock “opera” featuring the death of Jesus as performed by gyrating pop stars. Why wouldn’t people look to reality TV to cast such a show?

Time marches on.


Old news: Lady Gaga is evil; South Koreans beg God to intervene

May 3, 2012

Lady Gaga had a concert set up for Seoul back in April but the Korean Association of Church Communities hoped God could do something about that. It’s vital he save the children of South Korea from “being infected with homosexuality and pornography,” and Cassie Murdoch, who writes for Jezebel, responded:

And here we had no idea that pornography and homosexuality were diseases that could be spread through song. You really do learn something new every day!

Well, probably her choice of clothing would have something to do with it, too, but no matter. I like her music well enough but I don’t pay much attention to the lyrics necessarily. I’m one of those people who uses music more for filler than message. I always have music on and might not even know the name of the song I’m listening to let alone who sung it on what album and when.

I’ll have to look up some of her lyrics now.

Love Game:

I wanna take a ride on your disco stick
Don’t think too much just bust that kick
I wanna take a ride on your disco stick

Beautiful, Dirty, Rich:

Beautiful, dirty dirty rich rich dirty dirty beautiful dirty rich
Dirty dirty rich dirty dirty rich beautiful

Beautiful and dirty dirty rich rich We’ve got a redlight pornographic dance fight
Systematic, honey but we go no money

Not going to win many awards for poetry with this stuff but it’s good enough to dance to, I guess.

Black Jesus:

Amen, on the runway,
dressed in his best.
Amen Fashion, on the runway,
Work it! Black Jesus.
Amen, on the runway,
dressed in his best.
Amen Fashion, on the runway,
Work it! Black Jesus.

The line “Jesus is the new black” can’t count as blasphemy, though, since Gaga is reporting that Jesus is not out of style at all.

Highway Unicorn (Road to Love)

She’s just an American riding a dream
And she’s got rainbow syrup in her heart that she bleeds
They don’t care if your papers or your love is the law
She’s a free soul burning roads with the flag in her bra

Rainbow syrup makes her heart sound pro-gay, I suppose, but the song also speaks toward American patriotism, which tends to require anti-gay sentiment in order to prove one is a True American (TM) in the so-called “one nation under God.”

These crazed opponents of Lady Gaga’s “lewd lyrics and performances” have been raising quite a fuss. They’ve protested outside the officies of Hyundai Card, the show’s sponsor, and they also put up banners all over Seoul. The banners were taken down, but the state did raise the show from 12 and over to 18 and over.

There’s that at least. I suppose that wasn’t good enough for the protestors but at least it limits attendance to consenting adults instead of “impressionable” children. I expect it’s too late, anyway. They probably already know all her lyrics by heart and accept the fact that they were “born this way,” whatever way that might have been.


Old news: kids suspended for Tebowing during school hours

January 23, 2012

Tebowing, if a definition is needed, is the practice of behaving the way Tim Tebow does when he prays during his Denver Bronco football games, obvious and down on one knee as if being watched by an audience is the most important part of the prayer. It’s the new planking, and just as ridiculous. People take pictures of other people doing it. It’s light mockery and meant to be for fun. There are so many other things a person could do for fun, but whatever. The story:

Two Riverhead High School football players were suspended for a day because the school said they created a potentially dangerous situation by leading other students in a re-enactment of NFL quarterback Tim Tebow’s kneeling in prayer.

School officials said an estimated 40 students had gathered in the hallway this week to make the gesture

The principal, David Wicks, made the argument that in a school with 1500 kids, having 40 taking up space in a hallway (for what’s essentially a pointless endeavor at that) could constitute a safety hazard. If a smoke alarm had gone off and people needed to vacate in a hurry, there could have been injuries. It also made some kids late for class and had the potential to create aggressive situations.

According to their dad, the brothers who were suspended apparently weren’t told by anyone official at the school to stop the display. Superintendent Nancy Carney, on the other hand, said that the pair were insubordinate and “had been warned not to do it anymore” which makes it sound like this wasn’t the first time they got their friends together for a performance. I guess fairness could be debated. They do ask a good question – why were they penalized when the rest of their classmates got away with it? But, if they were the ringleaders, then maybe without them egging kids on, maybe nobody else would have come up with the idea and gone through with it during school hours. Out on the football field or in the yard, do whatever silly thing you want to do. In a hallway, just use it to get to class.


Less than 3 months away..must be time for War on Christmas!

October 5, 2011

The most recent casualty, at least going by the Daily Mail, is a release of Thomas the Tank Engine on DVD:

The team behind the much-loved children’s TV series has angered campaigners by setting a story during the ‘winter holidays’.

Even Christmas trees have been axed in an episode of the DVD, Little Engines, Big Days Out, and are instead referred to as decorated trees. Brightly wrapped presents are delivered to a ‘holiday party’.

Critics say the omission was particularly strange because the original Thomas books, hugely popular around the world, were written by a clergyman, the Reverend Wilbert Awdry.

I think most kids are savvy enough to see through that switcharoo, don’t you? Kids know what time of year typically generates a desire to hang shiny shit on trees and gift wrap packages to shake, rattle and roll underneath them. I’m sure they don’t really give a damn what the event is called so long as a few of those gifts will have their names on come the big day. We may as well be honest and call it “Gimme a Present Day” and be done with it.

Ann Widdecombe, the former Government Minister and convert to Roman Catholicism, said it was ‘extra ridiculous’ not to mention Christmas in a children’s story as youngsters would be anticipating the special day for months in advance.

‘The shops will be stocking Christmas gifts, the television will be advertising presents and people will be talking about it, so the idea that children won’t hear about it is ludicrous,’ she said.

I understand the desire to make things more inclusive. Nobody likes feeling left out of things and it really is a very simple matter to change the name of a holiday to something else in order to reflect that. That said, nobody ever insists Hanukkah ought to be more secularized. Why not? Is it because it’s still practiced by a minority and celebrates a specific political victory that had meaning for Jews alone? Other groups have overthrown their governments in the times since, but none of them ever bothered to adopt the menorah to commemorate their victories. Could they have? I’m just throwing it out there. Hmm.. I get an idea for an alternative history book now where Judaism was the popular faith of old and Christians were the ones run out of town and later decimated like plague-ridden rats…

Hit Entertainment, the company behind the DVD, said: ‘It was put out some time ago. It was not a seasonal release specifically aimed at a Christmas audience, but we do put out seasonal releases that have Christmas in the title.

‘Last year we had Christmas Express and next year we are planning another Christmas title.’

However, John Midgely, of the Campaign Against Political Correctness, said: ‘This is an attempt to write Christmas out of something that is so popular with families.’

Truth be told, this editing is getting absurd. Let the tree be a Christmas tree. Let the day be called Christmas Day. They’re hardly fooling anyone by switching the terminology around. Muslim kids aren’t going to start begging their folks to let them put trees up to celebrate this particular December event anyway. They’ve got their own special holidays in their lunar counted year. I don’t hear of people begging to get in on their New Year’s Day celebrations, this year on November 26th. Do they do anything special to commemorate that? I have no idea. The Day of Ashura hits ten days later, on December 7th, but a whole day to do nothing but mourn an ancient martyr sounds painfully depressing. Passaroonie.

Every religion has its special events across the year, but Christianity is certainly the odd one out in terms of how many of their holidays wound up with secularized versions on the same days. When I think of Easter, it’s bunnies and eggs, not torture and death. When I think of Christmas, it’s not angels and holy miracles coming to mind; it’s songs I’m sick of hearing by December 2nd and overeating on the big day.

I think Christmas will always have its secular counterpart and whether it winds up being called Christmas or Festivus or whatever, the point is moot. Have fun. Eat, drink, and be merry. Watch the kids go bananas over their new possessions. Fondly recall the days when you had the same Christmas day reactions to yours.

Like the year I got a Care Bear. I think I was 10 and when I unwrapped Good Luck Bear, I think I bolted to my bedroom, rubbed my hands over my eyes in case I imagined it, and then ran back into the living room to make sure it was still there. I still have him, too. I remember the year I found a VCR under there, and several rented movies. Parenthood was absolute crap but I still love The Little Mermaid. I got a guitar one year that did get some play, and Mom has a few pictures around of early Christmases and evidence of what my toys looked like before I broke them. (I still played with them though. I was that kind of kid.) I’ve still got my old fox and yellow stuffed dinosaur too, battered though they are. I got those the year I was begging for a giant stuffed stegosaurus I’d seen advertised in the Sears catalogue. At least Todd and Dino were the right size to cuddle in bed for years afterwards. No idea what I would have done with the big guy… Sometimes my parents were pretty smart.

What do you remember?


I may have to see Green Lantern after all

June 16, 2011

I don’t know why I go to comic-themed movies when I never read the comics in the first place but action is action and they tend to be fun. Now, I’m intrigued on a completely different level, though; I found an article by a known satirist (known to his fans, at least. Not me, personally) where he complains about Green Lantern’s pledge getting rewritten for the movie to take God out of it. First I had to look up the pledge; like I said, I don’t read comics. Assuming Scribd has it right:

In Brightest Day
In Blackest Night
No Evil Shall Escape My Sight
Let those who worship evil’s might
Beware My Power
Green Lantern’s Light

I don’t see God in there. Do you? Maybe that’s the satire waving? I’ve always had trouble with satire. You can’t see the joke when you don’t have any idea what they’re mocking. In this case I knew without his help that he’s mocking arguments regarding the addition of “Under God” into America’s Pledge of Allegiance and requests made lately to pull it the hell out again. Now I’ll quote some of what Jef With One F wrote about this as a letter to DC Comics and Warner Brothers, claiming he was originally taught the GL pledge complete with God part:

I, for one, refuse to believe that the Central Power Battery on the Lantern Corps’ homeworld of Oa that each Lantern uses to recharge their power rings while reciting the oath can possibly be powered by anything other than the will of God. And how else would a man be able to overcome the being of ultimate fear, Parallax? Through simple humanity and willpower? I doubt that.

Green Lantern’s power ring makes the imagination of the wearer into reality in the form of solid light constructs. Such a power cannot remain in the hands of humanity without acknowledging the rule of God. Failing to do so within the Lantern’s solemn oath risks our children forgetting God’s place in comic books.

It’s a good thing that he notes in the beginning about being a satirist or else I might have been completely taken in by this loony spiel. I can see people truly believing that last line is an argument worth making, however. After all, the library has manga bibles kicking around, and child-friendly comic bible stories, Bibleman videos


a Christian superhero, if that really needed to be explained, but it helps to see that this man is the inspiration for the maker of this freakish looking cake:

Devour it before it devours your soul...

and they likely purchased some of Zonderkidz’ revamped Christian Berenstain Bears books when those were published, too. There’s always interest in Christian themed entertainment.

IE) Kentucky recently got a crapload of tax rebates for their proposed Noah’s Ark Park. Private, unnamed investors are picking up the rest of the millions necessary to make this monstrosity float.

The latest project would will include a replica of the Tower of Babel, a first century village, theatres, lecture halls, retail shops, restaurants, a petting zoo and live animal shows featuring giraffes and elephants.

Zovath said he expects groundbreaking in August.

Rob Hunden, a consultant who reviewed the proposal for the Tourism Development and Finance Authority, said the project is expected to draw nearly 1.4 million visitors a year.

Gov. Steve Beshear has said he favours tax incentives for the ark park that is projected to create 600 to 700 full-time jobs and have an economic impact of more than US$250 million in its first year of operation.

The mission of the project, Zovath said, is to lend credence to the biblical account of a catastrophic flood and to dispel doubts that Noah could have fit two of every kind of animal in an ark.

Could they have found a better waste of money? Sure. They could have bought everyone in the country a copy of the Leather Gold and Silver Monopoly (retail $7570) or a Crystal Ergoripado Vaccuum ($18993) or anything else on this list instead of throwing money into that park idea, but that is where all this money’s going. Never mind that it will cater to ignorance and lack scientific credibility; it’s necessary job creation, dammit. We’re smack dab in the middle of an economic downturn, dontcha know! Gawd!

Yeah, so anyway, I might throw a little money toward DC Comics and Warner Brothers this weekend. Every once in a while a person craves extraordinary heroics. Especially when the future looks a little bleak…


Edit: 2:48PM Of course, reviews are coming in now that seem to indicate this is the latest turd to be delivered to weekend movie goers so it’s probably just as well I keep my $10 for another season of downloadable IT Crowd


Clowns are creepy enough. Clowns for Jesus?

February 15, 2011

The 26th annual Show Me Clowns for Jesus National Conference runs this weekend in Springfield, Missouri. It’s not just clown training for those who want to buy themselves some and dazzle the kiddies with their balloon twisting prowess, it’s clown training for those who want to scare people straight encourage people to accept Christ in their hearts.

Interested participants will actually learn some clown tools of the trade in the process – face painting, painting balloons, balloon animals, safety instructions, that sort of thing. But the main aim of this event is to build people into tools of another kind.

Workshop sessions begin Friday and feature six to seven classes on varied topics, including “God’s Sense of Humor” and “How to Be a Balloon Entertainer,” taught by professionals from Missouri and across the country. There are five workshop sessions Sunday morning followed by contemporary praise worship, “clown worship” and a commissioning of the new clowns. The conference ends at noon Sunday.

On Saturday they’ll take their show on the road and display their new skills at senior centers, hospitals, a mission and a local Baptist church. The city, if you can believe it, has even declared the day a holiday — “Show Me a Smile Day” — for the second year running.

Their website provides a video of last year’s event under the “Highlights” button. Last year’s theme was hilariously kinky: “Let God Pump You Up!” I don’t know if I recommend watching this video. If the clowns don’t scare you into repenting for everything, the music might.

I will confess I only managed 1:47 of it before I had to shut it down. I was having some flashbacks…


So, Folkfest is running in Saskatoon

August 21, 2010

It’s a yearly city ritual to showcase the food, entertainment and general culture of countries around the world.

Last night I ate food from Hungary and listened to some traditional music from there. Then I popped over to the Asia exhibit to look around and watch what I think was a team from Taiwan manipulate a dragon across the stage. That was kind of cool actually – the lead guy had a ball on a stick and whatever way he duck and dove, the guy operating the dragon’s head would match the move and each guy behind would match and move his piece of the body around so the dragon would fly, twist, twirl, spin and nearly tangle itself up at some points. It was all done to the sound of some large kettle drum thing another guy was hammering on. After that bit of the show I went to the India pavilion to see the daughter of a lady at work do a dance number out of some Bollywood production. She had a really good time doing that, judging by the big smile on her face. One of the other girls looked like she’d been sent on stage under duress and wasn’t really keen to be there.

The night before I went to the Scottish Pavilion so I could get my fill of pipes and country dancing (was kind of dancing to the tunes myself, as I consider myself Scottish by appreciation) and bought myself some smokey bacon crisps and a can of Apple Tango drink. Before that, I sat at the Caribbean for an hour and watched the limbo girls, our local steel drum band and a troupe of Latino dancers (that was a fine show where I was sitting…mmm..mmm… mighty fine butt wiggling going on there…). And prior to that, I was at the Philippines exhibit for supper. I’d gotten there just as the place was opening up so there wasn’t much in the way of a line for the food.

While we waited to be served, we were greeted by somebody on stage who talked a bit about the culture of the Philippines and happened to mention it was the only Asian country that was nearly completely Catholic (she was wrong if Wikipedia is believable) and then she said the other 18% or whatever it was leftover had so far “resisted conversion.” Right there in the dinner line I started cheering. All by myself, cheering, “Resistance! Hooray!” — not loud mind you. I didn’t want to get booted out of line before I got fed. But I know a few people standing around me heard. I didn’t even care. I just liked how she phrased it, considering it wound up sounding like she disapproved of them. But how else could she introduce the traditional dancers from the part of the country that wasn’t chowing down on Jesus every day at Mass? I stayed to watch those dancers while I ate. There was some nice drum work for that, too.

There are more places I could go today but I think I’ve done enough world stuff. Time to focus on the home front and clean up after myself, get groceries and do a bit of other shopping. I realized last night that my best pair of shoes is in dire need of repairs and I want to check what kind of cost I’d be looking at to fix them. They’re so comfortable, I don’t really want to look around for a replacement that I may never like as well. If it’s more than the shoes are worth (as I discovered the day I wanted a new zipper put in a jacket..seriously? That much money to change a zipper? Passaroonie. I’ll use the snaps), I’ll rethink that notion. I’m just glad cobblers still find work. So much stuff these days seems designed to be tossed once busted. No wonder landfills overflow.


Did Doctor Who get younger because people don’t trust old people anymore?

July 23, 2010

I don’t know why this came to mind today, but I’m wondering. The first Doctor, William Hartnell, was not a young man. The character was a grandfather who dragged his own granddaughter and her teachers on these wild adventures. He was quite the trusted authority, and his advanced age was part and parcel of why he was respected. It was the sixties. It’s what was done.

The second and third Doctors, Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee, were not young men either. They were there as guardians for their naive and younger companions, and again, trusted as authority figures based on their age and assumed wisdom. The same can likely be said of Tom Baker (4th) and Sylvester McCoy (7th).

Other actors that portrayed the Doctor were quite young, almost approaching the age of their co-stars. Peter Davison (5th) did his shows in the 1980s and from what I’ve seen of him, he comes across as very childish and snippy, actually. It looks like Colin Baker (6th) was likely in his 30s somewhere (haven’t seen any of those eps though).

Christopher Eccleston (9) turned 46 this year, and David Tennant (10th and my Doctor, as his run is when I really fell in love with the show) was born in 1971. How old is Matt Smith? Matt Smith is a baby compared to these guys, coming into the world in 1982. He’s the first Doctor younger than me.

I’d never claim the young can’t be wise, of course. It’s quite the stereotype to assume kids (sorry; old fart mode: disabled!) don’t have any brains worth using, or things to say worth hearing. I also hate the phrase “paradigm shift” but has there been one? Are younger actors getting selected because people are changing the way they think of authority, or is it all getting driven by looks over talent?

Again, I can’t say a young actor won’t be talented. Everybody has to start somewhere and no actor should have to start when he or she is four in order to be considered “experienced” enough for later roles. People can be discovered at any age and become, if not great, at least good enough to pass muster for most audiences.

I shouldn’t even pick on Mr. Smith; I’ve seen none of his Doctor Who episodes. I have no idea what he’s like.

Does more of it have to do with wanting to appeal to younger audiences? Get some old bugger (as anyone over 30 will seem to an 8 year old) in role like that, will kids really get behind it and admire the main character? Certainly not as someone they can identify with. But again, looking at the history of the show, it seems clear to me that the audience was supposed to identify with the naive companion more and they’d jointly look to the Doctor as the one who was to be trusted with having the necessary knowledge and experience to solve whatever dilemma cropped up. Trust authority! Listen to your Elders!

Now we have a Doctor actor who’s merely 5 years older than his co-star. They’re far more equal now, age wise, than even David Tennant and Billie Piper (born 1982) were.

Does any of it have to do with a creepy old man vibe? “A Companion eh? Hurh, hurh, hurh…” I’m just throwing it out there. You decide what to do with it. Ponder, comment. You know – that thing nobody seems to bother doing here… Spammy bots contribute more…


Plagiarism is still a crime, right?

June 25, 2010

How do news services go about getting to the bottom of it?

Yesterday I wrote about genealogists discovering a link between Robert Pattinson, of Twilight fame, and Vlad the Impaler, who was not actually a vampire. Still, here’s the quote again:

“Without any myth or magic, we find royalty and vampires lurking in Pattinson’s life — making his story just as supernatural as the one he’s playing on screen.”

Yahoo’s article (via Associated Press and the one I used in my previous post) gave credit to Anastasia Tyler of Ancestry.com and ABC22, getting their report from Ancestry.com itself, also credits Ms. Tyler.

The Telegraph article gives the same sentence, word for word (sorry, nearly: he added “the silver” before screen), to Dan Jones, international content director of Ancestry.co.uk.

So, I ask, who said it first? And I ask again, does this matter? Can a phrase given to reporters even fall under “intellectual property” laws or whatever? In a world where it’s so very quick and simple to take a sentence (or paragraph or term paper) found on the internet and make it your own, how much effort is anyone going to make to make sure the right person is getting the right credit for what gets said and/or written down?

Does it have to do with scale? A phrase like this, who cares who said it, maybe. University level idea-stealing is a world-wide problem, though. A story right out of my Alma mater, the University of Regina: in 2008, an Engineering professor tried to publish a student’s work in an academic journal and pass it off as his own. The original paper was submitted mere months later bearing the exact same title as the first one sent so interests were piqued.

The earlier paper, which was never published, listed his academic supervisor — associate professor Ezeddin Shirif — and three other people as authors. Khan was not credited, however.

“I said, ‘Well, I can send you the abstract of my thesis work. I can send you the whole technical paper that I sent to my supervisor. And you can just put them side to side and just compare them,’” Khan said.

The journal looked at material Khan sent them and agreed his complaint had merit.

It banned two of the supposed authors of the earlier paper, Shirif and graduate student Ashutosh Kumar, from publishing any of their work in the publication. It accepted the statements from two other co-authors who wrote to the journal to say they had no idea their names had been put on the paper.

Shirif later claimed it was an “honest terrible mistake” but the journal has still banned both the professor and the grad student from contributing anything to that journal again. Khan was also annoyed by the University’s “investigation,” since he wasn’t going to be privy to the results of it.

“How do I know it was not a slap on the wrist?” Khan said.

Asked about the case by CBC News, U of R vice-president of external relations Barb Pollock would neither confirm nor deny there was even an investigation.

“The complainant in a case would, I guess, have to have confidence that the complaint was dealt with,” she said.

Under provincial law, personal information cannot be released without the person’s consent, Pollock said.

Khan said he’s not satisfied with the university’s answer. He just wants to see that appropriate action was taken, he said.

Penn State has been cracking down on plagiarized entry essays, after 30 identical ones were submitted. It seems every hopeful candidate had searched online for the phrase “principled leadership” and wrote his/her name on the result. The college is admitting out loud that they use software called Turnitin to weed these cheaters out. The article states that other colleges are signed up to use it but are currently keeping mum.

Manchester University recently published its research findings:

The Manchester University research, which comes as students across the country hand in coursework and dissertations which count towards their degrees, also revealed that 45 per cent of students were “sure” that in the past year, another students had cheated during an essay, report, test or exam.

Students’ readiness to pass off work as their own is fuelling the online essay industry, estimated to be worth more than £200 million in the UK.

Some companies have thousands of specialist writers on their books and report increasing turnover each year. Undergraduates are also buying work from sites in the US and India.

“It is quite remarkable how many students indicated a willingness to buy,” said Dr Dan Rigby, a Manchester University economics lecturer who will present the findings at the fourth international Plagiarism conference in Newcastle tomorrow (MON) (1minion adds: 21 June/2010). “Their apparent lack of concern at revealing this in a survey run by academics at their university is startling.”

End of the school year hubris? They got away with it so they’re willing to admit it’s been happening?

It’s probably a problem everywhere. In Vietnam, lecturers and students have been “violating the laws without embarrassment” for years. Dr Le Van Hung, Dean of the Law Faculty of the HCM City Economics University recently ran a workshop there to discuss this issue.

Hung said that it is difficult to expose cases of plagiarism, because the number of theses made by students every year is very big and the practice of copying others’ work is so common that often the ‘original documents’ are themselves plagiarized.

Agreeing with Hung, Dr Vu Manh Chu, Head of the Copyright Department (a unit of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism), commented that in many research works, the ‘chief authors’ listed on the covers of the books were not the real authors of the book. They only arrange to get their names on these books so that they can accumulate more entries in their resumes, with a view to achieving promotion to the rank of professor or associate professor. Chu said that in these teachers should feel ashamed of themselves because they do not display the morality of teachers and the honour of scientists.

Any bold is mine, of course. And of course, this problem isn’t just in academics. Korean pop star, Lee Hyo-ri, has been caught ripping off other songwriters, as it was discovered six tracks on a recent CD were not entirely originals. Britney Spears (or at least her people) caught Lee doing the same in 2006.

This time, Lee, after initially denying the allegations, decided to come clean and take legal responsibility for the issue – even though she may not be at fault.

The six songs under scrutiny were all composed by the seven-member songwriters’ group Bahnus Vacuum, led by Bahnus (Lee Jae-young). For now, plagiarism accusations about three of the six songs have proven to be true. The rest are still until investigation.

Korea has a long history of this happening. Since the 1960s, several artists have taken the copy-cat route and released music from other countries under new Korean band names.

As it turns out, Korea has no established system to handle such disputes. The Performance Ethics Committee oversaw plagiarism cases in the past, but since being renamed the Korea Media Rating Board in 1998, no single body has been responsible for resolving plagiarism issues.

Almost all cases are handled through informal negotiations, although copyright holders can bring cases to the Korea Copyright Commission or to court. Those convicted can be sentenced to up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of 50 million won ($42,000), but few cases, if any, have involved court rulings.

“Plagiarism is a matter related to an individual composer’s conscience. There should be laws or systems to define what is plagiarism,” said composer Park Deok-sang.

Personally, I can’t fathom the idea of ignoring “give credit where credit is due.” I’d never pass off other work as mine deliberately. Not after the stern lecture I got from a teacher in elementary school. Cripes, that was humiliating. Our whole class was working in the library, I think, and my cousin and I were copying an entire article out of an encyclopedia for some assignment. The teacher walked by and caught us in the act. I don’t remember anymore if we zeroed on that assignment or if we were allowed to submit original work for a grade anyway. I’m thinking it was probably the former. Follow through. That’s the ticket to a lesson learned.


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