Language Learning Recommendation: Lang8

Language learning consist of four different disciplines, that needed to be learned in order to become fluent in the language. They are reading, listening, speaking and writing.

In order to become better at writing, we need to write in the language as much as possible. At the same time, there has to be some feedback, in order for the improvement to be more rapid.

This is where this website comes in. Lang8 is a site, which purpose is, to create an environment, for the people to practice writing.

The free version allows you to study up to two languages, but for the payment of 63$ per year, a person can study an unlimited amount of languages.

But every language is available, as long as it has native speakers. Even if it doesn’t, there might be still a way, to use this site.

Here is how it works. First, you write a so called journal in the language you are studying. They you can add the translation into you mother language if you wish. Then you correct some entries in your language, if there are any uncorrected.

You can write anything, from using it as a diary, to show pictures, series, book, famous people and short stories. They ask you, to try and not offend anybody, that is why the topics of disputes between country, religion and politics are discouraged, but some people still write about them. I remember the entertaining journal about the christianity in somebody's family.

The addition of the translation in the mother language is not necessary. But it can help clear misunderstanding, when people are correcting your journal. If the person, that is correcting your journal knows the language. Or other people, who study your mother language can use it in their studies.

That is the best part of the Lang8. There is no need to find a person, that knows the language you are studying and is learning the language you know. Here you are correcting the journals in the languages, that you know. The native speakers in the language you are learning are going to correct your journal.

That is why, with this site, you can learn the language as long as it has native speakers of it. If the language is already dead, you might still be able to find somebody, that know the language on better level than you, who can correct you journals. Or just write the journals for practice.

The third part is correcting the journals in your mother language. The whole site is build on the principle of giving and taking. That is why they recently introduced L points, which you get for correcting the journals. The premium users also have priority in listing, but you can choose yourself, what journal to correct.

You can also friend the people, send the a private message and join or create groups.

The only way to get better in the language is to use it. This site in the best I found so far as to use the writing skills in the foreign language. Just log in every day, and write something. Just that simple habit is going to improve your writing.

Here is the ling to go to Lang8 website.

Doodling and Memory

The person is explaining something, that he thing is the most important thing on the world. Like for example, how he had caught a 1 kg fish last week, repeating the same information 10 times.

There is always a way, to just tell him, to shut up or change the topic, since it is not interesting anymore. But let be objective here, how many people would do that?

The doodling is one way, how to concentrate better. The mind likes to wander off, when it perceives the action not worth it of its attention. In other words, when it is bored.

But doodling has been found, that it increases the volume of the retrained information.

They proved it, by making people listen to the boring listing of people and places, without telling them, that they will have a memory test later. Then they asked them, who will be on the party, as stated on the list.

The people that doodle were be able to remember 50% more information than the other group. From 8 people, that were going to the party, the doodlers remember on average 7.5 people and noodlers remembered 5.8 people.

But this is, when the subject is not interesting. In that case, doing something mechanical and simple like doodling stopes the mind daydreaming.

When the subject is interesting, that in my opinion the doodling have a mixed effect.

On one hand, the doodling takes away some of the mental power, that could be used on the subject at hand. It lowers the capabilities of the mand, to synthesize the information and sees the big picture while remembering the details.

But on the other hand, doodling help with creativity as well, that can provide additional insights into the material. The simple act of doodling, might be stimulating the brain to connect the subject, that otherwise wouldn’t be connected.

I my experience, it depends on the subject and presentation style.

In reading, the doodling can be distracting, but while listening in the lectures doodling does help.

The subjects, that depend on the details, the doodling usually help me remember.

On the other side are the subjects that relay on understanding, like physics or macroeconomics. Here the doodling isn’t necessary for me, since I seems to grasp the big picture and concepts with no help. Doodles are usually distracting, while my mind finds the connections.

I still mostly use it to strive off the boredom, and not as the memory technique. If you need to remember something and the way it is presented is boring, that give doodling a try. You might be surprised at how much more you remember.

I Procrastinated by Going to the University

I spended the last 2 years and a half getting a bachelor degree. I think I only postponed the real decision. What I want to do in life?

I still remember the day, about 3 years ago, when I was applying for the university. Nobody even posed a question, if going to the university is a good idea. Since our government pays for our education, not going to take advantage of that is considered abnormal.

It was a choice about which subjects to study, than actually a question of going into university or not. With only 3 universities in our country, we usually enrol in the one, that is geographically closest to us.

After all, students get reduced bus and train ticket, cheaper food in some restaurants. They get to have a place in the student’s hall, if they so desire. They did not even have to give anything in return.

The students are the most sought working group. With only 14% taxes on the student’s working income, they make a better choice for the businesses, that are trying to reduce cost. Specially when considered, that they almost have to pay two salary, one to the worker and almost an equal amount to the government.

That means, that a lot of people are going to the university. If I remember correctly, around 80% of young people in our country.

But the average study time, to get a masters degree is a little over 10 years, and only 25% of enrolled students actually achieve it. Even then, the companies are worried about the bottom line, so they tend to find different students to fill the roles.

There are a lot of advertisements for students, that can work for 8 hours a day, 5 days per week. It is a standard working week for the regular employee, not for somebody that was supposed to only work part-time and finishing schooling.

The system is slowly changing, but there are still a ways to play it.

But what I figured it out, that this almost 3 years did not help me find my path. I still do not know, what to do in life. I know I like writing, public speaking, helping people learn and working with systems. But I still don’t know, what I would like to do. What purpose does my life has. Where can I be the best. Where is my contribution the most needed.

That also means, that I have no idea, how I am going to feed myself, after moving away from my parents. I don’t even know, if I have the skill, that people are going to pay for.

So when I finish my bachelor degree in September, I am taking a break from school. If I am ever going to find these answers, than I have to go the the real world.

The University will not fall apart and disappear and I can always return to it at later time. When I will actually know, what I want from life.

How To Figure Out MBTI Type Of Other Person

The MBTI indicator was first made in order to type ourselves. But it is a fun game, to try and type other people. Or maybe you want to communicate better with a person and simply trying to guess a type will make the communication better.

Introversion vs. Extroversion

The introverted people tend to not think out loud. They usually pause and then answer. That can make them excluded from the conversation, if there are a lot of extroverts in it. Because they usually think out loud. They answer immediately and sometimes they only have a clear thought, after saying it outloud. The extroverts also then do mimic the outer world more than introverts.

Intuition vs. Sensing

If a person is a sensing type, they tend to use their past and present experience to talk. On the other hand, intuition types think about the future and the possibilities, making their talk not focused on the now so much. The sensing types also tend to describe thing is a objective manner; the colour, the sound, the shape and so one. The intuition type of people usually associate the thing with something and they tend to at least imply it.

Feeling vs. Thinking

When talking with the person, do they tend to think in a way, that bring harmony or in a logical way. For example, a person who expresses their worries about others first tend to be feeling types. The people, that express the logic of the situation and the cause-effect chains then to be thinking types. That also apply to the arguments. If a person uses values of people then they tend to be feeling type, while the thinking types usually use argument, that are more connected to logic.

Perceiving vs. Judging

The judging people are the ones, that a person can count on. They tend to do the thing on time and plan ahead. On the other hand, the perceiving type can change their mind and might not be as reliable as the judging type. They are the ones, that go with the flow and change direction as they find it fit. On the other hand, the judging type tend to make order, and tries to stick to that order, no matter the outer world. The perceiving types appear relaxed and do not get stressed by changed, while the judging types are the ordered, reliable ones, that can achieve anything that they start doing it.

There are just some indicators, but the fun is, that you can never be 100% sure of a persons type simply from his behavior. Making a educational guess is possible, and just thinking about the person, even if getting the type wrong, can improve communication.

Do INTP Types Need Work-Life Balance?

Work-life balance refers to the balance of the work and the pleasure time. How to connect the working in the job and the other parts of our life.

It seems to me, that this is one of the hip words. That everybody is using. Talking about how people need balance in their life and that they can’t let the work consume and stress them.

But is work really that stressful?

I am an INTP type. I definitely have a strong Ti (Introverted thinking) and Ne (Extroverted Intuition). Since I am a lot more introverted person than extroverted, that makes me INTP type.

I do not have a regular job yet, but I do help with a family business. What I figured it out, that I actually do not mind working long hours, as long as I don’t have to deal with people.

I can work for hours on trying to optimize the IT infrastructure in the company, programing a website, working on a CRM system, translating or being in charge of declarations - including popping them on the products.

When the work was at least a little challenging, that made it actually fun. When I had to program a website for a promotional game, it was really fun. I sometimes worked on it for 8 hours straight, and then wondered, why the time had just flown away.

I can also spend hours, in the storeroom and just lose myself inside my head, as I do mental work.

But what I really didn’t like, when the company tried a calling promotion. In about 20 minutes, I was so frustrated, I couldn't do it anymore. After calling 5 different people, with 3 actually answering, my brain started to overanalyze everything and that was the end of it.

Similarly, if I get interrupted during work, that the possibility of being prepared to do something else lowered. If I am doing something, then I would like to finish it first. For that 2 reasons exist. One is, that if I walk away, than the possibility of finishing something gets considerably lower. The second one is simply, that I don’t like getting interrupted, when I am concentrated on the task. It breaks my metal process.

It did happened before, that I missed the appointment, because I was so deep in the work, that I forgot about the time. I don’t even feel bad for most of it. It is a part of who I am and the people around me either accepted that or faded away.

I do think, that there had to be some other activity, that drives us, especially to use our Ne as well. But I don’t think INTPs can get stressed out by not being able to disconnect. Or getting stress related diseases. As long as we have the jobs, that we can enjoy.

So do we need a work-life balance? Yes, just not in the way it is presented. More like, we need it to keep balanced, not to not get stresses. We also do not need the structure our day around this concept.

Hanlon's Razor in Relationships

Hanlon's razor is a rule, that deals with the reasons behind the malicious acts. It goes like this: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”.

That means, that every time, somebody does something unwanted to you, you can try applying this rule. If that thing can be attributed to either stupidity or lack of knowledge, than it was not done with the evil intention.

One example of that would be, when the person orders you a really tasty pancakes, when he or she doesn’t know, that you have gluten intolerance. It that case, the lack of knowledge is the thing, that is behind that actions, not an intent to make you sick or kill you.

The other example would be, when you best friend introduces you to that person, that will be just perfect for you. But on the end, it turns out that you hate each others guts. That you have no similar points and can’t stand to be in the same room for more than a minute.

Even in this case, the stupidity was the thing that was behind it, not evil intention. The person can predict what kind of connection the 2 people are going to have.

Or the person, that is asking you for help, not knowing, that you have a countless projects to finish and you are not be able to help. Or even worse, they tell you they can’t really help you, just when you would need their help the most.

They can’t see into your head so their lack of knowledge can make them seem unreasonable or even malicious.

Or when you best friend starts dating the guy, you were secretly in love with. But that is just the word. Secretary. The lack of knowledge instead of having any evil intentions.

There is also that person, that was really rude to you, even when you were about to offer you help. The same thing.

That person, that ignored you on the last party, when you really wanted to speak to him or her. The same.

On the end, most of our conflict came from not communicate to each other and applying the evil characteristic to the people around us.

From now one, when a person does something evil-seeming, try to apply the rule. If it could happened because of the lack of knowledge, then assume it happened because of that. Only assume malicious intention, if you are absolutely sure it wasn’t because of the lack of knowledge or stupidity.

Using Information - Case of Reinhart's Report

There is a lot of talk about a student finding an error in the Reinhart and Rogoff report about correlation between public debt and economic growth.

There were three types of mistakes found.

The first mistake was an error in a spreadsheet.

Let’s be honest, that can happened to everybody. That is why we are having a peer-review process, to make sure mistakes a found and corrected. But even so, simply having another person look over the spreadsheet would have solved the problem.

While a lot of people found this the biggest problem, I don’t think it was. Out of the three, it was the smallest.

The second mistake was, that not all the data was included.

They did mention, that some data was not available at the time of the calculations being made, but that does not mean, that things like that should go unmentioned.

I heard about a lot of stories from years ago, when the pharmaceutical enterprise would have limited the data used, so the results would appear more favorable. That could mean, that a defective drug could have come on the market. Or that allergic reactions and unwanted side-effects could have become widespread with using.

These days, the methods to discovering them are widely used, so data manipulation like that have a lot lower chances on not getting discovered.

I am wondering, why do not apply similar methods to other disciplines. Maybe then the data exclusions like that wouldn't have happened.

The third mistake was the calculation method.

The economist have a bad habit. They tend to overcomplicate things. That is why we had some many different financial instruments before the recession, that nobody understood. It was one of the reason, there even was a recession.

The method used in this case was inappropriate, if they wanted to prove what they did. If the peer-review process would have worked as intended, thing like that could be prevented.

I am more wondering, why nobody wanted to go over the calculation, before the report’s finding were used to dictate the policies in the countries. I would have thought, that before the governments would use a research, they would want to check it first.

But that clearly didn’t happened.

On the end, the basic findings were the same, but the correlation was smaller. The underlying truth is still similar before and after.

But what if it wasn’t? What if the next time, there are going to be the quality of lives or in some disciplines the lives themselves on the line?

Which just means, that if the research is truly important, we need to make sure, there are people double checking it. Also, having some scepticism can help.

What Are They Teaching Children?

Recently, I came across an article, that have the pictures of the test taken in one of the American Christian school.

Just reading over the test was a shock to me. I know that Christian school teach religion as well, I am not entirely sure, that religion and science should be mixed.

They are two different disciplines, that see the world through the different lenses. Instead of mixing them, we could let them see the world through both point of you. Even children have the right, to sculpture their own thinking.

But the most shocking questions were on the other side. There were three questions, that made my skin crawl.

Problem question No. 1: Who should we always trust? -God

In science, there is a concept that I really like. It is called scepticism. Nothing is taken at the face value and only after seeing the thing proven, does it become knowledge.

But saying, that a person should always trust a particular source, makes person much more easily to manipulate. After all, the people involved in the Third reich trusted Hitler, as he started genocide on the Jews. The people that did the christianization believed in God, thinking that they are helping the uneducated people see the light, while destroying their culture. The people trusted Miloshevi?, and made the Balkan a war zone, also with genocides.

There are many more examples throughout the history, where feith with no questioning lead to the deaths of people.

Not only that, I was speaking recently about a christian woman, and she told me, that the bible is not a set of rules, but it teaches the spirit. The reason for that is, that the bible contradict itself. Nobody is capable of living by the word of the bible, but they are tying to strive to live in the spirit of the bible.

But if the god is always to be trusted, that means also living by the word of the bible, which is not only impossible, but also limits a person in their own choices.

Problem question No. 2: What is the ‘History Book of the Universe’? -Bible

It is true, that the history was largely written by only the victorious, but that doesn’t mean, that we should not look at all the angles. The same historical happening can be described differently by different people looking from different angles.

Lets take the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945. For the Americans in that time, throwing a bomb, to force a surrender was the way with the least people death. The war on the Pacifics between the Japanese and USA was bloody, where they would fight for every square meter.

The bombs were a way, to stop the fighting, potentially saving thousands of American lives. For them it was ethical.

But at the time, nobody knew the long term effects of the nuclear bomb. The people that suffered the most were Japanese. If they didn’t day in the bombing or days after it, they could still suffer the wounds. The wounds, that made them amputate arms or legs. Or they went blind. Even escaping that, the possibility, that cancer related disease will hit them later in life increased a lot.

Seeing only one part of the story gives us an incomplete picture. That is way, there is never a single view, that is the most correct.

But here the kids are thought, to accept the one book as the real message, and are going to start disregarding anything, that point in the other direction. For proof, read the story of a father, on above page.

Problem question No. 3: Next time somebody said that the Earth is billions (or millions) of years old, what can you say? -Were you there?

We are back to the question of free choice. Teaching children not only not to listen, but ways to make sure they will not listen is bad. Listening is how problems get solved and how we get to see others points of view. Where the learning gets done.

But what they are teaching them here is to disregard everything, that it doesn’t comply with the teaching there.

It is why Galileo Galilei suffered the trial and the home imprisoned, simply for saying that the Earth goes around the sun. He was forced to deny his claims.

But if all the people acted like that, we would still be thinking, that the Earth is flat and the sun goes around Earth. The questioning of the order is what keeps us growing and advancing.

Limiting one's mind, especially in the young age, will have a negative effect on the future of society. I don’t mind people teaching the through the point of view of the religion, but don’t force them into sheeps. The people need to learn to think for themselves. We should strive for that goal, instead of making people defencive and unwilling to learn and adapt.

You can see the pictures and an article here.

Does It Matter How We Are Buried After Death?

There are 7 billion people in the Earth now, and all of them are going to die in the next 100 years. This is going to pose a problem in the future.

There are two usual ways to deal with the body after death. One is cremation. The other is burial of the whole body. But there are problems with both of them.

Cremation burns the body, releasing all the toxins, that we have accumulated in our body. That makes the quality of air a lot lower, making the lives of the living being worse. The pollution in the air is even force, if additional chemicals are used, to preserve a body and make it look normal for the mourning period.

The problem with normal burial is the space. Where do we have the space, to bury more than 7 billion people? If each person needs only 2 m2, that means 14 000 km2 of space. There are 89 countries on the world, that are smaller than that. Not only that, between the burial spaces, there have to be paths as well. Not to mention, that people are getting born every minute, increasing the number of the people, that will eventually die.

With more and more people on Earth, it is going to become a huge problem. One will will need to solve.

But is it really important, how we are buried?

In my opinion it isn’t. After I die, I know that I don’t care, what happens to my body. You can use my bones to play music for all I care.

I don’t care how my body is used. If it can save somebody’s life, if it can help science, if it is going to pollute the air. I will have no word in it. I am going to be gone, either forever or to the other world.

Egyptians used to believe, that the soul, that left the body at death is one day going to return to the body. That is way, they tried to preserve the body the best way they knew how.

But returning to the dried out body is probably going to be disturbing. An experience, I would not want to live through. If not preserving a body will make me unable to return to it, than I am completely for not preserving a body. The people have to move forward and grow or they disappear. Returning to the body would be regressing.

There is also the notion in Christianity, that the body should be buried on the holy soil. That is the reason, that they didn’t allow the sinners to be buried at the church.

But I don’t think the god, if it even exist, cares about where are shells are buried. He wants faith and belief, not our bodies. For what other reason is the soul immortal and the body not.

Even if they will come back in the end, as promised in the bible, I highly doubt most people will be happy, to return to their bodies, as they left them behind. By that time, most of the bodies will be only bone left.

There will be a lot of skeletons.

So I don’t really think it matters, how will we be buried after death. We will be gone or moved away from it, and hopefully never to return it.

Can You Hear the Birds?

That habit of mine started years ago. I have read somewhere, that in order to hear the birds, a person have to be completely relaxed. Calm to the extremes.

I couldn't understand that at the time. Birds near mine home, were always loud in the mornings. If I didn't woke up in time, they would awake me. But at other times, I simply didn’t hear them.

That meant, that I didn’t know it the author was lying, since I couldn’t hear them or I simply wasn’t as relaxed as I thought.

So I made that my goal. I will be able to hear the birds all the time. I would remember at most random moments and try to listen for their song.

Discounting the times, when I was inside the building, and the closed windows prevented me from hearing them, it was a partial success. I was be able to hear them most of the time, but not all the time.

Eventually I stopped and I forgot about the challenge for years.

But sometimes, in the most random moments, the voice of the birds would penetrated my existence. Sometimes it sounded like one bird, and sometimes it was really loud. So loud, I started to wonder, why more people are not bothered by it. Just walking around, like the birds aren’t making a row.

I also don’t think, that they ever stop. I was walking around Berlin in 4 o’clock in the morning and I could hear them loud and clear. When I go to sleep, I can hear them through my window, be it an early evening or after midnight. I can hear them when I wake up. I can hear them when thinking about, what to eat for lunch, when going home. I can hear them when leaving for my evenings.

All of that without even trying. I don’t try to listen to them anymore. Their song invites itself through my ears and calms me down even further.

While writing this, I can hear them, as I am watching over the river, sitting on the bench.

Nowadays I agree with the author. My life is becoming more relaxed every year and every year, I am be able to enjoy the small miracles like that more and more. So try it next time you are outside. Can you hear the birds? If you can’t, ask yourself, what is worrying you.