Tuesday, February 27, 2018

English World 1 Unit 12 Writing p.125

(Supplementary Materials for Specific Textbooks--English World 1)

Google Drive HERE
PowerPoint: drive, slides, pub
Scrambled Sentences: drive, docs, pub

A Goofy Movie

(Movie Reviews)

This movie came out in 1995.  It's kind of based on The Goof Troop TV show.
I'm just seeing it now.

More Background / My History with the Franchise
This movie is based off of The Goof Troop TV show.
Kind of.  Although they did sort of reboot things for the movie.  They changed some of the voice actors, got rid of some of the characters from the TV show (e.g. Peg, Pistol), and added in some new characters for the movie (Roxanne, Bobby, Stacy).

[Sidenote: I read online somewhere that part of the reason Disney retooled and recast premise for the theatrical version is because the Ducktales movie had under-performed at the box office, making the studio leery of directly transferring another show to the big screen.]

The Goof Troop TV show premiered on the Disney Channel when I was in 8th Grade.  And I did  watch the TV show.

8th Grade is right about that age where you're beginning to feel embarrassed about watching cartoons, but you still watch them anyway.  (I trust I'm not just speaking for myself here, right?)
Plus, I had always been a huge Disneyphile growing up, so I was keen to keep track of what the Disney characters were up to, even if I did feel like I was outgrowing it a bit.
I liked Goof Troop. I don't remember it quite as fondly as some of the other Disney Afternoon Cartoons, but that could have been because this one came out right when I was growing out of the whole thing.  But Goof Troop was good Saturday Morning Cartoon fare.  It was a suburban comedy, which was different than the usual adventure-driven plot of shows like Ducktales, but it was different in just the right way.   It was funny seeing Goofy's life in the suburbs, and I remember each episode usually had a big wacky slapstick finish (e.g. an out of control fire engine careens around the neighborhood, etc.)

A Goofy Movie, however, came out 3.5 years later, which was right around the time I was graduating from high school.  At 18, I was definitely too old to be interested in this movie, and gave it a pass.

I do remember reading a couple reviews of it when it came out.  (Just because I read reviews of all new movies).  And I remember reviewers panning it at the time.

Strangely enough, however, the movie seems to have become a cult classic over the years.  At least with the generation that has come up since mine.
The Nostalgia Critic notes this in his review of A Goofy Movie.

And, I've got to say, although the Nostalgia Critic's review was my first hint of this, searching around a bit on the Internet has confirmed this for me.  There are a lot of dedicated fans of this movie among the under 25 crowd.

I'm too old to remember A Goofy Movie fondly, but of course I understand the phenomenon easily enough.  I am also nostalgic for all kinds of cartoons from my own youth--even the ones that weren't really all that great.
It's a funny thing nostalgia.  It prevents each generation from ever objectively viewing the media of their childhood, and it has a way of making today's trash into tomorrow's nostalgic classics.
You know all those stupid kids movies that everyone is complaining about nowadays?  Twilight, and The Emoji Movie and Peter Rabbit?  In 20 years they'll all be fondly remembered as classics by the generation that grew up with them.
(I'm given to understand that the same thing has happened with the Star Wars prequels.  People who were 5 years old when they came out are now full-grown adults now, and many of them don't understand what the problem with the prequels are.)

Anyways...where was I again?  Oh right, A Goofy Movie

Why I Watched This Movie
In spite of what The Nostalgia Critic said about this movie having become a cult classic, I felt no particular desire to watch the whole thing through from beginning to end.  (The Nostalgia Critic's summary of the movie more than satiated any curiosity I might have had).  If left to my own devices, I would never have watched this movie.
But, I ended up watching this movie because I my class voted to watch it.
I've been doing a lot of movie worksheets in my classes the past couple years.
I used to just pick the movies myself.  (My general philosophy is to never let the students pick the movie).  But over the past year my students have gotten increasingly picky about the movie, so I've had to do compromise more and more.  I've started providing them with a list of 6 movies, and they vote on which one they want to do.
The last time around, I decided to include A Goofy Movie as one of the choices.  Even though I had never seen it myself, I was influenced by the Nostalgia Critics video, and how this movie had become such a classic with the generation that grew up with it.  There must be something in it that would appeal to the target audience, right?
Well, my class voted to do this movie.  So over the past couple months we watched it in class (about 5 minutes per class with a worksheet).  And now that we're all finished with the whole thing, here's my movie review.

The Review
So... with apologies to the fans of this movie, I didn't think it was anything special.
I mean, I get the "being nostalgic for the movies of your childhood" thing.  I really do.  But for me, watching this movie for the first time at 39, it didn't have quite the same impact.

Which is not to say it's a bad movie.  It's a perfectly serviceable as a cartoon.  It's about everything you'd expect A Goofy Movie to be.
There are a few good laughs, some decent slapstick, and a suitable wacky ending with a careening out-of-control car.

But, the movie never really feels like a real movie.  It feels like an hour long version of the TV show.
It works great as a home video, but I would sure have felt cheated if I had driven to the theater during it's initial theatrical release.

This movie was produced by DisneyToons Studios, which you may remember, was responsible for a plague of Disney sequels during the late 1990s.
As, as Lindsay Ellis says in her video essay on Disney Sequels. the big problem with all of these movies was that they were produced by TV people, and they all had the pacing of a TV show and the stakes of a TV episode.

And boy is that ever true of A Goofy Movie.  The animation quality is a bit better than the Goof Troop  TV show, but the plot, pacing, and stakes are geared much more for the small screen than for the big screen.

In fact, the plot is so thin that it can barely cover the 78 minute running time.
The plot is about Goofy's attempt to reconnect with his teenage son over the course of a road trip.  But it's one of those movies where (in order to pad the run-time) the relationship keeps going up and down.  They start out on horrible terms.  Then they come to appreciate each other.  Then, something will happen to reset the relationship, and they'll be back to being on horrible terms again.  (By my count, the relationship went from bad to good and then reset again 3 times over the course of the movie).

But, my students (8-10 years old) loved it.  They laughed at all the gags.  They kept commenting throughout the movie: "Teacher, it's so funny!"  And they broke into applause at the end.  So the film does seem to hit all the right notes with its target audience.

Other Notes
* Pauly Shore is in this movie.  (He plays Max's friend Bobby).  And he's doing his typical drugged-out-surfer voice shtick.
I absolutely hated Pauly Shore in the 1990s, when he was everywhere.  I thought he was the most annoying thing ever.
But... he's actually alright in this movie.
After watching this movie, I've decided that the key to Pauly Shore is that he works best in small doses.  He should never have starred in any of his own movies, but he works fine as a side character.  A little bit of his shtick goes a long ways.

Rating :
5 out of 10 Stars (Absolutely nothing wrong with this movie--it hits all the notes you'd expect it to hit--but nothing great about it either.  A solid 5 for being average).

Video Review
Video Review HERE and embedded below:

Link of the Day
Chris Hedges (Feb 27, 2018) - Interviews Noam Chomsky

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Kaboom--Present Continuous

(TESOL Worksheets--Present Continuous, Any Grammar Point)
Google: drive, docs, pub
PowerPoint: driveslidespub
[This specific worksheet I designed for the present continuous.  But the general game of Kaboom can be used with any grammar point, so I'm also indexing it with my "Any Grammar Point" activities.
Directions: before class, cut up the cards, and fold them over so that the picture can not be seen.
The game starts when a student picks up a card.  They unfold it to see what the picture is.  They must then make a present continuous sentence using the verb in that picture.  If they can successfully make a grammatically correct present continuous sentence, then they get one point.
However, if they pick up one of the cards which reads "Kaboom", then they lose all their points.
To preteach the vocabulary used in this game, you can use this PowerPoint: drive, slides, pub]

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

So Slideshow

(Movie slideshow Grammar Sections--Conjunctions)

Taken from Princess Mononoke -- Part 3

Presentation only version: slidespub

Version with example sentences from Princess Mononokeslidespub

Christopher Hitchens on Billy Graham

Black Panther

(Movie Review)

Why I Saw This Movie
I was almost going to give this one a pass.  I had been seeing a lot of superhero movies lately, and superhero movie fatigue was beginning to set in.
These Marvel movies all tie together, so you kind of have to see them eventually just to be all caught up on the continuity.  And I knew if I didn't see it in the theaters, I'd eventually end up seeing it on the small screen (like I did with Age of Ultron).  So might as well see it in the theater.
Then all those reviews started coming in.  People were really raving about this movie.  And then I absolutely had to see it.

Expectations Going In
I suspect my expectations leading into this movie were similar to most people.  But correct me if your experience differed from mine.
1). This is just going to be one of those little Marvel movies to tide us over until the next Avengers crossover.
2). Wow! Everyone's raving about this movie.  It's supposed to be the best Marvel movie ever!  People were calling it Marvel's first Shakespearean epic.  People were calling it the next evolution of Marvel movies.
3). And then the counter-reaction set in.  A lot of people started posting on the Internet something along the line of: "It wasn't a bad movie, but it's nowhere near as good as everyone's been saying."

...put me in group 3 right now.  It wasn't a bad movie, but it was nowhere good as everyone has been saying.  But let's get in to the positives first.

* The acting is great.
I had never seen Michael B. Jordan in anything before.  But that guy is a great actor.  (It's almost a shame he was wasted in the villain role.  The guy should be a leading man in his own right.  He just exudes charisma.)
The actress who plays Shuri (Black Panther's sister) was also great.
And, as much as I hate to be the guy who praises the only two white characters in the film, both Martin Freeman and Andy Serkis were great.
I love Martin Freeman's comic facial expressions.  (That look of exasperation he had when he was talking to Andy Serkis was great).  And Andy Serkis was just amazing!

* This movie definitely solved Marvel's villain problem.

* The movie avoids the temptation to focus in only on the hero, and makes this movie a real ensemble cast.  It wasn't just about the Black Panther, it was about the whole leadership of Wakanda.

* I know people always hate that the Marvel movies are always setting up future movies.  It's an interesting system Marvel has of doing the old set-up and pay-off across movies rather than within a movie.  It's annoying when you're watching the movie with the set-up.  But it is kind of satisfying when you get to the pay-off.
Andy Serkis and the Vibranium was one of my least favorite parts of Age of Ultron.  But it was kind of nice to see that plot thread now paying off in Black Panther.

* Severe pacing problems.  Especially in the first act.
Too much standing around and talking about how great Wakanda is.
There was some action sequences in the beginning, which were intended to break-up the exposition, but I actually found them just as boring as the talking (I think because I didn't really know who the people were, and the stakes were not clear.)  That whole challenge fight scene at the beginning had me confused as to what the point was.  In fact that whole "becoming King" ceremony followed by the "becoming King Vision" ceremony of act 1 was way too long and boring.

* Why are they constantly switching back and forth between Wakandan and English.  If you want to have them speaking Wakandan to build the illusion of authenticity, go for it.  And if you want them to just speak English, then go for it.  But what is with all that switching back and forth?

* A lot of these Marvel movies have suffered from the problem of having undefined powers, or undefined magic technology, that just works when it is convenient to the plot.  This movie has the "undefined magic technology" problem in spades.

I know progressives, and people of color, seemed to have embraced this movie.  But during those opening tribal ceremony scenes, I couldn't help but think to myself that this movie was using every African tribe stereotype in the book.  It was almost like watching one of those jungle adventure movies from the 1930s.
Would you call this racist? Well, you wouldn't, would you?  Because the writers are both black, and the director is black.
It made me think a bit about how the stereotype itself isn't as important as the intention behind it.
It also made me think a bit  about how almost all visual representation on film is some kind of stereotype.
Even films or dramas that are supposed to be based on real life make use of stereotypes.  For example 90201 Beverly Hills is nothing like a real American high school.  It's a stereotype based on our images of what a typical American high school is.

Rating :
6 out of 10.  (Slightly above average, but nowhere near as good as everyone says it is.)

Marvel Cinematic Universe Links:
1. Iron Man
2. The Incredible Hulk
3. Iron Man 2
4. Thor
5. Captain America: The First Avenger
6. The Avengers
7. Iron Man 3
8. Thor 2: Dark World--Haven't seen yet
9. Captain America 2: Winter Soldier
10. Guardians of the Galaxy
11. Avengers: Age of Ultron
12. Ant-Man
13. Captain America 3: Civil War
14. Doctor Strange--Haven't seen yet
15. Guardians of the Galaxy 2
16. Spider-Man: Homecoming
17. Thor: Ragnarok

Video Review
Video Review HERE and embedded below:

Link of the Day
Noam Chomsky on Donald Trump and the prospect of nuclear war

Monday, February 19, 2018

"the same" versus "sameness"

(Grammar Questions I Couldn't Answer)

My wife (L1 Vietnamese) was reading a novel in English, and came upon the word "sameness" being used in a sentence.

"Is this a real English word?" she asked.
I said yes.  (It was low-frequency, certainly, and maybe slightly unusual, but it still seemed to fall within the bounds of acceptable usage.)
"What does  it mean?" she asked.
"It's just the noun form of 'same'," I said.  "You know how '-ness' can change an adjective into a noun--like 'happy' and 'happiness'."
"But isn't 'same' already a noun?" she asked.
"No, it's an adjective.  For example: 'That is the same book'."
"But how come we use it with 'the'," she said.  "We often say 'the same'.  I thought 'the' was only used in front of nouns."

...and this I couldn't answer.


I looked this up in  Practical English Usage by Michael Swan.  Swan said:
"We normally use the before same. Give me the same again, please." (p.490).  But Swan never says why.

Update, Update:

I asked my manager about this, and he said the reason we use "the" before "same" is because there's always an implied ellipted noun phrase.  So "Give me the same again"  is short for "Give me the same thing that I had before again."
Tom Holland (whose book, Rubicon, I really liked) tweeted yesterday:

The best up-dating of the Trojan War by miles is Dan Simmons’ Ilium: the Iliad restaged on 30th century Mars by nano-enhanced super-humans (aka the gods).  A plus is that the novel also features dinosaurs.
Yes, Olympos is equally good. Anyone with an interest in the Trojan War who hasn’t read them has such a treat in store.

I've also read Ilium and Olympus.  My reviews here and here.  
I'm not quite as enthusiastic about these books as Tom Holland.  In fact, in 2016 I put these books on my list of  10 Worst Books: Fiction.
But... on reflection, I was probably a bit too hard on these books.  
I was ultimately disappointed by the ending.  And that disappointment colored how I remembered the books as a whole.  But, I really enjoyed the books as I was reading them.  Dan Simmons definitely held my attention while I was reading him, and he did a very good job at re-writing the Iliad.
Are Bullies Bad People?

Still trying to help this guy get the recognition he deserves.  Like, share, and subscribe.

Predictions On the Future of Gun Violence

(I've been travelling the past week, so you'll have to forgive me being a few days late on this.)

So... another mass shooting, huh?

Allow me, then, to make a couple predictions on what is going to happen in the next couple years.  (I've had a history - of - being - wrong since I started this little prediction game, but this time I'm pretty sure this is low-hanging fruit).

1).  Absolutely no gun control reform will happen because of this latest mass shooting.  (I wish it wasn't so, but it's the cold hard political reality.)

2).  There will be another mass shooting within at least two years.  Probably within one Year.  (I take no pleasure in saying this, but it's just statistics at this point.  If our current trends continue, it's likely that we'll have another mass shooting before 365 days have passed.  It's a near certainty we won't make it to 730 without another mass shooting).

In light of all this, if I were the Democrat Party leadership, here's what I would do:
Full out embrace the mental health care aspect of it.

I know, I know, it's ridiculous.  (As I pointed out after Sandy Hook,  mental health issues are a problem in every country.  We're the only country that has regular mass shootings.)
But gun control reform is not on the table yet.  It's just not.
And Democrats have been wanting to get back funding for mental health ever since Reagan cut all government funding back in 1981 (W).  So if Republicans are putting this on the table, why not take it?

Just say to the Republicans, "Fine, you guys win.  I guess this was all about mental health all along after all.  Let's just fund all those mental health hospitals just like you guys wanted to."
Then, not only could we get some much needed funding for mental health, also the next time there is a mass gun shooting (and there will be more), then we can say: "Okay, we tried your plan.  Now let's try gun control."

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Especially vs Particularly

(Grammar Questions I Couldn't Answer)

I was helping one of my students proofread her cover-letter for an internship application.
She had written:
"I'm a really passionate person and love studying the law.  Especially, I love studying domestic law."

Based on my native speaker intuition alone, I said, " 'Particularly' would be better here."

The student was a bit surprised.  I think she had been taught that "especially" and "particularly" were the same.

I struggled to explain the difference, but failed. 

Actually, although this is the first time I've blogged about it, I feel like this question has come up a lot over my years of teaching. 

(Further thought....Upon re-reading that sentence, the "especially" would work if I just changed the word order.  "I especially love studying domestic law."  Maybe it's a syntax thing instead of a meaning thing.)
I should have linked to this several days ago, but better late than never.
Also in "Hey! I know that Guy!" news...
Whisky Prajer has had two articles published:
* Borrow a Story from Your Local Seed Library  and
* Following the Trail to Culinary History

...as someone who has zero interest in either topic, I have to admit that I approached both of these articles with low hopes.  But then I found myself so easily carried by Whisky's readable prose that I ended up reading and enjoying both.

Monday, February 12, 2018

If I Were the King of the World... (2nd Conditional)

(TESOL Worksheets-- 2nd Conditional)
Google: docs, pub
This was a worksheet/group project that I made to practice the 2nd conditional.  (In my class, this worksheet was the basis for groups to make a short presentation on what they would do if they were king of the world.)
I used two lead-ins with this worksheet.  The first was the "Jeremiah was a bullfrog..." song (a.ka. "Joy to the World".  The original Three Dog Night version is not appropriate for the classroom, so I used one of the children's versions on the web. 
One such version is HERE.  I played the song, and asked the students to identify the 2nd Conditional sentence: ("If I were the king of the world, tell you what I'd do...")
The second lead-in was a poem entitled: If I Were The King Of The World Poem by Arden Davidson  (Link HERE).  I read this to the students, and asked them to write down all the things that the narrator would do if he were king of the world.
Then, I handed out the worksheet, and had the students make their own sentences in groups.

2nd Conditionals
If Clause
Result Clause
V2 (past simple)
would/ could
V1 (Infinitive)
were the king of the world

were the king of the world

were the king of the world

were the king of the world

were the king of the world

were the king of the world

were the king of the world

Today in Hey, I know that Guy!
A friend and co-worker, Sam, has started up a blog.  Link HERE
Like me, Sam has spent time living in both Cambodia and Vietnam.  He's currently in the Vietnamese Countryside, and has been blogging about life out there.

Of particular interest is his post:
The Death of a Puppy and the Fallacy of Moral Equivalence

...which combines a personal story about dog thieves in Vietnam with an opinion piece on why it's wrong to eat dog meat.

For a counterpoint, a Vietnamese writer recently defended eating dog meat in one of the English speaking magazines in Vietnam:
Telling Vietnamese to stop eating dog meat is barking up wrong tree: In Vietnam, dog meat is the norm
He basically says: "Foreigners are hypocritical for criticizing Vietnamese for eating dog meat.  You should either put up with it, and accept that it's the custom here, or go back home."

The latter article was posted to the Expats in Ho Chi Minh City Facebook page, where people argued about it endlessly in the comments thread.  (As I mentioned before, this Facebook page attracts people who just want to argue.)
Many people argued that eating dogs was no different than eating other animals.  Many people argued that eating dogs was morally wrong because dogs are man's best friend.

My own bias is as follows:
Dogs are not like chickens.  Anyone who has ever owned a dog knows that they are capable of showing humans a level of affection, and  a level of loyalty, that cows and chickens do not. 

I read on the Internet years ago that the domestication of dogs happened because some wolves started hanging around human tribes.  Humans would give them the leftover bones from the meat. In return, the wolves started helping them hunt.  Pretty soon, the wolves trusted the humans enough to leave their puppies with the humans while they went out to hunt. 

To then kill and eat dogs now seems like a violation of this trust.

(My friend Sam makes exactly the same points in his blog post, but I'm also claiming them as my own because I've been using these same talking points for years during various "bar stool" debates about eating dogs.)

All that being said, this is one of the issues I do kind of go back and forth on depending on what mood you catch me in.  There are days when I'm close to agreeing with people who say that there's no moral distinction between different types of animal meat.  
But most days, I'm anti-dog meat.  For the reasons mentioned above.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

I've linked to this Adam's Answers once before, but I'm beginning to be concerned that this series isn't getting the amount of views it deserves.  This guy is putting a lot of work into these videos, and deserves more.  (I'm biased, of course, because he's an old friend from the high school and college days.  But still...)

Link, share, subscribe, retweet... Do whatever you can to help this Youtube channel grow.

Shanghai Disneyland: Copying the 3 Ginger Sisters trip! // Adam's Answers

Friday, February 09, 2018

Don't Watch the Olympics

From George Orwell:
I am always amazed when I hear people saying that sport creates goodwill between the nations, and that if only the common peoples of the world could meet one another at football or cricket, they would have no inclination to meet on the battlefield. Even if one didn't know from concrete examples (the 1936 Olympic Games, for instance) that international sporting contests lead to orgies of hatred, one could deduce it from general principles.

Nearly all the sports practised nowadays are competitive. You play to win, and the game has little meaning unless you do your utmost to win. On the village green, where you pick up sides and no feeling of local patriotism is involved. it is possible to play simply for the fun and exercise: but as soon as the question of prestige arises, as soon as you feel that you and some larger unit will be disgraced if you lose, the most savage combative instincts are aroused. Anyone who has played even in a school football match knows this. At the international level sport is frankly mimic warfare. But the significant thing is not the behaviour of the players but the attitude of the spectators: and, behind the spectators, of the nations who work themselves into furies over these absurd contests, and seriously believe — at any rate for short periods — that running, jumping and kicking a ball are tests of national virtue.

From Noam Chomsky:

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Ooh, too perfect.

Someone redubbed the Dodge RAM commercial using different audio from Martin Luther King, Jr.  From the exact same speech.

What Martin Luther King Actually Thought About Car Commercials

Monday, February 05, 2018

I've been hating this new Han Solo Prequel ever since the idea was first announced.

I hate prequels as a matter of principle.

Rogue One I was willing to give a pass to, because it was at least a cool idea.

But a Han Solo prequel?  That has got to be the laziest, most brain dead idea Disney ever came up with.

Recently I tweeted out a Forbe's article which I agreed with: Why I Want "Solo: A Star Wars Story" to Fail

...but then, after seeing the two trailers released yesterday, I'm beginning to think maybe it looks kind of cool after all.  I'm thinking maybe I might want this movie to be great after all.

I don't know.  So conflicted.
Tune-in in 3 months time for my review and see how I end up feeling about it.

Adventures in Arguing with People in Facebook Comment Threads... (Continued)

There's a Facebook group that most Expats in Ho Chi Minh City are a part of.  It's a good way to get information about what's going on in the city.

There's also a lot of arguing and bickering that goes on.  (Some people come to the Internet specifically to argue about stuff.)

I posted an argument I had in the comment threads of this Facebook group last year.  And now I'm going to do it again.  (Re-posting Facebook arguments is admittedly incredibly self-indulgent, but sometimes if I think the topic is interesting, I get the urge to throw it up on the blog on the off-chance it might interest someone else.  Feel free to ignore this if it's not at all interesting to you.  All names have been removed and replaced by XXXX.)

Anyway, someone posted in the group Facebook page:
Everywhere I go I get cut off in queues, I get grabbed physically to be shown things, my questions are ignored or answered with the wrong answer without care if understood or not, service is expedited, rarely any form of greeting is ever used. Help me understand is the culture different or are just bad people to blame?
Actually, before I give my response to this, let me give some background.
About every week, someone will post something like this on the Facebook page.  And then people will flood into the comments section.  Half the people will post something like, "Yes, you're absolutely right, Vietnamese people are the worst!"  and half the people will post something like, "You are a racist jerk.  If you don't like Vietnamese people, you should go home!"

In all the fighting and mud-slinging, no one ever says the obvious, which is that the person is going through Culture Shock, and that these kind of reactions are perfectly normal in Stage 2 Culture Shock.

The JET Programme (W), which I did from 2001-2004, to its credit, did a lot to warn its participants about Culture Shock.  We went through a lot of training seminars and orientation sessions in which we were told about the stages of Culture Shock, and what the expected time line would be.

This is really valuable information, and every organization that recruits people to work or teach abroad should tell their employees about this.
Unfortunately, most of them don't.
In my years since JET, working in Cambodia and Vietnam, I've realized how little information most expats have about Culture Shock.
I've often encountered co-workers who are really depressed about Cambodia or Vietnam, and I have to explain to them that they are going through Culture Shock, because they don't know what is happening.  No one had ever warned them about what to expect when they were recruited to teach abroad.

So, anyway, I chimed in the comment section, to try to explain to this young man what was happening to him.
This sounds like classic stage 2 culture shock. I'm guessing you have been in Vietnam now somewhere between 2 and 6 months. Is this correct?
He responded:
well I've been around Southeast Asia for a while and I'm myself of partial East Asian heritage so it's not like I'm unfamiliar with the peculiarities of Asian cultures, what I'm saying is very specific to VN.
I said:
According to the models of culture shock, what you're expressing is perfectly normal at about the 2 month to 6 months stage. Just out of curiosity, is this the length of time you've been in Vietnam at this point?
He said:
Yeah 4 months now but a lot of long-term expats I've talked to don't seem much more at ease either here or have just stopped trying to integrate. Psychologically the gap between Western culture and Sinic cultures is huge. So far the most cryptic place I've been among all 10 ASEAN countries. The mix of communism, confucianism and European colonialism has a very paradoxal feel.
I said:
 Aah. Classic. Textbook Case. You may find it useful to research the Culture Shock cycle to better understand what's going on right now.

And then he said:
I wouldn't call it a culture shock in the sense as I either disapprove morally or just don't grasp the underlying cultural assumptions that drive these behaviors. Culture shock is going to India, what I am referring to is just ethically objectionable in most world cultures.
Classic, huh?  At the very same time he's asserting that he's not in Culture Shock, he's saying that he disproves of everything that's going on and can't grasp the underlying cultural assumptions--which is the definition of Culture Shock.
It is interesting though.  In my experience, very rarely do people who are going through Culture Shock have the self-awareness to realize what is happening to them.
And I'd include myself in that category.  Even after all the training on Culture Shock that the JET Programme had given me, I still didn't recognize I was in Culture Shock when it initially hit me.  I thought that I was just accurately perceiving how awful things were, and didn't realize that my perceptions were being colored by Stage 2 Culture Shock.
It wasn't until afterwards that, with hindsight, I realized what had been going on.
There must be something about the human brain--most of us just don't have the meta-cognitive abilities to realize when something is affecting our thought processes.  We just assume we're thinking rationally all the time, even when we're not.

So I replied:
At the risk of being insistent, I've got to say that this comment is only further convincing me you're in stage 2 right now. It happens to all of us expats. Don't worry. I've gone through it myself. I suggest you google "Culture Shock Cycle" and read through a few different sites to understand what you're going through. You're going to be feeling negative about Vietnam for a few more months yet to come, but you'll work through it eventually.
He replied:
Westerners don't realize the much larger body of socialization Asian cultures involve, we aren't talking about modern individualistic, egalitarian, rational cultures, they are collectivistic, hierarchical, symbolical ones. What people do and why they do it is different than why you would or not.
...and at this point I just gave up.
He's so convinced that Vietnamese people are awful that he doesn't want to entertain the idea that something irrational might be coloring his thinking.  This is typical of Stage 2 Culture Shock.  (I know because I've been there.)  He'll work through it eventually, but he's got to get there on his own.

However, this being a public Facebook page, a couple other people chimed in.  Random Person number 1:
@joelswagman I bet most people active on this group are here between 2 and 6 months :D especially people expressing opinions about Vietnam as XXXX did. I wouldn't call it a culture shock necessarily, just expressing opinions :D
I also sometimes get irritated by this. Acting in various sneaky ways is typical for Vietnam. I visited many countries, rich and poor, including India and Nepal, never have I encountered so many ways to slightly cheat. Like pretending not to understand or hear questions, cutting into lines, giving a change which is too small. It's not a big deal, but it's irritating. I think I know the reasons, but it would be a long discussion, and no to have in this place. My country has a similar political history in some ways, and that's why I think I know how some political issues influence mentality.
However, I don't intend to say I don't like this country, it's just being a m**ucker is more acceptable here than elsewhere, but there are many many nice, kind people.
(XXXX equals the original poster).
I suspect the above person is also Stage 2, but I let it go.

Random person #2 was a bit ruder, and got under my skin a bit more.  (What is it about the Internet that makes people so rude?):
How many South-east Asian countries have you lived in or spent any considerable time in, Joel Swagman? Just reiterating something you read about culture shock on Google seems like pretty unconvincing advice TBH.
I probably should have ignored this, because when you respond at length to comments like this, it just lets them know that they got to you.  But... I responded at length.
I realize Google isn't ideal, but it isn't a website so much as a resource for searching other websites, some of which are credible and some of which aren't. At any rate, what would you have me do? The document I linked to in my first comment is from Princeton University. Other than that, I can't hand XXXX a book.
I first studied the Culture Shock Cycle in a University class. It's a credible theory that is subscribed to by all psychologists
I myself have spent 8 years in Japan, 4 years in Cambodia, 1 year in Australia, and now 3 years in Vietnam. In each country I've lived in, I've not only gone through the cycle myself, but seen other people go through it. Most people go through the predictable stages in a very predictable time line. It's incredible how predictable it is. That's why I immediately knew XXXX was somewhere between the 2 to 6 months stage.
I fibbed here slightly.  Culture Shock had come up briefly in a couple of my college classes, but the professors hadn't talked about it in depth.  I did have a high school social studies teacher who was very interested in the topic, and he had told us a lot about Culture Shock, but high school doesn't sound as impressive.  My primary source of information is still all the orientation sessions from the JET Programme, but I didn't want to bother with having to explain what that was.  So I just lied and said I studied it in University.
Everything else, though, is true.