Thursday, April 29, 2010

Massive Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico

This is not good. Read this article from the New York Times to learn more.

h/t to Marine Conservation News


The Humphrey Winterton Collection of East African Photographs: 1860-1960

This is an extensive and fascinating collection of old photographs that you can browse through online.

h/t to Africa is a Country


WIG (Wing in Ground) Ships

As I was reading over MOMAF's "Blue Revolution" document, which outlines how the Korean government plans to develop Korea's maritime industries, I came upon this entry entitled "Promoting the Utilization of Large-sized WIG Ships." I'd never heard of WIG ships so I googled it and here is the first picture that came up.
Apparently these airplane/ship hybrids have been long been in development both for their potential military applications (see this PPT presentation) and as a middle-ground shipping option because they are cheaper than airplanes and faster than ships.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Rainbow Nation's far off Pot of Gold

Here is an interesting piece by Xolela Mangcu as he promotes his new book "Reflections on the Revolution of Our Times: From Mandela to Malema."

Monday, April 26, 2010

Blame Confucianism

The Banner reads"ChungPyung Fishing Cooperative Environmental Clean-up Operation"

Here is an excerpt from "Evaluation of the ocean governance system in Korea."

The constituency on ocean governance in Korea was
weak. This was due mainly to a long history of
Confucianism in Korean society. Generally, the practice
of Confucianism in Korea has not reached familiarity with
the oceans and coastal zone [20]. This practice and culture
still remain in Korean society."

Perhaps surprisingly this was written by one Cho Dong-Oh, a native Korean at the Korean Maritime Institute in 2005. In addition to being simply logically unclear, i.e. in what sense could the "practice of Confucianism" conceivably "reach familiarity with the oceans," Mr. Cho does not elaborate at all on how the Confucian culture of Korean citizens has stifled constituency building efforts.

Furthermore knowledgeable constituencies for coastal governance have actually always existed in Korea. Eochongyes (어촌계), best described as local fisher cooperatives, are still existent and have long been the traditional means by which Korean's have managed their coastal and marine common-pool resources.
So it is likely that when Mr. Cho speaks of weak constituencies he actually means that citizens have historically have not been informed about, or perhaps not supportive of, the plans and activities of the national government in coastal and marine environments.
So in a way, though I doubt as he intended, Mr. Cho is correct in stating that Confucian values are to blame for weak constituencies. But the cause of this ignorance and lack of support is not the Confucian values of the citizenry, but those of the authoritarian leadership in Seoul.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

New Andrei Lankov article "Life of Writer Yi Kwang-su: From Nationalist to Collaborator"

Interesting piece about the first "modern" Korean author.

h/t to


The "Leaders Debate" in the UK

Watch David Cameron, John Clegg, and Gordon Brown debate international and national issues. Its pretty entertaining. I went for a hike this weekend with a British fellow. One of my pet peeves is the obsession that many non-American's have with American politics often to the exclusion of their own national politics and almost always that of any other nation. Here is a chance to educate yourself about another nation and its leaders. I don't think any of the three was a clear winner. Brown rather tiresomely played the "experience" card over and over again. I confess however that while living in the UK many years ago I never paid much attention to its politics, and in general, being from a generally libertarian persuasion, I find most of European politics to be boring and unattractive. To put it crudely they are all unashamedly nanny states. And it looks as if America may be headed in their direction. It is amazing to me that we have come to the point where many people defend a form of government that takes from them half (or more) of everything that they earn.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Deceptive, mistaken, or just convenient labeling at the "Korea Maritime Institute?"

The Korea Maritime Institute (KMI) is one of two major marine policy research institutes in Korea. The other, and older one, is KORDI. For a coastal management researcher KMI's website is chocked full of great information, pdfs galore. However as I moved from KMI's English site to its Korean one I was struck by the real, Korean, name of the place, which is Hanguk Haeyang Susan Gaebalwon (한국해양수산개발원.) Translated literally this means something like "Korean Institute for the Development of Marine Fisheries." The difference between this and "Korea Maritime Institute" is certainly subtle. But it hints at a larger and not very subtle reality in Korea, that of close cooperation between government and industry. KMI is not simply a research center from which government regulators can seek advice on how keep track of marine industries, but an active government agency that seeks to develop those industries. Certainly there is nothing sinister in this. In every country government and industry support marine research. In the U.S. the Navy has long been the primary funder of such research. But in Korea the level of coordination between industry and government, in part faciliated by KMI (and KORDI), is extensive. One of their latest publications (sorry its only in Korean) contains one proposal after another for how Korea's marine industries must position themselves in order to economically develop in the 21st century and how KMI and the government can help them to do this.


Lee Hsien Loong

Charlie Rose has a nice hour long interview with the prime minister of Singapore. He is the son of the Lee Kuan Yew the father of Singapore and controversial proponent of Asian Values which have been embraced by many Korean academics and politicians. I can't link directly to the interview (anyone know how?). Just scroll down on the "Recent Shows" tab until you see his name.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A united world (Korea) without the American Military

The picture is the best I could do with my cellphone. If you look closely at the stairs, which are on the campus of Chosun University in Gwangju, you can see the statement written in Korean "A united world (Korea) without the American Military". Anti-American sentiment is particularly strong in Jeollanam Province. This particular writing was obviously done long ago and it speaks to the sentiments of the powers that be at the university that they have not been removed since. Nevertheless times have changed and the younger population, even if a portion is still quite anti-American, doesn't have any pressing desire for reunification. The recent "Cheonam incident" makes this all the more obvious. North Korea is a bad dream that few in South Korea really want to think about.

UPDATE: You could also translate the above as "A unified (Korean) society without the American military." I actually like that better as it expresses South Korean's longing to be "whole" again and the intrusion and obstruction that they believe the American military to be in their attempts to bring together Korean society.


Friday, April 16, 2010

The KFC "Double Down" is pure Genius

Here it is. Two pieces of chicken with cheese, sauce, and bacon in the middle. I pray it comes to Korea.

And here is what Colbert has to say about it.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Thought for Food - Mentally Ill Advertisers & German Cupcakes
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hongdo 홍도

I went to this island called Hongdo today. Its about 25 minutes from Heuksando where I live. Its prettier than mine. But tourists swarm it in hordes everyday. Here are some pictures of the harbor that I took. There is a migratory bird research center on the island.


Breaking Bad

So I started watching this show "Breaking Bad." Its about a broke chemistry teacher who learns he is going to die from lung cancer in a year or so and starts making and selling the drug meth. So far its not bad but certainly hasn't reached the heights of "The Wire" or "Sopranos" or the first couple years of "Starship Galactica." Anyone have any other show recommendations?

UPDATE: After watching a few more episodes I've decided this show is cliche. It tries to be provocative about "what would you do if you knew you only had 6 months to live?" and make people "think" about the legality/morality of drugs. Thats boring. Drugs should be legal and if you aren't living your life now to the fullest then you are obviously wasting your time (in my book).


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The fishermen of the KZN coast

This is a good short documentary that tells the story of subsistence fishermen slowly losing the ability to fish in Durban South Africa. This older men are deeply hurt at losing a lifestyle and a source of income that they treasure.

Fishing for Justice: the Struggles of Durban's fisherfolk from Pamela Ngwenya on Vimeo.

h/t to Africa is a Country


Dadohae National Marine Park: the movie

This is a nice promotional video with a lot of good footage of the islands on which I live.


Learning from the Japanese

Once again This American Life produces a fantastic show. This time the story is about NUMMI, the GM factory that copied Toyota's manufacturing methods. Also in the news is the possibility that the Chinese train-builders are bidding on US rail projects. I haven't heard of any Korean technology or know-how going east across the Pacific, but its nice to see at least Western businesses are (sometimes) open to learning from their Asian brothers and sisters. Now if we could only get academics to be as open-minded.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Terre Blanche, Malema, and race in South Africa

Here are some good thoughts from Fred Khumalo, an opinion writer for the South African Sunday Times. I don't always agree with Fred but this one is good.

Bronislaw Malinowski

This is a good BBC4 documentary on Bronislaw Malinowski, one of the fathers of social anthropology.

h/t to Org theory


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Want to learn Korean? Go here.

This is great Korean grammar site I've just found.

Cutting off Aid promotes reform and development; the case of South Korea

Here is an excerpt from a very good compilation of essays entitled "State and Society in Contemporary Korea." Although a bit dated, it was published in 1993, it presents insightful commentary on exactly what the title says.

"Since 1945, however, the strategic and economic relationship with the United States had been of much more central importance, particularly through the mid-1960s, when dependence on U.S. aid was high. Yet the dynamics of this influence are often misunderstood (my emphasis). Critics of U.S. aid have argued both that Americans wielded substantial influence through the aid relationship and that overall development policy was ineffective. A closer examination of the relationship reveals a surprising ability on the part of Syngman Rhee to evade American conditions, an interesting example of the large influence of small allies. The impending termination of aid, however, played a crucial role in economic policy, since it changed the incentive for policy reforms that increased the availability of foreign exchange (my emphasis). These included greater commercial borrowing, a more open policy toward foreign investment, but above all the strong emphasis given to exports."

William Easterly has pointed to South Korea as a country that developed largely through a "searcher" type entrepreneurial spirit free from heavy state "planner" influence. This is wrong. But he is very correct in pointing out that the threat of losing U.S. aid, and its eventual elimination, was a catalyst for Korean leaders to begin thinking seriously about how to develop their country.


Sh*t my Dads Says

"Science and Mother Nature are in a marriage where Science is always surprised to come home and find Mother Nature blowing the neighbor."

I've posted on this twitter feed before but its worth another one. The son of this eloquent, 73 year old, potty-mouther has recently written a book around the twitter quotes. How enterprising of him. Here is one of the latest quotes. I don't have a clue what it means but it is hilarious.


The mythological nostalgia for early American "freedom"

This is a great article by David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute. It argues that the common libertarian narrative about declining freedom in America is both factually, and strategically, wrongheaded.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

National Museum or old Government-General Building; a story of contested histories and how to teach them.

“Shin Young-ha argued that “the social role of the National Central Museum is [to be an] educational institution,… encouraging the national esteem for national history and culture…. However, the national cultural heritage in the [Japanese Government-General] building, the symbol of colonial rule, makes Koreans feel inferior, so we cannot expect any positive educational effect.”
This is a quote of quote from an essay in “Sitings: Critical Approaches to Korean Geography,” which is much recommended. The topic of the essay was the controversy surrounding the demolition of the Japanese Colonial Government-General building in 1995. At the time of demolition the building was being used as Korea’s central National Museum. I don’t have a position as to whether the building should have been demolished. But the above quote got me thinking about education and what museums are for.
To what degree is “encouraging…national esteem for national history and culture” a legitimate educational goal, particularly in this age of globalization? Every nation does it. Should we? And if so, how, and to what extent?
Personally I love the rich diversity that comes from regionalism and abhor the idea of a global “melting pot” society in which differences are dissolved into a foul tasting, homogenous, “stew.” But I also dislike the parochialism and isolationism that can arise when societies form excessively strong conceptions of the “Other.” What role does education have in charting a middle path between these extremes? Or is there another and better way to conceptualize these issues?


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The same story for 25 years...

"Lessons learnt from a collaborative management programme in coastal Tanzania."

This is the title of an article from the latest 2010 edition of Ocean and Coastal Management:

In 1997 this same journal devoted an entire issue to "Lessons learned in Integrated Coastal Management." One of the articles was entitled "Evaluating factors contributing to the success of community-based coastal resource management: the Central Visayas Regional Project-1, Philippines."

Then in 1995 we have this article "Community-based and co-management institutions for sustainable coastal fisheries management in Southeast Asia."

In 1993, again from the same journal, an article entitled "Will integrated coastal management programs be sustainable; the constituency problem," discusses the need to build constituencies for community-based or decentralized coastal management systems.

In 1992 the UNCED called for integrated, community-based, coastal management.

And even as early as 1985 USAID and the University of Rhode Island's Coastal Resources Center were implementing community-based coastal management projects in Ecuador, Thailand and Sri Lanka.

It is time to move on. We have learned enough lessons about community-based coastal management. It was a step in the right direction, but we have been walking in circles for at least the last decade. Our coasts and oceans are still dying. Lets try something new.


Nirgendwo in Afrika (Nowhere in Africa)

This is a great 2001 German movie about a Jewish family who flees the Nazis by moving to Kenya. Very well done.


I've been reading Edward Said's classic 1978 book "Orientalism." It is one of the foundational critiques of early, and even modern, Western-conducted Oriental studies. Since it was published it has had a profound impact on the field and deservedly so. Westerners studying Asia should to be especially mindful of reflexivity issues.
With that said, I think his argument is a little overdrawn. The earliest, and even some modern, Orientalists were certainly racists, but they could also be brilliant and astute observers. We should be able to, with cautious care, extract valuable insights from their bigoted rhetoric.

The book itself shows Said to be impressively well-read.


Monday, April 5, 2010

A 300 degree panorama from my island, 흑산도 (Heuksan)

I took another little hike after work today. This picture is made up of a series of shots taken with my phone's camera and then pasted together. All things considered, I think it came out pretty well. Click on it to see it in full size.


Sunday, April 4, 2010

First hike of the year at 무등산 (Mudeung mountain)

One of the great things about Korea is that many of the cities sit right next to beautiful low mountainous areas. This one is near my partner's house in Gwangju. Here are a few pictures I took with my phone.


Friday, April 2, 2010

Saving Elephants on the "Dark Continent," how an American conservationist's son taught Zambian park rangers kung fu (and maybe shot a poacher)

This is a very interesting, though a tad long, article about an American couple in Zambia who went too far to protect elephants from poachers. If you need an example of why many Africans think white foreigners still have imperialistic attitudes, look no further.

Moeletsi Mbeki

I've just discovered this guy. His commentary on the South African economy and politics is very good. He also happens to be former President Thabo Mbeki's younger brother. Check out this policy paper who wrote in 2005 entitled "Perpetuating Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa How African Political Elites Undermine Entrepreneurshipand Economic Development" and listen to this short interview with him over at the Economist where he criticizes the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) policy in South Africa.


Put some "crop protection products" on them greens!

I’m not a big fan of demonizing anyone, even Monsanto, but this is hilarious. Read this article. Here is an excerpt:

“Bonnie McCarvel, executive director of the Mid-America CropLife Association and Janet Braun, CropLife Ambassador coordinator, “shuddered” at the thought that the White House garden will be organic. The pair chose to send the First Lady a letter, encouraging her to consider using crop protection products and to recognize the importance of agriculture to the entire U.S. economy.”

So the first lady wants to have a little organic kitchen garden at the White House. Oh the horrors! Truth is ALWAYS stranger than fiction folks.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Interesting coastal management discussion continues on Dlist

I posted earlier here and here about the coastal management discussion I started over on Dlist. A local government representative responded thoughtfully. Here it is with my response.

"In response to Jenny's comments:

From a local government perspective (City of Cape Town - approx 22000 employees, 11 different directorates), and as a representative of the City's coastal management branch, the achievement of ICM is unfortunately more complex than simply obeying the stick from pressure groups. Firstly, with ICM, as with sustainable development, there is no straightforward success or failure - there are 'degrees' of success or failure. Measuring (or quantifying) these degrees of success or failure is difficult to determine. This is especially so considering that every decision that is made, more often than not results in a trade-off. Each decision that is made will therefore either be to the benefit or detriment of others, depending on which pressure/interest group you represent. One therefore has to navigate through the various and complex socio-economic pressures and find a balance. Oftentimes, and from an 'external' perspective, this is perceived as 'failing' at ICM. A case in point: an exclusive estate is loosing property frontage to erosion. In order to put in place a hard engineering defense-solution to address erosion, an EIA is required by law. This will cost a couple hundred thousand rand. This particular estate will be able to barley cover the expenses for this. And then of course the actual engineering structure, which is estimated to run into millions of rands. The estate expects the local authority to coordinate this project, and pay for it. How can the local authority justify investing millions of rands into this project for a wealthy estate, when a significant proportion of the City of Cape Town's population do not have houses? The lack of financial support given to this estate is however seen as a failure on the City's behalf from an ICM perspective. This failure is magnified given the estate's relative power. 'Commissions' will by no means address the complexities of achieving higher degrees of ICM or improve local authorities capacity. "

And my response:

"Thanks Darryl for your comment. I think it along with Jenny’s comments illustrates a common relationship that people who work in ICM often find themselves. Darryl, as a local government representative, is on the receiving end of ICM proponents like Jenny. And notice how he immediately rejects what he perceived to be Jenny’s endorsement of the “stick.” From his point of view ICM proponents are “pressure groups” with agendas that local governments, even if sympathetic, can only accommodate partially given the multitude of other problems that they must contend with. Also note, however, how in Darren’s specific example ICM is somewhat caricatured as simply another conservation-at-all-costs agitator. It is likely that both sides would quibble with how they are being represented by each other (and with how I am representing them) and that is precisely the point. If two well-educated people from the same country can misunderstand/misrepresent each other, imagine the even greater misunderstandings that likely occur when foreign ICM proponents walk into rural villages in Madagascar or Angola. And then imagine how these two groups of people, likely for very different reasons, decide to set up entirely new organizations to deal with problems about which they have their own (likely distinct and mutually misunderstood) “solutions” to."


Social Capital in 한국 어촌계 (eochongye) Korean Fishery Cooperatives

This article by Choi Jong-Ryul talks about social capital and how it functions in Korean eochongye to help manage a common pool resource. Following on the work of Ostrom, Choi details how conflicts including free-rider and tragedy of the commons issues are resolved through a system of normative reciprocity within the eochongye. The ungated, condensed, English translation of his original article(which was published in the 한국 사회학) can be found here.