Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Trevor Pinch on Goffman

This article engages in a fair bit of mental masturbation but it also has some good moments. Its from the website of the journal Technology and Culture. Here is a good quote.

"This is important to note because often analysts make the mistake of assuming that online interaction, because it is computer mediated, takes place in a different social realm with its own rules of interaction. Worse, sometimes a false dichotomy is drawn between the “virtual” world of online interaction and the “real” world of social interaction. If my reading of Goffman is correct, all interaction can be materially mediated. This is not to say that there may not be crucial differences between online interaction and so-called “face-to-face” interaction, but mediation per se does not seem to be the crucial difference."


Monday, June 28, 2010

KAIST: innovation in Science and Administration

Here is a fascinating article about Nam Pyo Suh, the current president of KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) which is Korea's premier scientific research university. He is a Korean-American who has made a lot of reforms in his 4 year tenure, including making English the sole language of instruction and revamping the tenure system to be more merit based.

h/t to Brian in Jeollanamdo


Science, Technology, and Human Values

This is a good journal that publishes some STS theory, some anthropology, some policy studies, and a smattering of other disciplines. I've been browsing the back issues for the past few days. In the mid 2000s the journal spent a lot of time talking about efforts to democratize scientific research. In general the journal seems more "activist" friendly than other STS-concerned publications like "Social Studies of Science" and certainly more than "Research Policy."

Saturday, June 26, 2010

STS, milk, and East Timor

I've been searching for awhile for people who are applying STS analytical methodologies to development studies. Well I've finally found some. Here is an article that attempts to provide a symmetrical account of the introduction of modern dairy farming methods into East Timor. As they acknowledge, the effort is largely a failure. But at least they tried, and its an interesting story in any case.
Lets hope I am more successful.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

USA vs. Africa

So on saturday team USA play Ghana, who is representing the continent as the last African team standing. I'm torn. Either way I will happy. It would be great if Ghana could continue bearing the African banner, but then I'm American as well.

Best of luck to both of them.

Treat people like people

Good mini-lecture about what really motivates people.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010


More pictures from my Heuksando hikes.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A new container port in Busan

Korea celebrates the opening of new industrial developments like no one else. Here is an article on the new container port in Busan. It states that in 1974 Busan opened the first modern container port in Korea's history. 36 years later Busan shipping capacity is amongst the top 5 in the world. This is cool picture. Those cranes are big.


From ritual to performance?

This from the 2006 book entitled "Social Performance" (see my book list)

"The model of performance I am developing here provides a new way of looking at cultural and organizational change over broad spans of historical time. We can see differently how and why rituals were once so central to band and tribal societies and why the nature of symbolic action changed so remarkably with the rise of states, empires, and churches."

I'm intrigued but skeptical. Are modern "performances" really so categorically different than the rituals of yesteryear? Some people are arguing that attending university is often simply one extended ritual/performance without much intrinsic value.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Judith Butler on Performativity

This a great quote from the book "Changing Theories" (see my book list) a book that surveys the thoughts of many important social theorists of the past 60 years. It discusses Judith Butler's views on gender performance. Butler pioneered the idea of performativity long before it was taken up by STS researchers such as Callon and MacKenzie. Since my own study deals with the performativity of coastal management systems I've been doing some background reading on the subject.

"She [Butler] argues that her analysis points to a more complete restoration of human agency, in the sense of a freeing of human beings from the oppressive category of gender itself. The point is not to emancipate women from men, but to emancipate human beings from compulsory gender identity and hetero-normativity"

Preach on sister!


America is screwed.

This American Life reports on the fiscal mess that most of America's states are facing in this episode entitled "Social Contract." Fascinating and depressing at the same time.
And then they give us another reason, as if we needed it, to move to Barbados.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Property Rights in Korea

I don't know of any developed nation without a developed set of property rights.
I know many nations that don't have property rights.

Korea developed a system of individual property rights in the late 1940s. Surveys were done and customary rights were made explicit and legal, although some restrictions were placed on their transferability early on. There was also a huge buy-out of traditional and Japanese land-holders buy the government which in turn sold the land, at marginal prices, to its tenants. See this article for an in-depth discussion.
De Soto is a huge fan of promoting land reform and property rights in developing countries. But how those reforms can happen in individual countries must be dependent on a intimate awareness of how land relates to power in local contexts.

Ostrom has shown that individual property rights are not the only way to go. But I am not aware of any modern nation that primarily functions with an alternative system.
I am vaguely aware of skepticism that such reforms could occur in many African nations anytime soon but I don't know the specific arguments. Anyone want to posit a few?


Reggie Watts

Not sure what to think about this guy.


Saturday, June 19, 2010


My brother turned me onto this cooking show called Good Eats. Apparently its been around for ages. I just watched the episode on cooking biscuits and made some myself. They turned out awesome. The onion beer gravy I put over them was less successful although since I failed to boil the alcohol out of it completely I nonetheless feel pretty good after eating it.


Friday, June 18, 2010

America ties again, 2-2 with Slovenia

Team USA was pretty sloppy the whole night, particularly with their passing. But they got robbed of their third goal and so have another tie. They need to win against Algeria.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Carl Safina on BP

Carl Safina, director of the Blue Ocean Institute, was on Colbert Nation the other day talking about marine conservation and the BP oil spill.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Carl Safina
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

I am completely with him in so far as he states that BP is pretty much the devil incarnate right now. And then he lays into the government regulatory body, the MMS, for being too cozy with BP. Also agreed. But then he calls for MORE regulation without recognizing the cognitive dissonance.
Why would you want to give more power to an institution, in this case the federal government, that has proven itself to be working against your interests?
Before I thought about delegating them more power I would at least want to know they are on my side.
Finally I was browsing around the Blue Ocean Institute's website and couldn't figure out who funds them. Charity Navigator gives you a very minimal rundown of their finances, telling me for instance that Dr. Safina makes $100,000, but it doesn't tell me WHO gives him the money.
This is just one more instance of where we in the West need to be practicing more of what we preach. Transparency please.


Argentina wins 4-1 over Korea

It was a good game until the last 15 minutes. Korea was giving a very respectable performance but in the end Argentina was too much for them and the final two scores were crushing.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Race debates in South Africa continue...

While everyone, including me, is enjoying the World Cup and all of the positive energy it has brought to South Africa, its fractured political and racial issues have not disappeared. Here is a good article entitled "Get over yourselves and on with it, whining whites" from one Eusebius McKaiser at the Sunday Times. Great and name and good thoughts.

A Post-modern Korean?

Korean non-fiction tends to be written from a very modernist perspective. Even social science theories, I've been reading a lot of Korean political science books lately, tend to employ theories in a very Popper-esque scientific fashion. Post-modern, anthropological, or STS critiques of such methods haven't had much impact it seems. However that might be slowly changing. A relatively new academic journal, East Asian Science, Technology, and Society, has since its inception in 2007 been publishing a series of interesting articles that examine how scientific knowledge, both natural and social, has been understood and used in Asia particularly in the last 50 to 100 years. Its definitely worth a browse.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Work-in-progress thesis statement

So after about 8 months of research out on Heuksando here is what I am thinking.

Describing Korea's coastal management system as one operating according to internationally proscribed Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) principles is misleading and simplistic.

Effective management systems are always contextually situated. Transferring so-called generic "management models," what we are currently referring to as "good governance" principles, to foreign contexts is impossible.

Koreans operate political and managerial systems that are highly influenced by a long Confucian history.

It is more accurate to understand Korea's coastal management system in light of this context, and as a product of it, rather than to hastily label it as an ICM system.


Monday, June 14, 2010

One more

Another good one from the same place.


"The Office" South African style

This is pretty funny in parts. Hat tip to "Africa is a Country" for the link. Its from youtube channel notontvSA which has a lot of good stuff.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Korea creams Greece, USA and England draw

Well last night was an eventful one at the World Cup. Korea, my adopted team, beat the crap out of Greece in a 2-0 game that had Greece players running around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to keep up with a relentless Korean attack.
I'll admit that I didn't manage to stay up for the USA-England game. It was at 3:30 am. But from what I read it was a fairly even game. Score 1-1.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Finlay & Hornswoggle vs Boogeyman & Mini Boogeyman

So I saw this on TV. Midgets (or Little People? what is their preferred designation these days?) on the WWE. He's a leprechaun. This is a whole new level of awesomeness.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ministry of Land, Transport, and Maritime Affairs sponsors "Mudflats Ecology Holiday" competition.

This is a welcome change, although the cynic in me says its just a PR stunt. The MLTM, which was created after Lee Myung Bak abolished the former Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (MOMAF), is sponsoring a contest to try and promote Korea's numerous mudflats as tourist destinations. This is certainly better than the Korean government's previous penchant for than filling them to make more rice paddies in a country that has long been self-sufficient in rice production. Still, making a tourist destination out of mud is a pretty tall order. Would you want to hang out here for your vacation? I suppose you could do a spa-type thing...


Korea and The World Cup

Here is an article (in Korean) that reports on fears about petty crime at the World Cup in South Africa. Koreans, like most of the rest of the world, believe that South Africa is a very dangerous place. However that perception could change dramatically if the games happen without any major incidents.
In small ways the World Cup has already brought greater awareness of South Africa to Koreans. Last week for the first time I was able to find South African wine at Emart (Korea's equivalent of Walmart). It was part of their World Cup promotion activities.


My Gambian Holiday

Here is a good site for watching Nigerian movies. Nollywood is the third largest movie producer in the world. I used to live in The Gambia so this one is particularly interesting. Start with 1-1 and proceed from there.

Just a Band- In Anima Vili

Another wicked tune from the boys down in Kenya


Paul Romer on Charter Cities

This is a good long article over at the Atlantic Monthly about development economist Paul Romer's idea to set up charter cities in developing countries run by developed countries.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Under Construction

So I am playing around the the format of my blog, hence the second column. If you are viewing my blog through I.E. it probably doesn't look so great. I'm working on it. But my HTML skills are close to zero, so be patient.

Changing Theories: new directions in sociology

This is a good and up-to-date (published in 2009) overview text for what has been going on in Sociology for the past 60 years and for what is up and coming.

Oatmeal Raisin Honey Beer: breakfast in a glass

So this is my next beer project. I will probably make it next week so that it will be finished before my next trip to Malawi. Tentatively here is the recipe I will follow.

50% malted barley extract
20% rolled oats
10% honey
10% roasted barely
5% brown sugar
5% raisins

With my first beer I added the honey too early to the wort so when I taste tested it all the honey flavor had basically boiled out. This time I'm going add the honey and raisins maybe only 10 minutes before I finish boiling. They (the homebrew experts) say this will help retain flavor. Adding the oats and roasted barely requires me to do what is called "partial mash" brewing. The terminology used by homebrewers is pretty intimidating at the beginning but, like practitioners of most fields, homebrewers love their jargon. I think it mostly has to do with signaling.
Making beer, at its core, is a very simple process however.

1. Boil sugar (made from barely) and water. Add a bitter tasting plant called "hops."
2. Take out the hops and cool down the sugar water (called wort) so that it won't kill the yeast you are about to put into it.
3. Put in yeast.
4. Wait a week or two.
5. Put in bottles. To make your beer (yes it is beer now) fizzy you just put a little bit of sugar in the bottom of each bottle.
6. Wait another week or two for the carbonation to build up.
7. Drink.

Now of course you can get real fancy and add a million more steps to this, but basically everything else is just frills.


Nneka Heartbeat

Another great tune, this time from Nigerian Nnek. She's disabled embeding so you'll have to go to this youtube link to hear it.

Just a Band

Great song from some Kenyan artists.


Great Radio documentary about contemporary African Music

I can't figure out how to embed it so go to this link.

h/t to Africa is a country


Monday, June 7, 2010

"Highkick" Honey Ale; the label

So I couldn't resist making a label for my first beloved beer creation. Here it is.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Lankov on the Cheonam

Here is some great commentary on the politics of the Cheonam incident by Prof. Lankov. I agree with his analysis. But it frustrates me that his conclusion is that basically nothing can be done about North Korea. Ignoring North Korea for the past 50 years is precisely what has gotten the South into the difficult position it is in today. Does anyone really think continuing that strategy is going to end well?


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Honey Ginger "Highkick" Beer

I just bottled my first batch of beer. 10 liters. I gave it a taste test and so far it tastes okay. As it carbonates the flavor will mature. The name references both the "kick" of ginger that I hope will be noticeable and a Korean TV drama called "Highkick" that recently finished here in Korea. It was the first drama in Korean that I was actually able to follow, and wanted to.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Characterizing without Essentializing

For my research it is important that I present my readers with an outline of South Korean social, political, and managerial, culture.

However I am hesitant to trot out the standard descriptions of communality, hierarchy, and formalism. Korean culture, like any other, is complex so how I chose which elements of it to highlight is ultimately not just a reflection of Korean culture, but of me.

However it is interesting that most Korean writers, when speaking about these matters, do not share my hesitancy. Instead they make very clear, and to their minds even "objective," statements about what Korean culture is and what it is not.

Though this is an interesting phenomenon and certainly says something important about the Korean authors themselves and their culture, it only makes me more hesitant.

Because I believe that culture is something that we create and sustain through defining and contesting narratives about ourselves, should I simply take Korean accounts of Korean culture at face value or should I recognize that these accounts are not merely reporting reality but also attempting to create it? Should I be actively seeking out alternative narratives that haven't received as much attention, or would doing so simply distort a representative portrayal and really be motivated by my own attempts to perform a different Korean culture in my own narrative because of a personal antipathy for elements of the Korean culture being performed by most Korean authors in their narratives? (hierarchy isn't my thing).

What do you think?


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"Mango Man" and this American Life

I usually love This American Life. But their episode on Haiti was painful. Listen to it here. It's good for people who don't have a clue how the Aid industry works (or doesn't). But otherwise it is pretty naive. Make your own judgement after listening, but to my mind Harold the "Mango man" simply made some bad business decisions, the last of which was hooking up with an NGO.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Hole in Guatemala

This is pretty incredible. Read more about it here.

h/t to Marginal Revolution