Sunday, April 22, 2018

Academic Exchanges across Disciplines Must be Dumbed down to the Very Basics

Imagine you are sitting in an academic conference, listening to presentations by scholars from a field for which you have little background knowledge.  Among the audience they are members who are from the same field as the presenters, and they listen intently to the presentations.  Because they were able to comprehend the contents so thoroughly, at the Q&A session, they ask extremely detailed questions about the research presented, and a highly technical conversation between the presenter and the inquirer follows.  You, people from other fields, neither understood the presentations nor the questions.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Upkeep of Latent Social Networks Valuable and Worthy of Learning

Honestly, keeping in touch with people is not a forte of the author's.  Despite having thousands of people that he acquainted (some deeply, many quite briefly and superficially) accumulated as friends on Facebook, he not only barely speak to any of them, but do not even bother to check up on what they share with their friends publicly.  The resulting lack of information is so extensive that he is even completely ignorant of big life events of theirs, like weddings, birth of children, moving to a different country, or changing jobs.  He can only hope that they know more about his current developments.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Negative Stereotyping Taken out of the Social Context Revisited: the Case of Food

The previous post pointed out that foreign cultures that seem "cool" can an enthusiastic following among foreign audience partially because the negative social contexts that the "cool" culture are not transplanted in foreign countries.  There is the example of Chicanos, an inner-city Latino culture in the US often associated with gang violence and poverty, scrubbed clean of all the negatives in Japan, where followers, short of trying to become Chicanos themselves, attempt to channel the supposed central values of honor, respect, love, and family.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Does Negative Stereotyping Go away When Taken out of the Social Context?

As part of the author's Japanese to English translation freelance work, he is currently working on transcribing some Japanese interviews into English.  Interestingly, the contents are not of business or mainstream entertainment, as market demand would usually expect, but stories of a niche community of Japanese interested in aspects of the Chicano culture.  For people who do not know, Chicano refers to inner-city Mexican-American culture, a distinct immigrant culture that straddles the supposedly "pure" Mexican and "pure" American cultures of the two countries' cultural mainstream.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Culinary Tourism in the Era of Global Logistics

It is hard to believe, but Tsuruoka, a coastal city of little more than 100,000 people in Yamagata Prefecture, has been designated a UNESCO City of Gastronomy since 2014.  And the designation really shows in the local food.  From locally harvested rice, fresh seafood from Sea of Japan, to locally branded beef, chicken, pork, and vegetables, the ingredients are of top-quality.  They are cooked in what are countlessly emphasized as truly local ways, steeped in local traditions, and supposedly unique and not found anywhere else in the country.  Local chefs and hotel staff are undoubtedly proud of the culinary tradition.

Monday, March 19, 2018

It Takes Political Maturity to Remember a Country's Darkest History

Undertaking a popular political movement against a government backed by military force is often not the easiest of tasks, and the task is particularly difficult if the government is a military junta with no hesitation to use force to keep itself in power.  Organizers of political movements, with no military force of its own, inevitably come up against the barrels of guns when confronting the state, often with devastating consequences that results in endless bloodshed.  The state, fearful of losing moral authority and political legitimacy as murderers of unarmed civilians, would of course like to suppress news of such confrontations.