Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Are Some Exam Formats More "Juvenile" Than Others?

One of the favorite tools for teachers in American high schools is the Scantron.  These machine-readable little slips are the key to automating multiple choice tests.  Teachers enter the correct answers in the scanning machine before the multiple-choice test even happens.  And then students color in the bubbles that correspond to what they think are the right answers on the Scantron slip.  Immediately after the test, the teacher gathers all the slips and shove them into the scanning machine.  The machine automatically grades everyone's test, and the teacher is saved from having to manually check all the answers.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Isolationist Tendencies Will Hurt Academia's Financial Viability

A few months ago during a trip back to San Diego, the author heard about an initiative ran by PhD students and postdocs at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD).  The initiative involves a weekly trip by a few science researchers to the nearby drinking holes, where they will mark themselves as people doing scientific research and take questions from other, normal customers.  By taking the time to appeal to the laymen's curiosity about science, they are hoping to reduce the distance between scientists and normal people, and make more people understand the necessity of scientific research for their own daily lives.

Friday, November 3, 2017

How Experience Can Create Confidence in a Social Setting

Given the frequency of how many social events for complete strangers are held in Tokyo, it is often interesting to see why many people choose not to participate in any of them.  Some are rather understandable, like the fact that many people (especially among foreign students) are unwilling to shell out money for socializing when they are in financially dire straits to begin with.  Others are just pathologically introverted, mentally unfit for for putting themselves in front of large groups of people for the sake of just getting to know people in fleeting ways.  The anxiety of such experiences, for them, is traumatizing.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Relationship between Political Stability and Business Reputation

When a restaurant or a retail shop advertises itself topic to the general public, one of more common method used is to emphasize its long tradition of operations.  The term "Since (insert year of founding here)" is frequently placed right next to the company name and logo.  The logic goes that if customers recognize just how long the company has been in operation, with no change in business or name, they can have the assurance that the products being sold are of high quality.  After all, those same products have been satisfying generations of customers, and if there were not satisfied, there is no reason the company still exists.

Friday, October 20, 2017

To Promote Real Cultural Exchange Requires Asking Tough Questions on Cultural Differences

When Japanese firms and government market the concept of "Cool Japan" abroad, a few formulas come in mind.  For them, to get foreigners to "like" Japan and its culture, it simply cannot beat a demonstration of what are traditional combined with the country's modern quirks.  The likes of martial arts, kimono, and tea ceremonies can expose foreigners to the historical depths, while singing idol groups, cartoon characters, and technological demonstrations can show how the country can combine its traditional values and mold it in a modern sense.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Are Environmental Friendliness and Good Service Mutually Exclusive in Japan?

In his recent world travels, the author has gotten used to the idea of having to ask for bags when he goes shopping.  In the US, for instance, plastic bags are no longer free, so shoppers are expected to either do without them, bring their own reusable ones, or pay a fairly expensive price for one.  In more politically aggressive places like Rwanda, the very idea of using plastic bags have become obsolete as plastic bags themselves are completely banned from the country.  To those not used to having to carry around their own bags, it is a bit of nuisance, to say the least.