Showing posts with label education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label education. Show all posts

Thursday, September 21, 2017

When Food Becomes the First Line of Institutional Globalization

In any university, often the cafeteria becomes a sort of the student body's microcosm.  The cheap and hearty fare of the speedy provided lunch menu is a godsend for poor students with tight class schedules.  Even for those with time to spare, cafeterias are perfect places to meet up with friends within the college, as they are usually centrally located, easily reached from offices and classrooms scattered around the school campus.  It is over the busy lunch hours when student life at its most basic social aspect becomes apparent.  Gossip, stories, and laughs fly across food halls unusually loud by Japanese standards.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Regrettable Left-Wing Tyranny of Opinions on American College Campuses

The author is often asked why he chose to study in Japan when there are so many more reputable schools in the US.  Surely, even though he was flatly rejected by several of the country's best, if applications to slightly lesser known schools are submitted, there would have been a fairly good chance he would receive admission and scholarship to study.  In response, he would often cite the cheaper tuition and shorter time needed to complete studies in Japan, along with familiarity, convenience, and even lower living expenses in Tokyo.  But in using such mundane reasons, he declines to state one of the biggest reasons for not studying in America.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Can A Non-Academic Become Academic on a Short Notice?

Despite having done my degrees at Yale and LSE, I am rather hesitant to consider myself academically inclined.  A year in London was mostly spent traveling around Europe and drinking in pubs, with pitifully little time spent on actual reading and writing as stipulated by the courses.  Having graduated with low grades that is unenviable for anyone pursuing career academic jobs or further studies, I took off to the business world even before the final grades were finalized and the diplomas passed out.  For the next five years, apart from a short six-month stint in Taiwan doing political search, there has been nothing academic in my resume.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Inflation Leading to Supply and Demand Problems in Argentina

There is a weird phenomenon at the hostel that I am currently staying in.  Many of the guests are long-term residents.  And by "long-term," I mean not weeks or months, but years after years.  Some of the residents are foreign students at local universities doing their proper college degrees.  And they tell me that for some reason, it is cheaper for them to stay in a hostel, even with their inflated daily rates, than it would be to find a shared apartment in a decent part of Buenos Aires.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Conflicts of Family and Friendship Ties vs Self-Interest in Social Confinement

In the novel Beloved, Toni Morrison follows the life experience of several freed slaves before and after the Civil War, as they struggle with the harshness of present economic realities and continued discrimination against blacks, while they seek out family and friends from the days as slaves.  The novel transcends different time periods and voices of different characters, creating a highly diverse portrait of how individual African-Americans and the black society as a whole cope with constant and permanent coming and going of people due to slave sales and botched/successful attempts at escapes from southern plantations.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Feeling Human Fragility Revisited: How Breakdown of Authority Leads to Breakdown of Ethics

In the novel Blindness, Portuguese author Jose Saramago describes a world where a sudden epidemic of unexplainable blindness that struck an entire population led to sudden collapse of human civilization.  Amidst the disorder of a post-apocalyptic world where everyone is reduced to blind savages only concerned about procuring enough food for survival, the lone woman who can still see witnesses how quickly human morals can fall apart, just as quickly as physical infrastructures and institutions.  Yet, the stories of camaraderie among strangers in distress also speak to the power of human bonds in collectively overcoming difficulties.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Comparative History of Human Development Can Provide New Clues for Explorations of Extraterrestrial Life

In his book Guns, Germs, and Steel, Prof. Jared Diamond argues that the different levels of development among modern human societies, in terms of institutions, wealth, and technology, are ultimately due to different environmental conditions faced by their historical predecessors.  The availability of wild plants/animals for domestication and fertile climates/soil for food production enabled some societies, more than others, to adopt agriculture, explode in overall population, and create non-food producing specialists that enable innovations and complex society-building.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Experiencing Suffering of the Poorest Firsthand is needed for Even the Richest

I write after two years in the depth of rural Tanzania, where I have worked for an NGO.  Our clients, a group of farmers scattered across a series of remote villages, struggles to make ends meet as changing rain patterns and dearth of high-quality fertilizers keep their farms unproductive.  It was a tough two years working to reverse these struggles.  Idealism turned into cynicism, hope into disillusionment.  For failures, I found myself becoming too quick to blame others, whether it be government absence, unmotivated staff, or refusal for organizations, including ours, to prioritize projects that are realistically feasible rather than glamorous for publicity. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Is Book Buying Also a Sign of Materialism?

What is the most visual sign of an intellectual?  For many people, the answer may be an obvious one.  The person must be well-read.  And what better proof is there of a person being well-read than having a study full of bookshelves, completely filled up with good books?  It is unsurprising than, whenever the average media outlet go conduct a face-to-face interview with scholars, professors, and experts, they are often conducted in their offices, flanked by bookshelves full of books related to the topics at hand and the person's field of expertise.  Having many books has become equated with knowledge.

Friday, June 9, 2017

What Reforms Are Urgently Needed By Modern Education

Today’s students ought to be anxious.  As technology develops, many cushy jobs are in the process of disappearing and being replaced by robots and computer algorithms.  Government policies, from increased tariffs to fickle visa regimes, make employment in an increasingly interconnected world volatile and unpredictable.  To counter these constant changes in the overall economic environment, Educational institutions need to restructure their curriculums and mindset to help students develop a diverse set of knowledge base.  Only with varied set of skills will students, upon graduation, be able to weather changing employment patterns as well as rise and fall of particular industries. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Key to Ending Ivory Trade is not Bans, but Increase in Supply of Ivory in the Market

In economics, there is a type of product called "Veblen good" that does not contradicts the normal supply-and-demand relationships.  For a normal good, a decrease in supply corresponds to an increase in price, leading to a corresponding drop in demand as consumers reduce consumption and/or seek out cheaper substitutes for the now more expensive product.  But for a Veblen good, while decrease in supply also leads to a price increase, demand actually surges, with consumers assigning higher value to the good due to the higher price of the good.

Friday, March 17, 2017

「学生」という身分だからこそできる世界の「巡り方」

たぶんご存知でない方もたくさんいらっしゃいますが、著者の学生生活は日本で始まった。5歳で中国から移住していた著者、言語が分からぬまま入れられてしまった石川県金沢市のとある保育園は実に最初の学校経験であった。その後もそのまま隣の小学校に入学し、両親が学術研究で忙しいため、放課後には町が運営する児童センターで毎日何時間ほど過ごした。そのおかげで、12歳にアメリカに移民する前にはすっかりごく普通で日本っぽい小学生になっていた。

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Journey Outside the USA Continues....

Many readers of this blog may or may not realize that the author of this blog is actually an American citizen.  Yet during more than six years of this blog's run, the vast majority of posts are written in locations about topics that are distinctively unrelated to the author's country of citizenship.  Even when written, America only exists as an elusive point of reference for other countries, a passive player looming large in the background that features much in the collective psyche of the local populace, but not nearly as much in the workings of their daily lives.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

How Lack of Financial Discipline Fuels an Explosive Growth of African Government Debt

In his work Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki attempts to dissect the mentality of the poor, the middle class, and the rich.  Among all the differences he notes of the three, one is constantly repeated and stands out as pivotal in the difference.  The rich, he argues, invests in assets and not liabilities.  And when the rich makes these investments, they do so through incomes earned through assets, and not by taking on more liabilities in the form of loans to be repaid.  By wisely investing in income-generating assets within their means and then reinvesting resulting incomes in more assets, a small initial capital can quickly turn into a large sum.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Enviable Professional Freedom of an Academic

Many people see one's academic and professional lives are two separate,distinct phases.  Schooling is something done in young age, a process of learning that culminates in certifications that signify one's ability to think critically and apply certain skill sets.  Those skill sets are prerequisites to a second phase, professional work that apply and further enhance academic knowledge that can be directed and sharpened to achieve certain goals that are worthy of financial compensation.  For most, one leads to the other (sometimes in reverse), and the two rarely, if ever, crosses paths.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Should Government Bureaucrats be Trained in Special Schools?

Many countries have one of these.  Promising, self-confident young men and women are thrown into almost endless lectures of political orthodoxy, of the need to serve their country, and of uploading its law, without questioning its underlying morality and validity.  Years later, the indoctrinated youth become government officials, dictating the policies that affect the very future and fortune of the country.  Unfortunately, being isolated in an entirely different academic and living environment makes youth educated under "bureaucrat schools" lose connection with society at large.  As such, government bureaucrats should not be trained in special schools.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Underlying Universal Political Forces of Later "Three Kingdoms"

For people interested in ancient Chinese history, the Three Kingdoms era (roughly the second to three century AD) is one of the most familiar portion.  The titular novel on the subject, romanticizing the heroes of the era, along with numerous movies, books, and video games based off their stories, have become hits across much of East Asia in the past decades.  However, most of the interest in the era focus on the earlier half of the era, when various warlords and generals make their historical debut from humble origins in their respective lofty goal in uniting China in an era of internal divisions.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Attitude, Rather than Knowledge, Marks a Successful Educator

In the last weekend of his stay in Taiwan, the author was taken to a college campus by a friend of his.  As the friend was taking the author around her alma mater, explaining every corner of the school that made and unmade a thousand memories of her formative four years, the author noted a group of young high school students on what seems to be a summer camp being held at the school's main auditorium.  Boisterously, the kids were going about discussing among themselves, bouncing ideas off one another as they hatch ideas to bring forth in what seemed to be their end-of-the-camp presentation/talent show.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Whatever Happened to Masculinity?

It is a disturbing time that people seem to live in nowdays.  The fury of one person is casually unleashed upon the innocent passerby, making them the cannon fodder for social frustration that are not only not caused by them, but not even really related to them in any way.  The bloody mess in a subway carriage in Taipei recently is followed by a drive-by shooting in the UC Santa Barbara campus in California, in both cases instigated by young man whose unique concerns with their own, rather different forms of social disgruntlement were suddenly exposed to a society unprepared to receive them in the way it did.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Overwhelming Soul-Searching and Underwhelming Social Response

It has been a few days since one of the most talked about violent crimes in Taiwan's recent history took place.  A 21-year-old student, allegedly neglected by both parents and society at large, stabbed through carriages full of innocent commuters on Taipei's subway, killing four in what people can only dub as a psychopathic assault.  Since the incident, both mass and social media here are filled with speculative reports on the background of the 21-year-old, with discussions ranging from how to detect anti-social behaviors early in a person's life to how to properly punish violent criminals of this sort.