June 2007 Archives

June 22, 2007

Korea is Still in the Dark on Globalization

Digital Chosunilbo (English Edition) : Korea is Still in the Dark on Globalization

The word "globalization" is used in Korea to the point that it could make your ears bleed. The Korean version of globalization has a passive connotation, given that we normally begin discussing it by saying, "In the globalized era, in order to survive limitless competition..."

That passive understanding of the concept is shattered when you see how many people are engaged in such intense debate inside and outside the summit hall, where the global order is actually being created. I was a little unhappy when I saw not a single Korean among all these people -- the world leaders creating a new world order, NGO workers voicing their views on the policy-making process, college students studying international politics on site and cultivating their own understanding of it all.

From adventurer to housepet in 4 generations

How children lost the right to roam in four generations | the Daily Mail

When George Thomas was eight he walked everywhere.

It was 1926 and his parents were unable to afford the fare for a tram, let alone the cost of a bike and he regularly walked six miles to his favourite fishing haunt without adult supervision.

Fast forward to 2007 and Mr Thomas's eight-year-old great-grandson Edward enjoys none of that freedom.

He is driven the few minutes to school, is taken by car to a safe place to ride his bike and can roam no more than 300 yards from home.

June 13, 2007

Things that make me restless...

Assorted things that make me restless, that make my mind fly and my whole body want to take off and run...

The Hidden Blessing of People’s Park

This Place Is… : The Hidden Blessing of People’s Park

People’s Park is not some abomination, a refuge of strange people, or catastrophic failure of government. People’s Park is a TRANSPARENT place. There are a lot of normal people living in a home without walls. We can see everything that goes on and we don’t like it. First, we don’t like the fact that there are people living such miserable lives in this age of wealth and technology. But second, we don’t like to see the common struggles of society, such as substance abuse, disease, and violence in such plain sight. These things happen to people in all walks of life - in nice neighborhoods as well as bad - and perhaps in more subtle ways. But is it any better to have abuse or violence happen behind the facade of a cozy bungalow? Do we prefer to pretend that the cute porches of a traditional neighborhood represent the harmonious and happy existence of our society?

June 10, 2007

pictures at we can exhibition

my pictures at we can exhibition, originally uploaded by froodmat.

Wired to Sell

Wired to Sell - New York Times

In apartment buildings, automation systems can link to concierge services, enabling residents to make restaurant reservations or reserve a Zipcar, without picking up a phone. Enhanced systems with integrated closed-circuit televisions allow residents to see what’s going on inside and outside their homes from another location. Such security applications provide convenience, too: diners can see if there’s s a line at the restaurant down the block, parents can receive text messages when their children arrive home and executives can admit repairmen to their homes via cellphone.

Well when your coffee table can transfer pics from your camera to your cellphone, what would you expect? Welcome to tomorrow.

Two in five Japanese have a garden

Two in five Japanese have a garden : 世論 What Japan Thinks

Between the 4th and 12th of April 2007 5,949 members of DIMSDRIVE Research’s internet monitor panel completed a private survey. 53.6% of the sample was female, 0.9% in their teens, 14.2% in their twenties, 33.3% in their thirties, 31.0% in their forties, 14.2% in their fifties, and 6.4% aged sixty or older. 47.9% lived in thieir own (or their family’s, etc) home, 17.1% in a purchased flat or apartment, 3.9% in a rented house, and 28.3% in a rented apartment. 2.8% lived in other types of accomodation.

I wonder if there are any surveys regarding American gardening tendencies, especially in urban areas.

I've never really been a particularly meticulous gardener, even when I did live in the country. I do, however, feel there is something therapeutic about caring for plants. Whenever I get one, I tend to treat it as if it were my own flesh and blood, which may be why I usually don't purchase them for myself.

This month, however, I did buy a plant from a friend who grows Indian jasmine. She took some cuttings, tended them until they took root, and then gave it to me. It really does look just like some cuttings stuck in dirt right now, but I'm hoping to see some growth eventually. Another thing for me to pine over.

This officially brings our family plants to four; my jasmine and my tropical fern I inherited from my in-laws, and Fru's two bonsai trees; one is indoors and one is on the patio.

June 8, 2007

The problem with progress.

It would be very easy for me to live my life in a bubble. I work 8-10 hours a day at a job 1 mile from my home. In the evenings I do classes; on the weekends I travel or fulfill other obligations. I could go for a very long time without seeing something new. So, to combat sterilization, I walk and take public transportation a lot. I cannot choose who will be on the bus. It's a random sampling of society, everyday.

There are two things I see on the bus everyday.

  • People like me. People who have my style, my concerns. People who are worried about their friends and family, about personal and social issues. I see people who are struggling to be as much as they can be--for their families, for themsleves. I honor and respect them, and draw my strength from them.
  • People like me. People who don't seem to be going very far. People who see like me, but are biased by ignorance. People who could do so much more if they only pushed a little further. People trapping themselves in situations. Who just need to stop complaining and do something--for their community, for their families, for themselves. I have disdain for them, and they sap life from my bones.

I see myself in both sets (which often overlap), and it causes a dissonance within. One that makes me want to do my best and give up hope at the same time. One that reach out and yet pull away. I'm not quite sure how to deal. I end up with a lot of things on my mind and no real way to identify or explain them. I'm not really sure what to do about it either.

June 3, 2007

You can stop adjusting now.

TED | Talks | Jeff Han: Unveiling the genius of multi-touch interface design (video)

Another TED video (they're great!). Although this is a really old one that I've seen before (and was reminded of when I saw Jeff in this video about Microsoft's "Milan" project) the thing I want to note about his presentation is that about halfway in he says that he cringes when he thinks about the $100 computer being sent out developing countries because in this day and age no one should ever have to conform to hardware in order to communicate.

Indeed, my latest fascination is with understanding how we can make technology culturally transparent
so these kind of things really make me feel like a kid in a candy store. Can you imagine how life will be when that Milan table costs $500 instead of $5000? With the operating system built for multiple input, would one $500 Milan table be worth more than five $100 computers (which are hopefully much more advanced than the current version)?

Will we still need plasticity when we create a communicative medium that interprets our input in a way that is native to us and outputs it in a way that is familiar to the recipient? Just a thought. :)

The Wrong Store

Elasticity, Plasticity

Do you know the difference between elasticity and plasticity?

Elasticity is the tendency of material to temporarily deform when placed under stress. It spreads, it stretches; it alters to accommodate the strain.

Plasticity is the tendency of a material to retain deformation it has received. Think clay, putty; it retains the shape or can be re-shaped into something entirely new. The point at which a material's elasticity turns into plasticity is considered that object's yield.

Both could be useful traits in life. One, however, is not progressive. How far you go is limited--and often less valuable--if your intention is to return back to your original state. Moreover, would you rather the plasticity in your life be deliberate (think adapting like putty) or a consequential yield?

Things I'm thinking about (though perhaps not in the way intended), thanks to that wise sage Jan.

June 1, 2007

My issue with US living, revisited

I eschew suburbia. The more I think of it, the less I find of it that is redeeming. Unless it is pulsing, breathing, teeming with people it should not be considered a viable option for community.

People who hear me say this think that I live in the city. I do not. Some of those who actually know where I live have considered my surroundings to be quite urban. I'm less inclined to disagree with them and more apt to remind them that the concentration that exists in my environment is a result of urban spread, the aftereffect of suburban sprawl. I'd like to move closer to the heart of the city when location, resources and logistics permit.

I grew up in the country. Coming from the town (pop. <500) limits, my house was the first house on the left side of the road. This confused city folk because my house was more than a mile from that intersection. It was also shaded by tall trees and brush, making it not immediately noticeable. I spent my days riding my bike in circles around our yard, reading on a blanket under the trees, making hideouts under the back porch. I loved my environment but longed for human interaction. When the opportunity came, I moved toward the city. I met friends and neighbors, but still lived within a quiet community that largely kept to itself.

In 2004, Fru and I relocated to South Korea. For the first time, I came to know what city living meant. It meant close quarters, with overlap between private, public and shared space. It meant required--not optional--interaction with people I crossed; dealing with compatibilities and incompatibilities that had nowhere to go but right out in the open. It meant activities every weekend, every weeknight. And, thanks to certain measures made (albeit in an ethically questionable manner), the beauty of my childhood was never far away. In many cases that farmland/woodland area could be reached even by public transport.

A few days in Tokyo brought an epiphany in the form of urban nature--the outside that could be brought inside, the fusion of nature and society. I was entranced by the beauty and flow that seemed to blend what in my mind had been competing entities into a harmonious tapestry.

Returning to the US, in this respect, has been nothing but suffering. I live in a place that people call "city" but is miles from the city center and train station, has mediocre bus access (about eight routes within a 1/2-mile radius but only coming every 30 minutes at best) and minimal pedestrian attention. Privatized transportation companies and airports are convenient to the city center but not to the individual; the whole society is built around the car--not people.

On a weeknight, it's rare to see a spontaneous activity. And rightly so; it would require leaving your house, getting in your car, traversing the highway just to see a face. In contrast, an evening activity required a bus or train jaunt to the city center at worst; in many cases it merely required a five-minute walk down the street.

I think that people have forgotten about people. We live in our big suburban quarters (which are compartmentalized by personalized rooms where we can "express our individuality), not even knowing our neighbors, driving individually to work with our iPods plugged to the stereo, sit in cubicles all day, eat lunch at a chain restaurant that makes the dish the same way, everyday, no matter which location we order from. Our children, and especially teens, have no afterschool outlets for developing social interaction skills except an occasional community playground and or local strip mall/shopping center, provided they can find a ride there. We have separated ourselves to a point that the differences in siblings seem diverse. We have no world view because, in truth, we live in our own worlds.

If I injure my ankle, I will feel discomfort when using it. But if I avoid using it because of the discomfort, eventually it will just get weaker and weaker until it no longer is useful at all. The muscles will atrophy and its effectiveness will vanish. In comparison, there are many societal ills that are more than just discomforting. To date, our solution has been to run away to a more conducive environment. Suburbia is the attempt to make a new better place rather than to improve the existing. It is a way to avoid uncomfortable choices that we need to face. I don't know about you, but any choices that I have purposely avoided have never left me feeling anything but cowardly.

People need to understand that there are ramifications to their choices. Consequences that impact not just the environment but also their own families, their own perspectives. Maybe they won't end up sharing my hatred for the suburbs (I'm currently wrestling with the potential that lies in planned suburban communities), but they can help to develop a remedy for the maladies our current plan is causing.