Friday, April 29, 2005

Comm 226: Review Stuff

Dear Class. As promised you can get the review sheets by clicking here and here. The more you prepare, the better you will do on this exam. I want you to think big and synthesize topics on this exam, so go back this weekend and look through all of the notes and your marks in the book to help you.

By the way, I also wanted to note that the issue of education cropped up in the New York Times editorial page. Thomas Friedman, who is one of the loudest voices on issues of globalization, wrote this in today's NYT...
ne of America's most important entrepreneurs recently gave a remarkable speech at a summit meeting of our nation's governors. Bill Gates minced no words. "American high schools are obsolete," he told the governors. "By obsolete, I don't just mean that our high schools are broken, flawed and underfunded. ... By obsolete, I mean that our high schools - even when they are working exactly as designed - cannot teach our kids what they need to know today.

"Training the work force of tomorrow with the high schools of today is like trying to teach kids about today's computers on a 50-year-old mainframe. ... Our high schools were designed 50 years ago to meet the needs of another age. Until we design them to meet the needs of the 21st century, we will keep limiting - even ruining - the lives of millions of Americans every year."

Let me translate Mr. Gates's words: "If we don't fix American education, I will not be able to hire your kids." I consider that, well, kind of important.
So do I and I know that all of you mentioned it last week as well. Anyways, if you want to read the rest you can register on the NYT website for free and have at it. Otherwise, have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Comm 200: Readings, Dossiers and More Dossiers

Hey Guys. I know that everyone is burning at at both ends these days but I wanted to remind you of a couple of things as we finish, and say something new as well.

1) First: Even if you have read the articles for Friday, please re-read them. One of things that I think you should learn how to do in college is to re-read. It isn't a skill that many of us think of as valuable because much of our busy lives but it is far more important than many of us would like to admit. Often articles we are researching will enlighten you in a different manner than it did the first time. This may be because concepts you didn't get the first time you finally get. It may be because you just didn't notice what was going on the first time. This is true for all of us. I know that there have been books I come to once or twice a year and I feel like they pay off in different ways every time I read them.

2) If there are a set of questions I would like you to ask of everything piece of research you read and write for college, they would be
1) What is the thesis?
2) What is the unit or units of analysis?
3) How did the researcher investigate and analyse their data? Always remember, how questions are method questions!
4) What is the research question that the person is trying to answer?
5) What is at stake in this research? If you do not know what is at stake, ask the teacher. For me this is always something that I feel like I need to know. Research is not something that should be done purely for the pleasure of research. Research always has real world consequences. Some research is better known than others, but all research, when done, gives us a new understanding of a topic, method or question. Giving the world a new understanding is a real world consequence!
6) Could this research be proven or disproven? If it cannot then it probably isn't research. It could be an essay, but not a research essay.
7) What kind of sources is the researcher drawing from? When you begin an article try this: start with the endnotes and works cited first and take note of what the sources are. This will always clue you into other kinds of questions?
Believe it or not these are lessons that are easy to state but difficult to learn. Practice these in your upcoming classes and make them habits of the mind. The more habitual they become the better student and learner you will become. And that's one you can take to the bank!

Tomorrow, bring your dossiers. Last week you spent some time looking at each others works cited. Look at these again tonight and now look see what you would like to xerox in other folders. You may also want to bring your earliest drafts with RQs and Theses and workshop them in class. We will be doing that on Monday as well. I know that this is a busy time, but I do have high hopes for you. Also, tomorrow, please be ready to leave your dossiers behind. I would like to, with your permission, place them in library here in Higley so that we can access them for the next week. All I ask is that when you look at an article you LEAVE THE DOSSIER IN THE SAME CONDITION AS YOU FOUND IT. You all worked really hard on your work and we should be considerate of each others work.

Finally, I need to let you know that I have one VERY IMPORTANT REQUEST regarding your dossiers. Please note, when you turn in your repory you should...
1) Make certain your proposal has a detachable cover sheet with all of your information (do not print on the other side!!!)

2) Please, no self-identifying information throughout the paper in any way shape or form!!!

3)Failure to do so will result in an automatic “incomplete” for the course and the assignment.
The reason I need it in this fashion is that your papers will be read by othger professors in the department to see if we are doing a solid job in the 200 level course. We value anonymity and no professor reading your paper will have an effect on your grade for the class. In fact, we will read them in August well after your grades are returned. We think this is a valuable way to see what is working and what isn't. By giving us this kind of anonymous feedback you will be making us better teachers and much more robust department.

Take care and see you tomorrow.

Comm 226: Hong Kong, Dim Sum and Dossiers

Hey Guys. I know the semester has been long and things are winding down. I wanted to let you know that because of the way the semester played out and I am going to make a real quick edit on your readings. I am only going to hold you accountable for the first six chapters and the inrtoduction of the Cohen. Chapters 8-Epilogue as well as Budd et. al for next week, please ignore. You have had a lot of reading and I would rather stay focused on the issue of institutional responsibilities and audience demands for "quality of life" in mass society for our last two lectures. Please DO listen to the MP3 of "The Fix is In" before Monday. It is one of the finest examples of what we have been discussing: issues of corporate/governmental responsibility. It's an hour long, but if you are like me and have any interest in business, I think you will find it very compelling as it is about "price fixing" and Archers Daniel Midland, one of the largest agricultural corporations in the world.

That said, some of you were asking about the dossiers. You may turn in your work in a three-ring binder or a folder. Please have a sense of organization where it is relatively easy to find your work as well as your research. I should be able to find your research with relative ease. so that I can verify your work. Also, if you have questions about MLA format and you want to talk about, please feel free to see me after classes in my office. I imagine most seniors and juniors would not have that many problems, but if you do, no problem. Please stop on by. I need a works cited list to verify your work. If you can't verify it doesn't count!

Finally, I thought of our class when I read this article in today's New York Times

Dim Sum Under Assault, and Devotees Say 'Hands Off'
Published: April 28, 2005

HONG KONG, April 26 - A report by the Hong Kong government suggesting that eating many kinds of dim sum regularly may be bad for your health is threatening to overshadow whatever else might be worrying the people of this city.

Practically every Chinese-language newspaper here has run a banner headline about it across its front page. Scrolling electronic displays in subway cars have flashed the news, and the report has become a topic of breakfast, lunch and dinner conversations at Chinese restaurants across the city.

Longtime dim sum lovers are indignant.

"The government is putting its thumb on every part of citizens' lives, and it shouldn't be telling anyone how dim sum should be served," said Wong Yuen, a retired mechanic and truck driver who says he has eaten dim sum every morning for the last two decades. "People can make their own decisions. If it's unhealthy, they can eat less. They don't need the government to tell them."

Dim sum, which means "touch of the heart," is usually eaten at breakfast or lunch and includes steamed or fried pastry dumplings stuffed with anything from pork and beef to shrimp and egg custard. Many other savories, like mango pudding and egg tarts, are also dim sum. The Cantonese restaurants of the local Maxim's chain serve 100 kinds of dim sum.

But based on laboratory analyses of 750 dim sum samples, Hong Kong's Food and Environmental Hygiene Department found high fat and salt and low calcium and fiber in everything from fried dumplings to marinated jellyfish. The report suggested that local residents eat these kinds of dim sum in moderation, and choose more dim sum like steamed buns and steamed rice rolls.

Regular dim sum diners should order plates of boiled vegetables to go with their meals, the report said, and should beware of some steamed dim sum for which the ingredients are fried, like bean curd sheets.

The report came as a shock here because dim sum is a part of the culture of Hong Kong in a way that few foods unite Americans.

Families gather every Sunday morning in dim sum shops across the city, grandparents showing grandchildren how to hold their chopsticks properly. Wealthy taitais, the fashionably dressed wives of powerful men, take breaks from their shopping marathons and spa visits to try costly varieties of tea and nibble the occasional har gau, a shrimp dumpling, or kwun tong gau, a shark's fin dumpling in a rich broth.

The mainstays of dim sum restaurants across Hong Kong are retired men like Mr. Wong who come every morning to socialize, sip tea and occasionally order a small freshly steamed bamboo basket with several delicacies inside. These are the avid dim sum consumers whom the government here is trying hardest to reach, and who are not enthusiastic about the government's warning.

The restaurants have large tables seating a half-dozen or more customers, and diners are routinely seated with strangers. Sitting on Tuesday morning in the Sun Chung Wah Restaurant, where the ham shui kok, or fried pork dumplings, leave little yellow lines of grease on a plate, Mr. Wong, who is 86, periodically gestured with his chopsticks as he explained how important these dim sum breakfasts were to him.

"I meet people here every day," he said. "We don't know each other at the beginning, but we talk."

Dr. Ho Yuk-yin, the community medicine specialist who oversaw the government report, said no one wanted to stop such meals, but older people in particular need to be aware of the risks of relying too much on dim sum.

Edmund T. S. Li, a nutritionist at Hong Kong University who was not involved in preparing the government report, said the findings were consistent with academic research on the nutritional content of dim sum and were especially important given recent studies on how people from this region absorb fat. Genetic tendencies toward long trunks and shorter legs mean that many people of southeast Asian descent may carry a higher proportion of fat relative to their height and weight than people of the same height and weight from northern China or Europe, he said.

There are some hints that even without the government warning a new health consciousness is starting to spread here. In the more expensive restaurants, working women and taitais alike can sometimes be seen dabbing their dim sum with tissues to soak up some of the grease and daintily pulling away the fried exteriors of some dumplings with their chopsticks before popping them into their mouths.

Some women - few men - even pour a little hot water, provided to dilute tea, into a small bowl and dip the dim sum in it to remove oil.

Perhaps proving the cynical adage that it is more expensive to eat healthy foods, the restaurants that are trying to reduce the fat and the salt in their dim sum are often not cheap. One of them is the Man Wah Restaurant at the top of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, with magnificent views of Hong Kong harbor and I. M. Pei's Bank of China tower.

The restaurant stopped using monosodium glutamate, or MSG, 15 years ago, and switched from lard to vegetable shortening five years ago. But Henry Ho, the restaurant's Chinese culinary adviser, said the renunciation of lard had cost the restaurant valuable points in the city's fiercely contested dim sum competitions.

"A high fat content adds to the flavor," said Kong Churk Tong, the chief dim sum chef.

A dim sum lunch at the Man Wah runs the equivalent of $25 a person with inexpensive tea and no wine. By contrast, Mr. Wong, the retired mechanic, paid just $2.82 for tea, a bowl of porridge with pork and preserved duck eggs and a plate of cheung fun, a steamed, folded sheet of wheat flour with pork inside.

He brushed aside the government warnings as he relished his food. "I'll just keep eating pork," he said, "the greasy kinds of pork even."
It's a good example of how at times governments can easily reach beyond their limits when influencing the public's daily habits. So much for "Progressivism"? I don't know. I just think it is interesting.

Take care!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Comm 226: Working Wages and Wal Mart

Class, While we are talking about the rights of the consumer, one of the things that I think is interesting is that one can only consumer if you have consuming power. This is typically the kind of discussion that people have in economics classes, but there is nothing more interesting in America today than to watch what happens when a Wal Mart comes to town. Where I grew up in Arizona, this was something akin to a Holiday or the opening of Disneyland. My Father was a small business owner, lifelong Republican and very pro-business and really resented Wal Mart because he felt that he just couldn't compete in terms of prices. His business didn't fold, but it is interesting that there are so many passions revolving around Wal Mart.

Recently, The Cleveland Plain Dealer ran this interesting article on the cost of Wal Mart to the State of Ohio and just this week I got an e-mail about a campaign called Wake Up Wal Mart. You can just hear the PR people at Wal Mart working away, can't you?

Anyways, I mention all of this since Wal Mart is always talking about the low prices it offers consumers, then if the AFL-CIO posts these talking points do they hate consumers?

Ok, enough for now. Will chat with you later in class.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Comm 200: Indy Research Proposals, Plus...

Dear Class,

Sorry for the length between when I said I would post and when I could. A number of factors have made this delay happen, most notably the amount of time it took me to prepare for the conference, which was considerable (all day Tuesday until midnight) and, after waking up at 6am the next day, I was stayed up a continual 31 hours until I could catch a wink. Let’s just say that you should never ever give a paper after 30 hours of consciousness, lengthy travel and inadequate nutrition. No problem… the audience all noted that it made sense.

Anyways, I wanted to let you know a little about the project so below is what you are looking at …
Purpose - If properly developed properly, this research proposal will result in three specific products. They are 1) a large individual portfolio/proposal, 2) a continual develop of internet resources through blogging, and 3) a research proposal substantial enough to be submitted for some a large portion of research paper in a 300 or 400 level course. By paying attention to what happened and how it happened in your research groups, your final proposal will become a much richer experience than most of you may first envision.

Requirements -

This second research proposal comes out of your group’s work and practice, but it is a personal project that is centered around creating a qualtitative research project. This discernment will come in the form of a research proposal that will consist of the following

1)Your RQ, a hypothesis and a discussion of your method all in the form of an abstract that will come first thing after your table of contents.
2)An explanation of why you want to study what you want to study. Explain what is at stake in your research. In other words, make it clear why anyone should care about this research.
3)A Literature Review – a formal explanation of what has been researched and how it has been researched. This will take the most amount of time but a good literature review allows you to take your question deeper and provides your reader with a clearer understanding of what is at stake.
4)A proposal of what you wish to research and how.
5)And, at minimum, a 30 cite working bibliography. Your bibliography should consist of one third “book citations”, one third peer-reviewed articles and one third other (reference books, audio-video, general periodicals, etc.).
6)All research will be represented by the inclusion in the dossier of a Xerox of the title page of each book title and the complete Xerox or printout of each peer-reviewed journal article, reference book entry and general periodical article.
7)The dossier will be a large, three ring binder that has your individual name.
Ok, Take care and cheers from London!