Tuesday, April 20, 2010

[Education] Let's Bring Back the Draft, "American Cultures," and the legacy of slavery on African-Africans today *edited*

As a graduation requirement in the College of Letters & Science at UC Berkeley, I am required to take an American Cultures course. I elected to take an introductory sociology class. And, I believe I have never ever came across a course that is, well, so "progressive." It's not that I just disagree with some of the views presented in this course, but, more so, that I am quite shocked at the topics that are so openly discussed in this course. Moreover, many of the views are those that I might not personally agree with.

So far, we have discussed unequal opportunities that minorities, largely African-Americans, face in the education system, discrimination based on gender and on sexual orientation. Additionally, we have talked at great lengths about how African-Americans are largely left out of the educational system as the current educational system is not culturally sensitive to the historical legacy of slavery.

Nonetheless, in the classroom, perhaps it's the professor or perhaps it's the maturity level of the students, but the classroom setting is very agreeable to discussion. And, as participation is ten percent of the final grade, which is on a straight grading scale (93% - 97% A, 90-93% A-, etc...) and as not a great many students expressed views that are not too dissimilar from those of the general lectures, I have some how come to take on the role of presenting the far right's side of the view by default. 

On any given question, I feel I am giving a generic answer that, perhaps, Sean Hannity might give. I don't mind, but today, at the risk of getting shot, I said sexual orientation is a choice for all, but a small fraction of the population. Moreover, I said that by giving equal rights to those that do not have a choice, this will tend to encourage homosexual behavior. Of course, I added in that this is probably why the far right continue to say sexual preferences are a choice, but at the same it made me wonder how some of these talking heads on FOX and MSNBC really do say what they say with a straight face. I mean do they really believe what they say or are they just spouting the platform of their political leaders.

However, on a secondary note, it did make me think that it would be a great idea to re-introduce the draft. I mean there's multiple arguments about how it'd make the U.S. more reluctant to go to war and the like, but I'm saying this strictly on the basis that, well, there are lots of different types of people in this country that I will never meet. I cannot think of something that will build a national American identity than serving the country together in the armed forces with people from say, Idaho, Alabama, or San Francisco.

Inequality by Design: Cracking the Bell Curve MythAlso, coming back into this spring semester, I never thought I would spend so much time looking over studies and articles into schooling quality. I am currently spending about 90% of my time on my senior thesis that is entirely about international students flows. Also, in the single midterm prompt for the Sociology course, we were asked to write about (required reading included Inequality By Design):

"How has your own educational experience been influenced by the socio-economic context of your home community and high school? What broader conclusions can your draw about the relationship between education and the reproduction of class inequalities?"

I'm sure I'm the only one that argued against it -- it's basically a book written by UC Berkeley's entire Sociology Department. I don't know why I do this to myself sometimes. I set myself up for some very challenging tasks; of course, it'd be easier to take the view of these professors (I hadn't discovered Eric Hanushek's work at that point), but I guess it just would've been a pretty dull assignment -- write a paper about something I don't agree with or could care less about supporting an idea that I don't agree with nor do a particularly care about.

So, I did things my way -- the way I see it. It definitely made it a much more difficult assignment, but hey I really do believe in what I wrote and it makes doing the assignment all that much more pleasant .Honestly though, I really do believe in what I wrote. There's a reason why African-American students underperform African immigrants. There's a reason why Colin Powell or Condoleeza Rice could never have become the U.S. President (even before the most recent U.S. election). And, to be honest, there's a reason why the mainstream reparations for slavery dominated the mainstream African-American agenda (well, up until the most recent U.S. Presidential election). Anyways, here's the try I gave. I ultimately got a 90% 91% on a straight scale.

note: there's  a few typos, including the usage of the word endogenous and exogenous incorrectly...

[DeCal] Next Week (April 27th, 2010), Review, Fall 2010

April 27th, 2010
There's just one more meeting left and next week we will have a guest lecturer, Assistant Professor Christine Hong from UC Santa Cruz. She will be giving a presentation, titled, "Crossing the Line." You should have also received an e-mail from Leah that has the required reading materials for next week. Participation is considered mandatory next week. I believe there will also be a special visitor to our class. I hope to see everyone with the required readings next week.

Response Papers
I understand that for many of you this will be the most or last exposure you may have that relates to Korea for, perhaps, the rest of your lives. Answers to all response papers as well as a review of the class will be put up as a posting on this site around the beginning of next month. This will include a broad overview of everything we went over: which is basically all major aspects of Korean History from 2333 BCE to the currency reform in North Korea in 2010 CE.

DeCal Next Semester
We're in the process of assembling an entirely new team for the next few semesters (and possibly the next three years) to continue and extend this course and I believe we do have a core team in place, pending approval from our faculty sponsor and ASUC. However, if you're interested in participating, please send me an e-mail.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A gripe about UC Berkeley's Department of East Asian Languages and Culture

I guess it's hard for me to say anything bad about this school since considering that I screwed up so much in high school that I feel I won the lottery by being afforded another chance to come to a top notch research university (by the way, one of my pledge bro's graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy). I guess that puts things into perspective. Getting into UC Berkeley was like winning the lottery -- though I would tease him about how we're both at the same school everytime he'd start to bring out the well, over at Exeter or that one time he Google Earth'd (verb?) his school...

Anyways, during spring break, I realized the younger child of my next door neighbor is also a UC Berkeley transfer student. His mom dragged him out. I was speaking to him in Korean as I'm guessing he immigrated to the U.S. during middle school or so -- these neighbors moved in when I was in Korea, so I never really met them.

And, we got to talking and he told me he's a Political Economy major, which I believe has a two year foreign language component. He told me he's taking Advanced Korean Literature or a course that I believe is past fourth year Korean. And, there was also a similar student, who I know speaks Korean fluently that is in that class as well. And, it reminded me. I have no gripes about Korean/Korean-American students taking advanced literature courses that they can't take since, well, they're not in Korea.

But, what does bother me is that considering how this department is so short on funding -- how little they do to get rid of students that take it simply to boost their GPA. Korean language courses are almost impossible to get into -- I took Intermediate Korean for a summer, but in my whole life I've taken just that and a quarter of Introductory Korean at Yonsei University and three days at Ewha University (to obtain a student visa -- which actually is what a fairly recent paper by professors at Yale argues: that international student flows are mainly vehicle of migration -- which I disagree with and, which my UG thesis will argue against). Anyways, there are a group of students -- those two excluded -- that take these courses to improve their grade point average. I was on the waiting list for 3rd year Korean -- before my schedule consisted of just math/stats/econ courses, but I couldn't get in as:

#1: The department is heavily underfunded, so there are just a few number of classes that are offered each semester.
#2: I would say, conservatively, at least a quarter to a fifth of the students were native Korean speakers. This is not a literature course, but a third year language course. I mean in class -- as it is 3rd year Korean -- no English is spoken, so if you're a native Korean speaker, then you look like a great student. But, apparently, there are these cards that I had to fill out (how relevant is this course to my major? -- none; I'm an econ/appl. math major) and while I was there I came to be in utter shock as I saw a group of students from the class talking in the Durant Building -- to get off the waitlist -- speaking in heavily accented English (and probably with a Republic of Korea citizenship), so they could be in the class with their friends.

Now, this is outrageous -- and not in the sense of let's say how it'd outrage Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, or Lou Dobbs (by the way, what on earth happened to this guy?), but in the way it'd outrage a normal human being -- genuinely. I'd love to have graduated from UC Berkeley with native fluency in Korean and, more importantly, the ability to do research in the Korean language.

I understand there are many incentives at UC Berkeley to encourage this type of behavior -- for one, distinction/higher distinction/highest distinction (or cum laude/magna cum laude/summa cum laude) is capped at a certain proportion here unlike at some of the Ivies... [I heard] Yale gives some type of distinction to half their undergraduate students... Well, they got only 4,000 of them anyways, and by the way, I did take Latin for a semester at junior college, so summa cum laude means "with highest (or maximum) praise." But, this is too much.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

U.S.Census 2010 and California

I just filled out the U.S. Census form -- took me an entire 30 secs (about 15 secs of that involved whether I should give them my phone number).

Though I believe this will be the first decade in American History that California will not gain any new seats in the House of Representatives regardless of the way they calculate it, I think there's a number of programs, including Pell Grants, that dole out funds according to the way the U.S. Census apportions the population of each state. So, it's probably in your best interset to fill it out...

Of course, with California not gaining any seats new seats for the first time in history this naturally begs the question, "How much of a paycut (not just in terms of money) or how much harder would it have to be open and operate a busineses in California (as opposed to Texas per se) for you to move out?" More specifically, a question that's been on my mind recently is, "How much of a paycut would you take to live in Los Angeles as compared to the Bay Area?"  Though I'm not looking for full-time work at the moment, it's been a topic that's been on my mind a lot recently...

Anyways, that'll be a topic of a future post...  And, on a secondary note, I can't remember a class, where roll is taken at an 8 am morning class, well, since high school... (not that I wouldn't show up... it's just the principle behind it)... :) Anyways, I thought California law forbade university courses outside of language courses for basing grades off of attendance...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Of France and Shouldn't China care more about the NPT and Iran?

Consider during the time leading up to the Second Iraq War that one of the leading critics against the war was none other than that western european country with the largest oil interests in Iraq -- France, a country that hailed herself as being multilateral at the time (and when Freedom Fries were apparently the fashion... I missed out on this trend as I was overseas).

But, we see a similar situation happening again in Iran with Chinese intransience over implementing another round of sanctions. You see, Iran signed a deal with China shortly after the U.S. invaded Iraq:

Under a memorandum of understanding signed Thursday, Sinopec Group will buy 250 million tons of liquefied natural gas over 30 years from Iran and develop the giant Yadavaran field.
Iran is also committed to export 150,000 barrels per day of crude oil to China for 25 years at market prices after commissioning of the field ("China, Iran sign biggest oil & gas deal" | China Daily)

Here's another deal signed last year. It's unfair to say that the U.S. chases after oil when China and France (the last time around) are stubbornly refusing to sanction a country, which regularly claims it will destroy another country (Israel) and denies the Holocaust ever happened,  that -- by any interpretation is bent on getting the bomb(consider that the U.S. + the 3 major EU countries are on the same page now). I feel it's a bit absurd that the U.S. gets singled out when there's no other country in the world that is willing to take on Iran. I thought China recently hailed its system of government as being able to complete tasks in a fashion that democratic governments could not...

Then, why is there so much reluctance on the part of China to look ahead of its near term interests (oil & natural gas) and not ponder about what will happen in say thirty years or so... when if things start getting rough... it looks like the United States will hide behind two oceans with a nuclear missle shield, whereas China will be bordering possibly a nuclear Korea(s), Japan, India, Pakistan, Iran, Burma(!), Russia, etc etc... The breakdown of the NPT will hurt China more than anybody else...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Anti-Americanism in South Korea -- "Fucking USA" Song w/English translation

Edit:During the song when the singer asks, "Is America still a beautiful country?" this references the (Sino-Korean) word for the United States (미국 - 美國, literally "beautiful country"). I wrote about this last year and how the Sino-Japanese word for the United States is rice country (美國  vs 米國) -- the Korean and Japanese pronounciations for beautiful and rice are homonyms in both languages.

As I was re-reading my earlier post, I was thinking, "what on earth is a bicycle and spoke system?" Anyways, in the DeCal yesterday, I spoke about Anti-Americanism and the recent North Korean currency reform, which in hindsight, achieved what looks to be an economic atmosphere in North Korea that has a eerie resemblance to the situation policymakers in the U.S. (and the rest of the world) were trying to get us out of just a couple years ago.

But, with respect to Anti-Americansm, I guess I should've included this video in yesterday's class as it really puts things in perspective. Basically, what I went over in class is the understanding I came to have of the Anti-Americanism that was pervasive at around the time of the 2002 World Cup and immediately preceeding  following it. Well, here's the video. There's a translation in English (and Japanese) as well -- gotta love those Japanese Anti-Korean Youtube posts (I'm just joking, by the way. Nationalism in East Asia is not confined to Japan... ). But, anyways, you might find this video shocking when considering that South Korea is a U.S. ally, how much more beneficial the US-ROK alliance is for South Korea, and how South Korea owes a great deal, including it's very existence (on a side note, this directly brings up whether Korea would have been better off in 2010 had Korea been a unified Communist country back in 1950) and except in the direct development of its democratic institutions (a source of Anti-Americanism as disccused yesterday) to the United States up until very recently. Hopefully, the discussion in class yesterday will put a video like this in perspective.
And, during the U.S. - SKorea game, it wasn't just drunken guys singing this song -- it was very, very popular with almost all young adults and adults. The very same college and high school students, who after a gathering of 300,000 or so to watch a soccer game in mass and who would afterwards individually pickup the trash, were the very same people that sang this song. It wasn't just an extreme segment of SKorean society, but it was part of popular culture.

If you click on the Anti-Americanism label, you'll come up with a list of posts that in a nutshell is what was discussed yesterday minus the in detail description of the main issues and events that dominated the formative years of those those that voted to put Roh Moo Hyun in power.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

What's in a name? -- Re: "What Asian Century?"

What's in a name?

[For some, a great deal... For example, the 2002 World Cup, was titled the Korea-Japan World Cup in exchange for the finals being held in Japan... By the way, that was a very exciting time... I wonder what would've happened if the U.S. and South Korea didn't tie 1-1 though...]

But anyways, I found this article "What Asian Century" by Guy Sorman over at Project Syndicate, where the author argues against the name of an Asian Century in favor of a Global Century. Personally, I could care less about naming the 21st century the Asian Century, but what I didn't like about the article is that, well, first of all, it's 2010 and, second, it talks of security structures in Asia out of context...
The thing is, well, history doesn't divide itself nicely from the American Century to the "Asian Century" or the "Globalized Century" or ... [some name]...I mean it's just a name and, we still don't know what will happen in December 21st, 2012. But rather than current security structures highlighting a globalized century (or for a "multipolar globalized world" there'd be security blocs like NATO all over the world, which isn't the case today), it just happens that security arrangements in the form of blocs (Europe) and a bicycle wheel and spoke system using bilateral alliances (East Asia or the global higher education system for the forseeable future) haven't really changed at all since 1991. They all have the U.S. at the center. This indicates contiunation of the American century more so than anything about a "globalized century" or anything else for that matter... But, it may also be that the way the world is configured today just does not reflect today's underlying power relationships and conflicts (or tomorrow's)...  I'd say that the 20th century would be the best example and I'd continue to argue against the presence of a global community of enlightened nations... It still looks like the way countries treat each other haven't come to resemble the way people treat each other... So, it's relevant to put the security arrangement in context...

We just don't know what will happen if war erupted in Taiwan, the Korean Peninsula, or, most likely, Iran. Or conflicts between China-Japan (Senkaku Islands) or Japan-Korea (Liancourt Rocks) or Japan-Russia (Kuril Islands), China-India (the Northeastern Indian province China claims), China-Vietnam/China-ASEAN (Spratly Islands), China-US/Japan (Taiwan), etc etc ...

Which could at any time burst the bubble of a "globalized century" ...
If an argument is going to be made by using the current secuirty structures found in East Asia, especially as the name to me just seems to go only to to the extent to highlight how far India and China have come in light of the past three or four centuries, then it'd be fair to put the security structures that the author talks about in context. The current security structure of the world reflects a U.S. dominated world order and it is hard to differentiate 2010 from 1991. 
The United States still stations soldiers in Germany and its special relationship with the British ensures that the British are, well, the Trojan Horse to ensure that the EU never develops a strong, federal government with a foreign policy with a security framework independent of NATO (the U.S.)... This will ensure that Germany's insecurities against the Russians will remain, which will ensure that the Germans remain dependent on the U.S. (NATO). Of course, there's still the argument of NATO's relevancy in the 21st century (as NATO's present shortcomings in Afghanistan highlight)... The EU's rapid reaction force of some 30,000 soldiers that was proposed at least a decade ago (?), which even after the conflict in Georgia, remains, far from ready...
[East Asia]
In East Asia... it's much the same in that nothing really has changed to differentiate 2010 from 1991 except that instead of NATO there's the continuation of bilateral alliances, which suggest a bicycle wheel and spoke system, where the U.S. is at the center and the U.S. has alliances with a ring of countries that encircles China (I believe the addition of Vietnam and India... with hopefully, a Russia in some form + a U.S. friendly Iran (in one way or another)....  will prove to be a sufficient hedge against possible, future Chinese adventurism)... But, anyways, the current structure still has the U.S. as the dominant power in the region with all countries looking to the U.S. for protection.
When the Japanese can no longer credibly believe the U.S. will be able to defend them and look towards alternatives -- such as a nuclear armed Japan or a China-Japan detente, then perhaps it could be argued that a "globalized century" is here or some new time is here... Otherwise, just by looking at security structures in East Asia, it's hard to distinguish anything different between today and 1991. In fact, I'd continue to label the current time that we live in the American Century (by adding in that higher education is located in the "core" nations of the North Atlantic)...

Saturday, April 3, 2010

[DeCal] Response Paper #2

Response Paper questions:
1. What about NK's agricultural system and government policies made it vulnerable to the famine?
2. what did NK do to try and avert the famine?
3. What was the largest change as a result of the famine?

1 page, double spaced, 12 font

the ppt is attached to the email i sent out!  have a good wknd

Of North Korea, Internet Addiction, & Unification Church. Also, What's been going on in South Korea?

Note: I guess the only thing to do about typos is... to keep writing(or posting)...

I wrote about what I thought was going on in North Korea these days (possible regime collapse soon). This article summarizes the sentiment of "longtime observors."

The rising prospect of collapse is chiefly expressed by a range of professors, military experts and think-tank analysts who scrutinize Pyongyang's power elite. Those observers have pointed to weaknesses in the regime in the past, particularly after the death of Mr. Kim's father, Kim Il Sung, in 1994, but they seemed to have settled into a belief in the regime's stability. Last month, however, the chatter began to change.

"It's like a taboo that's been broken," said Daniel Pinkston, an analyst at the Seoul office of International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based group that reports on conflict areas (North Korean Regime Seen as Weakening | Wall Street Journal).
The reason that it was taboo to talk about a North Korean collapse is that a lot of really smart people got embarassed when they mistakenly predicted the collapse of North Korea after the death of Kim Il Sung -- I think the CIA put the regime's lifespan at five years at that time -- and again when the famine was playing out. But, nonetheless, unless the United States comes forth with a sweeping security guarantee with large amounts of financial aid in exchange for North Korea's complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement (CVID) of its nuclear weapons program, in an internal environment for North Korea that seems to reward those that are the most conservative and confrontational (as the sucession issue looms and not unlike how the Republican Party in the U.S. is today) and an external environment that has never been more hostile (seems South Korea was the key variable all along (along with a consistent US foreign policy) that makes the DPRK's days look numbered...

So much for those in Korea that have purposely and wrongly blamed outside countries, particularly the United States for blocking Korean reunification) -- If there's any country to be blamed, it's China back during the days of the famine and, perhaps, China again... though a massive, unilateral Chinese intervention / aid looks unlikely even with the upcoming visit to China by Kim Jong Il....China again with an intervention in North Korea that will come shortly...

But anyways, you know what this means? Well, as I was walking by campus a couple days ago, I saw posters from the Unification Church (통일교회) of Rev. Sun Myung Moon. Among its many beliefs and businesses (the Church single-handedly brought the Fox News Version of the Washington Post -- The Washington Times to, well, Washington, D.C.) is that Jesus Christ will return when the Korean Peninsula is unified. So, get ready: the end is near.

Meanwhile in South Korea with the fastest Internet connections in the world:
A couple of professed video-game addicts, while playing marathon sessions of a game where they ironically raise a virtual baby, were found guilty of killing their real life baby out of criminal neglect.
At the same time, of course, Lee Kun-Hee, son of the late Samsung founder was pardoned as he returned to be head of Samsung Electronics, the largest high tech company in the world (in revenue... larger than HP now). By the way, check the chart in that article (it shows how far Samsung has come in various industries, all commoditized industries, but nonetheless).  He has to save the company and country from Apple and Research In Motion).
Of course, not to be outdone, Hyundai Motors (though I think Samsung Electronics comprises a quarter of the total market value of the main South Korean stock exchange - KOSPI) reported record sales on continued growth in the U.S. and Chinese markets. Along with its subsidiary, Kia Motors, the carmaker reported grabbing 8.1% of the U.S. market, which means goodbye to KORUS for the time being as 8.1% of the U.S. market is probably the size of the entire South Korean market.
By the way, there is an interesting provision in the KORUS FTA agreement that isn't in the Korea-EU Free Trade Treaty about products made in the Gaeseong Industrial Complex -- which allows for the U.S. to decide if products made in Gaeseong will be tariff free. The treaty with the EU completely ignores the issue as and classifies those products as North Korean products, which could be used as leverage against North Korea -- I believe there's an article that argued precisely that, but considering that the agreement isn't in the one with the EU and the Gaeseong issue, I believe rather than showing a point of potential leverage, it goes to show how much more important or attractive the U.S. market is than the E.U. one. As during the KORUS negotiations, the Gaesong phrase was put in there to placate SKorean negotiators -- I'm guessing it goes to show how much more profitable the U.S. market is... (regardless of gross volume of sales...)
Anyways, this article best illustrates the success that Hyundai has been seeing in the U.S. (though GM -- which has a 40% stake in GM Daewoo -- should probably come out as KORUS' biggest advocate. GM has sold more cars in China than in the U.S. as of late. Much of this is due to GM Daewoo -- one of their successful acquisitions). 
There's also a freak accident that destroyed a South Korean naval ship that's being covered in more detail over on all the main Korea blogs, where they investigate some of the causes.
Thought I'd share some of the articles I kept open in my tabs as I catch up on what's been happening around the world... (Spring Break ended)...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Fool me once...

I thought I'd reminisce on this classic moment...

(Disclaimer: I did vote for George W. Bush in 2000, though I was a big McCain fan back then...)

The New Middle Kingdom - The Insular United States

There's a new book out by Bruce Cumings that looks at how the U.S. came to be in the position that it is in today (an Atlantic and Pacific power): Dominion from Sea to Sea: Pacific Ascendancy and American Power. I'm assuming it has the same type of prose as Korea's Place in the Sun, which would automatically put it on the top of my list of books to read. If you look at a map -- no, a globle, it looks like well the United States sits in the middle of the world. To the west (and, over a vast/peaceful ocean) is Asia and to the east is, well, Europe. On a side note, if you look at China, the country looks to be more of a coastal country now. The country is hemmed in by the highest mountains in the world to its Southwest, a barren desert to to its West, and a frozen tundra to its North. .

But, if the United States is geographically situated to be the new middle kingdom, then America is surely coming to look like China in other ways. I came across this article that says a third of the members of Congress don't have passports. And, "while 90 percent of faculty in 13 countries believe that a scholar must read books and journals from abroad to keep up with scholarly developments, only 62 percent of American faculty believe so" ("Internationalize American Higher Education? Not exactly" by Philip G. Altbach and Patti McGill Peterson). This is not too different from how I guess China thought there was nothing to be learned from the outside world just a few centuries ago.

On a side note, I remember ten years ago Stratfor (it was free to read back then) forecast that Pat Buchanan's wing of the Republican Party would once again gain traction with the American populace and possibly return to power in 2010; perhaps, they were off by another ten years (But, in ten years, isn't there supposed to be another race to the moon?)