Saturday, February 21, 2009

Global Nomads--part 2

Darn it! I actually had started sketching out a short essay on the fact that President Obama is a Third Culture Kid/Global Nomad and that at least one of his closest advisors is also a TCK/GN (and why all this is a Really Good Thing for this country), but Ruth Van Reken got there first.

Ah well, the important thing is that it's been said.

Global Nomads

I just got the nicest email from a woman in Japan, writing that as a TCK/global nomad herself she really felt she could relate to my Cultural Globalizaton book (which she found in a bookstore in Tokyo).

This got me thinking more about TCKs (third culture kids) and global nomads. So I ran a couple of searches just to see if anything new was out there and found, sadly, that Norma McCaig passed away last November. She was the leader of Global Nomads International and the woman who coined the term "Global Nomad." Ruth Hill Useem, the sociologist who coined the term "Third Culture Kids," died in 2003.

Also ran across, a social networking site and magazine rolled into one which seeks to bring together global nomads (defined rather broadly, it seems) in conversation. Could be an interesting site, but have to read more of its articles.

This also got me thinking that a way to describe my book would be that it's a Third Culture Kid/Global Nomad's perspective on the processes of globalization and culture.

And this also got me thinking: my book is on bookshelves in Tokyo?? Why can't it be on bookshelves here?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Quick update. Looks like the Master's Programs at the west campus will be safe after all. They're hammering out a new vision statement for the campus, which includes MA programs.

Obama motorcade

Another grumpy dispatch from the clickable world

With analog TV, if there's interference you can still watch through the snow and odd rolling lines. With digital TV, if there's interference or a bad signal the picture pixellates, the sound goes out, like a skipping DVD, rendering it unwatchable.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Senators

So, I got an invitation out of the blue to attend a breakfast with Jon Kyl, Senator from Arizona and current Republican Whip, which was taking place on our campus. There ended up being about 70 people or so attending, at 7:30 this morning, mainly business and community leaders with a handful of faculty. I was certainly the only guy there not wearing a tie and jacket. Kyl spoke for a while, primarily about how terrible he felt the “so-called stimulus bill” (his words) was. At one point the head of the Maricopa Community College District (the largest in the country) asked a question about their financial crisis and if the stimulus plan could help and Kyl said back, in no uncertain terms, that first off he felt that education was a local issue and it was a mistake for the federal government to get involved in education (funding, I would presume). Anyway, for the life of me I couldn’t think of a question I wanted to ask, or at least one with any chance of getting a real response.

And then in walks Senator McCain (there's a hyperlink there, but who doesn't know who he is at this point?), which was something of a surprise (a brief moment thinking, “that’s not…”). He looks much like he does on TV, a touch less hair. Everyone immediately leaps to their feet and starts clapping. He and Kyl answered a few more questions, primarily criticizing the stimulus bill, though McCain took some time to put in a pitch for a guest worker program and argued that we need to be much more worried than we seem to be about drug cartel violence in Mexico. I notice a couple of folks getting out cell phones to snap pictures. Then they both swept past me and out.

I found out they had a press conference scheduled in the next room, and since I was ASU faculty they let me hang out in the back of the room (and, yes, snapped a blurry cell phone picture). I was mainly curious to watch how the whole press conference thing worked, what the reporters would ask, how they would answer, and so on. It was a pretty sparsely attended conference (see above picture). I bet the Senators were wondering who on earth that long-hair was hanging around the breakfast and conference. Anyway, news reports of the press conference here and here and here. The Senators certainly have their talking points down about the stimulus package (“neither bipartisan nor stimulus”; “generational theft”; etc) and the economic crisis (according to them they’ve been pleading with the congress to do something about this pending housing crisis since the early 2000’s, but those darn Democrats would have none of it). The reporters were definitely asking more pointed questions than the community leaders, not surprisingly.

The vast majority of the political news in Phoenix today is about Obama’s visit (he’s in town overnight to introduce his housing plan in the morning), coverage of the Kyl-McCain press conference seems limited to smaller papers (or Fox news--the Grand Canyon metaphor and graphic on the flatscreen display towards the start of this piece is hysterically bad). Anyway, glad Obama’s in town, jealous of a friend of ours who got a ticket to see him, and hoping that traffic’s not too tied up because of the visit that I can’t get the kids to school.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Electric Cars

So, ever since I saw “Who Killed the Electric Car,” I’ve been somewhat interested in this vehicle, though haven’t studied it in any depth by any means. But I find it irritating that the Chevy Volt is being touted as a new innovation, when not only have electric vehicles been around for almost as long as internal combustion engines but that there were a number of models out and about in the 1990s (which were withdrawn and scrapped without a real explanation as soon as California lifted its regulations requiring a certain number of 0-emission vehicles on the road). Anyway, that’s the thesis of the documentary.

In today’s paper there’s an article on the Volt. Costing between $30K and $40K it can go up to 40 miles on a charge. After that a small internal combustion engine kicks in. So, for local trips only.

Later in the paper, there’s a review of the Tesla Roadster, an all-electric sports car. Now, I’m not a car guy by any means, but wow! Interestingly, this high performance vehicle can go about 200 miles on a charge (if going fast; if going slower—as if!—it can get up to 240 miles). Also for fairly local trips. This is for the very exclusive price of $109K, so I won’t be making that down payment any time soon.

But, running the numbers, if you divide car price by mileage, here’s what you get: the Volt, taking the midrange price: $35,000/40=$875/mile. The Tesla, taking the lower mileage: $109,000/200=$545/mile!

I’m not sure what to conclude from this, except I doubt that the Volt will be as impressive as it probably could be, and doubt that Chevrolet’s heart is really in it. Though I would have said that before I read these articles anyway.


No news. Just additional concern about changes at the west campus (e.g., here and here).

Apparently there's some meeting next week with representatives from State Government, ASU, and the city of Glendale regarding the West Campus. No details offered. Not sure if this is a renewal of the proposal to somehow spin the west campus off to become it's own State College, though that's apparently a plan on the table (as is the plan to shut the west campus down, and a plan just to continue as New College).

Friday, February 13, 2009

More ASU

No new info, just reactions.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Well, I haven't had much in here about ASU's financial difficulties which are the result of the State of Arizona's cutbacks. I'll just post a link to the latest:

Key for us is the loss of our Master's Program (and all MA programs on our campus).

We'll see what this all means...

Sunday, February 08, 2009

A grumpy dispatch from the clickable world

What could this be? The answer my friends: a photo of the inside of my pocket. Yes, a photo of the inside of my pocket. Why do I have such a photo? Well, let me tell you.

My cell phone finally died last month. It was a rugged little thing, made by LG, that was battered and scratched, but had lasted for years. It was simple, without bells, whistles, or a camera. But finally, one day, it went through the wash, and that was just too much for it. Now, it tried to hang on for a few days after The Incident, sputtering to life, screen flickering meekly, seeking a signal from out of the aether, but finally flatlining (and taking down all my contacts and phone numbers with it).

As a replacement, I sought out something also non-flashy, simple; in other words, a phone and not an electronic Swiss Army knife. But cameras are ubiquitous these days and I ended up with a Samsung phone with a camera. It was about a week into my time with this new device when I discovered the Design Flaw. There is a button on the side which, when tapped lightly, turns on the display. I should note as an aside that as a power-saving feature the external screen goes black after a few seconds. My old phone kept the display going, so I could use it as a clock during lectures. This phone I can't. Anyway, if you press and hold down the side button it turns on the camera.

You're way ahead of me.

Every so often, as I go about my daily business, I hear the digital reproduction of a shutter clicking from somewhere in my pants pocket. The button has been pressed by keys or a nail clipper or loose change (or my hand seeking any of these items) and the camera has been activated. It happily starts taking pictures. In the month I have had this phone I have had to delete, I kid you not, over 150 of these pictures. Most are pitch black. I think the above photo, and a couple of its companions, are from a day I was wearing khakis and light seeped through the fabric.

In any case, if we are to make any progress towards wearable computers, someone needs to solve this button problem. An electronic device with a button subject to jostling, gets jostled in a pocket, purse, or bag. This was a problem with my old Palm Zire. The power button was too exposed and it would turn on in my bag and the power would drain away (and when the power was gone, so was the memory, and anything not backed up: poof). This was also a problem with the first set of remote car keys I ever got (being suspicious of them on principle for years: key--lock seems safe; key fob--radio signal--carlock seems less safe, but that's just me). I would accidentally unlock the van or open the sliding doors while I was inside my house. I'd go out and it would be open. Or I'd set off the alarm. I'm glad I don't have one of those remotes which remote starts the car or else my vehicle would head off like the Batmobile. Luckily it seems to have calmed down and for some reason isn't as sensitive anymore, or perhaps I've just trained myself to keep my keys free and out until I'm out of range. That's probably it. "Change for the machines," as Pat Cadigan once wrote in Synners.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Bill Posters Will Be Band

A couple of links to live performances of the Bill Posters Will be Band, an anarchic British jazz group made up of performers from a variety of other groups including the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.

Their home page:

Elise and I know (or, at least, knew, since it's been ages and ages since we've seen him) one of the members of the troupe, Jim "Golden Boots" Chambers, through a friend of a friend. We were given Jim and Sharon's contact information when Elise and I were over in England as undergraduates for study abroad back in the mid 1980s. Jim and Sharon were always very kind and welcoming and we loved visiting them in their house south of London. Jim worked as a curator at the Natural History Museum in London, in charge of the fish section. I went with him to work one day and he showed me some of the preserved specimens in a back storeroom, some well over a hundred years old (and some apparently collected by Darwin himself, though I don't recall). Bill Posters was his occasional gig. He's the sax player with the long beard and the John Lennon glasses.