Showing posts from 2010

Christmas 2010

Christmas 2010
Dear Family and Friends:It is Christmas Eve and we are in Alabama visiting with my parents, Bob & Becky, and two sisters, April and Lorrie, and their families once again. As it is every year, the time leading up to this blessed holiday is always very busy as our lives revolve around school calendars which demand many tasks be completed before we are able to celebrate the season. Hence, my apologies for a belated Christmas greeting. It has been a busy year for all of us as I will briefly narrate.May, 2010. Our eldest daughter Sarah graduated from Norman North High School, earning scholastic honors and achievement for her hard work and effort. She is now a freshman at the University of Oklahoma studying International Relations and planning to go to law school.

Summer, 2010, Taiwan.Since the previous summer Sarah went by herself to Taiwan, we decided that this summer she was to stay home and work while the rest of us headed east. In addition to visiting family in friends…

End of Semester is Near

As 2010 draws to a close I must admit that I have not been a very good blogger this year. The time when I probably had the most time and incentive to post was while I was in China this past summer. Yet alas, the Chinese censors blocked access to this blog. Then upon returning home life was less interesting and busier. Well here's hoping that I do better in 2011.
Some musings: I'm one of those who according to the pollsters is in the minority on our government's fiscal irresponsibility. All the tax cuts should expire! Close the loopholes! And cut spending where feasible (ag supports, defense). At the same time we need to invest for the future by spending more on education, energy transformation, and infrastructure. It is disheartening to see the poor state of education in this country, to see crumbling roads and bridges, and to not see the high speed rail network, subway lines, the growth that I see across China and Taiwan. Perhaps we need to suspend democracy for a time and…
We are enjoying our time in Taiwan and the hospitality of Donna's sister and family. This past few days we went to Taipei as I delivered lectures at Fu Jen University. I also discussed the possibilities for establishing an exchange agreement between Fu Jen and the University of Oklahoma. It was nice to see how the environment surrounding the campus has improved as most of the small, polluting factories, which formerly made the air and water less than desirable, have closed or moved away. There are also more shops and places to eat just outside the campus. When the MRT station finally opens, hopefully by the end of this year, it will become even better. So I am excited and pleased by this opportunity.
Taiwan's universities, however, are facing some challenges. There are now too many universities and not enough students. Fu Jen is doing well, as it has been long established and has a reputation as one of the top universities in Taiwan. However, lesser universities are seeing enr…


I just arrived with my family to Taiwan this past week. I'll spend the next 3 weeks here, then a week in Singapore, followed by 4 weeks in China.
June 05, 2010Taiwan, Changhua 溪州
On the airplane I was reading Leslie Chang’s book, Factory Girls. (An excellent book I highly recommend.) The section I was reading narrated her trip with a factory girl to her hometown in the rural interior during Chinese New Year. She spoke of the journey made by millions, and how important it is. Such a journey is something I am most familiar with as I have done it many times in Taiwan. But as I was reading I realized that I was engaged in another journey: the summer vacation, end-of-school, flight back “home.” This is a new kind of migration, not done by car, bus, or train, but through the air. It has arisen due to the technology of air travel, and the wealth that the expatriate community members have generated in recent decades. The longest leg of our journey went from Dallas to Narita, followed by a…

Be Humble

I read this editorial by David Brooks of the NYTimes this morning. (Click here) It resonates with what I believe is the mark of a good researcher: know yourself (and the cultural values/beliefs/behaviors which shape you) and then use that knowledge to inform and shape your research. Research and researchers who are "bold and brash" may make a big splash and gain a lot of attention, but will their work stand the test of time? Rather, as Brooks argues, the better way is to be self-reflexive throughout the process of research. Test your ideas and thoughts carefully and you are more likely to produce something of lasting value.

Summer in China Program

I am scheduled to be one of two instructors June 28-July 23 at Kunming, China. However, student enrollment is not what I hope and the class may be cancelled. If you know of any University of Oklahoma students who may be interested, let me know. Karen Elmore ( of Arts and Sciences is in charge of registration.
Here are some thoughts inspired by the This I Believe series:
I believe in asking for directions. Growing up, every summer our family went on a two week summer vacation. We didn’t have a lot of money, so we would economize by staying at campsites, or on rare occasions, not too expensive motels. We would also tend to plan too many activities, and because we were “in a hurry” to get to someplace, would get lost. (These were the days before GPS or Google Maps.) Usually my dad would be driving at such times, and he would never stop to ask for directions; he would keep driving forward, believing that “we would get there eventually.” At such times my mom would not be happy. She’d say, “Stop Bob! Ask for directions! Turn around!” But he kept going, and only when all hope was lost reluctantly back track in the direction we should have gone. Years later, when I was a junior in college, I spent a semester abroad in Greece. As part of our educational experience, during holidays (and they happened…

Are Americans Outliers?

As a professor of Communication, a field of study some consider to be a "Social Science," like Psychologists, Sociologists, and Economists, I am interested in studying and understanding human behavior and beliefs. However, I am unusual as most of my research and interest comes from the years I have spent living on the small island of Taiwan. As someone born and raised in the US, Taiwan strikes me as a fascinating place full of interesting surprises and contrasts with what may count as "normal" in the US. But then my wife, native of Taiwan, often asks me why anyone would be interested in learning about Taiwan? Why would Americans care about this island nation-in-dispute?
So should I be like most of my colleagues in the US who spend most of their time and interest surveying, conducting experiments, observing, recording the activities and reactions of Americans? Or, to put it more accurately, should I follow the vast majority who spend their time studying samples of s…

Blog theme--seeking wisdom

I've been talking with people about my newly created blog, and someone suggested to me that to write a good one, you need to have a theme. This is a great idea. One theme could be reflections on my work and experiences in Taiwan. But I'm currently not in Taiwan. So, at present I am more interested in the process of analyzing, writing, and reflecting. This is what I am doing in my "job" as teacher and adviser at the University of Oklahoma. And what comes from and through this process is the theme of "wisdom." How can wisdom be pursued, understood, and conceptualized? This is my theme.
My first reflection comes from notes taken from a wonderful book, Senses of Place (1996). Edited by Steven Feld and Keith Basso. The second chapter in this book, by Basso, is titled "Wisdom sits in Places." In it Basso discusses the process of learning and understanding wisdom from the point of view of the Western Apache of the Cibecue reservation. Below I'm pastin…

Winter in Stuttgart, Germany

I am in Stuttgart, Germany this week and next week go to Ramstein, Germany. I'm here to teach two courses for the University of Oklahoma's Advanced Programs, a graduate program for military personnel, contractors, and dependents. There is snow on the ground here in Stuttgart and reminds me of the winters I experienced growing up in Upstate New York, and when in college in Massachusetts.


I recently saw the movie, Avatar, twice! It was that good. The story works well on many levels--hero's adventure, love story, man (Navi) v machine. But it also can be criticized for some typical Hollywood stereotypes--the white guy saves the people!
I've recently been re-reading Jared Diamond's excellent book, Guns, Germs, and Steel. It's interesting to think of his book in light of Avatar. The parallel story would be that the indigenous tribal people of New Guinea (or the Native Americans, African pygmies, Australian aborigines, etc.) were somehow able to fight off the invading Europeans. But this didn't happen in human history.

New Year's Day

Today is the first day of 2010. This morning we each uttered our resolution for this year. Mine is to finally put together a book proposal for the 外籍新娘 (foreign brides) research I did in Taiwan. I have already written several papers, and the task will be to put them together for a more complete argument.

I just found out from Facebook that my friend, Scott Milsom, just passed away. He was 46. Scott and I were great friends. I always thought of him as my "best friend" but he did not call me his "best friend." That was what he called a friend he knew in Pennsylvania, or something like that.

I believe that it was when were in high school that his step-dad died suddenly from a heart attack. Apparently the same just happened to Scott. I can't believe it. I'm devastated.

I've enjoyed the life that I've led, but my regret is that I don't keep up with friends from the places that I've lived in the past. This takes work, and I don't do enough. Thank…