May 2005 Archives

SignOnSanDiego.com has an article about amateur photographers who are having a hard time getting their photographs printed at photofinishers because they look too professional:

One of the benefits of digital photography – the fact that amateurs can take better-looking photos and doctor them using photo-editing software – is also becoming a bane. Photofinishing labs increasingly are refusing to print professional-looking photographs taken by amateurs.

The reason: Photofinishers are afraid of infringing on professional photographers' copyrights.


It's about the time of the year when the thoughts of young men and women turn to graduate school. Well, not really, but if you are thinking about applying to graduate school, here's are some tips on how you should prepare over the summer. Although I'm an anthropologist, these are general tips that should apply to most disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.

First, you really need to ask yourself if you want to go to grad school and why. I've seen enough unhappy grad students and assistant professors who went because of all the wrong reasons: they were smart and one of their teachers told them that smart people go to grad school; they thought academia was less stressful and had more intellectual freedom than the real world; they wanted to avoid going into the Real World altogether; etc. Unless you really consider being an academic your calling in life, then it may be difficult to make it through seven through ten years of grad school, and another seven to ten years before you get tenure.

Naked man with CP on highwayHara Kazuo is a Japanese documentary filmmaker (and photographer) famous for works such as the The Emperor's Army Naked Marches On. His first film, Goodbye CP (さようならCP or Sayonara CP) was made in 1972 with the cooperation of the radical disability group Aoi Shiba no Kai (青い芝の会), which was composed of people with cerebral palsy (CP). The film's portrayal of the plight of people with severe disabilities in the early 1970s in Japan was darkly disturbing and the film was criticized for its tone at the time. For several decades, Goodbye CP was not widely available but Hara's production company Shissho Productions has recently rereleased it on DVD and VHS (Japanese language only). Dartmouth's Jeffrey Ruoth has a good write-up of Hara's filmography.

In graduate school, I was vaguely aware that there were various types of colleges and universities that would hire you, but I didn't give much thought to what the actual differences between them were. Nonetheless, the type of job that you choose after graduate school has direct impact on your future career.

Even within state university systems, teaching load can vary greatly depending on whether you're teaching at the central premier research university (University of California - Berkeley) or one of the second-tier state universities (Cal State U. - Long Beach). In fact, the teaching load in the lower state university systems is often so onerous (4:4:3 on a quarter system) that it is impossible to do your own research during the school year.

The following is a news release from Canon, Inc about serious problems affecting image storage with the EOS-1Ds Mark II, EOS-1D Mark II, EOS 20D, EOS Digital Rebel XT / EOS 350D Digital / EOS Kiss Digital N series of digital SLR cameras:

May 20, 2005
Canon U.S.A.

We have received inquiries about the problem of images disappearing when using specific digital SLR cameras. As a result of our investigation, we found that the following two problems may occur. Please be advised of the details and countermeasures.

Most consumers and professionals are more than happy with the current generation of 6-8 megapixel digital cameras. The quality is good enough for 13"x19" prints, memory usage is reasonable, and the price/performance curve is excellent. There's signs that the market in Japan and the United States is saturating as customer demand is being sated.

There is one market segment that appears to be heating up: the battle over high-end digital cameras intended primarily for studio use with 10 megapixel+ sensors. The prices -- as well as margins -- are high and many companies are starting to release models. Here's the current line-up as I see it:

I have some good news to report: I've been asked by the department of anthropology at Yale University to join them as a new assistant professor of anthropology in the Fall. Although I will be sad to leave Macalester College and St. Paul, Minnesota, there was little hesitation in my reply.

Whether you are a new faculty hire or coming up for promotion, you should be aware of what other people are earning in your field and whether or not you are being competitively paid. This can yield quite significant results by simply asking the provost for a slightly more competitive salary when first offered a position. Because annual salary raises are often calculated by percentages, even a $1000 difference in starting salary can have serious impact over the long term.

I'm back from my trip to northern Japan (Akita Prefecture and Hokkaido) looking at people with severe physical disabilities in Akita and a very innovative group home for people with psychiatric disabilities in Hokkaido. More on those visits will be posted in the next couple of days as I settle back in. In the meanwhile, I've written several more articles for my "Careers in Anthropology" advice column for graduate students and new scholars in anthropology while on the train. It takes about 15 hours to get from Kyoto to Hokkaido (Urakawa) even using high speed trains, so I got a lot of writing done. Comments and feedback welcome as always.

Although I've said it before, I believe it is critical for graduate students on the job market to have a website. It doesn't have to be a fancy website but you need to have one. One of the first things any web-savvy search committee is going to do is to look you up on the web, sometimes out of sheer curiosity more than anything. You don't want nothing to show up (and if your college-era website is scandalous, this might be the time to sanitize it).

The latest 2005.03 data from Japan's CIPA (Camera and Imaging Products Association) shows that digital camera sales have clearly peaked and are stagnating. Overall, first quarter production units are up 5% but revenue as a whole is down 10.9% compared to the same period last year.

By category: The sub 4-megapixel category is the worst hit with total quarterly production of only 29.8% and sales of 20.4% of last year's figures. The strongest category was 4-6 megapixel cameras with 8.7 million units sold first quarter for a revenue of 165 billion yen. Only 2.5 million 6+ megapixel cameras were sold, for a revenue of 90.7 billion yen.

I won't be posting many articles for the next two weeks (5/12 ~ 5/26) as I'm going off to Akita Prefecture and Hokkaido for some fieldwork in the northern hinterlands of Japan. While I'm sure there will be intermittent internet access, I most probably won't have any time to file any new stories until I get back.

Anonymous comments are automatically moderated for all unregistered users and will most probably have to wait until I get back. If you log in with TypeKey, your comment will go through unmoderated and will be posted immediately.

The Asahi Newspaper is reporting (2005.05.09) that the famous tuna auctions at the Tsukiji Metropolitan Fish Market in Tokyo is off limits to tourists because of the "bad behavior of foreigners." Speaking as a frequent photographer there -- I can agree: foreigners were getting in the way of the merchants who were there to make a living, but so were some Japanese, it's just that we blended in more. The foreign visitors that I saw when I visited were both in the way of traffic and using the flashes on their cameras during auctions, which is very distracting. Visitors to the tuna auction will now need to get a permit from their local city or merchant association. The outside stalls in the Fish Market remain open.

In a colorful article, Professor T. Kaori Kitao reveals the lively fashion in which English is being adopted by the Japanese.


Every language has imported words in its lexicon. But the golden palm for the most adept and abundant adoption of English words goes to the Japanese language. This is a distinct linguistic feature of the Japanese, and, as students of the language know from experience, learning Japanized English words can be unusually challenging. The American occupation of Japan after World War II may have something to do with this peculiar tendency; the American domination of the world in the second half of the last century may be a partial explanation. But it is culturally more deeply rooted and has a longer tradition as the following examination of English words in the Japanese lexicon demonstrates.

Via Gen Kanai's excellent blog, there's a commentary by Ai Uchida on Japan Today titled How the other 'hafu' lives:

Think you know what living biculturally is all about? Think again. I am 'half.' In Japan, this means I am half-Japanese. Recently, I have been on the receiving end of one too many uninvited pieces of advice on why I should act more or less Western/Japanese. Heads up, people -- there is a third culture unique to Japan. It's made up of well-educated, diplomatic, successful people who are doing a lot of interesting things all over the world, even though they're often misunderstood in their home country.

As a kikokushijo (帰国子女) who has spent more time somewhere else than anywhere else, I sympathize entirely.

(Via Gen Kanai.)

My current research is on disability activism in Japan and the United States. This article discusses the equipment that I carry when I do field interviews. My kit is optimized for size and weight. Everything fits into a regular backpack. If I know I won't need the computer to write notes, then the camera and iPod fit into a small handbag.

R.N. Clark has a very geeky version of the old film versus digital controvery on his web page. His is different in that he actually (horrors!) has hard quantitative data:

I've done digital imaging and image processing in the scientific world since about 1977, so I am very familiar with the technology and its use. I set high standards for myself in all my work and play. Currently I use both film and digital.

Amateur photographers are suckers for scam artists who run photography contests. In this article, I'll talk about the most popular scams and how to recognize and avoid them. Don't give your photographs away for free or worse - pay for the privilege of seeing them in print!

Photoethnography.com's blog is in the news! Wayne Yang of SFGate.com has written an article titled ASIAN POP: Blogging Asia (dated 2005.04.27). In it, he mentions this site by name:

Go to a Specialist
Another way to comprehend a region is to understand its icons, a particular slice of culture. Many bloggers incorporate snapshots of branded goods and cultural icons, as well as personal photographs (sometimes to the chagrin of their friends), but there are also bloggers who use more accomplished photography to make their points. Karen Nakamura, a cultural anthropologist who writes about classic cameras and photo-ethnography on her blog, includes her written and photographic observations from her current fieldwork in Japan.

Thanks for the props, Wayne!

Visual and linguistic anthropologist Kerim Friedman has accumulated a del.icio.us list of blogs relating (mostly) to anthropology or by anthropologists.. Yours truly is not (yet) now listed there, which is fine since I'm not quite sure that this is a purely anthropological blog but apparently that doesn't matter much.

The former president of my college was a well-published economist before he made the transition to administration (a smart financial move, his salary easily tripled). He was also the kindest and most thoughtful college president I've ever met. He was once asked by the junior faculty in the Economics department what his advice would be to faculty before tenure. He said:

Be portable

May 5th is Children's Day (kodomo no hi) in Japan. The Japanese government according to an article by asahi.com dated 2004.05.04 notes that there are 150,000 fewer children (defined here as under age 15) in Japan due to the falling birthrate. Japan is headed for a demographic nightmare -- too many old people and not enough young.

On a lighter note than some of the more recent postings, here's Joi Ito's Web on how to find, cook, and eat Takenoko:

We spent the day yesterday waiting for email to import and hunting for, digging up, preparing and cooking takenoko (bamboo shoots). It's nearing the end of the season, but there were still enough in our backyard for a few meals worth. Last year I blogged a longer entry about the process. This year I focused on the photos. We also used a slightly different recipe and did it without relying on our neighbors. (from joi.ito.com)

Revisiting the EF 100-300mm f/5.6 L: Although I rarely use super-telephoto zooms in my work, once in a while I have an assignment where I need one. I was disappointed with the optical performance of the 75-300 IS and sold it a few years ago, but the classic 100-300 f/5.6 L was available at a very reasonable price at a used camera store in Japan, so I recently bought it. The following is my review of this excellent little lens that was first introduced in 1987.

Leica has posted the PDF manual of its upcoming DMR (Digital Module R) for its Leica R series SLRs. The document reveals a very exciting product that should be in consumer hands in the next month or so -- almost a year behind schedule. You can now pre-order the DMR if you can afford the US$5500 street price.

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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