April 2006 Archives

I recently stumbled across a strange website promulgating a cultish fascination with ... traveling light. This is a rather alien concept to me, as anyone who has travelled with me knows. Last winter's trip to Japan is a case in point, with not one but two backpacks filled with equipment.

However, it's a free country (well...) and so we should give equal time to all perspectives, including those of Creation Scientists and One Bag.com nutcases. Peruse his site, get brainwashed, and then come back to my equipment review page when you realize that this vision is simply impossible.

Pissed off Master's student Kathleen Shafer has begun a new blog inspired by her recent experience with professional (not) TSA agents at San Francisco airport not properly acknowledging the existence of medium large format sheet film. Check out the details here: http://tsaintgood.blogspot.com/

I've recently read a fascinating book called Methods of Discovery: Heuristics for the Social Sciences by Andrew Abbott. This book explores the various ways by which social scientists develop and test the hypotheses and heuristics that drive their work. It's fascinating reading and highly recommended to graduate students about to begin their studies (or writing up their dissertations).

The book made me a bit reflective about my own doctoral studies, especially as my first book is about to be published by Cornell University Press this summer. My hypothesis going into field work was:

Changes in deaf identity in Japan were due to globalization effects and the importation of American cultural Deaf identity principles by younger deaf activists.


After I spent more time, my hypothesis was revised to:

Although it would on first glance appear to be biologically bound, deaf identity is constructed through individual interaction with social institutions (most importantly: schools for the deaf and associations of the deaf). In order to understand generational changes in deaf cohorts, one must begin with a study of the particular histories and institutional environments that members of those cohorts experienced.

Most of my book is a narrative history of deaf communities in Japan, interspliced with microhistories of five deaf women born into the three main cohorts that I explore.

ProPhoto has an interesting article on how verbal consent may not be sufficient for model releases in at least 9 states. This is not relevant for editorial photography (the category which most academic photography exists in), but may be applicable to some readers of this blog.

Apple has released the 17" MacBook Pro (keeping the ugly moniker). It looks great with the 2.16 ghz Intel Duo Core processor and dual-layer DVD+R (DVD-RW) support and both FireWire 800 and 400 ports. I'm bummed that the ExpressCard is still the 34 mm size (which precludes Compact Flash adapters) and that the screen size is 1680x1050 which means that it can't show 1080i/1080p natively.

I'm saving my research funds until the next revision of the 15" since the 17" is too big to take to the field. I hope when they "refresh" the 15" that they'll add back the dual FireWire ports, add dual-layer support, and give us the 54mm ExpressCard option.

Scott North sends me this link to the Japan Times website for a movie about "Japan's Helen Keller"

SHIMONOSEKI, Yamaguchi Pref. (Kyodo) Independent movie distributor Sumio Yamamoto has long been irritated by what he sees as the film industry's excessive concentration in Tokyo....

So the 52-year-old Shimonoseki native finally decided to take a chance by making his own film, a story about the turbulent life of a 74-year-old deaf and blind woman in Yamaguchi Prefecture struggling to achieve equal rights for people with visual and hearing disabilities.

The movie -- "Have You Ever Heard of Japan's Helen Keller?" -- was completed recently after months of planning by filmmakers and fundraising by residents of this harbor city. It is Japan's first movie on the life of a deaf and blind person.

The film is directed by Setsuo Nakayama, 68, and stars Ayako Kobayashi, who played the heroine in the popular TV drama "Oshin."

[read more]

Core-Sound.com has a comprehensive review of various flash-memory based field recorders. They cover the: CoreSound PDAudio, Marantz PMD670, Marantz PMD671, Sound Devices 722, Fostex FR-2, M-Audio MicroTrack 24/96, Edirol R-1.

Now, CoreSound makes the PDAudio, so take some of their qualitative comments with a grain of salt. It's also considerably more expensive than the other solutions at around $1500. Check my older blog articles on field recorders.

Communications in the field is always a problem. GSM is the cellular technology that is used in most of the world. In the USA, Cingular and T-Mobile are the only providers with GSM networks. If you travel a lot, this list of GSM phone frequencies can come in handy: http://www.celluloco.com/products/customer/pages.php?pageid=18 (died due to link rot) or here: http://global.yesasia.com/help/topic.aspx?topicId=1164&lang=en or http://kbs.cs.tu-berlin.de/~jutta/gsm/gsm-list.html. If link rot kills them all, there's always google (updated 2006.04.17)

I have a T-Mobile Motorola v-330 which is quad-band, so it works pretty much anywhere except Japan. One reason I like T-mobile is that they will unlock your phone after 6-months of usage, which means you can pick up a local SIM card and use that during your travels rather than burning up roaming minutes. And I think T-Mobile has great customer service.

In Japan, the cheapest is to get a pre-paid cellular. However, they're getting much harder to find than in the past -- and you have to show some proof of ID. I'm not sure if they'll take foreign passports as proof.

StudioDaily.com has a review by Bruce Johnson of the Canon XL-H1 camera:

While Canon has turned out dozens of great still cameras and lenses over the years, when the DV revolution came about the company was relatively unknown in the video world. Canon’s consumer cameras were a mixed lot — anyone remember the original ZR? Now that was weird. And even when the XL1 came out, it certainly wasn’t perfect. I ought to know, I bought one and own it to this day. But give Canon credit, it was committed to fixing its problems and improving the camera. Learning from its fixes on the XL1, many additions and modifications on the XL1s, and many more on the XL2, which I also own, here comes Canon again with the XL H1. It’s no exaggeration to declare it a worthy successor to its older siblings.

I've reviewed the XL-H1 here too. And in other news, the new version of Apple Final Cut Studio 5.1 is supposed to support 24P/30P on the XL-H1, although I don't see it on their Qualified Devices list.

When I was in graduate school, there was no discussion about how one's choice of research topic would affect your marketability. The general atmosphere at most programs is that marketability is a bad word, that you need to focus on being the best scholar possible, that you need to pursue your intellectual passion with no thought as to how your findings will be received.

I am swayed by this argument but I do think graduate students need to give some thought about how their topics will be received by other scholars. While you shouldn't change topics to match market demands (as no one knows what the market will be in 10 years or what topics will be hot), you should at least think about the intellectual "spin" that you choose to attach to it.

National Geographic is up to their usual tricks, running a contest that deprives all entrants of any rights to their own photographs:

By submitting a photograph for consideration... you grant to National Geographic Society and its subsidiaries and licensees (the "NGS") a royalty-free, worldwide, perpetual license to display, distribute and reproduce the Photograph, in whole or in part, in any medium now existing or subsequently developed for editorial purposes without further review or participation from you.

For more info about other photo (and poetry) scams, see my previous blog entry on this topic.

Sorry for the lack of posts for the previous several few weeks. I was in Europe for two weeks and in the Pacific Northwest last week. I'm back in town now and am trying to catch up with everything.

There's been a noticeable absence of quality journal articles on the topic of sexuality in Japan. This has now been partially filled by the publication of a special issue (#12, January 2006) of the online journal Intersections: Gender, History, and Culture in the Asian Context. From the table of contents:

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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