Tuesday, July 12, 2005

According to Academic Splat!, getting the book published is only half the battle...

According to Professor Camicao, even getting that book published and getting tenure doesn't help you if you really care about the idea of people reading your work.
Whatever its faults, I did archival research that uncovered some important facts, and provided a synthesis and overview of a large, important subject that --surprisingly-- had not been examined before through an interdisciplinary lens. And thanks to my editor at Respectable U Press, I wrote it clearly (with minimal jargon) so that non-academics and academics in disciplines outside of literature could read it without being annoyed.

But Respectable U Press only did a library edition that costs and arm and a leg. While my pals got their feet in at Bigshot Press and had astonishingly beautiful and affordable paperbacks produced, my gentle creation, dressed in quiet blue, marched anonymously into libraries across the nation. He did not get a viewing at the MLA book-fair, and missed several of the other interdisciplinary book fairs where he might have been seen. When he was displayed, he cost too much for anyone to take home with him. He got no posters. He got no cover jacket. He was dressed in gentle blue and he went gently into the good libraries of this nation.
And that wasn't all: then he got a lousy review by someone who evidently didn't read the book very carefully. *sigh* A depressing tale it is...

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Interesting "Frog in a Well" entry on a Chinese wartime dictionary

I love to hear about old dictionaries or encyclopedias that people come across, so was interested to read this entry by Konrad Lawson about a dictionary published during the War of Japanese Resistance. (The title of the dictionary, 《抗戰建國實用百科辭典》, translates as Practical Encyclopedic Dictionary of the War of Resistance and National Reconstruction--quite a mouthful...)

Lawson notes that the dictionary has a lot of censored entries, though many of the blacked-out entries are still readable "because of the slight indentation that the printed characters make on the poor quality paper." Though a lot of the censored entries are blacked out for obvious reasons (they sound pro-Communist or sympathetic to Communist ideas), some seem to be censored just because they appear to "reflect badly on the performance of the Nationalist government in some way." This reminds me of some of the odd things I saw blacked out of English-language encyclopedias from the late 70s that you can (still) find in Tunghai's library. It appeared to be unacceptable, for instance, to suggest that the Nationalists had ever tried to cooperate with the Communists during the war. (Kind of like it's unacceptable to some to suggest the U.S. cooperated with Saddam Hussein a few years ago...?)

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Still preparing for that conference...

Mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was at work preparing a presentation for the ISHR conference in LA. I'm still at it and the conference is (ack!) next week! As usual, my paper is about 3 times too long for the 20 minutes I'll have to talk. And I still haven't mastered the art of talking quickly (never managed to go to the SusanSinclairSchool of SpeedSpeech, unfortunately). So have no choice but to continue hacking away at the paper. I'm trying to paraphrase all the things I had quoted (hate saying "According to Burke, Quote ... Endquote"). Then I have to figure out how much of the theory I should toss and how many stories I should cut. I don't know about others, but I always prefer to hear stories in conference presentations. Any other suggestions? (ERG will say, "Finish it!")

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The grass is roughly the same shade of green over here

In the latest Chronicle of Higher Education, Donald Hall writes about faculty life in U.S. and European universities. Some of what he mentions about European universities (heavy teaching loads and comparatively low pay, in particular) sound quite familiar to me. On the other hand, the cost of living isn't quite as high here as it is in European cities, I don't think. Probably not even as high as in major U.S. cities, I would guess. And then there's what he says about academic administration in European universities, which may or may not be similar to the situation here. ("May or may not," that is...)

Security threat for PHP-based blogging

Netcraft reports that PHP-based blogging programs have been found to have a security hole:
Many popular PHP-based blogging, wiki and content management programs can be exploited through a security hole in the way PHP programs handle XML commands. The flaw allows an attacker to compromise a web server, and is found in programs including PostNuke, WordPress, Drupal, Serendipity, phpAdsNew, phpWiki and phpMyFAQ, among others.
(via Michael Jacques)

English articles on aftermath of chemical plant fire

Image of run-off from the scene of Sunday's fire
(from Yahoo!-Kimo News)

Here are a couple of articles in the English-language newspapers about Sunday's fire at the chemical plant:
"The major reason for the water (from the scene of Sunday's fire) turning yellow was because of the 30 percent of hydrolysis protein found in the chemical fire-fighting foam," the Cabinet-level Environmental Protection Administration explained in a statement released later yesterday.

The statement acknowledged that the concentration of sodium nitrite and nitrate nitrogen in the creek was on the high side but did not exceed levels considered safe.
Yesterday, two filtering systems in nearby rivers were established. Seven trucks collected sludge from the rivers and sent them to sewage plants for treatment. EPA officials said that the yellow color in the rivers is normal because decomposition of nitrate released from the factory had been processed in water.

The pH level of river water also remained at "acceptable levels," the EPA said. Since the river water is not source for drinking water, the public should remain calm, officials added. However, agricultural agencies in charge of irrigation management will be closely monitoring the river in the near future.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Industrial park fire in Taichung

Turned on the news earlier this afternoon to hear that a big fire was going on at a chemical plant in the industrial park near Tunghai. Thick black smoke could be seen pouring out of the burning plant. Evidently some sodium nitrite was in danger of spreading over the city as well. According to a recent report on Yahoo!-Kimo's news site (in Chinese), the fire is under control now and there wasn't any evidence of dangerous chemicals in the air.

[Update, 9:25 p.m.: Now Zhongtian news is reporting that chemicals have leaked into the Fazi River. From what I know, the Fazi is the only major river left in Taichung City that still had fish swimming in it (although I imagine the new "Science Park" they're building in Xitun will take care of that sooner or later). No news yet on how they plan to clean up the river, but the news was showing a lot of a thick foamy substance in it.]

[Update, 7/5/05: 12:10 a.m.: A lot of the fish that I mentioned above are turning up dead now.]

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Taiwan's indigenous channel

Among other news sources, the BBC reports on Taiwan's new cable network--ITV (Indigenous Television Network), which will broadcast programs focusing on aboriginal groups here.
Aboriginal groups, who account for less than 2% of Taiwan's population, have long complained the mainstream media either neglects or misrepresents them.

They see the new channel as a historic chance for their own voices to be heard, not just in Taiwan but around the world through collaboration with other indigenous television programmes.

The 12 aboriginal tribes in Taiwan, who trace their roots back 6,000 years, have their own traditions and languages, although the new station will mainly broadcast in Mandarin Chinese.

Friday, July 01, 2005


After reading through Kerim's very helpful CiteULike tutorial on Savage Minds, I now have my own library of citations. It even has its own RSS feed! Cool!