Rambling and ranting, Gap Week Special.

Dear reader,

In my first ranting I hinted I’d be writing something about racism. “I detest racialism, because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a black man or a white man”, said Nelson Mandela according to CNN. I cannot even describe how deeply touched I was when I first heard that quote, the idea of equality that lived inside his mind even after horrible years of imprisonment and oppression had kept him righteous. As a Finnish citizen, our country is often described as one of the benchmarks of equality. Well, I have to admit that even if we do have things we need to fix, we could be doing quite a lot worse when it comes to questions of equality and tolerance. And even though we have relatively short history when it comes to immigration, I would be ready to state that most of the things have gone quite smoothly. After all, Finland has been just for a while a nation with any international significance, and still a small country (not by size, but by population and significance as well as assets). But, however, there are people who disagree with me and are more than just willing to express their opinion.

I mentioned in my first ranting about this American male. One day a few years ago, I was on the gym having an exercise when a man pretty close to me started swearing and shouting profanities. When I inquired about the problem, he spat out how the machine was out of order and continued how he hates everything in Finland and every Finnish person. I mentioned that I am Finnish also, to which he replied “No, you are a Scottish”, and after I repeated I am a Finn, he started the most unbelievable mud-slinging I have ever heard of. He started that it was a mistake to begin with to leave U.S.A for his Finnish wife to try it in Finland, shouting that everything in Finland is rotten especially people, that he had had no Finnish friends but on the following sentence that all his Finnish friends had divorced [sic]. He claimed us all to be hypocrite, racist, hate-filled sub-human scum and started explaining how all the other Nordic countries were so much better (even though, of what he explained, nothing indicates he had ever visited any of them). When I tried to explain that it would be too harsh to condemn me as a racist because I have had friends from several different cultures, he just replied with a grimace and shouts: “You are all racists! You are all racists!” and at one point he looked like he was going to attack me. He also explained how he once got in a fight in a pub and (after “I did beat the living cr** out of everyone!” shouting it with pride) was arrested by the police, like it was any wonder considering his openly hostile attitude and claiming it was all because he came from U.S.A. He also explained how we all are racists because we don’t have so many restaurants in here (I do not know how on Earth could anyone make a connection between a quantity of restaurants and racial tolerance) and dared to shout that it also indicates racism that Finns do not go to restaurants so often. He also whined about that he hadn’t received a job in a restaurant he had inquired, whilst forgetting about a “minor” thing like reputation: It is commonly known fact that if a person has a bad reputation, one is unlikely to have a job in a restaurant business, especially when there is oversupply of trained restaurant personnel (and, by judging his attitude, is it any wonder he wasn’t successful?). His attitude is something worth of mentioning: he was under delusion that he had some talent that no one in Finland had, that U.S.A is so much more superior compared to Finland that he should have been greeted with honour and respect.

At the end of our “conversation” (a monologue during which he slung mud over me and every other Finn due to our nationality), he mentioned a case during which he stopped a lady in the middle of the street and asked “Hey, what’s your name?” which the lady refused to tell, again an indicator of racism to him. This was quite stopping moment understanding his stupidity: he had been more than a decade in Finland and was unable to realise on single fact about Finnish mind set or culture. As far as I know, one just doesn’t do such a thing in St Petersburg, in Stockholm, in Berlin, in Copenhagen, in Rome, in London… And yes, I have visited every each of the mentioned cities more than just once; I am not going to make a list of every single city or town I’ve visited, but just to make a firm foundation that I have never encountered a situation in which said intrusive behavior would be justified without any good reason. If a person does not understand the simplest fact about interacting with other people in a different culture, how could one even expect to be able to manage in the said cultural environment? And his doctrine about “respecting the other cultures” is thus a hollow phrase since he doesn’t understand anything about them. Now, I shall analyse the flaws of his logic. Generalisation of a whole population of more than five million people to be “racists, hypocrites” etc. is itself a racialist statement; he did so to me even if he didn’t know anything about me and even when I tried to explain his argument was invalid due to the fact I happen to have a certain amount of friends from different cultural backgrounds. Talking about hypocrisy, isn’t generalisation of all Finnish individuals itself a hypocritical statement? Hate filled does not even need a justifying: he hates everything in Finland, in its people and culture. Thus he is himself a hypocrite, hate filled racist. Well, he mentioned he was going to move back to U.S.A, so I think I do not have the unpleasant opportunity to meet this person ever again. People like him are the reason so many American people face the prejudice: culturally ignorant, arrogant, stupid individuals with dellusional mindset of superiority and inferiority of different ethnic groups are the ones the stereotypes are born from, shaming the vast majority of the people they represent. I happen to know a few Americans as well: they are quite friendly and willing to accept the foreign cultures as they are.

Oh well, back to the topic about racism itself. I am aware of the recent document about tolerance, which showed flaws: people with Muslim background have significant difficulties of having a job or a flat compared to autochthonous population. Yet still, even if racially motivated violence has increased since the beginning of the recession, it is still under control and it is not only Finnish problem: during the past few years in every country struck by economic difficulties, the attitudes have changed more hostile. And when compared to e.g. to Russia and Sweden, in which far right extremists conduct severe, organized violence towards ethnic and religious minorities, the Finnish situation is quite well under control: In 1999, an assault with explosives was carried out against a journalist in Sweden, neo Nazi extremists are infamous due their actions (including cold blooded murders and torture) in Russia, and do I even have to remind what atrocities happened 22nd July 2011 in Norway? I am not saying that Finland would be perfect when it comes to tolerance and equality, but can you recall anything similar during our recent history? We sure had our own share of school massacres and that sort of violence, but they are directly connected to mental issues that have occurred since 1989 due the shutdowns of mental health services because of tightened budgets. There has been no racial motivation, the acts have been committed by disturbed individuals. Believe me, I have had my own share of both Swedish and Finnish racism and delusions of the superiority of one ethnic group over the others (I have received both verbal and physical abuse from them, that is. I will not go into further details).

So, what would be the conclusion of this ranting? Maybe that racism does exist and we cannot eradicate it since people have right to believe in what they want as well as express their opinion without insulting anyone. However, we can do us all a favor by not judging a person by ones nationality, religion or ethnicity (unlike that unpleasant man did), since every hostile gesture towards other group increases bitterness and hatred (I can only imagine what that idiotic American has done to the image of other Americans). Unpleasant incidents are fuel for the doctrines of those unwilling to comprehend other cultures and will only serve as catalyst for them enforcing their twisted doctrines about inferiority of some certain groups compared to others. I have for many times wondered whether the American I have written above even understood how racist his own attitudes towards me, a total stranger, were because of my ethnicity. It might be that some individuals are just too stupid to understand their own actions: the said man was so convinced about righteousness of his own standards and attitudes that he didn’t even question if they were compatible with other cultures. Very unpleasant case indeed but let him be a warning example of how not to act with people from different cultural origins.

Source:
1. http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/africa/06/24/mandela.quotes/

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Indepent Working Module, Film: Battlefield Earth

Battlefield Earth – unintentional comedy

Battlefield Earth has reached enormous kind of notoriety: It is said to be one of the worst films ever made, Rotten Tomatoes1 giving the film 2% rating and in IMDb’s Bottom 100-list2 being number 93. The book it is based on, the novel of same name written by Ron L. Hubbard was published in early 1980s has been considered unsubtle, full of scientific errors and atrocious3 as well as “a wish-fulfillment fantasy wholly populated by the most one-dimensional of cardboard characters”4. For John Travolta the project was a dream: an ultimate tribute for Hubbard who had found the Church of Scientology to which Travolta had belonged since 1970s5. Travolta was so convinced about the glory of the book that he used to describe the film whilst still on production as “It will be like Star Wars, only better”6.  As a director was hired Roger Christian, who had won an Academy Award (a.k.a Oscar) for set decoration in Star Wars7. Budget for the film was astonishing 44 million USD, making the production values to be excellent: the music composed by EliaCmiral is pleasant to listen, the CGI effects are well done as well as the physical effects and pyrotechnics, the costume design is superior. But the main error lies in the script for the original screenplay written by J.D Shapiro wasn’t considered satisfying8: his original script had darker and more complex tone, but due the pressure by Travolta himself the producers demanded that the script had to go through radical changes. Shapiro stated in 2010: “I thought it was a joke. They changed the entire tone. I knew these notes would kill the movie. The notes wanted me to lose key scenes, add ridiculous scenes, [and] take out some of the key characters”. Instead of artistic script of Shapiro, the producers wanted the bad elements of the novel to be returned. The decision from the producers to demand a script loyal to the original novel turned out to be an error, since the novel itself was badly written.

The story of the film is set in year 3000. Approximately millennia earlier highly advanced alien race from planet Psychlo had arrived to Earth and destroyed all defense capabilities of human beings, annihilating the majority of people whilst the survivors had degenerated within time to cavemen believing the aliens are monsters who were sent by gods as a punishment for mankind for their sins. The motivation of aliens for invading the planet is to harvest gold. The protagonist, Johnny “Goodboy” Tyler is captured by the aliens and begins, after teaching of higher mathematics and Psychlo language by embittered chief of security Terl, to plan a major vengeance to take back the Earth.

The reason for notoriety of the film is due the flaws and stupidities of the plot, to which one should digress upon. The idea itself of the rest of the mankind deliberately degenerating back to superstitious cavemen is ridiculous itself: at one point Tyler stumbles across other (English-speaking) cavemen who introduce Tyler to ruins of a city, in which one of them tells Johnny that there is an enchanted place where “under golden arches, the food would magically appear” referring to McDonald’s: how do they all the sudden understand English writing since they cannot read? And how come all the buildings along with the commercial posters and statues haven’t collapsed to dust after a millennia without maintenance? The reason Terl teaches Tyler mathematics as well as engineering via translator machine is due the will of Terl to mine the rest of existing gold ore to bribe himself back to Psychlo (Terl had angered high Psychlo officials by sleeping one of their daughters, thus being sent to Earth which is described unpleasant by the aliens), however it is obviously clear how ridiculous the mining plot itself would be: for an advanced race with superior technological capabilities it would be impossible for them  not to have found already all the existing gold. In fact, the Psychlos hadn’t even found the reserves of Fort Knox, even when they clearly have satellite technology sufficient enough to locate the most isolated gold ore concentrations. The intellectual superiority of the aliens is questioned even more, since they haven’t discovered anything within the millennia of occupation about human beings: they do not understand of what humans eat, how they live or understand that English itself is a language. Tyler flies to Fort Knox after recruiting some people to mine the gold for him to distract Terl and even hands over the gold to Terl in solid gold bars explaining it would be easier for Psychlos to handle them instead of ore, and Terl doesn’t even question how they molded the ore. This buys the human beings time to learn under Tylers leadership how to operate assault rifles as well as Harrier assault planes and strategic nuclear devices, all them being more than thousand years old (and which should have collapsed to dust particles due to a millennia without maintenance). This is all possible due the lack of surveillance: even though the aliens are previously being shown they have live stream emitting micro-sized cameras, for controlling Tyler and his comrades Terl deploys a small flying camera which randomly flies over and takes a still image. This is unbelievably stupid: Tyler had several opportunities to annihilate Terl, which he narrowly failed but Terl doesn’t annihilate Tyler. If the chief of security of the operations of the planet is considered so idiotic (Terl is considered a high ranking and skilled officer of the army nonetheless), the rest of the Psychlos can be considered idiots as well. The idiocy is even more highlighted when imprisoned humans break free from their cages and all the guards are just standing by, watching the humans rioting. The race wobbles in slow, clumsy manner and are constantly stumbling into objects.

The characters are quite amusing to analyse. Protagonist Johnnie “Goodboy” Tyler (played by Barry Pepper) is a superstitious caveman who immediately, after being captured, starts trying to eliminate Terl with sincere fury, however failing every time he tries. The transformation from caveman to a skilled warrior within two weeks due learning reflects the idea of Scientology to rise to higher levels of consciousness via controlled learning: at the climax of the film, Tyler runs in an open area avoiding the Psychlo projectiles whilst a messianic tune plays on the background, indicating that Johnny has significantly raised from caveman to a messiah of mankind and being superior compared to the Psychlos and their advanced weaponry. Antagonist Terl (played by John Travolta), as stated earlier, is unbelievably idiotic character: totally incapable of guarding anything, doesn’t realise the benefits of annihilating Tyler who is openly hostile character and willing to kill Terl when possible. In fact, the destruction of the entire planet Psychlo due a teleported tactical nuclear device (plutonium apparently has a massive effect with radioactive atmosphere of the planet) is thus qall due the incompetence of Terl, making him without doubt one of the most useless antagonists in the history of cinema9. The situation is made even more idiotic by Travoltas total lack of subtle acting during the film: almost every line of dialogue or monologue by him is delivered with overemotional tone with overacted gestures. Pepper also overacts the performance of his character, thus creating the most ridiculous pair of protagonist and antagonist ever seen on a silver screen. Female characters are statists at best, most memorable being Chrissy (Sabine Karsenti), fiancé of Tyler, role interpreted by underrated actress is a classic sample of damsel in distress, yet she shows some bravery leading a rebellion of imprisoned human beings during the climax of the film. The film has also very questionable tone during the climax: two human beings sacrifice themselves in a suicidal manner (the second of those being the one send with a nuclear device through a teleport to Psychlo to manually detonate the device), promoting extreme violence as a mean for greater good. All the ethnic minorities are nonexistent, the heroes are Caucasian males, promoting very conservative image of the world. All in all, the characters are idiotic and two-dimensional cardboard figures, thus film being unintentionally loyal to the novel. The actors and actresses are not bad ones: Travolta, Pepper and Forest Whitaker have all been awarded for their astounding performances in other films, but it is the script that makes all the characters nincompoops and forces the performers to act the way they do.

The directing deserves its own share of the shame. Christian did not receive his Oscar for directing a film: in a perspective of a set decorator the film might look good, after all it has well-made (although ridiculous) costumes, impressive soundtrack worth of listening and magnificent CGI effects. However, every scene is shot in tilted angles without any purpose and the directing isn’t good at all. But the film is, however, worth of watching: it has been called one of the worst films ever made, characters are ridiculous as well as the plot, music and CGI are astonishing. Quentin Tarantino calls also infamous film “Manos: The Hands of Fate” to be one of his favorite comedies ever made. I can identify that sentence with this film: it is so enjoyable because of its atrociousness . that makes audience laugh. The film is one of those rare examples of bad films a person must watch in effort f seeing the very extreme of film making. “Unintentional comedy with an over bloated budget” is the best sentence I can come up with to describe the film.

Sources:

  1. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/battlefield_earth/
  2. http://www.imdb.com/chart/bottom
  3. The Economist. 4 July 1984.
  4. Analog Science Fiction and Fact, February 1983
  5. http://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/jul/04/john-travolta-scientology-marlon-brando
  6. http://www.theguardian.com/film/2000/may/28/1
  7. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0002337/awards?ref_=nm_awd
  8. http://www.deadline.com/2010/03/battlefield-earth-scripter-pens-apology/
  9. http://blogs.amctv.com/movie-blog/2008/05/the-10-least-ef/

Indepent Working Module, Article: Finns and Korean hierarchy

Finns Making Sense of Korean Hierarchy: How Expatriates from Finland Experience Hierarchy in a Korean Working Environment

Article concentrates on how Finnish expatriates consider hierarchy effecting their work in the Republic of Korea. The author interviewed 10 Finnish expatriates working in R.O.K, both in Korean and Finn-Korean working environments who are being referred with pseudonyms to protect their true identities. The author states that even if Korean working environment is known to be Confucian due to the traditional values which are learned during childhood, a Western observer might want to consider questioning ones own perspective: if an observer has a presumption that the environment is Confucian, one might interpret ones observations by judging them by those standards.

At the moment, however, the author interprets from previous studies that the working environment is paternalistic which derives from Confucianism due the culture of collectivism. The question of hierarchy does not reflect only in gender but also in age: older is bound to be higher in hierarchy than the younger and in occasions where employee is younger than the supervisor, the employee “loses his face”. The reason for Koreans requesting to know e.g. the age and marital status, for they have an urge to categorise a person “on a ranking scale”, thus knowing how to speak to a person. Hierarchy reflects in language, which “has a complex morphology for showing politeness and societal ranking order”: the interviewees preferred English instead of Korean due to the complexity of the language and the fear of making errors that could have negative effects for them. The Interviewees also felt that language effected also in working environments: English-speaking working communities the atmosphere was quite different in comparison to the Korean-speaking ones due to the lesser hierarchy. Hierarchy is evident when addressing individuals: they are not addressed with given names but instead with their titles. One of the interviewees, “Juhani” explained that high ranking executives would not discuss with their “inferiors”, thus he had to change his title of his business card to have more credibility among them.

The interviewees found the 10-12 hours consisting working days to be unproductive and a bit misleading: in some occasions the employees entered the office before their superiors and did practically nothing, as well as with the last hour when they e.g. mainly wrote e-mails although trying to look busy. Ergo, the purpose of long hours is about “pleasing” ones superior. The “rapid changes in schedule” were as well prove of hierarchy in the working environment: if a superior requests to change schedule, one must obey. However, the interviewees found this aspect of culture disturbing their efficiency: the interviewees considered the mentality to disturb the long.-term planning due the frequency of the rescheduling, thus leading to feeling of frustration. Questioning a person higher in hierarchy would be pointless, since e.g. during meetings the expectation was that superior was to speak unless opinion of an employee was asked: if the subject during a meeting diverges from the original agenda to which answers have been planned ahead, Koreans will get confused, thus creating a possibility of embarrassing them and  endangering relations. The author states that according to the interviewees this aspect of culture had negative impact: some aspects of project had to be re-done due to the lack of information, some teams were doing exactly the same task without acknowledging the fact and the interviewees considered the “non-discussion culture” harmful due to the lack of opinions that could develop the organisation. The projects weren’t started without permission, for if a person would prove to be a bad one, “one’s job might be in jeopardy”. Superiors were negative using consultants for hiring them would send a signal that higher ranking supervisors would lack knowledge or understanding about the subject. The interviewees thought that concentrating the decision making in upper levels “passivizes” the subordinates: “Mikko” compared the situation to the army, and stated that soft touch by the management would be considered as weakness. “Mika” also pointed out the aspect of being careful due to the possible harmful effects of suggestions: “one should proceed gently” and think which person might be affected before suggesting anything, thus avoiding of insulting anyone or harming ones position.

Even though the working culture might feel obsolete, the change has been rapid during the past few years. “Mikko” stated that the number of female civil servants was increasing. However, “Laura” and “Eeva” commented that they have experienced gender discrimination: women are still considered less important and considered as objects whose mere function is to please men. “Eeva” especially considered the situation “intolerable”. However the progress in the working culture is inevitable: “The interviewees described how Korean companies have women working for them and some have even been promoted in the hierarchy”. The author states however that R.O.K is clearly in transition: younger generations are “in many ways very different from the older Koreans” whilst women are increasingly participating the workforce and rising in the hierarchy. The women are also reported to be less fond of phallocratic-oriented system: since they do not benefit from it, they “are more ready to give it up”, thus implying a change in working culture in future. The interviewees highlighted that Korean workers in Finnish-managed working environments, if their interpretations were correct, were satisfied with the more liberal and less hierarchical rules, especially “Mikko” thinking what he considered weaknesses in Korean working culture had been identified and “European and American [cultures] were becoming more popular”.

The author concludes that age-related position is at the moment a great factor and Korean use of time frustrates the Finnish expatriates with culture lacking dialogue. However, the author also reminds that the results are dependent on attitudes of the interviewees, thus the author reminds a reader to be skeptical about the results. The author also states that R.O.K has adopted “foreign values” during the last decades and Koreans are willing to assimilate themselves in a globalised world. The conclusions of the author about the changing R.O.K are very realistic: development has been rapid and status quo does not longer exist, explaining international leverage and status of R.O.K at the moment. However, in my opinion the author could have concentrated more to the transition instead of interpreting the working culture as a heritage of old Confucian values, even though some criticism towards the current status seems justified.

Rambling and ranting, volume 5.

Dear reader,

Yesterday was the sixth lecture, during which we tempered with our works, accents and humour. Lecture started with conversations about our Independent Working Modules. We were reorganised once again in groups of four persons each. When my turn came, I explained my teammates about being concentrated mainly on Korean studies, but also mentioned the TED-podcast of Jason Pontin about the possibilities of technology solving the major issues due to an urge to have some diversity instead of concentrating just to history of Korea. If I do recall correctly, every person in the group I belonged were reading articles instead of one book. I had also read a book which I mentioned in one of my earlier blog postings, but due to the shortness of the said book I have been reading articles as well to compensate the shortness of the book. The book was approximately 120 pages and every article I have read this far approximately 20 pages each, thus a few more articles and I am going to be quite satisfied with my work. Though it will take some time to find adequate amount of material to dig on, but I have found this far quite well of them, I hope everyone else will also find texts relevant for them. To my surprise, after a brief conversation we returned to my subject, the Korea. I noticed my teammates found the topic rather interesting and were quite willing to ask a few questions about it, but I also hope that I wasn’t too pushy about it and not dominating the conversation too much.

Digging into the different accents was quite informative. We were shown a few clips from YouTube concerning to the topic, concentrating on the key elements how do the accents form. Apparently there are some thumb rules to recognise how the different letters and combinations of them are pronounced in different accents. It was quite funny as well due to the tongue-twister examples of the maker. We were also introduced to a BBC’s own accent learning page (I realise I have to dig deeper into the site although how complex it is, for I wasn’t familiar with the category up to the point the lecturer introduced it to us) with examples of different accents. We were also shown a video from YouTube concerning English spoken clumsily in thick Finnish accent, also known as “rally English”, the point of the video was that maker was doing it on purpose. The video made us all burst into laughter, but the lecturer had very good point to make: the video, no matter how ridiculous, is a source of understanding the key elements of pronunciation, how the different letters are pronounced introduces us to unfamiliar accent, thus allowing us to understand them. After all, as the lecturer pointed out, English is a lingua franca at the moment, so we shouldn’t be too picky on the accents or demand the others to speak as we do.

When it comes to the humour, we were shown from YouTube a few videos of English humour and one of Stephen Fry comparing differences between English and American humour. Fry summed it up quite well: Americans refuse to see themselves in a bad light when English love the parody of misery and failure, American protagonists are superior compared the rest of the people when English protagonists are more like the ones always losing, ergo the difference is that in English humour the characters are lovable and more identifiable compared to American ones. After the video we had a group discussion whether Finnish humour is closer to English or American, the result with our group summed up that it is closer to English: Finnish characters are quite often lovable losers who are trying to survive through. However, we agreed there are certainly some differences between English and Finnish humours: the Finnish one is darker and more melancholic, characters might be caricatures of types of personalities and the humour itself can be quite a lot more absurd in Finnish comedy.

Well, this is it for this period, the next week will be a gap week during which we have no lectures. As a final task before going to enjoy, we were given a task to write a few sentences about our feelings and thoughts concerning the Independent Working Module, as well as the expectations of the following period and our aims to the following half of the course. I stated I do acknowledge I have to improve my scientific writing as well as my grammar, but I did not mention how hopeful I actually feel about it: after all, I have been on the schedule and I assume I can keep up  with the pace…

Indepent Working Module, Podcast: Technology and its relevance when solving the major issues

Jason Pontin – Can technology solve our big problems?

The author of TED-speech, James Pontin, is publisher of MIT Technology Review which under his control has gained fame, thus being enough merit for a layman like me (a layman concerning technology) to listen his opinion. The author states that faith of mankind towards abilities of technology has “evaporated” due our inability to solve severe issues such as eradication of the cancer, creating sustainable source of non-polluting energy or ending the famine in the Third World.  The author states that the success of Apollo 10 to land on Moon was the result of long-time exponential technological development.

The author claims that the main problem is not, even though the idea would seem attractive, small-investing which at its best that “offered an exit within ten years”, ergo seeking profit in short time span, whilst investing to e.g. energy would require enormous capital investments and expectations are “lengthy”, thus venture capitalists do not find investing attractive due the investment’s inability to offer “immediate commercial value”. Instead the author argues that mankind chooses sometimes not to solve major issues, e.g. a voyage to planet Mars would require not only political but also popular appeal which is unlikely to happen due “everyone thinks there are more important things”. Sometimes a political failure prevents solving these issues:  less than two per cent of our energy is produced with renewable sources due their expenses compared to e.g. oil or gas, even though according the author, experts as well as economics agree that investing to the renewable energy sources would make using them profitable. The author points out that sometimes issues are not technological ones: the problems behind famines are usually of political kind, thus increasing crops or improving transportation has no effect if government fails to take advantage of them. The author states that our misunderstanding of the problem, e.g. declaring the war against cancer by Nixon: taxonomy of cancers weren’t understood nor their resistance against therapy.

The author concludes that in effort to solve major issues, for elements must be present: political as well as public opinion must be favourable, “institution must support its solution”, problem must be of technological kind and appropriate understanding is required. The author states that Apollo program met the criteria, thus it was successful.

Source:

Indepent Working Module, Article: South Korean democracy

The Democratic State Engulfing Civil Society: The Ironies of Korean Democracy

The author analyses the current situation of civil society of R.O.K in his article. He finds previous studies lacking description of post-1987 situation and definitions the attributes of civil society in the R.O.K, ergo the author finds it necessary to observe the current situation and make an analysis. The author notifies that democracy movement led by students and labour disintegrated; middle class separated from the group of lower income. Due to democratisation, mass movements lost their significance when young intellectuals joined the regime and gained elite status, indirectly indicating that regime used structural bribery to the intellectuals. According to author, the labour movement has progressively weakened due to the Kim Dae-jung administration made pact which allows employers to expel workers. The turning point can be considered to be in connection with 1997 financial crisis, after which government “adopted (…) antagonistic position towards the labour movement”.

Even though chaebols, the industrial conglomerates had no negative role in transition process, the author remarks that their role has changed to conservative. During the tyrannical regimes the elite had established their position due the growth-based popularity of the regime of Park Chung-hee, and currently powerful “elite pressure groups” have influence concerning economic policy; Park legitimised his reign with massive economic growth. In contrast, the author points out that civil society is new concept in R.O.K: associations e.g. Federation of Korean Teachers were under government control, a situation originally created by American Military Government after WWII and reinforced during the reign of Park Chung-hee, a Neo-Confucian dictator, nominally allowing rights but de facto strictly ruled. Organisations created after the democratisation couldn’t replace the formerly state-sponsored interest associations. The author states that the discouraging and repressing legacy of pre-democratic era is the main factor for inability of creating secondary associations to promote their interests. The author mentions urban development planning led by local authorities and executed by chaebols, local entrepreneurs unable to protest planning that is jeopardising their future.

 The lack of transparency about activities of chaebols, including “collusion” with authorities, people remain ignorant. Since the chaebols have activities in several industrial branches, the author stresses that power of single chaebol resembles “private interest government”.  Chaebols also have influence on media and academic field: both mass media and alternative channels rely on their “financial resources”, as well are the universities, the author mentions that economic policy decisions of Roh Moo-hyun government were planned in Samsung’s economic institute. The ownership of academic institutions indicates the deep-rooted power of chaebols, not only in science and arts but also their leverage in parliamentary area. State remains strong in R.O.K, and the judicial system enforces the status quo: the author states that according to statistics, judges enlisted are graduates from elite law schools and thus being generally offspring of elite, thus being “predominantly conservative” and protecting their own benefits. The author adopts the view that this fact combined with their compromised autonomy due the influence of chaebols and “economic development on the basis of the developmental ideology” also with “national security imperative” enforces the inherited attitudes from era of Park Chung-hee: national stability for economic growth is the actual purpose instead of unbiased judicial system and democracy. The actions of presidents the author explains with a political pressure. Tenure is limited to one five-year term, after which the president must build ones career based on achievements of reign, leading to massive projects including urban development and infrastructure improvements. The author states that there is also psychological factor behind: the president frequently compares oneself with predecessors and is willing to leave as progressive legacy as possible. This has led to influence on the local field: mayors and governors are also “motivated to embark (…) projects”. This development prevents the funds being devoted to social welfare or development of smaller enterprises. The urge for strong presidential power is due to underdeveloped and weakly institutionalised political parties, thus candidates relying on “support of certain interest groups and (…) networks”.

The author concludes that even if transition from dictatorship to democracy was remarkably peaceful, the old structures prevail: presidents after 1987 have taken advantage of the legacy of strong state and sustaining the conservative ideology acting with short sighted decisions to build monuments for their era, civil society was devoured to the elite whilst position of labour remains relatively weak and alienated from political field, the “weakness of the party system also reflects (…) alliance between the strong state and giant conglomerates that (…) prevent civil society becoming more autonomous from the state”. The author states that these weaknesses prevent R.O.K developing democracy “in a more mature form”.

The author Jang Jip Choi is emeritus professor of political sciences in Stanford University and has published several books and articles concerning democratisation of R.O.K and the situation after 1987, and the article binds seamlessly together the different factors whilst demonstrating the connections between the state and chaebols, making the article credible and academically valuable. Unlike “Development of Democratization”, this article looks at the development on larger scale and includes various factors and also explains about their backgrounds and function in the big picture.

http://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/korean_studies/v034/34.choi.pdf

Rambling and ranting, volume 4.

Dear reader,

 

Before I started telling about my day, I’d like to apologise the long intervals between the published texts; I have been a bit busy, I have been writing but didn’t remember to put them online. Well, Today 11th Oct. I have posted them, as you can see. I wanted to fix most blatant errors and make reasonable conclusions, and then I just happened to forget them. In (the unfortunate) case someone actually bothers to read my worthless scribbling, my apologies for the inconvenience. Oh wait, according the statistics, no one has actually red my blog, thank heavens for that one; I hate to stalk and especially be stalked.

Fifth lesson was once again… alright, I suppose. But there is one thing that made me really frustrated. Remember summary of the article I mentioned in “Rambling and ranting, volume 2”? First I lost the original on I had written with pencil. After that I wrote the second one with Microsoft Word which I tried to post to my lecturer via e-mail but the Inbox didn’t send it (I should have double-checked). Yesterday, 10th Oct. I realised the message wasn’t sent, so I naturally tried to write a new message and attach the file but, how surprising, the file had vanished. So naturally, in great haste I had to write third one, which I was eventually able to send (and yes, the lecturer received it this time). What a bloody pain… Today I got my summary back, and I was shocked of all the red markings on it, and I confess my blood pressure started soaring. Well, I have to get over it, pay attention to my errors and learn about them. I am a beginner when it comes to writing academic texts in English; as one of my teammates pointed out, it is quite a different thing to read academic articles in English and make e.g. a summary or an essay in your mother language compared to fulfilling the same task in different one. I just have to “bite the bullet” (oh bloody Hell, another example of American influence).

Oh, back to the topic, the fifth lesson. Actually it would be sixth lesson, but we had one cancelled so today’s lesson was fifth. Anyway, we focused on common errors within the Finnish people; the influence of foreign language to another. We were given sheets with 30 phrases of typical Finnish influenced mistakes and were told to fix them to the right form, although one was correctly written to make a task of fixing the misspelled ones to more challenging. To my pleasant surprise, I was able to identify and fix the vast majority of the errors. Well done, I thought. Then we had to select a sentence from the articles we had brought with us today and include it as a quotation, after which we were introduced to Modern Language Association (MLA) by distributing us sheets filled with MLA rules and see if we would change anything of our quotations, to my surprise my sentence with quotation was quite according to the rules. The MLA in nutshell: the basic rules of scientific writing from formatting and citations to the notes and so forth. This might be quite handy in future, at least I hope so.

For the next time we have to discuss in groups about our independent work, the lecturer will also be monitoring. What am I supposed to say? I have this far been able to keep myself on the schedule, so it shouldn’t be a major issue. But we will see…