Saturday, October 22, 2016

Trends in IR: Domestic Politics?

I have a broken computer so I can't do much right now to address a silly assertion about the state of IR--that we have long ignored domestic politics.  A simple approach, given that I can't make any cool graphs right now, is to simply display one key variable over time--whether a work is "second level" or not.  That is, are the key independent variables focused on domestic political properties:

year    No    Ye    Total
1980    52    81    133
1981    64    85    149
1982    49    93    142
1983    61    77    138
1984    51    75    126
1985    64    67    131
1986    40    101    141
1987    63    80    143
1988    65    64    129
1989    56    78    134
1990    58    74    132
1991    54    81    135
1992    54    95    149
1993    55    95    150
1994    52    91    143
1995    67    102    169
1996    54    101    155
1997    66    108    174
1998    51    123    174
1999    43    109    152
2000    46    101    147
2001    52    102    154
2002    46    119    165
2003    51    108    159
2004    41    128    169
2005    39    135    174
2006    46    144    190
2007    64    137    201
2008    61    127    188
2009    66    134    200
2010    71    147    218
2011    75    129    204
2012    83    155    238
Total    1,860    3,446    5,306

Note that the yes column is generally twice as much as every other kind of IR published in the major journals between 1980-2012.  Oops.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

When Critics are Lazy, Military-Academic Complex Addition

I go away for a little while and my school gets hit by the laziest of hit-pieces: that NPSIA is too close to government (see the Hill Times if you want, I refuse to give the outlet the hits/clicks).  "Too close for comfort" is the title.  I am surprised it didn't refer to military-industrial-academic complex since that is the usual go-to for folks making this argument.  But that is probably too long to type.

Yes, NPSIA has many sessional instructors (visitors) that have ties to government--folks who used to work at Foreign Affairs or elsewhere in the government.  Shocking?  No, we are a policy school, so it makes sense to expose our students to people who have experience doing policy.  Some of our tenure-track and tenured profs used to work for the government! Gasp!  My colleague Stephanie Carvin was mentioned by name.  If one were to read her tweets and her op-eds, or perhaps watch what she says on TV, one would not consider her a stooge of the government (I guess puppet is the more fashionable label, right?).

That gets to the heart of the problem: the author didn't read the stuff we write, watch our appearances on TV, or do any, um, work, other than do some modest research about the history of the place.  Many of us are critical of the government... perhaps not always, it kind of depends on what the government is doing and whether it is doing it well or not.  I cannot speak for all of my colleagues, but I get the sense we are not an ideological bunch nor do we see our job as always opposing for the sake of opposing (I blast that attitude in my, dare I say it, highly critical take of the Canadian government's performance during the Afghanistan mission).

The piece then goes after the usual targets--that the government has funded research (security studies is in scare quotes) via programs at Foreign Affairs and National Defence.  Those programs did give money, but did not buy support.  Again, LOOK AT THE RESEARCH.  Plenty of government funded research has been critical of the government.

The real conflict of interest might be at the Hill Times as they publish a guy who is flogging his ideological attack on the government and academia with a hit piece that actually has no real content.  Great job, editors.

PS  Yes, this might seem defensive, but when one is attacked, one has two responses--ignore or defend oneself.  Given that this accusations were made in a minor media outlet, a minor response is appropriate.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

I Love My Job Squared!

Today was a double or quadratic "I Love My Job" kind of day.  I spent the morning talking with a few officers of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces.  I learned a great deal both for the Steve/Dave/Phil project and for potential spinoffs.

In the afternoon, I went to see Tokyo's oldest garden: Koishikawa Korakuen Garden. Much damage from both 1923 Great Firequake and 1945 Firebombings, but it was still a beautiful island of tranquility, sort of.

Why sort of?  Because it is next to the Tokyo Dome.  This is not only the big baseball stadium where the Tokyo Giants play but also a site:
  • off track betting--the crumpled betting sheets made it the dirtiest place in Tokyo
  • an amusement park with roller coaster (so much noise of shrieking reached the garden)
  • oh, and the Baseball Hall of Fame.  
Computer problems (windows 10 update has made it impossible to work except in safe mode--which disables most of my software and requires me to use web-based programs like google docs) are making blogging and particularly posting of pics harder--it may be easier once Mrs Spew arrives with her laptop.

Anyhow, I love my job and I love my job.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Trump is Unnerving

My first interview of the morning was spent reassuring Japanese military officer that Trump is not going to win.  But Brexit!  No, not Brexit, as US polling is more/better, as US is more diverse, as Trump can't spell GOTV, and on and on.  

Tis strange to be applying my sabbatical mission abroad--but easier to make the case now than a few months ago, even if this was pretty predicatable.  Still, it is striking that outsiders are still very nervous. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Friday, October 14, 2016

Onsen Sunset

Onsen Monogatari
The bright side of not getting any interviews lined up on a beautiful Friday in Tokyo is: more tourism!  I went to Odaiba Island, which is an artificial island (just like China but with way more style and for less risk of international conflict) chock full of malls, funky big buildings, beautiful views and an onsen.  On-what?  Onsens are bathhouses with warm/hot mineral water.  As my back is not engaging my apartment's not so ergonomic setup, I thought this would be a good time to soak and also explore Japanese culture.

I spent most of my time confused about procedure, although the setup was pretty clever--shoes in shoe locker, one gets a yukata from the front desk, changes in a locker room, and then can go to the bathhouse (separated by gender, just like the locker rooms) or into the hall for food, shopping, silliness.  I went to the bathhouse, where there was another locker room as one only takes into the bathing area a small towel and nothing else except the bracelets with the various locker keys.  One washes completely before going into the baths.  There were indoor and outdoor baths, a cold water one (I avoided that one), a more minerally bubble bath, one with jets and bubbles--mighty good for a sore back, and a variety of generic baths.  Off of this area was a room for massages of various kinds.  I opted for the cheaper (30 minute) scrub.  I have never been more exfoliated. 

Then I went to check out the food and shopping.  I wanted to take a pic of myself in the yukata with the cardboard cutouts of anime figures, and a group of Japanese needs decided I needed help.  So, one took this pic with one of his friends and myself.  It was fun, and they would say various Canadian cities instead of cheese: Vancouver!  Toronto!  I had told them where I was from.  They asked me if I enjoyed Japan's culture.  Yes, very much so.

Before leaving I noticed that they have a doggie resort at this onsen!  I may try a more traditional one later.  It was nice to ease into it with one with heaps of English instructions.  I still screwed stuff up along the way, but figured most of it out.

After grabbing a sweet dessert (I was saving myself for dinner in a couple of hours), I started walking towards the edge of the island that faced downtown Tokyo.  This artificial island is chock full of funky buildings including the Toyko International Exchange Center.


The good news is this area is defended by a giant superhero.

 Better to be lucky than good, example 418: Happened to be walking buy as the sun was setting.  Made Mount Fuji in the distance look even better.
Been playing with panoram

 Tokyo at dusk
 Sad bears about climate change.

I simply love my job:

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

How Not To Use a Pop Culture Reference

Having written about how to use pop culture to talk about politics, I am pleased that Mike Huckabee has provided us with a tremendous service:

How not to use a pop culture reference.  It is not just that he gets the ending of Jaws wrong.  He reverses the roles--the shark beat Quint, not the other way around.  It was only after the shark ate Quint that Brody (Roy Scheider) is able to blow up the shark.  If HRC is the shark, and Trump is Quint, then Trump gets eaten in a very painful way (is there less painful way to be eaten by a Great White Shark?).  So, I guess Mike has to hope that Paul Ryan or someone else is Brody, right?

Anyhow, the level of stupidity on the cable shows right now, defending Trump, is just astonishing.

One Percent Problems in Academia

When I was a callow youth in this business, I was thoroughly resentful of those who would pile up a series of post-docs after grad school.  It seemed like the best way to get a post-doc (a fellowship where one could focus on getting one's dissertation published and working on the next big project) was to have one already.  It seemed quite unfair that a few select scholars would end up getting the lion's share of this scarce resource based on the original assessment of potential.  The dynamic was mostly that getting one of these things would both improve one's cv and tell others that the person has already been vetted and found worthy, making it easier for the next foundation to say this person must be worthy.

As it turns out, this happens at the end of careers as well.  McGill's own Charles Taylor just got another lifetime achievement award, which makes his total of such stuff reach $4.5 million or so.  Again, concentration of awards. This is end of career lavishing of awards on the few is less important since it will not hurt the career chances of others.  And it is not based on some elusive sense of potential but a career-long track record.  But I still tend to react by saying FFS.  Mostly, perhaps, because it reminds me of what I observed nearly twenty-five years ago.  Partly because it seems wrong that so much would come to so few.  I am not going to get into race and gender as I don't know the track records of these end-of-career awards, but I do wonder.  It does make me feel the same way when one actor seems to get an annual Emmy, that others are deserving of recognition.

The solace I used to take when pondering such stuff is that more than a few of the serial post-doc folks flamed out--that they had more time than most to publish and yet didn't.  Of course, am I one to talk?  I am currently benefiting from a fellowship--that I am in Japan on the dime of the Social Science Research Council and Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership and that received another prestigious fellowship.  But that previous one was 15 years ago, so it is not like these things are accumulating like snow in Ottawa in January.  

I do feel a bit less comfy about the shift in SSHRC (Canada's social science granting agency) from many smaller grants to a smaller number of bigger grants--I didn't think the old system was broken.  On the other hand, SSHRC is quite clear how much past performance matters in the evaluation of grants (not a majority of the weighting on the scores), and I had to take two whacks at it the last time. 

Anyhow, when I saw that Taylor got yet another award, I reacted differently from my friends.  They were happy for the guy, who I never met at McGill.  Me, I just wondered what philosophers would say about how this stuff distributed.

First Time For Everything: Cover Boy

I am on the front page of FPA Voices, a publication the Faculty of Public Affairs puts out on a quarterly basis.  I was asked a couple of months ago about what would a Trump Presidency would mean for Canada and the world.  My argument was not very nuanced--and ironically, I used Trump speak--it would be awful, awful, awful.  I didn't think then that Trump really had much of a chance because of the fundamentals I have been harping about.

The short photoshoot in my office led to the cover, with not enough photoshopping.  It is nice that the Dean and the folks under him recognize my contributions, including engaging the public.  I think I could have done a better job with the interview, but, well, the subject of it does not inspire much complicated thoughts about  the future--just holy @$*&*&#%%!!

Anyhow, probably the last time I will be a coverboy.