Wednesday, March 30, 2016

GW Men's Basketball Advance to NIT Championship Game

There's a four-character Chinese proverb often used in Japan. 鶏口牛後 (けいこうぎゅうご keikō gyūgo). Literally, it means the chicken's mouth over an ox's ass, suggesting that it is better to be at the top of something small and modest than at the bottom of some large prestigious organization. My mother used this expression to encourage me to do well at a community college: better the Chancellor's Distinguished Student Award from East Los Angeles College than some anonymous graduate in the back row of a huge college. Indeed, it was this kind of encouragement that led to an education at UCLA (BA & MA) and Stanford (PhD).

So why am I talking about this?

Well, this is all a preface to say that GW is in the Championship game of the National Invitational Tournament by soundly beating San Diego State. Bet you didn't expect that.

No, the NIT is not as prestigious as the NCAA Tournament. Not by a long shot. But it might be better to be at the top of the NIT than be a bubble team and go down in the first round of the NCAA. One of my students--Yuta Watanabe--is a starter for GW so he's missing class this week. I think I'll give him some slack, as I've been giving him a hard time after a few untimely losses as the season wound down. Hope Yuta and Kevin (both on my fb banner) and the rest of the team play well Thursday against Valpo. Go G-Dub! ‪#‎raisehigh‬ ‪#‎GWU‬ ‪#‎A10MBB‬

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

2016 Research Days at GW: Alicia Taylor

Today was 2016 Research Days at GW. Students were selected to exhibit a poster representing their research. Research Days is heavy with hard science and social science heavy and there were only a handful of humanities students. But among them was our very own Japanese major, Alicia Taylor who is researching Japanese TV ads and how they are effective. Way to represent. And I love supporting our major! Alicia is using the critical approach of Roland Barthes' Mythologies to break down the effectiveness of a Pokari Sweat television commercial, and the ineffectiveness of a yakisoba ad starring Nagase Tomoya. Barthes approach builds on Ferdinand de Saussure's theory of sign (signifier and signified) and demonstrates the effective association that can be manufactured between multiple images and emotions to build a message that feels "natural", effectively building a "myth". Can you see the "myth" in the Pokari Sweat ad with images of high school baseball players pursuing their dream of reaching Kōshien through hard work and "sweat"? Or how about the colors of the uniforms--school and baseball--and other items that reflect the Pocari Sweat image? Anyway, I look forward to reading her final research submission.