Near Disaster!

In our quest to determine (among other things) how educational visual design impacts student behavior…

we battled my incompetence and insane anti-piracy technology,

  • The first struck as I was copying our experiment files (written in Medialab, the same program that we did last semester’s research) from the shared drive to the C:\ drives of the individual computers. I overwrote the old installed Medialab copies with the new Medialab files. To the extent this put new experiment and questionnaire files on the individual computers, this was great. Less great was…
  • Medialab philosophy that its users are thieves and must be dealt with harshly. Copying a new copy of Medilab onto the drive in the same location as the old one trips some sort of DRM nonsense. Not only did our registered copies stop working, but re-entering our registration codes would not work. If Medialab was more impressive this may be understandable, but Medialab is little more than what a talented highschooler could whip up over a weekend.

Fortunately, with literally four minutes to go before the first forty participants start filing through, the day was saved by

  • John Fulwider, graduate student extraordinary. John called MediaLab’s parent company after the end of office hours, and somehow managed to get through to a real person amidst the voicemail. Talking to a MediaLab rep (a company whose terrible DRM system is matched only by their out-of-this-world-amazing customer service), we managed to get everything up and running in time.

Starting up a human-subjects experiment is stressful. The combination of technology, technique, and humans always is. But it’s a great experience. Of all the friends and teachers I have met in the Department of Political Science — and there are many — Dr. John Hibbing and fellow student John Fulwider are the two absolute role-models. Hibbing is everything an R-1 professor should be. And Fulwider is everything an R-1 professor-to-be should be. I am incredibly lucky & proud to know them both.

Free Trade with South Korea!

South Korea and U.S. reach free trade agreement. Associated Press. April 1, 2007. Available online:

Despite intense skepticism, the United States and South Korea reached an agreement on a future free trade deal. If ratified by both countries, the deal will be the largest in Korean history and the larges for America since NAFTA. Besides the obvious economic gains, this deal has very good strategic implications, as well.

The Greater Korean Republic

A South Korea – American free trade agreement would two pillars of the core, East Asia and North America, closer together. It will be the second major free trade agreement under the Bush Administration (the first being the Central American Free Trade Agreement). Further, South Korea is greatly admired in China for being an oriental state that modernized without losing its traditional, Asian characteristics. Further connecting South Korea to America demonstrates to potentially warry Chinese that ever-increasing globalization between a Western and Oriental country can allow both to get materially richer without getting culturally worse.

Of course, stumbling blocks can still be thrown up. While most South Koreans support increased openness, left-wing factions linked to North Korean racist-isolationism have already held violation demonstrations. And in our own country, Democratic hostility to orientals is as typical of the rear-end of that party as is Republican hostility to latinos.

Definite props to President Bush for pushing things this far. Let’s hope that the Democratic Congress passes the South Korea Free Trade Agreement as quickly as possible.

Update: One Free Korea has more.

Update 2: Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog analyzes the deal in the context of ASEAN.