This category contains 14 posts

The Window Washer As Chinese Culture

In the popular imagination “Chinese Culture” is something which emcompasses those different things which are unique to China. Chinese cultural things on display at tourist sites will likely include things like silk brocade, cloisonné, jade carvings, paper cuts, calligraphy and teapots. As a Nanjing taxi driver described to me last week there are also telling … Continue reading

Mystery Object #22: Pop Cowboy UniSex Shampoo

After a long day on the road, we checked in to our hotel in Pailn—a small town near the border with Thailand—and the first thing I wanted to do was take a shower. So, imagine my surprise when I found two mystery objects on the back of the toilet seat. On the front of the … Continue reading

Why I Love the Gideon Bible People

Every school year begins with the anxiety of meeting new people, starting new classes and getting into the rhythms of higher education. For nearly as long as I have worked at our school it has also been the time of the return of the Gideons. During the first few weeks of school, before the weather … Continue reading

Mummy or Corpse?

For years the Field Museum in Chicago has had the desiccated naked body of a child on display—at child viewing level no less—in their Inside Ancient Egypt exhibit. For over a decade I have used this as an example in lectures in my Museums, Exhibitions and Representations class as an example of the power of museums … Continue reading

Raise the Quality of Civilization (提高文明素质), Shanghai Pudong 1997

Mystery Object #19: Breasts and Personal Technology

Subject to continual upgrade cycles and constant and dependable obsolesce, our personal technology resist the attachment and love that we develop for them. While we take them everywhere and learn to depend on them for communication, entertainment and even to find a bite to eat—the technology pushes back and resists our advances—never retaining the object-histories … Continue reading

Mystery Object #18: Foreigner Costume

“Hi, I’m a foreigner.” Over twenty years ago, while shopping at a store in Japan I came across a party novelty “foreigner” (gaijin) costume set–for dressing as a foreigner at parties. In this case it meant a specific kind of foreigner. The set came complete with a large white nose and two tape-on blue eyes. … Continue reading

Shen Yun Buys The Front Page—Promises Authentic, Beautiful, Old “Culture”

As if junk mail spam-bombing college faculty and advertisements stuck up on community bulletin boards everywhere weren’t enough—this morning I awoke to find that the front page of our local community newspaper, The Saint Paul Pioneer Press had an advertisement for Falun Gong’s Shen Yun dance troupe. These guys have some seriously deep pockets and … Continue reading

Facebook’s Tiers of Selling Your Information

“If you aren’t paying for the product, you’re the product” never really made much concrete sense until this morning. The folks over at Boing Boing posted an image from @TheBakeryLDN illustrating what companies know when customers login to their services via Facebook. I suppose much of this could be expected, I posted about the increasingly … Continue reading

Apptivity™ Seat for iPad® for TouchToddlers™ and iChildren®

Remember the round fleshy people stuffed into chairs with sippy cups and video screens hovering just inches from their faces in Pixar’s 2008 film Wall-E? I had always assumed they were intended as critical commentary on an over-mediated consumer society, not as an actual product concept. Evidently the designers over at Fisher-Price either didn’t see the … Continue reading


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.