My Best Teaching Is One-on-One

一対一が僕のベスト

Of course, I team teach and do special lessons, etc.

当然、先生方と共同レッスンも、特別レッスンの指導もします。

But my best work in the classroom is after the lesson is over --
going one-on-one,
helping individual students with their assignments.

しかし、僕の一番意味あると思っている仕事は、講義が終わってから、
一対一と
個人的にその課題の勉強を応援することです。

It's kind of like with computer programs, walking the client through hands-on.
The job isn't really done until the customer is using the program.

まあ、コンピュータプログラムにすると、得意先の方に出来上がった製品を体験させるようなことと思います。
役に立たない製品はまだ製品になっていないと同様です。

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Pet Peeves -- よく苛立つもの : One Hundred And Twenty-five -- 百そして二十五

The NHK Radio Language programs are pretty good quality programs.
NHK の外国語ラジオ番組は質のまあまあ良い方の番組です。

But they do make mistakes.
たまには間違えることもあります。

This year, they got a fast start on some common mistakes. One of them is a pet peeve of mine.
今年はもうこんなに早い内に、よくある間違いを番組に取り入れています。その一つは僕のよく不満を言うところです。

"And" in numbers is for between the integer part and the fraction:
数字の中にて「アンド」の位置は、整数と分数の間です。

179.34 is one hundred seventy-nine and thirty-four one hundredths.
「179.34」と言えば、百七十九と百分の三十四ですね。

It is not one hundred and seventy-nine and thirty-four one hundredths.
そして七十九百分の三十四ではないでしょう。

125 is one hundred twenty-five, not one hundred and twenty-five.
「125」にすると、百と二十五ではなく、百二十五になると思います。

Sure, in conversation it goes either way, according to the habits of the speaker. And if you go back a couple of hundred years, people wrote strange things like "five-and-twenty". (Oh. That's still a phrase in idiomatic use.)
きっと、会話にはどちもをよく言うのです。話す人のくせによるものです。まあ、およそ二百年前に遡ると「五と二十」のように、 "five-and-twenty" のような書き方もありました。(あっ、それは現在でも熟語となっています。)

Now, peeves are not really something one should pet.
正に、苛立ちは実は、なでているように、よく気にかけているはずなものではありません。

And I have no problem with individual use, even in public. I even encourage it, tell people it's good to develop personal dialects.
それに、公にしても、個人表現は全く問題ないと思っています。自己表現を応援しています。個人方言を作るのを勧めるまではしております。

And I encourage teachers to teach what they know, and not get hung up on rules.
更に、ルールにはまらず、自分の知っているものを教えなさいと、先生方によく奨励するのです。

But it is better to teach the standard if you know it, especially on a national radio education program.
但し、標準がお解りになる場合、特に国中に放送されるラジオ教育番組の中に、標準を教えたほうが正しいと思います。

It's okay to mention common non-standard usage, too. But the beginners' program, Kiso Eigo One, this morning (a repeat of last Wednesday) did not even mention the standard usage.
標準外の表現も、取り上げてもいいでしょう。ただね、基礎英語1の番組の(これは先週の水曜日の繰り返しでしたが)今朝のレッスンに標準の表現の "seven hundred seventy-seven" をサッと言うこともなく、

Seven hundred and seventy-seven. 
の「七百そして七十七」という風に教えてくれたのです。

That's what they said, not the standard "seven hundred seventy-seven".

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

English Education in Japan Going Downhill Again -- 日本の英語教育また下り坂になっている

English education in Japan had been improving. It really had.
日本における英語教育は結構ましになっていたのです。本当ですよ。

From 1993 or before to about 2012, things were really on the upswing.
平成5年の前からおよそ平成24年まで、結構向上姿勢でした。

Since somewhere around 2012, the attitude of studying the test has been overwhelming the education systems.
平成24年前後よりは、教育団体が受験勉強の姿勢に圧倒されつつあります。

None of the students have time to read English novels.
学生はだれも英語の小説なんか読む暇有りません。

They are taught, instead, that if they don't memorize tens of thousands -- I'm not exaggerating! -- of examples of special cases of the most difficult English grammar, they mustn't dare try to read.
むしろ、英文の最も解けにくい例外文法の(大げさじゃないよ!)数万問の例文を覚えてしまわないと、敢えて小説を読もうとしてはならない!ような教え方にさらされている。

So, what's wrong with the above sentence?
ちなみに、上記の文の問題はなんでしょう?

It's too long. It's too convoluted. And it's an example of the kind of sentences these students are being taught to write.
長すぎる。からみ合いが行き過ぎている。それに、日本の学生たちが書けるように訓練されている文章のような実例です。

No. They are not being taught to simplify first.
いやイヤイヤ。そうです。たしかに、簡単な文から始めるように教えられていません。

My daughter just read over my shoulder and said, no, that's not right. No teacher has actually told her not to read a novel.
家の娘が肩越しに上記の文を見て、「違うよ、お父さん。小説を読んではいけないと教えている先生はいませんよ。」(ちゃうねん。そんなんいう先生居らへんよ、父ちゃん。)

But when I asked her if any teacher has recommended reading a novel, no, no such recommendation. And if you look at the volume of homework the kids are assigned, you realize they are implicitly preventing the kids from real reading, and tacitly discouraging such adventures.
ただ、小説を読んで良いと言う先生がいるかどうかを聞くと、否、そういうことを勧める先生はいません。宿題の量を考えると、本格的に英語を読書するのを暗黙に差し止めているのだとわかるでしょう。英語読書のような冒険に必要な勇気を、応援していないからですよ。勇気づけをしないと、その勇気を消そうとしていらしゃる。

My daughter is not convinced. I essentially had to bribe her to try reading The Wizard of Oz. And homework comes first, so she isn't progressing very quickly.
娘はまだ納得できないのです。オズの魔法使いを読んでもらうには、賄賂(餌?)が必要です。読んでくれると言っても、宿題が先に来るので、進歩が速やかに進んでいません。

My daughter has more than one textbook full of really complicated entrance exam questions, with annotation showing which university used each question. (No, she is not taking entrance exams this year.) A typical page groups the questions by some esoteric classification that is only relevant to Japanese academics. I don't want to post the actual questions, lest I run afoul of copyright law, but I'll show you what the page looks like:
  • An almost reasonable question on keeping "quiet" vs. "silently", etc., during a heated debate in the middle of a meeting (Debate? Meeting?).
  • A reasonable question testing whether the students can remember whether flowers smell sweet or sweetly.
  • This one I'll quote, because it's so bad.
    Sometimes this engine (      ) wrong without any apparent cause. Answers: goes | comes | makes | leaves
  • A reasonable question checking whether they can remember that dreams come true, not make, get, or put.
  • A reasonable word order question involving the mere sight of a snake making a child sick.
  • A question testing whether the student can "find a book interesting".
Note that, in an appropriate context, none of these except that "engine going wrong" would be a bad example question to study. Even the "engine going wrong" would be a good example of an author not bothering to research his subject.

娘の教科書の数冊は受験問題集です。とても複雑な入試問題です。どの大学がどの問題を出したかを記す注釈も付いている。(今年は受験しませんが。)大概のページは問題を日本の学問者共以外には意味がない奥義に達した体系をもって、問題を組み合わせて解釈しています。実際の問題を投稿すると著作権の問題が起きるかもしれないのですが、その一つのページはどういうものかを紹介します。上記の英語を参照して下さい。
  • 一つは、会議の最中の盛り上がった議論中、「keeping "quiet" 若しくは "silently" など」の意味有りそうな問題です。ただ、原文はどうやら、meeting の間に debate があることを想定しています。その時点からスタイルが外れるのです。つまり、文法的に合いそうなものがあっても、正解がないのです。スタイル上、回答は皆間違っています。
  • 一つは、「花が甘い香りを出す」を通常の英語で表す表現について、理にかなった非常に細かい文法の問題です。言語学者が喜ぶ問題です。説明するには
    • "smell sweetly" は「甘く香りを嗅ぐ」のように考えて下さい。昔は、 "smell" は匂いや香りを発する意味もあるから、「甘く香りを出す」意味でもあったのです。
    • 一方、 "The flower smells sweet." は "smell" が be 動詞の仮仲間であることをもって "The flower is sweet (smelling)." と相当するように解釈して良いという原則がなければ、文法の間違いでした。僕の小学生の頃はまだ、こういう文法を受け入れるかどうかを議論する声もあった。
  • 次の例は不味すぎで、危険を犯しても引用します。(詳細は下記説明します。)
    Sometimes this engine (      ) wrong without any apparent cause. 回答: goes | comes | makes | leaves
  • "Dreams" は make, get, put ではなく "come true"という諺を聞いたことがあるかどうかを診る妥当な問題です。("come true" の熟語動詞は十分普段語です。)
  • 蛇を見るだけで子供が病患をする表現のまあまあ妥当な語順問題です。("make sick" も十分に普段語です。)
  • 受験者が「本を面白く思える」かどうかを診る妥当な問題です。
一つわかってほしいのは、 "engine going wrong" の問題以外はどれも、場面によっては勉強するに相応しいテスト問題の例です。 "engine going wrong" の問題でさえも、作文者が充分に課題を把握していなかたことの例文に適していると思います。

(I think it is actually an example of a Japanese academic trying way too hard to create an example for "go wrong". If that was you who wrote that, plans go wrong. People go wrong. Engines malfunction, lose tune, misfire, skip a beat, etc. If an engine does go wrong, it generally does not recover very soon.)
(多分、日本の学問者が "go wrong" の例題を作ることに励んで、行き過ぎることのなりがちを見せる実例だったと思います。もし、貴方がそういう文を書いたことがあれば、「計画が行方不明になる」。それとも、「人が道を踏み外れる」。原動機関(車)などは、機能不全になったり、調子悪くなったり、不点火(不着火)したり、拍子外れたり、などします。尚更、原動機関が誤りに行くなら、その原動機関が速やかに正常に戻ることはとりあえず、ありません。

The first problem is teaching complexity instead of the basics. If you keep pushing a horse to run too much faster and farther than it is able, the horse may run today and tomorrow, but it won't run next year.
第一の問題は、基本の代わりに複雑なものを教えてしまっています。馬を走れる以上早く、遠く走らせるのを繰り返しにやり過ぎると、今日や明日に走ってくれても、来年はパンクすると思うのよ。完全にパンクするかも知れません。

The second problem is the grouping. With that grouping, there is no context within which the student can understand the either the grammar or the vocabulary.
第二の問題は、組み合わせです。こんな、学生にとって、訳が見えない組み合わせにすると文法でも単語でも理解して覚える文脈がありません。

The third problem is the volume. How do students get their feet on the ground when you keep hitting them with the jet from the firehose?
第三の問題は、大量そのものです。ずっと、消防ホースから水どっさりかけて倒したりしていると、生徒たちはどうして立ち得るでしょう?


Context is absolutely vital for both understanding and memory.
理解にも記憶にも文脈が絶対不可欠です。

And what principles do underly the grouping are not of interest to people using English, they are of interest to Japanese academics trying way too hard to prove they know how to map English to Japanese.
こういう組み合わせがどういう原則によってできたかは、英語を使っている人にはそれほど関係あると思えません。英語の文章や文節を日本語の文章や文節につなげることが、できる!と主張したくてたまらない日本の学問者には、興味があるものでしよう。

Mapping is neither translating nor understanding. It can be useful when you are having trouble translating or understanding, but it isn't a substitute. (Yes, I still sometimes find myself mapping instead of communicating, but mapping is not communication.)
つなげるのは訳すことでも理解でもありません。理解も訳も難しい時、便利なのがありますが、代わりになるものではありません。 (まあ、僕も意味を伝えるのを諦めてつなげることにしてしまう時はありますが、つなげるだけでは伝達しません。)

You teach English by communicating, not by analyzing.
英語を教えるのは解釈ではなく、コミュニケーションです。

Teaching the test is not teaching English. It's teaching students to take tests.
試験を教えるのは英語を教えることとちょっと違います。むしろ、試験のとり方を教えているのです。

You teach English by communicating with the students.
意味が伝わると教育が出来つつです。

Even if your English is not perfect, you teach far more by communicating with the students.
たとえ、英語力が優れなくても、心と心がつじ合うことによって教えるのです。

Don't hide behind the books, use them. Even books like the ones I'm picking apart here. There's no need to use the parts that don't fit in.
教科書の後ろに隠れないで下さい。教科書を利用できるものにして下さい。この投稿で僕が結構酷く攻めているような本でも。利用になれないところを使わなくて良いです。

Somehow, please give the kids who show even the slightest interest in reading English novels time to try to read a few.
どうやら、英語の小説を少しでも読みたいかな?と思っている子供たちが読むのを試みるほどの時間を下さい。

Communicate.
意味をもって話し合って下さい。

It's that simple.
それだけです。簡単です。

Monday, May 2, 2016

Flash on ubuntu 14

Getting flash running on ubuntu is a circus.

This was for my daughter's HP Pavilion 10.

(I had previously been running openbsd on it for myself. Never had time to grab the source for the wifi and get it running. Wifi works on Ubuntu. I don't know when I'll get a computer for me, next. Maybe one of the opensource/openhardware arm notebooks like the novena, if I can talk myself into the somewhat steep price for near-freedom.)

Getting Adobe's Flash working on it was fairly straightforward, seemed to be handled okay by the software center without a lot of help.

But that's really old, and it's slow, too. But it does run in Firefox.

Chromium doesn't recognize it. (Which was no surprise to me, of course.)

So we tried a number of things. Installing the package from the software center doesn't really do much.

Then I found the ubuntu wiki at wiki.ubuntu.com:

https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Chromium/Getting-Partner-Flash

It looked useful, but Software Center said it was installed. We did add the repository for it in the Software Center.

So I climbed the url to

https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Chromium/

and found several more pages. This one looked really useful:

https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Chromium/Getting-Flash/TroubleInstalling

But when I tried
/usr/sbin/update-pepperflashplugin-nonfree --status
I got this error:
ERROR: failed to retrieve status information from google : W: There is no public key available for the following key IDs:
1397BC53640DB551
I found this page on stackexchange:

http://unix.stackexchange.com/questions/279825/pepperflashplugin-nonfree-error-failed-to-retrieve-status-information-from-go

So I pulled that key in to the admin user's keystore:
gpg --keyserver pgp.mit.edu --recv-keys 1397BC53640DB551
and exported it to pepperflashplugin's keystore:
gpg --export --armor 1397BC53640DB551 | sudo sh -c 'cat >> /usr/lib/pepperflashplugin-nonfree/pubkey-google.txt'
and then I uninstalled pepperflashplugin-nonfree.

(I know that Google was required to do that nonfree thing by Adobe. But then again, Google had the resources even back then to make gnash work, if they had been willing to thumb their noses in Adobe's face. Billion dollar cap companies are not free to thumb their noses in another company's face. Money is a huge ball and chain.)

[JMR201605030730: the command to export the key, split into multiple lines in case Microsoft or other ads get pasted over the end:
 
gpg --export --armor 1397BC53640DB551 | sudo sh -c \
'cat >> \
/usr/lib/pepperflashplugin-nonfree/pubkey-google.txt'
 
Hah. Yes, Microsoft is paying Google to target opensource blogposts for them. Of course they are. Why would you think they would not? You do understand we are in the midst of the worst war this world has ever seen, or will ever see again, don't you? Where do you keep your freedom?

Ahem. Sorry. I'm not supposed to say that. Carry on.
]

Uninstalled Adobe's Flashplugin, just for good measure.

Installed pepperflashplugin-nonfree from Software-Center again. No recognition of the plugin in Chromium. Actually, the message was different. It said flash was not installed, instead of saying nothing when I plugged
about:flash
into the Chromium browser's URL field. Tried
/usr/sbin/update-pepperflashplugin-nonfree --status
again, and this time it said not installed instead of telling me the key wasn't there. So I tried
/usr/sbin/update-pepperflashplugin-nonfree --help
and it told me that --help was not a valid command, but it gave me a list of commands anyway. So I tried
/usr/sbin/update-pepperflashplugin-nonfree --uninstall
followed by
/usr/sbin/update-pepperflashplugin-nonfree --install
and I got this long output from downloading google-chrome-stable. From what I hear, there may be some extraction of the plugin or something involved. I haven't checked to see whether Chrome itself is now installed. But
about:flash
in Chromium now tells me it's installed, and
/usr/sbin/update-pepperflashplugin-nonfree --status
also tells me warm fuzzies. Maybe we're in good shape.

Firefox won't do flash with just pepperflash, and someone says you can't have both installed with good results. It looks like Chromium's running my daughter's game. Yep. We're in business.

(That's not really the order things happened in, but it's as close as I want to try to tell. I keep falling asleep. It's time to get the family to bed.)

Oh. One last thing. It looks like I'll have to show her how to use the update-pepperflashplugin-nonfree tool to regularly update pepperflash and hopefully avoid being pwned. Maybe. I have to show her how to use the software center to update the whole thing, as well, maybe I'll find that pepperflash's update tool provides the proper interface for software center to do it automajickly.

Zzzzzzzz zzzz zzzzzzz zzzzzzzyxyzzzzz

Why I Dropped Out of the Conputer Industry -- 僕がコンピュータ業界を脱出したわけ

It just hurt too much, watching Apple and Google follow Microsoft down the path of catering to lazy people who want the magic box to make all their important decisions for them.
悲しすぎ。アップル社もグーグル社も毎苦労ソフトがたどってきた道を繰り返すのを観てじっとするのが辛い。つまり、魔法の箱に全部の決定を任せたい怠け者客様方に応じてその好意を追い詰めることです。

If the system is fundamentally wrong, pile more data into it.
システムの体制・方式が基本的に間違っているとすると、情報をもっと、もっと大量にほり込む。

If it implies a serious breach of security, cover it up with more Bellicose Sales talk.
絶対的に保安の大損失を伴うにしては、無駄自信たっぷりの営業話をもって覆い隠す。

If it lets Intel Corp. sell more useless semiconductor for even less efficient systems, who cares if it opens a hole big enough for the NSA and the drug cartels and anyone else with a decent budget for the hardware to drive a truck through? (Examples: Vpro, including Intel Active Management Technology, VT-x, Trusted Execution Technology, hyperthreading, etc.)
インテル社がそれをもって、もっと効率を悪化したシステムのために無意味に無用の半導体をもっと売れるものにできるなら、例え、NSA (米国家安全保障局) でも、ドラグカルエル(麻薬独占協会)共でも、機具を購入できるほど十分な予算出せるだれでもがトラックをその穴を通せるほどのセキュリティの穴が開けたとしても、知るもんか? (例:Intel Active Management Technology, VT-x, Trusted Execution Technology, hyperthreading, などを含む Vpro)

(Has Intel gotten so big that the US thinks they can't let them fail, either?)
(インテルも、米国の皆は失敗させたらアカンと思っているほど大きくなっているかな?)

It seems like even the open source groups have mostly lost touch. (systemd?)
systemdを思えば、オープンソース団体さえも道から外れている。

[JMR201605030810: 
(正確に訳せるかな?)
Well, here is an example of (1) what induces my negative view of the industry and (2) the reason my kids are right and I shouldn't give up just yet.
さて。まずは、消極的な考え方の原因になるものですが、家の子供どもが間違っていません。「父ちゃん!諦めちゃ早い!まだまだガンバるのよ!」 




Doing a web search on "opensource laptop" or openhardware or notebook or netbook, etc. gave me some interesting things. One is this thread:
"{opensource|openhardware} {laptop|notebook|netbook}" などをウェブ上検査すると、現在は面白いものが出てくるのです。その内の一つは以下のリンクです。



http://lists.phcomp.co.uk/pipermail/arm-netbook/2014-June/009945.html

This is both depressing (search the web for qimod?) and hopeful. 
これは気を落とす( "qimod" をウェブ検索?)情報であり、希望をまた起こす情報です。

Depressing: Somebody was "embarrassed" by their relationship with opensource. (How many microserfs had to be bribed to corral that poor person into a specific bar at a specific time with the specific set of microzombies parroting the specific party line? How many times will that have to happen before Bill Gates and his ilk have spent all their ill-gotten gains on sandbagging and go away?)
訳せない。ガンバる。
気を落とすのはオープンソースとの関係で「恥」に合わされた誰かが居った。(お金が動いたでしょう。その誰かが、特定の居酒屋に、特定のオウムの真似して特定の政治家の決まり理念を唱える毎苦労ゾンビーたちと飲み会に入れられて、ヒドイ事言われたでしょう。なん人かの毎苦労奴隷たちが雇われたでしょう?それに、この場面をどれほど繰り返すとビル・ゲーツ氏類が砂袋活動にその悪巧みで得た全財産を費やしてしまって、他所へ行ってくれるでしょう?)

Hopeful because it demonstrates that there are still people fighting the good fight. But I do have to pray that they and their families survive.
気を起こすのは、まだ善のために頑張って戦っている人は皆消えていないのを証しするものです。まあ、皆様と同行している家族も生き長らえるのをお祈りすることはまだ意味があります。

Another thing I found (again) is the novena:
また見つけたもう一つのいいモノは novena です。

https://www.crowdsupply.com/sutajio-kosagi/novena
http://www.bunniestudios.com/blog/?p=2686

which, even though it is not for "home users", is really close to what I need. (That is, it's close to what I will need once I get my work situation sorted out and can be sure I can put food on the table for my family again.)
一般のホームユーザたち向きではないが、この俺の必要にピッタリに近い。(といえば、現在の危うい仕事状況の時期を超えて、家族の食卓に食べ物を出せる手段をまた確保できてから、必要に近いものとなるでしょう。)

And there are some more out there. (Waiting to see how olimex and olinuxino and their friends do, for instance.)
また他にもあります。(例えば、olimexとolinuxinoとその連中がなにを見出すかを楽しみにしています。)
]

There are a few groups, churches and family history organizations, mostly, using computers for useful things. Most of what we use them for is exactly opposite of what we should be doing with them.
正確にコンピュタを利用している何ヶ所の仲間が居る。大概は教会や家族歴史団体です。それ以外のコンピュータ使用は、やっているはずの使い方の正反対です。

I really hate to see people trying to do bad things to themselves and each other with computers.
人がコンピュータを使って、自分をも人をも悪く使う試みばかりを視るのがホンマに辛い。

If my family would let me, I'd go Luddite and get rid of all the computers in the house.
家族に許されるなら、ラッダイト主義者になって、家のコンピュータを皆処分するであろう。

:-/

Friday, March 18, 2016

Japan's Public TV -- NHK Pseudo-Tax? 日本公共テレビ〜日本放送協会の偽税?

Had a couple of visits from an NHK collector recently. First visit, I informed him we don't have a TV. Second visit, he mumbled something about everybody really has an obligation, and did I have 1Seg on my cell phone, and on and on.

After something of a hiatus, they seem to be twisting arms again.
You are "really morally obligated" to join in the ranks of NHK supporters! Even if you don't have a TV, you MUST get yourself registered as a non-TV owner!
... along with all my reasons for refusing to make a contract to pay like a good little boy.

It's like they want to be able to charge me with perjury if they can prove we ever watch NHK TV. Or something like that.

I have to beg them for an exception, which means I have to tell them all sorts of personal information, like how much I make a year.
And you should have a TV, of course. Sumo wrestling, Noh and Kabuki, the children's programs and all the traditional stuff. You have to support this so they don't have to beg for advertisers! And the true news about what's happening in the government and the world can only be protected if we do it this way. If a broadcast company has advertisers, HORRORS! THEY MIGHT LIE!!!!
And what was that news recently about the corruption in NHK management? Something about using NHK money to hire a car for some private business or something? I'm supposed to assume that, by forcing me to pay a hidden tax on owning a TV, NHK purifies itself somehow from the tendency to present biased news?

My son doesn't have to register for the draft, but I have to register for the hidden TV tax.

Why does this make me think of North Korea and the party-line news?

Is there more than a coincidental correlation between the number of people refusing to contract to pay the hidden TV tax and the ascendancy of alternative political parties?

I did not put pen to paper, said I would do some research.

Don't get me wrong. If I had the money, and if it weren't presented as a legal obligation, I'd be willing to just donate straight out, no bothering with the pledge process or whatever. I was a supporter of public TV in the States when I had the money, and, what I have seen of NHK, it's worth supporting.

I'm not quite ccomfortable with the current director general, Katsuto Momii, saying he's going to toe the government line on certain controversial news (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katsuto_Momii), but NHK was generally pretty good when we had a TV fifteen years ago.

As long as there are alternate news sources.

If supporting NHK is not by force.

(If you are interested in Momii's views, you'll want to check out the Japanese wikipedia page on Momii: https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/井勝人. Scan down to 「就任記者会見での質疑応答」。 Unfortunately, some of the links seem to be stale, but the sports news pages still seem to be there.)

So I checked this out on the web.

According to wikipedia (https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/NHK受信料), Japanese law says that any household that is equipped to receive NHK TV broadcasts has an obligation to contract with NHK to pay for the privilege. In other words, there would seem to be a hidden tax on owning a TV of any sort, including the "1seg" receivers (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1seg) that come built-in with most Japanese cell phones these days and allow them to become tiny TVs.


Now, there is currently no punishment specified for failing to make such a contract. In fact, the nature of the obligation is not specified, leading me to think that the only reason that law passed was the assumption at the time that it would be read as a moral obligation, not a legal one. (And if that's not the case, why the social pressure to just pay up and be done with it? Why the hard-sell tactics that, seriously, are a breach of the law in any other case?)

If you read the NHK site (https://pid.nhk.or.jp/jushinryo/about_1.html) on the contract, they do not want you to think so, however. IT'S THE LAW!

You have a moral obligation to make the pledge to support state TV, and if you make the pledge, you have to pay. You can be punished if you make the pledge and fail to pay.

The latter part of that makes sense. A pledge is a contract.

The former part, no.

TV is an imposition on our daily lives. It is not an unmixed service. We have no obbligation to support any TV station purely out of taxes, whether acknowledged tax or hidden tax.

News about natural disasters does not an obligation make, and the rest, noble as the cause is, must be optional or it amounts to state religion and state media.

The fact that NHK is technically separated from the government does not solve the problem. Because it is specified in the law and implied to be required of everyone, it is state media.

According to this article (http://www.nikkan-gendai.com/articles/view/news/159102/2) in Nikkan Gendai (日刊ゲンダイ) a court has ruled that there is no enforcement for failing to make the contract, only for failing to pay if you do make the contract. That might be good news.

Peer pressure was once considered anything but pure goodness.

Technically speaking, if this hidden tax on owning a TV is supposed to have the full weight of law, they should not hide it. It should either be part of the price of a TV, or there should be big notices and reminders at the appliances stores and the cell phone stores that owning a TV imposes an obligation to pay the tax.

The fact that it is hidden makes it clear that some of those responsible understand what they are doing is not going to stand exposure to the light of day.

Radio was separated from this law in the '60s, and internet is currently outside the law. Areas where reception is difficult because of the terrain, or because they are near airports get some sort of exception. This indicates to me that NHK's hard sell was not part of what was originally envisioned for the law.

There are many people among NHK management, and some politicians, who think that the internet should be brought into the fold, as it were. And there are some that say everyone should pay this hidden tax, whether they have a TV or not. Momii has been reported to say, "It would be wonderful if everyone had to pay!"

(On wikipedia's NHK fees page, https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/NHK受信料, scroll down to 「籾井会長の「(受信料の支払いを)義務化できればすばらしい」発言」。 Asahi reports this at http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASH353S5FH35UCVL004.html at this point in time. Hopefully, a search on 「義務化できればすばらしい」will still find some full quotes when that link goes stale.)


Sure. And it would be wonderful if I had guaranteed income, too.

No, it would not be wonderful. I'd get lazy. I want to think I would know better, but my work history shows me that I would get lazy. I'd quit doing things that contribute to society. Guaranteed income is like that. It makes you lazy, makes you willing to toe the party line. That whole line about keeping the news clean from government or other interference is pure conceit.

The Japanese government owes it to it's own citizens to give the people control over NHK by making them go to the people for contributions, not tax payments, like any self-respecting public TV station.

For reference:

The NHK page on the amount of the current tax: https://pid.nhk.or.jp/jushinryo/NewContractTop.do. Current charge is about JPY 14,000 a year for over-the-air, almost double for cable. That would be about USD 140, plus or minus, depending on the valleys and peaks in the exchange rate. At any rate, it's asking my family to go without food about two weeks a year.

Following links around there will show additional information, such as, if you are living in a dorm and have a TV there, you are not covered by your parents' payments, and if your household is a two or three generation household, each generation is expected to pay, etc.

Here's the law, itself: http://law.e-gov.go.jp/htmldata/S25/S25HO132.html.

(I'm not looking forward to translating this into Japanese, but I think I'd better. It'll probably take me three good days' work that I don't have.)

Sunday, March 13, 2016

What Is Magic?

Yesterday, I stopped by Kinokuniya (紀伊国屋) on the way home to look at books and materials to use to teach my son the basics of digital electronics. He has some theory, but I think he needs actual experimental results to get real understanding of what's going on in digital communications.

I stopped by the English books section on my way out and Rachel Hawkins's Miss Mayham caught my eye. Not sure why. Ended up reading the whole book in a three-hour tachi-yomi (立ち読み) session.

(What is the English idiom for standing at the rack and reading at the book store? I think there is one that I'm forgetting.)

I was somewhat impressed that the author has the protagonists boyfie (erk) split when he realizes that the way things are going if he is around leads to destroying both himself and her. Also impressed that magic was presented as something that doesn't help people.

So I decided to buy it for my kids. They seem to like stories about teenagers with powers they don't know how to control. (My daughter is into Harry Potter and such, my son is more into Rail Gun, Kino no Tabi, and Psycho-pass and the like. To me, they are much the same story, with varying degrees of violence and being out of control.)

Whatever the reason, I bought it, got home, showed it to the kids. (They were unimpressed. It's still English.)

Noticed and read the sneak preview of the next book in the series. Now I'm de-impressed. What a way to undo a potential good plot direction.

The protagonist is a pushy little teenager who enjoys running things, but has nothing to guide her. She'd make a great politician, I suppose.

And she is also magically endowed with superpowers.

This seems to paint a picture of an empowered girl.

But now it looks like she is entirely dependent on her Oracle. Without him, she is just spinning her wheels. This is not what a truly empowered woman looks like. It's just the same old misogynistic picture -- man in charge, woman doing the hard work. Woman lost without man.

(Sorry to be so critical, Ms. Hawkins.)

I think I would have had Harper and her friends reading David's books and learning to control the power they have been introduced to while David is out of the loop. So much for my ideas.

Well, maybe, when the next book in the series actually comes out in a few months, I'll find that the resolution is not so bad after all. Maybe I'll find that she has the friends discover a way to escape being slaves to deception.

But, magic. Something needs to be said about magic. Too many of our children misunderstand it, and the result is too many books like this series also seems to be.

A famous science fiction author once said, "Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." or some such.

No. It may appear to be magic, when the technological gap is large, but technology and magic are completely different things.

There are three things that are generally referred to as magic, connected by fatal principle.

There are two things which are often confused with magic. Both excel magic, although one is but a part of the path to the other, which is the preferred.

The three magicks are these:
  • The lift of the card,
  • The ability to track the almost perfect shuffle, and 
  • The sense of performance which distracts the audience.
That's technique, observation, and charisma, in the service of illusion.

Magic is illusion -- deception, the promotion of the lie for the magician's advantage.

Technology is often confused with magic. When it is used in the service of deception, it might as well be magic.

Faith is also often confused with magic, but it is the complete opposite.

Unfortunately, many magicians have professed great faith and attempted to use it in the service of deception, causing wars, bloodshed, and much destruction.

This false faith is the false religion which is the target of many scientists derision.

But faith, itself is the motivating force behind any good thing man or mankind has ever accomplished.

It is the faith in the ability to understand that moves scientists to experiment, record, analyze, and share.

And it is the lack of faith in our ability to understand that keeps us enslaved to magic and to false religion.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Printing from SD or USB on Brother DCP-J957N Printer

Printing directly from some persistent memory device has always seemed to me to be a guaranteed exercise in frustration.

I guess I'm the kind of person who doesn't want to waste paper and ink getting it right, if I can help it.

But my Epson all-in-one just quit on me last year, and we did without a printer for a few months, but my daughter wanted to be able to copy stuff at home, so I went to the Sofmap in Umeda and got this Brother printer at less than half the price I paid for the Epson. The ink is also cheaper.

But we don't use MSWindows or Apple Mac in my house. Friends don't let friends use Microsoft software or something like that. (Things are much more nuanced now, and I should sometime rant about that. But I'm talking about a printer here.)

And there is no lowest-end Mac. (And I'm not in love with the Mac OS or iOS any more. They've changed.)

So we use open source software.

This computer is running debian wheezy. I'm waiting for the dust to settle on systemd's incursion into Linux to upgrade. My netbook is running openBSD. But I plan to give it to my daughter, and I guess it will probably get an Ubuntu makeover then.

My son's netbook is running Ubuntu. (And his PS4 is running Sony's whatever, that appears to contain a lot of open source software that is not being used according to the license. If you don't publish the source, Sony, and you punish people for looking at the object, no one really -- legally -- knows. We have to judge by sense of smell. And it smells. Some of it smells good, some smells nice, some not-so-nice and not-so-good.)

And our tablets run Android.

Brother used to be big on supporting open source software. They did it the right way, supplying source code for their Linux drivers. That meant that converting the source for the *BSDs was somewhere in the realm of possible.

Brother now supports MSWindows (Of course, snubbing Microsoft is tantamount to suicide, right?), Mac OS, and Android.

And there is a semi-supported binary blob of drivers for Linux.

It only runs on Jessie and above in the debian infrastructure. Wheezy is too old, apparently. You can't backport it because there's no source. You can't customize it. You can't convert it for *BSD.

(And the important thing is that you can't look at the source to debug it or to check that it is actually safe to use with your customized kernel, even if one should assume the manufacturer is not taking bribes from the NSA, the SVR, the drug cartels, etc.)

You might think that the Android drivers should be useable on a Linux OS, but Android, while it still uses a Linux kernel, has significantly diverged from Linux in immportant ways. And, without the source, we can't even try anyway.

Actually, I'm sure that, if I had the time to dig into the tarballs Brother makes available, I'd find the pieces I need and could use the printer through CUPS. I'll have to refresh and update my greyware memory on the subject of postscript device descriptors, etc.

Anyway, I haven't been able to print from any of the computers in the house. I can only print from the tablets.

That actually works out somewhat okay. Print to PDF on the computer, ship it to the tablet, and actually print from the tablet. It's a little time-consuming, but we don't print that much any more. This is more of a scanner-copier in practical use.

I'm working for Ohtemon Ohtemae Jr. High & High School this year on a one-year renewable contract. (And, because of the current staffing laws that are supposed to protect me as an independent worker, I can only be hired three years in a row. I suppose I should rant about that, sometime, too.)

So I need to give them a current résumé every year. Japanese résumés require a current photograph. So I need to print a résumé photo, which is something like a passport or ID photo.

Take the picture with a digital camera, crop it with the GIMP. Use libre office to put four copies of it on a snapshot (L) sized document for printing. Print it to PDF and transfer it to the tablet with USB flash.

And Brother's printer app refuses to allow me to print a PDF document onto photograph (L) sized paper. When I try to print it to an A4 page, it helpfully and automagically re-sizes the images for me.

I have a friend who, when playng Uno, loves to say, "Let me help you. LET ME HELP YOU!" when she drops a draw-four card on you. It can be fun when you know in advance that you're not playing to win.

All the software vendors want to help you these days.

They don't want you to do stuff by yourself because then they can't be part of your workflow. They can't wangle you to feed their revenue stream. That's really short-sighted market engineering -- "enhancing" your market by getting your hands around the customers' necks.

Wasted a good day getting around their help yesterday.

After eating dinner and going to a church meeting, I remembered the printer had the direct-from-persistent-store theoretical feature -- Print from USB and SD flash devices.

It doesn't recognize the PDF at all. But, while I was mucking around looking for the PDF in the printer's thumbnail listings, I discovered that the printer does ID photo-style image repeats if it can recognize and render the file as an image.

So I converted the image to JPEG with the GIMP and saved it to the SD. No joy. It actually sees the JPEG extension on the file name and recognizes it, but it shows just a big question mark instead of a thumbnail.

Reduced the resolution to 300 DPI. (It was originally an odd resolution -- 1107 or something like that, the result of the cropping job on the original image.) Still no joy, just the question mark instead of the image.

My son said he had a similar problem when he was printing something. He converted the file on an on-line image services site and got it to go.

So I washed my dishes and thought some more. Back to GIMP. Unset all the optional features in the GIMP's JPEG conversion dialog:
  • EXIF
  • XMP
  • thumbnail
  • progressive display
  • optimization
I don't know, yet, which feature was the culprit.

But, with as plain a JPEG as possible, the printer saw the image. And I was able to print four of the image repeated on a sheet of photo (L) sized photograph stock using the ID print function. At midnight.

Computers are not fun any more.