Friday, December 23, 2016
When I was a young CJCLDS missionary in the 関東 (Kantō) area about thirty-five (Wow!) years ago, I looked in my pocket Japanese-English dictionary under り (ri) and れ (re) to see if there were any interesting words with similar pronunciation to my last name.
I found 栗鼠 (risu), the Japanese for "squirrel". That would actually not have been a bad choice, I think.
I also found 零 (rei), the 漢字 (kanji) for "zero".
You have to understand. I was only nineteen. My favorite genre of novel was science fiction and fantasy, and it had only been maybe six years since I had discovered Alice Mary (Andre) Norton's Moon of Three Rings and The Zero Stone.
The zero stone is a deep black stone, blacker than any other black. It responds to psycho-kinetic energy as an all-purpose natural amplifier. (This is fantasy. We don't care about the laws of physics, okay?)
(And, in the end of the series, the protagonist Murdoc Jern's familiar, Eet, something like a cross between a ferret and a cat, swallows the stone and turns into what every young male geek wishes for, a beautiful female human companion who is already bound to him for eternity without his having to consciously work through the incomprehensible dance of the sexes. Heh.)
One word in Japanese for "stone" is 石 (ishi).
End of explanation. Well, except that it didn't end there.
All the missionaries thought 印鑑 (inkan, the hardwood inked seal/stamp that is traditionally used in Japan instead of a signature) were cool. One day, when I had a little extra money and was at a printer to order calling cards, I asked about the cost of having an inkan made.
It was within my budget. On the spur of the moment, I made one for the characters, 「零石」。
End of story. Well, except there was more to it.
In LDS culture, there is an expression "magnify your priesthood". I vaguely understood that it meant using your God-given talents, guided by prayer, to fulfill your priesthood calling in your own unique way.
As I young missionary, I had this romantic image in my head, of becoming a "zero stone" in God's hands. Not that God needs any amplification, but I wanted to subsume myself in God's will.
I did understand, sort-of, that God really does not want us to be His mindless robots. After my mission, I have come to understand part of why that is. And the adventure so far has been pretty cool, when I stop to think about it. (I need to stop and thank God for the adventure more often. Right now, I'm blessed and struggling with yet another turn in the trail. God has been pretty good to me, all things considered.)
Anyway, that's the reason for 「零石」、and reiisi.
さて、以上が「零石」及び reiisi のわけです。
Saturday, December 3, 2016
Google, he said, was the new Microsoft.
I knew he was right, I knew Google wouldn't stay a true friend of Free Software forever. Really, the writing was on the wall, plain as day for all to see.
Google did not want to invest in the fundamental research that would allow a true Unix-style login on the Android devices, and that meant they had to prevent the ordinary user from getting root. They had to keep you from getting the power to perform even rather rudimentary administration tasks for Android devices.
Lot's of other blue-sky, sure. Anything that might eventually by piped into a profitable revenue stream. Guitars and wild parties? No problem.
But this rant is not about the difficulty of getting root on your device.
Well, Google did not ask me whether I wanted their recommendations in my youtube feed.
They didn't even ask me if I wanted my youtube app to start getting push content -- a "feed".
I don't want a feed of any sort. I am plenty capable of feeding myself, thank you. I definitely don't want their recommendations.
In point of fact, all of their recommendations so far have been completely off-base. And they will. Just like almost all the ads we see on TV have nothing to do with us, really. People reaching out to touch our pocketbooks, that's all.
I don't want to live in an information bubble -- especially not of Google's making and selling, even as the cost of a free account.
I guess that's the crux of the matter -- "free".
Can I afford to go to an ad-free paid account? I'd prefer to run my own servers, really.
But the cartels of "content", of course, think they would just as soon have me freeloading, so that they can push their ads at me and tap my pocketbook.
(Which is so empty it echoes. Makes a pretty good drum. Heh. Tap that drum. I still don't like the music.)
Seems like you can't escape the gossamer chains (bent metaphor, yes) of the influence of moneyed interests.
That's not what money is supposed to be for.
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
I'm thinking I want to amuse myself by looking at Google Translate's results for a test question.
I go to Google Translate, and Google warns me that Adobe Flash is old and says some function has been blocked.
Now it still shows me their translation results, which aren't too bad this time.
Anyway, I go to Adobe's websitse to check on updates.
Adobe wants me to install Intel's True Key password manager when I download the new update.
It's not just an option, it's a recommended option. The checkbox is checked: "Yes! I will install True Key by Intel Security and resolve my password handling burdens." (my translation from Japanese). I close the page and open it again and it's still there and still checked by default. Any way I come to that page, it's still checked by default.
Still checked by default.
Adobe really wants me to trust Intel with my passwords.
(The Japanese text, if you are interested, is 「はい、True Key by Intel セキュリティをインストールして、パスワード管理の負担を解除します。」 )
If I'm not paying attention when I download the update, I'm going to install True Key and effectively give Intel's software all control over my passwords.
Oh, and, by the way, every effort I make to get that page to display in English is mutely refused.
I show the front page in English and come here and it's still Japanese.
I remove "jp" from the URL and it rewrites the URL and puts it back in for me.
I explicitly type "en" on top of "jp" in the URL and it rewrites that, as well. Okay, okay, okay, language vs. country.
So I type "us" over the "jp" and try that. But that "Page Does Not Exist". (Ergo, they think that, if the country is not specified, it must implicitly be the US -- by defaults built into the website design. Typical US-centric snobs. ;-/)
Good thing I'm fluent in Japanese.
It's not enough for Adobe to push McAfee Malware software on me, even though the school has Virus Buster licensed and installed on this computer already.
Draw your own conclusions.
But I don't appreciate the hard sell, just so they can pretend to be trying to overcome the security nightmare that is Adobe Flash.
(Fix Flash, Adobe, if you know how. If you don't know how, hire people who do. No, I'm not interested.)
Monday, October 31, 2016
You know, I'm not sure I believe anything I've written here.
And I'm not sure I want the person who inspired this post to read it. I think it's almost true, but not quite. But, having written it, I'm not sure I want to simply erase it.
Which is why I wanted to complain about social networking for exposing me to memories that I still -- apparently -- haven't completely dealt with. But even that is not necessarily a bad thing, because I do have to eventually deal with what really happened and what didn't and what I haven't yet set completely aside.
Sometimes I wonder whether all the social networking stuff is a good thing. It consumes a lot of my time and doesn't seem to make me any more money. But that's not reason for disagreement with SNS.
Well, I guess I don't wonder, really. What I posted today over on my political blog -- most of the SNS generates mostly noise, people shouting and tweeting and twittering, making mountains out of molehills, and not very many people really listening. And it becomes yet more excuse for people behaving unreasonably, and even criminally so.
I want to take a stab at doing it the way I think is right, but, for now, LinkedIn is the closest I've seen, and getting a little better at a time. Which, relative to the present post, is a little ironic.
Google+ also gets close, in a different way.
I should post about it again, but it's a really detailed subject.
The other day I came across a former girlfriend's profile on LinkedIn. No big deal, really, it happens all the time.
That is to say, it happens all the time to other people. Not so much to me. In fact, this is the first and only time it's happened to me to this point. And I may have gone searching more than just come across it. I'm not sure.
I have gone searching for people I know, or used to know, in the past -- mostly when I'm tired at work and need to be doing work and don't want to be doing work, and need something, anything, to keep me awake and keep the adrenalin flowing.
However, when we broke up, she told me I shouldn't contact her anymore.
I thought at the time we should remain in contact and just be friends. She thought otherwise.
This much is supposed to be true, and I can't say much more than that without treading on her stewardship.
We had moved too fast, really.
Yeah, we had some sort of chemistry, and we shared an interest in electronics and computers and religion. But we hardly knew each other before we shared our first kiss. I don't think I ever knew what her favorite movies were, nor her favorite books. I do know she liked to share her breath freshener with me, and I did not exactly care for all that minty sweet stuff.
I have no idea how true the above is. It seems true, but it also seems too convenient, and seems not to describe what I was feeling for several years after.
I had entertained hopes that we could be the Pierre and Marie of software. Was (am) I an incurable romantic?
I think this was true. At least I remember thinking things like this.
We got engaged even though we had no real basis for friendship. It turned out to be kind of painful to try to establish one.
How can anyone ever have a real basis for beginning a courtship, friends or not?
Still, it would have been nice to have been friends first, to have explored our common interests (we did have a few) before we got our egos and fears about courting tangled up in what we believed about each other.
We were going different directions, she with her 8085 and me with my 6809, she with her MS-DOS and I with my OS-9 and Unix.
I think I remember thinking things like this also, although I might, had I been more experienced, have been able to negotiate a little more interest from her in the 6809 if I had been able to show a little more interest in the 8085 and Z-80.
I was definitely too attached to Motorola processors, but I had good reasons.
How a company like Motorola managed to come up with the two best microprocessors of the '80s is a puzzle. Even the ARM CPUs are only about halfway there, and headed the wrong direction. How Motorola wasted the business opportunities with their CPUs is not so much of a puzzle. The markets of this world never know what to do with really good things.
If I could have distanced myself from my personal entanglement in the war between really good and good enough for yesterday, I might have been able to discuss electronics with her in a way that she wouldn't have found, well, scary.
On the other hand, having broken up with her, I should have quit trying to justify her opinions. I should have dug into my the projects I ended up leaving hanging out to dry. At least, if I had done so, I would be a lot closer to financially solvent now.
The battlefield in the house probably would have reflected the parallel war in the market had we married. Some people enjoy that. I don't.
This may be the most ridiculous thing I have ever said.
Husband/wife relationships are always battlefields. It's not good, and it doesn't justify either of them thinking power is a replacement for love, but marrying two people who would not have problems negotiating their differences would be, well, to borrow a phrase from Japanese, 勿体無い (mottainai).
Sure, you need commonality, but without the differences there is no dynamic, no energy, none of the creativity that is the whole reason for relationships in general and marriage in particular.
The real question was whether there was enough interest in each other there to keep us engaged with each other. And she convinced herself there was not, and I could not convince myself it was within my stewardship to disagree with her on that subject to her face. Or I was not able to put my ego at enough of a risk to do so, which was another problem.
Well, there were no hard feelings. The first cut, as the song goes, was the deepest for a while. It took me a few years and a lot of dating to leave the memory of my fantasy of how I wanted it to have been behind.
And to realize I wasn't so much in love with her as with that dream of being able to be a creative team with my wife in the professional world as well as at home. And to admit that she was never into that dream at all.
Seeing her picture on her profile still awakens some distant echo of those old dreams.
Hard feelings? What are hard feelings. There were a lot of hard feelings for several years, which I kept trying to hide myself from.
After she got married, after I talked with her mother one last time to be sure she that she really had, I was able to begin to really accept that much of what drove my interest were dreams from before my childhood that I had to let go of.
(How many times has God told me in so many words that the hardware and software I wanted to create are just too good for this world -- would give bad people way too much power?)
I can't blame her for sensing that.
I expect, when we cross to the other side of the veil, we'll remember that we were friends before we came to this world, and that she was trying to get me to give in to the restrictions God put on me about that back then, too. If that is the case, I suppose it would have been a bit unreasonable to ask her to put herself at the kind of risk she would have been in, nursing me away from that.
In comic book worlds, yeah, girlfriends of superheroes do that kind of thing for them.
In the real world, we are all superheroes, and we are none of us superheroes, except for Jesus Christ Himself, who was so much more than a superhero.
And yet, my wife, for all that she is wrong about so much, is doing exactly that for me now. And it is putting more stress on her than she deserves. And I keep forgetting that and demanding she be superhuman when I think I need her to be.
(It's only fair that she be wrong about so much, since I am, too.)
I have since decided that a broken heart is actually a good experience. It helps you to realize that the things you set your heart on are all ephemeral. It's important to feel deeply about things, but it's also important to be able to let go when you learn that there are more important things.
And it's important to be able to separate what you wish were real from what really is real.
Okay, I think I got those two paragraphs right.
Should I have LinkedIn ask her if she wants to establish a social networking connection?
I think not. I can't think of much we could talk about. [JMR201610310109: And I don't think she'd appreciate it. ]
Some parts of the past are best left in the past, even if modern technology would allow us to do otherwise.
But I'm going to have to think about this carefully because there are more than two people involved in this game. Spouses and children are not uninvolved, and I have to get settled on the issues that she forced me to start facing some thirty years ago, or I'll never be able to provide for my own children's spiritual needs. And my wife's.
And I may have trouble continuing to make enough money for food and rent for myself and them, as well, because part of why I never made myself permanently employable is precisely my lack of desire to deal with a world that doesn't meet my ideals. And I seem to have reached an end to the workarounds I have used until now.
I suppose LinkedIn is not inherently evil, anyway.
Saturday, October 8, 2016
Google? What on earth would Google want with Twitter? Google has goggle+, hangouts, etc. They are doing Twitter the (more-or-less) right way already, and they have no particular need of Twitter's customer base.
The brand name, and that's about it, but would it be worth anything close to the asking price to Google?
I could see that. Maybe. But they would have to take a very cautious organizational approach about integrating it with what they already have, while taking a very aggressive approach about re-developing the technology.
Re-developing the technology, not just bringing it in. The user interface seems to be somewhat valuable. The technology substrate, not so much.
Would I buy Twitter if I had the money?
I would need the asking price, enough money to maintain it somewhat better than life support for about three years, and several hundred million more for skunkworks projects to develop a useful infrastructure too hang the brand on.
To make Twitter a first-class ISP: connection, website and blog hosting, mail, for starters. And, because I think basically every ISP in existence is falling down on the job, I would add private subdomains, static IPv6 address blocks, and other no-brainers that are missing in the current market.
And offer a branded open source mail client or two, to help the customers get free of the Microsoft Outlook that is such a restrictive point of view.
Oh. And, of course, offer a branded custom Linux OS and a branded BSD derivative, along with direct support for general open source OSses.
Not just offer it to the customers, but actively encourage them to switch from the current market-leader-which-needs-not-be-named. Gotta attack the underlying problems in our information infrastructure.
Basically, the only value Twitter would have for me is the brand and the customer base.
Of course, I don't have access to that kind of money.
(Billions of dollars?
That's not real money of the same sort that I pay rent with.
It's a proxy for value in a different dimension, and I don't exist in that dimension. Don't think I want to, for all the wars that go on in that dimension.
Sure, re-doing our information infrastructure and doing it right this time would be fun, but I'd first have to find a way to protect myself from the warfare.
War is stupid, and not for making people happy, even if the weaponry is money instead of bombs.)
(Not for making people happy == hell, okay?)
Saturday, October 1, 2016
Finding that, I decided it'd been enough years since I'd gone stack diving at Junkudo, and I made my way into the deeper environs.
Books from members of the entertainment industry.
"Soft" porn next to that. (Collections of pictures of famous people, mostly female, generally including some nude and/or partial nude shots. I suppose they think they are baring their souls to their fans.)
Business. IoT is all about business. You can tell that by the fact that so many of the books on IoT are in the business section. That means that it's all basically smoke and mirrors. But we knew that.
Great opportunity to sell ARM processors.
Wish I had a million dollars to develop the low-power CPU I want to develop. I could quit my current job and at least get a series of simulators (in C) put together with assemblers and Forth interpreter bootstrap/monitors, and then implement real processors in some form of programmable logic. (Wire-wrapped LSI would be great fun, too. ;)
And maybe have them built in time to ride the tail of the IoT wave into actual use.
(I'd start with a re-worked 6809, and then build 16 bit and 32 bit versions of the thing. All would have DMA and MMUs. Multiplication, division, and floating point would be synthesized, but the CPU would have special writable microcode so that the synthesized instructions could run at higher speed than main memory. The central feature would be specific support for dual stack architectures, separating the return addresses from local variables for safety and speed -- with special use specific caches between level one cache and the processor, ... daydreams.)
Novels. Maybe someday some of the novels I am writing or plan to write will be among those. Maybe I'll even be able to do some writing in Japanese, or translate my own works. Someday.
Books on math and other academic subjects.
Hobby books. Lots of hobby books. Japan is a great country for hobbies, although, with all the overtime they work on average, it's hard to see how they have the time. (It isn't just the フリータ (friita) who are doing hobbies. (Freetimers, a term derived from free lancing, but indicating people who work odd jobs and part time, just enough to get by. I could almost be called a friita.)
The usual travel and cooking.
Up to the third floor. (This is in the store in 堂島 (Dojima)).
Whoa! Linux books and other books on free/open software technologies outnumber Microsoft technology books!
Bittersweet. The Free/open software world has been at least partially re-purposed by Google and Red Hat and Oracle and, soon, Microsoft. (We could say that Apple co-opted free/open software, but they have been a bit more circumspect in their admixtures, at least some of them, than Google.)
I got lost in re-reading The Girl on the Train.
Very poignant picture of relationship/domestic violence, and how it is so often just one step short of serious crime. And so often that one step is not enough separation.
I think one of the characters in the book said something about the relationship between violence and lies.
I found the ending of the book a little unsatisfying. The surviving primary protagonist is fighting her own feelings of guilt. I would have preferred the author had given her and her rival both a chance to come clean. It would help them end the chain of violence, and the self-defense defense would not have been injured by a more complete telling of the events.
Well, anyway. It's not my book.
I dug a little in the foreign novels, across from Harry Potter and such, and found that Johnathan Livingston Seagull is back in print. New edition. Part four restored.
The new part four definitely does complete the book. I had always felt it was incomplete.
But I'll admit that it would possibly not have been as popular had part four been in the first printing.
I bought a copy. My brother's copy that I read when I was in my teens is, well, in my brother's possession. And I want it available in the house, should my children decide to read it.
Like all things humans write, the allegory has limits, but it does speak to our innate desire to find and create meaning. And, even if filtered through the allegory, it speaks to the reality of our eternal nature.
It's easy to get a little high reading it. Maybe that was why, when I got off the train at my station, I was having an epiphany about violence and lies.
They go together.
Liars tend to be violent. Violent people tend to lie.
Truth is said to be hard. Beating your head against truth is one of those recurring memes.
But the real violence is done by lies. And there is a reason for it.
Truth doesn't need external support.
Lies do. And the usual external support for lies is -- bravadaccio, bragging.
You knew that.
I knew it, too.
Maybe it was the being high on Seagull. Things seem to have so much meaning when your high, even if the high is natural.
(Natural highs are not all that hard to get to, if you keep yourself open to your own emotions. No need for drugs, including alcohol or even the lesser drugs.)
But the epiphany is worth pointing out.
If you find yourself recognizing that you are too violent, try to figure out where you are lying to yourself. Then quit lying to yourself.
If the truth seems hard, that is actually an illusion. Maintaining the fiction is just that much harder, incurs just that much more violence.
Truth seems hard sometimes, but untruth is more violent in the end.
Friday, September 23, 2016
[peeve => しゃくの種、じれ、腹立ち]
[hobby horse => 木馬、棒馬 ride => 十八番を出す]
But my daughter is burning her candle on both ends, and in the middle, working on her homework. This is not healthy. I can't be specific here. If I say what it's doing to her, she'll be even more upset with me, so I'll just note that these are not theoretical health issues.
[burn one's candle on both ends => 深夜も早朝も努めて無理する]
[theoretical issues => 理論上つまり実世から離れた問題]
In all of this, she says she has too much homework to read any of the English books I suggest to her, like The Wizard of Oz. You know, these are the very books that would teach her, naturally, the patterns she is so trying so hard to memorize as rules.
[naturally => 自然に]
[memorize as rules => 法則として覚える]
And to what purpose?
One example of what she wakes up at three in the morning to study:
両親か祖母かどちらかが授業参観に来ることになっています。And the answers she's supposed to choose from include
Either my parents or my grandmother (_______________________) my class.
- has visited
- is visiting
- are visiting
[at the risk of => 危険犯して]
[run afoul => 引っかかる、問題に絡む]
Did you get the "right" answer?
- Nope. "Visit", in plain form, would be an expression of a rule or custom.
- Nope. Of course not. The Japanese does preclude past tense.
- Yep. This is the one the book declares correct, by the "nearness" rule.
- Nope. See, (3), above.
- This is not really precluded by the Japanese, although I could suppose
they tried really hard. It needs more context to rule this one out.
(And maybe they should have said, "parents' day class", really.)
- No argument, except that the use of Japanese demonstrates my point about context.
- Nearness. Sigh. See below.
- Ibid. Mind you, many Americans would expect the parents to be the ones coming. In Japan, a grandmother is more likely to come than both parents, and about equally as likely as either parent alone.
The nearness rule is not absolute.
Determining the number of compound subjects is only trivial when it is trivial.
[number of compound subjects => 複合主語の数]
That is to say, it is not always trivial. This one is not trivial, and if they are going to include it they should discuss it more fully.
Some experts insist that "either" should be treated as singular when one of the options are singular, which would also produce (3) above.
[treat as => としてあつかう]
But others recommend emphasizing the expected option. (Native Japanese may still expect the grandmother. Hah.)
The teachers whose opinions I respected the most recommended avoiding the number problem:
Either my parents or my grandmother will be visiting the parents' day class.This has the extra advantage of implying the reason for stating the option, that the decision of which should come has not been made.
[avoid => 避ける、回避する]
[has the advantage of => 得点になる、いいところがある]
[stating the option => 選択肢を明白にする]
[the decision of which should come => どちらが来るかを決めること]
[the decision has not been made => まだ決まっていない]
"Is/are visiting" would be more natural without an option in the subject.
[without an option => 選択肢なし（の場合）]
For all sorts of reasons, "will be visiting" is much better than any of the options given. But it is not discussed, because it would distract from the number issues they insist they must become pedantic about.
[for all sorts of reasons => それぞれの訳を考えて、そもそも]
[become pedantic about => ルールについて細かくなる]
(I'm imputing a motive. That's an error in logic. I know.)
[impute a motive => 人の動機を勝手に決める]
Which brings us to the real problem. Japanese non-native authors are trying too hard to make up examples of obscure grammar principles that should really resolve themselves with experience. No native English speaker except specialists care about this kind of rule.
[should resolve themselves => 自然と解決できる]
Moreover, making the decision of which to use requires consideration of style, and style should not be taught and tested as if it were grammar.
The reason Japanese speakers of English get so hung up on number is because they don't have enough experience reading native English prose -- prose like The Wizard of Oz and other such books that I have bought for my children.
This "textbook" is just chock full of disconnected examples like this of esoteric (and not exactly uncontested) grammar rules that the students are supposed to be memorizing for the tests. All those examples in an assigned textbook constitutes a huge weight in homework.
[constitutes a huge weight => 巨大な重圧をなす]
That weight of homework prevents her from studying real English.
Again I have to ask -- To what purpose?
The college entrance tests are a one-shot trial, and she has no desire to go to a top-name school that takes only the top one percent. Those tests would be meaningless to her if it weren't for peer pressure.
[one-shot => 一度のみの、使い捨て]
She could be reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in English, but, no, she has to memorize the rules in this book instead.
Here is the problem I see with such books: there is no connection between all the examples. It's disconnected prose. There is no way to have context for it, and therefore there is no way for the examples to have any real meaning that the students can remember.
If they were seeing these examples elsewhere, then they could remember the meanings (to a certain extent). But they are too busy to get the context.
[to a certain extent => ある程度]
[too busy to get => 忙しすぎて手に入れられない]
They are too busy to get the very context that they need to remember what they are studying.
[the very context they need to remember => 覚えるに不可欠の文脈]
What would I suggest instead?
Well, I'm not getting very far with it yet, but I'm trying to re-write a Japanese traditional story called "Woman of the Snow" as a longer story with a more satisfying (meaningful) storyline and ending. (That is, satisfying and meaningful to me. Heh.) If I have the time and strength to do it, I'll annotate the way I have annotated this rant.
[not getting very far => まだそれほど進んでいない]
[satisfying and meaningful ending => 満足して納得できるできるオチ]
[the way I have annotated this rant => このわめきのことばに注釈を打ったと同じように（ただし、時間がないのでこの投稿の注釈は結構手を抜いている。ごめんね。）]
The level of annotation and the level of prose could be adjusted for the students -- I could write a version for elementary students, another for junior high school students, and another for adults.
[level => 度合い]
This is the kind of thing the Japanese students need as textbooks.
[the kind of thing => のようなもの]
[as textbooks => 教科書として]
The best way to understand a target language is in context. The way these books of nothing but examples present the examples without context is sufficient reason to discard such books as textbooks.
[understand in context => 周りの状況や言葉があって理解する]
[books of nothing but examples => 例文以外になにもない書物]
[sufficient reason to discard as => として手から外すに十分な訳]
This is not strike one, it's an infield fly in pro ball. By my rules, it's out of there. Send it to the dugout. If it doesn't go willingly, eject it from the game.
I go too far. These books are, I suppose, better than nothing. If only they were optional, that is, they would be better than nothing.
[better than nothing => なにもないよりはまし]
[If the were optional => 随事だったら]
My rules don't rule.
Grammar rules in Japan.
Friday, September 9, 2016
I added some to the rant on Japanese language listening materials where I mentioned the program. Since I posted that rant, I have discovered the concept of Yamato Nadeshiko (大和撫子), the Japanese ideal wife.
That is, I discovered that the concept had a name.
So I now understand what the radio program is all about, I suppose.
By the way, there's a blog for the show, which will help with getting some of the cultural background worked out.
And while I'm here, I'll note that, for the past week or so, the show has been especially oriented towards extended family in Japanese culture. And the last couple or three days has been oriented towards the stylized romance of the perfect couple.
In America, Yuuichiro's mother would be a stereotypical overbearing witch of an interfering mother-in-law. Borderline harassment. Maybe grounds for divorce.
In Japan, her type is said to be a mother-in-law who cares, teaching her very patiently how to be Yamato Nadishiko, the ideal Japanese housewife the authors seem to have named her after.
Not all Japanese families are like this, but if you think you want to marry into Japanese culture, you must prepare yourself for it. Figure out, if you can, your significant other's attitude towards this level of functional integration, and assume that your attitudes won't get the sympathy you expect, ever.
If you can't deal with that and you aren't yet married, seriously consider backing out.
For instance, in the 49th episode, Youichiro finally suggests moving away from his parents. An American husband would have built the new couple's house at least an hour away from his parents house in the first place. At least, a smart husband would have. We learned our lesson from the Bunkers.
In yesterday's episode (54), Nadeshiko confessed to her brother-in-law that her motivation is to be, essentially, Yamato Nadishiko, the ideal, not Youichiro's wife. Sure, this is in the context of her decision to forgive Youichiro of his supposed infidelity, but, even that forgiveness, at three months into the marriage, is in keeping with the ideal.
In today's episode, he tells her she doesn't have to stay up making his lunch for the next day. This is after his giving her an early birthday present in yesterday's episode.
(That present was what he had sought help in choosing from a young, pretty, member of the office staff. And he and the staff member were seen by Nadeshiko's friend. Which led to Nadeshiko thinking he was having an affair.)
So, today's episode -- It's one in the morning.
She opts for being the perfect wife and making his lunch, the aisai bentou (愛妻弁当、 loving wife's homemade lunch) that she makes him every day.
I don't know what the Japanese man prefers in such a situation, but I think the average man thinks nothing of the price of buying lunch.
Maybe some western men would have preferred the aisai bentou. I think I would have preferred my wife to be sleeping beside me. Sure, I like food. My wife is a wonderful cook. I appreciate the homemade lunch. I'll appreciate all the day's she made it for me even if she never makes me another.
I prefer the time we can spend together, even it it's just sleeping time.
Somehow, I have to figure out how to explain that to my wife.
So little time together, especially in the Japanese world of service overtime being common sense, and the foreign worker having to bring the work home because he has to compete that much harder.
Thursday, September 8, 2016
Why is it that negatives seem to get better press?
Or do they just get more press, because it seems easier to get motivated past the friction when writing about stuff we don't like?
And why would it be that negatives tend more to push me, in particular to post blogposts.
Uhm, to post rants.
Well, until I typed the word "rant", I was thinking about my positive states of mind.
When I'm happy, I tend to be too busy being happy to stop to rant. Or too busy to post non-rant blogposts, even.
And maybe that's not such a good thing.
Well, anyway, what was that rant about Roughing It?
Roughing It is a very fanciful account of some of his journeys, embellished with rumor and tall tales that he made the effort of gilding even further.
He was having fun.
We should read it for fun, if we read it, and remember that some of his misunderstandings were deliberate -- maybe even meant as reverse psychology. (He talks about that sometimes in his writings.)
If we take his sendup of sacred things seriously, it is we who mistreat sacred things.
So never mind. The comments I was thinking of were not really necessary, anyway.
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
I found myself all tangled up in the plot of my on-line novel, Economics 101.
So I wrote a bunch of chapters trying to show how they got there. I've finished the first draft of those chapters, and I think I made it fit together:
- Chapter 01 -- In which Bobbie is admitted to graduate school, to work on her PhD: http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.com/2016/05/economics-101-novel-ch01-introducing.html
- Chapter 02 -- In which Karel and Dan are admitted to grad school: http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.com/2016/05/economics-101-novel-ch02-introducing.html
- Chapter 03 -- In which Bobbie and Kristie meet Karel and Dan: http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.com/2016/05/economics-101-novel-ch03-introducing.html
- Chapter 04 -- In which the four become very good friends: http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.com/2016/05/economics-101-novel-ch04-going-by-four.html
- Some letters home that I left out of Chapter 04: http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.com/2016/05/economics-101-novel-ch04-going-by-four-letters-home.html
- Chapter 05 -- In which the four spend their first semester together: http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.com/2016/05/economics-101-novel-ch05-first-semester.html
- The trip back to school before their second semester starts: This is where they begin really trusting each other: http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.com/2016/06/economics-101-novel-ch05-9-heading-back.html
- Chapter 06 -- In which things become a little complicated during the second semester.
- As the semester begins, they find things are not as easy as they were: http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.com/2016/07/economics-101-novel-ch06-pt1-second.html
- Things get a little complicated as they begin dating others: http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.com/2016/07/economics-101-novel-ch06-pt2-dating.html
- And a lot more things happened during the second semester: http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.com/2016/07/economics-101-novel-ch06-pt3-more-of.html
- And they studied about faith: http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.com/2016/08/economics-101-novel-ch06-pt4-faith.html
- And, finally, they got through the end of the semester and into summer: http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.com/2016/08/economics-101-novel-ch06-pt5-heading.html
- Chapter 07 -- In which Dan and Kristie graduate and Karel and Bobbie try to figure out what the future holds for them.
- As the second year begins, they adjust to being resident assistants: http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.com/2016/08/economics-101-novel-ch07-pt1-third.html
- As the third semester continues, we study the concept of romance: http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.com/2016/08/economics-101-novel-ch07-pt2-getting.html
- In the fourth semester, things get messy, but they start clearing up by the end of summer: http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.com/2016/08/economics-101-novel-ch07-pt3-stormy.html
- Chapter 08 -- In which Karel and Bobbie get ready to go to the Islands: http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.com/2016/08/economics-101-novel-ch08-getting-ready.html
- Chapter 09 -- In which Bobbie and Karel do their research, but we ignore most of the details: http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.com/2016/08/economics-101-novel-ch09-in-islands.html.
Monday, August 15, 2016
Fortunately, it was just the side mirror hitting my arm below my elbow.
And it was an auto-retracting mirror, so I barely felt it.
サイドミラーは自動収縮（自動屈み？ :-p ）あまり意識しなかった。
Just a bump, and thinking it was odd as I watched the car pass me.
When it was about ten meters in front of me, I noticed the side mirror was folded in, and began to realize what had happened.
No time to get excited or angry.
When it got to the station about a hundred meters in front of me, I watched a young girl, maybe high school or college age, get out of the back.
And the car drove on.
Am I misogynistic to think the driver was probably the girl's mother?
Odds about 60% - 80%, I'd say.
Anyway, the driver didn't wait for me, did not come back to apologize.
Just drove on.
Probably got home and wondered why the mirror was folded in.
I need to be more careful when I walk to the station, walk a little further in on the left shoulder.
The world is not completely safe.
Was never meant to be.
Monday, August 8, 2016
People ask me how I study Japanese.
The real question seems to be how they can study Japanese or English.
It is really difficult to motivate yourself to do the mental heavy lifting when you are not immersing yourself in the culture.
One thing I do not recommend as a means of cultural immersion is cross-cultural marriage. That topic deserves a separate blog post or four. (Or more. Have I not blogged about that, yet? Hehehehnoheh.)
But, obviously, if you are marrying into the target culture to learn the target language, you are either lying to yourself (a bad start for a marriage) or you have your priorities exactly backwards (even worse).
Don't do that. It hurts.
Get your priorities straight and be honest with yourself, or you don't have a chance.
Marriage is hard enough when you do it right. Doing it out of your culture and getting the fundamentals wrong is just going to be a load of hurt that you and the other person don't need to be carrying in addition to the usual burdens. If you are going to insist on marrying outside your culture, at least be honest with yourself, and if your priorities are not helping your partner find happiness, back out of it while you can.
And if you can't back out, change your priorities. NOW!
(Marrying cross-culture is hard enough when you do it for good and valid reasons.)
Likewise, I do not really recommend working in the culture. It's also painful, unless you can get an internship or similar arrangement where you know that most of the people you are working with will be resigned to you're not being able to keep up.
Or if you have a specialty that none of your foreign culture co-workers have, and they are not interested in fighting with you about it.
I don't recommend against working in the foreign culture, but I have to warn you that it gets painful at times. Really painful.
This was about recommending something for listening practice.
I don't watch TV. I can't stand it, and my wife is not particularly fond of it anyway.
If you can stand watching Japanese TV, it can help with the listening.
(Ditto, English/American/etc. TV for people study English.)
On the one hand, the visual helps the comprehension. On the other hand, it can get you to one plateau, but after you get to a certain level you start depending on the visual instead of using your ears.
Reading in the target language helps immensely. Without the written language, you don't really learn what you should be listening for.
Newspaper is good, but difficult, and somewhat stilted towards, well, news format.
Scriptures are good if you have some, but tend to focus on religious language.
Novels are great, if you can stand the plot. If you are in a target country, find a nearby library and browse from the stacks. If you think you might find one interesting, borrow it.
If you can't finish it in by the due date, maybe it's not interesting enough to drive you past the temptation to look up every other word. So, definitely don't recheck it out more than once.
Novels are great specifically because you have the target words and phrases in context.
I could have sworn I had blogged about having read コスプレ幽霊 紅蓮女 (Kosupure Yuurei Guren Onna) when preparing to take the JPLT.
(... Not counting certain avant garde novels in which the author deliberately subverts the context. Those take a fair amount of skill and you aren't wondering how to study if you have that kind of skill.)
Grammar books are terrible. Well, if they provide one-page readings and longer, that's an improvement over raw lists of vocabulary, of idiomatic expressions, or even of sentences out of context.
Those kinds of books are easy to write, so lots of people write such books and lots of companies publish them. They aren't completely useless, but they are not very useful. And if you don't quickly get yourself beyond them, they become worse than useless. They drag you down.
(Apologies to unnamed friends, but that's how it is.)
I have seen one set of such collections, done correctly, by a professor named 田尻 (Tajiri), if I remember right. It's not perfect, by any means, but it is first, short, and second, illustrated. A short list of English words and phrases is reasonably easy to absorb. Appropriate illustrations can give enough context to remember the words and phrases by.
(Yes, the above paragraph is dense and incomplete. There's a lot of learning theory packed into it, and I did not really intend to talk about theory here.)
My wife is an avid listener to talk shows. When she was staying with my cousin (Hi, Cuz!), she used to turn on a talk show before she went to bed. She'd wake up and turn it off after an hour. At first, it was incomprehensible to her. After about a month, she woke up to turn it off, and was thinking, what a stupid thing to waste time talking about. And then it hit her. Her listening comprehension had significantly improved over that month.
Sure, radio was not all she was doing, but it does help.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on my attitude that day), her custom of listening to radio talk shows is deeply embedded in her daily habits.
That means we listen to Dojo Yozo and his friends every morning, five days a week.
Sometimes I get really sick of it. It can really interfere with family communication. But it's good for my Japanese, and it keeps me somewhat current on the news. (I used to read slashdot for news, but I don't have time to stay that current, not any more. Oh, well. And that also interfered with communication. [JMR201609090820: There used to be a slashdot.jp, but they changed the name, and the format, a bit. ] :-/ )
She mixes in the NHK language programs, too, which is not just useful for her and the kids, but also helps my Japanese comprehension. Try it sometime, you may see why.
ABC Radio Osaka, which is the company that runs Dojo Yozo's program, has (temporarily, I understand) picked up a new daily radio drama.
It's fairly tame.
One problem with either radio or TV is that the producers of the show, in their efforts to draw an audience, often reach to things that shock and offend. Not just stretch the mind, but shock and offend.
Another problem, maybe just for me, is that once you have read, seen, and heard a certain amount of popular literature, you get sick of what it's selling.
I'm not talking about the commercial messages or the buried commercial references. I'm saying that I don't appreciate the tastes of the editorial boards that select popular literature for publishing.
Anyway, ABC Radio has picked up a radio drama called Nadeshiko Desukara.
The story is basically about a girl named Nadeshiko.
(... After the soccer team or the flower, maybe? -- If you can't read the Japanese, the Japanese wikipedia article on dianthus has a link to an English article. Once you are on wikipedia. The soccer team should be easy to look up in English, if you are not already familiar with them.
Woops. Now I find what it really refers to: Yamato Nadishiko, one of the names of the idealized Japanese woman.
No idea how long this editorial will be available from The Japan Times, which often has unreliable editorials, but it does make solid reference to certain of the cultural frustrations a non-Japanese partner in a marriage relationship will face. ] )
Nadeshiko, the protagonist, gets herself hired by a fictional radio program. (Think Mary Tyler Moore in Japanese? Maybe.) And she has a romance.
Fluff. Cotton candy.
But if you are needing listening practice material, that's all to the good. Lots of stereotyped cultural references and simple ways to talk about them.
Simple, with context. And you know in advance that it is over-simplified and unrealistic, so you don't have to fight the value judgments too much.
Thinking about over-simplifying TV shows --, not just Mary Tyler Moore, but All in the Family, Mash, Married with Children, Dharma and Greg, The Simpsons, Peanuts (in its day), Singing in the Rain, Zanadu.... This deserves its own rant sometime, when I have more time.
"Fluff" is not, strictly speaking, a pejorative.
Stereotyped literature can help us figure things out.
Today's episode touched on a deep problem in Japanese society that they are trying to get a grip on -- lifetime career security vs. people's needs to live their own lives separate from the company.
You can get the previous week's programs on the official channel, linked from the program's home page.
(And, don't tell anybody, but someone is uploading the episodes to youtube. You should be able to find them with a simple search. Maybe they'll publish the whole program as a CD collection or on iTunes/Amazon/whatever, but, for now, they are accessible and you can listen again to pick up the stuff you miss the first time through.)
I just checked again. You don't have to go to youtube. At least, not right now.
All of the past episodes are currently on the official channel page.
Might be useful.
It's back to just the last week on the official channel page.
Too bad Firefox on this old Linux box won't open those, cause I'm wanting to review the last week. (Debian box. Needs to be updated.)
Hope they don't shut down youtube just yet.
Tuesday, August 2, 2016
He asked me about a particular company who had apparently initiated negotiations with him about one kind of job and then switched to talking about English teaching jobs.
At least, that's the way I read her question.
Bait and switch? Maybe.
Or he may have already failed the first stage evaluation for the job they were initially talking about, and now they are (as they see it) offering him an alternative.
Is there a difference between that and bait-and-switch? Maybe.
Lack of communication can make other problems worse.
So I sent him a link to some company evaluation sites that had comments on that company and some English language pages for the company he was talking with.
I won't link them here.
If you are interested, use your imagination in your web searches and you should find a few such evaluation sites pretty quickly.
Well, not necessarily. My initial tries led me other places. But I found this tidbit that you might want to read:
The interesting part is about the laws concerning "non-regular" workers.
Side-tour on working in Japan in general:
The reform mentioned in that article has not immediately improved things. At present, it's just making more rules and hoops to jump through.
That's Standard Operating Procedure for institutionalized "solutions", of course.
From the moment you say the word "system", at best, the solution can only work properly for the non-existent average target individual. That principle holds true at least as much in Japan as in other countries.
Japanese society seems to be particularly good at fostering "systematic" solutions, which people then pervert to their own needs. What makes this all work is that no one really complains unless the abuse of the system becomes particularly bad.
And, somehow, most Japanese people are willing to look for a way to make the best of things and make things work. It's part of their everyday lives -- Red tape that you have to find your way through is just another fact of life.
As a foreigner working in Japan, you should expect both glass ceilings and glass walls, limits you don't understand that get in the way of moving in any interesting direction.
When you work outside your culture, you should expect limits you can't understand.
Borrowing that metaphor, doors through the glass walls are there, but you have to feel your way around to them and hope they lead in a useful, or at least interesting direction.
Attempts to break through the walls are viewed with amusement and interest. Sometimes they try to help you, but be pleasantly surprised if they actually do. But don't be surprised if you then find yourself in a twisty passage with walls you can't see and no clue which direction will take you closer to your goal.
Attempts to break the walls down are not taken kindly. If the walls fall down, so do the glass ceilings, and they think that's dangerous.
Opportunities for foreigners to work in Japan should be considered "glass boxes" that they have made a bunch of. And they are expecting to find foreigners willing to jump into those boxes, stay there for the duration of the contract, and leave politely when they are done.
If the foreigner does anything especially productive while he's there, that's great. Unless the productivity threatens them in their own glass box. The most important thing is that the box is left clean, ready for the next foreigner to jump into.
I guess that's too much metaphor.
That little side tour is kind of important to non-Japanese people thinking about working in Japan.
Advice for foreigners considering working temporarily in Japan:
There are no especially good companies to work for.
Every company hiring foreigners shades the truth about the job, the responsibilities, the environment, the accommodations, etc. There is a language wall that they will use to their advantage, if they can.
The contracts are usually transliterations from the Japanese, and the English version is going to be hard to pin them to. The Japanese version is the one that counts.
So don't expect too much. You probably won't find working in Japan to take you directly to your goals. That's also true of working in your home country, but expect truly serious side-tours. Plan to enjoy the ride on the side-tours if you come.
Choosing a company to work for is a bit of a gamble. By all means, listen to what they say and read whatever they give you to read. Find their web site and read anything you can on it.
And also read the company evaluation sites and blogs, if you can find them.
Try something like
for your search terms.
Take the reviews with a grain of salt, whether they are pro or con. People who post reviews are usually those whose experiences are somewhat unusual, whether for legitimate reasons or otherwise.
I used to work for a company called W5SS. They apparently got bought out and absorbed into another company, and I've lost track of them.
They weren't especially bad, and they had people who were willing to work with the employees. That may have been one of the reasons they don't exist any more.
The current economy is too cutthroat. That's true anywhere, and it's true here.
Working without the safety net of an intermediary company is also possible, but you need to be willing to spend a lot of time networking. You need friends to help you find the next job, because, no matter how well you fit in at first, the competition for the job you're doing is terrible. It seems to be a cultural thing.
If nobody is maneuvering for your job, it must be a job that nobody thinks is worth doing. And if that's the case, your co-workers are eventually going to hound management into laying you off as not performing valuable work.
Some personal observations that you might want to consider when you interpret what I wrote above:
I don't network well, and I'm seriously not into tooting my own horn. I'm allergic to tobacco smoke and I don't drink, so I don't attend the company parties where most of the publicizing the worth of the job you are doing is done.
(When I do attend them, I just make things worse for myself. I do not brag well.
And I'm sober. When drunk people talk about work, I'm not talking about what they are talking about.)
I did not grow up here. Trying to learn their culture was an exercise in returning to kindergarten as a thirty-something adult. I did not pass the class.
It would have helped if I had been interested in Japanese martial arts, wadaiko, shakuhachi, or even Nihon buyo. Actually, I was and am interested, but I've always been most driven by things no one else is interested in. That was true in the States, and it didn't change when I moved to Japan.
Bullet points, some of which I have not really mentioned above:
- Don't expect to stay more than a few years.
- But don't party too hard. Hard drugs may be hard to find, but there are plenty of ways to destroy yourself here, and plenty of people willing to make a profit from your self-destructive tendencies.
- Make Japan your hobby, at least while you are here.
- Find a particular thing about Japan to be interested in, but don't make it too obscure.
- Try to learn Japanese, but don't waste your time trying too hard.
- Keep your head up.
- Read your contract and try to understand it. (Don't try too hard, but at least try.)
- Expect the non-optimal. Be willing to accept small losses, and maybe even some big ones.
- Don't expect moving to Japan to be a fix for your personal problems.
Some specific things about teaching English in Japan:
There's a huge roadblock here.
Assume that what they mean when they say "teach English" is, at some level, "entertain, but with an English or other foreign flavor".
They (the Japanese people tasked with teaching English) have this thing called English that most of them don't really understand. (Ask how many of them have read any English novels at all.)
It's hard.You can work your way around this roadblock, but expect to find your best allies among the Japanese staff occasionally turning into your worst enemies. Forgive them and find something to apologize for and they'll usually still be good allies.
Therefore the students must find it hard.
Therefore they must make it fun.
Foreigners on TV seem to make it look fun.
Therefore, we hire foreigners and "language specialists", to give the kids some fun to offset the misery.
Don't burn too many bridges as you go.
And, this may surprise you, but that roadblock is not necessarily an evil thing. I won't try to explain here. It takes some common experience to be able to talk about it, but that roadblock can actually be useful, if you find ways around it for individual students and teachers.
If you decide to certify to teach in Japan, it may be possible. I have heard of foreigners who have done so. I was told, when I asked at age 44, that the age limit for the tests in Osaka is age 45.
If I had known at age 35 what I know now, I might have foregone trying to work in the computer industry and just tried really hard to get into a graduate program in education in a Japanese university.
But then I would have been stuck doing what the Japanese teachers have to do, which turns out to be working long hours doing the parents' jobs for them.
Why are Japanese fathers so busy working that they have no time to raise their own kids?:-/
What am I asking? Raising the kids is what the grandparents do! And just a little bit what the moms do, except that the moms farm it off on the schools.
If you want to work in Japan, plan on making it an adventure.
If you have family coming with you, make sure they are okay with having an adventure.
But remember that adventures are just more of a new kind of experience -- maybe there's a new kind of fun to be had, but it's mostly a lot of drudgery in a new environment.
What? Does that sound like life in Japan is pretty much like life everywhere else?
Monday, August 1, 2016
The rough draft of my novel (http://joel-rees-economics.blogspot.com/2016/04/economics-101-novel-rough-draft-index.html) is definitely not perfect. Things in various chapters don't match up, and all that.
The almost final draft (http://joel-rees-economics.blogspot.com/2016/06/econ101-novel-toc.html) is also not perfect. In fact, I've been thinking about just abandoning it and starting over. Or even just cleaning up the rough draft and leaving things like that.
I'm running out of time and money, and I really want to find some way to make even a little money with this novel. Maybe bundle it up and sell it in the Android Playstore or on Amazon or something like that.
And, after I had a week filled with family business last week, I have been experiencing a little writer's block.
Wanted to talk about the D&C class with Lectures on Faith (http://guerillamormonism.blogspot.com/2016/07/sort-of-uniquely-mormon-lectures-on.html), but just couldn't find a way into it. Maybe I shouldn't pick up too much doctrine in the novel. (Got quite a bit as it is. :-/ )
But I couldn't find any other way in to the third part of chapter 06, other than to add something about the class to the first two parts of the chapter.
Had an odd dream this morning.
Some kind of relativistic event happens (Reading about Lawrencium and the others before I went to bed last night?) and a building, or perhaps one floor of a narrow apartment building of the type you often see around Japan (one apartment on each floor), gets suddenly accelerated to the speed of light.
But not to worry! even though some people who are important to me are in that apartment. When it comes back around on the other side of its orbit (?), we'll catch it. (Oh, yeah!) And while it is in outer space, it will be traveling the speed of light, so there will be no time for air to escape. (Right on!)
Serious physics issues with this dream.
But the kicker is what we're going to stop it with:
A pile of old bananas.
A very big pile, but, yeah. I mean, hey, why not. All the strange stuff in this dream, might as well do instantaneous deceleration (heh) with a pile of old bananas.
But it makes a good tool for my subconscious to tell me I'm dreaming.
Waking up from this dream at about 3:40 to take my morning shower, I was rather confused. Lots of doubts about this novel I'm trying to write.
Ambient temperature too hot to maintain the shower temperature. That's okay, water straight from the tap is not really cold.
And cold water clears the brain.
Broke the writer's block just a little. Figured out what to do with the religion class so that I can use it properly in the third part of chapter 06. God doesn't require me to do an exegesis of Lectures on Faith in this novel.
Made some additions to the first part (http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.com/2016/07/economics-101-novel-ch06-pt1-second.html) and second part (http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.com/2016/07/economics-101-novel-ch06-pt2-dating.html) of chapter 06.
God has various ways of helping us. Not all of them make strict sense in the light of day. It doesn't matter. I'm moving ahead, and I may get another part of that second semester posted tonight. (It does seem to be the chapter that makes or breaks my attempt to construct the simple economic model.)
Now, if I could only think of some way to make some money with it now, so I can justify continuing to write.
Well, if you're reading it and you like it, you can tell a friend about it.
It's on-line so people can read it. If I see that lots of people are reading it, I'll feel better about digging into my savings.
Friday, July 1, 2016
This is business as usual. The concept of love as a desire for someone else to be happy has been under attack since well before this world welive on was organized into a solid form out of the "waters" (hydrogen gas and other dust) of the void between the stars.
The lying spirit has always been unsatisfied with the idea that one person could desire that someone else could be happy, let alone the idea that one person could do things so that another could become happier.
That lying spirit has always wanted to consign general happiness to the domain of illusion and false shadows. It has always been jealous of that wonderful thing we call happiness, in which it could not deal without becoming that which is not a lie (and thus, according to itself, negating its reason for existence -- confusion on confusion).
So we can understand why cynics who pose as critics would try to paint Bieber's song and the meme of the title especially black.
Admittedly, both the lyrics (sung with the Biebe's usual style) and the video (choreographed and performed wonderfully by Keone and Mari Madrid) focus on certain simpler aspects of a relationship in which both partners are focused on themselves rather than the other. It could be treated as a kiss-off, if it weren't for the Biebe mumbling something before he starts, about love being more than expecting to get things in return.
He was trying to say something important, even though we might have reason to believe he still doesn't understand. (Hey, there are some things about that I don't think I understand yet.)
And trying is an important thing.
Irony can be used intentionally, and even lack of intent does not cancel the art of irony. (This is where the cynics get it wrong. Art transcends the intent of the artist, so they're asking a question that we don't have to ask.)
And the point about this meme is that you have to love others to love yourself, and you have to love yourself to love others.
I think this is the reason the video fascinates me. Keone and Mari do a very nice job of portraying both the puppy dog and the spoiled cat approach and demonstrating that both approaches end up failing to reach beyond self. The characters they portray share the same space quite easily, but they forget to properly look at the other person's needs, and fail to look at their own needs, as well.
The puppy dog fails, for instance, to say, "Let's share that apple!" after the spoiled cat has failed to say the same thing. The puppy dog gives it up and the spoiled cat takes it all.
(One thing that might help in interpreting the video my way, if you really want to try, is considering that, in most relationships, which partner plays the puppy dog, and which the spoiled cat, is not fixed.)
Just for fun and confusion, I'll bring up the Japanese words 「慈愛」 (jiai, charitable love) and 「自愛」 (jiai, self love), and leave you to think about the implications. (It's a commonly misplayed meme among Christians.)
(And I want to re-write this in Japanese, but even the time to write this much in English is time I didn't have.)
Technically, this is supposed to be allowed, at least by some operational subset of the RFCs for the internet.
But the result is that the providers have no opportunity to put their stamp of approval on their outgoing mail.
According to the current efforts to control unsolicited mass mailing ("spam"), lack of that stamp of approval is supposed to be(come) one of the principle marks of unsolicited mass mailing.
Once upon a time, the internet was supposed to be egalitarian. If I wanted to run my own e-mail servers, there was no particular reason for me not to. And if I wanted to run a mailing list or a news server, if I could afford a server, I could do it.
Somebody wants to say, "NO MORE! You have to be part of the establishment to do that!" (This, in the form of paying unreasonable fees to arbitrary self-declared bureaucracies who certify "identities" based on marginal documentation rather than actual knowledge or familiarity.)
I sometimes wonder if much of the unsolicited mass mailing industry has not been supported by people who didn't want that egalitarian internet. They want everyone to be brought under the umbrella of their Internet, where they control the licenses and privileges.
I've ranted about this before, as in this post: http://defining-computers.blogspot.jp/2014/05/things-to-fix-in-e-mail-newsgroups-and.html that is now out of date because the world has headed significantly in the opposite direction.
We have to get ourselves un-addicted to official approvals.
The blame lies elsewhere. I wish I had the network and social cred to get a real movement started, away from the current faceless CA system and towards a different identity assurance system that depends on actual, existing day-to-day trust relationships.
Anyway, Tim, Gil, et. al., my spam box is about half full with your conversations from Fedora mailing lists. The anti-Monsanto campaign gets another tenth, to push the volume of false-positives over 50%.
This causes me mixed feelings, and a certain ironic amusement.
Friday, June 17, 2016
The next regular/local is a five minute longer wait, so the express gets to my station eight minutes earlier.
If it were a regular, instead of an express, it would still get me there five minutes earlier.
Three whole minutes. I'm not in that much of a rush. But it's an express, so I guess I'm lucky to ride it.
When regular trains get too crowded at rush hour, what is the train company's automatic response?
Add another regular train?
No, nothing that simple.
Add an express. That will carry more passengers, faster, right?
But if the express has the same number of cars of the same type as the regular, does it really carry more?
It must be faster, though, and faster must mean more, right?
Only if the express has its own track. This one doesn't. They usually don't.
Because the commuter express has to have a clear slot, they can't add another local. And they can't add any more expresses.
So the existence of the express induces a limit on the number of trains and on the number of passengers.
Without this express, they could add two locals, or maybe even three. Even two would be half again the number of passengers, and would arrive just a minute later than the express I'm riding. Three would be double the number of pasengers, and get me there at the same time as the express.
In the other direction, in the morning, it's worse. The local waits for the express, three stops in. Sometimes it waits for two expresses. The express itself does get there a little faster, overall, maybe in thirteen minutes. But the local slows down from sixteen or seventeen minutes to as much as twenty-five minutes.
The existence of the express actually slows the average time down and reduces the total maximum number of passengers.
Morning express trains are literally packed like sardines. No room to read your mail, ebook, or scriptures, unless you like squeezing your phone, tablet, or book between your body and the other passengers' bodies. And touching them where they don't want to be touched on the way up.
All so you can feel lucky for getting squeezed in there.急行便に突っ込まれて、得した気分ができるためですね。
Thursday, May 19, 2016
- http://free-is-not-free.blogspot.com/2016/05/economics-101-novel-ch02-introducing.html, and
(I'm still working on the characterizations in chapters 04 to 09.)
The novel is about two good Mormons who get left on a desert island alone. (I know, I know. What do they say, Fools jump in where angels fear to tread? I'm a fool.)
My intent was to show the economic interactions in a very simplified system, something like timing feathers and cannonballs dropped in a vacuum chamber.
Hey, isn't simplification one of the first steps in solving hard problems?
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
He had learned from someone that the "fu" in "tofu" meant "rotten".
I am not always on the top of everything. That's all I can say.
I can't find the post today, but let me try to set the record straight.
The "to" in both "tofu" and "natto" is "bean". Without other qualification, it often (but not always) means soy bean.
(It is actually read, 「とう」、 which would have a literal Romanization as "tou", but lengthened vowels are often ignored in Romaji. Oh. In Japan, Latinization is Romanization, or Romaji.)
The "tou" in natto and tofu is also read "mame" (mah-meh, sort of), and it means "bean". (Sometimes, it is used non-literally to mean "clever", as well. If you are a mame, if you are a bean, you are clever. I like that.)
Indeed, the "fu" in "tofu" means, erm, well, "rot", when it is read "kusaru". But it really means "aged", as in aged cheese. (Think, "funky". Have you ever heard of funky cheese? I'm not mentioning beer, okay?)
That's one reason why they used to call tofu "soy cheese". (Some people do still call it soy cheese.)
But it would be more appropriate to think of cottage cheese than, say, bleucheese. (What happened to the wikipedia article on bleucheese? They misspell it and don't even mention the derivation. Re-writing history? Evidence that the crowd can lose touch?)
Tofu is not really made by aging any more, except for the more expensive kinds. The soy milk is curded in a method that is similar to the methods used in curdling milk to make cottage cheese. Doesn't even take more than a day to make most of the tofu you buy in the stores.
(You can make cottage cheese with vinegar or lemon juice instead of rennet. In a similar way, you can make tofu with nigari, which is often a magnesium salt.)
The "natsu" (納) in "natto" (納豆) means to store away, or to put something where it belongs. It is also pronounced, "osameru", which is another word used to describe paying taxes: "Zeikin wo osameru." (税金を納める。) or "nouzei" (納税). (Yeah, in nouzei, the same character is read "nou" instead of "natsu". Nothing unusual about that with Kanji characters.)
But natto is fermented soybeans. Last time I looked, Wikipedia had a pretty good explanation of why.
In brief, a long time ago, maybe in China, according to the traditions, some high-muckey-muck in the army ordered a lot of soybeans, not knowing what to do with it. But when no one in camp knew what to do with it at all, they just buried it away in disgust.
Some time later, when the whole camp was about to perish for want of food, someone noticed the dogs happily digging into the buried trash. They spied on the dogs and saw that they were into the buried soybeans. And they all decided, if the dogs are eating it, maybe we can try it, so they dug up the buried, and now fermented, soybean, and tried it, and lived. And had strange tastes in food when they got home.
(There are many versions of this story. Don't take it too literally.)
So, natto could be called rotten soybean. Fermented soybean sounds better, and is more accurate.
I like natto. When I couldn't eat chocolate, I found natto made (for me) a good substitute for chocolate. (I now eat pure cacao mass fairly regularly. Good stuff, although you don't want to eat a lot of it at once.)
Modern natto doesn't even taste all that strongly of ammonia. And it has a lot of the good stuff that you would only otherwise find in Japan in expensive meats -- amino acids, B vitamin predecessors, protein, etc.
There are valid reasons for not being able to stomach either natto or tofu. For instance, allergies to soybean do exist.
But, if someone tells you they won't eat rotten soybean, and that's why they won't try tofu, maybe they've been confused by dictionary definitions again. Natto is probably what they are thinking they should avoid.
Thursday, May 5, 2016
This morning, he picked up something the Wall Street Journal also has (finally) picked up on recently. (Not sure but what he got it from the WSJ or from one of the Japanese newspapers that follows the WSJ. I wasn't listening when the conversation started.)
When you take notes by hand, you remember more than when you take them by PC.
That should be obvious. Really.
You can take more notes on your laptop or even your tablet without losing concentration on the lecture or presentation, but the interface is too narrow, the form too structured. You won't retain it as well as if you took the notes by hand.
The promise of the early Macintosh apps (or Alan Kay's Dynabook concept) has yet to be fulfilled.
There's a reason for that, too.
But there's one more step in this discussion. There were many courses I took better notes in when I did not take notes, or when I took very sparse notes.
Much of that had to do with preparation.
When I was prepared, I spent most of the lecture time testing the professor's presentations against my own opinions and understanding. That's the stuff I retained. That's the stuff I took home with me to work on.
When I was not prepared, I was basically either trying to record the lecture in my notebook (the absolute worst way to take notes, and the most common way among intermediate level students) or struggling desperately to leave trail markers for myself which I then went home and found myself counter-motivated to search through during the semester. (After the semester, those trailmarkers often proved valuable.)
The PC and the tablet, as note-taking devices, are highly structured. That means it's easy to go into record mode and just dump stuff direct from your ears and eyes to the hard disk.
But it is creating the structures that you create when you take thoughtful notes by hand that leaves the structures in your mind that make it possible to find the information again.
(There's a lot more to say about this, Unicode inheriting certain rigidities from ASCII, the general problem of pixels vs. arcs, the problem of arc recognition which the problem of text recognition inherits, the many problems of voice recognition the pigeon-hole structure of relational databases, ... .
I don't have time for this rant, darn it. And it's a favorite rant, too. Want to translate even this much to Japanese, but I definitely don't have time for that. It takes me at least as much time to translate as to write, still.
And I note that this all has a bit to do with English education in Japan, too -- the too highly structured nature of their approach to education: http://reiisi.blogspot.com/2016/05/english-education-in-japan-going.html.)