the world of jen keidleir











{June 15, 2007}   Haruhiism

Spotted the “official” full version of the Hare Hare Yukai dance on YouTube.

Also, a clip of 2-channelers performing it on the streets of Akihabara (without getting busted).

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{May 28, 2007}   More Sex is Safer Sex

I listened to an interview in which someone from Boing Boing interviewed the author of “More Sex is Safer Sex.” Simply put, his contention is like this: The more often someone who is careful about precautions and not reckless about sex goes out and adds themselves to the casual sex pool, the higher the chance that someone out there having casual sex will be doing so safely — i.e., good “money” driving out bad “money”. Apparently the book goes on to list several other such “solutions” to more of society’s problems.

Listening to this made me fall off my chair. It wasn’t so much the “if we can get more people to get out of their houses on a Saturday evening to a bar or someplace to have sex, rather than reading a book at home, we can reduce the incidence of STDs like AIDS” angle they took, which you must admit is thinking several light years out of the box. It was more that these are the kind of things that people in secondary school would talk about (not sex per se, but) — totally logical arguments that were totally inaccurate descriptions of reality (like hamster wheels powering a small city state).

It’s good to know that people who think that way are found everywhere.

[ Link to interview ]



If I was a junior high school student in Yawata City, Kyoto, I would be getting a free Nintendo DS from the Municipal Government.

Mainichi Daily News:

The Yawata Municipal Board of Education has introduced Nintendo DS game consoles in English lessons at junior high schools following tests showing that the devices helped boost students’ English vocabulary.

The education board introduced the consoles in second-year English classes in all four of the city’s municipal junior high schools on Monday.

[ Link to full article ] [ In Japanese ]

The Japanese article makes it more explicit where the funds used to purchase the DS units are coming from:

このため市教委は、国の支援を受けてゲーム機600台を購入。今年度、全中学2年生の英単語学習に導入することにした。

For this reason, the Municipal Board of Education will purchase 600 game consoles with support from the state. It has decided to introduce the consoles for vocabulary acquisition in second-year English classes from this academic year. (Emphasis mine)

See? You learn better when you’re having fun. I always knew that.

[ Via Kotaku ]



{May 21, 2007}   On the Selling of Dreams

“The Great Happiness Space” (2006)
Documentary, 1hr 16min
Official website: http://www.thegreathappinessspace.com

A film by Jake Clennel about a host club in Osaka. Host clubs are clubs or bars for women to drink at and be amused by male servers, called hosts. Winner of the Best Documentary Feature Award at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2006. Japanese with English subtitles.

[ Link to Google Video ]

It seems that most of the women who visit the club work in the sex industry as well. Something one of the hosts said during the interviews leads me to believe that some of the women do not begin as such, but start doing it to afford their visits. When I was growing up, I would often hear that in a relationship, “men trade love for sex, women trade sex for love.” This seems to ring true here in a strange fashion.

I also wonder if host clubs as a phenomenon are restricted to Japan. Where do sex workers elsewhere in the world turn to for their emotional and psychological needs? Where do rich women go when they want to buy the attention of and ogle at cute guys? I know of male strip clubs, but sex alone doesn’t satisfy women. Why isn’t human interaction available for sale then? The flippant part of me wants to say that maybe it’s because respect and emotional availability isn’t one of the things women can expect from men in Japan (see previous entry), so they have to buy it — but I guess there is no simple answer.

[ via Japan Probe ]



{May 21, 2007}   Two Articles


From Japan Probe:

Some Americans put a video camera on the belt in a kaiten-zushi (conveyor belt sushi) place. This is what it caught.

(See it here at http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=c35_1178938654)

I especially like the change in point of view — seeing things from an angle you normally don’t. Also, I’ve always wanted to see what the kitchen of a sushi place looks like, and this gives you a peek.

(Update: WordPress seems to thwart my attempts at embedding the video here. Maybe I should have stuck to Blogger after all.)



{May 13, 2007}   Seeing the World in Waka

Over in Minnesota, the people at Walker Reading Technologies have decided that just because they never learnt how to spead-read, they shall produce research to change the way the world writes.

From Slashdot:

“Live Ink offers better way to read text online” (VentureBeat, 05.10.07)

Did you know our primitive brains weren’t wired very well to read this paragraph?

Scientific research conducted by Walker Reading Technologies, a small Minnesota startup that has been studying our ability to read for the last ten years, has concluded that the natural field of focus for our eyes is circular, so our eyes view the printed page as if we’re peering through a straw.

And a very bad-behaving straw at that, because not only do our eyes feed our brain the words we’re reading, they’re also uploading characters and words from the two sentences above and below the line we’re reading.

Every time we read block text, we’re forcing our brain to a wage a constant subconscious battle with itself to filter and discard the superfluous inputs. This mental tug of war slows reading speed and diminishes comprehension.

One of the first things I learnt about designing web pages was that a good design minimises eye movement on the part of the viewer. Which of the two samples in the example above requires more eye movement to process the same amount of data? What do you think?

Perhaps the Live Ink team should have spent the time developing Live Ink on learning how to parse text more than one word at a time instead.



{May 10, 2007}   Notes in a Haze

I am back from Osaka, and recovering from my trip. Need to close my tabs and head off to school.

Here is a short story by Spider Robinson which won the Hugo in 1983. I like the twist at the end, which I shall not spoil by talking about here. I also like the characters: how they’re complex, tough, yet human.

Here’s an excerpt:

She needed no time to choose her words. “Do you know how old art is, Senator?”

“As old as man, I suppose. In fact, it may be part of the definition.”

“Good answer,” she said. “Remember that. But for all present-day intents and purposes, you might as well say that art is a little over 15,600 years old. That’s the age of the oldest surviving artwork, the cave paintings at Lascaux. Doubtless the cave-painters sang, and danced, and even told stories–but these arts left no record more durable than the memory of a man. Perhaps it was the story tellers who next learned how to preserve their art. Countless more generations would pass before a workable method of musical notation was devised and standardized. Dancers only learned in the last few centuries how to leave even the most rudimentary record of their art.

I am sad because Stardust will not be showing in Singapore when I am back in July, and isn’t playing in Japan at all.

Stephen Dubner talks about a tax on gluttony, which is an economic way of looking at the charge buffet restaurants levy for leaving food unfinished on your plate. Buffet restaurants are a big thing in Singapore, and I think owners there learnt very quickly the hard way that without the proper (dis)incentives, food is going to be wasted. What I do find interesting is that such a charge is not levied at buffet restaurants in Japan. Is it because buffets have yet to catch on, or because of some cultural reason? Maybe, having been taught that wasting food is unacceptable, the Japanese pay their gluttony tax in guilt/shame rather than in money.

Finally, my friend YM has gotten an offer after months of job-searching. Congratulations!



{May 2, 2007}   Visual Images

Cafeteria, 4:35pm

Hey.

Hi.

What are you doing?

Um, blogging.

Cool. I’m waiting for the rain to stop.

Haha. Me too, actually.

Really? That’s cool. When we had that discussion in class, did you get my point about men having to conform to visual images as well?

Yeah, I thought I did… Did I get it wrong?

Oh no. I was just afraid I didn’t say it correctly.

Oh. No, I thought you put it quite well.

Yeah. I’m just embarrassed that we (the Japanese) weren’t participating enough.

I thought you made a good contribution, so did that guy sitting on my right. I was actually afraid we were going too fast.

Oh, so… er, do they speak English in Singapore?

Yeah… yeah, we mostly speak English in Singapore. (In the broad definition of “English”.)

‘Cause your pronunciation was really good.

Thanks. Well, haha, it’s my first language.

So… Er, can I ask you if they all look like you in Singapore?

Haha. Actually, back there, people were saying that I look Japanese.

Are your parents from Singapore too?

Yeah, they are. But my grandparents were from China.

You look more Japanese than Chinese.

Haha, yeah, I get that a lot.

I thought you were Japanese until you said you were from Singapore just now.

***

Visual image conformation in ethnicity as well? Although in this case, I guess our genes don’t lie. I wonder what mine say about me.

Hee.



1. How it’s really about life and living; surprisingly profound while pretending not to be.

2. The theme that our lives are all connected in ways we never know, and the problem of how to live with that responsibility.

3. How the characters are so interesting and real and are ultimately defined by their actions.

4. How Robo is such a kid, and Sexy Voice is so old and cynical, that they meet somewhere in the middle despite their real difference in age.

5. How Sexy Voice reminds me of my partner at 14.

6. How the two leads really play their roles well, and the chemistry between them.

7. How there are quaint little shops with dodge wares and even more dodgy proprietors who seem to know everything.

8. How each episode is so tightly written; how every little element is tied up by the end and contributes to the theme.

9. How each episode makes me speechless, laugh, and cry; sometimes at the same time.

10. The theme that there are no coincidences, only necessity.



et cetera