the world of jen keidleir











{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!

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