sechan19: (butterfly)
The ancient Chinese (ancient meaning before they really were "Chinese") believed that thunder and lightning were charged with the task of hunting escaped dragons. When lightning struck, it meant that a dragon was being chased from some hiding place. If a person you loved was struck by lightning and killed, it was probably because he was standing near the hiding place of a dragon or was actually the hiding place of a dragon.

It's an interesting means of rationalizing an otherwise irrational kind of death; the ultimate in "well, what could you do?" mentalities. ("He had a dragon hiding inside him--what more can we say?")

Now, whenever the weather is stormy and the thunder and lightning are crashy, I often think of marauding bands of stray dragons and the heavenly deities charged with bringing them back under control. And I hope that all dragons know that 5'1 girls don't make very good hiding places.
sechan19: (morisot)
I've recently discovered the joy of creating custom Facebook groups that can henceforth be blocked from viewing selected content on your profile page. This makes me especially happy because I've recently decided that I dislike having certain members of my family view certain things that I post. For one thing, I know it disturbs them, and for another, they consequently make snarky remarks that disturb me.

Social networking is an interesting beast. It's designed to bring people closer together, and it does that. But it can subsequently force loved ones to face uncomfortable truths about one another.

For me, it's not such a big deal. I've always known this part of my family's religio-political leanings. Grounded as they are on faith, I've always had to swallow them with a smile and keep my own opinions (not grounded on faith) to myself.

But I don't do that on Facebook, and it's generated some seriously mixed results. People who never knew before now know that I'm an agnostic, that I specifically don't believe in their god, and that I support a socio-political agenda that they consider to stem from moral bankrupcy, now know all that. And that's all okay; in fact, a part of me is glad that Facebook has made matters so plain.

But another part of me doesn't want to do the dance anymore. So into the special group they go, to hear no more of my opinions about a woman's right to choose, a man's right to love another man, an artist's right to display something offensive to the church, and the government's right to mind its own damn business, and so on. It'll worry them less.

Because my decision is motivated out of love for them.

That's the intriguing thing about family, you know. The bonds of family can be stronger than ideological divides (although they aren't always). The family unit is small enough to negotiate those confrontations successfully where the village, town, city, state, country, and world may be too big to adequately address them to everyone's satisfaction.

Which is good for me. I wouldn't want there to be strain between me and my loved ones, and I'm lucky that I don't have to make a choice between them and upholding the things that I believe are right. But enough [of the cyber weirdness] is enough.

And just for the record, if you're reading this blog you're unlikely to be in the special group for people-who-just-can't-accept-my-viewpoint-without making-well-meaning-though-ultimately-snarky-comments. So don't worry about that.
sechan19: (tormenta)
I was informed recently that my versions of iTunes and Quicktime were ready for upgrade. I debated the upgrade seriously before implementing it - as I always do when it comes to iTunes upgrades. (An upgrade once wiped out some songs I'd purchased from the iTunes store - a result that made me SUPER happy.) In the end, though, I decided it couldn't hurt, and I installed the upgrade, rebooted the computer, and went on about my business.

Today, I opened iTunes. Or, rather, I attempted to open it. And on that attempt I was informed that the version of Quicktime that I had wasn't new enough to work with the version of iTunes that I had. It recommended to me that I reinstall iTunes.

Doing so didn't work, though, of course, and after much frustration I ultimately had to uninstall and then reinstall Quicktime to get the thing to work. (The new interface is unbearably lame, btw. I never should have done it.)

What kind of software provides simultaneous updates of two programs that require one another to work but are incompatible with one another and will subsequently result in program failure?

Oh, right. APPLE software.

*facepalm*
sechan19: (lin fengmian)
I need a better one.
That is all.

Query.

Sep. 1st, 2010 11:01 pm
sechan19: (kusama)
Why are headphones so remarkably susceptible to entropy?
sechan19: (morisot)
As an addendum to the last post, I do want to go on the record as being rather tired of something that I've noticed in my various exchanges with the tea-partiers: that "socialism" is still the epithet de rigueur when it comes to dismissing a person's argument without either understanding or confronting it.

Consider the exchange on the subject of the Ground Zero mosque... )

I'm really growing to love debating. I can't wait to do some more with folks who can actually argue back.

EDIT: I'm honor-bound to point out, in fairness to my friend, that she apparently did not mean to use "socialism" as a dismissal - merely to alert her other friend that I was on a radically different page, so that he might better understand my argument. I clearly misunderstood her.

She seemed to feel that my response was fair and that my point about the perils of defining hate speech was especially crucial. I'm feeling better and better about these exchanges. As I expected, they are growing into something very productive for both of us.
sechan19: (kusama)
In the last couple of weeks, I've been having fun with my Facebook account by violating one of my cardinal rules. That rule is to never post anything likely to be inflammatory or to respond to anything inflammatory with a rebuttal. The wisdom in this rule holds that the only outcome of such an engagement is trash-talk on either side and no perceivable gain in consensus view.

Simply put: you just get pissed off for no reason.

But I have this friend (in a loose sense of the word) from high school who grew up to be a member of the Tea Party, and she has a tendency to either respond to my posts with nonsense or post her own (in my view) ridiculous and unexamined findings. And rather than shy away from confrontation, I've taken the opportunity not once, but twice, to engage with her and put my recent gains as a scholar to the task of totally annihilating her extremely shaky positions.

It's a good exercise in talking a person into a logical corner, and it's had the added benefit of helping me to refine my views - to determine exactly where I stand on various issues and what kind of political and economic thinker I am.

In short, it's been a ball.

We've had two dust ups over Fox News and the mosque at "Ground Zero" (that is to say, the Islamic cultural center being built in an old Burlington Coat Factory building two blocks from where the WTC once stood). In both cases, I've rebutted until she was forced to fall back on the "yeah, but you're a socialist and you just don't understand America" argument. In the common vernacular: until she lost the debate but couldn't admit it.

The amusing, and yet heartbreakingly sad, thing about these exchanges is that they reveal how little my friend knows about anything: about socialism, about democracy, about the history of this country, and about what kind of a game the people she believes in are running on her. Wrapped in the pernicious Dunning-Kruger effect, she is impervious to all fact... as are a number of her friends (who have also taken the opportunity to cross mental swords with me, but who don't fare all that well since they blatantly disdain education as a valuable commodity in American discourse and therefore are not capable of constructing intelligent comments).

On the one hand, these exchanges continue to confirm my deep-seated believe that the majority of people in this country are too ignorant to be of any use to the rest of us in the dark days to come. On the other hand, they reinforce my confidence that I'll be able to get along without them.

And besides, making a fool of someone can be a lot of fun... especially when they have no idea you've made a fool of them and are therefore not upset in the least at the development.

It's like Grand Theft Auto for the mind.
sechan19: (tormenta)
I had an interesting experience recently at a restaurant.

Since returning to the US, I've regularly found myself unable to eat all of the food I order at a restaurant. I generally eat only half. Not surprising, really, given that I've grown so used to the smaller portions and lack of doggie-bags that proliferate the world beyond US borders.

About a week ago, I went out to dinner with a couple of my friends - [livejournal.com profile] unapperent and his wife - to a very nice restaurant where we each enjoyed a three course meal: appetizer, entree, and dessert. I ate all of the appetizer, but only half of the entree. Midway through the meal, I began to sense that eating much more would result in my being unable to finish the dessert, and I did not want that to happen.

(Dessert was a cherry cake with whipped cream and amaretto.)

So, I turned my utensils parallel to indicate that I was finished, and the waiter immediately approached in an ecstasy of concern. "Are you done?" he asked me. "Was there something wrong with the meal?"

I assured him that the meal was delicious, but that I'd been unable to finish and would he kindly wrap it up for me to take home and finish later. He took the plate and returned in record time with a box. I thought no more of his reaction.

It wasn't until a couple of days later that I discovered how upset he was with me.

Upon opening the box to finish off the leftovers for breakfast one day, I discovered that the waiter had literally thrown the contents of the plate into the box - not even taking care to ensure that everything made it in. I was quite astonished that exercising my right to indicate when I was full would result in such a retaliation. I haven't had someone go off on me for not cleaning my plate since I was eight. Talk about passive-aggressive!

And seriously, talk about unhealthy.

Cleaning one's plate can be a very bad thing to do; particularly if the plate in question is overloaded (as almost all restaurant plates are). I'm not one to argue that the Hollywood standard of beauty is a healthy one. Nor am I one to argue that all people who are technically overweight are so because they overeat. (I know for a fact that that is not true.) But there's no question that many Americans have a serious problem with overeating, and with overeating stuff that isn't good for them. This weird defense of overeating (by a random service professional, no less) was somewhat unsettling to me.

And it got me thinking about the bizarre habit some folks have of inserting themselves into other people's diets. My mother and I dealt with commentary about our food choices all the time when we lived in Paris, and I've grown accustomed to the Japanese tendency to discuss food at length (out of a deep and abiding love rather than anything else), but I was always under the impression that the American protocol was to avoid any reference to the eating habits of others, there being nothing more rude in a polite society.

UPDATE: Apparently, it's not just eating a healthy amount of food that's perceived as problematic. Eating healthy food has recently been deemed a mental disorder by a group of psychiatrists.

Healthy food obsession sparks rise in new eating disorder (Guardian UK).
Via.
sechan19: (lin fengmian)
Whoa.

Sergei Kolesov is a badass.


In other news, I seem to have survived the move.

I've recently learned about the Dunning-Kruger effect (which doesn't bode well for humanity), gone to the wall for Lady Gaga (and lamented the notion that sexual power for women ALWAYS equals "self-objectification"), determined that Iron Man 2 is the shit (and so is Sherlock Holmes btw; why is everyone conflicted about this?), reconsidered the awesomeness of chemistry (dude, sodium blows up), and discovered the beauty of wielding lethal weapons (did you know that I am capable of hitting a target 400 yards away? I am capable, suckah...).

Also, I'd really love to blog about teaching, about students, and about the phenomenon of incompetence.

However, I have a number of projects to get on with: my Japanese reading schedule compilation, my Japanese vocabulary list formulation, and my Japanese movie exposure blitz (where I expose as many people as possible to the weird Japanese movies I have lately discovered).

Japan is getting to be a habit with me.


I wonder if I should look to that as a career option...
sechan19: (morisot)
In the month of May I had one, quick post. The rest of the time I was either too busy to post or too tired to post. Periodically, I had ideas for interesting topics of inquiry, but there was nothing that sent me running for the blogosphere. My apologies to anyone who might have missed my blathering.

I've been working hard and enjoying time with friends as much as possible in these last few days and weeks, and now I have fourteen days remaining to me before I board a plane and wing my way back to the land of my birth.

I'd say that the time's flown faster than I thought it would...
...but the reality is that it has not.

Some many, many months ago, in the midst of brightly lit summer day, one of my dearest friends lamented the length of time that I would be gone from home. And I answered that it wasn't as long as they thought it would be; that I would be back before they knew it.

The truth is that time becomes so much more precious as we grow older, as our perception of it shifts and makes it seem to slip through our fingertips. I came to the realization a few years back that time no longer lingers for me, as it did when I was a little girl and a two-week vacation lasted until the end of world, but contrary to being depressed I was happy. Happy to have made that realization, and happy therefore to always make the most of whatever time I am gifted with.

I have missed everyone back in the US deeply. But I have loved living in Yokohama; have loved having the opportunity to grow so much in such a short stint, to meet some of the most brilliant colleagues that I will ever respect - some of the best friends that I will ever know.

And I will cherish every moment of the next two weeks (because I know they will not last long), and when they have passed I will remember them with fondness and focus on the time I have with my family and friends stateside.

Until then...
sechan19: Photo of me in a Spider-man crop trop. (Default)
So, writing through this paper for the mini-happyƓ-kai is making me keenly aware of the fact that I have progressed to the point where I can write fairly complex academic papers (short papers, mind you, but papers nonetheless) in Japanese.

In my calmer moments, I'm capable of remembering that often the best progress comes from doing things one doesn't particularly want to do. But usually (for me, anyway) a tantrum must precede said doing. Anyway, the writing's rolling along now, and I'm actually feeling pretty good about this paper - which is sort of weird.

But I think I might come out of this whole experience as a fledgling coffee drinker, and I don't know how I feel about that. ;>

Anyway, we now return you to your regularly scheduled blah blah blah.
sechan19: (tormenta)
I think that I've finally managed to find worse Olympic coverage than what you get in the US - which I always thought was the world's worst. I mean, they didn't even bother to show the complete free skates for two of the top four pairs! (Not to speak of showing anything other than those four at the top, and I remain convinced that the only reason the Russian team got coverage was because the female skater was Japanese.) What the hell is that about? Way to suck, NHK. Spare me the stupid animal mascots and get with the quality programming already.

Sheesh.

In other news, I absolutely hate this term. I don't know if this is the way things have always been done, or if it's something new they're trying, but it needs to stop. When there's no way to get your homework done if you also want to also take an hour of leisure while you eat dinner and get good night's rest, the school is assigning too much fucking work.

I've almost hit the point where I don't care anymore.

Almost.

I foresee a mental health day in my future. Sadly, it will not be tomorrow.
sechan19: (butterfly)
The end of the week + beer + a nearby swingset-equipped park + the sunset + a lovely iPod soundtrack = WIN.

Irony.

Dec. 16th, 2009 09:02 am
sechan19: (lin fengmian)
The philosophical Sagittarius New Moon prods you into thinking about things that don't normally concern you. You are excited about exploring new ideas and exotic places now, and less interested in being practical. But you don't have to travel anywhere to bring these archetypal desires into your life. Studying a foreign language or learning about another culture allows you to go to fantastic places in your mind.


Oh, how wrong you are, Daily Horoscope...
...how wrong you are. ;>


In other news, it looks like the smash hit Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is going to be made into a movie. Does it get any more awesome than that?
sechan19: (butterfly)
If you're worked up about language study, dissertation prep, ect., go to a party and show a bunch of unsuspecting folks Versus.

And drink a bunch of beer. ;>

Seriously, we all owe Kitamura Ryuhei a huge debt of thanks. He gifted to the world one of the most ridiculous and wonderful films of the 20th/21st centuries. A fact that is no more clear than when said film (Versus) is viewed after an episode of MST3K.

If you can't tell, I had a great time hanging with the IUC peeps tonight. They seem to like me in spite of the fact that I dig Star Trek, loved The Last Starfighter, and can quote almost any low-budget 80s movie verbatim.

Oh, and in other news, a supply of gummi cherries arrived today.

Life is good.
sechan19: (tormenta)
I was chatting with my mom, [livejournal.com profile] alateaqoe, this morning and the subject of language difficulty came up. She mentioned a statistic she'd heard about recently on the subject. To whit, to become proficient in...

...French. You need 575-600 hours of instruction.
...German. You need 750 hours of instruction.
...Hebrew. You need 1100 hours of instruction.
...Japanese. You need 2200 hours of instruction.

And those numbers don't even cover self-instruction times - they're just classroom hours.

I wondered where the numbers were coming from and did a little searching, finally identifying the probable source of this statistic as the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) branch of the US Department of State. They've divided a large number of languages into three categories of difficulty (from the perspective of a native English speaker). The numbers above refer to the time it takes to reach level 3 proficiency: speaking with structural accuracy and employing a rich enough vocabulary to communicate on diverse topics. At that point, you're still not fluent.

You can check out a full breakdown here.

So Japanese is one of the hardest languages for an English speaker to learn. French and German (the language that my colleagues are always complaining about), by comparison, are a "cinch." Not that I want to disparage my colleagues at all. It's just that sometimes when I'm rewriting a kanji character forty-thousand times I start to feel a wee bit bitchy about it. But it was my choice to study Japanese, after all, so that's the way it goes.

My mom and I agreed that choosing one of the most difficult languages I possibly could to study was "so me." (It's kind of like how I always instinctively choose the most expensive item on the menu.) Oh, and when I'm done with Japanese I'll move on to Chinese - also on the list of category 3 languages.

There's something seriously wrong with me. Heh.

EDIT:
Check out the comments section for more discussion on language between myself and [livejournal.com profile] lordameth. He makes the very important point that language difficulty varies by person according to individual strength, and I agree. I'd like to further state that I should have noted more explicitly in the original post that all languages are difficult to learn - a point I tried to imply through the use of quotations around the word cinch. I hope my irony wasn't completely lost there, but if it was I apologize.
sechan19: (morisot)
Would I be happy to never have to take another language placement exam as long as I live?

Yes.
Yes, I would.
sechan19: (morisot)
From Questions Naturales, ed. M. Muller (1934):

...one thing which clearly takes place in the air is an object of wonder to all nations: the death dealing disturbance called thunder. By it not only are all nations terrified, but fear weighs heavily also upon irrational creatures... is then your science bold enough to give the cause and origin of thunder, or is it unable to solve this most difficult problem? For in the face of thunder, the philosophers are no braver than the rest.
Displayed at The Museum of Jurassic Technology
(aka: one of the most badass places in the known universe)

---

Also, I just intruded on someone's conversation about Oak Park. They mentioned that they worked there, but wouldn't want to live there because it's too rough. Their companion noted: who would want to live there? and in I jumped.

Oak Park is easily the raddest place in town.
So there.

[pbbfft]
sechan19: Photo of me in a Spider-man crop trop. (Default)
Not in the opening night of my mini Japanese Film Festival (which kicked off this evening with the totally awesome Kikujiro no natsu - alias: Teva's favorite Japanese movie of all time), but with a person I know who always claims to be on the verge of changing their behavior and never actually is.

Maybe I'm wrong to take the events of this evening so much to heart, but I really feel like I'm losing touch with this person... that this person is losing touch with me (and apathetic about it)... and that makes me incredibly sad.
sechan19: (tormenta)
Officials found a note in the car of James von Brunn, the white supremacist who opened fire in the National Holocaust Museum yesterday and killed 39-year-old security guard Stephen Johns. In addition to the hateful screed you could expect from this type of individual was the statement: "Obama was created by Jews."

O RLY?

I wasn't aware of the vast conspiracy by members of the Jewish faith (who are everyday and generally awesome human beings, you fucking asshole) to create presidential nominees in their super secret secret robotics labs of doom. Thank god someone was on to that one, hey?

/sarcasm.

Jesus, we've got some crazy fucking people in this world. I mean, first Dr. Tiller (whose tragic murder made me way too furious to even discuss, btw) and now this?!

[sigh]

Blessed be, Stephen Johns. May your family, friends, and all of us who are heartbroken by this senseless hate, find some way to make peace with this horrifying occurrence.

Holocaust Museum Shooting Suspect James von Brunn's Chilling Racist Note (NY Daily News).

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