sechan19: Photo of me in a Spider-man crop trop. (Default)
NASA's Hubble telescope has discovered that Pluto has a fourth moon. Go on with your bad self, Pluto.

Illustrations from the golden age of artillery.

A traditional Japanese tea ceremony has been held at the memorial site of the USS Arizona for the victims of Pearl Harbor. The ceremony to honor the souls of the dead was a joint effort undertaken in the spirit of peace and reconciliation--something that the recent ugliness surrounding the Women's World Cup demonstrates we are still very much in need of.

Thandie Newton is a beautiful woman, inside and out.

An astonishing story from The New York Times: Nearly ten years ago, Mark Anthony Stroman--acting in response to the events of 9/11--shot three men he believed were Arabs; two of them died. One of them, Rais Bhuiyan, who was partially blinded and disfigured by the attack, is fighting to help Stroman achieve a stay of execution. The article includes statements from both men, which are harrowing at the same time that they are remarkable.

It's tempting, in a situation like this, to lay blame solely at the feet of individuals, without really thinking about the effects of environment upon their actions. But the reality is that we live in a country with a rapidly dumbing population; a population that is fed fear and religious zeal and a sense of entitlement from infancy to acts of adulthood. I'm inspired by Mr. Bhuiyan's attempts here to make a point about the need for greater discourse between people of all classes and creeds; about the need for thought ahead of retributive action. I hope he succeeds.
sechan19: Photo of me in a Spider-man crop trop. (Default)
Remember how I'd hoped that someone else would call Eric Cantor on his Missouri-aid-related-bullshit? Jon Stewart and the Daily Show did. And they also put together one of the funniest sketches I've ever seen on the whole Weiner scandal. (Watch out for the wasabi, yo.) I <3 Jon Stewart and the Daily Show. I <3 them so, so much.

Five reasons why you should study Aikido, the Art of Peace.

The latest trend in graffiti is reverse graffiti, where gorgeous works of art are created through the act of cleaning up selected bits and pieces of walls, overpasses, and the like. "Kind of brilliant" indeed.
sechan19: Photo of me in a Spider-man crop trop. (Default)
Ezra Klein points out the fallacy of the taxes hurt economic growth claim.

Paul Krugman details the how the Ryan plan turns on the expectation that the elderly only care about themselves.

A Japanese man from Aomori Prefecture has kept an illustrated diary of his life for 56 years. And it's beautiful.

Women still struggle to crack the glass ceiling of the art world. Here's how far behind they are.

In an unsurprising turn of events, a new report (funded almost exclusively by the Catholic Church) finds that it was the sexual revolution that is to blame for child abuse in the Catholic Church. This is conveniently in line with what Church leaders have always claimed, that it is the new-found social order that the Church opposes and not the Church itself that is to blame for these heinous acts. I could say a whole lot about this, but I'm going to save myself the elevated blood pressure. After all, it's not as if I believe that any other religious organization is actually any better. I have, as has been amply demonstrated in the past, a serious problem with pretty much all religions. (Although I am down for spirituality and religion-free belief systems, if that makes sense.)

Linkland.

May. 17th, 2011 02:08 pm
sechan19: Photo of me in a Spider-man crop trop. (Default)
The NY Times reports on how proponents of nuclear power in Japan (both political and private interest) had ignored power plant related safety concerns for more than a decade. Not only that, but it looks like the cooling systems at Fukushima might have been manually shutdown. If this is true, the entire crisis might have been the result of human error.

In the meantime, some people think that the situation in Fukushima is good for the whales. Now, I'm all for conservation, but I have absolutely zero use for people who feel more concern for animals than they do for other humans.

A lot of attention has been paid to the health problems attendant upon female modeling (as well as on the unrealistic body image expectations such modeling creates). But what of male modeling? Turns out, that industry is just as unhealthy and just as damaging to body image perceptions.

Ezra Klein discusses the miscalculations made by Democrats in their campaign to get the debt ceiling raised. Of course, part of the problem is that the majority of Americans just don't understand what a failure to raise the debt ceiling limit will mean for the country. But still, it looks like some serious ball-dropping on the part of Democrats took place recently.

In the world of golf (yeah, I follow golf--what?), K.J. Choi became the first Asian man to win the Players Championship this past weekend in a sudden death playoff against David Toms.

And in more good news, the Uganda "Kill the Gays" bill appears to be well and truly dead. Thank god.

Oh, yeah, and it's a good day to be a SF Giants fan. (Actually, it's always a good day, but today's especially good.) The Giants will become the first professional sports team to create a video for the "It Gets Better" campaign. The video campaign seeks to combat the psychological effects of teenage bullying on LGBTQ youth. Go Giants!

Linkland.

May. 16th, 2011 03:00 pm
sechan19: Photo of me in a Spider-man crop trop. (Default)
Eli Pariser talks about the dangers of Internet filtering. Search engine algorithms are creating an online world in which we never see the alternative view, a trend that really has to stop.

Craig D. Nelson presents the history of nuclear power in Japan, from their first--and terrible--experience of nuclear power in 1945 to the problems of nuclear power dependance in the aftermath of the Tohoku Disaster.

Three states--Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland--have begun to push hard for the criminalization of videotaping police brutality. We want you, Big Brother. [sigh]

More trouble on the Israeli border as the so-called Arab Spring reaches Palestine. Protesters flooded the borders from Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank, and the Gaza strip. I constantly hope for a solution that will enable both Israeli and Palestinian sovereignty, but I still worry. There's so much anger and fear on both sides, and so many innocent people caught in the tangled web.

Southwest's policy of fat-shaming continues. I know they have good deals, but I think I'm just going to have to keep boycotting them.

Ezra Klein on the havoc the Ryan plan has caused and the various Republican responses to it.

An incredible performance of Ready to Start by the Arcade Fire.

And the incomparable Ben Harper is back with a solo album. Listen to some cuts at the link.
sechan19: (tormenta)
On why the US really needs to treat the Japan Quake disaster as a wake-up call rather than a snooze button: The Limits of Safeguards and Human Foresight (NYT)

Satellite shots reveal the true extent of the devastation: Japan, Before and After the Quake and Tsunami (NYT)

A level-headed look at the situation with the Fukushima power plant: Bewear the fear of nuclear... FEAR! (Scientific American)

People behave despicably on Facebook, a dedicated website exposes them, disgust ensures: "karma for pearl harbor" (pwsnt.com)

And if that weren't enough, more abhorrent screencaps: here!

Meanwhile, the Japan Society has a site setup for people to help out: Japan Earthquake Relief Fund

And there more ideas on how to offer aid from the Japan Subculture Research Center: Tohoku Disaster: How to Help (JSRC reports that many yakuza groups have set up local dispensaries where people can get support; you know it's bad when the yakuza ponies up.)

...

Mar. 12th, 2011 02:31 pm
sechan19: (tormenta)
The sound of the Gion Shôja bells echoes the impermanence of all things; the color of the śāla flowers reveals the truth that the prosperous must decline. The proud do not endure, they are like a dream on a spring night; the mighty fall at last, they are as dust before the wind.
~The Tale of the Heike~


Meltdown: The Japanese Earthquake and Fukushima Reactors (HuffPo).


I know they're going to do everything they can.
But I am so goddamn frightened.
sechan19: (tormenta)
I woke this morning, as most of us did, to reports that a massive earthquake had struck off the coast of Honshu--some 200+ kilometers northeast of Tokyo.

So far, I've heard from most of my loved ones in and around Tokyo. I'm still waiting to hear from my Japanese family in Tochigi Prefecture, which has the advantage of being a landlocked prefecture but is still well within the centrally affected area.

Japan, of course, has some of the most advanced earthquake prevention technology and infrastructure, and I believe we'll see the results of that in the death toll. Even one death is lamentable, but less powerful earthquakes than this (and their resultant tsunamis) have killed hundreds of thousands of people, and that will not be the case here--a fact for which I am profoundly grateful.

The damage will be extensive, however. People will have lost more than I can imagine, and my heart goes out to them. Nevertheless, I am confidant that the rebuilding will be steady and sure, and that the indomitable will of the Japanese people that I have always admired will carry them through.

Still. I can't even begin to express my anxiety and sadness.
sechan19: Photo of me in a Spider-man crop trop. (Default)
Well, these days
I'm spread so thin it's like
I'm getting carried up by the wind.
Every time you get high
you might see me
floating by.

Well so long old bean, it's been a dream
being
with you.
I couldn't tell us apart.
Oh, and I know
neither could you

Don't tread on me
when you float downstream on a moonbeam.

So long...
...old bean.
So long...
...old bean.

Here comes
the Mapinguari singing.
Awww, when's there gonna be an end
to wondering when
all of our troubles are gonna end?

'Cause we've had our fill
of finding our empty pockets
emptier still,
and there probably won't
be an end
to that my friends.

And now that my tralala's
are dating
little sips of the Hollywood bowl
they mute up my mind.
How kind of them
to mellow mellow mellow my soul.

Well, they're the gambling kind
as smooth as
a tuba' ass on the dole.
Money never beats soul.
How
noble.

Don't forget me
when you float downstream on a moonbeam.

So long...
...old bean.
So long...
...old bean.

I'm
the
little firefly
landing on
you.



Devendra Banhart, "So Long Old Bean."


...thank you, Yokohama.
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: (kusama)
One of the best things about living in Japan for a year is the opportunity to expand my art book library. (I can see my dad cringing as he reads this; my dad always gets stuck having to help me move my damn books around the country.) But there really are all kinds of wonderful books here that are just not accessible in the States, and since I one day hope to be an educator in the Japanese art history field these books are going to be invaluable to me in the future.

At least, that's what I keep telling myself when I start to wonder about how on earth I'm going to get all these volumes home.

Today, between a trip out to the Tokyo National Museum and an hour spent browsing the spring Used Book Festival in Yokohama Station, I acquired six more books. I've been purchasing with a greater sense of strategy of late, however. I bought a book about Japanese symbols, and two books on the Edo period - one book on art terminology associated specifically with ukiyo-e and one book a catalog for a exhibit of the fusuma paintings of Kano Eitoku in the Daitokuji. I'm not an Edo specialist, but I recognize that I'll eventually have to teach the Edo period. (Although I'd really love at some point to put together a course that specifically focused on the Warring States period and the relationship of art and war in a "pre-modern" context. Blah blah blah.) Anyway, it's worth having major Edo-related touchstones at my fingertips.

I also bought two catalogs from Tokyo National Museum exhibitions - one that focused on depictions of children in Japanese art and one that was all about Sugawara no Michizane and Tenjin! The catalog on children in Japanese art will hopefully come in handy in helping me to think through some questions that I've developed in connection with my most recent project, and I've been trying to get my hands on a Tenjin-based catalog for a long time now. (There are similarly-themed catalogs from the Kyoto and Kyushu National Museums as well, and one day they will be mine). So all in all, not a bad haul.

But I think I need to go back to the book sale again. They had catalogs on Tendai art there as well, but I was out of money. Cash-only sales are a bitch. ;>

Yes, I'm terrible.

But I could be blowing all my money or drugs or whatever. So I suppose I can be kinda-sorta forgiven? Maybe? Please?
sechan19: (tormenta)
So, as many of you know, I'm a pretty big fan of Gackt. I love his music, which often reads like poetry, and I delight in his appearances on the various variety and music programs where he promotes his work. He's got a very weird, and very hilarious, sense of humor; he's the eternal straight-man to Japan's funny-man brand of over-the-top comedic antics.

However, he periodically does or says things that piss me off.

(Actually, I think that he and I would not like each other at all if we were ever to meet. See, I'd say something. He'd tell me that what I'd said was kind of unbecoming for a woman. And then I'd tell him to suck my cock, and that would be it.)

Anyway, he recently did something that made me seriously rethink whether or not I wanted to pay any more attention to him as an artist.

In response to the growing crisis of masculinity in Japan... )
sechan19: (butterfly)
Last weekend, my friend Eunja and I made plans to meet at Shinjuku Gyoen on Sunday to indulge in cherry blossom viewing (hanami) before the last of the flowers fell. Mid-way through the week, I had an out-of-the-blue call from my friend Yoko (who lives in Tochigi Prefecture). She was in town for a short visit and wanted to get together. We settled on Saturday, and she suggested Shinjuku Gyoen and cherry blossom viewing.

Anecdote #1:
Supposedly, the cherry blossom viewing experience can be summed up in the phrase hana yori dango (lit. "dumplings over flowers"; fig. "hanami is about food rather than flowers"). In deference to this, Yoko brought along some snacks for us. Included in the snack collection was a pack of Japanese animal crackers. These tragically misshapen crackers each had the English name of its animal printed on the front. One of them was a porcupine. "What's a porcupine?" Yoko asked. "What is a porcupine?" I wondered, and dug out my dictionary. The dictionary defined the word as yamaarashi and also provided a sample sentence that we marveled over. Yamaarashi no you na atama wo shita otoko. ("A man with hair like the quills of a porcupine.") Yoko was at a loss, and I was somewhat at a loss myself to properly explain. Fortunately, however, providence intervened as we were on our way out. "Look to your right!" I abruptly commanded my friend. And there he was. Tokyo is a problem solver.

Anecdote #2:
Most people make the assumption that Japanese people are rule-lovers. Generally speaking, they might be correct. But when the rule is don't bring alcohol into the park, the Japanese become astonishingly non-compliant. As Eunja and I were making our way around the well-packed grounds, a little old woman walking with a group of friends suddenly sat down upon the ground. She rolled backwards kicking her feet up in the air briefly and then resumed a sitting position, laughing like a loon. "What are you doing?" her friends squawked at her. "I don't know!" she laughed in response. "I've had too much to drink!" Clearly, this disregard for prohibition is not merely an issue of rebellious youth.
sechan19: (butterfly)
Today I drank a lot of beer and climbed a cherry blossom tree while friends and strangers cheered for me.

I am a total badass.
sechan19: (lin fengmian)
Day-by-day descriptions cut for length. )

Overall, the trip to Kansai was really wonderful. We saw many fantastic sights, met several charming people, and ate well of the regional (and seasonal) foods. The cherry blossoms weren't blooming yet, but the plums were still out, and when there's cherry blossom ice cream to be had the blossoms themselves become kind of superfluous for me. ;>

I did note, however, that there were several instances of really unpleasant exchanges - which I cannot but attribute to racism. I was rather shocked by them, as I can think of only one instance where such a thing happened in Kanto and I've spent way more time there than I have in Kansai. In terms of politeness/kindness, many visitors compare folks in Kansai in an overly favorable light to those in Kanto, but I just don't see it myself. (Although, for anyone out there about to have a knee-jerk reaction to what I just said: I recognize that the people I encountered do not represent the sum total of people in the region. But the tendency of discrimination there seemed much more pronounced to me than in other areas of the country I've visited.) I keep trying to like Kyoto and its environs wholeheartedly, but every time I go there I seem to have a real mixed-bag type of experience. I really hope I can figure out a way to station myself in Tokyo for my dissertation work...
sechan19: (morisot)
Extremely fed-up middle-aged husband: It's cold.
Chirpy middle-aged wife: I think it's freezing!
Extremely fed-up middle-aged husband: That's the same thing.

--

A rundown of our trip to the Kansai region will follow shortly (whatever that means).
sechan19: (lin fengmian)
Courtesy of Shinsengumi, a Japanese boy band currently associated with Hexagon II Quiz Parade and apparently not in possession of a native English speaker...

"These 5 didn't know what would GO ON.
Everybody screwed up of fear
Nobody known about the pass
Just to try up to the each to the other to the wide
First turn TV proud of saying 'It's Me!!'
Never thought of mind
Continue to the 3 dad what did you done??
But thaxx for the chance
So 4 to the 5, too light, too slight
We don't have any big shot to the spot
Always, supported a greatx2 people
What did we do?
Are we looking a dream?
But this Lien actually the bottom line
So we gonna run and step to the brightly shiny door..."


No really; those are the lyrics.

I love Japan. =)
sechan19: Photo of me in a Spider-man crop trop. (Default)
So, writing through this paper for the mini-happyô-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: (kusama)
Just taking a moment out of my work on the upcoming mini-happyô-kai to further my procrastination efforts.

Yes, the Center decided to hold a second event at the end of this term, and everyone is thoroughly put out about it. (Did they do that in previous years? I get the feeling not, but...) I think the desire to hold a second event is particularly strong this year because not everyone will give a presentation at the end of the year. They've added the option to continue taking classes in the 4th term rather than complete project work, and I suppose they want to make sure everyone does two stand-up presentations.

But that means those of us already doing the end-of-the-year presentation wind up with three. [sigh]

Ah well, it's a dissatisfying end to a largely ignominious quarter, and - if nothing else - the cynical side of me sees that as somehow wholly appropriate.

And I am learning, so I can't fault them for that. But still, this mini-happyô-kai is by no means the best use of our time at the moment. Because of it, I think I can completely write off coming to a good understanding of the chapter five grammar points. After all, we're only devoting two days to it because of the mini-happyô-kai.

Grrr.

But enough of that. I've got plenty to be thankful for: my reading comprehension is skyrocketing, I'm beginning to reach of level of real researching prowess, this term is inches away from being over, and my mom and I are going to be touring the wilds of Japan for two glorious weeks during the break. Not too shabby.

Oh, and carbonara flavored potato chips are surprisingly good, so that's another win.
sechan19: (butterfly)
About three days ago, we were averaging highs in the 34 degree range. Today, we hit 65 - a trend that's supposed to continue until the end of the weekend before dropping again next week. Given this intriguing evidence, I have to say that I think the weather needs to get a grip.

Preferably on the 65 degree side of things because cold weather is lame.

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