*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Sunday 29 December 2013

Doctor Manhattan's alienation without any powers.

So I was in this Facebook group.  Some members got together to do something once and the two dozen people got along.  New guy joins after this, goes on one event I did not join.  Following that he acts like a complete asshole on the group postings, especially to me after I call him on it with a bit of diplomacy.  In the end I chose to leave the group.  Whatever, but every group has an asshole, right?

Well I have a few problems with that: history.
1. My father was a fucking asshole, and I had to take his shit for nearly two decades.
2. I have one brother who is a complete asshole even when he isn't in one of his bipolar phases, which don't help.
3. I have another brother who is a bit of an asshole, but I put up with him for my mother.
4. Mind you, she was too much of a Catholic martyr to protect her sons from the asshole she married by leaving with us, so she's an asshole too.
5. I lived with a woman who was for a couple years, for what I don't even remember.
6. And all the random assholes we've all dealt with at school, work and in society.

I have a few more problems with assholes: principles and pragmatics.
- I won't put up with their shit silently to keep the peace, because they rely on being able to do that.
- If the moderator of the Facebook group won't say anything to an asshole, he's a coward, or an asshole, so I am better off without both.
- I am not going to enjoy myself going to any event with this asshole, or commenting on the same threads with him, except for the brief satisfaction if I flame him.  With training from an asshole Yorkshire father and this guy a white American, there is no way he could keep up with my bile, except it's beneath my dignity to give him that much attention.
- A shame I will not meet up with the other people in the group again, but odds are they put up with his shit too, so what am I supposed to think of that?

'A majority of one' is lonely though, but integrity ain't supposed to be cheap.

Let me clarify 'asshole'.  Society tells you it's people who rock the boat, and are difficult because they are iconoclasts who won't 'drink the Koolaid'.  Happily guilty.  However, no, that's called a freethinking human.  An asshole uses people as tools, lacks empathy and has an exaggerated sense of their entitlements.

Is your 'half' child going to keep English in Japan?

Having two of my own, I prefer the term 'mixed', as in 'mixed-parentage' not 'mixed race': we all have 'mixed parentage after all, when not inbred.  I use 'hybrid' often too, as it hasn't taken on a pejorative yet.  'Half' is too close to 'half-breed'.  As a smart eight year old I taught once told me: "My father says I am not 'half'.  I am both."  I told him his father was smart.  And let's keep in mind that those of us without DNA from Sub-Saharan Africa only account for a fraction of human genetic diversity.  Put another way, two dudes across a river in Africa are more divergent than my Celtic forbearers from a Papua New Guinean.  'Race' is a bullshit concept.

We're all smart enough to know that, and to know that 'race', language, culture and religion are not coordinated, because we were not taught by the Japanese 'Ministry of Truth'.  I should get back to language, because many of my readers have a Japanese spouse, are Anglos themselves, and live in Japan and have children, like me.  Many of you are 'lifers', whether you know that yet or not.  I am not.  Gone in summer.  This topic would worry me far more if I were.  I may not teach you anything you don't know, but I can confirm it.

I've studied ESL/EFL, taught it, known families of linguistically mixed-parentage in Japan and in Canada of various combinations, both as close friends and as families of students I have taught.  Here are the generalities I am sure of, not that I haven't seen exceptions (exceptions are exceptional):
- it's called 'mother tongue' for a reason
- the primary caregiver in early years, who is more often the mother, gives the child their first language
- the second strongest influences are their school's language and the location's primary language, but which of those two is more important depends on many factors
- any two of those matching up of 'mother-tongue', location and school will overwhelm the third
- if all three line up and the other parent is trying to teach a second language it is a fruitless effort for all but the most motivated and consistent
- you do your kid no favours if you do not speak to them in at least one of the parents' languages, as immigrants used to do to Canada and the US thinking they'd learn English faster

Generalities that apply to Japan are:
- if the primary caregiver's tongue is Japanese, they live in Japan and go to a Japanese school, even if the other parent tries hard to teach them another language, they will lag far behind in the second language
- spending summers abroad helps some in this case, but not as much as you'd hope
- if the primary caregiver's tongue is Japanese, they live in Japan and go to an English school, if the other parent tries hard to teach them another language, they will lag far behind in the Japanese but less so in English
- spending summers abroad helps much in this case
- if the primary caregiver's tongue is English, they live in Japan and go to an English language school, even if the other parent tries hard to teach them another language, they will lag far behind in the second language, but they will do fine in English
- if the both parents' tongue is Japanese, they live in Japan and go to an English language school, they will lag far behind in both English and in Japanese
- if the primary caregiver's tongue is neither Japanese nor English, they live in Japan and go to an English language school, they will lag far behind in their 'first language', in English (even if the other parent is an Anglophone), but most of all in Japanese

So what are you going to do as an Anglophone father, not the primary caregiver, married to a Japanese woman?  Pay for international school at the cost to perfecting their Japanese if you have the coin; or send them to Japanese school at the cost of perfecting their English if you don't.  You may be the exceptional parent, but that doesn't happen often: that's why they're called 'exceptions'.

So what are you going to do as an Anglophone mother, the primary caregiver, married to a Japanese man?  Pay for international school at the cost to perfecting their Japanese if you have the coin; or send them to Japanese school at the cost of perfecting their English if you don't.  Your kids will do better at English than the Anglophone fathers' kids will.

Or you could fucking bail on the place, like me, because the natives will never look at your beautiful 'hybrid' child as one of them, quite apart from the kid's challenges with language, academics and identity.  I'm well aware that a living so the family can eat comes before all of these considerations, and there are work-arounds if stuck here, but don't ever forget that work-arounds is what they are, even if the kid manages to not be traumatized.

Thursday 26 December 2013

Ersatz Japan: import or make #$%&ing do.

I'm getting tired of how everything's a faff living in Japan.  It's been too long since I could just come home with groceries got easily in hand, flip switches, and have things baked, washed, dried, heated or cooled.  Everything I need to do for clothing, food, climate control and more I can't be bothered to think of, takes twice as much work here for half the comfort.

I won't review my last post on getting foreign food.  I'll simply add that I'm getting weary of feckless retail 'bait and switch'.  A short list of things I have seen in local stores only to disappear when I later went to buy them with a meal in mind: clotted cream, sour cream, craft beer, anchovies, and frozen turkey.  Then there are the stores and museums that close random weekdays, or whole months for 'renewal', and bars that close for 'private functions'.  Do I have to check grocery stores before I decide what to cook?  Do I have to check the website before every visit to a store or a museum?  Must I call to reserve a table just to make sure the place isn't booked up, on a Tuesday?  I have a job, young children, and too little time of my own so fuck off.

Something you almost never hear in Japan, except in 'internationalization' contexts:
Oh my god that piece of meat is too huge for me to take!
A Japanese 'oven'.

Let me put this out there right away.  The size of Japan's ovens, bake-ware, and baked goods correspond to dicks.*  The freezers too, and ours filled with my wife's crap, not like she can't go out of the house to get more; whereas I have no room for roasts, birds or links.  This is the best you can do usually for cooking a roast in Japan: "In a little oven in Japan, she produced a Thanksgiving feast for 35".  No way she fed thirty-five red-blooded foreigners on that.

There aren't many ways around cooking a proper roast here, even if you do pick up a bird at an 'international grocer' or a joint from 'the Meat Guy'.  There is Chris' outdoor smoking method, if I lived in a house, not an apartment.  Were I staying in this country any longer I'd get that freezer and another gas oven.  I had a proper gas oven in Japan mid-nineties, two-thirds the size of a N.American oven, and was popular all the holidays I was around because of it.  I got it from a 'sayonara sale' and sold it for as much as I bought it, when I left.  Took a little trouble to get someone to install it, and the gentleman they found who had the skills they brought in from retirement.  Turned out he spoke English with a New Jersey accent from working on-base during the occupation.  Interesting guy.

Cooking utensils are as puny as everything else. In fact, the standard Japanese batterie de cuisine is made of the cheapest grade of aluminum I wouldn't take camping.  Apart from ordering online, good luck finding cookware not covered in horrid teflon, made of stainless steel with a thick bottom, much less anything in cast iron.  Bakeware?  Don't lets go there.  What cookware you do find in department stores is big enough for a Japanese anorexic to make a canapé.

We local JETs nigh twenty years back, when N.Americans still bought Japanese electronics along with the cars, came to a straightforward conclusion:
Japanese consumers are putzes: if it's not for the export market it's shit.
You know it's true that nobody else would pay for any of the shit Japanese do:
- Their plastic washing machines my grandmother would have turned up her nose at are one case.
- Dryers are a rarity in a country too humid half the year to dry clothing outside, another part of the year sunset is too early to get your drying done in time, and the allergy season, so there are about two good months if you ignore the traffic smut.
- Futons are fucking daft.  Here, sleep on this.  It compresses where you lay on it, doesn't rebound, rots from the humidity, and when you put it in the sun to dry it the half of the year this works, it rebounds a fraction.  Also, no bounce back in the missionary position, and others, makes rutting twice the work.
- Sony and the others haven't made an innovative product since the Bubble, and never again will, though still charge a 150% premium for a Japanese brand (assembled offshore).
- The housing.  The fucking housing.  Yeah, it's 'eco': shitty space heaters, bubble wrap on the windows and I'm still cold in a tiny room with two heaters, a 'hot-carpet' and the body heat of my whole family.
- 'Light cars' (軽自動車) and yellow-trash trucks.  These are allowed on the highway?  Are you fucking serious?
- 'Logan's Run' Yankii scooters, because real men ride real bikes.
- Plastic furniture.  Japanese buy Tupperware dressers.
- 'Room air-conditioners', five to a house, none of which successfully condition the air in any one room
- Every room is wall-papered, but nobody in the land knows how to lay it straight.
- Japanese hardware stores.  Sigh.

Welcome to Chibaragi.  We love you long time.

*Never been intimate with any dick but my own, but I've heard complaints and giggles about theirs, and if they correspond to the J-girls'...

Sunday 22 December 2013

Bah humbug, Japan.

I don't care anymore that Christmas Eve's a date night to eat KFC, and I can't get a goose for love or money.

Ho ho ho, my little elf.

I screwed up my order to 'the Meat Guy', so wasn't getting a duck: stuck with turkey.  I found three frozen turkeys at Niku-no-hanamasa last week and was so proud of myself not having to chase one down, downtown.  "Too bad my wife's got our tiny freezer full of Japanese crap, but surely they'll still have one on Saturday."  No.

So, forced to go hunting for fowl today.  Seijo-Ishii was, as expected, entirely a waste of time, but it was where I had to change trains for Hiro-o anyway.  I loathe Hiro-o, and loathe 'international supermarkets' even a little more.  I scorn how 'international' is used in Japan: marketing. 'International' grocer National Azabu is more Japanese than international:
- small (wtf was the point of their renovation?)
- crowded
- expensive
- puny beef roasts poorly labelled
- no goose
- same frozen turkey as Niku-no-hanamasa, but in stock at least
- no Christmas pudding or fruitcake, or Christmas foods section... at Christmas!
- poor beer and spirits selection, and most wines from France (poor value) because that's what Japanese will buy

Fuck Japan.  Meat's not limited to boiling with cabbage, or cut into scraps drowned in salt and scorched.  Fuck the entire fucking archipelago for knowing nothing about roasts, ovens, baking, barbecue...  Umami my ass!

Thursday 19 December 2013

Japanese will never rebel

Off to piss away my life!  Good luck with the American total blockade, son.  If you survive, your height will be stunted at under 5', and your mother may have to sell her ass to the occupiers so you can eat, but Tenno Heike Banzai!
I have no idea of the merits of this film, but the marketing on TV shows a lot of lantern-jawed pilots and their timid wives.  The PR is selling to a population that is ignoring something, which the J-wife didn't like me sumarizing while the commercial was playing:
You do realize your men followed like sheep your 'leaders' who led you into a war you couldn't win, and your women only got political rights from a woman Japan's choice of allies would have turned to soap, translating for the men who wiped the floor with your armed forces, with one hand tied behind their backs in a theatre the other side of the planet, but not before Japan let a quarter of Okinawans be killed to no purpose.
Perhaps I should be more tactful.  What pissed me off is that the Japanese still follow the same people as they did then, and many of its politicians have close family ties to wartime leaders: Abe/Kishi, for one.  Some students rebelled in the sixties, and the 'Red Army Faction' went batshit, and then... nothing.  This is not the movie the Japanese need, unless it is a lot more intelligent than the trailer promises.  No, they need the scene from 'Letters from Iwo Jima' looking out of the Japanese bunker at the hopeless whirlwind their leaders had reaped for them: a foreign armada (2:15-45).

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Asphalt Belly Flop

If you ride, you crash.  If you ride hard, you crash hard; fast, fast; stupid, stupid.  You decide which describes what happened to me last week.

Tokyo's a safer, but more stressful, city to ride than Toronto.  Roads are busier and narrower, corners blind, people pass closer and the 'yankee'-piloted scooters are an abomination, but these are perceived dangers.  Japanese laws punish the heavier vehicle in any collision, right or wrong*, making the Japanese driver more attentive than the Canadian, though arguably more likely to 'hit and run'.  I wonder, but it's possible that accidents happen more often than in Toronto; however, since traffic speeds are much slower the consequences are much less: I'd far rather be hit four times at 15 km/h than once at 60.

I crashed again.  I have gone down on Toronto ice, on Toronto streetcar tracks and on an unpainted Toronto speed-bump; I have gone down on metal plates in Japanese construction zones because I had no lights, and now been taken down by a fucking Borg.  Because of Japanese law* I will not tell you if he went down, but I can tell you that he was unhurt, the bastard.

If you thought the unsightly railings along Japanese sidewalks were to protect pedestrians from drivers, you do not know how fucking stupid Japanese walkers and cyclists** are.  The dick thought I needed reminding by making a right-angled turn from the sidewalk onto the street without turning his head to look, through a gap in the railing.  Have you ever once seen a Japanese person turn their head?  Peripheral vision?  I'll have to test the J-wife.  Through evasion and over-correction I ended up Superman-ing over the handlebars.

It's fine that Aikido taught me to roll; however, when inertia is headed to a railing, options decrease.  I managed to spread out my mass in an improvised belly-flop, keeping my head off the street.***  Apart from bar-tape the bike is fine: more justification for fixed-gear.  I am not badly off: scrapes on knees and forearms, a hyper-extended ring-finger right and mashed thumb-heel left.  Note: ride wearing gloves, and be glad for cold weather gear in a crash.

As I was half of the way to work, I had to dust myself off and continue the other half of the ride through central Tokyo with both hands hurting each time I used the brakes: the left hand on the more important brake hurting more.  Much fun!  Bike remains locked at work until the day I can use brakes properly.  The toddler and infant I cannot abandon.  When they don't blithely pull on one of the damaged fingers I am reminded of the accident by pain when I pick them up.  As ever, thankful against what could have been worse.

*Japanese law and psychology both cannot manage 'spirit of the law'.
**Cyclists on the sidewalk, bien sûr
***Still having never hit my head, determined to keep wearing a helmet against the day I do.

Saturday 14 December 2013

'Pitch Black' Tokyo

Sorry, no Riddick killing spree in Shibuya.  Just another moan about hating dark Tokyo evenings, and bright mornings with early rising Borg.

Hey, instead of changing time twice a year for daylight savings, how about moving the clocks forward one hour permanently. Who needs daylight at 4 am in the summer?  Ever?  Especially in a country where people want to get up before sunrise; I've been to bed later.  Not to mention noise from six.  Truth is they like early dark: boss lets them leave.  I have never been a morning person, avoided marrying a morning person (for Japanese), my eldest is not a morning person, and the jury's still out on the youngest: morning people have a basic character flaw, and I will be ecstatic to be rid of an archipelago of them!

Tokyo daylight: 
- spring equinox, 5:44-17:54 
- summer solstice, 4:26-19:00
- autumn equinox, 5:28-17:40

- winter solstice, 6:46-16:30

Toronto daylight:
- spring equinox, 7:19-19:31

- summer solstice, 5:36-21:03 
- autumn equinox, 7:04-19:16
- winter solstice, 7:47-16:43

In short: Toronto's winter evenings are a bit longer, summer's are two hours longer, and the equinoxes are longer than Tokyo's summer evenings, FFS!  It's not too bright to sleep in the morning, nor noisy until eight weekdays, ten weekends, because civilized.  'Disturbing the peace' laws!

Monday 9 December 2013

Japan, your medicine's great, for 1975.

My son's ear doctor is talking possible myringotomy (tubes in eardrum for inner ear infection), but I am not excited about this: mainly general anaesthetic on a toddler.

I am perfectly happy to have had my two ears done, and kept most of my hearing, because it was the best practice at the time.  I recall my older brother mentioning almost two decades back that his son's doctor had suggested it for the son, and that since I'd read something then that it was becoming obsolete, I'd told my brother he might want a second opinion.  He got one: his boy's ears were cleared up with strong antibiotics.  My boy's just been put on stronger antibiotics for a week to see if that's sufficient.   Japan tends to use weaker antibiotics: if he'd been on stronger sooner this may not have gone as far.  Not good for his ears, but good for helping bacteria to become antibiotic resistant...

In Canada now, I doubt anyone would be suggesting myringotomy at three years old:
- doing it that early has not been shown to help language learning, and he's advanced for his age anyway, in Japanese
- recent guidelines are to wait longer before surgical intervention
- we use stronger antibiotics sooner, rather than what we did and they still do in Japan: weaker, longer

There are problems with Japanese medical culture relevant to this:
- doctors get very offended from asking for a second opinion, because of the deferral they are used to
- doctors are more often not up to date on recent technique, due both to a lack of fluency in the international language (English) and the deferral they are used to
- doctors tend to be very conservative in learning after medical school, from professors who were the same, because of the deferral they are used to
- doctors are among the most uncreative thinkers in the land, as they are the best at passing Japanese style examinations
- we use stronger antibiotics sooner, rather than what we did and they still do in Japan: weaker, longer

I am happy as a Canadian used to public health-care to use Japanese kind-of-public health-care when I need it, even though I've avoided anything serious ('knock knock'), but found Japanese medicine has done little good for things like colds, fevers and allergies.  However, don't fuck around with my kids!  Thank fuck we leave in the summer.

Monday 25 November 2013

Kindle Paperwhite - One Year

Yes I'd recommend it, but it's not a substitute for a library or books.  This was my take when I first bought it.
I stand by what I said then:
It's a bit of a quirky device...  As a book it works pretty well, though not as well for paging through of course, but much better for text by weight and volume.  If it cost much more I'd be annoyed at its limitations, but given that you can get some books free or near to it, and all other books at a fraction of their paper-price, it is a good deal as a portable bookshelf, or should I say, library...  Recommend it?  Do you read a lot of books?  Do you live outside an English speaking country?  Do you never plan to get used or library books anymore because of possible lice infestation?  Do you go on long trips and are tired of carrying several books at a time to ensure reading?  There you go.
I do miss print books, but having the device it's hard to pay double for print.  I find myself reading it much less than I did, but that's more having a second child, and a smartphone I use for reading news on the train, than  issues with the device.  Smartphone: there is no comparison.  The Paperwhite is a good book reader with a seemingly limitless battery, if you keep wifi off; the smartphone lets me do everything else, but only for about two hours.  When I travel I take an external battery, but have never had to use it on the Paperwhite.

The device also allows me to carry on it, at all times, a mountaineering and camping techniques book, a book on emergency expedition medicine, an exhaustive bicycle repair book, a complete Shakespeare, half a dozen issues of Granta...  Yes, I could put all of these on a smartphone or a tablet, and even use black screen with white print both to use less power and relieve my eyes, but I'd have to worry about the battery much more.  Besides, when on an Internet connected device, you're probably going to get distracted from your Dostoevsky.

A smartphone is now a given, so if you're going to buy another portable device you do: for a bigger screen, for a longer battery life, or for a keyboard.  If you need to type a lot you still want a laptop, but you might make do with a tablet and keyboard.  If you don't need to type a lot, but want a media device as much (or more) than a reader, you get a tablet.  The laptop, smartphone and tablet suck juice, so you stay close to civilization even with an external battery; you could go further afield with a solar charger, if you don't need a reliable power source, or mind the weight.  An eReader gives you a week of reading on one charge, and gets you off the Internet.

Monday 18 November 2013

Ride or Run? Thinking aloud.

I've wanted to achieve a marathon and some brevets in the past few years, and managed just a half-marathon and a few century rides.  Granted I have an infant and a toddler, a job and the like, but it is time to up my game.

There are a few things to lead me to riding over running:
- Riding in Japan is far safer than Canada, so I won’t do brevets in Canada because of it: do them in Japan or never.
- Riding to and from work several times a week I can avoid crowding in with the foetid excuse for manhood that is the salaryman.
- I can take a train or flight cheaply and easily to anywhere I want to ride in Japan.  In Canada that's twice the trouble and cost.  The scenery is a bore around Toronto: we barely have hills, so much as mountains; roads do not follow the best parts of our lakes, and are arrow-straight.
- I can’t meet the running miles for a marathon, the riding miles to train for brevets, the odd weekend hike and keep my marriage and children.
- Meeting running miles was a slog for the half-marathon, will be much worse for the full, and I can only achieve if I eschew the rides and the hikes.
- I've spent far more on riding than on running kit, as one does, but I can still fit in two runs in the week, and maybe even another half-marathon.
- I hated hustling to the gym before work to get a shower after riding in so much I gave up the rides, and I miss them.  I can do the ‘bird bath’ again if I must: the trick being to have trimmed most body hair, as if you wanted to know.

I should join Audax Japan Chiba, and AudaxJapan itself, but I can still do the rides without joining.  It’s an annoying Japan thing that you have to decide to join any clubs or rides a half year ahead, heaven forbid you do anything spontaneous in this country.  Why Chiba?  Besides the Boso Hanto being great cycling territory, I can actually get to the starting points, at the starting times, by public transit from my NE corner of Tokyo 23-ku; whereas those which start on the other side of the city I cannot.  Paying for a hotel is not worth it.  It’s just unfortunate that I won’t be able to do the Hokkaido 1200 this year: they require a 600 in the year previous.

Sunday 17 November 2013

Buy new or repair old: Blundstone boots?

Don't buy them anymore.

There's no reason for soles to split and crumble, except it's an inevitable part of sending your manufacturing offshore.  By all reports, now Doc's also blow entirely, for the same reason.*  China is the only place I have seen workers hammer in screws.  Company PR both during and after laying off people making a living wage in the brand's country of origin will deny abandoning their workers to poverty, and eschewing quality, but the facts stand.  The only encouraging point is that we left-wingers no longer need to make humane arguments to people who don't care, instead: offshore products suck.

Blundstone's PR is to blather their soles can suffer from 'hydrolysis' if left unworn too long (summer), or in a place too hot; however, I have had plenty of other boots survive a Japanese summer.  A shoe shouldn't degrade from storage in a dry place.  Heat?  Fucking boots were supposed to be for Aussie stockmen.

I've had both black 'chisel-toe' #63 for five years and original brown #500 four.  I take very good care of my leather: boots and bikes saddles.  The soles of the 63's are dead; however, the narrower fit fits my foot far better than the 500's, or the 558's I'd considered replacing them with, so I looked into resoling them.  A resole is quite expensive: about 9500Y, $100CAD, or just as much if I mailed them back and forth to a US cobbler to fix them: half the price of new, full price, but a lot more if compared to getting them on sale.
I'm getting the 63s resoled.  I did look into buying soles and doing the work myself.  It's a surprise how much of your own handiwork you can do, if you don't require perfection the first try.  The Internet makes it easier than ever to erode the wall of mystery surrounding technique.  The reality was that it would cost me half the going rate to do it on my own, and the results would be disappointing.  I'm getting the 63s resoled at a shop for these reasons:
- they fit better than the 558s will (pattern of my 500s)
- resole is still cheaper than new
- throwing out good uppers is a crime
- the new soles will be better than shit Blundstones are now shod with

Good footwear, well cared for, ought to last nigh to indefinitely, apart from worn soles which must be repairable.  I'm going to start paying real money for footwear made nowhere in mainland Asia.  I expect it will last long enough to be better value.

*Solovair are still made in the UK, on the same lines as the old Doc's, by the same manufacturer.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

(Just for Will) Rob Ford.

The picture is a spoof of 'Canadian Heritage Minutes', of which my favourite is this I find unintentionally funny: "boat fare for the wife".

This story tells itself, so if you have not heard of Toronto's alcohol abusing, DUI driving, pot possession charged*, crack smoking, domestic and public disturbance, obese ignorant right-wing and lying mayor, let's note the entirety of that description is a matter of public record; his wife-beating and sexual assault, and drug dealing in the Conservative Party of Canada protected** family remain allegations, though well supported by such things as the poor saga of his sister's life, and who the brothers Ford consort with.  And he played high school football.

I'll just add a few thoughts I have shared with friends in the past week:
"[The admission of cocaine use is] damage control, because the video's going to go public. Nothing to see here. Ford brothers are still incapable of anything like remorse, responsibility or competence (apart from Doug's 'entrepreneurship' in HS)."
"It will kill him. Let's just hope he's not in a car to kill anyone else. I wouldn't wish the addiction on him, or the death; however, I won't pretend he has my sympathy: he's said too many hateful things he would have said as a teetotaller."
"Rob is my age. He'll be dead of his addictions by fifty. As for right now, Doug should have remembered, 'First thing, don't taunt the cops."
"If [the pigs] had evidence to charge him for DUI, let it go for something bigger, and he harms someone, heads must roll."
"A miracle he hasn't killed yet, but I wouldn't put a hit and run past him..."
"Classic: Rob gets his chief of staff to use Rob's access to search for the registration of the (undercover police) vehicle following him, but is so stunned he'd copied down the plate wrong."
"Toronto is an American city, with fewer guns. English Canada isn't so special anymore. The Conservatives made sure of it."

VICE just put up some more crazy, but they haven't been wrong yet on the Fords.  This is not funny anymore, if it ever was.
"Detectives watched a house at 51 Benway Dr. in north Etobicoke this summer. That turns out to be where a red Ford Mustang used by Lisi was parked... 51 Benway was named in a February police news release related to a missing woman, Jaclyn Dawe, 35, who was last seen there on Feb. 9, 2013."
This is why parents should have no voice in education: either they are on board anyway, or they have an excuse for all of their children whose criminality they've enabled.

*I have no quarrel with this.
**Daddy was a multi-millionaire and federal Conservative 'back bencher'.  The best the brothers Ford could do born on third base is right-wing populism in Toronto municipal politics.

Tuesday 5 November 2013

Paywall: might have worked in 1985.

It did work before the Internet, because there was no Internet.
More proof sometimes a thing deserves to fail: like Blackberry.  Rooting for stupid leaves you with stupid, whatever its outcome.

All of Canada's larger papers have gone behind paywalls.  Japan Times too, but no loss there.  The Star and the Globe used to be decent papers decades back, yet before the quality of each went into tailspin from financial cuts, the Globe had turned into Conservative Party press releases, and The Star's criminally pimped our housing bubble as much as any other organization.  To think I'd considered a journalism degree, whatever the hell the content of said is.  Bullet well dodged considering boomer journalists have kept their jobs, secured a few for their kids, but journalism graduates have worse chances than teaching graduates now have, for a job without benefits, security or more status than whoring for heroin.

As private companies, albeit shilling public information, they have 'the right' to run their business into the ground: none of these papers will exist in any form in five years.  Other than spite, I don't see what a paywall achieves for a paper?  You piss me off with your pop-up, so you think I'm going to pay?  Well, I can get international news from anywhere, and Canadian news from somewhere not controlled by Canadian business interests, or muzzled by its Neo-Con owners.  Sure, wrinklies like my mother might pay, but she's dead in fifteen years, losing her eyesight and attention span already, and 'on a fixed income'.  Good luck with that demographic.

Besides, once I tell my mother to hit the stop button as The Star article loads, before the pop-up, she's golden.  (Japan Times: use another browser.  Etc.).  Fucking idiots.  Paid viewing is over; getting eyeballs for advertisers is not.  You think I'd heard of the Guardian before I'd gone online?  You think millions more had before the Snowden scoop?  Yeah, journalism brings them three million hits a day.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Hiking Japan

Is very much worth doing, but like anything else in Japan, better done by minimizing the Japanese:
- access the mountains on weekdays, unless you like standing in buses on twisted mountain roads, and waiting in line up the side of a mountain
- ask yourself what's going to cost you less, the cost to your body of your camp on your back, or 9000y/night for a sleepless night in a hut
- hut dinners are too early and local cunts wake you at four
- Japanese snore, and loudly
- 'wild camping' is not allowed (and rarely easy to do, as anywhere flat and with water is taken by a paid site)
- Rainy-season is a wash everywhere (a month of June/July)
- Forget the 3000m Chubu mountains, Tohoku or Hokkaido from November through May
- Much under 2000m one can hike year round
- make sure a tent is built for rain and humidity, and for wind if above treeline
- each 1000m of elevation is a month colder, more or less, so dress for it
- Fuji sucked
- it will suck harder now that it got UNESCO
- if you must go to Fuji, do it as a day hike a few weeks out of official season (official season is July and August) as I did
- its huts are the biggest suck
Information and links
- make sure you know the train and bus schedules for your trip before going, leaving and returning, as many of the train and bus schedules get sparse in the mountains
- you need maps, but none are in English, so get 'yama-to-kogen' maps at any large bookstore or outdoor shop (山と高原地図)
- 'Hiking in Japan'
- Lonely Planet's 'Hiking in Japan' book
- Japan's '100 Famous Mountains'\

- Koujitsu-Sanso in Shinjuku or in Ginza
- Kamoshika Sports in Takadanobaba


This is what Japanese mountains can look like, several days' hike in, mid-week.

Thursday 3 October 2013

I'm not a nihilist, you moron; thanks to you, a misanthrope.

Stupidity is colour blind.*

I have been dealing with stupid people this week, and most of them aren't Japanese.  As a child, I looked for answers to the ills of the world.  I believed that a strong enough teaching, whether imagined or joined by me, could solve the ills of humanity.  I learned my Catholicism as an innocent; I studied Buddhism and other options in university; I am a philosophy graduate disappointed that a faculty is history of, rather than practice of, philosophy.  I learned a couple of other languages, though not well, and lived in a few different cultures hoping to find viable alternatives to the deficiencies of my own.  What a naïf.

The problem is the species.  Fuck humanity.  There are (vanishingly few) decent individual humans, and I expect my children to become them, but I'll warn them off trusting the species.  Humanity is no less venal and deserving of extinction than it was through all of recorded history.  This week like every other week of my life.  It's taxing.

Casual Racism
Ever noticed that the worst racists are the ones ignorant of their own racism?  Worse than genocidaires?  Well, maybe not, but they sure do enable when the genocide warms up.

A particularly self-satisfied teacher at my school, ignorant of her own obtuseness, blamed the NDP gains in the recent election on the 'Middle East' vote.  You don't have to know anything about Canadian politics to know this woman has no idea what she was talking about.  In fact, considering she spoke about a provincial election and a federal politician, she had no idea what she was talking about even before she mentioned 'the Sikhs' as in 'the Middle East': not geographically, nor are they Muslims.  I suppose they are all beige.

Arististenes: "There is no way an Islamic vote did more than swing a few ridings: they are less than 5% of the population of the country."

Idiot: "But the politician wore a turban and he got elected."

Arististenes: "Look, 'put up or shut up': 3000y on Muslims being less than 5% of Canada's population.  Let's bet."

Idiot: "No, I won't bet."

These people have no guts.  We are all racists.  Fuck you, you are too.  I know what races and situations punch my panic button, and I step aside from myself and analyze my reaction, then and afterwards.  Most times I slap myself and realize that the man is just another person trying to get on with their day.  It's called 'metacognition', 'introspection', and more people ought to try it, because it allows one to less often behave irrationally: racist.  On the other hand, sheep prefer to swallow the 'blue pill' to not confront their own irrationality, and behave as a racist, so long as they don't have to address it.

Apathy and Transference
My school doesn't have a shower for staff (nor for students), like most schools in developed countries for some fucking reason.  As a cyclist that's annoying, but that's my problem.  However, I teach some extra-curricular and I'll have no shower after an hour of it in Tokyo heat.  I won't smell any worse than the salaryman on the train, but it isn't healthy for my skin, is it?  If I had thought ahead I would not have volunteered for an extra-curricular activity under those conditions.  An idiot, I volunteered for one that would be good for the most students.
'Never volunteer for anything.'
The solution is sento or a public gym, but why is this my problem?  The school is very much for-profit.  Oh, we have a 'board of directors': that would be the owners who are never on campus, know nothing of the curriculum, nor care.  There is money for what they want, but neither enough to keep good staff, nor to fix the campus (about which I can't say much, or give away my school).  There's been no money for showers, and the kids reek for it.

However, 'nothing ventured, nothing gained', so I sent out a proposal as politely as I could for gym memberships for staff who sweat on the job, or a shower installed, whichever comes cheapest.  Much false deliberation and the answer you can expect.  I told my administrator I was an idiot for taking on the activity, wouldn't have if I had thought about it, and was not going to quit but only for the kids.  The PE teachers of my school loved what I was doing, but do you think they stuck out their necks, even a little?  If that were the end of it...

You don't have to give much opportunity to your superiors to lose respect for them: my administration tried to make this about my dissatisfaction with the school.  First, the lie: You are the only person who's complained about this'.  I know this to be untrue and said so.  Second, the self-justification: which I was offered, but I told the administrator not to bother as it was only about money, and don't patronize me.  'Honesty is [not] the best policy', but I am not invested in this school or this country, thank god.  Third, the transference: which was so gutless he spoke generally about how some people are dissatisfied no matter where they work.  Look, I only asked about a shower.  I did not bring up the fact that the school fees are absurdly high for the benefits to the students, the school facilities, or wages to staff, so it's pretty clear where the skimming goes.

I suppose a 'blue pill' is what you take to administer a corrupt institution; rather, administer the orders sent down to you by the rentiers.

Yes, not only Gaijin.  Japanese 'teachers' (as if they teach) use my classroom every day and leave the desks in random configurations.  'Leave things as you found them' is not culturally specific.  That is merely annoying.  What sent me over the edge was some cunt erasing all of my notes on a whiteboard that I was using for several sections of a class I teach.  It's a double-sided whiteboard: one side was blank.  Since I am dealing with idiots I worded my email for idiots:
Double-sided whiteboards have two sides: one for me, one for you.  If you cannot figure out how to make the board flip over, you might notice the wheels on the bottom allow you to roll it to the other orientation.
Not trusting in any spark of self-awareness, I now flip the board to blank every time I leave something.

*A funny thing.  Colour blindness, which is to say one of the various red/green permutations, runs between 7 and 10% in the US among males, though it varies among ethnicities: very rare in girls due to the benefits of a second X chromosome.  I had a G5 class in a whitebread suburb of Toronto where a test like above was shown in a text, with different wording, and five boys couldn't see a number in the circle: 30% of them.  Had to write a bunch of notes to parents, not that it is a life-threatening condition in any way.

Monday 30 September 2013

Hair-Gel Sports

Are not played by men.  What's a 'hair-gel sport'?  Soccer and gymnastics, for a start.

The thought was inspired by Kamo's post reminding me that neither I, nor most of my countrymen (Canadians) or Americans can ever care about soccer.  It's likely in poor taste to quote one's own comments from another blog, but:
Divers... This is why football/soccer has not, and will never, get on in the US and Canada. We cannot take the sport seriously, or the fans (i.e. Europeans, and who's joined you? E. Asians). Enforcers we get, and we have them in hockey to the extent we call them the same: 'enforcers'. Goons to a man, but players like Gretzky only kept skating because the enforcers on his team would tear you a new one if you made a bad hit on him.

I think all team sports are daft if played by people over twelve, nevertheless I'd put money on any hockey enforcer over a soccer/football one... 
Honestly, I did try to watch soccer/football once. My father is after all from your foggy North. But I saw some continental get brushed on the shoulder, grab his jaw and start limping. If I'd watch male sports it'd need to be played by men.
I don't even like hockey, or (American or Canadian) football, but at least they are 'helmet sports'.  Accuse me of vestiges of homophobia if you'd like, but men do not have hairstyles, they have hair cuts.  I do not care if a man sucks cock, but for god's sake don't be prissy about your hair.  A helmet sport keeps a man honest.
It's too early to know if my boy likes girls or other boys, and I will accept either orientation, but he's playing no 'hair gel sport'!