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

Friday 30 August 2013

Narcisstic much? Food.

We ordered a child meal, and an infant meal, for our trans-Pacific flights, because we have one of each species in our family.  In one of the two, Air Canada included a card that showed these choices.
Choice of special meals:
  • Asian vegetarian meal
  • Baby meal
  • Bland meal
  • Children's meal
  • Diabetic meal
  • Fruit plate meal
  • Gluten intolerant meal
  • Hindu meal
  • Kosher meal
  • Low-calorie meal
  • Low fat meal
  • Low lactose meal
  • Low salt meal
  • Muslim meal
  • Vegetarian meal (non-dairy)
  • Vegetarian meal (lacto-ovo)
  • Vegetarian oriental meal
Do fuck off North Americans.  Does it always have to be about you, with you, FFS?  '1000 things about japan' addressed this recently and well.  Most of these are a fad a person's taken up without any medical evidence or understanding, and even the ones from a 'Sky God'/Gods, you could always 'offer up' fasting.  Were I 'king of the world', I'd accommodate better than half of those with bean* mash in a bad mood, or South Indian cuisine in an expansive mood.  The expansive moods are getting rarer.

*Pythagoreans can bite me.

Thursday 29 August 2013

But you don't do yoga...

Sigh...  This is not about being objectified, women ('it's not about you'/don't be narcissistic).  Try reading the whole thing before raising your hackles.  Please note I do speak to the poor foot men put forward, too. They do not, on the other hand, go out often in what amounts to naught but undergarments over their asses: 'leggings'.  Let me add, most asses of both genders in North America are terrible.  Please do not flaunt a poor asset: it is both vulgar and misguided.  There is also this: "If you own your weight and fitness, from excellent to poor, I have no quarrel with you, but how many of you are there without denial in Canada, really?"

But you don't do yoga... or walk much, Toronto.  I was home this summer from Japan.  This will get metaphorical...

Oh, narcissism.  You may 'feel comfortable with your body', but I don't.  I don't even when svelte girls wear 'leggings', which would mean the rare Torontonian; instead of looking away in dismay, I need to look away not to be leering old man.  Japanese women would not go out in 'leggings' (though the 'men' might...) even though they have this figure.  You don't.
I have more 'pot' than I should, and white hairy legs, and a sad upper body, but do I stroll down the street in baggy shorts and a 'wife beater'?  No, that's what all the other middle aged men wear downtown in Toronto.  Rest of N. America, too.

Here's something: put some thought into what you look like, and where you're going to wear it.  Sure, you have 'the right' to wear anything: even go topless in Canada.  (Please God don't!  The only females in Toronto coltish enough to pull that off are underage).  Having 'the right' doesn't mean that it makes any damn sense.  Your mother loves you, and you are daddy's precious snowflake.  Bully.  Stand in front of a mirror and pretend I am looking at you.  I am uncharmed by sloth.

Since I brought up your weight, Toronto (and Ontario, and Canada), no you are not 'big boned', have a 'slow metabolism', and the svelte Asians and Europeans who visit are not anorexic - they are in the middle of their own BMI.  You should try it!  If you own your weight and fitness, from excellent to poor, I have no quarrel with you, but how many of you are there without denial in Canada, really?

Denial is the defining feature of the modern North American psychology.  You've been taught that you are special and your opinions have value, and that's very sweet, but seems to me that someone forgot to teach you that the other side of that is to have empathy for others and their individuality.  I don't see much of that anymore.  Yes, it's your fault.

You need a crib sheet, Anglo North America:
- you drive like shit, though you do it every day
- this is because you're an asshole
- you look like shit, in body and too casual clothing
- you'd look better if you walked a bit
- you could unload that box in the suburbs you have no energy to enjoy
- if you only use half the rooms in the place, buy something with half the rooms twice as close to work...
- if all you do is drive, and never read, yes you are as dull as all your dullard peers
- TV rarely helps, and dramas should be only a guilty pleasure, and rarely shared
- it should not be normal for your pre-teen daughters to have cellulite on their thighs
- or your sons around their middle
- it should not be normal to buy candy and deserts in buckets, or drink HFCS
- you do not live in a democracy, or the greatest place on Earth: that would be somewhere in Northern Europe
- Gini coefficient

Specific to Southern Ontario:
- Toronto is not a 'world class city', because London, New York... the end
- immigrants do not make it so, because all cities have them
- besides, you moved out of downtown to get away from them, didn't you?
- transit, walking, bicycling and driving all suck, well done!
- you do not even know Toronto's singular charm (one) which is the tree canopy you are neglecting
- condos have never been a good investment, because by they time you knew they were it was over
- houses were for the 'boomers', but that party's over
- it's 'buy low, sell high', by the way...
- I am a 'loser' because I 'pay rent'
- but you pay rent on money (interest), property taxes, repairs and utilities, and lose the rent on money (interest/earnings) someone has to pay you if you invested your downpayment instead, or the money you pay each month towards interest before you get near to paying principle
- but your downpayment was only 5%, on the largest amount the bank would loan you over 30y, at historically low rates that must go up?
- good thing nobody ever gets sick, or loses their job in a recession...
- or housing market 'corrections' can be as high as 40%, making your house worth less than the mortgage you have on it...

Monday 26 August 2013

That's a fine elephant you drive.

Every other graduating year in my Southern Ontario high school had a car full of dead teens.  That alone is reason enough to raise my kids in the city.*

*Anything like culture is another, although Toronto barely hits the mark.  Unexceptionality of their mixed heritage in a city is another.  Some chance of a walking habit, and reasonable BMI, is a third.

Sunday 25 August 2013

Japanese are not attracted to each other!

Heterosexuals, in any case.  What else are you to make of the 1.2 births per mother and the fact Japanese is the 'visible minority' most likely to marry-out in Canada?

As usual, the easiest solution is ample immigration (the JET programme alone cannot supply all the intermarriage) which won't happen, not least because Japan is becoming a less desirable economic destination, and was never welcoming socially, especially for those from countries where Japan would be a better economic choice.  The next best is not just to do as the French and throw money at mothers having more children, but also some money for Viagra and aphrodisiacs to make the men able, and both willing (alcohol alone cannot facilitate all the couplings).

Tuesday 13 August 2013

"One [bike] to rule them all... and in the darkness bind them."

One [bike] to rule them all, One [bike] to find them, One [bike] to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.
The soon to be released Surly ECR.  What's that?  It's a Krampus that loads up better, if rides less playfully.  What's a 'Krampus'?  A 29er mountain bike with huge wheels so you don't need to futz with suspension, and floats over poor conditions.  This is a big deal.  Surly put out the Krampus a year or two ago and cannot keep up with orders.  The ECR will be the same.  No other significant player is putting out low maintainance, high durability, off piste bikes at a reasonable price point.  In fact, there is nowhere you could not ride if you had an ECR and a Cross Check.  An Ogre would put you in the middle, but who wants to be 'middle of the road'?

I want to get into 'bikepacking' when I return to Canada, mainly as riding roads with the fast and idiot driven traffic there appeals not at all.  Racks and panniers suck, I have come to believe: add weight, break, and are bulky.  To that end I have a Revelate Viscacha, handlebar Harness and Pocket which... I have only had the opportunity to use as a commuter on my fixed gear bike.  Highly recommended.  Plan to use them on the road bike for some brevets.  One can also get frame bags, but I like to leave a place for bottles, and maybe I am knock-kneed, but I find a frame bag abrasive.

The Krampus.

Krampus 'loaded for bear'.

Sunday 4 August 2013

'Orientalism', apostacy and authenticity

My comments, below, come from mine on the 'Buoyancy' blog, which is worth checking out for a change from our Anglos-in-Japan Internet echo chamber: the writer is Japanese, and the blog is in English.

On passing the Japanese Language Proficiency Test

Nearly twenty years ago I passed N3, which was not hard after two years of university Japanese; however, the old N3 of four levels is only equivalent to the new N4 of five levels. Hmmm... I have lived abroad most of the time since and studied not at all. I might pass the new N3 only, but I would need to brush up better than my Japanese only good enough for talking with my in-laws and ordering from the menu in izakaya.

Any non-Japanese who gets the N2 is to be respected! Good luck to your friend. Any who get the N1 I am a little suspicious of.* I'd estimate the N2 is equivalent to at least four years of university Japanese language courses.

The essential problem with learning Japanese if you are not Chinese (i.e. read characters already) is that what you cannot read well in Japanese, you cannot read AT ALL: unknown kanji leave one both without pronunciation and meaning, and as Japanese sentences give fewer explicit cues than English (English' mandatory subject, object, person and singular/plural)...

So it comes down to motivation. If one is going to be in Japan for five years or longer, go for N2; if a lifetime, N1. The rest of us are here working in English, whether ESL, international schools or business (or even modelling). I learned a lot of Japanese only when well motivated. Two years in university in anticipation of going to Japan on JET, which I did. The first two of three years in Japan where I had girlfriends (one at a time, usually) who did not speak English. Then I was back 'home' for over a decade. Now I am back, but work and home are in English, and who has the energy to study after dealing with work and a family with two young children. I do finally understand why some immigrants to Canada never properly learn English, or French. On the other hand, if I were in Japan permanently I'd make the effort.

*At least suspicious of the 'Westerners' who do. They often are the type to try to be 'more Japanese than the Japanese' and make themselves, and the rest of us, look very foolish. They have often come to Japan with personal problems. Converts are strange. My father converted between Christian sects and was a fine example.


As many problems as one may have with their birth-culture, whether language, religion, class, etc., it is impossible to avoid or deny. I have many issues with mine by birth: Anglophone, British-Canadian, Catholic, middle-class... However, those things inform who I am, even when I am against them, such as Catholicism: I disagree with the Catholic church's stand on many political, social and sexual issues, but I have a habit of framing my arguments with a Jesuit's logic. The same is true of my best friend, a Reform Jew.

When I see 'Westerners' deal with disagreements with their own culture by suddenly denying their experience and becoming 'Buddhist' or what have you, it is inauthentic. Very much true with 'Japan experts', and Japanese people should be more aware they represent a fairy tale version of Japan that never was to 'the West'. The 'experts' are unaware of their own 'Orientalism'. I have seen the same with Japanese become exaggeratedly 'Christian' (not that a Japanese person cannot be Christian - Endo Shusaku understood Christianity authentically).

We are all damaged people, but it is foolish of those who travel outside of their own culture to think they will not take their damage with them.