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

Sunday 29 June 2014

Japanese 'culture': the Japanese religion.

"One hundred repetitions three nights a week for four years, thought Bernard Marx, who was a specialist on hypnopædia. Sixty-two thousand four hundred repetitions make one truth. Idiots!" 
- Aldous Huxley, 'Brave New World'

Being Japanese is the Japanese religion.  Far from Japan being an agnostic country, as seems apparent to people who comment on its laissez faire attitude to hereditary Buddhism and State Shinto, the Japanese are deeply religious: just not about gods.  You can call it Nihonjinron, simple bigotry, or a kind of fascism, but it is ubiquitous, and as ingrained as Catholic and Jewish guilt.*  It's successful for the same reason all religions get their own enslaved to obsessions: repetition of counter-factual shibboleths.  Kierkegaard (because I am pretentious, but have actually read him) was emphatic the absurdity of Christian dogma is the point: you can only be Christian if you reconcile the absurdity of such things as a triune god in your own mind.  So too being Japanese.  'And so it goes...'

So what?  All in-groups differentiate from out-groups by their own traditions and sayings?  Sure, Masons have their handshakes, aprons and absurd origin stories of the temple in Jerusalem, but who believes it?  Rock climbers in North America have certain memes, though most of them are practical: 'step on my rope and you owe me a beer', don't claim you can climb anything you haven't, any hardware dropped you have to replace with new.  Japanese shibboleths are impractical, demonstrably idiotic, and repeated ad nauseam: religion.

- 'Japan has four seasons', except it has more.
- 'Japanese are one people', except they are as polygeneous as the British.
- 'All Japanese are middle class', except there are erai-hito?
- 'Japanese doesn't have swear words'?  Kuso-kurae kiisama!
- 'Japanese food is the best', despite everything tasting salty and varying on few themes.
- 'Japan is safe', despite yakuza, petty theft, and the fact that nearly every woman here has been assaulted.
- 'English is hard' except Laos has better scores, and Laotian is no more similar to English than Japanese.
- 'Japanese work harder than foreigners' except long hours do not mean what they think when national productivity is less than America's: it means they get half as much done each hour.
- Watching sunrise from mountaintops, no matter the weather forecast.
- 'Self Defence Force' has offensive weapons.
- 'Our peace-constitution'.  Yeah, about that...  How many Japanese do you think know it was imposed on them by their victors, at the victor's pleasure?

From the comments:
- "Japanese people are more 'in touch with nature' than Gaijin", what they haven't paved, I guess.
- "Japanese people can 'communicate an unspoken message between each other' because of their unique culture", like anyone can, except Japanese language and culture is wilfully vague.
- "Even a foreigner who speaks Japanese fluently, can never really be fluent because since they don't have Japanese blood (for what it's worth?), they can't understand all the cultural nuances that Japanese people inherently understand".  Gaijin born and raised here as opposed to Japanese from overseas?  In any case, maybe we couldn't be fucked if you're going to asses value by 'blood'.
- "We Japanese believe in forming a consensus before making a decision".  Japanese consensus: the glacial and cowardly process of auguring their superiors' wants without anybody taking responsibility for communicating them, including their superiors.

Oh please, please help me remember more.

*I was raised the former of these two.

Tuesday 24 June 2014

Hard to get worked up to defend Japan's women, when its women won't.

I've barely got the energy for this, when god knows Japan's women don't.  Ayaka Shiomura dared have it, but all she gets is the perfunctory bow of yet another particularly stupid LDP member scapegoated for crimes common to them all.

An LDP tool gave voice aloud to the sexism that defines gender relations in Japan in the Tokyo assembly.  The outburst is now international news. Of 'developed nations', Japan has the worst status of women, yet women have had the vote since the American Occupation gave it to them, and done damn little with it since. They've been crucifying the tool in the media, and his resignation was very visible, but the facts that his words reflect the effective policies of his (ruling) party, Japan's society, and its voters (including its women)... don't hold your breath for these to be addressed.

Besides justice and human rights, if these weren't enough, it's beneath a man's dignity to discriminate. These are no men.  Should I clarify which men I am referring to?  How narrowly or broadly?  No, I don't really feel the need.

This is no country for my children.  I have a daughter, but that doesn't inform my superior values as I had them before she was born, although grew up without sisters.  I have a wife, who is my equal, but before I met her I did not treat girlfriends with contempt.  My father was indeed sexist: I surpassed him, as one does.  As my blog must make abundantly clear, I don't really like most women, and rabidly hate feminized environments; I do not have my head so far up my own ass that antipathy offers me any rationale to speak or do harm.

Japan?  Well, it's a sociological perpetual-motion machine, it is.  There are, however, people who will tell you it changes, except it doesn't, so far as I can tell since my first encounter in '93.  If I am wrong, it changes too slowly for me to notice, and that says rather less about me than Japan, so it amounts to me being correct.

I had an argument with my wife this morning begun because she was unwise enough to tease me that my Japanese hasn't improved in four years back here.  I could have made the safer argument that with two children and a job in English it's not like I had the time, but I set it off with honesty: why should I learn more of the language in a place I am not welcome, nor is our children's membership unremarked, and that the only interesting Japanese people I've met who did not speak English well spoke another second language?  Her real anxiety is that I will not help encourage our children to learn Japanese, as well as English, when we move back to Toronto.  We'll always have different motivations, but I have yet again assured her I will: there is value in knowing your heritage languages.  I made it clear that for my son to know how to behave, and for my daughter to take no shit, I will not mince words about what I think of gender relations in Japan, and the acquiescence of both genders to the state of them.

Thursday 19 June 2014

Sunday 15 June 2014

Ontario: where the pale haters live

Thanks Ontario, it's worth returning to my teaching job there. We'll have a minimum of fourteen years* without a hateful Neo-Con government using public employees for 'Jew-baiting': that's the backlash eight years of conservatives will get you, plus your loons in Ottawa. I'll take 'the lesser of two evils', thanks: Liberals.

What should this map tell you?  Here's what it tells me, husband to an East Asian, father to 'mixed' children, atheist, friend to a few homosexuals in same-sex marriages, teacher who preaches tolerance and compassion, somewhere between social-democrat and anarcho-syndicalist, general non-conformist: stay the hell out of the blue areas (Conservative Party wins).  My mother lives in one, and that's why I left.

Everything in the north isn't Tory, because resource industry.  Everything else red and orange (Liberal and NDP) is urban or manufacturing.  All the mouth-breathing blue is white, religious, truck driving rural or as good as.  The darker the blue, the stronger the hate vote.

Well bitches, it sucks to be you for four more years.

*Ten already, and four more.

Saturday 14 June 2014

Tokyo: big enough to have interesting

Tokyo is boring.  Bear with me here.  You've been taught, or experienced, Tokyo as interesting; however, it's interesting to the same extent that Canada has natural beauty: the brute force of scale.

This is beautiful, sure.  That's why people go out of their way to get to Banff.

Funny, nobody goes out of their way to look at the 'oil sands', though there's a lot more of it, and it's in the same province.

What about all those great places you got drunk in Tokyo?  The lissome things you found for your futon?  Great restaurants and shopping?  Temples, shrines and gardens rebuilt after being bombed flat, after getting burnt out by 'the Big One' ('23)?  You do realize there are as many people in Tokyo as the entirety of Canada, right?  We've built a lot of interesting stuff too: it's just not all in one city.

Yeah, that's not how Tokyo feels when you're single and have coin on you.  You submarine about the city under the interminable rabbit-hutch residential/industrial zoning-free hell that is every Japanese city only surfacing where business and people have congregated to be interesting.  We even have one or two of those spots in Toronto, and believe me, Toronto is uninteresting.  Tokyo's not interesting either, but it has ten times the people to make ten times as much that is interesting (maybe more: Toronto's fucking boring).

You see, when you've got two kids under five and you're living on one income, you may not be destitute, but your lifestyle gets slimmed down and you get stuck in your neighbourhood when you're not at work.  Same is true in Toronto, or wherever you are from.  Here you are:

By all means visit Tokyo.  Enjoy all that it has.  (Don't visit Toronto.)  But don't go to Tokyo for the sake of living in a typical neighbourhood, because it's ugly enough to wither the soul, and most Tokyo people are as boring as Torontonians, or is that slander?

But is that true of all cities in the world?  No, but most.  I've only lived in a few cities.  I won't waste my breath on the ones I've just visited, because I was a tourist: I don't know shit about the place but the flash.  Where have I lived for more than a few months?  Tokyo, Toronto, Montréal, and a couple of small Ontario cities you are better never having any experience of.  You know what?  Montréal's not boring.  It is actually an interesting place to live: at least the parts I know well anywhere within sight of 'the mountain'.  It's the least populous of the three cities I have mentioned too.  There are many reasons why it is more interesting than it should be for its scale, although there certainly is more to do in all of much larger Tokyo, but my guess is it has much to do with there being more than one dominant culture, and one of the two dominant cultures being neither Anglo nor Japanese: neither known for a joie de vivre.

Friday 13 June 2014

What can you possibly be arguing for?

Although it is possible you are correct in this instance, the odds are long.

My long-suffering J-wife learned this again, not that she will remember, because clever as she is, she's ISFJ (I think).

This would be me.  The Japanese have none: they've killed themselves.

The story:

We have two children under five, ourselves and eight bags and a stroller to check in to a flight at Narita, and another half dozen bags to carry on.  My error was to muse aloud that perhaps getting a driver to take us in a van to the airport would cost little more than takkyubin, cab fare to the nearest useful station and train fare.  So I asked her to spend five minutes Googling in Japanese for the price of a chauffered van.  Taxi, train and takkyubin would cost us about 25 000y, and more trouble.

Apparently I needed a lesson that rationality and lateral thinking are rare enough in the species, and rarer yet in the Japanese (the woman thing: twice the emotional over thinker rate on MBTI tests*).  She insisted that was a "waste of time", would cost 30 000y, and that there was no such service in Japan because "Japanese don't do that". 

Well if you really wanted a fight with me, pull the 'ware-ware Nihonjin', 'ziss izu Japon' card.

I believe the following came out of my mouth as this escalated:
Christ you people are conventional thinkers.
You do not know that I am wrong, nor have I said that I am right: I asked you to look in Japanese because it is worth five minutes to find the price.  It's called research.  You should try it!
You know what, fuck you.  You've wasted more of my time than you'd have needed to look it up, but you are too stubborn.  I'll fucking do it in English and see what I get...  Look, 17 000y.  That would be cheaper.
After she apologized for insisting I was wrong, whereas I was right, again:
You've forgotten that my type is not always right, but we are honest when we are wrong, are voracious readers, gatherers of information and synthesizers of it.  I have been wrong.  It just happens rarely enough that when I insist I am right I most probably am.
Being right is what we do.  We are very, very good at it.  If you think an INTJ is wrong, whereas wrong is something you've seen them rarely be, would you give your fucking head a shake and save us both time?

Thank you,

All the rational lateral thinkers in the world (as few as we are).

*Twice as many women, not all, though twice as many makes it feel like all...  My best student this year is INTJ, and a teen girl.  Poor kid: she's only going to have male friends, and most of them will fall in love with her even when she cannot.

Wednesday 11 June 2014

Too much trouble for a regional language

Arististhenes: Fine, my pronunciation's wrong.  How do I say 'curry'?

His J-wife: Curry.

Arististhenes: In Japanese, genius.

J-wife: Ahh...  'káree'.*

Arististhenes:  The fish?

J-wife: 'Káre-i'.

Arististhenes:  To age?

J-wife: 'Karée'.

Arististhenes:  Fuck your provincial language.  It's no way worth the trouble.

*Romanizations are my own improved version, easy to print and to type, which would do for Japanese what's been done for Vietnamese: bring it out of the Sinophile dark ages.
- accents mark inflection, rather than all other versions which ignore it
- simple doubled vowels mark lengthened vowels
- double consonants mark glottal stops
- consider not only using 'n' for final-consonant, but also 'm' for the final-consonant when mouth is closed and 'ng' when nasal, because the final-consonant is not always the same
- no denoting of loan words, because all languages borrow and maybe Japanese could get the fuck over it
- no kanji, because this is not Chinese, or in its language family

Monday 9 June 2014

Kindle Paperwhite Broken - %$#@ Amazon's Response

Short Version: do not buy a Kindle device, and do not use the Kindle App.

Amazon Response:
Thank you for contacting us at Amazon.co.jp. The price for the replacement of your Kindle Paperwhite is 6500 yen. Please contact us again by phone or chat if you'd like your Kindle to be replaced. 

That is completely unacceptable.  Amazon should have reviewed how much I have spent with them before expecting I pay 60% of full price for a device which is broken through no fault of my own.  I am a customer with a long memory, and not only will I not buy another Kindle at any price, nor ebooks from Amazon for other devices, I will divert my purchases in all categories to other vendors.  I will also be sure that everyone I know is aware of how little you value your customers.  As an example, I was going to spend 50000y on an Amazon gift card for a colleague's wedding.*  I had collected donations from my workplace.  This will now be a cash gift and not go through Amazon.  Well done.

Thanks for nothing.

Original Post:

I am not impressed.

Diagram doesn't work and my PC doesn't even recognize the device when plugged in.  No warning.

I have had it for less than a year and a half, which is of course past the one-year warranty, and it's skunked.  I am not even bothered by the expense as I have made my money back on it by getting ebooks cheaper than print (though now, not so much more cheaply).  I am bothered by the inconvenience.  Inconvenience makes me hate devices: once wasted an hour grilled by Dell for a simple power cord.  More devices make my life more troublesome.  Not acceptable.  Here are the inconveniences:

1. Dealt with customer service once by email, to avoid dicking around on the phone/'chat', to see if I can get a deal on a replacement.

2. Got obvious 'trouble shooting' suggestions they expect me not yet to have done; however, I am INTJ, so insulted dealt with as sheeple.

3. Responded to them by email, although they specified phone/'chat', making it clear that I'd done their 'trouble shooting' before I contacted them, and need to know what offer they will make before I take my time to phone/'chat' them.

4. I am sure they will insist I phone/'chat'.

5. They will give me a bullshit offer that will cost me thousands of yen.

6. I will refuse that, and decide to use the Kindle app on my smartphone for my unread ebooks, but buy no more from Kindle, and as little product as I can from Amazon.  I am a vengeful customer: 'Fool me once...'

7. To move my ebooks to my smartphone I have to fuck around with Amazon accounts in different countries still, I think.  Do you think the Amazon app could be registered to any country but the US?  Do you think even the US website could tell you how to move items from a Kindle to an Android phone?

8. Use my smartphone colour-reversed, and buy books from Google Play, if they have the selection.

9. Go back to paper, because it is a better reading experience (especially as I am a spatial thinker), and pretty hard to break.

The lesson I take from this is to buy as little technology as I can.  I require a smartphone and a PC, and will try to avoid having the following, because they are just more crap to manage and pay for:
- TV
- tablet
- eReader
- camera or video
- car...

Oh, my J-wife's getting a Rakuten Kobo.  She'd decided simply for the better selection of Japanese titles, but the decision looks the better now.  If only one could get a version of that Russian phone with a regular and e-ink screen.

*This happens to be true.

More fruitless communication:
My Paperwhite is broken, so I want to transfer the books I have bought from the Japanese Kindle store [for my now broken Paperwhite] to my Kindle App [on my Android phone] .  How do I do this?
The response was how to get Kindle books for my app from the Kindle store.  The method to register an Android device to the Japanese Kindle Store was unnecessarily complicated by having Amazon accounts in three countries.  It is next to impossible to transfer my Japanese account contents to my Canadian account: this is false advertising on Amazon's part.

More of the same when asking them about transferring content to Amazon Canada.  Amazon Canada: get on the phone and fart around with us.

Wednesday 4 June 2014

"Japan is the last major developed country to..."

Well there's a long list, and this amendment will be as meaningful as signing the international treaty on child custody: unenforced.
A ban on the possession of child pornography moved closer to reality Wednesday, but pedophilia portrayed in manga will be exempt.
Japan is the last major developed country to address child porn. Under current legislation, only the production and distribution of child pornography are banned, a situation that activists say is damaging to children...
Japan is the only member of the Group of Seven industrialized nations where the possession of child porn remains legal. Overall, it is banned and subject to penalties in more than 70 countries.
Japan is seen as a major global source of child pornography in photo and video form.
Images that can be legally possessed in Japan show real children being abused, raped and molested, according to activists...

The country’s porn industry is huge and visitors note the ubiquity of sexual imagery, particularly the prevalence of pictures showing young-looking girls in school uniforms.

Tuesday 3 June 2014

Chinese pollution reaches Tokyo, again.

'Dust' from China tonight (and pollution). Stay inside and run your filters, Japan, and Korea. I guessed at it because the sky doesn't look right in Tokyo, and the link confirms it.  This is what happens when a billion people want to share our wealth, as one would, and we've done little about the cost of that wealth.

Lemond Croix de Fer Credit Card Tourer

If I only had the time to tour, having kids under five, but never mind that.

I did have the time to tinker and change from the original 2006 Lemond Croix de Fer Triple:
- saddle and seatpost
- fork and medium-reach front brake
- crank and bottom bracket (Sugino OX801d), front derailleur and pedals
- tires
- bar tape and light centre-mount
- bottles and cages
- fenders (not all shown)
- cassette to 12-27
- shift cables and housing

What I might yet change, but really needn't:
- a proper frame pump as the bike has a pump-peg
- wheels, except these have given me no trouble
- rear derailleur doesn't need a long cage, but then again it works
- brake cables when I redo the bar tape

You may see function trumps form, though I try to avoid ugly.  If anything catches your curiosity I will detail it, otherwise I'll let the pictures speak.

Yes, my photography is shit.  I already have a wife who can tell me that.  Don't tell me the seatpost clamp is backwards: it is to allow a Revelate Designs seat bag.  Don't tell me the bottles are 'wrong': I don't drink plastic.  No, I am not going to put the handlebars lower.  Etc.

Previous posts about this bike:
- 'Road Bike: Randonneuring Bike'
- 'Club-Racer to Randonneur/Credit-Card-Touring Hack'
- 'Faux-Randonnuer: final set-up?'
- 'Fork!'
- 'You pay either way'
- 'Final road bike gearing?