30 December 2007

29 December 2007

Flyin' birds down south tour, Day 7

My father-in-law is tending a rice paddy at the top of the world. We got in the car and drove up for about 10 minutes. It is carved into the side of a mountain with no people living above it. It is an incredible place. I forgot my camera so the cell phone will have to suffice for now:

2007-12-29_14-350001

27 December 2007

Flyin' birds down south tour, Day 5: The in-laws

We have arrived in Yoko's father's hometown, a quaint, small town in the middle of nowhere. This leg of the trip has been good so far, although the trip in was a little bit too much fast driving, winding roads, and screaming baby for me. I am alive, everyone else is alive. More when I can get the blog fixed.

26 December 2007

Flyin’ birds down south tour, Day 3: Hiroshima

We made the trip up from Fukuoka today and are now in Hiroshima City with Yoko’s dad. This is our third hotel room in three days, but we have managed better than expected. Having Yoko’s dad around is great–I really enjoy his company and he seems to be enjoying the baby’s. We ate Spanish food and drank, drank, drank to our hearts desire while talking about Marx and China.

The atomic bomb dome site is one of those places that I think all Americans should see. That might be a little dramatic, but its true. The use of the atomic bomb at the end of WWII highlighted one of the most subtly evil philosophies that is in the American ethos; that is, doing evil is acceptable if it is done to avoid more evil. You all know the argument about the bomb: American politicians decided to use the bomb to avoid greater loss of life that they felt would be inevitable if there was an invasion of Japan. Basically, we did the Japanese a favor.

This philosophy has never quite made sense to me. I guess it can sort be understood through twisted Christian theology in which one person suffers unjustly to save others. If not, I’m sure that someone will correct me. I can just imagine one of those Huckabee Republicans making that argument…

We went at dusk and I took some very good pictures that I will post some time. Tomorrow is on to Kochi and the in-laws house. More from there, I’m sure.

25 December 2007

Flyin' Birds Down South Tour, Day 2

I am now back in the land of my Japanese birth: Fukuoka. So many thoughts about so many things after the jump. For those of you only interested in the quickie and no self-introspection (which will probably also contain some 'bad' words and negative thoughts about organized religion), here is the only thing that matters. It is December 25th, and we have the window of the hotel room open to let in a bit of a breeze.

I am back in Fukuoka where I first came to Japan as an (depending on who is asking) English teacher or missionary. I believed in a lot of things when I came to Japan, and my first year in Fukuoka pretty much changed everything. So my return here, I expected, would be bittersweet. I had selfish objectives for returning, namely that I wanted everyone to tell me I had lost weight and my Japanese was very good because, let's face it, when I lived here I was fat and I spoke sloppy Japanese. My less selfish objective was that I wanted to speak to some of the people at the church who had really taken care of me while I was here without having to talk through a translator and maybe be able to thank them for everything.

Unfortunately, most of the people I was really close to have either left or were out of town this week, so the only people I ended up seeing were some of the church folks that I only knew a little bit. They did, however, all say what I wanted them to say and they were all much more interesting now that I can talk to them directly. We went out to lunch with the pastor from the church, who is quite possibly the sweetest man on the face of the earth, and had a very sweet conversation in which I was able to say, in some small way, thank you. So those goals were achieved.

We also had the goal of going out to the beach where I want my ashes tossed out when I die. I realize that this is a stupid and morbid thing for a 25 year old to think about, but I do think about it. This beach is where I used to study Japanese and walk and think about God. One time, I even waded into the water, up to my waist. I wanted to show Yoko, so we rented a car for a ridiculous amount of money and went out there for about five minutes. But it was completely worth it.

We also drove around where I used to live. I felt like I was looking for something, some sort of feeling that never quite came. It was weird how I remembered all the streets. I couldn't explain how to get there or where to turn or whatever, but I just knew when we were there. I think I was hoping for a nostalgic feeling, but all I really felt was a sense of familiarity with everything.

I have wondered, to Yoko, why is it that I ever left here? I know the answer, but its harder to understand now that I'm back. The black cloud that followed me around here lifted when I left for Niigata, but now that I am back, I feel like this is where I have belonged all along. Of all the cities in the world I have been to and the limited number I have lived in, Fukuoka is the best. It is beautiful. The people are polite, but not too polite. The sun is out in the winter and so are the people. You can eat ramen on the street and see plays. You have the mountains and the sea. It's all here.

I think we are all, to some extent, ruled by two things: our expectations and our disappointments. All of this is tied into these things: what I wanted, what I got, what I regret, what I don't. I don't regret leaving Fukuoka--now I have a wife and baby, Japanese ability, a much better developed sense of self, a masters degree, and twenty less pounds of body weight. But I regret leaving Fukuoka. And everything that I left to achieve has disappointed me in one way or another.

I finally realize that's it is that way with everything I have ever experienced in life. And it will be that way with everything I experience in the future.

Anyway, it's good to be back.

23 December 2007

Calls it

Just as I predicted, it is now a mere 12 hours before our flight leaves for the ‘Flyin’ Birds Down South’ tour, and we have, predictably, done very little to prepare. My wife is now in the kitchen, getting some kind of food to eat for dinner, but there seems to be little sign of packing. I’m not really one to talk, although I did manage to, after wasting about half the day on YouTube, apply for a part-time job in January and February that may allay all my traveling expenses to Laos and Spain next year.

I also managed to make my iTunes library very, very respectable. All the songs have a tag. All the songs have artwork. They look good. Real good.My wife got me the new record (‘orbital period’) from my favorite Japanese band, BUMP OF CHICKEN. Oh, it’s good. They are sort of like the Japanese U2, only less preachy. They are also coming to Niigata City on April 12th, and maybe, just maybe, Yoko and I will go together to enjoy our first area rock show, sans the baby. This would be magnificent.

Anyway, I was hoping to write a long post recapping this year, and all its ups and downs, and I still might given that I will be killing time at the in-laws. First born babies, revolutions in Dhaka, and cups of coffee. Maybe I will wax sentimental. Maybe. Until then, I’m sure I should be helping Yoko pack.

20 December 2007

The waiting is over

Listen up, all of you interested in the mundane details of my life. Some updating is coming down:
  • Me, the wife, and the baby are moving to Shibata on February 23rd and 24th or March 2nd and 3rd, it appears. This is about a month sooner than we thought, but the apartment is open, so we can go, save some money and start settling down before we both go back to work.
  • I have a new iPod. It's black, and it has changed my life.
  • I will be in Laos/ Thailand from March 19th to the 25th, give or take a day.
  • We are leaving on our 'Flyin' Birds Down South' Tour on Monday and will be gone until January 3rd. I will be bored a large portion of the time, so please look forward to a lot of pictures of me, alone in the mountains of Kochi Prefecture, looking for the world between worlds, made famous in Haruki Murakami's 'Kafka on the Shore'.
  • We let the baby into the kitchen.
All this means that my hours, days, weeks of waiting, waiting, waiting for something to happen are just about over.

On the new iPods, you can use the fascinating 'cover flow' feature, which is awesome, unless about 30% of your MP3's are from obscure places, labels or bands. Then you just get the annoying music note mark. So I spent the last couple of days getting my I-tunes library in shape. I scoured the web, built my own icons for some, and figured everything out. The result is a very, very respectable collection.

18 December 2007

Been around the world and I, I, I–I can’t find my baby

I spent yesterday writing and rewriting and reading and watching the baby crawl around the kitchen. Hopefully I will finish my revisions sometime today, but there’s not telling, really.

I’m obsessed with cause and effect. I think about it all the time. Today, one of the teachers at school asked a class of students who are obviously not interested in the class, who have never in the 30 plus times we’ve had class asked a question, ‘Don’t you have any questions?’ ::long pause:: ‘Mr. Watanabe, don’t you have any questions?’ ::Mr. Watanabe mumbles something:: ‘Okay then. Let’s move on.’

Now, why in the world does this teacher insist on asking the students to do something that they obviously are not trained to, interested in, or able to do? Then don’t ask questions in class–even I can see that its not an essential part of Japanese high school class culture. But the teacher continues to ask, continues to treat the class without seeming to consider what the effect of his teaching style is.

Maybe its one of those mysterious Japanese things that I’m not supposed to get because I’m a foreigner, but I don’t think so. I suspect the teacher thinks they should ask questions so he encourages them to do so. But his way of encouraging does not get the effect he wants. If he really wanted the effect, he has to change his cause. But he never does.

This sounds familiar. Doing something half-assed not because you really want to do it, but because you think it should be done. Form over substance will get you these sorts of results, I think. And I’m pretty frustrated with it.

17 December 2007

Hold it right there, Mr. Big Head

My excitement about getting this publication was a little dulled by a note from the chief editor of the journal who wrote back to me yesterday to say, basically, I disagree with the reviewers and although your article is still provisionally excepted, there are about 150 changes I want you to make. 145 of these changes are tiny, 5 of them are going to take some time. I hope we can get something we mutually agree upon by the end of this week. If not, it won’t come out until April. That’s fine though. A pain in the ass, but fine. He is right on about 149 of his comments.

15 December 2007

Forthcoming

My first major journal publication!
It is a pleasure to provisionally accept your manuscript entitled ""but sorry about my blabbing": A CASE STUDY IN BLOG DISCOURSE" for publication in the Journal of Computer- Mediated Communication... I would like to publish this mansucript in my upcoming January 2008 issue of JCMC.

13 December 2007

Kanji of the year

Here it is, via Japan Probe


The winner is 偽 or 'false'. Basically, there has been a lot of problems with this in 2007. Next year the Kanji should be 大場馬! Read this Kanji, get a cookie!

I didn’t do it

Yoko and I watched the most compelling Japanese film about the justice system in this country. It centers around a guy who gets falsely accused of feeling a lady up on the train. Given that the Japanese system has basically no due process, the guy is kept in prison, lied to by the police, and repeatedly pressured to plead guilty. He insists on taking the case to trial, has all sorts of evidence that the police acted inappropriately, on his own finds a witness from the train who says he is innocent… and is found guilty and has to go to jail. It’s such a great film in that sense. They build it all up, you’re waiting for the innocent verdict, and nothing. The film ends with an image of the prison.

Well, the story is mostly compelling because it is based on a true story. The conviction rate in Japan is 99.9%. There are no juries and the judge works (it seems) closely with the police. The police do what they want, say what they want, make the evidence they want. And the courts are useless for protecting the wrongly convicted.

A friend of mine was stopped coming out of a 7-11 last week by a woman asking him where he was from and what he was doing. She disappeared for a second, and then he found himself surrounded by eight men in dark suits asking him where he was from and what he was doing. They asked if he spoke Japanese and he said no, and they continued to question him in Japanese. When they tried to put him into a car, he protested and finally someone told him that they were the police. Apparently something had happened with a high school student–they didn’t tell him what–and the criminal had brown hair, a black jacket, and ‘a strange voice’. So they found the foreigner. He finally was able to convince them that he hadn’t done anything and they let him go. But what if he hadn’t? Or if he had misunderstood the Japanese. He could be in jail without a charge and I wouldn’t know it.

This happened to a Chinese student at the university. The head of the department accused her of stealing something. She was held in prison for 30 days without being charged. They looked for evidence for 30 days, found nothing, and released her, having ruined her life.

There is some positive change on the horizon as they will be introducing the jury system in 2009, I think. We’ll see if that changes how things are done.

I appreciate the US justice system a little more these days. There are parts of it that are unfair and we are doing the same sort of things to ‘terrorist’ suspects, but at least when it comes to crime in the States, you are innocent until proven guilty. And reasonable doubt means something. It’s like OJ. Yeah, OJ killed those people, but the police planted evidence on him. And that is a no-no. I would rather have a killer free on the streets from lack of evidence than have a person wrongly imprisoned.

10 December 2007

Obama, Huckabee, and don't get AIDS next year

Just watched the Oprah/ Obama thing from the weekend. It was pretty hot if you didn't see it. I like how the NY Times contrasted it with Chelsea Clinton coming out for her mom. Yeah, Chelsea Clinton. She really fires up a crowd. And, as I suspect, she like everyone else under the age of 45 probably supports Obama.

That is, of course, unless you believe in Jesus, in which case you have to vote for Mike Huckabee, regardless of whether you also believe that gays and other people with AIDS should not be locked up together in some Flew of the Cuckoo's Nest madhouse. God, I hope the GOP runs Huckabee. Or Gulliani. Or Romney. Any of them would be great. Thompson too. The only person that might have a snowballs chance in hell (idiom) against Obama would be McCain, but he doesn't hate immigrants enough, nor does he want to attach live wires to the balls of terrorists. This, apparently, is pretty un-American.

08 December 2007

If this doesn't get you into the Christmas spirit, this should do it

Happy 1

Happy 2

Happy 3

Daddy at home

With Yoko at the dentist, I am at home, playing daddy at home for the morning. So far, I've completed some important tasks:
  • Baked bread
  • Burned a bunch of incense
  • Cleaned mold off of the window
  • Tired to put baby down for a nap
  • Baby-proofed bookshelf
  • Did laundry
  • Played with baby
Now, I am blogging and the baby is sitting next to me on the floor complaining. Now that she is starting to crawl, everything is a threat and she is quickly bored. Today, toys will not sate her--only sitting in my lap. Ah, yes. The apple. I think I've bought myself about five minutes. No, no, that didn't work. She keeps dropping it. And coughing and--ugh, hold on. ::ten minutes elapse::

There are several things we should all thank our parents for. The ability to dress ourselves and the ability to use the toilet are at the top of that list. Think of how much your life would suck if you never mastered those skills. I'll tell you, it'd suck big time. You always hear people thanking their parents for teaching them to be strong or to love people or whatever. I'm thankful that I know how to put my socks on. And not slap people in the face when I'm excited.

The dentistry in Japan is awful. Just awful. They continue to destroy my wife's teeth and take our money. I've been pretty pissed the last couple of days about the whole thing. I'll try not to bring it up here.

My application date for choice number one in the PhD chase is due 14 days earlier than I thought. This is good news. It means less waiting. This could be the apex (the beginning of the Stephen Epoch) of everything I've worked for. That's right. I said epoch.

06 December 2007

Led Zeppelin

I have one memory of Led Zeppelin playing on an awards show in the mid-90′s. I remember seeing it and thinking, that was so heavy. It was the heaviest thing I had ever heard. Now, older, colder, and more worldly, it sounds less hard than I remember, but still pretty freaking hard.

05 December 2007

Obama is a liar

I mean, he wrote an essay about how he wanted to be President in KINDERGARTEN! I mean, doesn't this make sense to anyone else?! This guy is FULL of bullshit. Here's Obama ten years ago:
‘[Obama] said no -- at some point he'd like to run for the U.S. Senate. And then he said, 'Possibly even run for president at some point.'
And the asshole in kindergarten:
Iis Darmawan, 63, Obama's kindergarten teacher, remembers him as an exceptionally tall and curly haired child who quickly picked up the local language and had sharp math skills. He wrote an essay titled, 'I Want To Become President,' the teacher said.
God, this guy is so SLICK! It's like, everything he says is just a joke. He's been tall, curly headed, and LYING since he was five. That's it. It's over. I'm supporting Clinton.

The rock music of the rocks

I rented some CD's:
"Reasonable Doubt" Jay-Z
"Blood on the Tracks" Bob Dylan
"Blonde on Blonde" Bob Dylan
"All That You Can't Leave Behind" U2
"Let It Be" The Beatles
"Hard Day's Night" The Beatles
"Never Mind the Bollocks Here's the Sex Pistols" Sex Pistols
Look, I'm embarrassed by the U2 record, but I was feeling a bit nostalgic, brought on as it is by a dream. I think my nostalgia is sated, however. So far, my favorite is Blonde on Blonde, but I think there is time for that to change. "Reasonable Doubt" is okay. Not quite "Blueprint", but it's okay.

03 December 2007

Happy family

Daddy and Baby!

Ideas are good virtues

Kinda makes you want to do research with kids:
E: What sort of thing is time?
C: It’s something that you can’t see. Like my mom gets up in the
morning and she just knows what time it is. And she looks at the clock, something like that.
E: What is an idea?
C: It’s something that you think or that you know. It’s kinda like a virus, but it’s not bad. It’s good.
The children were invited to participate in a storytelling game, and introduced to two puppets (Elmo and Cookie Monster) that would help them answer questions. The experimenter ran three test trials to show how the puppets would help; these trials also served as a screening task. In the test trial, the experimenter presented the child with a solid-colored ball and asked the puppets the color of the ball. Each puppet produced a different color label (The ball is red vs. The ball is green), and one of the labels matched the color of the ball. The child was then asked to choose the puppet with the correct answer. The task was repeated three times with differently colored balls, and children who chose the puppet with the correct label at least twice continued the study. Only two 4-year-old children failed the task. Data were gathered from two more children—one per language—to replace these two children.
From "Metaphors We Move By: Children’s Developing Understanding of Metaphorical Motion in Typologically Distinct Languages" in Metaphor and Symbol 22 (2), by Seyda Özçalkan

1:40?

This is the Krispy Kreme on the South Terrace of Shinjuku.

IMG_2312.JPG

This is the wait time to get in.

An hour fordy?

I asked my wife to explain. She couldn't.

01 December 2007

Father-in-law saves lives of daughter, son-in-law, granddaughter

You might remember our earlier mentioned epic road trip that was to take part at the end of December. This road trip, although certainly epic, was looking to be difficult. Very difficult. Being optimistic and more importantly cheap, I was thinking it was going to be okay, but a phone conversation between my father-in-law and wife last night ended with the exchange of some flight coupons that will make flying to Fukuoka and Kochi (Yoko’s hometown) 50% less than it would without the coupons. This is saving our lives because from instead of traveling for 24 hours, we only have to travel 2 hours.

So we’ll have a new kind of epic. A two hour epic.

30 November 2007

The ambiguity of language/ reality

From the Journal of Metaphor and Symbol 1 (1), "From the Marble Mass of Language, A View of the Developing Mind" by David S. Palermo:
If we take the position that meaning originates within rather than without, we are saved from a search for the true meaning of the world. But, unfortunately, we are faced with the equally difficult theoretical task of accounting for how people create their meanings for the world, how meanings develop, how we can share meanings, and a number of other perplexing issues. Changing the question does not solve the problems; it only opens new perspectives that may light the path to solutions.
I should have more to say about this. I don't. Obviously metaphor and ontology are going to do a delicate dance through my heart.

Superbaby grows teeth!


IMG_2334.JPG

My love is a fever

More from the Journal of Metaphor and Symbol 1 (1), “From the Marble Mass of Language, A View of the Developing Mind” by David S. Palermo:
A metaphor differs from a literal statement, at least in part, because a comparable literal statement may be judged in terms of its truth, whereas a metaphor engenders a judgment about a new meaning. Thus, if someone says, "The zebra is a horse," the listener is likely to say, "No, that is not true"; that is, such a statement is treated as a literal sentence and is responded to in terms of its truth value. If Shakespeare, however, writes, "My love is a fever," the reader does not respond in terms of truth but in terms of generating the meaning Shakespeare was attempting to convey. If we think of metaphor as the creation of a new meaning from the merging of two conventionally unrelated meanings, we can begin to ask questions about the nature of the emergent meaning in terms of the constraints imposed by the unrelated meanings, the context in which the metaphor is created, the developmental characteristics of the person creating or comprehending the meaning, and, most important, the characteristics of the abstract dimensions and generative rules used to achieve the meaning.

29 November 2007

11 days

I only have ten eleven days of work at my high school until the winter break. This is a strange feeling. I also have less than 50 days left at this school, period. This is a little sad, I think, but also makes me incredibly happy as I am ready to move on. No more conversation classes with people trying to take advantage of me. No more making small conversation with teachers who don't understand what I'm saying. And on to a new set of problems.

We did get into a day care in Shibata, which is (they say) seven minutes from our new apartment. This is acceptable, I guess.

I downloaded a load of articles from "Metaphor and Symbol" as my subscription through the U of Birmingham is going to run out one of these days. Tons of interesting things to look at.

November 2 remember, Day Two: Part 2

Well, my presentation went okay. Not great. Got a little lost a couple of times. I wasn't really nervous until my dissertation supervisor showed up and sat down in the front row. Anyway, about 15-20 people showed up but the room was super small so there were people standing in the back and I felt good about it. I should have thought a little bit more about how I was going to frame it. Winging the whole thing had gone really well in Bangladesh, but maybe that had something to do with the PowerPoint crutch.

This happened after a meeting with my potential PhD supervisor from Birmingham that was absolutely incredible. We sat out in the sun and talked about metaphors for like 80 minutes. It sounds like getting in Birmingham is likely, very likely, to happen, and she is also going to help me out with my application to the Open University, which is my number one choice. All this good news, very good news.

I have been meeting tons of people that I know from the Internet only. Men who turn out to be women. British people that I thought were American. It's crazy. It also looks like there will be a place for me in Japan for a long time, if I choose to stay here. Although I do feel a bit like a wee nerdling in a crowd of giant nerds, I will keep trying my best.

27 November 2007

Revising the text, taking the pill

Look, I'm not obsessed with hip hop music, it's just what's been on my mind lately. It just seems much more urgent than everything else I have been listening to. Indie rock is such a joke right now. What else am I supposed to do?

My revisions are revising me, actually. Really taking me to the cleaner's. Looking at other papers in this journal, however, I feel like I will be in pretty good company if this paper ever gets out there. If it doesn't, then I will love it.

Here is one problem about teaching English in Japan: Your students are also your customers. So if they don't show up to class, you can not get paid. You have to make them happy as consumers, not as students. If they quit, you lose money, they don't get a bad grade. I'm going to be happy to be out of this game.

26 November 2007

Back, and in pain

I am back in Niigata and I have a killer headache. And I lost a bunch of stuff in Tokyo. My new headphones were on the train with me. I was using them with my Shuffle. I have my Shuffle. I have no headphones. This can't be good for anyone.

The trip was a total success. Had a great time. Really, really great time.

25 November 2007

November to remember, Day 4: Slips off into the night

The conference is just about wrapping up, and I had a pretty successful time. I had a particularly really good time hanging out with the Birmingham Alumni last night, shouting at one another and talking about the world as it is. I met a guy who is basically me in in 12 years (or where I hope to be in 12 years), so that was encouraging. It sounds like I am making the right choices to do what I want to do, and although I'm not quite as intelligent as I thought I was, I think I have enough to do what I want to do.

I walked from Shinjuku to the hotel last night at one in the morning. It was stunning. More later, I'm sure.

24 November 2007

November to remember, Day 3: Much less to write home about

Well, after feeling like I was at the top of my game yesterday, today I have come crashing down, in small ways. I was like, Well, I guess I was just playing with legos this whole time while all these other guys are building skyscrapers. I also met a guy with tenure at Waseda (Waseda being the Harvard of Japan). Waseda, I said, Wow. How's that? Oh, it's okay, he said.

They are a little bit older, so I guess that gives them a little leg up. But still. I am back in my place.

Ron Carter, great applied linguist from Nottingham, gave a pretty good talk today and I went to a meet and greet afterwards to ask a question. At the meet and greet, there were about twenty other self-important people asking self-important questions, and it took me about 30 minutes to finally say, Excuse me, this is sort of off topic, but do you think there will even be a distinction between written and spoken discourse in 20 years? To which he responded, Great question, and then sort of disagreed with something he had said in a paper earlier this year. Anyway, it was nice to be a self-important academic for about 5 seconds. And for Ron Carter to say I asked a good question.

23 November 2007

November to remember, Day Two: More on the game

It's looking to be another beautiful day in Tokyo. I gotta take a shower and go register, but I woke up this morning to an e-mail I had been dreading and waiting for: JCMC - Decision on Manuscript ID JCMC-07-18. This is the journal draft of my dissertation which I submitted to the Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, my first 'real' journal submission of research to a respected academic journal. I had to revise the manuscript three times just to get it to the reviewers, so my hopes were a little low.

Well, the good news was that it wasn't rejected, and the bad news is that it has to go through yet another revision. The two reviewers were helpful, but it looks like they had some conflicting things to say:
Overall, there is some issue with flow. Sentences are often choppy and not always clear.

This article is beautifully-phrased and authoritatively researched. The author writes extremely well.
So what do I do exactly? One reviewer, the more positive one said:
Although the evidence offered here is not adequate to support a stand-alone argument, the point is insightful, as is the analysis. Thus the article should definitely be published, whether or not it is reframed as I suggest.
It's not clear whether they mean in this journal or just anywhere. So I gotta revise and resubmit, hopefully getting a decision before I apply to the PhD programs in the spring.

Anyway, I'm off to listen to a bunch of academics talk about self-evaluation. I know, I know, riveting.

22 November 2007

November to remember tour, Day One

Well, I am now in Tokyo, sitting in my on-site accomodations for the JALT conference. Big things are about to happen, I’m sure. Until they do, I can look out over the trees of the park next door into the high rises of Shinjuku and think, this is just about right.

But I have heard it is Thanksgiving in the States, so to celebrate, I am going to pizza dinner with an American of Lutheran Missionarial persuasion. Yes, I know all of the Lutheran missionaries in Japan, and no, you can not have their numbers.

Does living abroad make you a better candidate for President?

From Obama:
"A lot of my knowledge about foreign affairs isn't just what I studied in school -- I studied international relations when I was in college -- It's not just the work I do on the Senate foreign relations committee. It's actually having the knowledge of how ordinary people in these other countries live."
Clinton, again, not quite getting it, said:
"Voters will have to judge if living in a foreign country at the age of 10 prepares one to face the big, complex international challenges the next president will face," Clinton said. "I think we need a president with more experience than that, someone the rest of the world knows, looks up to and has confidence in."
And Obama gets a response right, for once:
"I mentioned that one of the reasons that I got it right when it came to Iraq was because I lived overseas when I was a child," he said. "It gives me some judgment and perspective around what other people think about America and how they might react or respond when we make some of the decisions that we do."

"Of course, both the Republicans, in their talking points, as well as Sen. Clinton said, 'Well, I don't think that what Sen. Obama did when he was 10 years old is relevant to our national security.' I didn't say that."
Obama nailed this one, finally. He mentioned Republican Talking Points, which is bullshit but a coy move to undercut Clinton. He attacked on judgement and that is really his strong point. Everyone is talking about experience. I say, screw experience if you have bad judgment.

It occurs to me that the reason Obama will win and Clinton won't is that he is able to frame himself and she is not. Everyone has already made up their minds about her. Obama still has the possibility of convincing everyone that he is the best candidate.

And you know what, yes, living abroad is better experience than talking with foreign leaders as first lady. You get to see how other people view the US from the ground, not from what point of view that the government wants you to see it. Being first lady is not training for the Presidency. Sleeping across the hall from Bill Clinton doesn't make you Bill Clinton.

21 November 2007

Goes to Tokyo

I’m sorry I haven’t been up to the challenge this week. I’ve been up to some stuff:

1. Working
2. Registering the baby for day care
3. Preparing for my trip to Tokyo
4. Drinking Mexican liquor

Now, I am going to go to Tokyo for the long weekend and attend the JALT conference, and present a paper (scroll down this page to about 1:45ish and you’ll see me, in all my glory). I am also meeting with a potential PhD supervisor and doing some alumni duties for Birmingham. Because I am an alumni now.

I’ll have the Internet in my room so more blogging from there, I’m sorry. Maybe thoughts on love and why Yoko and I got engaged after knowing each other for only 9 months. Maybe something on how effing hot Obama is these days.

18 November 2007

15 November 2007

Epic road trip; Cock-eyed optimism

Well, our little trip to Mito the other weekend was just a practice run for a real epic road trip Yoko and me and the baby are taking over Christmas break. We're seeing all the big sites. The whole Southern half of Japan, basically. Here's a rundown.

EpicRoadtrip
  1. From Niigata to Fukuii Prefecture. This is on an overnight ferry where we can ride and sleep, the best of both worlds. We will arrive in Fukuii well rested and ready for the longest portion of the trip.
  2. From Fukuii to Fukuoka. This is something like 750 km and will take about 10 hours I think. The baby will be crying, Yoko and I will be irritated with each othe, but if the sun shines on us/ the god's are pleased, we will arrive in Fukuoka in time for a Christmas Eve Service at my old church.
  3. From Fukuoka to Kochi. This involves another ferry and some scenic driving.
  4. From Kochi to Nishinomiya. This is to see Yoko's grandmother for a couple of days.
  5. From Nishinomiya to Niigata. Through the snowy Japanese Alps, back in time for a class at 4:15 on January 4th.

Only those who attempt greatness can succeed in becoming great. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

13 November 2007

Obama stays out!

This is a disaster:
Edwards comments came after the Grinnell College's "Scarlet and Black" newspaper reported a student's account of being pulled aside before a campaign stop in Newton, Iowa, and asked to pose a specific question.

"They were canned," Muriel Gallo-Chasanoff said in an interview with the newspaper. "One of the senior staffers told me what [to ask]."

Gallo-Chasanoff said she was told the campaign wanted the question, about what Clinton would do for the environment, to be asked by a college student. She said Clinton was prompted to call on her as well as another student seen in conversation with staffers before the event.

The Clinton camp acknowledges they suggested a student ask a certain question, but said Clinton did not know which questioners she was calling on during the event.

"It was news to me," Clinton told reporters, "and neither I nor my campaign approve of that, and it will certainly not be tolerated."

And file this under WTF:
Speaking at an event in Trident Technical College, in North Charleston, South Carolina, Monday, former President Clinton said his wife could take the criticism, The Associated Press reported.

"Even though those boys have been getting tough on her lately, she can handle it," Clinton said, according to the AP.

Those words

I was looking through my downloaded podcasts yesterday and saw that Larry King had interviewed Duane 'Dog' Chapman last week. For those of you with lives, Dog is the latest in a long line of white celebrities that have been caught saying nigger on tape. The Dog sort of got screwed because it was his son who made the tape of him saying, in part:
I don't care if she's a Mexican, a whore or whatever. It's not because she's black, it's because we use the word nigger sometimes here. I'm not gonna take a chance ever in life of losing everything I've worked for for 30 years because some fucking nigger heard us say nigger and turned us in to the Enquirer magazine. Our career is over! I'm not taking that chance at all! Never in life! Never! Never!
Yeah, it's ironic, I'm sure. But in this interview Dog said something interesting: There are words that should never be used by anyone at anytime.

Now, there is a statement loaded with ramifications. These words that no one should use--who decides what they are? Dog does? The Catholic Church? Al Sharpton? Obviously, whomever you pick, you're going to have problems. Now, can I think of a time when I would want to use the word 'nigger' when not talking about it as a word? Not really, but why should we tie our hands?

Unfortunately for Dog, language can't be made to behave properly all the time. Once you impose restrictions on it, it bucks them because language is a huge, evolving organism made up of trillions and trillions of daily uses. And individual use, even if you impose penalties or laws or societal rules, cannot be restricted.

So maybe Dog should be more careful, but let's not pull the plug on whole word over it.

11 November 2007

Trip to 水戸 2

IMG_2169.JPG

This weekend, we went out to 水戸市 (Mito City) to see Yoko's brother and his family. We had a wicked good time, going to gardens, playing Wii, eating meat, playing Wii, going to a bike shop, and playing Wii. Oh, and also feeding swans. The baby did wicked well in the car. Much better than expected. More thoughts on driving across Japan and the Pacific Ocean tomorrow. Until then, please: Enjoy all the photos or some of the ones after the jump:


IMG_2177.JPG

伊織&治美

IMG_2180.JPG

IMG_2189.JPG

IMG_2192.JPG

IMG_2224.JPG

 IMG_2215.JPG
IMG_2212.JPG
IMG_2209.JPG

Trip to 水戸 1

We are back from 水戸. More later:

10 November 2007

Talented women

In addition to be a skilled researcher, Yoko, apparently, also knits quite well. I will be sitting in here, watching endless episodes of South Park, and she will be in the living room creating things like this:

Knitting


Naomi, still markedly less talented, but improving, is working on crawling.

Naomi

Forthcame

This month, Yoko was published in the The Journal of Japanese Association of Occupational Therapists. The baby rejoices! Her (Yoko's not the baby) research was about old people and teeth; namely, the more teeth an old person has, the less chance they have of being crazy.
IMG_2150.JPG

IMG_2152.JPG

Goes now to 水戸

Sorry, I haven't been able to respond to any of the great, hot conversation happening below. I've been busy reciting the alphabet. And working on my research proposal. And my presentation for the JALT conference in a couple of weeks.

Now, we are traveling across Japan to see Yoko's brother and his partner, both photo'd below. Yoko's family is the best. All of them. Couldn't ask for better in-laws and I am wicked excited about seeing the family again. A couple of scheduled posts should come up and I will hopefully be able to fill you in once we get there. Please, stay calm.

Niigata toMito.jpg


Yoko and Itsuhiro

09 November 2007

Listening to

hiwy61_l

One of those records I should have, but never had, listened to seriously. I'm glad I'm finally home...

The bane of my existence

Word in Japanese.

Window.


Dude, that clears NOTHING up.

08 November 2007

My life as basically hardly ever working

I'll be the first to tell you, most of the time, I have it pretty easy. Today, I came to work to see the December schedule for our school posted up on the big board. Again, I will not have to work for 7 days in December because the students will be taking exams. I also found out that the last day of classes is December 21st, leaving me with (at most) 10 and a half days of work in December. A couple of those days will also only be an hour. Will I get paid fully? Yes. Will I also receive a year-end bonus? Yes. Will I feel guilty about not working? No. Unfortunately, if anyone wants to know the secrets of my success, I can't tell, lest you steal my jive.

The moon, apparently

This map is of the dark side of the moon, which here looks more like a Jackson Pollock action painting, its riotous colours corresponding to geological materials and phenomena. Many of the colour spots are circular in nature, reflecting the large number of meteorites that have impacted on the lunar surface, unprotected by an atmosphere, over many, many centuries.

SuperBaby learns about being more careful with her hands, especially when they are close to daddy's face

Baby is thoughtful

07 November 2007

Do or do not

This card came from my parents. It plays music. Hilarity ensues.

I hate magnetic poetry,

but I do like magnetic words. The can reveal grammar structures and show what is/ is not interchangeable (in terms of grammatical function) in language. On the refrigerator none-the-less.
Poetry?

Metaphor brainstorm 2

I guess the problem I'm having here is that I'm not sure what 'reality' is exactly. Or if we can even talk about 'reality' as any one thing at all. More Heidegger to misunderstand, I'm sure.
Metaphor

More handwritten blogging + Metaphor brainstorm 1

Blog 11/07

Look, I'm sorry Norah Jones

My iPod shuffled a bunch of cover art for some reason. This is by far the funniest one that's come up.

WTF?

04 November 2007

A mixed bag: Sunday afternoon


Well, today included a big high point in my November so far when Yoko gave me these Bose in-ear headphones ion celebration of finishing the MA. Now, earbuds are by and large a joke when it comes to deep, rich bass, but these bad boys are effing incredible. Especially now that my hip hop collection is growing by leaps and bounds, this is a very, very good add.

Also, I think I realized what I want to do when I grow up. I think I want to teach metaphor theory in an MFA program. I think this would be a great fit for me and might be something I could actually sell. There. Now, to make it happen.

03 November 2007

You know what I hate?

When politicians mess up the carrot on a stick metaphor and refer to carrots and sticks for terrorists states. Dude, no one wants a stick. Only the carrot. So let's stop talking about giving anyone a stick.

Uniquely Japanese

So in Japan, you are offered the unique opportunity to 'rent' CDs.  You 'rent' the CD for a week and then you bring it back. I wondered if this was too good to be true and finally I decided to 'rent' a CD. It's true. ¥330. You can also 'rent' a CD for only one day for much cheaper. No catch.

02 November 2007

SuperBaby makes trouble, kills with kindness!

NAOMI!

SuperBaby gets serious about eating

Naomi Eats


Apparently, while I was at work, the baby learned to eat.


This is the moment

Well, now that my dissertation has passed, I can publish it on the Internet and not worry about whether or not anyone reads it or likes it. But please, let me know how it makes you feel. How did the marker feel about it?

Oh my Obama!


Obama envisions new relationship with Iran. Clinton whines about the big boys picking on her.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...