30 April 2007

Comments I've left on E-bay

  • Good Work, Good Company, Good Times, Good Product
  • As advertised--a beautiful piece of work
  • The perfection of this transaction was like a beautiful, autumn sunset.
  • Good pictures, good Japan, good ebay, good everything
  • Songs: Ohia rocks like you rock.
  • Well met. Well met.
  • Relax, man, 2relax is solid. I mean, I trust him
  • I LOVE FIRE AND CHARIOTS!
  • As promised, perfect, the best record ever, fitter, happier, more productive
  • Listening to CD now, good work Richies14, May God bless you and America!
  • Perfect condition, as promised and fast. You rule.
  • Fast shipping, item as promised. Thank-you for making my life livable agai
  • Everythings was fine
  • Oh man, this buyer RULES!
  • Minor Writing means lots of dumb highlighting

29 April 2007

Cornel West needs to get his teeth fixed

But, really, a brilliant, brilliant man. And I'm still not sure if he likes Obama as much as me. (HT: Sully, of course.)
My criteria is the same, I don't care if they're running for office or running down the street... My criteria is fundamental. I wanna know how deep is your love for the people, what kind of courage have you manifest in the stances that you have, and what are you willing to sacrifice for.
 

Japan Probed

A good post up on Japan Probe from last year about depictions of foreigners on Japanese TV.
Why don't you kick yourself out/ you're an immigrant too.

Diasuke Matsuzaka

Watched more baseball than I have in a while, thanks to Daisuke. Oh, I'm a fan.

1984

'It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. Of course the great wastage is in the verbs and adjectives, but there are hundreds of nouns that can be got rid of as well. It isn't only the synonym; there are also the antonyms. After all, what justification is there for a word which is simply the opposite of some other word? A word contain its opposite in itself. Take "good", for instance. If you have a word like "good", what need is there for a word like "bad"? "Ungood" will do just as well--better, because it's an exact opposite, which the other is not.' (Orwell, 1949: 44)

28 April 2007

Icky Thump

You can't be a pimp and a prostitute too.
Holy cow. This song is like everything we have been waiting for.

I'm here, I'm here

From Monica Berlin's Poem of the Week E-mail, 9/16/06
This week's selection is another from Julianne Buchsbaum's A Little Night Comes published by Del Sol Press in 2005.

Perfect Motels

When a bird dies
it falls through the air
like the ending of the sublime.

I read all day
until fireflies start
out of livid places

and trouble the twilight
like candles in the windows
of a woman's home

flickering I'm here
I'm here to anyone
who will see.

At five o'clock,
as if the sun were a thought
in a thinker's mind,

some master passion
of a taciturn heart,
I am of two minds,

suspending things
in small nacreous
twilights of consciousness.

Take anything
to the nth degree
and it dismantles you.

After so many movements,
small wonder
a thing must die.

To alterations blue
and phenomenal as this sky,
I wake at midnight,

keeping things I
remember close
at hand and disquieting.

25 April 2007

A pretty healthy swing

So I am ripping the idea of Standard English a new one in my dissertation.

From Michael Montgomery's An Introduction to Language and Society.
The fact that some dialects use 'we was' rather than 'we were' or 'we never done nothing' rather than 'we didn't do anything' is no sign of deficiency or even eccentricity on their part. After all, the double negative, for example, was common in the English of Shakespeare and is a normal construction in contemporary French. These features have no intrinsic consequences for our capacity to communicate with each other, in the sense, for example, of restricting the range of meanings we can express. (121)
Seriously, the idea of 'right' and 'wrong' grammar structures or usage is so effing arbitrary. It's one of those things that works if you don't really think about it. 'Yeah, there is right and wrong grammar. Sure.' And then Stephe-O, as I have been wont to do in the last four years of my life, goes, 'Yeah, but why?' The answer is a lot like the other nonsense I hear regarding religion which amounts to, 'Well, we just know.'

Well, I don't know. And I think it's crap.
One of the main assumptions I make in this chapter is that standard languages are fixed and uniform-state idealisations— not empirically verifiable realities. That is to say, if we study the speech of people who are said to be speaking a standard language, it will never conform exactly to the idealisation. (Milroy in Bex, 1999: 18)
Look, language is one of the things we can see happening. We can observe it and follow etymology and SEE that the idea of Standard English is just someone's conjecture of what English should be. And you know what, with all due respect to people who have strong opinions about how people should and shouldn't talk, its an arrogant, silly way of bullying people. I have no time for people who ignore facts because they don't fit a certain moral or political view they have already decided is right. That's right, I said it: Standard English is for Moralists, Politicians, and Religious Fundamentalists who want to tell people what to do.

(I can't be arsed to keep writing out my citations. Solution: reference page. FAQ also updated, accordingly.)

23 April 2007

Dissertation Writing Fun

Over 2,100 words in Chapter Two, baby. 1,900 to go. I need to have a better system for keeping track of books though. I can't ever find what I need. I like the stack method, but it's just not very scientific.

Pile of books

22 April 2007

Makes fun of me

Maybe just English teachers will find this funny. Or maybe just English teachers who play a lot of Uno.



The effects of war

War makes people bad:
A military investigation has found that senior Marine Corps commanders in Iraq showed a routine disregard for the lives of Iraqi civilians that contributed to a “willful” failure to investigate the killing of 24 unarmed Iraqis by marines in 2005, lawyers involved in the case said.

21 April 2007

Crushing defeat, accepted

Thank you for submitting your paper for review with AEJ. We receive a very large number of submissions and can only publish around one in five of these at the moment. Having carefully considered the views of the associate editor who supervised your review, I regret to inform you that we cannot publish your paper in AEJ.

Dissertation writing fun

From Elizabeth Baron, (2001) From Alphabet to E-mail. Routledge: London.

Thank god he doesn't have to

19 April 2007

5

Well, I was feeling pretty good about my progress as an MA student and my prospects for college employment next year, until I started looking at requirements for these jobs. Five publications, minimum-at least three research-based and in major journals. Me? I have a column coming out sometime next year, and a non-research paper in at an online journal. Which, for all you laymen out there, is just about the same as having a high school diploma in this world. Sucks the big one. My mentor/ tutor told me that, basically, I have to get my ass moving even faster than I am going now if I want to work next year. So I have a pile of papers on my desk that I am editing and trying to salvage.

I caught a kid drawing this picture of me in class:

Stephen

I was initially really impressed until I noticed the characters 外人 up above my left ear. That would be "foreigner" in Japanese and roughly equivalent to the kind words Don Imus shared about black women last week. Great.

Japan Probe rules.

New links on the right, too.

18 April 2007

Study buddy

So the Chinese teacher at the college I teach at is practicing Chinese with me now, and I think that's the tops. I have all these phrases I want to throw around like, "Is this a computer? No, it's a pen."

She introduced herself and as she has a Japanese name I was like, her pronunciation is probably way off. I said, "Have you ever lived in China?" and she was like, "I'm Chinese" and I said, "But your name is Japanese?" and apparently, in Japan, most women "change" their last name when they get married. Sort of like how my wife's last name is, uh, not Japanese.

Anyway, now I get back on my plans to learn me some Chinese.

Death and Dying

La Monde says:
It would be unjust and especially false to reduce the United States to the image created, in a recurrent way, from the bursts of murderous fury that some isolated individuals succumb to. But acts like this are rare elsewhere, and tend to often disfigure the 'American dream.'

And then in Japan, on the same day:
The mayor of the Japanese city of Nagasaki was shot to death in a brazen attack Tuesday by an organized crime chief apparently enraged that the city refused to compensate him after his car was damaged at a public works construction site, police said.

These things happening on the same day make my life immensely easier as now I don't have to answer to Japanese people telling me how everyone in America has a gun and how Americans and Koreans are so violent.

But yeah, as long as everyone wants to insist that they have the right to have a gun, this is going to keep happening, again and again. The article from London in the Yahoo! article is right on: this will keep happening, the numbers will keep changing, and everyone will keep talking about how violent America has gotten.

17 April 2007

Revolution at a lower price

Yoko's computer is still all effed up, but I bought an upgrade and I think it will solve the problem. Also, having a laptop is nice because I can hang out wherever and type. Now even, in McDonald's.

(By the way, if you get a Big Mac meal with the salad option and a Diet Coke, it's well under 700 kCal.)

So some kids had to introduce themselves to me in class the other day and the teacher wrote a couple of model sentences up on the board. One was, "I want to be X in the future." Kids were answering, "I want to be a doctor," or "I want to be a Pharmacist" (not quite sure about that one). Anyway, one of the kids said, "I want to be happy in the future."

This blew me away for a couple of reasons. First, Japanese high school kids do a really poor job of thinking outside of the box. This isn't always a bad thing, but usually if I say I like music, then about 60% of the class will say, I like music. Second, this answer to the question was gold. I mean, what does it matter what job you do. Who cares. If you're happy shoveling elephant poop, by all means, man, do it. So all the lawyers and doctors and pharmacists can try to climb up the social ladder and or whatever, but I'm with the kid who wants to be happy. That's awesome.

I love teaching English. I hate my job sometimes, and I hate the places that I have to teach sometimes (although those places are almost entirely gone), but I love teaching. And maybe next year I won't and that's cool too. But for now, I have the best job in the world for me and my little family. And that realization is the tops.

Also, I had a teacher tell me that he was interested in making ships of aircraft carriers (from WWII, of course, and not from the allied side, of course). Given my current troubles with Japanese history, I was a little wary when he said that, but he quickly said, But I hate war.

John Rabe saves Nanking, I find my i-Pod

Oddly enough the hero of the Nanking massacre was John Rabe, a high-ranking Nazi official. This doesn't help me as I try to figure out who is bad and not in the world. But, in a favorable turn for the Japanese, I found out that when politicians talk smack about Nanking in Japan (say it wasn't anything, really), they get fired. So that is one good thing. Abe is still an ass and this via Japan Probe helps give voice to the concerns.

Also, I found my shuffle.

Also, I got paid tonight and have a FLOOD of new students. Finally in a place to say, No, I will not come on a different night, and no, I will not discount, and no, I will not change the class time. Take Stephe-O or leave Stephe-O, but please, all you haters? The highway.

Now, if only I could connect to the internet on Yoko's computer.

15 April 2007

"When all your friends and sedatives

mean well, but make it worse."

cassadega

So I am listening to, and have been listening to, the new Bright Eyes record like it is the gospel. It's not really the gospel and to be honest, I feel sort of like I did when I first heard "Digital Ash in a Digital Urn"; that is, there are tracks I really like and tracks I really don't like. You can really hear him reaching for Dylan in some places, not that I disagree with that or think he isn't entitled to give it a shot or shouldn't be compared to Dylan. Rolling Stone called it his America record, and I agree. I still think, though, that "I'm Wide Awake, it's Morning" is a much more solid record. Or well-rounded.

13 April 2007

Rape of Nanking

One of the worst war atrocities of WWII occurred in Nanking, China, when Japanese soldiers entered the city and killed and raped without discretion for six weeks. The death toll is estimated at 300,000 people and the Japanese government has still not fully acknowledged the situation, choosing to refer to it as the "Nanking Incident". Prime Minister Abe has only agitated the problem recently by saying there was no government sanctioned forced prostitution. The new right in Japan has rewritten the history books to downplay the unbridled Sadism the Japanese army was drunk with. It's truly a startling thing.

As I read about Nanking, I showed Yoko some of the pictures. She had never seen them and had only heard that there was a controversy about what had happened there.

The result of learning about Nanking has not been good for me and my relationship with Japan. The passivity and inability to acknowledge this while acting confused and annoyed at the rest of Asia for keeping these memories alive really is horrible. Worse yet, as Abe has said, they view the "accusations" as an affront to Japanese morality and dignity. Japanese soldiers couldn't have done this.

That's the problem: thinking that your people can't do something. Anyone can do anything. Americans can torture, Germans can torture, Arabs can torture, Japanese can torture. When we say we are not capable of something, we are setting ourselves up for repeating the past.

So last night, as Yoko and I sat under the cherry blossoms, a group of Japanese men were completely drunk and singing loudly. Yoko laughed, That's an old, old song from the time of the war: let's die for our country.

I was reminded of an old man in an English class explaining to me why the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and it occurs to me now that what he told me was simply war-time propaganda: Japan was being pushed from all sides--we had no choice but to fight.

So... lest we forget

11 April 2007

Oh man!

This really says something.

Part-time instructor

Well, I am now a (part-time, one term, jr.) college instructor. It felt good in front of that classroom. Really, really good. We had a great first class and the kids were really kind to me and co-operative. This is the lowest rung of the ladder that I want to be on, and also the first job I got that one needs an advanced degree to do (well, not practically, but actually). Great!

You know what is a dumb song? "Wish you were here" by Incubus. "I can't believe I used to LIKE you!"

Gotta run. Run and write.

09 April 2007

Well

One of the teachers at school loaned me "Midnight Cowboy" this weekend. Today, he told me that it had been rated X when it first came out, and I'm not really surprised. Really strange film, but good. I also heard that Jon Voigt is Angelina Jolie's father. You learn something new every month, I'll tell you what.


07 April 2007

On teaching

Doing the wrong thing the wrong way

Of course, the Iranian thing only works when the hostages are in Iran. That's not discounting what Ahmadinejad accomplished a couple of days ago, but seriously dude, no one in the West is buying it.

Neocon war laments

This via Sullivan.
  1. Denial: "The media doesn’t show the good news in Iraq." 
  2. Anger: "The treasonous far-left-liberals and their media lapdogs are making us lose in Iraq."
  3. Bargaining: "If we send x-thousand more troops to Iraq, victory will be ours."
  4. Depression: "Did you catch 300 yet? [munch-munch-burp] God, it made me hate liberals even more. [channels flipping] They wouldn’t last a day in ancient Sparta."
  5. Advanced Literary Theory: "The hegemonic binary of 'success' and 'failure' traumatizes the (re)interpretive possibilities of an ethos of jouissance regarding the War in Iraq."
  6. Simply below the belt: Michael Ware's nose looks like shit.

06 April 2007

Makes it

To be honest, I was sort of dreading going back to work, but it wasn't so bad. We have a new ALT which is great because it means that we will be able to join forces when we need to. Seriously, I think it's going to be the tops. Plus, looks like I am going to get time off to go to Bangladesh. Plus, I don't have to work on Wednesday. Ever. That is just great.

This year is really not looking that bad. Not bad at all.

What I got done

Well, I have a meeting at school at 1 o'clock, marking the end of my 5 weeks away from my main part-time job. Last year, I spent my vacation very unproductively, so this year I decided to make a list of things to do (seen here). Anyway, I got most of it done, although there are a couple of notable exceptions. I didn't hit my goal weight (I'm still about 2~3 kilo shy, depending on the day this week), but I did manage to get my body fat down to 12%, according to the machine at the gym, at least. I also accomplished some other things:
  • Changed flat tire and all the snow tires on Yoko's car
  • Biked Sado
  • Got my JALT presentation submission done
So. That's something, I guess.

Keys to success

Hey, so I don't know what the big deal is about this. Look, taking a test is nothing. It only means that you are good at memorizing information. The SAT (or at least the SAT I took, seven or eight years ago) was a vocabulary test. The ACT was a little better as I recall, but you didn't have to write for either of them. I think they should replace college testing with some sort of triathlon, including some exams that test what you really need for college and life. Like, for example, how to suck up and network.

The GRE was the same. I took no math or science classes in college as I had finished them all my senior year of college. The last math class I took was College Algebra when I was 16. I was an English major and took mostly English classes in college. I also did pretty well, I thought. You know, nothing amazing, but I did okay. Anyway, I took the GRE and I scored 730/ 800 on the math portion and 580/800 on the English portion. This means I either totally missed my calling in life, or the test is complete bullocks. I think the second is more likely.

05 April 2007

MySpace, my women

Every time I go to MySpace, I end up running into people I haven't seen in forever. Hello you people I haven't seen in forever! My, have you grown.

Yoko said some of the funniest things I've ever heard her say yesterday. In Japanese, I don't know how odd they are, but when some Japanese words and phrases bounce around in my head in translation, they sound hilarious. Yesterday, recounting an encounter with a co-worker who is losing her hearing, Yoko said, "She can't hear anything. It's terribly inconvenient."

The baby, who we say again today, looks an awful lot like my sister. The baby had her head turned towards Yoko's back during the ultrasound, so the doctor pushed around a little to get her to move around which she did, but she didn't look happy about being turned around.

And you know what, give me a gold star or whatever because I wrote 1,000 dissertation words today. Only 11,000 more to go.

Doing the wrong thing the right way

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is very, very good at it. He played this thing perfectly, I think. In the West, we're all confused: what juxaposition between how we treat enemy combatants and how the Iranians do? What does that have to do with anything? I don't know how long we can keep up looking at the Middle East as a development project...

04 April 2007

Getting what you want

Well, so I got the idea this last week that it would really be in my favor to graduate six months early from my MA program. I doubted this would be possible, but I made the request anyway and had my dissertation deadline moved up to September 22nd. That's a little over five months away, apparently. Anyway, if you find me passed out somewhere in the park, please help me back to work or my apartment. And make sure that I'm writing when you leave.

Also, baby in less than two months.

03 April 2007

Paficism: 第一

True pacifism is not unrealistic submission to an evil power. ...It is rather a courageous confrontation with evil by the power of love, in the faith that it is better to be the recipient of violence than the inflicter of it, since the latter only multiplies the existence of violence and bitterness in the universe, while the former may develop a sense of shame in the opponent, and thereby bring about a transformation and change of heart.
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Okay, here we go. I figured that we might ease into this discussion by first trying to find some common ground, gather comments from interested/ interesting parties and then move on from there. If no one comments, I'll assume no one is interested/ interesting and go back to posting Blink 182 videos (which I'm totally cool with, by they way). I just don't think starting the conversation off with a statement like, "The Iraq war is unjust" would do anyone any good. We'll get to that later. First, I want to talk about Pacifism on a personal level.My interest in pacifism began with an article by Stanley Hauerwaus, the Duke theologian, about September 11th. I had been, in college, an ardent supporter of Just War theory as that was what Christians were supposed to believe in the circle of Christians of which I was a part. At the time I began to think about Pacifism, I felt it was a true reflection of my Christian faith at the time—a chance to take seriously the message of Jesus.

The Christian faith of my college years has evolved into something much more sketchy, but my strong belief in the importance of Pacifism has stuck with me.

I want to make perfectly clearly that first, I think arguing about Pacifism on a personal level is largely a theoretical endeavor. I have never been in a real fight, and I have not been acted on violently. Moreover, when individuals are acted upon violently, the chance to respond violently is often limited. So for me to say I would not hit someone if they hit me is nice to say in theory, but I doubt I will ever have to act on my belief. Conversely, the Just War folks that like to say they would happily kill a man with their bare hands if they did violence to their family will likely never have to deal with that situation.

That doesn't mean, however, that promoting or preaching a solid Pacifist ethic is not powerful or important for individuals because I think Pacifist thinking promotes love over revenge. This sort of thinking is especially important in our world today.

The first argument I want to make for individual Pacifism is quite simple. Individuals should not be responsible for imposing justice (when violence is involved or otherwise) on those that have acted unfairly or violently towards them or others. That is to say, humans tend to over-react when people do things to us that we don't like. Police and the rule of law work to mediate individuals because we do a crappy job on our own. If we gave guns to everyone and said, Kill who you think deserves to die, we'd have a bit of a mess.

Now, I understand that most people would probably not argue for that kind of anarchy, but I have the feeling most Just War folks would argue that in a situation where violence is being done to you or your family, you are morally obligated to intervene using any means necessary to stop the violence, even if that means being violent toward the person that initiated the violence. I think this leads to a lot of problems of justice, and although people don't like to talk about the rights of criminal, I think it is important to make sure that everyone in our society is dealt with justly, even if they have committed a violent crime.

Self-defense or intervention is, of course, the big question. DK and I talked about this once, and we really got to the crux of the problem: what constitutes violence against the attacker and what is acceptable intervention for the Pacifist? Clearly, this is murky ground for both the Pacifist and the Just War proponent. What action is acceptable to stop violence?

As a Pacifist, I would say that any intervention that results in violence being done towards the attacker or initiator would be unacceptable. One might put oneself in the way of the attacker with the intention to have any violence intended for the victim be inflicted on oneself. How this might play out in a particular situation would have to be dealt with case by case. But I think the same problem exists for the just war theorist. If you are raining down punches on someone who has tried to steal a purse from an old woman, there has to be a line where three punches is okay, but not four (or wherever you want to draw that line).

That will be my first question: Where should you draw the line?

Obama as Jesus

Dude, someone's been reading my blog!
Obama as Jesus


01 April 2007

Pacifism Primer

Andrew Sullivan says, Why not? "Money" quote:
Traditional just-war theory leaves the responsibility for grave decisions like these to the relevant authorities--the parties to the dispute and the countries planning to take action. We do not live under a world government.
Stanley Hauerwaus says, Oh no! Hauerwaus "killing":
Does that mean there is nothing we can do? No, I think that a lot can be done--once we free our imaginations from the presumption that the only alternative is capitulation or war. Nonviolence means finding alternatives to the notion that it is ultimately a matter of kill or be killed.

The Killers

Look, I don't like The Killers. But I had the "why do you waste my time" line running through my head all day... And boy are its feet tired!


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