31 January 2007


"The number of women aged between 15 and 50 is fixed. Because the number of birth-giving machines and devices is fixed, all we can ask for is for them to do their best per head." -Japanese Minister of Health and Welfare, Hakuo Yanagisawa

This quote has been in the news all this week. The Yahoo! translation wasn't that hot in my opinion, but it sort of depends on how you read [機械というのはなんだけど] which I would translate as, "Not necessarily machines, but" or "Machines might not be the best word, but". However you look at it, it doesn't sound that great and I'm no master of communicating with the women, but I think anything about baby machines should be out. Especially if you're going to let women vote.

The Prime Minister was on the TV tonight apologizing, as was Yanagisawa, but doesn't look like the brother is going to have to step down. What a great country. In America, this guy would be under criminal investigation. In Japan?
Abe, responding to an opposition questioner at a House of Representatives plenary session, said, "Cabinet ministers' remarks weigh heavily and (Yanagisawa) should reflect on causing misunderstanding."

"But, I'd like to see (Yanagisawa) perform his duties and achieve results, based on such reflections," Abe said.
Don't hate the player. Reflect on the game.

The best you could do

When I was in the States, Yoko and I went with my brother to one of the most bourgeoisie places I have ever been to: a running shoe store. At this store, very friendly salespeople try to sell you a load of bullshit by telling you that you need to change running shoes every 300 or 400 or 500 miles or something ridiculous like that. My bourgeoisie brother who is training for the big bourgeoisie super marathon, bought new shoes. I instead opted to hold out on my old Spalding set. I mean, every 400 miles is like every four months.

When I went to Tokyo this weekend I finally folded and got new shoes. Of course, I still support the revolution, but new running shoes, and new running shoes from Nike, are fucking awesome. They respond and you bounce. Your feet stop swimming around and stay in one place.

I got Internet at my desk at work finally which means I will be updating all the time now. Dumb updates, I assure you, but updates.

29 January 2007

From “In Other Words” by Mona Baker

The target language may make more or fewer distinctions than the source language... For example, Indonesian makes a distinction between going out in the rain without the knowledge that it is raining (kehujanan) and going out in the rain with the knowledge that it is raining (hujanhujanan). English does not make this distinction, with the result if an English text referred to going out in the rain, the Indonesian translator may find it difficult to choose the right equvalent, unless the context makes it clear whether or not the person in questioj knew that it was raining. (Baker 1992, 22)

28 January 2007

Iron and Wine, Tokyo

If there is any place to see the quietest band in the world, it is in the quietest place in the world. Iron and Wine played: no one talked during the whole set. Complete silence between songs. There were only two of us who cheered when he hit the first chords to "The Trapeze Swinger" and I was immediately embarrassed. It was perfectly quiet and sincere. The rabbit that I think lives in Sam Beam's beard didn't appear. Also, Calexico played.

I spilled coke and whisky on my camera and I think I might have hurt it.

Tokyo was nice otherwise. Heather took me around looking for shoes. I didn't stop talking the whole time. It was really a fabulous afternoon, one of the best I have had in Tokyo. Spent the night a J's and was up to three defending my interest in Buddhism. I skipped church this morning, slept, and finished On the Road in Shibuya and, ironically, on the road. Now I am home, feeling like I didn't quite get it out of my system and wondering if I ever will. And wondering what it is exactly.

25 January 2007

How it is

You ever see someone do the job that you do, only like 40 times better than you do it? I am taking over a class for another teacher and the brother can teach. It was compelling. It made me want to be a better teacher.

The whole class was really confused how I was only 24 and had managed to graduate college, enter a master's program, and marry and impregnate Yoko. One women asked, "Isn't your salary too small to support a family?" Well, I, uh, no, I, uh, think we'll, uh, do okay. "My sons are 26 and 29 and their salaries are very small." Uh, well, I, uh, don't worry about me.

Don't get me wrong, I love my unborn daughter with all my heart, but I'd totally give her like $10 to be born a month or two late. This conversation happens all too often: "So when is the baby due?" May 26th. "That's great. (pause) When did you get married?" July. (pause) Early July. The 8th. "Oh..." No, not oh. The child was conceived in the confines of a loving, monogamous marriage relationship. Well into that relationship by OVER a month, so please, cast your disparaging looks elsewhere.

Sometimes I'm Jack Kerouac

Ed Dunkel was a tall, calm unthinking fellow who was completely ready to do anything Dean asked him; and at this time Dean was too busy for scruples. He was roaring through Las Cruces, New Mexico, when he suddenly hand an explosive yen to see his see first wife Marylou again.
On The Road is really where it's at. I have this sad feeling though, when I read it, because I know that my time on the road in this way is pretty much done. But I understand it, the desire to just leave the house, start walking, everything be damned. This hasn't led me to the kind of percarious and interesting situations that Sal finds himself in. It did get me here to Japan, I guess. But I'm not really sure what an "explosive yen" is exactly.

I would make a really crappy beat poet. All that running out of money and sleeping on benches. I would freak out, probably.

What I hate though is this new kind of "I'm a beat too" in that "Me and my friend Bill piled into the Ultima and drove out to Phoenix one night. And we didn't stay at the Holiday Inn. We stayed at the Day's Inn. It was totally hardcore. And we ate at Chili's."

24 January 2007

The trouble with knowing

When I first came to Japan, I used to watch TV and think, "Everything I see on TV here is intensely interesting and confusing. When I understand Japanese, things will be even more interesting and even more enjoyable." Well, believe me, it's not.

Today, I realized that Japanese TV showcases some of the things I dislike most about Japanese society: people being ridiculously impressed with small things, people overreacting because they think it's funny to over-react like, "Omigod! It's a bird!" at a zoo, lots of "hamming it up", and skits — really dumb skits.

Japanese TV can be classified in a couple of categories:
  • News
  • Talk show
  • Quiz show
  • Eating show
  • Talk-Quiz-Eating show
  • Men dressed as women show
  • Eating show
There are also loads of celebrities in Japan, but I'm not really sure what they're famous for other than always being the "famous people" on the quiz the famous people shows. And they play for themselves, meaning any money they win they keep. Great!

After getting a haircut today that I feel "has a personality", I realized that I am going bald. I've got a couple of good years left. Me and my friend E talked about fashion yesterday for like a half an hour and how much we despised people in black shoes and white athletic socks. And how there's no excuse for wearing running shoes if you aren't running. And how important a good overcoat is. I've managed to become everything I hate.

I think Jack Kerouac is the shit. I also think Noam Chomsky is the shit.

Lastly, me and Yoko got engaged over 1 year ago. We rule!

20 January 2007

Building friendship

Yoko and I are going to buy a refrigerator today because our refrigerator has found itself stuck only on one setting: Wicked Cold. So cold, in fact, the freezer is freezing everything in the refrigerator.  This, though making for an interesting cereal eating experience, will not do. The most interesting part of this purchasing process is observing how much I have changed in a little under a year. Last year, when I was single and didn't care about anything, the answer to the question of which refrigerator should I buy would have been simple. The cheapest. Used, whatever, doesn't matter. The cheapest. Now, with a baby on the way and a wife, suddenly I find myself thinking, you know, We might be using this refrigerator for ten years. This might be a refrigerator that all three of our unborn children might use. Maybe the cheapest one isn't the best. So I find myself eyeing this one and thinking, Well, 60,000 is pretty cheap, I guess. And we find ourselves not asking, Can we afford a new refrigerator, but should we buy one. Is it a good use of resources. Oddly, the answer is probably that it is. And I will officially be no longer an interesting, wandering poet, but a refrigerator owning father and husband.

I've been trying to post all weekend, last night about flat champagne, this morning about job interviews and the feeling of standing in front of an empty college classroom for the first time thinking, "I'm going to get used to this very quickly." But nothing came.

We saw a picture on the front of a magazine last night that looked exactly like Naomi will probably look. Japanese eyes, blonde hair. I'm in for a world of hurt when that girl grows breasts and learns to flirt.

18 January 2007

Translation, moving up

I'm starting my new module on translation next-next week and going to try to explain why this translation is wrong. Well, not "wrong". Just wrong.

I shit you not, I'm drinking Champagne from a bottle. Why? Well, first, it was there. Second, it's Yoko's birthday. Third, it looks like I am almost done teaching kids. Two more months. My new career path doesn't include any children that haven't come out of Yoko and sort of look like me. My new career path includes more money, more driving, slightly more prestige.

17 January 2007

Beating Obama: a guide to not sounding ridiculous

Hey, so everyone knows that I love the H E double hockey stick out of Barack Obama. I think he's honest. I think he's cute. I think he's smart. But I am certainly open to hearing why he is none of these things or why he is a bad candidate for President. Unfortunately, I have only been hearing really silly arguments about why he's a bad candidate, so I thought I might help my friends out on the right by giving a little tutorial on how to criticize Obama without looking ignorant.

Bad Argument #1: Obama's a political newbie. He's a baby. He can't be President.
Here's the problem with this argument, Obama served in the state senate of Illinois from 1996 until he became US senator in 2005. You count up those years of political experience and by 2009 (when he will assume office) that's like 12 or 13. Our current commander in chief was only governor of Texas from 1995 until he assumed office in 2001.
Better Argument #1: Obama's experience in the state senate did not prepare him for being President. He may be politically experienced, but 7 or 8 years as a state senator is way different than 5 years as a governor.
(Be careful here because you might be running McCain who is a senator. Obama also taught constitutional law at The University of Chicago. That might be considered a huge advantage for people who care about things like the constitution).

Bad Argument #2: Obama hasn't said or done anything.
Well, he did just write that book of policy. He has been an outspoken opponent of the war and arguing for a slow withdrawal from Iraq. He's introduced loads of bills in the senate and the state senate. There's plenty to disagree with.
Better Argument #2: I disagree with what Obama stands for. In his book (or in X speech or in X Bill he sponsored) he said Y and I think that's wrong.

Bad Argument #3: He hasn't been under enough scrutiny. Once he gets under the microscope, then he'll have problems.
You're gonna have a hard time convincing folks that since he made that speech in 2004, the Republicans (or anyone who doesn't like him) haven't been trying to dig the dirt up on the guy. He's been the most watched jr. senator in quite some time, I think.

Bad Argument #4: He hasn't said anything disagreeable or divisive.
Yeah, he probably won't as long as he can. People LOVE agreeable and inclusive people. If you'd rather have someone who's so strong-willed and steady-handed that they continue in their path while being disagreeable and telling Irish TV to stick it up their bunghole, well, that's fine. But it can't win another election in this political climate and it can't unify the world against "terrorism", two things that are pretty crucial to becoming President in 2009, I think:

So you wanna beat Obama, you're going to have to eventually argue with him instead of blowing him off as a flash in the pan or a media-darling. That's been going on for two and half years. He doesn't seem to be running out of steam yet.

Update: I can't get Wordpress to let me comment so here is the third comment in the string-

Well, you can check out this list, Presidents who were governors:

* Thomas Jefferson - Virginia
* James Monroe - Virginia
* Martin Van Buren - New York
* William Henry Harrison - Indiana Territory
* John Tyler - Virginia
* James Polk - Tennessee
* Andrew Johnson - Tennessee
* Rutherford Hayes - Ohio
* Grover Cleveland - New York
* William McKinley - Ohio
* Theodore Roosevelt - New York
* William Taft - Philippines
* Woodrow Wilson - New Jersey
* Calvin Coolidge - Massachusetts
* Franklin Roosevelt - New York
* Jimmy Carter - Georgia
* Ronald Reagan - California
* Bill Clinton - Arkansas
* George W. Bush - Texas

And US Senators:

* James Monroe - Virginia
* John Quincy Adams - Massachusetts
* Andrew Jackson - Tennessee
* Martin Van Buren - New York
* William Henry Harrison - Ohio
* John Tyler - Virginia
* Franklin Pierce - New Hampshire
* James Buchanan - Pennsylvania
* Andrew Johnson - Tennessee
* Benjamin Harrison - Indiana
* Warren Harding - Ohio
* Harry Truman - Missouri
* John F. Kennedy - Massachusetts
* Lyndon Johnson - Texas
* Richard Nixon - California

It seems that at least historically, we've held the two as equally electable. I think because a person is a President and not a set of former experiences, it will come down to who is the better leader for country at the time. Bush has really shown us that Presidents don't make policy; they approve policy. Bush has been broken by the people he's chosen to listen to, not because he makes bad policy.

Many people have called Obama a black man, but I'm not sure why he isn't as often called a white man. I mean, he is bi-racial. His father was also African, not African-American. I think this is a big difference. Maybe it's not.

In the end, Obama will benefit from the Clinton machine, either as a vice-presidential candidate or as a presidential candidate with a Clinton as his vice-president.

16 January 2007

Clean-shaven, hopeful

Well, I finally got some exercise and cleaned up. Now, I want to count some of the good things that have happened the last 36 hours.
  1. My family is a Skyping family now. I like it a lot, not because I like people to see me all the time, but because I get to save 2.5 yen for every minute I talk. Great!
  2. I finished my paper for Module 4, Corpus Lingusitics. Great!
  3. My weight gain over the holidays has disappeared. Now, back to January 2006 levels! Great!
  4. I totally beefed up the box on the back on my motor scooter. Now, hinges! Great!
  5. I finished my first paid translation. Great!
  6. The weather is great. Great!

15 January 2007

Obama appears to me in a dream

Me as crap

Last night, Barack Obama appeared to me in a dream. We had a conversation about my brother becoming his personal assistant. When I awoke, the weekend was over and I remembered that I had not updated you, my good readers, in quite some time. I imagined all of you, lost and concerned, wondering what had become of me.

Your worrying was not ill-placed, I assure you. The last couple of days have been heavy in moral dilemma and light on peace of mind and good karma. Not having showered since some time on Saturday, I look tired, run down and hung over.

This weekend, I watch Hotel Rwanda three times. If you haven't seen it and need more to worry about in your life, I suggest this film.

I have also been reading On the Road finally, and liked this part here, specifically:
All this time Dean was telling Marylou things like this: "Now, darling, here we are in New York and although I haven't quite told you everything that I was thinking about when we crossed Missouri and especially at the point when we passed the Bonneville reformatory which reminded me of my jail problem, it is absolutely necessary to postpone all those leftover things concerning our personal lovethings and at once begin thinking about specific worklife plans..." and so on in the way that he had in those early days.
It hasn't all been all f-bombs and frustrations. No sir, I have managed to score myself a part-time, one-day a week job at a junior college. That, my friends, is the very lowest rung of a very tall ladder that eventually, in like 15 years, will end in tenure. I'll take what I can get.

We do good to the Irish

Yet when asked if he owes the Iraqi people an apology for botching the management of the war, he said, "Not at all.

"We liberated that country from a tyrant," Bush said. "I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude."
Apparently we've also helped the Irish.

I don't mean to just be sarcastic and snarky. I just think there's not a whole lot we can say. He's just a bad interview, I guess. All the "Let me finish" statements just make him look angry and cornered.

10 January 2007

Tries not to swear

If I get through this one without saying fuck or shit or even goddamn hell, it will be a success.

What troubles me? Japanese dentistry, that's what. Every time I go to the dentist, I come back feeling less like a person and more like a disfigured American cog in a well-oiled Japanese cog-making machine. My main complaints with Japanese dentistry follow:
1) Your teeth should not hurt more or chronically after they have been fixed. I don't care is Japanese people are "more patient" than other people when it comes to pain. In America, we manage to fix people's teeth so they have no pain. I know, I know: we are a fat, wealthy people.
2) Do you really have to dig out half of my tooth to get that cavity?
3) When you dig out half my tooth, could you please replace it with something other than silver? Oh, that's right, insurance won't cover porcelain. Some Japanese bureaucrat doesn't understand that the collective teeth of the country look ridiculous.
4) Dentists answer questions about causes, not ask them. For example, question: "I have a headache all the time, I think it might be related to that piece of metal you put in my mouth in June." Bad answer: "Hm... you think it's related?" Seriously, I'm the one with the bib on. That's what you're getting paid to decide.
I also lost one of my cash cow classes and with the pay cut at my normal job (the cog-making machine rears it's ugly head again), I am trying to figure out how to make all these things fit.

08 January 2007

James Taylor, Karma, and lust

Watch me type those three things together:

Today marked 6 months of (85%) wedded bliss for me and my Yoko. We celebrated by buying shelves and eating curry. And also promising to go for another 6 months. Being married is not quite like I imagined. I listened to James Taylor on the way home and that song about how when he's with his lady, things are just better. And that's true of me and Yoko. Just quietness: shelves and naps.

You plant bad seeds, you get bad plants: I am seeing this play out in an aquaintance's life. You cheat and then are cheated on. It's natural. What goes around, comes around. Karma, unless you don't like that word. Then call it whatever you like.

Lust gets left out.

07 January 2007

6 months

Yoko and I will have been married for six months tomorrow.

Knowing the sex of the baby (or at least thinking we know the sex of the baby) has been making this experience much more real. I told Yoko today that having a girl will be the end of me as the two of them will be able to get me to do anything they want, any time they want. Yoko said that it will be great because the both of them will like me so much. I suppose this will be a great feeling, two women that adore you.

Dissertation Proposal follows:
In the last fifteen years, a new form of written discourse has emerged on the Internet. Exhibiting characteristics of both spoken and written discourse, personal narrative on the Internet has become a genre unto itself. Particularly, the recent phenonom of "blog" writing (keeping an online "diary" that is publicly accessible) appears to be developing as a powerful tool in modern discourse. Although some work has been done on "blog" writing from a sociological perspective (references here), no work has been done to describe "blog" writing in linguistic terms. What are the linguistic traits of the "blog" genre?

This research will seek to take the first step in outlining what makes "blog" writing unique from other kinds of written reporting, and examine how blogging exhibits traits of both spoken and written discourse to create a distinct personal narrative, while also investing the how tools new to Internet discourse (such as linking and image posting) shape content and style. The paper will also discuss whether or not the term "blog discourse" is ultimately too broad for general description. The implications of this research should have direct application for blogging software developers as well as linguistics mapping the trends in discourse on the Internet. If models of personal narrative can be to other data points (such as age, gender, or race), developers can more accurately produce software that caters to their target audiences.

06 January 2007


Looks like we are going to have a baby girl. This is great news for me. I really, really want to have a girl. A boy is okay, too. The doctor couldn't see anything that looked like a part of the male anatomy but given my Finnish genes, who knows.

I talked to a couple of people about my blog while I was in Chicago, and I was thinking again about what goes down here and what it says about me as a person. But I think I will stick with what I have said earlier and continue to do my best here to write sentences that I am proud of.

I got a couple of great things while back including a new keyboard that can do anything and small 120 gig external hard drive that I initially thought was really slow, but isn't and gives me a great feeling of security now that everything is backed up.

America impressed me this time around. Everyone was really polite and cool and things went really smoothly. I tell people that this is not normally the case. But I was really impressed with how simple things are in the States. You don't have to do a bunch of gymnastics to do something simple like invest money. You can do it all the internet.

I read Obama's new book and it was really good. I think he has what it takes to go really far. You can make fun of me for being starry-eyed and optimistic. I can make fun of Mitt Romney's Mormon Pants.

I looked for a video of Kweli's "Joy" which really describes my current feelings about the little girl baking inside of Yoko, but I couldn't find it.

05 January 2007

Japan says hello

to you all. Yoko and I made our way back, expecting so much snow, but there is no snow on the ground here.

More to come, later this weekend. Maybe a picture or two.