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.

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 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 daycare 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 University 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

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 eighty 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

I'm not obsessed with hip hop music, it's just what's been on my mind lately. Everything 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 article 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 cannot 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

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 cannot 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 working, registering the baby for daycare, preparing for my trip to Tokyo, and drinking Mexican liquor.

Now, I'm going to go to Tokyo for the long weekend and attend the JALT conference, and present a paper/ I am also meeting with a potential PhD supervisor and doing some alumni duties for Birmingham because I am an alumnus 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 fucking on fire Obama is these days.

18 November 2007

15 November 2007

Epic road trip; Cock-eyed optimism

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.

  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.

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 into 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 n-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 a whole word over it.

12 November 2007

Trip to 水戸: Thoughts on the Pacific Ocean, among other things

I have been on several epic road trips in my life.

One to Ohio to see Radiohead. One to Birmingham, Alabama to see a reunited Hum. And one to Kentucky to see the Magnolia Electric Co.. America, in geographic and socio-political terms, lends itself to road trips. Gas is cheap, and the roads are free and largely straight. You can travel 500, 600, 700 miles in a day and be okay, more or less.

Japan, in geographic and socio-political terms, does not lend itself to road trips. If you take a look at Japan on a map, you can see that Japan is really just a sliver of mountains broken off from the mainland of Asia. Traveling from one side of 本州 (Honshu, the main island of Japan) to the other has been historically full of danger. Now, there are highways that have been cut into and through the mountains, but you pay the price for it. We traveled just about 300 km each way and paid 6250 yen each way. That's about $110 for 400 miles. Gas was another 6500 yen..

More than the price, the driving is just not terribly relaxing. The roads are narrow — in some places, you'll have four lanes, but in about half of the trip to this weekend, it was two lane. You're traveling over 80 km/hr, with only about a meter of asphalt between you and the oncoming traffic. This wouldn't be a problem if it wasn't mostly mountain driving where you are climbing up and down hills, through long tunnels, ten kilometers or more, and around sharp corners. Add fog and rain or snow, and you have to stop about every hour and half to unwind and pray.

We came through the mountains yesterday, out of Fukushima Prefecture and it all made sense. There, spread out like a blanket, was the Pacific Ocean. I always think when I see the Pacific Ocean that if I could just walk — walk straight across it — I would eventually be home. And all that is between me and the States is really just a bunch of water.

Trip to 水戸 3

These geese are incorrigible!

11 November 2007

Trip to 水戸 2

/> 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 very 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.

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:


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.

Goes now to 水戸

I've been busy reciting the alphabet and working on my research proposal and working on 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.

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.

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.

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.

More handwritten blogging + Metaphor brainstorm 1

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.

04 November 2007

A mixed bag: Sunday afternoon

Today included a big high point in my November so far when Yoko gave me these Bose in-ear headphones in 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 fucking 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

This is the moment

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?
The conclusions reached, and the reconceptualization suggested in the conclusion demonstrates a superior understanding of the issues at play in the field and offers a sound groundwork for a way forward in light of the limitations of current models of discourse.

The grammar analysis is also top-rate, and the summary offers a welcome overview of the analysis. The author’s conclusion, on page 32, that “Inconsistency seems to be the most consistent element in the blog entries analyzed in this study.” Is as compelling as it is unique—rather than insisting that a pattern appear in the data, the author has recognized that unclear results have the potential to be as informative or more informative than clear-cut definitions or distinctions extracted from the data.

The last chapter is as compelling as it is original, particularly the alternative discourse cline on page 36 and the discussion surrounding it, and the observation on page 37 that if texts “…can be understood as closely related to each other without clear, defined distinctions, then discourse can [be] discovered as it is, rather than what it should be” is top-rate.

Taken as a whole this is a well organized and researched dissertation that represents a superior piece of scholarship at the MA level.

Oh my Obama!

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

01 November 2007

Little gifts

I got a nice little gift today in the form of one of the older teacher's forgetting that we had class in the second period. I did not talk to him about having the class, just sat at my desk, watching the world go by. I have big plans for the rest of the day, I can't be bothered.

These plans include going to the dentist for a three month check-up, having the earpieces replaced on my glasses, going to the bookstore, and teaching my community center class.

Now that I have my grades from Birmingham, I feel like a kind of weight has been lifted. Things are still up in the air, but it feels like I'm moving in a good direction (life as a journey) rather than dead in the water (life as war) at my current job. I've managed to stop worrying about it. Yesterday, Yoko and the baby and I went out and about for the whole evening, with no stress and no arguing. The baby freaked out in the restaurant even, but rather than getting frustrated, I managed to get her outside and just accept that she needed to get away from the people. And that it was okay. There was no rush, no problem, no reason to get angry at her or Yoko. She just needed a quieter place.

Marriage seems to be full of all oscillation (marriage as a machine or system). And I found myself looking at Yoko last night and thinking, 'You know, I really like this person' — almost as if we were still dating. What an odd thing, to realize again that you like your wife. Or to kiss wife like you have thousands of times before, and it to be new again. This is certainly a gift.

My brother gets it right?

My brother has been talking about the possibility of Hillary Clinton making a mistake, to which I have always responded, Pish-posh: ain't going to happen. Well, this revolutionary guard as terrorists vote and this article might prove him right. Maybe not that she is stumbling, but that she is forgetting about the base and fighting the wrong fight. Either way, if this is all a part of a larger plan by the Obama campaign, I'll tell you what, my hat is off to him.

Even Sully sort of recanted.