Saturday, December 31, 2005

List mania 2005: Gaming

Again in no particular order.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Even larger environments with even more sub-games and distractions, this proved to be about the biggest game in 2005 for me. Many hours were spent playing and idling about. I also re-discovered my bitter-sweet, love-hate relationship with GTA in general with the horrendous crashing problems culminating in me taking out my aggression at my Xbox slightly too hard and thereby needing to replace the DVD-drive.

Penny-Arcade vs. Jack Thompson
Practically the whole gaming world blasted Thompson earlier this year when he offered to give ten-thousand dollars to charity if someone made a videogame according to his specification, but when someone actually made it as a modification for GTA he retracted the offer. The whole gaming community then watched in awe of Penny-Arcade's humongous testicles as they went on to donate the sum in his name anyway.

Nintendo DS
Going from "what the heck is that?" to "wow, that game looks really cool!", Nintendo seems to have really re-bounded in the eyes of many gamers. In a time when many are tired of titles like First-Person Shooter 6: The Return of the Sequel and the technological dick-measuring contest between Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo steps up and reveals first the Nintendo DS with its touch-screen input and follows that up with the unveiling of the Revolution controller. Many have said this is a return to form for Nintendo and vocally gives them their support. Let's see how many puts their money where their mouth is when the Revolution launches late next year.

And this years non-event for me:
Xbox 360
In one word: meh.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Nintendo DS GET!

I finally got my Nintedo DS yesterday, and first impressions are very good. I like how it folds together since the screens run a smaller risk of getting scratched then. The first thing I looked at was PictoChat, the chat/doodle application in every NDS. It was a pleasant surprise that you can write hiragana & katakana in the chat even on models sold outside of Japan. I originally thought that one might be able to practice stroke orders with it, but after having tried it I don't think the resolution is high enough for the more complicated kanji. Since I don't know of anyone else with a DS I haven't had a chance to try to chat wirelessly.

I also got a game for it this Christmas, Kirby's Power Paintbrush, so I could also try out how the stylus worked in-game. Perhaps it was partly nostalgia (I was a big fan of the Kirby game on the NES), but as soon as I drew the first stroke in the tutorial mode I just started grinning like a little boy. I really felt like I was 12 again, or however old I was at that time.

It's pretty strange, but about two years ago, when I first heard of the Nintendo DS, with it's two screens, one of them a touch-screen, I was really scepticle about it. In my mind I was thinking of the Virtual Boy (heck, who wasn't?), but with time a number of titles appeared that all got good reviews and looked incredibly interesting. I would like to mention two factors that were important in turning me round to actually get one: Edge Magazine and Penny-Arcade. From Edge I got the proper reviews and also reviews of Japanese DS titles, I think that with my growing interest in Japanese this was one of the deciding things. From Penny-Arcade I could read a first-hand account from a sceptical early adopter that gradually started to see it's benefits. In fact, Penny-Arcade recently posted a retrospective of sorts in regards to this. I can't say "I told you so", because what he's describing is roughly how I feel, except I wasn't there to support it in the beginning.Publish

Monday, December 26, 2005

List mania 2005: Music

Inspired by Sho, in no particular order, some of the albums that have piqued my interest this year.

Boards of Canada - The Campfire Headphase
After the strange, though still OK, Geogaddi, I was a bit hesitant about this album. After reading that it was a return to form for BoC, I was less hesitant. It's a really nice album even though it only has one track that really stands out for me.

globe - globe2
As my favourite band, this was a certain buy. Another return, or perhaps rounding another corner; reaching a new level, perhaps. On this album globe moves away from the trance-oriented style of the last couple of albums and focus more on rock/pop.

Ketsumeishi - Ketsunopolis 4
I got slightly interested in Ketsumeishi after hearing an older song, "Natsu no omoide", but this, their most recent album, is also quite nice and hops into the list.

Orange Range - Natural
In a short time, I've become something of a fan of OR. Ever since hearing the catchy tune of "Ishin Denshin" I have been captivated by the simple, memorable melodies of their easily accessible hybrid songs (is it pop, rock, hip-hip or rap? A little of all). Their latest album continues on the same formula, and has me hooked.


There are also a couple of ones that were likeable, but not quite there:
Bennie K - Japana-rhythm
I liked their Synchronicity, but Japana-rhythm has just completely failed with capturing my interest. Perhaps it's that it's too similar to the previous one, just more of everything: more repetition of choruses, more handclaps... But nothing much that sounds 'new' to me.

m-flo - Beat Space Nine
Just like with Bennie K, I really liked their previous album Astromantic, but Beat Space Nine feels somehow lacking to me. Despite an appearance by Lisa on "Tripod Baby", where they do manage to re-capture the sound of the old m-flo (except for part of the song that sounds like it was just jammed in there), this album just doesn't pull me along in the same way as Astromantic.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

What to do with your music?

I've been thinking lately about music, more specifically about the music that I would make myself.

I often just sit down and play around, recording what small pieces of chords and/or melodies that I come across that I like. It's not really "composing" per se, but it isn't playing someone else's composition either. But I could easily see myself taking the best pieces of what I've recorded and expanding a bit on them, trying to work them up to something that could be called, without too much stretching of the word's definition, full tracks.

The problem comes when trying to decide what I want to do then, when I have the tracks made and recorded. What's the second step? A record company? No, I've read far too many accounts of how bands get ripped off by traditional record companies, left penniless and without ownership of their own music anymore. I've heard far too much to buy the rock'n'roll-star dream that gets most record company contracts signed.

Alternatives? Put it up on the web, either uploading it somewhere myself (searching reveals a load of options, Google video, YouTube), or perhaps submit it to Magnatune and hope people hear it.

The second problem is that most people listen just to what's on the charts, meaning artists signed on big record labels. Looking around at comments from artists, and knowing from personal experience, it takes a lot for people to actually go out on the web and actively search for new and unknown music. Too much for most. I have myself been guilty of that laziness, knowing that there is lots of good music out there, but instead sticking to the bands I know, all signed with big record companies.

Of course, I'm probably thinking too much ahead. I should probably focus on trying to first make something.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

「楽引辞典 DS」を注文しました!


Means I've ordered the Rakuhiki Jiten electronic dictionary-software for Nintendo DS. Now all I need is a Nintendo DS...I'll try to write up some impressions after I've had the chance to get to grips with it, but seeing as the interface is all in Japanese it could take a while.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Japanese done for this year

Calligraphy test today, and I can't believe I forgot what the katakana "ra" looked like!

バカ…

Oh well, at least I got the stroke order for one of the unfamiliar kanji right. I was looking at it, trying to remember what we had learned about stroke orders, trying writing it, but then I had a gut feeling that it was wrong, so I changed it. I just looked it up (in the wwwjdic multi-radical search) and my gut was right!

The middle stroke going straight down comes second.

And after the test I took the opportunity to practice a bit on one of the schools pianos. It's not very often that I get teh chance to use a real piano, so I thought I'd get a bit of experience with the real thing. Since it's so close to Christmas it seems most of the students that are usually there have gotten their vacation already, so not many people were there that I could embarass myself infront of/disturb ;)

Japanese starts again sometime in January. Let's hope I can get that damn history essay written. (Need to remind myself often of that.)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Tests

Yesterday we had the big Japanese test, and today we went through it a bit to see what the answers were supposed to be. I also noticed some more mistakes that I had made (like writing 番 without strokes 2 & 3). The part of the kanji test where you should write the kanji that corresponded to the given hiragana kicked my ass. I had answers for less than half, and one of them I know now was wrong (the previously mentioned 番 in 電話番号). I think that I have enough points from the other sections to pass, but I guess you should never say never.

Tomorrow is the calligraphy test, which is shorter and supposedly easier. I think the most difficult part will be remebering the order that the hiragana is placed in the kana-table. Luckily I have a simple word to remember it by: Akasaatana-hamayawan. Ok, maybe not so easy...

And after that it's the end of this season! Just the 10-page history essay to write over Christmas then.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Nobel - literature: Harold Pinter

Below: "I possess moral authority. You see this fist? This is my moral authority. And don't you forget it."
I just got to watch Harold Pinter doing his Nobel speech, and even though he might have gotten a bit zealous, he said some things that really needed to be said. In the lecture he also recited a speech that he would write for Bush had he been his speech-writer...
God is good. God is great. God is good. My God is good. Bin Laden's God is bad. His is a bad God. Saddam's God was bad, except he didn't have one. He was a barbarian. We are not barbarians. We don't chop people's heads off. We believe in freedom. So does God. I am not a barbarian. I am the democratically elected leader of a freedom-loving democracy. We are a compassionate society. We give compassionate electrocution and compassionate lethal injection. We are a great nation. I am not a dictator. He is. I am not a barbarian. He is. And he is. They all are. I possess moral authority. You see this fist? This is my moral authority. And don't you forget it.
In any case, if you haven't seen/heard/read it already, you can do so at the Nobel Prize website, where it's available both in text and video.

Too Damn Late (starring Garageband) - Part 2

So, after spending yet another evening with Garageband (trying to make a track so you wouldn't spontaneously vomit when you heard it) it is now 03:46. And I had planned to study for next Wednesdays Japanese-test today... :(

とにかく, this song is supposed to have more of a hip-hop/r'n'b feeling. Unfortunately, I can't do hip-hop/r'n'b, so it doesn't sound too good. But at least the title is decided, "Booty Call". I'll just have to write some lyrics around that theme now. Wish me luck, I'm going to need it since I don't actually know anything about booty calls.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The ones that got away

This is my bookshelf. (It's pretty ugly, but that's not the point. The wallpaper behind it is also pretty ugly, but that's not the point either.)

Besides being my contribution to the Internet literary dick-measuring competition, I have another reason to post the picture: I would like to talk about some of the books I have, but haven't read yet.

Death is a lonely business by Ray Bradbury. I started reading this, but was quickly put off by it. It seems as if the author is trying to write a Stephen King-novel, only the problem is that he isn't any Stephen King. The premise is blurry at best, with the main character trying to chase someone, or perhaps something, down. What that thing is isn't clear yet, but at the pace it's going I'm not sure I'll stick around to see what it is.

The Corrections (Swedish edition) by Jonathan Franzen. I read this in English around the time it came out, and it's a really great book. I found the Swedish edition on sale so I bought it on an impulse. Now if I could only find time to read it.

Stuff by William Shakespeare. I have two books, Hamlet and a huge "Complete Works of" kind of book, both bought at a time when I was optimistic enough to think I'd be able to get through them. The collection book I found also on a discount for just a few euros, so I thought "what the heck, might as well get it". (Incidentally, I also got War and Peace for a similar price at the same time, you can imagine that the plastic bag I got to carry them in was close to breaking.)

Hothouse by Brian Aldiss. I had heard about Brian Aldiss being a good sci-fi author (him having written the short-story that the movie A.I. is based on and all), so when I found a book by him at a used books-sale at the local library I picked it up. It was pretty fascinating, but it just didn't hook me to read the entire book at the time. Perhaps I'll get back to it at some point.

Traitor for a cause by George Markstein. To be honest, it's such a long time since I stopped reading this book that I don't remember anything particular of it...

Berättelser om natten by Peter Høeg. I knew of Peter Høeg from having read The Woman and the Ape, so I picked bought this used from the library when they had it for sale. Haven't read it yet, though.

Hazard (Swedish edition) by Mario Puzo. I don't know if the English title is the same, but anyway... I used to be a big Mario Puzo-fan when I was younger. Or perhaps not Puzo directly, but more interested in the mafia thing as a whole. I also read a book dealing with the chase and capture of real-life mafia boss John Gotti. I think I've read all of the Godfather books seen all the movies based on them. Though the interest has died off a bit, you can still see traces of it in my current fascination with the yakuza movies by Takeshi Kitano.

The Cat Who Walks Through Walls by Robert A. Heinlein. Another one I picked up used. Haven't even read one page of it yet, just got it because it had an interesting title and I needed another book for the "4 books for 1 euro" deal.

River of Death (Swedish edition) by Alistair Maclean. Another used book I got from the library. I had heard of Alistair Maclean before, so I thought I'd pick it up and see how it was (but looking at the Amazon customer reviews, it doesn't seem to be too good).

Down Among the Dead Men (Swedish edition) by Micheal Hartland. Another one I got to even out the numbers. Have no idea what it's about.

Det långa avskedet by Jurij Trifonov (English translit.: Yuri Trifonov). I don't know what the title is in English. I also got this used (see a pattern?) just after having come off War and Peace, and I thought I'd try not to become one of those who just reads only one Russian novel and then thinks that's enough.

Crime and Punishment (Swedish edition) by Fjodor Dostojevskij (I imagine the English translit. is somewhat different). I borrowed this from my sister for about the same reason as above. And that there had recently been a mini-series on TV based on it that I couldn't be bothered to watch, so I thought I'd just read the book instead. Currently I have read half of it, being on quite a long break from it... But reading it is pretty difficult, simply because I seem to easily fall into the mind of Raskolnikov, so with all the hardship and tension he feels I also get put into a bit of the same torment. Whenever I'm actually reading it, it feels like I can't put it down because I want to know what comes next, but after every session I feel sort of drained...

Jag minns att jag drömde by Bo Carpelan. For those who don't know, Bo Carpelan is one of the most prominent Finnish-Swedish writers, so I figured I'd better read something by him.

Less than one (Swedish edition) by Joseph Brodsky. This is the last one on the list. Haven't read anything in it, but looking at Amazon it seems to be a collection of essays.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Too Damn Late (starring Garageband)

I really thought I'd be able to start normalizing my sleeping-patterns, but then my brother starts building something in Garageband, one of the easiest, most creative and most time-wasting things there are on the Mac. The simplicity combined with the power makes for an absolutely addictive experience, you Windows-users should be thankful you can't use it. It eats you up whole.

So, it's now 3 AM, with my brother originally starting the thing at 7:40 PM. Last change on that file is at 8:30 PM, which is when I took over, saving the changes I made to a new file. I just now got off it. Dangerous.

On the plus side, the tune came out sort of nice. It's sort of a dance-tune with a good beat to it. My brother found a cool bass-sample in the GB loop library that I fixed up a bit for my own purposes. The song actually turned out in a way that it could take on some vocals too. Maybe I should contact our cousin, who we have sort of decided should be the singer for the band... Wonder if she still remembers our verbal contract ;)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

"Love is condom"

Original article (in Japanese). Last sentence graciously left untranslated due to me not being certain on what is meant.
The talent Eriko Satou (23) and 'Punch' Satou (40), on 26th [-ed. note: November, presumably], participated in the aids prevention information event "Red Ribon Campaign 2005" in the metropolitan area.

As the number of HIV infections have exploded in Japan, Satou appealed for the use of condoms: "'Love is condom'. AIDS is preventable so everybody please use this knowledge and protect yourself. If you are worried, get yourself tested." On a talk show, Punch took part in a condom use demonstration on a male dummy. As a specialist corrected him, he exclaimed "This is wrong?" with a smirk.
You heard the man. Love is condom.

Thanks to mdchachi on the Japannewbie forum for correcting my original horrible translation.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Dokument: Humor

That headline is in Swedish, but the meaning should be easy to translate since the words originate from English (or perhaps both the English and Swedish words originate from the same source, don't know much about the origins of those words).

Anyhow, Dokument: Humor is the title of a documentary-series aired on the Swedish SVT2 researching and dissecting comedy. It's been said that dissecting comedy is a bit like dissecting a frog: it's gross and the frog dies. It turns out that that saying is partially true; the show isn't laugh-out-loud funny, but it does provide some interesting insights into what goes on behind the comedy. Only two episodes have aired so far, but even now it has the feel that it could work like a "Comedy 101" class.

The show is hosted by Henrik Schyffert, a Swedish comedian that shot to fame in the early 90's, starting under the alias Glenn Killing, "hosting" the parodical show "I manegen med Glenn Killing" (I don't know how to translate "manege", so I'll let it be). The participants in the production were later to be called "Killing-gänget", and went on to produce some of the best comedy shown on Swedish TV. Since SVT are a progressive and magnanimous bunch they've had the good sense to make some of the clips available on their website!

The clips are all in Swedish, but there are soom that don't require that much understanding... Try Torsktortyr (a wonderful Reservoir Dogs spoof), Glenn Killing interviewing Roxette (if you know who Roxette are you'll appreciate the irony of the interview going in English) or Early Veiron calls USA. To view the video, check which media player you prefer (though the Realmedia is higher quality) and press 'Spara inställningar'. You can also use the direct links to the streaming video under 'Länkar till externa mediafiler'.

Torsktortyr: Realmedia or Windows Media

Glenn Killing interviewing Roxette: Realmedia

Veiron calls the USA: Realmedia or Windows Media

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The New Japanese Alphabet

No longer are the Japanese content with merely horribly mispronouncing the more intricate sounds of foreign languages, they have now turned to completely re-shaping the letters themselves!"Cragy Mama", "Crajy Mama"? I wonder a bit how would the character be pronounced in English...

Sickness and insomnia

Today was the first time that I skipped Japanese class. (Ok, technically the second since there was a history lesson that I didn't know was mandatory.)

I had been feeling pretty bad on yesterday (Tuesday), a bit of a stomach-ache and dizziness, but figured I'd get to bed earlier and get a long rest would see me fit for fight. Unfortunately, as usually happens when I'm really wanting to rest, I couldn't sleep. This also happens sometimes on days when I have an exam the next morning; I go to bed thinking I'm going to really rest and I end up tossing and turning half the night.

As I had layed there in bed then, for an unknown amount of time, I finally decided to check the time. Turned out I had been laying sleepless for almost three hours. Jeez... Realized that I'd probably feel like shit anyway if I in some miraculous way got up in time, so I decided it was best to turn off the alarm and take today off.

Feeling better except for a weird aching in/around my left eye. Sort of like a head-ache, but in a different place. I hope it's not my brain trying to escape.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Orange Range (オレンジレンジ)

This is another band that I'm interested in right now. Here's a biography at Nippop.com because I'm too lazy to write an introduction myself.

I think I first came across them when I heard a song of theirs in a CM (commercial) for some cell-phone service. (In case you didn't know, most commercials in Japan are often accompanied by snippets of pop-music as opposed to original "jingles".) The song was Ishin Denshin, and that 30-second or so piece really got me interested. Before long I had their musiQ album ordered from YesAsia...

They mix pop, rap and catchy melodies in quite an interesting way. Though their songs are often a hit-or-miss deal for me, I feel that the hits far outweigh the misses. (Especially in the case of Hana, a wonderful song that I have hopes of learning to play on the piano some day.)

They've sometimes been accused of copying too much from other artists/songs (probably rightfully so in the case of Locolotion). But I'm more interested in the music than discussing the morals of re-using melodies and chord progression that have been around forever anyway.

You can hear some samples on the Sony Music Orange Range sound & video page.

Here are also direct links to the samples of the songs I've talked about:
Ishin Denshin
Hana
Locolotion

Friday, November 18, 2005

雪だ! It's snowing!

It's been snowing most of the day now, really starting to look like winter. I like how the snow makes it look a bit brighter.

***
This is something I wrote a couple of days ago, when I was feeling a bit down. I left it a bit uncompleted and didn't feel like posting it at the time (it was like 3 AM). I fixed the intro very slightly, but otherwise it's pure nightly drivel.

"I've felt pretty boring lately, like I'm not doing enough to actively interact with other people. Completely boring and void of personality. Which lead me to wonder what is it that makes personality?

"I've always been a shy person (or at least since ca. year 11 onwards) and that shyness has sort of grown in and incorporated as a general quietness and hesitation toward new people.

"It feels a bit as if I've lost touch of the 'original' me and I'm now drifting around aimlessly, searching for some meaning. I think the feeling might have something to do with the (Japanese) history (before 1868) that we got to see the results for yesterday; you might remember that I thought it went pretty well, but in reality I passed with only a margin of only a couple of points. Seeing all the red colour from the corrections made me wonder if it's expected, or wished for, that we learn all of this history well enough to give 100% accurate dates of any event asked of us.

"Whatever line of work you choose it feels like it would demand of your full dedication to it. There is no room for Jack-of-all-trades or renaissance people, only those who have specialized in that one thing, which they then use to bring food to the table, or rather, money in the bank, until they retire or are replaced with automated machines."

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Movie night!

Today we watched a movie in our school; it was a pretty good turn-out, most from my class and some of our senpai were there (yes). The movie we watched was Tanpopo, which I actually first learned about from Japannewbie on the Learn Japanese from Movies page (I've now seen the first three of the five films listed there).

The plot is losely based on a woman who gets help from a couple of passing-by customers in making her ramen shop the best in town; I say it's only losely based on that because so much else happens in it... For example it begins with a gangster-like character talking to the camera, directly to the viewers of the movie, about how the various noises other members of the audience makes annoys him. Alongside the main story about the noodle-shop we then get to see occasional scenes from the life of the gangster, and also his death where he is shot multiple times by an unknown, off-screen character. (Curiously, the movie ends shortly after his death.)

In conclusion, it was weird, but weird in a way I like!

***
On the drive home I started thinking about relationships. More precisely I started thinking about an old post at Bleeding Isaac (which is great, btw, I've been thinking about re-reading some of the posts about philosophy) about Plato's thoughts on the origins of the sexes. I can't really copy-paste the entire text, so I'll try to sexually assault it in order to please your short attention spans:
[T]he original human nature was not like the present, but different. The sexes were not two as they are now, but originally three in number; there was man, woman, and the union of the two, having a name corresponding to this double nature, which had once a real existence, but is now lost, and the word "Androgynous" is only preserved as a term of reproach.
[...]
Now the sexes were three, and such as I have described them; because the sun, moon, and earth are three;-and the man was originally the child of the sun, the woman of the earth, and the man-woman of the moon, which is made up of sun and earth[.]
[...]
Terrible was their might and strength, and the thoughts of their hearts were great, and they made an attack upon the gods[.]
[...]
At last, after a good deal of reflection, Zeus discovered a way. He said: 'Methinks I have a plan which will humble their pride and improve their manners; men shall continue to exist, but I will cut them in two and then they will be diminished in strength and increased in numbers[.]
[...]
After the division the two parts of man, each desiring his other half, came together, and throwing their arms about one another, entwined in mutual embraces, longing to grow into one[.]
I feel so dirty having cut up Plato's writing like that... Here is Wes' comment on it:
There is just something so appealing about the story. It gives new meaning to the word "soulmate," doesn't it? Two people are separated by the gods and long for oneness again. They try to hold each other so tight that they are pressed back together. Sex is just a way of regaining what was lost.
It is indeed a nice thought, but personally I can't honestly say I believe in the concept of soul-mates. I would want to believe, and if I finally meet that someone I will probably preach the same, but until I see powerful indications of it, I can't say I believe in it. Though that doesn't mean that you shouldn't!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Japanese loanwords

Through my time with Japanese I've seen some weird words, often coming from English, mutilated by the limitations of katakana. Some are pretty obvious where they come from, but others can be tricky... Here are a couple I've noted down so far (in no particular order):

スチ/スチュワーデス: スチ being the short form, this word comes from "stewardess".

リモコン/リモートコントロール: Another word that has a shortened form, this is similar to パソコン. Comes from "remote control".

トラベル: In this word it's a combination of the last two that threw me off at first. This actually comes from the word "travel", with 'b' and the Japanese 'r'/'l'-sound substituting 'v' and 'l'.

イベント: Comes from "event".

ベートーベン: This was a headscratcher for me, as when you transliterate it it becomes beetooben; not very similar to the original name "Beethoven".

アナ/アナウンサー: This was also tricky because the first time I saw it it was in the short form. Just アナ sounds like a name, and I originally thought it was that, but then I saw it attributed to many different people. After a while I saw it in a context that also mentioned the full form アナウンサー and it was clear that it came from "announcer".

ヘルスケア: "Healthcare". There is also ヘアケア, "haircare".

アラート: "Alert".

キャラ/キャラクタ: "Character". I should clarify that it seems to be used only for describing the physical character, not having character as in "moral or ethical strength".

サムネイル: This I wouldn't have had the foggiest what it was unless it was in a context with many small images... "Thumbnail", as in a thumbnail-image.

サントラ/サウンドトラック: The longer form should make it clear that it comes from "soundtrack".

コラボ/コラボレーション: "Collaboration".

メアド/メールアドレス: This I saw in the Densha Otoko drama. The short version of this is particularly tricky since it doesn't really hint at what the full word could be ("mail-address").

セクハラ - I don't know if this has a long version or not, but be sure not to get into "sexual harassment".

レス: I'm not sure of this, having not confirmed it's meaning, but I've seen it in the BBS context, so I assume it would come from "response"/"respond".

スレ/スレッド: A bit of a weird one. Comes from "thread", with 's' replacing the English 'th'-sound. Tricky.

Maybe a part 2 will follow if I come across more interesting words.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Fear of failure

I've seen some people talking about the National Novel Writing Month, and thinking a bit that it would be good for me to do it too. The only problem is that I have a strong fear of failing, or in the case of NaNoWriMo (as it's oddly shortened to), not producing one of the top novels.

I'm sure that it stems somehow from my low self-esteem, preferring to not do something rather than doing my best and realizing my fears that I suck at it. This is especially the case in competitions where there's a cash price. There is a yearly writing competition here, every other year poems, every other year short-stories; I've thought many times of entering, but I keep thinking that if I'm going to enter I'm going to do it right, reading previous winners and crafting the perfect story so I'd be guaranteed the first prize. This however would require time and effort that is difficult to muster. The answer of course is to just write what I want and let the chips fall by themselves, but that means I might not get a cash prize, which is, to be honest, a large part of the competition (being a material boy such as myself).

While I'm talking about writing, I'd like to mention that while I can speak and write (damn near) fluent English, It's still not a language that I see myself primarily writing in. When I look back on the texts that I've written in English, it seems all too good, too easily accomplished; when I write in Swedish, on the other hand, I feel as if I can express that little extra that can spice up the language. It's a bit like, when I write in English, I'm writing just pulp, but when I do it in Swedish, it's something that's approaching literature. I'm not sure if outsiders who read both languages would be able to spot the same difference that I feel is in the text, but for me the gap between the two is quite visible.







...







Apologies, my mind just went blank all of a sudden.

My reading exercises

Every day there are a couple of Japanese websites that I check out, both for reading practice and out of pure interest.

Daily Sports entertainment news - To be honest, I don't really care about politics... But as I use Japanese entertainment a lot in my studies (a bit of a stretch, perhaps) I've taken an interest in the entertainment news. Sharp-eyed readers will see that the url ends with "gossip", which says it all, I guess.

Sanspo.com entertainment news - Same reason as above, just another one I've taken a habit of checking.

goo entertainment news - Another one, but this site also has a section with video clips that you can watch for listening!

Mitt Liv I Sverige - A blog by a Japanese exchange student in Sweden. It's good exercise and pretty fascinating to see a neighbouring country through the eyes of a Japanese person.

Now comes some sites dealing with my otaku/fanboy tendencies...

globe official website - The website of my favourite band, globe. (Which is, surprise surprise, a Japanese band. If you're wondering, the band name is really spelled with a lower-case "g".)

Global Relation BBS - A message board about globe.

globe thread at 2chan - The latest 50 posts in a thread about globe at the Japanese BBS 2channel (aka. 2chan).

And while we're on the topic of entertainment, here's a pic of one of the most popular comedians/"talents" right now in Japan, "Hard Gay" Razor Ramon! (God, I hope I don't get mistaken for a porn blog now.)In Japan, he's known simply as "Hard Gay" or "HG". His trademark move is hip-thrusting and ending every other sentence with a scream of "Fooooo!!!" Here's an article at Mainichi (English) if you're interested in knowing more about Hard Gay.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Distraction

And.. Oh my god! What's that OVER THERE!

Elongated

What's the matter Jacke, you look so elongated?
I think the word you're looking for is "exhilarated".
Whatever. What's up with the exhiliration?
What? I don't need a specific reason to be exhilirated, do I?
...
I do wish we'd have more chances to meet our senpai, though...
And why is that..?
To practice Japanese, of course! That's all! Nothing else to it.
It wouldn't happen to be about a girl, would it?
No, now drop it.
You sure it's not about a girl?
...
Well?
No comment. Now let's never speak of this again.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Weird game

Linked from An Audience With O-Kami-Sama-Sama (yes, that's the name of the blog) I found this wonderfully weird game.A bit of time-waste warning on that one; I sat with it for about an hour just watching the reactions unfold. I got to 2469...

Monday, November 07, 2005

Next-gen hesitation

So my mind is still very far from made up regarding the upcoming generation of game consoles, even though that generation is just a couple of weeks off (seeing as the Xbox 2 is supposed to be launched November 22 in the US). After Sony showed their willingness to give it to their customers in the ass my previous thought of going with the PS3 has been rocked. But having suffered from a bad DVD-drive in the first revision of Xboxes, I feel hesitant to invest in another one...

The solution for now is to wait and see what happens. If fortune allows it, I might be getting a Nintendo DS soon(-ish). I might even skip this generation altogether...

電車男

After recommendation from Sho, I started watching the drama 電車男 (Densha Otoko, translated to "Train Man"). It's about an otaku who by chance meets a woman on the train home. Here's a bit more from Jdorama.com:
Tsuyoshi just happened to be on his way home from an event in Akihabara when he met Saori. He has never been in a fight before, but the sight of the drunk harassing Saori made him furious as he stood up to protect her.

The only things Tsuyoshi is usually interested in are anime and video games. But something about Saori's beauty lit a fire in his heart, giving him courage. When he's looking for words to apologize, Saori hands him her date planner. "I want to return a favor, so can you write down your address?" Tsuyoshi is taken back. He has been humiliated a thousand times by women, but never appreciated, especially from a beautiful woman like Saori. Saori has a sweet smile on her face as she watches Tsuyoshi write down his address with shaking hands.
It's interesting because I'm a bit geeky myself, though not as anime-obsessed as the main character here. But it's easy to imagine that if my interest in Japan would have been awokened earlier, during the darkest time in my school-years (age 11-15 or so), I would have been sucked into it and might have ended up even more introvert than I am now.

The other interesting thing comes from watching the main character being confronted with the things that until then had been unfamiliar to him, like shopping for new clothes, going to restaurants to eat and using hair gel.

I have only seen two episodes, but I'm already liking it! I'm watching the subtitled release of course, I'm still a long way off from being able to understand un-subbed shows...

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Yet another reason to get a DS

And it's called DS Rakuhiki Jiten (kanji: 楽引辞典). Means something like "easy to bring along dictionary" I would guess. Let me quote the info from Play-Asia.
An easy-to-use dictionary that includes English-Japanese dictionaries. Words can be entered by drawing, selecting from the 50 Japanese sounds, or in roman alphabet. Also DS chat functionality can be used, for example, to discuss the pronunciation of a difficult kanji, or to have a language test. The software is a kind of "Electronic Dictionary".
Damn, that sounds like it could be really useful. 欲しいな〜 (Hoshii naa). Usually electronic dictionaries would go for about 10000 up to 40000 yen (ca. 100-400€), but this is available for just over 40€. (Yes, you need a Nintendo DS to use it, but I've been thinking about getting one anyway, so...)

I've pretty much decided to get one (a Nintendo DS), it's just the money issue that's stopping me...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Temporarily confused

You know you're on the right track in your Japanese studies when you see the capital I & J next to each other in the Lucida Grande-font and you accidentally read it as "ri".

Word verification: activated

Unfortunately, due to a persistent spammer posting from North Carolina State University under the name of Mike (probably fake), spamvertising some MP3 site, I've had to activate word verification for comments.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

I get up, I get down

For some reason unknown to me I've been feeling a bit down today. In theory I should be content, seeing as I have just had an exam today that felt pretty good (I might even pass this one on the first attempt!), and there's nothing on the horizon except for learning more Japanese, which I actually enjoy.

I thought that maybe it was the nagging feeling that I should stop living as a parasite and get a real job, but that's not really it (besides, that's always there). No, I believe what I'm feeling currently is the emptiness that comes from the lack of a relationship with another human. Not the kind of relationship you have with your family or fellow man, but a relationship you have with someone of the opposite sex (usually, as is the case for me) you feel attracted to. I suppose you should get used to not being in a relationship, and I guess you wouldn't really be able to miss something you've never known, but I think it's something fundamental in the human psyche that urges us toward coupling up, and if that urge is suppressed for long enough you start developing oddities and/or depression.

Oh well, back to studying kanji, I suppose.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

よろしくお願いします (Yoroshiku onegaishimasu)

This is one of the phrases that I have the most difficulty translating to another language. The first part, よろしく (yoroshiku), comes from the word 宜しい (yoroshii), meaning "good; OK; all right; fine; very well; will do; may; can". The second part, お願いします (onegaishimasu), meaning "please", comes from the word 願う (negau), meaning "to desire; to wish; to request; to beg; to hope; to implore".

The problem (for me) is when it's inserted into regular situations. It's hard to translate it in a way that it seems natural in the target languge (for those wondering, "target language" is the language you're translating to, "source language" is what you're translating from). In a way, it seems to me a pretty meaningless phrase, carrying no further meaning than to emphasize what has come before it, but it can also be used to imply a request.

Let's have a look at some translations of it.


This first example is from the drama-series "Great Teacher Onizuka". In this scene Onizuka first arrives at the school and introduces himself to the other teachers. The phrase is here translated as "I will be counting on your assistance, pleased to meet you." (Translation by Japan-TV Fansubs.)


This is Morning Musume appearing on the show Pop-Jam, with them meeting the person on the right for the first time, with him bowing, phrase translated as "Nice to meet you." (Translation by mpz.)


This is Morning Musume appearing on Utaban. They've appeared on the show multiple times in the past, so in this context it would be inappropriate to translate it as "nice to meet you", so this time it's translated as "Happy to be here", even though it's the same phrase in Japanese. You can also pay attention to how the older members (front line on the sides) don't bow as deep as the younger ones. (Translation again by mpz.)


From Morning Musume's new-years special, the spoken phrase is 今年もよろしくお願いします (kotoshi mo yoroshiku onegaishimasu), translated in this context as "Please support Morning Musume this year!" (Translation by HPS.)


Leaving Morning Musume before you get the wrong impression, here is a scene from Utada Hikaru's "UH Live Streaming". In this context it's her staff she is speaking to, so presumably she is already familiar with them. I guess this would be translated as a request for co-operation on todays task, translated as "Good luck today." (I don't have the info on who translated it at hand, will update later. The DVD linked to earlier is not subtitled.)


The last one is from the drama "Long Vacation". In this scene the parent (left) is asking the piano instructor Sena (right) to teach her daughter (even though it looks like a boy), or "take her under his wing" so to say. In this context it's translated as "please treat her well." (Translation by Japan-TV Fansubs.)

As you can see from the above examples, it's a very context-sensitive phrase when you step out of the "meeting-for-the-first-time" instances. If you have access to subtitled material, it's good to see how others have translated the phrase and see which best suit the context you are trying to translate.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

先生のコト (Sensei no koto)

This is our teacher, Elomaa-sensei. He speaks god knows how many languages and is probably one of the brightest people in the country.

The picture is a bit old since nowadays he has a bit more of a beard going. There's a newer picture at Aino's blog, which I will take the liberty to crop and post.


Speaking of other blogs and our teacher, I found the blog of one of our 先輩 (senpai) at Livejournal. The way I found it is sort of interesting so I will force it upon you; I knew we had a teacher coming who was named Kimura. Wanting to find out more about this person, the first stop was the Japanese department at the University of Stockholm. There among the list of personnel you could find an image of Kimura Hiroko-sensei (who I found out is a woman). Google didn't turn up anything interesting, so next stop blog-search Technorati. Ugh, too many results to go through using just the Hiroko Kimura search-term, so let's try with quotation marks around it (making it search for that specific word sequence). Much better. First result: The Trooper, by Nanashi, who appears to be one of our senpai. Interesting...

And among the posts I find one with a lot of pictures! Cool.

But some weird comments...
vitsi, elomaa är ju hot!
-sinisterr
Roughly translated as: "Damn, Elomaa is hot!"

Friday, October 21, 2005

Re: Weblog usability

Via Blogger Buzz comes an article on Weblog usability by some schmoe. Some of it is alright, but most of it you can probably ignore.

1 & 2: No author biography/photo.
You don't need this, and if your goal to blog anonymously due to governments not looking kindly to critical opinion it would even be highly discouraged.

4: Links don't say where they go.
Most browsers have a little field at the bottom of the screen that writes out the destination of the link. You could also actually make the text that is linked informative enough to not need any further description (like how I linked to the article itself above). Though the article on link titles was quite informative.

8: Mixing topics.
This depends of course on what you write about. Do you want to write about chocolate one day and what you thought when sitting on the loo the other? Why shouldn't you be allowed to do that? The ultimate question you have to ask yourself is "who are you doing it for?" Are you blogging for yourself or are you blogging for popularity?

9: Forgetting you write for your future boss.
This goes a bit in the same category as 1 & 2. If you write with the expressed purpose of appealing to your future boss, isn't that limiting your writing to only that which you think is publically acceptable? Will you be able to be honest with yourself (and in your writing) while attempting to promote yourself, and still write about everything you want?

10: Having a domain name owned by a weblog service.
Yes, very good for you if you can afford a cool adress like www.mrphillipscoolworld.com, but not everyone can (afford it). Having multiple weblog services also almost guarantees that there will always be someone that doesn't charge.

We now return you to your regular browsing. Get out of here.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The 7 types of bloggers

Maybe a mix between "The Everyone Else Seems To Be Doing It Type" and "The Smug Self-Centred Columnists".

Which one are you?

Edit: Looks like Kill All Blogs!-blog went to a premature death, but thanks to the Google cache I can resurrect the relevant parts:
7 Steps to Blogging Hell”

The Wretched Personal Blogger: This is the “my life is shit, I hate myself and I want to die” approach to blogging or the forlorn lovers. You remember the kind from school, brooding loners with an inclination towards the morose poetry of TS Eliot and hanging around cemeteries after dark. They hated you and your friends because you had friends and blamed their unpopularity on being misunderstood by society at large. They called themselves deep and meaningful. The rest of us just called them losers and tossers. Now they use the blogosphere like a counselling session and for depressing the rest of us with their glum navel gazing and posting dark lyrics from talentless Goth bands. Yes you did get one thing right though: your blogs are shit, we all hate you so please just fuck off and die a slow torturous death.

The Delicate Empathetic Flower: You know the ones, they’ve overcome adversity in their lives but are now so damned positive as a result. They’re in touch with their feminine sides and love everyone. They have a tendency to get sentimental but counteract this by posting current photos of the sky and telling us all about the great support they get from their friends and family. They are quick to hand out positive advice to others, which is so pathetically obvious you wonder whether it would have been better if they had been put down at birth. The only thing these kind of bloggers are useful for is helping to detox our systems with their vomit inducing posts. The Chris Martins and Gwyneth Paltrows of the blog world!

The Stinking Arty Farts: Generally fancy themselves as photographers or modern artists. They post photography every day of such meaningless subjects like their route to the bathroom or the dregs left at the bottom of their coffee mugs. They never have anything critical to say about anyone else’s photography even when, to the rest of us, it’s a stinking crock of shit. They generally work in the classified sections of newspapers or web companies but pretend they work on the art desks. Best way of dealing with these pretentious fools is to post a photo of a fresh dog turd and tell them their “art” inspired you.


The Smug Self-Centred Columnists: These are the wannabe newspaper columnists. Generally well educated and with a host of initials after their names. However, what they don’t realise are that these letters tend to form anagrams of words like “wanker” or “bastard”. They like to give their opinions on the news, politics and current events. Of course, the rest of us don’t take a blind bit of notice and visit the BBC or CNN for our fix of the news. They blog simply because everyone who knows the away from the net won’t have anything to do with them because they are the worlds biggest bores too fond of their own voices. Good fun to leave comments on their blogs asking for porn and if they get naked on cam.

The Oh So Bloody Funny Fool: Bloggers who think they are so amusing and are under the misconception they have an internet cult following. The reality is everyone is laughing at them rather than with them. Tend to litter their blogs with links to so called amusing anecdotes on obscure websites, generally because they can’t actually think of anything funny to post. They tend to be ageing graduates or ex 6th formers who still think the epitome of a “good laugh” is walking home after a night at the pub with a traffic cone on their head. Have a lot of spare time to blog as they tend to be “in-between jobs right now”. The truth is they are unemployable with their media studies degrees.

The Unsexy Sexual Blogger:
Often found lurking behind sexblogs with titles like ‘A Cum Whores Diary’ or ‘Spank Me Wank Me : Confessions of a Politicians Rent Boy’. Seem to think the whole world wants to read about their imagined sex exploits with badgers, vibrating toys and the quadriplegic in the apartment below. Truth is these bloggers are getting less sex than the rest of us because they spend every hour searching porn sites for photos to copy and paste. Their main ambition is to eventually seal a multi million-dollar book deal for their sexblog. Wankers!


The Everyone Else Seems To Be Doing It Type: Until a week ago they had never heard of blogs. They then heard about them on a daytime chat show and just had to have one. They blog for the sake of it and never, ever actually have anything to say. These are the internet equivalents of watching paint dry. Their blogs tend to be in diary type formats and are worth reading just to make us happy that we’re not them. We couldn’t give a shit about your children, your boring job or your fucking pets!
-Windscreen Fly, Kill All Blogs! (gone)

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Why most webstores suck (somewhat)

This screenshot says it all.

Here we have the product info page for the re-issue of Boards of Canada's "High Score" EP, and according to the product recommendations, what have other people bought? Coldplay, (Swedish hit popband) Kent, (Swedish Idol-winner) Darin and (cropped out) Robin Williams. So not only are they expecting me to believe that other people who "bought" this yet-to-be-released re-issue, but the recommendations only brought up chart-topping artists.

I'm sorry CDON, but I can't suspend my disbelief enough to fall for that.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

"Anime and Learning Japanese"

Anime may get people initially interested in Japanese, but the article fails to mention what happens to these people after they start taking the courses. You can go to any Japanese program in the USA and you'll probably find that 80% of the JAPA 111 (or whatever the course number) students are there because they're interested in anime.

But how many of those people come back the next semester? Not many. Once you get into the upper level Japanese classes, most students are either Asian themselves or they have some genuine interest in the language. As the years go on, the classes get smaller and smaller.

So while anime may attract a lot of students to the Japanese program, they're also instantly turned away. Don't ask me why that happens though. But I think a lot of it has to do with false expectations about the difficulty (e.g., "KONICHIWA! I can speak Japanese because I watch anime! Ja~ne bakayaro. Kawaii ne").
-zmcnulty

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Yay. (Said with sarcasm.)

My letter to the editor was published. It was a bit surprising as I had included my little anecdote (though in a slightly different shape), and also stating that that would mean the letter itself would be illegal seeing as it described how to circumvent copy protection. Does this mean that the paper is also breaking the law as they are distributing the information further?

I've really become weird since I started reading Slashdot. Soon enough I'll probably start programming and grow a beard.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Beware: concerned citizen

I just wrote my first "letter to the editor", in reply to some random politician who's been drinking the corporate Kool-Aid.

More precisely, it was about that old thing. I tried to get my brother to care, but that proved to be an exercise in futility. Just as in Nazi Germany, nobody notices unless it's something that directly involves them. I suppose I'm not much better since I haven't really done much up to this point. Not that a letter to some backyard paper would do anything either, but at least it's off my chest now, and now I can go on with my plan to not buy any CDs by companies involved with the RIAA. Luckily, this does not include the soon-to-be-released new album by Boards of Canada "The Campfire Headphase"! Looking forward to it very much. I would rate their "Music Has The Right To Children" as one of the best albums in my collection (which says as much about my collection as the album, I suppose).

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Strange things on my mind

Sometimes I can come to some really strange conclusions/ideas. Usually afterwards I can't remember what line of thought it was that got me there.

Just now when I was sitting on the toilet, I started thinking of one time when the water pressure was so low that the toilet couldn't itself get water for flushing, so we had to go to the tap in the basement (where there was a little water pressure) and manually fill it. From that I started thinking of the old outside toilets ("outhouse" is the word I get with this) before there was running water and flushing the bowl. We actually have one of those on the yard next to a spot that previously used to be a wastepile, though understandably it's not being used any more. I remember once when a sunflower seed got into that pile of waste and it got really big. I thought that it was probably due to all the spillings there that it got all the nourishment and got so big... Then I started thinking that dead bodies also contain a lot of nourishment for plants and stuff.

And so I came to the conclusion that maybe that's where the custom of putting flowers on graves come from. That it wasn't done from the start, but people noticed that everything, including flowers, grew better on the spot where someone was buried, and everybody just started copying nature, putting flowers themselves on graves. Maybe Wikipedia has something on that...

Thursday, October 06, 2005

In the future, we are all criminals

Once, I tried to copy a copy-protected audio CD, but it couldn't be read by the computers CD drive. I used a piece of adhesive tape to cover the outermost track that was used to disrupt computer CD-drives and thus I was able to copy it.

According to a new Finnish law:
Possession of tools that allow circumventing copy protection mechanisms will be illegal. Even for personal use.
Do you own adhesive tape?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Whoa!


At first I thought it was Photoshopped, but unfortunately for that guy it seems to be quite real.

*One PS-session later*

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The reason I read Slashdot

The comments.
When I started engineering school, all freshmen had to take some orientation lectures to learn about the profession that is engineering, etc. After going over some starting salaries for engineers, the dean who was lecturing said in closing, "But, no matter what, knowing what you'll make after graduation is not enough to get you through it. I promise you that. If you're here for solely the money, you will not make it. You need to be here because you enjoy it."
-pyite

Sunday, September 25, 2005

I want a DS

For those not in the know, that's a Nintendo DS.

Even though everyone says it's a "dead system" and that it'll get pounded in the behind by the PSP, I still want one. Looking at the games for it, they appeal very much to me, with stuff like Another Code 2, Touch! Kirby's Magical Paintbrush, Electroplankton, Ouendan and Super Mario DS (I was a big fan of Super Mario 64). What I've heard of the games for the PSP is that it's mostly a PS2 in your pocket, not much new in terms of concepts or gameplay. Of course there are (probably) a couple of good games for the PSP too, but they don't seem as interesting to me as the line-up for the DS.

Having played games for about 10 or so years now, I guess I'm getting into that age where graphics are not the most important thing anymore. I guess having spent the last couple of years with the "check-box line-up" of the Xbox has also left me longing for a good old Nintendo-made game. (Before I bought the Xbox I was a longtime fanboy of the big N, having owned the NES and the N64 [though skipping the SNES, oddly enough].)

There's a good quote from the latest Edge magazine (154) concerning the difference between the two portables:
The PSP: a handheld for people who know what they want. The DS: a handheld for people who want what they don't know.
And for those following all the links I gave to the games, you will notice that they're all Japanese versions, which is another motive I have: to learn language through games. I could really see myself trying my hand at the Japanese version of something as text-based as Another Code 2, with a dictionary beside me, working through the game...

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Re: Insanity of the RIAA

Sho wrote a really nice piece about the RIAA that popped up in my mind again after someone from IFPI Finland (basically Finlands RIAA) said that if you can't listen to your purchased copy-protected "CD" on your Linux or Mac system, then tough noogies, buy a CD player. (The irony, for those who missed it, is that the copy-protected discs are not real Compact Discs.)

There was also a very interesting comment on it too:
The interview from which this was quoted is about the new Finnish copyright law, which is basically a Finnish version of the DMCA, following the EU directive on national copyright laws. (The interview was originally published in the Tietokone magazine; rumor has it that Mr. Kyyrä was less than amused at being quoted verbatim, and a cleaned up version was put up a few hours later.)
The high points of the law include (these are mostly quoted from Electronic Frontier Finland's FAQ on the law at http://www.effi.org/tekijanoikeus/laki/tekijanoike us-faq.html (Finnish only)):
  • prohibition on sale, distribution, possession and "organized discussion" (yes, it says this; no, "organized discussion" is not defined; yes, it's hard to see how this isn't against the Finnish constituion) of products whose purpose is the circumvention of DRM (this would include all non-sanctioned DVD players using something like libdvdcss);
  • prohibition on copying of "efficiently" protected music or other copyrighted material to, for example, MP3 players; this is sort of allowed in one clause and expressly prohibited in another (this has been the major point seen in public discussion in the last few days);
  • prohibition of "parallel" import of goods from outside the EFTA; individuals can still order goods from outside the EFTA, but all (including private) resale is prohibited; it doesn't actually matter whether the import is "parallel" or the only import, it must still be sanctioned by the copyright holder;
  • possibility of expansion of the "cassette tax" (currently paid for recording media such as audio tapes and CD/DVD-Rs sold in Finland; money goes to the record labels based on how many records they sell, IIRC) to other media that "may be used to store copyrighted material"; this potentially includes all hard drives.
There is also a neat little strip on the EFF page that I tried to translate to English.
I really don't have anything of significance to add that hasn't been said before, I just thought I'd post something.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Bad is the new Good (literally)

Watching a couple of Japanese TV shows, where food is one of the seemingly mandatory elements, you could easily be confused.

There seems to be a big part about the report you give from eating: is the food good, really good or super-duper good? There are various phrases to convey the message that the food is good, and the one that often has me confused is ヤバい ("yabai", for those not able to see Japanese). According to WWWJDIC, it can mean "awful (young persons' slang); terrible; crap", so would that mean that the food tasted bad? No, because it can also mean "terrific (young persons' slang); amazing; cool". Young people can be so contradictory sometimes...

Sunday, September 18, 2005

DrunkBot, 04:32 AM (GMT +2)

Since yesterdays (or rather, Fridays) test didn't go too well, I thought I'd go out and drown my sorrows with drinking and dancing. Alright, so that had been planned for a while, but still.

Why don't I talk about some stuff and you read. Good deal, no?

My absolute favourite drink would be something called "Virtanen". It's probably called something else elsewhere, but it consists of vodka and Battery (don't know the proportions). By the way, is it morning in Australia yet? Anyway, the Virtanen then contains alcohol, caffein and sugar, which to me is a pretty nice combination. (Yes, people die from it, I know, cheers.)

The nice thing for me is that it really keeps me going. When I go out, it's mainly to dance and have fun, not to "pull". A good night out for me is when my feet and legs are as sore as my head the next day. Unfortunately, the mates pulled out on me towards the end, heading for the lamer part of the club where some older music was played.

If I ever get to Japan, I'd definitely want to check out Velfarre...

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Rhyme of the restless student

Tomorrow I'm having a test,
I'm attending not only in jest,
I intend to pass,
if only the points I can amass,
so's to again put my mind at rest.
fin.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Relief

It's always a little adventure ordering stuff from YesAsia. Since I don't have a credit card I need to pay by cheque (aka "check"), which means that for about a week after I send it (through ordinary mail) I worry about if it will get there safely or it will be snatched by some less-than-honest postal worker. (As a sidenote, YesAsia is really good to order from with their free shipping for orders over 40 USD.)

Once again the payment reached them, but I can't help to think that it's inevitable, from a probability point of view, that one of the letters will eventually get lost...

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Deja-vu, or just spam?

I was surfing across blogs, and one blog with a post about Castro and Saddam seemed to come up way too often... Going back a couple of time revealed that it was in fact the same text, posted on multiple blogs with the same template! What the heck?






Just on a lark I did a Technorati search for "castro saddam", and can you guess what came up?

Learning through movies

I watched Battle Royale again today after a suggestion from my brother. Having a Japanese movie suggested by my brother is a bit out of the ordinary since he usually never watches any "foreign" movie (ie. a movie with subtitles), but BR is one of the few foreign movies he's managed to watch to the end. Even my sister started watching it!

While watching, I was pleased to note that I could understand a lot more of what was said than last time I watched it, which means that I am progressing in my learning...

Last time in Japanese class we dealt a bit more with pronunciation, and we also learned a bit about how some words that are spelled the same have slightly different intonation. We have for example (hope you can view Japanese text) 開く, "open", and 悪, "evil", both pronounced "aku", but the word for "open" rises in tone after the "i" while for the word for "evil" the tone falls after "i". There were 78 of the examples in the compendium we got...

Speaking of movies, Takeshi Kitano's Hana-Bi was what really sparked my interest in Japan/Japanese... (As far as I recall, anyway.)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

A weird story

I came to think of a rather strange incident while reading a comment somewhere.

This happened a winter some years ago when I was walking home from clubbing on a Saturday night. There was a number of kilometres I had to walk from the center of town to the place I was going to crash, and after walking about halfway I came across a guy (about my age, by the way, not a bum or anything) just laying on the sidewalk. And this was wasn't in any sort of logical place to sleep either, especially in the winter. So I looked him over a bit, fearing first he was dead (he had a really nasty looking bump on his head), and tried to wake him up, ask him if he was alright. I started in Swedish since, well, I was a bit intoxicated and didn't come to think of that he might be a Finn. Anyway, he came to, and through some strange exchange we started to speak English with each other, even though I probably spoke better Finnish than he spoke English.

I asked him why he was laying in the middle of the street, and he starts going on with some weird story about him being attacked by some black dudes, and when the police showed up they had supposedly done something to him too. I say supposedly, because in the state he was in, he probably could have imagined the whole thing. Seeing as he was going in the same direction he tagged along.

As we were going along and speaking in English, he asked me where I was from. And for some reason I thought that "I'll just say that I'm English", and spun up a whole story about my father being from England and grew up there and later moved to Finland. I said earlier about the state of drunkenness he was in, and while we were walking I could tell that he was pretty out of it; he asked me repeatedly how it was that I spoke English and from where I was. Since I didn't want to upset him I went along and gave him the story again... Though I do wonder if he wasn't confused since I said I grew up in England but spoke with the more American accent I've gotten from watching TV shows. If he was, at least he didn't call me on that one.

He did wan't to stop and beat up a random person we passed by on the other side of the street, but I managed to talk him out of that. We went our separate ways eventually, but for some reason, that incident has stuck in my memory.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

America(n politics)

I don't usually discuss politics, mostly because I just don't like it. Politics is for the most part just boring bureaucracy, completely uninteresting to me. But it's also a subject that can get really serious really fast, with people getting upset as soon as you speak any sort of opposing viewpoint. As I said, I don't like politics, but recent events across the pond in the USA has me scratching my head at what is really going on there.

While surfing the web it seems as if I've come across more and more blogs by Republicans or Conservatists. (Before I go any further I would like to clarify that I don't know politics, I'm not in the loop with the party system in the US, I don't even live there.) Let's take one I came across just now, called Forward-ho. In the post I linked to he basically tears apart any opposition, saying the Democrats have sunk into "dog poop".

It's like there would be this eternal grudge between these two parties, and the Bush administration has just served to bring them further apart from each other. Was it always like this? I didn't really pay much attention to American politics before (this) Bush, but it seemed to me that Clinton did alright except for those "extracurricular activities" he was into.

And then we have a whole group of "patriots". In America everybody is a patriot... Here's a confession: I'm really tired of hearing the word "patriot" or "patriotism". In a way it's quite telling of what USA is really about; the "us against them" mentality that seems to be ingrained in all but the most open-minded over there. It's like it's all about which team you're on in the US. Democrat or Republican? Cleveland Indians or NY Yankees? "Either you're with us or with them." Make your choice.

It might sound shocking for some, but I wouldn't call myself a patriot. I have no specific "love" for my country; I'm fond of it, yes, it's the place where I grew up and all that, but if I was given the ultimatum of going half way around the world to fight whoever the government had designated as the enemy or leaving the country to avoid the draft, that wouldn't be a hard choice for me.

I value humanity as a whole more than any nationality. Or at least that's what I want to strive for.

Sounds a bit sappy now that I read through it, but what the heck.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Aphelion

The point on the orbit of a celestial body that is farthest from the sun.
-Dictionary.com
In the book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, the author decribes the mans interest like a planet in orbit around the sun (where the sun in that analogy is the woman, but can be applied to anything). Or maybe it was a rubber band, I forget. The point is that the interest in anything goes up and down along with time, like when how a planet in an elipsical orbit around a star is sometimes further away and sometimes closer.

Right now I feel a bit further away from blogging. (But I do know the interest will eventually return.)

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Lesson 3

When I was younger (not that I'm not young and vigorous still, mind you) I used to have a small competition in my mind whenever we were taking notes in classes, seeing how fast I could write down what the teacher threw up on the overhead. (Threw up not as in regurgitating.)

Seeing as how the Japanese lectures are in Finnish I have a really hard time taking notes. First of all, I have difficulties deciding whether or not something that the teacher says is worthy of writing down, because I can't write down everything. The second problem comes when I'm actually writing, where I can't decide what language I should write in, with the end result being a mish-mash of terms and phrases in Finnish, and small notes in either Swedish or English next to them, whatever language I translate that particular explanation fastest to.

We got our hands on the literature we'll be using today. We also got some other books earlier on, but they're related more to the language theory side of things. (Note: when I say "got", it means we buy them; you don't get anything for free on this level.) The books are "Situational and Functional Japanese vol.1: Notes" and "Situational and Functional Japanese vol.1: Drills" (which I can't find on Amazon), and "Basic Kanji Book vol.1". (I just noticed that blogger auto-creates links when you copy-paste text which is already a hyperlink. Nice.) We also learned a couple of more hiragana today, but that's really basic stuff. You can very well study hiragana and katakana on your own (which most of us in the class probably have). Just find some page that also has pronunciation examples and you'll hopefully get that down too.

Though I did learn one new thing in the hiragana studies: that the Japanese "u" sound is unrounded, so where you would normally round your lips in English and Swedish you just try to keep them relaxed when sounding the Japanese "u".

The teacher also said something about how the Japanese language was a train and the predicate was the locomotive, how all the carriages could be left off and it still kept on going. (In this anology he drew the locomotive on the right, the carriages to the left, signifying that the predicate would be at the end of the sentence [note: when talking about the predicate, it could very well be called something else, it was just the closest thing that the translator had in mind].)

My toe is much better now, even though I accidentally hit a chair with it today. It feels funky whenever I move it in certain ways. The nail is almost completely blue from (what I assume to be) blood underneath, with only a smallish pink area where it seems to still cling on. I guess the best way would be to just pull it off, but I'm a bit wimpy.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Silly password-protection

In my journey through Blogspot, I've come across a couple of blogs that seem to be password-protected, even though Blogger offers no such service yet. (On a related note, if they ever do make such a feature in the future they should remove any password-protected blogs from the listings so you can't get there by the 'Next blog'-button.) I say "seem", because some think that Javascript is all it takes.

Let's take an example: [removed after attack of better judgement]. The site uses Javascript to pop up a dialog box asking for a password. If you want to know the password, just disable Javascript. It's done easily in Firefox, by just unchecking one box.



After that it is a trivial matter to look at the source and see the code.
if (password == "password") {
alert(" wait!how do u get tat? ")
And remember to only use this knowledge for non-evil purposes.

Silly english

Seriously, this is getting unbearable. I was going through blogs in search of spam and came across a post like this:
iM a ShoRt 14 Yr oLd GurL hU JuX Gt DuMp By HeR 1St StD AnD iSh ExTreMe DePreSsEd OvEr iT..Nw BcM BeRI Zi LIaN Es AfT e BrEak Up..
I had to fight with myself to not drop a comment saying maybe she wouldn't have been dumped if she would speak normally.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Long day & more of what we're learning

Today I had a pretty long day... I had a dentist appointment at 11.00, which might not seem that early if you don't know me. I've always had problems getting up in the mornings, and during summer my waking hours tend to gravitate quite a bit forward, so I might get up around noon. Not to mention my problems I have falling asleep, especially when I know that I need to get up earlier than usual in the morning.

The dentist thing was just a check-up, I had a couple of cavities and some tartar (I didn't know it was called that in English, and I'm not talking about "A member of any of the Turkic and Mongolian peoples of central Asia who invaded western Asia and eastern Europe in the Middle Ages") that will be fixed at a later appointment.

After the dentist it was only an hour and a half until my Japanese class started, so I went to the library for a bit, where I started reading Amrita by Banana Yoshimoto even though I've read it before. I thought about borrowing it but eventually decided it was a bad idea to start reading that again when I have so many books still unread.

In Japanese today we continued basically from yesterday, learning more about phonetics and stuff, and also going throgh a couple of more hiragana. I have the hiragana and katakana pretty much in my head by now, but I did learn that hiragana is originally heavily simplified versions of kanji that have that reading! Interesting... Of course Wikipedia could have told you the same thing with pictures to illustrate it.

Japanese ended at 17.00, after that it was movie night with that dude, as he had "found" Star Wars Ep. 3.

All in all, a long day for me. Good thing I don't have anything scheduled for tommorrow.