Sep 28, 2012

The Best Season for Gibier

This week it's getting much cooler in Tokyo. I like a wild duck with soba noodle in hot soup, which is called "Kamo Namban (鴨南蛮)" in Japanese, so I can't wait for the best season for gibier.

I'm reading the book "Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America", which is really interesting. Now, I read about Nantucket Island in the age of the American Revolutionary War. At the present day Nantucket Island is a resort for celebrities, but at that time it was the center of world's whaling industry, where Ishmael embarked captain Ahab's whale ship in Moby-Dick. While the American Revolutionary War, most Nantucketers were interested in continuation of their whaling and trying to keep neutrality in order to avoid attacks of English navy and pirates on their whale ships.

When I took a business trip to Deli, India, I was surprised with "stray cows" walking around the streets with their own will. Although I knew that the cow was a holy animal for Hindus, "seeing is believing." I was more surprised that I found MacDonald's in Deli. What was a hamburger shop in India? I rushed into MacDonald's, and I found that they sold croquettes with buns.

Please imagine that a band of Indian anti-beef activists crowds at the countryside in New Zealand and let cattle free from livestock farmers. From my stand point of view, it's just the same as anti-whaling activists in Daichi, Japan, where dolphins traditionally have been caught and eaten.

If it isn't cruel that cattle is brought up to be killed and eaten, why it would be cruel that Daichi people kill and eat dolphins or whales? Because dolphins and whales are intellectual? How about cattle? Because they are wild? How about gibier?

We can't live without killing and eating living beings. Even vegans can't live without relying on the people who kill and eat living beings. I think that first of all we should look strait at this fact.

I like to eat gibier, simply because it tastes good. I couldn't wait for the best season for gibier, if "anti-kamo namban" activists said that it was cruel to kill and eat wild ducks.

Sep 27, 2012

Why do I buy Apple Products?

I'm using an iPod classic, an iMac, an iPhone4S for private use, and a ThinkPad in my office.

I'm not a believer of Apple, and basically I don't care about the brands of IT devices. But now the products of Apple are invading our home.

I had been using MS-DOS and Windows PC for private use and in my office, and I was satisfied with them. My impression of Apple ten years ago was that they were stylish but unreliable. I heard that Mackintosh frozen all the time with a bomb icon.

My first Apple product was the iPod classic. I wanted to bring all of the songs that I bought, and at that time I didn't have any alternative. Although I thought that iPod classic was useful, I didn't like it in particular. But rather I was impressed by iTunes. I put all data of my music CDs into iTunes, so it meant that it was difficult for me escape from iTunes.

When I changed my PC at home, I impulsively decided to buy an iMac, partly because the barrier of migration from Windows to Mac OS has been getting lower. The computer environment, in which I can use a browser and MS-Office, is enough for me, so now I don't care whether it's Windows or Mac OS.

The more I use the iMac, the more I became to like it, because it is really nice to touch. Especially I love the feeling of the Magic Mouse. I can't do without it. Nowadays the specs on PCs are not different so much, so the feel of them are important for me. In this mean iMac is as same as my Mont Blanc's fountain pen, whose touch is really nice.

I also like a ThinkPad because of the touch of the keyboard and the TrackPoint. But unfortunately I guess that ThinkPad will not evolve much more, so I will not buy ThinkPad for personal use.

And then I bought iPhone4S, because I didn't want to abandon iTunes. As I wrote, I don't care about the brands of IT devices, but I find that I have already been taken up by the environment of Apple.

Apple is awesome.

Sep 24, 2012

Endless Urination

I had a dream last night.

In it I was wandering around a huge and modern building with bare concrete wall somewhere in an Arabian country.

This building was owned by a government or a state-owned oil company. I was inspecting this organization with my colleague.

I felt hostility from the organization. Although we were allowed to do anything without a person of the organization, I thought that they must be monitoring everything we did. I looked for monitoring cameras, but I couldn't find them.

We came across a big shutter, and I knew that we had to get through it. And then the shutter opened automatically, so I was sure that someone was monitoring us and opened the shutter.

Beyond the shutter was a huge empty space. At the center of the space was a winding staircase. We went down into an underground space.

We heard a cold voice, "You have fifteen minutes to go before you must leave this building." I thought that we would be killed without escaping from the building in fifteen minutes.

Suddenly, I had an acute urge to urinate. I thought that I couldn't escape until I had urinated. I found a restroom at the end of the winding staircase, and ran into it.

I really felt relieved when I started to urinate. But the urination appeared to never end. Time was passing by. Although I felt upset, I couldn't stop this endless urination. My colleague shouted something outside of the restroom.

I thought that I didn't want to be killed while I was urinating.

Sep 23, 2012

How to Be "Uncool-Cool"

I'm just an ordinary "salary man" living and working in Tokyo, Japan, and just turned forty-five years old. I look typical middle-aged East Asian man. How can a man like me be cool? It's difficult for me to be conventionally cool, so my target is to be "uncool-cool".

When I watched Far East Movement's video "Live My Life", I realized how I could be "uncool-cool". "I'm gonna live my life. I know that we're gonna be alright!"

They thought East Asian people would be cool if they played hip-hop music, but then they realized their own style. There are many Japanese hip-hop musicians, who mimic black hip-hop music and fashion, but they are actually uncool, because hip-hop fashion doesn't suit them at all.

Kev Nish, a member of Far East Movement, shaves the side of his head and parts his hair on the side, wears hip-hop fashion. The combination of his hairstyle and his fashion is weird and uncool but at the same time cool. He is both uncool and cool. In other words, he's "uncool-cool."

Far East Movement reminds me of YMO, which was a Japanese techno-pop band in the1980s. They also did a sort of self-parody of Orientalism.

I found another example. Please watch this video, Psy's "Gangnam Style."

He is a fat middle-aged man, who dances a funny dance as hard as he can. He is far from coolness, but I can't stop watching him, because he is uncool-cool. Obviously, his video was influenced by Far East Movement.

Sometimes we tend to mimic people, who we think are cool, but this is just the way to be  uncool. It's important to realize what we are and to seek our own way to be cool. I think that my way to be cool is to be uncool-cool.

But I don't know why Far East Movement and Psy aren't popular in Japan. Don't you think that they are uncool-cool?

I watched many parodies of "Gangnam Style" on Youtube, and my favorite video is this. I felt the same sprit of Psy, laughing about oneself, from it.

Sep 22, 2012

Swim in the Ocean

I wrote 231 entries in the past three years, and my language exchange partners on Lang-8 corrected my entries, but yet I can't write any entry without a mistake.

I learned English grammar in school, and to some extent I understand it, but to read a book about swimming and to swim in the ocean actually are much different.

Elements, which we don't have in Japanese language, are especially difficult for me, for example, the usages of "a" and "the" or singular and plural, the pronunciations "r" and "l".

Of course I know that I should add "s" to a noun, when the number of it is more than 2. But sometimes I encounter the case that I can't distinguish if a noun is singular or plural.

I wrote, "I can't write any entry without a mistake."

I have found both of the expressions, "any one" and "any ones," so I wonder which is correct between "any entry" or "any entries." And at the end of this sentence should I write "without a mistake" or "without mistakes" or "without any mistake" or "without any mistakes?"

Although I also know the anatomically positions of tongue in a cavity of mouth at the pronunciations of "r" and "l", I can't pronounce and distinguish "r" and "l," and I often make a typo of "r" and "l."

On Lang-8 one of my friends made a correction about the usage "a" and "the", but another friend wrote that my sentence was right. And then they stared a long discussion about definite article and indefinite article.

When I read this discussion, I was a little relieved because I realized that sometimes it was difficult even for a native speaker to swim actually in the ocean.

Sep 19, 2012

Why do the Evils Only Do Evil Things?

I have a question as to why the evils only do evil things in hero movies.

I'm somehow virtuous and evil at the same time. Usually I want to be virtuous, but sometimes I also want to be evil. I can't always keep being virtuous or evil.

I guess that it's easier to be a hero than an evil, because being evil seems to be more stressful than being heroic. Generally it's more possible to be accepted by people around you, when you are virtuous. If you wanted to be evil, you should expect that you would be kept out of your society.

Of course sometimes you could be alone, because you are virtuous, and you could get company, because you are evil. But it's quite tough to keep being only evil.

Primarily, I couldn't be sure what is virtuous or evil. Why do the evils in hero movies look so confident with their evilness? How do they believe in their evilness?

I wrote about heroes and evils in my entry "American Heroes after September 11."

I am interested in the raison d'etre of heroes. If there were no evil in this world, we wouldn't need any heroes. Batman's raison d'etre is Joker. If Joker is gone, Batman also should be gone. Joker will never kill Batman and Batman will never kill Joker. Justice and evil are two sides of the same coin.

I think that heroes and evils, and justice and evil are interdependent with each other. Heroes couldn't be heroes without evils, because they can't believe that they always are virtuous without evils. If heroes want to always to keep being virtuous, evils also must always keep being evil. So "Joker will never kill Batman and Batman will never kill Joker."

I wrote about the conflict between China and Japan about the Senkaku islands in the previous entry "We Should Be Clever Enough Not to Be Controlled by Our Governments But to Control Our Own Governments."

For Chinese people, who go to the demonstration against Japan, Japan is evil, and their claim that Japan is evil makes them confident that they are virtuously stronger. It's true that the Japanese army in World War II did many evil things, but Japanese people including the Japanese army can't always keep being evil. Chinese government wants to make themselves Batman and Japan Joker, but we actually are not as evil as Joker.

In World War II the governments of U.S.A and Japan made horrible propaganda campaigns, which claimed that their enemies were so evil. And this propaganda made the U.S. army and Japanese army crueler, because they thought they could do anything cruel against such evil enemies. If you were interested in their propaganda, I recommend you to read John Dower's book "War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War."

After World War II countries around Japan have been insisting that Japan is evil, and we ourselves think that we are evil to some extent. So we feel guilty about our patriotism. But we are tired of playing as Joker for 60 years.

Osama bin Laden might think of himself as a hero and of George Bush Jr. as an evil. Osama bin Laden needed George Bush Jr. and George Bush Jr. needed Osama bin Laden. The desire of George Bush Jr. becoming a hero made Osama bin Laden more evil for him.

The movie "the Dark Knight" asked about the relation between justice and evil. I think that it's sound to have suspicion about this problem, because that helps us avoid us being like Osama bin Laden or George Bush Jr.

I'm afraid that Japan will become really evil, if Chinese government keeps claiming that Japan is evil.

Sep 18, 2012

We Should Be Clever Enough Not to Be Controlled by Our Governments But to Control Our Own Governments

Now the conflict between China and Japan about the Senkaku or the Diaoyu islands is escalating.

I basically think that the assertion of Japanese government is more logical and rational than one of Chinese government, but at the same time I also realize that territorial issues can't be solved by logic but power. It's much better for this kind of issues to be unsolved than to be solved by power, especially military forces.

Before the outbreak of Falklands War almost no one thought that U.K. and Argentina would really make war. We, both of Chinese and Japanese, MUST learn a lesson from Falklands War.

There are a lot of similarities between Falklands War and the conflict about the Senkaku islands. At that time U.K. fell into a long recession, so called "English disease", and Argentina was dominated by the autocratic regime. Both of the British and Argentine people were quite frustrated with their governments.

In the article "Beijing Mixes Messages Over Anti-Japan Protests" September 16, 2012 the New York Times pointed out, as follows.

The political analyst Li Weidong said the official tolerance fit a longstanding pattern of behavior in which the Chinese government uses mass protests to further its foreign policy goals. In a text message sent to friends and associates, Mr. Li compared the current protesters to the Boxers, a quasi-religious group that was used by the Qing dynasty to oppose foreign incursions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

"Beijing dares not to fight, but it’s unable to talk it over either," Mr. Li wrote. "So it has to employ Boxers, using product boycott to press Japan."

I don't completely agree with this article, but it is a usual practice of any government, not just Chinese government, to distract public attention from the frustration to the government by using foreign affairs. But sometimes the government loses control of their people. In fact Argentina government was forced to send its army to Falkland Islands.

At this time almost no one thinks that China and Japan will really fight each other about the Senkaku islands, but I'm afraid that it's possible.

We should be clever enough not to be controlled by our governments but to control our own governments.

Sep 16, 2012

American Heroes and Godzilla

I wrote about American heroes in the previous entry, and I'd like to write about the same topic more.

I've been interested in American culture for a long time, partly because it is so exotic for me. Although Japanese culture has been westernized for 150 years, now it is deeply based on elements that are quite different from Western culture. Sometimes I find something in American culture that I can't understand at all, and it's really fun for me to think about it.

One of these things is "American Heroes." I know that "heroes" are quite important in American culture, but I can't understand why they are so important.

I found articles about "Fukushima 50" in American press after the Tohoku earthquake and the accident of the Fukushima nuclear plants. I didn't read about their stories in Japanese mass media at all, and I felt that it was exotic that American press sought "heroes" in such tragedies.

Of course Japanese media reported about heroic acts, which are done by firefighters, policemen, army, and ordinary people. But it mainly focused on the uncontrollable natural threat, which was beyond justice and evil.

The story of Fukushima 50 is like American hero movies, and the story reported by Japanese mass media is like Godzilla (Not the Godzilla made by Roland Emmerich in Hollywood in 1998 but is the first Godzilla movie made in Japan in 1954.)

A nuclear experience awakened Godzilla, who was sleeping in the deep sea, and Godzilla landed on Japan, destroyed everything, and spread radioactivity. Godzilla doesn't have any morals, and human beings couldn't even know if it had any intention.

Haruki Murakami said, as follows, in his Catalunya International Prize speech.

In Japanese, we have the word “mujō (無常)”. It means that everything is ephemeral. Everything born into this world changes, and will ultimately disappear. There is nothing that can be considered eternal or immutable. This view of the world was derived from Buddhism, but the idea of “mujo” was burned into the spirit of Japanese people beyond the strictly religious context, taking root in the common ethnic consciousness from ancient times.

Godzilla destroyed everything, ultimately because this world is "mujo". Human beings can't do anything, and we, Japanese, don't believe in heroes. American people, including press, can't accept "mujo" of the disaster, so they seek heroes.

In the next entry I'll write about relationship between ethics and American Heroes.

Sep 15, 2012

American Heroes after September 11

I'm reading Kichiro Yanashita's "User's Guide to Pandemonium (新世紀読書大全)". Kichiro Yanashita (柳下毅一郎) is a critic and a translator,and he specializes in so-called subculture, which is called "サブカル (sabukaru)" in Japan. This book consists of all of his book reviews written from 1990 to 2010.

He wrote about American comics in the 1990s and after September 11.

I read American comics most eagerly in the 90s, when the world of American comics was changing dynamically because of the American comic revolution led by Frank Miller and Alan Moore. I had the momentum to read every area of American comics, from leaf to graphic novels.. I read the best works of American comics, for example "The Dark Knight Returns", "Watchmen", and "The Sandman", and I felt certain that American comics were on the cutting edge.
September 11 attacks and "patriotic fervor" had great influence on American comics. Hero comics lost their power (there were no meaning of heroes like Dr. Doom who collapsed into tears on terrorists' attack and Spiderman who said "The real heroes are firefighters died in the twin tower."), and comics on newspapers were choked by patriotism.

Ironically, American comics in the 1990s influenced Hollywood in the 2000s. Many hero movies were made, and some of these could be called masterpieces. I really love the movie "The Dark Knight", which was based on the comic "The Dark Knight Returns". I wrote an entry about "The Dark Knight" on my weblog.

In American comics in the 1990s and in hero movies in the 2000s justice and evil became relative with each other and heroes lost their identities. I feel it natural that justice and evil are relative, so I can accept this sense of values and I love these comics and movies. I also wrote another entry about American comics.

I am interested in the raison d'etre of heroes.If there were no evil in this world, we wouldn't need any heroes. Batman's raison d'etre is Joker. If Joker is gone, Batman also should be gone. Joker will never kill Batman and Batman will never kill Joker. Justice and evil are two sides of the same coin.

This is the truth about justice and evil in the world after September 11, isn't it?

Sep 9, 2012

The Meaning of Learning a Foreign Language

I read the article "Why are Japanese so bad at English?" on the internet magazine. I almost agree with the opinion that the author said.

I think the reason why most Japanese are bad at English is that they do not have the opportunity to use English in their daily life. I'm living and working in Tokyo, and I hardly have to speak English at all, if I don't intentionally create an occasion to speak English. For example, by going to an English conversation school or by speaking with a native English speaker over Skype at midnight.

I think that we can find the same situation in some other countries. In the 1990s, when I was a university student, I toured across East Europe with my backpack. At Budapest station I found that a traveler, who looked depressed. Hence I talked to him. He said that he was an Australian and that he envied my English. In fact my English was awful at that time.

In Budapest in the 1990s, the first foreign language for Hungarian people was German and there were few people that could speak English. I guessed that it was first time for that young Australian man to get into the place where no one could speak English and he realized the meaning of learning a foreign language.

In the article "Why are Japanese so bad at English?" the author wrote, "And what’s the future language of the Internet going to be? Not Japanese, that’s for sure." I wrote an entry about the internet in China, which was separated from the internet by the Great Firewall. In this world there are two huge networks, the internet and China net. And there is another small network in Japan, in which people write in Japanese. Japan net is a kind of the Galapagos Islands in the internet world.

I just finished reading V. S. Naipaul's novel "Half a Life" and I found following passage.

Ana was now at a language school in England. She said, 'I wanted to break out of the Portuguese language. I feel it was that that had made my grandfather such a limited man. He had no true idea of the world. All he could think of was Portugal and Portuguese Africa and Goa and Brazil. In his mind, because of the Portuguese language, all the rest of the world had been strained away.

Ana was born in the Portuguese colony on the east coast of Africa. Like her grandfather most Japanese had no true idea of the world, because they live only in Japanese world. When people master English, they can recognize the new idea of the world. Of course, although this new idea of the world can't be "the true idea of the world", they become able to see the world from multiple perspectives.

After the accident of Fukushima nuclear plants, I realized that we should get news from a variety of sources, not only Japanese mass media but also foreign press, because Japanese mass media was really biased.

Japanese people can live and work just in Japan and just with the Japanese language, but it keeps them in a small world.

Sep 6, 2012

"I Don't Work, Because of the Relationship between Japan and the West"

I just finished reading V. S. Naipaul's novel "Half a Life."

The central character of this novel, Willie, was born in India and went to a missionary school to learn English, because his father wanted it. Ironically learning English language and culture made him feel uncomfortable with his family and their culture and society, so he left India to go to England. But he couldn't settle in England, he kept roaming around the world.

Ann, Willie's lover, who was born in a former Portuguese colony at the East cost of Africa, sent a letter about the novel that Willie wrote. She. In the letter she wrote as follows.

We read this book and that book and we tell ourselves we like it, but all the books they tell us to read are written for other people and really we are always in somebody else's house and we have to walk carefully and sometimes we have to stop our ears at things we hear people say. I feel I had to write to you because in your stories for the first time I find moments that are like moments in my own life, though the background and material are so different.

I'm not familiar with the background and materials in the novel "Half a Life", nevertheless I can also understand its story very well, because I've read the same theme in a lot of works of modern Japanese literature.

For example, Soseki Natsume, who was one of the greatest novelists in the modern Japanese literature in the late 19th century, wrote a following remark in his novel "Sorekara (それから)", which means "After that."

"I don't work, because of the relationship between Japan and the West"

This remark was spoken by the central character, Daisuke, who was a second son of an upstart in the Meiji Era, when Japan was modernizing rapidly. His elder brother was working at a family business with his father, but Daisuke did nothing.

His father gave Daisuke Western education, so he couldn't believe in old Japanese values, which his father had, but at the same time he couldn't get into western society.

Daisuke in the novel that was written in the late 19th century by Japanese author resembles Willie in the novel that written in the early 21st century by Indian author born in Trinidad and Tobago.

I, who was born and am living in the hinterland of the world dominated by the West, Japan, "find moments that are like moments in my own life, though the background and material are so different" in this novel. Similarly people, who were forced to modernize, in India or Guinea-Bissau might find something in common in the modern Japanese literature.

Sep 2, 2012

You Don't Have to Be Strong or Perfect

I used to feel ashamed at the fact that I was weak, so I tried to hide it. I wanted to be perfect and I couldn't accept my weakness.

I believed that I always should do things as possible as I could, but of course, I really couldn't do it, so I was always disappointed with myself.

But now I think that I don't have to be strong and perfect. After I accepted my weakness and imperfection, things turned to be much better than before.

I am not strong or perfect, so I need someone else's help. And in order to have someone else's help, I really think about what I can give him or her. When I wanted to be strong and perfect, I didn't care about somebody else seriously.

But now I realize that no-one is strong or perfect and everyone needs someone else's help. We should need each other's help. The recognition of this fact leads teamwork.

After I accepted weakness, I could see exactly what I was. I became able to recognize objectively not only my bad point but also my good point and potential. I know what I should do in order to grow up and I can do it actually.

I've stopped pretending that I don't have my weakness, and as a result people trust me much more than before, because I've behaved as what I really was. Now that I understand this I am better able to trust those people who don't pretend.

So you don't have to be strong and perfect.