Tuesday, January 31, 2006

[Sad] Baruchito

March 2003 - January 28th 2006

So much love inside such a small body.

You will not be forgotten.

[Interesting] The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful:

The familiar incident of the review on the website, January 27, 2006
Reviewer:WordJunkie - See all my reviews
Today I decided to write a review. My counselor, who is called Harvest, told me that people like to read reviews about how you feel about a certain book. So I decided to write my review about The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. This is because it is the last book I read. Even though my memory is really good, my memory about this book is the best.

I read some other reviews before writing this. A lot of people are saying that this book is about the dog being murdered. But I don't think it's about the dog. I think they are just being stupid because the book is really about a boy and his perception of the world. His perspective is unique and I think that's why the author thought it would make a good book. (I like that the boy is a lot like me. He doesn't like being touched and neither do I.) Harvest says I shouldn't call people stupid, but I don't understand why I can't call them that when that's how they're being.

A lot of people said this book was sad or depressing. I don't think it was sad or depressing. It made me feel safe. This is because the author writes in very simple terms. This made it easy to understand.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is an example of something depressing. I haven't read the book, but I have seen the movie, and it made me feel like this: >>> :( <<<. It is about a mental patient and it has a very tragic ending. I liked it because the movie has Jack Nicholson in it. Jack Nicholson is a good actor. I know this because he is very old and he has been in a lot of movies. And because he gets paid a lot to appear in his movies.

My counselor told me that I should write about what I liked and did not like about the book. Here is a list of what I liked:

1. I liked that the story was unique and very different from other books I read. There was a mystery, and I like mysteries.
2. I liked that the boy in the story tried to teach us random things (about maths problems and the constellations and how people think and God). I like to learn new things.
3. I liked it when he went off on tangents because tangents make me think of maths and I like maths. (I was going to show you my favorite maths problem involving tangents and parametric equations here, but Harvest says people aren't interested in reading about maths problems.)
4. I liked that he let us see the world through the boy's eyes. But I have already talked about this so I won't talk about it anymore.
5. I liked that I was always interested to see what would happen.
6. I liked that he liked animals because I like animals too.
7. I liked that it was short and I read it very fast.
8. I liked the illustrations, maps, and diagrams.

And here is what I did not like:

1. I think most people could probably write like this author writes. But it doesn't bother me too much since the story is interesting and good.
2. Sometimes the actions of the characters seemed a little too convenient. But it didn't bother me too much because it is not a true story.
3. His writing style is like mine. It was nice, but by the end I was a little bored with it. This is because it made me feel like I was reading a book that I wrote.
4. There was one inconsistency, and it bothered me. In chapter 113 he says he does not understand people because they imagine things that aren't real. Then right away in the next chapter he talks about imagining something that isn't real. This is a lie, and I don't understand why people tell lies.

Overall, I think the book should get 4 stars.

(New readers please note: This review deliberately mimicks the style of the book in order to give you an idea of how it reads.)

[Interesting] Cadaeic Cadenza

(from the Wikipedia article) Cadaeic Cadenza is a 1996 short story by Mike Keith.

When the number of letters in each word are written out, they form the first 3834 digits of pi.

One A Poem A Raven Midnights so dreary tired and weary,
3. 1 4 1 5 9 2 6 5 3 5
The name of the piece itself is based on pi, as "Cadaeic" is the first 7 digits of pi, when rounded.
C a d a e i c
3.1 4 1 5 9 3
A Poem

        A Raven

Midnights so dreary, tired and weary,
    Silently pondering volumes extolling all by-now obsolete lore.
During my rather long nap - the weirdest tap!
    An ominous vibrating sound disturbing my chamber's antedoor.
        "This", I whispered quietly, "I ignore".

[Link] Don't Waste Gravity!

About the American Society for the Conservation of Gravity

The Society was formed by a group of concerned citizen-scientists who felt the need to alert the public to mankind's ultimate disaster. The incessant irresponsible squandering of man's most precious terrestrial resource by an unthinking, unknowing populace has to be stopped!

Consider the following:
  1. The United States, with only 6% of the world's population, uses 59% of its gravity.
  2. A single moon rocket launching uses more gravity in a few moments than the entire world used during all of the 18th century.
  3. The Sears Tower in Chicago (103 elevators!!) uses as much gravity in one day as fifty Mount Everest expiditions.
  4. Air Freight is becoming acceptable in many parts of the country.
  5. Outside of our society there are no programs to develop alternatives, such as synthetic gravity, artificial gravity, or new gravity mines.
These five items (from a list of dozens in our files) should cause anyone to stop and think -- "What will happen to me when our gravity is gone?" The answer is obvious. The unprotected citizen, caught in the open with no lag bolt or other protection, is doomed. The lucky person who awakes one morning and finds himself bumping gently against the bedroom ceiling will be thankful he wasn't camping out. Birds will have to learn to fly upside-down to get back to their nests. Rabbits, kangaroos, and children on pogo sticks will disappear in a trice. Shoppers will be forced to stand in line to have their potatoes weighed while the gravity supply for the scale builds up.

A gruesome picture? It is indeed! Can something be done? It can, and the American Society for the Conservation of Gravity is doing it. Our activities fall into three broad categories:
  1. Public Awareness Programs
  2. Scientific Action Projects
  3. Community Reaction and Publicity
Examples of our PAP programs are our posters and our bumper sticker. The Schaumburg Research Lab is our most famous SAP, while our newsletter is our most widespread CRAP. These worthy activities, conducted entirely without government intervention or support, are the only things which are presently standing between mankind and oblivion.

The Society has, in fact, established a policy of avoiding governmental sponsorship. We can envision the establishment of the Department of Gravity, with a twenty-billion dollar budget, thousands of bureaucrats, consultants and ne'er-do-well politicians. Even then, our gravity would undoubtedly all end up in Georgia, complete with a totally incomprehensible tax and coupon system. Our Society feels that this problem is a matter best handled by the intelligent individual. We urge you to do your part. A few easy steps, taken by enough concerned people, will suffice to stave off disaster. We urge you to support the Society, join in its activities, teach your friends and neighbors what they can do, and above all, conserve our most precious terrestrial resource.

[Slashdot] Rumors of Pratchett Film

kongjie writes "The BBC reports on the rumored possibility of Terry Pratchett's novel Wee Free Men being made into a Hollywood film, with Raimi attached to it. This would be the first, although in the past his stuff has made the television screen."

[Slashdot] Thoughtcrime?

(Score:5, Interesting)
by The evil non-flying (947059) on Thursday January 26, @10:35AM (#14563966)

Somedays I get the sinking feeling Orwell was an optimist.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

[Slashdot] DRM In The Bible

When you think of it, DRM is not so incompatible with the bible.
The whole tree of knowledge debacle was all about this.

God is all like "No distribution of my IP".
Then the Snake is all like "I haves the 0-day".
And then Eve is all like "Adam, dude, here's a torrent".
Adam to Eve "No way, God will totally rootkit our ass".
Eve back to Adam "Chillax, guy".
Then Adam is like "K".
And God totally kickbans them from the server.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

[Link] Barney's Blog

Is it just me, or is Barney's Blog in desperate need of an RSS feed? It would be Legendary.

Me out.

Monday, January 23, 2006

[Work] Heartbreaking News

I thought I'd post an update, since I haven't given any news for a while.

I'm midway through my second year in Asahi (or, the Asahi part of Echizen Town). It's great here. I have a nice big house, friendly neighbors, excellent co-workers, and awesome students. Really, really awesome students. You wish your students were as cool as mine.

But, it's pretty much the same thing as last year. I want to stay for a third year, and I felt it would be best for everyone involved if I changed to a new school. My students will be exposed to a new ALT (and accent, mannerisms, etc), I won't burn out teaching the same things over and over again, and I'll get new experiences in a new place with new people. That's kind of the point of being here, afterall.

There is a particular school I want to go to. Takefu Higashi. I worked at one of their English seminars during my first year, and have tried to volunteer as early as possible for each one since then. The students there are as cool as my students here. I know, it's unbelievable, right? So, if I have to go somewhere, I want it to be there.

All of which I've mentioned before to at least some of you. Here's where the NEW news starts:

The final paperwork for me to transfer to the Ken (prefecture) board of education went through this past Friday.

This weekend, I sent an e-mail to our kencho (boss) about what to do next, as I was wondering how to file the paperwork to request Takefu Higashi as my new school.

A few minutes ago, (after studying Japanese for two hours, which is why it's 2am as I'm writing this), I opened up my e-mail account, and found a response from the kencho. I will quote the key part:
As far as a school placement is concerned however, you will be considered a new JET. This means that your placement will be a part of the same process as new ALTs coming in July. Unfortunately, you will not have the option of requesting a particular school.
I find myself suddenly, unexpectedly, completely lost. I thought as a third-year, I would get priority placement, and in fact the opposite is true.

More news as it comes in. Phoenix out.

Friday, January 20, 2006

[Quote] History

"Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
  • Reason in Common Sense by George Santayana, Philosopher (16 December 1863 - 26 September 1952)

"Those who can remember the past are condemned to watch it repeating."
  • Ah, beloved Internet, how I adore thee.

[Random] Long Time, No Post

To say that I have been a bit over-worked this week.....

I'm sure that it's some sort of understatement, and I would normally try to insert a seemingly witty gloss, but frankly my mind has shut down almost entirely.

A bit of news though; my boss's boss's boss gave me confirmation today that they are transferring me to the prefecture board of education for next year. Meaning: Sayounara, beloved Asahi. Bai bai, gigantic castle-house. I shall be moved to a different school and a different town.

I know it will probably be for the best, and I will look back in gladness (hopefully), but at the moment I just don't see it. I already miss this place, and I'm still going to be here for another half-year.

Anyway. I'm not dead yet.

In other news, a little bird told me that Kris and Lindy have been filming the pilot for a new sketch comedy show. According to Lindy, it's in the format of Kids in the Hall, with a Monty Python pace and South Park sensibilities. Which is setting the bar quite high.

There's a teaser trailer on the site, but it doesn't show much, which worries me a bit. Pacing is so important in comedy, and it's so often done poorly. Remember Kelsey Grammer Presents: The Sketch Show? Horrible, horrible timing.

It's not enough for something to be humorous. It has to be timed properly. If the humor doesn't come fast enough, it isn't funny. The Sketch Show was WAY too slow.

Here's an example of what I mean. Picture this setup: some people are talking, eg, in class or a meeting or working on some problem. Some guy says "...you know what I don't get?" That's the setup. (And if you read Bash, you know where I'm going with this)

On The Sketch Show, the "punchline" would be one of his friends saying "laid" and then another saying "respect". One at a time, to be SURE that you heard and understood each line. It might have been humorous, but it wasn't very funny.

No, you need to have everyone in the room talking at once, over each other, shouting out answers. "Laid!" "Respect!" "Good grades!" "Jokes!" "Decent haircuts!" "Raises!" "Ooh! Love from your parents!" (everyone goes "Oooh!"), each person trying to top the others.

Our brains are complex, and can handle a lot of simultaneous input. There's an upper limit, of course, but there's also a lower tolerance limit. Below that level, the stimuli comes so slow we lose interest.

Anyway, since the teaser on www.throbosho.com doesn't have a full clip from the show itself, we just have to wait...

I hate waiting.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

[Sad] West Wing Makes Me Cry

I took a break from Japanese tonight in order to watch West Wing, which recently suffered a heavy loss.

This particular episode, filmed months before John's death, had a few unintentionally tear-jerking lines.

Toby: (on phone to Josh) Is somebody dead?


Josh: It's Leo.
Toby: He'll survive, too.


Josh: (after an inappropriate joke) Too soon? (This is exactly what I said after I made an inappropriate joke upon hearing the news about John. Its only relevance is as a personal reminder of the grief)


Leo: By an overwhelming percentage, the first warning sign of a heart attack is death. I'm fortunate to be here, but it wasn't all luck.


Leo: We want every man, woman, and child in this country to have full and equal access to the first-class treatment that I firmly believe saved my life.

This Phoenix is an even sadder Phoenix.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

[Godstuff] Why Atheism?

Hello. My name is Phoenix, and I'm an atheist. Please read Mark Thomas' well written article on Atheism.

[Godstuff] WWJD?

What would Jesus drive?
One theory is that Jesus would tool around in an old Plymouth because the Bible says, "God drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden in a Fury."
and of course
"Hell hath no Fury. . ."

Monday, January 09, 2006

[Slashdot] We Are Not At War

(Some of the parents to this post were also quite interesting)

(Score:4, Insightful)
by Catbeller (118204) on Tuesday January 10, @04:17AM (#14429653)

They believe it because buildings blew up and their President, along with EVERY SINGLE NEWS SOURCE in the mainstream media, has repeated the meme until it became a really real fact.

War exists between nations. Anything else is a metaphor, OR a lie. In the war on "terror", it's a lie. Terror is a name we give to guerilla warfare practiced against civilians by anational networks. If someone we like practices it, it's freedom fighting. If not, they're terrorists.

The cool thing about a war against unspecified enemies located in no particular place (if they exist at all; find and watch "The Power of Nightmares") is that it begins when Bush says it does, and ends when he declares it "over". Give it two seconds of thought: how in hell do you win against "terror"? This is a Forever War.

The neocons have stated - categorically -- that war gives the President unlimited powers not only over the military as CinC, but over the civilian population as well. And no law applies to him if he deems it a hindrance. No exaggeration. Lookee at the recent anti-torture bill; after signing, Bush signed an addendum -- an understanding, sort of an opinion piece -- stating that he would disregard the law if it suits his needs. The Forever War gives us a Forever King. I'd use the term dictator, but it's so loaded that the rightists moderating would bury this postimmediately...

We ain't at war with Afghanistan either. They didn't attack us; they just hosted the attackers, and wouldn't let us take them without proof, which Bush categorically denied them. He wanted "bombs falling in 30 days", and Afghanistan volunteered for the sacrificial lamb position. What we did was not war, and it was not moral. And we've made a mess of it.

We ain't at war with Iraq, as it never attacked and did not threaten to. We just lied, invaded, occupied, and stole the oil fields and are building a Pentagon-like embassy forthe long haul. We're fighting an insurgency from many fronts, united only in their belief that we are lying a-holes and need to get the hell out. You don't war with insurgents, you try to kill or imprison them. The only way to kill a real insurgency is to murder everyone -- because anyone left alive is just a seed waiting to sprout new insurgency. Fallujah, anyone?

We may soon attack Iran and then perhaps Syria, also under false pretenses. Bush has been delivering "Iran is a pack of terrorists" packets to Arab leaders for the past month or so, so his boys haven't given up on their Project for the New American Century yet. It's the Domino Theory all over again, only they want to be the domino players. It was a silly theory in the 50s and 60s, and it's doubly silly now. Counties aren't domino pieces, and they don't "fall" when you push them. And beware what you wish for, neocons, because people might really want a democratically elected religious dictatorship that will ally itself with other Godly dictatorships. People LIKE dictators, if they agree with them.

Thinking about it, the Forever War generates the fantasy enemy it proclaims existed in the first place, even if it really didn't. It's self-renewing. And like the first Forever War against "communism", it is making a lot of people so very, very rich and others so very, very powerful.