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  • Reply to: Five Japanese words that don't mean what you think they mean   5 years 2 weeks ago

    In my dealings with weird spammy comments, I think this is the first asking to be informed of any more degrading sites I may have. 

    Should I whip up something suitably filthy, I'll post the notice here!

  • Reply to: Five Japanese words that don't mean what you think they mean   5 years 2 weeks ago

    Glad for both.  Interesting stuff.  Do you have any other internet sites you're willing to share?  I'm open to receiving computer messages directly from you too through my internet mail address if you do have other sites and if they are more challenging, degrading, etc. but I'm just unsure if submitting a comment on here means sharing that with you.

  • Reply to: Poor misunderstood kanji   5 years 3 weeks ago

    I gotta say, I've heard that too (Japanese is "Kanji"). Next time I hear it, I'll tell them: "Japanese" is just "Japanese."

  • Reply to: A dose of dumb: Governor Ishihara's racist yammerings   5 years 1 month ago

    Japanese people I am in contact with don't really separate Japanese things and western very well in my opinion. I hear people often exclaim "this is the Japanese way" or "this is Japanese" and many many many times thy have no idea where that thing came from originally. 

    I have the same impression: Many people don't concern themselves with separating things into "Japanese things" and "Western things". Neither do I; I find such distinctions rather silly, or at least when the claim involves more abstract concepts like "Japanese mindset".

    And as you suggest, many of the people who do draw distinctions do so very arbitrarily. How is a "Japanese thing" defined, anyway? Is tofu a "Japanese thing"? The foodstuff originated in China... but if a block of tofu is made in Japan by a Japanese chef, and is bought and enjoyed in Japan by Japanese diners (an everyday scenario!), then, yes, it would seem reasonable to call that a "Japanese thing"... Though I would then argue that a hamburger, made in Japan by a Japanese chef and bought and enjoyed in Japan by Japanese diners (also an everyday scenario!) similarly qualifies as as a "Japanese thing". Yet I know many people would agree with the former while protesting the latter...

    Meh. That's why I try to simply avoid labeling, and describe things factually: "Tofu is a foodstuff originally developed in China, but also further developed and widely eaten in Japan, and thus commonly associated with Japan..." Doing so avoids silliness (though it also precludes brevity : ) 

    Anyway, I certainly share your suspicion toward "special sensitivity" claims or similar silliness. I hope that over time, fewer and fewer individuals will lean toward such claims.

  • Reply to: A dose of dumb: Governor Ishihara's racist yammerings   5 years 1 month ago

    Hi! Thanks for the thoughts:

    I agree with much of what you say in this article and many others, however I feel at times you are guilty of what you accuse Ishihara of. Here you have just held up what he has said and called it ridiculous, without too much proof, or at least arm-chair sociologising, of your own. 

    I'll have to put off any mea culpa just yet, as I'm not sure what fault you're pointing at. Yes, I've said that Ishihara makes a number of "the Japanese are such-and-such" assertions without backing those up. But I can't be guilty of the same, at least within this article of mine, because I haven't made any such assertions. My text is wonderfully free of any assertions along the lines of "the Japanese are..." or "Westerners are...".

    I do assert that the Gov's claims of "unique sensibilities" and what not are silly. And, true, I don't follow that with evidence for my claim of "how silly". Yet here's the kicker: I can do that. The claim of (for example) "unique Japanese sensibilities" is the assertion that's being made, and it's entirely upon the claimant to provide evidence. Until then, the listener does not have an obligation to properly argue against what hasn't been properly argued for in the first place. (Or as wittier minds have worded it: "What is claimed without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.") 

    There is, though, an assertion of mine in a separate article, which you mention a bit later. I'll address that below.

    1. As easy as it is to say, I wouldn't expect "falsifiability of the hypotheses, open access to methodology and data, and reproducibility of results" of sociology or history (especially of intellectual concepts)

    True. And practitioners of disciplines like sociology should be honest in recognizing that weakness, and be very careful of presenting claims as fact when the topic at hand is, unavoidably, not subject to rigorous scientific methods. (If nothing else, a claimant simply noting that his claim is opinion or conjecture would go a long way to removing any objection on my part!)  

    2. In cases where it IS possible, please try to follow what you tell others to. Saying "People making austere, elegant pieces of traditional artwork… and people making gaudy, cluttered web sites… are generally not the same people" isn't exactly providing public statistics. 

    You're referring to my response to the claimed "paradox" of some Japanese web designers making ugly web pages while some Japanese artists make beautiful art. I stand by that response fully!

    The claimant doesn't say that Japanese people making beautiful traditional art and Japanese people making ugly web sites are the same individuals – in fact, he contrasts long-dead artists from the 19th century and so, with (obviously) modern-age web designers. So my statement is spot-on in that regard, though I insert a "generally" to cover modern-day artists as well, who certainly could double as web designers. Yet even then, I believe it's reasonable to depict the two groups as generally non-overlapping. Traditional artwork and web design are both time-consuming disciplines; how many people could seriously pursue both? (Sure, a professional traditional artist could dabble in web design – but the resulting ugliness of a dabbler's site wouldn't even be a surprise, let alone a "paradox"!)

    The claimant's point is not that the individuals making lovely art and the individuals making ugly sites are the same people, but rather that they're from the same country, and thus it's strange that they should vary so much in the quality of their artistic expression. And that's the point to which I have to say rubbish. At least until someone provides good evidence that national origin is correlated to quality of artistic expression.

    On that topic:

    3. Re: "the silly delusion that a shared affiliation with a political entity (“country”) among multiple individuals should mystically create a shared sense of (among other things) aesthetics". Do you really believe this? That no communities, 'imagined' (pace Anderson) or not seems to me instantly false - can one really say that Australian aboriginal art pieces share no objective commonalities with each other, never mind differences relative to say classical Japanese art? Even if one were to explain aesthetic similarities to the work of specific communities to purely practical factors such as availability of certain materials or similarity of experience, it seems to me blatantly obvious that art according to ideological, political, or cultural factors, whether a conscious decision or not, shapes each community differently.

    My fault is in not making my meaning of "sense of aesthetics" more clear. Yes, shared background will lead to shared experiences in aesthetics, quite possibly some degree of shared preferences, and so on, as you suggest; I can't argue with your general gist there. Rather, by "sense of aesthetics" I mean the factor that's the focus of the "paradox" claim: the quality of artistic expression. Artistic ability. Or in very plain terms, one's goodness or badness at art and design.

    A claim that this factor is connected to nationality does need to be backed up by evidence. Hence my response to the "paradox": If there's no evidence that nationality/ethnicity/"culture"/whatever is an indicator of individual artistic/design ability, and if the individuals making lovely traditional art are not the same individuals making ugly web sites, then no paradox has been demonstrated. We just have both good artists and bad ones, which is what's expected. "Some people make nice art and some people make ugly sites" is not a paradox. 

    That's all there was to my point.

    Getting back to my Ishihara article, and wrapping up:

    Let me note that my exhortation to those making sociological claims – "Prove it" – is not an ideal choice of words. The scientific method that I hold up as an ideal doesn't typically deal with "proof", and in fact acknowledges the difficulty of ever "proving" anything (outside of mathematics). Rather, the scientific method seeks to work with evidence, not "proof" per se.

    My words "Prove it" are arguably okay as colloquial usage, but my request to claim-makers should be re-worded as "Provide evidence". Mea culpa on that!

    My thanks to you for providing me the chance to revisit the article and discover that area for correction. And thanks for your thoughtful comments overall!

  • Reply to: A dose of dumb: Governor Ishihara's racist yammerings   5 years 1 month ago

    Japanese people I am in contact with don't really separate Japanese things and western very well in my opinion. I hear people often exclaim "this is the Japanese way" or "this is Japanese" and many many many times thy have no idea where that thing came from originally. Namely the attitude is that things they call "Japenese" whether items or ideas are UNIQUELY Japanese and they are not. Like the article mentions claiming a special sensitivity to ....welll anything. But Nature! the 4 seasons! There is an attitude of superiority that got Japan into trouble because they thought they were better than other nations and peoples. This way of thinking needs to be cleansed from Japan or the natural end is another war.

  • Reply to: Five Japanese words that don't mean what you think they mean   5 years 1 month ago

    Well first i shall begin by saying im glad i knew both the japanese and english meaning to these words. As far as anime/Anime and manga/Manga goes i think most will either ignore you for calling it cartoon or comics and then you get the few who might arguee back that its not. I know when i use to explain to the very few friends that didnt know anime/manga i would say for example "manga isthe japanese word for comic" and they will be like oooh okay. Same with anime id say its the japanese word for cartoons or animation. But i guess some fans get mad when you call them cartoons because they are use to anime meaning Anime and not meaning all kinds of animation. Even i use to get a little made at times despite knowing it means cartoons from anywhere. I cant speak for all fans but my reasons for getting mad at the time was because i thought of japanese cartoons to be the best in the world, or at least compared to american. Their cartoons seemed to give more depth to characters and issies and actually had a story line while most american cartoons were random and had no real story line/plot. So i figured japanese cartoons were better and thought it as a disgrace to be called cartoons because i did not want it looped in with (american) cartoons. I even remembered getting mad at my mom for calling them cartoons. Of course i am more mature now and except the fact they are cartoons. But back to westerners thinking if anime as Anime..its stuck so much that i think they made a new word for american artists who want to take on the japanese style cartooning and.i believe it was called murcanine..i believe i first saw that in the commentary of my Teen titans DVD. Im guessing the Mur in Murcanime is short for Murica aka America..thus prooving most americans do consider Anime as Japanese styled Cartoons and not just cartoons in general. Well thats my little m.o.v on the matter. Hope i gave some insight on how some fans see the word as Anime and not anime..im sure i wasnt the only one who use to think like thay..but again im mature now and fully accepted it..cause again i knew back then that it was cartoons but still was in denial i guess. Perhaps if you have not done so already you can make Otaku another word of interest. I know some have a misconception of the word.

    Also thanks it was a good article ヽ(*≧ω≦)ノ

  • Reply to: "The nail that sticks up gets hammered down"   5 years 2 months ago

    Hi! I believe you're saying that, true, there is not an absolute, polar difference in "East vs West" viewpoints on the topic at hand, but there is a difference in the points, between the extremes,  at which the two viewpoints lie. Or as I like to term it: a difference not of kind but of degree.

    That certainly sounds sensible. Which is why I take (mildly bemused) exception to claims like "Europeans see individualism as an absolute positive with no bad connotations". Instead of claiming such an absolute, why not just say (for example), "Europeans tend to view individualism as more of a positive than do Asians"? It's a much more defensible stance.

    On the matter of "いたずら or どっきり" (for anyone not familiar: "mischief" or "surprise" stunts, such as "Candid Camera" gags): Off-hand, the suggestion that such stunts won't play as well in Japan seems odd. Japanese TV is famous worldwide for outrageous tricks, pranks, contests, and the like. Pranks that confuse, scare, or embarrass people (celebrities and random victims alike) are an absolute staple of TV here. So, in "East vs West" views of such pranks, does a difference exist? Certainly not one of kind, though there of course may be one of degree. (And without studying the matter, I'm not going to place any bets on which side scores higher in the difference of degree!)

    I'll have to pass on making a comparison with the stunts of Rémi Gaillard, as I'm not familiar with his oeuvre. But I will completely discount the 日本じゃ無理 claim. Yes, you're right, it's a common claim; I've heard it a jabillion times as the similar 日本じゃ考えられない ("That's unthinkable in Japan!"). That claim tells us one thing: that the claimant believes or wants the matter in question to be "unthinkable in Japan". But whether or not the claim is true is an entirely different matter! It's one of my favorite meaningless fluff phrases, and I've found there are few things as unreliable as individuals who think they can speak for tens of millions of people. I've got a mountain of examples showing the silliness of such...

    (A quick one: the university professor who told us that credit cards would never find acceptance in Japan, due to concepts of debt and shame and obligation and blah blah blah, all utterly opposed to thinking in "the West". Fast forward not too many years, and credit cards had become normal, everyday tools in Japan, accepted in stores and hotels and restaurants and even ever-lovin' taxis... followed by the expected appearance of people getting into trouble with credit card debt, followed by public service ads and other exhortations warning people to use cards more wisely.)

    My long-held take on things: Whenever you hear something described as "unthinkable", you can bet your last yen that someone out there is not only thinking it but is actually doing it!

  • Reply to: What's that word?: Chuudoku (poisoning / addiction)   5 years 2 months ago

    Yep, 悪癖 (akuheki) – literally, "bad habit". Thanks!

  • Reply to: "The nail that sticks up gets hammered down"   5 years 2 months ago

    I do think that the above commentator was too extreme in saying that Westerners think of rebellion as an unconditional good and that all meaningful rebellion in Japan is "uncool." I've also never heard of the "the nail" proverb said in Japanese, only in English. But I do get a sense that the Japanese perceive the U.S. and other countries as having more freedom (for example, "日本は狭い、二つの意味で" or "○は自由の国"). So since the sentiment that "Japan has less freedom than the U.S. and Europe etc." is a shared feeling, I do think that it holds more water than if it was simply a U.S. impression. The impressions on both sides may be exaggereated but I do think it is there in reality to some extent. I think one of the most obvious differences is people's impression of いたずら or どっきり. If someone tried doing in Japan things like what Rémi Gaillard does, they would not be praised so much. Rémi Gaillard's are watched by a number of people in Japan, and many do find him funny of course, but they keep on saying, 日本じゃ無理, and there is a general feeling that if he were a Japanese person, or if it was someone doing it in Japan, they would not find it as funny. And in fact, someone once did try to do something resembling one thing that Rémi did regarding a drive-thru, but only received tons of scorn and comment like もっと逮捕されるべき. So I do think that there is a real difference in mentality here.

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