sk4ek comments

Posted in: Racist messages pose quandary for mainstream sites See in context

One thing that might be food for discussion. I had NO IDEA that there were so many racist people thinking this drivel before the internet. You read about this, but well, I grew up with smart people who were pretty well non-sexist, non-racist, etc. Now you find people motivated by the stupidest things, and they are posting like crazy.

Seconding Klein2's sentiments. Although I will say I had a pretty good idea of what kind of people were out there even without the internet. It certainly reinforced some of my worst fears about them, though.

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Posted in: Racist messages pose quandary for mainstream sites See in context

Sorry, the above message is missing a chunk because JT apparently considers links to NYT articles "potentially offensive". I referred to a recent article in the NYT about how poorly 3400 Americans performed on a questionnaire about religion.

Hmmm... I guess links of any sort are no longer allowed.

Moderator: For the time being, in order to block spam, we are blocking URLs.

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Posted in: Racist messages pose quandary for mainstream sites See in context

What I would have considered a normal, middle-class, public school education (in the U.S., thirty years ago) certainly equipped me to answer all six questions on the little side test correctly. Apparently that's no longer the case. In the great flood of information available to us today, people are indeed getting , cherry-picking statistics, headlines, ideas, events, even ideologies, without taking the time or effort to really learn anything useful.

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Posted in: Racist messages pose quandary for mainstream sites See in context

I find myself increasingly avoiding the comments section of the major U.S. papers I read online (and have stopped visiting CNN.com almost entirely) for many of the reasons noted above. It's not just the blatant racism that can be found there, but the twisting of every story to reflect a vast range of prejudices--political, social, cultural--and the lack of any truly intelligent dialogue, that makes a run through the comments an increasingly depressing exercise. A piece about improving access for the disabled to public facilities becomes fuel for an extended rant on the "lefty liberal agenda"; a tragic story about a family massacred by one of its own, armed with a rifle, is inundated with a string long-debunked "facts" about how America is safer for allowing virtually uncontrolled gun ownership; a review of the recently re-born "Hawaii 5-0" becomes a platform for advocating the expulsion of the tourist industry--and Caucasians, while we're at it--from the islands, etc. This sort of "public discourse" almost always takes a negative tone, and--left unmoderated--quickly spirals down to the basest level of the most vocal participants.

So fine, the forum enables us to choose to avoid what we would rather not see or hear. But I agree, while the comment sections of many sites may provide both the perfect platform and anonymous cover for what an educated public should hope are the opinions of a small minority, they are surely symptomatic of something more seriously wrong in our society than simple bad grammar, spelling, or reactionary fervor.

For the most part, I think media companies are foremost intent on driving traffic to their sites (by claiming to offer unfettered access and exchange of "ideas", if you can call them that). The more altruistic goal of harnessing the power of the internet to educate and enlighten the broadest possible swath of a site's readership, though, falters, overwhelmed by a lack of critical thinking and media literacy, and shouted down by a very vocal, almost comically (except it's not funny) misspoken and misinformed minority.

Even discounting perhaps half of the typical comments on an article on CNN.com, for example (where they may easily number in the hundreds), as the work of gagsters, provocateurs, or the simply terminally bored, a glance through them on almost any typical day presents disturbing portents for the future.

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Posted in: Hawaiian Airlines starts selling tickets on Haneda route See in context

That's "haole", actually.

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Posted in: Paris Hilton leaves for U.S. after being denied entry into Japan See in context

Ahahahahahahahahahahaha...

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Posted in: Japanese pop art at Versailles stirs controversy See in context

I like all kinds of art--even giant Brillo pad boxes and things that look, well, flung, and I certainly respect Murakami's right to build (or have built), display, and sell his pop art creations, but sometimes I think art is as much about where and how you view it as it is about the work itself. If he was less commercial, I might be tempted to say he's trying to put across some deep message about the intersection of East and West, or refinement and crassness, or some such thing, but I find it hard to credit him with any deep motivation. Just not my cup of tea...

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Posted in: Pumpkin knife See in context

A pumpkin is a kabocha, but a kabocha is a squash.

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Posted in: Pressure builds on Florida pastor who wants to burn Quran on Sept 11 See in context

An utter fool, who betrays the very name of his own organization. Book-burning is anathema to "peace and outreach"...

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Posted in: Leading a digital 'evilution' See in context

After a few years, he dropped out because, he says, it was not challenging enough.

Ha!!

I don’t really have any competitors right now... So that leaves about 10,000. In Japan, it may be a few hundred, if that.

Huh?!?

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Posted in: Tokyo Girls Collection See in context

For a second there I thought it was Rita Moreno in the original production of "West Side Story"...

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Posted in: 'Nippon Civilian Police' skirts a fine line between vigilance and vigilantism See in context

Great, police-sanctioned illegal wiretapping and use of underage teens in sting operations. Just what this country needs to combat crime.

But that's the way it is. "shrug"

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Posted in: Erika Sawajiri: Inside the head of Japan's outspoken star See in context

I have a little more respect for her after reading the full article.

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Posted in: We youngsters lack passion and ambition? Hardly See in context

Going to another country on a one way ticket and only a tourist visa, only with the hope of finding a job (as friend of mine's daughter did) is another story. But they are very rare.

This is not ambitious, it's simply irresponsible, and in many cases, illegal.

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Posted in: We youngsters lack passion and ambition? Hardly See in context

manfromamerica:

No, I was referring specifically to the government's intentional suppression of statistics clearly indicating a growing below-poverty-line segment of society (often the live-alone elderly and single mothers) as long as they thought they could push the tried-but-not-so-true "we're all middle-class" myth. It was only when many other factors converged in the past decade that they've been forced to be honest about this social and economic stratification.

I don't think the younger generation expects to be taken care of, at all.

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Posted in: We youngsters lack passion and ambition? Hardly See in context

Most of my Japanese friends are in their 20s and 30s, and I wouldn't characterize a single one of them as unambitious. Those who are stuck on the salaryman treadmill are constantly studying and searching, looking for ways to hop off and explore a more fulfilling life, and those who get by on part-time jobs or work in less secure industries such as retail and food service usually have some other project they're pursuing, whether it's eventually owning their own businesses, or focusing on raising a family, or going abroad, etc. They work hard, scrape by on a pittance, buy only what they like and can afford (often a really good pair of shoes, certainly not a car), and in general seem remarkably optimistic about their lives.

The least ambitious, and most conservative, 'millenials' I know have gone to good schools, absorbed all of the traditional lessons (and really, upper education here--as is increasingly the case in the U.S.--is mostly just a training ground for corporate drones), and are determined to hang on to the rails of whatever track they've chosen for themselves. Most of them have no interest in what goes on in the world, would be horrified at the prospect of being transferred overseas, and still believe that material things can define their worth as members of society.

The real concern should be for those in their teens, twenties, and thirties who have been most directly impacted by the recent decades of recession, deflation, and growing economic disparity. This is true in any country where the social safety net is stretched too thin or extended unevenly. An unrelenting cycle of poverty can breed poor nutrition and health, tumultuous home lives, failure in school, and delayed social development, eventually robbing the individual of the skills, ambition, physical fortitude, and psychological wherewithal they need to deal with, and eventually escape from, the very conditions that perpetuate such a cycle.

Much of the convulsive crime seen as being on the rise these days (stabbings in the street and the like), the domestic violence and child abuse, the youthful suicides, come out of this environment, and much of the blame lies with the government, which until quite recently refused to acknowledge even the statistical existence of a segment of society mired in poverty, desperation, and hopelessness. To this day, the government continues to believe that the nation's problems can be solved through more exports, more babies--in short, more of the same. An entire generation, maybe two, are being left behind as a result.

Social commentators here tend to lump the NEETs with the "freeters" with "otaku" (and, by association, the "hikikomori"), and try to treat it all as a single phenomenon under the rubric of "Young people these days...blah blah blah". But they're entirely different issues, and this approach only exacerbates the problem and encourages the government to think in sweeping generalizations rather than tackling real, specific issues.

I agree with the writer. The issue is not so much a lack of ambition, it's a difference in values. Young people don't necessarily lack direction, they're simply choosing to take a different direction. And that, in the long run, is bound to be a good thing for the country.

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Posted in: Ken Watanabe to appear in Docomo ad with Darth Vader See in context

Shouldn't this headline read "Ken Watanabe to appear in Docomo ad with actor dressed up as Darth Vader"???

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Posted in: BSE and foot-and-mouth disease give beef producers plenty to chew on See in context

I have stopped eating beef almost completely in the past few years--aside from a little ground meat in taco or in my spaghetti sauce--not out of any concerns about BSE or other diseases, but because it's simply too expensive, and, as it turns out, certainly not an indispensable part of my diet.

Japan could eliminate many of the problems it has with beef by adopting the practices of one ranch in Hokkaido, which raises its cattle completely naturally--they eat grass! they forage in the woods!--and produces a much redder, meatier product that is safer and far less fatty than traditional wagyu. No drugs, no imported feed (filled with corn, which cows aren't naturally able to digest, not to mention animal byproducts and fillers), no spritzing with wine or beer, no massages, no induced birthing or veterinarian midwives to yank calves from the womb with a chain, as is normally done.

Unfortunately, in the market, wagyu is ranked by degree of marbling--the more the better--so although this beef is tastier, healthier, and better for the environment, it regularly gets ranked a C or C-.

I still get the occasional craving for a nice sukiyaki or sizzling steak, but I think I'll continue to take my chances with chicken. Free-range, if possible.

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Posted in: What is the best way for parents of children of mixed heritage to make sure their kids grow up bilingual? See in context

Errrr... Educate them in two languages???

Kids under the age of 10 or so will generally be able to acquire facility in multiple languages with much less effort than would be required for an adult to do the same. If they're learning in one language only at school, the parents can work to ensure the second language is emphasized at home. Supplemental classes can help if the home linguistic environment is not so clear-cut, to avoid raising a child who comprehends the second language but doesn't speak it. (Such as was common in Hawaii when I was growing up--a lot of Japanese-American friends with mothers who only spoke Japanese at home could understand the language well, but because they seldom spoke it, and never read/wrote Japanese, only attained fluency by continuing to take classes in Japanese as a second language).

In any case, if the language environment outside the home is not also bilingual, eventually the child will acquire--by choice or otherwise--greater proficiency in one language at the expense of the other, but with early enough exposure, reasonable fluency in both can be retained through adulthood.

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Posted in: Japan to play Hawaii for Little League title See in context

I'll be rooting for Hawaii in the final- also a surprise finalist- but at least they "won" their way to the championship game.

Not such a surprise, Waipio won the championship in 2008, too, and a Hawaii team also brought home the trophy in 2005 to start the U.S.'s 5-year winning streak.

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Posted in: Japan to play Hawaii for Little League title See in context

I'm torn--long-time resident of Japan, but from Hawaii... IN the end, I guess I gotta root for the home team--Hawaii No Ka Oi!!!

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Posted in: The Biographical Dictionary of Notable Figures with Hilarious Names See in context

What an utterly pointless idea for a book.

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Posted in: Fruit Sweets See in context

I used to think it was "layer" too... but now, partly based on the katakana spelling, I think it just refers to a cheesecake that is chilled rather than baked, hence "rare".

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Posted in: The Hafu Project: Exploring the question of what it means to be Japanese See in context

This is why I like the term we use in Hawaii (and which has since spread to the West coast of the U.S. and other places) -- "hapa", which means of mixed race, but without any specific "half this/half that" implication. At this point, "hapa" kids are more the rule than the exception in Hawaii, and the term has kind of gone out of use there, but people are still proud of their various mixed heritages, often pointing them out in (not very scientific) fractions of an eighth or even sixteenth. Japan has a long, long way to go to get to that point, and perhaps never will--or even, necessarily, be expected to--and I think these kinds of discussions, and self-driven efforts to examine and understand that progress, or lack of it, are part of a healthy, positive process. Besides, something needs to be done to counteract the still-persistent attitude of google-eyed amazement, especially on TV, with which bi-racial or multi-racial individuals born and/or raised in Japan are treated on TV and elsewhere in the media, and it's the so-called "hafu" population that needs to lead that effort.

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Posted in: Fruit Sweets See in context

Well, "rare cheese" is really just a Japanized English term for cream cheese, so if you think about it, this is not all that much different from a cremesicle, which is orange and cream (or, err, creme). It's the use of the term "rare cheese", which conjures up something completely different in standard English, that throws it off.

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Posted in: Business caters to sexual needs of disabled See in context

The most pathetic thing I've seen in my life was a half-paralyzed middle aged Japanese guy on crutches coming out of the adult section of a Tsutaya carrying a stack of porn videos.

What was pathetic about it? The fact that he had to rent from Tsutaya? That he had to rent porn, period? Or that he was half-paralyzed, middle-aged, Japanese, and on crutches?

It seems like such exploitation

Why? Exploitation of whom? Isn't it also then exploitation to pay a care worker or home helper 800 or 900 yen an hour to go into the home of the same disabled individuals and cook and clean, or bathe and toilet their clients?

Or maybe you're talking about the price? I don't know what "deli-heru" services for the able-bodied cost, but these don't seem particularly exploitative, given that even above-board (i.e. no sexual services) massage services run 6,000 yen and up an hour.

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Posted in: Universal values See in context

Maybe it's just the phony poses, but the heads look Photoshopped on...

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Posted in: Bright lights See in context

The cost of LED lamps is well below half of what it was just a year or two ago--I think Sharp's run about 3,000-4,000 yen, some models from Panasonic and Toshiba are even less. But there have been some complaints about longevity not being what it's claimed to be--though some of that is expected, since many, if not most, LED lamps are being used in fixtures originally designed for standard bulbs, and compatibility is still a little spotty.

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Posted in: Rice paddy artwork See in context

alladin, and if they did one of Elmo or Hello Kitty or god forbid AKB48, then you'd just complain about Japanese ignoring their own cultural history and not doing things "Japanese" enough...

The material they choose each year is perfectly appropriate for the setting, I think. Other towns have been doing this too, but not at the level of dedication and detail that this town in Aomori puts into it.

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Posted in: Marcia's family history to be revealed on NHK documentary See in context

NHK, which used to produce really world-class documentary series, has seriously cut back its budget, and production values have plummeted. Some of their most interesting recent series, like "Mission" (about people/organizations trying to effect various social changes) and "The Star" (two-hour episodes delving into the lives and work of some of Japan's most venerable performers), are ruined for me by the use of superfluous guests, "talento" hosts and hostesses, and cheezy CGI sets. The content is great, the presentation is just not what it used to be.

My expectations for the commercial broadcasters are near zilch these days, but I used to have more respect for at least a good portion of NHK programming.

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