dorchadas: (Warcraft Face your Nightmares)
([personal profile] dorchadas Aug. 16th, 2017 09:05 am)
Posting today instead of tomorrow because there's no farmer's market dinner this week. Now that the school term is starting at [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's workplace, her summer break is over and she can't consistently make time to gather ingredients for dinner anymore. There may be sporadic farmer's market dinners before the market closes in October--those meals are really good--but it's no longer a routine thing.

Charlottesville affected me more than I thought it would. Some of it was reading accounts like this one from a local synagogue, about how the police refused to provide protection and they had to hire private security to protect from roving bands of Nazis. Or this account of weapons caches, similar to what happened in Rwanda, indicating that the Nazis were using Charlottesville as a training exercise for a para-military operation somewhere else. And then the President of the United Sates of America revealed that he's a Nazi sympathizer at a press conference, so the Nazis' goals were mostly achieved. Great. 2017. emoji head in hands

It reminds me of an old statement I read by a rabbi from centuries ago that history was divided into periods of persecution and periods of leniency. A lot of young Jews seemed to think that the cycle had been broken, at least in America, and that the concerns of their elders were overblown. I suspect they don't think that anymore.

At least the weather's nice. I'm not sure we've had a day over 30°C for the entire month of August and the weather report shows that it won't get higher than that for the next upcoming week either. Since my preferred clothing style includes pants at all times, I appreciate the deference the atmosphere is showing me.

I started playing Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (well, ゼルダの伝説:4つの剣+) and I'm filled with immense nostalgia for A Link to the Past. Four Swords Adventures reuses a lot of the sprites and music from ALttP, but also has a lot of toonification from Wind Waker. The bomb explosions are cel-shaded, a lot of the enemies are round and blobby, and the water effects are much more liquid-based than pixelized. The gameplay is all hack and slash, but I'm finding it surprisingly fun so far. We'll see if that's still true after I get past the second area.
dorchadas: (Office Space)
([personal profile] dorchadas Aug. 13th, 2017 09:52 am)
This is about the Nazi rally yesterday.

Not about how the President of the United States of America is a Nazi, sympathizer, though he clearly is. Trump is perfectly capable of making strong, unambiguous statements when he has something he's actually interested in condemning. Saying "hatred, bigotry and violence on many side" is implicitly blaming those targeted by the Nazis as much as the Nazis. Trump cannot condemn racism and white supremacy because Trump is a racist and a white supremacist.

This isn't about the idiotic free speech arguments claiming that Nazis arguing that [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I should die are equivalent to us saying that perhaps we should not. It's the worst kind of Is-Ought fallacy, arguing that because that's currently the way that the First Amendment is interpreted that makes it somehow the best possible interpretation. They may say that this sort of free speech makes America great, but what I hear is, "We will only come to your defense when it's already too late."

Well, it's about those inasmuch as I've mentioned them. Emoji Cute shrug

No, it's about the claims that this "isn't America" that I've seen from politicians. In response to those, I submit this article. Madison Square Garden, 1939. Twenty thousand people showed up to cheer Hitler and complain about Roosevelt's "Jew Deal." And before that, when the Nazis were laying out the Nuremberg Laws, the meetings they held on the topic repeated returned to American legal segregation as an inspiration. The Nazis were, of course, perfectly capable of coming up with these laws on their own, but the fact that they looked to America is a lesson that many of us need to remember.

This is America. Most of the problems we still have can be directly traced back to slavery and the legacy of racism it left. The lack of socialized health care (partially scuttled but southern politicians' fear of integrated hospitals), the police state, Republican voter suppression efforts, a lack of a robust welfare state...

The hatred is coming from inside the house.
dorchadas: (Kirby Walk)
([personal profile] dorchadas Aug. 12th, 2017 03:23 pm)
Happy 25th anniversary, Kirby!

I ordered a bon voyage Kirby plush since they were available for the anniversary, and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I started watching the Kirby anime, but of course, Kirby started out as a video game character. What better way to celebrate his existence than by playing the games that birthed him? I originally thought about playing Kirby's Adventure, the first Kirby game I ever played and the one that cemented my love for the series, but that's a several-hour commitment if I want to find all the secrets and unlock every part of the map. Kirby's Dream Land is bite-sized. I finished it in an hour and a half and it was fantastic.

Strange, coming primarily from later games, but fantastic.

Kirby's Dream Land eat enemy
Kirby, just let Waddle Dee waddle be!

Read more... )
Wind Waker is one of the few Zelda games I've played and beaten around the time it came out, along with only the original Legend of Zelda and Ocarina of Time. My sister owned a GameCube and kept up with the releases, though she never played the games for that long. She pre-ordered the limited edition--I still have the bonus disc with the Ocarina of Time Master Quest on it--and I'm not sure she ever played it, but when I came home from university that summer, I did. I played through and beat the game without reading any of the online invective about it and I really liked it. I didn't care about the happy, cartoony graphics. That was the year that Call of Duty first came out, and I was busy playing Morrowind and Warcraft III. Something light and happy was refreshing, especially when I spent every weekday at a summer job that I hated and was going to spend the next semester studying abroad in Ireland. At the time, it might even have been my favorite Zelda game.

On replaying, it's still good, but the cracks stand out to me in a way they didn't then.

The Japanese title, as is often true, is simple and straightforward--kaze no takuto, "The Baton of the Winds."

Wind Waker - Ship firing Cannon at shore
Incoming!

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([personal profile] dorchadas Aug. 10th, 2017 08:54 am)
At our last class, Aya-sensei told me that unlike some of her other students, the two of us never end up staring at each other without having anything to talk about. A lot of her students are software developers, apparently, so that's a big portion of their interest. But explaining programming concepts to someone who isn't a programmer can be complex enough in a language both of you are fluent in, much less trying to do so in a language you're learning. I know what functions are, and while I might be able to explain them, I'd have to do so in very abstract terms like 箱のようなものだ ("It's something like a box") unless I looked up a lot of vocab during the conversation. In contrast, Aya-sensei and I mostly talk about food, travel, and TV, podcasts, and games during free chat, all subjects about which we have a lot to say.

"Function" is 関数 (kansū), by the way. I had to look that up.

Farmer's Market Dinner )

I ordered two pairs of pants recently but had to return both of them, one for being slightly ill-fitting and the other for basically being parachute pants. And then today, I noticed just before I left for work that my most-recently-purchased pair of pants from before that already had a hole in it. It's on the back of my lower leg so not in a vital location, and it's not like these pants fit that well already. But still, I thought I would be up two pairs of pants and now I'm down one. Emoji Uncertain ~ face

I took the afternoon off tomorrow and we're going out to India House for lunch, and after that we're going to have to go shopping for more pants. Maybe in a brick-and-mortar store, they'll be able to find something that actually fits me (30" waist, 36" leg). Though I'm not super hopeful, since I tried to get a dress shirt there before and they didn't have any with sleeves long enough for me...
[CW sexual assault]

I met a a guy yesterday who was fired from his delivery job because someone had been raped and he sat with them for half an hour. Gross misconduct, apparently. But he says he's better off not having a job at all than working for that company. I told him he did the right thing. I admire him for that.
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([personal profile] marnanel Aug. 8th, 2017 06:53 pm)

There was a protest against austerity in Piccadilly Gardens, in the centre of Manchester, last year. A friend of mine was on a bus and heard someone say, “I wish these people didn’t keep protesting all the time, I need to get to work!”

Keep them busy and poor, and they won’t have time to think about revolution.

When I was a small kid, I was always hearing about politically active students. But that was when students routinely got grants, and before college tuition fees. Most students didn’t have to work. Now I don’t know any students with spare time to speak of.

Keep them busy and poor, and they won’t have time to think about revolution.

Every time the railway workers go on strike, I hear people saying “I get paid less than them for longer hours. They’re so selfish, asking for better conditions.” They never seem to figure out the cause and effect, but they’re too desperate to keep their jobs to even think about strike action.

Keep them busy and poor, and they won’t have time to think about revolution.

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dorchadas: (Kirby Walk)
([personal profile] dorchadas Aug. 8th, 2017 09:25 am)
Kirby is my favorite Nintendo character, and this year is the 25th anniversary of Kirby. In Japan, they're doing all kinds of things to commemorate it, like a Kirby concert series or the Pupupu Train traveling shop, but of course there's nothing like that here. Fortunately, there are some good sides to global capitalism, and one of them is the ability to order limited-edition items from other countries. We already bought the omikuji 25th anniversary drinking glasses and need to make Blushing Russians or strawberry smoothies to drink out of them, and yesterday the Kirby plush I ordered arrived.

It was a bit of a surprise.

Bon voyage! )

It is very large. About a foot high, which means that I didn't read the description carefully. I was expecting it to be about half that height like the other Kirby plushes we have. It's extremely cute and wonderful to hug, but I'll need to find a place to put it...
Tonight [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd might watch the Kirby anime. It's a Kirby kind of day.Emoji Kirby heart
Tea time!

This came in the same shipment as the Genmaicha Crunch, but after the bland disappointment of that chocolate it took a while god is to get to this one. Hōjicha (ほうじ茶) means "roasted tea," and it adds a distinct smoky flavor to the normal slightly-bitter taste of green tea. It's the kind of thing that should compliment dark chocolate very well if they can pull it off.

Spoiler: they can't.
Read more... )
At 8:15 a.m., August 6th, 1945, the first atomic weapon exploded in the skies over Hiroshima.

This year is the 72nd anniversary, but the effects still remain. Our Japanese tutor had a black-and-white photo on her kamidana of a young man, maybe in his early teens, and when we asked who he was she said that he was her brother. I met a man in Heiwa Kōen who had seen the bombing with his own eyes, though from the comfortable distance of his parents' house miles outside the city. The mayor of Hiroshima is the president of Mayors for Peace, who work for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

There's a ceremony in the morning with speeches, but what I remember is the evening. People write messages on thousands of paper lanterns and set them adrift in the Otagawa, bearing their hopes and fears down to the sea.

Genbaku Dome ceremony

There are more pictures of this year's ceremony here.

戦争が恐ろしすぎるから、世界に平和が広がるように。佐々木禎子さんとか鉄谷伸一さんとかのような子供が誰もいないように。世界は核兵器が二度と使われない場所になるように。俺は希望だ。
marnanel: (Default)
([personal profile] marnanel Aug. 5th, 2017 12:33 pm)

How was/is your school organised? Mine wasn’t, very.

My school (state comprehensive) had houses called Anglia, Mercia, Northumbria, and Wessex. Northumbria was red, Anglia was yellow, Mercia was blue, and Wessex was green. I was in Wessex.

There was a system called “tutor groups” that applied to everyone except the sixth form, where you had to report to a particular teacher (in whatever room they taught in) at the beginning and the end of each day. The teachers were organised into houses and you were in the same house as your tutor. Despite the name your tutor wasn’t responsible for teaching you anything.

The school had 1200 kids and had outgrown the rather small hall, so assemblies alternated between Mercia+Anglia and Northumbria+Wessex. If you weren’t in assembly you just sat around in your tutor group doing homework (i.e. playing Top Trumps).

The school secretary was really really keen on coding everything. Each of the teachers, each of the rooms, and each subject had a three-letter code, and you were expected to memorise all the ones which applied to you. You wrote your tutor’s three-letter code after your name on everything– my tutor was Mr Crowther who taught chemistry, so my name was “Thomas Thurman CWR”. His room, where we went every morning and evening, was L05 (laboratory zero-five).

We had house points in the first two years, but they weren’t tallied up per house and they only applied to you. (This made no bloody sense even at the time.) You were given a card where the teachers initialled squares.

You got a badge if you made 100 or 200 house points. I finally reached 200 at the end of the last term of my second year. I’ve still got the badge somewhere. [edit: found it!]

 

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([personal profile] marnanel Aug. 5th, 2017 12:30 am)

I've been drawing illustrations for the anonymous poem He Drew. I read the poem when I was about seven, and it's stuck with me ever since. Many people have told me I'm not alone.

"He always wanted to say things, but no-one understood.
He always wanted to explain things, but no-one cared."

"So he drew."

"Sometimes he would just draw and it wasn't anything. He wanted to carve it in stone or write it in the sky."

Again, my illustrations but not my poem. More pictures in a few days; you can find the whole poem online if you go looking.

[This post was supported by my Patreon sponsors, who saw it three days before everyone else. Join us! https://www.patreon.com/tjathurman ]

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dorchadas: (Chiyoda)
([personal profile] dorchadas Aug. 4th, 2017 09:52 am)
Last night at [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's suggestion we watched a documentary called The Birth of Sake, about the Yoshida sake distillery in Ishikawa Prefecture, while we drank some sake ourselves and ate Japanese snacks.

Sake is my favorite alcohol but I knew basically nothing about the process of making it, so everything in the documentary was new to me. The workers live at the brewery from October to April, tending the sake around the clock from rice through to finished product, and then need to find other work for the rest of the year. They could automate the process and leave the measuring and tending to machines, but the workers value the human approach and believe that their customers value that aspect of the process. The brewery has been open for six generations, and there's a 神棚 (kamidana, "household shrine") up on the wall in the main room of the brewery and some scenes of the workers gathering together to pray.

Over the course of the documentary, one of the workers died of a sudden heart attack and two quit due to the grueling schedule, inability to find good work the rest of the year, and being away from their families, so one worker who was going to retire came back for another year. There's a note that sake consumption has been in decline since the 70s and that now there are only about 1000 breweries down from 4600 a few decades ago. That does match with my experience--though there was a brewery in Chiyoda, everyone we knew drank beer or shōchū most of the time.

I really liked it! It was all in Japanese with subtitles, though I could barely understand anything the older workers said (they might have been speaking Hokuriku dialect). It was immersion-style, with the filmmakers taking scenes from the workers' dormitory, the five a.m. waking period to tend the sake, the parties, the quickly-scarfed-down meals of miso soup and tamago kake gohan before going back to the floor. It's up on Netflix if you want to watch.

I looked into where to get Tedorigawa sake, and while there are some stores, none of them are nearby. Maybe I should get some shipped to us while [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd is still at home and can sign for the shipment...
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