Archive for September 2003
English Weblog in China
Last time I checked, there weren't too many weblogs written in English by Japanese people. They include KEC Journal, Cronica di Eri, Japanish, and Kitakyushu Views, a student project modeled on Tawawa. Then there's Joi Ito's Web, whose author didn't grow up in Japan but who's Japanese, and Butuki, whose author isn't Japanese but grew up in this country.
There do seem to be a couple of Chinese weblogs written in English.
Via pketh, who has posted some comments here on Tawawa, I've just discovered the weblog of a Chinese history student writing in English from Hangzhou, China: Leylop: lively, engaging personal writing -- well done!
Plus: Leylop features a big Photolog.
Pirates of the Caribbean
Pirates of the Caribbean is now playing in Japan, and I saw it yesterday. I liked it very much. I liked the story and especially the actor: Johnny Depp. He was really cute and sexy. Now of course the wallpaper on my computer is "Pirates of the Caribbean."
Can you recommend any other movies coming to Japan?
Cell Phone Mail
OK, I plead guilty as charged: I'm a curmudgeon and a throwback. I don't have a cell phone.
Still, occasionally I exchange e-mail with keitai owners, and one of the things I've learned over time is that sending long, meandering, ponderous, in-detail messages doesn't do much good: they tend to get cut off at the other end of the duct after the first 200-and-something characters.
Before initiating a call to a keitai, they will, almost without exception, begin with a text message to determine availability; the new social norm is that you should "knock before entering." By sending messages like "Can you talk on the phone now?" or "Are you awake?" text messagers spare each other the rude awakening and disruption of a sudden phone call.
What Ito-sensei describes here is in line with Japanese tradition; it's very considerate and polite.
This politeness startled me today, however. Last night I sent an e-mail to a Japanese person whose address I found on the Web while looking for some specific information. I checked my mail first thing in the morning and found a reply to my query. It started with an apology for sending me e-mail in the middle of the night -- as, indeed, the message was time-stamped 3:34 am. Yet hold on a minute: an apology for sending e-mail in the middle of the night? I'm sure it's the first time I ever saw such a thing. It made me reflect, though: is it inappropriate to send e-mail after bedtime if the recipient might be using a cell phone as a mail client?
Somebody please clue me in!
Are there any other things the oyaji set ought to observe?
A Child Called "It"
A few days ago, I bought A Child Called "It", a book written by Dave Pelzer, who as a boy was abused by his mother. It is said to describe the worst case of child abuse ever heard of. Once he was cut in his stomach but his mother didn't take him to the hospital. He rarely ate at home, had no clothes to change, and once he was burnt on the gas range. Can you believe it? Last night I found it difficult to read on because it was so sickening, terrible, and grotesque.
In Japan, it is often said that more and more children are being abused. They are too young to ask for help. I feel really sorry for them. Those parents who cannot bring up their children shouldn't have had them. Why do so many immature or cruel parents exist?
Relaxed in Tasmania
Now, I’m teaching English in junior high school as part of the practice teaching I have to do. The other day, I talked to the students in the class about my homestay in Tasmania, which reminded me of the good time I had in Australia about two years ago.
In Tasmania, I lived in Losney with my host mother and my friend Tomoko. When we got up in the morning, it was cool and we were able to enjoy the beautiful scenery from the window; I will never forget the fine view. Before dinner, we often took a walk around our house or on the beach and took many photos of this beautiful island. While walking along the seashore, we saw many people enjoying themselves. Some of them were couples and some were parents and children; all of them looked so happy.
On holidays, we enjoyed climbing a mountain, visiting a flower garden and going for a drive in the host mother's car. We enjoyed our holidays as much as possible. If it was a fine day, we spread a carpet in the garden around the house and took a nap there. After that, we made sandwiches putting cheese between two slices of toast and ate them outside the house. When I was in Tasmania, I felt relaxed and quiet. Life was easy.
Here in Japan, I’m very busy studying, working part time, and doing many other things. Even if I have some free time, I don’t go climbing, go for a drive, nor take a walk around the house. My life in Japan is the opposite of life in Tasmania. When I collect my memories of Tasmania or look at the photos I took, it is as if it were a dream. What is the difference between life in Tasmania and life in Japan? I saw Tasmanian people who really enjoyed their lives, but the Japanese people, including myself, always seem to be pushed for time. I should enjoy my life more in Japan.
Zatoichi. It's a movie now shown in Japan and it tells the story of a blind masterless samurai. The director is Kitano Takeshi. Though this movie is a remake, it won four prizes at the international movie festival in Venice. One of my friends has seen it and recommended it to me. I really want to see it. How about you?
Well, I'm not advertizing. Just curious.
As reported by the BBC, Google has just celebrated its fifth birthday. Starting out as a latecomer to the task of indexing the web -- the Yahoo directory was founded in 1994 -- Google quickly became the web's favourite search tool by virtue of its consistently good search results. This was owing to two things: the Google founders came up with a unique algorithm called PageRank that looks at the links pointing to any given page, on the basis of which it assigns a rank to the page that pushes it higher up on the results page the more in-pointing links the page has (that's simplifying things a bit, but it's the basic idea). In addition, Google has always stuck to another smart principle which made it stand out from its competitors: it never sold its search results to the marketers. Whereas every other search engine accepts money from companies who want their web sites placed higher up in the results, Google has always refused to do that. Good for the user.
Over the years, Google has introduced a couple of useful services, to wit:
- Groups: this feature allows you to browse a huge amount of Usenet postings.
- Image Search: offers images as search results. Say you want to know what a porch looks like: plenty of pictures for you.
- Glossary: not quite finished yet, but still a useful tool that lets you search the web for definitions of technical terms, acronyms and the like. For example, you want to know what "ICT" stands for. Well, look no further.
- Advanced search: this isn't really a feature that's unique to Google since other engines and directories offer something similar too. Yet it's very useful and allows you to refine your search, thus giving you better results.
In particular, advanced search is an invaluable tool for EFL learners. Unsure about a certain phrase you want to use? Set your search results to English and search for that phrase and any of its alternatives. The number of search results will give you an indication of how commonly used the phrase is -- or if it exists at all. This method may have its pitfalls since not all English on the web is technically perfect or written by proficient writers, but if you keep this in mind, you will be able to put this functionality to a couple of good uses.
More Google web toys, in various stages of completion, are available at the Google Labs.
In this school, handball, tennis, baseball, soccer and softball players practice outside under the burning sun. Basketball, volleyball and pingpong players as well as kendo and judo fighters practice inside enduring the humidity and the heat. Brassband practices for the concert all day long with admirable concentration. Every time I go to see my students exercising, I admire them. How hard they practice! How much energy they have! What wonderful students I have!
When you become a teacher, you will admire many abilities in your students. You may notice that they are much greater than you in many respects.