20 January 2011

英語で笑う! 教室爆笑スキット / Laughing in English! Explosive Laughter Skits for the Classroom / Anti-jokes

I originally wrote this on Facebook but am posting it here for your enjoyment.

I'm at school trying to avoid writing essays and have found this book of English language skits for Japanese elementary and junior high school students. I have a suspicion that these were written by non-native English speakers. Or the Excite.co.jp Japanese translator.

I hope you like anti-jokes.

'I Like What I Like!'

Teacher: Do you like steak, Toshio?

Toshio: No, I don't. I don't like steak.

Teacher: Why?

Toshio: Because it isn't good for our health.

Teacher: I see. Then how about fruit?

Toshio: I love all of the fruit. Especially I like melons, apples and oranges. Fruit is good for our health.

Teacher: How about vegetables?

Toshio: I don't like vegetables.

Teacher: But vegetables are also very good for our health. Why don't you like vegetables? Do you have a special reason?

Toshio: No. I have no speacial [sic] reasons. I just like what I like.

Teacher: Mmmmm...


'In the Classroom'

Nicchoku: Stand up!

Teacher: Good morning, class.

Class: Good morning.

Nicchoku: Sit down!

Teacher: Now I'm going to take attendance. Andou?

Andou: Yes, sir.

Teacher: Inoue?

Inoue: I'm present.

Teacher: Okada?

Okada: Here, sir.

Teacher: Katou?...Katou? Is he absent?

Okada: Yes, he is absent.

Teacher: OK...next. Suzuki?...Suzuki? Is she absent, too?

Inoue: No, she isn't...she is sleeping.

Teacher: Oh, no!


'I Cleaned!'

Teacher: Where is Hiroshi?

Shizuko: I don't know. He often escapes.

- Hiroshi enters -

Teacher: Where were you?

Hiroshi: In the toilet.

Teacher: Why? Today's cleaning is your turn.

Hiroshi: I know.

Teacher: You know? So why didn't you clean?

Hiroshi: I did, sir/madam. I cleaned.

Teacher: But you were in the toilet.

Hiroshi: Yes. I was in the toilet. But I cleaned.

Teacher: You cleaned? What did you clean?

Hiroshi: I often say bad words. So I washed my mouth.

Teacher: Mmmmm...


I am continuing my foray into the mind of Japan translated to English translated to child translated to Japanese translated to English.

'I Have a Pet!'

Teacher: Do you have any pets, Takeshi?

Takeshi: Yes, I do.

Teacher: What do you have?

Takeshi: I have a dog. It is white. It is very big. And it is very smart.

Teacher: How about you, Yoko?

Yoko: I have a cat. It is black. It is small. It is very cute.

Teacher: How about you, Yusuke?

Yusuke: My pet is black. And it is very small.

Teacher: Is your pet a cat, too?

Yusuke: No. My pet is not smart or cute. But I don't have to give food to my pet every day.

Teacher: What is your pet?

Yusuke: It's a cockroach!

Teacher: You are kidding, aren't you?

Yusuke: No kidding!


'In the Homeroom Meeting'

Teacher: By the way, Hiroshi, can I ask you some questions?

Hiroshi: Sure.

Teacher: Do you eat breakfast every day?

Hiroshi: Yes, I do.

Teacher: That's good. Does your mother cook breakfast?

Hiroshi: No, she doesn't.

Teacher: Do you cook?

Hiroshi: No, I don't.

Teacher: No? Then who cooks?

Hiroshi: My father.

Teacher: Oh, I see. Your father is a good husband. How about dinner?

Hiroshi: My father cooks.

Teacher: How about cleaning the house?

Hiroshi: My father does.

Teacher: Then, what does your mother do at home?

Hiroshi: Nothing.

Teacher: Nothing?

Hiroshi: But she works outside to make money!

Teacher: Oh, I see!


'I Got Dad's Punch!'

Teacher: A happy new year, class!

Class: A happy new year, sir/madam.

Teacher: Did you help your family during winter holidays? And did you get anything good as Christmas presents or New Year's presents?

Koiko: I helped my mother on New Year's eve. So I got nice gloves.

Teacher: Sounds great! How about you, Hideki?

Hideki: I cleaned my room every day. So I got a new family computer game.

Teacher: That's good. How about you, Tetsuko?

Tetsuko: I studied hard. So I got a new mechanical pencil from my grandmother.

Teacher: You are lucky. And Takuro?

Takuro: I didn't help my family. I did not clean my room. I did not study, either. I played every day. At last I got Dad's punch!

Teacher: Oh, poor boy!

Oh, poor boy! ;_;

You really have to love how the punchline is usually in the title.

'I Can't Read!'

Akiko: What's wrong, Takeshi?

Takeshi: Nothing.

Akiko: Who wrote the letter?

Takeshi: My girlfriend wrote.

Akiko: You look angry. Why are you angry?

Takeshi: No, I'm not angry.

Akiko: The letter has a bad news [sic]?

Takeshi: No.

Akiko: Please be honest. We are friends. I can help you. I can do anything for you.

Takeshi: Really? Can you help me?

Akiko: Sure!

Takeshi: You are very kind! In fact, I...

Akiko: Did you quarrel with your girlfriend?

Takeshi: No, no. I just can't read several kanji of this letter!

Akiko: Oh, no!

Takeshi's antics don't stop there.

'In the Math Class'

Takeshi: Ken! Ken! Will you give me some paper?

Ken: Sure. Here you are.

Takeshi: May I borrow a pencil?

Ken: OK. Here it is.

Takeshi: Can I borrow your eraser?

Ken: Yeah. Here.

Takeshi: Hmmm...

Ken: What's the matter?

Takeshi: This is very difficult.

Ken: No. It's easy.

Takeshi: Really? You must have good brains. Can I borrow your brain?

Ken: Oh, no! You can't!


The next one is about cultural differences.

'I Did So-so'

Mary: How did you do on the math test?

Junko: I did so-so. How about you?

Mary: I did very well. Look at this. Can I see yours?

Junko: Well...

Mary: Hey. Come on. Wow! Yours is better than mine. You're a liar!

Junko: No, I'm not. That's the way we are.

Mary: Oh, no!


OK, I was paging through the book and found this one that is...well, I'll put it here.

'That's Cereal!'

Mom: Good morning, Hiromi. What do you want to eat for breakfast?

Hiromi: Anything.

Mom: No. Don't say 'anything.' You should have an opinion. How about bread and milk? This morning we have good roll [sic].

Hiromi: Let's see...Silica gel is better.

Mom: What? Silica gel? Are you serious?

Hiromi: This is my choice. Don't complain.

Mom: Stupid! If you eat it, you'll die.

Hiromi: No kidding! Bring it soon. Over there! Over there!

Mom: Oh! That's cereal!



05 October 2010

Yet Another Nice Article from The Stone from NYT

I thought that this was pretty interesting. Late in my undergraduate philosophy career I found my hard reductionist tendency beginning to soften, and I think that my appreciation of the perspective found in this article is a result of that moderation maturing over the two years since I finished school. I'm digging explanations from all angles, if you will. The article here talks about how clearly understanding both sides of the is-ought distinction is crucial for acting 'for the best' at the practical level.

Please bear with me if I sound particularly unsophisticated right now-- I'm trying to get back into thinking and writing after a rather long hiatus. Cultivating other talents, you know.*

*Halo: Reach

06 July 2010

Getting back on that horse

Holy crap, it is hot here. It is like 34C or something. Even the locals are displeased. I'm on door duty here in the shokuinshitsu-- when some asshat leaves the door open I get up and shut it to prevent the conditioned air from being lost.

I just took the LSAT in Tokyo last week. Felt good. I'm going to wait on choosing which schools to apply to until after I get my score back. I don't want to have unrealistic expectations.

With JLPT2 and the LSAT behind me, I've returned to daily Japanese language study. I hope to maintain my enthusiasm (情熱) for another year on this island in the (hot) sun.

09 April 2010

Hot Item: Panasonic Lumix FT-2

I recently purchased this camera on a whim while in Kagoshima, but despite my lack of careful deliberation, doing so turned out to be a smart move. The complete radness of this camera is not limited to the orange finish: as one of the latest 'tough' cameras to come to the market, it is shock resistant to 2m drops, waterproof to 10m, and captures 14MP images. Oh, and it shoots some quality HD video.

This is my crew in a sea cave in Miyako. The approach to this cave requires wading through water, so taking my DSLR was out of the question (and I can't afford a waterproof housing).

The images are rather outstanding when shot at close range underwater. Shooting at longer ranges naturally subjects your image to more external circumstances like water turbidity and lighting, so image quality seems to drop off rapidly with distance. My longer range underwater shots from this day are pretty unremarkable, so I'm not posting them here. However, I think that the camera is capable of beautiful underwater photos with the right conditions. That is to say that the camera has not been the limiting factor in my photos so far. I look forward to taking it to the limit next time we have a nice dive.

The excellent HD video capability is the unexpected best feature of this camera. Overlooking the poor quality of YouTube, check out this video:

I didn't wear a weight belt that day, so I kept floating and colliding with the tunnel overhead. Still, pretty cool.

Anyway, having underwater photography (and sweet video) has unlocked a new zone of shareable adventure here in Miyako. Look forward to more stuff.

02 March 2010

Brief Thoughts After Mass Effect 2

Mass Effect 2 is a great film. The plot is weird, but it is overcome by the excellent writing and mostly-engaging characters. Insofar as it is a game, however, there's so much more that could have been done to make it more than a fairly fun, generic 'press A to take cover' shooter. I'm not here to argue that larger topic, though. Instead I'd like to focus on one particular aspect that I can't stop thinking about: I wish there were some sort of PvP multiplayer that took advantage of the richness of the combat powers.

There is a lot of unexplored potential in the class-power scheme of the game. While there is nothing aggressively wrong with the AI in ME2, it remains the case that in terms of unpredictability and challenge, nothing can replace a human opponent. The new classes in ME2 are a load of fun, so the absence of a way to pit your carefully configured team against that of another person is pretty painful.

This issue comes to my mind whenever I spam the shit out of my enemies with my engineer's combat drone. Gunfights-- while exciting-- are a joke. There are never any 'whoa, almost didn't make it out of that one' moments because nearly every fight is a one-sided blowout where my team plows through the opposition. When it isn't that, it is just the enemy rushing my team and sacking Shepherd as if there is no way for me to affect the match. Circumstances rarely require the use of medi-gels.

The AI ALWAYS turns to fight the combat drone, taking the heat off me and giving me the opportunity to shoot at their backs with impunity. In contrast, a human player might not do that, instead choosing to press into my fire and land a killing shot.

I did have one fight in-game that could plausibly be called tactical. Fighting the Collectors on the moving platforms inside the dormant ship was tough the first four tries. I forget what they are called, but they've got these bubbled wretch-type things that hang back and hit you with one shockwave after another, destroying your shields and health in two successive glancing hits. The solution for victory turned out to be a simple flanking maneuver where I ran to an unoccupied platform and sniped the shit out of the bubble dude from his left. It was briefly rewarding, and I wonder whether Bioware could have created more situations like that.

Then again, maybe they made it this way on purpose; having to sit through the restart/loading screens is aggravating when you're fired up about killing.

As it is now, not all of the powers/abilities are suited for multiplayer. Available to the Vanguard class is the shockwave power, the noob tube of any hypothetical ME2 PvP encounter. It is staggeringly powerful. It goes through cover at long range and has an unexpectedly wide area of effect. When hit, it drops one's shields immediately-- a second hit means death. For Mass Effect to go multiplayer, something would have to be done to weaken shockwave.

I must reiterate that Mass Effect 2 is in no way a bad game-- Bioware accomplished exactly what they set out to do with the middle part of the trilogy. Mass Effect has always been about providing an excellent and pure single-player experience. In addition to dividing the effort of the developers, having a multiplayer component in ME2 would have detracted from the canonical unity of the narrative. Nevertheless, I just can't stop thinking of how excellent it would be to go up against other humans' squads pokemon-style. Matching team composition strategy and rapid tactical decision making would be a lot of fun and is the only way for the excitement of the combat system to reach its potential.

Besides, what's the point of having your own customized Commander Sheperd if you're the only person who is going to look at it?

*Disclaimer: playing on Veteran difficulty

31 January 2010

Waido Marathon

Two Sundays ago I completed my first footrace, the 21km component of Miyako's annual Waido Marathon. 'Waido' is a Miyako-dialect word that basically means 'ganbare,' or 'try hard/go for it', and that's what participants do for the most part.

Some work harder than others, though. The main event is a 100km loop around the coasts of Miyako and Ikema that takes the fastest runners about 7.5 hours. The next step down is a 50km marathon-plus that, interestingly enough, attracts few participants. The shortest available distance (and my trial run) was the 21km dash from Higashi Hennazaki (Eastern Cape) to the German culture village in Ueno. It is reasonably popular with us locals. There's something for everyone.

My training for the race was half-assed, and I credit this to a depressingly inert combination of ignorance and indolence. That is, the lead up to the race went just as I expected and not as I planned, if you catch my drift. The longest single run I achieved during training was a 10k, and that happened only once. I had a rough cough during the week of the race, but I decided to go for it-- not because I trained, but because I paid money and had received a shirt which would become embarrassingly inapplicable to me if I didn't complete the run.

And so I ran.

I learned a lot during the first 10km: how to run down hills without crying, that I should have started farther in the front of the starting pack, and that my Underarmour shirt was too fucking hot to be wearing that day. I took it off and tied it around my waist, leaving the outer shirt jauntily bunched up around my neck like a wreath. Got to have that airflow.

Kilometers 10 to 17 were pleasant, as far as these things go. I was zen-like as I breezed past the sugar cane on one side and the coast on the other.

The running reverie came to a crashing halt at kilometer 18 when my legs stiffened like curing cement. As a small guy, normal physical activity has never caused my knees to hurt, but this run caused some serious tension at the area immediately below them. I stretched a bit at the drink stations, downing sports drink and water and avoiding the bananas and brown sugar on offer.

Anyway, I eventually made to the end (no sprinting finish) and inhaled a pile of bananas, anpan, and water from the recovery area. My students from Ueno milled around in sporty blue jackets, handing out medals and refreshments to the runners as they finished.

Next up is the Irabu half marathon in February. I'm thinking about getting some Nike Free 5s (I have 7s right now) and developing a different stride. As it is, I run in a fairly conventional manner (landing on the heel after the stride), but lately I've been trying to avoid the heels and stay more bouncy like a barefoot runner. I'll give that style a go and put it to the test at the end of next month, sans Underarmour. Out.

15 December 2009

Cracking the whip

Cell phones aren't really a problem at most of my schools. The students aren't supposed to have them, and most abide. But, as you might expect, there is a direct relationship between the urbanity of a school's location and the visible prevalence of cell phone possession among students. I'm at my 'city school' this week. This isn't meant to imply that I'm teaching the worldly, urban street youth of Japan; no, these kids are, by any objective measure, parochial at their foundation. But they do like their cell phones.

The other ALT who works at this school (we sort of irregularly alternate weeks) has repeatedly found himself in situations where students openly (flauntingly?) operate their keitais during or between classes. Each teacher has her own approach (or lack of an approach) to discipline, and the students do take advantage of gaps in the armor. My friend has sufficient command of Japanese to address their behavior, and he does, but the situation brings up some issues regarding the role of ALTs in classroom discipline. What is the role of the ALT?

The responsibilities of an ALT are dictated by his individual situation. In junior high school, I work alongside other teachers. I view myself as support for the Japanese teacher of English, and that informs my level of involvement in classroom discipline. During my first year, I'd try to match the tone of the JTE. This meant that in less disciplined classes, I wouldn't try to single-handedly bring the class in line; I just accepted that that was the way the class was.

Chalk one up for cultural sensitivity. Hah. I'm too old for that now. This contract cycle, the Age of Intolerance resumes.

Recently I've been taking a more active, assertive role because I feel more knowledgeable and confident about Japanese and the behavior of my students. When I judge that the JTE doesn't have sufficient control of her class, I move about the room and attend to the problematic students while the JTE continues to teach.

ALTs in elementary schools often have to shoulder more of the classroom discipline burden as they don't work with JTEs as junior and senior high school ALTs do. A teacher who participates in the ALT's lesson can help to a certain extent, but one doesn't always have those teachers (some totally check out when the ALT takes over the class-- cookies and coffee in the break room). ALTs at the elementary level have to use more Japanese and be more assertive with discipline in order to be effective. Not to make them sound balanced or equivalent, but I actually have a hard time comparing JHS discipline with elementary discipline-- with the former, students are more recalcitrant but the JTE can help; with the latter, it's your own show but the students go nuts for inflatable hammers. Wait-- so do my JHS students...shit.

I think I've learned a few things while teaching in both situations. My Japanese isn't very imposing, and neither is my stature, so I rarely use the intimidation route to effect behavioral change. I find that just making the students uncomfortable with a conversation works best. I do this by merely directing my attention to that student (only that student). Most students don't want to be singled out against their will. The best thing about this approach is that it doesn't have to be negative at all; it's exactly not a confrontation. You can really just talk to the student about any dumb thing that comes to your mind; instead of saying, "Quit screwing around," I say, "Where's your notebook?" or things like that. Some kind of simple, simple English sentence works; a barrage of the Queen's doesn't. I don't speak Japanese at all in junior high school classes as a rule, and this approach to discipline allows me to be consistent. Anyway, at best, the student changes his behavior so he doesn't have to speak English with the ALT; at worst, he gets some English conversation practice in.

Back to the cell phones. Discussing the problem, my friend and I agreed that the teachers should be stricter with the students to show that they are serious about following the rules, but we also acknowledged that the teachers may simply be picking their battles. Still, we wondered about the role of the ALT here. Can you overlook a blatant infraction? In new ALT training, it was pounded into our heads that ALTs are supposed to be super-genki, creative, and fun. Finding students operating their cell phones put my friend in a tough position vis-a-vis the whole 'fun, friendly ALT' thing: he wondered whether he should tell the JTE, making her aware of the situation but likely alienating the students (who would find out that the ALT told her), or take it upon himself to square away the student. He chose the latter, and I think it was the right thing to do because it was the potentially constructive route. It gave the offending student an opportunity to change his behavior. Now, I say 'potentially constructive' because the students were back at it again the next time my friend visited the school, but you know...

Anyway, each ALT must communicate with her JTE in order to establish how to handle classroom discipline, and she must find out for herself what sort of approach will work best with her students. For example, my friend who teaches primary school in Cameroon says that students there are beaten daily.

10 December 2009

MW Local Multiplayer

Crap, I remember what I wanted to write about in the first place. Again, the proper MW2 review is on another machine and will be up soon. Right now I'm just going to say a bit about how we've (yes, 'we'; I haven't been playing by myself or online very often) been playing Modern Warfare 2. I haven't had this much fun playing a game since we were doing system-link Halo 3 grifball during the last ALT contract cycle. And to think that it is just 2v2 stuff this time...outstanding.

MW2 has somehow just worked for us. The last time we tried to play a Call of Duty game (MW1, World at War), people got discouraged because there was a big skill variance between me (who owns both games) and my friends who...gamely gave the games a go. I had sympathy for that feeling, and it wasn't particularly fun for me to play the game without knowledgeable opponents, either. On top of that, there were usually more than four of us wanting to play and we had ready access to system-linked Halo. Shit just wasn't aligned for CoD.

Things are different this time. Since the last contract cycle ended, our gaming crew has dwindled. We lost one dude (and thus his brother's participation as well) to the Okinawan mainland and two returned to the US (one of those two being arguably the best Halo player). Another fellow, while still here in Miyako, appeared to lose interest in playing over the summer. I felt similarly, in truth. While I hated the premise and game mechanics of Halo in the first place, its brilliant feature set won me over for a long time. But eventually, as all things do, it became stale. As for the new guys, only one appeared to have much interest in continuing the Halo Monday tradition.

Given this situation, I started to make provisions for more 1- and 4-player gaming, picking up titles like Carcassonne, Worms, and Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising. Due to the difficulties mentioned above, the CoD series games were never on the table.

In the middle of November I ordered a copy of the hotly-anticipated Modern Warfare 2. My hot anticipation merely involved intentions of plowing through the campaign, goofing around in online multiplayer (living on an island is like living in a black hole of latency), and getting some real mileage out of 2-player Spec Ops (a buddy and I had been playing Halo ODST to moderate enjoyment, so MW2 co-op was extremely appealing). I didn't expect to get into 4-player local at all.

Sure enough, I beat the campaign on my copy's day of arrival, the Sunday after the mid-year JET conference in Okinawa. I played some multiplayer online as well and was pleased by the panoply of new weapons, equipment, and killstreak rewards. That week, Long Beach* and I got into some Spec Ops and had fun. New York* and Eugene* showed up later, and we decided to give 4-player split-screen a go, not thinking that it would be much different than the experience we had on CoD4 or WaW. It was.

As far as I can tell, what makes MW2 local 4-player better than that of WaW and CoD4 Number is the local multiplayer experience tracking/weapon unlocks/custom loadouts feature of the former.

Bluntly, I had a big leg-up on my crew when it came to skill because I had been playing the game several days before they did. While this was discouraging in CoD4 and WaW (hereafter together referred to as CoD), in MW2 that disappointment is offset by the fact that just about everyone unlocks something during each game, be it as significant as leveling up or as cosmetic as getting a new title for your name. Similarly, being able to customize so much-- even without access to all of the weapons from the start-- gives each player a sense of individuality that, however shallow it may be, helps keep him ever in search of the ideal configuration for his strategy or style. The experience/unlocks system maintains their interest in the game even in the face of repeated losses, because no matter what, some progress is being made.

My favorite thing about the local multiplayer experience tracking is how, with time, each player develops his own style and branches away from the others. With the exception of Long Beach (who has consistently used launchers and LMGs from the start), everyone focuses on developing a fast UMP loadout at the beginning. I've seen it happen five times, once being myself. I think this had more to do with the nature of the 4-player games we were doing rather than some imbalanced quality of the UMP. In our current 'mature' statuses, we are as follows:

Eugene favors the assault rifle class and rarely resorts to a secondary weapon. He's a mover and shooter who hits more headshots than anyone else. Pretty handy with the knife as well. His long-time weapon was the M4 with a heartbeat sensor, but he's recently been using the FAL and continues to improve his long-range game.

As mentioned above, Long Beach is invariably seen with a launcher. Our early games usually involved me being grief-ed to tears by his AT-4 rocket, but he's since taken up the standalone grenade launcher to better effect (to Marksman III-- no one else is ever going to get that); it's basically his primary weapon. He's often found prone in corners, working both for and against his advantage. Long Beach definitely gets the Most Sportsmanlike award because he took a lot of beating early on but persevered. He makes a great teammate for a lighter, faster-moving player.

New York is skilled and fun to play with because, like me, he prefers CoD-style games over Halo and has an intuitive grasp of the game mechanics. Fortunately, aside from both being aggressive players, we have radically different playing styles. NY is the only player who consistently uses a shotgun (AA12) and an assault rifle grenade launcher attachment. Reflecting on his loadouts right now, I can see that they are really geared toward the gametypes we regularly play, like Sabotage and Headquarters; we don't do a lot of long-range fighting, and his kits and play style indicate that.

New Zealand* is the most specialized player. Starting with the universal UMP-fast dude setup and developing it out, he now tears around the map with akimbo SMGs and all of the relevant speed- and hip shooting- related perks. I imagine that it's like playing Doom 1 or something. Meeting him indoors usually turns out badly for the person who isn't him due to the sheer volume of fire his setup provides. Recently he's started using the TAR21 to good effect and is getting better at using the sights. I'd say he is an aggressive player.

Melbourne* is our newest player and the one who plays games the least. He's a capable medium-long range shooter (good timing + hard-hitting assault weaponry). Not having the same access to weapons that the others have, his loadout is less than exotic. Nevertheless, while usually getting massacred in FFA deathmatches as a new player, he's quite effective in team games. He's saved the day for me numerous times in games against more experienced pairs.

As for me, I watch screens.

Anyway, it's a pretty cool scheme. While higher level players have access to a larger absolute arsenal, it is only by the individual player's time and effort that he unlocks the attachments for the weapons. For example, Eugene and I both have the M4, but he (at a lower level than me) has access to attachments for it that I don't have (heartbeat sensor and stuff). The race continues for completion of a weapon's unlocks; I think New Zealand may win it with his near-c0ntinuous use of a UMP-based kit.

There are other improvements found in MW2. There are small maps, and the larger ones scale well. 'Shipment' from CoD4 was too small and an obvious throwaway of a map, but 'Rust' from MW2 has the appropriate complexity for 4 players to have a constant firefight. Of all the MW2 maps, perhaps only 'Derail', 'Wasteland', and 'Estate' are problematically large. The new death streaks are also good, but it's not because they help the losing player that I like them. The reason I like having death streaks is that they provide a dumping ground for the more annoying and crappy perks from MW1 like Martyrdom and Last Stand (here called Final Stand). MW2 still has Last Stand as a standard perk, but it's nerfed. You can't draw the handgun as fast as you can in MW1. We went back to play WaW last night for shits and grins, and my use of Martyrdom had my friends howling with indignation. Some stuff just isn't missed.

A gaming routine has emerged. Several times a week we meet up at my place to play several rounds, and playing with friends has pretty much become the only gaming I do these days. We're kind of 'on a day, off a day.' It works with everyone's schedule and we don't get too burned out (quite the contrary, in fact; I find myself not wanting to play at all the next day, but then being unable to wait for it the day after that).

All of this greatness from MW2 local multiplayer just fills me with that much more sorrow that it doesn't deliver split-screen system link. It would be a real contender for the be-all, end-all game of this console generation if it could run 8 players on two consoles. But I see that split-screen system-linkers like us are a tiny minority of the gaming market for whom development is not profitable. I understand it, but it sucks.

*Names changed to hide the guilty.



I've been here in Miyako for over a year now and the sheer amount of shit my students give each other still staggers me. Today one student approached the blackboard to throw a suction-cup ball at an English vocabulary word (it's part of a game) and the rest of the students in this 17-person class started screaming about how long this kid's legs are (he's comparatively tall).
Two things: (1) That this dude is tall is not new to the class. The composition of this group hasn't significantly changed in over 8 years of schooling. (2) The comments were actually neutral-sounding, but that's the way Japanese people tend to take the piss out of anyone who momentarily stands out. Again, it never fails to fascinate me.

In other news:

I typed up a review of Infinity Ward/Activision's November release, Modern Warfare 2, but it's on my other computer and I haven't posted it yet. In that review I don't go on about how awesome or crappy the game is-- instead I talk about a few of the changes IW made to the MW formula that make the new one more 'casual gamer'-oriented than the last. I'll finalize it and put it up this afternoon when I get back to the big machine.

However, I usually bring a laptop with me to schools (this is where I'm writing from right now). It's a Gateway MTxxxx purchased straight off the shelves of Office Depot in 2007 and is currently running Ubuntu Linux. I've been pretty happy with it as far as word processing and web browsing go. Video isn't really a problem, either, but it won't push anything that involves OpenGL or lightly intensive 3D graphics. Originally the machine had Vista, and it would run Aero without a hitch, but I've since moved Vista to the homebuilt machine and replaced it here with Ubuntu. Again, I use this only for wapuro and browsing, so Ubuntu is ideal. It boots up quickly, drivers haven't been a problem, and-- contrary to the daunting image of Linux-- I haven't had to use the command line terminal once since installation. I also like how each release is aesthetically better than the last. I think it's a pretty good deal.

30 November 2009

About Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan

I wrote this on Facebook a minute ago, but it seemed worth posting here as well.

I'm no legal scholar, but I do think it would be symbolically valuable for Hasan face treason or treason-related charges (again, strictly speaking, I'm unsure of what options are out there) in addition to the thirteen premeditated murder charges because the fact that he is an officer in our nation's military needs to be highlighted. Assuming he is guilty (...hah...), we've got this instance in which an individual who swore loyalty and allegiance to the United States willingly enabled a new interest to usurp the priority of that commitment.

Calling this terrorism is either hysterical or merely for political advantage among certain audiences. It's trendy and sound-bitey without being clear about what the accused is. The more severe charge-- the real crime itself, I think-- is this demonstration of disloyalty through murder. The US military isn't perfect, but it has often been one of the more egalitarian institutions of American society. That's admirable and something to be proud of, and Hasan's alleged actions spit in the face of that achievement. Again, there are failures, but one's race and religion are generally of little concern to the military if one can do the job that is assigned. The grand ideal is that those who serve agree (in the deepest and most formal sense) to act according to duty and loyalty (yes, despite the scintillating leadership of self-interested career politicians). It works when everyone is on the same page regarding what's most important. It can't work if a soldier has another priority, if he is ultimately more concerned about (and acts according to) the interests of Islam, making money, black people, Canada, atheism, poodle enthusiasts, Christianity, Freemasonry, Jedi knights, or anything but the aims of the military. The murders are horrible. That the targets were fellow servicemen is a separate and distinct injury, and I think it should be noted in public, legal terms.

This isn't to say that there shouldn't be dissent. Dissent is part of being American; it's part of being human. American society and the American military do allow it to varying degrees. But ultimately, you've got to know where you stand. What Hasan cares about is pretty evident, and it's not the army. He could have refused to be deployed and simply faced the legal ramifications, but he instead allegedly decided to shoot people. It was an attack on the personnel, morale, and overall fighting ability of our forces. The shooter isn't someone who wants the US to succeed, and yet he is a serviceman. It seems particularly grievous.

Now, regardless of whether this is to be called terrorism, the military should combat the spread of radical Islam (and everything subversive to the military's mission) within its ranks for the sake of doing its job effectively. Much was made of the institutional efforts to prevent extreme right-wing groups from gaining traction among soldiers a while ago, if I remember correctly, so I guess this is something that military does do. Understanding Hasan's motives does matter-- not for his sake or to sympathize, but to prevent this sort of thing from happening again.

Anyway, in short, I see a traitor here rather than a terrorist (whatever 'terrorist' eventually comes to mean). Are we terrorized, or are we appropriately pissed off about someone violently crapping on the concept of duty?

*If this 'traitor' angle has been beaten to death in the US media already, I apologize-- I'm somewhat out of the loop.

Interesting article.