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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Einstein Manga Caricature By Artist Okamoto Ippei

Please forgive the shortness of this blog, but I've had too many things on the go.

Still, it is interesting.

What we have here is a portrait of Albert Einstein, preeminent genius, created by the cartoonist Okamoto Ippei (surname first, 岡本 一平) done in December of 1922 in Sendai-shi (Sendai City), Miyagi-ken (Miyagi Prefecture), Japan.

Einstein was in Japan on a tour discussing Physics, after winning a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921.

I'll assume his talks were translated from German into Japanese. His talks were very well-received by the Japanese public.

Okamoto was born June 11, 1886 in Hakodate, Hokkaido-ken, dying on October 11, 1948.

The following was taken from

After his studies in Fine Arts in Tokyo, Ippei Okamoto made his comments on political and social actuality in his cartoons for Asahi Shimbun starting in 1912. At the same time, he created comics for several magazines, starting with 'Kuma o Tazunete'. He began collaborations with several magazines which resulted in works like 'Tanpô Gashu' (1913), 'Kanraku' (1914), 'Match no Bou' (1915), and 'Monomiyusan' (1916). In 1921, he made 'Nakimushi Dera no Yawa', before he started travelling around the world. 
When he returned in Japan, he introduced (classic) American comic (strips) like 'Mutt and Jeff' and 'Bringing up Father' to the Japanese public through publication in a supplement of Asahi Shimbum and in Fujokai. He also took on his own production again and produced 'Yajikita Saikou' (1925) and the collection 'Ipei Zenshû' (1929-30). His book with caricatures, 'Shin Mizu ya Sora', was very famous. Okamoto was additionally an artist of advertising comics, as well as a novellist ('Fuji wa Sakaku' in 1927).

He considered himself a manga-kisha (comic strip/book-journalist), an artist who made social and political commentary via his drawings... something that had certainly existed before him, but perhaps not to the degree to which he threw himself in Japan.

In 1915, Okamoto gathered his manga-kisha friends from the major dailies of Tokyo to establish the first professional organization of mangaka, the "Tokyo mangakai".

This association promoted their work through public events, festivals and exhibitions, especially the Tokaido manga ryoko ("manga trip on the Tokaido"), a trip of twenty designers in cars illustrating in their own way the fifty-three stages of this route between Tokyo and Kyoto immortalized by ukiyo-e artist Hiroshige Ando.

For more about Hiroshige, and an image of one of his original prints that I own, click HERE.

The mangakai were the ones who helped popularize the term "manga", aka comic book in Japan.

In 1921 when he began to travel the world, he visited Europe and the U.S., and was obviously back in Japan at the end of 1922 to provide the excellent caricature portrait of Einstein a la manga.

Between 1929 and 1932, he enjoyed worked abroad as a special envoy of the Asashi Shimbun (Asahi Newspaper).

He is considered to be a pioneer in Japanese manga, preceding the modernist stream embodied after the war by Osamu Tezuka (the man who created Astro Boy).

One of his fans was author Soseki Natsume (surname first), who had Okamoto illustrate many of his stories that first appeared in the Asashi Shimbun.

Okay... that's all I have time for!

Andrew Joseph

Monday, March 19, 2018

A Brief Look At Love Hotels And The West

Thanks to Vinnie, I read an article this afternoon that tried to introduce Love Hotels as a concept to North American audiences.

Back in the day - which is old guy talk for "I remember when..." - Love Hotels were a profitable concept in Japan where young non-married adults could get away from their parents for an hour or two (and pay for an hour or two) at a hotel, have sex, and go back home in time for their girlfriend's father-imposed curfew.

My favorite place (not visited by myself and whomever I was boffing) was the Japanese chain know as 5-5-5.

In Japanese, the number five is said as "go". Now say the name: Go-Go-Go... obviously a western English term of endearment encouraging someone to have sex... go-go-go!

At a love hotel, you can purchase a room for an hour or for an overnight stay (per a regular hotel).

In Japan, because single-aged adults (is that right?) needed privacy, because well, dammit, it's just not that comfortable to try and have sex in a stick-shift Toyota Corolla... and because well, maybe you want more than just the old in and out.

Sex in a Love Hotel offered that. As they became more popular, in an effort to draw in more business, the love hotels began offering special theme rooms for its paying clientele... a Tarzan room complete with swinging vines; a Star Wars room where you can dress up as Luke and Leia (that second movie must have caused a scene when it was revealed they were brother and sister); or other such rooms later based on Japanese manga (comic books) and anime (animated films).

It was a way for the young adult to let their inner kink out.

(I had only ever been in one Love Hotel... it was the only place Ashley and I could find at a cheap enough rate after a long day of walking and shopping down in Tokyo. I fell off the round bed while attempting a maneuver. I think I was trying to sleep.)

Now, of course... love hotels in Japan are taking a beating as many a young and single adult in Japan is moving out into their own apartment... so who needs a love hotel.

Then again... young people in Japan don't seem as interested in having wet, drippy, nasty, fun sex as the generation or two before them did.

They are too busy working... not needing to date because they are too tired, or don't want to follow into the same trap as their parents... or maybe there's some other reason. People aren't sure, and blame social media and video games and other things you can do by yourself.

Sad. In my day it was a Simpsons Sears' catalog and a powerful imagination, which made you want to find out more with a real living and breathing woman.

Now with porn available everywhere, there's no need for the imagination to be stimulated.

Hmm... I wonder if I've hit upon it?

Now, I say young single adults, but in truth, up until I was there (and I can't speak for what happened after), most married men (until the mid-1990s) had a piece on the side... a mistress... who would do things for them that their married wife would not... like listen to them, and maybe whip them or stick things in their backside, or maybe even just touch them. Whatever the reason, most men seemed to have one, and while never discussed in polite company (but talking to your local gaijin (me) while drinking was ever anything but impolite), the wife seemed to know about the mistress and if they cared, they accepted it as something that was part of the Japanese culture.

Just don't get caught in public and embarrass the wife if it should come out. No... it's not really about embarrassing yourself... though that would also mean embarrassing your company and bosses, et al.

Hence... the Love Hotel was a popular place to schtup.

So you accidentally bump into your boss as you are exiting the love hotel? Who cares? You don't acknowledge each other, even though you both know why each is there... and it is never brought up in conversation... except when you are talking by yourself to that gaijin (me).

The newspaper article Vinnie mentioned to me said that for westerners, a love hotel if it existed would be great... you could slip away from the kids, spend some quality time tying each other up, and be back later that evening... only having to spend money for rental of a hotel room for an hour.

Though.. you wonder how the department of health would allow it to happen... whatever you do... don't shine a black light in the room!!!

The only thing is... westerners already are willing to rent a room for the evening to have some adult fun, whether it's with their spouse, girlfriend, mistress, or someone earning a living or putting themselves through university.

The main difference is, the hotels charge per night stay... and why would they bother short-changing themselves by offering rooms by the hour?

Still... it might drive more business...

Somewhere with a great imagination,
Andrew Joseph

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Robot Hoop Dreams

Proof that one doesn’t always live up to their IQ (see the blog from March 15, 2018), this particular article is the second attempt at writing it because after spending two hours previously, I mysteriously decided NOT to save it before closing down the program. 

When I was a young kid in Toronto, one of my wintery past-times on a weekend afternoon was to watch with rapt attention the goings-on of the NBA (National Basketball Association), paying particular attention to Bob McAdoo of the Buffalo Braves (later the San Diego Clippers and now the Los Angeles Clippers). That guy could play. He was a five-time NBA All-Star and the 1975 league MVP.
He's one bad mamma-jamma!

When Buffalo lost its franchise at the end of 1978, that was kind of it re: basketball for quite a few years, as the Toronto television audience was no longer privy to catching games from the Buffalo stations across the border.

Still, I paid enough attention through the newspaper and the sports highlights on the evening news or through my once-a-year purchase of Sports Illustrated (for the Swimsuit Edition) to be a fan of other great players such as Julius Erving (Dr. J), Pistol Pete Maravich, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (formerly Lew Alcindor), Kurt Rambis (he wore sports glasses, as I did for soccer and squash and racquetball - they would call me GI Joseph when I played soccer); Earvin Magic Johnson; Larry Bird (I had and have too much respect for him to ever call him “The Hick from French Lick”); Michael “Air” Jordan, and countless others.

Man... basketball players have great nicknames. They used to have great nicknames in hockey, but now they kindda just add an "er" to a guys name or shorten it and then add an "s"... like Gardner becomes "Gards". I mean the so-called greatest hockey player in the game today is named Sid The Kid Crosby. He's 30 bloody years old! 

I would also make the annual trek to Maple Leaf Gardens to watch the Harlem Globetrotters when they came in town, as well as their appearances on ABC’s Wide World of Sports - I miss that show!

Geese Ausbie (Downtown, going downtown!) Curly Neal, Twiggy Sanders, and Marques Haynes - the most awesome dribbler ever!!!  He'd slide on the ground, lyingsideways with his hand propping up his head and would dribble!

And, of course, the extremely talented leader, Meadowlark Lemon. I met him a few years ago at a sports card show in Toronto. He was all smiles when I thanked him for entertaining me, and told him I saw him in Toronto for their 50th anniversary game (1976), and that I still have the gold cover event program (see below). He thanked me and shook my hand, shook my then eight-year-old son’s hand… who had never seen the Globetrotters, but at least he knew that my fandom of he Clown Prince of basketball was something that must have indeed been great, and that I wasn’t just snowing him.
Not MY copy, but you'll notice that on the suitcase, Japan's flag is directly below Canada's... it doesn't mean anything... I'm just pointing out the connection. As a Canadian, I always like to be on top.
You know that Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain was a Globetrotter, right?

Of course, the following are also Honorary Globetrotters.. take of it what you will:

    •    Henry Kissinger, statesman (1976);
    •    Bob Hope, entertainer (1977);
    •    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1989);
    •    Whoopi Goldberg, actor (1990);
    •    Nelson Mandela, political icon (1996);
    •    Jackie Joyner-Kersee, heptathlon (1999);
    •    Pope John Paul II (2000);
    •    Jesse Jackson, civil rights activist (2001);
    •    Pope Francis (2015);
    •    Robin Roberts, newscaster (2015).

And, Magic Johnson signed in 2003, a $1/year lifetime contract with the Globetrotters.

Man… I have to take my kid to see the Harlem Globetrotters. He doesn’t care for basketball, but I think the Globetrotters are much more than just a sports entertainment team.       

When I was in Japan, back in 1990-93, I happened to be in a Tokyo department store in 1992, and as I rode up an escalator I came face-to-waist with a larger-than-life cutout of a basketball player I had never seen or heard of. That was Shaquille O’Neal, or so I quickly learned from someone who caught me staring… a newbie in that year’s upcoming season for the Orlando Magic. He blew me away with his size, and width… here was a guy who looked like he could stop a tank just by flexing his arms, sending out muscle waves to smash the steel into tiny shards.

This is what I saw...
In the 1990s, along with Shaq, my favorite baller was David The Admiral Robinson of the San Antonio Spurs, who served in the United States Navy. His real rank, however was Lieutenant, Junior Grade.         

I had always wanted to be tall like a basketball player… yes they were freakish in height, but I was always the shortest person in my classes growing up, as I was nearly two years younger than everyone else, wore glasses, wasn’t white and although I had big floppy clown feet for most of my teenage years, there was never any proof that I would ever grow into them…

Fortunately, I had that growth spurt as I was about to enter my 18th year… but still, despite loving basketball, I couldn’t make a basket if my life depended on it.

I would play basketball with my friends pre-high school, usually in the position of traffic cone; played intramural in high school, and since I was always open, because I couldn’t make a shot, I always took a shot hoping for the fist time. I think I did score one basket over several futile attempts of playing.

I even played "horse" - with my fellow AET (assistant English teacher) Colin McKay from Calgary who lived a few towns north of me in Kuroiso-machi. Although Colin was several inches shorter than me, and had a few extra non-muscular pounds, he dominated me without ever having to wear a lot of leather. 

Apparently height does not equal talent.

But I like basketball. I followed the college fortunes of the University of Kentucky Wildcats, loved the Washington Bullets (now Wizards), and when Toronto got an NBA team - well… yee-haw. Let's Go Raptors!!! With apologies to the Minnesota Timberwolves and Portland Trailblazers, We the North, baby!

So… aside from shooting rims with Colin in Japan (i don’t shoot hoops, I shoot rims), what the fug am I talking about basketball for here in this wonderful blog about Japan?


The Toyota Engineering Society has created an android that shoots baskets better than professional basketball players…. though those basketball players specifically are from the Japanese B League team Alvark Tokyo.
Exterminate the competition! Exterminate! Exterminate! Image by Alvark Tokyo.
Not an A-league team, but a B league team… and while I have no doubt any of those fine folks can out-shoot me blindfolded and spun around and me open and unguarded, I wonder if having the android learning from a Japanese B league team is the best strategy?

The android is named CUE, he/it stands 1.9 meters (6 foot 3 inches) tall, and despite lacking having any lower limb mobility, is considered good enough to be the team’s unofficial mascot and shooting guard - even getting to wear Alvark Tokyo jersey No. 70… not sure why No. 70… 

Anyhow, CUE has AI (artificial intelligence), which means it actually can learn on its own… in this case it observes the actions of real basketball players on Alvark Tokyo and refines its own shot-making capabilities.

Oh... I get it... it takes its cue from you... if that's what it means, that's pretty witty. 
Image by Alvark Tokyo
Apparently, after some 200,000+ shot attempts from close-range, CUE is now shooting pretty damn close to perfect.
Image by Alvark Tokyo.
I suppose his is all a Revenge of the Nerds kind of thing, where the nerds the Toyota Engineering Society build a better athlete than what their arch-enemies the jocks could ever possibly be. 

Would you be surprised if I told you that the 17 engineers at the Toyota Engineering Society had no robotics experience before they designed and built CUE?

Sure, but, d’uuuuuuuuuuuh, dem nerds is good at things d’uuuuuuuuuh.

Would it surprise you to learn that the Toyota Engineering Society engineers were initially inspired to create this robot because of Sakuragi Hanamichi, the protagonist of the manga (comic book) Slam Dunk. Ahhh, now that’s nerdy.

If you would like to see a video posted on the Asahi Shimbun (newspaper) website, showing CUE taking his cue from some basketball players on the Japanese team, well… Whoomp THERE it is. 

Apparently AI is far better than I, as I have watched basketball attempting to learn to play the game… and it simply does not compute for me.

Some where in a space Jam,
Andrew Joseph
PS: Today's title is a mashup of the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (a 1968 science fiction novel by Philip K. Dick) and Hoop Dreams (a 1994 documentary that follows the real life of two Black high school students in Chicago and their dream of becoming professional basketball players). The book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep was adapted into the 1982 movie Blade Runner

PPS: And because I mentioned it, here’s the music video from hip hop specialists Tag Team and their 1993 smash hit Whoomp! (There It Is), a main stay to this day a basketball arenas everywhere.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Japan National Tourism Organization Uses Cute AI To Capture YouTubers

I have to admit that I detest the term “YouTuber”… people making videos - shouting all the time like its some kids television show, discussing plenty about nothing.

My kid loves this stuff, and it’s because of that, I had to get more bandwidth, as he was, on a monthly basis, using up all that we had, providing me with excessive Internet bills.

YouTube is a decent enough tool, but I can’t fathom why anyone would want to watch it constantly. I suppose it may have something with me NOT being 12-years-old.

Anyhow, because there’s nothing too stupid that someone won’t try to capitalize on… really… you can get rich creating YouTube videos that garner you millions of subscribers?

Is anyone actually clicking on the ads? Who are those people? Real solid leads, are they? Whatever…

You may have heard of Kizuna Ai, the virtual YouTuber whose introduction to the world at the end of 2016 became an instant hit. Her channel now boasts more than 1.5 million subscribers, and, despite not being a living human, her whole image and personality are crafted to seem like she is a real person, just in a different world. She is often cheerful, very expressive, and is always out to prove that she’s not just a picture on a screen. Her videos are also subtitled in English, which means that almost everyone can enjoy her funny antics.

Here’s a self-introduction of Kizuna Ai… I think the creator purposely did sharp cuts in the video to make it seem more “robot-like”… like a Max Headroom (see bottom of story) kindda thing:

Yes… Japanese people do talk as quickly as that… just like you do in your language… it’s why after two years, I gave up trying to learn Japanese and just let the women pick me up.

Now… the high-pitch voice is a put-on… it’s meant to show subservience… and is used in retail settings by female clerks, and in elevators by female elevator operators… it’s ridiculous and annoying, so why wouldn’t it be used by the Japan National Tourism Organization?

The “Come to Japan” is aimed at U.S. citizens, since, while Japan is a popular destination for people from Asia, for various reasons Westerners are less inclined to travel there.

Here's the first video: Let's Learn About Japanese Food!

Uh-huh… you know that the AI character is dressed up as a Japanese high-school girl, except that she has those lacy arm coverings… it’s all supposed to look both cute and sexy at the same time… though I’m unsure how any toon not named Jessica Rabbit is going to get me to do anything...    

As part of this whole promotional gig, Kizuna Ai has released her fist “Come to Japan” promotional video, in which she talks about the three types of Japanese food: sushi, ramen and Japanese sweets.
Say what? there’s only three type os Japanese foods… and one of them is “sweets”?


The video does have its good points… while Ai describes what these food types are, she/it (say the two words quickly ;) also tells us how best to eat them, as well as providing some fun food facts.

Did you know there is apparently some proper order top eating your sushi? Apparently everybody not Japanese has been doing it incorrectly since Black Ships first appeared on the horizon.

The second video has also been released: Amazing Technologies From Japan... or at least it was as of Monday, March 12 2018... but it was taken down - with a Coming Soon message replacing it. Hmmm:

Whatever... you can click HERE and check out things for yourself. 

If you were going to create a marketing campaign to encourage people to come to Japan, what would you do?

Sexy men or women? Regular men and women smiling and happy? Stewardesses?

Maybe have Godzilla sit cross-legged at an outdoor Japanese cafe having a spot of green-tea?

Oh… hello. My name is Godzilla, the so-called King of the Monsters.
I always get a kick out of that.
As you know, I am Japanese, or rather am a creation of the Japanese people… whatever. As a globe trotter, I always find myself drawn back to Japan for a vacation.
Whether it’s eating, er, meating… c’mon… meeting new people, seeing the sites, or just walking around enjoying myself, Japan has always been a great place to kick off my shoes and just relax.
The place has everything, from exotic foods, tremendous architecture both modern and futuristic, and there’s always some traveling too, should my kid wants to do something besides hand around an arcade playing Stomp-Stomp Dance Revolution. 
Oh… and it’s safe! Japan is renowned for how safe it is…
Sure it has earthquakes, volcanoes and the odd tsunami, but that’s just nature having a hissy fit and has nothing to do with anything Japan has done… except for maybe that nuclear thing that created me and irradiated a prefecture a few years back.
Like electronics? There's Akihabara.
Like fashion and theater? There’s Ginza.
Like soap land massage parlors and prostitutes? There’s a section for that too… or so I hear… (ahem).
They even offer hotels were you can pay for the night or pay by the hour depending on whether you are married, single or cheating on someone. What a country!
The theater is awesome! There’s Noh, Bunraku, Kabuki and Sumo!
And if you are into sports there’s baseball, and soccer… and even a form of professional ice hockey… though maybe you should just stick to the first two.
Oh  and the people! You know that stereotype of all the men wearing navy blue suits, wearing glasses and carrying briefcases 24/7? You can see that too!
But don’t expect to see an geisha, ninja or samurai. 

... okay... enough of me...  I do think the concept of a pretty young AI character attempting to influence foreigners to come and visit Japan is interesting. Personally, I just hate that super high voice. It would make me NOT want to go.

Maybe it's just me. Even in real women, I prefer a bit of a huskiness to the voice. Not enough for me to confuse anyone with Lola, like in The Kinks song, but a sultry huskiness.

It's one of those reasons I loved Kathleen Turner who voiced Jessica Rabbit in the Who Framed Roger Rabbit? movie or in Romancing The Stone... the movie may not age well... but Turner's voice certainly does.

Andrew Joseph

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Gene-ie’s Out Of The Bottle

So… my brother recently did that whole Ancestry DNA thingamabob.

According to lore, on my mother’s side we’re of Portuguese descent, and on my father’s Indian-British and Palestinian (Israel now).

According to my brother’s spit, we are indeed 3/4’s South Asian (India), with the next largest chunk (15%) having roots in East Asia…. which includes China, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, The Philippines (and more) … oh, and of course Japan.

Smaller amounts (in descending order) of genetic markers have us from: Melanasia (Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea, as well as the French special collective of New Caledonia, and the Indonesian region of Western New Guinea); Central Asia (kindda includes Israel/Palestine), and Polynesia (uh… the thousands of islands scattered around the central and southern Pacific Ocean, including New Zealand, American Samoa, Cook and Easter Island, Hawaii, French Polynesia, Tonga, Samoa, Pitcairn Islands, Niue, Norfolk Island, Tokelau, Tuvalu, Wallis and Futuna, and Rotuma, Gilligan’s Island and others).

This could explain why I like deli meats, pineapple, coconut cream pies … but not why I don’t care for taro and only very recently began to tolerate curry.

But how about that… I could have Japanese in me… probably Ainu, which is actually waaaaay cool in my opinion but not if I want to be Japanese.

Of course, if you want specifics about which country you are from… because the television ads imply that while some thought they were Scottish, they are actually German… well, you probably need to purchase the deluxe package of $150 for a year’s subscription.

I’m curious, but not $150-curious. Where the heck are the British and Portuguese? Perhaps those particular genetic markers did not get picked up by my brother, but were picked up by me (so we’ll never know).

I do like maintaining the mystery of possibly having a bit of Japanese in me, after all, for three years, many a Japanese woman had a piece of me in them.

Oh no he didn’t!? Sorry.

That just slipped out. It must have been the Easter Islander in me - awesome people with an amazing sense of humor.

Andrew Joseph
PS: And because who doesn’t need a musical interlude, below please find a video by David Bowie: The Jean Genie:

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Cost Of Genius

According to the evaluation of certain IQ tests I took while in high school to prove I wasn't or was a moron, I am either a near-genius or a genius, which at the end of the day makes me one of most impressive slackers around, judging by how my IQ tests of 144, 147 and 149 have afforded me the luxury of becoming one of those people who look financially well-off without actually being financially well-off, as I sink further and further under the mire of fiscal responsibility with each and every payday. Yup... one sentence.

It’s true. When I finally stop writing this blog, it won’t be from that heart attack I’ve been expecting for a few years now, rather it will be because I’ve cut off my Internet service or the electrical power has been cut off on my behalf.

IQ exists, as a concept, but it’s what you are able to do with said concept that pays the bills.

A gentleman with the purported IQ of 250 - 300—the highest ever it is thought by those who populate Wikipedia entries (you know you can create your own, right?)—William James Sidis who was born in 1898, died of a cerebral hemorrhage, and was penniless to boot, at the ripe old age of 46. Just on pure stubbornness, I’ve beaten him in longevity.

The Simpson’s character (as well as Star Trek: Next Generation and The Big Bang Theory) physicist Stephen Hawking died on March 14, 2018 at the age of 76. He had an IQ of 160… 11 points higher than my own highest score… and yet light years ahead of me in every other thought-provoking event.

I guess those 11 extra points are important.

RIP Stephen.

Which would you rather be? The dead butterfly or the live caterpillar?
The answer is the dead butterfly, because it has at least reached the next level of metamorphosis, something the live caterpillar might never achieve.

Zen... such a bitch.  

Today’s blog is about Albert Einstein, who along with Hawking are perhaps the two smartest people that most people on this planet have ever heard off. Yes, there are those with higher IQs, but these two… well, they obviously had better press agents.

Hawking: A Brief History Of Time (I have two well-read copies of this book for some reason).
Einstein: E=MC2 (squared).

We all know Einstein's formula, but do we really know what it even stands for? I do, and I suppose some of you other sharp shed tools know as well. The rest of you should look it up.

Einstein was brilliant. Brilliant enough for a doughy old man to get with Marilyn Monroe! Yeah, baby! However, while Marilyn had an affinity for smart people, there is no evidence she ever slept with or actually even met Einstein. But it appears as though he could have slept with the sexy movie starlet, as Marilyn apparently told then-roommate Shelley Winters sometime in 1947-1951 that she would "do him" (my words). 

So we’re talking about Einstein in a blog dedicated to people, things and ideas revolving around Japan. So… what’s the relationship with Einstein and Japan?

Well, after Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921, he embarked on a global tour giving speeches on physics, that included in November of 1922, a well-attended run around Japan.

The Nobel Prize, by the way, was awarded to Einstein “for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect”.

Other famous names who won a Nobel Prize in Physics that you may recall from your own high school physics class, include: Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (X-Rays discovery - Röntgen is the unit of measure for X-Rays); Marie Curie (Radiation - famous also because she died of radiation poisoning, plus she was on the 2nd season premiere of Timeless, though I suspect that was an actor); Antoine Henri Becuerel (Radiation (also his surname is the term used to measure units of radiation that killed Curie, which isn't as suspicious as I am making it out to be); Guglielmo Marconi (Wireless telegraphy aka radio... though Canadian Reginald Fessenden is thought by many, including myself, to have first invented radio, proving that Marconi had a far better press agent); Max Planck (Energy quantum physics); Niels Bohr (Atomic structure); Werner Karl Heisenberg (Quantum Mechanics - and not a character on Breaking Bad); Enrico Fermi (Nuclear Reactions).

Fermi won his in 1938, the latest winner of the men I listed above... and while I looked at the entire list of winners through 2017, and have at the least heard of quite a few of them (famous in their own right), none are household names as the folks above are.

Einstein was famous in 1922... not just among the Illuminati, but among the glitterati as well. Media famous. As such, general public famous.

In November of 1922, Einstein stayed at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, as he was on tour speaking about physics, even capturing the attention of the Imperial family.

Even the lowly courier who came to Einstein's hotel door to deliver a package or letter to the genius was not immune to knowing who he was.

Unaccustomed to local Japanese ways, Einstein attempted to tip the courier with money, but it was, of course refused, as there is no tipping in Japan... or he didn't have money on him...

Undaunted, or perhaps daunted—one can never be sure—Einstein wished to reward the young courier for his effort, and rather than forcing money upon him, he instead gave him two of the "thoughts" on life he had been jotting down on hotel stationary - two notes.

"Maybe if you’re lucky, those notes will become much more valuable than just a regular tip," Einstein apparently told the Japanese courier.

Uh... no. Nice story... but that Japanese courier isn't going to have been the most educated of people... and while Einstein was considered to be one of the world's most brilliant minds, do you suppose he spoke Japanese to the courier, or if he spoke English or German, do you think the courier understood that?

I suppose there could have been someone with Einstein in the hotel who spoke Japanese, and could have conveyed his thoughts... but that wasn't mentioned in the lore that the story became, as it was told by the courier's nephew to the BBC when said nephew was auctioning off the note(s).

One of those notes was up for sale late in 2017... it's the note at the very top... it's in Einstein's own handwriting, ... it contains 13 words... and it says:

Stilles bescheidenes Leben gibt mehr Glueck als erfolgreiches Streben, verbunden mit bestaendiger Unruhe.”

Wunderbar. Delicious.

And because I know what you are thinking (I'm in your head, man), here's the note translated in English:

"A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness."

Amusing, especially when you consider that the note sold for US$1.56 million, a fair bit more than the pre-auction estimate of $5-8,000.

And, to show that Einstein was either a genius or a comedic thief on a par with Milton Berle, the second note he had written says: 

"Wo ein Wille ist, da ist auch ein Weg.

In English:

"Where there’s a will there’s a way."

It only sold for US$257,000.

This old British proverb may have its origins from as early as 1640.

As for Einstein struggling to come up with multiple thoughts on life - hitting a home run outta the park with the first one, and then the better-not-mention-it second one, all I can say is:

"Desperation breeds tiny monsters."

That one is mine created about 37 years ago... I probably should admit that at that time I was doing a lot of AD&D (Advanced Dungeons & Dragons). I was 12 when I first played with a University of Toronto Mensa club (the high IQ club... beats me why they let me play... I hadn't even been tested for my IQ yet, though I had just entered high school and hadn't yet begun failing miserably). I met them on what passed for the Internet back in 1979 - message boards.

Still... it's mine. I wrote it after I was caught skipping school for a week.

I was being bullied (youngest, shortest, the wrong color, terribly shy, wore glasses, and my mother dressed me funny), hated school and life, and today am glad weapons weren't and aren't readily available in Canada. And I'm saying that as someone not medically impaired in any way shape or form, but as someone who knows just how easy it is to push someone over the edge via bullying to do such horrible things such as violence in schools. It's much easier to contemplate when weapons are easy to get one's hands on. Elsewise you just struggle on through, reinvent yourself a few times when the opportunity arises (College and later Japan), and hope that one day you see one of your tormentors bagging your groceries for you.

"Revenge is a dish best served cold." It sounds more impressive in its original Klingon (LOL): "bortaS bIr jablu'DI' reH QaQqu' nay."

My punishment for skipping school when I was 16, was being expelled for one week (win-win)... plus I was told I would have to write each of the final exams - no exemptions... which was no biggie seeing as how I was failing everything because I hated school and life, which I'm sure I mentioned several lines earlier, which was why they later had me do an IQ test, and still no one thought to ask me what was wrong.

Those that can, teach.
Those that can't teach become Phys Ed teachers.
Those than can't teach Phys Ed become Guidance Councilors.

If no one claims that, I will, but I'm sure I didn't create it - but apparently it worked for Einstein... or for whomever sold that second Einstein note.

My Guidance Councillor recommended I not even bother applying to university... but I did anyway, and got in to all three I applied to. 

In truth, I actually have a lot of respect for ONE Phys Ed teacher who wrote me a letter at the end of the year (I was in Grade 12 doing Grade 13 Phys Ed because I enjoyed Grade 12 so much I decided to repeat all those classes I had failed - obviously not Phys Ed)... anyhow, she told me to stop being hard on myself, and to not let people put me down... to which I somehow decided to put into plan.

Hmm... maybe re-creation of myself began with here, when the thought was put into my head.
I had this button when I was a teenager... I never wore a suit and tie, and thought the kids from Leave It To Beaver were okay-looking... and now I know why I bought it for $1. The same type of vintage button is being sold on E-Bay for US$7.99 + US$12 shipping. If you can get someone to pay that much for this, I think we all know who the real effing genius is.
As you should know after some 3,900+ blog entries here, I taught junior high school English in Japan, taught piano and clarinet back in Toronto, coached boy's, girl's and women's soccer, and coach baseball and hockey. For being an artsy-jock-nerd, I have been described by women who should know better as a "Renaissance Man." Sure, why not? Better than what they called me in high school.

I can teach, but I just can't figure out how to make my IQ make me money. Well, actually... I can... I'm just not sure I wanna.

Slacking off,
Andrew Joseph
PS: Introspection... it's not just for psychiatrists to perform for $150 an hour. Session's over, folks.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Japanese Horror Director Creates Touching 3.11 Tsunami Documentary

Nakata Hideo (surname first), director of the famous 1998 Ringu (The Ring) horror movie has created a documentary on the March 11, 2011 tsunami that hit Japan.

While you might think that a man who made his name as the foremost director of horror wouldn’t have any monsters in the closet, he does—he is afraid of dark waters, and he is very much afraid of drowning.

As such, his documentary Living In The Wake of 3.11 is a personal foray into horror, as he looks at the real-life horror faced by those who survived the tsunami.

Just like the three-days previous blogs that provide commentary from the survivors of that day (HERE, HERE, and HERE), his documentary shows the pain and suffering of those living with survivor’s guilt.

Also, as noted in the blogs these past three days, Nakata’s documentary discusses how the tragedy rightly shows that the Japanese are just like anyone else in the time of disaster…. some are heroic, some stoic, and others just plain criminal, such as looting.

One of the people chatting in the documentary is a tombstone engraver named Sasaki Kiyoshi (surname first) who survived the tsunami as water came up to his knees while he was running for his life.

He says it felt strange for him to engrave the date of 3.11 again and again on tombstones of people ranging from one-year-old to 90-years-old, all who had died on the same day.

“I can not help wondering if I was left alive just to engrave that date on the stones.”

Ugh. Now that's survivor's guilt.

While Nagata’s best known films—Ringu and Dark Water—involve vengeful spirits coming back from watery graves to exact revenge on the living, he says that the documentary has helped him see that water is also a source of life, even as it destroys. 

Living In The Wake Of 3.11 is on the big screen in Japan now, with the possibility of an English sub-titled version hitting western screens later in 2018.

Andrew Joseph
PS: If you have never seen Ringu (the actual Japanese version with subtitles or dubs) - watch it while wearing rubber pants. It scared the crap out of me. Brrrrr.