September 16th, 2004

Manga Me

money, money, money

I am at Tanigawa and there isn’t much going on. I couldn’t find all that interesting of stories in the paper, so I am doing some updating. I am really tried. I need to go to bed earlier. I have been going to bed about 10 – 11 but that is not doing it for me. I slept really poorly one night and probably need to just catch up, all the same it is hard to go to bed at 9:00!

In other news I am also blue because of money matters. This month I have to pay rent (56,000 yen) but what is worse is I have to pay taxes for August. I am not sure who this money is going to (The USA or Japan) but I gotta pay it all the same. It totals 60,000 yen, groan. I will get it back, eventually but the fact that I am shelling out 122,000 yen (about $1,220) on rent and tax has me a bit mad. I still had a nice chunk of money from last paycheck, but at this point I put a strong emphasis on had. The good news is my bills have not been all that bad. Internet is free for two months which will expire at the end of September and I will start paying around 5,000 yen total. But gas, electric, and water for August were well below what I originally budgeted them to be, so that is nice and helps cushion the unexpected tax hit. I need the IRS to get me a form to give to the Japanese government to exempt me from paying tax here and only pay taxes in the US. But the IRS form I had to fill out was obviously created by idiots or those “societies for creative anachronisms” because it was written in Old/Middle/Pirate English, and had directions like “Thy should checkth this if you be a resident alien in thine country. For more information lookth up form 867.” Consulting form 867 the “more information” is, “If you be a resident alien in thine country, they should checkth this.” Thanks IRS. Your arcane forms really made me happy. I am not one of those nuts that thinks we should do away with taxes or go flat tax, but would it kill these people to take a rhetoric and composition class so they can, you know, write with some degree of proficiency?
Manga Me

You are also perfect at this flash card!

I now have a pretty good grasp on Hiragana (the short hand Kanji system.) Thanks, pretty much entirely, to flashcards I picked up at the 100 yen store. They have written on the first card “Word Cards” and then in smaller print “You are also perfect at this flash card!” It makes me feel really good to know that I am perfect at other stuff and ALSO this flash card. It is a real ego boost. I still have trouble with some of the characters. All together there are around 71 characters to memorize. It get a little easier because some characters are repeated with little apostrophe type things to make them voiced and a circle to make them lower and voiced. For example, there is a character for “ho” (in English pronounced with a long “o” or the word “hoe.”) If the character for “ho” has a double apostrophe than it is pronounced “bo” and if the character for “ho” has a small circle next to it, it is then pronounced “po.” In this fashion all the s + vowel characters can become z + vowel characters. All the k + vowel characters become g + vowel characters, and all the t + vowel characters become d + vowel characters.

Now that I am pretty good at reading hiragana I need to do some practice with writing it. It is pretty easy to see it and recall the sound, but to really know the system (and thus make it really useful to me) I need to know how to write it. Once I can write it all I will need is my dictionary and I will be able to better communicate. Because my pronunciation is often difficult for others to understand but if I write that should be all cleared up!

Once I feel I really have hiragana down in the next few days and am decent at writing it I will start my next major task, learning katakana. This will be really helpful and a major breakthrough for me. I eagerly await the day when I can say “I am also perfect at this flash card!"
Manga Me

Me and my $31 pizza

Things are expensive in Japan. Food is expensive to boot, and pizza is outrageous. But I crave a good pizza. Pizza in Japan tends to be really thin crust with next to no sauce and, by my standards, strange toppings. I did have a pizza with salmon on it and that was tasty, but sometimes you just want pepperoni! Alas, pepperoni pizzas are non existent here, as well as a decent thick crust. I just want an American style pizza. I want no tomatoes, no noodles, no raw egg, no mayonnaise, I JUST WANT CHEESE, SAUCE, AND PEPPERONI! And then like a great beacon of truth and Western Cultural Imperialism, there in my mailbox was my salvation. A Pizza Hut flier! They even have stuffed crust, mmmm stuffed crust. Dan and I have decided that pay day is P-day. We are both ordering a pizza today. It will cost over $30 to get a pizza, expensive even by Japanese standards culinary standards, but it is real American style pizza, it is real pepperoni, it is stuffed crust, and it is pay day. The only true question is, do I want pepperoni alone or the heavenly sounding “Meat Paradise.” I can’t wait for tonight; pizza and the Daily Show from the tap my mom and dad recorded and sent me. It is going to be great. Sure it will have to end at 9:00 but there will be leftovers meaning tomorrow may be a pizza and Daily Show party. Or perhaps pizza and Angel party season four is really great so far! That is high living, a $30 pizza and staples of Americana.
Manga Me

Political correctness

With a belly full of delicious pizza and cinnimon sticks I made my nighly rounds on the internet. I checked out Jeff's blog he has a link up to a movie called Brainwashing 101 it is about political correctness. At first I thought that it was going to be some anti-leftist NWO black helicopters type nonsense, and a good chunk of it is, but Jeff may be a bit conservative on some issues (he will call it Libertarian of course but we know different ;) but he does have a strongly thought out base of ideas and is not some blind idiot. Therefore he doesn't need the usual conservative (ahhhemm Libertarian) raw-raw like Bill O'Reily to tell him what to think this week. So knowing Jeff wouldn't put up some crap about how the UN is involved in a plot to overthrough America via Political Correctness, I checked out the link. It got me thinking a lot about political correctness, in my senior rhetoric class at oberlin I read some fabulous articles for and against PC. I feel the same way I felt then, Political correctness was at one time a movement with a noble mission, but has fallen from grace. I posted this responce to Jeff's link. the opening comments about not watching the movie is a reference to the fact that Uncle Dirtae more or less told me the same thing about Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11 and why he wouldn't watch it. But anyways my thoughts on political correctness,

"Having not seen this film and only hearing about it I can say with certainty that it uses fear tactics and emotional arguments and is thus not worth watching.

Just kidding I watched it. I found it interesting but not entirely convincing on many of its charges. At the same time, it did raise some very important issues. It is particular disturbing because the emphasis is on speech and not intent. What I find wrong with political correct speech is it lets people off the hook. People no longer have to think about their intent as long as they don’t use the “buzz word.” One doesn’t need to worry about a “Third World Nation” and solving the problems in them as long as you call them “Developing Nations.” It is tragically ironic that the political correctness movement started among intellectuals to rebel against oppressive entrenched social beliefs and standards, and has only created a new system of equally oppressive and entrenched social beliefs and standards. I believe that words mean nothing, but intent is everything. I have heard best friends call each other horrible things and they laughed about it. I have heard enemies call each other mild things but done so out of hatred. It doesn’t matter what they say, it is what they mean. Political correctness original intent was to tear down existing intent about race religion etc which is a meaningful and helpful goal. But changing intent is hard, and so PC talk went the easy way out, lost that original noble goal, and is now just a glorified word policing agent. Political correctness doesn’t fix the problem of intent, it lets it off the hook entirely. And as one commentator put it, “If I were a Republican I would love it when the Democrats are too busy arguing over if we should call the poor ‘financially challenged’ or the ‘impoverished’ because while they are busy arguing the new political correct catch phrase I would be busy passing all the tax code I want.” Yet those people that use the latest greatest PC term go to bed thinking they have made a difference, but it is only a word. I am sure that the poor would rather go to bed with a roof above them and full belly than knowing they are now called the impoverished. I am sure that a black man or woman would rather be able to walk into a bank and be subject to the same criteria as a white person, rather than walk into a bank knowing that they are an African American. I am sure that a gay and lesbian couple would rather have all the same rights, privileges, and status as their heterosexual counterparts, rather than know that they are each other’s “partner” or “lover.” When all the emphasis is put on words the words become too important. With PC talk policing words people become even more sensitive to words and intention doesn’t seem to be so important anymore. Intent is what is important not words. Words are just a construct of the human mouth. They don’t really mean anything without our minds. Our minds are what give words their soul, and that soul can be foul or beautiful even for the same word. PC talk only looks at the word and not the soul inside of the word. That is why political correctness has fallen from its once lofty and meaningful intent, because it has forgotten that intent is what really matters."