August 2009

Banana Milk

I think Girls’ Generation could sell anything.

Dear Japan,

Stop, you’re killing me.

Titled "Koisuru Hello Kitty," the play is described as a "school love comedy" that deals with romance and friendship. The main character is a Hello Kitty doll that turns into a human...

Dear Japan,

No comment:

"We wanted to do something that would market augmented reality in a way that's... meaningful. We were like, wouldn't it be awesome if you could look up her skirt, or take off her clothes?"

(via BBG)

Bide Me Tender

My new favorite manglish spam, courtesy of a hacked Windows box located in the Institute of Nuclear Physics at Moscow State University:


Dear Apple,

Where did the “clear recent searches” option go in Safari 4.0.3?



It's sad that this makes me happy...

SQL interface to Perforce.

It’s been around for quite a while, but I’d never noticed it; most of my data-mining has been at levels that can be satisfied with the usual command-line interface. It will come in handy for my branch-to-branch bugfix-integration report, though.

Dear Ai Kago,

No, honey; just… no.



Memory grass and naughty wives

I started out on an innocent quest: find something short and interesting to prep for the upcoming quarter’s Japanese reading class. I still have some leftovers from Spring (a song and the preface to a biography), but I wanted to try something different. I thought a short travel piece would be nice, and when I was visiting my sister in Chicago, I found a 30-year-old tourist guide in a used-book store. It’s a guide to Kyoto, and judging from the ads, it’s aimed primarily at female travelers.

It’s full of short blurbs about neighborhoods, temples, and shrines, and I picked the section on Arashiyama to scan in and prepare a vocabulary list for. At the bottom of the last page, in small, blue print, I found the following footnote:


Vaguely translated, “At Jikishian Temple, girls stay quiet, look at ‘omoidegusa’, and remain seated for many hours. Dreadful!”

Omoidegusa (想出草) does not appear in any of my dictionaries. Literally translated, it would be “memory grass”, but the third kanji is also used to refer to handwritten notes. Using the Japanese search engine, I found a few pages that mentioned it in the context of letters written by women, with a hint of confession.

So I searched Amazon Japan, to see where it might turn up. First thing on the list:


Dear James Cameron,

After watching the Avatar trailer, I have only one thing to say: if you’re going to remake Pocahontas as a big-budget SF film, you could at least license the music from Disney.

"Cheer up!"

First, the video, then the explanation…


Nice curve ball ya got there...

...making her the latest spectacular victim of the bad debt crisis and nationwide recession

After 18 paragraphs that demonstrate that photographer Annie Liebovitz spends money (her own and other peoples’) like water, including the $24 million she hocked her work for less than a year ago, this is how the writer spins her: a victim of recession and “the bad debt crisis”. No hint that she actually lost money due to investments collapsing under the weight of someone else’s bad debt, mind you, just a firm deflection of responsibility.

The interesting question is what, precisely, she hocked, her work or her copyrights. Given that the lender (possibly slimed here as “a high-end pawn broker”) specializes in high-dollar art, probably the latter, which would pretty much cut her off from any future revenue. And with Goldman Sachs also asking for a piece of the pie, she’ll likely lose her home and equipment as well, leaving her dependent on new clients. Not fun.

Do Berkeley next, please

Fight global warming with wolves!

"We urge Senators Udall and McCain to take immediate action to restore wolves to Rocky Mountain National Park, as part of their climate change initiative"

Win one for the Zipper!

Zip files are created with the user’s local character-set encoding. For most people in Japan, this means Shift-JIS. For most people outside of Japan, this means that you’ll get garbage file names when you unzip the file, unless you use a tool that supports manually overriding the encoding.

I couldn’t find a decent character-set-aware unzip for the Mac, so I installed the Archive::Zip module from CPAN and used the Encode module to do the conversion. Bare-bones Perl script follows.


Super bad!

Today’s Japanese slang word is 激ヤバ (“gekiyaba”). 激 means violent or intense, and ヤバ comes from やばい, slang for dangerous, terrible, cool, etc. So, “really bad” or “really good”, depending on the context.

The specific context I found it in was the phrase “激ヤバ援交”, with 援交 (“enkou”) abbreviated from the well-known 援助交際 “enjo kousai” (paid dating, also known as “schoolgirl prostitution”). A quick search on Amazon Japan suggests that in sexual contexts, gekiyaba means “extreme”. So, either the young lady in question was willing to do more than usual, or the resulting video had little or no censorship, or perhaps both.

Shift-JIS versus CP932

If you’re on a Unicode-based OS, and you’re trying to read something encoded in Shift-JIS, and you’re getting errors about a small number of illegal characters that can’t be converted to Unicode in an otherwise perfectly-reasonable file, it’s not Shift-JIS, it’s CP932.

Windows Code Page 932 includes mappings for characters like 〝 and 〟, which do not exist in S-JIS.

…and that’s another hour of my life that I want back.

[Update: the luit conversion tool in X11 supports Shift-JIS only, and silently discards CP932 extensions. I’m not sure what else is available for Linux users; I just do it with a Perl one-liner.]

[oh, and there’s yet another name for this encoding: Windows-31J. And there are several other incompatible variants of Shift-JIS that require guesswork on the part of the decoder, making the continued resistance to Unicode frankly baffling. (except for not-very-smartphones, where hardware and software limits have made support for multiple encodings tricky)]

I did not know...

…that the Lensman novels had been translated into Japanese. Also, there’s a sequel, predictably titled Samurai Lensman. Sadly, while the author’s other book covers feature sexy ninja girls and moe demon hunters, SL’s cover restricts itself to a heroic male. While this may be in keeping with the old-fashioned spirit of the Lensman universe (modulo Clarissa and the girls), it was written in 2001, and I can’t help feeling that it’s time to infuse Doc’s classics with some modern tropes: Kyonyuu Tsundere Meganekko Catgirl Maids of the Lens.

[Update: turns out the girl on the cover is holding a big gun, and she’s a scrappy tomboy who uses it quite effectively, joining forces with Our Hero. And she’s named Cat. And she’s definitely a healthy female mammal. Not a samurai or lensman herself, though, and no sign of glasses or a maid costume, but it’s still more progress than I expected. There is a gender-ambiguous pre-teen cat-person in the story, listed as one of Cat’s younger siblings (presumably an adopted Vegian), but without actually reading the book, I can’t count that one as a loli catgirl yet.]

Oh, katakana word for the day: スペオペ.

[and this picture is just too cute for words…]


“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”