June 2007

Showing exactly how much they regard CD sales as a god given right to charge high prices to customers, representatives of the music industry have thrown their toys out of the pram at a deal by Prince to provide the Sunday Mail with copies of his new album “Planet Earth” for distribution as a “free” gift with the newspaper sometime soon.

“Free” CDs and DVDs with newspapers have become standard fare in the UK in recent years, but these are usually older material which has long been available, including compilation albums of well-worn “classics” as well as B&W movies which have typically been available for a few years on DVD.


I’ve definitely been here too long. I got my first piece of “junk mail” today.

OK, so it should have been expected. When I first arrived I bought a digital camera from Yodobashi camera. At the time, I signed up for one of their “loyalty cards” which give a ten percent bonus from each purchase which can be used on future purchases. Since I’ve bought a moderate amount of stuff from them, this has been a decent deal. But, to sign up I had to give them an address. Their summer catalogue arrived today, my first piece of junk mail in Japan.

One of the Nippon 2007 committee just posted a brief English email to the staff mailing list. A message to an large list in Japanese would have started with “???” (that’s a made up name, not the name of the person who posted), giving the name of the originator. I’m not sure why this etiquette exists on Japanese lists. Possibly it dates back to when email systems couldn’t hold kanji/kana characters in headers. Anyway, when writing in English, this staff member translated “???” as “I’m Akira”, which in isolation is a perfectly reasonable translation of the Japanese. Unfortunately, in context, it’s very odd English. I had to manfully resist the temptation to reply with one or all of::

“I’m Spartacus”

“I’m Sparkey Tickets”

“I’m Brian, and so’s my wife.”

Bonus points (scored by the lovely Samantha) to anyone who can name all three references.

This brings me to the point of this post. One of the downsides of living in Japan, for an Englishman like me, is the lack of opportunity to make puns and other word play jokes. On the odd occasion when I can’t resist doing so, I’ve always got to explain it. If you have to explain it, it’s not funny. My Japanese isn’t nearly good enough to make Japanese puns, either. <Sigh>

The Luddites broke up machinery that was transforming their (often dangerous and ill-paid) jobs into something that could be done by far fewer people, sometimes though not always in a safer way, and sometimes though not always turning tens or hundreds of low paid jobs into one better paid job.


I’ve not been posting as much on here lately as I’d have liked, because I’ve been having trouble with the blog. I’m hoping it’s now sorted out. One of the admin pages still looks awful, but it’s not one I actually need to go to and if I need to I can work with it. I was having trouble posting some entries and editing a lot of them. After hunting and hunting and hunting for the solution, I finally found something on the WordPress troubleshooting site about turning off Apache’s “security filtering module” in the .htaccess by adding this:

<IfModule mod_security.c>
SecFilterScanPOST off
As ifby magic, suddenly I can post and edit again. The original thread discussed certain words triggering this module. Dangerous words like “biopsy” and “autopsy”. I’m not sure what words in my Museums review post it didn’t like, but this shows how bad security can be in getting in the way of the purpose of software. The biggest problem is that I wasn’t getting an error. No, I was just getting booted back out to my home page.

I’ve had to re-schedule some of my lectures because of a Measles outbreak amongst the students at Meiji University (at least one other Tokyo University closed, and I’ve heard rumours that many/most of them closed). They closed the university for a week and since I’m giving my lectures on a Saturday this ended up covering two days.

It just shows what happens when you don’t have good coverage of MMR in the population. Measles, like many so-called “childhood diseases” is a lot worse if you get it as an adult.

In the 2004 US elections, the US catholic church warned that they would not give communion to politicians who voted in favour of abortion legislation. Last week, a Scottish Bishop said that UK MPs should not take communion if they vote for abortion legislation (a difference but still a problem) and yesterday the Catholic Bishop of Cardiff supported the Scottish Bishop’s statement.

This shows the big problem with Catholics standing for political office. They are elected to represent their constituents and while their own conscience should come into their decisions on how to vote on legislation (after all, their conscience is one of the things their constituents should be trying to gauge when voting for them) they should not be blackmailed by a religious group to vote in one way or another on the basis of the “orders” of the church, or blackmail about excluding them from religious worship. Catholics should think twice about standing for elected office while maintaining their membership of the Catholic church in this way. It’s one thing for the church to put forth their point of view, and even to lobby MPs and ministers in the same way that any other group does. But singling out individual MPs who happen to be members of their church and placing individual pressure on them to follow church doctrine rather than their assessment of the views and needs of their constituents makes membership of the Catholic church incompatible with the freedom of conscience necessary to be a representative of the people.