Ben Crystal lectures in Japan

I heard Shakespearean actor, Ben Crystal, talk today. My interest in Shakespeare – which had wained with my miscomprehension or un-comprehension of it in my youth – had returned with the revelation that what I had been watching until now had been inauthentic. Ben had pointed out that modern performances had tended towards Received Pronunciation (RP) even though most of The United Kingdom (98% in fact) do not speak like the Queen. English is not the English of Lawrence Olivier. It is the English of ordinary folk. So watching Shakespeare done in RP is like watching it in another language altogether.

Modelled performances by Ben during the talk in the more natural pronunciation of English in Shakespeare’s time according to Ben meant a return to rhyme (lost in modern pronunciation of words), in a more natural tempo and rhythm (sounding more like the vernacular we recognise as native speakers), and engagement (actors spoke directly to the audience).

Some recent productions I have seen online have tried to return to these values (probably due to Ben and the Globe’s performances from 2005 onwards). These values, though, have always been there. You can still see it in the ordinary non-Shakespearean theatre of English. But the values were taken away (stolen as it were) by a small group some time in the history of the English stage performance. This revision and return is absolutely necessary if we are to appreciate Shakespeare on this day of all appropriate days – Shakespeare Day (23rd April) – once more. Bravo and thank you, Ben.

Published international research low by Japanese

Compared to the world growth in publishing at eighty-percent Japan is falling behind at just 14%. 

Figures given this morning showed exchange to America has fallen from the peak of over 47,000 students to under 19,000. Furthermore, money put into research has dropped dramatically. 

If Japan is to compete academically it will need to increase spending in exchange and research

Philip Roth’s advice to (academic) writers

“The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.” (1979)

Should it have been called ‘Brexit’?

As someone who works with words and like words I am always scrutinising it wherever I look. So I was curious as to why the referendum in the United Kingdom for whether to stay in the European Union or not was christened as Brexit, a portmanteau for ‘British Exit’ even before the vote had gone ahead. Does not the name assume that the outcome will be an exit?

Think half empty/half full.

Would the outcome have been to stay if the name bandied around was Bremain instead of Brexit?

Names, whether official or not, are important. They can change the perception of the object for not only individuals but entire societies as well. After all, language is a shared event. We used it to communicate firstly, and secondly, to consolidate our thoughts. So a term like Brexit with its posit-ive (as opposed to negat-ion) connotations will likely influence how one leans and then ultimately how one votes.

Extracurricular sports in Japanese schools still too much, doing damage to education/future

1.
Did you know in Japan some students formally train everyday for a sport? And they do this for much of their junior and senior years (12-18 years of age). A 10,600 student survey revealed that 20 percent of students do not have a single day off training (they go to school even on weekends), because in Japan sporting achievement is considered important in building good character.

According to an article in today’s The Japan News the Government has trying to implement changes to lower club activity hours to have at least two days of rest and  weekend training limited to maximum four hours. On top of this, there was a call for outside instructors to be employed. At present, teachers are entrusted with training and taking students to and from meets. This means teachers as well are kept busy. There is no parent or outside involvement at this level.

2.
Most Japanese do not know what club activities are like overseas. In Australia where I grew up, a sport is played and trained for during the season only. For example, I played soccer (football) for eight years. Each Autumn I would go for try-outs, play for three or four months in the winter, then rest from spring onwards. Training at the younger age group were once a week for 2 hours. we had training twice a week for three hours in the last three school years. Every weekend we had a match. Parents were responsible to take their own children to the games or else carpool with other parents. Furthermore, parents were the coaches. I was lucky to have a good coach. I had an ex-Scottish second division player as coach for most of my eight years.

I also played other sports during the summer. Cricket (baseball-like sport) for 2 seasons and basketball for one season. Being free to join and leave club activities on a year-by-year basis meant I can try many other activities. Apart from sport, I joined the chess club, the choir, the percussion ensemble and the debating team. All of these experiences were important to me, making me who I am today.

3.
The Japanese people I tell to about my school experience are surprised but also skeptical of the system. Students in Japan are expected to join a club for the duration of the three years they are in junior or senior high school. They also cannot imagine not training for even a day or not training in the off-season. And students who leave a club halfway through are looked down upon.

The culture of club activity is hard to break. The Government has been implement changes for 20 years now with little effect. Resistance is strong with old habits hard to break. As a parent of two children living under the Japanese education I can only hope.

What is wrong with rationalism?

The assumptions.

Rationalism assumes that reason gives us all knowledge. It overrides emotion and belief. It also override the senses as the path to truth. It is directly opposed to empiricism.

Reason takes on a mysticism similar to that of the soul, whereby a body is unnecessary. So it is part of the mind-body problem in Western philosophy, culture and thinking.

Sensory knowledge is not perfect. But neither is rational knowledge. Both should be considered inseparable. And both should be considered necessary to any knowledge.

Rationalism and Empiricism should not be considered opposing ideas. There should be a philosophy of Rational Empiricism or Empirical Rationalism.

(This was supposed to have been posted on another blog.)

The “hidden” poverty in Japan and its effect on the future

A documentary on tonight’s NHK titled “The Hidden Poverty” said 1-in-6 children are under the living in poverty. Only until recently has the government began surveying this. What makes it hidden is that families are finding ways to make ends meet but at the expense of the children education. Some senior high school students are taking on not one but two part-time jobs. Stories of junior high and elementary school students foregoing beneficial activities like club participation and extracurricular studies simply because the family cannot afford it, all the while they keep quiet about their condition.

This problem will only become apparent in ten or twenty years time when those who suffered from this disadvantage become members of society. And unless we start talking about it will be too late to forestall the problems.

The only way, then, is to make this invisible problem visible. Like language teaching, the invisible things need to be made visible and therefore analyzable and teachable. Without visibility things are difficult to understand. We are creatures in the habit of making things observable. We do this with language, turning all into tangible objects and spaces.

Why I am over buying interactive ebooks 

There are some great books in interactive media format for iOS devices. Two that I regularly read for fun are The Philosophy Book and The DK Illustrated Bible – Story by Story (no, I am not Christian. I am still a devout Buddhist). They make reading on the iPad and iPhone fun. 

Or they did

As Apple regularly updates their operating system – iOS – compatible versions of apps quickly become obsolete. So when my Ebooks start to pop up messages saying they may slow my device down my faith in them wanes. 

One of the greatest inventions was created over 500 years ago. It was portable, long lasting, accurate, required no batteries and durable. You could drop it and it would not break. Infinitely cheaper and it requires no update. It is everywhere even today but its popularly has decreased. I suspect it will rebound though, come back into fashion due to its endearing and enduring qualities. 

It is the book

Luckily I have not invested in electronic books heavily, continuing to buy books as I had done so for the last four decades. In the worst-case scenario when the world is on the brink of collapse I doubt anything electronic will survive. But our culture will still be found and understood through the books that exist everywhere today, even if we perish through our errors in lifestyle and character. 

Notes for setting up Periscope Producer on OBS

In order to start using OBS with your Periscope account you need to first activate Periscope Producer. Here are the steps.

  1. apply for Periscope Producer here
  2. after receiving your confirmation email force restart your Periscope
  3. go to Settings > Advanced Sources
  4. take note of your source connection information

Start OBS and

  1. go to Settings > Stream
  2. fill in the source connection information
  3. go to > Output
  4. enter Video Bitrate “800”
  5. enter Audio Bitrate “64”
  6. click “OK”

All the settings are complete and you are now ready to start streaming.

How to take a screenshot on MacOS

To take a screenshot of the entire screen display

  1. press command+shift+3.

To take a portion of the screen

  1. press command+shift+4
  2. click and drag to the diagonal corner of the desired area.

To take a screen of a particular window or menu

  1. press command+shift+4
  2. press space bar
  3. place cursor over desired window
  4. click mouse button or touchpad