Japanese Addresses: ways of thinking

Recently I was rereading Joel Spolsky’s introduction to distributed version control, Hg Init. (To be precise, it’s an introduction to Mercurial, but it also functions fairly well as an introduction to git or to distributed version control in general.) Of course, Joel is writing about this partly because he built a product around it, so he has something to sell, but Hg Init isn’t commercial.

Anyway, Joel’s tutorial begins with some reeducation for people used to other forms of version control, notably Subversion (svn). To illustrate different ways of thinking, different ways of looking at the same problem, he uses the example of Japanese and American addresses. The same problem — uniquely identifying buildings — is solved in notably different ways in Japan and the US. In the west, we think in terms of streets; Japan thinks in terms of blocks. A different conceptual model.

Interesting.

TRiG.

“my rights end where yours begin”

That’s the whole conundrum of invoking God as the singular rationale for or against public policy—God says lots of different things to lots of different people, and all of them think that they’re right.
Melissa McEwan, “MREWYB“, Shakesville.

Yup. Melissa McEwan is there talking specifically about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, but her point is broadly applicable.

TRiG.

Christian Horror Films: Horrific Christian Culture?

Any time people get worked up about a menace they believe in but can’t actually see – demons, Commies, jihadis, hordes of hoodie-wearing thugs — they’re likely to take it out on the weakest and most vulnerable people in society.
— Andrew O’Heihr, at Salon, reviewing the film The Conjuring.

And this is why I read Slacktivist, because he takes wonderful quotes like that and examines them.

This wholesome demonization of marginalized women is expected to “appeal to faith-minded audiences.” And it does.

Oops.

Here’s Fred Clark on Christianity, horror films, and conservative social roles:

  1. The Amityville Horror is not based on a true story.
  2. The Conjuring reminds us that the only way to stop Satanic baby-killers is to punish women.

This film is a pep rally for a witch hunt. Witch hunts do not lead people toward God. Witch hunts and witch-hunters lead people, instead, toward the lethal notion that it is their job to identify and destroy the enemies of God. The stories witch-hunters tell are never true stories, but the victims those stories produce are all too real. And there is nothing “wholesome” about that.

And so it goes.

TRiG.

How May Day became a workers’ holiday

May Day is celebrated around the world as a labour holiday. One of the few countries that doesn’t celebrate it is the one where it all began, the USA. The origins of May Day as a workers’ holiday go back to strikes, police brutality, and a miscarriage of justice in the USA of the 1880s.

Interesting reading.

TRiG.

NOM: Willing, deliberate liars

The National Organization for Marriage has been spreading a host of falsehoods about research into same-sex parenting. Every so I often I lob a tweet about this to Thomas Peters, NOM’s Communications Director. He never replies, which is a shame, because I’ve always wanted to know what he’d say when confronted with these blatant…inaccuracies.

Well, Rob Tisinai finally managed to get through to Thomas Peters. Anyone want three guesses on how he reacted? Well, here’s the answer:

So now I know what Thomas Peters will do when confronted with NOM’s falsehoods: He’ll act like facts don’t matter.

My my, what a surprise!

Peters’s response isn’t surprising either.

TRiG.

Marriage (word, action; name, deed): the significance and cultural understanding thereof

Any relationship you have might be good enough for civil unions, but not for marriage.

At Box Turtle Bulletin, Rob Tisinai talks about why having marriage, not just civil unions, is important:

I have to think segregation of straight and gay relationships has a detrimental effect on gays. It denotes the inferiority of gay relationships. It leaves gays with an attitude of futility when it comes to commitment.

Compare also the Supreme Court brief by Olson and Boies.

Add to this Timothy Kincaid’s remarks on how legally confusing the current patchwork of laws are:

This year Ireland, as part of its new civil partnerships law, decided to recognize marriages – and similar institutions – from other nations as civil partnerships within its borders.

Ireland didn’t miss any country which recognises same-sex marriage, but it did miss various other “civil union” and “domestic partnership” arrangements, even some which were identical to marriage in all but name. Terminology: it matters.

TRiG.

Cartoon Drawings and the Default Human Being; or, Why do Japanese people draw themselves as white?

Had this question ever occurred to you? I don’t read much manga myself (barely any, though I do like the art style), but it does, at first glance, seem that everyone in them is white.

As it turns out, that is an American opinion, not a Japanese one. The Japanese see anime characters as being Japanese. It is Americans who think they are white. Why?  Because to them white is the Default Human Being.

Another way to look at this is to say that we’re not aware of our own stereotypes (or, at least, so long as we’re in the majority culture, we have no need to be aware of our own stereotypes).

Besides, that is not how the Japanese draw white or even Chinese people. The otherness of foreigners is clearly marked by physical stereotypes – just as Americans do with people of colour. In anime White Americans are stereotyped as having yellow hair, blue eyes and a long or big nose.

Right.

And, of course, some of the main art styles of manga were taken from American comics in the first place.

TRiG.

The Liberation of Paris: Whites only

In August 1944, at the time of the Liberation of Paris, the French army was two thirds black. Two thirds! De Gaulle had raised an army in Africa. And yet, all the soldiers involved in the Liberation of Paris were white, on the basis that it would be “better for French morale”. That probably wasn’t the real reason (after all, De Gaulle himself, who should know something about how to manage French morale, opposed the idea).

Propaganda: it seems the (white) American commanders were afraid of how the sight of black soldiers freeing Paris would look on newsreels back home where everyone had been brought up on whitewashed history. So to maintain that image they forced the French to whitewash their army, forcing fiction on fact.

Interesting reading.

TRiG.