Month: February 2011

Returning to Japan

On returning to Japan

A portrait of me holding a folding fan to my face

God, I’m a dork.

I went to Japan four years ago or so. This probably isn’t news if you know me– I bring it up once in a while, and it was a big deal to me when it happened. That said, in the four years since returning, I haven’t really written a ton about it, nor have I put any of my pictures from the trip anywhere except my hard drive. I kept an audio journal while I was abroad, and at one point I was working on digitizing and transcribing it, but that’s also fallen through the cracks. I have a bag of memorabilia at home that I saved with the intention of eventually scrapbooking it, a project that has been neglected as well.

This is not in any way to say that my trip was not worth it. Far to the contrary, my trip to Japan was my first significant trip abroad, and it opened my eyes to an entirely different cultural perspective than the one I grew up with. I stayed with Japanese families, met Japanese people, talked with and learned from Japanese students, explored the community of Hirado and learned– a little bit– what it was like to be a total foreigner in an unfamiliar country. I think my trip was significant enough that it inspired me to continue learning Japanese, and it’s part of the reason that I hope to return next year, and am considering teaching English there after graduation through the JET Programme. It was undeniably a worthwhile trip.

But it was, in the grand scheme of things, a taste. It whet my appetite, but now I’m looking at spending an entire year in Kyoto starting this fall (provided the program accepts me).

And I can’t wait.

Read More

Michael Shermer on TED: The patterns of self-deception

Incredibly interesting TED talk about pattern recognition, self-deception, and all those wonderful skeptical things.

Astronomers got screwed.

Comic bemoaning how the word "astrology" is taken to describe pseudoscience

[Editor’s note (06/04/2012): I changed the title of this post from “Astronomers got gypped,” to “Astronomers got screwed.” “Gyp” is a racist term that plays off of notions of the Romany people as sneaky and conniving. That’s not something I want my blog to perpetuate. -Spencer]

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