Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Conference scaling: From collegial to colossal

Following two conferences in a row…
.
Erich: ASCJ was navigable with 300 participants.
.
Jean-Paul: Right, and at most half a dozen parallel sessions over two days.
.
Erich: Whereas at ICAS, there were more navigational choices because of the 1200 participants, running to 25 parallel sessions over four days.
.
Jean-Paul: I sense a coefficient coming on.
.
The plenipotentiary
takes the stand...
Erich: So at ASCJ, you could potentially attend 12 percent of the presentations.
.
Jean-Paul: And at the bigger ICAS, you could potentially attend only 4 percent.
.
Erich: Assuming you only stayed in one session and didn’t float or hop between rooms.
_________
Voice-over
Academic conferences range from the small group of colleagues (maybe 20 or 30) who meet to exchange ideas. Use of one of the member’s university teaching rooms: gratis. Everyone chips in 300 yen for coffee and scones. Single sessions, so everyone gets to speak and be heard. Audience: 20 or 30.

Go a little bigger and an institution might ask for some payment. Conference fee a reasonable 3,000 yen. Reception dinner, optional, 3,000 yen. See 10 to 15 percent of the presentations if there are no distractions. Audience in each session: 20 or 30.


Then go international and rent a crowd. Hotels, transport, international conference centre, book publishers as sponsors of coffee breaks. Conference fee from 14,000 yen to 30,000 yen (including reception). Audience in each session: 20 or 30.
...

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Asmara attains World Heritage listing

 An apt award…
.
Frank: They made it.
.
Lloyd: It took a few years. Getting the local community interested. Since the mid-1990s. Getting the paperwork together. Then lobbying. Application made beginning of 2016. Granted mid-2017.
.
Frank: Something odd though. The architecture is not indigenous. It’s Italian futurism. It’s colonial.
.
Lloyd: Still, the Asmara citizens regard it as theirs.
.
Frank: What do they use the buildings for?
.
Lloyd: Jane Jacobs once said: “Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings.”
Maybe Eritrean Air could use it as a plane...
__________
Voice-over

UNESCO recognized Asmara in Eritrea as a World Heritage site on July 8, 2017. As a colony of Italy from 1889 to 1941, Asmara contains well-preserved modernist buildings designed by Italian futurists. UNESCO describes it as “an exceptional example of early modernist urbanism at the beginning of the 20th century and its application in an African context.”
...

Friday, July 14, 2017

Castles in Japan: Black and White as Gender Distinction

Preparing for castle-viewing…
.
Francois: There aren’t many, are there?
.
Kenzo: There’s more than a hundred now but in their heyday, more than five thousand.
.
Francois: They were built as forts, right?
.
Kenzo: Originally, they guarded strategic points, like crossroads and rivers. Later they became administrative buildings, and palatial residences for daimyo.
.
Francois: Built of stone?
.
Le
Kenzo: The base was generally rocks. But the keep was usually wood.
.
Francois: I like wooden buildings.
.
Kenzo: But many wooden buildings burned down, and they were largely rebuilt in modern times in concrete.
.
Francois: And I guess cannons destroyed a lot of them?
.
Kenzo: Actually no. Japanese firearms, arquebuses, were rarer and weaker than European cannons. More emphasis was placed on laying siege, cutting off supplies to the castle. It was thought more honorable for battles to be fought outside the castle.
.
La 
Francois: They’re very strong looking and exert a military masculine atmosphere.
.
Kenzo: The black ones do, but the white castles, such as Himeji, are said to project a more feminine air.
_____________
Voice-over
Francois’s perceptions of a Japanese castle seem to be influenced by his experience of European castles. Some travelers view the sights through stereotypical glasses.

...

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Grammar of a To Do List

Organizing a day…
.
Polly: Do you keep a diary?
.
Annie: Nope. Used to. It made me think about keeping a regular habit. It made me practice writing. But then the act of writing every night became an end in itself. So now I just transfer the To Do tasks to an archive file.
.
Polly: But a To Do list doesn’t read like a diary.
.
Annie: No, more like a snapshot of a day in my life.
.
Polly: What’s best language for writing to do lists?
.
Annie: Personally, I note a start time, then location, people and describe the task beginning with a verb, then a noun. For example, 10:00: Room X203: panel members, present PPT Tokyo 2020.
.
Polly: Do you need all that information?
.
Annie: I don’t NEED to write all those, it just helps organize my thinking about a task.  “When” I need to do it, “where” I need to be, “who” is there, “what” I need to do, kicking off with an imperative verb, adding a noun phrase.
.
Polly: Do you add any reason you’re doing these tasks?
.
Annie: Not usually.
_________
Voice-over

“Why” is the ghost in the To Do machine. Unseen and generally unwritten. To Do Lists are something of a “wh4” creation.
...

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Wearable White Rabbit

You see them here,
A wearable culture
You see them there,
You see them everywhere.
Could White Rabbitism be
The next populist uprising?

“Meet me at the station.
I’ll be wearing a White Rabbit T-shirt.”

WHITE RABBIT
WHITE RABBIT
WHITE RABBIT
...

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Parallel universe or double vision?

Anniversary…
.
Tengo: You know, a year ago it was, I had an operation.
.
Komatsu: I know.
.
Tengo: Even now, I’m not sure whether I died on the operating table, and that I’m now just imagining I’m alive in this Murakami-like parallel universe.
.
Komatsu: 1Q84?
.
Tengo: Precisely. I mean, I even LIVE in Murakami’s suburb, Koenji.
.
Two moons, or one?
Komatsu: But there’s a simple test. Are there two moons in your sky? There were in Murakami’s.
.
Tengo: Yes. There ARE two moons in my sky. Have been ever since I woke up from the operation a year ago.
.
Komatsu: So who are the REAL inhabitants of your parallel universe? Am I alive or dead?
____________
Voice-over

Komatsu should worry indeed that he might not be alive. But it could be merely that Tengo has double vision that he sees two moons and therefore thinks he lives in a parallel universe. However, novels are rarely THAT simple, and you can be sure that Murakami never intended such a plain explanation.
...