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August 23, 2006

Censorship in the Chinese mass media

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It is well-known that there is a strict censorship in the mass media and the Internet in China. When I was staying in Beijing, I experienced an interesting and scary event.

I was staying at one of the most beautiful and gorgeous (probably) hotels towering in the Wangfujing area. Inside the hotel there were a number of foreign travelers, mostly from European countries and the US (probably). The lobby was beautiful, the swiming pool was beautiful, and the hotel staff was frank and polite. This was surely one of the best hotels I have stayed at up until present.

One afternoon I was watching TV in my room. It was surprising that I could see not only Chinese channels, but many foreign channels such as CNN, BBC, MTV, and Japanese NHK. And more surprising was that those programs were aired live. I could watch Japanese NHK news and weather report live. CNN and BBC were live too. What surprised me was that if we could watch foreign programs live, then we could also see, for example, another Tien An Men incident live in CNN or BBC without censorship. Wow, how thrilling!

I turned the channel to BBC. It was broadcasting a weather forecast. Then, a BBC reporter began a report from Beijing, China. He was talking to the camera with his laptop computer in a Chinese garden. His report was about the current situation about the Chinese media and the Internet. An interview with a Chinese girl started. She talked about her own blog. She said in English that it was very interesting to have communications with unknown people on the Internet. And then, another story began. A middle-aged man was riding on a train. He was a journalist of a Chinese newspaper, but he quit his job and became an independent journalist. He made his own website and continued to expose the dark side of Chinese society.

I came near to the TV set. The report went on. This man interviewed a Chinese woman whose husband had been physically abused by a member of the Communist Party. The woman appeared on the screen. After chatting with this woman, the Chinese journalist started to talk to the BBC camera about the background of the incident, and ....... suddenly the TV screen turned black and silent. I was shocked and changed the channel. CNN and other foreign channels were aired without problem. I returened to BBC. The TV screen still remained black. I was waiting in front of the silent TV set. Then suddenly the program resumed. The report from China had already ended, and another report from another country had begun.

I am worried that something unfortunate might have happened to the Chinese journalist and the interviewed woman.

Related article: Unit 731 and atrocities in China during World War II

Photo: Albany, NY, USA.

   --- M.Morioka www.lifestudies.org

May 30, 2006

Parody of the Japanese national anthem, Kiss me Kimigayo

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A parody of the Japanese national anthem, Kimigayo, is now spreading on the web. Interestingly, the lyrics of this parody song is written in English, not in Japanese, but what is most striking is that every line of this English lyrics sounds similar to the pronunciations of the original Japanese one (See below). And more importantly, the meaning of the English lyrics is completely opposite to that of the original Japanese anthem, a "heartfelt respect" for the Imperial House. A commentator in Sankei Newspaper, one of the leading conservative newspapers, accuses the parody song of a "sinister protest."

Probably, the readers of this blog would need "background" information about the Japanese national anthem, Kimigayo. But before that, please see the English parody song, and the original Japanese anthem.

Parody:

Kiss me, girl, and your old one
a tip you need, it is years till you're near this
sound of the dead "will she know
she wants all to not really take
cold caves know moon is with whom mad and dead"

Meaning (besed on a Japanese explanation attached to the parody song):

Kiss me girl and kiss those old jokes (such as "The Nanjing massacre did not exist" etc.) and say good-by to them.
I will give you a piece of advice you need. It took many years for this voice of the dead to reach you.
"A nation wants what must not be taken, but will the day come when the nation comes to realize it? Even cold caves (such as in Okinawa etc.) know that the moon always looked at those who went mad and dead injured by the war."

The original Japanese anthem:

Ki mi ga a yo o wa
chi yo ni i i ya chi yo ni
sa za re i shi no
i wa o to na ri te
ko ke no mu u su u ma a a de

Meaning of the original anthem (according to Wikipedia):

May your reign
Continue for a thousand years,
For eternity,
Until pebbles
Grow into boulders
Covered in moss.

Correspondence:

Ki mi / ga / a yo / o wa
Kiss me, / girl, / and your / old one

chi yo / ni i i / ya chi / yo ni
a tip you / need, it is / years till / you're near this

sa / za re / i shi no
sound of / the dead / "will she know

i wa / o to / na ri / te
she wants / all to / not really / take

ko ke / no / mu u / su u / ma a a de
cold caves / know / moon / is with whom / mad and dead"

Particularly, the first sentence (kiss me girl and .... and ki mi ga a....) and the last phrase (mad and dead... and ma a a de...) are excellent. Those who know Japanese language will be impressed with this.

First, we have to know that the original anthem is a song for praising the "everlasting glory of the emperor's world (or society)" (a literal translation of "Kimigayo" is "the emperor's world"). The problem is that the Korean and Chinese people remember their painful memories of World War II, especially Japanese invasion into their countries and massacres executed by the Japanese army under the name of Japanese emperor. It should also be noted that Japanese nationalists continue justifying their past invasion of China and Korea, and they aggressively stress that the Japanese should respect for the emperor and Imperial House, and that the Japanese must swear loyalty to the emperor by singing the Japanese anthem loud and clear in a ceremony etc.

In constast, those who object to the justification of the past invasions refuse to stand and sing the Japanese anthem, for example, at a school entrance ceremony. An extreme tension exists on this topic in our country. (I am among those who refuse to sing the Japanese anthem.)

Several years ago, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology ordered teachers in public schools to stand and sing the anthem. More than a hundred school teachers who refused to stand were punished, some were even fired. The principal of a school committed a suicide. Today, many teachers who oppose to the justification of the Japanese invasion in the past are forced to stand and sing the anthem that praises the Japanese emperor, in their school entrance ceremonies. Their final protest was to stand in the ceremony but not to sing the song, or just moving their mouths but not uttering a voice. Then, the board of education of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government started measuring the volume of voices in school entrance ceremonies using a special machine in order to know whether the anthem is sung loud and clear.

You might think this is ridiculous, but this is the reality of Japanese school education.

Ok, let us go back to the parody song. This song was invented to save those who are "forced" to sing in a ceremony. Since the parody song sounds like the Japanese anthem, no one can distinguish which song they are actually singing.

I am not sure whether teachers actually start singing this parody song in a school entrance ceremony and in other settings. I really HATE the mentality of Japanese society that seeks to suppress different opinions and ideas.

Some comments from today's Japanese blogs:
"If you hate Japan, please leave Japan, and never come back again." CutplazaBlog http://plaza.jugem.cc/?eid=1537
"Why don't you cure your mental illness and abandon your nationality?" NichijononakanoHinitijo http://drugmania.exblog.jp/3154149
"This might be one of the left-wing's plans to destroy Japan." Oyobidenakutomo.. http://knstir.exblog.jp/2338044

Report by Reuter: Parody of Japan anthem spreading as protest
Guardian: Japan's rebels sing out with English parody of anthem

Related article: Racist Cartoon Image
                      Yasukuni Shrine and the justification of war

Related external links: http://smt.blogs.com/mari_diary/2006/05/i_read_lation_v.html

Photo: My kitchen

 -- M.Morioka www.lifestudies.org

April 28, 2006

Yochai Benkler: The Wealth of Networks, and some thoughts

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The word "web 2.0" is becoming popular in Japan (See a previous post). We can see this word in newspapers and magazines everyday.

The other day I happened to know that a book about the internet has been published as a printed book, as a PDF, as a html, and as wiki-pages simultaneously. The book is Yochai Benkler's The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom, published by Yale University Press, and also available under a Creative Commons Noncommercial Sharealike license. Visit the book's page. You can download PDFs or html files freely.

What I was most impressed with was that the Yale University Press decided to publish this book (costs $25) although the whole text is to be available on the web. I am very interested in this phenomenon. In the US, reports from the government are sometimes published both as printed books and as free PDF files. The crucial point is that the publisher has estimated that the book sells well even if there exist the same free digital texts on the web.

I feel like asking them whether it is possible for me to publish an English book in this style (of course they would reply that I should be a well-known author in the English speaking world). This would be an ideal way of publishing for the authors, like me, who have already published his/her (translated) texts on their websites.

By the way, okumi, a member of our former blog, has begun the blog, Reproductive health in Japan.

 -- M.Morioka www.lifestudies.org

April 09, 2006

Tassos Missouras, Conscioussness Communication, dream navigator

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I was surprised to know that Greek painter Tassos Missouras's retrospective exhibition is now held at Frissiras Museum in Athens, Greece, under the title of "Dream Navigator 1985 - 2005." "Dream navigator" was the concept I introduced in my book, Consciousness Communication (1993, in Japanese). I did not know the painter Tassos Missouras, but he seems to know my book, because the exhibition curator, Martha Chalikia, writes on the Museum's webpage as follows:

The exhibition’s title “Dream Navigator” refers to a concept invented by the Japanese philosopher Masahiro Morioka and which is found in his book Consciousness Communication: The Birth of a Dream Navigator, Chikuma Bunko, 1993: I proposed the new concept “Dream Navigator” in order to depict possible future interactions among the sub-consciousness of participants in cyber-space. People’s consciousness and sub-consciousness are guided by a dream navigator and their collective imaginations create and unimaginable world of our collective dreams. The relations and the effect of the “Dream Navigator” are evident in the last artistic period of Tassos Missouras. (Webpage)

The italics in the above was the text quoted from the Conscioussness Communication page of our website, hence, probably Tassos got to know this book when visiting our site. According to that page, Tassos Missouras was born in Larissa in 1963. He studied in the Athens School of Fine Arts under professors Yannis Moralis and Dimitris Mytaras. You can see one of his paintings here.

Come to think of it, I remember that Niki Lambropoulos, who is also Greek, mentioned "conscioussness communication" in her paper (PDF). I suspect Niki introduced this concept to Tasso, or vice versa. Or some article which discussed this concept might have been published in Greece. Anyway, it is a mystery why the words "conscioussness communication" are popular? in Greece.

The Japanese version of Conscioussness Communication became out of print this February. It's sad news. Someday I would like to rewrite this book and translate into English. This is a kind of "cult" book. There are some readers, although very few, who enthusiastically support this book. Some of you might be interested in this book as well.

Photo: Pachinko, Pachisuro, Chiba

Related post: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Tassos Missouras

 -- M.Morioka www.lifestudies.org

February 26, 2006

Theory of Web Evolution, Web 2.0, life studies as open source

 

I am now reading the book, A Theory of Web Evolution (Uwebu Shinkaron), Chikuma Shinsho, 2006, written in Japanese by Mochio Umeda. This book has just been published and is likely to become a bestseller. This is a really interesting book. I am going to write a book review for a local newspaper. Umeda, the author, is an engineer with a Ph.D., and the CEO of the Japanese web company, hatena. He has lived in Silicon Valley, USA, for these ten years.

He stresses that the revolution now being made by weblogs and Wikipedia as well as such company as Google and Amazon, will provide us with a completely different kind of cyber space, compared with that which the "old" style company, such as Yahoo!, Microsoft, and Intel, have shown us. The difference is that the former encourages us to create new webpages, information, and dynamic links using their open source technologies, and encourages us to go beyond the original models those companies have prepared beforehand. And after that, those companies tries to make profit out of us by monitoring users' activities and acquiring information about how the majority behave on the Internet. He thinks this is the core image of Web 2.0, which is one of the hottest issues on the web today.

Umeda summarizes the three main features of Web 2.0 as follows:

1) First law: The understanding of the world from the viewpoint of "God"
2) Second law: A new economic sphere in which ones' automatic agents on the web make money automatically
3) Thrid law: Possibility of earning money from the accumulation of scattered very small profits (p.34)

However, in the latter half of the book, Umeda emphasizes that the most important feature of Web 2.0 is not that we can make money from it, but that we can cooperate to create a new world of dynamic knowledge and collective intelligence, just like Wikipedia, on the web volantarily and openly. This is the core philosophy of Web 2.0, and probably the most revolutionary contribution to our cyber society.

This could also be applied to our life studies project. Life studies should be a kind of open source, by using which every concerned person can create their own life studies in their real lives. Every life studies activity is different, but all of them are interconnected with each other. The same thing can be said about "philosophy of life." I am going to write about it here in the near future.

My intuition is that life studies or philosophy of life is similar to Web 2.0, because both of them aim to connect people, knowledge, wisdom, and activities in the way only developing living beings can fully execute. Hence for me, "2.0" means "life."

 -- M.Morioka www.lifestudies.org

March 21, 2005

Hyper dictionary

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I have found an interesting site, hyper dictionary. Jump to this page and click any word on the page, then you will jump to the explanation page of the word. Almost all the words of this site are linked to one another. This is a real hyper text. Great.

I don't know if I can make such a site, but in the future anyone might be able to create one using a special software. If so I would like to construct, for example, an encyclopedia of life studies on the web.

By the way, several book reviews of The Insensitive Man appeared in newspapers and magazines last week.

I have a toothache these days. I am receiving dental treatment but the pain does not go away quickly....

Photo: Almond, Roppongi, Tokyo

 -- M.Morioka www.lifestudies.org

January 12, 2005

Blogshare

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This week we have classes, meetings, entrance exams, etc. from morning till night... Anyway, I found an interesting website called Blogshare. It seems to be a place to invest virtual money (web dollar) to a blog, and gain virtual profit, perhaps. They say, "BlogShares is a fantasy stock market where weblogs are the companies. Players invest fictional dollars on shares in blogs." I don't know why, but they have a page for our blog. Their valuation is B$1,550.00 at present. Hmmmm....

I will write about Ann Mongoven's paper next time.

Photo: Karupisu

 -- M.Morioka www.lifestudies.org