Sunday, 26 June 2016

Brexit and the democratic process

You have to regard the success of the Leave campaign as being an endorsement of the democratic process.

A group of people keen for the UK to leave the EU form a single issue political party (UKIP) and campaign and stand for election. Despite being (sometimes) represented and supported by loons and fruitcakes their candidates, over time, succeed in winning local, parliamentary and European elections.

They use this power base and links with Eurosceptic groups within the Conservative Party to pressure the Government into agreeing to a referendum on a UK exit from the EU.

Despite the massed ranks of the political elite, business leaders, the media, foreign heads of state and assorted celebrity gobshites they succeeded in winning the required share of the vote agreed to by all parties prior to the vote taking place.

The correct way for any group to achieve its aims in a democratic society, no?

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Review: Sky Beer Taste Drink

Gyomu Super is the Japanese equivalent of Lidl. A no-frills supermarket with (mostly) decent quality products at great prices.

When I spotted this can with the "BEER TASTE DRINK" promise and the 50 JPY (£0.32) price tag I knew I had to try some.

I was making Japanese curry that evening so I left the can cooling in the refrigerator all afternoon in the hope of masking any noxious aftertastes.

The 350ml can is an import from South Korea. I have had some of my worst "beer like drink" experiences in South Korea so my expectations were high.

I wasn't wearing my reading glasses when I bought it and thought the alcohol content was 7% ABV. That level of industrial alcohol in a 50 JPY beverage would likely kill or blind the average drinker. Luckily I was wrong and the actual strength was 0.7% ABV.

It poured with rich, foamy head that would put many lager style beers to shame. The colour was an acceptable pale yellow that could easily pass for lager even in well lit rooms. It tasted of virtually nothing. There was a very faint chemical hint but it basically tasted like carbonated tap water.

0/5 Don't buy it. It is not worth the ridiculously low price.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Japanese Yoga Lingo

Every Saturday morning I attend a yoga class at my local gym. Naturally this is conducted in Japanese and naturally I understand only a small part of the instructions. This is not really a problem as I get along quite well combining the little I do understand with careful observation of the teacher and the other members of the class.

Even so I do use it as an opportunity to expand my Japanese vocabulary. I memorize the most frequently used words and look them up on the Internet or ask family or my Japanese teacher about them. This method has allowed me to gradually build up a vocabulary of words focused on body parts and movement. Very useful.

The meaning of one particular word or phrase remained a mystery. My yoga teacher used it 10 to 15 times in every lesson but I simply could not discover what was being said. To my cloth ears it sounded like "see nara". When I asked native Japanese speakers about it I got pretty uniform results. "Do you mean さよなら (sayonara)?". Well, no. If there is one word even people who understand no Japanese would recognize it would be "さよなら". In any case why would my teacher repeat that all through the lesson? It makes no sense.

Those with some yoga knowledge would suggest "shivasana". Anyone who has done more than one yoga class can understand that! In any case my yoga teacher does use that term often and it is clear and distinct from the mysterious "see nara".

I finally discussed the issue with my yoga teacher after a lesson but made no progress despite dragging gym regular Choki-san, who speaks excellent English, into the conversation. So I said that in my next lesson I would point out to my teacher when she used the phrase.

A week later the lesson begins and pick myself a good spot in clear site of the teacher. When the mysterious phrase makes its first appearance I point and wave at the teacher. "See nara! see nara!" I shout. She looks at me like I am crazy person wondering why I am interrupting her class. She clearly had no recollection of our conversation last week. Somewhat embarrassed I keep very quiet for the remainder of the class.

Even so I am observing when the phrase is used and come to the conclusion that it could have something to do with inhaling. I already knew the phrase she used when we exhale: 吐く息 (hakuiki). The Google Translate results for inhale did not contain anything that matched what I was looking for. On the other hand the results for exhale did not contain 吐く息 which literally means spit "吐く" (haku) breath "息" (iki). Perhaps I if I searched Google for "息 ヨガ" something interesting would turn up?

Bingo! I found the phrase 息を吸いながら (iki o suinagara) where 吸いながら (suinagara) means "while sucking". When my teacher raises her arms and says "吸いながらあげます" (suinagara agemasu) she means "inhale when raising your arms".

Bye Wordpress

I had fun playing with self-hosted Wordpress and if I had a blog which people actually read I might have continued with the experiment :-) As it is I have decided to maintain my unread musings here on Blogger. Please clap.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Response to censorship on The Guardian's Comment Is Free.

I have had many of my comments removed from The Guardian's "Comment Is Free" section and would like to encourage users of that site to expose how heavy-handed and capricious they are being.

I will now take screenshots of every comment I make and if the comment is moderated away I will Tweet a crop of that comment with the hashtag "#censoredbycif". I suggest other users do the same.

Here is my first example: https://twitter.com/SRChadfield/status/646621002231775232


Sunday, 11 January 2015

Japanese fonts for Evince

After much searching on the Internet and a lot of trial and error I finally found a way to correctly display the Japanese text in the PDF statements I download from Shinsei Bank. The default PDF viewer on CentOS 7 is Evince.

The problems stem from the use of two non-embedded fonts which are not available on my Linux system:
  • GothicBBB-Medium-90ms-RKSKJH
  • Ryumin-Light-90ms-RKSJ-H
Substituting these fonts is achieved by editing or creating the file "~/.fonts.conf". In my case I had no prior settings and created that file from scratch with the following contents:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<!DOCTYPE fontconfig SYSTEM "fonts.dtd">
<fontconfig>
  <match target="pattern">
    <test qual="any" name="family"><string>GothicBBB</string></test>
    <edit name="family" mode="assign" binding="same"><string>MS Mincho</string></edit>
  </match>
  <match target="pattern">
    <test qual="any" name="family"><string>Ryumin</string></test>
    <edit name="family" mode="assign" binding="same"><string>MS Mincho</string></edit>
  </match>
</fontconfig>

After creating this file run the command "fc-cache" in a terminal window.

As you can see I am using Microsoft's MS Mincho as the replacement font. This is the only font I have found which works correctly with these PDF files. Fonts like IPA Mincho display weird characters where there should be empty spaces in tables. If anyone out there has a fix for that or can suggest some other free fonts I can try I would be glad to hear from them.