The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

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senseiman
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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by senseiman » Fri Feb 20, 2015 10:22 am

steki47 wrote: Agree on this one. National identities or nationalisms vary greatly around the world. Thailand had a national identity that was more fluid and Chinese could learn the lingo, take on a Thai name, wear the clothes and became Thai. They intermarried and for all intents and purposes were considered Thai. There was some anti-Chinese here and there (a former king of Siam wrote a pamphlet in English warning of the "Jews of the Orient"), but they were generally allowed to assimilate.

In Indonesia, this was not the case. Chinese, even those born in Indonesia, were viewed as outsiders. And dangerous and, later, potential Communists.

The difference reminded me of French and German nationalisms that followed the jus solis and jus sanguis, respectively. Law of the residence allowed French-speaking Arabs and Africans to come and live in France, whereas the German policy of law of blood required that both of your parents were German to be considered German. Guess which country produced the Nazis?
All good examples and I generally agree.
steki47 wrote:True as well. Europeans began to practice exogamous marriage patterns that helped to increase trust among strangers (or at least not close relatives as with first cousin marriage in much of the Middle East. My concern is how compatible contemporary European societies are with Muslim (shorthand for ME and South Asian) populations. I am aware that the majority of Muslims coming into Europe are not murdering cartoonists, raping Swedish girls or knifing rabbis, but the fact that we (the West, not us)are even having this conversations frightens me.
Obviously in parts of Europe where you have large populations of Muslims (and others) coming to live with Europeans, and neither of the two (3, 4, etc) communities have experience living with each other there is going to be tension and even violence. I suspect this is mainly a case of them simply being unused to each other and, on the part of the native Europeans, an unease with changes to what they are used to. In other words I think it is just that there is a lack of equilibrium between the groups and it makes everyone uneasy, rather than their cultures (extremists aside) being fundamentally incompatible. Throughout history there are tons of exmaples of European Christians and Muslims living relatively peacefully in the same cities/towns, etc (of course there are also counter examples, but the point is merely that co-existence is possible).
steki47 wrote:Some of this talk of cultures and identity reminds of one of the core differences betweens liberals and conservatives:namely, that liberals often seek to change (improve as they see it) society whereas conservatives generally try to, um, conserve or preserve the status quo. Liberals often win because nothing is permanent. Doesn't stop conservatives nor, IMHO, invalidate their claims and desires. The US specfically is large enough for both.

I would rather see some sort of compromise between these two but I am not sure how we can achieve that.
I think the terms liberal and conservative are of little value in a discussion like this. They are little more than labels which relate more to the peculiarities of (in this case) American political debate at a given point in time rather than any overarching, coherent view of the world. From the 1980s until relatively recently for example it was generally the "conservative" Republicans who were the party of change (seeking to roll back various elements of the welfare state created in the post-war era) while the "liberal" Democrats were fighting to maintain the status quo. In other words the notion of what constitutes a liberal/conservative changes so rapidly with political winds that I find it difficult to attach any real meaning to the terms over the long run (in many ways the "conservative" Dwight Eisenhower was by today's standards one of the most "liberal" US Presidents. Same even with Nixon, but this is getting way off topic and I'm not even American.).

steki47

Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by steki47 » Fri Feb 20, 2015 11:00 am

senseiman wrote:I think the terms liberal and conservative are of little value in a discussion like this. They are little more than labels which relate more to the peculiarities of (in this case) American political debate at a given point in time rather than any overarching, coherent view of the world.
Disagree with this. Dems and Reps argue a lot about the minute details of various political and economic issues. The abortion debate looks like a tug of war, with both sides trying gain an inch whenever they can. Gun control as well. Gay marriage is a neat binary issue with zero room for compromise, hence its sharp divisive effect on the American political scene.

However, I do see largely metapolitcal and philosophical differences between leftwing and rightwing ideologies. Haidt (2013) described political ideologies as similar to religions in that they include tenets, taboos and punishment for those who transgress. And demonization of "unbelievers".

(One of the chief problems I see in the US is that we really don't have a Left and a Right, but rather a Left and a retarded Left in the form of the Republican party. They resist new ideas, then accept them and then claim credit for things. MLK and civil rights come to mind. In the future, the Republicans will probably claim credit for gay marriage. )

Leftist ideology tends to promote equality, deny or seek to eradicate inequality and generally follows the Blank Slate model regarding human nature. Rightist thought typically accepts inequality as inherent in man and acknowledges that humans have an innate nature. Both the born again Christian and the Darwinian evolutionary pyschologist believe in a human nature that we are born with. The source and malleability of human nature is subject to variation among those groups.

You mentioned the Civil War previously and I think that is a good example of what I see as the core conflict here. It is not white vs. nonwhite so much as white vs. white. Puritan abolitionists against aristocratic Cavalier slave owners. The Ebola scare in the US had libs and cons going into their prescribed roles rather neatly. Conservative Americans expressed fear and anxiety about allowing (possibly) infected people into the US and Liberals spent much of their time attacking Cons as "racist" and "xenophobic" (not entirely innaccurate). Libs don't love the "brown people" so much as hate rednecks.

Europe has a few examples as well. PEGIDA and the counterprotests. UKIP gaining support while the media is opnely hostile to Farage. FN and Le Pen in France, who is gaining support among French Jews and gays (scratching my head on this one).

To sum up, I see much of these conflicts being intraracial. A strange tendency among northern European to rip each other to pieces over ideas.

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by senseiman » Fri Feb 20, 2015 1:16 pm

steki47 wrote: Disagree with this. Dems and Reps argue a lot about the minute details of various political and economic issues. The abortion debate looks like a tug of war, with both sides trying gain an inch whenever they can. Gun control as well. Gay marriage is a neat binary issue with zero room for compromise, hence its sharp divisive effect on the American political scene.

However, I do see largely metapolitcal and philosophical differences between leftwing and rightwing ideologies. Haidt (2013) described political ideologies as similar to religions in that they include tenets, taboos and punishment for those who transgress. And demonization of "unbelievers".

(One of the chief problems I see in the US is that we really don't have a Left and a Right, but rather a Left and a retarded Left in the form of the Republican party. They resist new ideas, then accept them and then claim credit for things. MLK and civil rights come to mind. In the future, the Republicans will probably claim credit for gay marriage. )

Leftist ideology tends to promote equality, deny or seek to eradicate inequality and generally follows the Blank Slate model regarding human nature. Rightist thought typically accepts inequality as inherent in man and acknowledges that humans have an innate nature. Both the born again Christian and the Darwinian evolutionary pyschologist believe in a human nature that we are born with. The source and malleability of human nature is subject to variation among those groups.

You mentioned the Civil War previously and I think that is a good example of what I see as the core conflict here. It is not white vs. nonwhite so much as white vs. white. Puritan abolitionists against aristocratic Cavalier slave owners. The Ebola scare in the US had libs and cons going into their prescribed roles rather neatly. Conservative Americans expressed fear and anxiety about allowing (possibly) infected people into the US and Liberals spent much of their time attacking Cons as "racist" and "xenophobic" (not entirely innaccurate). Libs don't love the "brown people" so much as hate rednecks.

Europe has a few examples as well. PEGIDA and the counterprotests. UKIP gaining support while the media is opnely hostile to Farage. FN and Le Pen in France, who is gaining support among French Jews and gays (scratching my head on this one).

To sum up, I see much of these conflicts being intraracial. A strange tendency among northern European to rip each other to pieces over ideas.
I don`t deny that these positions of `conservative` and `liberal` (or left/right or whatever term is used) exist or claim that people don`t identify with them. My point (and I realize the hypocritical irony of me being the one to make it given my earlier use of phrases like `right wing paranoia`) is that in a debate over an objective issue of fact these things really have no relevance (or at least should have no relevance) to the question at hand. In part this is because these terms are used within the narrow confines of local/national politics and in relation to given sets of policies and political agendas. It is often pointed out that any party in Canada (or Europe) which ran on the same set of policies advocated by just about any Democratic presidential candidate of the past 40 years would be considered a far-right extremist group. Yet to an American like you even the Republican party seems too far `left`. I don't mean to say that either of these views is correct or incorrect, but merely to point out that this radical divergence in views as to what these terms means exists. This makes it difficult to have any meaningful dialogue if the debate is going to be defined in terms of a left/right divide when people across borders (or even within borders for that matter) have radically differing views as to where that divide exists, what policies it relates to and what its substantive content is. It also tends to degrade the quality of debate to either straw man arguments ("all liberals believe blah blah blah therefore they must be wrong") or to a cheap point-scoring style of debate that just goes nowhere.

Attempts to create a universally applicable definition just seem to fall into the problem of having to become so abstract or overly general that they tend to have little descriptive value (except within the confines of a specific debate in which the positions are relatively clearly defined - like gun control or abortion in the US). Like your attempt to divide the two based on differing views on equality (liberals in favor of it, conservatives fine with inequality). This is way too abstract to be of much use and moreover I don't think it accurately reflects the views of most people who profess to hold conservative or liberal views in the US. Most conservatives (this is just my impression) would probably say that they are 100% in favor of equality, but only with respect to opportunity. Everyone should play on a level playing field and whatever results they achieve should be purely determined by how well they do. This is a meritocratic principle deeply rooted in American culture which from its inception saw itself as emancipated from the aristrocratic society of Europe where there existed gross inequalities determined by birth rather than ability. Conversely there are not many liberals (again, just my impression) who would want to stamp out inequality of results. It seems to me that an acceptance of market based allocations of the rewards of economic activity based on merit is in fact a widely accepted tenet in American political discourse among liberals and conservatives alike, its just that the former want the government to provide more of a safety net to protect the losers in the competetive market (unemployed, etc).

In an earlier post you stated that you thought I was projecting certain views onto you which you hadn't actually claimed to hold, and looking back on it I think you were correct to point that out. In part this was due to the limitations of the internet forum as a place for debate - it is way easier to misinterpret things in this format - and partly due to me just getting myself too wound up. But it also (again, ironically) provides an illustrative case that demonstrates the above problems with approaching a debate with that left/right frame of mind.

steki47

Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by steki47 » Fri Feb 20, 2015 2:29 pm

senseiman wrote: This makes it difficult to have any meaningful dialogue if the debate is going to be defined in terms of a left/right divide when people across borders (or even within borders for that matter) have radically differing views as to where that divide exists, what policies it relates to and what its substantive content is.
Fair point. Right/Left seems a bit limited, perhaps an x and y axis scale would be better.

Other thoughts: Republicans in the US often joke about the "People's Republic of Canada" and similar jabs at socialist Europe but they are doing rather well. Maybe not all of Europe, though. I don't agree with this myself.

Also, this intellectual and political spectrum seems almost exclusively Western. Many Asian political leaders range from business capitalist to fascist nationalist. Even the Commies are ethno-nationalistic. Most American liberals would have no home in such places. In fact I think most Westerners have no basis for understanding most of the non-Western world. Westerners were watching the protests in Thailand and then realized they were protesting democracy and advocating a body of non-elected officials. Thailand got a police state.
senseiman wrote:This is a meritocratic principle deeply rooted in American culture which from its inception saw itself as emancipated from the aristrocratic society of Europe where there existed gross inequalities determined by birth rather than ability. Conversely there are not many liberals (again, just my impression) who would want to stamp out inequality of results.
However, what I see on some parts of the Left in the US is strong victim culture with little to no regard to meritocracy or recognition of agency and personal responsibility. I am definitely cherry picking here, but I have read pieces with titles such as "Nobel Prize Favors White Men", which to me completely ignores any sense that these white men did great things or even implies that the "white male patriarchy" is actively ignoring the achievements of blacks, women, etc. My own sense meriticracy and agency would say that these people should go out and do amazing things and the Nobel committee will find them. But, no, racism and sexism. This is not all the Left, but I have spent enough time around academics to hear these things a lot.
senseiman wrote:In an earlier post you stated that you thought I was projecting certain views onto you which you hadn't actually claimed to hold, and looking back on it I think you were correct to point that out. In part this was due to the limitations of the internet forum as a place for debate - it is way easier to misinterpret things in this format - and partly due to me just getting myself too wound up. But it also (again, ironically) provides an illustrative case that demonstrates the above problems with approaching a debate with that left/right frame of mind.
No prob. We are dealing with sensitive issues here. Thanks for the thoughts.

Noticed we cleared out the room.

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by senseiman » Fri Feb 20, 2015 3:13 pm

steki47 wrote:
Also, this intellectual and political spectrum seems almost exclusively Western. Many Asian political leaders range from business capitalist to fascist nationalist. Even the Commies are ethno-nationalistic. Most American liberals would have no home in such places. In fact I think most Westerners have no basis for understanding most of the non-Western world. Westerners were watching the protests in Thailand and then realized they were protesting democracy and advocating a body of non-elected officials. Thailand got a police state.
This is something that comes up a lot in international discourse with ideas like "Asian values" etc being held up as alternatives to western ideals. Taking a purely western approach to understanding political and other issues in some countries is a bit like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
steki47 wrote:However, what I see on some parts of the Left in the US is strong victim culture with little to no regard to meritocracy or recognition of agency and personal responsibility. I am definitely cherry picking here, but I have read pieces with titles such as "Nobel Prize Favors White Men", which to me completely ignores any sense that these white men did great things or even implies that the "white male patriarchy" is actively ignoring the achievements of blacks, women, etc. My own sense meriticracy and agency would say that these people should go out and do amazing things and the Nobel committee will find them. But, no, racism and sexism. This is not all the Left, but I have spent enough time around academics to hear these things a lot.
Well, I don't know. If the criticism in such pieces is more along the lines of "the system of education and funding of research (etc) puts women at a structural disadvantage and one piece of evidence of this is the lack of women receiving the Nobel prize" then I might agree with it, depending on what the substance of their criticism is. I wouldn't view that as a criticism of the recipients or a denigration of their work, or even that of the Nobel committee itself, but rather a critcism of these structural elements (ie de facto punishment of women in the research career ladder for having children, etc) which discourage female researchers from reaching that high level of achievement. Since women are intellectually no less capable than men of pursuing brilliant research one would expect that, if the playing field were even, you would see roughly equal numbers of women to be recipients. That they are not suggests something, not of their own fault, might be holding them back and I think it is reasonable to point this out.

On the other hand, one problem with such criticism of numbers is that the easiest solution to the perceived rather than the actual problem is just to resort to tolkien appointments. This doesn't really apply in regard to the Nobel prize, but it does in other areas. Appointments to the Board of Directors of major corporations in the US (and, perhaps in the near future Japan given Abe's stated policy) is a noticable one. When people started complaining about the lack of women on Boards, companies responded by appointing more women. The problem they faced though was a lack of a large pool of qualified female candidates on which to draw, so the few who were qualified quickly began to be appointed to numerous boards, so many in fact that it became highly questionable whether they could possibly be adequately fulfilling the functions of a director on all the boards they served on. On paper they could say "hey look, women! Problem solved!" but in reality it was largely just window dressing which served no purpose other than to deflect criticism.
steki47 wrote:Noticed we cleared out the room.
Well, in our defence it has been a pretty empty room for about the past 5 years or so. I imagine our post count just from this back-and-forth exchange is probably more than what everybody else cumulatively posted for the past 6 months.

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by steki47 » Fri Feb 20, 2015 3:43 pm

senseiman wrote: Since women are intellectually no less capable than men of pursuing brilliant research one would expect that, if the playing field were even, you would see roughly equal numbers of women to be recipients. That they are not suggests something, not of their own fault, might be holding them back and I think it is reasonable to point this out.
Don't really agree. If you look at mean IQ scores, men and women have the same mean IQ. The variance or distribution of scores is much wider with men, with women's scores being more tightly clustered around the mean. In the vernacular, men produce more geniuses and more idiots. Yes, we are overepresented in the sciences but men are also overpresented in fatal car accidents, homicide and the Darwin Awards. Testosterone, which gives men a predisposition towards aggression and risk-taking, is also a factor.

I also see evidence of innate (biological, heritable) differences in males and females. Female infants gaze longer at human faces while male infants gaze longer at geometric shapes. Male chimpanzee children play with trucks and little female chimps play with dolls.

*Please note I am relying on statistical models at examing general patterns. Lots of outliers. My aunt is a retired math teacher who leads bridge tournaments.

Now, this does not rule out that there is/was discrimination against women in certain professional/academic fields. Nor should a democratic, meritocratic society allow such discrimination. It does indicate that there are internal factors (the differing natures of men and women on avergae) and the disparaties can't be totally explained by sexism. What I fear from the Blank Slate Liberal crowd is that, since they are convinced these disparaties are 100% environmental or the result of discrimination, they will not be satisfied with anything less than perfect equally representation.

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by senseiman » Fri Feb 20, 2015 4:00 pm

steki47 wrote: Don't really agree. If you look at mean IQ scores, men and women have the same mean IQ. The variance or distribution of scores is much wider with men, with women's scores being more tightly clustered around the mean. In the vernacular, men produce more geniuses and more idiots. Yes, we are overepresented in the sciences but men are also overpresented in fatal car accidents, homicide and the Darwin Awards. Testosterone, which gives men a predisposition towards aggression and risk-taking, is also a factor.
Interesting, I admit to not being well versed in that area.
steki47 wrote:What I fear from the Blank Slate Liberal crowd is that, since they are convinced these disparaties are 100% environmental or the result of discrimination, they will not be satisfied with anything less than perfect equally representation.
This seems like a relatively trivial concern owing to the diminishing returns on the persuasiveness of such an argument (assuming this is a correct characterization of them). If they can say "Hey look, 95% of doctors are men, there is something wrong with that" then on its face that mere fact has some persuasiveness and people might be inclined to listen. If on the other hand all they can say is "Hey, look, 60% of doctors are men, there is something wrong with that" then people will just start tuning it out as relatively unimportant. Well, not that irrational ideas or arguments taken to logical extremes aren't capable of attracting a large following, but normally people start to raise questions before that happens (assuming no coercion/ perverse incentives exist).

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by steki47 » Fri Feb 20, 2015 4:17 pm

senseiman wrote: you yourself are defining the issue entirely in terms of race
I realize you wrote this in anger, but you are partially correct. While I realize the importance of political and economic systems, I see culture and race (which I view as a combination of cultural and biological characteristics) play a greater foundational role in creating a society. Or at the least there are multiple variables in play.

Among the Anglosphere (most of us here I assume) nations, I can see numerous differences: president vs. prime minister, socialism vs. capitalism and so on. Yet our cultures overlap tremendously. Humor is one example that jumps out at me. British comedy is widely enjoyed by many Americans (although my last American GF thought Monty Python was stupid), I watched a lot of Canadian TV as a child and loved every Australian movie I ever watched. Even with great translation, French and German movies don't have the same emotional impact on me. I still love old yakuza films of the 70s&80s.

I was recently reading a biography of Pol Pot. When the author documented the goals and actions of the Khmer Rouge, he made mention of Theravada Buddhism and its non-materialistic nature being reflected in the regime. It made me think of the strong contrast with the more industrious Vietnamese and the Confucianism that glorifies labor. Even as they were renouncing the reactionary past, they still reflected very traditional attitudes.

An Aussie friend lived in Canada for a few years and she commented that life was much the same, except for the food and weather. The people made sense to her and she socially clicked easily.

North and South Korea are both authoritarian hierarchal societies. Wildly different standards of living.

Many of our gaijin gripes here, particularly with regards to teaching is based on differences in cultures. Every Nova teacher complained about how quiet and shy the students could be and their reluctance to ask questions was quite annoying. Now I can see how very Japanese their behavior is. Working in JHS showed the process of Japanese are made, as it were. Still drives me batty, of course. I also don't think their behavior will change much anytime soon.

My point being that race/culture will often trump politics and economics. Or MEXT reforms.

steki47

Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by steki47 » Fri Feb 20, 2015 4:38 pm

senseiman wrote:This seems like a relatively trivial concern owing to the diminishing returns on the persuasiveness of such an argument (assuming this is a correct characterization of them). If they can say "Hey look, 95% of doctors are men, there is something wrong with that" then on its face that mere fact has some persuasiveness and people might be inclined to listen. If on the other hand all they can say is "Hey, look, 60% of doctors are men, there is something wrong with that" then people will just start tuning it out as relatively unimportant. Well, not that irrational ideas or arguments taken to logical extremes aren't capable of attracting a large following, but normally people start to raise questions before that happens (assuming no coercion/ perverse incentives exist).
What gets my goat on some of these arguments is the innumeracy and the misrepresenting of data.
http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2014 ... /11369019/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/2 ... 07338.html

The demographics of Google and Facebook are reported as "overwhelmingly" white when they are closer to being more or less representational and even a little underrepresented (57% of employees versus the 62% of the American population). Yes, blacks and Hispanics are underrepresented, but Asians are grossly overrepresented (34% versus 6% of the US). And the language used is always so tragic: lopsided, lack of diversity, stark picture.

Males are around 70% and these companies so that would be a 2-1 ratio at the office. I still see this as partially representing their respective positions at the higher ends of the IQ bell curve. Making up numbers, if 2 out of a million men can do a CS degree or a PhD in physics and 1 out of a million women can, we can predict some lopsided numbers. Still doesn't change the fact humans are underrepresented in these fields (paraphrasing Pinker here). Most people aren't smart enough to get those jobs.

I don't have a problem with trying to encourage more women and certain ethnic groups into studying science and IT, but I have noticed that Asian and white men don't require such special attention.

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by senseiman » Sat Feb 21, 2015 11:57 am

Yeah, I don't know, my reaction is kind of "meh". This sort of stuff just doesn't bother me at all. If Google wants to disclose this information and make such committments (note that they are under no legal obligation to do so) then I'm fine with that. It really strikes me more as a PR move than anything else - they are a highly visible brand that wants to look progressive to their customer base (or at least a segment thereof) and probably (given the numbers) it won't be a huge problem for them to make some changes that they can then use to show improvement. Good for them I say.

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by Kuronama » Sat Feb 21, 2015 4:39 pm

steki47 wrote:
Kuronama wrote: some kind of effort to struggle a bit to learn the common language spoken outside the ethnic bubble.
One could point out that some of the gaijin here don't speak much Japanese. Are the Chinese in Vancouver working as Mandarin teachers in an immersion program? Didn't think so.

By the way, in parts of the Southwest US, English proficiency is no longer required to serve on a jury. And in SF, kids are sent home for wearing American flags T-shirts because it could cause offense.

I understand why the Japanese are not in a rush to be colonized.

I'd say the difference is that the majority of those non-Japanese speaking gaijin are temp workers in Eikaiwa and return home after a year or two. Big difference here, where most living in the 'ethnoburbs' gain PR and plan to settle here - especially the older ones. \

How could English not be a requirement to serve on a jury?!

I agree with the point you make about 'colonization'. I'm for immigration - just not MASS immigration.


Oh, question for you guys: anybody having problems with posting? I seem to have some while quoting others... as in, I can't actually post my post :?

steki47

Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by steki47 » Sat Feb 21, 2015 5:43 pm

Kuronama wrote: I agree with the point you make about 'colonization'. I'm for immigration - just not MASS immigration.
The first big wave of immigration in the US was around 1890-1920.
Characteristics included:
1. A nation that was rapidly expanding economically and needed workers.
2. Overwhelmingly European, hence ultimately more assimiliable. Although there was nativist and xenophobic sentiments expressed. Labor unions complained.
3. There was a moratorium on it. The government took action to close the doors for awhile.
4. Many of them (not sure of the numbers here) went back home. The Great Depression hit and grandpa's farm back in Italy looked better.

Still can't compare this to Japan's situation now, of course.

The 1965 Immigration Act in the US (something similar in Canada as well) increased the numbers of people being let in and removed the nation of origin clause.

steki47

Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by steki47 » Sat Feb 21, 2015 5:48 pm

Speaking of racism in Japan, this article came my way:
http://goo.gl/tUqHdg

I find this more ridiculous than offensive, but maybe they shouldn't play on Fuji TV music festival.
vkXOzlZpVQwXJJl-800x450-noPad[1].jpg

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by senseiman » Sun Feb 22, 2015 11:13 am

I can see how that would be considered offensive. Its all in the eye of the beholder. The thing that comes to mind when I see that is Mickey Rooney's Mr. Yunioshi character in Breakfast at Tiffany's. It wasn't intended to be offensive at all, neither Mickey Rooney nor Blake Edwards had anything against Japanese, and I never noticed anything wrong with it until I watched that movie with a Japanese person sitting next to me on the sofa. She didn't say a word at all, but I felt so uncomfortable that I knew - this was a movie I could never watch the same again.

To go off on a tangent here since we are talking about language/ assimilation etc. I've noticed that since I first came to Japan in the late 90s there seem to have been some huge changes in the foreign population here. Back then it was almost assumed that when you met a foreigner, they probably couldn't speak much Japanese. Now it seems like all the foreigners I meet at a minimum can get by in Japanese, and many are quite fluent (some more so than me, which is embarassing given how long I have been here). When I meet resident foreigners from non-English countires now our lingua franca is usually Japanese rather than English. The only foreigners I meet who can't speak Japanese at all are basically tourists, not residents.

A second thing is that it seems the stereotypical "23 year old Eikaiwa teacher just here for a year or two" is a much rarer species than he (or she, but more often he) used to be. I guess with NOVA and GEOS gone (mostly) that kind of makes sense. On the rare occasion when I do meet actual English teachers these days they are mostly older, long term residents who are running their own schools and speak Japanese pretty well.

I'm not sure if this is just related to my experience (I'm not an English teacher anymore so I am surrounded by different people than I was in my GEOS/AEON days) but it seems like this might be a general thing. Way more people are studying Japanese, way fewer avenues exist for short term Eikaiwa teachers to come (and most of those spots are probably being taken by people who have studied Japanese). Meanwhile the number of foreign students at Japanese univerisites has taken off in the past decade.

steki47

Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by steki47 » Sun Feb 22, 2015 12:46 pm

senseiman wrote:To go off on a tangent here since we are talking about language/ assimilation etc. I've noticed that since I first came to Japan in the late 90s there seem to have been some huge changes in the foreign population here. Back then it was almost assumed that when you met a foreigner, they probably couldn't speak much Japanese. Now it seems like all the foreigners I meet at a minimum can get by in Japanese, and many are quite fluent (some more so than me, which is embarassing given how long I have been here). When I meet resident foreigners from non-English countires now our lingua franca is usually Japanese rather than English. The only foreigners I meet who can't speak Japanese at all are basically tourists, not residents.

I'm noticing that as well in my area, Gifu. A lot of the twentysomethings coming over here are already somewhat proficient in Japanese, largely due to interest in video games/anime/manga. Many of them studied the language in university, and I have heard that Japanese is increasing at some universities in the US.

I share that embarrassment. Been here 10+ years and still only intermediate. One of my new year's resolution was to improve my Japanese. Not leaving anytime. May have to make myself watch more Japanese TV. Ugh.

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by senseiman » Sun Feb 22, 2015 6:53 pm

steki47 wrote: I'm noticing that as well in my area, Gifu. A lot of the twentysomethings coming over here are already somewhat proficient in Japanese, largely due to interest in video games/anime/manga. Many of them studied the language in university, and I have heard that Japanese is increasing at some universities in the US.

I share that embarrassment. Been here 10+ years and still only intermediate. One of my new year's resolution was to improve my Japanese. Not leaving anytime. May have to make myself watch more Japanese TV. Ugh.
Yeah, its kind of interesting the way Japanese language study has taken off despite it being a relatively useless language in terms of career options for most university grads (well, not entirely useless, but there are way more opportunities for a Chinese speaker, etc).

My problem is that I spent my formative Japanese language years (during my 20s) mainly studying for the JLPT. So I can read Japanese fine, and follow conversations fine, but I constantly find myself tripping over the simplest sentences when speaking it (well, not in day to day conversations, but in any formal situation or where I need to express a complex idea,etc). I use Japanese daily at work, but my career would massively benefit from being able to speak it more fluently. Nearing 40 years old I`m not sure how much improvement I can make though...my brain ain`t as young as it used to be.

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by MacGyver » Sun Feb 22, 2015 8:50 pm

senseiman wrote:Yeah, its kind of interesting the way Japanese language study has taken off despite it being a relatively useless language in terms of career options for most university grads (well, not entirely useless, but there are way more opportunities for a Chinese speaker, etc).
In NAM, maybe but it has been "popular" (for a lack of a better word) in Oz since the 80s.

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by steki47 » Mon Feb 23, 2015 9:24 am

The uni kids I meet that studied Japanese seem to be more of the otaku kind rather than the MBA types that studied Japanese in the 80s. Bubble popped twenty years ago, but Japanese pop culture still has a big draw with the twentysomethings I work with.

I never got into manga or anime so I am unable to follow or really care about their conversations. Perhaps I should read some more manga.

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by MacGyver » Mon Feb 23, 2015 10:07 am

steki47 wrote:The uni kids I meet that studied Japanese seem to be more of the otaku kind rather than the MBA types that studied Japanese in the 80s. Bubble popped twenty years ago, but Japanese pop culture still has a big draw with the twentysomethings I work with.
Again, that might be true with the NAM demographic but not Oz. The kids studying now are not dissimilar to the ones that I studied with in the 80s and 90s. You could argue that maybe there were more studying back then for a job/work purposes, but the fact is J pop culture has been popular in Oz for a long time. I remember going to a "video night" at a uni cinema on a Friday night back in the early 90s (was either '90, '91, or '93) and the place was packed with a few hundred late teens, early 20-somethings watching anime. The guy I went with, while he was your stereotypical game-playing, computer science studying geek, he never studied Japanese. Just loved anime I guess. My 18 year old niece is doing Japanese and has done since she was about 8. I don't think she's into the manga/anime stuff much but she loves J pop (and K pop too) and lots of Asian pop culture in general.
steki47 wrote:I never got into manga or anime so I am unable to follow or really care about their conversations. Perhaps I should read some more manga.
Like you I was never into anime or manga (the video night I mention above, even though it was every Friday night, I only went that one time), which made me somewhat of a rarity at the time. My comic book reading days ended with the Phantom when I was about 12 or 13. Ironically, every month I translate a manga. I'm sure for most J studying J geeks it would be a dream come true, hell there are that many fan translation sites I'm sure many do it for free, but for me it is a bit of a nightmare. I don't really enjoy it and I don't find it interesting in the least. I only do it because I figure it is good for me to do something that is a bit more creative than the technical and business stuff I normally do. TBH, it's not that hard for the most part; it's just the onomatopoeia that kills me.

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by steki47 » Mon Feb 23, 2015 2:13 pm

In grad school I read about the foreign language program in Australian schools. LOTE (Languages Other Than English) was introduced at both the junior and senior high school levels. I also heard there was a shortage of Japanese teachers in Australia. Made me wonder if I could get a visa and teach Japanese in Australia.

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by MacGyver » Mon Feb 23, 2015 2:36 pm

steki47 wrote:In grad school I read about the foreign language program in Australian schools. LOTE (Languages Other Than English) was introduced at both the junior and senior high school levels. I also heard there was a shortage of Japanese teachers in Australia. Made me wonder if I could get a visa and teach Japanese in Australia.
How it works, at least it did back in the 80s when I went to high school (in Oz, most secondary schools are both jnr and snr high; used to be 7 yrs primary, 3 yrs middle/jnr high school, 2 yrs non-compulsory snr high but I believe it is now 6, 4, 2), is that in your first year of high school you do a language, most school have 2 but I'm sure there are probably schools with more or less, there would be few schools with none; at my school you did a semester of each language, which were Italian and Japanese. You then choose if you want to do one or not. Basically from your second year it is an elective. I actually started Japanese in my last year of primary school and I believe that now they start even earlier (as I say, my niece started when she was 8). I'm sure you could get a job teaching Japanese at school in Australia. As you say, the visa would be the hard part but it wouldn't surprise me if there was a shortage considering how extensive the system is. A friend of mine, who is a trained teacher, went back to Oz a few years back and started off teaching Japanese to primary kids in a country town. The town had three schools and I believe he rotated between them. He's now doing Phys. Ed. which is what he trained in at uni back in the day.

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by steki47 » Mon Feb 23, 2015 4:04 pm

MacGyver wrote: I'm sure you could get a job teaching Japanese at school in Australia. As you say, the visa would be the hard part but it wouldn't surprise me if there was a shortage considering how extensive the system is.
From the article I read, many of the teachers were Australians whose Japanese levels were not very high. Only one was a native speaker of Japanese who married an Aussie.

I'm an American of course but I met a few Americans who were teaching down under. Just a random dream I get in the winter.

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by Kuronama » Tue Feb 24, 2015 5:23 am

steki47 wrote:
MacGyver wrote: I'm sure you could get a job teaching Japanese at school in Australia. As you say, the visa would be the hard part but it wouldn't surprise me if there was a shortage considering how extensive the system is.
From the article I read, many of the teachers were Australians whose Japanese levels were not very high. Only one was a native speaker of Japanese who married an Aussie.

I'm an American of course but I met a few Americans who were teaching down under. Just a random dream I get in the winter.

I think the main thing you'd need to do would be to apply to and complete the teacher training program in Aus. Canada and Australia, I'm pretty sure, have transferable credentials, and I met one guy at the Canadian embassy years ago in Tokyo who completed such a program in Australia. Think he was working in Hiroshima at the time, not sure if he'd planned on returning to Aus in the future to teach though...

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by steki47 » Tue Feb 24, 2015 9:28 am

Kuronama wrote: I think the main thing you'd need to do would be to apply to and complete the teacher training program in Aus.
Teah, I read that is a one-year program. Probably not going to happen. It was a fleeting thought when I was in grad school and visite Oz for an awesome two-week vacation. Missed the Fukushima quake as I was in the West End in Brisbane knocking back pints with friends. Plus, I have no idea what my wife would do.

We are both frustrated with our jobs and grumbling a bit.

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by Kuronama » Tue Feb 24, 2015 1:56 pm

steki47 wrote:
Kuronama wrote: I think the main thing you'd need to do would be to apply to and complete the teacher training program in Aus.
Teah, I read that is a one-year program. Probably not going to happen. It was a fleeting thought when I was in grad school and visite Oz for an awesome two-week vacation. Missed the Fukushima quake as I was in the West End in Brisbane knocking back pints with friends. Plus, I have no idea what my wife would do.

We are both frustrated with our jobs and grumbling a bit.

Yah, I guess the older you get the harder it gets. Wife and I did a working holiday in OZ a number of years back, splitting our time between the Gold Coast and Sydney (holiday in GC and work in Sydney). It was great, minus the expensive food and massive cockroaches. My wife found work easily in Sydney, and even in Canada managed to find work quickly - much easier than me in both countries. If you had a student visa, she could always get a work/family visa I'm guessing, and with lots of work experience in Japan might be able to get something related in either Sydney, Melbourne and maybe even Brisbane. Have you ever considered doing a Phd?

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by steki47 » Tue Feb 24, 2015 4:44 pm

Kuronama wrote: Have you ever considered doing a Phd?
I have but I don't think it would be worth it at this point. My MS hasn't paid off for me yet (as in getting a better job). A PhD is a huge investment and I am not sure I would get the ROI being in my 40s.

I still have an intellectual itch to scratch so I am looking at research projects and hobbies while teaching in Japan. These last few days talking with senseiman and you have been great! Thanks!

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by Kuronama » Tue Feb 24, 2015 5:47 pm

steki47 wrote:
Kuronama wrote: Have you ever considered doing a Phd?
I have but I don't think it would be worth it at this point. My MS hasn't paid off for me yet (as in getting a better job). A PhD is a huge investment and I am not sure I would get the ROI being in my 40s.

I still have an intellectual itch to scratch so I am looking at research projects and hobbies while teaching in Japan. These last few days talking with senseiman and you have been great! Thanks!

No prob, man. I'm kinda the same as you - thought about the possibility of doing a Phd, but as you said, it is a huge investment. Currently I'm about halfway through my MA. Did you have to do a dissertation/thesis, or was it 100% coursework? Any tips if you did complete a diss/thesis?

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by senseiman » Tue Feb 24, 2015 11:10 pm

A Phd is really only worthwhile if you intend to pursue a career in academia, otherwise it is kind of superfluous. I did one and am happy with how things have gone, but I don`t know if I would recommend it for others - I am nearly 40 now and only recently have I managed to get our financial situation back to what it was when I was in my mid-20s. About half of people who start a Phd don`t finish, and with academic jobs today increasingly being part time adjunct positions with low pay/no security it is hard to justify in economic terms, its more something you do for the love of it.

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by steki47 » Wed Feb 25, 2015 9:21 am

senseiman wrote:A Phd is really only worthwhile if you intend to pursue a career in academia, otherwise it is kind of superfluous.
I looked into some Phd programs as I am in academia. If teaching Engrish in Japan qualifies as academia, that is. Still not sure that massive investment of time and money would pay off professionally at this point. Very expensive ego stroking. Would rather hit the gym.

In any case, congrats on completing yours. Impressed!

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Re: The Assorted Fruits and Nuts Thread

Unread post by steki47 » Wed Feb 25, 2015 9:24 am

Kuronama wrote: Did you have to do a dissertation/thesis, or was it 100% coursework? Any tips if you did complete a diss/thesis?
I did not take the thesis option and stuck to all coursework. I decided to put my energy into independent research instead. I wrote up a presentation on team teaching which I have delivered four times last year. Now writing up a research question and some Likert scale questionnaires.

Sorry, what is your MA?

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