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What to do with one’s own life is a common question in your 20s and 30s. The question itself is so loud that the answer is difficult to hear. Read »

If socializing was about playing music, how it would manifest politically. Read »

Men can focus solely on their productive lives, and if they succeed, everything else will follow. On the other hand, with women, their value in the career market is a separate issue from their value in the marketplace of mating, so they must pay attention to both independently. Ironically, for most women, paying more attention to the latter is more effective in achieving a “happy” life in a banal sense of the word. This type of banal happiness is often dismissed by those who see themselves to be beyond it, but it is for most of us a prerequisite for all other types of happiness. This is reflected in the recent trend of online dating services where people are willing to pay over 20 dollars a month for the service, which most other online services can only dream of. Read »

In the past 10 years or so, I have been noticing a gradual increase in the number of over-the-counter services asking for tips. I first encountered this practice at Katz’s Deli here in New York. It happened to be the first time I had gone there, even though I have been walking by there almost every day for over 10 years. They have a unique system for ordering which involves taking a ticket at the entrance. This confused me a bit, but I eventually managed to get to the counter, behind which there were about 10 guys slicing, grilling, slapping, and wrapping all kinds of meat. I asked for a pastrami sandwich. Read »

The Polish diner on Avenue A and 2nd Street, one of the last of its kind, finally closed its door. Read »

Aries II was a mysterious cafe. It was always empty. It came and went very quickly. It was owned by an Eastern European guy (Croatian, I think) who hardly spoke any English. Read »

Once a location has a bad restaurant, it is cursed forever. It is very difficult to reverse this curse. 77 Saint Marks Place was one such place, until La Palapa, a Mexican restaurant, came and took the curse away. Read »

Racism in Japan manifests differently from it does in truly multi-racial countries like the US. As I have said in my past essays, there are two independent forms of racism: unconscious/psychological racism and conscious/ideological racism. They must be addressed separately. We are all racists to a degree in the former sense of the term. In the latter case, we choose to be or not to be a racist. Without distinguishing these forms of racism, we cannot effectively analyze racism in Japan. On one hand, Japanese people can be exceedingly nice to foreigners, but on the other, they can be as rude as any nation can be. Read »

In our late teens to early twenties, we must deal a lot with our own feelings of angst, insecurity, and frustration, and they are often exacerbated by the expectations of the older generations, because the latter often cannot communicate effectively to the former. Many of them feel that their empirical wisdom is inexplicable, so they do not even try. They would say, “You’ll understand once you are my age.” Such expressions feel dismissive to the youths, even if there are no bad intensions. This problem is compounded by the fact that some adults do have negative intensions, and try to make the youths feel naive. This happens because the youths can threaten the adults with their physical and logical superiority. Read »

Star Wars seems to suffer from the same misunderstanding that afflicts Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment”. Star Wars is a story of Anakin Skywalker, his spiritual quest and transformation, told in a form of science fiction. Dostoevsky explored the same theme in a form of crime/suspense fiction. Somehow many viewers and readers fail to see this central theme of their work. Read »

These are actual phrases that people typed in at Google to get here. Some of them are understandable, but others are just plain weird. Read »

In my 20’s, I was always craving to “hang out”. After work, I would go straight to my friend Nadav’s apartment and spend a whole evening hanging out with other friends who commuted to Nadav’s every night. We would watch TV or play video games while bingeing on beers. Nothing productive. Nothing constructive. We just sat around watching the clock go around and around. Now I think back, it seems wasteful, but I don’t regret it. Our 20’s are, in many ways, about a sense of belonging. Part of the process of defining who you are, is to find where you belong. It is ironic that after spending a whole decade trying to find your identity by struggling to belong somewhere, you find that to know who you truly are, is to know that you don’t really belong anywhere. That is, you are you; any differences or similarities that you see are only in your head. Anyone can be similar to you or different from you depending on which aspects you focus on. Read »

It seems that as we live longer physically, we age quicker mentally. Especially now with our technologically driven economy, we are made to feel that the people in their late 20?s through early 30?s run the world; everyone else is riding on their wagon. I notice now that any inadvertent implication of someone being “old” is swiftly followed by an apology or by an attempt at an explanation of how it was meant “in a good way.” I wonder if this perception of age has always existed, or if this is a recent phenomenon. Read »

Language is a grid system that you lay over the reality in order to understand and communicate with others effectively. That is, it is like laying a grid over a piece of abstract painting in order to make the discussion of it easier. An odd phenomenon that happens with this is that sooner or later, the grid system takes over the reality. The painting itself becomes secondary to the grid. It takes on a life of its own. This is a “reversal of the over-heated medium” phenomenon where the effect is taken as the cause. Read »

Why Flash is unnecessary in most situations. Read »

When you have an access to a DV cam, it’s tempting to make your own movie, but it’s too much hassle. It’s better to just write treatments. Read »

Before I discuss the future of the Internet, I’d like to briefly talk about how I ended up here. Although I have lived in America much of my life, I’m not a typical Asian American because I was not born here. Psychologically, I don’t feel like an American any more than I feel like I’m Japanese. I was born and raised in Japan until I was 17, then moved by myself to California through an exchange program. In retrospect, my high school years were very interesting. I was a typical Asian nerd, much like Long Duk Dong in the movie “Sixteen Candles.” Though there were many Asian Americans in my high school, none of them bothered to talk to me. It’s quite obvious now why they didn’t. After all, I was contributing to the stereotype of Asians being nerdy. Perhaps, some of them even had a feeling of anger towards me. Remember, this is the mid-Eighties: there was no Chow Yun-Fat or Jet Li. Our only representative who wasn’t a nerd was Bruce Lee. So, since most of the Asian-Americans I met did not want to be seen as nerds, I was alienated from my own people. In fact, I’ve never felt Asian Americans to be “my” people. This lack of sense of belonging is something that continues to this day. Read »

I must be getting old. Watching “Naked Chef” makes me dizzy. The continuous extreme close-up and the jerky motion of it make my eyes tired. I remember the days when all the adults around me would complain about the same thing when I watched MTV. Not so long ago, as a motion graphics designer, I would design a piece where each clip was no longer than a few frames (on NTSC TV, there are 30 frames in a second). I thought that was cool. Now I don’t. In fact I can hardly take it. Read »

Trying to write grammatically correct sentences without making any sense is quite difficult. This is the result of my attempt. Read »

There is a new show on Food Network called “A Cook’s Tour” in which Anthony Bourdain, the executive chef of Les Halles in New York, travels around the world experiencing exotic local cuisines. Until I saw this program, I had never heard of Anthony Bourdain. He seemed like an interesting guy, so I looked further into who he was. He became famous for his book “Kitchen Confidential” which comically describes what it is like to be part of the restaurant culture in New York. He had published two fictional books prior to it, but they did not achieve the same kind of success that “Kitchen Confidential” enjoyed. Read »

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