In Japan, robot dogs can rest in peace
ISUMI (Japan) – Incense smoke wafts through the cold air of the centuries-old Buddhist temple as a priest chants a sutra, praying for the peaceful transition of the souls of the departed.
It is a funeral like any other in Japan. Except that the “dead” are robot dogs, lined up on the altar, with tags to show where they came from and which family each belonged to. They are “AIBOs”, the world’s first home-use entertainment robots equipped with artificial intelligence and capable of developing their own personality.
“I believe owners feel they have souls as long as they are with them,” said Mr Nobuyuki Narimatsu who heads an electronics repair company specialising in fixing vintage products.
Continue reading ‘万物有灵’
Published Wednesday, 25 February, 2015
linguistics , nine-to-five
While editing an article at work today, I was searching Thesaurus.com for a synonym for experience, and somehow bumped into apologue – which I had never seen before. Alas, it was not the right word I had been seeking!
Published Tuesday, 24 February, 2015
culture , finance
I was looking at the designs of the hongbaos that I received this year, and noticed that one with blossoms (peach? cherry? plum? they all look alike!) was from Citibank – which is called 花旗银行 in Chinese!
Published Saturday, 21 February, 2015
adventures , les amis
Today I visited my friend Joanne, ate lots of nice food, learnt how to play baccarat, and my wallet was $5 lighter after the game ended a few hours later. :D
Published Thursday, 19 February, 2015
And the Year of the Goat (or Ram or Sheep) is finally upon us!!! Have a great and prosperous Chinese New Year!!! Mehhhhhhhhhhhh!!! :D
Published Sunday, 15 February, 2015
amusings , gastronomy , la famiglia , ma maison
About three more days to Chinese New Year, but my family has nearly finished our entire stash of festive goodies: pineapple tarts, cookies and our aunt’s cashew nuts! Only two pineapple tarts, a handful of love letters, and an unopened container of cookies are left…… oh and some bak kwa hidden deep in the freezer and safely away from the very hungry caterpillars!!! :D
On 29 January, my friend K wrote this on his Facebook wall:
Nangka is jackfruit.
Chempedak is _________ ?
Naturally, I replied, ‘jillfruit!!! :P’
At least half of Hong Kong movies today are co-produced with mainland organizations, and screenwriters here are also having to toe the Beijing line. “That’s why we usually make ‘ancient swordsman’ films, or stories that happen in the period before the founding of the New China,” the Hong Kong screenwriter explained. He meant that you can show something negative in mainland China only so long as it happened before the Communist revolution in 1949 — but be careful not to portray that period as a golden era, because for that you might get censored.
Can a good story be written under such conditions? It’s difficult. Some screenwriters have managed through cunning: One director squeaked a crime movie set in Hong Kong past the censors after claiming the action took place before the transfer in 1997, while the territory was still under the rule of those evil Brits.
I found this article on the Middle Kingdom’s film industry both sad and amusing. Click here to read ‘China’s Crime-Free Crime Films’!
Published Sunday, 25 January, 2015
anthropology , culture , history
Several days ago I went on one of my usual Wikipedia jaunts, clicking from link to link, going through members of mediaeval European royalty, when I came across this interesting person – John Blanke!
Published Sunday, 18 January, 2015
amusings , movies , overheard
Kang Hao, Ming Zhen and I decided to watch Into the Woods at Filmgarde in Bugis+ this afternoon. I volunteered to go slightly earlier to purchase tickets, but alas, when it was my turn, only front row seats were left.
So I quickly decided to switch to Birdman. However, it just so happened that it was rated M18, and the young Malay woman at the box office absolutely, obstinately and steadfastly refused to sell me the tickets until all my friends were present and could show her IDs. Goodness! In any case, we’re all almost a decade past 18! So I guess that’s saying something! :D
As for Birdman, I went into the cinema not knowing what to expect. The film was about a washed-up movie star who wanted to stage a comeback by directing and acting in a Broadway production, and he tensions between members of the crew. There were lighthearted moments, but it was not a comedy. To complicate matters, what was shown on screen was often not what it really seemed. Very postmodern and meta. Overall, I thought it was a bit too highbrow for my plebeian tastes, though I still can’t decide whether I like it or not!
Published Sunday, 18 January, 2015
I came across the unfamiliar term amphora in a comment on a friend’s Facebook wall, and naturally googled. The word usually means ‘a type of ceramic vase with two handles‘, but has a whole host of other meanings as well!
One of my friends, B, who teaches at a top secondary school, posted this on Facebook on 6 January:
exasperatedly, I asked my class how come they’ve forgotten so many of the rhetorical devices we’ve taught them almost every year for three years now:
“Remember metaphors? Anaphora?”
Boy: “Huh? I only know Sephora.”
(Incidentally, while I did learn about metaphors in secondary school, I only learnt about anaphora in university……!)
Continue reading ‘aloha anaphora’
Published Saturday, 17 January, 2015
culture , linguistics
A lagniappe is ‘something given as a bonus or gratuity’. When I first saw this word, I thought it looked kinda Frenchy, and I was quite right! Check out its interesting etymology here!
Published Saturday, 10 January, 2015
Last night, I read this Quora topic and found out about James Harrison, or the Man with the Golden Arm. A truly amazing man indeed!
Published Thursday, 8 January, 2015
gastronomy , linguistics
McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets come in four shapes: the ball, the bone, the bell, and the boot! I had always thought that the nuggets’ shapes were completely random!