When leaving the residence, this morning, I found a note in my mailbox.

Under a delightful MS-Word Clipart-esque depiction of what your mum’s 60’s medicine cabinet might have looked like, sat an ominous “Urgent Warning” about the evils of (illegal) drugs, in big bold red letters. Promising resident researchers somewhat decreased health and much decreased freedom of movement, should they choose to ignore said warning during their stay in Japan.

The thoughts going through my head were, in that order:

  1. “What’s so ‘urgent’ about that warning? drugs are bad? Quick, somebody gets the message to Syd Barrett and Janis Joplin before it’s too late.”
  2. “You mean there are drugs within a 300 mile radius from here?”
  3. “Wait, what is this note doing in my mailbox. OH MY GOD THEY ARE ONTO ME!!!”
  4. “No, seriously, where are the drugs? And how come nobody’s told me anything?”

a.k.a. The Long Overdue Life-Update

The three people still reading this blog on a regular basis (two of which possibly paid by the Chinese government after some bizarre translation mix-up convinced them I was a dangerous political dissident to be monitored) might have noticed the lack of substantial news on this blog for quite a long time. OK: even less substantial content than usual.

I also realise that the lack of proper context as to my whereabouts made a lot of past blog entries somewhat puzzling. If this can make you feel any better, I am pretty sure that my own genitors have had only the faintest sense of my exact location, occupation or plans, ever since I was last sighted, putting a finishing touch to my grand World Domination Plot Master Thesis.

In fact, it took all that time for the plan set in motion nearly a year ago to finally reach its final stage (tonight).

Maybe I’m the last Japanese student on earth to discover that, but learning the Japanese etymology of the English word “tycoon” today felt like a mini-epiphany.

It was both rather unexpected and yet blindingly obvious in retrospect: 大君 [‘taikun’] was the title used by the Shogun in his relations with foreign dignitaries.

As a funny sidenote: 「君」[‘kun’], which I believe used to be a term of honour (“Master” etc.) is nowadays mostly used in Japanese to address young schoolboys (come to think of it, exactly as the English word ‘master’). Which would make the literal meaning of 大君 to be “Big boy”… Not quite the most imposing title you could find.

This morning, upon hearing Pet Shop Boys’ cover of Go West playing on the stereo:

H.: Hey, I’ve heard that song before, it’s a famous soccer game anthem, innit…

Dave: Yea, funny that… considering it’s probably the gayest song ever recorded…

H.: Ehh?

Dave: The song is inviting young guys to move to sexually liberated San Francisco of the late 70’s in order to live peacefully their gay lifestyle.. The only way it could have been more openly gay is by including the phone number for a few bathhouses in the Castro.

H.: You don’t say? Who sings that song?

Dave: Well, this version is a cover by the Pet Shop Boys who are quite gay, but the original was sung by the Village People…

H. Oh yea, I’ve heard of them!

Dave: And you know they weren’t exactly playing for the ladies themselves, right?

H.: Huh?

Dave: C’mon now… They were nothing if not one long drawn-out joke on gay stereotypes.

H.: Woa… I didn’t know that…

I guess, considering the Japanese’s rather confused approach to western gay iconography, one might easily be forgiven on that one…

Still: gotta love the unintended irony that brings some of the least gay-friendly people on earth to belt out such a song with recurring enthusiasm.

In the original Lost season, the producers had gone the cheap way and cast a rather poor Frenchwoman knock-off who could barely read her lines phonetically.

In the last season, the bunch of French castaways is actually played by real French-speaking actors. Except this time one of them has a very thick Quebecois accent (for a vague English equivalent, try to imagine something like a Californian character played with a strong accent from Ontario).

I just received notification of clearance for login access to the institute’s Super Computer Lab. I have the computing power of a few thousand CPUs laying at my fingertips, waiting for orders…

Can’t wait to see how fast Unreal Tournament runs on a cluster of CRAYs.

Now we’ll see who gets that top score on the SETI@Home project.

“This will greatly help me compute substrate cleavage point predictions for this new set of data in reasonable time, thanks.”

The nice thing about moving in just a couple weeks before fiscal year end?

Sensei: About your work machine… basically, pick anything you’d like and let me know. You have an unlimited budget.


Sensei: Mmn. Actually… It would be better if you stay under a million yen.

Dave: For one laptop…?

Sensei: Yes.

I wonder if Apple offers a diamond-incrusted version of its latest 17″.