Archive for March, 2007

Assorted Links

1. Undercover economist on marriage and finding "the one".
2. Interesting way to improve your memory and recall accuracy.
3. Good moral for people who love gadget lover.
4. Trick of the trade for different professions.
5. Here’s my favorite one for the past week: Will Wright’s Keynote on games and movies.
A few interesting bits:
… I look at the world as a simulation. Here’s a world stage. Lots of
things cascade into the next stage. And certain things cause changes 
in other things…

…Movies have these wonderful things called actors, which are like
emotional avatars, and you kinda feel what they’re feeling, it’s very
effective. Films have a rich emotional palette because they have
actors. Games often appeal to the reptilian brain – fear, action – but
they have a different emotional palette. There are things you feel in
games – like pride, accomplishment, guilt even! – that you’ll never
feel in a movie…

…I studied Montessori’s philosophy and methods. She basically wanted
kids to explore the world themselves using toys and objects, learning
the meaning of things… and I want to build a game where a player is
going to come across the Copernican Principle, say, and you walk away
thinking of the meaning of life. Or what the future might take…

…This is a very powerful thing, an amplifier for imagination…We
use computers for entertainment, education, social spaces. How is this
going to impact the world going forward? Every now and then the world
goes through a huge paradigm shift… sometimes by social shifts,
sometimes only once or twice in a lifetime. Some are grass roots, some
are top down, and some take us by surprise….


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Ka-Wing visit

Ka-Wing’s staying over at my place for a few days. I guess it’s probably a good time for me to take a break before getting back to my thesis and exams preparation. Today we walked around London (literally) from Borough to Bankside, Covent Garden, Soho, Oxford circus, China town, Westminster, and dropped by Bourough Market, National Portrait Gallery, National Art Gallery, LSE, British Musuem, London Eye, and Big Ben. Altogether we probably walked around 7 hours, good calories burning for me, but perhaps a bit tough for my poor young friend who doesn’t need the exercise (by the way, I’ll post the result of my diet challenge soon). I posted some of the photos we took today. Most scenary pictures were taken by him except one (you can try to guess), and obviously we took each other’s photos. And for people who followed my previous story, we went to the Japanese restaurant again, and the people were suprisingly nice to me (or perhaps they’ve forgotten me), so we had a satisfying lunch there and Ka-Wing liked the foods as well. I plan to try a new restaurant tomorrow and a dessert shop tomorrow, and I guess I’ll take it easy tomorrow (in terms of travel), otherwise I’ll feel guilty to make my friend loss weight while visiting me in London.

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I went to a Japanese restaurant in China town with two American friends and had a free lunch. The restaurant is known for serving foods with reasonable quality in large portions and at low prices, so there’s usually a long line waiting in front of restaurant at any given time. The services and attitudes of the waiters are generally bad but given the price/quality/quantity combination, it’s a place I revisit.


So how did I end up with a free lunch? My friends and I each ordered a main dish. On top of that, one friend also ordered a sushi dish that he believed was not fresh based on the appearance (he didn’t try it) and his past experience (we both lived in Japan and tried lots of sushi). So he told a waiter he wanted to cancel the dish. The waiter believed the sushi’s fine (it looked fine to me as well, but I couldn’t tell without trying it) and said the dish will be charged even if not consumed.


Given the US’s customers-centric belief, my friend found that unacceptable and said he’d walk out at that moment if he were to charge for it. So after some heated exchanges and the waiters’ consultation with managers, they decided to get us out. All this happened while I was enjoying my bento set. I told them I’m satisfied with my food and am going to pay for it (given they let me finish the food of course), but they didn’t want that and wanted us out. So I had a free lunch, and I should be grateful the quarrel started late enough that I could at least finished half of my food (I should have eaten that last piece of salmon).


Now a bit of economics, the economists are still right that there’s no free lunch (it’s only free on our part, not for them). After walking out of the shop, I initially thought their decision was irrational. They could have just lost the income from one small side dish and get money from our main dishes and drinks (and they’d probably resell the sushi dish later given my friend didn’t touch it), instead they decided to forego all the income, not to mention the potential revisit of the consumers and negative evaluations. But given more thoughts, I think it could be a rational behaviour after all. As I mentioned, the shop is never lack of customers, so there’re little incentives for them to encourage revisit through good services (they’re confident in their price/quantity/quality combo and the long lines prove they’re right). So it’s reasonable to assume that the psychological benefits they obtained were greater than the cost of losing sales and the potential sales.


There’re probably cultural factors involved as well. From my perspective as an Asian, I would find my friend’s behaviour unacceptable as well if I were the waiter unless someone has actually tasted the food and found it bad. I think the frame of reference is different for the two cultures. For the US, the customers seem to have the right to decide whether foods are in an acceptable quality and could decide not to pay for it if that’s the belief. But for us (at least for me and the shop), we tend to think that once something’s ordered, we’ve the obligation to pay for it, unless we could prove that the quality’s bad (even in that case, it’d still depend on which aspects of the quality, if it’s not health-related concern, most Asians would probably still put up with it and pay for it, but never order it again). Given my friend didn’t try the food and the cheap price of the shop; it’s really subjective to judge whether a sushi dish is of acceptable quality. So I wouldn’t side with my friend this time and that difference arises from our different beliefs of consumer rights. But thanks to him I had a free lunch.


So if you want to have a free lunch in China town, go to Misato (the Japanese shop) with a US friend, order your meal plus a side dish, and then say the side dish is of unacceptable quality (or not what you expected), but remember to do this after you finish or almost finish your meal. There you go, a free lunch.

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I just watched the first part of the anime “秒速5センチメートル(5 Centimeters per Second)” directed by Shinkai Makoto. Shinkai Makoto’s one of my favorite anime makers. The illustrations in his anime are beautiful, with good background music, script, and animation. I’m particularly attracted to the theme in his anime (e.g. The Promised Place Beyond the Clouds, Voices of the Distant Stars). Many of his themes surround distance, loneliness, and connection between couples. I guess I like them as things he portrays seem to be the kind of beauty I’m searching for.

Here’s the theme song of the anime I recently translated:

【One more time, One more chance】by Yamazaki Masayoshi

Link of the song on YouTube

どれ程の痛みならば もういちど君に会える
One more time 季節ようつろわないで
One more time ふざけあった時間よ

What more should I lose? To get my heart’s forgiveness
To what extent does it have to hurt? To meet you one more time
One more time, seasons please don’t dissappear
One more time, the time when we fool around
One more chance 記憶に足を取られて
One more chance 次の場所を選べない
Time when we different in our opinions, I usually gave in first
Self-centered personality, still all the more I love you
One more chance, memories bind my steps
One more chance, the next place can’t be decided


いつでも捜しているよ どっかに君の姿を
向いのホーム 路地裏の窓
願いがもしも叶うなら 今すぐ君のもとへ
できないことは もう何もない

I’m always searching, for your appearance somewhere
The home across the street, the back alley by the window
Even though I know you couldn’t possibly be there
If my wish could come true, at this momentI will go where you are
Things that couldn’t be done, there’ll benone
I’ll bet on everything to show you my embrace
寂しさ紛らすだけなら 誰でもいいはずなのに
星が落ちそうな夜だから 自分をいつわれない
One more time きせつようつろわないで
One more time ふざけあった時間よ
If loneliness is what I want to avoid, anyone should be fine
Nights that the stars seem to be falling, I can’t feign myself
One more time, seasons please don’t pass away
One more time, the time when we fool around
いつでも捜しているよ どっかに君の姿を
奇跡がもしも起こるなら 今すぐ君に見せたい
新しい朝 これからの僕
I’m always searching, for your appearance somewhere
Whether at the crossroad, or in my dreams
Even though I know you couldn’t possibly be there
If miracle happens, I want to show it to you as soon as possible
A new morning, my self from now on
The word ‘I like you’ that I couldn’t say
Memories of the summer are revolving
Unexpectedly, the pulsating beat vanished
いつでも捜しているよ どっかに君の姿を
明け方の街 桜木町で
願いがもしも叶うなら 今すぐ君のもとへ
できないことは もう何もない
I’m always searching, for your appearance somewhere
At the dawn of the street in Sakuraki town
Even though I know you couldn’t possibly be there
If my wish could come true, at this moment I will go where you are
Things that couldn’t be done, there’ll be none
I’ll bet on everything to show you my embrace
いつでも捜してるよ どっかに君のかけらを
旅先の店 新聞の隅
奇跡がもしも起こるなら 今すぐ君に見せたい
I am always searching, for your pieces somewhere
Stores in my journey, at the newspaper’s corner
Even though I know you couldn’t possibly be there
If miracle happens, I want to show it to you as soon as possible
A new morning, my self from now on
The word ‘I like you’ that I couldn’t say
いつでも捜してしまう どっかに君の笑顔を
急行待ちの 踏み切りあたり
命が繰り返すならば 何度も君のもとへ
欲しいものなど もう何もない
I end up always searching, for your smile somewhere
Somewhere around the railroad crossing
Even though I know you couldn’t possibly be there
If life could go back, No matter how many times I’ll go to where you are
Things that I want, there’ll be none
Besides you, not any more important things

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