Apparently I’m psycho.

The weather is getting warmer, so I can finally turn off the heater and put the big winter coat away. My home town, Adelaide, is going through a heatwave at the moment – 40 degrees today! Yoiks!

Today is White Day in Japan. It’s when hordes of salary-men who got chocolates they didn’t want from their female co-workers last month have to buy chocolates for them, which they’ll eat and then obsess over for the next month.

My school is having some events for Easter to draw in some publicity and hopefully get some new students. I think it’s the first time I’ve been aware of when Easter is while I’ve been in Japan. It’s a non-event in a country that is predominantly Shinto-Buddhist.

The general state of eikawa (the English teaching business in Japan) is not good at the moment for a number of reasons. Nova’s demise is just part of it. The declining population, the ongoing perception that the economy isn’t doing well, the fact that salaries are stagnant while costs are starting to go up all contribute to people not wanting to make the investment. Smaller schools will likely bear the brunt of the downturn. Hopefully larger schools like mine will be able to pull through.

This is different to the situation with cram schools, or ‘juku’. They’re still booming. Parents often prefer to let their children learn English there rather than shell out the extra for specific lessons. The problem is that the lessons there follow the dry, boring, grammar-based curriculum that the schools use, so kids rapidly become tired of learning English, and cease being able to speak it.

Economics became a bit of a theme for my reading this week, with good articles on what the US might do about Iraq to keep the dollar alive, as well as the general state of the US economy. One guy had a proposal to end the Iraq war in a single day by not buying anything. I don’t think it’d work, but it might be an interesting experiment to try…

A couple of Japanese women have been arrested for trying out an interesting economic experiment of their own. I might have to take up looking through garages here as a hobby…

Tim Berners-Lee has been pushing the semantic web for a long time now. Still waiting for it. Then we should start building underground cities…

Gotta love science, when it isn’t being assaulted by crackpots. This is an interesting list of stuff. Also there was this about how most Native Americans can trace their lineage to just 6 women. Also a lot more people are living to be 100 years old these days. There’s also a great line about George Bush and a superb photo!

Some interesting lessons for life and a lot of food for thought…

This moment in history. Interesting stuff!

I’ve got some interesting travel ideas for you (or not) – and some places to avoid, unless you like the idea of a long and painful death.

The Japanese police are continuing their campaign against the maids of Akihabara.

This is a sad story about one of the horrible lingering consequences of the problems Cambodia has experienced over the past century; the child sex trade. One film maker is trying to do something about it though. I saw her film, Sacrifice, about girls from Burma who were sold into prostitution and exploitation in Thailand. Aside from being absolutely confronting with the truth, it was also profoundly moving and respectful of the women’s stories, as well as achieving a kind of lyricism and poetry through the use of image, editing and sound. I recommend it.

And to finish, a quadruple serve of weirdness. The 20 biggest record company screwups of all time, a man who dresses like a bunny to spread happiness, kosher Coke and predicting the future through asparagus!

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