Daniel Kim's Comments

While some writers-in-residence may try to live-blog their trip, most will probably treat the experience like the fabled 'friend's beach house' writers retreat. I imagine that the background sounds of rail travel will offer the same threshold of non-distracting stimulation that coffeehouse sounds do.
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Well, the name Daniel seems to be one that stays on the coasts, whether Atlantic, Pacific or Great Lakes. It never really seems to get into the core of the Deep South. The consistent presence of the name in California may account for the phenomenon noted in http://anotherdanielkim.com/
"I have discovered that there are two basic types of people in the world: (1) people named Daniel Kim; and (2) people who know someone named Daniel Kim. "
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Eventually, the British East India Company sent a Scottish botanist to steal tea plants and learn the secret to making tea. He disguised himself as a Chinese government official in Mandarin robes (must have been some disguise!) and toured a tea plantation and factory.
There's a surprise in the article that resonates with today's stories of Chinese adulterated food products.
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They have a school on Sarumon street? That sounds a bit inauspicious.
What's a "Nutsschool"? A school for nuts?
OH! A "Utility School". That makes it . . . well . . . not much more clear to me. A school for nuts to complement the school for bolts?
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The description of Hataraku Maō-sama/The Devil Is a Part-Timer sounds a lot like "Squid Girl", in which a girl/squid from the ocean decides to make war on mankind. She gets as far as a beachfront restaurant, but she has to start somewhere.

The first anime that I really liked was Ranma 1/2, which is very funny. In particular, I like how it pokes fun at the conventions of many martial arts manga by creating silly 'ultimate techniques'. Of particular note is the "Saotome Final Attack".

For sheer randomness, be sure to watch "Ordinary Life" (aka Nichijou). It is hard to describe, but is really fun.

There is a category of anime called "slice-of-life", in which the details of daily living receive a lot of focus. These can be vey boring to some people, but I rather like their gentle nature. Three come to mind:
"Record of a Yokohama Shopping Trip" (Yokohama Kaidashi Kiko), which is a science fiction story set around a robot named Alpha, who runs a coffee shop. She is in a Japan that has suffered some catastrophe in which the oceans have risen and Mt. Fuji erupted. Humanity is entering the twilight of its life with a gentle retirement.
"Aria" is also a science fiction story set 300 years in the future. Centered in the city of "Neo Venezia" on the planet Aqua (formerly Mars), a terraforming miscalculation resulted in the surface of Mars being largely covered with water. The characters are girls training to enter the profession of gondola tour guides around the city, which is a replica of Venice. It is a delightful story, and is sumptuously drawn.
"Tamayura: Hitotose" and its sequel "Tamayura: More Aggressive" are both beautifully drawn anime set in the Seto Inland Sea. They center around a girl who loves to take pictures, and her friends who have their own hobbies and talents. The friendship of the characters is very sweet, as the normally shy girl named Fu gains confidence and develops her talent for photography.

For a tear-jerker, see "Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai", lit. "We Still Don't Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That Day." The series is usually referred to as "Ano Hana", and is a ghost story. A group of children break apart after a tragic accident in which one of their members dies, but her ghost comes back after some years. Your eyes will ache from too many tears, although it has a pretty happy ending.

An epic fantasy story can be found in "Seirei no Moribito" (Guardian of the Sacred Spirit), which features one of the most admirable heroines: Balsa the Spear Woman. Set in a world much like medieval Japan, Balsa has agreed to be the bodyguard for the Emperor's second son, who is fated to either save the world or destroy it, depending on how you interpret the prophecy. This story has some memorable characters, and the political intrigues are fascinating.

"Taisho Yakyu Musume" (Taisho Baseball Girls) is set in 1925 Japan. The early 20th century was a period of transition and modernization for Japan, which shocked the world at the turn of the century by defeating the "western" nation of Russia in a naval dispute over the Kuril Islands (I may have this wrong. I mention it because these islands are still disputed territory). Students at a girls' school decide to learn how to play baseball, a game that is both male and western, in order to challenge the team from a boys' school. The story itself is fun to watch, but it also illustrates the transition of Japan into a modern, westernized nation.

"Silver Spoon" is about a boy who decides to leave the city and attend a boarding high school that specializes in agriculture. He now has to get up at 4 am to feed the chickens, etc. It's better than it sounds, but what gets me about this is the feeling that Japan is trying to encourage its young people to consider farm life. Japan, like America, is losing population in rural towns as young people gravitate to urban, technical careers. I wonder if this anime is designed to make some of them reconsider.
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All of these Americans started from somewhere else, and somehow came to learn about the ideals and foundations of America. They learned of them by seeing great things being done: rebuilding Europe or going to the moon or addressing our own divisions and racism in spite of the great cost. They saw the image of America while looking across great oceans or over walls or through barbed wire, and came to love what they saw. Some had to reject the lies of propaganda, or reconcile the good and bad that is the reality of America. But somehow, the America they came to know and love resonated in their hearts and minds until they could only think: "I must be part of that. I must go there and become part of that."
And so they planned their own great journey. For many, this was done in secret. Gathering money and resources, selling property, making connections against the wishes of their own government and hiding even from their own families and neighbors. When all was in readiness, these people made their move. They bribed some, hid from some. Many gave their lives in cold mountain passes or hot deserts. Some literally swam icy rivers or cut through barbed wire. Some felt their heart stop while a border guard scrutinized forged papers with an extra look, or made an extra phone call. And many were arrested, imprisoned and tortured for the audacity of their act.
Many enter this country with their papers in order, having desirable skills, sponsoring employers or friends and patience to wait for years and decades for approval. Others paid their way in blood and peril, walking in thirst and hunger to escape and find their chance. They live hidden lives, hiding in transit inside a dank shipping container or in the trackless desert. Once here, they fade into the unseen, overlooked spaces of this nation for the leftover taste of America.
Of the few who can become citizens, or the many who hide between the open places of our society, there are many languages. The language of their hearts, learned at their mothers' breast, expresses their deepest feelings and their heartfelt thoughts. In all of these many tongues, they all sing the same song: "God shed His grace on thee . . ."
I am inordinately proud that even today people will place their loyalty to a foreign nation that still offers them the illumination to a golden door. They swear of their own free will, and without reservation to abandon past ties and cleave to a new land. Their strange clothes, diverse foods and foreign words all speak of the compelling draw of this country in which I have been privileged to be born. Whatever they wear, eat or whatever words they use, their voices mingle with mine to sing of the beauty here. This one song is enough for all.
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I want one. I cannot believe this amazing technology has been lost in the mists of time! I imagine that getting small boys to take a bath would be no challenge with one of these.
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When people use these dice today, they are playing games set in Medieval times using weapons appropriate for those times. When ancient Romans and Egyptians played D&D, were they role-playing pre-agricultural hunters wielding stone weapons?
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Are you insane? It's like saying that the descendants of black slaves now enjoy the benefits of the American life, so it's all good! The internment of Japanese Americans (I emphasize that these were citizens, many born in the U.S.A.) was an act unbecoming and unworthy of the ideals that we cherish in this country. Citizens of Italian and German descent were not put under official blanket suspicion or placed in camps en masse. Concerns over sleeper agents among Japanese Americans were clearly prompted as much by racism as military considerations. This last statement is in agreement with the official U.S. position on the internment, signed by President Reagan.
The internment also involved forfeiture of property, including valuable farmland and businesses on the West Coast. With few exceptions, in which friends and neighbors purchased property at auction and held it in trust against the return of their interned neighbors, property was transferred to others and never returned at the end of the internment. The unsafe, impoverished and harsh environment of the camps resulted in many deaths of innocent and loyal citizens. Many of the internees proved up their loyalty with their lives by fighting in the most decorated military unit deployed in the war: the 442nd Infantry Regiment. Even while their families languished unjustly in primitive and dangerous conditions in the mountains of California, the Japanese-American fighters of the 442nd advanced the cause of the nation that turned against them.
The infamous Executive Order 9066 should serve as a reminder to all that war hysteria will make monsters of us all. The shameful acts surrounding the internment must not be minimized.
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OK, so the school wastes the food rather than let it get eaten without payment. Words are not adequate to express how I feel about this situation. Please wait a bit while I engage in some interpretive dance:
OK, do you understand now?
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I never read the book, but was very struck by the way the movie portrayed the tremendous decadence of the nobles. The vision of their mechanical body modifications was disturbing and somehow a fresh way to see the consequences of too much power wielded by limited humanity.
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Profile for Daniel Kim

  • Member Since 2012/08/08



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