Lost in Translation

There is an opinion letter about Lost In Translation in today’s edition of the Asian Wall Street Journal. The author of the letter, Salil Tripathi, argues that critics who say that Lost in Translation mocks the Japanese are wrong. I had to stop and think about it.
Lost In Translation is a movie about two Americans that meet in a hotel in Tokyo. They are both suffering from jet lag and a sense of displacement or alienation from the Japanese culture around them. Anyone who’s been to Japan on business will find the beginning of the movie funny. At one point I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes. However, I don’t believe the movie was making fun of the Japanese. I think it was highlighting how foreign it all looks to an American. The movie was making fun of that sense of disorientation you can feel when you’re encountering a new culture for the first time and you’ve only had two hours of sleep. Bill Murray, who’s not even sure what he’s doing in Japan (other than they are paying him lots of money) and he’s having problems at home, just looks lost and that’s a very familiar to feeling to many business visitors to Japan.

Most of us however, do end up sleeping at some point, and begin enjoying the cultural differences. Business trips to Asia are always my favorite.

While I really enjoyed the beginning of the movie, I thought the movie was very slow. However, I’d have to agree with Salil Tripathi, I don’t think the movie was mocking the Japanese culture.


Two issues I did have with the movie:
– The gyms at international business hotels in Asia are NEVER empty in the early morning hours. There is always a large number of jet lagged business travelers waiting for treadmills as soon as the gym opens in the morning.
– While I’ve sometimes had problems being understood or understanding what someone was saying in Japan, I’ve never had them brush me off or continue to repeat the same thing over and over again. In my experience they have always been very helpful and taken great pains to make sure I understood and was understood.

John Kerry, John Edwards & Friendster

Both John Kerry and John Edwards have Friendster accounts. If you belong to Friendster (signing up is free), you can invite them to be your friend and (if they accept your invitation) check out their profile.

Note, there are several John Kerry’s. The one with the picture of himself windsurfing is the one that is running for president. John Edwards is the one in the suit and a tie.

I read this in BusinessWeek.

Market Map

Smart Money has a really cool tool. Go to Smart Money, click on Maps, and select “Market Map”. A window with a lot of different sized squares and rectangles will pop up. Each square or rectangle represents a different stock. The relative size of the square corresponds to the stock’s market share. The color corresponds to the price, green is up. The map is continuously updated to reflect current prices.

This tool allows you to quickly see what the market is doing at a glance and to see how any one particular stock may or may not be acting with the market as a whole.

Social Networking and Online Personality Tests

Tickle.com is an online personality test and social networking site discussed in Getting to Know Me, Getting to Know All About Me: Web Personality Tests. While the article is mostly about social networking and dating sites and how some of them like Tickle.com are adding personality tests to generate conversation and to aid in match making, it was really the second page of the article that caught my attention. They mention which company has bought or sold which social network. The whole idea that social networks can be bought or sold is either intriguing or disturbing depending on your mood. Each site has its own privacy policy but regardless of what privacy they’ve promised, the company still holds the data – the who knows who. Who thinks like who. Who’s emailed who. Who has the same interests. The applications are enormous and so is the potencial for abuse. Although in one sense they are self policing, any site that abuses its users is going to lose its users.

By the way, Tickle.com will let you take lots of tests, but unless you’re willing to pay for the detailed results (per test!), you won’t find out much.

Smart Dust

Smart Dust is a new technology. Researchers are developing a network that consists of very small sensors that would float in the air like specs of dust. (Currently they are 5mm on a side and cost $5. They are working on getting them to 1 mm and $1.) These “motes” or smart dust would be able to notice things about their environment and communicate it back to a central location. They might sense things like traffic problems, weather (temperature and humidty), the movement of people, etc.

Michael Crichton’s science fiction book Prey is built on the idea of smart dust that gains sentience.

You can read more about Smart Dust here:

Smart Dust
Dust Inc.

We Should Abolish the CIA

John Kerry said “We should abolish the CIA. Because the CIA completely and totally missed the Soviet revolution.” in this New York Times interview. I’m sure he has more reasons than that – since it’s been a long time since the Soviet revolution and the CIA has done a lot (or not) since then. I wish he’d share them. If you have links to other information, please comment.

Blog Epidemic Analyzer

Researchers at HP Labs created the Blog Epidemic Analyzer to track how ideas spread through blogs. They’ve found that the most popular blogs just pick up on ideas from lesser known blogs, often without giving credit. This is another perfect example of Malcolm Galdwell’s idea of social epidemics from The Tipping Point. (See my original
review
of the The Tipping Point.) Ideas spread through society, or through the web, from experts (who find the info) to networkers (who distribute them widely).

Speaking of giving credit, I
read about this on Wired. I was orginally pointed to Wired from Slashdot, another blog.

CNN.com: Working Poor Face Higher Obesity Rates

Working poor face higher obesity rates

The working poor are those that can least afford healthy food. Often they work long hours, have little free time, little access to stores with fresh fruit and little knowledge of how to prepare healthy food. After a long day of work, it’s easier to buy some hamburgers or pop in a frozen dinner.

Good grocery stores with good produce selections are also hard to find in inner cities and neighborhoods that the working poor tend to live in.