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Finished Remembering the Kanji

By Mike Lin

W00t! I’m now the proud owner of a brain containing the 2000 most common kanji. I can’t believe I’m done! It only took 9 months. I could have had a baby in that time. I kind of feel like I did have a baby, a kanji baby! I can’t wait to get on to sentence mining now, ala AJATT. I’m tired of telling people I’m working on my Japanese and not having any improvement to show for it conversationally.

It’s an amazing feeling, this literacy. I got some manga in Japanese off ebay and sometimes I can go pages without missing a kanji and my handwriting has improved a million times! People now say “it’s good… for a boy” instead of “it’s good… for a North American” !!!



Remembering the Kanji

By Mike Lin

I took Japanese in school from grades 5-11. At the end of it, I passed the BC provincial exam and knew, maybe, 200 kanji. I didn’t put much work learning kanji it because I never thought I’d ever be able to learn the 2000 or so I needed to be barely literate. Furthermore, if my teachers were realistic, I’m sure they never thought I’d be literate either.

In the mean time, I’ve forgotten most of my Japanese. But last summer I took a beginner Mandarin course at George Brown College, which restarted my learning of ‘kanji’. It was slow going, maybe 10-20 a week while I was in the course, and it was hard work! I’d beat them into my brain for hours at a time.

Eventually I thought I might as well refresh my Japanese while I’m at it, and looking around online, I found lots of people advocating this book Remembering the Kanji. So I picked it up without too much thought, and it turns out it’s strikingly different from any other way of learning Kanji.

First, it doesn’t teach them in any traditional order, like the order in which japanese school children first learn them, or the most common ones first. It teaches them in an order that takes most advantage of the psychological phemonemon known as chunking. It teaches a few primitive pieces at a time, and then all the characters from the list one can make from these pieces and ones already known. This order pays no regard to the usefulness of the character, but because you already know the pieces remembering the new ones is simpler. How obvious is that? Why shouldn’t adults approach things differently from children? At different ages we have completely different mental capabilities.

One really big caveat about the book though is that it does not teach you the pronunciation at the same time. Rather it associates each character to a keyword that supposedly is related to its primary meaning. So until you get through the course and start connecting the characters to your vocabulary, your new knowledge is useless for communication.

Still, in this way in the past 5 days I’ve gotten through the first 150 characters in the book, of which I already knew about 50. So I’ve learned 100 characters in less than a week, and it wasn’t even hard! We’ll see how it works out in the long run, but it’s already given me the most important learning tool: the belief that I can eventually become literate in Japanese and Chinese.



Conservatives Are Bad for Science

By Mike Lin

The journal Nature has come out about how bad the Conservative government has been for science in Canada.

For example, they’ve decided to close the office of national science advisor, and replace it with a less independent 18-member council containing both scientists and administrators. And then there’s climate change:

Concerns can only be enhanced by the government’s manifest disregard for science. Since prime minister Stephen Harper came to power, his government has been sceptical of the science on climate change and has backed away from Canada’s Kyoto commitment. In January, it muzzled Environment Canada’s scientists, ordering them to route all media enquires through Ottawa to control the agency’s media message. Last week, the prime minister and members of the cabinet failed to attend a ceremony to honour the Canadian scientists who contributed to the international climate-change report that won a share of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Anyway read the article. I’m scared of politicians disregarding science, because it means they want the evidence to fit their policy and not the other way around.



Sweet Toronto Raps

By Mike Lin

Long time no post bla bla bla

I checked the solo album from this local (to Toronto) MC: Abdominal, and it’s got this sweet super specific to Toronto song called T. Ode. After almost 1 year in the city I’m starting to get the geography, and so I sort of get what he’s talking about. Yes!! You should definitely check it out.

Abdominal – T. Ode Feat. Notes To Self.mp3



Chocolate Fountain

By Mike Lin

The invite for my office christmas party, which is tonight, claims there will a ‘Chocolate Buffet’. Intrigued by the concept and wishing to educate myself further, I consulted Google Image Search. From there I found this link. I had to quote this from the page will with full html to get the full effect:

The Chocolate
not only is perfect for different flavors of

chocolate (dark chocolate, milk
chocolate, white chocolate
, etc.) it also works
great as a caramel fountain, cheese fondue
or even a BBQ
…the options are almost
endless…Marinara Fountain, nacho cheese fountain,
cheddar cheese fountains, Butterscotch Fountains, Peanut Butter
Fountains, Cookies & Cream Fountains, Chocolate Fountains
flavored with: Mint, Coconut, Orange, Coffee
the list
goes on!!

Holy crap! That’s the most awesome thing ever! Here people are wasting there time drinking liquidized food from underwhelming glasses when they could be drinking in the assault on the senses that a peanut butter fountain must be. If I am ever extravagantly wealthy, I will make it mine.