The Blog Lives




By Mike Lin

Kanji-lishThis is an hilarious/genius Firefox plugin for people learning kanji. It replaces the first letter of English words in your browser with the corresponding Japanese character. Unexpected and funny, but I can kind of see this working. I’ll try it out. BTW I’ve been learning kanji through Remembering the Kanji and Reviewing the Kanji for the last 5 months. I’m up to 1532 characters! It’s an amazing system.



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.




By Mike Lin

I have been watching this ridiculous Japanese drama with some friends called Lunch Queen. It’s about this girl that really loves lunch, and in particular this dish omurice. In the more dramatic moments she ends up giving monologues about how much lunch means to her, and how lunch specials give her hope to keep on living. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be serious, but I find it hilarious.

Here’s a picture of omurice I had in Taipei when I was last there:




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