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19.3.04

Check out this article from the New York Times yesterday. I am here today to debunk this horrible bunch of shoddy thinking.

Check out my debunking here.

Thank you.

4.3.04

I have been getting small notes from the police over the last few years, but it was just a few months ago that I put them together. The sheet is a small green square, printed up with six different options, with one of them circled. It is labeled "Patrol Card" but I couldn't imagine what they would have been patrolling up on the fourth floor of the building where I live.

So, the same option is almost always circled, number 2. It reads, "We didn't notice any changes." The message is fairly mysterious. I have an old washing machine and refrigerator in front of my apartment and I thought, perhaps, they were angry that I hadn't moved either of them in over a year. Oh, I forget, there is a header above the options that gives the date and time they came and then reads, "While we were patrolling the area..."

It wasn't until I finally got a different number circled that I understood what was going on. Last month number five, "You forgot to lock your car door." Whuh?

So, I read all the others. Number one reads, "The situation looks very secure." The rest detail particularly unsafe or unsecured parts of your home. "Your window was unlocked." "Your front door was unlocked." "Your car looked less than safe." So, I was to find out that about once a week the police come around and check my car, my front door, and my windows to make sure my residence is properly secured. Is that creepy or what?

Also, on my way home tonight I enjoyed a snack that was made from puffed corn and covered in white chocolate. Only, it actually had the flavor of corn. And chocolate. That is also very creepy.
I was thinking about karate today and English education in Japan. The emphasis on rote can be quite shocking when you first arrive, when you first begin your training, but after a while rote feels comfortable. Rote is the unintelligent force, the one that never needs to question itself. It simply continues to push. This is a strength, in my opinion, and it fits well into my life where I am otherwise particularly concerned if the techniques I am employing toward my self-improvement are the most efficient ones. Often, this concern over optimization leads to a sort of paralysis. Rote has no paralysis. It asks no questions and it doesn't judge. It is the stream that slowly melts away boulders and cliffs, sculpts canyons.

Maybe one of the reasons we often don't assess students on the effectiveness of their study by rote is that it isn't awfully effective at sculpting useful ends. One cannot learn to converse through rote. One can learn to converse through actual practice strengthened by rote, but rote alone is no good.

Which is why I have been concerned about the effectiveness of karate lately. Kata is just a kind of rote. I have great concerns about its effectiveness and practicality. These concerns came about after I drew a line between my students trying to have an actual conversation in English and me trying to win an actual fight.

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