Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Looking a Gift Printer in the Driver

Every year, as we get closer to the Big Regular Concert at the end of the school year, the parents of the soon-to-be-departing 11th grade members of the Ye Olde Academy music club always get some kind of thank you gift for the club.  That's GOOD.

Trying to come up with an idea for the gift tends to be a pain in the behindermost.  That's BAD.

This year I suggested that they replace the dying scanner/printer in the music office, and they thought it was a great idea.  That's GOOD.

They asked me to go around to the various electronics shops and find a suitable model.  That's BAD.

In the end, Herr Maestro Ogawa and I went to Yamada Denki together, and after consulting with a service rep, we settled on a nice one.  That's GOOD.

The thing came in an enormous box and was a serious pain in the butt (and back) to lug up the stairs to the music room.  That's BAD.

The scanner/printer itself, however, turned out to fit on the shelf perfectly, as if it had been made for it.  That's GOOD.

I got it all set up and hooked up, but when I tried to install the printer driver on the music club's aging Macintosh, it wouldn't work.  It turned out that it was compatible with OS X 10.4.11 or later, but our machine had 10.3 installed.  That's BAD.

Apple Computers still had online support for OS X 10.4 including the necessary updates (to 10.4.11).  That's GOOD.

However, I had to buy the 10.4 upgrade DVD separately...out of my own pocket.  That's BAD.

I ordered one (used) from Amazon and asked for an overnight rush order.  That's GOOD.

The 10.4 upgrade DVD arrived right on schedule...and was a scratched-up mess.  That's BAD.

However, it ran okay, and the upgrade went without a hitch.  So did the online updates.  That's GOOD.

One of the updates was a Mac firmware upgrade, and it wouldn't install right.  It kept asking me to restart the machine again and again.  That's BAD.

After the third try, I gave up and deleted the firmware upgrade.  Everything ran fine after that.  That's GOOD.

I finally got the driver installed and the new scanner/printer running.  Now everything is hunky dory.  Plus, the OS upgrade gave some other improvements to boot.  That's AWESOME.

Just another chapter in the Life in the Land of the Rising Sun..

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Value of Courage

(So here I am again after another long absence.  Damn all these distractions [read "Facebook"]!  And to make matters worse, I'm starting out with something rather political...)

North Korea has followed through with its threat and set off a third nuclear device.  This one is particularly ominous because it hints that "Best Korea" (as they apparently call themselves) now have the ability to make enriched uranium warheads that are small and light enough to fit in one of their missiles.  Of course, their track record with long-range ballistic missiles is anything but impressive, but the point is that they now apparently have the capability of building bona fide ICBMs.

Not surprisingly, the nuclear test was followed by an announcement in the North Korean news that was ridiculously theatrical impassioned and filled with all kinds of powerful adjectives praising the might of "Best Korea" and its great response to the "outrageous hostility" of the United States.  However, what WAS surprising was the showing of an "in the street" report.  The camera showed a vast city square, most likely in Pyongyang, that was ringed by huge TV screens showing the news announcement.  This was naturally greeted by cheering by the gathered throng...which numbered in the thousands hundreds dozens ones.  Actually, they showed an elderly woman and her grandchildren clapping with about as much enthusiasm as students doing morning calisthenics.  And then they interviewed the woman (translated from the Japanese subtitles):

"If we say we will do something, we will do it.  Our nation has a thousand times the courage of the West."

That's good.  No, really.  It's a good thing that North Korea has that much courage, because other than weapons, they don't seem to have much else.

I've long had a very cosmopolitan outlook.  Even before I came to Japan, I occasionally won myself enemies (or at least started some really pointless arguments) by insisting that there are human beings in every nation of the world, even in the most "evil" of empires.  I have long held that, no matter how much we might dislike a country and/or disagree with its rulers, if most of its people support their leaders, we have no choice but to respect them.  "Best Korea" is one very, very notable exception.  To me, that country is a joke that just keeps getting worse.  After all:

  • They are a "classless society" which has a wealthy elite and a hereditary god-king.
  • They are a "people's democracy" in which the people know almost nothing about their leaders and are held in so much thrall by their god-king that they greet his death with far more weeping and wailing than they would give their own parents.
  • They constructed an entire city (Pyongyang) and various resort complexes designed to be as impressive as possible to prove to foreign visitors and their own tiny urban elite how superior "Best Korea" really is...but don't even think about going outside to see how the majority of the people live, lest you be shot by a brainwashed teenager (as at least one South Korean tourist discovered the hard way).  
  • They are so superior to the USA that they have to rip off American video games for their propaganda videos.
  • They have the need to feed their people a steady diet of some of the most absurd bullshit imaginable (e.g. "Dear Leader Kong Jong-Il played golf for the first time and naturally scored 11 holes in one...") to keep them in line.
  • They spend gobs of money keeping both their military and their god-king bloated while the majority of the population is half starved. 
  • Because of their dire situation, they beg (or extort) food aid from the world.  Thus far the USA, Japan, and South Korea (among other nations) have provided such aid to the tune of thousands of tons.  "Best Korea" showed its gratitude by telling their people it was all a "gift" from their god-king...and continued to bite the hand that fed them.
  • Their number one goal is still the reunification of Korea, by force if necessary, and they still (at least claim to) believe that invading South Korea and bringing them into the same pit of brainwashed malnutrition as themselves is somehow doing them a favor.
North Korea considers it cruel and unfair that the rest of the world has greeted their satellite launches with anger while applauding the recent launch carried out by South Korea.  Yes, it does seem like quite a double standard; even I thought so.  On the other hand, South Korea doesn't keep vowing to reduce other countries' cities to ashes as part of its national policy.  North Korea has been known to do that.  Even more troubling, even many people who have fled the dire circumstances of "Best Korea" and relocated to China still continue to insist that their home country is "superior" and that they will one day destroy America.

Whatever.  I suppose if that "thousand times the courage of the West" is all they have going for them, they might as well have it.  Meanwhile, as long as "Best Korea" still insists on bluster and provocation instead of any meaningful steps toward peace, maybe we should just shut the door and let them destroy themselves...and be prepared to answer their threat with a thousand times the throw-weight.

I just wish they weren't so damned close...