Ryu Murakami – Tokyo Decadence

The other Murakami, Ryu Murakami (村上 龍), is hard to compare to the more famous Haruki. His collection of stories reflects the dark sides of Tokyo, far removed from the happy world of AKB48 and the like. Criminals, prostitutes, depression, loss. A bleak image onto a bleak society.

This collection of short stories is a consequent deconstruction of happiness, love, everything we believe to make our lives worthwhile. The protagonists are idealistic students loosing their faith, office ladies on aberrations, drunkards, movie directors, the usual mixture. But the topic remains constant – the unfulfilled search for happiness and love.

I felt I was beginning to understand what happiness is about. It isn’t about guzzling ten or twenty energy drinks a day, barreling down the highway for hours at a time, turning over your paycheck to your wife without even opening the envelope, and trying to force your family to respect you. Happiness is based on secrets and lies.Ryu Murakami, It all started just about a year and a half ago

A deep pessimistic undertone is echoing through these stories, and the atmosphere and writing reminds of Charles Bukowski. This pessimism resonates in the melancholy of the running themes in the stories, Cuban music. Murakami was active in disseminating Cuban music in Japan, which included founding his own label. Javier Olmo’s pieces are often the connecting parts, as well as lending the short stories their title: Historia de un amor, Se fué.

The belief – that what’s missing now used to be available to us – is just an illusion, if you ask me. But the social pressure of “You’ve got everything you need, what’s your problem?” is more powerful than you might ever think, and it’s hard to defend yourself against it. In this country it’s taboo even to think about looking for something more in life.Ryu Murakami, Historia de un amor

It is interesting to see that on the surface, the women in the stories are the broken characters, leading feminists to incredible rants about the book, see the rant^Wreview of Blake Fraina at Goodreads:

I’ll start by saying that, as a feminist, I’m deeply suspicious of male writers who obsess over the sex lives of women and, further, have the audacity to write from a female viewpoint…
…female characters are pretty much all pathetic victims of the male characters…
I wish there was absolutely no market for stuff like this and I particularly discourage women readers from buying it…Blake Fraina, Goodreads review

On first sight it might look like that the female characters are pretty much all pathetic victims of the male characters, but in fact it is the other way round, the desperate characters, the slaves of their own desperation, are the men, and not the women, in these stories. It is dual to the situation in Hitomi Kanehara’s Snakes and Earrings, where on first sight the tattooist and the outlaw friends are the broken characters, but the really cracked one is the sweet Tokyo girly.

Male-female relationships are always in transition. If there’s no forward progress, things tend to slip backwards.Ryu Murakami, Se fué

Final verdict: Great reading, hard to put down, very much readable and enjoyable, if one is in the mood of dark and depressing stories. And last but not least, don’t trust feminist book reviews.

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Debian/TeX Live January 2017

As the freeze of the next release is closing in, I have updated a bunch of packages around TeX: All of the TeX Live packages (binaries and arch independent ones) and tex-common. I might see whether I get some updates of ConTeXt out, too.
texlive2016-debian

The changes in the binaries are mostly cosmetic: one removal of a non-free (unclear-free) file, and several upstream patches got cherrypicked (dvips, tltexjp contact email, upmendex, dvipdfmx). I played around with including LuaTeX v1.0, but that breaks horribly with the current packages in TeX Live, so I refrained from it. The infrastructure package tex-common got a bugfix for updates from previous releases, and for the other packages there is the usual bunch of updates and new packages. Enjoy!

New packages

arimo, arphic-ttf, babel-japanese, conv-xkv, css-colors, dtxdescribe, fgruler, footmisx, halloweenmath, keyfloat, luahyphenrules, math-into-latex-4, mendex-doc, missaali, mpostinl, padauk, platexcheat, pstring, pst-shell, ptex-fontmaps, scsnowman, stanli, tinos, undergradmath, yaletter.

Updated packages

acmart, animate, apxproof, arabluatex, arsclassica, babel-french, babel-russian, baskervillef, beamer, beebe, biber, biber.x86_64-linux, biblatex, biblatex-apa, biblatex-chem, biblatex-dw, biblatex-gb7714-2015, biblatex-ieee, biblatex-philosophy, biblatex-sbl, bidi, calxxxx-yyyy, chemgreek, churchslavonic, cochineal, comicneue, cquthesis, csquotes, ctanify, ctex, cweb, dataref, denisbdoc, diagbox, dozenal, dtk, dvipdfmx, dvipng, elocalloc, epstopdf, erewhon, etoolbox, exam-n, fbb, fei, fithesis, forest, glossaries, glossaries-extra, glossaries-french, gost, gzt, historische-zeitschrift, inconsolata, japanese-otf, japanese-otf-uptex, jsclasses, latex-bin, latex-make, latexmk, lt3graph, luatexja, markdown, mathspec, mcf2graph, media9, mendex-doc, metafont, mhchem, mweights, nameauth, noto, nwejm, old-arrows, omegaware, onlyamsmath, optidef, pdfpages, pdftools, perception, phonrule, platex-tools, polynom, preview, prooftrees, pst-geo, pstricks, pst-solides3d, ptex, ptex2pdf, ptex-fonts, qcircuit, quran, raleway, reledmac, resphilosophica, sanskrit, scalerel, scanpages, showexpl, siunitx, skdoc, skmath, skrapport, smartdiagram, sourcesanspro, sparklines, tabstackengine, tetex, tex, tex4ht, texlive-scripts, tikzsymbols, tocdata, uantwerpendocs, updmap-map, uplatex, uptex, uptex-fonts, withargs, wtref, xcharter, xcntperchap, xecjk, xellipsis, xepersian, xint, xlop, yathesis.

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Cornelia Travnicek – Junge Hunde

A novel on late adolescence and self-finding, set on a mixture of stages ranging from Vienna, its Hinterland, to China. The recent book of the Viennese young writer Cornelia Travnicek (official page, WikiPedia) tells a complicated story about finding and loosing your parents.

The main actors, Johanna, always helpful and supportive of those around here, and Ernst, a Chinese adoptive son in Austria, are good friends since early childhood. He sets out to find his parents in China, while she has to deal with profound change in her own world while worrying about his travel and distance.

Although in principle a nice and interesting story, I felt that the book is at times weighting too much on sentiments, second hand sentiments, and trying to extend the story. By itself this wouldn’t be a problem if the language would be of a great story teller, but in this case it just extends and gave me hard time continue reading. The surprising ending isn’t that surprising, a single line 2/3 through the book just let it slip so that it is clear who is the father.

All in all not a bad book, but I wouldn’t recommend it from the depth of my heart. Still, as Viennese I felt a bit nostalgic with parts of dialect appearing in the book.

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コスモス:時空と宇宙

2年前このテレビ番組を発券して、感動した。昔のカール・セーガンCarl Sagan)が作った番組に基づいて、現在の科学と技術にあわせて、コスモス:時空と宇宙Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey)である。

観たときすぐ日本人の友達にすすめたけど、あのとき英語版だけで、ちょっと複雑な英語が多くて、なかなかだれも興味なさそうだった。今間Netflixをみるとき、コスモスを見かけて、再生はじめた。英語版と日本語版を選べられる!やっと。したがって、日本人の皆さんにこの素晴らしいエデュテインメント番組をこころからすすめる。

この番組の基本のメッセージは「合理性」と「科学的な考え方」である。現在の世界にいろいろな宗教とスピリチュアリティが回ってるのに、割り切った考え方を使って、疑問して、省みってすすんだ方がいいというメッセージである。

日本語の版をNHKで2つの部分だけ放送されたけど、Netflixとナショナルジオグラフィックチャンネルで見える。

終わりに第1話のこころが響いてる言葉:

To make this journey, we need imagination, but imagination alone is not enough! Because the reality of nature is far more wondrous than anything we can imagine.

This adventure is made possible by generations of researchers strictly adhering to a simple set of rules:

  • test ideas by experiment and observation,
  • build on those ideas that pass the test,
  • reject the ones that fail,
  • follow the evidence wherever it leads,
  • and question everything!

Accept these terms and the Cosmos is yours!

僕は大学で「数学と論理学の入門」を教えるとき、これを学生にみせた。この風で勉強と研究すると、いい学生になると確信してる。

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I. J. Parker – The Dragon Scroll

Very enthralling and entertaining criminal story set in the 11th century Japan, the starting point of a series of novels around Sugawara Akitada (菅原 顕忠), a fictional official/scholar in the Heian period who solves several difficult cases using his great balance of knowledge and common sense.

Akitada is sent to the far north (nowadays around Chiba) to check what has happened to the last three tax convoys that never appeared in the capital. He pokes around and unravels a involved plot to overthrow law and order. A few love stories, dead ends, and lots over wandering around brings the story to a wild finish.

The first book in the Akitada series reads very smoothly and quickly, never boring. It gives nice fews onto the society as imagined by the (scholarly) author, and somehow manages to transfer the feeling of living in this area to the reader.

For those with interest in criminal stories and Japan, it is a very recommendable book.

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Debian/TeX Live 2016.20161130-1

As we are moving closer to the Debian release freeze, I am shipping out a new set of packages. Nothing spectacular here, just the regular updates and a security fix that was only reported internally. Add sugar and a few minor bug fixes.
texlive2016-debian

I have been silent for quite some time, busy at my new job, busy with my little monster, writing papers, caring for visitors, living. I have quite a lot of things I want to write, but not enough time, so very short only this one.

Enjoy.

New packages

awesomebox, baskervillef, forest-quickstart, gofonts, iscram, karnaugh-map, tikz-optics, tikzpeople, unicode-bidi.

Updated packages

acmart, algorithms, aomart, apa, apa6, appendix, apxproof, arabluatex, asymptote, background, bangorexam, beamer, beebe, biblatex-gb7714-2015, biblatex-mla, biblatex-morenames, bibtexperllibs, bidi, bookcover, bxjalipsum, bxjscls, c90, cals, cell, cm, cmap, cmextra, context, cooking-units, ctex, cyrillic, dirtree, ekaia, enotez, errata, euler, exercises, fira, fonts-churchslavonic, formation-latex-ul, german, glossaries, graphics, handout, hustthesis, hyphen-base, ipaex, japanese, jfontmaps, kpathsea, l3build, l3experimental, l3kernel, l3packages, latex2e-help-texinfo-fr, layouts, listofitems, lshort-german, manfnt, mathastext, mcf2graph, media9, mflogo, ms, multirow, newpx, newtx, nlctdoc, notes, patch, pdfscreen, phonenumbers, platex, ptex, quran, readarray, reledmac, shapes, showexpl, siunitx, talk, tcolorbox, tetex, tex4ht, texlive-en, texlive-scripts, texworks, tikz-dependency, toptesi, tpslifonts, tracklang, tugboat, tugboat-plain, units, updmap-map, uplatex, uspace, wadalab, xecjk, xellipsis, xepersian, xint.

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Debian/TeX Live 2016.20161103-1

This month’s update falls onto a national holiday in Japan. My recent start as a normal company employee in Japan doesn’t leave me enough time during normal days to work on Debian, so things have to wait for holidays. There have been a few notable changes in the current packages, and above all I wanted to fix an RC bug and on the way fixed also several other (sometimes rather old) bugs.
texlive2016-debian

From the list of new packages I want to pick apxproof: I have written something myself for one of my rather long papers (with proofs about 60pp), where at times I had to factor out the proofs into an appendix. I did this my own way, but I would have preferred to have a nice package!

Another interesting change is the upstream merge of collection-mathextra (which translated to the Debian package texlive-math-extra) and collection-science (Debian: texlive-science) into a new collection collection-mathscience. Since introducing new packages and phasing out old ones is generally a pain in Debian, I decided to digress from the upstream naming convention and use texlive-science for the new collection-mathscience. In the end Mathematics is the most important science of all 😉

Finally also a word about removals: Several ConTeXt packages have been removed due to the fact that they are outdated. These removals will find their way in an update of the Debian ConTeXt package in near future. The TeX Live packages lost voss-mathmode, which was retracted by the author due to various reasons. He is working on an updated version that will hopeful reappear in both TeX Live and Debian in near future.

Well, that’s it for now. Here now the full list with links. Enjoy.

New packages

apxproof, bangorexam, biblatex-gb7714-2015, biblatex-lni, biblatex-sbl, context-cmscbf, context-cmttbf, context-inifile, context-layout, delimset, latex2nemeth, latexbangla, latex-papersize, ling-macros, notex-bst, platex-tools, testidx, uppunctlm, wtref, xcolor-material.

Removed packages

voss-mathmode.

Updated packages

apa6, autoaligne, babel-german, biblatex-abnt, biblatex-anonymous, biblatex-apa, biblatex-manuscripts-philology, biblatex-nature, biblatex-realauthor, bibtex, bidi, boondox, bxcjkjatype, chickenize, churchslavonic, cjk-gs-integrate, context-filter, cooking-units, ctex, denisbdoc, dvips, europasscv, fixme, glossaries, gzt, handout, imakeidx, ipaex-type1, jsclasses, jslectureplanner, kpathsea, l3build, l3experimental, l3kernel, l3packages, latexindent, latexmk, listofitems, luatexja, marginnote, mcf2graph, minted, multirow, nameauth, newpx, newtx, noto, nucleardata, optidef, overlays, pdflatexpicscale, pst-eucl, reledmac, repere, scanpages, semantic-markup, tableaux, tcolorbox, tetex, texlive-scripts, ticket, todonotes, tracklang, tudscr, turabian-formatting, updmap-map, uspace, visualtikz, xassoccnt, xecjk, yathesis.

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John Oliver and news in Japan

Yesterday evening I was enjoying several features by John Oliver, mostly about the upcoming election in the US (Scandals), but also one of the best features I have heard from him on Guantánamo. It sadly reminded me of the completely different landscape in Japan.
news-around-the-world

Not only since the unprecedented warning to close down “biased” broadcasters by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication, but ever since Abe is building up his more and more totalitarian control over the country, the freedom of press has been on shaky grounds.

Even worse, newspapers and TV outlets restrict themselves to “save” topics, which means: stupid talk shows, food, and above all praise of Japan and how good, how lovely, how great it is (Make Japan great again!). All this despite the fact that there would be a lot to rumble upon: covering up the truth around Fukushima, mountains of scandals around Olympia 2020, police brutality in Okinawa, the list is long.

Only thinking about having something remotely similar to John Oliver on TV in Japan is as unthinkable as Trump donating all his money to a charity for immigrants. Sure enough, John Oliver is one great example out of tons of rubbish in the US, sure enough, but this one example is missing in Japan.

What remains are Japanese media stations that crawl into the *** of the government, what a sad state.

(Photo credit partially due to Über Arschkriecher)

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Reload: Android 7.0 Nougat – Root – Pokemon Go

Ok, it turned out that a combinations of updates has broken my previous guide on playing Pokemon GO on a rooted Android device. What has happened that the October security update of the Android Nougat has changed the SecurityNet that is used for checking for rooted devices, and at the same time the Magisk rooting system as catapulted itself (hopefully temporarily) into the complete irrelevance by removing the working version and providing an “improved” version that does neither have SuperSU installed, nor the ability to hide root – well done, congratulations.

android-nougat-root-poke

But there is a way around, and I am now back at the latest security patch level, rooted, and playing Pokemon GO (not very often, no time, though!). Continue reading

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Debian/TeX update October 2016: all of TeX Live and Biber 2.6

Finally a new update of many TeX related packages: all the texlive-* including the binary packages, and biber have been updated to the latest release. This upload was delayed by my travels around the world, as well as the necessity to package a new Perl module (libdatetime-calendar-julian-perl) as required by new Biber. Also, my new job leaves me only the weekends for packaging. Anyway, the packages are now uploaded and should appear soon on your friendly local server.

texlive2016-debian

There are several highlights: The binaries have been patched with several upstream fixes (tex4ht and XeTeX compatibility, as well as various Japanese TeX engine fixes), updated biber and biblatex, and as usual loads of new and updated packages.

Last but not least I want to thank one particular author: His package was removed from TeX Live due to the addition of a rather unusual clause in the license. Instead of simply uploading new packages to Debian with the rather important removed, I contacted the author and asked for clarification. And to my great pleasure he immediately answered with an update of the package with fixed license.

All of us user of these many packages should be grateful to the authors of the packages who invest loads of their free time into supporting our community. Thanks!

Enough now, here as usual the list of new and updated packages with links to their respective CTAN pages. Enjoy.

New packages

addfont, apalike-german, autoaligne, baekmuk, beamerswitch, beamertheme-cuerna, beuron, biblatex-claves, biolett-bst, cooking-units, cstypo, emf, eulerpx, filecontentsdef, frederika2016, grant, latexgit, listofitems, overlays, phonenumbers, pst-arrow, quicktype, revquantum, richtext, semantic-markup, spalign, texproposal, tikz-page, unfonts-core, unfonts-extra, uspace.

Updated packages

achemso, acmart, acro, adobemapping, alegreya, allrunes, animate, arabluatex, archaeologie, asymptote, attachfile, babel-greek, bangorcsthesis, beebe, biblatex, biblatex-anonymous, biblatex-apa, biblatex-bookinother, biblatex-chem, biblatex-fiwi, biblatex-gost, biblatex-ieee, biblatex-manuscripts-philology, biblatex-morenames, biblatex-nature, biblatex-opcit-booktitle, biblatex-phys, biblatex-realauthor, biblatex-science, biblatex-true-citepages-omit, bibleref, bidi, chemformula, circuitikz, cochineal, colorspace, comment, covington, cquthesis, ctex, drawmatrix, ejpecp, erewhon, etoc, exsheets, fancyhdr, fei, fithesis, footnotehyper, fvextra, geschichtsfrkl, gnuplottex, gost, gregoriotex, hausarbeit-jura, ijsra, ipaex, jfontmaps, jsclasses, jslectureplanner, latexdiff, leadsheets, libertinust1math, luatexja, markdown, mcf2graph, minutes, multirow, mynsfc, nameauth, newpx, newtxsf, notespages, optidef, pas-cours, platex, prftree, pst-bezier, pst-circ, pst-eucl, pst-optic, pstricks, pstricks-add, refenums, reledmac, rsc, shdoc, siunitx, stackengine, tabstackengine, tagpair, tetex, texlive-es, texlive-scripts, ticket, translation-biblatex-de, tudscr, turabian-formatting, updmap-map, uplatex, xebaposter, xecjk, xepersian, xpinyin.

Enjoy.

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