Abdication of Justin II

One of the strengths of Mr Gibbon (Chapter 45) is his propensity to draw up images from the very moment the original events happened. The abdication of Justin II is exactly one such event.

What makes it so wonderful for me to hear the lamentation of the abdicating monarch is his realisation of all he could have done better in his responsibilities for the people. Hence, the speech with which he greets his successor, Tiberius, is colourful in both wisdom and elegance.

This, I feel, is one of the moments where one realises how fully absolute power corrupts. Justin failed to avoid it and he fell into darkness. He, however, also realised the full extent of the troubles with the people swinging behind a new person, and he managed to extricate himself from that situation. For all that he has experienced, he does not wish Tiberius to go down the same route…

“You behold the ensigns of supreme power. You are about to receive them, not from my hand, but from the hand of God. Honour them, and from them you will derive honour. Respect the empress your mother: you are now her son; before, you were her servant. Delight not in blood; abstain from revenge; avoid those actions by which I have incurred the public hatred; and consult the experience, rather than the example, of your predecessor. As a man, I have sinned; as a sinner, even in this life, I have been severely punished: but these servants, [and he pointed to his ministers,] who have abused my confidence, and inflamed my passions, will appear with me before the tribunal of Christ. I have been dazzled by the splendour of the diadem: be thou wise and modest; remember what you have been, remember what you are. You see around us your slaves, and your children: with the authority, assume the tenderness, of a parent. Love your people like yourself; cultivate the affections, maintain the discipline, of the army; protect the fortunes of the rich, relieve the necessities of the poor.”

Review: You and Your Research

You and Your Research
You and Your Research by Richard Hamming
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I happened onto this by a chance link from Mr Tyler Cowen, and I have to say I’m very happy I did.

This little gem of a text is littered with worthwhile thoughts and good suggestions on how to improve on one’s research — but there is absolutely no reason why the same cannot be applied in any other fields. It’s the meaning behind Mr Hamming’s words here rather than the topical application of them which is more important. He also highlights a number of very good practices along with a lot of (fun) anecdotal history that illustrates his points so much better than a drier delivery might have.

I would absolutely recommend this to everyone.

View all my reviews

Effort

I should make a conscious effort to post a bit more often here — it is not even that I have no ideas, for often I manage to think that “It would be great fun to write and post about a or b, wouldn’t it?” and yet it comes to nothing.

Laziness. It is clearly the force that a) makes the society work when it really needs to, and b) makes very little happen when it is not really supposed to happen (yet).

Interestingly enough, the easy part almost always seems to be thinking about doing something — even figuring out the details of a particular item that needs to be written or solved is not a problem, but not a single word will actually be marked down until it is the last moment.

And this is especially easy as an university student — there is not a single problem with waiting to start a coursework or essay if it is due in eight or fifteen weeks (as one of mine this term was). And truly, very little effort has been put into the actual work that will form the basis of this coursework I specifically target here, although again, in my mind it has been written a hundred times.

If it was just that easy…

So, the only conclusion: more effort into conquering laziness, no matter what we’re speaking of.

Languages: Japanese, Part IV

A few calculated days later so that I could make my post on a overdue time that’s not too long when I get back to the UK in April.

Previous “time-interval” goals:

  • カタカナ reading improvement : Yes.
  • ひらがな reading improvement : Yes.
  • one Cpt. per week from Heisig’s book on 漢字 (this means, Cpt’s 4, 5, 6 and 7) : Yes.
  • reading through that story which began so promisingly with “こんな夢を見た。” [Author: Natsume Soseki, Title: The First Night] : First two paragraphs.
  • listening to that same thing a few times over : A few, quite literally.
  • more music : Yes.

I can’t say I did too well, but it’s something. Demands too much concentration and I’ve started to use my other languages more for some odd reason (:P) so effort has been rather divided.

In any case, excuses are mere excuses (still useful).

Next “time-interval”:

  • Read [Author: Natsume Soseki, Title: The First Night]
  • Listen [Author: Natsume Soseki, Title: The First Night]
  • Re-check some chapters in that good book which I’ve temporarily lost sight of (grammar and usage)
  • More music//New artists

And let us continue!

Royal Roads and Insanity

‘There is no royal road to pomegrenades.’

I find that this paraphrasing of Euclidius is a fitting way to begin this entry. Simply because there isn’t. I theorize that it is impossible to eat more than 24 pomegranates in a day, and likely not more than 18 given you’d want to sleep as well.

That gives a hint of what I’ve been doing — just ate one.

And an onlooker might say I’ve been going insane, bit by bit. Starting from ironing at 4 AM (before sleep), continuing with being extremely happy over the fact that I’m living with a Romanian (amongst others) next year, and placing the Broad in the middle of the Grampians when I walked down to Suffolk.

It is amazing though. Everything is.

I thought of rewatching a masterpiece. Haven’t completely decided on it yet though.

Reliability

So, based on the internet and my probability coursework, I am a reliability engineer. Why? 😛 That’s what my coursework says. Said. Cause I got it done. When I had expected not to.

Motivation is an odd thing. Find it where you least expect it.

But the best things in life… they either don’t ask for motivation, or you’re already motivated for them. And that keeps the engine working. Even though it’s not very reliable.
 

Languages: Japanese, Part III

Continuing from where I left off last month.

So, this is what I set out to do:

  • improving usage of katakana //very limited success//
  • familiarizing myself with hiragana //rather well done, though not as well as I’d have hoped for//
  • learning at least one word-list per week, preferably two //done as part of another bit of reading/studying//
  • processing one chapter of Heisig’s masterpiece on kanji a week as a minimum //done for weeks 2, 3 and 4. missed one, but today’s not over yet, so it’s a so-so thing//
  • listening to more Japanese-language music (== less Capsule 🙁 ) //mmm, should be done//
  • finding at least one audiobook to listen to even though I’ll understand very little at first//found several audiobooks, and listened to them a few times as well//

こんな夢を見た。
That’s basically the beginning of that one story I’ve concentrated on most. A direct translation would be along the lines of “I saw such/this [kind that I am about to tell you of] a dream.” I liked it very much, for rather obvious reasons (beginning a story for such a sentence being one of them).

Besides that, I’ve managed to start making some rather interesting connection. They are quite useless right now, but they are interesting to me in principle.

Also, I’ve taken notice that when I concentrate well enough, my level of (unfortunately, written) Japanese is on par with my French skills. This does mean that my French has fallen to an awful low level, but also that given enough time (very much time) and a dictionary and a grammar book, I can write some rather sensible things (with less mistakes in the Japanese version due to the French employing a rather non-comprehensible /for me/ way with prepositions). That being said, my written Russian is likely to be even worse, though I’ve not put that claim to the test. Spoken being a completely different tune, I’m still rather sure in myself if I’d line my spoken skills right now as follows:

Estonian > English > Russian = Japanese = French

Which really isn’t saying much, but I still found it interesting.

In any case, for the next month… something has to be set down in writing:

  • カタカナ reading improvement
  • ひらがな reading improvement
  • one Cpt. per week from Heisig’s book on 漢字 (this means, Cpt’s 4, 5, 6 and 7)
  • reading through that story which began so promisingly with “こんな夢を見た。” [Author: Natsume Soseki, Title: The First Night]
  • listening to that same thing a few times over
  • more music 

That should sum it up rather well.

Languages: Japanese, Part II

I just drank a glass of sparkling (mmmm, 🙂 ) since this place managed to destroy the post I had written. 🙁 (sparkling was :)) though).

I’ll try to write the majority.

The goals I set for myself the last time:

  • Enabling the writing systems (hiragana, katakana) on my computer
  • Learning the katakana
  • Listen regularly to Japanese music //which is not difficult at all since I’m doing it quite a bit right now due to the fact that my usual stuff has quite bored me, 😛 //
  • Memorizing & understanding certain word-lists

Done. All of them. There’s a catch though. 🙂 I learned the katakana, but I can remember only about half of them right now.

A bit understandable since they seem to be less necessary than katakana if I’m learning Japanese (and not the other way round). I’ve also enabled the writing systems on my computer through the use of another word processor which allows me to: にほんごがかきます。 カタカナカキマス。==> I can write in hiragana, katakana (and kanji), but I need to copy it to any other page where I may need to use it.

Also, about music: listened to it quite a bit (actually Japanese bands
and Koit Toome sums my last month in music up pretty well, 😉 ) however quite a bit of my listening is made up of Capsule — and a decent amount of it is in English (very good though!!!).

So, some goals for the next month as  well, I believe.

    • improving usage of katakana
    • familiarizing myself with hiragana
    • learning at least one word-list per week, preferably two
    • processing one chapter of Heisig’s masterpiece on kanji a week as a
      minimum
    • listening to more Japanese-language music (== less Capsule 🙁 )
    • finding at least one audiobook to listen to even though I’ll understand very little at first.

That is all for now. I’ll try to make the next update a little bit closer to the actual +1 month that I set for myself, and not edit the date. 😉

Languages: Japanese, Part I

So, after taking up a book by a crazy Irishman which explained how to learn languages well and effectively, and so that they could actually be used (those six years of school-time Russian/French that I really can’t use are therefore left out), there was the recommendation that creating a blog-entry with the goals and targets in mind is assisting, I have decided to do just that.

A short introduction:
Since coming to the UEA, I’ve found myself a part of the Japanese Society and that led me to pursue some skills in the Japanese language. For the first month or so, what we did was basic introductions and whatnot (‘Je m’appelle…‘, ‘Kus sa elad…’, etc), but after that I turned a bit more serious and ordered myself a grammar book which assisted me in picking up some of the basic stuff that the Society lessons did not mention. In any instance, since that time I’ve also picked up the hiragana writing system (I’ve yet to enable it on my computer though), and a few useful expressions. With difficulty, expressing basic sentences is possible (success!!!).

So, I’ll list here what I plan to do by the 8th January (which coincidentally might be one of the hardest things since I’ll be in EST for the majority of the time between now and then):

  • Enabling the writing systems (hiragana, katakana) on my computer
  • Learning the katakana
  • Listen regularly to Japanese music //which is not difficult at all since I’m doing it quite a bit right now due to the fact that my usual stuff has quite bored me, 😛 //
  • Memorizing & understanding certain word-lists

I’m sure there’s something else that I’ve forgotten since this currently seems to empty, but it’s all that my partial to-do list contained. So, we’ll see exactly what happened in a bit less than a month.

EDIT: I forgot to add why I wish to learn Japanese… 🙂 To read (once my skill is considerable enough) the books that I’ve up to that point read only in translations. ‘The Master of Go’ — it can only be better in Japanese, to name on example. And, why not use it for other, more mundane tasks as well…