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Predicting and Forecasting

January has always been an intellectually exciting month for me. My students are eager and thrilled with whatever subject I present for discussion. Perhaps being the first month of the year, which is associated with resolution and starting afresh, they are motivated with most things, including learning or improving their English.

In January 2018, one of the topics that interested them most was predicting and forecasting — two words which are often confused by many native and non-native English speakers.

For me, predicting is a subjective telling of the future based on intuition and personal judgement, which can be biased (sometimes it is entertaining or disconcerting). Whereas, forecasting is done by analysing the past. I predicted that my Aussie nephew would have a wedding in a tropical island where the weather forecast is favourable for outdoor ceremony, reception and party.

The Cambridge English dictionary defines ‘to predict’ (verb – /prɪˈdɪkt/) as “to say that an event or action will happen in the future, especially as a result of knowledge or experience: It’s still not possible to predict accurately the occurrence of earthquakes. [ + that ] Who could have predicted that within ten years he’d be in charge of the whole company? [ + to infinitive ] The hurricane is predicted to reach the coast tomorrow morning. [ + question word ] No one can predict when the disease will strike again” (see ''predict'' in the Cambridge Online Dictionary).

Mediums Craig and Jane Hamilton-Parker have made the following predictions for this year (read ''Predictions: Psychic and Astrology World Predictions for 2018''): “A trade embargo with North Korea will fail, the US will strike at railway line and bridge to disrupt imports. Massive Bitcoin fraud uncovered and thwarted that funds terrorism and war. Terrorists make an airborne chemical weapon gas attack by multiple drones on a European capital city.”

Would you like to try your predicting skill? Who will win the football/soccer World Cup in Russia in June? Who among the world’s celebrities will fall from grace?

100年前からの連続性

clinic

スペインはアンダルシア。

昨年のクリスマス・イヴに、Blanco y Negroという雑誌(1891年に創刊)を蚤の市で見つけた。主に芸術や文学を扱う週刊誌で、現在も発行されているようだ。

1915年9月26日、1.271号のページをめくると、ベルギーやオーストリアの女性参政権についての記事があり、その中にこの風刺画がある。画家の名は、Pedro Antonio Villahermosa y Borao で通称Sileno。ページ数は見あたらず、文の内容と挿絵とはそぐわないが、一枚の画が多くを物語っている。

アンクル・サムのアメリカの足元には、(紛争・戦争の当事国が債務に苦しむのは重々わかっているから)現金決済という札とともに武器がずらりとならび、背景に潤う軍事産業が見える。戦闘狂なるものの軌跡。米国の軍事産業の言いなりに防衛力を整備していると、日本の富もドルの嗜好品として煙となり消えていくという図説ですね。

同時に、日本の歴史についても考えさせられる。以前、加藤周一氏(NHK「歴史としての20世紀を語る」)がドイツや日本の戦争責任を問いながら、水面下にいるナチの残党について言及していた。ハーケンクロイツの旗を振っていた人たちはどこへ行った。戦争が終わったからといって、急に消えるはずはない。「南京で子供を殺したおじさんはどこ行ったの。それは我々の隣に住んでいるとても良いおじさんなわけじゃない。親切で・・・」みたいなことを言っていた。

。。。下につづく

Bonne Année 2018! Vill Gléck am Neie Joer!(謹賀新年)

大晦日の夜。夫とレストランをでて、友人宅の玄関先にシャンパンのボトルを置き、駅前の歩道橋をのぼったところで年が明けました。四方の夜空に花火がはじけ、道々、通りすがりの人たちとボン・アネーと言いかわしながら帰ってきました。

新年のご挨拶をした人の中には、たぶん陽気なドラッグ・ディーラーもいたように思う。この包摂性が当地の醍醐味。町のあちこちに、楽観的な気配のただよう(アムステルダムでも感じましたが)雨天のルクセンブルグです。

前述の善友は、元日午前12時15分がバースデーで、まさか旅先から帰った私たちが立ち寄るとは思いもせず。ドルビーサラウンドの大音響で、子供たちと映画を見ていたという笑い話です。

クリスマスを南スペインで過ごし、ジブラルタルで30キロほど離れたアフリカ大陸を眺めました。エル・カミニート・デル・レイ(Youtube)を歩きながら、人生のチャンスは何度でも巡ってくるのだなあと考えていました。普段、それとは気づかずにやり過ごしているだけかもしれません。

今年の日本にも、チャンスはあると思います。たくさんあると思う。チャンスを探訪すれば、きっと良くなっていくと思う。皆さんにとって、実りの多い2018年でありますように。日本の社会が良くなりますように。

。。。下につづく

Happy New Year -- no resolution, yes motivation

It’s still the holiday season and being on staycation, I’ve time to read. One of the articles I’ve recently come across is on the science of success and motivation (read on Forbes, ''The Science Behind Success And Motivation'', seen 26/12/17). Mr Eric Barker, writer of the Barking Up The Wrong Tree blog, stated that “If you’re tired and unmotivated, it almost doesn’t matter what other strengths you have. People who do nothing tend to achieve nothing. So knowing what motivates you can be critical to success.” I agree with him.

Quoting Prof Teresa Amabile’s research finding that the feeling of progress in your efforts is the most motivating factor in life, Barker advises us to focus on “small wins.” I share his view on this: it is better to work gradually and a step at a time toward meeting our main challenge than to deal with massive issues head on then feel like we’re not getting closer to our goals and are failing.

There are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation comes from within, i.e. yourself. Individuals are motivated because they want to be accepted, honoured, independent, loved, powerful, respected, or wanted.

Extrinsic motivation comes from the outside, and the most often mentioned motivating factor for working hard is money. However, many studies have shown that money is not the main source of happiness. If I were one of the respondents, I would have definitely revealed the same thing.

Apologies go a long way

Two weeks ago, commuting by bus, a woman in her late 60s placed her two heavy-looking bags on the seat in front of me and remained standing. I moved to the window seat and motioned her to the one I just vacated. She declined thankfully and explained politely that her back hurt and couldn't sit down.

The next 25 minutes were like being in a cinema watching a terrible community drama. With full of emotion, she narrated how her daughter’s motorcycle accident caused their family un-describable pain and hardship. Her daughter was only 17 years old (this was nearly 20 years ago) and went for a motorcycle ride with a male friend of her age in the countryside not far from their home. The driver took off leaving her on the ground bleeding and bruised. She got home by crawling and limping, and stayed in the hospital for several months. This devoted mum said with watery eyes "If that coward didn’t leave her alone and she had medical attention right away, she would have recovered earlier and better."

I asked her what happened to that “male friend”. "He now has a good job and in a relationship, but my daughter lives with me because she can’t look after herself. I wish I had brought them to court; but at that time, I was just glad she’s alive. I did admonish him saying that if she had died, I’d have killed him."

Did he apologise? No… "Of course not."

Why didn't he? How about his parents? Why didn't they apologise or talk him into doing it?

嘘で、あかるい未来はつくれない

吉村洋文(大阪市長)‏Verified account @hiroyoshimura この件に関して、僕は政党会派を超えて自民、維新関係なく、正当な行動をとるべきだと思います。先祖、子孫の名誉にも関わります・・・」

ヨーロッパで、たえず私は失敗をしてます。「失敗」とか「失礼・無礼」とは思いもよらず、周りに指摘されて気づくことも多々あります。でも「失敗は成功のもと」と思い、年をとってきました。

60年続いた姉妹提携の件で、大阪市長に気づいてほしい。市長には広い世界の怖さをわきまえ、考察のゆきとどいた温容な判断をしてもらいたいたかった。

欧米の親日家が考えそうな然るべき「正当な行動」について、関西弁で書いてみますね。「事実でないことって?性奴隷のこと、知らんの?ホンマに知らんの?知らんふりしてンだけ、ちゃうのん?そりゃ日本の歴史で恥ずかしいこと、あったで。証拠もごっつう、あるし。でもあんたらがしたことと、ちゃうやん。なァ、昔の恥を認めたくないんやろ。それを認めへんあんたが、今、めっちゃ恥ずかしんやんか。わかるか。ひゃあ、知らんという認識もでけんもんらしい。そーか。そらあかんわ。ほな、教えてあげまほか。おんなじスカタン、繰りかえんさんよぉに。按配したげるでぇ(ここで無残に記念碑がたつ)」「市長。つっぱってんと、あんじょう謝りや~」まァこんな感じかな。

。。。下につづく

これからの社会保障-ケイパビリティの視点から

clinic

ブリュッセルからルクセンブルグへの帰り道。列車内は混みあっているが、本が読めないほどうるさくはない。隣の4人がけの座席には、こども連れの老婦人がいた。

彼女の両脇には、孫のロイック(7歳)とジャック(3歳)。やさしく声をおとしたおばあちゃんの読み聞かせに、たのしげな笑い声がたえまなくひびいて、彼らの幸福感が通路をへだてた私にまで振動して伝わってくる。いつまでも聞いていたいような小気味よい笑いの音曲に、体がほぐれていく気がした。ふと耳にはいる会話をたどるうちに、彼女の忍耐強い養育態度にひき寄せられた。

聞いたところでは、フランスからブリュッセルへ孫をむかえにきたらしい。一週間(万聖節の休み)、彼らをあずかるという。絵本の読み方からも、教養のある女性であることがわかる。7歳のロイックはフラマン語もイタリア語もわかる。そこに彼女が、英語で説明をくわえる。私も調子に乗って、ルクセンブルグ語では、日本語ではこういうのよと言いそえた。経済的にはもちろんのこと、文化的にもなんと恵まれた家庭だろう。彼らは、次世代のリーダーとして育っていくのだろう。

隣席で私が読んでいたのは、阿部彩さんの「子供の貧困II」(岩波新書、2014年)である。日本には、100まで数えられない高校生がいるという。なんということだろう。財務省のお偉い方々がいったという。「『阿部さん、わかりました。では、何をすればよいのですか。具体的に、どのような政策を打てば子供の貧困は解決するのですか。それがわかれば、私たちだってお金をつけますよ』その時、言葉が出なかった。それが今でも悔しくてたまらない」(page. iv)。

。。。下につづく

Summer of culture and history

You've probably heard about the simplicity and generosity of Polish people; well, I've been a recipient of these admirable human traits. I recently spent a week in Gdansk in the company of a cordial and considerate Pole and her mum.

Gdansk is one of the five big cities in Poland with about 470,000 inhabitants. (I'd like to visit its capital, Warsaw, one day). This country, which is rich in mineral and agricultural resources, is often referred to as "ex-eastern European nation” when geographically it lies entirely on the north European plain and is in the central European time zone. It’s one hour ahead of standard Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) in the winter months, and two hours ahead from late March to October due to daylight saving time.

I've been told by my hosts that winter in Poland is very cold and summer is not-so-warm. I agree with them concerning the later; I haven't experienced the former yet. I was there in the middle of August but always carried a jumper when I went out. I was lucky to experience several sunny days promenading in the famous Royal Way which included the Old Town Street, where Polish kings used to parade; the Golden Gate; the Torture House; the Prison Tower and Neptune’s Fountain.

The majority of Poles are Roman Catholic, so there are churches and places of worship in almost every corner and street; I went to half a dozen of them. Some Poles belong to the Polish Orthodox Church and various Protestant denominations, such as the Lutherans. Of course, there are also members of minority religious groups.

5分でわかる改憲案

スペインの軍事独裁政権でのお話。

死の床にいた独裁者のもとへ、信奉者たちがわかれを告げにつどい寄った。「われらがリーダ。フランコ将軍よ。アディオス。アディオス」

それを耳にしたフランコは、その場にいた医師に問いただしたという。「さよなら、さよならって。彼らはどこへ行くのだろう」

この混濁した意識と方向性を見失った様子は、同胞・日本人を「こんな人たち」と呼んだ秋葉原での安倍さんとかさなるように思う。

最近、集団的自衛権や自民党の改憲案について、少し読みとってきましたが。忙しい人には、これが一番わかりやすいように思います。まったきを得た5分のビデオを、ぜひ多くの人たちに見ていただきたい。

。。。下につづく

Realistic Optimism - Every ending has a new beginning

Last July 8, I attended a retirement party; and like most farewell gatherings, it was filled with joy and sadness. The honouree was a gentle, kind and caring person who had helped many people, including me. There were always cakes and sweets on her desk for anyone who needed a boost on a hectic day. I often had it out of ‘gourmandise’ (greed). I miss her and her chocolates, and it’s strange not to see her grin anymore.

Everything has an ending; however, this ending has also a beginning. Today may be your last working day, but it’s also an opportunity to start something you have been wanting to do for a long time, such as going to the gym, reading a book, jogging, travelling or relaxing on a sofa or hammock, etc.

The passing of time is inevitably fast that no one is far from any ending. Most situations that herald the end of something, like retirement, retrenchment, graduation, leaving home, holiday, relationships, entertainment or sporting events, mean ‘change.’ The majority of people are anxious about changes because of fear of a possible loss, uncertainty and anxiety (though 90% of these worries don’t happen). We should consider the end of any event or situation as a change that has a silver lining even when it looks sombre.

With any change, positivism is the key. Our thoughts, emotions and feelings affect our body. While positive thoughts and emotions encourage calmness and physical activity, negative thoughts inhibit peace and efficiency. Positivism involves restructuring our perceptions and thinking process so that any problem or negative situation, such as change or end of a situation, is accepted as having benefits or as a stepping stone to something better. After all, change is the only constant in life.

Health and Well-being

Last June 19 - 22 was Well-Being Week at the European Parliament and there were exhibitions and information sessions held to inspire and help people to be healthy and happy. June 21 was Music Festival not only in France and Luxembourg but in many parts of the world, and it made many people joyful. June 22 was UN International Yoga Day and it highlighted the useful contribution of yoga to humankind's healthy lifestyle that is harmonious with nature. In Luxembourg, the 23rd was a public holiday as it was the country's national day filled with festivities, food stalls, concerts, fireworks and merrymaking.

These were different events, but had similar goals, which were to inform, entertain and encourage people to relax and be peaceful -- important for our well-being. When we are happy and peaceful, we are stressed-resistant and our immune system functions favourably maintaining a healthy body and mind. My adult students recently did a class project on health and well-being, and concluded that “Healthy workplaces are positive and positive workplaces are healthy.”

You may argue that achieving a work-life balance isn’t easy as it doesn’t only involve you and there are issues beyond your control, such as a demanding job and/or boss. Rightly so, however, this one person (YOU) has choices. We can have positive daily work experience in the midst of deadlines, not-so-caring supervisor and uncooperative or annoying colleagues. At home, relationships can be improved by having open communication, by being honest and respectful, and by showing more empathy and understanding. We have different levels of optimism, but even a half-empty glass has a space that can be filled. If everyone contributes to filling this, it does not take long for it to be full again.

On the global level, The World Economic Forum (Matthieu Ricard) has identified 5 ways to improve health and well-being: (... Read more ...)

What’s wrong with his Japanese education?

What’s wrong with his Japanese education

The video below is a part of Prime Minister Abe’s Q&A session, which I tried to translate as accurately as I could. Feel free to improve it.

A woman asks, “As for the LDP party, what sort of policy do you intend to focus on?” He answers:

“The Preamble of the Constitution of Japan asserts that ‘we have determined to preserve our security and existence, trusting in the justice and faith of the peace-loving peoples of the world.’ In other words, it says that we leave it to the rest of the world to ensure our own security. And, ‘We desire to occupy an honored place in an international society striving for the preservation of peace, and the banishment of tyranny and slavery, oppression and intolerance for all time from the earth.’ It does not mean that we think of banishing tyranny and slavery, oppression and intolerance. The international society thinks so, and that’s how we seek help from them. It is petty. Quite frankly, it is a disreputable/undignified constitution. Because it is not made by the Japanese, isn’t it? Due to such constitution, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not obliged [allowed?] to make comments (on the Constitution). That is left to the international community to do so. That’s how the spirit has become. I think that it is important to change from there.”

I know it is quite puzzling. When I saw this video, I was dumbfounded at first, as his answers show a complete misunderstanding of the Constitution. (Or, he lacks a basic understanding of the Japanese language). I now find it quite interesting as this reveals his revisionist logic.

日本の政治がつまらない訳

いや~、おもしろいもの見ました。この野放図もない曲解、論理のほころび。「これって、安倍さんのファンタジー?ネガショニズム?拡大・類推解釈?」混乱しますよね。

「日本人がつくったものじゃない」から、「いじましい」なら「米国のCIAに資金提供をうけてできた自民党は、みっともなくないですか?」「しかも民主主義のふりしつつ、日本もほぼ一党政治ですが?」とか、そこは、ぐっと飲みこみました。

日本人にはもとより、日本語のわかる外国人には、安倍さんの話は意味不明だと思います。国連の報告者のようなエリートなら、この女性のように礼儀として話を受けながさずに、真剣なテーマを聞きすごすのも失礼ですから、まず問いただしたり反論したりするでしょう。一撃であっけなく決着がついて、意味のない話はうち切りになるかも知れません。

。。。下につづく

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