January 11th, 2008

#822: Translation errors

Maybe "errors" is too strong a word.

I've been tag-teaming Azumanga Daioh over the past several days--watching the anime and reading the manga--and a few things came to mind.

The translation of manga to anime was pretty well-done, but it wasn't without its issues. The time that Osaka gets hiccoughs and the girls try all kinds of cures, for example, includes Kagura in the manga, but not in the anime. A lot of these changes were due to the fact that the animators had to fill 26 half-hour episodes with material.

Sadly a few of the funniest jokes were omitted. Again, I think it was a case where they just could not be fit into the series. (Before the sports festival which featured the marathon, Tomo and Osaka try hanging Chiyo-chan upside down from the window as an anti-teruterubozu, in hopes of causing rain the next day. *sigh*)

Then there's the translation from Japanese to English. They did a fair dinkum job in the anime. The manga...not so much.

Chiyo-chan gets called "Chiyosuke" several times, which is funny. In the manga, ADV translated it as "Chihuahua", which is not funny.

The translators tried making Osaka's dialect obvious. Book 1, page 46, strip title "What should I do?"

Panel 1:
Osaka, looking through her book bag: "Oh no! I fuhgot my English book! What should I do? I don't know anybody in my uhtha classes, neitha!"

Panel 2:
Osaka: "That's it! I'll tell the teacha I accidentaly brought one from Osaka! Maybe she'll let it go."

Panel 3:
Osaka, raising her hand: "Um, teacha? I accidentally brought the book I had in Osaka, so..."
Yukari-sensei: "Really? What book did they use in Osaka? I'd like to see it."

Panel 4:
Osaka, sweating: "Uh, uh, umm...I don' got it."

Note to translators: STOP DOING THIS. Okay? Just stop. No matter what accent or dialect of English you pick it will not carry the flavor of someone speaking Kansai Japanese in Tokyo. IT. DOES. NOT. WORK. It doesn't work, it's ham-fisted writing, and it looks stupid.

Making Osaka sound like she's from New Jersey is almost as bad as it would be if they made her sound like she's from Texas.

The anime translation works better, fortunately: they truncate the terminal "G" of Osaka's gerunds, and that's about it.

There is no good way to convert the Kansai/Edokko Japanese dichotomy into English, because Kansai isn't just an accent but a seperate dialect. It would be more accurate to have Osaka start speaking Ebonics than it is for her to have a Jersey mouth.

Panel 1:
Osaka, looking through her book bag: "Dayum! I done left my book at the hizzle. And I ain't got no homies in my other classes."

Panel 2:
Osaka: "Hey! I just tell the teacher I brung my ol' one from Osaka. She let it slide."

...maybe not.

AD isn't the only series that's done this, and ADV isn't the only translation house that has, either. Everyone tries doing it, to one extent or another, and I've never seen an example that worked.

Battle Skipper, arguably one of the worst mech series ever produced, contains a mech with a computer that speaks in the Kansai dialect. The dubbed voice? New York/New Jersey accent.

The Graduation game that Mixx released years ago, a translation of the Japanese game? I borrowed it from a friend in like 1999 and played it once. (He has never asked me to return it, and just the other day I found the CD in my desk.) One character has that same Jersey accent. Another one talks like a four-year-old girl even though she's supposed to be like 17 for Christ's sake. I heard those two voices and never played that game again.

I also remember an example of "Kansai=southern US" but I can't recall what series it was.

I haven't watched the dub of AD; just subtitled, so I don't know what they do with Osaka's voice. Dubs have annoyed the crap out of me since the second Kimagure Orange Road movie was released; that dub was so bad I got one minute into the movie before I had to stop watching it...and I've avoided them since then.

You can't avoid some errors when translating, of course. The thing is, you can avoid introducing new errors. Tomo-chan insists that a real Osakan would have takoyaki in her lunch. That doesn't translate well; what you do is add a footnote or something explaining what takoyaki is. What you do not do is change "takoyaki" to "meatball sandwich".

As bad as all that can be, nothing can compare to the utter hack job Mixx did on Miracle Girls. All the names in the series were changed to American names. Why? Were we somehow supposed to relate better to Japanese people with American names? WTF.

It's a shame, because the story was a pretty good one--but stupid crap like this is just distracting. It also makes you wonder what else they messed with, you know?

#823: I got news indigestion again!

Stop the presses! This just in: Emperor Hadrian of Rome, most famous for Hadrian's Wall, was gay.

Okay, in actuality it's not even remotely news except to people who were edumacated in gummint schools. Hadrian was not only gay; he was a pedophile, too. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

...and that is it, the sum total of all the interesting news stories that came out of today's headlines. And it's more of a wisecrack than anything else.

* * *

Notice that I haven't done any spam posts for a while? There's a reason for that: all the spam I'm getting is the same as the stuff I got previously. There is nothing new. If any of these morons want to see their spams up in lights on the ol' Fungus, they're going to have to thrill me, and I ain't being thrilled.

* * *

I don't even know what that meant.

* * *

I'm in a moderately good mood because it's January, hours have been cut, and I don't work tonight as I normally would. I'm actually pretty well-pleased with that, for several reasons:

1) Jeep needs rear brakes. They've been making horrid squeaking noises and have gotten "grabby". All of this could have been done in warm weather had I actually thought to, I don't know, inspect the damn things after I bought the truck. Somehow it all slipped my mind, though, and now I may be looking at having to have the drums machined as well as doing all this in the fricking cold. Argh etc.

2) Sister is coming soon. Mom and I still have to prepare the house for 3 more people and a dog.

3) Wednesday night was not an easy night. I basically had to run at full speed all night long; I am still aching. I was supposed to take Mom to the doctor Thursday morning, but because my sister's situation has become more dire, we had to run to the bank as soon as it opened to wire her money--and so I didn't get the nap I desperately needed. Driving home from the bank I nearly fell asleep at the wheel! So we got my uncle to drive her there and I gave her money for cab fare for the ride home. I felt guilty about that, but I would have felt a lot worse than guilty if I'd fallen asleep at the wheel and gotten into a wreck.

* * *

Other than that, there is nothing really interesting for me to write about right now, so I'll post this one and watch some anime or something.

#824: How did Bach know about subwoofers? (or, ZOMG teh b455!!!)

I spent some Christmas money and got a subwoofer today.

I paid $99 plus tax at Best Buy for a 50-watt Yamaha subwoofer. As subwoofers go it's nothing special, and I got it just so my Dolby 7.1 surround system would actually have the "0.1" part, and so movies wouldn't sound so damned tinny.

I don't know what it is, except that the D7.1 spec expects a subwoofer to be present. The speakers I've got are not slouchy in the frequency response department, and in "stereo" mode the sound is perfectly acceptable. But kick it into "surround" and it turns tinny.

This ought to fix that.

So what did I select as the first music to test this new machinery? Bach's "Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor", of course.

The Passacaglia features an extended grease-gun blast of low C, a note so low that it takes a 64-foot pipe to generate it--and until today I have never had a stereo system capable of reproducing that note. Now I can listen to that piece and it sounds like a minor earthquake, which is awesome.

My primary interest in having a subwoofer is to generate a reasonably flat frequency response--and that's a whole 'nother rant right there; more on that in a moment--so I'm going to be spending some time trying to get the volume tweaked such that it's not overpowering.

These days, people call themselves "audiophiles" who cram 6,000 watts of bass into their cars, but that's not an audiophile. That's a "low frequency-phile". An audiophile is someone who wants his stereo system to perfectly reproduce sound.

That means that if you're listening to one of Bach's organ pieces, you hear what you would hear if you were there during recording. It does not mean you kind of hear the manuals but everything else is drowned out in a tsunami of the audio frequencies below 100 Hertz; it means you hear it all and it's as if the guy was playing the organ right there in your living room.

An audiophile uses a subwoofer to boost the bass response of his sytem so that it's approximately flat to the rest of the system's response. People with lots of bass in their cars boost the bass far above that level.

My stereo puts out 100 watts per channel. I didn't want that much bass, and I knew a 100-watt subwoofer would be too much. And, as it turns out, I was right.

I didn't do this blind, though. A friend is into home theater, and another friend lent him some monster subwoofer. On its lowest setting, it still overwhelmed the room with bass; there was just too much. So I knew that I didn't want a huge subwoofer.

It's far too easy to spend ludicrous amounts of money on stereo equipment, and once you get past a certain point you are wasting money on purely subjective gains. The difference between lamp cord and Monster Cables is purely subjective, as no human ear is sensitive enough to distinguish between them at audio frequencies. The Monster Cable is better because it costs so much, not the other way around--and I'm sorry to say that the laws of physics back me up on this.

While waiting for help at Best Buy I saw that Monster Cable is also in the business of selling power filters. The primary selling point of this junk is that it gives you a better viewing/listening experience by making sure the power getting to your equipment is "pure".

What rot.

Most equipment runs, internally, on DC these days, and if your components' power supplies can't handle the basic task of converting AC into smooth DC current, a $290 power strip isn't going to fix it.

By all means, use a line filter. But you can buy an APC surge protector for about $50 that'll do everything the Monster Cables unit will.

...and I am still waiting for some electronics store goober to try to sell me that junk-ass crap when I'm buying what I need. The subwoofer I bought today is connected to the amp with a $13 patch cord, and it only cost that much because I had a choice between 6 feet and 20 feet, and I knew the 6-footer wouldn't be long enough. The subwoofer is expected to reproduce frequencies up to about 100 Hz, and the bandwidth of the typical RCA patch cord is measured in tens of megahertz, at least--starting at DC, I might add. I don't need a $50 cable for my $100 subwoofer; it won't improve the performance one whit. What it would do is seperate me from another $37, if I was that stupid.

As for my system, I think I have the sub dialed in to the point that it's not obvious, but there--I am hearing things I haven't heard in music before but it doesn't overpower the rest of the music. That's how I want it.

#825: Digested news and miscellany.

Dalton minimum? The 24th sunspot cycle is 6 months late, but apparently has finally started. Both articles say that this cycle, and the following one, will help us determine whether or not anthropogenic global warming (AGW, "global warming=man-made=apocalypse") is actually taking place.

In the former link, though, a commenter wisecracked, "So global warming is causing the cycle to shorten? Mr. "I invented the internet" didn't warn us of that."


Fox News does a story about Arizona's new laws aimed at limiting employment opportunities for illegal immigrants.

Sez an illegal, "I don't want to live here because of the new law and the oppressive environment. I'll be better in my country."

That's right, you will. And don't let the door hit you where the good Lord split you.

This is an interesting graphical representation of the US budget. The problem I have with it is that it assigns a single block of funds to the Department of Defense, while "social services" spending is split into several departments.

I added together Social Security, Medicare, Income Security, and Medicaid, and came up with a figure of $1.52 trillion, or about 51% of the $2.9 trillion federal budget.

That's $2,891,933 per minute.

The Department of Defense gets $717 billion, about 25% of the federal budget. That's $1,364,155 per minute.

(NASA gets $17.3 billion. That's $32,914 per minute.)

The glorious workers' paradise of China has a few problems with its workers. Specifically, the workers who do things like videotape things which are inconvenient for local governments. So the police beat this one poor guy to death for doing that.

Interesting bits in Friday's mail page on Jerry Pournelle's web site.
Subject: Inertial confinement fusion


Speaking of fusion, today I got to go on a tour of the National Ignition Facility at Livermore. That is one BIG laser system; the building is the size of 3 football fields, the whole thing cost $3.5B, and amazingly the whole scheme started with one tiny fiber laser that is amplified, and amplified, etc.

They seem confident that they will get "scientific break even", which means they'll get the target to fuse and produce more energy than is put on the target by the laser. That is NOT energy break even, because the the laser system is very inefficient, so they are perhaps at 1% of or less of the energy gain needed for energy break even. However, as the director talked, he noted several trivial improvements that can get them to 10% (use 70% efficient diodes as optical pumps instead of 10% flash lamps, etc). Getting to within a factor of 10 of energy break even is a big step.

I came away impressed. They have a very good engineering approach to building this thing, with a lot of attention to extreme reliability, and they answered honestly some fairly pointed questions. This is still a long way from anything like a powerplant, but it was encouraging to see this.


That's sort of where we were a decade ago. I am not sure why fusion research doesn't seem to be going anywhere. What I do know is that fission works, and we know how to build good and safe reactors.

For the wag who sent me the query "Do you still support nuclear power after Chernobyl and Three Mile Island?" the answer is yes. Chernobyl wasn't a power reactor and employs a positive void design that is illegal in the United States: Teller himself had it written into public law that no such reactor can be licensed here. TMI was an unplanned (and unwanted) experiment in safety. It was a very costly experiment, but it showed clearly t that in a worst case accident no one off site would be injured. No one off site was injured.
I didn't know that bit about Teller. Then again, Edward Teller is one of my heros.

This is fascinating: arthritis drug can reverse some Alzheimer's symptoms.

* * *

Today, when I was out shopping, I had a chance to look at the Sony E-book Reader (or however you spell that). Model PRS-505. I was impressed.

It was the first time I could get my hands on a device that used electronic paper, and it is exactly as advertised: it looks like paper. Slightly greyer than normal paper, but paper--only this paper is actually an LCD screen.

I rubbed a finger over the surface and the pixels didn't blur or "blush" or distort. The blinking effect when turning pages--you could get used to that really quickly, I think. It looked like printing on paper, with good contrast, and you could view it from any angle you cared to try. I'm not sure how many greyscales there were but there were "enough".

I could see myself owning something like this if it wasn't $300. An MSRP of $100-$150 would probably convince me to buy one. I'd want a USB port and an SD memory card slot. I'd want it to run on AA or AAA batteries so I can buy replacements even at a gas station if I need 'em--no weird-shaped rechargeable batteries that you have to have the exact cord or docking station to recharge.

I could pack a lot of text onto a single 1 GB SD card, let me tell you.

The technology is pretty good, I think. The electronic paper could stand some improvement--mainly in refresh rate. Give 'em 5-10 years and the things will have full-motion video in color. Add a touch screen to the thing and you've got all the basics of a portable tablet computer. With sufficient demand for this kind of product they could make 'em dirt cheap so you wouldn't have to worry about losing the thing.

They're not going to generate "sufficient demand" by pricing these things at $300 per crack, though.