November 14th, 2009

#1813: Sorry, I'm with Obama on this one. (But he still screwed up.)

Obama bowed to Emperor Akihito of Japan. I'm sure Obama was trying to greet the Emperor with a Japanese-style show of respect. It's fine; but he made a couple mistakes that completely ruined the effect.

Missorah.com and LA Times on it.

The first mistake Obama is making here is that he is bowing while shaking hands: that's wrong. You do one or the other first; it's okay to do them both but not simultaneously. (Japanese will generally bow first and shake hands afterwards.)

The other mistake is that he's bowing too deeply. The exact rules for the depth of a bow are nonexistent; Japanese do it all by feel because their culture teaches them to bow automatically to the correct angle which represents the difference in station, status, and deference. But there are guidelines foreigners can follow which will get them into the ballpark. Obama's 'way out of the ballpark; in most circumstances few Japanese would bow that deeply to anyone, and it's obvious even to me, whose entire experience with Japan comes from anime.

There are circumstances where one will get on his knees and bow with his head to the floor; but a head of state greeting the Emperor is not one of those. There may be times when one needs to bow as deeply as Obama bowed to the Emperor, but the situation Obama was in was not one of those, either.

Obama could have gotten away with bowing just his head--maybe inclining his shoulders a bit too, at the same time the Emperor did--then reaching out to shake hands, and the Emperor would have been impressed: the new US President knows a little about Japanese etiquette.

Instead, Obama shakes hands, and then bows obsequiously in mid-shake. If I were Akihito, I'd be thinking, What a tool.

It's like Obama only just thought of bowing after he saw the Emperor and his wife do it, and then did it all wrong.

What a tool.

* * *

This isn't going to happen. Obama is not going to freeze the federal budget such that next year's budget is the same size as this year's was. No D.C. politician has ever done this.

I am willing to bet that the "budget freeze" means that federal spending will only increase by the typical 10-12% that it increases every year, and that the "5% cut" mentioned in the article in fact means that spending may increase by only 5-7%. Every time you hear the beltway media talk about "budget cuts" what they in fact mean is reductions in the rate of growth, not actual reductions in spending.

They always do it this way, and the press never, never, ever calls them on it. (Except when a Repubican who campaigned on smaller government does it.)

* * *

Generally I don't follow any Twitters or tweets or WTF-ever they're called. (In my day all we had was e-mail and IRL and we had to connect to the Internet via 28k dialup....)

That one's an exception, because they're all quotes from this guy's dad, and they're great.

* * *

I may end up adding this one to the blogroll. We'll see.

This post on solar power is good.

* * *

I suppose I'm going to start looking for an application which will make blogging easier.

I'm getting tired of making stupid HTML errors, and forgetting to preview, and then having to go back and edit the stuff I just posted to fix the stupid HTML errors. What I want to do is press a couple keys and have tags auto-inserted: press one combo and get a blank link tag, needing only the URL and the link text; press another combo for each of the italic, bold, and underline tags (and have the editor keep track of whether its an "open" or "close" tag); and so on. Ideally, set it up so that I do not have to reach for the mouse: a writer gets more text out if he doesn't have to stop and move a hand away from the keyboard.

I know such a tool doesn't exist, and I can't program my way out of an imaginary box. ArborText requried mousing for the SGML tags but at least it made sure you couldn't place an open tag without the corresponding close tag--but I'm not going to pay the however many upmty-hundred dollars an ArborText license costs to make my blogging easier.

Eh? "Rich text"? I freakin' hate rich text editors. (And tabbing to LJ's rich text editor screwed up all my quotation marks, so here I am using it. Argh etc.)

Understand, I cut my word processing teeth with a Commodore 64 running WordPro and PaperClip 64. With those programs, you set your page format using an arcane series of commands which set all the margins and such. If you wanted to italicize, bold, or underline, you had to hit a CTRL sequence to insert the "on" and "off" tags into the text. You had to keep in mind what the text would look like as the computer lacked the processing power to show you, on the fly, what it would end up looking like.

Typing a blog entry as HTML ain't that different.

In fact, for years I used Professional Write on the PC, which still wasn't a true WYSIWYG word processor. It would change underlined, italicized, or bolded text a different color to indicate it wasn't in the normal font, and the lines would appear on the screen more-or-less as they'd show up on the printed page; but you'd still have to print it to see what it looked like. (WordPerfect, which was the de facto standard of word processing for years--before Word--worked largely the same way.)

When I had to start using Word, in 1998, professionally--that was a nightmare. The technical publications department of the Business and Regional Systems division of Rockwell-Collins was really asking too much of Word, expecting it to be a desktop publishing app instead of a word processor. Word can do it, but it's asking a lot and it can get frustrating when Word freaks out and makes dumbass changes to your document.

So I don't know what to do about my blogging. Maybe just learn (again) how to proofread.