Books for sale

Am selling a few books second-hand on Amazon Japan. A new addition (#1 in the list).

  1. 「In Search of Captain Zero」 を 999円 で@amazonから出品しました。 A remarkable story, well told (as you’d expect from an intelligent screenwriter), about Alan Weisbecker, surfer, Hollywood screenwriter, drug-smuggler, dog-lover, who goes in search of “Captain Zero”, his old friend Christopher (not his real name to protect the innocent). The journey begins in Alan’s home in Montauk on the eastern tip of Long Island on the Atlantic Ocean, continues in a customized camping car through the US and places south, and ends much later on the Caribbean cost of Costa Rica. Along the way, Allan reminisces about his times with Christopher, so that we get a round picture of the guy Allan is looking for, and a sense of why he wants to find him (also why these tight buddies got separated). All this makes for an unexpected climax and surprising, moving, ending. As a side-note, I bought this book on May 8th, 2014 and it cost me 1,296 yen new. See the price now? Thank that nice Mr. Abe for the price increase.
  2. 「日経BPクラシックス 大収縮1929-1933「米国金融史」第7章」 を 1,999 で@amazonから出品しました    This is the Japanese translation of Milton Friedman’s and Ann Schwartz’s The Great Contraction 1929-1933 (Princeton Classic Editions), which was chapter 7 of their 1963 book “A Monetary History of the United States”.
  3. “The Great Contraction” is rather heavy going, though, and also its analysis is, in my opinion, flawed. So, I heartily recommend that you read the far more entertaining (and accurate!) .  It’s a steal at 1,000 yen brand new (and there’s a Kindle version, too).
  4. And while I’m at it, here’s a plug for the Japanese translation which came out just this year, and was translated by some friends and me.
  5. 「Mother Tongue: The Story of the English Language」 を 1,500円 で@amazonから出品しました . Bill Bryson is a scholarly journalist who is intensely interested in language and has an eye for the quirky kinds of information that stick in your memory and are not found in most school textbooks. Here’s a sample just from 2 pages in the first chapter: “The Italians, as we might expect, have over 500 names for different types of macaroni. Some of these, when translated, begin to sound distinctly unappetizing, like strozzapreti, which means “strangled priests.” Vermicelli means “little worms” and even spaghetti means “little strings.” When you learn that muscatel in Italian means “wine with flies in it,” you may conclude that the Italians are gastronomically out to lunch, so to speak, but really their names for foodstuffs are no more disgusting than our hot dogs or those old English favorites, toad-in-the-hole, spotted dick, and faggots in gravy.” “Mother Tongue” is a fascinating, easy-to-read and sometimes hilarious introduction for the layman to the history of the English language. The edition I’m selling here is HarperCollins Perennial, 2001, and has a different cover than the one pictured here (the cover is now used for the Kindle version.
  6. 「英語のすべて―ことば この不可思議にして魅力ある世界」 を 9,999円 で@amazonから出品しました。 This is the Japanese translation of Bill Bryson’s “The Mother Tongue”. It is out of print and very difficult to obtain. I have 3 copies, 2 in excellent condition and 1 in very good condition with a slightly dirty cover. なかなか手に入らない本です。3冊が在庫あり。eigonosubete_thumbnail

Choice – your secret weapon

Much is written and said about how to improve yourself and change the world. But here is a short, simple yet incredibly challenging message. Simple. Yet challenging. Created by TPRF for Peace Day 2015.

A new theory of cloud formation

Who’s got the time these days to watch an hour-long video? Certainly not you! This one traces the attempts by a Danish scientist to discover exactly what is the relationship between clouds and cosmic rays and the magnetic activity of the sun. He searches first for theoretical evidence, then later for experimental evidence. There’s an interesting scene where Svensmark gives his presentation and is told by one in the audience that his experiment is a waste of time and not worth conducting!

Link if the video won’t play:

This woman found her map

The name of this blog is “Searching for Accurate Maps”. The original inspiration for that name was something said by Catherine Austin Fitts: “we need accurate maps in order to plot a safe course in this world”, or something like that, that’s not an exact quote. But it caught my imagination and I thought how true it was: if you have an inaccurate map, that’s almost worse than no map at all.

Well, a couple of days ago, I came across this talk below (ignore the goofy photos that have nothing to do with the content of the talk), given a long time ago by a woman I’d never heard of. I respect the blogger who posted it so I thought I’d give it a whirl for 5 minutes or so. I ended up listening to the whole hour-long talk.

The lady is forthright and funny. At one point, her life, which was going down the toilet fast, took a turn for the better – she made a sensible, inspired choice, and found God. I’m not a Christian or a believer in any religion, but I found her talk absorbing and moving.

I’m not suggesting that Christianity is the map. All  I’m saying is that, it struck me that here was a person who was not searching for an accurate map, but who had found one, and was busy making her journey meaningful by using this accurate map. What is the use of searching for accurate maps if you do not find one and then use it?

Couple of great quotes: “when I look at the person I was, I feel I am looking at a Siamese twin. And one of us had to die that the other might live.”

She understood that one of the reasons we human beings are on this planet is to learn how to love. I can’t remember her exact words but it’s somewhere towards the end of her talk, after she found God.

D-Day +1

June 6th was the 71st anniversary of D-Day and the Normandy landings of 1944., dubbed the largest amphibian military assault in history. 156,000 troops landed on a 50-mile stretch of the French Normandy coastline on the morning of June 6th.  A large complex deception plan was enacted to deceive the Germans about exactly where and when the invasion would take place. This plan included fake equipment, a phantom army and fake radio transmissions. (Read more here.)

How much do you know about D-Day? Take a quiz here (I got 60%. How about you?)

I  recently read some excellent children’s stories about the European theatre of WWII, but first, here’s a remarkable video of statistics about military and civilian deaths in WWII:

I recommend the following books about WWII:

  • Ian Serrailler’s “The Silver Sword”, a fictional story but based on real accounts, this tells the tale of 4 children from Warsaw, Poland, whose parents are suddenly arrested by the Nazis, leaving the children to fend for themselves. The father is sent to a prison camp in the south of the country, but he escapes and makes his way back to Warsaw where he hears that his wife was packed off to work as a slave in Germany, and his house was blown up by the Nazis. And the children? Nobody knows anything about them, but while visiting the site of his home, the father  finds a small silver sword, a paper knife he’d given to his wife, and then he meets a strange wild boy named Jan who picks his pockets of food and demands the silver sword. On a hunch, the father gives the sword to Jan on condition that if ever Jan meets his children, he will tell them to go to Switzerland where his wife’s parents live, and where they had agreed to meet should the family be separated. Jan later does meet the 3 children and gains their trust by showing them the sword. The four of them decide to go to Switzerland. The rest of the book is about their extraordinary journey. Written for children, it avoids over-graphic descriptions, yet remains grim and realistic and does not sugar-coat anything. As such, it makes a moving and enjoyable read for adults as well. Serrailler was a school teacher, and during the war was a conscientious objector, yet his descriptions of war-torn Poland are remarkably detailed and convincing. I first read this story when I was 11, and never forgot it.
  • Parallel Journeys, by Eleanor Ayer. The personal experience of WWII, told by a German teenager who joined the Hitler Youth then the Luftwaffe, and a German Jew who “escaped” to Holland in 1939. Author Eleanor Ayer ties the two stories together and acts as an editorial voice connecting quotes from the original books by each participant, Alfons Heck and Helen Waterford, in their own words. Each chapter recounts the events in one of the two’s lives. The chapters alternate between the two characters and are in chronological order.Points that struck me: the fatal hesitation on the part of so many Jews even after the writing was on the wall; the shock when Helen realises this talk of “labor camps” must be a lie; the sickening yet totally believable naivety and fanatic enthusiasm for Hitler and his mad plans on the part of teenaged German youths; the angry good-sense from… (read the rest of my review on Amazon Japan).
  • Resistance 1, a graphic novel by Carla Jablonski (story) and Leland Purvis (illustrations), about some children living in “Free” France who hide a neighbouring Jewish boy when his parents are arrested by the Nazis. Realizing they can’t keep him hidden forever, they decide to contact the Resistance to see if they can help get him to Paris where he learns his parents are in hiding. The book is a light read for adults, but may be a good introduction to this period of French history for younger English readers. There is just one death – a Resistance fighter is killed right in front of the children – but the brooding menace of the times is felt, and the difficulties of getting children to understand the situation.
  • There’s No Escape, by Ian Serrailler. This is more of an adventure story than a war story, and everything is fictional, although the countries’ are obviously similar to European countries in the time of WWII. I inlcude it here because it is a thoroughly enjoyable read and showcases Serrailler’s extraordinary powers as a story-teller. The story is a string of upsets and unexpected twists (more or less believable). A British scientist is persuaded to rescue another scientist from behind enemy lines in Europe. He is trained in parachute-jumping and given false papers and a rendez-vous in 10 days. Everything goes wrong: he lands in a tree and wastes valuable time extricating himself. He buries his parachutist’s clothes, only to discover that he has left his map in them by mistake. He hurries back, but his clothes have disappeared! He is given refuge by a local farmer and tells them of his plans, hoping for their aid, only to fall ill and be laid up in bed for a week! One day, a “doctor” pays a visit; the doctor turns out to be the scientist our hero was supposed to look for! The farmer’s son found him. The rest of the story describes how the two manage to get themselves to the rendez-vous, only to be arrested there and miss the plane that comes to pick them up. There is another way out of the country, but it involves a high mountain pass, and the two must bring along the farmer’s wife and children or leave them to certain death.

“Let’s plant some s***!”

Gardens – most people like them. They exist in every culture. And now, they might be saving lives. Check out this short video, then grab a shovel and “let’s plant some s***!” (Click here to see on YouTube if the player won’t play.)

UK’s election results in one picture

L to R: David Cameron, Nick Clegg, the head of Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon . (The severed head on a plate is of course an allusion to this biblical story).

I get all my news these days without the “benefit” of newspapers or television: (where I found the above cartoon)

and in which the writer points out that now there will be fight within Cameron’s party about the referendum on Britain remaining in the EU, which Cameron promised and which UKIP campaigned on (UKIP ended up in 3rd position in numbers of votes, although they only one a single seat), and another fight will be about Scottish independence. Although last year’s referendum resulted in a defeat for independence, the 50 seats won by the SNP in this election mean that this issue is very much alive.

For an irreverent take on elections generally, read this:

Happy Cherry Blossom viewing

This year, it was wet and windy and cold for much of the cherry-blossom season. I managed to get a few photos towards the end. Help yourself. (Click on image to see larger version.)

Please check out Nara resident Stardust English Talk’s photo blog whose photos are much better than mine.








John Adorney’s new CD Kickstarted!


Coming Soon! Paperless Document Organization Guide revised edition

Brooks Duncan will soon pubilsh his 2015 version of his popular Paperless Document Organization Guide, which I promote on this site (I’m an affiliate). I found his Guide enormously helpful when I was first thinking about going paperless, then once I had made the plunge (and discovered there was more to it than just throwing every bit of paper into the scanner).

As a customer of his, I’ve already downloaded the new Guide. The videos have been re-done and updated, e.g. for Windows 8. You can download the entire package as one giant zip file or as individual items (there are a lot of them, but if you prefer that method, it’s an option).

Check out his website and blog while you’re waiting.

If you’re thinking of going paperless but haven’t quite decided yet, I suggest signing up for Brooks’ free 7-step email course (you get one email a day for a week).

If you already have an earlier version of the Guide, here are a few highlights from the new Edition:

  • It goes much more in-depth on most topics. The PDF itself has been redone with 2.5x the material.
  • All the interviews have been re-done with a great selection of paperless enthusiasts, experts, professionals, and Professional Organizers.
  • All videos have been re-done, including my workflow where you can watch over my shoulder (so to speak) as I process my documents.
  • Each section provides Action Items to help you decide what exactly you need to do, so you can actually take action with confidence.
  • There are more examples.
  • The software section has been updated and expanded with my favorite applications for 2015.
  • The cloud section has been updated and expanded. The various cloud services are compared and contrasted.
  • The automation section is expanded.
  • There is a new section on mobile organization.
  • The paperless workflow section has been redone and integrated into the main Guide.
  • My Workflow has been completely redone.
  • There is an all new de-uglified design.

There is more, but those are the highlights.