October 2007 Archives

BlogTV is back on the air with a strange Halloween festival in Japan. Well actually, the festival in September, but I thought the creepy theme was appropriate for the Halloween season. This video is 5min 17sec and entirely in Japanese, but it will be fairly obvious what's happening despite any language barrier.

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FujiTV dispatches a reporter to investigate a strange festival on a remote island of Miyakojima, far down the Okinawan island chain. Miyakojima is closer to Taiwan than Tokyo, traveling there takes 17 hours on a ferry. Our intrepid reporter gets off the boat and walks toward the island village. A couple of kilometers from town, some guys are milling about. He asks what's up and they tell him, it's time for the Pantou Festival! They're weaving straw and fibers, cutting thick mats from local vines, and making the Pantou costumes. But the primary ingredient of the Pantou costume is mud. So they're digging a big hole, stirring up the dark black mud, and mixing it with sticky leaves and straw. Of course a scary wooden mask of an ancient design is required to complete the costume. The reporter leaves the Pantou people to prepare and walks towards town.
At the edge of town, a children are waiting, Pantou is coming this way! They spot the three dark figures walking down the road, they're dressed in leaves, straw, and mud, with a crazy sprig of leaves and branches coming out of their head like a horn. And now we see what the festival's about, Panto chases after the kids and smears them with mud. Everyone runs in terror, trying not to get smeared in the sticky mud. But Pantou catches them and gives them a big smear right in the face! Apparently this is some sort of harvest ritual, smearing the children with earth will ensure their health and prosperity, and that of the whole village.
But our reporter has traveled a long way to see this festival, so he gets the full treatment. All three Pantou men gang up on him and sit on him, so he's covered in mud from head to toe. Well at least now he doesn't have to worry about getting caught, once you're muddy, Pantou will leave you alone, his job is done.
Some of the little children are too young to be chased, so their mothers offer them up to Pantou, some of them he gives a muddy embrace, some he just gently daubs on the cheek, some of them, pow! right in the kisser. Mom gets a little daub of mud too. The looks on some of the kids faces are just priceless. One little kid is crying, even though he's barely muddy at all. Some of the kids are just terrified.
But Pantou is not just after the kids and their mothers. Panto makes a house call and rolls around in the entryway, gettting mud all over the floor. I don't know how the old guy was chosen for a visit by Pantou, but he seems to be taking it in stride. At least there's not too much of a mess to clean up. [Update: I found out that newly constructed houses are visited by Pantou, I guess it is a sort of initiation.]
But to pass on a Japanese tradition, it must be handed down in the family. One of the Panto actors has a new child, this is its first opportunity to meet the demonic mud man. He gently extends a muddy finger, and wipes it lightly on his child's face. And then again, a little less gently, on his wife's face.
The Pantou men chase after the villagers for two days, with endless replenishment of buckets of mud, seeking to leave noone unbesmirched. The festival winds down at sunset, as Pantou chases down the last stragglers. And then Pantou disappears into the night, until the next year's festival.


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I went through some old work and I found a watercolor painting that was particularly amusing. I don't remember painting this, but I must have done it around 1992. I remember I took a drawing class and was assigned to do endless studies of cranial anatomy and the eye in particular. It's anatomically accurate enough that I can tell it's my own right eye. I must have been bored with the assignment, staring at myself in the mirror, and decided to spice things up a little. You can't tell from the scan, but the pigments are intensely bright Day-Glo fluorescent magenta and cyan. I wish you could see the original, it's almost too bright to look at.

Help, my iPhone Won't Ring!

Apple blogs had an outpouring of derision when a prominent, self-declared technology expert could not figure out why his iPhone stopped ringing. Of course this was because he'd flipped the Silence Ringer switch. John Gruber rushed to his defense with this comment:
It’s easy to laugh at, but I think it’s actually a non-obvious design. There’s no icon or visual indication as to what that switch does. You do get a small jolt of vibration when it’s engaged, but that doesn’t naturally imply “silent mode” to me. (Update: Yes, there’s also an on-screen icon, but that only helps if you toggle it while the screen is on.)

But the icon will also appear if your screen is off. If your iPhone is sleeping and has been inactive more than 1 minute, flipping the Silence Ringer switch will turn on the screen, and the big icon of a bell with a slash through it will appear. However, if your iPhone is sleeping but has been used within the last 1 minute, you only get the buzz of tactile feedback, indicating the phone is in vibrate mode. So the only possible way to miss the visual feedback of the Silence Ringer icon is if you turn off your iPhone and then immediately start flipping the switch.
But to me, the bigger question is, what kind of idiot would buy a $400 phone and not know how to operate the buttons? There are only 4 hardware buttons on the iPhone. Apple went to considerable pains to make the Silence Ringer switch functions as obvious as possible, even to technology experts.

Update: Comments Disabled. I have blocked further comments on this subject, I almost never do this. I continue to receive a steady stream of comments on this post, it has become unmanageable. It was not my intention for this brief article to become the #1 Google search result for "iPhone won't ring." It was not my intention to sneer at users who could not figure out the problem. It was my intention to sneer at one pompous software "expert" who could not figure it out (I have sworn never to mention him by name on this blog, but follow the first link in this story and you will figure it out). I am gratified by the positive comments from readers who discovered here the solution to their problems. I have ignored the negative comments from people who were insulted. Thank you to all who took interest (and those who continue to discover this article).