Machines should work and people should think.

There’s so much to notice and comment on in this short video, made by Jim Henson for IBM back in 1967. Yes, the same Jim Henson who created the Muppets. This video was made two years before Sesame Street debuted on TV.

A few things I thought while watching this:

  • I wonder if Henson intended to make the people seem robotic in their delivery.
  • When the types of professions are listed, why is it that the only profession represented by a woman is teacher?
  • Did IBM not think that this video seemed a bit insidious?

Read a little more about this video: “Jim Henson Wanted to Free Us From Paperwork” (from Atlas Obscura)

And the video has an IMDb page.

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Faux-foreign names

This article from Atlas Obscura is about product and shop names that sound foreign but aren’t:

Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream Is From the Bronx — So What’s With the Name?

Examples from the article:

Häagen-Dazs ice cream sounds Scandinavian but the company was founded in New York and the name doesn’t mean anything in any language.  Au Bon Pain is a famous cafe chain that originated in Boston, even if it sounds French. And Comme des Garçons is Japanese.

What are some product or shop names in Japan that sound foreign to you? Which do you think actually originated in another country, and which are home-made?

I think of Mos Burger and Lotteria, for example, which both originated in Tokyo in the 1970s.

And Montbell and Uniqlo are both Japanese.

And who can forget Calpis, Yakult, and Pocari Sweat.

Games and sports

What’s a game? What’s a sport?

How would you explain the differences?

“What makes a sport a sport?”

This short piece from 1843 gives us a little background about the word “sport” as opposed to “game”. It explains that bridge (a card game) has been declared a sport, not just a game, by the European Council of Justice.

It made me think of a scene in a movie called “What Women Want” (Japanese title: ハート・オブ・ウーマン). The main characters work for an advertising agency and they’re making a commercial for Nike. Here’s the clip:

Here’s another clip that shows a bit more background. The premise of this rather silly movie is that the man (played by Mel Gibson) can read women’s minds. IMDb calls it a “romantic fantasy comedy” and it plays with the idea of stereotypical “macho” men and the women who have to deal with blatant gender inequality at work.

Vlogging Japan

This is a short advertisement/visual travelogue/vlog (video log) for the “Diamond Route” in northern Japan: Ibaraki, Tochigi and Fukushima prefectures. What do you think? Especially those of you who are from that area. Does it represent your home prefecture accurately?

It’s very much of a mini-movie, isn’t it? Definitely influenced by Hollywood-style “samurai movies”. It was a bit dizzying, too.

Here’s another in the series:

I like this one better because of all the food. 🍜

See more here.

Creative project: What kind of tourist ad or vlog would you make for your hometown? Your university? Tokyo or Kyoto or another city? Japan in general?