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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A time capsule

This is the story of the oldest tofu shop in the US (in Portland, Oregon). It was started by a Japanese family in 1911. The article describes the family and the shop, and how both changed over the years. The war-time part of the story is particularly moving and an important history lesson.

“The Secret History of America’s Oldest Tofu Shop” (from Roads and Kingdoms)

I chose the title of today’s post from these line, towards the end of the article:

“As Ota’s new Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese customers acclimate to American foodways, they tend to come in less frequently. But for immigrants, language and food are like time capsules; by maintaining traditional recipes and techniques as the city rapidly changes around them, Ota Tofu honors this.

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.