Japanese Business Contracts


Recently I got my first contract in a long time. Not only was it my first contract in about 25 years but this one was in Japanese.

A friend contacted me and told me a company they worked with wanted some game related work done. I'm not really sure why I went since I don't really want to do contract work but without thinking about it I went over, talked to the company, and basically agreed to do the work. Only after did I think, "Wait, what? Why did I agree to do this?"

Fortunately it's a small project but I had no idea how much work it would be just to get started.

So first I wrote up a small visual design document like I had seen from other Japanese game projects. I wanted it to be clear visually what the project would be, what the scope is, what the game play flow would be etc... By visual I drew simple diagrams showing the various game screens (title, start, game, end), described the controls on each visually. I bring this up because my impression is most western design documents are still mostly paragraphs of text where as Japanese design documents are very visual.

I also details on what I was expecting to provide and what I needed them to provide.

I sent it off and got an "Okay, Look's great".

Maybe because I'm out of practice or maybe because it was a small project but I thought it could be simple at that point, like barely more than a handshake of a deal.

I thought I'd write a small about 1 paragraph letter that said effectively "I'll make the game like I detailed in the design document and you'll pay me $XXXX by this date" with a few more details. Get them to sign it and be done.

I brought this up with a friend and it turned out she did stuff like this for a living. She told me the contract probably needed to be longer but I was like, "let's just go with this simple version for now". She relented and helped me fix my Japanese for the small contract.

But ..... I was actually planned to subcontract a portion of the work to a friend as he's done many more projects that me. He sent me both an invoice and a contract. The invoice made me realize I needed one of those two and his contract was a couple of pages long covering things like cancellation etc.

So, that made me feel like I needed a longer contract but I was freaking out a little since it's a short project with a short deadline and it was feeling like just dealing with the contract itself would take longer than the project.

My experience from 25 years ago was getting a contract, having a lawyer pour over it, having the lawyer make changes, sending it to the other party, going back and forth a couple of times and finally both signing it. Ugh!

My friend who'd written the letter offered to make me a more common contract. Not much in it but it covers cancelling, acts of god, rights (who owns the IP), etc... There was nothing really out of the ordinary so I sent a PDF to the other company and they said "looks good, send us the real deal".

So, then, talking to my friend who wrote the contract this is not a simple as just signing 2 copies of contract, sending them to be signed by the other party and getting one back.


In Japan I needed a "revenue stamp". Apparently these exist in some other parts of the world but not in the USA. The idea that I need some special stamp to make a contract seemed really weird but whatever, you gotta do what you gotta do so I go over to the post office and buy a revenue stamp.

Next up I need to apply my company stamp to the contract. In Japan they don't use signatures. Instead they use stamps. When I registered my Japanese company the lawyer got and registered a stamp for me.

It makes a stamp like this (not my stamp)

I showed her my stamp and was then told I needed a different type of stamp. The stamp I had was a "Company Representative Stamp" but I also needed a "Company Stamp". I'll apply the company stamp to the invoice.

Okay, off the stamp store to have them make me a company stamp. 48hrs later I have a company stamp.

which makes a stamp like this (not my stamp)

So, now I'm preparing to stamp the contract. I put the revenue stamp on the front and I'm told I need to stamp it with my representative stamp half on half off. The point is to make the stamp not reusable / not removable.

I then need to stamp my name with my representative stamp at the end of the contract.

Now I need to know what to do for the 2nd copy. It takes me a while to find out only one company needs the revenue stamp but both copies need my representative stamp at the end.

Then I need to take the invoice and stamp that with the company stamp (the new stamp).

Okay, let's put these in an envelope and send them off ... wait! That's when she tells me I need bookbinding tape. WHAT!? It turns out I need a special kind of white tape that you use to bind the contract. So, it's off to the store to buy some bookbinding tape. It's like an inch and a 1/2 wide white tape. You put it on the edge over the contract and wrap it around to the back so your contract becomes a small book. You then press your representative stamp on it so it can't be removed.

Some guides even tell you you should do the same between every pair of pages. The point is that no pages can be changed since the stamps won't align. By now it's too late in the day to make it to the post office.

So, next day, on the way to the post office, I meet some friends for lunch and have them look over it. They say it all looks good but I also should really send a cover letter. I guess that's kind of common sense although again it's a small informal project and I don't think the other side is going to care. One of my friends at lunch though says she does this all the time so she writes a short cover letter, we print it out at the convenience store and finally, after several days of freaking out I can finally send the contract off.

So there you have it. Yet another new experience learning that even contracts are different by country and/or culture.


"Science Vs." Science


I listen to a few too many podcasts. One of them is Science Vs. It seems right up my alley. I'm a believer of science. I think the show probably mostly preaches to the choir but I still enjoy it. Wendy Zukerman sounds a lot like my sister, fun, likes dumb jokes, puns, fart noises, etc. It sounds like we'd get along great.

There was an episode a few months ago entitled True Love. Their own description:

What is love? With half of first time American marriages ending in divorce by the 20th anniversary, and infidelity being widespread, Science Vs asks: have we been lied to by our love songs?

On today’s episode we explore: What happens to the brain when we fall in love? Is the compulsion to stay together biological? And, is monogamy really unnatural? We talk to Dr. Helen Fisher, Professor Larry Young, and Dr. Dieter Lukas about their labors of love.

I'd probably have to listen to it again but from what I remember much of the show Wendy kept bringing up cheating vs monogamy and it really bugged me because those are not opposites. The opposite of cheating is being honest. The opposite of monogany is polyamory or open relationships or maybe even serial monogamy depending on your definition.

Wendy though seemed to be trying to defend cheating as normal, okay, expected. Maybe it is but then by they definition murder is normal. Murder has always existed so therefore ... we should be okay with it? Cheating has always existed so we should be okay with it?

The issue is cheating = dishonesty and it doesn't seem like we should value dishonesty. If you're in a relationship you have many more options than cheating. You can get out of the relationship for one. You can try to negociate an open relationship (not that I expect success there). My point is your options are not limited to "I want to sleep with someone else therefore I must lie". No, you don't have to lie. It doesn't seem like we should encourage lying.

She also never brought up the argument that monogamy could have evolved to protect children which might be a winning genetic adaptation. Long term raising of children until they're adults means more sharing of knowledge which means offspring can build on parent's experience, something no other animal I'm aware of really does. In other words I'm saying that humans have technology that advances over time, something other animals do not or at least not to the same extent so it's possible we're at genetically dispositioned for family units to share that learing? I'm not saying it is this way and maybe it's been disproven but she never brought it up. She instead just assumed that spreading your genes by having as many partners as possible is the winning strategy and never considered her logic might be wrong in a broader scope.

And that's really my problem with the show.

I'm old (52) and when I started college back in 1983 I was given a book to read. I don't remember the name of the book but it was about writing college papers and it said you should bring up all the counter arguments to your point and discredit each one of them so show why your conclusion is best. I'm paraphrasing, maybe that's not quite how it put it but that's my shortened memory of it.

Well, Wendy never does that. She picks one scientist that shares her P.O.V., presents their opinion/theory and then says "See! Science says X!"

I wrote the show about this episode. Here's my message

Hello Gimlet and Wendy,

I love your shows and especially Science VS

The latest episode, True Love, seemed a little less researched than many though.

First of all cheating is not the opposite of monogamy. Cheating in relationship means doing something behind someone's back without their permission and/or knowledge. You promised to be with only them and then "cheated". You can also break up "I love you but we're no longer a match". You can have an open relationship. It was a little frustrating Wendy kept framing it as cheating being the only alternative.

She also never brought up the argument that monogamy could have evolved to protect children which might be a winning genetic adaptation. Long term raising of children until they're adults means more sharing of knowledge which means offspring can build on parent's experience, something no other animal I'm aware of really does. In other words I'm saying that humans have technology that advances over time, something other animals do not or at least not to the same extent so it's possible we're at genetically dispositioned for family units. I'm not saying it is this way and maybe it's been disproven but she never brought it up. She instead just assumed that spreading your genes by having as many partners as possible is the winning genetic strategy and never considered her logic might be wrong.

Here's a recent article from Scientific American on that topic


Here's another with different reasons


Finally what we do genetically and what we do for society are different. Genetically pretty much all animals commit murder of others of their same species. So is therefore murder something we should sanction? Personally I would say "Cheating" (as in lying to someone or breaking a promise) is something people should avoid in general as it's better for society at large. We do actually have laws against cheating in certain circumstances. We have contracts to prevent cheating in business. We have laws against insider trading, a form of cheating. Laws against lying and fraud. We don't have laws against cheating on relationships but most people would argue that cheating is still a "bad behavior" and one that we try to teach people not to do just like we teach them not to murder and steal. People of all societies have murder, stealing, even slavery has existed forever and still exists today and yet we don't just say "that's human nature, oh well"

That doesn't meant people should be monogamous. Rather it suggests rather than "cheat" they should decide what they want and then behave ethically toward others while that pursuing their wants. That can mean open relationships. It can mean serial monogamy. Whatever, but doesn't have to mean lying and cheating. Cheating is a distinct behavior, separate from having multiple partners serially or in parallel.

Hoping Wendy will do a future show with a little more balance and actual science rather than the "well, all animals and cheat therefore science says cheating is normal". Again, not a very useful conclusion since the same is true of many behaviors we consider not good for society at large.

It was sent in a frame of honestly trying to be constructive. Like the college book suggested if you don't discredit the wrong ideas then you're only leaving me to bring up all the objections. Your program isn't really "Science Vs". It's "Wendy's Opinion Vs.". I want to know why the other ideas are wrong.

Anyway, that would have been it and I wouldn't have given it a second thought, that is until the latest episode.

After the main topic is over there's a conversion between Wendy and a few other podcasters talking about how they deal with comments. I'm probaby being unchartiable here but if I was to summerize what I took away it's that if you disagree with Wendy than you're evil. If you suggest maybe she should be a little more balanced it's coming from a place of misogyny. That you believe because she's a woman she can't do the research herself and can't be trusted.

Now I doubt her comments were about my email specifically but I couldn't help but be massively disappointed in what I percieved to be her attitude. Basically it appears she doesn't think like a scientist. Instead she thinks she's always right and anyone who disagrees is a woman hater. Really? Is that really what she thinks?

I guess I just find this new world really really scary. You can't question anything or your considered an evil right wing fox news watching gamegate racist misogynist. I've written to plenty of other programs. This American Life, Radiolab. They never suggested because I didn't agree or because I felt they didn't present and/or discredit other ideas that therefore I was an evil hateful person. I really want do want to know what counter ideas are wrong or less likely.

Oh well, I guess that format wasn't for me anyway. Unsubscribed.


Remaking this site yet again


So, I a few months ago I moved by blog from Site5 to SiteGround. It wasn't too hard as both are basic LAMP/CPanel ISP. The reason I moved is Site5 didn't support letsencryprt can many sites are started to ban non-HTTPS. For example you can not include a script on JSFiddle unless it's HTTPS. I was using scripts from my site and they stopped working because of that. I waited nearly a year for site5 to add support (they said they were looking into it) but it became clear they were't going to do it.

So I looked around, tried Dreamhost first but they had issues with my needs. I think they required running my DNS or something which was out of the question. I ended up at siteground. It's setup was also a little strange but I got things working moved 4 sites over.

Then, about 10 days ago I wrote an article that got some traffic and all of a sudden I got an email from siteground that I was ay 75% of my service limit and that might site would be shut down if it hit 100%. Why I didn't notice this before but that's when I found out their limit for the plan I signed up for was only 20k hits. I have 2500 posts, many with lots of images. I have no idea if they count every image as a hit but effectively a few scans by seach engines and I'd hit my limit.

Just because I didn't want my site to go offline I paid them to double the limits to 40k hits. That's when I got the message it might take 3 days before they could do it. Seriously, you tell me you might take my site offline and when I pay you not to you tell effectively tell me you might take it offline anyway!?!?!

They did get to it fairly quickly despite the "up to 3 days" message but they did end up taking my site offline because instead of just upping some limit they moved my site to another server and because they aren't doing intellgent routing that changed my IP address and took the site offline.

So, fuck that! Gees! WTF!? How do these shitty ISPs stay in business?

With that and the fact that if I manage to write a popular post they'll yank the site down I decided to bite the bullet and try switching to a static site using something like Jekyll and hosting on a VPS from Digital Ocean. They won't yank it down, they'll just charge for bandwidth. Also their limits are way higher than those typical LAMP sites.

But ... converting this blog was way more work than I thought it was going to be. I've worked on nothing else every day for about 10 days and I think I'm stil not 100% done.

First I tried using some plugin for wordpress that was supposed to export to jekyll but of course it didn't work. In fact it was deleting stuff. I spent time setting up XAMPP and trying to get the site to run there so I could more easily play with the exporter but something wasn't working. I also really wasn't looking forward to working in php. I know XAMPP has worked for me before but why it wasn't working now I have no idea. I even tried downloading their new version that runs in a VM. I got the site over and the database imported but I couldn't get wordpress to come up for some reason.

So, I exported the db to json and starting writing my own exporter from that to jekyll. At some point I realized jekyll wasn't going to work for me because I have 2 blogs that share data, something jekyll doesn't seem to handle. Jekyll was also failing in a bunch of places with things it didn't seem to support like inline html in the middle of some markdown etc...

So, finally I decided to just use the code from webglfundamentals which was already reading markdown.

That's was mostly working but converting 20yrs of posts, writing the rules to try to automate the conversion took quite a while. And of course each time I fix one edge case it breaks some previous edge case. It only has to work once or just get close and I can manually fix the rest but after a week I was about 1/2 way through. I'm pretty sure I missed some pages because I made a big change where I tried to extract all the HTML from the markdown for some post I was having issues with before I realized that would never work when I hit another post that showed why. So I removed that change but I don't remember which post I originally wrote it for.

When I got it all done and fixed the 20 or so posts that looked like they needed manual intervention I then needed to setup a webserver, setup a repo, and write scripts to make it auto update from a git repo.

I ended up using Caddy but like all webservers the first time requires a bunch of time learning how to get them configured with their cryptic config systems. Sometimes I think it would be better if they just gave you a library and a lot of examples but let you just use a normal full programming language instead of a limited and confusing config language. I needed to get some silly redirects working. I also have a few hundred redirects from old URLs since before I moved it to wordpress. And I had to try to get feeds working correctly. I hope they are still working.

I started to wonder if I should just delete this blog. At this point it's more for me than anyone else. Maybe I should use medium or something and just not care about doing my own thing or any kind of backup etc..

I'm not sure how I'll like not having the wordpress interface. It was nice to just be able to login, edit preview, edit preview. As I have this new site setup I can't do that easily at the moment. There is no preview unless I have my laptop and run the build scritps so no posting from an iPhone or iPad, not that I've ever done that. It was simpler to log in then I think it is now.

I can use github to edit or add posts but I have no way to preview. Maybe I should setup a preview site but that's just more work.

I also actually wanted to pay an ISP to keep the server running and up to date but staying on wordpress meant dealing with having to manually update wordpress every month or so which was a PITA.

My hope is that given it's a static site now there really isn't much to update so I'll cross my fingers.

I also lost control of my comments. That probably doesn't matter but originally had my own comment system, then I ported those comments to wordpress. Then when I got too much spam I copied those comments to disqus but disqus magically copies the comments back into your wordpress DB so even if they disappear or get sold and change how they work you still have your comments.

But it seems like that ship has sailed as in I should just look at comments as ephemeral. Or who knows. If it ever comes to that maybe they'll have a way to export the comments. Or more likely I should just let that go.

In any case the site is now static. I'm sure there are issues and there's still a few more things I need to do but ATM it seems to be working.


No, We are not living in a Simulation


I'd heard about the "Maybe we're living in a Simulation" argument before but I had never read the details.

If I understand correctly it's basically a "follow the logic" idea.

Simulations get better all the time and as such eventually there will be universe simulators that can simulate an entire universe. Once you can do that there lots of people will run them therefore at any one time there will be millions X more simulated people than real people QED: Odds are we're simulated

This reminds me of the 1/2 way problem.

Before you can get somewhere you have to get 1/2 way there Once you reach the 1/2 point you have to get to 1/2 the remaining point (in other words, go to step 1) QED: You can never reach your destination because there's always 1/2 remaining

The logic seems to work and yet we get to our destinations all the time. Clearly there's a flaw somewhere. I think the same is true for the "We're living in a simulation" logic.

Here's where I think that flaw is. I think it's impossible to build a universe simulator. Currently it takes more than 1 atom to simulate an atom. It seems like a universe simulator would need to simulate all atoms therefore since you can't simulate all atoms without using more than all atoms you can't make a universe simulator.

Now you may say, like a video game, we don't need to simulate all of it, we only need to simulate the parts people look at. I think that's false for a universe simulator though. Video games don't actually try to simulate the real universe, they're fake, stories, they take huge shortcuts, they use "game" physics, etc. A real universe simulator though can't take those short cuts. Even if it only has to deal with observed portions of the universe those observed portions need to match real physics. That means even if no one is looking at someone part of this simulated universe, the moment they do look at it the simulator would have to compute all the physics for every atom for all of time since that part of universe was last observed until this moment so that it looks like time has passed correctly in that part of the universe. In other words the universal simulator can't take shortcuts like a video game. It has to simulate every atom, at which point we're back to it an impossible task because as pointed out above it would take more atoms to simulate atoms.

And so the flaw is clear. It's the original assumption that a universal simulator could actually exist. It can't.

Does that mean you can't have a holodeck? No, we could have holodecks, but like video games they'll take shortcuts. They won't simulate the entire universe. Take a typical video game that supports foot prints or skid marks or mud tracks, they always fade out over time, usually fairly quickly because keeping around the tracks of the player forever is just too much to compute. The same will be true of holodecks. They'll simulate some small portion of reality but not every detail and plenty of those details will be temporary. That's all great and it will be fun when we get there but it doesn't follow that from that we'll be able to simulate entire universes and all the causality needed to make them consistent which is what we'd need to simulate the universe we're in.

QED: We're not in a simulation


Someone tried to impersonate my Father to scam me on Facebook


This is effed up! Some scammer just tried to impersonate my father.

I got a friend request from "Terry Tavares" with a picture of my dad. I thought to myself "hmm, I didn't unfriend him, maybe he made a new account or maybe he unfriended me by mistake?" So I accepted.


There's a Special Place in Hell for Dentists!


Going to the dentist is often hell for me.

I've already bitched about this before but DAMMIT! It HURTS! It's fucking torture!

I brush and floss EVERY SINGLE DAY. I also use one of these dental pick type brushes after brushing and flossing to get into the cracks etc. Lately I started getting pain like the time a dentist caused me so much pain I needed 600mg of Ibuprofen every 3 hrs for a month). This new pain is similar feeling but not quite as bad. It's comes and goes but generally I get it at least once or twice a day. Yesterday it came 3 times. If I'm lucky it goes away by itself but 5 times out of 6 I need to take 200−400mg of Ibuprofen and then 20−30 minutes later it's gone. When it really hurts I can feel it from my temple to neck.


Japanese Rice Cookers are Noisy


9 years ago (the last time I bought I rice cooker) I got a middle of the road Panasonic rice cooker. It was silent. The one I bought before that was silent. Every rice cooker I've never owned since the 80s was silent. All the ones my friends had when I visited their homes were silent.

So, this time I also just picked a middle of the road Panasonic rice cooker only to find out they are no longer silent.

Apparently nearly all the rice cookers are now IH (Induction Heating) and so they need a fan to circulate the air. Panasonic doesn't even make any non IH rice cookers in 2016.


Getting Phished


I just got phished.

I received a suspicious PDF in email. It had a name that made it sound like something I might personally be interested in from someone I met about a year ago. No idea if that was luck or by design. Even scarier if it was by design.


Yet more AirBnb issues


I know you're wondering why I keep using AirBnb if there are so many issues

It's basically because I'm homeless and I need a place to stay. Other than a hostel the cheapest hotels are $100−$150 a night. Go to booking.com and check. Pretty much every city there's 5 tiers of prices. Bottom teir is hostels. Next tier up is $100−$150 a night. That's $3k to $4.5k a month which is a lot of money. Yes, I'm finally working on settling back down and renting an apartment at which point I won't be looking to rent short term apartments. In other words I'll stop using AirBnB. That said wasn't going to bring up this latest issue .. until AirBnB called. See below


All of Shinjuku is being rented on AirBnB


So a friend is trying to rent her apartment out while she's on vacation for the last 2 weeks in June. Her place is behind Kabukicho, nearest station is Shin Okubo.

I don't usually look over there because I'd rather stay in other places but I checked just for the hell of it ...

I put in $70−$80 a night, June 15−30, entire place. Airbnb claimed 300+ places still available and that those were among the 17% left. That means just in that $10 span of price range there are over 1800 apartments available. And, that was limited to the area between Shinjuku station, the Yamanote line, Okubo Dori, and Meiji Dori. That makes it seem like practically all of Shinjuku is being rented on Airbnb