On balance The Economist would go for Tuyuca, of the eastern Amazon. It has a sound system with simple consonants and a few nasal vowels, so is not as hard to speak as Ubykh or !Xóõ. Like Turkish, it is heavily agglutinating, so that one word, hóabãsiriga means “I do not know how to write.” Like Kwaio, it has two words for “we,” inclusive and exclusive. The noun classes (genders) in Tuyuca’s language family (including close relatives) have been estimated at between 50 and 140. Some are rare, such as “bark that does not cling closely to a tree,” which can be extended to things such as baggy trousers, or wet plywood that has begun to peel apart.I'm convinced! The piece also argues that, contrary to popular belief, English is a relatively easy language to learn: "verbs hardly conjugate; nouns pluralise easily (just add 's', mostly) and there are no genders to remember."
Most fascinating is a feature that would make any journalist tremble. Tuyuca requires verb-endings on statements to show how the speaker knows something. Diga ape-wi means that "the boy played soccer (I know because I saw him)," while diga ape-hiyi means "the boy played soccer (I assume)." English can provide such information, but for Tuyuca that is an obligatory ending on the verb. Evidential languages force speakers to think hard about how they learned what they say they know.
The challenge GSK faced in the Japanese market was formidable. The nation did have a clinical diagnosis of depression—utsubyo—but it was nothing like the US version: it described an illness as devastating and as stigmatising as schizophrenia. Worse, at least for the sales prospects of antidepressants in Japan, it was rare. Most other states of melancholy were not considered illnesses in Japan. Indeed, the experience of prolonged, deep sadness was often considered to be a jibyo, a personal hardship that builds character. To make paroxetine a hit, it would not be enough to corner the small market for people diagnosed with utsubyo. As Kirmayer realised, GSK intended to influence the Japanese understanding of sadness and depression at the deepest level. ...Now, this sort of marketing of illness is hardly novel. Back in 2005, I wrote a piece for Mother Jones about the "corporate-sponsored creation of disease" (and, please note, that's not my paranoid lefty term for the practice, but a phrase taken from a Reuters Business Insight report written for Pharma execs). Drugmakers aggressively push iffy conditions like "premenstrual dysphoric disorder" in order to extend patents and boost sales. Not surprisingly, GSK again makes a cameo:
Which is exactly what GSK appears to have accomplished. Promoting depression as a kokoro no kaze—"a cold of the soul"—GSK managed to popularise the diagnosis. In the first year on the market, sales of paroxetine in Japan brought in $100 million. By 2005, they were approaching $350 million and rising quickly.
When GSK, an American drug company, wanted to repackage its best-selling antidepressant, Paxil, to treat "social anxiety disorder"—a questionable strain of social phobia that requires medication rather than therapy—it hired PR firm Cohn & Wolfe to help raise awareness about the condition. Slogans were developed: "Imagine being allergic to people." Posters featuring distraught men and women described the symptoms, which only seem like everyday nervousness to the untrained eye: "You blush, you sweat, shake—even find it hard to breath. That's what social anxiety disorder feels like." Journalists were faxed press releases so that they could write up stories about the new disorder in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. (Does the deadline-pressed journalist need a bit of color for her story? No problem: Patient-advocacy groups, usually funded by drug companies, can provide patients to interview.) GSK even got University of California psychiatrist Murray Stein to vouch for the drug. Stein, it turns out, was a paid consultant to seventeen drug companies, including GSK, and had run company-funded trials of Paxil to treat social anxiety disorder.How devious. Anyway, the international angle is new to me and grimly riveting. Here's a New York Times Magazine piece by Watters that further explores the phenomenon, focusing less on the corporate angle and more on the broader fact that "we in the West have aggressively spread our modern knowledge of mental illness around the world. ... That is, we've been changing not only the treatments but also the expression of mental illness in other cultures."
"It used to be that the only women who went to host bars were hostesses, but times have changed. What we keep seeing is college girls, sometimes even high school girls with money, who start going to these host clubs. They love the personal attention, and maybe they get infatuated with the hosts, who milk them for everything they have. The girls accumulate debts, and at some point the management introduces them to a job in the sex industry so that they can pay off their debts. Sometimes the guys running the host bars are the same guys who run the sex clubs."Not all host clubs run this racket—the respectable ones try to avoid plunging their customers into crippling debt—but many of the clubs are just thinly veiled organized-crime outfits. Meanwhile, here's one young host explaining the ins and outs of his job to Adelstein:
Sometimes the thing to do is to find an actor you resemble and then basically do an impression of the guy. You make the customer feel like she is with a celebrity. ... But most of the time I just say that I'm a graduate student in law at Tokyo University and I'm just hosting to pay the tuition. It makes the customer feel like she's contributing to society, not just to my wallet. ...Useful tips for anyone considering a career switch.
You have to be able to talk to customers about almost anything, even where they send their kids to school. So I subscribe to four women's magazines to make sure I know what kinds of concerns they have. They also like to talk about television programs, but since I don't have time to watch TV I stay current by reading TV guides. ...
The bad thing is that my parents hate that I do this, even if I don't plan on doing it forever. You don't have a personal life. Every day is like summer vacation, except that you don't really have freedom. You spend most of your free time waiting on customers in one way or another; sometimes you go shopping with a customer, sometimes you go to a resort with her.
As for how many moves ahead a grandmaster sees, Russkin-Gutman makes much of the answer attributed to the great Cuban world champion José Raúl Capablanca, among others: "Just one, the best one." This answer is as good or bad as any other, a pithy way of disposing with an attempt by an outsider to ask something insightful and failing to do so. It's the equivalent of asking Lance Armstrong how many times he shifts gears during the Tour de France.Speaking of computer chess, I wanted to bring up one of my favorite points: that, even though your average laptop chess program can now whip any grandmaster, computers still have trouble mastering the game of Go—even the most advanced programs get crushed by skilled children. Except that, it turns out, this talking point's now a few years obsolete. According to a recent Wired report, AI Go players are starting to beat ranking human players using the Monte Carlo method. Just another step down the path to robot domination, I guess.
The only real answer, "It depends on the position and how much time I have," is unsatisfying. In what may have been my best tournament game at the 1999 Hoogovens tournament in the Netherlands, I visualized the winning position a full fifteen moves ahead—an unusual feat. I sacrificed a great deal of material for an attack, burning my bridges; if my calculations were faulty I would be dead lost. Although my intuition was correct and my opponent, Topalov again, failed to find the best defense under pressure, subsequent analysis showed that despite my Herculean effort I had missed a shorter route to victory. Capablanca's sarcasm aside, correctly evaluating a small handful of moves is far more important in human chess, and human decision-making in general, than the systematically deeper and deeper search for better moves—the number of moves "seen ahead"—that computers rely on.