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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The dance of the honey bee

I'm going to disappoint some of you when you find out what this posting's about, but stick with me, if you will.....

   Once you get the idea properly, Twitter is like the dance of the honey bee, telling all the others where the nectar is.

   That’s my paraphrasing of someone else’s quote, though the supreme irony here is that, try as I might, I can’t find the original reference to it!

   Oh well, it doesn’t matter. Someone will turn it up for me, I’ll bet. Have a look at this:

   This morning, Twitter has done many things. It has brought me breaking news from the best of sources, and because the sources are people who have a variety of other interests we share, they post references to other things that I just wouldn’t find otherwise.

   Take this for instance. Not only is it well written, its contents are fascinating for anyone contemplating a trip to a Japanese bath house:

   I change out of my clothes into a cotton yukata and geta (traditional wooden sandals) which, like almost all house shoes in japanese hotels, are several sizes too small. They force me to walk in an alarming see-sawing clomp. After a couple of trips to bathe, tradition gives way to convenience and I swap the geta for the rubber pool shoes everyone else has chosen.

   The ritual of communal bathing (like any situation in which you get naked with strangers) is one of those areas where a basic knowledge of etiquette comes in handy. British bathing habits are perplexing to the Japanese, who wouldn’t dream of sitting and soaping themselves in a tub full of dirty water and skin follicles.

   All the actual washing is done outside. You squat and sluice yourself with water from a shower-head or a wooden bucket, then vigorously and thoroughly clean every part, rubbing yourself down with a little washcloth. Only then are you ready to get into the water.

   Once you’re in, it’s polite not to immerse your head, or your cloth. Many people fold them up and put them on top of their heads. A foreigner in a rural onsen is, to say the least, something of a curiosity, and people watch me, albeit discreetly. Soon enough my novelty value wears off, and I join in the soothing ritual of bathing, scrubbing, soaking, steaming and cooling down in a tepid outdoor pool.

   As dusk falls and the lanterns are lit, I sit and watch water tumbling down a twenty metre cliff. Then, crossing the little wooden bridge which spans the river, every pore clear, every muscle relaxed, I go to dinner, which is eaten communally in Aoni’s main hall. Perhaps fifty guests sit down at long low tables and tuck into a meal of seasonal food, matsutake mushrooms and grilled fish and rich autumnal miso soup formally presented on lacquer trays. By nine the place is silent. Everyone is in bed.

   And that’s just one bit of it. The rest of the story is equally fascinating. By following the right people on Twitter, you get a lot more of this sort of thing where that came from, if you choose to go on with it. But please remember, that's just an example of one type of reference you may unearth.

   As I said in another Blob entry, it’s easy as pie once you know how, but if you want real news, stories and information from a variety of sources compatible with your fancy, then try this.

1. Go to

2. Create an account for yourself. It’s free.

3. If you feel a bit game, type your first message to the world into the ‘What’s happening?’ box. But you don’t have to.

4. Type deniswright into the search field at the top.

   You’ll see some of my tweets. Start by ‘following’ me. (There’s an option there for you to do that.)

   If you do that, I’ll ‘follow’ you, I promise, as Twitter will tell me that you are a ‘follower’ of me. That will show you how things work.

   Really, you don’t need to do anything much more but just see what comes up. A lot of them will say something and give you a source to go to. For example:


   TheEconomist The Economist

   Japan’s steadfast ability to endure adversity is being tested


   abcthedrum The Drum & Unleashed

   The inability to reconsider the image of the female body has damaged the women of my generation, writes Kate Phelan


   Colvinius Mark Colvin

   Bit of a split at The Oz over the Assange #qanda question. Shanahan - it was a disgrace. @overingtonc - it wasn't.


   washingtonpost The Washington Post

    by MADinMelbourne

   Missing DNA may explain differences between chimps and humans


   TimeOutTokyo TimeOutTokyo

    by drng

   'A fire is happening, but it's an ordinary fire. It is emitting heat, and radioactive substances are thought to be escaping.'

   3 minutes ago


   I’d be interested to know if you find it useful. Of course, you can always put in the search field at the top a subject that interests you, and find things related to that. I’m just happy to be your guinea-pig!


  1. That's very informative and enticing. The other side of this is the time one can spend reading it all! Wait! I read something in the Guardian yesterday .I'll find the link. Back soon :)


    Jonathan Freedland.


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