I’ve always been amazed at how expressive the Japanese can be, whether they’re inventing new English words to describe products in amazing ways or creating onomatopoeia that capture not only, say, the pakku pakku sound of rapidly eating (which is where Pac-Man gets his name), but the sound of silence or of softly falling snow. Japanese net users are also very creative when it comes to making art with ASCII that expresses emotions and adds character to computer-based communication. A few months ago someone made a BBS post called “Sorry About Baseball” that was a tribute to his mother, decorated with extensive ASCII art. The post was picked up by other users who added music and made animated versions using Flash that have many crying in front of their computer monitors. It’s the story of an uneducated mother raising her son alone, despite being very poor. One day, she received tickets to a baseball game, and the boy was overjoyed at the prospect of seeing his first live game; but when they got to the stadium, they found that they weren’t actual tickets, only coupons for a discount on regular tickets, which they couldn’t afford. On the train back home, the mother showed a tear and said, “I’m sorry for being so stupid.”The boy dedicated himself to his studies, eventually winning a scholarship to college so he could make his mother proud. Years later, as she lay dying, his mother woke up and said, as if suddenly remembering something, “I’m sorry about the baseball game.” He tried to tell her “I had fun,” but he couldn’t make his voice work.