Even a blogger needs to eat. This blog is primarily Charles' hobby. But if he is intent on continuing to woo the Hooter's waitresses
in Chatanooga he needs something that pays.... wings don't come free you know. Here's a link to his
day job where he works the education beat
and, assuming he can't annoy enough people that way, is sometimes allowed to write opinion pieces.
Need perspective? Watson offers readers all they could possibly eat. For a unique view on current events, namely how they look from
orbit, here's Chuck's Real-Time(ish) Satellite Imagery of Areas of Interest.
Whenever it strikes his fancy, and there's good telemetry, Chuck will
process and post near real-time images of locations in the news. Eminently engrossing.
Wanna get into the head of a Japanese salaryman? Why, for Chis'sakes?! Well, assumin' you do, feel welcome to check out
the on-line journal of
Campbell's English class. Everyday, a group of disaffected salarymen are required to spill out their inner-most thoughts about life, the universe
and everything in broken English. Amazingly prosaic.
Shoutin' across the Pacific
Chiizu taberu koufuku shiteiru saru ga kangei-saremasen.
Monday, September 30, 2002 Sometimes You Get Just One Shot. Nolan Koller and his son Jason were hunting elk armed only with bows when a black bear surprised Jason. The bear knocked the young man to the ground and began to maul him before his father to get to them. The father then lured the bear away from his son. As the bear charged him, the father waited until it got close, then fired an arrow through the bear's neck, killing it.
"I do mind, the Dude minds. This will not stand, ya know, this aggression will not stand man." A leader for our times; a rebel commander in tune with our sensibilities...
BOUAKE, Sept 29 (Reuters) - The towering rebel commander known as Sergeant Hercules grabs a bottle of beer from a pile in the back of his grey Mercedes saloon and tears the top off with his teeth.
It is 10 o'clock in the morning.
... Wearing combat trousers and worn blue plastic flip-flops, Hercules swills his beer and chats to fellow rebels at a fuel station on the north side of Ivory Coast's second city Bouake, which they have held since an uprising on September 19.
As Something Awful notes, tonight Sergeant Hercules will be playing the role of The Dude. Sgt. Herc is profiled here as a leader of a well-organized and disciplined force, either in spite of or to spite their leader. Overseeing the escape of foreigners from the Ivory Coast, there has been little of the wide-spread looting that characterizes most African uprisings. Yea, the Dude's relaxed; we can all relax.
Sure, I've gained weight recently, but it seems I've reached critical mass. At least with the national political parties back home. This story (which I would love to link to but can't 'cause The Daily Yomiuri's stories are wiped every 24 hours) says that the US expats living in Japan could be the swing vote for a number of senate and house seats this year. The Democrats Abroad Japan (DAJ) and the Republicans Abroad Japan (RAJ) are trying to drum up interest in abstentee voting among the English teaching flocks.
One thing that both parties agree on is the importance of getting out the vote. Both DAJ and RAJ said they had operated nonpartisan booths distributing FPCAs [Federal Postcard Applications] at school, church and embassy functions and at places frequented by Americans. FPCAs also can be obtained by calling the U.S. Embassy.
With 147,000 Americans living in Japan, DAJ and RAJ have plenty to fight for.
The potential strength of overseas U.S. voters is formidable, according to McCreery. "There are on the order of 6 million American citizens living abroad now," he said. "And when you stop to think that the whole population of a state like Wyoming is like 375,000 people, we are a significant...American population."
Actually I'm happy I can't link to the rest of the article. The author offered over eight quotes from the DAJ spokesman and only one from the RAJ spokesgal... and he introed that quote with the dismissive, "The RAJ, the DAJ's less active rival..." So I'm not offering a link to the DJA page, but I'm linking to dance party shots taken at a recent RAJ smoker. Less active my ass.
That'll teach me to read the blogs before work. As part of our class we always watch ABC News every morning. Today Jim McDermott and David Bonior were standing on a rooftop in Baghdad doing almost as much good for the Republican Party as George Bush's fundraising efforts. "We just have to give Saddam a chance," McDermott (literally) whined. "We don't need... big helicopters and soldiers with guns landing on the city." (emphasis his)
Holy fiddly fuck. What the hell is this? Why are these two jackalopes--- What does he mean "give him a chance?" What does he think the last 10 years--- What the FUCK is this?!
My students asked me for an explanation. I just stared at them with my mouth open. This didn't make sense on so many levels. Look, McDermott, maybe I can understand his motivations; as the ABC report noted he's the biggest liberal in a liberal district. His seat is secure and he's earned his bona fides now with the soft, pasty-white, liberal arts alumni / weekend co-chairs of the Friends of Oppressed Peoples Anarcho-Syndicalist Socialists (FOP ASS) chapter that meets at the local library every Saturday afternoon goons that live in his district. His constituents are the sort of people who equate buying nutmeg-scented skin cream at The Body Shop to be a blow of resistance against transnational corporate bullies (… uh, like the Body Shop franchise?) The kind of people who don't understand why Americans can't live more simple lives and give up their rapacious desire for oil, gas and other natural resources… while agonizing over their 401(k)'s devaluations and how they'll have to delay the deck and Jacuzzi addition til next year.
But I pick low-hanging fruit.
What I don’t understand is Bonoir doing this. McDermott is a nobody; he has no political clout outside of the Worker's Democratic Republic of Washington State. But David F*cking Bonoir is a national face for the democratic Party! Old people who watch CNN know him. His visage is splattered all over their weekly bulk mailings from the AF of L-CIO, AARP, and the DNC.
What the fuck was Bonoir thinking by doing this? Sure the Democrats can continue trying to pass themselves off as the party of FDR (war hawk and patriot that he was) to the over 70 demo while playing peacenik socialist statists to the under 35 crowd who are still trying to rebel against their parents. But when one set sees you jockeying for favor with the other, it's like your wife catching you leaving the hotel with your secretary. Man you are SO busted!
Sunday, September 29, 2002 Hearts and Minds. I've heard from some correspondents that Special Forces are very unhappy with the conventional soliders operating in Afghanistan. Now, some have gone to Newsweek to vent their frustration, specifically with the 82nd Airborne.
One afternoon in August, a U.S. Special Forces A team knocked at the door of a half-ruined mud compound in the Shahikot Valley. The servicemen were taking part in Operation Mountain Sweep, a weeklong hunt for Qaeda and Taliban fugitives in eastern Afghanistan.
The man of the house, an elderly farmer, let the Americans in as soon as his female relatives had gone to a back room, out of the gaze of strange men. Asked if there were any weapons in the house, the farmer proudly showed them his only firearm, a hunting rifle nearly a century old. When the team had finished searching, carefully letting the women stay out of sight, the farmer served tea. The Americans thanked him and walked toward the next house.
They didn’t get far before the team’s captain looked back. Six paratroopers from the 82d Airborne, also part of Mountain Sweep, were lined up outside the farmer’s house, preparing to force their way in. “I yelled at them to stop,” says the captain, “but they went ahead and kicked in the door.” The farmer panicked and tried to run, and one of the paratroopers slammed him to the ground. The captain raced back to the house. Inside, he says, other helmeted soldiers from the 82d were attempting to frisk the women. By the time the captain could order the soldiers to leave, the family was in a state of shock. “The women were screaming bloody murder,” recalled the captain, asking to be identified simply as Mike. “The guy was in tears. He had been completely dishonored.”
The Green Berets can tell many similar stories. They say the 82nd has undone six months worth of efforts to win the allegiance of the people of eastern Afghanistan.
“The 82d is a great combat unit,” said a Special Forces NCO who took part in the mission. “A lot of us on the teams came out of the 82d. But they are trained to advance to contact and kill the enemy. There was no ‘enemy’ down there.” The remaining Taliban forces melted into the civilian population after Operation Anaconda blasted them out of the caves of Shahikot in March. Since then, the Afghan war has become basically a low-intensity guerrilla conflict, with Taliban and Qaeda fighters operating in small cells, emerging only to lay land mines and launch nighttime rocket attacks against the Americans before disappearing once again.
For their part, 82nd soldiers, call the SF guys prima donnas who resent them getting part of the action.
And bringing Japan and Den Beste together one more time... John Bono of Big S Blog posts this picture as intro to a object lesson in the value of pacifying militants with force and beating them into plowshares... or at least giving then peace and rule of law so that they can later beat your automotive industry into plowshares... and then you lull them into a false sense of security and convince them that economic power is acquired through rampant loaning of capital to anyone who can put a poodle and 20 acres of land up for collateral and then you beat their economic system into a plowshare. And then an actual plowshare maker takes out a copyright on plowshares to keep them from being used chiefly as a weak and clichéd rhetorical device.
The picture... yes. I agree with Bono. (insert your own how-everything-sucked-after-Achtung Baby-joke here) The picture speaks volumes. Except for that bit about how the khakis appear comfortable and relaxed; I suppose they would if Doug weren't wearing them tucked just under his nipples.
And it all reminds me how I've really got to get over there and clean out and update those links.
That's it; strike the tent. No more need to blog. 'Cause Stephen Den Beste explains it all. Why could I not have had someone sit me down and read this rant to me back when I was in college? In a surprisingly pithy post (which for the Captain means slightly under 4000 words... yes, I checked) Den Beste lays out what's wrong with academics, the threat of increasingly over-funded college departments that teach nothing more than perpetual indignation, the value of critical thinking and where it can be found on campus and who is assiduously avoiding it, and how to find the value of culture or discipline by application of utilitarian criteria.
Of course I'm probably missing his point because I was one of those seduced by the green lawns and halcyon cloisters of lightweight academic rigor offered on North Campus (UGA alumni will understand). Well, actually I didn't really fit in on North Campus cause I was busy in telecom arts getting ready to be the next Sam Donaldson... you know back when he was doing things like slapping Lee Atwater and not quite embarrassing himself by being relied upon for lengthy political ruminations.
Once I attended a small 'discussion group' in the comparative lit department at the invitation of a couple of classmates and the professor (I was social gadfly then). As a J-school student they probably thought it might be fun to have a vocational major add the proletariat�fs views to their roundtable. Anyway, the topic was put before us (watch me really date myself), "Should UGA institute a full-fledged Woman's Studies program?" To my credit I was the only one in the class who came out strongly against it; I just wish I could have had the ability to fashion my inchoate ideas then into something like this.
Textbook recommendations please! I need some advice. My class of Japanese corporate types and engineers has graduated for this term but we'll start up again in a couple of weeks. Most of the basic English texts I've chosen but I'd like some ideas for multimedia info and readers ('Reader's Digest' type books edited for length and re-worded to simplify grammar). I have to submit my materials request in one week.
The previous teacher used readers like, "The Death of Karen Silkwood" and "I, Robot" for his class. I don't think there's anything like "Golden Key's version of The Road to Surfdom" or "Thomas the Tank Engine Rides Rearden Metal Rails" but I do want to use my position as sensei to indoctrinate them to libertarian ideals. (cue 'shrubbery' chord...) By the time I use these readers the students should have the grammar knowledge and vocabulary of an average 11 - 13 year old. So can anyone recommend a collection of Heinlein short stories or other nifty texts that fall within this age range?
For technical English skill review I'm stumped; I'm planning on using the Nova video "Why the Towers Collapsed" along with a transcript but there is a serious derth of ESL texts for technicians and engineers (not too surprising I guess given the Humanities backgrounds of most of your ESL teachers-cum-authors. note to self: market need = business opportunity. why not write your own damn text and sell it to longman, you lazy sh*t!?)
Any other pedogogical ideas what might make for good reading, listening or speaking practice for the engineers in the class?
C'mon, help me subvert educate the current generation of Japanese workers.
Friday, September 27, 2002 Bob Crane Had A Very Large Penis. The Hogan's Heroes star is the subject of Paul Schrader's new film "Auto Focus." The film depicts Crane's obsession with group sex, his fetish for filming himself and his partners, and how said addictions destroyed his two marriages and his career and ultimately cost him his life. But Crane's youngest son seems to be most upset that the film doesn't depict the truth about pop's enormous genitalia.
Indeed, there 's some irony in the casting. Willem Dafoe plays Crane's partner in sleaze and possible killer, John Carpenter. Dafoe is reputedly one of the "biggest" stars in Hollywood, and Greg Kinnear (who plays Crane) was so, um, outclassed during the orgy scenes, that his people rushed to plant stories in the tabloids that Kinnear was normal-sized and only looked small next to the elephantine Dafoe.
"Auto Focus" has gotten good advance buzz. But I can't wait for the inevitable conservative charge that it glamorizes Crane's lifestyle. Please, I haven't seen the film, and I can tell you that it doesn't. I haven't seen "Auto Focus," but I have seen every other film Schrader has made, especially "Hardcore," his film about the world of porn movies.
In Schrader's cinematic world, sex is inevitably dirty and destructive, and still very tempting. He takes very seriously Paul's admonition that it is better to marry than to burn. And even then, he's not too sure you won't burn.
Schrader may have abandoned the faith he was brought up in, but he still remains a Dutch Calvinist at heart, and he's incapable of making a movie that is erotic or that glamorizes sex. (See Paul Verhoeven's "Showgirls" to see what happens when a Dutch Calvinist tries to make a sexy movie. They just can't do it.)
Does the world need a film that tells us it's unwise to hang around with sleazy men, chasing anonymous sex and videotaping the entire thing? You'd think we'd all know that, but Crane himself didn't, so maybe someone out there can use this film.
And for those of you who refuse to learn that lesson, Crane's younger son is selling the films and photos his father made over the years.
Islam and Women. Mark Steyn says he was right about the high share of rapes committed by Muslims in Denmark. In fact, things are worse than he first reported.
In June 2001, for example, the newspaper BT reported that every single gang rape that had taken place over the preceding 18 months had been committed by second-generation immigrants or refugees -- in one instance by a gang from Eastern Europe, in the rest by ... well, I don't want to be more hateful to a certain "vulnerable social group" than I have to, so you're welcome to take a stroll through the archives story by story, if you can stand the details. A 2001 report by the Copenhagen police says that 47% of prisoners on remand for serious violent crime -- murder, attempted murder and rape -- are from immigrant backgrounds.
Really Pessimistic. But what else would you expect from the Prudent Bear? Doug Noland thinks the popping of the Fed-created bubbles is far from over and will bring a lot more pain.
The increasingly impaired “risk” players – domestic and international – have since been stung and many are now in full retreat. At the same time, enormous U.S. mortgage Credit growth only adds to the amount of risk that must be mitigated by dynamic market trading strategies, in a market suffering from a shrinking pool of players willing or able to accept market risk. Or, the requisite supply of risk continues to expand rapidly, while the demand for holding risk is contracting, perhaps at an increasingly rapid pace. Declining stock prices, faltering corporate Credits, suspect consumer Credits, a wobbly dollar, imploding Latin America and the consequent rapidly shortening life for massive quantities of mortgage debt is forcing risk players and dynamic hedgers to move to off-load risk in the marketplace. This is a serious problem. Those left in the risk market, either by choice or necessity, have become repositories for atypical risks that may threaten their viability. This is the (simplistic) anatomy of a very problematic market dislocation and financial crisis.
Dr. Greenspan repeatedly mistakes the role derivatives have played in sustaining dangerous Credit and speculative excess for a nebulous (and seductive) capability of the derivative markets to stabilize economic systems. Others are now convincing themselves that we have traded nettlesome financial instability for welcomed economic stability, but this rose-colored notion’s days are numbered. In the same vein, we think Alan Greenspan is wishful thinking when he references “a broad spectrum of investors,” and he will be sorely disappointed come the inevitably harsh reversal of speculative dynamics throughout the Credit market. It certainly appears this process has begun, and increasing revulsion to risk taking by players within the Credit system will impact Credit availability and economic performance.
You just don't get it do you! What kind of game are you playing on (sic) here? You are the one who likes drugs judging by your attitude, maybe you should be the one upping your thorazine level! ha ha ha ha now you are trying to paint a picture that I belong to a cult? ...You don't acknowledge anything I say mister POOH POOH!
But I'm not the first to note that he rakes mailers with legitimate and polite questions over the coals as well.
And now he's gone and pissed off another blogger named Charles:
Michael Fumento, with whom I am hereby burning my bridges, ... is alleging that the research throwing doubt on (some aspects of) adult stem cells is politically-motivated (to shore up support for embryonic stem cell research) and/or outright fraudulent. His article is riddled with straw men and bad faith arguments, and I may yet Fisk it, but I don't have time right now.
Am I taking this personally? Maybe a bit. There are tons of people here on the blogosphere and in the larger world with whom I disagree about embryo research and other controversial topics, but we manage to stay on good terms. I don't think I'm an asshole to Eve Tushnet, Kathryn Lopez, Patrick Ruffini or Orrin Judd (even though I yank the latter's chain a bit), and they certainly have never treated me like my opinions are beyond the pale. Anyway, I emailed Fumento to mildly critique his NRO piece, and he sent back a reply that maybe would have been appropriate if I'd insulted his mother. It included this gem: "You write with the confidence of a man who's absolutely sure of himself because he knows he's wrong." Nice.
I've often linked approvingly to things that Fumento has written, and I imagine I will continue to do so, because he can write very well. E.g. this Tech Central Station piece, also from a couple of days ago, about breakthroughs with artificial tissues and organs. It's both witty and informative, which is a tough combination to pull off. ...
As a person, though, I'm forced to conclude that Fumento is a humorless prig.
The point in dispute (the value of embryotic to non-embryotic stem cells for research and medical treatments) is not important here. Fumento destroying the crediblity of his research and arguments through juvenile and unwarranted hissy fits is. You once told me, "James Randi, bless him, fights on the side of the angels; but he's probably not the most pleasant guy to be friends with." Fumento seems the same.
Bursting Bubbles. I missed this earlier, but it's quite good. Stephen S. Roach, chief economist at Morgan Stanley, says the U.S. is on the verge of deflation. But he also argues the Federal Reserve shouldn't cut interest rates again to fight it.
I fear he may be right about the first point, but I still have a little optimism left. But he's completely right about the second point. Still, he doesn't bring up the strongest point to buttress his argument. The Fed shouldn't cut interest rates because its prior easy-money policies are responsible for the mess we're in now. The stock market bubble, the housing market bubble and the consumer spending bubble he talks abotu were all caused by a too much money flowing into the economy. Printing more money to correct things now would be like trying to cure a hangover by drinking more vodka.
And here's a special bonus for you, Ron. Frank Shostak, chief economist at Ord Minnett Jardine, explains why easy money isn't the answer for Japan, either.
Turn Them Away. U.S. taxpayers along the U.S.-Mexican border spend $200 million a year to provide health care for illegal immigrants. About one quarter of the unreimbursed health services in these border areas goes to persons who lack legal status.
That's just those 24 border counties. Illegal immgration costs American taxpayers hundreds of millions more in the rest of the nation.
Under federal law, hospitals are required to provide emergency care for anyone who seeks it, regardless of immigration status or ability to pay.
The first thing we should do is overturn that law. The second thing we should do is to enact a policy that hospitals who treat illegal aliens can't receive any federal funds. Next, the voters in the various states and counties should require that any taxpayer-supported hospitals may not treat illegal immigrants, or if that sounds inhumane, they should require those hospitals to immediately report any illegal immigrants they have contact with to the INS. Finally, any immigrant -- legal or illegal -- who runs up a hospital bill that he cannot pay and that his insurance cannot cover, should be deported.
Dude, Where's My Bike? (UPDATE) - After one fruitless night's search retracing the previous night's drinking marathon (or at least as much of it as he could remember) bike and owner were reunited due to the efforts of a kindly Iyomishimian.
Seems the bar's owner moved my bike to the back of his store the following day. A quick call to my company's offices asking if they knew who the big, loud drunk gaijin was was enough to find me. The bar owner told my boss that he knew I had to be an English teacher (because "your Japanese is so bad") and it was a choice of the one local franchise English school or the mill.
Japan Declares First-Person Narratives Illegal.... (does Greece know about this?) Don't know if this got any mention in the American press but this is just amazing. A woman has successfully sued an award-winning author and gotten a judge to ban the publication of the author's new novel because "it invaded her privacy because one of the characters resembled her."
You know, both of my brothers are US Customs Inspectors. Wonder if they'd be interested in a little TDY in Yokohama or Kobe. The middle brother might be in the market for a wife... Hey, the place has been kind to me.
Japan is a famously 'safe' area with a reputation for low crime. Whether that's true or not is debatable; however the fact that the authorities have no experience or success in dealing with violent or organized crime (or terrorists) is not. I'm encouraged to see Japan admitting this to some degree. Japan is the weak link in US security, and the worry is a real one given the amount of trade, capital and tourists that flow between the two. The large presence of military hardware and personnel here coupled with the weak police forces make this country an inviting target.
If I were an enterprising terrorist I'd look at the the number of American GIs at Tokyo's Hard Rock Cafe or at Gas Panic (yes, that's really the bar's name) on any given Friday night and the lack of any security beyond their bouncers as damn tempting sites. I sure hope the SDF and the metro police have considered this.
Ah, Life In A Red State. Or is Georgia blue? Anyway, just got back from Hooters trivia night. My team really had an awful night. We were blowing questions left and right, ones we should have known.
But there was one question we got right. In fact, every team got it.
"In what movie will you find Patrick Swayze, Jennifer Grey, Lea Thompson and C. Thomas Howell?" Every man under the age of 40 immediately knew the answer. Don't think that would happen in a bar in Santa Monica.
You Broke The Japanese School System. Ron, no sooner do you give up teaching kids and move to the more lucrative world of corporate training than Japan moves to make its schools more like those of the U.S. Coincidence? I think not.
The national curriculum has been cut back, giving local schools more autonomy. Students now spend three hours a week in "integrated" studies, working on projects. Teachers are urged to encourage creativity and to make school fun. In short, the Japanese are adopting "progressive" American ideas that we are rejecting. Doesn't sound very promising.
Let's Talk in English! Ron, have you tried loudspeakers on garbage trucks in your quest to teach language skills? Seriously, if you ever get tired of Japan, and can get your passport back from your girlfriend's father, you might want to take your show on the road. The rest of Asia wants to learn English as well.
May I excuse for a while? I'd like to powder my nose. I wish to be perfect when I'm with you.
Wednesday, September 25, 2002 Busy Signal. Okay, I'm out here in the sticks, and I use a dial-up Internet service. So when I'm on line, I can't get phone calls. I was going to get a second phone line, but now I've been looking at Callwave, an Internet answering service. Does anyone out there have any experience with services like this? It's cheaper than a new phone line, and quite frankly, I don't get a lot of calls, so it makes more sense. But I'm not familar with it, and I wanted to know if there might be problems using it.
Christ, my eyeballs hurt. Tonight I went out drinking with my graduating class. They, being Japanese, wanted to drink until they were stupid... I was happy with drinking until I couldn't remember where my bicycle was. I still don't know where it is. Tomorrow night I'll head back downtown and look for it. So far, I've made about 17 typos in theses few short lines. I had interesting discussions in half English about marketing, product distributuin, barriers to entry into the marketplace and diapers. It all tied together somehow. I also learned that I have discovered a foolproof way of curing hiccups.
People have said that if you could scare yourself, your hiccups ('geppu' in Japanese. also an onomatopeia) would go away. I guess the scare somehow resets your digestive muscles... but why a scare. It must be the shock. What else causes shock? Pain. What causes pain? Slamming your fist as hard as you can into the concrete wall.
Hurts like hell but the hiccups were gone on the first strike. My co-workers were amazed, or scared, or drunk ... or all three.
Talk around the nabe bowl also hit upon the topic of Iraq. Several students felt the need to apologize to me before stating that they did not understand the Bush administration's pre-occupation with Saddam. I can't remember what I said but I think it had something to do with Sand People and Bantha tracks.
Will spend the next day nursing a hangover I'm sure. I also have loads of paperwork to complete on these poor guys before they get shipped off to parts unknown; so I won't be posting much over the next few days. Glad to see that New Orleans will still be there when I visit in December. ...uhhh my head hurts.
Move along, nothing to see here Isidore isn't really much of a tropical cyclone any more. The core circulation never really reformed after it moved over water, and I think the rain totals are probably a bit overblown. Of course, you'll see the media overkill continue to coast along for another day or so.
Lilli hasn't intensified much either, but it still has a ways to go.
Tuesday, September 24, 2002 Iraq, again The UK has released an interesting "dossier" detailing why we should dismantle the Iraqi government. You can see the full version on the BBC site, or get a pdf version here.
I still don't thing Iraq should be our first priority. I'm all for zapping the bad guys (my ancestors and I fought in and survived a number of conflicts), but I think the energy and political capital (both internal and external) we are spending could probably be better spent zapping somebody else higher on the list first. Also, I'm very nervious at all the emphasis being given to Iraq violating UN resolutions - in my view, violating UN resolutions is not a vital US interest. But perhaps this is just a trial run for the "Bush Doctrine" and we are working up the list rather than just picking off a convenient target.
Natural Selection I've been watching the elections in Germany, and having spent some time there have a half-serious theory. This also applies to Japan and France. Perhaps all of the manly men who see war as an extension of politics and diplomacy (extra credit for the first reply to name who I'm paraphrasing) were exterminated (largely by us) in the great wars of the last century. So we have natural selection at work: the leaders who didn't shy away from conflict (for good or evil) were killed off. The wimps were left and reproduced.
...New Orleans watched the long, destructive journey of Hurricane Georges from the eastern Atlantic, across the Virgin Islands and Hispaniola and into the Gulf of Mexico. By Saturday, Sept. 26, the hurricane was moving toward New Orleans, causing hundreds of thousands of residents to flee the area and thousands more to shelters, including the Superdome. A last-minute bobble took the storm to the east, sideswiping Greater New Orleans and smashing straight into the Mississippi coast. In New Orleans, the mass evacuation, citywide curfews and major damage to lakefront areas and outlying parishes gave weight to experts' predictions that a direct hit on the city could bring catastrophe.
The Times-Picayune has collected a number of stories and videos from that storm and put them up here.
Monday, September 23, 2002 Somebody Help Me Out Here. I'm serious. This article hurls a lot of insults at so-called cyberlibertarians. As I understand it, the author feels they really are just big government leftists. But can someone tell me what he actually opposes? As far as I can tell, he thinks a proposal for new "centers to recognize and respond to cyberattacks" is a call for big government? Is he that stupid? Or am I missing something?
Hypocrisy, Thy Name Is Ashcroft. When he was governor of Missouri, John Ashcroft said, "Those in Eastern Europe and the Russian republics know that it's futile to have an all-powerful centralized bureaucracy. And we pray that someday those on Capitol Hill will learn the same." As a senator, Ashcroft gave a lot of lip service to states' rights.
That was then. Today, Ashcroft's Justice Department filed papers seeking the power to sanction and perhaps criminally prosceute doctors if they prescribe lethal doses of medication, as Oregon's voter-approved Death With Dignity Act allows.
"The attorney general has permissibly concluded that suicide is not a legitimate medical purpose," Justice Department attorney Jonathan H. Levy wrote in the appeal filed at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The voters of Oregon differ. They have twice approved the law.
But this really isn't about the wisdom of physician-assisted suicide. (I have some doubts about it myself.) It's about the right of states to make their own policies. Under what clause of the Constitution does Ashcroft justify his intervention into Oregon policies?
When guns are outlawed... The example that proves the rule, Japan. Technically, you can own a gun. But you need a waiver from the perfectual police and the barrel has to be filled with cement. And no one but the police can possess ammunition. But almost every day you read about shootings in gun-free Japan. At least now they all only involve yakuza... or the new Chinese or Russian gangs. So far they're busy fighting each other for turf.
The most under-reported story is the almost daily shoot-outs between gangs based in Osaka and Kobe. Should an innocent bystander get caught in the crossfire (as happened about 5 years ago in Kobe) the gang responsible will usually cut a nice check to the family (this is to forestall public outrage and prove that the gangs are "self-enforcing"). But the frequency of these gun battles is rising and the police are ill-equipped, both literally and behaviorally, to exercise any control over violent gangs.
Don't misunderstand; you'd have to go out of your way to make yourself a victim here. But it's just a matter of time before the typical citizen perceives the threat and consequently learns the authorities are neither protection from or deterrents to violent crime.
This Just Makes Her Even More Attractive IMHO. Miss Universe Oxana Federova has been stripped of her title just four months into here reign. Why?
"She's an unbelievable beauty, and an unbelievably spoiled bitch," said one insider.
I see from my previous post that some people just don't understand the lure of a woman with emotional problems. But Oxana was smart, beautiful, an accomplished martial artist and shooting enthusiast. Bitchiness was all that was needed to make her the perfect woman. Now, if I could just do something about that rich boyfriend that rumor has it is a close personal friend of George W. Bush.
Abusive Mama Update. Am I the only one who thinks that Madelyne Gorman Toogood (the Traveller gal who was videotaped whacking on her kid) is sort of hot? Definitely more of a babe than the new Miss America.
Storm Junkies know the basics of the "New Orleans fills like a soup bowl in a major storm" story. And if you don't, you can find the latest retelling from the New Orleans Times-Picayune here. Just to hit the high points - New Orleans (my favorite city in the world) is a disaster waiting to happen. It sits in a depressed bowl surrounded on all sides by massive amounts of water. With no natural drainage and only a system of levees on the rim of the bowl to protect it, a category 3 or stronger storm striking from the south will:
...turn the city and the east bank of Jefferson Parish into a lake as much as 30 feet deep, fouled with chemicals and waste from ruined septic systems, businesses and homes. Such a flood could trap hundreds of thousands of people in buildings and in vehicles. At the same time, high winds and tornadoes would tear at everything left standing. Between 25,000 and 100,000 people would die, said John Clizbe, national vice president for disaster services with the American Red Cross.
..."Filling the bowl" is the worst potential scenario for a natural disaster in the United States, emergency officials say. The Red Cross' projected death toll dwarfs estimates of 14,000 dead from a major earthquake along the New Madrid, Mo., fault, and 4,500 dead from a similar catastrophic earthquake hitting San Francisco, the next two deadliest disasters on the agency's list.
The rest of the article goes on to detail the results of a category 5 storm hitting the city and how the whole mess could be left uninhabitable for 6 months to a year afterward. From a threat analysis point of view, this quote is interesting, "In a given year, for example, the corps says the risk of the lakefront levees being topped is less than 1 in 300. But over the life of a 30-year mortgage, statistically that risk approaches 9 percent."
Chuck, I'm calling you out here; you got any comments or low-res storm-surge / damage runs you'd like to share in regards to Isidore?
UPDATE: Watson responds (from the comments thngie):Couple of comments:
1) My bet is if it doesnt just muck around the southern gulfo de campeche, Isidore will hit mid-mexican coast, perhap as far north as Galveston, although the 12z (8am) Mon guidance is starting to converge on the Tx/LA border. It's a bit early to tell.
2) I think the corps is low in their return period estimates. Using work that Mark Johnson of UCF and I are doing, the annual risk is more like 1 in 120 or so. (we are using different statistical methods, incorporating the subsidence of the delta, and 150 years of history, I think they only used 70 yrs or so). By the way, the article is wrong. If the annual risk is 1 in 300, the risk over 30 years is more like 20%. It's not a straight multiple (ie 10 years is not 1 in 30 for a 300 year event).
3) The Big Easy is screwed, eventually. The levees have really made it a disaster waiting to happen. The 25 to 100K dead is probably a reasonable range, but I'd go with the lower end because the warning is better. My guess is 3 years to get the area to the point where rebuilding is possible, and I'm not sure it would be rebuilt, certainly nothing like how it is not. It would take major waviers of a lot of laws to do it, and that combined with "if somebody dies it's sacred ground" mentality demonstrated at the WTC site, rebuilding would be problematic. And what's the point? A rebuilt NO wouldn't be the same. Best to let it go.
Sunday, September 22, 2002 The broken window phallus? Jonah Goldberg does a nice explication of Hazlitt's classic (at least to pencil-neck economists) "broken window fallacy." Nothing particularly earth-shattering here (hahaha 'shattering...' uh... well), even Goldberg admits that. But it is a nice re-primer on the foolishness of public works programs (always a favorite punching bag of armchair Japanonomists like myself) and a disputational stepping stone in a moral argument for action against Iraq. That said, I'm linking to it because 1) it's damn well-written and funny, and 2), as we as a blog are searching for our crunchy nuget filled moral center, it provides the impetus for renaming the site, "Screaming at the Urinal."
Now, I'm off for a day-trip to Takamatsu over in Kagawa prefecture. When I come back I expect to see everyone's core beliefs and moral foci spit-polished and properly justified.
Philosophy? We don't need no stinkin Philosophy. One of the military units I was a member of had a motto:
Always strive to maintain a state of rigid flexibility.
I vote for that to be our "Blog Statement of Philosophy." In Latin, of course.
As Charles points out, since there are three of us bloggin here, you get three times the wit, wisdom, typos and inconsistency you get from those other, single source blogs. As for philosophy, consistency, and practicality, there are probably a few core values you shouldn't compromise on, a few you should compromise only under dire circumstances, and others were you should probably know when to hold and when to fold.
One example of my own: the draft and the death penalty. I am opposed to both for similar reasons. First, any government that can't convince its citizens it is worth defending probably isn't worth preserving. I oppose the death penalty because I don't believe any government should have the right to take a life, or compel a citizen to do so in its name, in addition to the religious reason. For practical reasons, however, I am willing to compromise on the draft - it's too hard to convince people to do what's right most of the time until it's too late, and in a democracy, hopefully the use of force is somewhat constrained. But I am not willing to compromise on the state applied death penalty, partly because I don't trust goverment to do it fairly. BTW, if you break in to my house and are even a minimal threat to my family, I will personally apply the death penalty with any of the many available methods at my disposal. (A Heinlein quote: there is no such thing as a dangerous weapon, only a dangerous man.) In that case, it is my decision - not a jury I don't know - and in self defense. So are there inconsistencies in these positions? I think not - there are, however, calculations on my part that another equally bright person may make incorrectly differently. There are goals that you may want to shoot for, but they are rarely in a vaccum and must be seen interactively. I think this is what Charles is saying re immigration, and we all probably do on a wide variety of issues.
Hearts and Minds. The people of Orgun didn't like it when the Afghan government sent them an ex-Taliban official as their new governor. So they elected a U.S. special forces soldier to take his place. The Green Berets had to explain that was impossible. But it shows how effective they've been. Maybe too effective.
Their care in cultivating a ''light footprint'' in the Orgun-e-Kalan valley - abiding by local customs, eschewing obvious military uniforms, growing beards (until a recent Pentagon directive forced them to shave), and respecting the separation of women - has paid dividends in high levels of cooperation. The Special Forces-trained Orgun police have arrested dozens of suspected Taliban sympathizers whom they turned over to US forces. Locals visit the base nearly every day to report hidden weapons caches, leading to the seizure of more than seven truckloads of weapons and ammunition in the past two months.
Working on a tip on Wednesday, US forces from the base raided a nearby compound and detained seven men who had documents calling for holy war against the United States. The troops also found an antiaircraft gun, 18,000 rounds of ammunition, rockets, and land mines.
Evidently, the ''hearts and minds'' campaign to win over the local populace is going exceptionally well in this valley, but the challenge for American soldiers is to do enough without doing too much. Accustomed to being dictated to by the Soviets, the mujahideen, and the Taliban, villagers expect the US soldiers to solve all their problems, from the theft of a cow to providing medical treatment. The soldiers help as much as they can, but they don't want to interfere in local issues and wear out America's welcome.
''They've always been told what to do, so they turn to us and ask us what to do. We say, `It's your place, what do you want to do? I'm not here to run your country. I'm here to help you, and to root out Al Qaeda and the Taliban,' '' said Sergeant First Class Jay Smith, a civil affairs specialist who has distributed hundreds of tons of food that had been hoarded by a warlord, helped build schools, septic tanks, and wells, and started a baseball league. Unfortunately, locals try to call in the Americans over issues as small as someone's goat eating their grass.
''It's like trying to put a democratic template over a geometric grid of tribal issues,'' said Jerry, a Special Forces soldier who had similar experiences in Haiti and Bosnia. ''They don't know how to run a government because no one's had the chance. Everyone's told them what to do. We try to explain, `OK, you're the district Minister of Potholes, so when you find a pothole, go to the Minister of Finance and get some money to fill it.'''
Jim, an intelligence officer, suspects President Hamid Karzai ''doesn't think he can do it himself. But it won't be effective if he doesn't, because the US won't be here forever. They have to learn to crawl, walk, and run.''
The Two Faces Of Me. I’ve already got several letters regarding my immigration post. Some friends have asked me whether I’ve changed my mind on matters of immigration.
But reader Domenic Anghelone is more scathing
In my best Reagan-speak, "Here we go again!"
Ever wonder why people don't "get" libertarianism? No undo offense but it's much because libertarian writers as yourself are Januses. The anarchocapitalists are daft but they are at least consistently so. You switch between your philosophical libertarian and your practical citizen without a hint of a clue as to your purpose.
Yeah, that might piss you off but if so then you're not the first. Your blog could use some statement of intent and philosophy to let readers know where it is you are coming from.
Well, we don’t have any statement of philosophy here because there are three of us, and if you’ve been reading for a while, you know we each have different beliefs, backgrounds and interests. Really, the blog is just way to comment on the things that interest each of us, and where our interests coincide, to have a little dialogue.
Now, as to my post on immigration. I don’t see a split between my philosophy and practical politics. Let me resort to the argument from authority.
Milton Friedman is a pretty libertarian guy. This is what he said when he was asked if he favored unfettered immigration.
Unfortunately no. You cannot simultaneously have free immigration and a welfare state.
I agree with that assessment. The common libertarian retort is to get rid of the welfare state. Sure, once we do that, there could be no practical libertarian arguments against imnmigation.
But the U.S. welfare state isn’t going away soon, so what do we do in the meantime. Indeed, mass immigration is currently helping to perpetuate the welfare state. If you look at a lot of “ills” the left points to justify maintaining and expanding the government’s role in the economy, immigration is, at least partly, to blame.
Take health insurance. The supposed lack of affordable health insurance is a rallying cry of those who want more government involvement in health care. But since 1993, 59% of the growth in the number of people without health insurance came from immigration. Further, immigrants rack up huge bills in American hospitals that taxpayers must ultimately cover.
Those are just two areas in which taxpayers are subsidizing cheap labor for business.
Reforming immigration could help reduce the political pressure to expand the welfare state.
Again, unlike Lew Rockwell or Pat Buchanan, my concern is economic, not racial. I’m not really concerned that immigrants aren’t assimilating fast enough or that they are bringing some alien culture with them or that their skin is darker than mine.
Now, some of the proposals that anti-immigration activists call for clearly violate libertarian principles: calls for a national ID card, for instance.
But I don’t see how it’s a violation of libertarian principles to say that if you commit a criminal act or are a drain on taxpayers you will be deported.
So who should be admitted into the country?
I think Tibor Machan said it best:
The right immigration policy for a free country, to put it bluntly at first, should be this: those who can demonstrate that they aren't under indictment for any kind of violent crime and have the economic means-a job and/or property in the free country they choose to join-should be accepted as citizens.
Machan’s article has some other sensible observations on a proper immigration policy.
Deport 'Em. A decade ago, there were 656 Latinos living below the poverty line in Gwinnett County. Today, there are 11,000. The number of Hispanic immigrants in Georgia has skyrocketed, and a large percentage of them are living in poverty, 25% or more in many counties. The are ineligible for many types of aid, such as food stamps. but they are putting a huge strain on local schools and medical services and criminal justice systems.
Yes, cheap hardworking Latinos have also become an important part of the carpet industry and poultry processing. But if these industries can't exist without subsidized labor, they deserve to die.
If you are in this country illegally, you should be deported. If you are in immigrant, and you get arrested for anything more serious than spitting on the sidewalk, you should be deported. And if you are an immigrant who depends on any public service other than the roads to drive to work on, you should be deported.
If you are living on a rickety porch, you shouldn't have children. Trust me, it's easy not to.
Road signs, ballots, and any official government documents should be in English. Period. If you can't speak it, tough. Learn it.
Georgians worked too long and too hard to reduce poverty in this state without you fuckers bringing it back.
Truth in Headlining. Japanese copy editors next on target for sensitivity training. Please note the headline...
Bum drops headstone onto car
EBINO, Miyazaki -- A homeless man has been arrested after dropping a headstone over 6 meters onto traffic because he was annoyed at noisy cars that stopped him sleeping in a highway tunnel, police said Sunday.
Shunichiro Koyashiki, 47, unemployed of no fixed address but living in a highway tunnel for the past month, was arrested for breaking the law regarding highways and national roads. He admits to the allegations.
"Noise from the cars traveling along the highway was driving me mad, so I hurled the headstone onto the highway as a type of revenge," he told the police.
To steal the headstone, police said, Koyashiki went to a cemetery about 1 kilometer from where he had been staying. He then used a bulldozer in the cemetery to carry it to the bridge from where he hurled it. (Mainichi Shimbun, Sept. 22, 2002)
Not "homeless person," not "impoverished vagrant," not "disempowered panhandler," not "free-range citizen," but instead the more telling and connotatively accurate (and shorter!), "Bum!" Just a couple of observations; a tunnel is a "fixed address"... not a legitimate one, but you can find it on a map. And what the hell is the deal with the bulldozer??" Don't those things have keys? How the hell does Sake Taku know how to operate one of those things?
Saturday, September 21, 2002 Islam and Women. Dutch police have placed Ayaan Hirsi Ali under police protection. The Somali immigrant received death threats from Islamic extremists after criticizing fundamentalists on TV earlier this week. Other Dutch Muslims who have been campaigning for women's rights say they too have been threatened.
Meth Monkey Update. Guess what? The assclown who attacked Tom Gamboa has an arrest record. Shocking, huh? And Max Cady has already revealed his defense strategy. He says that after he and junior verbally harrassed Gamboa for nine innings, Gamboa responded by "flicking" them off. So they were justified in jumping a fence, coming on to the field and blindsiding a 54-year-old man.
Hey, EconBoy! You got any comments about this? VodkaPundit linked to this with the slug, "could be the most important story of the year." An economics think tank predicts a massive lag in training programs resulting in a massive shortage of skilled workers in the next 20 years... massive as in "We are going from 27 million new workers to zero in the next 20 years."
Am I missing something? Is David Ellwood (who by the way has very good hair for a poly sci prof.. see pic) predicting the death of immigration? When did that happen?
Anyway, the Aspen Institute's Domestic Strategy Group, who produced this study, say it's time for all of us to re-up our skills and prepare for the coming labor shortage. I"m doing my part; tomorrow Mr. Tou (yes, that's really his name), our company's Chinese instructor, and I begin tutoring each other in our respective languages. We've chosen the context of home-brewing as the medium for our language exchange. So 1) I gain experience teaching English to yet another ethnicity, 2) I learn ancient Chinese methods of beer making and, 3) I can be non-communicative in TWO Asian languages! Hola! Mi estereofonia esta quebrada.
Every market has its Niche.... or Nietzsche.These guys are going for that elusive speed metal / classic science fiction crossover demo. As the article sez, "Speed metal. They're named BloodHag. Think about it." And their songs praise the classic authors of sci-fi; Wells, Asimov, Burroughs, et al. They play in horn-rims and button downs and sing about the characters and ideologies of their favorite authors,
And if the kids still don't get the message, later in the set the band pelts them with paperpack copies of their favorite works.
The music is... well it's speed metal; but the lyrics are just fantastic! (not that you can actually understand them when performed... I recommend reading the liner notes.
Harlan Ellison Write in a store window the girls watch your lobes flex Still, no one could guess what you would write next.
Like you might write just to read your own name. Your early work made good TV game...
Still, no one could top you at your short
fiction. No one could stop your Dangerous Visions.
We wrote this song don't let it get to your head You'd like it more If your name's all we said! Harlan, Harlan Ellison! Harlan, Harlan Ellison!
A lot of people call you a prick Cause you talked a little shit About Philip K. Dick
Mephisto in Onyx Phoenix Without Ashes Couldn't write a real novel to save your ass!
Roger Zelazny The page of New Wave bore Roger's fresh face
Set the pace and taste for his time and place
In the Courts of Chaos Corwin struts in Amber
Only those of true lineage may walk the pattern
Bloody family feuds and a super computer in limbo
Don't sleep with out a pack of trumps under their pillow
Worlds of the fantastic - dense and specific, unscientific
New twists on old myths - man to God metamorphosis
So what his new hits ain't as good or as thick, It's not his fault 'Damnation Alley' sucked shit
'My name is Legion' will leave no doubt, or 'The Doors of his Face, the Lamps of his Mouth'
If you want you can listen to some of their tracts at that previous link. Myself, I'm bookmarking this page to go back and read each of these bios. Go spend some time at their site; but like the warning that pops up when you visit the site says, "May induce literacy."
Friday, September 20, 2002 Islam and Women. Mohammad Rashid beat his sister to death with a hose and secretly buried her body because he saw her talking to a strange man at a wedding party. The Jordanian was sentenced to 15 years in April, but that sentence was cut by half because his family refused to press charges. Now, the sentence has been cut again to 30 months. An appellate court ruled that Rashid didn't mean to kill his sister, just beat the holy crap out of her.
My Brother's Keeper. Zacarias Moussaoui's older brother has urged him to repent, and it seems, throw himself on the mercy of American justice.
"If I have a message for him it is that he change, that he abandon this ideology of hate and understand that he is mixed up in an abominable tragedy," Abd Samad Moussaoui said. "It is possible for him to change."
While the elder brother refuses to say whether he thinks his brother is guilty of a crime, he clearly feels he has embraced an evil ideology. The older Moussaoui blames his brother's downfall on "merchants of hate," i.e., Wahhabi clerics.
What I find fascinating is that both brothers were raised in a non-observant family, and both found their way back to Islam. But the elder brother clearly embraced another strain, presumably less destructive.
Communication between the two ended when Abd Samad put pamphlets warning against the Wahhabi movement in his brother's suitcase while driving him to Montpellier airport after a visit in 1995, the last time they saw each other.
I'd like to know more about this. His book could be interesting. He says he is writing it as a warning to other young men not to fall under the spell of Wahhabism. Unfortunately, there are many young men who could use such a warning.
Barbershop. It's the top-grossing movie of the week, and it has some civil rights activists pissed. Incidentally, the AJC truncated Jesse Jackson's quote, making it seem idiotic. the quote, as it appeared in the USA Today article the AJC cites was "The filmmakers crossed the line between what's sacred and serious and what's funny." You may disagree with that opinion, but at least it makes sense. What's the world coming to when the AJC gets something wrong?
As if the birth rate wasn't low enough... Now we've got hospitals and institutional bureaucracy killing babies.
MORIOKA -- A seriously ill 8-month-old baby has died after three hospitals near his Iwate Prefecture home refused to admit him, it was learned Thursday.
The Iwate Prefectural Government, which oversees local hospitals, saw nothing wrong with the action of the hospitals, which declined to help the baby because they did not have a pediatrician.
"It is stipulated in our emergency room manual that a doctor on duty must contact a specialist if a patient suddenly requires special care," an Iwate government spokesman said. "However, the manual gives no directive to deal with a case when specialists cannot be contacted. So this kind of incident is bound to happen."
No one does anything in this country without a plan. Workers and subordinates are not to be trusted with making decisions that involve the use of company resources. So every possible contigency is laid out and bound up in an operations manual. And if you run into a situation that is not in the manual... well, that can't happen. To wit the Fukushima Nuclear Reactor accident of 1999
New York Times. "Question for Japan: Why Was There So Little Planning For a Potential Nuclear Accident."
In a 'News Analysis,' the New York Times compiled a string of questions:
*Why were workers mixing vastly excessive amounts of enriched uranium manually rather than with the plant's sophisticated machines that were meant to insure precise measurements?
*Why was no alarm sounded at the fuel enrichment plant after an accident that produced 10,000 to 20,000 times normal radiation levels in the immediate area?
*Why was the plant itself no clearly marked as a nuclear production site and equipped with a battery of anti-radiation and security measures, even though it is situated in the midst of a residential area?
The Tokaimura uranium refining plant did not have any markings identifying the site as dangerous, its staff lacked proper protective shields, it had no alarm system, and it had never been equipped with a safety manual.
According to the New York Times, the Yomirui Daily reported that regulatory papers filed for the plant during construction did not include contingency plans or a discussion of the possible dangers of a fission reaction.
Note to self: Don't travel more than 50km from your insurance policy's designated hospital.
On a side note: You gotta love the beauties of nationalized healthcare. In Britian it means having to dump your own bedpans. In Japan it means if your specific medical situation isn't in their operational manual the hospital gets a free pass on witholding treatment possibly resulting in your death. But it's OK they're indemnified... heck I bet they're actually putting themselves at risk if they did offer treatment..
White Guys Without Shirts. Two clowns attacked Kansas City Royals first base coach Tom Gamboa tonight during a game. Guess what? They weren't wearing shirts. Why is it that every time a white guy does something stupid he's not wearing a shirt? Why is it that every time a white guy gets arrested -- excluding white-collar criminals -- he's not wearing a shirt? Do our IQs drop 20 points whenever we take our shirts off? Does the feel of the cool breeze on our nipples excite us in ways we can't control?
If there's one thing I've learned from watching hundreds of hours of Cops it's this: If you see a white guy coming at you and he's not wearing a shirt and it's not a beach, run. He's definitely stupid, probably drunk and and quite possibly related to me. Not a good combination.
Thursday, September 19, 2002 Japanese Justice on the Job. Charles, take this as a follow-up to your post a few weeks ago. Something about Japanese mothers killing their babies that makes judges get all compassionate. I'm quoting the article in full cause the Daily Yomiuri's links never last for more than 16 hours.
Mother gets suspended sentence for infanticide Yomiuri Shimbun
The Hachioji branch of the Tokyo District Court on Wednesday sentenced a 25-year-old woman of Hino, western Tokyo, to five years in prison, suspended for three years, for fatally abusing her 19-month-old daughter in Kokubunji, Tokyo, in 2000.
According to the ruling, Keiko Ono abused Moe, her second daughter from her first marriage, in late June 2000.
The court heard that Ono poured hot water over Moe's feet, leaving serious scalds that eventually caused the girl's organs to malfunction. She died on Sept. 29, 2000. At the time Ono was living with her husband in Kokubunji. The couple have since separated.
Presiding Judge Retsu Kimura said Ono's abuse was a self-centered attempt to relieve her stress.
Yes, and so was John Wayne Gacy's systematic forced sodomy and ritualistic killing of his victims; what's your point?
Not a chance... but it's good to dream. I don't get much American TV here (I could get a steady diet of it frankly, but I'm not willing to pony up $1200 for a two-foot satellite dish and decoder for my $100 14" TV... and that doesn't include the monthly fee). So I was a few yeas late discovering Farscape.
I found a set of videos at the local Tsutaya Video and rented the first four episodes on a lark. In two weeks I'd gone through the store's cache of 24 episodes and wanted more. The clerk told me the parent company had stopped stocking the videos after the first season.
"Sorry, sir, the kids didn't really like them.
It's not a kids show; it's adult science fiction.
But it has puppets.
... Uh... But... The writing... You know...I don't think I can win this argument.
And then I find out a week after that that Sci-Fi had cancelled the series. Lo, I have become Death, destroyer of quality televised science fiction.
Kuso ga senpuuki ni utte iru yo! A few more points about this North Korean abduction story. The Japanese Foreign Ministry just got around on Thursday to informing the families of the abductees who died in PDRK custody the dates of their deaths. They've had this information since Tuesday. This reeks of cover-up and an attempt to downplay a legitimate concern about whether normalization with North Korea is actually a good thing.
And uncharacteristically the Japanese press is hammering Koizumi on his discussions with Kim Jong Il. At issue is if Koizumi knew that the Japanese nationals had died under suspicious circumstances and that some were STILL being held by North Korea, why did he sign the normalization accords and stick to the script of preparing for further talks in October?
At a pre-staged, sit-down press conference tonight one of the reporters (I don’t know from what news service) asked him why he didn’t storm out of the room upon hearing North Korea’s admission. The look on Koizumi’s face was silent shock… something along the lines of, “Who are you and who approved your question?”
Koizumi, who can’t see the forest for the planet, took the line that long-term relations are more important than this small incident. Yea, that attitude's gonna play well out in innaka.
The national news services are playing their role by hyping the importance of this meeting and running polls showing 86% approve of the normalization talks. (Man, I’d love to know exactly what questions they’re asking to get responses like that. "So after Kim's burnt and gutted body is marched through downtown Tokyo and then displayed on a pike out in front of Mitsukoshi; and after a new government has been installed by Japan and US joint forces, should we resume trade negotiations with North Korea?")
But the population's resentment is only getting worse and the current administration has no idea how to respond to an affront of this nature. And they don't seem to understand or act as if it's important that there are still living Japanese nationals being held in North Korea... today... now.
Asked why the Foreign Ministry waited two days before informing the families of the dead abduction victims of when they died, Koizumi said it was ''in consideration of the feelings of the bereaved families who received a big shock.''
North Korea gave Japan the death dates of eight abducted Japanese shortly before the summit talks, but the ministry initially withheld the information from the relatives of the dead, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said Thursday.
On suspicious points about the dates of death, including the fact that two people died on the same day and that most of them died not too long after being taken to North Korea, the prime minister said the truth of the matter must be investigated.
''I was shocked more that so many of them had died rather than about the dates of their deaths. It was quite different from what we had anticipated,'' Koizumi said about his feeling when he first saw the list of abductees presented by North Korea.
''We thought more of them would have been alive, and so we wondered how we should report the news to their families. When I thought about how the families would feel, I felt the gravity of the situation,'' he added.
Kim told Koizumi the eight died of illness or as a result of ''disaster,'' but gave no details, according to Japanese officials.
If the abducted actually died when North Korea claims, most of them would have been in their late 20s or 30s when they died. 7 out of 12 would have died in the prime of their adulthood; what are the odds?
"I think that now it would be important if NATO will [be] able to re-identify itself, to find its new identity in this very changed world. And especially now, after [the] 11th of September, I think there is a lot of a new kind of evil in this world and it is necessary to face this evil and to face all who support it," Mr. [Vaclav] Havel said.
While the Czech leader has in the past said U.S. action in Iraq should occur only with international support, he assured Mr. Bush yesterday that the Czech Republic "is and will remain a good friend of the United States, a good ally."
... At the brief Oval Office meeting, Mr. Bush told Mr. Havel: "It's important to speak with moral clarity and when you see wrong, to speak about the wrong you see," according to White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.
Den Beste"s argument writ large. Yes, it's all about oil... You know how much Havel is in the pocket of the multinationals.
Whoops Again. Here's an update on my post about the voiding of the ticket that was given to one of the three Muslim medical students in Florida. It seems the toll booth attendant gave a sworn statement that only one of the cars paid the toll. But the security video from that day clearly shows her taking money from both cars. I'm not sure, but the second car may have paid again for the first car.
An Apology to anyone who has received blank e-mail from me. I've alerted Yahoo to this problem more than once. I'm still waiting for them to tell me what is wrong. If you get a blank message from me, I actually sent you something profound and possibly witty. But the Internet gremlins ate my message before it got there.
Wednesday, September 18, 2002 Guess I should've seen this coming. Unlike America that has a history not just of racial injustices but several generations worth of recognizing them, atoning for them and being kept on the lookout for future trends or institutional examples, Japan has no such collective domestic experience in accomodating races into its culture. And more's the pity.
After the attacks in 2001 and the resultant warnings from the left that America would now be a hotbed of Muslim / Islamic / brown peoples persecution most moderates and conservatives disregarded it. We knew that despite the horror of what happened and that it could be blamed on one sole ethnicity, America's history would not allow a descent into petty revenge attacks on individuals.
We'd done it before. We marginalized black Americans for over 150 years. We locked up the Japanese and anyone else who looked vaguely Asian we could find in the 1940s. And we learned it accomplished nothing... and it only made us look stupid and small. Thanks to mass media we've had the lesson taught thousands of times in a hundred forms; in music, in poetry, in science fiction, in biographies, in movies... We know. We were bad. We won't do it again. And the predicted persecution never materialized... despite how hard some keep looking / hoping for it.
The Japanese have not had to accept other cultures on their soil. If you are a non-Japanese living in Japan you are here by invitation and there are heavy regulations on your continued residence in the country. Most notably, every three years you have to prove not only that you will be earning at least the equivilent of $27,000 US annually you also have to produce a person to vouch for you and agree to suffer the fiscal costs if you misbehave.
Japan deports unwelcomed and poor foreign nationals. It doesn't make pretences to compassion or understanding... if you are not a good enough gaijin, you go.
Now they have to deal with the acknowledged fact that a country, that can be represented by a certain ethnic group, has in a sense attacked Japan as a whole. This is new for them.
We don't have ethnic classes as such here. Foreigners are very much on their own no matter how much they try to acculturate. And it's even worse for Asians. You have to understand that the general feeling is that Westerners and Eastern Europeans are unique peoples... non-Japanese Asians are just different, and that's "different" in a bad way. An American is a source of curiosity and exotic speculation. A Korean is someone who is not quite "human."
Several schools reported receiving abusive telephone calls from Tuesday evening, following Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, and at least five students were verbally abused outside their schools, police said.
The abuse reportedly included death threats, as well as orders to "go home," and "deal with the abduction issue."
One of the callers reportedly said, "I'm going to kill some children on their way home from school."
A Yokohama school for Koreans that has a role of 380 students received as many as 30 abusive and silent phone calls following the abduction announcement, police said.
Malicious calls also reportedly flooded into the Tochigi headquarters of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan.
Some students were verbally abused in public, police said. A man approached a student in Ichinomiya, Aichi Prefecture, on Tuesday evening and pulled her skirt, asking her, "Are you a North Korean?" The student was wearing Korean-style clothing.
Four other female students also dressed in traditional Korean clothes were verbally abused inside a station in Nagoya, police said, adding that a stone had been thrown at another student in Osaka on Wednesday morning.
Of course this represents just a tiny minority of the population. The overwhelming majority is intellectually tolerant of foreigners. But most of them have never had any experiences with foreigners beyond TV or their English teacher in high school. And impatience with and weariness of outsiders is very much a part of Japanese society and is certainly institutionalized into the governmental bureaucracy. Given Japan's unfamilarity with feeling directly attacked as a nation / culture by a "lesser" Asian nation /people, I wouldn't be so quick to simply discount these reports.
Whoops. Seems both cars carrying those three Muslim medical students paid their tolls. Another fact reported by TV news on Friday goes down the drain. I haven't been through that toll gate. Ron, maybe you have. I take it it's one where you just toss money in a basket, not pay an actual attendant. I guess someone with a good aim could barely slow down and still toss the coin in. I guess this is what happened.
One Small Step To World Peace. Beauty queens may, just may, be able to do something that diplomats, womens groups and human rights groups have spent months trying to accomplish. For over a year, these groups have been trying to get the government of Nigeria to overturn a death sentence against Amina Lawal. Lawal was sentenced to be buried to her neck and stoned to death by a state in northern Nigeria that has imposed Islamic sharia law. Lawal was found guilty of adultery. But the national government has steadfastly refused to anger Muslim fundamentalists by stepping into the situtation.
That may change. In a news release on the Miss World internet website, Nigeria's minister of foreign affairs Dubem Onyia said federal courts were likely to overrule the execution verdict.
The national titlists scheduled to attend that compeition, to be held in Nigeria later this year, have threatened to boycott the event. Rather than face a beauty contest with no competitors, the government may finally grant a reprieve to Lawal.
IT Lessons From Afghanistan. Here are some interesting comments from a combat controller just back from Afghanistan. I didn't realize the technology was this bad.
"The batteries we use [for the portable radios] are lithium and weigh 2 pounds each," Hotaling said. "It takes two to power the radio we're using and that only lasts a day. For a 12-day mission, that's 24 batteries [weighing 48 pounds] and that's crazy."
Looks like Japan may be trying to grow a pair. This follow-up on the North Korean abduction story detailed below gives me a little bit of hope.
"We will demand that North Korea provide more information'' about the cases before we restart normalization talks, Fukuda said....
Koizumi and Kim agreed to resume long-suspended normalization talks in October.
But Fukuda's comments indicated Tokyo's intention to step up investigations into the abduction cases more quickly than talks toward normalization.
It's not much, but for Japan it's the diplomatic equivalent of freebasing steroids.
UPDATE: Here's a more detailed account from the Mainichi Shinbun. The Japanese are feeling some righteous anger and some are being so rude as to ask exactly how these Japanese 'guests' of North Korea died during their confinement. I loved this quote, ""The national sentiment at the moment does not allow us to hold the talks in Tokyo," a Foreign Ministry official said." Really?
This just sucks. One of my favorite blogs, War Now, has been hastily shuttered by it's owner and antipodean raconteur, Bruce Hill. Bruce had spoiled us all with long (and I mean long) articles depicting his conversion from Protestantism to Judaism and from knee-jerk liberal pacifist to foaming at the mouth conservative war hawk, in addition to anything else that crossed his active and well-ordered mind.
His blog had a wicked sense of humor, dry but not tart. And I learned a lot; which is a good standard to judge any enjoyable work by. I’m not sure why he had to close down; the goodbye message is awfully legalish sounding though. I hope he’s not in any kind of real trouble with the government of Aussieland and/or his employer.
Tuesday, September 17, 2002 Big-Assed Sheep. Have you ever wondered why some sheep have muscular, oversized bottoms and some don't? Neither have I. But some scientists (who aren't even Scottish) have. Their discoveries could make it easier to determine whether syndromes such as schizophrenia and autism are genetically based.
North Korea finally admits it kidnapped Japanese citizens and has detained them for over 20 years. Tonight watching TV at the gym was a more surreal experience than usual. It was a split-screen affair: on one side you had Koizumi sitting at an ornate, mahogany table with gold-leafed edges trading professionally bound "notes of friendship" with the mangy hedgehog Kim Jong Il (who looked like he was wearing his best mechanic's jumpsuit and suffering a terminal case of bed-hair). On the other side you had a press conference of the families of Japanese citizens kidnapped by the PDRK in the 70s and 80s.
What has made this strange, relieving, unforgivable, .. is that Kim has finally admitted that these Japanese citizens, about 12 in all, were in fact taken by North Korean agents. There have been rumors about the missing, reports of sightings from defectors and it's been generally accepted that North Korea took them but now it's official. And, the second shoe to fall on this announcement, was that eight of them are dead.
Supposedly they died of natural causes.... while in North Korean captivity. But why they were kidnapped in the first place is ... unexplainable. All of the kidnapped were typical citizens between the ages of 16 and 45. Men and women from middle-class families who had no special talents or information or familial ties that would make them especially valuable to a foreign country. Some were abducted while traveling overseas in Europe but most were taken from Japanese soil by North Korean agents.
Why? What the hell was the point in this? The best answer is that the PDRK wanted to 'create' Japanese spies for their country. But how exactly would that work? Seduce them in the bosom of the worker's paradise and then release them back into Japan?? And they'll be beholden to the PDRK , why? Of course none of them ever were seen again in Japan.
I'm sure Kim had nothing to do with this personally. But it has been the major stumbling block to normalization with Japan for the last 20 years and sometime since he took over from dad he was briefed on this. He hoped the problem would go away, that the families would forget about their loved ones and both countries would move on. After all, the whole affair was so outlandish that it didn't even seem possible.
So here you have the PM of Japan shaking hands with Kim in Pyongyang and, at the same time on live TV, you have the families in Japan reservedly holding a press conference, demanding with quiet anger answers for the unanswerable and demands for apologies for the unforgivable.
To a person they were dressed in their best clothes. There were no displays of overwhelming emotion; no one brought pictures to hold before the cameras; no one raised their voice above speaking level. Yet the resentment and hatred were obvious, and justified.
Kim has added that the surviving abductees are now free to return to Japan "if they desire."
Akihiro Arimoto, the father of Keiko, has said that the impasse over the abductees has been tremendously frustrating.
"That's what's wrong with Japan," he said. "All the evidence was on the table - that she had been taken to North Korea.
"But for years no-one in the government would help - it was too sensitive for them."
Actually, the foreign ministry is counting this as a coup for Koizumi.
UPDATE: The Daily Yomiuri (whose English edition is always 12 hours behind the news cycle so this may be moot) reports that the leave to come home isn't exactly what it seems as first. Quoting this morning's paper:
He (Kim) also said that North Koreans responsible for the abductions would be punished.
A North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said that North Korea is considering allowing the survivors to return to Japan temporarily.
Fuckfaces. How can you admit you did something wrong, promise to punish those who did it and then announce that you'll keep on doing the action you just condemned!?! Amazing. And in the interest of moving relations along Japan will accept this...
UPDATE II: The on-line edition is a heavily edited version of the print edition and the second paragraph (the one about maybe allowing the illegally detained to return temporarily) of the above quote was missing on the web site. Whether that means the North Korean position has changed, the Yomiuri mistranslated their source or it was edited for space, I don't know.
100 year old driver re-ups his license; he's good until 106 now. It's stories like this that make me miss living in Florida. Be sure to check out the pic... talk about hale and hearty; that guy doesn't look a day over 85! (seriously) "The centenarian is among about 63,000 licensed drivers in the state who are 90 or older. ... But any efforts to test Florida drivers have traditionally met with tough resistance by older motorists -- a strong voting bloc." You don't say.
Here we don't have to worry about the elderly driving; it's their damn bicycles. Credit where it's due: Japan's elderly are a healthy, but perhaps often bowed, lot. And they keep using bikes for transportation up til they can no longer walk.. and then some. But when people hit 75 they feel the urge to stop using the edge of the road when cycling and start pedaling in the *middle* of the freaking street... sometimes approaching speeds of 5 or 6 miles an hour. It's common to see cars and trucks backed up for several hundred yards with the parades being led by lone, deaf, perhaps blind, obviously oblivious 75+ year old cyclists.
At the risk of sounding like FARK... Pit Bull being transported by 757 escapes his kennel in the forward bin. Hilarity ensues. As the photo series points out, "After the dog chewed through reinforced fiberglass he chewed through wires and the flight subsequently lost TCAS (Traffic and Collision Avoidance System) , both ATC transponders and a VHF/VOR receiver. "
"No, I don't have any weapons or sharp objects; I just wanna check this live animal that's been bred over hundreds of generations to be insanely aggressive and lethal. And then I want to enclose him in a small plastic box secured with a thin piece of metal and coop him up in the dark, unfamiliar, loud and stress-inducing environment of your aircraft's hold. M'Kay?"
(and before you ask, no, i don't often visit the artbell.com site. i only go there for my crop circle translations.)
Monday, September 16, 2002 War! Good God, Y'all. What Is It Good For? My Enterprise Economy colleague Brian Wesbury looks at what impact a war with Iraq is likely to have on the U.S. economy. "While The Economist magazine has said that attacking Iraq will lead to 'a massive world recession,' they are also wrong," he writes. I hope he is correct.
Maybe Rod Dreher Knows Something I Don't. I hope so, because on the day he has a very good post on libel law and blogging he also accuses Bob Greene of having sex with a minor. Every press account I've seen, including the one Dreher links to, describes the girl as being in her "late teens." Eighteen or nineteen isn't a minor.
Update:Rod Dreher admits he jumped the gun on the Greene story, which continues to get more bizzare. Turns out Greene met the girl 10 years ago.