Charles Oliver - Econ/Media-Boy
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Charles C. Watson - Science/Tech-Boy
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Ron Campbell - sushi-bait.
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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.

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Shoutin' across the Pacific
Chiizu taberu koufuku shiteiru saru ga kangei-saremasen.
Wednesday, April 28, 2004
A Worthwhile Georgia Initiative. If you look closely at Zell Miller's record, there's not much to his alleged conservatism than being one of the more-blood-thirsty supporters of the war in Iraq and getting really, really upset that Janet Jackson flashed a boob at the Superbowl.

But Zell has one idea that's both very good and very conservative. Too bad it doesn't have a shot of being enacted.

posted by Charles at 8:24 PM

Friday, April 23, 2004
Oh, that's gonna take some industral solvent to get outta my head. Maybe it's my imagination but as our class is watching The Score as their Friday afternoon flick this just amazed me. I'll switch the subtitle and sound tracks around every few minutes or so to give the students chances to both hear and read the movie in both Japanese and English. And I swear the Japanese voice actor for Marlon Brando is doing a straight on impression of the guy.

(imagine high-pitched lispy voice with lazy cheeks: "Nikku wa... dou? Kare ga danreinai teian wo suru tsumorida..." Yes, Japanese for "I'll make him an offer he can't refuse.") I've decided this weekend to do all of my Japanese practice in Chirs Elliot-does-Brando voice. This should be as much fun as my Dylan in Japanese phase. That lasted a whole week before I wanted to punch myself.

posted by Ron at 2:53 AM

Wednesday, April 21, 2004
I know from funny. And this is comedy.

Personal fave: "Standard end-of-show sign-off, "You've been great! Drive safely!" replaced with ominous-sounding "Another hour nearer the sweet embrace of blissful death"

posted by Ron at 9:04 AM

Snitch on your neighbors! I may be out of the mainstream on this one among my fellow ex-patriates and Chuck N Charles but the common sense behind this story strikes me as blindingly obvious.
Japan is being criticized by the foreign community and civil libertarians for its "Report an Illegal" program. The immigration office has set up an anonymous tip line on the internet where people can report on people they think may be living here illegally. A legal support group for ex-pats in Japan calls this service, "racist and an infringement of privacy."
Excuse me , but how's that? Look. Will a disproportionate number of "foreign-looking" people be ratted on? Sure. And...? Well, at worst, an immigration worker will come to your home or you might get stopped on the street and be asked to produce your Gaijin Card or (if you're staying here for less than 120 days) your passport.
These are powers immigration officials, police and tax officials already have. This was sort of the understanding that you agreed to when you made the decision to live in this country. And what, you say, if you are a natural born citizen? Same thing applies. You get inconvenienced for a few minutes; the official offers a thousand apologies and the incident is over.
For me, the reason why this country works as well as it does is because there is a real sense of community here. The flip side to that is that there are those who are 'outsiders.' But Japan has never been anything but honest about the leeriness it has for those from foreign countries. I knew that coming here and I accepted it. I feel it is a small price to pay, to subject myself to a little bit more scrutiny, if it allows the cohesiveness of the society to perpetuate itself.
Man I'm sounding like one of Landru's brainwashed minions. "Peace be unto you in the body of Landru."
But seriously, this sort of thing may rate a bit high on the cringe factor but don’t you wish your country vigorously enforced it’s immigration laws?
(/civil libertarian troll)

posted by Ron at 2:02 AM

Tuesday, April 20, 2004
This Is Why I Hate Children. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has proposed a $5 tax on admission to strip clubs as part of his school--financing package.

I notice the governor isn't proposing any new taxes on his own vices, like hairsrpray.

posted by Charles at 7:24 PM

Saturday, April 17, 2004
Back to the Future. Domenic sent this piece on the potential bursting of the Chinese bubble.

China’s economic fragility is not just a problem for Beijing. As the Chinese maw has grown, it has become a growing market for its neighbors. Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines and Australia have seen their exports to China – including manufactures – grow by as much as 50 percent. Japan is coming out of its decade of stagnation, in part because of the fillip Chinese exports have given its still only partially reformed export-led economy. South Korea, caught in political and economic crosscurrents, counts on its “China boom” for its high tech exports to buoy it until domestic demand returns. Even the U.S., however much it might complain over the loss of jobs to China, continues to have a lower inflation rate in part because Beijing [as well as Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei and Hong Kong] gobble up its treasury notes, halting any “crowding out” of private sector borrowing in capital markets.

The thing I've feared most for the last couple of years is that the Chinese bubble and Alan Greenspan's latest bubble here in the United States will burst at the same time. We're really screwed if that happens.

posted by Charles at 10:06 PM

Updat: I fixed the then Zinni link. I wouldn't make his #1 priority mine. I probably wouldn't make it a priority at all. But the rest of his points make a lot of sense to me.

posted by Charles at 12:34 PM

Friday, April 16, 2004
Gen. Anthony Zinni. Now and then.

posted by Charles at 8:50 PM

Monday, April 12, 2004
Headlines you won't see Today

Egyptian Dictator Hosni Mubarak, President Bush to discuss Middle East Peace
Egyptian Strongman Mubarak meets with President Bush; Iraq, Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plans on table.

Just to put things in to perspective, and to raise a question that seems especially relevant with Iraq on the verge of anarchy . . . do we really want (as a strategic matter) to push for democracies in the Middle East no matter the consequences in the form of hostile governments, or do we want things under control? Regretablly, it may be an either-or proposition at the moment. I think it is possible to have friendly democracies in the region, but not as long as Fundamentalist Islam is a viable force. Given a choice, I suspect most people in the region would vote for governments hostile to the US. So we need to be realistic about it, and consider the benefits of stability and control under relatively benign dictators like Mubarak, with very careful efforts to improve conditions and bolster freedom over time. Not a good choice, but it may be all we have.

posted by Chuck at 1:13 PM

Sunday, April 11, 2004
And Is Anyone Outside the Bush Administration Surprised? I think Mickey Kaus hits the nail on the head:

The grimmest lesson of Fallujah? Will any democratic government we could conceivably leave behind in Iraq be strong enough to stop Sunni towns like Fallujah--filled with well-armed, well-trained America-hating young men--from becoming ongoing hotbeds of terrorist plotting? The lesson of recent events in Iraq would seem to be a pessimistic one in this regard. (You'd need a strong, non-American military force able to thoroughly police Fallujah and Tikrit. But the Iraqi national forces haven't exactly proven to be a mighty hammer. And the Sunnis, in a loose federal system, seem unlikely to want to crack down on their own.) ... That's true even if the Marines are able to completely clean out the current Fallujah "vipers' nest"--something that also looks increasingly unlikely, given the political pressure for a cease-fire. ... It means that the Iraq War--even if we basically succeed in nation-building--could result in the creation of a new series of towns that --like the towns on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border--are a terrorist Petri dish. If that's the outcome, then in one respect at least we will have succeeded in replacing one terror threat (Saddam) with another, no?

posted by Charles at 10:02 PM

Tuesday, April 06, 2004
Blowing Bubbles. Domenic sent me this article arguing that the housing market is a bubble ready to pop.

Frank Shostak made the case for a bubble last year.

I've believed the same thing for almost four years now. But I've been wrong so far, and I'll be happy to be wrong into the future.

posted by Charles at 10:42 PM

World's Toughest Woman. And how'd you like to be that kid? Every time he screws up you know what he's going to hear.

posted by Charles at 7:47 PM

Monday, April 05, 2004
Politics and Pro Wrestling Come Together. Ric Flair was apparently the big draw at a recent GOP findraiser for President Bush. Footage from the event will apparently air tonight on RAW.

Don't know if Bush is a big wrestling fan, but his dad reportedly was, and he often named Flair as his favorite wrestler.

posted by Charles at 8:32 PM

Friday, April 02, 2004
Quaffing the Republican Kool-Aid on National Security
I continue to be horrified and amazed at how conservatives and "libertarians" (Boortz, for example) have sold their souls to the Bush Administration and the Republican Party on the national security/terrorism issue. At best, the administration gets a "C-", and that only because they got an 98 on the Afghanistan exam. On "homeland security", Iraq, North Korea, and China they've flunked. Badly.

Example: now we are going to fingerprint visitors from the EU. Great - who's fingerprinting, much less checking, the 100's of illegals crossing our southern borders every night??? Here we have yet another cosmetic action that pisses off other countries while doing virtually nothing to actually protect this country.

Kerry would be worse than Bush, but probably not catastrophically worse. However, a Democratic president wouldn't get cooperation from Congress (which will almost certainly remain republican) on budgets, domestic policy, and other issues, so the net impact of a Democratic win in November may be to cause less damage than another Bush administration.

Scary and tragic thought.

posted by Chuck at 2:21 PM

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