Thursday, July 13, 2006

One reason the political system becomes increasingly divisive and useless.

Via Driftglass:
d r i f t g l a s s: Evil Liberal John Dean Speaks:
"In the absolutist conservative lexicon, Compromise = Capitulation, and therefore view compromise as spineless and cowardly. So at any effort to find genuine compromise and simply they redouble their “Liberals are vacillating Frenchmen who believe in nothing” narrative. Conversely any effort at standing pat on principle and they redouble their “Liberals are obstructionist” hooligans narrative."

You are under no obligation to play the game as presented to you.

Drop that apocalyptic vision and start imagining a positive future | By Karen Hurley | Grist Magazine | Soapbox | 11 Jul 2006:
"We do not have to accept the singular vision being created by those in power. This singular vision of the future is hyper-urban, with decaying cities, polluted air, and corporate and technological dominance. There is not a speck of nature. White men are still in charge. And then there are those damn flying cars.

This isn't the future I want, nor is it one I am working hard to create in my community. My vision of the future includes birds, trees, and clean flowing streams; organic, small-scale farms and lots of bicycles; conversations with neighbors at local stores and engaging educational institutions; clean air, strong women, diverse communities, truly democratic decision making, and happy children. No flying cars.

Some people will dismiss my vision as idealistic or unrealistic. But as scholar Ivana Milojevic of Metafuture reminds us, the dominant, dystopic vision of the future is seen as more 'realistic' simply because it is talked about more, visualized more, and analyzed more. It is given infinite time and space in the media. It serves those in control; it is a continuation of their world. It's endorsed by our corporate culture, because people who have been made to feel powerless to contribute to a better world simply give up, becoming self-absorbed in golf games, video games, war games. Becoming relentless consumers to fill the void -- without challenging a thing."

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Today, I have been married for 9 years...

The mind reels.

Katsuura Elementary School

I keep forgeting to drag the digital cam out to Katsuura Elementary School, my inaka [country] school with a total of 54 students [grades 1-6], but luckily my JTE is responsible for working on the school PTA newsletter, so she had hers out clicking away the other day...

The small school really lets me work the kids more one-on-one, which is great...

Eating lunch with the kids is usually pretty fun. Part English lesson, part Japanese lesson [for me], part desperate attempt to get some food in me, and part goofing around.

The sanensei [third graders] had memorized the DoReMe song from Sound of Music. It was, as you would expect, jaw droppingly cute.

Sometimes, children will not behave or sit down. On these occasions, sometimes, persuasion of the physical variety is useful. :)

Of course at both the Elementary Schools I'm forever tossing kids around and roughhousing... this is what I get paid to do, I am certain.

"We know there is no such thing as an evil man. We know the truth: the devil made them do it."

Fascinating essay. Worth reading in full at the link.

the League of Satanists:
"One of the most poisonous inventions of Christianity is the idea of a malignant force upon which the ills of the world can be blamed. This belief in a demonic scapegoat is the root of several potentially dangerous lines of bad logic, and history paints a bleak portrait of the results of this thinking with lurid flourishes of unnecessary bloodshed.

...Man would find his ultimate scapegoat within the confines of Christian theology, complete with cloven hooves, horns and skin red as sin. This arch villain was made easier to hate by early Christians who saw fit to name it after a God of oppressive Rome, Lucifer. In Roman theology, Lucifer was the morning star, the God of light and wisdom. The Romans were the enemies of early Christendom, and so it followed that their Gods became the demons of the new faith....

...The religiously devout would claim that we are on a steady backslide toward decadence caused by our embrace of reason, but compelling evidence suggests that the opposite is true. A recent article in the London Times details a study done by social scientist Gregory Paul in which the relative societal merits of Religious societies are compared with those of secular societies. In the study, religious America is compared with secular Britain, France and Japan using the contrasting statistics of crime rate, abortion rate, divorce rate, suicide rate and infant mortality rate. In all cases, religious America scored markedly higher in these negative values, which begs the question: are we worse off with God on our side? Do we, by placing greater emphasis on an afterlife rather than the present time, contribute greatly to the decay of our lives and the lives of those around us? Do we become something worse than what we are already by making a conscious effort to disassociate ourselves from our humanity?"

"'s a bit too unthinkable for most sane people to accept."

Doug Rushkoff sums up living in the Modern World.

You just don't know.

:: Douglas Rushkoff - Weblog :::
"No, this isn't about religion or God. I'm losing belief in the most basic stuff: the stuff we hear on the news every day.

I can't bring myself to believe Ken Lay is really dead. It's too convenient for himself, his family, and the administration... He strikes me as too rich, powerful, and pathological not to get out of it. Find a body, pay off a coroner, and go to the beach. It's not a terribly elaborate conspiracy.

[Sadly this is the first thing I thought when I heard the news. I need help. - Rob]

...I stare at the news and don't believe anything they're saying. I've got no idea.

And I find I can trace this sense of uncertainty to the 2004 election. The 2000 election was crooked, but the fraud was rather out in the open. We watched hired thugs stop the Florida recount by trying to break into the room where the counting was happening - and delay the process long enough for the Supreme Court to choose Bush as the President. But the 2004 voter fraud in Ohio... was an entirely more hidden affair. Diebold voting machines, teams of fraud squads, and election officials too afraid that disclosure of what happened will turn people off voting forever.

It's sad and confusing not to live in a democracy, anymore, and this is part of what leads me to question coverage of any events that involve our government. And while it's quite plainly true, it's a bit too unthinkable for most sane people to accept. It goes in the same mental basket as more outlandish thoughts -- such as dynamite on the WTC or no airplane crashing into the Pentagon -- even though it's not conjecture, it's just plain real."

Sunday, July 09, 2006

And this is how people got high in ancient Japan.

Fascinating bit at Yoshinogari was the area set aside for the priests/shamans/prophesiers [prophesyers?]... well, whatever you want to call it.

Having read enough odd books regarding the use of psychotropics by shamans and seers, and the various methods of inducing altered states of consciousness, it was intriguing to see all the key bits [sensory/light deprivation, change inducing music/harmonics/chanting, burners for incense and - most likely - *other* substances] hit in the setup of the historical recreation, all the while not actually indicating what most historians now recognize - the use of mind altering substances to connect to religion and spirit in most early societies and cultures.

Yoshinogari pic roundup.

The typical house... and part of the village from the watchtower.

The Adachi women are strange chicks, I tell you what. Playing with mannequins, the two of them...

Spinning silk BY HAND.

I so would've died early in ancient times.

See, in the old days, if you were well off, you could afford a pillow [I kid you not] carved OUT OF WOOD.

Sandy was incredibly amused... "Look! I'm crushing the building!"

I married a retard.

Playing Dress Up is the bomb!

The craziest bit was when Bachan described "Yes, I remember using baskets like these in the fields when I was a girl."

Yep, Bachan's been around for a while...

Raise your hand if you think Sandy's hairstyle's an improvement...


Just me then, huh?

"You have offended me and you have offended the Shaolin Temple"

[Okay, wrong country, but still...]

Look closely, as my wife has three hands...

I am a warrior. A mighty, mighty warrior.

My story and I'm sticking to it.

Yoshinogari with Bachan and Kiko

"The Yoshinogari hills were originally slated for one of Saga Prefecture’s industrial areas, but the project was suspended upon discovery of ruins and relics, until further research into the area could be carried out. In 1986, the site was meticulously studied to understand whether it was a truly important cultural site. The concluding result was that this area was one of Japan’s largest moat encircled villages dating from the Yayoi period (3c. B.C. - 3c. A.D.). The location and layout of the village captured the imagination of Japan as it closely resembled the long disputed ancient country of Yamatai mentioned in early Chinese chronicles. The Yoshinogari ruins are of extremely high academic value and are an important cultural asset.

In 1992, the Yoshinogari ruins were designated a National Historical Park"

Malik's Final BOE Enkai

As Malik's three years as a JET come to a close, the BOE gives him one last alcohol fueled enkai send-off. Good times.

Malik drunkenly pontificates on yet another obscure point.

Then laughs inappropriately loudly.

Current and former supervisors Murai-san and Morita-san, plus me, Malik and Kyoko-san.

Midori's Keitei Pics

My wife is clingy. I can't get rid of her.

Even Grandma flashes the peace sign. It's a Japan thing...

A really nice surprise...

There's one boy at Tsuyazaki Elementary who is probably THE definition of an ADD kid. Constantly yelling, talking over the other kids, getting up and running around the room, and generally, making class difficult.

So anyways, during recess he runs up to me in the hall, headfirst, and jams his hand in my pocket. I can tell he's trying to leave something in my pocket so I snag him by the arm and hold on to him for a sec...

And he's trying to leave this...

It's my name, stitched into a piece of cloth.

I tell you, I almost choked up.

Okay, not really, but still... when there's a kid you assume is absolutely not getting anything at all from class... and there's all of a sudden, out of nowhere, this little bit of evidence that you made some kind of connection... well that's just damn cool.

And yeah, I was touched a little bit.