Saturday, March 03, 2007

How life works.

And if it doesn't, it should. And if it still doesn't, just pretend that's how it works. You'll fool yourself after a bit.

Beyond Marketing by Dr. Joe Vitale: The Missing Secret:
"1. The Universe -- call that huge superpower God, Divinty, Life, or whatever works for you -- is sending and receiving all the time. It's sending inspiration to you. It's receiving requests from you.

2. This 'dialogue' is being filtered through your belief system.

3. The results you get are what happens from the above two steps. How you read those results is also based on your belief system.

My point is that to change your results, you have to change your beliefs. change beliefs in my presentation. In short, they are:

1. Question your beliefs. I offered two ways to do this at the event. One is with the work of Byron Katie.

2. Erase all memories of limitations. I offered the ho'oponopono method explained in Zero Limits as a tool to clean the slate."

The Internet, privacy and living online.

Deal with it. Learn from it. Welcome to the new world.

It's funny, but if I didn't know for a fact that Sandy's parents read this with some regularity, and that she'd divorce me if I shamed her, I'd probably be much more inclined to post a lot more egregious stuff. Or the stuff I think about that's really f&#*d up. Sadly, all this crazy, just the tip of the iceberg...

Huge seven page article... worth clicking over to read in full.

My favorite bits...

Kids, the Internet, and the End of Privacy: The Greatest Generation Gap Since Rock and Roll -- New York Magazine:
"...As younger people reveal their private lives on the Internet, the older generation looks on with alarm and misapprehension not seen since the early days of rock and roll. The future belongs to the uninhibited.

...the older generation has responded with a disgusted, dismissive squawk. It goes something like this: Kids today. They have no sense of shame. They have no sense of privacy. They are show-offs, fame whores, pornographic little loons who post their diaries, their phone numbers, their stupid poetry—for God’s sake, their dirty photos!—online. They have virtual friends instead of real ones. They talk in illiterate instant messages. They are interested only in attention—and yet they have zero attention span, flitting like hummingbirds from one virtual stage to another.

...Clay Shirky, a 42-year-old professor of new media at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, who has studied these phenomena since 1993, has a theory about that response. “Whenever young people are allowed to indulge in something old people are not allowed to, it makes us bitter. What did we have? The mall and the parking lot of the 7-Eleven? It sucked to grow up when we did! And we’re mad about it now.” People are always eager to believe that their behavior is a matter of morality, not chronology, Shirky argues. “You didn’t behave like that because nobody gave you the option.”

...More young people are putting more personal information out in public than any older person ever would—and yet they seem mysteriously healthy and normal, save for an entirely different definition of privacy. From their perspective, it’s the extreme caution of the earlier generation that's the narcissistic thing. Or, as Kitty put it to me, “Why not? What’s the worst that’s going to happen? Twenty years down the road, someone’s gonna find your picture? Just make sure it’s a great picture.”

And after all, there is another way to look at this shift. Younger people, one could point out, are the only ones for whom it seems to have sunk in that the idea of a truly private life is already an illusion. Every street in New York has a surveillance camera. Each time you swipe your debit card at Duane Reade or use your MetroCard, that transaction is tracked. Your employer owns your e-mails. The NSA owns your phone calls. Your life is being lived in public whether you choose to acknowledge it or not.

So it may be time to consider the possibility that young people who behave as if privacy doesn’t exist are actually the sane people, not the insane ones. For someone like me, who grew up sealing my diary with a literal lock, this may be tough to accept. But under current circumstances, a defiant belief in holding things close to your chest might not be high-minded. It might be an artifact—quaint and naïve, like a determined faith that virginity keeps ladies pure. Or at least that might be true for someone who has grown up “putting themselves out there” and found that the benefits of being transparent make the risks worth it.

...At 17, Oppermann is conversant with the conventional wisdom about the online world—that it’s a sketchy bus station packed with pedophiles. (In fact, that’s pretty much the standard response I’ve gotten when I’ve spoken about this piece with anyone over 39: “But what about the perverts?” For teenagers, who have grown up laughing at porn pop-ups and the occasional instant message from a skeezy stranger, this is about as logical as the question “How can you move to New York? You’ll get mugged!”) She argues that when it comes to online relationships, “you’re getting what you’re being.” All last summer, as she bopped around downtown Manhattan, Oppermann met dozens of people she already knew, or who knew her, from online...

[talking about a girl who's ex put their sex tape online]

"If that girl’s video got published, if she did it in the first place, she should be thick-skinned enough to just brush it off,” Xiyin muses. “I understand that it’s really humiliating and everything. But if something like that happened to me, I hope I’d just say, well, that was a terrible thing for a guy to do, to put it online. But I did it and that’s me. So I am a sexual person and I shouldn’t have to hide my sexuality. I did this for my boyfriend just like you probably do this for your boyfriend, just that yours is not published. But to me, it’s all the same. It’s either documented online for other people to see or it’s not, but either way you’re still doing it. So my philosophy is, why hide it?”"

...Right now the big question for anyone of my generation seems to be, endlessly, “Why would anyone do that?” This is not a meaningful question for a 16-year-old. The benefits are obvious: The public life is fun. It’s creative. It’s where their friends are. It’s theater, but it’s also community: In this linked, logged world, you have a place to think out loud and be listened to, to meet strangers and go deeper with friends. And, yes, there are all sorts of crappy side effects: the passive-aggressive drama (“you know who you are!”), the shaming outbursts, the chill a person can feel in cyberspace on a particularly bad day. There are lousy side effects of most social changes (see feminism, democracy, the creation of the interstate highway system). But the real question is, as with any revolution, which side are you on?
Out of the whole article, the bit that resonated the most with me was where they talked about the fact that whether or not it's online, or other people are aware of it, it's you. It's who you are. Why live your life as if you're ashamed to let other people see you? Scary, I'll admit, but better than a quiet life of reserve and stunted, quashed expression. Honestly, who cares what others think of you or about you? Do you live for them, or for you?

"Live never to be ashamed if anything you say or do is published around the world, even if what is said is not true." - Richard Bach

Friday, March 02, 2007

Those wacky Brits.

Too little, too late... but at least they're showing some spine. Plus, 72 year olds leading revolts against the government? Brilliant. You almost hope he signed off "I am Spartacus."

Reason Magazine - No Pictures, Please:
The United Kingdom is one of the most surveilled societies in the West, its 60 million citizens monitored by 4 million cameras, including 6,000 traffic cameras. The latter have touched off a wave of protests that are making politicians and traffic cops nervous.

Since the first speed cameras went up in 1992, the government has ticketed Brits to the tune of $210 million a year, with 58 percent of British drivers forking over fines. More recently, angry drivers have destroyed or damaged more than 1,000 of the machines with fire, baseball bats, explosives, and other techniques that drive traffic cops to use words like terrorism. Much of the vandalism has been carried out by a secretive group called Motorists Against Detection.
Britons angry over trash bin tracking:
"The British tolerate millions of surveillance cameras watching their every public move... But when they discovered that their garbage is being bugged, they howled that Big Brother had gone too far.

...In the coastal city of Bournemouth, 72-year-old Cyril Baker ripped the chip off his new bin the day he discovered it, then went on national television to show how he did it. Thousands of his neighbors followed his example. "It was a very emotional issue. The whole town was in an uproar," he said."

How did I miss this?


Jimmy Kimmel and George Takei on Tim Hardaway's homophobic rant.

Why Japanese animation kicks the hell outta America's obsession with talking animals.

This is a thing of beauty.

YouTube - Paprika official trailer:
"29 year old Dr. Atsuko Chiba is an attractive but modest Japanese research psychotherapist whose work is on the cutting edge of her field. Her alter-ego is a stunning and fearless 18 year old 'dream detective,' code named PAPRIKA, who can enter into people's dreams and synchronize with their unconscious to help uncover the source of their anxiety or neurosis."

The "national character" of America.

Curmudgeonly, but true.

Strikes me as ironic that those I think that would protest the most against this definition of how people are these days, would be the same folks first in line to show their obedience to the state.

Except me, of course. I'm special. I'm different. [Sigh.....]

Fred On Everything:
"One hears much admiration from politicians of the American “national character,” by which seems to be meant the aggregate of prevailing values of the majority of the population. I gather that Americans tend to regard their national character as comprising such things as freedom, independence, individualism, and self-reliance. One thinks of Daniel Boone or Marlboro Man.

In fact we no longer have these qualities and probably never will again. Generally we now embody their opposites. Modern society has become a hive of largely conformist, closely regulated and generally helpless employees who depend on others for nearly everything.

...Freedom has given way to an infinite array of laws, rules, regulations, licenses, forms, requirements. Many make sense, may even be desirable in a complex world, don’t necessarily make for a bad life, but they cannot be called freedom. Various governments determine what our children learn, whether we can paint the shutters, who we must sell our houses to, who we can hire, what we can say if we want to keep our jobs, where we can park, and whether and how we can build an outbuilding.

People who live infinitely controlled lives become accustomed to such control. Obedience becomes natural. And so it has.

...Most poignantly, we are become a nation of employees, fearful of losing our jobs. Prisoners of the retirement system, afraid of transgressing against the various governing bodies before whom we are helpless, unable to feed ourselves, we are at least comfortable. We are not masters of our lives.

Dense populations and the complexity of machines and institutions lead inevitably to regulation, which leads to acceptance of regulation and therefore of authority, which becomes part of the national character. This we see. In my lifetime the change has been great. In rural Virginia in the Sixties, you could walk down the road with your rifle to shoot beer cans, swim in the creeks without supervision and life guards and “flotation devices” approved by the Coast Guard, and generally be left alone. Now, no. Regimentation has grown like kudzu. We obey. The new generation knows nothing else..

...I suspect that the concern about terrorism is just a particular manifestation of a growing obsession with safety. Not too long ago, Americans were a hardy breed—foolhardy at times, but the one comes with the other. Now we see attempts to eliminate all risk everywhere. Cities fill in the deep ends of swimming pools and remove diving boards. We require that bicyclists wear helmets, fear second-hand smoke and the violence that is dodge ball. Warnings abound against going outside without sun block. To anyone who grew up in the Sixties or before, the new fearfulness is incomprehensible.

The explanation I think is the feminization of society, which seems to be inseparable from modernity. The nature of masculinity is to prize freedom over security; of femininity, security over freedom. Add that the American character of today powerfully favors regulation by the group in preference to individual choice. Note that we do not require that cars be equipped with seat belts and then let individuals decide whether to use them; we enforce their use. The result is compulsory Mommyism, very much a part of today’s America.

...What then is the national character today? I think we are first an obedient people. We submit. We are comfortable with authority, and seem to be most comfortable when we are told what to do. We prize security, safety, and predictability. Increasingly we accept being treated like convicts at airports and elsewhere. We want to be taken care of. We can do few things for ourselves. We expect government to decide much that was once regarded as outside of government’s ambit. And we are to the marrow of our bones incapable of rising against the creeping tyranny. So much for Marlboro Man."

You had to kind of figure.

Still, it's not what you think it is, you refugee from Christian theology, you.

You are The Devil

Materiality. Material Force. Material temptation; sometimes obsession

The Devil is often a great card for business success; hard work and ambition.

Perhaps the most misunderstood of all the major arcana, the Devil is not really "Satan" at all, but Pan the half-goat nature god and/or Dionysius. These are gods of pleasure and abandon, of wild behavior and unbridled desires. This is a card about ambitions; it is also synonymous with temptation and addiction. On the flip side, however, the card can be a warning to someone who is too restrained, someone who never allows themselves to get passionate or messy or wild - or ambitious. This, too, is a form of enslavement. As a person, the Devil can stand for a man of money or erotic power, aggressive, controlling, or just persuasive. This is not to say a bad man, but certainly a powerful man who is hard to resist. The important thing is to remember that any chain is freely worn. In most cases, you are enslaved only because you allow it.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

"A robot? Not me!" said the moron.

More and more I'm beginning to get a clue as to how many of my response are simply imprinted in me without much conscious thought. All you really need to figure that out is one good fight with your significant other, as you both manage to push all the same buttons and watch the responses you know were coming. Always easier to see in others, of course...

I, Robot:
"...there is nothing new about the robot theory of biology. The Sufis and yogis knew about it centuries before Pavlov, or even before Mark Twain wrote his stunningly prescient essay 'Man, A Machine.' Nonetheless, it is so patently offensive to human narcissism that almost everybody recoils from it 'as the devil would from holy water.'

(Incidentally, you can get a quick estimate of a person's intelligence by asking them how much of themselves is robotic. Those who say "not at all" or "less than 50%" are hopeless imbeciles, always. The few who say "about 99%" are worth talking to; they are quite intelligent. Dr. Leary, who is the freest human being I have ever known, estimates that he is 99.9999% robot.)

...In short, the process of acculturalization is itself a brainwashing process.

Thus, the Samoan lives inside an imprinted Samoan reality; the German inside a German reality; an American inside an American reality. That's why a crowd of Americans are immediately recognizable in a street full of Turks or Hindus or even in a street of Englishmen or Irish. The naive chauvinism of the traveler who says "all foreigners are crazy" is actually quite valid; indeed, foreigners are crazy; the chauvinist merely lacks the insight to realize that his imprint group is crazy, too."

God I love some Robert Anton Wilson.

RIP Bob.

Neurological Relativism:
"As the result of the yogic and alchemical disciplines I have practiced during the last 15 years, I know that the solipsist position is the minimal truth, i.e., that all we really know is a stream of sensation. The common sense hypothesis that there is an Ego ("me") observing/experiencing this stream, are unprovable, but denying them seems to lead to worse confusion than (tentatively) accepting them.

But I also know that everything I think I know about the Ego ("me") and the External World ("it") is woefully little, and very misleading (more "untrue" than "true") because it is such a microscopic fragment of what the total Me and the total Universe must be. Blake said, wisely, that "Every thing Capable of being Believed is an Image of the Truth;" but it is also true, as Blake no doubt realized, that Every thing Capable of being Believed is Self-Hypnosis.

It is emperically known to me, through neurological experiment, that every time I manage to change to focus of my nervous system, a new Me appears, and a new External Reality, and that these mingle in curious ways, and each grows steadily bigger, weirder, more mysterious and more humorous as my researches proceed.

Artemus Ward put it this way: "The trouble with most folks is not that they don't know enough but that they know so much that ain't true." Or, in the more slashing style of Neitzsche's soaring sarcasm, "We are all much greater artists than we realize." Whatever we know of Me and The Universe through the filter of our nervous system is much more of a record of the structural functioning of the nervous system itself than it is of the enormous mysteries of the real Me and real Universe.

...All around one the True Believers trudge by, mouths grim, brows furrowed, ulcers and worse eating at their innards. This 'desperate company of oddfellows' (Thoreau) live in what psychologists call 'cognitive dissonance.' Because their reality-maps are, one and all, too small to cover the vast, eerie, amusing world in which we live, they are perpetually frustrated: the world does not live up to their fixed beliefs. They are all convinced that there is something radically wrong with the universe itself, or with the rest of humanity, and they never suspect that the real trouble is in their own rigid and robotic nervous systems.

Thus I 'believe' in libertarianism, in strict scientific method (the objective yoga of the West), in yoga (the neuroscience of the East), in Space Migration, in Life Extension, and in dozens of other things. But I can suspend any of these beliefs at will, or all of them, and look impassively into the Buddhist void, or switch around to other beliefs temporarily, to check out how the world looks to those who hold those beliefs."

"Normal" probably isn't.

I remember reading about Fortuny's Craiglist experiment when it first happened and remember thinking "That's what folks get for thinking privacy actually exists online," but this makes a really good point. These folks were trying to live in a subculture safely and ethically, hurting nobody, and got screwed pretty hard over it in some cases.

PopMatters Culture Feature | The Kink Continuum:
"You may have heard of Seattle web developer Jason Fortuny’s September 2006 “Craigslist experiment” in which he posed as a submissive woman and solicited responses from kinky, dominant men. Citing safety, he requested real names, phone numbers, pictures, and other contact information—and then took all the personal information these men gave him and posted it on a website. Some responded to this with a shrug: Too bad about the privacy violation, but that’s what happens when you’re a disgusting pervert. Presumably as a kinky person, you just don’t have the same rights as anyone else.

But what Jason Fortuny did was extremely unethical, not because he was a man posing as a woman—as vice squad detectives can tell you, 17-year-old virgin Jennifer in your chat room may likely be 40-year-old PTA member Steve—but because he took advantage of people who were taking care to be ethical themselves. As sex columnist Dan Savage has pointed out, those responding to Fortuny’s ad were trying to provide a nervous woman attracted to a murky subculture with the security that their personal information could afford, assuring her that if she did end up getting hurt, she’d know how to find them.

Instead, they got blamed for being kinky, “outed” to their families and communities, and had their professional and private lives compromised; one couple in an open marriage begged that their information be removed from Fortuny’s website, as their religious friends and family were unaware of their lifestyle. Someone else recognized a coworker from a Microsoft-based email address; another email came from a address, not an organization famous for tolerance of alternative sexualities. Fortuny’s considerate response to the experiment’s “subjects” who asked him to remove their information from his website? “Sorry. Try not to freak out. Take deep breaths. Recognize that your friends will laugh at you for a little bit, and you’ll get some prank phone calls. Maybe a feminist will write you a nastygram. If this is making you cry then grow the fuck up. Be the real man you claimed you were on your response, faggot. You should be able to take a hit in the solar plexus without flinching.”

Why the hostility? Our culture is happy to grapple with sex-fetish imagery in the mainstream
, where an ad for Altoids features a corset-clad honey bun and the tagline “Pleasure in Pain”, and Justin Timberlake moans suggestively about shackles and slaves at the Victoria’s Secret fashion show. It’s a vocabulary we all recognize: chains, whips, ropes, Chinese nurses, rubber. We have some generic cultural connotations for kink: It can suggest, for example, that folks are more adventurous, more interesting, possibly even cooler than nonkinksters. How often does Cosmopolitan tell couples to spice up their relationship with some light bondage, handcuffs or a silk scarf blindfold? So how do we get from thinking kink is a fun and exciting way to add a little zest to your sex life to finding it disgusting on the Internet and persecuting those who sought to practice it privately and safely?

Kinsey’s sex studies in 1948 and 1953 revealed that we’re all a lot weirder than we think. Gay, straight, kinky, or vanilla, we’re all blips on a continuum that is wider than we typically imagine. While Kinsey didn’t specifically study kinky behavior, his studies did reveal that approximately 12 percent of females and 22 percent of males had an aroused response to a sadomasochistic story and more than half of both sexes responded erotically to being bitten. And the prominence of kinky images in the media—such as TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s cavalier inclusion of handcuffs, collars, and safe words, the recurring dominatrix character in CSI, fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier’s use of stilettos, rubber, and leather straps and even the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which has players disguise themselves in bondage gear to gain access to a casino, suggest a vast population with at least some interest in kink.

...Fortuny was able to create scandal because privacy laws imply that only shame provokes us to choose to keep certain things to ourselves. But if our supposedly taboo activities are increasingly being revealed with the help of the Internet as more and more commonplace, they will not remain potently taboo for long. How can you shame someone for being “other” when there is more and more proof that this otherness is in fact the norm?"

Why organizations fail.

See, this is what Robert Anton Wilson called the SNAFU Principle, and it explains why all organizations, and all bureaucracies, do not work.

As applicable to the Walter Reed fiasco as anything else.

WIRED Blogs: Danger Room:
"...subordinate units submit reports on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to their headquarters. At each level of command, these reports get filtered, collated, combined, and resynthesized. Like the children's game of telephone, the message frequently changes in transmission. The result can be a terribly distorted picture of reality at the higher echelons of command.

In Iraq, where I advised the Iraqi police, I saw this reverse filtration system (whereby excrement is added to the final product, instead of being removed) in action. Reports on police readiness were aggregated, generalized, and stripped of their facts as they moved up the chain of command. In one report, I included an anecdote about an Iraqi police colonel picking his nose to show his displeasure with a new U.S. reporting system for police readiness, a detail I thought illustrated the depth of Iraqi contempt for U.S. bureaucracy. This detail squeaked through, but I earned a sharp reprimand for including it, and I learned to keep such facts out of future reports. By the time our reports reached the national level, they contained little of the detail so essential for explaining our progress in standing up the Iraqi police force. This problem exists in many military organizations. Major problems get renamed "obstacles," or "challenges," or some other noun that connotes a temporary delay in forward progress, reflecting the pervasive "can do" optimism of the military officer corps. Staff officers at each level of command refine and insert caveats into reports to ensure they don't rock the boat too much. By the time information reaches a senior commander or civilian official, it no longer reflects reality."
Utopia USA interview with Robert Anton Wilson - Utopia Online Library:
"There is a little bit more to it than that. It what I call the 'snafu principal.' Communication only occurs between equals--real communication, that is--because when you are dealing with people above you in a hierarchy, you learn not to tell them anything they don’t want to hear. If you tell them anything they don’t want to hear, the response is, 'One more word Bumstead and I’ll fire you!' Or in the military, 'One more word and you’re court-martialed.' It’s throughout the whole system."

Captain America, FU$K YEAH!

Via BeaucoupKevin(dot)com. BlogMachineGo.

Take - one bad 1990 Captain America movie, mix with the theme song from Team America: World Police, add a dash of irony from Marvel's latest crossover Civil War where Captain America gives up like a little girl, and voila!

[audio not safe for work]

See, but no students are listed in the "go to hell" column, so it's okay.

FYI, you're talking about 12 year old kids here...

Teacher advised late students to 'go to hell' : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri):
"A 48-year-old teacher at a middle school in Kawasaki posted the names of students who were late for school on a chart in a hallway in the school that advised the worst offenders to 'Go straight to hell,' it was learned Wednesday.

According to Nagasawa Middle School, the teacher, who is head of the second grade, posted the names of tardy students on the chart, which had columns with headings indicating how often they were late, from September to December. The headings were "Yellow card," "Red card," "Call the parents," "Have an interview with the principal," and "Go straight to hell." The students' names were written on tags and affixed to the chart.

The school said no student had been listed in the "Go straight to hell" column."

Only in Japan.

Well, maybe not "only." But still...

Cross-dresser held over molesting schoolgirl : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri):
"A 32-year-old employee of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. was arrested Thursday on suspicion of molesting a 15-year-old middle school girl, police said.

Takashi Orita of Akashi, Hyogo Prefecture, allegedly touched the girl's lower back on a municipal road in the city at about 10:20 p.m. Wednesday when the girl was bicycling home.

Orita reportedly was dressed in a girl's school uniform. He admitted committing the act, according to the police. After being notified by the girl's mother that her daughter had been chased by a man wearing a skirt, the police questioned Orita after they saw a uniform blazer and plaid skirt of a high school in the city in his car near the scene of the crime."

How history gets rewritten.

Or, why other Asian nations hate Japan sometimes.


Japan's Abe: No proof of WWII sex slaves - Yahoo! News:
"Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday there was no evidence Japan coerced Asian women into working as sex slaves during World War II, backtracking from a landmark 1993 statement in which the government acknowledged that it set up and ran brothels for its troops.

...The Kono Statement was issued in 1993 by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono after incriminating defense documents were discovered showing the military had worked with independent contractors during the war to procure women for the brothels.

The statement has been attacked by right-wing nationalists in Japan, who argue the sex slaves worked willingly for the contractors and were not coerced into servitude by the military.

Despite the official acknowledgment, Japan has rejected most compensation claims by former sex slaves, saying such claims were settled by postwar treaties. Instead, a private fund created in 1995 by the Japanese government but funded by private donations has provided a way for Japan to compensate former sex slaves without offering official government compensation. Many comfort women have rejected the fund. "

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The monthly reading list for Feb 07

Lots of cotton candy for the mind this month...

Kitchen Table Talk (新書): Anything and Everything Essays on America and Japan by Kay Hetherly. Student of Sandy's let her borrow it... some interesting, some banal observations on life in Japan, and being a foreigner here. Quick, interesting read.

Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore. Hilarious comedy writing about West Coast Vampires. The same author who wrote Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, which is phenomenally funny.

The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero by William Kalush and Larry Sloman. Great Houdini bio. Interested in him since I was a kid. I even learned how to do some magic when I was a lot younger, and made my dad sit through a "magic show" once. I did have a handcuff and chain escape though. Thanks Johnson Smith Catalog!

Batman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told
by Various Authors. Gift from a friend, and classic tales of the Bat throughout the ages. The O'Neil/Adams 70's stories are always a good read.

Dc Super Heroes Super Healthy Cookbook by Mark Saltzman, Judy Garlan, Michele Grodner (Author). A 1990 reprint of an early 80's book is filled with that era's licensed Superfriends-esque art. Awesome trip down nostalgia lane with some cool recipes to boot.

Storm Front (The Dresden Files, Book 1) by Jim Butcher. Saw the series based off the novels on SciFi, so I thought I'd pick up the books, at least the first one. Think Philip Marlowe/Raymond Chandler. With magic. Very cool.

Wisdom of the Peaceful Warrior: A Companion to the Book That Changes Lives
by Dan Millman. Love Millman's work. Probably the first or second most influential writer on my outlook. RA Wilson's is probably more insightful to me now, but I've been reading Millman since high school, and his practicality mixed with spirituality always is enlightening and helpful.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

America - where you can go to jail because jurors are fucking idiots.

Boing Boing: Pop-up porn case update:
"We've been covering the unfair conviction of substitute teacher Julie Amero, who faces imprisonment for the crime of being present in a classroom equipped with an adware-infected computer. Here's an interesting development in the ongoing story: ...[juror] Fred F.'s own words and lack of punctuation speak the volumes that I dare not say.
"she was pronounced guilty because she made no effort to hide or stop the porno, not just because she loaded the porno onto the machine. Going to the history pages it was obvious that the paged were clicked on they were not the result of pop-ups."
That statement is in direct conflict with the testimony on record. Amero did everything short of turning off the computer, which she was instructed by a superior not to do. The children from her class testified -- right in front of this juror -- that she did make every effort to hide what was being displayed. He also seems to have picked up the same in-depth knowledge of Internet Explorer possessed by the Norwich police computer expert, which could be defined as; little to none."

Boy, is he dumb.

Human rights are no match for the Godzilla toppling hive mind of Japan. Like fatty butter.

Education minister slammed for comparing human rights to fatty butter - MSN-Mainichi Daily News:
"An advocacy group slammed Japan's education minister on Tuesday for comparing human rights to fatty butter and saying too much would give Japan 'human rights metabolic syndrome.'

'No matter how nutritious it is, if one ate only butter every single day, one would get metabolic syndrome,' Education Minister Bunmei Ibuki reportedly said at a speech in south Japan on Sunday. 'Human rights are important, but if we respect them too much, Japanese society will end up having human rights metabolic syndrome.'"

Pride 33 - "Second Coming" HL

Pride 33 - Mixed martial arts event of the year so far... probably one of the better events of the past few years.

Great highlight film from danfaxe on YouTube.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Warning! Comic book geekery ahead!

So really, only Johnny will get this.


Marvel's Civil War mega-uber-crossover finishes.

To sum up...

Captain America cries and quits. After being tackled by the 9-11 heroes. And seeing collateral damage.

[Despite having fought through WWII and wrecking the Marvel Universe on an almost daily basis.]

Iron Man/Tony Stark - "I'm kinda a fascist tool. I win! Yay!"

Reed Richards/Mr Fantastic writes the worst love letters ever.

New Marvel Universe status quo for heroes - work for the government or Go To Jail in Otherdimensional Space Gitmo.

Wow, does that conclusion ever suck. Hard.

You know, DC's mega-uber-crossover Infinite Crisis was bringing the barely-holding-it-together-crazy at it's conclusion too, but nothing this awful.

It's not enough that my country seems prepared to hand over every available freedom for some false semblance of security... but now the heroes in my comic books, too?

Jesus, is that ever disappointing.

On the other hand, a great comic, with some serious surprises and well done character moments was the wrap up of the Ralph Dibny - "I'm a detective." - Elongated Man storyline in 52 last week. Comic book-ing awesomeness, that was.

Batman VS the Department of Homeland Security.

This was quite the good comic book read.

Boing Boing: Batman Year 100: Batman versus the DHS:
"Batman Year 100 is set in 2039, 100 years after the 1939 debut of The Bat-Man. America has become a Soviet-like military society, where corrupt Department of Homeland Security officials reign supreme in a land of suspended habeas corpus and universal surveillance.
Oh, kinda like now... - Rob
Batman is now a mere urban legend in Gotham City, but he is still alive and well, living in the cracks of totalitarian America. When he witnesses a Fed shock-trooper's murder, he becomes the target of a violent, determined investigation from the DHS brass, who are determined to destroy 'the last mask' and perfect their vision of an America where they are the only authority."

Lesbian Koala Caged Heat Sex Orgies.

Just. Awesome.

Independent Online Edition > Australasia:
"Female koalas indulge in lesbian 'sex sessions', rejecting male suitors and attempting to mate with each other, sometimes up to five at a time, according to researchers.

The furry, eucalyptus-eating creatures appear to develop this tendency for same-sex liaisons when they are in captivity. In the wild, they remain heterosexual."

I figured out why my social skills suck.

I'm still trying to figure out what makes me tick, let alone other people. I've no time for them yet. [How's that for your "false dualism of the day"?]

The Madison Update (and the Brittney Update) » Brazen Careerist:
"Knowing what’s going on in popular culture is important. It’s the world we live in. To be oblivious to popular culture is to snub one’s nose at the majority of society. And how can you claim to have good social skills if you are not interested in the majority of the people in this world? Good social skills means being interested in what makes other people tick."

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Somebody's been watching too many Japanese horror movies.

The Ring, anyone?

[How cute is my wife? I mean, seriously?]

That's an authentic old school Japanese well too.

Mameda, Hita

To close the day we stopped by Hita, and the Mameda "old town" historical area to check out a few museums and shops.

The area is pretty well known for it's Japanese Hina dolls. They had some upwards of 350 years old. Japan is quite the artsy-craftsy nation. Little girl dolls. Same country that brought you samurai and ninja. Go figure.

[This one's really just for Dad Snider.]

Sandy being all historical like. Check out that iron! Good thing we've got 100 yen dry cleaning now.

"Walk with the animals, talk with the animals..."

After the bridge, we stopped by a restaurant - not to buy food, of course, as Bachan made and brought bento for everybody - but to use their tables to eat. The place was just in front of a petting/feeding zoo with goats and rabbits. So we fed some animals.

Here's Bachan feeding the goats....

And Sandy with the rabbits...

Traversing Otsuribashi

Don't look down.

There were a few amazing waterfalls you could see in the valley. This was the one I liked the best...

You could feel the bridge swaying and bouncing as you walked across it. Kinda cool.

Safely having gone over and then come back.

A few more...

The wooden pillars are inscribed with [roughly] "Japan's tallest pedestrian bridge" {above} and the name of the bridge {right}.

This bridge is taller than Godzilla.

Went to Kokonoe Yume Otsuribashi in Oita-ken this weekend, Japan's longest and tallest suspension bridge for pedestrian-type folk, with Sandy, Bachan and Kawabata-san.

Bachan on the bridge.

Quite a drop.

The best part was that midway through the bridge was a graphic depicting the height of the bridge with other known monuments and architecture... like the pyramids, the Statue of Liberty, and...

...What's this?!


This bridge is taller than Godzilla.

What? You thought he was just a movie? Silly gaijin. He is real. He is 100M tall.

Very subtle, yes?

The Heart of the Matter: Repercussions from Iraq:
"Did you know the name of the current US-assisted Baghdad security sweep is Operation Imposing Law? Don't our Pentagon people vet the acronyms formed by these operations? That, or some irony-loving staffer managed to sneak this one by his irony-blind superiors...

...(BTW, I smiled at this line in the Time article, regarding the Shiite ceremony called Ashura: "The faithful march in the streets, beating their chests and crying in sorrow. The extremely devout flagellate themselves with swords and whips." In other contexts, flagellating oneself with swords and whips would be called "insanity." When the behavior is apparently religiously motivated, it is known as "devotion." Journalists in training, take note.)"

PostSecret always provides me with at least one "gut punch" worthy postcard.

As always, many more secrets at the link.

"(PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard.)"