Saturday, March 24, 2007

It's not a defect, it's a design feature.

Surely just a coincidence.

WorkingForChange-It's STILL the oil:
"...was four years ago that, from the White House, George Bush, declaring war, said, 'I want to talk to the Iraqi people.' That Dick Cheney didn't tell Bush that Iraqis speak Arabic … well, never mind. I expected the President to say something like, 'Our troops are coming to liberate you, so don't shoot them.' Instead, Mr. Bush told, the Iraqis,

'Do not destroy oil wells.'

Nevertheless, the Bush Administration said the war had nothing to do with Iraq's oil. Indeed, in 2002, the State Department stated, and its official newsletter, the Washington Post, repeated, that State's Iraq study group, "does not have oil on its list of issues."

...In all the chest-beating about how the war did badly, no one seems to remember how the war did very, very well -- for Big Oil.

The suspicion is that Bush went to war to get Iraq's oil. That's not true. The document, and secret recordings of those in on the scheme, made it clear that the Administration wanted to make certain America did not get the oil. In other words, keep the lid on Iraq's oil production -- and thereby keep the price of oil high.

Of course, the language was far more subtle than, "Let's cut Iraq's oil production and jack up prices." Rather, the report uses industry jargon and euphemisms which require Iraq to remain an obedient member of the OPEC cartel and stick to the oil-production limits -- "quotas" -- which keep up oil prices.

...In other words, the war has gone exactly to plan -- the Houston plan. So forget the naïve cloth-rending about a conflict gone haywire. Exxon-Mobil reported a record $10 billion profit last quarter, the largest of any corporation in history. Mission Accomplished."

Your feel-good optimistic story of the day.

And it is awesome.

Author Ototake to start job as full-time teacher - Mainichi Daily News:
"Hirotada Ototake, a sports writer born with no arms and legs who gained fame with his bestselling memoir 'No One's Perfect,' is set to become a full-time elementary school teacher, it has been learned.

Ototake, 30, is due to begin teaching at an elementary school in Tokyo's Suginami-ku in April. He has been working as a part-time worker for the Shinjuku Ward Government, but his job from April will be full-time...

On Feb. 16 this year, the 30-year-old acquired his teaching license. He said he wanted to use his role as a teacher to help children.

"I want to accept the differences between each person, and work to make people become aware of their good qualities," he said."

Geek brilliance.

Remixing the comics and making them far, far superior.

Tetsubo Productions - Wherein I Satisfy A Request:
"I got a bunch of emails saying "you have to Photoshop Civil War Frontline #11." But really, the utter idiocy that is Sally Floyd telling Captain America that he is not fit to serve his country because he does not know what Myspace is is beyond parody... And the rest of the issue is just boring, even when Sally and Ben Urich, after pompously telling Captain America he is a douchebag for letting innocent people die in a superhero fight, make themselves accomplices to treason and mass murder and yet somehow are still supposed to be the heroes or some shit like that.

But Cap just sits there and takes Sally's stupid crap, and that bothered me... But anyway, here are two redone pages which I call the What Captain America Should Have Said To Sally Floyd Version.

For those who have not yet read this, note that Sally's dialogue is unchanged and untouched."

And here comes the TShirts. I would totally buy one of these. Dark T-Shirt > Hope Falls - Buy our shit | CafePress

Friday, March 23, 2007

I wonder if they've ever considered that they're losing the "War on [some] drugs" to a buncha people that are high a lot?

It's Been an 'All Out War' on Pot Smokers for 35 Years by Paul Armentano:
"Thirty-five years ago this month, a congressionally mandated commission on U.S. drug policy did something extraordinary: They told the truth about marijuana.

On March 22, 1972, the National Commission on Marihuana (sic) and Drug Abuse – chaired by former Pennsylvania Gov. Raymond P. Shafer – recommended Congress amend federal law so that the use and possession of pot would no longer be a criminal offense. State legislatures, the commission added, should do likewise.

"[T]he criminal law is too harsh a tool to apply to personal possession even in the effort to discourage use," concluded the commission, which included several conservative appointees of then-President Richard Nixon. "It implies an overwhelming indictment of the behavior, which we believe is not appropriate. The actual and potential harm of use of the drug is not great enough to justify intrusion by the criminal law into private behavior, a step which our society takes only with the greatest reluctance.

"... Therefore, the commission recommends ... [that the] possession of marihuana for personal use no longer be an offense, [and that the] casual distribution of small amounts of marihuana for no remuneration, or insignificant remuneration, no longer be an offense."

Nixon, true to his "law-and-order" roots, shelved the report – announcing instead that when it came to weed, "We need, and I use the word 'all out war' on all fronts." For the last 35 years, that's what we've had.

Consider this: Since the Shafer Commission issued its recommendations:

* Approximately 16.5 million Americans have been arrested for marijuana violations – more than 80 percent of them on minor possession charges.
* U.S. taxpayers have spent well over $20 billion enforcing criminal marijuana laws, yet marijuana availability and use among the public remains virtually unchanged.
* Nearly one-quarter of a million Americans have been denied federal financial aid for secondary education because of anti-drug provisions to the Higher Education Act. Most of these applicants were convicted of minor marijuana possession offenses.
* Total U.S. marijuana arrests increased 165 percent during the 1990s, from 287,850 in 1991 to well over 700,000 in 2000, before reaching an all-time high of nearly 800,000 in 2005. However, according to the government's own data, this dramatic increase in the number of persons arrested for pot was not associated with any reduction in the number of new users, any reduction in marijuana potency, or any increases in the black market price of marijuana.
* Currently, one in eight inmates incarcerated for drug crimes is behind bars for pot, at a cost to taxpayers of more than $1 billion per year."

Thursday, March 22, 2007

"Luckily, we Japanese have yellow faces."

Sometimes, the comedy... she writes herself.

Japan minister raps "blond" diplomats in Mideast - Yahoo! News:
"Blond, blue-eyed Westerners probably can't be as successful at Middle East diplomacy as Japanese with their 'yellow faces,' Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso was quoted by media as saying in a weekend speech.

"Japan is doing what Americans can't do," the Nikkei business daily quoted the gaffe-prone Aso as saying in a speech on Sunday.

"Japanese are trusted. If (you have) blue eyes and blond hair, it's probably no good," he said.

"Luckily, we Japanese have yellow faces.""

I hate that now America is a country that tortures people.

You know, it may be I was just naive, or it's just the result of brainwashed years of holding my hand over my elementary school heart saying the pledge of allegiance, or even the 9 years I spent, one way or another, in the military structure... but I really used to believe, somewhere in my heart of hearts that America was the "good guy."

But really, when you study the history, it's not really true. There's no time in American history where we weren't keeping the slaves, smacking down our womenfolk, trying to topple South American regimes, planning on having elected African politicians assassinated, or doing something else inane in the name of realpolitik.

But it's always that our cause is just, our mission is noble, and therefore it's worth getting our hands dirty. Because the end justifies the means.

And maybe it's the way we always were, but now, it's plain and obvious for all the world to see, and they do, indeed... now, we're a country that tortures people.

I fucking hate it.
Zero Effect - There aren't evil guys and innocent guys. It's just... It's just... It's just a bunch of guys.

Shssh! Don’t Tell Americans How We Treat 'Enemy Combatants' by Jacob G. Hornberger:
"The government is doing everything it can to prevent the American people from learning what the U.S. military did to Padilla during his three years of pre-trial confinement. In fact, U.S. officials are doing the same thing with respect to “enemy combatants” that the CIA has been holding for years in its secret overseas prisons. They say the prisoners should not be permitted to reveal what the CIA has done to them because to do so would threaten “national security.”

Meanwhile, the American people are walking through all this with an ambivalent numbness. Frightened after 9/11 over the prospect that “the terrorists” were coming to get them, many Americans were either silent or supportive when U.S. officials assumed the most powerful dictatorial tool possible – the power to arbitrarily take people into custody, torture them, and even execute them after a kangaroo proceeding. What never occurred to many Americans was that the military would have the authority to exercise this dictatorial power on them.

Not surprisingly, federal officials now want to keep Americans from learning the full extent of the federal government’s post-9/11 power over them. That’s why they used their plea bargain with John Walker Lindh, the “American Taliban,” to prohibit him from revealing what they did to him while he was in pre-trial military custody. That’s why they’re fighting fiercely in the Padilla case to keep Americans from learning what they did to Padilla. That’s why they’re claiming “national security” to prevent accused terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammad and other CIA prisoners from describing the waterboarding and other “alternative” forms of interrogation to which they have been subjected.

Unfortunately, all too many Americans still don’t want to know what U.S. officials don’t want to tell them. It’s much easier to continue walking in blind numbness and reassuring themselves with, “It can’t happen here. This is America.”

As the late psychiatrist M. Scott Peck pointed out, mental health involves an unwavering commitment to reality at all costs. Any hope of restoring a healthy, balanced, and free society requires that Americans fully confront the revolutionary changes that 9/11 has wrought in our nation, including everything that the government now has the power to do to Americans.

Reality is that the U.S. military now wields the power to take anyone, including American citizens, into custody as “enemy combatants” in the “war on terror” and to do everything to them that the CIA and the Pentagon have done to other “enemy combatants.”

Reality is the power to subject American and foreign “enemy combatants” to extreme isolation and sensory deprivation over long periods of time. That’s what those eerie blacked-out goggles and earmuffs on Padilla were all about.

Reality is the government’s power to subject “enemy combatants” to waterboarding and similar forms of “alternative-interrogation techniques.”"

"Pirate lords from the four corners of the earth!"

Plus! Chow! Yun! Fat!

Sold, many times over.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Nothing to see here, please move along...

Rigorous Intuition (v. 2.0): It's the Real Thing:
"Watch Michael Springmann, former State Department diplomat, testify that the CIA were running the Jeddah consulate, instructing officials to issue visas to terrorists for reasons of "national security." Fifteen of the 9/11 hijackers received their visas through Jeddah.

Watch Indira Singh describe her discovery of PTech's deep black links to both US security infrastructure and global narco-terror ("When I ran into the drugs I was told that if I mentioned the money to the drugs around 9/11 that would be the end of me," says Singh), the sheltering of al qaeda financier Yassin al-Qadi (he "talked very highly of his relationship" with Dick Cheney, claims PTech's CEO Oussama Ziade), and the two years PTech spent with Mitre in the "FAA's basement" prior to 911.

Watch Paul Thompson rattle off ignored intelligence, the Randy Glass story (which some may find of particular interest since Glass claims he was told by Pakistani intelligence prior to 9/11 that "those towers are coming down"), and the triangulation of the ISI, the CIA and al Qaeda. Then there are the wargames, the reconstruction of Cheney's command and control, Sibel Edmonds....."

The Rosicrucians took out ads. ADS! That's brilliant. Especially for a hidden, esoteric, hermetic order.

The pic alone is awesome.

Modern Mechanix » Rosicrucians Ad: Psychic Phenomena and The War

Monday, March 19, 2007

Sandy enjoys the photography.

There really is no explanation for this. My wife has issues.

Yes, my wife is too cute for me. I am aware of this. Quiet down you rabble.

"Be angry... angry at the tomato!"

My attempt to look thoughtful fails miserably.

Wanna change your past?

The description of the experiment - at the link - broke my brain a bit, but this is fascinating stuff.

Eh, time is an illusion anyways, but still...

Science hopes to change events that have already occurred:
"Common sense tells us that influencing the past is impossible -- what's done is done, right?

...Such are the perils of retrocausality, the idea that the present can affect the past, and the future can affect the present. Strange as it sounds, retrocausality is perfectly permissible within the known laws of nature. It has been debated for decades, mostly in the realm of philosophy and quantum physics. Trouble is, nobody has done the experiment to show it happens in the real world, so the door remains wide open for a demonstration.

It might even happen soon. Researchers are on the verge of experiments that will finally hold retrocausality's feet to the fire by attempting to send a signal to the past.
What's more, they need not invoke black holes, wormholes, extra dimensions or other exotic implements of time travel. It should all be doable with the help of a state-of-the-art optics workbench and the bizarre yet familiar tricks of quantum particles. If retrocausality is confirmed -- and that is a huge if -- it would overturn our most cherished notions about the nature of cause and effect and how the universe works. "

YouTube - Lazy Ramadi

This is brilliant and funny and I've no idea how I missed this. Some Army guys do a response vid from Ramadi to SNL's "Lazy Sunday - Chronicles of Narnia" skit.

The guys got interviewed on CNN here.

They're from Muncie, Indiana and the vid was a response to "Lazy Muncie," one of the better parodies.

And finally, here's the original SNL Lazy Sunday, subtitled in French, oddly enough.

Mom Snider would be so disappointed.

She was a nurse, you know.

Poll: 80% of new nurses lack basic skills : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri):
"More than 80 percent of new graduates of nursing schools cannot administer injections or provide basic critical care such as artificial respiration, cardiac compression or the stopping of bleeding, by themselves, according to a survey by the Japanese Nursing Association."

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Today's reason Japan is better than your country.

Does your country have GOURMET Pringles?

I thought not.

Sometimes being a teacher in Japan is really kind of cool.

In Japan, disabled students go to school with the "mainstream" students, be they physically or mentally disabled. There's one boy with a mental disability, a 1st grader [7th grade U.S.] who I also taught a few times at elementary school last year as well.

Anyways, he pretty much lives in his world, but occasionally I can get him to wave or laugh or respond a bit to English.

So last week, led in by the special ed teacher, he brought me a small bag of cookies, with my name on the package and everything. He had clearly written my name out in his own hand, and the whole situation was just awfully touching. I saved the baggie he brought it in.

It was pretty awesome.

And then, later in the week, a buncha the soon to graduate 3rd graders made me a balloon and wrote on it in English. Not the world's best English, I'll grant you, but still.

It's just that... here in Japan... even though I really enjoy my job... sometimes you wonder whether you have an effect on any of the students at all or whether it really amounts to anything. It is of course compounded by my [still] appalling lack of Japanese ability, and not really knowing what's going on [generously] about 50% of the time.

And then, out of the blue, you get something like this... and it's just nice.

That sense of connection... it's a "goodness" [as Valentine Michael Smith might say.]

Also, we somehow have a cat now. The balloon says it, it must be true.

We are totally going here.

I will not leave Japan till I've done this.

TreeHugger-Style Roller Coaster in Japan: It's Pedal Powered (TreeHugger):
"The Skycycle at Washuzan Highland Park in Okayama, a pedal-powered roller coaster. They clearly have some dramatic topography to take advantage of here..."


It's where thoughts come from, doncha know?

"Ideaspace isn't yours, you know? It's a territory without maps and no guards watch its borders. You are not always alone with your thoughts. Your thoughts aren't really even your thoughts. They're waiting for you there at the end of a journey that's a race and a fight all at once. If you win, great. If not, start over."

The Confession Backfired by Paul Craig Roberts

The Confession Backfired by Paul Craig Roberts:
"The first confession released by the Bush regime’s Military Tribunals – that of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – has discredited the entire process. Writing in Jurist, Northwestern University law professor Anthony D’Amato likens Mohammed’s confession to those that emerged in Stalin’s show trials of Bolshevik leaders in the 1930s.

That was my own immediate thought. I remember speaking years ago with Soviet dissident Valdimir Bukovsky about the behavior of Soviet dissidents under torture. He replied that people pressed for names under torture would try to remember the names of war dead and people who had passed away. Those who retained enough of their wits under torture would confess to an unbelievable array of crimes in an effort to alert the public to the falsity of the entire process.

That is what Mohammed did. We know he was tortured, because his response to the obligatory question about his treatment during his years of detention is redacted. We also know that he was tortured, because otherwise there is no point for the US Justice (sic) Dept. memos giving the green light to torture or for the Military Commissions Act, which permits torture and death sentence based on confession extracted by torture.

...Humorists are having a field day with the confession: "’I’m a very dangerous mastermind,’ said Mohammed, who confessed to the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby, the Brink’s robbery, St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, and the Lincoln and McKinley assassinations. Mohammed also accepted responsibility for spreading hay fever and cold sores around the world and for rained out picnics."

If there was anything remaining of the Bush regime not already discredited, Mohammed’s confession removed any reputation left."

It should remind everybody of the old joke - Jokes: A Modern Fairy Tale:
"The LAPD, ATF, and FBI are all trying to prove that they are the best at apprehending criminals. A blue-ribbon panel decides to give them a test by releasing a rabbit into a forest and have each agency attempt a capture.

The FBI places animal informants throughout the forest. They question all plant and mineral witnesses. After three months of extensive investigations they conclude rabbits do not exist.

After two weeks with no leads, the ATF burns the forest, killing everything in it including the rabbit and they make no apologies. The rabbit, it seems, had it coming.

Then the LAPD go in to emerge two hours later with a badly beaten fox, which is yelling: ('Okay! Okay! I'm A Rabbit! I'm A Rabbit!')"

Today's reason Japan is better than America.

Because when Japan elects a professional wrestler to legislative office, he wears his luchador mask to work.

I mean, Jesse Ventura's a bad man, but we'll just declare the Great Sasuke the winner on this one, kay?

The Great Sasuke enters the Iwate gubernatorial race!» Japan Probe:
"Professional wrestler and prefectural assembly member The Great Sasuke, who has stirred controversy by attending sessions by wearing an outrageous wrestling mask, has decided to run in the upcoming Iwate gubernatorial race, his aids have said.

...He insisted on wearing his mask while serving in the assembly, something that clearly annoyed some of the other assembly members. LDP politicians in the assembly tried to pass a motion that would have banned members from wearing masks in the assembly hall, but their attempt failed. The people of Iwate Prefecture elected The Great Sasuke, who had campaigned using his wrestling name and wearing his mask, so it was obviously their will that he should remain The Great Sasuke while serving them in office."

This man may be my hero.

Overheard in New York | A Lot of Buddhists Like That Film for Some Reason:
"Man in Jews for Jesus t-shirt sits while well-dressed young man across from him unbuttons shirt, takes out black marker, and writes 'Buddhist 4 Mohammed' on his undershirt, standing and aggressively staring down Jew for Jesus.
Buddhist guy: Give me zee money, Lebowski! I fucks you up! We want zee money, Lebowski! Give us zee money or we fucks you up! [Steps to the left, and in a different German accent] Ya, give us zee money, Lebowski. My girlfriend cut off her toe 'cause she thought we would get zee money. Iss not fair.
Jew for Jesus: [Silent, calm.]
Buddhist guy calmly sits back down and buttons his shirt, turning to small Hispanic boy next to him: And that's where babies come from.
--6 train"

Walter Sobchak: No, Donny, these men are nihilists, there's nothing to be afraid of.

There are two types of people in the world. The ones who divide people into two types of people and the ones who do not.

I generally try to be in the latter group, as false dualisms help no one, but this is still a pretty accurate demarcation described below, imho.

The Heart of the Matter:
"Perhaps this is the heart of the matter: there's a kind of person who accepts uncritically what's taught by parents, by religious leaders, or by other authority figures. And there's a kind of person who isn't satisfied with a 'that's what I was taught' basis for morality, or anything else -- the teachings must also stand up to reasoned inquiry or they will be modified or rejected. Actually, the distinction is more subtle than that. Both groups do employ reason (Pace offered up the gay sex = adultery argument, which is at least an attempt at reason, however obviously flawed). But the first group uses reason to try to buttress a belief in which it's already invested, while the second group uses reason to examine the belief itself.

Put it another way: there are people who believe their subjective tastes are a sound basis for law and morality. And there are people who can use reason to distinguish between their subjective tastes and objective morality. One group believes certain views are ordained by God, and that those views must therefore be correct. The other group believes a wrong view couldn't come from God, no matter what's claimed in a religious text or by a religious leader or anywhere else."

The real cost of living. [The "transaction cost" of being alive.] The transaction costs of life are soaring:
"For a few years, I have been complaining to my husband that the transaction cost of being alive was soaring...and almost always because of increased governmental requirements and ensuing governmental inefficiency. One example: it took me 8 months to get a replacement birth certificate that I needed for no other reason than to meet the requirements of another government form that was necessary to engage in an activity that was previously handled by the production of a driver's license. I have never been arrested; the most legal attention I have ever gleaned is a parking ticket. As an anarchist, I have no excuse. But a clean slate does put me in the enviable position of probably never being denied entry into the world's ports. What I am denied is freedom of travel and that denial comes in the form of transaction costs."

I. Want. A. Giga. Ball.

Now, please. I am over 4 years old. And 7' foot is big enough. I'm totally getting one and living out my Jackie Chan-stunts-over-a-cliff-fantasy.

Target : 84" Giga Ball - Red
Why do the kids always want to turn your lovingly tended home into a frenzied amusement park? Forts crafted out of chairs and coffee tables, football fields out of flowerbeds. The super life-size inflatable Giga Ball solves the problem, giving kids a safe energy-burning outlet while keeping your home and garden intact. Made of a heavy-gauge vinyl, the ball inflates to 7’ dia. with peek-a-boo windows and super-thick pillows of air cushioning. For indoor or outdoor use, kids can literally have a ball while safely crawling, bouncing and rolling around the gigantic sphere. For ages 4 yrs. and up.


Comic Book Resources - CBR News: Warren Ellis Starts A Revolution In "Black Summer":
"'First there were the Seven Guns: a group of young politically-aware scientist-adventurers who modified their own bodies for street-fighting in order to take back their West Coast city from a corrupt police force, criminal local government and rapacious private security forces,' Ellis told CBR News of the story behind 'Black Summer.' 'One died. One was crippled. The others drifted apart. And today, John Horus, the most committed of the original team, is walking into the White House. He's worked with the President on social justice issues. He is the Good Guy. But he's been thinking about his role in the country for a long time. And he's not here to say hello.

"He's been asking himself the question that informs the book: where do you draw the line? If you're totally committed to the idea of covering your face and taking on a fake name and standing outside the law in order to fight for justice – where do you stop? Crime pervades society. We're all aware of corporations that behave in a criminal manner. Is that as far as you go?

"If, in fact, your perspective is such that you believe your President to have prosecuted an illegal war and thereby caused the deaths of thousands of people – isn't that a crime? Do you let that pass?"

...Though you might expect otherwise, Ellis said that "Black Summer" wasn't influenced by current world events and politics. "That was just a useful chassis to roll the thing out on, and it throws some useful spin," said Ellis. "Half the potential audience is going to see John Horus as the bad guy, and that's not without merit. Half the audience is going to see him as the Good Guy, and I can see where they're coming from too. I take no public position.I'm writing it from both angles at once and letting people make up their own minds.""

Why I love me some comic books.

Cause you can just feeeeel the crazy. And it feels good.

Arnold Drake (1924 - March 12, 2007) creator of DC Comics' The Doom Patrol [including Robotman] and Deadman, amongst others. RIP.

Blog@Newsarama » At Sixes & Sevens: Six great comic-book robots:
"Picture this: It’s the psychedelic 1960s. You’re a paraplegic genius with a luxurious beard, fond of calling yourself “The Chief.” You learn the body of a world-famous racecar driver has been destroyed in a crash. What do you do? What do you do? It’s a trick question, of course: You transfer his brain into a robotic body, crafted by Will Magnus! Four decades later, Cliff “Robotman” Steele still has issues with his “new” form..."

BATMAN remixed

The 1966 movie remixed as a modern day film trailer. Quick cuts and uber dramatic voiceovers. Makes me want to rewatch the old film. Clever.