Saturday, April 07, 2007

It'd be funny if, you know, it wasn't a sign of diminishing civil rights and increasing police state paranoia.

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > If You Aren't Growing Tomatoes, You Have Nothing to Worry About:
"A Pullman landlord notified police about a grow lamp in a closet, and police got a search warrant for a drug raid.

Eight officers with guns drawn surprised three roommates in the apartment last weekend and discovered they were growing tomatoes.

So a growth lamp (which can be used to grow just about anything indoors), "appearing nervous," and a secondhand claim of smelling burnt marijuana is enough for the police to storm into your house with their guns drawn.

I feel like a broken record on this stuff. But this isn't the first time people have had their homes raided over misidentified plants. Hell, it's not even the first time it's happened with tomatoes. I've also found several home invasion raids after a citizen or police officer mistook hibiscus plants for marijuana. There was the time that police in Bel Aire, Kansas raided the home of the town's former mayor after mistaking a sunflower plant for marijuana (the sunflower is also the state flower of Kansas). In 2002, police in Travis County, Texas brought a helicopter to raid the home of Sandra Smith, during which they awoke her and her roommates to the sight of guns pointed at their heads. The marijuana they were after turned out to be ragweed. And there's Ed and Jan Carden, an Orlando couple raided when police mistook elderberry bushes for marijuana."

Friday, April 06, 2007

Somewhere, some conservative heads are literally exploding in confusion.

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > The ACLU Defends Gun Rights:
"The ACLU of Texas has joined with the Texas State Rifle Association and the NRA to fight local prosecutors who are defying a law aimed at protecting law-abiding Texans from being arrested for having guns in their cars."

Cryptic, indeed. But funny.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Two of this year's inspiring TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Prize Winners.

"The TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference is an annual event where leading thinkers and doers gather for inspiration."

Accepting his 2007 TED Prize, James Nachtwey talks about his decades as a photojournalist. A slideshow of his photos, beginning in 1981 in Northern Ireland, reveals two parallel themes in his work. First, as he says: "The frontlines of contemporary wars are right where people live." Street violence, famine, disease: he has photographed all these modern WMDs. Second, when a photo catches the world's attention, it can truly drive action and change. In his TED wish, he asks for help gaining access to a story that needs to be told, and developing a new, digital way to show these photos to the world. (Recorded March 2007 in Monterey, CA. Duration: 23:41)
As E.O. Wilson accepts his 2007 TED Prize, he makes a plea on behalf of his constituents, the insects and small creatures, to learn more about our biosphere. We know so little about nature, he says, that we're still discovering tiny organisms indispensable to life; and yet we're steadily, methodically, vigorously destroying nature. Wilson identifies five grave threats to biodiversity (a term he coined), and makes his TED wish: that we will work together on the Encyclopedia of Life, a web-based compendium of data from scientists and amateurs on every aspect of the biosphere. (Recorded March 2007 in Monterey, CA. Duration: 24:21)

The sweet, merciful release of useless internet quizzes.

You Are a Henna Gaijin!

You're not Japanese, but you wish you were!
You can use chopsticks with your eyes closed, and you've memorized hundreds of Kanji.
You even answer your phone "moshi moshi."
While the number of anime videos you've seen is way higher than the number of dates you've been on, there's hope.
Play the sexy, mysterous gaijin, and you'll have plenty of Japanese meat.

You Are 51% Misanthropic

You're somewhat misanthropic, but you're not willing to write off the human race (yet!).
There's a few people you like, and even them you like at a distance.

Star Wars Horoscope for Libra

You are on a lifelong pursuit of justice and determined to succeed.
You convey the art of persuasion through force.
You always display your supreme intelligence.
You have a great talent in obtaining balance between yourself and your surroundings.

Star wars character you are most like: Obi Wan Kenobie

A validation of freedom in the police-state world.

Now if the cops had been busted for assault, that would've been truly just.

Disloyal Opposition: When cops turn into thugs:
"...two deputies, John Lutz and Stacy Ferris, showed up at the Coffin home to serve legal papers related to a civil proceeding -- papers he'd already been served, as it turns out. Cynthia Coffin told them her husband was in the bathroom and closed the door on them. Apparently not trusting the officers to resist the temptation to enter the house uninvited, she then proceeded to lock doors and shutter windows. This seems to have enraged the officers, because they then (illegally) entered the garage, seized Cynthia Coffin, and wrestled her to the ground, dislocating her shoulder in the process.

John Coffin then entered the scene to find his wife screaming in pain. He proceeded to beat the living crap out of the deputies.

Surprisingly, once the case went to trial, Judge Rick De Furia dismissed all but one charge against John Coffin, saying he had a "right to resist." He sentenced Coffin to time served (eight days) on that remaining charge.

I say "surprisingly" because it's rare to see the legal system dredge from the depths of its collective memory the fact that mere civilians are not cattle to be herded by anybody with a uniform. All too often, the courts seem to treat a tin badge as a license to abuse and assault -- and to severely punish even the mildest resistance.

From rather humble beginnings, the police in the United States have been elevated to a stature above that of the people they are supposed to protect. Obedience to police is expected for even the most preposterous commands, police are themselves considered exempt from many of the laws they enforce, and crimes committed against police officers often carry greater penalties than those committed against average citizens.

...Judge De Furia, to his credit, recognized that Deputies Lutz and Ferris were just people who had stepped far beyond the bounds of their legitimate authority when they invaded the Coffin home and assaulted one of the residents. As such, they were subject to the use of defensive force just as if they were any street trash who had climbed in a window."

See, it's funny cause it's true...

Overheard in the Office | Sadly, Brad Never Graduated from the Simulator:
"Dude: Are you looking at pictures of naked women again?
Man: What kind of stupid question is that?
Dude: Yeah, sorry.
Man: Why don't you ask me what I'm breathing? 'Breathing some air there, huh? Boy, you sure do like your air.'
Dude: Yeah, I know, sorry. Hey -- that one's pretty.
Man: Tell me about it.

New York, New York"

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

"I do not have a single constructive proposal!"

Japanese politics is CRAZY BRILLIANT!

YouTube - Japanese Revolutionary Fascist Toyama Koichi:
"Japanese Revolutionary Fascist Toyama Koichi... self proclaimed Mussolini Style Fascist, and leader of the Kyushu Fascist Party has run for Tokyo Governor... When he is not absorbed in his path to overthrow and destroy the nation of Japan, he works as a musician working for tips on the side of the street."

Masanori Murakawa - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
"On April 13, 2003, the Great Sasuke won election to the Iwate Prefectural Assembly, making him the first actual masked legislator in history"

Hat tip Japan Probe.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

African Safari.

Usually I'm not a big fan of zoos - a bit too much like jails for animals - but last weekend the clan went down to "African Safari" in Oita-ken.

It was a lot of fun actually, and I enjoyed myself quite a bit.

And if zoos are jails, it was at least the kind of posh Federal Penitentiary where all the inmates seem to make out pretty well. So that tided over all the white liberal guilt I've got about exploiting animals.

This first pic kinda sums up all that is Japan, in a way... hugely ostentatious fake elephant tusks. Plus vending machines.

Sure, Cindi is going to Africa and Tanzania and whatnot, but will her mountains have Restaurants and Shopping?

I think not.

Advantage - fake Japanese/African mountain.

Plus, cookies with animal faces.

Worth noting, in a "time flows on" kinda way, Yumi now actually a little taller than Sandy.

She gets taller than me, I quit.

Bachan is a nut.

And inspires other people to nuttiness.

Well done Bachan, well done...

Contrary to appearances, I am not simply being gay.

There's actually a basketball hoop carny game just out of the pic.

It's funny, you should have heard the hush fall over the crowd [seriously] when the gaijin picked up the basketball.

I was a credit to my race, sinking 1 of 2 and scoring prizes for cousins.

Probably the only time all day I thought "Oh no! Animal jail!"

Incredibly cute, yes, but how trapped and sad does this adorable little monkey look?

I know by the end of the day Sandy was getting sick of me taking all our money to make sure I could feed any animal I was able.

It's the least I could do! Animal Jail!

Kangaroos = Awesome.

That is all.

So the big part of the zoo/preserve is loading you up in a big animal themed caged bus as they drive you about the park.

They give you fruits, meat and food pellets you can feed to the animals in the park through the bus cage using the big metal tongs.

Shades of Jurassic Park going through the gates.

Yep, lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

Just no real good pictures of the bears.

And zebras, rhinos, giraffes, cheetahs, bison, ostrich and a wealth of other animals too...

Mississipi Alligators.

During the winter the park uses the water from a local onsen to keep them warm.

Spoiled damn alligators, I'll tell you what.

This elephant was bright as hell.

After the first time I gave him food, he'd just leave his trunk up a the same spot until I fed him again, anticipating my location.

So... bright AND greedy, I guess.

The lioness flashes the eye of Satan, above.

More/all the pics from the excursion can be seen by clicking the box/link below...


The cure for depression? A good party, apparently.

Interesting psychology and social dynamics... Individualism and religious strictures leading to depression, at the same time cutting off the very things that can alleviate the melancholy. The 19th century Ethiopian cure for female depression is particularly cool.

How we learned to stop having fun | Health and wellbeing | Life and Health:
"...But to my knowledge, no one has suggested that the epidemic may have begun in a particular historical time, and started as a result of cultural circumstances that arose at that time and have persisted or intensified since.

...Historians infer this psychological shift from a number of concrete changes occurring in the early modern period, first and most strikingly among the urban bourgeoisie, or upper middle class. Mirrors in which to examine oneself become popular among those who can afford them, along with self-portraits (Rembrandt painted more than 50 of them) and autobiographies in which to revise and elaborate the image that one has projected to others. In bourgeois homes, public spaces that guests may enter are differentiated, for the first time, from the private spaces - bedrooms, for example - in which one may retire to let down one's guard and truly "be oneself". More decorous forms of entertainment - plays and operas requiring people to remain immobilised, each in his or her separate seat - begin to provide an alternative to the promiscuously interactive and physically engaging pleasures of carnival...

...But there was a price to be paid for the buoyant individualism we associate with the more upbeat aspects of the early modern period, the Renaissance and Enlightenment. As Tuan writes, "the obverse" of the new sense of personal autonomy is "isolation, loneliness, a sense of disengagement, a loss of natural vitality and of innocent pleasure in the givenness of the world, and a feeling of burden because reality has no meaning other than what a person chooses to impart to it"... The flip side of the heroic autonomy that is said to represent one of the great achievements of the early modern and modern eras is radical isolation and, with it, depression and sometimes death.

...So if we are looking for a common source of depression on the one hand, and the suppression of festivities on the other, it is not hard to find. Urbanisation and the rise of a competitive, market-based economy favoured a more anxious and isolated sort of person - potentially both prone to depression and distrustful of communal pleasures. Calvinism provided a transcendent rationale for this shift, intensifying the isolation and practically institutionalising depression as a stage in the quest for salvation...

It may be that in abandoning their traditional festivities, people lost a potentially effective cure for it. Burton suggested many cures for melancholy - study and exercise, for example - but he returned again and again to the same prescription: "Let them use hunting, sports, plays, jests, merry company ... a cup of good drink now and then, hear musick, and have such companions with whom they are especially delighted; merry tales or toys, drinking, singing, dancing, and whatsoever else may procure mirth." He acknowledged the ongoing attack on "Dancing, Singing, Masking, Mumming, Stage-plays" by "some severe Gatos," referring to the Calvinists, but heartily endorsed the traditional forms of festivity: "Let them freely feast, sing and dance, have their Puppet-plays, Hobby-horses, Tabers, Crowds, Bagpipes, &c, play at Ball, and Barley-breaks, and what sports and recreations they like best." In his ideal world, "none shall be over-tired, but have their set times of recreations and holidays, to indulge their humour, feasts and merry meetings ..." His views accorded with treatments of melancholy already in use in the 16th century. While the disruptively "mad" were confined and cruelly treated, melancholics were, at least in theory, to be "refreshed & comforted" and "gladded with instruments of musick".

...There is, however, an abundance of evidence that communal pleasures have served, in a variety of cultures, as a way of alleviating and even curing depression.

The 19th-century historian JFC Hecker reports an example from 19th-century Abyssinia, or what is now Ethiopia. An individual, usually a woman, would fall into a kind of wasting illness, until her relatives agreed to "hire, for a certain sum of money, a band of trumpeters, drummers, and fifers, and buy a quantity of liquor; then all the young men and women of the place assemble at the patient's house," where they dance and generally party for days, invariably effecting a cure. Similarly, in 20th-century Somalia, a married woman afflicted by what we would call depression would call for a female shaman, who might diagnose possession by a "sar" spirit. Musicians would be hired, other women summoned, and the sufferer cured through a long bout of ecstatic dancing with the all-female group.

We cannot be absolutely sure in any of these cases - from 17th-century England to 20th-century Somalia - that festivities and danced rituals actually cured the disease we know as depression. But there are reasons to think that they might have. First, because such rituals serve to break down the sufferer's sense of isolation and reconnect him or her with the human community. Second, because they encourage the experience of self-loss - that is, a release, however temporary, from the prison of the self, or at least from the anxious business of evaluating how one stands in the group or in the eyes of an ever-critical God...

The immense tragedy for Europeans, and most acutely for the northern Protestants among them, was that the same social forces that disposed them to depression also swept away a traditional cure. They could congratulate themselves for brilliant achievements in the areas of science, exploration and industry, and even convince themselves that they had not, like Faust, had to sell their souls to the devil in exchange for these accomplishments. But with the suppression of festivities that accompanied modern European "progress", they had done something perhaps far more damaging: they had completed the demonisation of Dionysus begun by Christians centuries ago, and thereby rejected one of the most ancient sources of help - the mind-preserving, life-saving techniques of ecstasy."

More repercussions of the "safety at any cost" state.

Legalize Drunk Driving by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.:
"...What precisely is being criminalized? Not bad driving. Not destruction of property. Not the taking of human life or reckless endangerment. The crime is having the wrong substance in your blood. Yet it is possible, in fact, to have this substance in your blood, even while driving, and not commit anything like what has been traditionally called a crime.

What have we done by permitting government to criminalize the content of our blood instead of actions themselves? We have given it power to make the application of the law arbitrary, capricious, and contingent on the judgment of cops and cop technicians. Indeed, without the government’s "Breathalyzer," there is no way to tell for sure if we are breaking the law.

Sure, we can do informal calculations in our head, based on our weight and the amount of alcohol we have had over some period of time. But at best these will be estimates. We have to wait for the government to administer a test to tell us whether or not we are criminals. That’s not the way law is supposed to work. Indeed, this is a form of tyranny.

Now, the immediate response goes this way: drunk driving has to be illegal because the probability of causing an accident rises dramatically when you drink. The answer is just as simple: government in a free society should not deal in probabilities. The law should deal in actions and actions alone, and only insofar as they damage person or property. Probabilities are something for insurance companies to assess on a competitive and voluntary basis.

This is why the campaign against "racial profiling" has intuitive plausibility to many people: surely a person shouldn’t be hounded solely because some demographic groups have higher crime rates than others. Government should be preventing and punishing crimes themselves, not probabilities and propensities."

How America conspired to put its own citizens in concentration camps.

The old Japanese ones, not the new and improved Arab ones.

Bastards. I can't even work up a snarky "trust your government" line...

"Census Bureau gave specific names and addresses for Japanese internment":
"After decades of denials and endless reassurances about the absolute, unshakable confidentiality of census data, researchers have discovered that the U.S. Census Bureau worked hand-in-iron-fist with the War Department to round up innocent Japanese-Americans and slam them into concentration camps (and yes, they were called concentration camps until the fedgov realized how politically incorrect that term had become).

The Census Bureau was forced to admit long ago that they had given neighborhood data, down to the block level ("there are high numbers of Japanese surnames in this area"). But now the denials have given way. The Census Bureau supplied the War Department with specific names and addresses of targets to be rounded up. Remember that next time the friendly census taker comes to your door. Oh, you say there's a confidentiality law to protect you now? Oh, well, of course the government would never violate its own laws. Especially not in a quest for "security," right? Since citizens can hardly be secure if they can't trust their government to stay within its lawful boundaries."

Isn't it everybody's nightmare?

Overheard in the Office | They'll Strap Me to a Chair and Force Me to Look at Anne Geddes Photographs:
"30-something woman: Are you going to the baby shower?
20-something girl: No. Being in a room full of women talking about babies is my worst nightmare.

401 Congress Avenue
Austin, Texas

Overheard by: athens"

How goes your soul?

Sinfest = Awesome.
Sinfest: The Webcomic To End all Webcomics

62 year old woman lays the smack down on some punk.

How awesome for her. How shitty for him. This guy will have no rep in prison...
Prisoner #1 - "What happened to you?"

Prisoner #2 - "Ummm... ahhh... grandma kicked my ass..."

Prisoner #1 -"Oh yeah, you're definitely my new girlfriend."

Woman, 62, Tackles, Captures Armed Robbery Suspect - Local News Story - WKMG Orlando:
"A 62-year-old woman body builder is being credited with capturing an armed robbery suspect by tackling and pinning him to the ground as he attempted to flee pursuing officers, according to a Local 6 News report.

Investigators said three men robbed a Cocoa, Fla., man at gunpoint Tuesday and then led authorities on a chase along U.S. 1.

...Former body-building champion, Iris Davis, was working at All Space Storage in Cocoa, Fla., when she noticed one of the men running from officers.

She tackled one of the men and held him on the ground until police could catch up and make the arrest, Local 6 News reported.

"I stood there and I thought, I can't let this guy get away," Davis said. "There were like 10 police cars following him."

"She is a pretty amazing woman," Cocoa police Detective Barbara Matthews said. "We are just so thankful she didn't get hurt. These guys were armed and capable of a lot of violence.""

I remember buying cigarettes for my dad too.

The world didn't end either.

Let Kids Buy Vodka! by Manuel Lora:
"I remember buying beer and cigarettes for my parents when I was growing up in Peru. And I do not remember the following things:

* The seller being treated like a rapist and sent to prison
* The buyer (that would be me) being sent to some juvenile detention center
* My parents being treated like murderers

Odd isn't it? To think that one would find a nugget of liberty in a poor ("developing" for the PC crowd) country might sound strange to some ears. Yet things today in these US of A are, well, a tad different to say the least.

...Needless to say, this represents an awful shift of responsibilities. It is no longer our parents and family who must take care of us. Nope. We get all almighty state. The same people who regulate toilets and fill potholes are now going to tell us who can buy certain products. We're back to being children! Oh Heavenly Government: we implore that you feed, bathe, clothe and educate us – that we may be ever-loyal serfs and participate in the glorious orgy of your omnipotent magnificence forever and ever! Indeed, this is exactly what the politicians want. They require us to abide by their decrees, often under the questionable excuse of "keeping you safe" or, better yet, "for your own good." After all, we might (oh, the humanity) hurt ourselves.

"1000 haiku about the beautiful sakura"

Gaijin Smash speaks honestly of the schools of Japan. Funny stuff.
"It leads me to believe that Japanese men don't have quite the internal struggle about this that I do.

Japanese Eyes: Hey, look at this.
Japanese Brain: Hmm. Her shirt is wide open. And, her skirt is a little high too.
Japanese Penis: See, what that means is we can see her small, budding little breasts and thighs without having to do too much work for it.
Japanese Heart: Sweet, I'm on board.
Japanese Anxiety: Me too.
Japanese Legs: I've been waiting all day.
Japanese Brain: Then let us peek at underaged schoolgirl with great vigor and excitement.
Japanese Penis: It's like 1000 haiku about the beautiful sakura, all rolled up into one."

Monday, April 02, 2007

Hanami 2007, Rob-Style.

Traditional Japanese Hanami requires the whole going to a park, packing a lunch, meandering about and contemplating the ephemeral nature of life.

As for me, I was content with snapping a couple pics from a moving car on the way out to Oita-ken.

Rob-Style Hanami... catch the fever!

Of course on the return trip, the Japanese genetics of my co-travelers mandated a stop for at least a cursory viewing and picture taking.

Daijiro and Kiko's new car.

Pretty sweet.

Big... roomy... and best of all, still sporting that new car smell.

And TV's on board!

Plus the grinning mug of regularly designated trip driver, Sandy!