Saturday, April 28, 2007

GYM CLASS HEROES: Cupids Chokehold

You know you're far removed from the pulse when the first time you hear something that's rising up the charts in America is on Japanese radio.

Cool video. Nice and smooth old school-feel hip hop.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Nothing I dig seems to last.

Further proof I am far from the pulse of the mainstream.

FOX Revokes License to 'Drive' - Another short ride for Minear and Fillion - Zap2it:
"After only three airings (and four programming hours), the Tim Minear and Ben Queen-created drama has reached the end of the road, with FOX pulling the plug on 'Drive' before the start of the crucial May sweeps period.

..."Drive" was a late addition to FOX's midseason schedule. A pilot was originally shot last year, but didn't go forward. That episode was resurrected when the network recognized some programming holes and many of the parts were recast, including the addition of Nathan Fillion as one of the central characters in the illegal cross-country road race.

Fillion and Minear previously worked together on FOX's only-slightly-longer-lived "Firefly."

"Drive" continues Minear's string of critically (and audience) adored dramas that haven't completed even their initial order at FOX. In addition to "Firefly," Minear has also executive produced "Wonderfalls" and "The Inside" for the network.

FOX has yet to announce plans for the remaining two episodes of "Drive," though there have been rumors of either a Friday night burnoff in the summer or simply putting the episodes up online."

Wow, YouTube will just suck you in.

Old school cartoons, superheroes and mashups. Comedy and nostalgia gold.

Mix in the uber-cool 21st century cartoons with the old skool cool music of the mid seventies, and voila! -

YouTube - justice league - superfriends

And then add a touch of the Green Day for the soundtrack.

And then recall just the sheer insanity of the cartoon. Somewhere, somehow, somebody was getting high...

"One of my personal favorite fight scenes from The Superfriends. Mainly because it's so bizarre. Wonder Woman makes a cage out of lasso, The Riddler and Batman have a magic war, and Lex actually tries to beat Superman by dropping him in a pit full of money."

SuperFriends - Attack of the Vampire highlights

Superfriends meets Friends mashup. Funny stuff.

Superfriends Office Space. The classic mashup.

Mallrats + Superfriends = Justice Rats. Equals geek comedy gold.

Justice League + 40 Year Old Virgin "Know how I know you're gay?"

ASIANS: The Asian Response to Asian Responders

Okay, this is easily the best thing I've seen all week. By the same guy who did the previous "best thing I've seen this week." This dude is just awesome.

"Why we shouldn't play the race card."

So looking forward to this.

Gonna be one my fave books of the years, if there's any justice.

Warren Ellis’s Crooked Little Vein - 4/24/2007 - Publishers Weekly:
"On July 24, Morrow will release Crooked Little Vein, in which Ellis traces a twisted path through the perverse underbelly of America. It’s the story of a disillusioned detective named Michael McGill and his sexy young sidekick, Trix, as the two set out to find the one thing that can save America from itself: a second, secret Constitution of the United States. PW Comics Week discussed writing comics and prose with Ellis.

PW Comics Week: Did you conceive of the idea for Crooked Little Vein and then seek out a publisher, or did they pursue you? Why choose this particular story for your first novel, and why now?

Warren Ellis: Actually, I kind of inherited a literary agent when I changed my Hollywood representation some years back. And the lit agent I inherited, Lydia Wills, made it her goal in life to bug the living crap out of me until I wrote her a novel. So CLV was conceived as a way to make her leave me the hell alone, really. I wrote 10,000 words that I deemed clearly, blatantly unpublishable and sent them to her with a fairly profane note to the effect that she should consider this a lesson in being careful what you wish for.

She phoned me two weeks later to tell me she'd sold it to HarperCollins, Morrow’s parent company, on the strength of those 10,000 words and no outline. To this day, I still feel strangely cheated. It would, however, seem to prove that I know nothing about the marketplace, and that apparently America is crying out for a book about porn farms, tantric ostrich abuse and the well-documented sexual preference for giant radioactive lizards.
So don't listen to me. Buy the book. It has been Approved by Professionals.

...PWCW: Many of the scenes in CLV feature sexually explicit subject matter, including scrotal infusion and Godzilla porn. Were there any attempts by your publisher to censor or tone down the more provocative content?

WE: Absolutely none. Honestly, I think they wanted more sex. You know book people. They are all quite prodigious perverts.

PWCW: Crooked Little Vein is scheduled for release in summer 2007, but you've been discussing it publicly since as early as 2004. Were there any obstacles during the intervening years that delayed publication?

WE: Many, not least of which was the collapse of the dollar relative to the pound. Which meant that the book fee [advance] could, if I were frugal and shopped around, buy a whole sandwich by the time it reached me. Illness, death, poverty, doom, overwork, you know. The usual. The 2000s have not been kind to me, so far. I've lost both parents, suffered a couple of major health collapses, developed a terminal allergy to common house dust, my old knee injury's flared up again, all my hair has fallen out, the latest flood maps show that global warming is going to sink the entire quarter of England that I live right in the middle of, Shane McGowan's in a wheelchair, and Bjork's new single is shit. It's tough to find the will to go on, some days.

PWCW: Your second novel, Listener, is due out in 2008. How far along are you in that process?

WE: It should be wrapped and on my editor's desk by late summer.

PWCW: With Listener, you'll be moving from a detective story to a postapocalyptic sci-fi tale. What was your inspiration?

WE: I think every English writer has to produce a postapocalypse novel in the end, don't they? It's in the operating manual or something. They kick you out of the country if you don't, and then you have to become French. It's a cruel world.

PWCW: You've said that Listener originally began as a series of Livejournal [blog] posts back in 2003. How close is the novel to that initial material?

WE: It started as a writing exercise that I put on Livejournal, yes—it was a warmup thing in the mornings. What I did—some 13,000 words—is what fooled William Morrow into buying it, but what was there will end up as a small, heavily rewritten fraction of the eventual novel.

PWCW: Do you have any plans or ideas for a third novel?

WE: No, and no. I'll think about it if anyone asks me for one. It's my understanding that they only let you keep playing if people buy the first one. Otherwise it's back to Livejournal, writing long and involved posts about Harry Potter and Legolas [an elf character from Lord of the Rings] having sex with dragons, for you."

This idiocy affects people, you know.

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > No Trips for Trippers:
"A couple months ago, Brian Doherty noted that Canada has begun turning away American visitors with records of minor offenses such as marijuana possession. Now it looks like the U.S. is retaliating and, as usual, taking the anti-drug idiocy up another notch. Over at Alternet, Linda Solomon describes the predicament of Andrew Feldmar, a Canadian psychotherapist who has been prevented from visiting his children, friends, and colleagues in the U.S. because a border agent's Web search turned up a journal article in which Feldmar discussed his experiences with LSD and other psychedelics. In the '60s. In Canada and England.

A Department of Homeland Security official explains that Feldmar was barred from entry not because of what he wrote but because of what he did: "Anyone who is determined to be a drug abuser or user is inadmissible. A crime involving moral turpitude is inadmissible, and one of those areas is a violation of controlled substances." Even if it occurred four decades ago in other countries and never resulted in a criminal charge. Feldmar can seek a waiver, but the process costs several thousand dollars and has to be repeated every year."

One of the funniest things I've seen all week.

500 Impressions (in 2 Minutes)

Same guy did this one, which is hilarious only if you have the massive geek love for late 70's/early 80's Superfriends cartoons. Which I do, of course.

Samurai: Wind of Justice (SUPERFRIENDS)

A nation of fear and paranoia.

Boing Boing: Brown-skinned poetry prof sets out box of trash, ROTC student phones in terrorism alert:
"A Shippenberg University ROTC student phoned in a terrorism alert because he saw a brown-skinned poetry professor putting a box of recycling out. The kid assumed that because the man was middle-eastern, he must be a terrorist planting a bomb. The prof was getting rid of rejected manuscripts from a poetry contest he'd been judging."

Black is White, Up is Down.

All in a day's work for the modern political machine. And yes, sadly, the military is part of the "political" machine.

Danger Room - Wired News:
"Extended overseas deployments affecting soldiers serving in Afghanistan and other locales overseen by U.S. Central Command should help to alleviate the stress on the Army, a senior U.S. officer in Afghanistan told Pentagon reporters today."

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bureaucracy at the World Health Organization.

Older article, but fascinating. I blame Cindi for making this type of thing even vaguely appealing to me. Much more at the link.

Reason Magazine - WHO Cares?:
"Paul Dietrich was visiting Mozambique's capital city, Maputo, during its civil war in 1984, when an educational billboard taught him a lesson he never forgot.

Paul Dietrich was visiting Mozambique's capital city, Maputo, during its civil war in 1984, when an educational billboard taught him a lesson he never forgot.

Dietrich, a former publisher of the old weekly Saturday Review, was in Africa working with a Catholic charity. He was driving in his Land Rover, the only working motorized vehicle for miles. Poverty-stricken people surrounded him, most of them on foot, though a lucky few rode oxen. The billboard was the only one he'd seen in all Mozambique. Though most of the chaotic, war-torn country was plagued by regular power outages, the sign had its own electrical supply. This billboard was paid for by the World Health Organization (WHO), the international bureaucracy created, in the words of its constitution, to "promote and protect the health of all peoples."

It urged the people of Mozambique to remember to buckle their seatbelts.

It also helped cement Dietrich's doubts about WHO's vision and mission. After seeing that billboard, and contemplating what it said about WHO's priorities and goals, he became one of WHO's most vocal critics. In the early 1990s, Dietrich served on the development committee of the Pan American Health Organization (which functions as an American branch office for WHO). He has also been president of the Institute for International Health and Development. Dietrich wrote about WHO frequently for The Wall Street Journal, and provided material for exposés of WHO shenanigans on 60 Minutes and various TV documentaries in Europe (where WHO's activities are minded far more closely than in the United States, even though the U.S. provides 22 percent of the organization's regular budget).

Dietrich publicly and repeatedly complained that WHO was a bureaucracy for bureaucracy's sake, mired in useless statement-making and conference-giving. He thought it focused too much on First World concerns -- such as seatbelt campaigns and smoking -- and not enough on the developing world's sick and poor.

For his troubles, Dietrich became the target of a WHO-sponsored investigator who dug into his and his wife's background, finances, and politics. Dietrich only learned of the investigation when a mole in WHO's Geneva headquarters faxed him a copy of the final report. WHO singled out Dietrich, now an investment banker, in an August 2000 report that received heavy play in the New York Times and Washington Post. The report, dedicated to the tobacco industry, claimed Dietrich's motives were purely mercenary. He was named as a paid agent in a sinister international tobacco industry scheme to discredit WHO. The truth, Dietrich tells me, is far less sexy: A law firm he had worked for did work for tobacco companies, along with almost every other Fortune 500 company.

...But WHO's agenda is more ambitious than merely bringing medical care to the world's disadvantaged. Health, in a definition the group adopted over 20 years ago, is "a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." That is a totalist vision, and an alarming one. Armed with a bureaucrat's mentality, an arsenal of questionable data and conclusions, and a billion dollars in taxpayer money donated by governments around the world, WHO's goal seems not so much to bring the world "health" as a physical condition as it is to bring the world under the control of the international mavens of "public health," the sociopolitical discipline.

But WHO is more an organization fighting for its life than one fighting for real power. As curable infectious diseases become a less significant factor in world mortality rates, WHO's budget has stagnated at around $1 billion a year for nearly a decade now. Various other huge bureaucracies -- such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Bank, whose budget on international health matters is slightly higher than WHO's -- have poached on its turf.

Why, to borrow Paul Dietrich's question, is WHO concerned with seatbelts and smoking when the world's poor are still dying of measles and tuberculosis? Public choice analysis -- which presumes that government agencies, like their private-sector counterparts, seek to grow their market share -- suggests an answer: Since the WHO's funding is mostly from First World governments, making them its relevant "customer base," it caters to First World concerns. WHO's recent history has been a vivid example of bureaucratic mission creep. In expanding its purview far beyond the merely medical, WHO is trying to stave off extinction.

...WHO's main success story remains its role in eradicating smallpox. Sometimes, though, it seems to believe the world will be impressed with the sort of thing that really occupies it these days. One WHO propaganda book lists five things we'd be missing in "A World Without WHO" -- presumably what it considers its most important achievements. None of them had to do with curing a single disease in a single person. Instead, they aver that in "a world without WHO -- national health officials would not be able to count on global moral support in their battle against tobacco addiction," and "there would be no unifying moral and technical force to galvanize, guide and support countries in achieving health for all by the year 2000."

By the end of the 1970s, WHO's official rhetoric about its core purpose began to shift from simple disease eradication. In 1978, at a joint meeting of WHO and UNICEF in Kazakhstan, in the former Soviet Union, WHO adopted "World Health for All by 2000" as its goal. This conclave of international bureaucrats vowed that, by the close of the 20th century, "All governments will have assumed overall responsibility for the health of their people -- through influencing lifestyles and controlling the physical and psychosocial environment." An "equitable distribution of health reserves, both among countries and within countries -- is therefore fundamental to the strategy." This plan was "part of that fundamental reorganization of human relationships in the world through the search for a New International Economic Order."
Meet the New Boss

By the mid-1990s, WHO was mired in what the British Medical Journal called "a morass of petty corruption and ineffective bureaucracy." Under Director General Hiroshi Nakajima, a Japanese pharmacologist, WHO was so widely understood to be mired in cronyism and financial irregularities that such longtime boosters as Denmark and Sweden slashed their contributions; even the group's official auditor resigned in disgust. Nakajima's prominent position was important to Japanese self-esteem, so Japan embarked on a campaign in 1993 to make sure he was re-elected to a second five-year term. Among other gambits, the Maldives and Jamaica were warned that Japan would stop importing anything from them if Nakajima didn't get their vote.

Nakajima got his second term, but in 1998, with WHO morale and reputation at an all-time low, he was replaced by Gro Harlem Brundtland. With a masters in public health, Brundtland had spent most of her career as a politician, serving three terms as prime minister of Norway. She had also founded and led the UN's World Commission on Environment and Development. As WHO's new head, she promptly announced such vital-to-health goals as ensuring that six of every 10 new hires would be women.

In a world still fighting infectious disease, Brundtland's WHO has issued statements, studies, and reports on such topics as blood clots in people who sit still on airplanes too long, helping people remain active while aging, the hazards of using cell phones while driving, the importance of debt relief for poor countries, how tobacco is "a major obstacle to children's rights," and rates of alcohol abuse among European teens. The Lancet, the respected British medical journal, summed up her priorities thusly: "Brundtland has so far set out a conspicuously political agenda: her targets are poverty, underdevelopment, and social inequality."

...In its war on tobacco, WHO has attempted Orwellian moves of almost absurd incompetence. In 1998, for instance, the group was supposed to release an enormous 10-year study on second-hand smoke's links with lung cancer, the largest ever done in Europe. A small mention of it was printed in a WHO report before the whole study was available. The British Sunday Telegraph tried to get a copy of the study, since the brief reference intriguingly implied that it could not find a statistically significant link between second-hand smoke exposure and lung cancer. The Telegraph implied that WHO was trying to bury the report since its results went against their official anti-tobacco stance.

WHO and other anti-tobacco groups were outraged. One group, Action on Smoking and Health, filed an official complaint with Britain's Press Complaints Commission over the supposedly erroneous reporting. (The commission found in the Telegraph's favor.) WHO responded to reports that its study did not find a statistically significant link between second-hand smoke and lung cancer in a press release headlined, "Passive Smoking Does Cause Lung Cancer, Do Not Let Them Fool You" -- strange, strained language from a supposedly scientific organization.

Underneath that colorful headline, the press release states, in italics, that "passive smoking causes lung cancer in non-smokers." Then, in the very next paragraph, it clarifies, "The study found that there was an estimated 16% increased risk of lung cancer among non-smoking spouses of smokers. For workplace exposure the estimated increase in risk was 17%. However, due to small sample size, neither increased risk was statistically significant." In other words, the Telegraph report was exactly correct: The study had found no statistically significant link between second-hand smoke and cancer.

...The study relied on a bit of numerical chicanery, originally developed by the World Bank: the "disability adjusted life year" (DALY). This is a complicated bit of scientism designed to quantify the effects of illnesses in terms of years of life lost. The DALY is based on the principle that a year living with certain conditions isn't really like a year of living. It allows WHO to make a big deal about "unipolar major depression," which it predicts will be the number two cause of "disease burden" by 2020, even though the ailment is not known to kill many people.

DALY is not objectively verifiable -- WHO came up with its numbers by asking a bunch of health workers how much they thought certain ailments reduced the value of a year of their life. So now science has demonstrated that below-the-knee amputation is somewhere from 0.22 to 0.36 "severity weights" more terrible than vitiligo (the "whitening" disease famously suffered by Michael Jackson) on your face. A small group of people's raw opinions were transformed through WHO's alchemy into hard public-health science.

...Nothing condemns WHO's current agenda more than some of its own pronouncements. In a 1999 press release, WHO declared that six illnesses accounted for 90 percent of all infectious disease deaths among people under 44 years: malaria, tuberculosis, measles, diarrheal diseases, acute respiratory infections (including pneumonia), and AIDS. The same press release declared that "the tools to prevent deaths from each of these six diseases now cost under $20 per person at risk, and in most cases under $0.35. Yet these diseases still caused over 11 million deaths in 1998."

...Wagner and Tollison's analysis of WHO's budget in the mid-'90s found the group's spending heavily weighted toward conferences and headquarters expenses and away from actual on-the-ground aid in disease-fighting. They noted 70 percent of the budget then went to administrative overhead and the Geneva headquarters. In 1995, Tollison observed on British TV that "the World Health Organization is famous for its conferences, but I think that any ordinary person complying with a decision to spend on those conferences or to spend on senior executives in Geneva versus looking at real public health problems in the field, where little children are dying for want of a shot, I don't think anybody would make any other decision than to say, get the resources out of Geneva, quit having the conferences. Inoculate those children.""

In situations like this, you never know whether to applaud the justice served, or curse the miscarriage... - AP Article Page:
"DNA evidence cleared its 200th person Monday, another milestone for a technology that has not only reversed convictions but has also prompted a more critical look at flaws in the justice system _ from crime lab work to the way arson cases are investigated.

The details of the latest exoneration are typically nightmarish: Jerry Miller served 25 years for a rape conviction and had already been paroled when DNA tests showed he could not have been the man who attacked a woman in a Chicago parking garage."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Japanese men enjoy the nipple play, apparently.

Great article at the link about the sex lives of couples in Japan. Culturally fascinating. The statistics were pretty interesting. - A geek in Japan:
"I’m gonna show some captures I got from a girls magazine called Anan that made a sex special edition some months ago. This magazine made the special with some collaboration from the Japanese Government try to incite Japanese girls to practice more sex and give birth to more girls (One big problem in Japan nowadays). At the first part of the magazine they explain the girls how to turn on their boyfriends, another part is full of typical questions with explanations from an expert and the last one if full of interesting charts.

...Going back to the reasons why Japanese are so sexless, I already talked about some fo the cultural reasons and in the comments we could discern one of the other main reasons, it happens that around here they are pretty good cheating on their partners. I don’t find any data right now on the Internet but a watched in a TV show that after Italy, Japan is the country that likes more adultery. In the same TV show they explained an interesting phenomenon, in other countries like Italy, people’s infidelity usually lasts only one night (A crazy night), but in Japan infidelity with can be very long. Instead of a casual affair, they like to have an extra sexual partner that is not their wife.

For example, in a typical Japanese TV drama the script could be “A married man with children meets a girl in a crazy night, he likes it and gets her telephone number. He keeps meeting her and they finish doing nasty things. At the end he falls in love and one night having sex without condom she gets pregnant. His wife notices that there is another girl when she finds out that there is another kid in the school that calls ‘father’ to his husband. The wife is sad, but she doesn’t get really angry, what she does is to find a young guy on the internet using Mixi and… “. If you compare this with a South American TV series where the pattern could be “Married man has one night sex with his wife’s best friend. They never meet again but after six month his wife notices that there was some kind of infidelity. She decides to kill her husband and her best friend “.

This TV example should have explained many things about how affairs work in Japan, and how do Japanese girls react when they discover it (Is not that they are happy about it, but their reaction is not so exaggerated as we could expect from a western woman). Of course, for the lazy guys there are many places where you can go, in fact there are so many kinds of “sex clubs” in Japan that you need entire books to explain it. For the girls there are not so many services but there are starting to be many websites designed with the purpose to make your 不倫 (adultery) successful. This type of websites are used by frustrated married women, but it seems that the most popular method is to use Mixi the most used SNS in the world."

The absurdity...

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > Klosterman on Drugs:
"For a variety of reasons, the premise of taking a pill that changes your relationship with a memory seems scary. But we are already doing this all the time; our current means are just less effective. People get drunk in order not to care about things. People watch escapist movies to distract themselves from the stress of real life. Most significantly, we all distort the emotive meaning of our own past, usually without even trying; that's what nostalgia is. So let's assume that propranolol was abused to the highest possible degree; let's assume people started taking propranolol to edit every arbitrary memory that contained any fraction of mental discomfort. Ideologically, this would almost certainly be bad for the health of the world. But I still don't think it's something we could ethically stop people from doing."

D. U. M. B.

Why is it tragedy always brings out stupidity?

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > Yale Students Assert Fake Sword Rights:
"In the wake of Monday’s massacre at Virginia Tech in which a student killed 32 people, Dean of Student Affairs Betty Trachtenberg has limited the use of stage weapons in theatrical productions.

Students involved in this weekend’s production of “Red Noses” said they first learned of the new rules on Thursday morning, the same day the show was slated to open. They were subsequently forced to alter many of the scenes by swapping more realistic-looking stage swords for wooden ones, a change that many students said was neither a necessary nor a useful response to the tragedy at Virginia Tech..."

Most Caucasian Rap Ever.

"The advent of time warp technology offered to Knights of the British Empire has allowed this uniquely satisfying look at Sirs Gilbert and Sullivan's re-envisioning of fellow Sir Mix-A-Lot's Baby Got Back. O! What a joy it is for us to hear these three titans working in concert for the first time, and hopefully not the last."

Monday, April 23, 2007

Norway sounds interesting.

Overheard in the Office | Which I Have to Drink to Forget:
"Female clerk: When I get that drunk I always end up stealing something or get something stolen from me.
Male clerk: Maybe you shouldn't get so drunk.
Female clerk: I wouldn't, but I can't afford good coke with this shit job.


"You didn't like who I was, so I became someone else."


[damn right]

All The Rage:
"...Bono, during his fly's-eye-shades MacPhisto phase, once said, "You didn't like who I was, so I became someone else." And so it is with John Reinhardt, one-time boy genius of the American coastal city of Heavenside. Some people will tell you Johnny Reinhardt was a nice guy with too many ideas. Some will tell you he was a delusional prick who should have been locked up in an asylum until he died. The truth? Well, who cares about the truth? He disappeared a few years ago, leaving his immense Gothic family home on the Heavenside hills empty and abandoned. And all the counter-cultural things he started have kind of died off, or withered at best. Because no-one would listen to him. And why would they? He was rich, gifted and yet attempting to "tell it like it is," in the old term.Three years of world travel taught him that he didn't know enough, and wasn't fake enough.

So the man who returns to Heavenside today uses the name Doktor Sleepless when he commences his pirate radio broadcasts across Heavenside, and floods the place with strange signs and stranger books.

But perhaps he's never been away. He knows too much about, say, the Grinders, the people who home-brew bio-electric body modifications. He seems to know a lot about Tags, the implantable wireless computer chips that deal with everything from your rental of police services to recording your voting record. Some people say he's never been away at all.

What's the book about? It's about Doktor Sleepless. Is he really John Reinhardt? Did he ever leave? What is he really up to? Does he honestly want to raise the voice of subcultural dissent in Heavenside? Or is that a means to an end?"

My new religion.

"I have developed a new postmodern religion. I call it "I believe what you believe." Saves a whole lotta time and argument. I was gonna call it "I believe what you believe right up until you believe that they need to be killed for what they believe and then I believe what they believe." But I shortened it."
- Comedian and Juggler Chris Bliss

"So what?"

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > Measuring Prohibitions:
"Over at The Corner , Jonah Goldberg responds to my column on lowering the drinking age by making a drug war comparison. He's right. If the drinking age were lowered to 18, more 18-21 year-olds would likely drink (on the other hand, 80% of underage drinking would be eliminated!).

The more appropriate response to "more users" argument is "so what?" A slight rise in the number of recreational drug users is only a problem if you believe that there's something inherently immoral and destructive about smoking a joint or snorting a line of coke--any worse, say, than downing a shot of whiskey or a taking drag off a tobacco pipe. The subset of people who refrain from drug use today out of respect for the law, but who might experiment with drugs should they one day be legal, probably isn't one we need to worry about becoming addicted in mass numbers, or committing crimes to support their habit (which probably wouldn't happen anyway if drugs were legal--how many alcoholics mug, burgle, or kill for gin money?). Unless you buy the "gateway" theory of marijuana, or the "instant addiction" theory about cocaine, both of which have zero scientific validity, I'm just not sure having slightly more overall users will have much of a negative impact on society at large.

The question, then, is what's the problem?

Many drug warriors get downright offended when you ask them that... The problem for them is very simply that there will be more drug users. It's rather simple: Drug use = bad. More drug use = worse. Less drug use = success. For nearly forty years, these really been the only criteria for measuring the effectiveness of drug policy.

...To call alcohol prohibition a "success," one would have to consider overall consumption of alcohol in America the only relevant criteria. You'd have to ignore the precipitous rise in homicides and other violent crime; the rise in hospitalizations due to alcohol poisoning; the number of people blinded or killed by drinking toxic, black market gin; the corrupting influence on government officials, from beat cops to the halls of congress to Harding's attorney general; and the erosion of the rule of law."

The 21st Century kicks all kinds of ass.

Boing Boing: Mursi tribeswoman with AK47 and iPod:
"Mursi tribeswoman with AK47 and iPod"

Pimp Hand Strong.

Should be stronger than this.

Sinfest still rocks tho'.

Stephen King on written violence.

A voice of sanity amongst the fear mongering nonsense.

On Predicting Violence | Violence in the Media | Essays | News + Notes | Entertainment Weekly:
"In the wake of the Virginia Tech murders and subsequent reports that Cho Seung-Hui had raised alarms in the English department with his writing, we asked novelist and Entertainment Weekly contributing editor Stephen King for his thoughts on the links between the creative process and violence. Where, exactly, does one draw the line between imagination and disturbing expression that should raise red flags?

I've thought about it, of course. Certainly in this sensitized day and age, my own college writing — including a short story called ''Cain Rose Up'' and the novel RAGE — would have raised red flags, and I'm certain someone would have tabbed me as mentally ill because of them...

...For most creative people, the imagination serves as an excretory channel for violence: We visualize what we will never actually do (James Patterson, for instance... [Cho] may have been inspired by Columbine, but only because he was too dim to think up such a scenario on his own.

On the whole, I don't think you can pick these guys out based on their work, unless you look for violence unenlivened by any real talent.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I love me some conspiracy theory.

As always, more at the link.

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

More about REX 84 here. Good times.

LOL. Moron.

Jr, is that you?

Kathy's Taiko Concert.

Fellow Fukutsu ALT Kathy had a taiko concert today. Sadly, I had to go to work and teach classes, on a Sunday no less, and couldn't go. But Sandy made with the going as a supportive-fellow-gaijin-type person.

Kathy, moving too fast for the naked eye to see or for man-made technology to capture.

Great shot. Slight blur to it, but really cool.

Kathy thanks you for your kind attention! Good night!

Couple pics not blogged are here:


Springtime... kotatsu up... new carpet.

The sad ongoing saga of my life and apt.

More Japanese Pringles.

Bordering on obsessive now.

60 Things Worth Shortening Your Life For.

I like these...

Print 60 Things Worth Shortening Your Life For:
"4. Giving a buddy a kidney.
You only need one. Hopefully.

5. Black Cat espresso from Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea.
A triple. Note the exceedingly heavy body, with chocolate, caramel, and dried-fruit notes. Also note that you're vibrating. That means it's working.

8. Butter.

9. Drugs.

11. Blowhole diving.
Jump in and get sucked by the current through tunnels forged over thousands of years of erosion. Timing is everything. It should feel like being flushed down a toilet, not like smashing your face on rock. Hone your skills at the "easy one" in Laguna Beach. (Ask a local.)

15. Smoking Cubans (In Cuba).

16. A night on the town with Kiefer Sutherland.

21. Smashing the cameras of paparazzi mercilessly hounding Angie, Scarlett, or Halle.

29. Playing tackle football past the age of 25.

30. Narco Diving.

The Bahamian island of Andros is a sheer-walled skyscraper, lapped by the six-thousand-foot-deep Tongue of the Ocean, where a diver can kick out a few yards and fall right off the continental shelf. While the abyss is free to all, Small Hope Bay Lodge offers a guided dive called Over the Edge of the Wall, down to 185 feet. It's not for the impulse-control challenged; at that depth you will be thoroughly narced, as in nitrogen narcosis, the dreaded Rapture of the Deep.

Why one gas should produce euphoria and another mere unconsciousness is not easily explained. But at about a hundred feet, a strange sea change begins to come over your brain, thanks to the increased partial pressure of nitrogen at depth. The muted colors of dangling sponges and the melancholy shapes of massive plate corals leap out at you, laughing. All at once, you're in on the cosmic joke. Truly, you are tiny, so freaking tiny, yet oceanic in your newfound wisdom. All is one -- and then some! Cap'n of the Good Skull Lollipop, you soar in space as you slowly fall, blessing basses and wrasses and intoxicating gases. At last you touch down on a little sandy ledge, a catwalk worthy of the north face of the Eiger, overlooking blue-black inner space. You may ask yourself, referencing the Talking Heads, How did I get here? And you may experience the profound confusion of an honest philosopher, which some people do not enjoy. But Jerko -- it's just scuba diving. You're only high, frying your synapses on pressurized dope. Confusion and death await those who linger too long.

So don't. Head for the surface and you'll come down as you go up, into the brilliant Bahamian light, no longer such a smarty-pants, perhaps, but still on vacation.

-- Bucky McMahon

32. Carousing with the Mob.

It happened one night in a bar near the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia. I was researching a novel and found myself deep in conversation with a number of ballet dancers. Don't laugh. Dancers drink. Dancers smoke. Dancers believe in the short life.

Two in the morning. We had all been overserved. It was time for one last song. I closed my eyes and belted it out. The bartender grabbed me by the shoulder. "Shut up," he said. I've heard the complaints before. "Shut the fuck up," he said. "Look."

I turned and saw a number of impeccably dressed men walking into the bar. They were packing guns. One of them stopped and stared at me. It was as if all the oxygen was gone from the air. They cased the bar and abruptly left. I started singing again. The bartender grabbed my arm. Seconds later the real mob -- without their well-dressed bodyguards -- walked in: fat and unshaven and scruffy. Each had a bouquet of beautiful women on his arm.

"Leave," my ballet friends whispered. "Leave now -- and quietly."

I walked across the room. I picked out the meanest fucker of them all and hunkered down beside him. He looked as if he'd just strangled Vladimir Putin's mistress. There are times in life when we must throw out the anchor, even when it's unattached to a rope. "You want to hear an Irish song?" I asked him. He stared at me, his mouth quivering. I was suddenly quite sober. He took me by the collar. I could feel my heart beating in my cheap white shirt. He said nothing but slowly broke into a grin.

The drunk man often navigates by the stars beyond the ceiling. Still to this day I cannot remember what song it was I sang, but I do recall that fifteen minutes later I was party to the spectacular sight of three great Kirov ballerinas dancing on the long wooden table of the Shamrock Irish Bar on Dekabristov Street, performing ballet moves with three very large Russian mafiosi, shots of vodka thrown back and forth, and the dancers outlasting them, and outcharming them, with ease.

As they left the bar -- it was five in the morning -- the Mafia leader put his arm around me and said that he would help me if ever I was in trouble. "What do you do?" I asked, trying hard to be naive. He turned and looked me straight in the eye. "I am . . ." he said, stumbling toward the door, "...I am a Russian baby-sitter."

-- Colum McCann

33. Drinking Alone.

I know that everything I'm about to say has already been said better by George Thorogood. And listen, I aced health class back at Sedgwick Middle School, and so I know that drinking alone means you're an alcoholic. I know too that being an alcoholic is bad, that alcoholism turns you toothless and yellow and moaning in the dark.

Until I was thirty, my biggest fear was that I'd end up drinking alone. Like every day. Like full-time. But now I'm thirty-five. I've got a nearly regular job. I'm married, and I've got a daughter. This means I'm almost never alone. And that's great. That's the best thing that's ever happened to an idiot like me. And yet...and yet...I miss drinking alone. I miss walking into a bar early and without intent. I miss sitting there talking to no one. I miss ordering a Harvey Wallbanger only because I've never had a Harvey Wallbanger and because I might never summon the courage to order a Harvey Wallbanger in the company of others.

The more I think about it, my mistake was worrying too much about drinking alone. I should've drunk alone more often. All the stupid things I've done...and no one to see me do them. All the stupid things I've said...and no one to hear me say them. Yeah, the drinking alone might end you early, but sometimes it sounds like heaven.

-- Benjamin Alsup

43. A Home Firearm.

My entire life is a series of hedged bets. As the fifty-four-year-old dad of a seven-year-old, I take no uncalculated risks. I don't let the gas-gauge needle fall below the quarter-tank mark. I set the ADT alarm every night. You could not pay me to travel outside the northern half of the Western Hemisphere. Everywhere lurks doom; I acknowledge its inevitability by avoiding all danger at every turn. When I can, I avoid turns.

I spent a long time living dangerously. I was the guy they sent into the pharmacy with the forged quaalude prescription. The guy who sold weed by the pound to the outlaw bikers. The guy who ate ham-and-cheese sandwiches on Yom Kippur. Now I'm the guy who insists that his wife clean the dryer vent twice a year so the lint doesn't catch fire.

Still, a few feet from where I now sit typing on the third floor of our home in a Garden State suburb of leafy calm sits my shotgun. The safety's on, but it is loaded. I don't hunt. And though my penis would win no bar bets, the shotgun doesn't make me feel larger. It is what it is: the most fearsome, effective, legal home-protection device around. Is it a danger to me and mine as well? Many studies say so, but I haven't seen a study yet that helps me get to sleep at night.

Call me crazy. Call me an ugly American. But don't expect me to call 911 if you break into my house -- not till I've blown your head and neck clean off your shoulders.

-- Scott Raab"

What a shock, the police's drug field tests are utter bullshit.

But that's okay, because he got taken to jail and his car was impounded and I'm sure he had to pay for towing and storing. So, you know... justice, right?

Drug tests exonerate punk rocker - Los Angeles Times:
"It was soap, not dope.

That's the verdict from additional testing of the peppermint-scented liquid that got punk rocker Don Bolles arrested on drug charges this month.

Bolles, 50, the legendary drummer for the Germs, spent three days in jail after Newport Beach police said they found GHB, the date-rape drug, inside a bottle of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap in Bolles' 1968 Dodge van.

Police ran a field test on the yellowish goop after stopping Bolles for a broken taillight on April 4.

But a more sophisticated analysis by the Orange County Sheriff's Department crime lab detected no GHB in the soap, officials said Monday. As a result, all charges against Bolles will be dismissed, a spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney's office said."

Well, that's just creepy.

BBC NEWS | UK | England | 'Talking' CCTV scolds offenders:
"'Talking' CCTV cameras that tell off people dropping litter or committing anti-social behaviour are to be extended to 20 areas across England."

The psychological differences between liberals and conservatives.

Psychology Today: The Ideological Animal:
"...Most people are surprised to learn that there are real, stable differences in personality between conservatives and liberals—not just different views or values, but underlying differences in temperament. Psychologists John Jost of New York University, Dana Carney of Harvard, and Sam Gosling of the University of Texas have demonstrated that conservatives and liberals boast markedly different home and office decor. Liberals are messier than conservatives, their rooms have more clutter and more color, and they tend to have more travel documents, maps of other countries, and flags from around the world. Conservatives are neater, and their rooms are cleaner, better organized, more brightly lit, and more conventional. Liberals have more books, and their books cover a greater variety of topics. And that's just a start. Multiple studies find that liberals are more optimistic. Conservatives are more likely to be religious. Liberals are more likely to like classical music and jazz, conservatives, country music. Liberals are more likely to enjoy abstract art. Conservative men are more likely than liberal men to prefer conventional forms of entertainment like TV and talk radio. Liberal men like romantic comedies more than conservative men. Liberal women are more likely than conservative women to enjoy books, poetry, writing in a diary, acting, and playing...

...In 1969, Berkeley professors Jack and Jeanne Block embarked on a study of childhood personality, asking nursery school teachers to rate children's temperaments. They weren't even thinking about political orientation.

Twenty years later, they decided to compare the subjects' childhood personalities with their political preferences as adults. They found arresting patterns. As kids, liberals had developed close relationships with peers and were rated by their teachers as self-reliant, energetic, impulsive, and resilient. People who were conservative at age 23 had been described by their teachers as easily victimized, easily offended, indecisive, fearful, rigid, inhibited, and vulnerable at age 3. The reason for the difference, the Blocks hypothesized, was that insecure kids most needed the reassurance of tradition and authority, and they found it in conservative politics.

The most comprehensive review of personality and political orientation to date is a 2003 meta-analysis of 88 prior studies involving 22,000 participants. The researchers—John Jost of NYU, Arie Kruglanski of the University of Maryland, and Jack Glaser and Frank Sulloway of Berkeley—found that conservatives have a greater desire to reach a decision quickly and stick to it, and are higher on conscientiousness, which includes neatness, orderliness, duty, and rule-following. Liberals are higher on openness, which includes intellectual curiosity, excitement-seeking, novelty, creativity for its own sake, and a craving for stimulation like travel, color, art, music, and literature."

Wanna know the other reason?

Boing Boing: Please don't stare at the chimps in the zoo:
"Belgium's Antwerp Zoo has posted a sign outside the chimp house asking visitors not to stare at the animals. Apparently, continued interaction with humans, through direct eye contact for example, is distracting one particular chimp named Cheeta from bonding with the others."

The other reason they may be having a problem is because THEY ARE JAILED IN A FREAKIN' ZOO! Moron.


And always have been.

Boing Boing: Vatican decides not to believe in limbo any longer:
"A Vatican panel has issued a report that concludes that unbaptized babies go to Heaven, not limbo, as the Catholic church has been claiming for centuries."

Our "leaders" are children.

A "mistake" according to officials. Sure.

Majikthise : Iraqi co-author of Lancet casualty study denied visas:
"An Iraqi scientist who co-authored the famous Lancet study of excess civilian deaths following the invasion of Iraq was denied a visa to come to the United States to collaborate with colleagues, as well as a temporary transit visa through Britain in order to speak in Canada.

Dr. Riyadh Lafta and his colleagues worked for months to get a visa for Lafta to give an epidemiology lecture at the University of Washington. The U.S. refused to grant him the visa."