Saturday, June 02, 2007

Tsuyazaki Jr High Sports Day Finale - The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of Defeat.

I dig this pic. You've got to click it up to full size to really see the look of utter exasperation from the student in back.

Tsuyazaki Sports Day pt 9 - My humble contribution.

In the PTA/Teacher's event.

An insane put-a-rugby-ball-on-a-makeshift-seesaw-kick-it-up-catch-it-in-a-bucket-and-run-like-hell-relay-race.

Good times. We came in 2nd. [I blame the parents.] Go orange team!

You can just feel that blazing speed from there, can't you?

Tsuyazaki Jr High Sports Day pt 8 - Tug of War and Synchronized Dancing.

That classic of field meets everywhere - Tug of War.

Plus synchronized dancing. Because if you learn nothing else living in Japan, you learn that Japan, as a society and as a people, loves them some synchronized performancing.

But the taiko drumming was cool. It's always shocking to me to see the kids who are always playing around in class so intent on something else and executing it extremely well.

Tsuyazaki Jr High Sports Day pt 7 - Take Take.

The girls don't kibasen [horse/rider] like the guys, they engage in "take-take" where they get to practice their female swarming, tearing each others arms out of socket and dragging each other in the dirt and gravel. Good times!

No audio/30s clip.

Tsuyazaki Jr High Sports Day pt 6 - KIBASEN!

Hands down, the best event at sports day is Kibasen [Horse/Rider].

Where young men attempt to pummel, push, choke and kick the crap outta each other. They really are good kids though!

Tsuyazaki Jr High Sports Day pt 5 - Alumni.

Bunch a kids who graduated earlier this year and now high school students come back to visit. Ahhh, they grow up so fast. Only got snaps of a few [cause some were "too cool" for pics - teenagers, yeesh - but they were but a small contingent of the high school army visiting their old stomping grounds.

Tsuyazaki Jr High Sports Day pt 4 - Clubs and Sports Teams.

Really cool bit where all the sports teams and club activities get decked out in their activity-appropriate gear and march on... and then run a relay race [yes, another one] where the "baton" is something from their club.

Sadly, this year, like last year [and I imagine every year] the Judo club ends up DFL* having to suck hind tit and drag a big ass tatami mat all around the track. Inspiring effort though. And finished with a flourish, as they throw down the mat at the finish line and judo flip onto it.

*dead fucking last.

Tsuyazaki Jr High Sports Day pt 3 - Relays, relays, relays...

There were at least a dozen different types and lengths of relay races... Much, much running, climbing, crawling and jumping.

Tsuyazaki Jr High Sports Day pt 2 - The March on...

Only in Japan do junior high school students have to practice marching for two weeks for a "field day." Everything is graded and ranked. Reminded me of parade practices at the Naval Academy and in the Marines...

"Give it your all." That's right, I helped them come up with that. That's what ALT's DO, people.

Tsuyazaki Jr High Sports Day pt 1 - Wherein I finally get around to posting pics.

Been meaning to put these pics up for about a week and a half... Over a hundred pics are over on Picasa here -

-so I'll put my faves up in some other posts.

How to kiss, be a perfect girlfriend, be a perfect boyfriend.

These are pretty funny.

The monthly reading list for May 07.

Secret Six: Six Degrees of Devastation by Gail Simone. Simone is one of the best character writers in mainstream comics, and her take on this mercenary, super-villain team rocks. Think the Dirty Dozen + superpowers.

Tokyo Underworld: The Fast Times and Hard Life of an American Gangster in Japan by Robert Whiting. Fascinating book. The rise and fall of a westerner in post war Tokyo. Got everything from yakuza to mafia to prowrestling, sumo and good pizza. Fascinating read.
"Whiting's real-life protagonist, Nick Zapetti, arrived in Tokyo during the days of the postwar occupation and decided to stay. Jolted from a budding career in low-rent confidence games by a lingering bout of insolvency, Zapetti opened a restaurant on a whim. Against all odds, Nicola's Pizza became the Tokyo hotspot in the '50s for expatriates, ballplayers, entertainers, and politicians, and inevitably, the local mob. Zapetti's erstwhile adventures as a semi-honest restaurateur in a strange land frame the book's real story: the savage backstabbing and dirty dealing of Tokyo's business community, which overlaps so seamlessly with the yakuza at times that it's difficult to see where one entity ends and the other begins...

As for Zapetti, he eventually became a Japanese citizen and took his wife's last name. In poor health and dogged by the financial ruin of his pizza empire, Zapetti turned rabidly anti-Japanese: "You ever see the movie Rio Bravo?" Whiting quotes Zapetti as asking one of his foreign customers one night. "You remember the scene where the leering cowboy throws the money into the spittoon ... and Dean Martin, who's the town drunk, crawls after it? That's Japan's fantasy image of us. They want us to beg like Dean Martin."

Summer Knight (The Dresden Files, Book 4) and Death Masks (The Dresden Files, Book 5) by Jim Butcher. More good rousing adventure yarns... magic using P.I.'s in the vein of Harry Potter + Raymond Chandler.

Summer Knight - "Private detective/wizard-for-hire Harry Dresden is suckered into tangling in the affairs of Faerie, where the fate of the entire world-and his soul-are at stake."

Death Masks - "Harry Dresden is not having a good day. A vampire named Ortega is hunting the beleaguered wizard, intending to challenge him to a duel that, Ortega claims, will end the war between the vampires and the wizards. Harry has almost no hope of winning the duel, but soon he is preoccupied by another problem: Father Vincent, a priest, needs Harry's help in finding the Shroud of Turin, stolen by a trio of thieves."

Melody of Vengeance (Doc Atlas Adventure) by Michael A. Black. Fun and entertaining tribute and pastiche to the pulp heroes of the 1930's. Evokes Doc Savage, The Shadow, and others.

The Book of Fate by Brad Meltzer. I first read Meltzer years ago. An entertaining writer in, kinda, the Grisham/airport thriller vein... always enjoyed his books, and then I noticed in one of his novels all his Supreme Court Justices were named after characters from Alan Moore's comic book classic Watchmen. Having recognized a fellow geek, I always made sure to pick up his books. He even crossed over to comics in the last couple years writing Identity Crisis and arcs for the Justice League. He writes a good thriller, and this book was no exception.
"Set against a backdrop of Oval Office corruption, bestseller Meltzer's overblown thriller opens with a frantic assassination attempt on President Leland Manning, who manages to elude the gunfire. Manning's deputy chief of staff, Ron Boyle, is killed, and his top aide, the cocky, ambitious Wes Holloway, is left facially disfigured. Eight years later, his motivation and confidence drained by his handicap, Holloway still toils away for the out-of-office Manning, fetching refreshments and handling the daily social calendar. On a goodwill junket to Malaysia, however, Holloway spots Boyle, surgically altered, but unmistakably the same man who was supposed to be dead and gone. From this turning point, Meltzer (The Zero Game) follows Holloway step by excruciatingly slow step as he tries to find out what really happened eight years earlier. Authentic details about Washington politics and historical mysteries enliven the predictable path."

Atom: My Life in Miniature by Gail Simone. More fun from Gail Simone, featuring Ryan Choi, Chinese physicist and new immigrant to the US, taking up the mantle of second generation superhero the Atom. Great fun. Great sci-fi. Great sense of humor. Named Entertainment Weekly's best new comic of the year.
"Strange things are happening in Ivy Town. In fact, it appears that the whole town's been experimented on for decades. Enter Ryan Choi -- the young hotshot professor filling the empty slot on Ivy University's teaching staff...and who inadvertently fills the role as the all-new super-heroic Atom!
Can Choi make a difference in a town more creepy and mysterious than anyone ever realized? And can he live up to the towering legend of his predecessor, the original Atom, Ray Palmer?"

Carved in Bone: A Body Farm Novel by Jefferson Bass. Entertaining whodunnit? featuring Tennessee's The Body Farm and featuring forensic anthropology. Think a really good ep of CSI or the early works of Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetti series, before they went downhill.
"The pseudonymous Bass makes a successful first foray into fiction. The author is actually the writing team of Dr. Bill Bass, the forensic anthropologist who founded the legendary Body Farm (Tennessee's experimental laboratory devoted to the study of the way human corpses decompose), and Jon Jefferson, a journalist and filmmaker. Their new sleuth, Dr. Bill Brockton, is obviously based on Dr. Bass, sharing his first name, initials and his status as founder of the Body Farm... Still recovering from the emotional devastation of his wife's death, Dr. Brockton stumbles across a mummified female body, and his passion for the truth enmeshes him in a probe that verifies rumors of local corruption. His particular skills are vital to identifying the corpse as well as those who might have been motivated to kill the victim decades earlier".

Friday, June 01, 2007

Rampage Jackson is awesome.

New UFC Light Heavyweight Champ Rampage Jackson is the funniest guy in Mixed Martial Arts.

Fightlinker » Blog Archive » Rampage Jackson loves them Asians:
"One day a journalist asked who Quinton Jackson’s favorite PRIDE fighter was. He replied “Mirko CroCop.” When asked why, Rampage said that CroCop didn’t like Asian women, so he always told them to go see Rampage."

UFC 75 - "Unnacceptable." Hilarious.

This is the funniest thing I've seen all week. Perfect sendup of every UFC prefight segment ever. Brilliant.

UFC 75 - "Unnaceptable" - Mathis vs. Boucher

Even science is just all made up.

Caught my attention because of the epidemiology bits, the career path of my sis-in-law. Reminded me of something I read a while back, can't remember where, where it talked about the number of medical treatments that had actually passed peer review double blind criteria. A remarkably low percentage, under 50%, if I recall correctly. Science, and its cousin religion, pretty much making it up and finding the evidence for it that they like.

Seed: Dirty Little Secret:
"In a 2005 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, epidemiologist John Ioannidis showed that among the 45 most highly cited clinical research findings of the past 15 years, 99 percent of molecular research had subsequently been refuted. Epidemiology findings had been contradicted in four-fifths of the cases he looked at, and the usually robust outcomes of clinical trials had a refutation rate of one in four.

...The culprits appear to be the proverbial suspects: lies, damn lies, and statistics. Jonathan Sterne and George Smith, a statistician and an epidemiologist from the university of Bristol in the UK, point out in a study in British Medical Journal that "the widespread misunderstanding of statistical significance is a fundamental problem" in medical research. What's more, the scientist's bias may distort statistics. Pressure to publish can lead to "selective reporting;" the implication is that attention-seeking scientists are exaggerating their results far more often than the occasional, spectacular science fraud would suggest.

Cash-for-science practices between the nutrition and drug companies and the academics that conduct their research may also be playing a role. A survey of published results on beverages earlier this year found that research sponsored by industry is much more likely to report favorable findings than papers with other sources of funding. Although not a direct indication of bias, findings like these feed suspicion that the cherry-picking of data, hindrance of negative results, or adjustment of research is surreptitiously corrupting accuracy. In his essay, Ioannidis wrote, "The greater the financial and other interest and prejudices in a scientific field, the less likely the research findings are to be true."

Academic bias could also be to blame. As Ioannidis puts it, "Prestigious investigators may suppress via the peer-review process the appearance and dissemination of findings that refute their findings, thus condemning their field to perpetuate false dogma."

...Ioannidis is adamant that the problem is widespread. "I have heard from scientists from many different fields who think that the problems are the same in their fields as well," he says. "This is a potentially severe crisis, unless we realize the issue and try to address it.""

Thursday, May 31, 2007

"Some seem to equate bitchiness with manhood. Men of course do not behave that way, the cost of dental restoration having become prohibitive."

Funny. And the "battle of the sexes" rages on...

Fred On Everything:
"It was May 29 and I was coming through Houston on the way back from the Galapagos—kind of long-way-around routing, but what the hey...

Normally the stews go through the usual about overhead bins, seatbelts, and the rest. They have to do it, everybody has heard it a thousand times, but the crew is polite about it.

Not this time. The pilot, a woman, got on the horn in a nasty voice and began dressing down the passengers as if they were recent arrivals at a reform school. We got a lot of stuff like if we didn’t sit down “I’ll yell at you, which is fun for me but…not so much for you.” In a joking tone, this would have been over the top—you don’t lecture adults you don’t know as if they were feebleminded louts—but she wasn’t joking. She was bullying. We got more of this as the flight went on. “Don’t get on my enemies list.” And then (why was I not surprised?) “You’ve got a woman driver, and I’m a little reckless.”

“Just fly the plane and shut up, how about?” I thought.

They were nothing short of poisonous, uniquely so in my experience...

This was something new.

Who the hell did the dyke-bitten little bitch think she was? Air passengers aren’t ill-bred children in need of discipline by some snot-nosed drill-sergeant wannabe. They pay good money to fly from A to B. That’s all they pay for. If they wanted to be treated like first-graders, they would presumably repeat first grade.

Why do these sorry twits behave as they do? In part because the American zeitgeist encourages them. American women usually carry The Chip, the anger that so many have. They’re not going to Take It, whatever It is. They seem to be looking for some of It not to take. Some seem to equate bitchiness with manhood. Men of course do not behave that way, the cost of dental restoration having become prohibitive.

...So far as I know, only North American women are forever coiled to strike. I meet all manner of women from other countries—Mexico, France, Israel, Italy, Thailand, China, on and on. Many have responsible positions, run their own companies, what have you. If you gave them a hard time, you would probably get one in return, but they default to civility. Which is all that is required...

In the Galapagos I was aboard the Santa Cruz...

It’s a sizeable ship, carrying I think about eighty passengers, who have to be put into Zodiacs twice a day to go look at big-ass turtles. Of the three officers who ran this complex dance, two were Ecuadorian women. All three were unfailingly courteous. They were also efficient and solved the problems that invariable come up as people lose things, can’t swim, want to do something else, and such. Everything worked because they knew what they were doing and did it well. But they weren’t bitches.

My group had as guide Joanna, a native of the Galapagos, twenty-seven, a complex mixture of Spanish, Chinese, and Indian, who had learned English in eight years of working as a guide. She had a larger vocabulary in speaking than most American college graduates do in writing. I say this carefully, without exaggeration. Her husband, a Swiss, was helping her learn German. When I corrected her English, as she requested, the corrections immediately showed up in speech. She knew her biology cold, having picked it up by reading. In short, she was an impressive self-made young lady. She knew the islands as most of us know our back yards.

Every day she took about fifteen people, averaging over twice her age, to the islands. To do this she constantly had to tell people what to do, including the guys who drove the Zodiacs. She (like the other guides, probably half of whom were female) was completely in command, and had to be, as otherwise people would have been falling over cliffs, stepping on sea lions, and drowning themselves.

And she did it without a trace of the aggressive abrasiveness of that godawful Continental creature. It is perfectly possible to be a woman, to have a job carrying large responsibility, to handle subordinates and the public, without being a mouthy termagant in a padded jockstrap."

Principles of Change

Bear repeating. And reminding. And repeating. And then more reminding.

Beyond Marketing by Dr. Joe Vitale: Principles of Change:
"A dear friend who knew me over thirty years ago, when I was in poverty and struggling, is baffled by my level of success today.

...she asked me an interesting question:

"How'd you do it?"

...I think my change came from the following principles of conscious creation:

1. Constant belief clearing.

I feel we live in a belief created universe. Most of us, myself included, are living our lives based on programming we aren't even aware of. Those unconscious beliefs are causing us to see the world the way we do, and to take the actions (or not take them) that we do. To get different results, you have to change the programming. I keep working on myself with books and audios and seminars... The only limitations are my own. The way to change them is inside me... This is the most important key to permanent change. Everyone who finds their limiting beliefs and changes them will get new results. Everyone. And "everyone" includes you.

2. Constant action.

...Most people don't take any action because they talk themselves out of it. They are afraid of failure, or success. This is why step one (belief clearing) is so important. Take care of the doubts and you naturally take actions. I'm the guy in the movie The Secret that urges you to take inspired action, so it should come as no surprise to you that I still believe action is one of the essential keys to change. Action is a great way to install and transcend The Secret.

3. Constant ruthless honesty.

Most people lie to themselves about what they really want. They say things that are socially acceptable or safe in some other way, instead of opening their heart and speaking the truth about their desires. Being ruthlessly honest with yourself helps you discover your passion, and passion is the fuel that brings you new levels of success. Passion is my secret to success. Passion is your guidance system that leads you to change."

Speeding from the Libertarian perspective.

The Trouble With Speed Limits by Thomas Luongo
The speed limit is set by a utilizing a number of considerations, only a few of which take into consideration the actual behavior of the people driving on the roads. The 85th percentile rule, which, in effect would set the speed limit at one standard deviation above the mean speed traveled on the road, is usually invoked by traffic engineers as the right limit, but, in many cases that data is ignored for political reasons, be it resistance to raising the speed limit, existing stautory limits or, as I suspect, the desire by law enforcement agencies to provide increased revenue for themselves directly or indirectly.

In fact, the speed limits are invariably set at between 8 and 12 mph lower than the 85th percentile, according to a 2003 report of the Transportation Research Board of National Academics.

All I have to say to that is, "Cui Bono?"

We all know the answer to that question, of course. It is precisely those who enforce that arbitrary limit who benefit from it. Up until recently, Highway(men) Police in Florida benefitted directly, getting a portion of the ticket revenue as bonus money, now the revenue just goes to the county in which the ticket was issued. If you don't think speeding tickets are big business then you haven't been paying attention. I knew the situation was bad, but I had no idea that cops were now dressing themselves up as hobos to hide their radar guns, setting up 'speeding stings' and the like in residential zones. Yet another reason not to live in a burbclave.

...You see it's a full-fledged crime against the state to drive on an expired license in Florida now. My birthday passed that week and I hadn't re-upped my $15 privilege to use the roads that I paid for in the first place. I had to plead with them not to impound my car.

For being 3 days late with a $15 dollar payment (which I never received a bill for) their response was to take my $20,000 automobile away from me. Somehow the punishment doesn't fit the crime. The best part was their (a 2nd one showed up to do berate me, I guess) insistence that all of this was my fault, a classic example of the State blaming the customer for using the services that they provide. Moreover, Florida's Turnpike is a pay-per-use road, on top of the taxes that I pay in the first place.

...The issue of driver's licensure is one that was enacted originally to help create an account of those who do horrible things while at the wheel of their automobiles. Regardless of whether this was a good implementation for that desired service, it is important to understand its roots. The system has morphed from one designed to facilitate the investigation of crimes committed while driving, like running people over or running into other cars, to one which conflates the enforcement of rules put in place to prevent these things from happening (regardless of their real effects) with them actually happening. If I have to hear the phrase, "Cops write tickets to save lives," one more time I'm going to puke on my keyboard.

Nice story. Always try... always try.

Complete story at the link.

Beyond Marketing by Dr. Joe Vitale: Melinda's One-Finger Manicure:
"...At the end of her spiel, I bought just under one hundred dollars of her goods.

She then announced, "My name is Melinda and you were my first customer."

I was stunned.

Almost speechless.

"You've never done this before?" I asked.

"Today's my first day," she replied. "You're my first customer."

Her boss was standing behind the kiosk and came out to confirm that yes, indeed, Melinda just made her first sale.

Goes to show you that you can never determine what people are thinking, what their skills or experience level might be, or much else, until you put them on the stage.

And even then you won't know for sure.

This is true for you, as well.

So go out there and try something new today."

Dept of Homeland Security = Use. Less.

Schneier on Security: Department of Homeland Security Not Focused on Terrorism:
"Of the 814,073 people charged by DHS in immigration courts during the past three years, 12 faced charges of terrorism, TRAC said.

Those 12 cases represent 0.0015 percent of the total number of cases filed.

"The DHS claims it is focused on terrorism. Well that's just not true," said David Burnham, a TRAC spokesman. "Either there's no terrorism, or they're terrible at catching them. Either way it's bad for all of us.""

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Japan wins Miss Universe.

Kinda cool. Japan:
"Riyo Mori was crowned Miss Universe in Mexico City Monday evening, the first Japanese contestant to win the beauty pageant in 48 years.

Natalia Guimaraes from Brazil was first runner-up, and Ly Jonaitis from Venezuela was the second, according to the organization's website.

Mori, 20, hails from Shizuoka Prefecture, central Japan, and aspires to become a dancer on New York's Broadway, having started her dance career at age 4, according to Takako Nakanishi, a spokeswoman for Miss Universe Japan."

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Quick! First thought when you see this picture?

Nope, you're wrong. That's the Mercury 7, baby.

NASA - The Original Seven:
"In this 1960 photograph, the seven original Mercury astronauts participate in U.S. Air Force survival training exercises at Stead Air Force Base in Nevada. Pictured from left to right are: L. Gordon Cooper, M. Scott Carpenter, John Glenn, Alan Shepard, Virgil I. Grissom, Walter Schirra and Donald K. Slayton. Portions of their clothing have been fashioned from parachute material, and all have grown beards from their time in the wilderness. The purpose of this training was to prepare astronauts in the event of an emergency or faulty landing in a remote area."

Hat tip Warren Ellis.