Saturday, June 30, 2007

Warren Ellis - the man makes me laugh.

Warren Ellis

I would totally do this.

High Dive - Popular Science:
"For sport or safety, hurtling to Earth from space without the protective shroud of a heavily engineered space vehicle seems like sheer lunacy—a hellish descent punctuated by intense heat and terminal, well . . . splatter. But believe it or not, the physics actually works out. With a heat-resistant space suit and the right kind of chutes, such a daredevil plunge should indeed be possible. And with the right people involved, it edges into the realm of the probable.

Two veterans of the space industry are working to make the idea real. While the rest of today’s space-bound private enterprises—Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, XCOR Aerospace, Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin—are fixated on getting humans to space, a company called Orbital Outfitters is working on an innovative way of bringing them back, whether it’s done purely as a sport or as an emergency backup plan in case things go awry. Rick Tumlinson, a longtime civilian space booster who founded the Space Frontier Foundation and helped launch the X Prize Foundation, and Jonathan Clark, a former NASA flight surgeon who has a unique understanding of the extremes of spaceflight survival—his wife, astronaut Laurel Clark, perished in the space shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003—have begun to develop the equipment needed to return you from the heaven"

Everything truly is subjective.

The eye of the beholder | Needlenose:
"'s worth pointing out what former secretary of state Colin Powell is telling folks on the rubber-chicken circuit:
One gem which the audience enjoyed was the retelling of Powell and President Bush’s first encounters with Russian President Vladimir Putin. As Powell recalled it after the meeting he and Bush were reviewing events and comparing notes and seemingly they disagreed. At one point Bush looked at his Secretary of State and said (with a suitable Texas twang) “Powell, I looked into Putin’s eyes and I saw his soul” to which Powell replied: “Mr. President, I looked into President Putin’s eyes and I saw the KGB”."

Image via.

That's some good sarcasm.

And some dumb lawmaking.

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > Can I See Some ID, Grandpa?:
"Tennessee has come up with a strategy to keep underage kids from buying beer: card everybody...

How did 63-year-old Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen react to the new law?:

"I'll be very pleased when I'm carded, and in my mind I'll just imagine it's because I look so young," he said.

In my mind, I'll just imagine I live in a country where self-delusion isn't needed to make sense of the laws."

Well... this is thoroughly depressing.

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > Juries Often Get It Wrong:
"A Northwestern University study of 290 non-capital cases in four cities found that juries arrive at the wrong verdict in about one of six cases, and judges aren't much better. It also found that the errors are more likely to send an innocent person to jail than to let a guilty person go free."

Clearly I know this to be true. I mean, I acted in 12 Angry Men in high school.

Now that's what you call some real capitalism.

Flavored cocaine next in line @
"Narcotics agents in Yolo County say they have arrested six people after confiscating 3 pounds of strawberry- and coconut-flavored cocaine....

When the flavored cocaine is inhaled through the nostrils, users say the flavor can be tasted and smelled.

'They said regular cocaine gives a medicine taste in the back of the throat when snorted,' Giorgi said. 'With the flavored, you get a strawberry taste.'"

I, for one, appreciate this.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: "

Friday, June 29, 2007

Things to bear in mind # 458 - Your government has no absolutely no loyalty to you.

And they will, quite happily, screw you over.

Schneier on Security: Risks of Data Reuse:
"We learned the news in March: Contrary to decades of denials, the U.S. Census Bureau used individual records to round up Japanese-Americans during World War II.

The Census Bureau normally is prohibited by law from revealing data that could be linked to specific individuals; the law exists to encourage people to answer census questions accurately and without fear. And while the Second War Powers Act of 1942 temporarily suspended that protection in order to locate Japanese-Americans, the Census Bureau had maintained that it only provided general information about neighborhoods.

New research proves they were lying.

The whole incident serves as a poignant illustration of one of the thorniest problems of the information age: data collected for one purpose and then used for another, or "data reuse...""

[More at the link]

Thursday, June 28, 2007

My work here is done, apparently.

Online Dating

Mingle2 - Online Dating

This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

* drugs (10x)
* fucking (4x)
* sex (3x)
* bastard (2x)
* pain (1x)

British people are geniuses.

Boing Boing: Southampton pub declares itself an embassy to skirt smoking ban:
"The Wellington Arms pub in Southampton is fighting back against a smoking ban in England by becoming the official embassy for the Caribbean island of Redonda. If the loophole works, then the pub will be considered 'foreign soil' and the ban can't be enforced."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

72 year old Marine whups pickpocket's ass - still doesn't want to catch hell from his wife.

Ex-Marine teaches pickpocket a lesson - Yahoo! News:
"Bill Barnes says he was scratching off a losing $2 lottery ticket inside a gas station when he felt a hand slip into his front-left pants pocket, where he had $300 in cash.

He immediately grabbed the person's wrist with his left hand and started throwing punches with his right, landing six or seven blows before a store manager intervened.

"I guess he thought I was an easy mark," Barnes, 72, told The Grand Rapids Press for a story Tuesday.

He's anything but an easy mark: Barnes served in the Marines, was an accomplished Golden Gloves boxer and retired after 20 years as an iron worker.

...Barnes said he'd probably do the same thing again under the same circumstances, if for no other reason than what he would face back home.

"I wouldn't want my wife to give me hell for lettin' that guy get my money," he said with a smile."

The wisdom of Ming.

"Touch me Flash Gordon, and I will fucking feed you your hand.

Hail Ming."

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Blame the foreigners - oh, Japan... you're so retarded sometimes.

Many in Japan could continue to use some improvement in cross-cultural communication.

Teachers crying foul over unhygienic kids - MSN-Mainichi Daily News:
"Japanese schools are getting filled with more kids that stink, according to Sunday Mainichi (7/8).

Growing disparity between the country's haves and have-nots is believed to be behind the increase in unhygienic children.

But broken homes and the increasing number of foreigners in Japan are also being blamed.

...Growing numbers of foreigners are also having an influence on Japanese schools.

"There seems to be a lot of trouble surrounding couples where an older Japanese man has married a young Southeast Asian woman who's come to Japan to make some money," an education insider says.

One teacher approached a Japanese father and spoke of how his wife, who worked as a nightclub hostess and saved whatever she could while living in squalor in Japan so she could build a palatial home in her native country. The teacher, pointing out that Japan is living through an age of internationalization, encouraged the father to help his child learn Tagalog, the native tongue of his mother's homeland, the Philippines. The teacher was shocked by the father's response.

"There's no need to do that," the teacher tells Sunday Mainichi the 60-something Japanese father said. "If Japan had won that war, they'd all (Filipinos) be speaking Japanese by now.""

"... but... but... who will think of the children?"

Last Friday afternoon they took the Tsuyazaki Jr High kids next door to Camelia Hall and the theater to watch a movie. They watched Kankara Sanshin, an anime about the Battle of Okinawa during the last days of WWII. It was a bit sanitized, to be expected given the horrors of war, but it did feature some graphic realities. People blown apart by shelling, the horrible conditions, the engendering of mass suicides by the Japanese army and visually, a moderate, but not insane amount of blood.

It reminded me that last year they took the kids over to see Nagasaki no Kane [The Bells of Nagasaki] based on the true story of Dr. Tatsuichiro Akizuki), wounded by the blast of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, aiding other victims during the immediate aftermath of the explosion at Urakami First Hospital, not far from the epicenter of the atomic bomb blast. Radiation burns, suffering... death and heavy pathos.

And all I kept thinking was that they could NEVER have shown these in an American Jr High school. Maybe... maybe... in an upper level High School course, but this kinda violence would never fly in the states.

And honestly, I think that's really fucked up.

At what point did it change from protecting your kids - you know, making sure they didn't walk off a cliff or get kidnapped and eaten by bears - to shielding kids from information about the reality of the world? How did it come to be that so many parents teachers and adults somehow think it's serving the interest of their kids by not telling them things or lying to them about the state of the world? I swear on all that I once considered holy [hi Catholic church circa age 8!] that this protectionist "think-of-our-oh-so-sensitive-children" attitude is about the most frustratingly nauseating things I come across.

I honestly do not understand willful fucking ignorance, or intentionally perpetuating it.

Japanese women are sneaky.

I'm not saying it. The statistics are saying it. Thankfully that means Sandy is only half-sneaky.

Most home moms in their 30s have secret savings - MSN-Mainichi Daily News:
"More than 70 percent of housewives in their 30s with children have secret savings, with an average of some 1.37 million yen tucked away, a poll by a financial information magazine has revealed.

The financial magazine 'Argent' polled 824 housewives over the Internet in March about their secret savings.

Of those who said that they have secret savings, 38.6 percent said they didn't tell their husbands anything about the money, while 29.4 percent said that their husbands knew they had savings but didn't know the amount."

It's called rationalizing after the fact.

Crooks and Liars » Widespread confusion:
"Perhaps most troubling, the number of people who are confused about Iraq’s non-existent role in the 9/11 attacks has gone up in recent years. When Newsweek asked the same question in the fall of 2004, 36% said Saddam Hussein was “directly involved” with the attacks. Nearly three years later, that number is 41%.

Sure, Bush administration officials have been careless with their rhetoric, leading to some confusion. And sure, there were probably some Fox News viewers included in the poll, skewing the numbers.

But that still doesn’t explain a result like this one."

Psychological studies have shown that if you make someone say or write down a statement, even and especially one they don't agree with, when you follow up with those folks later, they will have changed their opinions and arguments in order to be in line with whatever statement they made.

The conclusion is determined prior, and then the brain and cognitive function scrambles to justify the conclusion, develop a pattern and eliminate cognitive dissonance.

In other words, since we invaded Iraq, the collective minds of a lot of folks post-rationalize the why of it. It's not surprising that the worse it gets in Iraq the more rationalization and justification occurs. For all the damage and the blood and the violence and countless casualties that this conflict has resulted in, the only possible justification, in the eyes of those who need that justification, is that "they started it."

Also, people are idiots.

Dedicated to JM, wherever you are.

Overheard in the Office | ... In a Hypothetical World Where I Play D&D:
"Coworker #1: We should start a D&D game.
Coworker #2: Yeah. Let's ask Ben* if he wants to play, too!
Coworker #1, yelling to Ben: Hey, want to play D&D later?
Ben, yelling back: No! I don't play D&D!
Coworker #2: We thought you'd be a good Druid.
Ben, yelling back: Fuck that, I'm a thief acrobat!

Oshkosh, Wisconsin

Overheard by: Will"

As if I don't feel dumb enough sometimes.

Boing Boing: Toddler in MENSA:
"Georgia Brown of Hampshire, England, has a 152 IQ and is the youngest member of MENSA. She's two years old. Brown's parents noticed how clever she was after she started crawling at five months, walking at nine, and chatting with people by the time she was eighteen months old. "

Two years old? I could still take her, the brainy little mutant.

Monday, June 25, 2007

No constitutional Freedom of Speech if you joke about drugs.

Or are a student. Or some other absurd, inane, bullshit rationalized justification.

Once again, par for the fucking course, order trumps freedom in 21st century America.

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech..."

NOT "except if you're talking about drugs, or you're in school, or if some faceless bureaucrat has decided it's a matter of national security."

I'm no lawyer, but seriously, how fucking complex is the legal definition of "no law"?

Coverage here:

PBS Teachers | . Supreme Court Rules Against Student in "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" Case | PBS:
"In the first major Supreme Court decision on student free speech in almost a generation, the Court ruled against a student who was suspended for displaying a banner with drug-related messaging just off the school campus."

Andy Carvin's Waste of Bandwidth: Supreme Court Rules Against "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" Kid:
"The majority opinion basically says that the school could punish the student because the student's actions took place at a school-sanctioned event, even though it was off-campus, and that his speech condoned illegal drug use. Based on the ruling, I make the argument that schools that block student access to blogs and social networks would have a hard time using the ruling in their favor, since blocking access is basically the opposite of sanctioning these websites. In contrast, schools that allow access to social networks in an educational context might be able to argue that drug-related student content, even if it takes place off-campus, is punishable, because the websites were indeed sanctioned."

DARE Generation Diary: No Rights 4 Students:
"Today, for example, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled, in the ridiculously publicized 'Bong Hits 4 Jesus' case, that speech that could encourage drug use is so bad - and the control of it so fundamental - that it is more important than the protections guaranteed by the first amendment, at least in school.

We must wonder - will there be the creation of a list of content-based bans on speech? Which topics will be offered the mitigated version of freedom of speech, if any? First drugs, then sex, then religion, and soon and inevitably: dissent or radical topics of any kind."

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > The Drug Exception to the First Amendment:
"The Supreme Court has ruled that Joseph Frederick, then a high school senior in Juneau, Alaska, did not have a First Amendment right to hold up a 'Bong Hits 4 Jesus' banner at an off-campus Olympic torch rally in 2002. Since students were let out of class to attend the rally (although Frederick himself came directly from home), the Court ruled, it was in effect a school event and they were still under school supervision. Because the banner sent a pro-drug message, the Court ruled, Principal Deborah Morris was within her rights when she crumpled it up and suspended Frederick for 10 days.

As I feared, the Court seems to be opening up a 'drug exception' to the First Amendment, albeit limited (so far) to students in school."

"What Type of Writer Should You Be?"

You Should Be a Science Fiction Writer

Your ideas are very strange, and people often wonder what planet you're from.
And while you may have some problems being "normal," you'll have no problems writing sci-fi.
Whether it's epic films, important novels, or vivid comics...
Your own little universe could leave an important mark on the world!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Blogging... not just a job, it's an adventure.

Can feel like a job sometimes though...

"Did you say blogging?":
"Phil loves blogging. If only he had more time. And we are not talking euphemism here, people, blogging is a serious pursuit."

The personality isn't real.

More accurately a personality complex. Multifaceted. Everything exists within you. All thing, different aspects given rise through fate, choice, circumstance.

This resonated. Reminded me of some of Grant Morrison's writings on the the volitional multiple personality complex.

Reflections by Maria Kang:
"As I spoke with a friend, who found it unlike me to ‘let go’ on Friday night, the reality is, is that it was me – it just wasn’t what he ‘wanted’ to see in me.

In our daily lives we choose what we see. We can read a book a thousand times, drive down a road each day and talk to the same people year after year – and see something to different every single time we undergo that familiar yet “new” experience.

For a second, I started feeling ‘bad’ about not ‘being myself’ on Friday night – after all, I’m disciplined! I’m a health nut! And I like training in the morning! However, those aspects are only a piece of which I present to be, as well as the piece my friend chooses to see when I first welcomed him into my life.

It’s actually very scary to reveal sides of you that would make a person uncomfortable about being around you. After all, they are your 'friends' because you connect in a similar value. As we formulate, create and select our surroundings, there is an invisible thread that connects our spirits with the person, place or thing we feel 'familar' with.

What moves us into each other’s ‘spaces’ is an indiscernible motivation that fills the value needed between each separate individual at that moment in time.

We all unconsciously allow people into our lives that represent a piece of us and what we need.

...When you open yourself to possibilities, the life connections become endless.

When my friend saw a seemingly irresponsible side of me, while it didn't appear to be 'me' - in all reality it is. We are not one dimensional or even three dimensional - we are all dimensions of a sublime image.

...The one truth that exists is that we are all transient, evolving and growing - and beyond anything, I hope that the desire to understand and challenge our existence... is what connects me to you."

Pic via Wikipedia.

Akiyoshido, pt 2 - the email pics.

Fellow Fukutsu traveler Anton was kindly enough to email over a few of his pics from the other day. For your edification and entertainment...

Kokusai Spirit Bus Trip #1 - Akiyoshido Cave.

Sandy and her friend Hisako formed an international group "Kokusai Spirit." Registered it with the city, and we get to use a city bus for free in order to promote, umm... internationalization? Community? Something like that.

Anyways, on Saturday a group of about 20 gaijin and nihonjin headed up to the caves of Akiyoshido, which were very cool.

Akiyoshi plateau - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
"Towards the southern end of Akiyoshidai is the cave Akiyoshi-do, named by Japan's former emperor in 1925 when he was Crown Prince. This spacious cave is up to 100 meters wide and has 8.7 kilometers of passages, making it the second-longest in Japan. Much of it is accessible to tourists along a walkway and bridge system, entering at the cave's lowest point and exiting via an artificial elevator. This portion of the cave is well decorated with a variety of large and colorful speleothems."

Yes, all gaijin/foreigners DO look alike, actually. The vagaries of fate force Anton and Frenchman Claude to do the twins thing.

Two Marines... now Fukutsu expats.

Point and shoot camera + low light enviroment = wacky pictures.

Obligatory big face pic.

That's right people... that does say "Slippery Way for Monkey." Great truths, yes?

Here you can really see the ghosts that inhabit the cave. Just kidding!
[Or am I? Cue the Twilight Zone music Rod...]

Here, the cave gasses have clearly made Jon crazy. He thinks he's on a beach in Hawaii, the poor bastard.

Having defeated the Mole Men who live beneath the earth's surface, we all leisurely took the elevator back to the daylight.

Takamiya-san guards the bus.


The restaurant we grubbed at after caving. Cool architecture. Good food.

Returning from Akiyoshido we stopped at the Shimonoseki Bridge that connects the islands of Honshu and Kyushu.

While there, Sandy was affected by undue amounts of gamma radiation, grew to enormous size, and began crushing passing boats.

Or something.

[My wife, she has "the issues."]

You'd think I'd know to avoid pics making me look fatter than I already am, wouldn't you? FUGU!

Couple pics not posted, are at the Picasa link below. Follow your instincts. Use the force.