Saturday, July 14, 2007

No problems in Fukutsu from Typhoon Man-Yi.

Least not so I can tell. Not even a power outage... just some rain, some wind...

Reads like Kagoshima/southern Kyushu got hit fairly hard though.

Powerful typhoon lashes Japan - World -
"A powerful typhoon lashed Japan's southern main island of Kyushu on Saturday, forcing thousands to flee their homes and killing two people, including an 11-year-old boy, reports said.

Forecasters said Typhoon Man-yi, the worst storm to hit Japan since records began in 1951, would continue to wreak havoc as it moved north-east towards Tokyo and Osaka on the main island of Honshu.

...In Fukuoka, northern Kyushu, 1152 people fled 789 households.

...The storm cut off electricity to about 740,000 households in Kyushu, according to Kyushu Electric Power Co, while Okinawa, which the typhoon has lashed since Thursday, is still suffering blackouts in 10,200 households."

Democratic Spine, Republican Blinders...

Both options here seem equally unlikely.

Crooks and Liars » Saturday Cartoons

Friday, July 13, 2007

There's no place like home - more Jacksonville and Camp Lejeune in the news.

Holy shit. First it was the water, and now it's radiation?! I swear, when I start growing that third arm, at least we'll know why...

EPA investigating waste at Camp Lejeune - Yahoo! News:
"The Environmental Protection Agency is investigating whether cancer-causing radioactive material was buried in the 1980s near a rifle range at Camp Lejeune, the Marine Corps' primary base on the Atlantic Ocean.

A recently recovered Navy document dated 1981 said the material included 160 pounds of soil and two animal carcasses laced with strontium-90, an isotope that causes cancer and leukemia."

[Hat tip Crooks and Liars.]

The things women folk have to worry about...

The omnipresence of the educated idiot.

Overheard in the Office | The Drugs Help:
"Receptionist: I'm sorry ma'am, but that offer expired over a month ago -- we can't honor it.
Biotech: Oh, I'm sorry, but when you've got a real job, it's hard to get out sometimes.
Receptionist: Hmmm... Well, when you work two jobs and go to college full-time, sometimes it's hard to put up with idiots.

Rivertown Parkway
Grandville, Michigan

Overheard by: Megan"

TESTOSTERONE NATION inteview with TC Luoma.

The whole thing is pretty damn funny. Men V Women... kids... life...

Good stuff.

Testosterone: One section of your book... is called "Men vs. Women." Yet another is about the feminization of males. Finally, you rage against the women out there who keep their hubby's testicles in mason jars. So which is it? Are women the enemy, the spoil of war, or our ultimate allies?

TC: I love women. I respect women. I harbor no prejudices whatsoever regarding women in private life or professional life. Women rock. Of course, that doesn't mean I'm not going to imagine any woman I meet naked.

In truth, I wouldn't have any reason to get out of bed — or into it — were it not for women.

That being said, there are women who are just a pain in the ass. I have little tolerance for close-minded women with Puritanical viewpoints.
I'm lusty. Freakin' Gandhi was lusty. Everyone with normal hormonal levels is lusty. Live with it.

And when I speak of the feminization of males, I often wish there were a different word for it, because the traits I see in men that I rail against are not exclusive to women.

I hate weakness of character. I hate cowardice. I hate indecisiveness. Those traits aren't inherently female.

...Testosterone: Okay, you're not anti-marriage. How about "anti-kids?" Don't you call babies "totally dependant blobs?" Aren't you in fact [dramatic courtroom drama music here] anti-procreation?!

TC: No, I'm just tired of parents thinking they did something special by having a kid. You know, once something's been done, oh, I don't know, about 8 billion times, it's no longer a miracle. I'm tired of mothers who don the mantle of superiority because they have a baby in a carriage. No laws pertain to them, no rules of courtesy. "My baby is the Little Lord of the Universe, so you should all bow down to him. And if he screeches uncontrollably, feel blessed to have your auditory canal assailed by such a divine child."

I'm tired of all the endless discussion of what is and what isn't good for children. You know, the concept of childhood is only a little over a hundred years old, at least in the Western world. Children used to be apprenticed off when they were about 8, so all this hand-wringing about how the most trivial event is going to permanently scar Junior gets old.

Have your children, treat them well and hope they're in the 99th percentile of their class at the "Niles and Frazier Crane School for Effete Boys," but keep quiet about it, will you?

Choking teenage girls is not a problem.

If you're a cop in Arkansas, apparently. What a power tripping douchebag. No surprise, he was quickly reinstated.

Cop Cleared of Choking Teenage Skateboarder - Skate Theory:
"A police officer who appeared to choke a skateboarder and put two others in a headlock in a video posted online used appropriate force when making his arrests, an internal police investigation found."

Protesters carry boards as they oppose officer's reinstatement:
"Skateboarders with their rides in their hands and under their arms have protested in Hot Springs against reinstatement of a police officer involved in a June 21st fracas with a group of skateboarders.

The boarders chanted "Police brutality is bad for business" as they marched down a Central Avenue sidewalk today, following a route taken by a group of fellow boarders accosted by Officer Joey Williams last month. A city ordinance bars skateboarding on downtown sidewalks.

The June 21st incident attracted national attention after a video of Williams and his actions involving the boarders was posted on the popular Internet site YouTube. The video was made by skateboarders involved in the incident.

It showed Williams on top of 1 of the skaters, apparently choking him. It also showed Williams putting two other skateboarders in a headlock and the officer can later be heard threatening to use pepper spray on a skateboarder lying on the ground."

Personally, I found the comments over at Hit and Run, where I first came across the vid, far more illuminating.

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > Cop vs. Skateboarders:
"But they're keeping us safe from the evil skateboarders! THEY'RE VIOLATING A CITY ORDINANCE!!!"
I can not see how it is justified in any manner to use physical force against a teenage a girl that is at best a third of your weight. I thought cops were peace officers not fat thugs.
In all seriousness, there are good cops out there

I saw one just the other day, riding Bigfoot to work.
...a wildly disproportionate response to the situation. He probably walked by three dozen violations of nitpicky city ordinances before he decided choking a 13-year-old was a good idea. Vote out the city council later, fire Thuggo McNoNeck right now.
Every time I hear a cop refer to someone who isn't a cop as a "civilian," I cringe.
Choking a teenage girl, cuffing a kid in the street, threatening bystanders and arresting people filming you is not disproportionate to the crime of skateboarding? Fuck, I really hope you're not a cop. The death penalty for shoplifting is next, right?
For me the worst part is the illegal-in-scholastic-wrestling, shoulder-poppin' arm bar the cop put on the scrawny little kid.
As for the kids who didn't jet and were simply thrown to the ground, why couldn't they just get cuffed from the standing position? There's something sick about the "you will kiss the pavement and SUBMIT TO ME" mentality on display there.
Also, isn't violation of a city ordinance usually punishable by fine, not arrest?
Matt,your right,but the offense was not being sufficiently deferential to Mr.I am a fat fuck.
When are we going to admit that police abuse is systemic and not the acts of one or two bad apples in a bunch of good ones?

If it's not systemic, we're expected to believe that it's pure luck that ALL of the bad cops in the entire dept end up working together."

On videotaping cops, as apparently holding public servants accountable for their actions is enough to get you arrested in some places. - Straight Talk: Videotaping Police - Opinion
...police are public servants, paid with taxpayer dollars. Not only that, but they're given extraordinary power and authority we don't give to other public servants: They're armed; they can make arrests; they're allowed to break the very laws they're paid to enforce; they can use lethal force for reasons other than self-defense; and, of course, the police are permitted to videotape us without our consent.

It's critical that we retain the right to record, videotape or photograph the police while they're on duty. Not only for symbolic reasons (when agents of the state can confiscate evidence of their own wrongdoing, you're treading on seriously perilous ground), but as an important check on police excesses.
In the age of YouTube, video of police misconduct captured by private citizens can have an enormous impact.

Consider Eugene Siler. In 2005, the Campbell County, Tenn., man was confronted by five sheriff's deputies who (they say) suspected him of drug activity. Siler's wife surreptitiously switched on a tape recorder when the police officers came inside. Over the next hour, Siler was mercilessly beaten and tortured by the officers, who were demanding he confess to drug activity. Siler was poor, illiterate and had a nonviolent criminal record. Without that recording, it's unlikely anyone would have believed his account of the torture over the word of five sheriff's deputies.

Earlier this year, Iraq war veteran Elio Carrion was shot three times at near-point-blank range by San Bernardino, Calif., deputy Ivory Webb. Carrion was lying on the ground and was unarmed. Video of the arrest and shooting, however, was captured by bystander Jose Louis Valdez. Webb since has been fired from the police department and is on trial on charges of attempted voluntary manslaughter and assault with a firearm. The video is the key piece of evidence in his trial.

While it's possible that police and prosecutors would have believed Carrion's version of events over Webb's even without the video, it seems unlikely. Webb is the first officer to be indicted in the history of the San Bernardino Police Department.

...Legislators need to repeal laws explicitly forbidding the recording, photographing or videotaping of police officers. And to the extent that more generalized wiretapping laws meant for the general public also apply to the police, they should be amended to allow private citizens to record officers while they're on duty.

This isn't to say police don't have the same privacy rights as everyone else. They do — when they aren't on duty, in possession of a sidearm and carrying with them the authority that comes with enforcing the law of the state.

But while they're on duty, they serve the public. And the public, their employer, should have every right to keep them accountable."

Other horror stories...

Chicago Reader | Killed on Camera: Officer Alvin Weems shot an unarmed man point-blank in view of CTA security cameras. Investigators recommended that he be fired. Phil Cline promoted him. By:
"Officer Alvin Weems shot an unarmed man point-blank in view of CTA security cameras. Investigators recommended that he be fired. Phil Cline promoted him."

Former trooper sentenced in Arkansas shooting case-
"A judge has sentenced a former Arkansas state trooper to 90 days in jail for fatally shooting an unarmed, mentally disabled man he mistook for a Saginaw County fugitive."

But on a lighter note, this old Nike running commercial made a smarter point about the "perils" of skateboarding more than anything else.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

"The IT Crowd" comes to life.

And you thought they were joking.

Overheard in the Office | You Mean the Planter?:
"Blonde salesgirl on phone with IT: My computer is not working.
IT guy: Did you plug everything in right?
Blonde salesgirl: Yes! Of course! The light is on, but nothing's happening. [IT guy goes to her office, bends over, presses power button and walks out.] But the light was on!
IT guy: That's your screen. The computer is the big box on the floor.

Office, Meilleur Street

Random Observations.

She is, literally, an explosion of organizational-ness.

Who's the husband who rocks with the gifts on anniversaries? That's right, it's me.

The official "10 years in..." photos.

How is it she's still cute whereas I simply appear to have swollen and lost my hair?

That might lead one to believe that marriage has been harder on one of us, yes?

Just saying... photos don't lie people.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

10 Years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Best thing I've done.
I'm very lucky.

Read a Book!


Bomani Armah - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
"Armah achieved popularity via the MySpace-released 2007 single 'Read A Book.' The song admonishes listeners to read books, use deodorant, and brush their teeth, in a satire of crunk-style songs which advocate a more 'gangsta' lifestyle, set to a loop of an excerpt from Beethoven's Symphony No.5. Success of the single grew when it was used as the topic of a short animated film which aired on BET's The 5ive. Animated by Six Point Harness Studios, the video features stylized cartoon stereotypes who are directed (often by force) to carry out the advice presented in the lyrics of 'Read a Book' by a crunk rapper."

More of the counter-intuitive anti-science.

Next thing you know I'll be arguing for creationism.

Shoot, I was raised Catholic, after all.

I actually saw this documentary, The Great Global Warming Swindle, and it was fairly convincing. Whether that speaks to its credibility, its persuasion, or my gullibility... who knows?

[I'm not a scientist, I just play one on my blog.]

Part of the global warming debate that sets off my bullshit detectors is the sheer hubris it takes to think that human beings are that damn significant to the planet.

We're just a virus with shoes, people... as taught by the late, great Bill Hicks. Or in the words of the Master Carlin -
"And the greatest arrogance of all: save the planet. What? Are these fucking people kidding me? Save the planet, we don’t even know how to take care of ourselves yet. We haven’t learned how to care for one another, we’re gonna save the fucking planet?

I’m getting tired of that shit. Tired of that shit. I’m tired of fucking Earth Day, I’m tired of these self-righteous environmentalists, these white, bourgeois liberals who think the only thing wrong with this country is there aren’t enough bicycle paths. People trying to make the world save for their Volvos. Besides, environmentalists don’t give a shit about the planet. They don’t care about the planet. Not in the abstract they don’t. Not in the abstract they don’t. You know what they’re interested in? A clean place to live. Their own habitat. They’re worried that some day in the future, they might be personally inconvenienced. Narrow, unenlightened self-interest doesn’t impress me.

Besides, there is nothing wrong with the planet. Nothing wrong with the planet. The planet is fine. The PEOPLE are fucked. Difference. Difference. The planet is fine. Compared to the people, the planet is doing great. Been here four and a half billion years. Did you ever think about the arithmetic? The planet has been here four and a half billion years. We’ve been here, what, a hundred thousand? Maybe two hundred thousand? And we’ve only been engaged in heavy industry for a little over two hundred years. Two hundred years versus four and a half billion. And we have the CONCEIT to think that somehow we’re a threat? That somehow we’re gonna put in jeopardy this beautiful little blue-green ball that’s just a-floatin’ around the sun?..."

I'm all on board with the lowering the environmental footprint... reduce, reuse, recycle and all that kinda thing... but some of the global warming apocalypticism, and telling us what to do "for our own good" smacks a bit too much of religion for my tastes.

Hostages to a hoax | Science & nature | The Australian:
"So what was our conclusion, after months of research that involved talking to hundreds of scientists and wading through mountains of science papers? It's all codswallop. The notion of man-made global warming started life as a wild, eccentric theory and, despite throwing billions of dollars at it, scientists have failed to stand it up. Man-made global warming is unmitigated nonsense.

This is not the first time scientists have talked rubbish. Absurd theories come and go in science all the time. A few years ago an ostensible consensus of scientists said one-third of the British population were about to pop their clogs because they had eaten dodgy hamburgers (the mad cow disease scare). Many scientists build whole careers talking out of their hats. But usually it goes unnoticed. There is no real harm done.

But global warming theory is different. It cannot be ignored. It is intruding into our lives to an extraordinary extent, shaping domestic and international policy in profound ways.

I urge readers to look at the evidence themselves. (We have assembled many relevant papers on a dedicated website, The global warmers try to discourage a close examination of the data. They say the time for debate is over, that there's a consensus of scientists who say it's definitely true. But this is rubbish. Check out and find an extraordinary petition carrying the names of 17,000 scientists who disagree.

The basic facts are as follows. There is nothing unusual about the present climate. The Earth has been far, far warmer than today and far, far colder. Our present interglacial (the mild bit between ice ages) is not nearly as warm as previous interglacials. Nor are we in a particularly warm part of the interglacial.

...(you may remember) in the mid-1970s a consensus among scientists that we were about to enter another ice age.

...Why do we suppose that CO2 is responsible for any of this? CO2 occupies a tiny proportion of the gases in the atmosphere. It is only a secondary greenhouse gas - water vapour is the main one - and greenhouse gases themselves form only one small part of the Earth's climate system.

...But the present alarm is not based on observational data. It is based on models. These models attempt to forecast what will happen in the future, based on a set of assumptions. If your assumptions are wrong, so is your forecast.

...Scientists are not above the prejudices of their age. Global warming is a political theory. It's rarely stated, but we all know it. People on the Left tend to believe it. People on the Right tend not to.

...The whole global warming alarm, I believe, raises serious issues about the way science functions in the real world, about the political bias of scientists, about censorship and intimidation within the scientific community, about the routine practice of scientists drawing false or inflated conclusions from ambiguous or uncertain data, about the manifest failure of the peer review process, about the extraordinary unwillingness of scientists who have invested time and reputation in a particular theory to consider evidence that directly contradicts it and about the elevation of speculation (models) to the level of solid data."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I love the counterintuitive... the "intuitive" is, more often than not, just what we've been conditioned to think.

So is this right? Wrong? Who knows... But swimming against the mainstream delights me.

Science changes at a rapid rate... Doctors used to endorse cigarettes on TV. Low fat diet is good for you. No, now it's low carb. No, now something else. And not to engage Godwin's Law too quickly, science in Nazi Germany endorsed eugenics and racial purity. Hell, science in America did the same thing at that time.

Science is a methodology, not a belief system, and all too often, science reflects the biases of the society in which they exist. Nothing exists without context.

For me, personally, even with the freckles from a youth at Onslow Beach, the whole "sunscreen" bit never rang entirely true, for me. I mean... it's the sun. All the crap pumped in to our bodies volitionally, the sun is the least of my worries.

The Sunscreen Myth: How Sunscreen Products Actually Promote Cancer:
"...sunscreen actually promotes cancer by blocking your body's absorption of ultraviolet radiation, and therefore blocking the production of vitamin D in your skin.

Studies have shown that vitamin D can prevent as many as 77 of all cancers. In addition, most sunscreen lotions also contain cancer-causing chemicals.

A portion of the profits from the sale of these lotions is then donated to organizations such as the American Cancer Society, which in turn runs public service ads encouraging the use of sunscreens.

Proper nutrition is a better way to prevent sunburn then sunscreen lotion. Berries and microalgae such as spirulina, astaxanthin, and blue-green algae can make the body naturally resistant to sunburn, as well as similar radiation damage to the eyes and optic nerve."

And a travel writer shall lead them.

Really enjoying reading articles and interviews about Rick Steves. Never seen his PBS show, but it's apparently quite popular.

"Rick Steves, born in Edmonds, Washington in 1955) is an American authority on European travel. He is the host of a public television series and a public radio travel show and the author of many travel guidebooks."

Rick Steves' Europe: Europe Through an Open Door:
"...[Europeans] live longer, they consume less, they get more vacation time, they get more of a social safety net. They don't have the stress that comes with being a driven society that believes more in this Darwinian survival of the fittest economically. Time is money in America. We're taught to talk about it in terms like its money. We save it, we spend it, we invest it, we waste it.

There's this whole idea of the social contract: how does the society live together? We are the rugged individualists like Locke. In Europe they have the Rousseau model: everyone has to give up a little bit of their freedom so everybody can live together peacefully and civilly. Part of that is because Europe has been around a lot longer than us, and Europe is much more densely populated.

...There are a lot of reasons for things that we don't get, but we're quick to condemn it."

Rick Steves' Europe: Innocents Abroad:
"My egocentrism took a big hit in 1969. I was a pimply kid in an Oslo city park filled with parents doting over their adorable little children. I realized those parents loved their kids as much as my parents loved me. And then it hit me: this world was home to billions of equally precious children of God. From that day on, my personal problems and struggles had to live in a global setting. I was blessed…and cursed…with a broader perspective.

...In later years I met intelligent people — nowhere near as rich, free or blessed with opportunity as I was — who wouldn't trade passports. They were thankful to be Nepali, Moroccan, Turkish, Nicaraguan, or whatever…and I was perplexed. I witnessed stirring struggles in lands that found other truths to be self-evident and God-given...

Travel shows me exciting struggles those without passports never see. Stepping into a high school stadium in Turkey, I saw 500 teenagers thrusting their fists in the air and screaming in unison, "We are a secular nation." I asked my guide, "What's the deal…don't they like God?" She said, "Sure, they love God. But here in Turkey we treasure the separation of mosque and state as much as you value the separation of church and state. And, with Iran just to our east, we're concerned about the rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism."

Good travel is thoughtful travel — being aware of these national struggles...

Travel teaches the beauty of human fulfillment. I believe God created each of us to be fulfilled. And that doesn't necessarily mean to become doctors and lawyers. As you travel you find people who make crepes like they invented them…and will make them that way all their lives. Being poured a glass of wine by a vintner whose family name has been on the bottle for over a century you feel the glow of a person fulfilled. Sitting above the congregation with an organist whose name is at the bottom of a 300 year-long list of musicians who've powered that cathedral with music, you know you're in the presence of an artist who's found his loft.

...Travel paints a human face on our globe, making the vast gap between rich and poor vivid. Half of humanity — 3 billion people — is trying to survive on $2 a day. This is a fact. Educated people throughout the world know that America, with 4 percent of the world's population, controls half its wealth. And most of the world believes we elected a president whose mission is to make us wealthier.

My hard work and business success have made me wealthy. I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for the freedom and opportunity that comes with being an American. Without America 's commitment to freedom, those teary-eyed Germans might still be under fascist or communist rule. In fact, without America, we might live in a world without guidebooks and bus tours.

Travel has sharpened both my love of what America stands for and my connection with our world. And lessons I've learned far from home combined with passion for America have heightened my drive to challenge my countrymen to higher ideals. Crass materialism and a global perspective don't mix. We can enjoy the fruits of our hard work and still be a loved and respected nation. While I've found no easy answers, I spend more time than ever searching. The world needs America the beautiful. But lately, the world sees America as more aggressive and materialistic than beautiful.

As a traveler, I know you don't want to be rich in a desperately poor world. If he knows what's good for him, even the greediest person around doesn't want to be rich in a poor world. I've seen it…and it's not a pretty picture. I've been in Java, drinking tea with rich Chinese behind designer fortifications. I've luxuriated with wealthy Salvadorans who have speed bumps in front of their mansions so angry poor people — driving by with explosives ready to toss — have to slow down long enough for guards to get the license plate. Back home in the USA , where the hottest things in real estate are prisons and gated communities, I'm troubled by an aggressive business community that doesn't understand that this growing imbalance (both within our country and between our country and the Developing World) will someday haunt it.

...In America , we play for higher stakes. Many believe in free enterprise without government-sponsored safeguards for the losers in the capitalist game. While no one would argue that if my cat has more buying power than a Chilean child, my cat should get the tuna…that's how it works in today's world. You may prefer not to understand the economics behind this, but there's blood on your banana.

...I find the Biblical concept of the Jubilee Year thought-provoking. It calls for the forgiveness of debts and redistribution of all land every fifty years. Rich Christians know God couldn't be serious about this. But debt and land issues are the foundation of so much strife. After taking two "reality tours" through Central America , it occurred to me that perhaps God was onto something. By the greedy nature of aggressive landlords, in countries without safeguards for the poor, it seems to take about fifty years for ownership of land to get so imbalanced that a society suffers...

Spending half our nation's discretionary budget on the military while stripping down our society and reshuffling wealth into the richest families is a tough sell. And it gets tougher and tougher. It requires fear (an enemy as big as communism — like terrorism), a distracted dumbed down electorate, and a narrowly held media. A government looking out for the little guy only gets in the way, so a disdain for government in general (and taxes in specific) must be sold to the populace.

Travel in Europe puts you in touch with societies who believe in good government. In Scandinavia you sip your coffee on town squares where the city hall rather than a church is the centerpiece. The city hall bell tower stands like a steeple…an exclamation mark declaring communities can work together and care for all. Inside the city hall, you enter what feels like the nave of a church and are surrounded with murals extolling the beauties of good government and the sorry consequences of bad government. Citizens pay high taxes in expectation of a high-service government.

...My European friends amaze me with their willingness to pay huge taxes and live with regulations I would chafe at. And, with all the regulations, expenses, and safeguards for society and workers in Europe, it's not a place I'd want to run my small business. But it's a place that challenges me to see how a society can build compassion into its affluence.

Hiking high in the Alps , I asked my Swiss friend Ollie why they are so docile when it comes to paying high taxes. Without missing a beat he replied, "What's it worth to live in a country with no hunger, no homelessness, and where everyone has access to good health care and a top-quality education?" While America is embracing the Texas ("low tax, low service" state) model, Europe believes government can be both big and good.

...Europeans differ from Americans in their pragmatic approach to persistent social problems. For example, in the Netherlands (where prostitution is legal), if a prostitute pulls her emergency cord the police — rather than a pimp — come to her rescue. The Dutch have a decade of experience treating the recreational use of marijuana as a health problem rather than a criminal problem. They've stopped arresting people for smoking pot and a ten-year track record shows use has not gone up. Dutch drug enforcement officials consider coffee shops (where marijuana is sold and enjoyed) as a firewall stopping the abuse of hard drugs. This is where they communicate with people likely to abuse hard drugs. And, in societies that don't lock up marijuana users, law enforcement is freed to tackle more serious problems. Dutch friends are quick to tell me that they believe a society must make a choice: tolerate alternative lifestyles or build more prisons. They remind me that the USA arrests 700,000 people on marijuana charges annually. And, with 4 percent of the world's population, America has over a quarter of its prison population. The USA is ratcheting up its war on marijuana. But Switzerland, Britain, Scandinavia, Spain, Canada, and many other countries are following the more tolerant Dutch approach (even if it means risking trade sanctions from America).

...the majority of Europeans see American foreign policy as driven by corporate interests and baffling electoral needs. They believe America's Cuban policy is designed to win the votes of Castro's enemies in Florida and our Israel policy is driven by the demands of Jewish voters. No other nation is routinely outvoted in the United Nations 140 to 4. And Europeans find it amazing that when we lose a vote so thoroughly, we think we (along with our voting block: Israel, Micronesia, and the Marshal Islands) have it right and everyone else has it wrong."

These are probably as much bullshit as anything else, but still pretty interesting. Kinda funny too.

More at the link.

Psychology Today: Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature:
"Excerpted from Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters, by Alan S. Miller and Satoshi Kanazawa, to be published by Perigree in September 2007.

1. Men like blond bombshells (and women want to look like them)

Long before TV—in 15th- and 16th- century Italy, and possibly two millennia ago—women were dying their hair blond...

Women's desire to look like Barbie—young with small waist, large breasts, long blond hair, and blue eyes—is a direct, realistic, and sensible response to the desire of men to mate with women who look like her. There is evolutionary logic behind each of these features.

Men prefer young women in part because they tend to be healthier than older women. One accurate indicator of health is physical attractiveness; another is hair. Healthy women have lustrous, shiny hair, whereas the hair of sickly people loses its luster. Because hair grows slowly, shoulder-length hair reveals several years of a woman's health status.

Men also have a universal preference for women with a low waist-to-hip ratio. They are healthier and more fertile than other women; they have an easier time conceiving a child and do so at earlier ages because they have larger amounts of essential reproductive hormones. Thus men are unconsciously seeking healthier and more fertile women when they seek women with small waists.

Until very recently, it was a mystery to evolutionary psychology why men prefer women with large breasts, since the size of a woman's breasts has no relationship to her ability to lactate. But Harvard anthropologist Frank Marlowe contends that larger, and hence heavier, breasts sag more conspicuously with age than do smaller breasts. Thus they make it easier for men to judge a woman's age (and her reproductive value) by sight—suggesting why men find women with large breasts more attractive.

...Blond hair is unique in that it changes dramatically with age. Typically, young girls with light blond hair become women with brown hair. Thus, men who prefer to mate with blond women are unconsciously attempting to mate with younger women...

2. Humans are naturally polygamous

The history of western civilization aside, humans are naturally polygamous. Polyandry (a marriage of one woman to many men) is very rare, but polygyny (the marriage of one man to many women) is widely practiced in human societies, even though Judeo-Christian traditions hold that monogamy is the only natural form of marriage. We know that humans have been polygynous throughout most of history because men are taller than women...

3. Most women benefit from polygyny, while most men benefit from monogamy

...Men in monogamous societies imagine they would be better off under polygyny. What they don't realize is that, for most men who are not extremely desirable, polygyny means no wife at all, or, if they are lucky, a wife who is much less desirable than one they could get under monogamy.

5. Having sons reduces the likelihood of divorce... [Apparently that did not apply in my family - Rob.]

8. The midlife crisis is a myth—sort of

Many believe that men go through a midlife crisis when they are in middle age. Not quite. Many middle-aged men do go through midlife crises, but it's not because they are middle-aged. It's because their wives are. From the evolutionary psychological perspective, a man's midlife crisis is precipitated by his wife's imminent menopause and end of her reproductive career, and thus his renewed need to attract younger women...

10. Men sexually harass women because they are not sexist

An unfortunate consequence of the ever-growing number of women joining the labor force and working side by side with men is the increasing number of sexual harassment cases. Why must sexual harassment be a necessary consequence of the sexual integration of the workplace?

...The quid pro quo types of harassment are manifestations of men's greater desire for short-term casual sex and their willingness to use any available means to achieve that goal. Feminists often claim that sexual harassment is "not about sex but about power;" Browne contends it is both—men using power to get sex. "To say that it is only about power makes no more sense than saying that bank robbery is only about guns, not about money."

Sexual harassment cases of the hostile-environment variety result from sex differences in what men and women perceive as "overly sexual" or "hostile" behavior. Many women legitimately complain that they have been subjected to abusive, intimidating, and degrading treatment by their male coworkers. Browne points out that long before women entered the labor force, men subjected each other to such abusive, intimidating, and degrading treatment.

Abuse, intimidation, and degradation are all part of men's repertoire of tactics employed in competitive situations. In other words, men are not treating women differently from men—the definition of discrimination, under which sexual harassment legally falls—but the opposite: Men harass women precisely because they are not discriminating between men and women."

"Pick one -- new technology overturns old authority. You can't have it both ways."

A dualism I can get behind. Plus Keen comes off as a bit of an elitist schmuck in everything I've read.

Boing Boing: Shirky explains why Keen is a Luddite:
"...These days, you can't hardly click without running into a clip of Andrew Keen, a failed dotcom entrepreneur who has set out to make a fortune by telling people that the Internet sucks.

Keen's message is essentially that the old media did a great job, without any bias, of picking the "best" work (whatever that is) and making it popular. He says that Internet-driven systems for picking and popularizing work are bad for society, since letting just anyone get a say means that "non-authoritative" people will assume gatekeeper roles, and might choose inferior material. For example, these unwashed clickers might choose DJ Danger Mouse's Grey Album over 'N'Sync's blockbuster LP Pubic Beardz.

Keen says that he loves technology, but doesn't want to see it used to tear down our old, fair, balanced, inclusive institutions. The new institutions -- blogs, Wikipedia, Digg, etc -- will be harder to navigate for "the masses," which means that only the techno-literate will get "good stuff," while everyone else will be stuck with kitten videos on YouTube.

Keen doesn't offer any evidence for the worthiness of the old system, nor does he give us any good reason to mistrust the new system (if it's so hard to find good stuff online, why are so many people switching off their TVs and switching on the Internet?).

More importantly, Keen's idea that he's "pro-technology" and "pro-authority" is nonsense. Pick one -- new technology overturns old authority. You can't have it both ways."

Cages of your own making + the beauty of strip clubs.

Super special bonus points for invoking "The Music Man." I love that flick. Great article. More at the link.

...I don't know if I'm angrier with him or the world in general.

This is a 74-year-old man who's successful and respected, but all of that is apparently so fragile that it can be brought down by merely walking into a strip club. As if acting on the perfectly natural desire to see a beautiful naked female body would somehow diminish his accomplishments!

Seventy-four and he still can't do what he wants to do.

Seventy-four and he still has to worry about what people will think. you dare to disturb the universe? Do you dare to eat a peach? I guess the answer to those questions is a resounding no!

Frank's worked hard to make something of his life, but in the process he's also built himself a sturdy cage, one built of gold. He's labored at it mightily, constructing it bar by bar.

...Maybe it's a question of a false perception of strip clubs. Most tight-asses probably think they're like naked versions of Animal House with Otter and Bluto getting their knobs polished by some D-cupped blonde while being hooted on by cousins of NBC's Earl.

The truth is the vast majority of strip clubs are far more subdued than the crowd at an average baseball game, a boring baseball game. For the most part, men sit around quietly while enjoying one of the most beautiful sights in nature: a naked woman moving gracefully to music. Never mind that her legs are occasionally spread open wider than a toll gate bridge and that she's dancing to a song by Rammstein, it's art in my book, okay?

Regardless, I hardly think going to a strip club is deviant.

Neither do I think consorting with strippers or getting lap dances is deviant, but I don't think the NFL, the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office, or a whole bunch of Testosterone-deprived tight asses across the country agree with me.

...Mothers of River City, heed that warning before it's too late! Watch for the telltale signs of corruption! The minute your son leaves the house, does he rebuckle his knickerbockers below the knee? Is there a nicotine stain on his index finger? A dime-novel hidden in the corncrib? Is he starting to memorize jokes from Captain Billy's Whiz-Bang? Are certain words creeping into his conversation? Words like "swell" and "so's your old man"? If so my friends, ya got trouble!

That's right, trouble right here in River City! Pretty soon there'll be gambling, and...and strippers!

...What many of us consider deviant is largely cultural. Things that are frowned on here might not be frowned on elsewhere. When French President Francois Mitterrand died a few years ago, it was only natural that his wife attended the funeral. Standing nearby, though, was his long-time mistress and his illegitimate daughter. Can you imagine the hubbub if that happened in America? But in France they merely shrugged their shoulders and winked.

I'm not promoting adultery or promiscuity. Hardly. But when people are so tight assed that an old man can't fulfill a silly dream without nullifying every good thing he ever accomplished, it's time for this teetotaler country to saunter up to the Testosterone bar for a double.

First round's on me.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Robert Puch, damn glad to meet ya.

Rolled into Jr High after my elementary school lessons to find a glossy PTA/School newsletter on my desk. Can't say that it's the first one that's been put out since I got here [almost two years ago now... geez] but it's the first one I've seen.

Cool pics from Sports Day and the opening of the new pool, articles from the principal and head of the PTA, which, due to my horrible Japanese, I can only assume is standard "gambatte" Japanese.

This is the lesson of Japan above all else.


Persevere my child.

So that you can spend life as an adult persevering.

Sadly however, after two years, I'm known as Robert "Puch." Ah well, all their English is still light years ahead of my Japanese, so who am I to talk?

Robert Puch, glad to meet you.

Because she demanded it!

New hairdo + new glasses = "Rob post these on your blog for my family." What can I say? Her cuteness convinced me.

Fukuoka Art Museum.

The art teacher at my Jr High had a sculpture on show at the Fukuoka Art Museum. My super-secret-subversive pics in the "no photo" zone didn't quite pan out, so here's a meta-pic of a couple pieces Sandy and I dug. My friend's sculpture is on the right.

I don't know what this is, but it's cool. Go Art!

Great Wisdom.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

What an utter waste of time. But for Justice! And Revenue!

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > NYC's Department of 'SHHHHH!':
"The New York City Department of Environmental Protection has begun to enforce a noise ordinance passed 18 months ago...

...It was Mr. Vamvakas’s first encounter with the city’s noise police, a contingent that includes 45 environmental agents and thousands of regular police officers who are enforcing a sweeping new noise code that took effect on Sunday. Mr. Vamvakas, 24, who is part owner of a Mister Softee franchise in Queens with 11 trucks, had failed to turn off his truck’s jingle when he parked at the curb, as is now required of all ice cream trucks.

The fine is $350.

While New York City's crime rate has been consistently falling in recent years, has it become so safe that "thousands of regular police officers" are relegated to chasing parked ice-cream trucks?

Granted, I oversimplify. They're targeting air conditioners too... Barking dogs, heavy construction, garbage trucks, nightclubs, personal stereos, poorly muffled motorcycles and loud air-conditioners are all covered.

...Lesson: While catching murderers, thieves, and rapists is important, it is not nearly as lucrative as turning off grandma's air conditioner in the middle of the summer."

True scientific police work.

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > Drunken Journalism:
"She then says that the police officers who helped her with the story told her that 'how a drinker scores in a field sobriety test is the real measure of inebriation.'

In fact, this simply isn't true. The standard field sobriety test was adopted by NHTSA after one poorly administered test on 238 subjects in 1977. It's never been peer reviewed. One forensic expert in Georgia gave the test to 21 of his students, none of whom had a drop to drink. He then showed video of the tests to a group of police officers. They said they'd arrest nearly half of them."

It's all just made up, I swear to god. Every last bit of everything.

If I was royalty, I'd be focused on alcohol and restoring concubinage too.

Japanese prince blames alcoholism on imperial woes:
"Japanese Emperor Akihito’s cousin, who once sparked outrage by suggesting reviving the tradition of royal concubines, confirmed his reputation for frankness on Saturday when he spoke openly about his alcoholism."


SuicideGirls > News > Culture > The Sunday Hangover with Warren Ellis:
"So, is this just a staggeringly retarded thing to do? Well... possibly. I think the spirit of the thing is absolutely correct. Why have a bicycle and only ever ride it on the pavement? The body-modification community is doing important work in pushing the envelope of the human body. We’re only ever going to be issued one each, so we may as well find out what it can do. (Personally, I just like finding out how much whisky and wakey-wakey-stuff it can hold, but I never claimed to be hardcore.)"