Friday, July 20, 2007

Yeah, they're not gonna hate us.

ABC News: Inside the Surge:
"A few days later U.S. soldiers are back in the neighborhood looking for weapons and insurgents. They spotted a suspicious car circling the block, and the driver did not respond when told to stop. The soldiers opened fire and pulled the driver's body from the car.

They dragged the body to the nearest front yard and tried to revive the driver, unsuccessfully. A neighbor said that she thought he was a taxi driver coming to pick her up, and that he was circling the block while looking for her house.

The man, who may have been a taxi driver, was killed because he failed to stop his car. According to Sean Smith, "Their [U.S. soldiers] first priority is to defend themselves. The frustration is not, 'Look how difficult this is.' The frustration is 'Look how difficult this is and what exactly for?'"
(Sean Smith/Guardian)"

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Rabid nationalism + frivolous lawsuits... Japan is just like America.

137 teachers lose damages suit over singing of national anthem - MSN-Mainichi Daily News:
"A total of 137 Tokyo metropolitan school teachers who were forced to undergo a training session after they refused to cooperate in singing the national anthem at school ceremonies in 2004 lost their damages suit on Thursday."

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

No, I can't relate in the slightest.

I don't know why you'd think so.

[Sinfest rocks.]

The common sense question no one asks about the digital world.

Very few, leastways.

Boing Boing: Last Harry Potter leaks online:
"Seriously, though. With the last book, the publisher was so freaked out about ebook "piracy" that they refused to release an official electronic edition. The result? Fans made their own electronic text in 24 hours. And other fans translated the book into German in 45 hours.

That'a a lot of fan-energy, sitting out there, looking for ways to love these books. Surely there's a smarter way to deal with that kind of love than attempting to suppress it? "


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Those who don't know their history are doomed to etc, etc.

It is, literally, a damn Trojan Horse people! What does it take, I ask you?

Prometeus - The Media Revolution

Wickedly cool futurism.

The power of people vs the power of the state.

This is pretty damn awesome. Full story at the link.

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > EquuSearch and the Power of Volunteers:
"The excellent blog Classically Liberal has a stunning post up about the creation of TexasEquuSearch, a volunteer search and recovery team that tracks down missing people. The group came about after family members of missing persons grew frustrated by often dismissive and ineffective police efforts."

The future is finally getting here.

Next up, jet packs.

Boing Boing: Sleek new spacesuit design:
"MIT aeronatuics professor Dava Newman designed this new spacesuit that's far sleeker and lightweight than today's bulky gas-pressurized outfits work by today's astronauts. Instead of gas pressurization, the new prototype BioSuit employs 'mechanical counter-pressure' in the form of skin-tight layers wrapped around the body. The BioSuit looks very 60s mod to me, probably because it was influenced by ideas of that era for a 'space activity suit.'"

Why Japan is Awesome, part 734.

Three words... Sex. Boot. Camps.

I'm not joking.

Girls get good grip on sex technique at booty boot camp - MSN-Mainichi Daily News:
"Fully 72 percent of OLs -- female office workers -- registered as readers of Weekly Playboy are undergoing some sort of training to make them more proficient at sex, according to the men's magazine.

"Ever since I was in high school, I've been doing exercises to make me tighter. [Since. High. School. - Rob] ..."It was pretty hard to get used to at first, but now I can use my muscles virtually at will. Every guy I've ever done it with says I feel fantastic! That in itself is a wonderful feeling."

...Another 25-year-old explains why she feels it's important to shape-up sexually.

"Nowadays, if you're not good at sex, you're never going to be popular with guys," the building management company employee says. "A woman who can't perform in bed is not going to get by just by being beautiful. Those days are long gone."

...Another woman working for an advertising agency says she belongs to an online group of 20-something women who discuss how to improve their sex techniques.

"We have a meeting once a month where we practice things like BJs, moaning, hip grinding and the like. Each meeting has a theme [of course they do. This is Japan. These will be the most highly organized sex boot camp meetings in history - Rob]and our overall goal is finding out what we need to do to make the man of our dreams get hooked on us," she says..."

My job could possibly be dangerous.

If this kind of thing catches on anyways.

Being a teen, your world is so small, and the stupidest things seem monumental enough to set you off.

Plus, you know... crazy chicks are the international language.

Junior high school girl attacks teacher, classmate with box cutter - MSN-Mainichi Daily News:
"A junior high school girl slashed a teacher and a fellow student who attempted to restrain her at her school, leaving her classmate severely injured and mildly injuring the teacher.

Local police are questioning the third-year girl...

The attack occurred on Friday at about 10:30 a.m., after the suspect lost her temper when the teacher warned her not to sit on a window frame, investigators said."

Just the oddest story ever.

Group hug? Seriously? DC is different than I remember.

Attempted robbery ends in group hug - Yahoo! News:
"Police on Capitol Hill are baffled by an attempted robbery that began with a handgun put to the head of a teenager and ended in a group hug.

It started about midnight on June 16 when a group of friends was finishing a dinner of marinated steaks and jumbo shrimp on the back patio of a District of Columbia home. That's when a hooded man slid through an open gate and pointed a handgun at the head of a 14-year-old girl.

"Give me your money, or I'll start shooting," he said, according to D.C. police and witnesses.

Everyone froze, including the girl's parents. Then one guest spoke.

"We were just finishing dinner," Cristina "Cha Cha" Rowan, 43, told the man. "Why don't you have a glass of wine with us?"

The intruder had a sip of their Chateau Malescot St-Exupery and said, "Damn, that's good wine."

...The story then turns even more bizarre.

"I think I may have come to the wrong house," he said before apologizing. "Can I get a hug?"

..."Can we have a group hug?" the man asked. The five adults complied.

..."We've had robbers that apologize and stuff but nothing where they sit down and drink wine. It definitely is strange," said Cmdr. Diane Groomes, adding that the hugs were especially unusual. "The only good thing is they would be able to identify him because they hugged him.""

John P. Walters. U.S. Drug Czar. Asshat.

Boing Boing: U.S. Drug Czar calls pot growers "terrorists":
"John P. Walters, President Bush's drug czar, said the people who plant and tend the gardens are terrorists who wouldn't hesitate to help other terrorists get into the country with the aim of causing mass casualties.

..."These people are armed; they're dangerous," he said. He called them "violent criminal terrorists."

"More of a Pamphlet, Really." [Can't beat that for a headline.]

Overheard in the Office | More of a Pamphlet, Really:
"Tester: I'm reading this book that will teach you all the Italian you'll ever need to visit Canada!

1555 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, Virginia"

Comic writer Devin Grayson nails the quote of the day.

Comic Book Resources - CBR News: Homosexuality in Comics - Part I:
"“I love to preach tolerance, but truthfully I'm the least tolerant person I know. I cheerfully write off bigots, dogmatists, and hypocrites without a second thought."

Monday, July 16, 2007

Flight of the Conchords - If You're Into It.

My wife on this weekend's Japan weather [typhoon + earthquake.]

Cute, clever and funny... the trifecta.

"Possible interpretations of the weather:

The gods are:

a. punishing Japan for its support of the war
b. registering their disapproval of PM Abe
c. anti-whaling
d. tired of sushi
e. screwing with the highly-bureacratized system here
f. trying to get a better exchange rate
g. having fun messing with one of the most tightly-wound people in the world.

Perhaps I've been in Japan too long... :)"

Arbitrary social norms - ignore when possible, subvert when feasible.*

*Or, how the middle class monkey suit and choke collar has no bearing on anything whatsoever.

Recently [okay, not so recently, but I started writing this last month and I've been meaning to finish up for a bit now], esteemed fellow JET and Fukutsu resident [and ALT at Sandy's old HS Genkai in Koga] Mike attended the JET renewer's conference in Kobe. Ah, I remember last year's conference like it was yesterday. To be young again! But I digress. So Mike returned from Kobe with strong feelings about...

Adventures in the Not-so-Orient: Professional business attire does not mean come to work dressed like a vagrant.:
"This past week, I went to Kobe for a JET conference for recontractees...

While I realize that not everyone agrees on what exactly professionalism is, it seems that some sort of minimum requirement is necessary...

...this means that you willingly play the role again of not only a representative of your home country, but of your school/CO as well.

Cargo shorts, untucked polo shirts, khaki pants, or running shoes do not fall under the realm of professional business attire, yet I saw an abundance of this in Kobe. There are some justifications I'm sure people cooked up for their attire: this is how I dress at work, or this is what is considered professional where I come from; or I'm not Japanese, so their conventions don't apply, or I don't want to lose my sense of identity; I didn't want to pack extra shoes because their heavy, or a shirt and tie are too hot for Japan; it's the last day of the conference and I didn't want to bother getting changed again or repacking my bags...

Ultimately, I think how you present yourself is indicative of how you view your commitment to your job. If you choose to be taken seriously, you will present yourself in that manner. Putting on a tie doesn't mean you lose your personality, a fact that is made plenty evident by the quality of some of the workshops I attended. But if you choose to dress like a tourist, then I have to wonder what kind of attitude you take with you into the office. Perhaps you do go to work with shorts and a t-shirt. That's fine if you're at work--I wouldn't want to run around the room with a bunch of 8-year-olds in a suit or tie either. Perhaps you dress in hawaiian shirts in your home country, as that's acceptable business attire. That's fine if you're back home.

But the simple fact of the matter is that you are NOT at your workplace, and you are NOT in your home country. You are at a professional business conference in a country where you are expected to dress appropriately for the occasion. I guarantee that those other teachers, who you work with and wear jeans and t-shirts to work with you, would be in their suits and ties if they were at a teachers conference.

...Its sad that there's little real consequence to this, as the disapproving Japanese group eye has little or no effect on some people. But that doesn't stop me from wishing that something could be done about it. Photos are probably out of the question, as that would seem to smack of the sort of pseudo-fascist STASI-esque surveillance. Besides, we're adults right, and should know better. But a greater MEXT (Japanese Ministry of Education), or CLAIR (Council that in is charge of the JET Programme) presense might help curb some of the more excessive dressing habits.

It's a shame, because it's probably unprofessionalism like this which is helping destroy JET. The Programme already has a reputation for good pay for little or no work, and things like this can't help it. Assuming that the various Contracting Organizations get reports on what actually went on, it's no surprise that more and more places are opting for cheaper, probably more professional, non-JET ALT options like Interac.

OK, end rant."

Now, I sympathize with Mike. Poor confused, misguided and brainwashed Mike. [Hi Mike!] But alas... no. Just no.

Where, oh where to begin? Well, firstly, we must understand that Mike is a high school ALT. And a fairly good academic school at that. A place where I imagine, things changing at a glacial pace in almost all climes and places, is generally made up of the shirt and tie, and occasionally coat wearing set. So Mike, let me introduce you to the world of the Jr High ALT. Where I, and many of your fellow ALT's are coming from...

My fellow Japanese teachers? Well, about half of the guy teachers teach while wearing sweatsuits. Or the classic T shirt, sweatpants combo. [Sweatsuits, not just for P.E. teachers anymore!] Except for the couple guys who wear shorts. [Don't think I'm criticizing. They are my heroes.]

Now, I've never rocked the shorts to start off the workday, neither at school or the midyear, but an untucked polo? Most assuredly. De rigueur on the daily is the untucked polo or button down + a pair of khakis or slacks. And that was more than adequate for the midyear I attended 'lo those many months ago. If it's more than enough for MY ACTUAL JOB [amongst "superiors"], then it certainly meets the qualifications for a series of meetings comprised almost entirely of my "peers."

That goes for the monthly JET meetings in town as well. Telling us, once, to wear our "Sunday best" certainly rubbed this heathen the wrong way. [I'll skip the long digression here where I learned "church clothes" were all about trying to impress your fellow churchgoers and improve your social status. My heart was filled with hate that day...]

As for the "more and more places are opting for cheaper, probably more professional, non-JET ALT options like Interac" the operative word for that is "cheaper" and very little to do with "professional." Contracting orgs don't have to worry about figuring out housing and the myriad of other logistical difficulties in bringing gaijin to the land of the rising sun. And with over 5500 JETs, nope, not shrinking and not going away. Not being outsourced, rhetoric to the contrary. JET is not being destroyed, despite some close minded Japanese teachers who might wish it so [that I've been lucky enough to never meet, but you hear stories...] and while it is good money for not so difficult work, considering there's been no increase in pay, or cost of living allowance in the the 20 years of the program's existence, arguments to the contrary abound. [For better money and lower cost of living, see teaching English in Korea, Singapore, China...]

Attire has nothing to do with performance. One might think with my 5 years in the USMC and 4 years at USNA I'd be all aboard the "spit and polish" train. But what those 9 years taught me was that a smartly attired incompetent remains an incompetent. And a whipsmart disheveled type remains kick ass smart. All the attire might do is lull you into thinking otherwise, one way or the other. Until performance disabuses your of your preconceptions.

I've worn my suit, maybe, 3 times this past year. Graduation ceremony [cause the kids deserve it, for putting up with the Japanese educational system], welcoming ceremony [cause I'll get onboard with the "first impression" thing, just to reduce conflict] and when I had to present at last year's mid year conference [cause I look damn good in it.]

But a meeting of OTHER JETS? Pass.

And true, there is no consequence. Attendance was taken when I went to Kobe, and that I get. They pay for you to go - GO. But clothes. No... problems are the things we were told about at our conference. Dumbass JET's tossing things off balconies or skipping out with unpaid portions of their bill. Really retarded shit that actually matters.

It pays to remember, in Japan, you are in the system, but not of the system. And you never will be. You are GAIJIN! [Say it loud, say it proud.] You never will be of Japan, regardless of your linguistic fluency, your attitude, your gambaremasu or anything else.

So your role, should you choose to accept it, Mr Phelps [and even if you don't] is to be gaijin. One of the goals of JET is mutual understanding, so help them understand casual Fridays. Or, cross your fingers, ALOHA Fridays, as in Hawaii, everyday is "casual" and on Fridays you leave early. God, I miss Hawaii.

I mean, it's just all so absurd. A tie was a was originally a damn napkin and a bib. Now it's a bit of dressing refinement?

As an aside, until women folk are forced to wear ties, I'm refusing on gender-equality grounds.

But Mike noted, and it's important to address, as most think it's true - "I think how you present yourself is indicative of how you view your commitment to your job."

But, again, no.

Your commitment to your job is your commitment to your job.

Your willingness and friendliness to teach, to interact, to connect with the students [and teachers] at your school is your commitment to your job. The clothes you wear? Not so much...

Okay, that's my opinion, and most will figure I'm wrong. [I'm used to it.]

My rant is done. I still luv ya Mike! Don't hurt my Venture Bros DVD's, okay? :)

Pic via.

The bastards* at YouTube remind me of the importance of zen detachment.

So, I woke the other day to three consecutive emails from the fine folks at YouTube informing me of "Video Removed: Copyright Infringement." The last brought with it a permanent suspension of my account.



The vids in question were some mixed martial arts highlight vids I had come across online and really liked. Mashed up vids of different fighters and fights, clips from various contests, set to music with soundtracks. Somebody had put a buncha work into 'em. Not me, as I lack the creative gene, but they were cool, and inspiring, and I figured they'd make a couple new MMA fans if somebody stumbled across them, so I uploaded them.

Now sure, I knew that technically the clips used in the highlights were copyrighted, but these were mashups put together by folks. Not complete events ripped/stolen and put online. I remember just after the UFC PPV ban, when it was on its last legs, the highlight vids over at were one of the things that kept me interested in the whole MMA scene. Why Pride Worldwide would want to yank highlight vids that do nothing but build interest and fans is beyond me... but I digress.

Anyways... so my account permanently suspended. Which means all the vids I uploaded from the kids and my students at Tsuyazaki Jr High are now... GONE. Frustrating. All the YouTube subscriptions and favorites I'd racked up and saved over the last year... GONE.

Really, really frustrating. Especially losing the kids' videos.


It was a good reminder.

The world, and all the things and situations in it, are in transition. Nothing lasts forever. Nothing to cling to but your own mental and psychological attachments. It's not the things, or the suspension, or anything else that upset me. It was my own mental presumption that certain things are supposed to be a certain way. Stress occurs when the mind resists what IS. So don't.

And as transitory as life is, the internet is even more so.

Don't get attached. Or if you do, be prepared to let it go.

*'bastards' is, of course, colloquial for "fine, upstanding preservers of copyright."

Moral Panics and Sexual Hysteria.

You know, I remember reading all about the McMartin preschool case back in the 1980's, when I was in jr high and high school. And especially about the Little Rascals case, as it was in NC.

The 80's were definitely the era for it, what with that kind of thing and the Geraldo "Satanic Sacrifices and Ritual Abuse" specials. This piece very cleverly links the same types of moral panics/sexual hysterias [of every era] and points out this generation's bugaboo - the internet.

Type of thing annoys me as "for the children" is used as the rallying cry for no end of retarded and civil rights abridging legislation.

Sex Panic! — An Interview With Debbie Nathan - 10 Zen Monkeys:
"...When I read the interviews of the kids, I could see the way the cases went forward forensically. The adult interviewers, whether they were detectives or social workers or psychologists, brainwashed the kids. They interjected their own fantasies into those kids by asking them leading questions over and over and over and over. I heard some of the tapes of kids who would walk into the room loving their teachers. And they would walk out utter basket cases, thinking that they'd been brutalized by Miss Mickey or somebody that they loved before. And I would cry. I would say — these kids have been brutalized by the investigation and by this whole panic. So were the women that were working in public daycare. That pained me to no end, the fact that public child care was under such assault. And it pained me to see women so guilty about going to work. But the thing that really got to me was the fact that relationships that were really beautiful were destroyed. You could hear it on the tapes. It was horrible to hear those interviews. And then you're like, 'Oh my god. I have to tell the world about this.'

...In fact, what's happening right now is a panic about kids and the internet. And there is a panic about teenagers having sex with each other. Those two things are working off each other. Did I predict those? No! I didn't predict them. And it seems to be happening since 9/11, actually. I think that the most proximate thing is fear of the internet. There's always a panic over a new technology. There are moral panics all the time. I mean, there was a moral panic over the telephone when it was first introduced.

SB: That's right! Because strangers would call you...

DN: Yeah. Male voices would call up young women in their homes.

SB: And god knows what would happen from there.

DN: There was a panic about comic books. There's always a panic about new technology. We're looking at it in hindsight. We're looking at a panic, and we're looking back and saying, "Oh, the internet."

SB: Oh yeah. Remember when that was such a big fright? And now it seems like nothing. That's what always happens as soon as the technology ages.

DN: But it's not nothing for a lot of people with kids today, you know?

SB: Well, I had another interview on our show with a social scientist named Mike Males. And he has these great papers that say, "Look, your kid statistically is in greater risk being in church or at the shopping mall than they are on their MySpace page." The notion of the actual risk that young people are facing on the internet is completely blown out of proportion."

Everyone is everything.

Not good nor evil nor pure nor dirty.

All things and capable of all things, given the right circumstances.

"Note to self - religion = freaky."*

Watched the documentary the other day "Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple" and it continued to confirm my biases [as all things do, hence Confirmation Bias] about religion.

"But wait!" you cry. Jonestown was clearly a cult, not a religion. Well, as Tom Wolfe once wrote, a cult is just a religion without political power.

Jim Jones - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
"Later that same day, 909 of the remaining inhabitants of Jonestown, 276 of them children, died in what has commonly been labeled a mass suicide. However, there is much ambiguity over whether many who died committed suicide or were in fact murdered. While some followers obeyed Jones' instructions to commit 'revolutionary suicide' by drinking cyanide-laced grape flavored Flavor Aid[3] (often misidentified as Kool-aid, this is also where the term, 'to drink the kool-aid' orginated) [4], others died by forced cyanide injection or by shooting. Jones was found dead sitting in a deck chair with a gunshot wound to the head, although it is unknown if he had been murdered or committed suicide. The autopsy on his body showed levels of the barbiturate pentobarbital that could have been lethal to humans who have not developed physiological tolerance. His drug usage (including various LSD and marijuana experimentations) was confirmed by his son, Stephan, and Jones's doctor in San Francisco."

You watch these people who were there, who had family die there... you watch video and listen to tape... and you can't help but think how bugfuck crazy these people were. But they're not so different from anyone else. Searching for meaning... community... connection. And to get those things, people will do anything, apparently.

And me being me, can't mention Jonestown without touching the conspiracy theories and CIA connections... More at the links, yadda, yadda...

Jonestown conspiracy theory - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
"According to the New York Times, the first official on the scene, Guyanese Coroner Dr. Leslie C. Mootoo, determined that all but three of the people in Jonestown had been murdered: 80-90% had been injected with poison, while the remainder were shot or strangled. The coroners for the few autopsies of Jonestown victims conducted in Delaware were not informed of Dr. Mootoo’s findings...

On September 27, 1980, a column by respected investigative reporter Jack Anderson was published under the title "CIA Involved In Jonestown Massacre." This was the first allegation of CIA involvement in the Jonestown incident. According to Anderson, both Richard Dwyer and Jim Jones had ties to the CIA, with Dwyer's ties dating to at least 1959; when quizzed directly about this alleged CIA involvement, Dwyer responded "no comment." At one point on the sound-recording made during the mass suicide, Jones' own voice commands, "Take Dwyer on down to the east house" and a short time later, Jones says "Get Dwyer out of here before something happens to him." This is considered by some to be evidence that Richard Dwyer, a U.S. embassy official, was really a CIA operative"

Jonestown Massacre: A 'Reason' to Die:
"The Temple had a strong association with the World Vision organisation that many conspiracy theorists believe to be another CIA front, and had as a consultant, a mercenary from the rebel army UNITA, supposedly backed by the CIA.

Other supposed CIA connections with “Jonestown” include the allegations that:

Richard Dwyer’s name had appeared in the publication Who’s Who In The CIA

US Ambassador John Burke and another embassy official, Richard McCoy, had strong links with the CIA

The Georgetown CIA station was situated in the US Embassy building

Dan Webber, sent to Guyana immediately after the massacre, was with the CIA and

Joseph Blatchford, the officially appointed attorney for the “Jonestown” survivors, was involved in a scandal involving CIA infiltration of the Peace Corps.

...Leo Ryan’s murder is seen by many as being much more sinister than the hysterical behaviour of a madman. Leo Ryan had been a strong critic of the CIA and was the author of the Hughes-Ryan Amendment, which, if passed, would have required that the CIA report to Congress on all of its covert operations before they commenced. Soon after Ryan’s death, the Hughes-Ryan Amendment was quashed in Congress. The question conspiracy theorists ask is whether Ryan was killed in order to reach this objective and the massacre at “Jonestown” merely a smoke screen to distract attention away from Ryan’s murder?"

The Black Hole of Guyana--The Untold Story of the Jonestown Massacre, by John Judge, 1985
To comprehend this well-financed, sinister operation, we must abandon the myth that this was a religious commune and study instead the history that led to its formation. Jonestown was an experiment, part of a 30-year program called MK-ULTRA, the CIA and military intelligence code name for mind control. A close study of Senator Ervin's 1974 report, Individual Rights and the Government's Role in Behavior Modification, shows that these agencies had certain "target populations" in mind, for both individual and mass control. Blacks, women, prisoners, the elderly, the young, and inmates of psychiatric wards were selected as "potentially violent." There were plans in California at the time for a Center for the Study and Reduction of Violence, expanding on the horrific work of Dr. José Delgado, Drs. Mark and Ervin, and Dr. Jolly West, experts in implantation, psychosurgery, and tranquilizers. The guinea pigs were to be drawn from the ranks of the "target populations," and taken to an isolated military missile base in California. In that same period, Jones began to move his Temple members to Jonestown. The were the exact population selected for such tests.

The meticulous daily notes and drug records kept by Larry Schacht disappeared, but evidence did not. The history of MK-ULTRA and its sister programs (MK-DELTA, ARTICHOKE, BLUEBIRD, etc.) records a combination of drugs, drug mixtures, electroshock and torture as methods for control...

On the scene at Jonestown, Guyanese troops discovered a large cache of drugs, enough to drug the entire population of Georgetown, Guyana (well over 200,000) for more than a year. According to survivors, these were being used regularly "to control" a population of only 1,100 people. One footlocker contained 11,000 doses of thorazine, a dangerous tranquilizer. Drugs used in the testing for MK-ULTRA were found in abundance, including sodium pentathol (a truth serum), chloral hydrate (a hypnotic), demerol, thalium (confuses thinking), and many others. Schacht had supplies of haliopareael and largatil as well, two other major tranquilizers. The actual description of life at Jonestown is that of a tightly run concentration camp, complete with medical and psychiatric experimentation. The stresses and isolation of the victims is typical of sophisticated brainwashing techniques. The drugs and special tortures add an additional experimental aspect to the horror...

*Yes, I do arrive at my major philosophical conclusions from watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

"the effects of the four-year-old occupation on average Iraqi civilians" (as well as on those soldiers)..."

In short? Not. Fucking. Good.

Iraq Reporter Schizophrenic in Disneyland by Tom Engelhardt and Dahr Jamail:
"What if you spoke regularly of "haji food," "haji music" and "haji homes"? What if your speeding convoys ran over civilians often enough that no one thought to report the incidents? What if your platoon was told pointblank: "The Geneva Conventions don't exist at all in Iraq, and that's in writing if you want to see it"; or, when you shot noncombatants, it was perfectly normal to plant "throwaway weapons" by their bodies, arrest those civilians who survived, and accuse them all of being "insurgents"? What if your buddy got his meal-ready-to-eat standard spoon and asked you to take a photo of him pretending to scoop the brains out of a dead Iraqi? Or what if the general attitude among your buddies was: "A dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi.... You know, so what?"

These examples – and many more like them – can be found in a remarkable breaking story in the new issue of the Nation magazine. In a months-long investigation, Chris Hedges and Laila al-Arian interviewed 50 U.S. combat veterans who had been stationed in Iraq. They were intent on exploring "the effects of the four-year-old occupation on average Iraqi civilians" (as well as on those soldiers). The article, "The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness," offers Americans a look behind the bombings and carnage in the headlines at just what kind of a war American troops have found themselves fighting – focusing on the degradation that is essential to it and will accompany those troops home."

Parents are nuts in Japan too.

Education boards move to clamp down on unreasonable complaints by parents - MSN-Mainichi Daily News:
"Local boards of education have launched special measures against unreasonable complaints by parents, such as teachers having no right to tell students not to smoke, a Mainichi poll has learned.

...Some of the unreasonable complaints and requests filed by parents include a request for a school to pay for a new stove at a home after a truant student broke it and a demand for a school to cover the cost of a child's commute to a new school as his parents plan to transfer him because he was bullied.

One parent cited by a board of education claimed that school officials should wash baseball uniforms because sport club activities are compulsory.

The Edogawa Municipal Board of Education received 59 such unreasonable complaints from parents by telephone in fiscal 2002, followed by 87 in fiscal 2003, 96 in fiscal 2004, 156 in fiscal 2005 and 206 in fiscal 2006.

The Kyoto Municipal Board of Education has formed a special team of doctors, lawyers, former police officials and other experts to help local education authorities tackle the problem."