Saturday, March 08, 2008

I've never watched The Wire, but this makes me want to.

The Wire's War on the Drug War - Yahoo! News:
"...The drug war has ravaged law enforcement too. In cities where police agencies commit the most resources to arresting their way out of their drug problems, the arrest rates for violent crime - murder, rape, aggravated assault - have declined. In Baltimore, where we set The Wire, drug arrests have skyrocketed over the past three decades, yet in that same span, arrest rates for murder have gone from 80% and 90% to half that. Lost in an unwinnable drug war, a new generation of law officers is no longer capable of investigating crime properly, having learned only to make court pay by grabbing cheap, meaningless drug arrests off the nearest corner.

What the drugs themselves have not destroyed, the warfare against them has. And what once began, perhaps, as a battle against dangerous substances long ago transformed itself into a venal war on our underclass. Since declaring war on drugs nearly 40 years ago, we've been demonizing our most desperate citizens, isolating and incarcerating them and otherwise denying them a role in the American collective. All to no purpose. The prison population doubles and doubles again; the drugs remain.

...If asked to serve on a jury deliberating a violation of state or federal drug laws, we will vote to acquit, regardless of the evidence presented. Save for a prosecution in which acts of violence or intended violence are alleged, we will - to borrow Justice Harry Blackmun's manifesto against the death penalty - no longer tinker with the machinery of the drug war. No longer can we collaborate with a government that uses nonviolent drug offenses to fill prisons with its poorest, most damaged and most desperate citizens.

Jury nullification is American dissent, as old and as heralded as the 1735 trial of John Peter Zenger, who was acquitted of seditious libel against the royal governor of New York, and absent a government capable of repairing injustices, it is legitimate protest...

The authors are all members of the writing staff of HBO's The Wire, which concludes its five-year run on March"

Ah, yes... the death of childhood.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Batman > Jesus, of course.

A religion I fully endorse.

... To the Bible Section

Daughter: Oh, Mom! Look, there goes all those comic books kids are reading.
Mother: That's a cult. Hurry up the escalator.

--Comic book section, Borders, 33rd & 7th

via Overheard in New York, Mar 6, 2008

"People of all nations of the world absolutely should not abandon the right to initiate wars of self-defense."

George W. Bush, circa Iraq War II?

No, silly.

Hideki Tojo, in his "last message" before being executed as a war criminal in the wake of WWII.

[I'll leave it to much wiser men to figure out how one initiates a war of self-defense.]

First Look - Watchmen.

Geek senses *tingling.*

Comedian and Rorschach look great, imho. Nite Owl, especially the cowl, strikes me a bit odd, but it'll grow on me, I think. Ozymandias seems to lack the pop and panache of the comic, but it might just be the coloring in the photo. Also at the link is Silk Spectre, which is a bit "eh" but maybe it's the pose in the pic.

Via the official blog.

One Year to Midnight (Watchmen):
" year and counting until the release of Watchmen on 03.06.09... So to help pass the time, here is your first look at some of the Watchmen characters.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

"Kung Fu Monkey: Thank God"

Hilarious, in full, at link.

Kung Fu Monkey: Thank God:
"For several terrifying weeks the possibility of a whole NEW decade of Baby Boomer politicians and pundits working their personal shit out on the national stage was imperiled. But the dream lives on. Daddy issues! Inexplicable lingering resentment of hippie culture! Wahooooo! Rock on!

For what it's worth...

McCain's Foreign Policies = ("One of the things I would do if I were President would be to sit the Shiites and the Sunnis down and say, ‘Stop the bullshit,") = (Sweet. Jesus.)"

Ah, kids.

First-Year Teachers Are So Cute

Planned parenthood speaker: Who wants some condoms?
Class, in unison: Your mom.

High school assembly
Englewood, Colorado

via Overheard Everywhere, Mar 5, 2008


Crooks and Liars » I heard some nonsense…:
"...the gist was that if Obama wins the primary and he doesn’t run to the center then he’s a total failure because the “center” is where all the kool kidz are... Typical Village elder garbage. The Republicans destroy the economy, install torture, start an immoral and unending war and filibuster every piece of legislation that has come down the pike since ‘06, but if we Democrats don’t pander to them—we’ll fail to win the White House."

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Expat/JET/ALT Taco Night at Anton and Miyuki's.

Good times.

Posted by Picasa

You'd think you'd hear this more here in Japan.

I Forgot What a Mean Little Drunk You Are

Little girl: Mommy, I have a headache.
Mom: Well, maybe we should just get you some sake.
Little girl: What?
Mom: I mean tea. Hot tea.

--Grey's Art Museum

via Overheard in New York, Mar 3, 2008

Stripsearched for the Principal - Unfreakingbelievable.

I'd home school, I swear to god.

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > Strip for the Principal:
"This month the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit is scheduled to rehear a case involving a Tucson eighth-grader who was strip-searched by school administrators enforcing a "zero tolerance" drug policy...
"Savana Redding, an eighth grade honor roll student at Safford Middle School in Tucson, Arizona, was pulled from class on October 8, 2003 by the school's vice principal, Kerry Wilson. Earlier that day, Wilson had discovered [drugs] in the possession of Redding's classmate....Under questioning and faced with punishment, the classmate claimed that Redding, who had no history of disciplinary problems or substance abuse, had given her the [drugs]...

In the school nurse's office, Redding was ordered to strip to her underwear. She was then commanded to pull her bra out and to the side, exposing her breasts, and to pull her underwear out at the crotch, exposing her pelvic area. The strip search failed to uncover any [drugs]..."
The punchline: The drugs in question were ibuoprofen pills—prescription-strength, 400-milligram pills (equivalent to a couple over-the-counter Advil caplets), but nothing anyone would or could use to get high..."

My wife... she's... special.

As she was particularly pleased to have this odd chocolate, shaped strangely like some kind of bug or caterpillar.

[Personally, I'm weighing in on the "ew, slightly creepy" side.]


The written goal of the JET Programme is to "increase mutual understanding between the people of Japan and the people of other nations, to promote internationalisation in Japan's local communities by helping to improve foreign language education, and to develop international exchange at the community level." Sometimes though, you end up only being an English teacher in the most specific and grammatical of ways. But on occasion, you have a thoroughly kick ass teacher who looks around and says "You know what? We've got a perfectly good gaijin here... let's get some more out of him." And that rocks.

Recently, one of the teachers at the smaller elementary school I teach at had just that idea.

And that idea transformed and evolved into four separate class lessons where:
1 - I taught about the differences between American and Japanese Elementary Schools
2 - The kids taught me about Japanese children's games, stories, anime and manga
3 - We played Japanese kid's games, and
4 - I helped them craft the traditional American lunch of a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich.
Very, very cool and lots of fun. I wish more teachers would do stuff like that. The little bit of extra work I had to do was inconsequential compared to how good a time I had.

So to start I went in and did a class and Q&A on the differences between American and Japanese elementary schools. On the plus side, in the US we've got school buses, where in Japan the kids have to walk/bike. In the US we get our lunches from the lunch lady or bring it from home. In Japan, the kids don the aprons and funny hats and serve up the food themselves. [Though there really isn't anything quite as cute as a 1st grader decked out in their lunch gear, ladling out miso soup with spoons bigger than their heads. Adorable.] And in US we have janitors, where in Japan the kids have soji everday [cleaning time] and they clean the school themselves. Advantage - US.

On the other hand, the big surprise and difference is that in US you can fail or be held back a grade. Never happen in Japan. [Why the social stigma and disruption to the WA alone is too horrible to contemplate.] Even in Jr High, as long as you show up every once in a while, you can graduate, no matter how little you've learned. Advantage - Japan.

So the kids took my visual aids from that class and made a poster about the lesson I gave.

This is me, btw.

You can tell because I am really handsome looking. [And bald.]

After my class, the kids had a week to prep a lesson to teach me about things in Japan. Working with their homeroom teacher we decided they would teach me about popular kid's games, stories, and anime and manga.

I have to say, the kids did a fantastic job. Tiny little people acting as super professional teachers, complete with pointers, graphs, visual aids and charts and surveys they completed by asking all the kids in their school. It was so cute I thought I'd die. Just an awesome job.

And then after they taught me a buncha stuff [and I did some other English story/teaching stuff], we went outside to play some of the games they taught me about. The two most popular were ONI and Kori ONI. Which, basically, are TAG and FREEZE TAG. "Oni" means demon/devil, so the ONI is "IT." And Kori ONI means ice demon, roughly.

No problem, right? Except I got to rediscover two things. One, I remain pathetically out of shape, and two, all 3rd graders are apparently fueled on a never ending supply of sugar and hormones.

Also, children steal my clothes at the first opportunity.

And in an apparent effort to affirm I'm no longer young, in endeavoring to dodge and duck and slip and slide during freeze tag, I manage to take out one youngster and face plant into the asphalt. Smoooooooooooth.

The child, as children often are, was unharmed. I, on the other hand...

Finally, having regaled the tykes with stories of the traditional suburban USA school lunch of peanut butter and jelly, they were keen on trying it out. So the last class we had was a PB&J instructional.

Adorable has a new name, and it is "Japanese Children." [Okay, that's a weird name, but you know what I mean.]

Oh, and in other news, I finally found a good use for children.

[Though that shouldn't really come as a shock, as I remember having to give both my parents massages as a kid. Perpetuating the vicious cycle, that's me.]

"I'd start a Revolution... If I could get up in the morning." - Aimee Allen

Ain't that the truth?

Diggin' this song, though I know I'm behind the curve. [Hey, I live in Japan... what do you want?]

Bonus points to Allen for her "Ron Paul Revolution" song/vid.

Monday, March 03, 2008


Find a way to sear it into my brain...

"It is always about you and your body. It's how you see yourself, and as a result, how you see the rest of the world. The body dictates everything. It's where it all starts. What you can make it do. What you can make it endure. How quick you can be. How precise. How quiet, and strong, and flexible and still. It is the one tool you always have at your disposal, no matter where you travel, the one weapon... It is at the heart of eveything you do, and you must be able to trust it absolutely. The body. This is what it takes..."
- Greg Rucka/Critical Space

"I believe that the definition of definition is reinvention. To not be like your parents. To not be like your friends. To be yourself. Completely.

When I was young I had no sense of myself...

It wasn't until my late twenties that I learned that by working out I had given myself a great gift. I learned that nothing good comes without work and a certain amount of pain. When I finish a set that leaves me shaking, I know more about myself. When something gets bad, I know it can't be as bad as that workout.

I used to fight the pain, but recently this became clear to me: pain is not my enemy; it is my call to greatness. But when dealing with the Iron, one must be careful to interpret the pain correctly. Most injuries involving the Iron come from ego. I once spent a few weeks lifting weight that my body wasn't ready for and spent a few months not picking up anything heavier than a fork. Try to lift what you're not prepared to and the Iron will teach you a little lesson in restraint and self-control...

I prefer to work out alone. It enables me to concentrate on the lessons that the Iron has for me. Learning about what you're made of is always time well spent, and I have found no better teacher. The Iron had taught me how to live. Life is capable of driving you out of your mind. The way it all comes down these days, it's some kind of miracle if you're not insane. People have become separated from their bodies. They are no longer whole.

I see them move from their offices to their cars and on to their suburban homes. They stress out constantly, they lose sleep, they eat badly. And they behave badly. Their egos run wild; they become motivated by that which will eventually give them a massive stroke. They need the Iron Mind.

Through the years, I have combined meditation, action, and the Iron into a single strength. I believe that when the body is strong, the mind thinks strong thoughts. Time spent away from the Iron makes my mind degenerate. I wallow in a thick depression. My body shuts down my mind.

The Iron is the best antidepressant I have ever found. There is no better way to fight weakness than with strength. Once the mind and body have been awakened to their true potential, it's impossible to turn back.

The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you're a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds."
- Henry Rollins

The only type of spirituality I can get behind.

The Church of "None of Your Business." Now accepting donations.

" is very important to remember that the Buddhist Precepts are never, but never, to be used as a weapon. The Precepts are there as guidelines for us as individuals to judge our own behavior, not the behavior of others. When you observe the behavior of another person always bear in mind that you can never know the true circumstances that led that person to behave in some particular fashion. Of course if that behavior is causing harm or danger to you or someone else it may sometimes be proper to intervene. But in most cases it's probably none of your business.

Buddhism is an attitude. It's an approach to life. The Precepts are meant as helpers to guide us in establishing this attitude. They're not a list of rules that we, the Precept Police, are enjoined to enforce. There are many things in this life that are beyond our knowledge or even our capacity to know."

Betraying my comic book roots...

Usually I'm a bit of a DC Comics fanboy, cause that's what I grew up reading, mostly. But Marvel's Iron Man movie looks like it's gonna blow the other comic book flicks outta the water. Chalk it up to Robert Downey Jr just chewing up the scenery and kicking all sorts of ass. Plus Terrence Howard as Rhodey. Some serious acting chops in this flick.

The second trailer rocks pretty hard.

"The Myth of the Surge" and why it's all gonna fall apart as soon as the $$ runs out.

Worth reading in full.

The Myth of the Surge : Rolling Stone:
"Hoping to turn enemies into allies, U.S. forces are arming Iraqis who fought with the insurgents. But it's already starting to backfire. A report from the front lines of the new Iraq."


Even in Japan, how is it I can smell the stink of desperation from the Clinton campaign?

Balloon Juice:
"I can not take eight years of this:
The Texas Democratic Party warned Thursday that election night caucuses scheduled for Tuesday could be delayed or disrupted after aides to Hillary Rodham Clinton threatened to sue over the party’s complicated delegate selection process."

'We have modest goals of replacing the whole petrochemical industry and becoming a major source of energy'

This would be what we call a paradigm shift, ladies and gentlemen. 100% awesome.

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > Synthetic Bacteria to Excrete Crude in 18 Months?:
"In his presentation at the annual TED meeting, redoubtable gene-meister Craig Venter predicted that his team would soon produce synthetic bacteria which would consume carbon dioxide to produce a 'fourth generation fuel' and help solve man-made global warming as well. As AFP reports:

'We have modest goals of replacing the whole petrochemical industry and becoming a major source of energy,' Venter told an audience that included global warming fighter Al Gore and Google co-founder Larry Page.

'We think we will have fourth-generation fuels in about 18 months, with CO2 as the fuel stock.' ..."

Global Warming/Cooling/Something...

What if it's all bullshit?

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > Whither the Earth's Temperature Now?:
"Over the past year, anecdotal evidence for a cooling planet has exploded. China has its coldest winter in 100 years. Baghdad sees its first snow in all recorded history. North America has the most snowcover in 50 years... Record levels of Antarctic sea ice, record cold in Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Mexico, Australia, Iran, Greece, South Africa, Greenland, Argentina, Chile -- the list goes on and on.

...But now, that evidence has been supplanted by hard scientific fact. All four major global temperature tracking outlets (Hadley, NASA's GISS, UAH, RSS) have released updated data. All show that over the past year, global temperatures have dropped precipitously...

The total amount of cooling ranges from 0.65C up to 0.75C -- a value large enough to wipe out most of the warming recorded over the past 100 years. All in one year's time. For all four sources, it's the single fastest temperature change ever recorded, either up or down"

Hell of a Weekend.

1 - Fighting a head cold/sore throat. Again. 2008 is the year of sickness, apparently.

2 - iTunes on Sandy's computer wiped out all the files on my iPod Shuffle when I tried to show Sandy how to use it with her brand new Shuffle. Clearly the fact that I use other software to manage my music on my computer means I want fu&'%ing Steve Jobs and his fu'&%ing proprietary software to erase everything I've done and put on it. 4 hours shot re-filing music on the mp3 player. I swear, I'd have thrown the thing against the freaking wall if it wasn't such a well designed piece of hardware.

3 - And in the high nut-kicker of the weekend, one of my bicycles was stolen. Technically, the bike belonging to the board of education was stolen. The second bike, that I had bought, I haven't really been using, because after crashing it a couple times [only one was alcohol related, thank you] and generally riding it into the ground, the wheel was out of wack and only one of the brakes was working. And it wasn't really shifting right. So I was using the mamachari/charinko the Board gave me when I got here. Came home on Friday, parked it in front of the apt, like always, and by Saturday it was gone.

No, I didn't lock it. My fault. My naivete. But, in my limited defense [paltry though it may be] I haven't locked the bike up in front of the apt in the 2 1/2 years I've lived here. And never had a problem. I mean, the area I live in is pretty inaka/rural. And the bikes aren't even visible from the road. It's off the beaten path, as it were.

[Which makes me wonder if my bike was targeted specifically. There were other, nicer bikes around, just as unlocked as mine... And then I think of the handful of yanki 2nd graders at Jr High, some of whom don't really appreciate when I make them do, you know, what the JTE is telling them to instead of sleeping... but I digress.]

I mean, when my mp3 player was jacked 2 years ago, I chalked it up, rightfully, to my dumbness. I left it in a high traffic area by the train station in a bag that anybody could've rummaged through. But my bike, out in the middle of nowhere? Let's just say my last little bit of illusioned preconception about the 'safety' of Japan or the general nature of folks in the area got a good solid throat-punch.

Nonsense like this keeps up and it's gonna ruin my naturally sunny disposition.

Ha. Ha. Fuck.