Saturday, May 10, 2008

What I've Read - The Adventures of Johnny Bunko - the first American manga career/advice guide.

Comic books and career/life advice? Sold. Fun, quick read. Good advice. Entertaining.

Author Dan Pink's site:
"Meet Johnny Bunko. He’s probably a lot like you. He did what everybody – parents, teachers, counselors -- told him to do. But now, stuck at a dead-end job, he’s begun to suspect that what he thought he knew is just plain wrong. One bizarre night, Johnny meets Diana, the unlikeliest career advisor he's ever seen. Part Cameron Diaz, part Barbara Eden, she reveals to Johnny the six essential lessons for thriving in the world of work

The Adventures of Johnny Bunko is America’s first business book in the Japanese comic format known as manga – and the last career guide you’ll ever need."


*Updated* with the points from the book I personally need to remember - "There is no plan" [not quite 'There is no spoon' but still...] and "Persistence trumps talent."

YouTube Trailer for the book. [Which is a brilliant idea, btw. A trailer for a book.]

Enkai Everlasting.

Let's see, 2 weeks ago, trip with Bachan... last weekend, an enkai, a wedding and a nijikai... yesterday, another enkai and another nijikai... [and next weekend, school sports day, the week after that a community pot luck dinner and concert, and then the week after that the community Kuju trip.]

My dance card is, as they say, full.

Anyways, yesterday was the enkai for the Board of Education. It was good, standard enkai fare. Food, liquor and happy people.

Kicked off with a speech by our head of the BOE. My big boss.

Some things are universal... no matter what country, the tall guys with the good hair get the leadership jobs.

Leaves me out as long as I keep razoring everything off my dome.

My supervisor on the right, and his supervisor on the left.

Both super nice guys.

And both, for whatever reason, seem to get a kick outta learning English, which helps mute how dumb I feel for my lack of Japanese ability.

This dude is forever getting liquored up at the enkais and trying to kiss everybody.

Below is proof positive from the enkai nijikai, where he claimed another victim [albeit a happily intoxicated one.]

Went to the afterparty, not under duress exactly, but one of the guys from the BOE has been going on forever and a day about us going out drinking sometime, and our schedules never quite matched up.

So when he invited me out, it was the least I could do to go, seeing as how good they've been to me.

I really didn't need anymore food or drink, but we did manage to rock a pretty good version of Sinatra's "My Way" on the bar's karaoke machine.

Your entirely too extreme close up pic of the evening.

What happens when you give your camera to the most intoxicated person in the room.

Harsh, but still funny.

Overheard in New York | Because I'll Swallow Anything:
"Guy: That's the house George Washington grew up in.
Girl: Wait, really?
Guy: No, you dumb bitch. Why did I ever marry you?

--70th Ave, Forest Hills, Queens

Overheard by: emma"

Friday, May 09, 2008

Presidential candidate Mike Gravel does the Soulja Boy Dance.

I kid you not.

Positively surreal.

Via Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > Mike Gravel Crosses Over

How to really understand the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Funniest thing I've seen all week.

In the words of the website I found it - "This is mean-spirited, unfair, and profane. I loved it."


Via Reason Magazine - Hit & Run

“In 1945, the Nazis went to the Moon. In 2018, they are coming back…”

This looks very cool.

Via Warren Ellis

Training 33.

Abbreviated AM wkout because of an enkai right after school. Strength training first thing in the morning blows.
Lunges - 15/15
Swings, single arm DB - 15x25
Seated dips - 15/15
Pushups - 15/11
Row, single arm DB - 2x15x25
Snatch, single arm DB - 2x15x25
Seesaw - 1x15x15, 1x15x17.5
Calf raises - 2x15x105

Lg cup coffee w/equal, cream, coconut milk
Shake - 4 eggs, inst coffee, cream, equal, coconut milk
4 salami sticks, string cheese.
780ml diet soda
1L water
Enkai food smorgasbord extravaganza + beer + saki
Subway tandori chicken wrap

Economically sound thinking.

Overheard in New York | The People Who Film and Distribute It?:
"Teenage girl: But she sucks a lot of dick for money!
Teenage boy: At least she's getting paid! You suck a lot of dick for free! Who's the winner in that situation?

--153rd St & Amsterdam Ave

Overheard by: Emily"

Best Divorce Ever.

Overheard Everywhere | To Recap: I Rock, You Suck for Money, I Get Laid for Free:
"Ex-husband: I can't believe you brought a date to our divorce hearing.
Ex-wife: Fuck you! You hooked up with a girl in court.
Ex-husband: I didn't 'hook-up' with her, we made plans for lunch today.
Ex-wife: And that's better?
Ex-husband: Actually, it's quite impressive. I rock, you suck, I'm getting laid tonight.
Ex-wife: I got laid last night.
Ex-husband: That's because you are a dirty hooker.

San Diego Family Court
San Diego, California

Overheard by: Sean"

"Don’t you have anything positive to say? If not, why don’t you shut your mouth?"

Hallelujah and Amen. Blog » Longevity, Negativity, and Positive Thinking:
"We all know some negative people. These people bitch and moan about the world to whoever is willing to listen. They complain about the government, gas prices, the economy, their job, their life, their neighbors, other drivers, their pets, other pets, etc. It is a never ending whine-fest about how bad the world is and how bad their life seems to be within it...

What purpose does the whining serve? Does it bring about change? Or does it simply bring everyone else down around you? Think about it… I’m not happy about the rising gas prices, but what good is it going to do to cry about it all day? Will I wake up tomorrow and find free gas in my car? I doubt it.

So why waste your time complaining about the world every chance you can? Don’t you have anything positive to say? If not, why don’t you shut your mouth? Have you ever thought that maybe some of the people that you whine to don’t want to listen? Perhaps they don’t want to be tainted by your constant negativity?

We all know that there are problems in the world. Go watch the evening news. There are some true scum bags in the world. I don’t need to be reminded of it every minute of the day. Sure, there are assh*les out there, but there are also plenty of good, honest people. Why not focus on of the good? I don’t need a doctor to confirm that constant negativity and stress are far from healthy. Mr. and Mrs. Negative need not spread their poison to others. Stop feeling so bad about yourself and the world around you and do something positive with your time… because guess what? That time will expire at some point. That is one guarantee that I can make to everyone on this planet. Time is limited, so stop wasting it by bitching and moaning about everything that is wrong with the world.

Life is what you make of it, so start making it more positive."

One more stop till he opens fire.

Overheard in New York | Would It Be Feasible for Me to Throw Myself in Front Of My Own Train?:
"Conductor: This is a Manhattan-bound number three train; next stop is Sutter avenue-Rutland road; stand clear of the closing doors please.
[Doors close and open again.]
Conductor: Please do not block the doors, stand clear, please.
[Doors close and open again.]
Conductor: Do not block the doors. Stand clear, please.
[Doors close and open again.]
Conductor: For the last motherfucking time, do not block the fucking doors! I know you ghetto-ass niggas don't care about school, but some people want to get the fuck to work! Stand clear!
[Doors close and open again.]
Conductor: I can't fucking take this shit.

--3 Train

Overheard by: Morel Farember"

It's true.

Overheard in New York | Or Straight:
"Boy: You know what, I don't know anyone who has such good taste in fashion as me, and I'm only twelve!
Mom: Honey, stop saying those things. People will think you're arrogant.
Girl: It's only arrogance if you're wrong.

--McDonald's, Times Square"

Police lie, shoot themselves, kill 92 year old woman.

The Atlanta Kathryn Johnson case.

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > Back to Atlanta:
"A former Atlanta police officer testified Thursday that narcotics officers routinely lied under oath when seeking search warrants, a practice that led to police killing a 92-year-old woman.

...In the raid, police fired 39 shots. Junnier was shot in the face, chest and leg. Two other officers were also wounded. Investigators determined Johnston had fired one round from a revolver; the officers were shot in their own crossfire.

Junnier described entering Johnston's house: "She was still alive. She was gasping for air. I heard ... the order to cuff her."

Later that day, he said, the cover-up began."

Stickin' it to the Man.

Overheard in the Office | ...the Color of Pressed Ham:
"Smoker #1: See this tie? Got it for $1.49 at Jewel.
Smoker #2: Jewel sells ties? It's a grocery store.
Smoker #1: I say fuck 'em, if I have to wear a tie it's going to be a $1.49 Jewel tie.

Chicago, Illinois

Overheard by: I hate my tie too"

How very awesome.

Finding Inner Strength - New York Times:
"Melanie Roach is a former gymnast who owns a gymnastics facility. Her husband is a state legislator. At 33, she is the mother of three young children, including 5-year-old Drew, who is autistic. And she can lift 238 pounds over her head.

All of which makes her one of America’s most unlikely Olympic hopefuls.

For a start, Roach, who is 5 feet 1 inch and 117 pounds, looks nothing like a weight lifter. She was a gymnast until 10 years ago, when she left behind a middling career, took up weight lifting and in 1998 set an unofficial world record by lifting twice her body weight, a first for an American woman.

But she hyperextended her right elbow four months before the world championships in 1999 and had a herniated disk in her back eight weeks before the Olympic trials in 2000. She attempted to compete despite the injury, only to end up crying in the stands.

The back injury bothered her for seven years — through three pregnancies and three times as many comeback attempts.

“She rose to greatness so quickly, and then all of a sudden it was over,” said Roach’s training partner Alexis Reed. “You almost asked yourself, a year or two later, ‘Did that really happen?’ ”

...The first comeback, in 2003, lasted seven months before the back pain returned. She describes it as “way past 10,” worse than childbirth, and she notes she had her three kids naturally, at home.

“The best way to put it is as volatile as you can imagine,” said Greg Summers, Roach’s chiropractor. “I see four to five herniated disks a week, and hers is the worst I have ever seen.”

...At the world championships in October 2006, Roach finally told the team doctor about the herniated disk and three fragments imbedded in the nerve. The doctor recommended a surgeon in Los Angeles.

Five days after surgery, Roach was lifting weights without bending her back. Seven months later, she won her seventh national championship.

She later won a bronze medal at the Pan American Games and regained her No. 1 ranking among United States lifters.

“Amazing,” Dan Roach said. “We literally went from the world championships to the operating table and back in less than a year.”"


Reason Magazine - Brickbats:
"Warren Blackwell spent three years in a British prison after being falsely accused of rape. After an appeals court freed him, he expected to get some compensation for being wrongly imprisoned. Instead, he got a bill for nearly £7,000 for “board and lodging.”

...Maria Carrasquillo went to the Kissimmee, Florida, police department to get fingerprinted, a requirement for employment as a licensed practical nurse. Instead, police arrested her on an outstanding drug warrant. She spent nine days in jail before police checked her identity and found that the warrant was for another woman with the same name."

Even Will Wheaton hates Hillary Clinton, the "psycho ex-girlfriend of the Democratic Party."

And you know Wesley Crusher likes everyone.

Too funny.

WWdN: In Exile: hillary clinton: the psycho ex-girlfriend of the democratic party:
"...over the last 10 weeks or so, I've gone from respecting to feeling sorry for to actively despising Hillary Clinton.

It's over. She knows it's over. It's been over for almost three months, but she's been moving the goalposts and cynically and cravenly pandering to voters in a way that's not only insulting, but is embarrassing. John Cole frequently says that he can't believe he ever supported Bush, and I can now join him in saying that I can't believe I ever supported, defended and believed in the Clintons.

The thing about all of this is that, with a Clinton victory in the primary about as likely as jumping off the roof of your house and landing on the moon, it's become clear that this whole thing isn't about Democrats or beating McCain (who is inexplicably running for Bush's third term) or saving our country from the catastrophic failure of the Bush years. No, it's all about her. It's about her ego. It's about refusing to admit that she did her best, but voters (except those encouraged by Rush Limbaugh to cross party lines and fuck with our primary) have pretty clearly said "No thanks. You're a good senator, but we want something different now."

It's been crystal clear for weeks, yet she refuses to put party and country over personal ambition and drop out of the race, forcing Barack Obama to not only run against McCain and the Media, but also against her. It's particularly galling, because she can only win if her campaign can force Democratic superdelegates (one of the worst creations in the history of politics) to tell millions of Democratic voters -- many of them first time voters who, like me, finally feel truly inspired by someone -- to go fuck themselves."

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Training 32.

30m Rutten MMA Wkout/Thai Boxing, 2m rounds

LG coffee w/equal, coconut milk/cream
1.5L Water
1.3L diet soda
4 cheesesticks
3 cuts of steak

Bed @ 2230+20m guided med/relaxation

"Some China firms outsourcing to USA to cut costs - Boing Boing"

Ironic, yet hopeful. Kinda cool too. I wonder if the Chinese are gonna start complaining about Americans taking all their "good jobs."

Some China firms outsourcing to USA to cut costs - Boing Boing:
"Liu Keli couldn't tell you much about South Carolina...

But Liu is investing $10 million in the Palmetto State, building a printing-plate factory that will open this fall and hire 120 workers. His main aim is to tap the large American market, but when his finance staff penciled out the costs, he was stunned to learn how they compared with those in China.

Liu spent about $500,000 for seven acres in Spartanburg -- less than one-fourth what it would cost to buy the same amount of land in Dongguan, a city in southeast China where he runs three plants. U.S. electricity rates are about 75% lower, and in South Carolina, Liu doesn't have to put up with frequent blackouts."

Cleveland does not, in fact, rock.

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > I'll Need to See Your Permit:
"I don't know which is worse, that the city of Cleveland requires a 'music permit' and a 'pool table permit,' or that failing to obtain one is a criminal offense."

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Bullying, part II - Are you fu&%ing kidding me?

Dartmouth's 'Hostile' Environment -
"Often it seems as though American higher education exists only to provide gag material for the outside world. The latest spectacle is an Ivy League professor threatening to sue her students because, she claims, their "anti-intellectualism" violated her civil rights.

Priya Venkatesan taught English at Dartmouth College. She maintains that some of her students were so unreceptive of "French narrative theory" that it amounted to a hostile working environment. She is also readying lawsuits against her superiors, who she says papered over the harassment, as well as a confessional exposé, which she promises will "name names."

...Ms. Venkatesan lectured in freshman composition, intended to introduce undergraduates to the rigors of expository argument. "My students were very bully-ish, very aggressive, and very disrespectful," she told Tyler Brace of the Dartmouth Review. "They'd argue with your ideas." This caused "subversiveness," a principle English professors usually favor."

Arguing about ideas? In college? The travesty!

Durham, NC embraces the Bible.

And then there are those times I don't miss NC even a little bit.

Overheard Everywhere | As Long As You Don't Lie in the Same Bed Together, It's All Good:
"Man: What does it say in the bible about punching your son in the face?

Durham, North Carolina

Overheard by: wondering the same thing myself"


The problem of "bullying" is a big deal in Japan's schools... at least so far as that even with my poor Japanese skills, I've had conversations with other teachers about bullying and "human rights." And sadly, in Japan, extreme cases sometimes end with the bullied committing suicide, igniting the next round of "awareness."

This article on the industry that's arisen in the field of bullying is pretty interesting, albeit lengthy. I chopped some of the better bits, but it's probably worth reading in full.

I'd never say "always" but the point the writer makes towards the end seems pretty valid to me. All too often bullies only get "violence" and the only way to get a bully off your back is to bust their ass. And the evolution of language and perspective, in 21st century America at least, seems to be towards one where people embrace their victimhood, and dwell in their powerlessness. Nietzsche is crying somewhere, I think. Basically, if you lose it just because people are mean to you? Well, you're gonna need to toughen up or the world is gonna give you a serious spanking.

Beating Up on Bullies:
"...Though the United States is a relative latecomer, the anti-bullying movement's flourishing in our country can be traced to a specific date: April 20, 1999, the day Eric Harris and Dyland Klebold took the lives of 13 people at Columbine High School. Indeed, in a strange way, school shooters have become the patron saints of the anti-bullying movement, serving as warnings of what happens when bullying goes unchecked...

...Not to excuse any unkind behavior on the part of the Columbine jock class--the one that has become the national stand-in for popular kids behaving boorishly--but for a moment, put yourself in their place. If two guys came to your school in goth facepaint, boasting of mutilating animals, spewing hate toward blacks and Jews, and voicing praise for Hitler (all of which either Klebold or Harris is reported to have done pre-shooting), even from the vantage point of enlightened adulthood, you might not ask them to sit by you on the bus.

Likewise, there's no evidence the simplistic approach of implementing anti-bullying programs can head off such incidents. When Charles "Andy" Williams shot 15 people at Santana High School in Santee, California, in 2001, he, too, claimed he was bullied. But three years before, his school had been the beneficiary of a $123,000 Justice Department anti-bullying grant.

...With lawmakers so willing to institutionalize anti-bullying hysteria (some countries have actually passed national anti-bullying laws), it's small wonder to find all manner of overreaching.

...In Edmonton, police asked the city council to enact bullying bylaws that would enable them to fine bullies up to $250--not just for stealing lunch money, but for "name-calling and intimidation." Here at home, down in New Orleans, school officials have begun levying fines against the parents of kids who fight at school. In Costa Mesa, California, a school district decided that not only was teasing possible grounds for expulsion, but even glaring at a classmate in a threatening manner might get a student bounced.

In Hastings, Minnesota, prosecutor James Backstrom decided that a student who picked a fight or harassed another would be punished with at least one night in jail (one female bully has been locked up 13 times). Now that the hurly-burly of the playground has actually been criminalized, it stands to reason that all sorts of boutique bullying complaints would emerge. These days, stories abound of "e-bullying," as well as "menace by mobile"--kids being bullied through messages left on their mobile phones (messages they're encouraged to save against the event of litigation).

Now pandemic, the anti-bullying movement is even extending to adults. Today, there are books like The Bully at Work--What You Can Do to Stop the Hurt and Reclaim Your Dignity on the Job. For years in Britain, some have been trying to pass a Dignity at Work bill, which defines bullying as "unjustified criticism on more than one occasion." Computer Weekly recently reported that one in five British computer geeks--or "IT professionals," if you prefer--claimed to have been bullied at work in the past year (including 17 percent of senior management).

...I tell him about how, in fourth grade, two classmates decided they'd jump me after school each day. I fended them off for a while, but I was outnumbered. So after four or five days of this, I used my "interpersonal skills," as the conflict resolutionists would say, and rallied the rest of the male population of the class to wait in ambush for my assailants. The next time they lunged at me, my friends rode in like the cavalry and beat the crap out of poor Michael Palmer and Michael Cassidy. They all ended up in the principal's office, while I made it unmolested to the bus. It wasn't my finest hour. But the Michaels never bothered me again.

...When we head back to the group and share our childhood bullying stories, I notice that a surprising number of successful anti-bullying interventions recollected by these mild-mannered Dairy State teachers end with the victim slugging the tormentor, never to be tormented again. During our "Connections" exercise, in which "we say anything we're thinking, feeling, or just any gifts you wanna give the group," I bring this up to Sherrie. She looks as if I've committed high heresy, and cautions that I only heard the stories people "felt safe enough to share."

...After the session, I grab seven kids (four girls and three boys), and ask them questions. They seem fairly confused by this turn of events. When asked how many of them consider themselves bullies, all seven say they are. When asked how many of them consider themselves bullying victims, all seven are just as convinced. I'm put in mind of something my wife, herself a former first grade teacher, told me after she taught a required lesson on "inappropriate touch." The next day, little Tyler could not remove a piece of lint from little Ashley's sweater without being accused of "inappropriately touching" her.

...What is impossible to quantify, however, is the deeper effect of trying to eradicate all bullying. Richard Hazler, a professor of counselor education at Ohio University, who has taught seminars on curbing bullying, says, "There's a normalcy in this whole process. I don't want to say that bullying is okay. But it's a teaching tool for kids. It teaches them to get along with people, how to use power, the victims--how to obtain power when not in power positions. How do we stop bullying and victimization? I hate to make this case in public. But we don't entirely want to--because if kids didn't have it--how would they learn? These are mistakes they're making. We want a cooperative atmosphere, but we also want to show them how to deal with aggression."

Back in the fifth-grade classroom, Tali winds things up. After a 25-minute discussion of put-downs, we are in touch with our feelings. I know I am with mine. Glancing down the "Don't Laugh At Me Feelings Inventory," I quietly reflect that I am being made "afraid, anxious, and exasperated" by what we are doing to these kids. I am "horrified, nervous, and paranoid" that we are not teaching them resilience, but rather, turning them into human flypaper. Every insult--even ones formerly sloughed off--now sticks, and gets reclassified and inflated, as children are encouraged to nurse the memory of petty hurts. I feel "sad, sorrowful, and suspicious" that we are teaching them to be nervous nellies and lunchroom litigators. That we are teaching them to feel "persecuted, self-pitying" and pusillanimous--the last of which is not on my feelings inventory but is a feeling I nonetheless feel entitled to express."

Training 31.

Coffee w/equal, coconut milk/cream
Shake - 4 eggs, inst coffee, equal, c milk/cream
2 Jack's Links Steakbars
2.0L water
2 avocados
Shake - 4 eggs, PB, equal, c milk/cream
800ml diet soda

Chins - 4/1/2/1
Bungee face pulls - 2x20
DB bent over row - 1x20x40, 5x80, 2x7x105 / Single arm DB row - 5x52.5
Single arm DB snatch [both sides] - 1x20x20, 1x5x40, 1x5x45, 1x5x50
Press - 1x20x20, 1x5x70, 1x5x80, 1x4x90
Squats - 1x20x40, 5x80, 5x90, 5x100
RDL - 1x20x30, 1x5x60, 1x5x80, 1x5x90
Bungee shoulder dislocates x 25

Bed @2300

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Common sense need not apply.

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > 'How Would You Like It If You Went to a Wine Tasting and You Couldn't Taste the Wine?':
The Chicagoland International Pipe & Tobacciana Show, held over the weekend in St. Charles, Illinois, was smoke-free this year, thanks to a state smoking ban that took effect in January. Organizers of the event, the country's largest pipe show, had hoped attendees would be allowed to light up as members of a private club:
The hall is strictly staffed with volunteers, convention-goers were to pay $15 to join the club, and attendees were to sign a waiver stating they "freely and willingly accept all the risks of smoking, second-hand smoke, third-hand smoke, and all other risks, both real and imagined, regarding smoking tobacco."

But St. Charles police, DuPage County health officials and anti-smoking advocates didn't buy it.

...Pipe smokers, banished to tents outside the convention center, were understandably irked. "How would you like it if you went to a wine tasting and you couldn't taste the wine?" said one. "It's a freedom issue."

Your feel-good, uplifting, people-don't-suck story of the day. - "Ontario bakery succeeds with honor payment system" - via Boing Boing

Ontario bakery succeeds with honor payment system - Boing Boing:
"'s an article about the City Café Bakery in Kitchener, Ontario, which uses an honor payment system and almost never gets cheated.

City Café doesn’t have Interac or accept credit cards. Neither will you see a cash register in the bakery. Instead, customers add up how much they owe themselves and drop their money into a fare box from an old bus.

...The bakery conducts audits every six months and Bergen says only once did things come up short.

“Our theory is that two per cent of our sales are being ripped off. ‘Ripped off’ in the sense that there are people who forget to pay or they make a mistake in paying, and then there are people who deliberately don’t pay. And every so often we have to kick somebody out that we know hasn’t been paying,” he says. “But at the same time we figure we’re being overpaid by three per cent. Some people come in and want a $2.75 loaf of bread, but they see we’re busy so they throw $3 in and walk out. Or, although we discourage tips, some people still give them to us. But because the staff is paid well (the average wage is $15.50 an hour), the tips go into the general pot.”

Mildred Loving, RIP.

More people like this, please.

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > Mildred Loving, RIP:
"In 1958, Mildred Jeter, a black woman from Virginia, drove 80 miles to Washington, D.C. with her boyfriend Richard Loving, a white man, to get married. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, such a union violated state miscegenation laws. But when the Lovings returned to their home town of Central Point, VA, they were arrested in bed.

...The Virginia law, which dated back to 1662, was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1967. It was a unanimous decision.

Mildred Loving died yesterday. She was 68."

You know, you think I'd be for disenfranchising the Catholics, but no. This sucks.

Crooks and Liars » Indiana anti-voter Law produces first casualties: Indiana Nuns in their 80’s and 90’s:
"Here’s your first case of voter disenfranchisement from Indiana’s new draconian anti-voter law.

Judge Roberts must be so proud:
About 12 Indiana nuns were turned away Tuesday from a polling place by a fellow bride of Christ because they didn’t have state or federal identification bearing a photograph.

..."One came down this morning, and she was 98... Some showed up with outdated passports. None of them drives."

Florida, Christians* and the Educational System are all mentally retarded.

Teacher Fired for Magic Trick, County Calls It "Wizardry" - News Story - WFTV Orlando:
"A Florida substitute teacher says his job disappeared after doing a magic trick in front of his students.

Substitute teacher Jim Piculas made a toothpick disappear, then reappear in front of a classroom at Rushe Middle School in Land O' Lakes, Florida...

"I get a call the middle of the day from head of supervisor of substitute teachers. He says, 'Jim, we have a huge issue. You can't take any more assignments. You need to come in right away.' I said, 'Well, Pat, can you explain this to me?' 'You've been accused of wizardry,'" Piculas explained."

*No, there's no mention of religion or Christianity in the article, but I'd lay money on it being a factor. The only nutbags who get their noses out of joint about "wizardry" are the same mental midgets who find Harry Potter a threat to their religious faith.

Smart Kid.

Frames of Reference Were Always a Bit Different in the Lohan Family

Eight-old-girl: What is aged cheese?
Dad: You age cheese to make it better.
Eight-old-girl: You do?
Dad: Like whiskey.
Eight-old-girl: Ahhhh, I see.

--Starbucks, 9th & 2nd

via Overheard in New York, May 6, 2008

Olbermann takes down the moving goalposts of the Clinton campaign.

Really pretty funny. Half a world away, I'm getting a pretty visceral dislike of how she's running her campaign. And by extension, her.

Via The Field » The Primary Day Ritual: Open Thread

Training 30.

30m Rutten MMA Wkout/2m rounds

1.5L water
Cup coffee w/equal, cream
1.2L diet soda
4 eggs, cheese, salsa
Beef jerky

Bed @2350


Just... wow.

Nelson Mandela and the ANC are on the US terrorist watchlist and need waivers to enter the country - Boing Boing:
"Nelson Mandela and other members of the African National Congress are on the US terrorist watchlist. ANC members who wish to travel to the USA have to get waivers from the State Department. The former South African Ambassador to the USA was flagged and delayed when she attempted to visit a dying cousin -- by the time the red-tape had been cut, her cousin was dead."

I love Japan because stuff like this is a *ZONING* issue.

Yakuza boss arrested for running illegal sex business - Mainichi Daily News:
"A yakuza gang boss who ran a sex business outside of legal zones has been arrested, police said.

...Police said Takeyama conspired with the operator of an outcall massage service in September last year to tell a visitor to a sex service information booth about a rental room available in Nagasaki though the room was outside the areas where sex services are legally permitted to operate. The man went to the room and Takeyama dispatched a sex worker to service him, police said."

What I've Read.

Small Favor (The Dresden Files, Book 10)by Jim Butcher
Intricate yet accessible plotting and near-Arctic winter weather mark the 10th Harry Dresden adventure from bestseller Butcher (after 2007's White Night). A friendly snowball fight opens the Chicago-based wizard-detective's latest tale, but it's not long before a host of more dangerous foes are out for Harry's blood. A missing human mobster is said to be seeking greater influence among Chicago's extranormal population, but the true threat proves both more subtle and of much greater consequence. Butcher smoothly manages a sizable cast of allies and adversaries, doles out needed backstory with crisp efficiency and sustains just the right balance of hair's-breadth tension and comic relief... Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Fun book. Philip Marlowe + Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Hard to believe it's on book 10. Just started reading them last year. Recommended.

Rex Mundi: Book 2: The River Underground.
"Doctor Julien Saunière follows the trail of conspiracy that extends all the way to the walls of Jerusalem during the first crusade. Rex Mundi is a quest for the Holy Grail told as a murder mystery.

In a Europe where sorcerers stalk the streets and the Catholic Church reigns supreme, Julien pursues a truth that could change the world forever. Powerful forces have dedicated themselves to ensuring he does not succeed. It is a tale of sin, murder and magic in an alternate-history Europe where magic is real and the Catholic Church never lost its grip on power."

I'm a sucker for a good religious conspiracy. They've done some fascinating world building in this series too. Rolling out a little slow for my tastes, plot wise, but I'd be lying if I didn't say the journey is pretty damn fascinating.

The Street Lawyer: John Grisham:
"Looking for a romantic, hardboiled legal drama with a social conscience? Look no further. ...Brock's charmed life and his decision to quit the firm after being held hostage by a disgruntled homeless man. Moved by a crisis of conscience, Brock seeks out the gravel-throated, streetwise legal aid counselor Mordecai Green. Green shows him the ropes, and Brock soon becomes part of the scenery he used to look down on from his plush 14th-floor office. Meanwhile, our hero is on the lam for stealing an important file that holds the secret to an illegal eviction--one that may lead to a murder charge. Faced with a failing marriage, a client on crack, and the threat of disbarment, Michael has plenty to think about as he and Mordecai negotiate a fair settlement for the victims of an inexcusable crime."

Like most Grisham books, an extremely quick read. [2 days, maybe?] A good thriller though. Set around DC, so that was kind of nostalgic. Interesting legal and philosophical machinations. If you dig Grisham, you'll dig this. I did.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier: Alan Moore,Kevin O'Neill:
"...the latest installment of Moore's pastiche of public domain literary figures is finally here and it's worth the wait. In 1958, two mysterious figures steal the Black Dossier, a compendium of information and articles relating to the league's most renowned incarnation, the group headed by the intrepid Mina Murray.

The theft launches a tense chase as the thieves fight to stay one step ahead of thuggish government agents while reading the contents of the dossier, pieces that shed light on centuries-worth of secret and bizarre intrigues.

Moore and O'Neill are in top form, crafting a virtually flawless fusion of prose and visuals that's an overwhelmingly dense and exhaustive nod to pre-existing works in media ranging from literature, legends, television and film, teasing the reader in the know with appearances by Orwellian totalitarianism, Lovecraftian abominations, Jeeves and Wooster, Bulldog Drummond, Ian Fleming's famed double-o operative, lusty Fanny Hill and a host of others, capped with a section requiring 3-D glasses (included). Too loaded with content to be fully absorbed in one reading, this is a challenging, adult volume that's a delight for fans of pop culture and lovers of heroic adventure. (Nov.) Copyright © Reed Busines"

The summary is spot on. Complex, dense, highly enjoyable. Parts I struggled with, other parts were absolutely tremendous. Sure there's a lot I missed that I won't pick up until the next read.

Nextwave: Agents Of H.A.T.E Volume 1: This Is What They Want TPB: Warren Ellis,Stuart Immonen:
"Action! Excitement! Explosions! The Highest Anti-Terrorism Effort, or H.A.T.E. (a subsidiary of the Beyond Corporation) put Nextwave together to fight Bizarre Weapons of Mass Destruction. When Nextwave discovers that H.A.T.E. and Beyond are terrorist cells themselves, and that the BWMDs were intended to kill them, they are less than pleased. In fact, they are rather angry. So they make things explode. Lots of things. Starring Monica Rambeau (formerly Captain Marvel and Photon), Aaron Stack (Machine Man), Tabitha Smith (X-Force's Meltdown), monster-hunter Elsa Bloodstone and the Captain! Guest-starring Fin Fang Foom!"

Nextwave: Agents Of H.A.T.E. Volume 2 - I Kick Your Face TPB: Warren Ellis,Stuart Immonen:
"What? You haven't been reading Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.? HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND? Here's a quick rundown of what you missed: SuperheroesfightingexplosionsexAvengersFinFangFoomgiantflyingsubmarinemonstrositiesformerX-ForcebabeexplosionskickingMachineManpunchinggiantevilcoprobotshotEnglishchicksecretterroristorganizationsEXPLOSIONS! Whew! And that's only the beginning! But don't worry! It's never too late to join the party! First up, the Nextwave Squad faces an army of Mindless Ones!!! Yes, insanely powerful stone men without faces! You cannot miss it!"

NEXTWAVE is the funniest comic in years. Deftly skewers the genres, the characters and the medium itself... All while being just madly funny. Absolutely fu***in hilariously funny. Highest possible recommendation. Ever. If you don't like it, you hate puppies and America. And I'll send people to your home to give you a right kicking. Yes, I will.

NEXTWAVE: Healing America By Beating People Up.

Wedding Nijikai + Yatai Ramen.

So after the wedding, we headed on to the nijikai, or afterparty, for a bit.

Drinks, food, toasts... good fun.

And then afterwards, against all common sense and defiance of gastrointestinal fortitude [too... much... food...] a buncha teachers wanted to head on to a yatai.

And since Sandy and I had never been to one of these bastions of Hakata culture, we went along for the ride, and ate yet again.

Yatai - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
"A yatai (屋台, yatai) is a small, mobile food stall in Japan typically selling ramen or other hot food.

The stall is set-up in the early evening on pedestrian walkways and removed late at night or in the early morning hours before commuters begin to fill the streets."

The yatai of choice was one for tonkotsu Nagahama ramen.

And more beer.

[I could not even drink a glass. I do not know how they do it.]

Wedding - Japan Style.

One of the English teachers at my school recently got married and he was kind enough to invite Sandy and me to the reception ceremony.

Sandy had been to her aunt's wedding in Japan, but this was my first time to a Japanese wedding reception, so I was curious and intrigued as to how it would play out.

To the right, evidence that Sandy and I can take a good picture together.

So, there were about 8 teachers from the Jr High who went to the wedding, give or take [+ Principals and VPs], and a bunch of us put on a bell ringing/singing performance.

We rehearsed a few times the week prior, and above, we're practicing before the reception.

The groom, the bride, and their families in the receiving line.

Both the bride and groom had slideshow presentations done about their lives, their childhoods, growing up, eventually meeting and their relationship.

It was really quite adorable.

Our souvenir gift from the evening, heart shaped champagne glasses. Nifty.

One trademark of the Japanese reception is the outfit change.

At least two different ensembles make an appearance, one traditional Japanese and the other Western, and sometimes a third.

Above, the traditional Nippon, below, the western tux, tails and wedding dress.

Oh, and to the right, the teaching staff of Tsu Jr High enjoying their libations and their photographs.

Cutting the cake.

Adorable munchkins. [over there on the right.]

Jim's hobby is Shorinji Kenpo, and some practitioners from his dojo put on a demo.

I wish my wedding had Karate.

And then we bell-ringing teachers put on our performance.

Only a few [alcohol-related, I think] mis-rings by the lot of us, but over all I thought we did pretty well.

The bride and groom pouring a glass for all the guests.

Below, they pose with the teacher's contingent.

Good times.

The Shorinji Kenpo demo. I think all weddings should have martial arts demos from now on. Make it happen.

The Tsuyaki Jr High School teachers hand bell performance.

Enkais, Enkais, Enkais...

Hot on the heels of last month's end of the year enkai, is this month's beginning of the year enkai.

[Not to mention the Board of Ed's beginning of the year enkai this Friday night, and the school's undokai enkai in two weeks. It never ends, I swear to god.]

Good time though. Lots of really fresh sashimi, beer, traditional Japanese staff...

This is either the 2nd or 3rd time we've been to this particular restaurant. In the [almost] three years I've been here it seems we rotate through the same 2 or 3 places. Ah well. Don't mess with success, I guess. [That rhyme was purely unintentional. Carry on.]

There were, of course, many a speech given by the new arrivals and the final-final-for realsies goodbyes from the departing staff. Including our old vice principal and the old head of the PTA, who both got lifted and thrown into the air a couple times by the rest of us burly male teachers. That was the first time that had happened at an enkai, so that was kinda cool.

And of course, copious drinking + psuedo dancing and karaoke. My school is a trip.

Random cool photos.

Waiting for the bus to the latest Jr High School enkai, the sun hits the top of the tamokuteki building in the middle of the courtyard.

Well, I thought it looked cool.

The sunset from the restaurant where we had our enkai.

Huh. Clearly a "fascination with the sun" theme going on here.

Now, you'll excuse me while I go pray and make my offerings to Apollo.