Saturday, November 15, 2008


Overheard in New York | Don't Make Me Go All Forte on Your Ass:
"Snobby woman to teenage girls talking: Decrescendo, girls. Do you know what that means? It's an operatic term for 'lower your voices.'
Teenage girl: Actually, 'decrescendo' is a musical term for 'get softer,' and when you say get lower, you're actually referring to pitch, not volume.

--Metropolitan Opera Lobby

Overheard by: Maria"

Friday, November 14, 2008

The essence of Japan.

Why people visit America.

Overheard in New York | Comic Books May Have Given You Some Unrealistic Expectations:
"Japanese student/tourist seemingly waiting for luggage: How long are you in New York for?
Woman waiting for luggage: Just for one night. I'm here for a conference and then I'm flying back tomorrow.
Japanese student/tourist: This is my fall break. I will be here through Tuesday.
Woman: That's nice. I hope you go out and have a nice time.
Japanese student/tourist: Yes. (pause) Sex.

--JFK Airport"

This makes me confused in my swimsuit area.

Luke, I am your mother.
(from CollegeHumor)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The system seems broke. [+ all about why people make false confessions.]

Hit & Run ; Wrongful Conviction? Norfolk n' Way - Reason Magazine:
"More than two-dozen retired FBI agents are asking Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine to pardon and release the “Norfolk four,” four Navy sailors convicted of a 1997 rape and murder.

The evidence of the sailors’ innocence is pretty overwhelming. It includes the confession of a man who had ties to the victim, had a history of sexual abuse against women, and who was a match to DNA from the crime scene. None of the four sailors’ DNA matched that taken from the crime scene, nor did any other physical evidence.

So why were they convicted? False confessions. Prosecutors initially planned to try seven sailors, but ended up trying only four when the other three wouldn’t confess. One of the convicted served his sentence and has been released. The other three are serving life sentences. The cops apparently pulled a confession out of one sailor, then used that false confession and the threat of the death penalty to get false, conflicting confessions from three others.

People still seem to have a hard time believing that false confessions happen. If the cops in this case could elicit four of them from four enlisted Navy men, it shouldn’t be hard to imagine how they could get one from, say, a 13-year-old kid, or someone with a mental disability. The case is also another argument for videotaping police interrogations."
The Innocence Project - Understand the Causes: False Confessions:
"False Confessions

In about 25% of DNA exoneration cases, innocent defendants made incriminating statements, delivered outright confessions or pled guilty.

These cases show that confessions are not always prompted by internal knowledge or actual guilt, but are sometimes motivated by external influences.

Why do innocent people confess?

A variety of factors can contribute to a false confession during a police interrogation. Many cases have included a combination of several of these causes. They include:

* duress
* coercion
* intoxication
* diminished capacity
* mental impairment
* ignorance of the law
* fear of violence
* the actual infliction of harm
* the threat of a harsh sentence
* Misunderstanding the situation

Some false confessions can be explained by the mental state of the confessor.

* Confessions obtained from juveniles are often unreliable – children can be easy to manipulate and are not always fully aware of their situation. Children and adults both are often convinced that that they can "go home" as soon as they admit guilt.
* People with mental disabilities have often falsely confessed because they are tempted to accommodate and agree with authority figures. Further, many law enforcement interrogators are not given any special training on questioning suspects with mental disabilities. An impaired mental state due to mental illness, drugs or alcohol may also elicit false admissions of guilt.
* Mentally capable adults also give false confessions due to a variety of factors like the length of interrogation, exhaustion or a belief that they can be released after confessing and prove their innocence later.

Regardless of the age, capacity or state of the confessor, what they often have in common is a decision – at some point during the interrogation process – that confessing will be more beneficial to them than continuing to maintain their innocence.

From threats to torture

Sometimes law enforcement use harsh interrogation tactics with uncooperative suspects. But some police officers, convinced of a suspect's guilt, occasionally use tactics so persuasive that an innocent person feels compelled to confess. Some suspects have confessed to avoid physical harm or discomfort. Others are told they will be convicted with or without a confession, and that their sentence will be more lenient if they confess. Some are told a confession is the only way to avoid the death penalty.

Recording of interrogations

The Innocence Project has recommended specific changes in the practice of suspect interrogations in the U.S., including the mandatory electronic recording of interrogations, which has been shown to decrease the number of false confessions and increase the reliability of confessions as evidence. Read more about recommended policy reforms to prevent false confessions."

Officially winter... the kotatsu's down.

But it's not really winter yet, because this is only the light kotatsu.

Sometimes I'm so Japanese I amaze myself.
From 2008-11-13

I still say the kotatsu is Japan's best invention. Except for maybe sake. Or sushi. It's close.

Kotatsu - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
"A kotatsu (炬燵, kotatsu?) is a low, wooden table frame covered by a futon, or heavy blanket, upon which a table top sits. Underneath is a heat source, often built into the table itself..."

Sometimes you just have to go with the Engrish classics - "Mandom - All the world loves a lover. All the world loves Mandom."

At the local supermarket.
From 2008-11-13

I'm really going to have to buy a bottle while I'm in Japan. Just to know.

Mandom - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
"Mandom Corp. (株式会社マンダム, Mandom Corp.) was created in 1927 under the name Kintsuru Perfume Corporation and is a manufacturer and distributor of hair care, skin care, perfumes, and deodorants. The company changed its name to Mandom Corporation in 1971 and is now based in Osaka, Japan.

...Tancho's efforts with expanding outside of Japan was further boosted in 1970 when the company launched a new line of highly successful men's care products, called Mandom, which took its name from a combination of the words "Human" and "Freedom". An innovative advertising campaign featuring Charles Bronson became the first of a long series of Japanese ads to feature top Hollywood stars. Tancho then changed its name again, to Mandom Corporation, in 1971."

One of the Charles Bronson commercials. God I just love Japan to death sometimes.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The perils of being a superhero in NC.

Training 219-220/BFL 72-73.

219/72 - 20m cardio [shadowboxing]/5 meals/500ml water [WATER FAIL. I suck.]
220/73 - lower body pt/5 meals/4L water


I had actually not heard that one before.

Overheard Everywhere | ...Any Questions?:
"English professor: Outer space is occupied by evil orientals.

Marymount University
Arlington, Virginia

Overheard by: Sarah Yvonne"

See, it's a "mystery." That's what they say. Aaaaaaall the time.

Chosen people | 1 2 3 Religious Comics:
"This hits at a quintessential troubling aspect of all religions. That God wants (and needs) people to pray and worship him is evidence of one of the following:

* That god has real issues with self-esteem
* or that God is merely an invention of people with low self-esteem

Take your pick."

dying on the cross | 1 2 3 Religious Comics:
"It is pretty strange that God set up the following situation:

* God created immortal people predisposed to sin
* God got all pissed off when these people sinned
* God punished the original sinners and all their offspring (for all time) to a suffering mortal existence. There is no such thing as being born innocent from here on.
* God decides to “up the anti” and have people burn in Hell for all eternity after they die in addition to their mortal suffering.
* Because God is so loving, he decides to provide a way for people to be saved from this eternal damnation.
* God demands a significant sacrifice to atone for the “original sin”. He set up two conditions that must be satisfied:
1. His one and only son (named Jesus) must die for the sins of all others
2. Each person must accept Jesus as their personal savior
* Both of these conditions must be met before someone will be saved from eternal damnation and have “ever-lasting life”

It seems that a more simple amnesty could have been devised."

"Food, glorious food!"

How I need and want to eat. Work in progress...

Free the Animal: How to Cook:
"...Don't overthink it. First: real food only.

* meat (inlcuding any organ meats you might like), poultry, fish, shellfish
* most vegetables (keep potatoes to minimum)
* some fruits (berries and melons, primarily)
* nuts (peanuts aren't nuts but legumes -- focus on almonds, macadamia, walnuts, brazils, hazels, pecans)
* fats (lard, butter, ghee, COCONUT OIL, olive oil). Excellent review of oils both here and here.
* dairy is OK for some people, i.e., milk, cheese, cottage cheese, heavy cream, etc. If you can, get the organic, or, if TX in its infinite wisdom permits it, raw whole, non-homogenized milk
* spices of all sorts on stuff. Good source of all sorts of nutrients. This is where the particular creativity in cooking comes in. It also gives your preparations a very individual touch. Don't be too afraid to ruin something. It's how you learn; plus, gives you an excellent opportunity for a brief, intermittent fast .

Then, just cook stuff. Use your imagination. Experiment. Grilling meats is easy. Stir frying veggies in coconut oil in a wok is easy. Salads are easy, and I always do my own dressings. I don't even mix them first. Just olive oil to start, toss, and then I add in some lemon or lime (usually about half a fruit), or a few dashes of vinegar, or some balsamic -- or sometimes a combination. Try apple cider vinegar (it also makes a refreshing drink: 1-2 tsp in a glass of ice water). Get Greek Kalamata olive oil if you can find it. You can always make your own blue cheese or other sorts of salad dressings if you like -- plenty of recipes on the internet. Mayonnaise too (with olive oil).

Stay away from all vegetable/grain/seed oils except olive, sesame, coconut and palm (canola, sunflower, safflower, corn, etc). We simply didn't evolve eating poly unsaturated oils in concentration. It's essentially the same issue as with fruit juices (would you sit down and eat 2 dozen oranges?). Eating the whole fruit (or vegetable) has it's own built in STOP mechanism that we evolved with side-by-side: the fibrous bulk fills us up before we overload on sugar (with some exceptions -- but also recall that non-equatorial primitive man only had fruits part of the year).

Also, stay away from grain-based products. All of them, except perhaps on a very occasional splurge. If you asked your ancestors over the last 2-3 million years (save the last 10,000 or so) to go get enough grain to bake a loaf of bread, it would have taken enormous energy expenditure and time to collect even a handful or kernels...

Virtually all plant matter contains various natural "toxins," most of which we are probably well adapted to, as we've been eating those plants (evolved along with them) over millions of years. Not so with grains, most high in gluten, lectins, and other things that cause an awful inflammatory immune response for a lot of people (that puffy look). I suspect that virtually everyone, however, has some level of sensitivity. That's one reason I stay off them. The other reason is that they are converted to sugar, sugar drives insulin, and insulin immediately shuts down fat burning (and turns to segregating toxic glucose away from lean tissues and into fat cells).

But anyway, just cook stuff. Really. We've been doing it for about 1.5 million years, perhaps longer." - Mark McManus - Are Saturated Fat & Dietary Cholesterol Really Bad For Us? The Facts Set Straight!:
"It all started with a physiologist named Ancel Keys, Ph.D., back in the 1950's. I'm not going to bash the guy because I feel that although he was mistaken, he was well-meaning.

In 1953 he published a paper titled "Atherosclerosis, a Problem in Newer Public Health." It seems that from here, our dietary fate was sealed. Keys compared fat intake and deaths from heart disease in 6 countries:

1. United States
2. Canada
3. England
4. Australia
5. Italy
6. Japan

The implications for dietary fat were dire! As fat intake increases in these countries, heart disease mortality rates increases, oh dear! The US had the highest fat intake and also had the highest number of deaths due to heart disease, Japan ate the least fat and had the lowest number of deaths.

There was, however, one big problem with what became known as the 'Diet-Heart Hypothesis.' Data was available for a total of 22 countries, not 6. When ALL the statistics are analyzed, the 'fat-heart disease' correlation ceases to exist.

Unfortunately, despite the flawed conclusions of Keys, the media and the American Heart Association jumped on board the diet-heart hypothesis bandwagon.

In the 1970's Keys bolstered his hypothesis by publishing a study suggesting that saturated fat (from animal sources) leads to high cholesterol which, in turn, leads to heart disease. This is still the conventional wisdom today.

Again, out of the 7 countries selected, the correlation between saturated fat and heart disease was not seen but hey, don't let the truth get in the way of a good story."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Culture/Geography Fail.

Hollywood News & Notes - ComicMix news:
"...The parade of unnecessary film remakes continues as Variety reports that Will Smith’s son Jaden Smith will star in a new take on The Karate Kid.

The new script is coming from newcomer Chris Murphy and will be set in China with filming set for Beijing among other locales."
Are there really people so dumb to not know Karate is Japanese? Next up... Sushi: The Movie! Featuring pasta! Idiots, I swear.

The Naval Academy on YouTube.

Recently, a friend of mine here in Japan caught the movie Annapolis. She knew I went to USNA [and funnily enough, her new brother-in-law is a West Point grad] and she wanted to know if it was realistic.

The answer, unsurprisingly, is No. God, no. A thousand, painful, times no. It's not.

Basically, in both reality and the movie, there's a military school. And there are people. Who wear uniforms. And there's lots of yelling.

That's about the extent of the similarities.

[Besides the fact, that as a movie, it's just not very good. Cliched... bad dialogue... so-so acting...]

So, in an effort to educate her to a more realistic version of the Academy, I figured I'd hit up YouTube as there had to be a couple vids from documentaries or local news. I-Day [Induction Day] and Graduation always make the news cycle in Maryland. And I did find those...

But what I didn't really think about, though I think I did at one point [go ahead and diagram that sentence, I dare you] is the fact that in 2008, Bancroft Hall [the dorm] is obviously wired for the internet and filled with 4,000 guys and gals with the latest in digital cameras.

So, two points.

1 - If I'd had the 'net when I was there [back in the dark ages when dinosaurs roamed the earth, we had a LAN and email, but that was about it... we were on the cusp of the 'net back in 94] my GPA/QPR [Quality Point Rating? Is that right? I forget] would have been much lower than it already was.

...and 2 - if there was a combination of Internet and digital video when I was there I probably would've spent a lot more time on restriction than I already did. Cause, you know, evidence.

But anyways, yeah, so, mids [midshipman/Naval Academy students] make videos and put 'em online, just like everybody else. And I'm sure there's more than enough folks standing restriction for doing it "improperly" or "damaging the reputation of the service."

But there's still some good, fun stuff online that triggers that weird sense of nostalgia for my "four years by the bay," as it were.

First up, Chow Calls!

So, the first two months of Plebe [freshmen] Summer suck pretty hard. The closest thing the Academy has to boot camp.

[Except of course, out in the real world, boot camp is run by seasoned enlisted personnel, whereas at USNA, it's mostly run by college juniors with no real military experience and only their insular, isolated and incestuous Academy experiences to draw from. Is my bias showing?]

Anyways, Plebe Summer sucks, but Chow Calls last all year. [As does your "lower than low" status, it's just when academics kick in, screwing with the plebes goes down. Mathematically speaking. [That's math, right? I was a history major.]

Chow calls - 12 and 7 minutes for outside formations, 10 and 5 for indoor formations. You give the time, the location, the uniform, the watch officers of the day and the menu for the meal. Fast and and clear as you can.

This kid is pretty locked on, speed wise. But I would've got the "start over" if I was mush mouthing it the way he does at times... Still, a solid chow call overall. Hell, all you ever wanted to do was get through the damn thing.

This next one is pretty funny. The explanation is in the vid, but these kids lost a bet, so they have to go perform an early AM chow call while somebody is asleep, inevitably pissing said person off and wrecking their own lives for a while.

I don't ever remember doing stuff this creative. My upperclass always wanted their shoes polished, and me and my squadmates were always trying to get "carry on" at meals and more privileges. I shined a lot of shoes that year. [Man, did Navy football suck when I was there.]

Though I'm pretty sure that both my older brothers had to sing Olivia Newton-John's "Let's Get Physical" in the middle of the chow hall, if I remember correctly. But I can't remember if that was from a bet or just the day's price for being a plebe.

The other thing is that at the Academy you really are isolated out from the rest of the world. And it breeds this shut-in, stir-crazy, can't wait for the weekend to have some kind of liberty creativity. We used to have the Eighth Wing Players [comedy skits put on by companies living in 8th Wing], splashdowns [impromptu dance parties] in 7th Wing basement and a buncha other stuff.

Now, they apparently make funny ass music videos.

This was pretty good... I mostly always wore contact lenses, but I still had a couple pair of BCDs [Birth Control Glasses.

Every year for the football games a buncha Mids make "spirit spots." You might've seen some if you've ever watched the Army-Navy football game. But they make 'em all the time. The advent of digital video and technology makes some of them, these days, pretty damn good. Here was a good Matrix knock off, I thought.

If you only watch one vid in this post, watch this one. It sums up the Naval Academy to a "T" in 1 minute 23 seconds.

And this was hilarious... "Is it in you?"

It's really strange watching some of these, 14 years after I last roamed the halls there.

I mean, I went off to the Academy as a book smart, admittedly kind of naive 17 year old. One who took the whole thing way more seriously [and following in the footsteps of two older brothers to live up to] than it probably deserved. It was really not until my Youngster/Third Class/sophomore year that I started to see through a lot of the posturing and nonsense and get a better appreciation for the fact that really, maybe only about half of the Academy experience is relevant at all to the real military. [IMHO, of course.]

I know I did this stuff... I know I lived that life, but it sometimes feels like that was a completely different person and a completely different lifetime. It's kind of crazy.

President Barack Obama - "All Your Base Are Belong To Us."

Like his basketball skills, and his Star Trek and Beastie Boys references, this makes me more unreasonably hopeful than anything else, even if I can't tell you exactly why...

Obama On All Your Base Are Belong To Us: "Bwah?"
Out of all the things one could talk with President-Elect Obama, someone apparently brought up this: "All your base are belong to us." That's right, the funny English phrase from Zero Wing turned internet meme. In a one-of-us-one-of-us thread over at Scifi site in which Obama's geekatude is being discussed, one commenter recounted a story from a friend who claims to have interned for the Obama presidential campaign:
During the conversation, apparently Zero Wing came up.

You know, the Sega Genesis video game. I don't know how.

And apparently, my friend made the off-hand comment of "All your base are belong to us".

And Obama leaned forward in his chair, quirked his eyebrow a bit, and responded "What you say?"

Explanation, via the almighty Wikipedia::
"'All your base are belong to us' (often shortened to 'All Your Base', 'AYBABTU', or simply 'AYB') is a broken English phrase that sparked an internet phenomenon in 2001 and 2002, with the spread of a Flash animation that depicted the slogan. The text is taken from the opening cut scene of the European Sega Mega Drive version of Zero Wing, a Japanese video game by Toaplan which was rushed and so was rather poorly translated into English, and is often regarded as butchering the English language. It was popularized by the Something Awful message forums."

Oh yeah, you'll be seeing a lot more of these...

If there was a hell, I'd totally be going. [But there isn't, so I'm not.]

1 2 3 Religious Comics - Comics poking fun at the foundations of religion (and rational thought) in 3 panels or less:
"Christianity borrows heavily from earlier pre-existing religions. Practically every concept in Christianity pre-dates the time of Christ.

Virgin Birth, Born on Dec 25th., significance of “the cave”, risen, giver of life, redemption, etc. The list goes on and on."
And from the comments, from someone named Rob [not me, I swear]:
"If your religious then youre thick.
Simple as that.

Theres a fairy behind you."


Okay, heedless optimism over... time to start paying attention again.

The worser of two evils is on the way out the door, so the lesser of two evils is to be watched more carefully...

Dedroidify: This is not Consensus 'Reality':
"This on the left is not Obama's foreign policy advisor... supporter/creator of the Jihad movement aka Al Qaeda.

Rahm Emmanuel, recently anounced Obama's Chief of Staff is not a pro-war zionist who used to be a volunteer in the Israeli army, or was on the board of directors of Freddie Mac during their scandal.

This is not evidence that Climate Change/Global Warming is part of a natural cycle. (Global Warming alarmists & Carbon Tax advocates use evidence of a few 100 years at most. Btw, you don't have to endorse a questionable theory to be truly pro-environmentalism, when is the last time you heard "pollution" on the news?)"

More of that healing power of religion - "Armenian and Greek monks duked it out at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem."

Rock'em Sock'em monks - Boing Boing:
"Armenian and Greek monks duked it out at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem."

Only a comic book writer would... -

Comic Book Resources > Lying In The Gutters - 11-10-2008:
"Of course was this really the moment for Nick Locking, “Robocop” comics writer and creator of comics message board, The V to create a website allowing you to check.. well…

He’ll get letters. Possibly from the CIA."

Sunday, November 09, 2008