Saturday, April 11, 2009

"Ascension" - Greydon Square.

"A dope MC is a dope MC..."

I JUST realized it was Easter weekend.

Living in Japan is awesome.

On Twitter, via Todd Diamond and Finansense.

"Words will always retain their power."

Kali/Filipino Martial Arts/MMA game...

Interesting stuff...


"An Atheist Meets God."

"No Jesus, No Peas."

That's all you need, right?

Friday, April 10, 2009

D.A.R.E. was stupid even when I was in school.

Useless. But on the other hand, it helped teach you that adults didn't know what the hell they were talking about.

5 Retarded Health Campaigns That Backfired (Hilariously) |
"Damn near every school kid in the United States has been forced to sit through the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program (D.A.R.E.) at least once. Good ol' Officer Friendly shows up once a month or so and leads the class through obnoxious skits intended to give them an idea what peer pressure is like and how to avoid it. Spoiler alert! You avoid it by just saying 'no!'

Apparently, that works for everything from drugs to unwanted sexual advances to strong-armed robbery. But it's more than just saying no, the program aims to equip young people with "creative" ways by which to say it. For the record, we generally incorporate some sort of interpretive dance when we spurn unwanted offers of sex and drugs. But we don't dance that often, if you know what we mean, ladies.

On the surface, encouraging kids to say no to drugs seems like a fine idea. What could go wrong?


It would be hard to actually know how well a program like D.A.R.E. was working unless you, say, kept track of a thousand or so kids who went through the program and then caught up with them 10 years later. So that's exactly what some people did.

Two separate studies, the results of which were prominently reported by TIME, indicated that at the very least D.A.R.E. was ineffective, but at its worst actually pushed kids toward drug use and lowered self esteem. Researchers suspect that the overstated, "peer pressure is around every corner, because EVERYONE IS DOING DRUGS BUT YOU!" message made some kids actually want to get high as a way of fitting in. If everyone else is doing it, why shouldn't they?

The studies argued that the program's use of "drugs are everywhere, fucking run!" type of messages amounted to hyperbole, and kids don't like hyperbole. All it takes is the kid having one drug-using friend for him to recognize that, no, a single bong hit can't make your brain go running out of your ears like strawberry jam. And if that part is wrong, hell, maybe the whole thing is.

When are we going to figure out that even kids have bullshit detectors?"

When the C.I.A. is your voice of reason on human rights, you're probably through the looking glass on that one.

C.I.A. to Close Secret Prisons for Terror Suspects -
"The Central Intelligence Agency said Thursday that it would decommission the secret overseas prisons where it subjected Al Qaeda prisoners to brutal interrogation methods, bringing to a symbolic close the most controversial counterterrorism program of the Bush administration.
But don't forget to CYA.
But in a statement to employees, the agency’s director, Leon E. Panetta, said agency officers who worked in the program “should not be investigated, let alone punished” because the Justice Department under President George W. Bush had declared their actions legal."

1st Grade Entrance Ceremony.

Here comes another year...

I don't know, this year's kids didn't have that wide-eyed "Oh God what's happening?" look of shock and awe I remember from last year's kids. I don't know if that's a good or a bad thing. That transition/shock is usually worth 2 or 3 months of good behavior, but if they don't have it, they might go off the rails early. Eh, this year's 1st grade teachers are a strong bunch, they'll have 'em working right.

Here some of the 2nd graders manning the welcome tables, like good future leaders of the school.
From 2009-04-09
The band warms up. Look for the hams in the back who just automatically sense pictures are being taken.
From 2009-04-09
This year's seitokai/student council. Some of my all-time-favorite-kids-in-Japan in this bunch. Shiraishi, Kotabe, Tominaga, Inoue, the Torii sisters...
From 2009-04-09
Here they come. See, very little fear. Maybe good/maybe bad. We'll see.
From 2009-04-09
From 2009-04-09
From 2009-04-09
Sadly, didn't have my camera today, where they had the ceremony where the rest of the student body welcomes the 1st graders. Never short on ceremonies, Japan...

Thursday, April 09, 2009

See, I would have believed this one...

Seriously, this is my job.

Or part of it, leastways.

Relatively quiet days at school despite the welcoming ceremony and other odds and end prep work... when one of the English teachers asks me if I'm any good at drawing. Considering it's been about, jesus-really?- 12 years since I've put pencil to pad for anything more complicated than a smiley face.

Never had any real talent to speak of, but nobody grows up reading comics and doesn't try his hand at drawing at least a little bit. I got to the point in college where, while I certainly couldn't create much original, I could reproduce a pic from photos in a "not horribly bad" kinda way.

So anyways, one of the other English teachers wanted to see if I could do a cartoon of him that he could use in an intro sheet to his new homeroom class.
From 2009-04-09

First pass on the left, positively scary looking, but he needed it facing the other way, so I did the one on the right. The sad thing is that the one on the right I was trying to make look like the one on the left... hmm... not particularly talent-rich, but I got a kick outta doing it.

The finished product...
From 2009-04-09

I didn't even know what mascarpone was...

[Apparently, a triple cream cheese made from a soured cream...]

This was odd, but not bad. Screw it. Recently, if it looks weird and might have caffeine, I'll probably try it.
From 2009-04-09

"Partisan Civil Liberties Disorder."

Now that's funny.

Via Bors Blog: PCLD

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Embarrassing isn't quite the right word...

...but I'm not sure what you'd call this. I teach at elementary and junior high, and today is the welcoming ceremony at Jr High for the new freshmen. Kids wear uniforms in Jr High, but not Elementary.

Today, I realized that one of the kids from the bigger elementary school I teach at, who I had assumed was a boy for the last couple years, is actually a girl. A really boyish [in hindsight now, tomboy-ish] haircut, clothing style and demeanor just lead me down that primrose, albeit faulty, path. In Japan, some guys exhibit behavior that in Western culture might come across as effeminate, and I just figured...

...Jeez, I'm dumb.

Thank god I never did an gender specific activities with the kids, I would have really come off as a schmuck.

Buy Nikon.

Click to embiggen.

That's a worthwhile motto, right there - "Few things are more dangerously retarded than people in large groups."

More regulations don't make you safer.

The 5 Most Popular Safety Laws (That Don't Work) |
"[National Speed Limits]

...After the National speed limit was repealed, the state of Montana removed all non-urban speed limits in their state. A few years later, engineers working with the state decided to venture out to see just what kind of post-apocalyptic Death Race wasteland their lawless state had produced. What they found was that, you guessed it, on the roads where they removed the speed limits, fatalities didn't go up at all.

Proponents of the national law still argue that traffic fatalities nationwide did drop during the national speed limit's lifetime. Buzz-killing critics of the law point out that no, no they didn't.

Why Doesn't it Work?

Because, and this surprised the hell out of us, people aren't completely retarded. As it turns out, people tend to drive at speeds they feel comfortable driving. Yes, there are reckless madmen out there, but they're not going to obey a couple of digits on a sign anyway. It just becomes a make-work project for traffic cops.

[The Amber Alert]

...Like covering up a hole in the wall with a poster, the Amber Alert system made everyone feel better without actually costing the government a dime.

From 2003 to 2006 independent researcher Timothy "The Griffon" Griffith conducted the first third-party investigation of the Amber Alert system. He found that, while state and local governments were claiming huge numbers of children "rescued," they were actually full of shit.

Most of the children "saved" by the Amber alert hadn't been in any danger in the first place (in most cases they'd been taken by legal guardians arguing over custody rights). The few children who WERE abducted by psychopaths usually died before the Amber Alert could even go online.

Why Doesn't it Work?

Few things are more dangerously retarded than people in large groups. There's a reason Batman works alone. Griffith and others came to the realization that, while the Amber Alerts weren't really helpful in saving children, they were great at drowning the surrounding community in a tsunami of irrational fear and paranoia. The chance of a child being abducted by a stranger is far lower than of the child, say, dying from drinking the bottle of floor wax you have in the cabinet because it has pictures of lemons on it. The latter just doesn't become a media event.

[Registering Sex Offenders]

Nobody wants to be the one to stand up for sex offenders, but you've got to have pretty damned good cause to make a person face what is basically a life-long punishment, served even after their jail term is over. Which sounds fine if we're talking about a serial rapist murderer, but not when something like public urination can land you on the registry right alongside him.

That would be just one reason studies show Megan's Law hasn't done a damned thing to stop child molesters.

Why Doesn't it Work?

So you take a guy who's committed a crime. Now you put him on a registry that may keep him from getting a job, or making friends, generally just totally isolating him for the rest of his life and giving him lots of free time. Do you think that makes him less likely to commit another crime?

And how does knowing there's a sex offender in your neighborhood help? Unless he's wearing some kind of clanging Sex Offender bell around his neck to let you and your child know he's approaching, it doesn't protect you from a guy looking to do it again. And then you've got the fact that 95 percent of sexual assault victims are victimized by somebody they already know anyway.

So what's the point? Deterrence? As it turns out, someone who is willing to abduct, rape and murder a child often isn't stopped by the fact that he'll get put on a "registry" if he's caught."

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Really, is it going to be nothing but 4 years of disappointment with you? - Obama's new defense of warrantless wiretaps.

This is what happens when you let your finely honed sense of cynicism slide... repeated nut-kicks to your optimism bone, on the daily.

Obama DOJ invents radical authoritarian theory to defend Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping - Boing Boing:
"The Obama administration has filed a brief in EFF's lawsuit against the government for its program of illegal, mass wiretapping of Americans, defending the practice, arguing that the lawsuit should be dismissed, endorsing the Bush administration's invented 'State Secret' theory, and augmenting it with a new theory, that 'the Patriot Act bars any lawsuits of any kind for illegal government surveillance unless there is 'willful disclosure' of the illegally intercepted communications.' This brief was not written by Bush cronies left behind by the outgoing administration: this is an invention of the Obama administration.

I don't expect the guy to walk on water, but I'd sure like it if he'd stop wallowing in the mud."

"The law is a ass." - 'Birth-Control Pill Lands Fairfax Student 2-Week Suspension, Possible Expulsion.'

[Law of Eristic Escalation - the imposition of order = the escalation of chaos. ]

Somebody wanna tell me in what world any of this makes any sense? Asinine and ridiculous regulations. "For the children" of course, so let's screw them over repeatedly and stupidly.

Birth-Control Pill Lands Fairfax Student 2-Week Suspension, Possible Expulsion -
"When a Fairfax County mother got an urgent call from school last month reporting that her teenage daughter was caught popping a pill at lunchtime, she did not panic. 'It was probably her birth-control pill,' she thought. She was right.

Her heart dropped that afternoon in the assistant principal's office at Oakton High School when she and her daughter heard the mandatory punishment: A two-week suspension and recommendation for expulsion.

'I realize my daughter broke a rule,' the mother said. But in an appeal to the school system, she reasoned, 'the punishment does not fit the crime.'

For two decades, many schools have set zero-tolerance policies on drugs. That means no over-the-counter drugs, no prescription drugs, no pretend drugs in student lockers or pockets. When many teens have ready access to medicine cabinets filled with prescription medications such as Xanax and Vicodin, any capsule or tablet is suspect.

...County policy permits cough drops to be carried on campus, for instance, but not shared. Arlington County policies permit high school students to carry over-the-counter pain relievers. A 2006 state law in Maryland overturned some local rules requiring a doctor's note for children to use sunscreen at school.

In Virginia, school systems must comply with state code regarding prescription medications and illegal drugs on campus. Students face expulsion if they bring to school any "controlled substance" or addictive drug regulated by the federal government. "Imitation controlled substances," which could include virtually any prescription pill, are subject to the same hefty repercussions. Local school boards can give a lighter punishment after a review.

...During two weeks of watching television game shows and trying to keep up with homework online, the Fairfax teen, an honor student and lettered athlete, had time to study the handbook closely. If she had been caught high on LSD, heroin or another illegal drug, she found, she would have been suspended for five days. Taking her prescribed birth-control pill on campus drew the same punishment as bringing a gun to school would have."

Using Facebook to track down and bust a drunken thief.

This is kind of awesome.

Addie Uses Facebook to Bust Drunken Thief - AgencySpy:
"In the end what's interesting here is that Mote was able to track down the thief faster than the police. And she was able to resolve the problem more efficiently than them, too. Maybe social media has more to offer than we thought."

Originally via Hit & Run > Facebook, Not Just for Drunk Pics Anymore. Also for Catching Drunk Perps. - Reason Magazine:
"Be stirred by tale of Carla Pillo Mote, who used Facebook, her iPhone, and Google to retrieve her company computer, taxes, and wallet after they were stolen from a bar by a drunken idiot. She pulled credit card data, posted to Facebook to take advantage of her network's research abilities, found the address of the perp, confronted him, and got her stuff back within hours of the original theft. The police told her they'd need to wait until 4:00 pm the next day for a warrant, paperwork, etc."

Playing the short game.

Too funny

Relationships are hard.

Overheard Everywhere | Translation: Sex With You Isn't Worth the Annoyance Of Your Company:
"Emo chick: So then she glared at me. In a mean way, not a happy way.
Normal looking boyfriend: I don't think that word means what you think it means.
Emo chick: Huh?
Normal looking boyfriend: You know, I just don't think this is going to work out.
Emo chick: Wait. You're breaking up with me? Here? Why?
Normal looking boyfriend: Well, I wasn't planning on it, but honey, you didn't like Watchmen and you've never read or seen The Princess Bride. Clearly we're just two very different people.

Flagstaff, Arizona

Overheard by: nayvera"

Training 312/313.

312 - Another enkai/teacher's party on Monday... geez...

PT - DB Squats/Bench/Rows, Plank

313 - PT - the bike ride to and from Katsuura... that's all I had in me for today... [see yesterday/enkai...]

Youth, clearly wasted on the young...

Some more pics an old friend posted up on Facebook...
From Other Pics

I'm clearly an idiot.
From Other Pics

So. Much. Hair.
From Other Pics

Graduation '94.
From Other Pics

I knew how to waterski, once. [That's the back of my head there, on the right...]
From Other Pics

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Too much time on your hands...

...+ having a wife stateside makes you realize random things. Thinking too much...

The obvious, yet slightly disconcerting thing I happened upon this weekend is the fact that despite drinking it, off and on, for the last 15 years [including a cup this AM] - I don't particularly like coffee. I like the sugar/sweetener I add, and I like the cream I add, but the coffee itself... not so much. I've always taken it with sugar/milk or some variation thereof, and that combined with the caffeine hit - which, really, is what I enjoy about it, led me to be a "coffee drinker." But having removed a lot of the processed sugar out of my life - mostly - over the last couple years, including in my coffee... and recently phasing out at least the packets of artificial sweetener I used to use... I come to find out that I don't really like coffee. I drink it for the jumpstart in the AM.

Likewise for tea, actually. Despite spending the first 17 years of my life drinking several glasses - at least - a day, of southern style sweetened tea. Sweet tea is basically caffeinated sugar water, and it's not really the "tea" in the tea that I liked.

More and more, water all the time, I guess. If I could kick the exceedingly-bad-for-me diet sodas. It's really the caffeine addiction that's doing it to me...


One thing about Japan...

...a little frustrating for my Western mind, and it shows itself in all sorts of ways, but there is this inability of folks in this nation to end something. Having parties, enkais, nijikais and the rest go on ad infinitum is only one aspect...

It's even codified in the ceremonies here. We had the sobetsukai last week to say goodbye to the transferring/retiring teachers. Today we have another ceremony at school to say goodbye to the same folks. And there will be, at the beginning of May, yet another "farewell to the old/welcome the new" enkai.

The expression "Just DO it already!" really has no place here... FINISH!


Watched 3/29 - 4/5.

Robin Hood Season One - the recent BBC show... not the world's greatest show, but fun. And I dig takes on the Robin Hood legend. Wish it would have followed through on it's potential dark turn/twisting of the mythos towards the end of the season, but it stayed traditional/light hearted. I'll still check out season 2.

- good fights.

2 eps of Primeval - Back for the 3rd season. Time travel, dinosaurs, monsters and conspiracies. Good fun.

Pastor Joe Schimmel's They Sold Their Souls for Rock and Roll - following links to links/conspiracy theory nonsense, I ended up watching a 30m preview for this. Holy Jesus, Christians are some dumbass people. It's funny, I had a football coach in HS who tried to sell us on this whole Rock n'Roll/devil worship stuff. He got bounced after his first year for his apparently horrendous, but unrelated heresy of replacing our I-formation offense for the Wishbone. Man the PTA/Boosters are ridiculous. But I'd thought he was a decent guy, until one day he sat us down in the weight room and told us how Prince was conspiring to bring us all to Satan. The whole backwards masking/hidden messages/etc/etc nonsense.

But I sat through the 30m preview on this just cause it's good to dip your toe into the crazy waters every once in a while, just to remind yourself how insane they are. It's just mind blowing - the religious types who buy into this apparently lack any ability whatsoever to think creatively or metaphorically. They demonstrate a complete misunderstanding of the psychology of peak experience, flow, or of the subconscious mind and how it relates to art or creativity. And they exult in twisting things out of context. The constant breathless voice over that made me want to shoot myself in the face.

Family Guy - Star Trek TNG cast reunion. Hilarious. Fortuitously, also an atheist storyline. Pretty funny.

Kings - eh. This is really gonna have to pick it up.

Bully Beatdown - Mayhem Miller is too funny. The show is a wind up like other "reality" shows, but it's entertaining.

Sasuke - my favorite show in Japan. This year's edition. Missed finishing the final stage by seconds.

House - Mos Def in a guest starring role. Some interesting directorial choices this ep, really good.

Castle - Nathan Fillion remains awesome. That is all.

Heroes - the episodes with Sylar rock. The rest is eh.

Daily Show, Colbert Report - Best thing this week was Colbert's takedown of Glenn Beck. Brutally funny.

Mentalist - cool seeing the stuff on NLP this week. Exaggerated, but interesting.

Reaper - funny. Overarching plot is picking up too. Theological comedy is my favorite.

Breaking Bad - this season is slow to start, but still excellent.

Free to Choose - Watching Milton Friedman's PBS series from 1980 is interesting. Caught the first two eps so far. I don't buy the free market as a panacea that he does, but it probably has a lot more merit than is being giving in the 21st century. The really interesting thing is that the show is half a documentary, half a discussion group in every hour. And the maturity and level of discourse of the second half really hammers home just how crappy modern news and discussion has become. The debates in Free to Choose are reasoned, measured, well thought out and spirited. Compared to the talking heads/talking points bombast that infects the modern era, I really miss 1980. Also, funnily, in the second ep Donald Rumsfeld, as the President of GD Searle is part of the group discussion. Good to know that he, very clearly, at least since 1980, talked down to everyone around him like they're stupid. He drips condescension, even then. Crazy.

Life - I am loving this show this year. Zen Detective. Damian Lewis and Gabrielle Union are really clicking. As is Adam Arkin.
"I'm thinking about what I want and what I need. What do you want? I want a peaceful soul. And what do you need? ...I need a bigger gun."
Smallville - returns to sucking a little bit. Show is so uneven this year. Some eps are outstanding. Some tank hard.

UFN 18/Ultimate Fighter - latest season, US v UK. Fights!

Real Time with Bill Maher
- this week's ep was so-so. Joe the Plumber, really?

Russell Peters: Red White & Brown/Outsourced - dude is funny. Laughed quite a bit.

Friday Night Lights - best drama on TV. Liked the authenticity this week and the lack of pat TV resolutions. Good stuff.

Dollhouse - another good episode this week. Circles in circles.

Training 310/311.

310 - rest/free

311 - bodyweight circuit - 5circuits/10reps/time 31:10
*Body-Weight Squat
*Hand Walkout – from knees
*Single-Leg Deadlift
*Jumping Jack
*Reverse Lunge – overhead reach
*Pike Push-Up
*Mountain Climber

Harder than it looks/I'm in worse shape than I should be...

Next 5 weeks or so not gonna focus so much on diet - especially considering I've got 5-6 more "social" engagements... focus on staying in a good PT groove, not letting the diet get too insane. In about 5-6 weeks gonna really tighten up the training/diet.