Saturday, April 10, 2010

“You’re living at a time of extremism, a time of revolution, a time when there’s got to be a change."

"People in power have misused it, and now there has to be a change and a better world has to be built and the only way it’s going to be built is with extreme methods. And I for one will join in with anyone, I don’t care what color you are, as long as you want to change this miserable condition that exists on this earth. Thank you.” - Malcolm X

Joe Rogan remains my philosopher king.

20m well spent.  Via 2012 Time for Change Presents: Joe Rogan | Reality Sandwich

Useful & worth watching - "10 Rules for Dealing with Police."

Parts 2-4 available on YouTube here.

"...only four countries in the world with a drinking age as high as 21 - [the US] ...Indonesia, Mongolia and Palau."

Recently at 21: Is it time to lower the drinking age? - Hit & Run : Reason Magazine

Friday, April 09, 2010

The Losers Exclusive Video - "I'm the black MacGyver - BlaGyver!"

Continuing to look quite awesome.

The Losers Exclusive

Trailer Park Movies | MySpace Video

Based on the impressive comic book series.

Kyrgyzstan uprising/protest/riot pics - including the baddest man to ever wear a fanny pack.

Yes, that fanny-pack-wearing-badass-protestor has taken one of the police riot shields *and* an RPG anti vehicle weapon.

Via Crisis in Kyrgyzstan - The Big Picture -
"Widespread anti-government protests in Kyrgyzstan recently turned violent, with groups of opposition protesters attempting to storm some government buildings, and clashing with riot police."

Life is like this, sometimes.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

I find Judge Napolitano's views interesting, and wish to subscribe to his newsletter.

Anyone whose book is called Lies the Government Told You: Myth, Power, and Deception in American History is probably somebody I can get on board with.

Injustice System - Reason Magazine:
"Reason: You begin your book with the Declaration of Independence and end with the debate over ObamaCare, hitting almost every point in between. Has the government been lying to us all along?

Judge Andrew Napolitano: Yes, the government has been lying to us all along. Think about it. The very same generation—in many instances the same human beings—that wrote “Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech” also wrote in the Alien and Sedition Acts just 10 years into the country that you can go to jail if we don’t like what you say...

Reason: You emphasize the role of crisis and war in government lying.

Napolitano: War is the health of the state. That is a self-evident truth. Because in wartime people unite behind whoever the commander in chief is. They part with their wealth more easily. They accept restrictions on their personal behavior. We now know—economists have demonstrated—that none of the rationing during World War II was necessary. That wasn’t done to have coffee or sugar or leather for the soldiers. That was done to keep people at bay, to give them a feeling that they were cooperating in the war effort. Any type of crisis is an opportunity for the government to take liberty and take property and turn those into power for itself.

Reason: You call for judges to be “constitutional activists.” That’s very different from a lot of conservatives, who advocate judicial restraint.

Napolitano: I am not a conservative, I am a libertarian. I believe in the primacy of the individual over the state. I believe in ironclad fidelity to the Constitution and I believe in the Natural Law, that there are areas of human behavior that are utterly and totally immune from government regulation. Just because the majority rules doesn’t mean the majority is right. That’s why we have an independent judiciary. It is to be the non-democratic or even anti-democratic branch of government. Otherwise there would be nothing to prevent the tyranny of the majority from taking our liberty or property just because they wanted it."

The ROE in Iraq seems monumentally screwed up.

Killing and dying based on the absurd whims of politicians. More at the link...

t r u t h o u t | Iraq War Vet: "We Were Told to Just Shoot People, and the Officers Would Take Care of Us":
"Jason Washburn, a corporal in the US Marines who served three tours in Iraq... Washburn testified on a panel that discussed the rules of engagement (ROE) in Iraq, and how lax they were, to the point of being virtually nonexistent.

"During the course of my three tours, the rules of engagement changed a lot," Washburn's testimony continued, "The higher the threat the more viciously we were permitted and expected to respond. Something else we were encouraged to do, almost with a wink and nudge, was to carry 'drop weapons', or by my third tour, 'drop shovels'. We would carry these weapons or shovels with us because if we accidentally shot a civilian, we could just toss the weapon on the body, and make them look like an insurgent."

...Jason Wayne Lemue is a Marine who served three tours in Iraq.

'My commander told me, 'Kill those who need to be killed, and save those who need to be saved'; that was our mission on our first tour,' he said of his first deployment during the invasion.

'After that the ROE changed, and carrying a shovel, or standing on a rooftop talking on a cell phone, or being out after curfew [meant those people] were to be killed. I can't tell you how many people died because of this. By my third tour, we were told to just shoot people, and the officers would take care of us.'

...Iraq war veteran and former National Guard and Army Reserve member Jason Moon, who was there for the invasion...

Moon brought back a video that shows his sergeant declaring, "The difference between an insurgent and an Iraqi civilian is whether they are dead or alive."

Moon explains the thinking: "If you kill a civilian he becomes an insurgent because you retroactively make that person a threat."

...Cliff Hicks served in Iraq from October 2003 to August 2004.

"There was a tall apartment complex, the only spot from where people could see over our perimeter," Hicks told Truthout, "There would be laundry hanging off the balconies, and people hanging out on the roof for fresh air. The place was full of kids and families. On rare occasions, a fighter would get atop the building and shoot at our passing vehicles. They never really hit anybody. We just knew to be careful when we were over by that part of the wall, and nobody did shit about it until one day a lieutenant colonel was driving down and they shot at his vehicle and he got scared. So he jumped through a bunch of hoops and cut through some red tape and got a C-130 to come out the next night and all but leveled the place. Earlier that evening when I was returning from a patrol the apartment had been packed full of people.""

The ubiquity of bullshit; how language lies.

The Heart of the Matter: Advertising Bullshit:
"There's so much bullshit, we don't even notice it anymore. Every movie, no matter how trivial, is a Major Motion Picture. Every business plan ever written boasts a World Class Management Team; every alliance is a Strategic Alliance. Toys r Us calls its customers 'guests.' Blockbuster Video advertises movies Available Now For Preorder. Domestic prisons are called Correctional Facilities (are the prisoners 'correctees'?). A detainee, on the other hand, is a prisoner we're holding indefinitely without charge, trial, or conviction (I'm waiting for the government to take its cue from Toys r Us and perform an Orwellian upgrade -- referring to detainees as guests, instead). What others do with such people, we call a gulag; here, we have only detention centers. Nasty countries assassinate; we engage in sanitary Targeted Killings. Establishment is our word for what we call an oligarchy when it happens in Russia. Only dictatorships have show trials and kangaroo courts; we employ military commissions. Where others have tribes, we have factions. And of course we don't torture, preferring enhanced interrogation, instead. Soon we will have dissidents. What will we call them?"

Flava Flav becomes a prophet - 911 REALLY is a joke.

This is screwed up to the point of absurdity.

Don’t Call 911 « John Stossel:
"Many cities, broke from overspending, now use 911 services as a new revenue source. CBS2 reports that drivers are billed for emergency response even if they played no role in causing the accident.

Cary Feldman received one of these bills last summer. He was driving his motor scooter in Chicago Heights when he was struck from behind. He was fine, but someone else called 911... The fire department then sent him a $200 bill...

...People have begun calling these "crash taxes." In Illinois a new law would allow towns to charge up to $250 an hour for an emergency response. Feldman learned there's no way to fight the charges; he must pay up or the bill will be turned over to a collection agency.

"(C)all it a scam," said Feldman. "Just a way to make money.""


4/8 - Atlas Lesson 1, Sun Salutation A x8
Pushups/Pull Aparts [throughout the day]  3x 10reps
P90X - 32 - Kenpo X [no warmup or cooldown]
20m eye relaxation/guided visualization

*A note I meant to add with yesterday's training post, because that's when it actually first applied, but I ran out of time - I'm back into the groove of doing the P90X workouts, but not doing them in the order recommended.  I figure as long as I do all of the workouts within the week, it'll be fine.  Started on Tuesday, which was supposed to be Plyo X, but did Back & Biceps instead.  Weird day.  Felt a kind of strange nervous tension all day.  At the end of it I really just needed to throw around some weights - albeit "throw around" is scaled to my current state of weakness.

Odd, I think that weird all day feeling was from a shirt I was wearing that I hadn't worn in a while... and it fit in a way that I didn't think or feel I was breathing correctly.  Been reading a book on pranayama [yoga breath work] and have been particularly cognizant of how I've been breathing... and it felt like I couldn't get a good, full deep breath wearing that shirt... and it just made me feel - odd, I guess.  Weird the connections your mind starts to make.  So at the end of the day I had to burn out that tension with some weights.  And then yesterday I did Legs & Back instead of Back & Biceps, today Kenpo X instead of Yoga X...  anyways, worth noting.  Maybe.

Also, I've started this week trying to add some yoga into my training.  I've always been fascinated by the flexibility [probably because I've never been flexible, even when I was doing martial arts regularly], body control, balance and strength yogis have.  Over the years yoga has forever been popping up in the periphery of my life - the books I read [even the comic books], the people I know, things of that nature.  And I've built up a nice little stack of yoga books and DVDs with the intent of starting to practice. But I never have.

And I read a great article from a financial/fiscal blog called "Spend Based on Who You Are, Not Who You Want to Be" and it really rang true for me.  I've spent $$ on yoga stuff because I like the idea of being the kind of person who does yoga.  I've blown cash on Japanese books and software because I wanted to be the kind of person who studies Japanese intently while living in Japan.  I've got a stack of books and CDs on natural vision therapy because the concept appeals to me.  But what I've lacked is follow through on any of those things.  So yeah, you probably shouldn't spend based on an amorphous idea of who you'd like to be - identity via consumerism - but otoh, since I already have sunk costs in those, what I can do is actually follow through NOW and try to do those things.

With 4 months left in Japan, I'll admit to writing off studying Japanese, especially with no shot to get here on the Mrs first State Dept tour, but I've made a concerted effort since Monday to include both yoga and vision therapy relaxation in my routine.

With yoga, I also had the additional stumbling block of analysis paralysis.  "Yoga seems interesting... but what kind?  Sivananda?  Ashtanga?  Anusara?  Bikram?  Iyengar?  How much should I do?  How to schedule it?"  I lose a lot of time trying to figure out how to be optimal - and end up suffering under a deluge of information and then just chucking it.

So I decided to start with something simple - sun salutations - because, also, yoga is difficult as hell.  I couldn't even hang with the 15m Ashtanga Short Form from David Swenson, so I need to start small, clearly.  I'll work up to a bunch of sun salutations, both A & B, and then move onto the 15m short form.  Baby steps.

As far as the vision therapy stuff goes, I had an experience today that made it ring true for me.  The underlying theory is that eyes see poorly because they get "stuck" in "strain" and the basic therapy is eye relaxation [of various kinds.]  Also, that eyeglasses serve as "crutches for the eyes" and you have to throw out your glasses [or in my case, with such a high correction, get lenses that undercorrect your prescription.]  So to that end since Monday I've been wearing contacts with a slightly weaker prescription - it's not like I drive in Japan anyways.  Monday was a little strange and stressful, not being able to see the way I'm used to...  Tuesday was a lot better, more relaxed and I was impressed with how clear a lot of my vision seemed, moreso than the day before.

But the kicker was this morning I was running a little late and was booking to get to school on time, plus I was wearing a monkey suit and tie for today's welcome ceremony for the new Jr High first graders - and suits and ties always feel like uncomfortable straightjackets to me, plus I've put on a couple kg since last summer when I bought it, so it was a little tight in some places...  So the upshot is I was a little stressed and I noticed my vision seemed blurrier than even on Monday.  Seems that stress does have a really significant effect on visual acuity.

One thing in common to both the yoga and vision therapy is it becomes more obvious that there's all sorts of tightness and tension and stress I'm holding on to unawares, so that's something to work on.

Final thing, for the last couple weeks, and up until Monday is that my diet has been an abomination.  Enkais and multiple cakes and snacks left on the work desk by departing and arriving teachers... of course I don't have to eat them, but I do.  Just call me Mr. Will Power, apparently.  Plus too many visits to 7-11 and their tasty karaage and snack foods.  Need to reign that all in get back into the groove, as even the scale is starting to reflect my poor choices.  So, onwards.

"Probe the edges" & "History is a process of fractal self-complexification that builds on whatever it has achieved" - Terence Mckenna was a mad genius.

Quotes via Notes from the Psychedelic Salon:
"My technique, which I recommend to you, is don’t believe anything. If you believe in something, you are automatically precluded from believing its opposite. Therefore you have given up a portion of your freedom, and freedom is the dearest thing we’ve got."

"Psychedelics work. If you think that I’m bullshitting you, go home and take five grams of mushrooms in silent darkness and then we’ll talk. That’s the sine qua non. It’ll work, on demand. I’m not saying, ‘And wait forty years, or purify yourself, or get your aura stitched up, or any of the rest of it. It’ll work. It’ll blow your mind to shreds. It’s real."

"I think that the subtext of the governments’ fear about psychedelics is that this quality that they have of dissolving boundaries causes people to question basic assumptions about how society is run. And I think this is true of any society. It isn’t an American phenomenon. It’s that if you take psychedelics, whatever you are, you know, Eskimo, Hassidic Rabbi, quantum physicist, you will question your first premises. And you get millions of people questioning the first premises, and then the powers that be become very nervous."

"Cannabis holds many benefits, not necessarily related to its properties as an intoxicant, but as a source of food, lubricants, plastics, fuels, etc. The reason the establishment is so hysterical on the subject of cannabis is because it erodes loyalty to the industrial state."

"We have been too long under the spell of the idea that only the past creates the present. The present is actually largely created by appetite for the future."

"History is not a random walk. It’s not a series of undirected, random fluctuations. History is a process of fractal self-complexification that builds on whatever it has achieved."

"We’re a society where people jump out of airplanes on weekends because their lives are so boring and empty. Well then, if you think jumping out of an airplane is a thrill to write home about you should try this stuff. No one would jump out of an airplane if they had DMT on their menu."

"I came to feel, and I still sometimes offhandedly refer to it like this, that it [DMT] is secret. It is not a secret. It is THE secret. There is a secret, and this is it. It is the secret that the world is not only not the way you think it is. It’s that the way the world is, is a way that you can’t think it is, because you simply do not have the imaginative capacity to conceive of such overwhelming peculiarity."

"What’s interesting about DMT is that it occurs naturally in the human brain. We all make it all the time. And so, in a sense, this is not a drug at all. This is a human metabolite that you’re getting a tremendous of, but the fact that it occurs naturally in the human brain means that you have chemical pathways, bio synthetic pathways, that can deal with it.""

This is utterly freaking captivating. And adorable.

I didn't even know there was such a thing as a slow loris.

Most people will do almost anything to avoid cognitive dissonance.

Yes, you too. 

Rule # 16.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Jeffrey Dean Morgan seems like a damn cool, super nice guy.

His turn in Watchmen as the Comedian was one of the best things about that movie. Along with Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach, natch.

Still looking forward to The Losers flick quite a bit. Between it, The Expendables and The A-Team, the summer seems to be full of cool 80's style action film ass-kickery.

And The Losers comic is still quite awesome.

Via Green Lantern, Thor, Doc Savage: Apr 7th Comic Reel - Comic Book Resources


Well, the only thing consistent about my training the last couple weeks has been its inconsistency. 

Last logged workout was on 3/30.  Since then...

3/31 - P90X - 24 - Kenpo X

4/1-4/3 - P90X - 25 thru 27 - missed wkouts, no excuse

4/4 - "rest" day, which after missing 3 days, just feels like a mockery of the term

4/5 - Atlas Lesson 1, handful of Sun Salutations... 
P90X - 29 - Chest, Shoulders, Triceps
Health for Life Legendary Abs II Routine, Level 1

4/6 -  Atlas Lesson 1, Sun Salutation A x5, Sun Saluation B x3
P90X - 30 - Back & Biceps
2m rounds x5 Bas Rutten MMA wkout/thai boxing
20m eye relaxation/guided visualization

4/7 - Atlas Lesson 1, Sun Salutation A x8
Pushups/Pull Aparts [throughout the day]  7x 10reps
P90X - 31 - Legs & Back
Health for Life Legendary Abs II Level 1
5 rounds Bas Rutten MMA wkout/Thai Boxing 2m rounds
15m eye relaxation/guided visualization

"Pope Benedict's Commandments."

"Stop raising your hand Alligator."

Eddie Izzard is awesome, and not for the usual reasons - 43 marathons in 51 days.

Watched a bunch of Izzard comedy specials... in fact, all of them, I think.  Didn't know about this though.  This is really pretty cool.  Via Blog : Eddie Izzard – 43 Marathons in 51 Days:
"British comedian Eddie Izzard recently ran 43 marathons in 51 days. With no prior running experience, the 47-year-old spent all but 5 weeks to prepare for the challenge. When it was all said and done, Eddie covered over 1100 miles throughout the United Kingdom to raise money for the Sports Relief charity group.

...about human potential. There is much more than most realize. It doesn’t fall out of the sky however. You must get up and find it. The best way to get ahead is by getting started. If a 47-year-old man with no formal training can run 43 marathons in 51 days, I’m certain that we can all get up and do something. There is no reason to fear hard work. You’ll eventually learn to embrace it."
He finished running last September, but you can still donate to the charity he ran for here.

On 'serious' pursuits & being 'ridiculous.'

The Art of Being Ridiculous; or Why Being Serious is a Waste of Time | Illuminated Mind:
"The reason most ridiculous people end up embracing this path is because they realize the bullshit false dichotomy of legitimacy and seriousness. In other words, they know that just because something is considered a “serious” or “approved” pursuit, it doesn’t mean it’s worth doing. They follow their hearts and leave it to other people decide whether they’re serious or not."

Monday, April 05, 2010

This isn't helping - killing reporters in Iraq, pregnant women in Afghanistan.


For the first link, video and pictures on the click-through.

Iraq: Wikileaks video of US military killing journalists - Boing Boing:
"Update: As of 2PM PT, a Senior U.S. official is confirming authenticity of this video.

Wikileaks claims to have obtained and decrypted video that shows US occupying forces in an Apache helicopter intentionally firing on a dozen civilians in Baghdad, including journalists working for the Reuters news organization: 22-year-old Reuters photographer, Namir Noor-Eldeen, and his driver, Saeed Chmagh, 40...

The transcript (and audio) seem to show the air crew lying about encountering a firefight. When they finish shooting, they laugh at the dead."
US military admits role in killing of Afghan women - Boing Boing:
"The US-led military command in Kabul admitted, after an earlier denial, that American forces killed three Afghan female civilians in February, and tried to cover up their deaths. There are reports that "Special Operations forces dug bullets out of the bodies of the women to hide the true nature of their deaths," and "that an Afghan-led team of investigators had found signs of evidence tampering at the scene, including the removal of bullets from walls near where the women were killed." One was a pregnant mother of 10 and another was a pregnant mother of six."

Anything obligatory is rarely worthwhile.

Rule # 15.

On crying, onions, and being a little bitch.

Via Stop Crying | Robots with Feelings

The truth on worrying.

Namaste, Bitches: Touching you, touching me.:
"Don't you all know by now that worrying is really just the same as praying for the worst? Worrying is the biggest waste of time known to man. I know that people mean well when they express worry, but worrying never helps anyone or anything."

Reminder of the day - "I maintain that Truth is a pathless land..." - Krishnamurti

"I maintain that Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. That is my point of view, and I adhere to that absolutely and unconditionally. Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organised; nor should any organisation be formed to lead or coerce people along any particular path. If you first understand that, then you will see how impossible it is to organise a belief. A belief is purely an individual matter, and you cannot and must not organise it. If you do, it becomes dead, crystallised; it becomes a creed, a sect, a religion, to be imposed on others."
- Jiddu Krishnamurti

Sunday, April 04, 2010

On sarcasm - worth remembering.

Japanese humility, or something else?

It trips me out, invariably, whenever I run into one of my former students who've graduated and moved on, one of the first things out of their mouths is "You remember me?" - filled with what can only be described as shock, awe and surprise.  Which always prompts me to respond, albeit in my sad Japanese - "Of course I remember you."

Now, I'll grant that about 80-90% of the time I'm not going to remember their name - because Japanese is hard, and my facility with the language sucks - but of course I remember who they are.  I remember their faces and their personalities, if they liked English, their sense of humor, who their friends were...  I mean, I remember them.

Of course I do.  I don't think I'm ever gonna forget these kids.

Happened again today.  Ran into a former student and her mom out at the grocery store and as soon as I got out the 'hisashiburi' [long time no see] her mom blurts out "You remember her?"  But my student was likewise and obviously surprised I remembered her...  So I did the standard 'of course' and asked her how she was doing and how high school was before we all continued on our merry shopping way.

So I wonder, is it that they don't think they merit or expect being remembered?  Which plays into the Japanese cultural trope of humility.  Or is it they don't expect a gaijin teacher to remember them?  Which plays into a different, somewhat less flattering, Japanese cultural stereotype.  Or something else?

Either way, I'm glad to surprise them in a small way and pop whatever expectation bubble they had, even if just a little bit.

Spring vacation English class shenanigans.

Featuring reading presentations...

...massive amounts of pictionary...

...including this, quite frankly, genius drawing.  Guess what it is...

...if you said 'wedding' then you are worthy.

Followed up by a shopping game - building budding capitalists in the economic powerhouse that is Japan.  It starts early.

Including the purchase of dorayaki - which is the first time I've ever had it, actually.  It's basically two pancakes with anko filling.  Which is trippy.

Great kids...

Afterwards I got to check out the graduation album for one of my elementary schools... check it out, it's me - lower right...

The annual moving of the desks.

Every year, and it still strikes me as a bit odd, once the new teachers get in, we all spend the better part of an afternoon moving everybody's desks into new groups in the teacher's room.  This year I moved from being with the first grade teachers and the very front of the room [which never failed to discombobulate the poor students coming to the teacher's room for help]  to moving to the rear of the room with the third grade teachers.

Where am I?


...and again.

Featuring, in the place of honor, a pic given me by the teacher in charge of the judo team, of me and the judo kids who graduated last year.

Just awesome kids.

The passage of time...

Noticed the recent city magazines featured both old and new Fukuma JR train stations.  Like I said, the new one is nice, but the old one had an essential Japanese 'character.'

The key to successful enkai-ing... skipping lunch the day of.  Cause there is much food to be had.

This was not entirely unlike southern fried catfish.

Paying respects and pouring libations for the outgoing English teacher.

Big turnover at Jr High this year.  Maybe the biggest in my time here.  The nine folks here plus a couple office staffers for a grand total of eleven...

...including the art teacher, Sandy's former student, martial arts technique trading, vacation time hallway badminton buddy... who here stands on the dais so he can be taller than me.  I'll miss him.

Last end of the year enkai of my career...  Should have, let's see, two more 'start of the year' enkais, plus my farewell parties... and that'll be all she wrote.

Spring is springing in Nippon.

The trees/flowers say so.

Watched this past weekend.

The Mentalist, The Daily Show, Smallville...

Doctor Who - the premiere of the 11th Doctor.

You know, I've got geek cred, comic book style - but I'm no long term Doctor Who fan.  I've a vague idea who the guy with the muffler was, but I never watched Doctor Who till the relaunch with Eccleston.

And I enjoyed the hell out of Eccleston's run, and thought Tennant verged on brilliance during his time as the 10th Doctor.

But I felt a bit trepidatious with the advent of Matt Smith and the new era, and watched the debut ep with a wary eye.  Clearly, I should not have worried.  Because it was deft, funny, and a bit awesome.  Should be a fun ride this year.  Karen Gillian as Amy Pond seems particularly sharp.

Finished watching NCIS Season 6, and can now say I've seen every ep of the series.

I blame my father-in-law and whatever basic cable channel runs the show constantly back in the US, for my addiction that started during last summer's visit back to America.

Here's the thing, at its core, it's another cop procedural, so it's not really breaking a lot of new ground - but it's a very well crafted and acted [particularly, imho, Mark Harmon and Rocky Carroll] procedural.

And you know, as a former jarhead I... appreciate... the fact that it emphasizes those parts of military service that are admirable and worthwhile, while never devolving into the chest-thumping jingoistic patriotism that it could very easily pander to.

Though it does, as a cop TV drama, far too frequently dip into the 'we are on the side of good and our hearts are pure, so we may break all the laws we feel like' cliche which irks the hell out of me.  And I continue to fail to understand why more folks don't simply lawyer up and tell Gibbs to kiss their ass.  But hey, let's not mix our entertainment with reality, yes?  And it is an eminently entertaining show.