Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Understanding that "...one set of footprints" poster.

Overheard in Liberia - "There were rumors that the Mandigos were attacking..."

You know, growing up a young man in NC, not a phrase I'd have expected to ever hear in conversation.  Just goes to show ya.

And, you know, that's Mandingo in the sense of the ethnic group in West Africa [also, Mandinka] NOT the eponymous blaxploitation film of the 1970s starring Ken Norton.

Hat tip, of course, to the ubiquitous "Overheard in..." blogs and Anonymous Country's Overheard in Monrovia series.

"Sometimes the watermark is the most important part of the picture."

I win - "Atheists, agnostics most knowledgeable about religion, survey says."

Self evident and obvious. If, you know, paying attention.

Atheists, agnostics most knowledgeable about religion, survey says - latimes.com:
"If you want to know about God, you might want to talk to an atheist.

Heresy? Perhaps. But a survey that measured Americans' knowledge of religion found that atheists and agnostics knew more, on average, than followers of most major faiths. In fact, the gaps in knowledge among some of the faithful may give new meaning to the term "blind faith."

A majority of Protestants, for instance, couldn't identify Martin Luther as the driving force behind the Protestant Reformation, according to the survey, released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. Four in 10 Catholics misunderstood the meaning of their church's central ritual, incorrectly saying that the bread and wine used in Holy Communion are intended to merely symbolize the body and blood of Christ, not actually become them.

Atheists and agnostics -- those who believe there is no God or who aren't sure -- were more likely to answer the survey's questions correctly. Jews and Mormons ranked just below them in the survey's measurement of religious knowledge -- so close as to be statistically tied.

So why would an atheist know more about religion than a Christian?

[This, all day. - Rob] - American atheists and agnostics tend to be people who grew up in a religious tradition and consciously gave it up, often after a great deal of reflection and study, said Alan Cooperman, associate director for research at the Pew Forum.

"These are people who thought a lot about religion," he said. "They're not indifferent. They care about it."

Atheists and agnostics also tend to be relatively well educated, and the survey found, not surprisingly, that the most knowledgeable people were also the best educated. However, it said that atheists and agnostics also outperformed believers who had a similar level of education.

The groups at the top of the U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey were followed, in order, by white evangelical Protestants, white Catholics, white mainline Protestants, people who were unaffiliated with any faith (but not atheist or agnostic), black Protestants and Latino Catholics..."

"I'd love to understand chaos, but the world is full of hidden variables."

"My favorite thing about religion has always been the music." - Ditto.

Bonus Afternoon Links | The Agitator:
"Interesting article about black churches in Harlem marketing themselves to curious tourists. I say more power to them. My favorite thing about religion has always been the music."

"Just one look, that's all it took..."

Via When Stare Is Worth A Thousand Words | SmilePanic

Sumo & Yakuza -"The thinking in Japan seems to have been if there has to be crime at all, better it be organised."

That's some quintessential Japan right there. Interesting article on sumo, yakuza & Japan - BBC News - Sumo falls prey to Japan's mafia.

A very touching and well crafted bit of writing.

"Today, while everyone else was out, I got the vets to come and see him, and they told me that it was sudden kidney failure and he was beyond treatment. So I sat with him, and thanked him, and told him we love him and that he was a good boy while they carefully gave him the injection, and as I stroked him he gave me that half-lidded look that meant it was good, and then he was asleep. And I’ve just finished burying him in the back garden..."
More at Warren Ellis - Anton

"The United States is not a happy country."

Fred On Everything:
"The United States is not a happy country. People waste their lives in meaningless jobs, trapped by the credit card, the mortgage, the student loan. They know they are wasting their lives. Racial anger runs high. Women resent men. Divorce screws up kids. There is the two-hour commute to the cubicle and back to the sterile box in the anonymous subdivision, the lack of influence over their lives, life from paycheck to paycheck. And anger at affirmative action, either because they suffer from it or because they need it. Life is just flat stressful.

People get spiteful, mean, like mistreated dogs. They want to make others as miserable as they secretly are themselves."

Debunking conventional dietary wisdom.

Much more at the link, worth reading...

Fat Head - This Is What We’re Up Against, Part Two:
"The following is a transcript of an online debate between me and someone who works at a medical center and is either a nutritionist or has great respect for the advice they dole out. This should give you an idea of what sick people are being told about diet. My mom received the same advice from a nutrionist, but between my lectures and the books by Drs. Eades & Eades, she was persuaded otherwise.

Nutritionist comments are in italics, mine are plain text.

it’s not wise to cut grains out completely. your body needs varieties of different foods, grain included.

Humans lived without grains for 99% of their time on earth. Many native cultures still live without eating grains, which require processing to be edible. On what are you basing your claim that it’s “not wise” to cut out grains completely? (I have, and all that’s happened is several ailments have gone away.)

well good for your individual results. humans have been eating grains for at least 10,000 years, some evidence found it going way further back. granted it only seems like a blink of the eye, but it a significant amount of time nonetheless.

basically you need carbs to function. you need them for your brain and also to exercise. i’m not saying go out and eat a bunch of white bleached and enriched bread, just eat healthy grains.

Evolution doesn’t work that quickly. Some humans have adapted to grains, but many have not. No humans NEED grains to be healthy, and grains can have negative effects on health. The lectins in grains can lead to autoimmune diseases, to name just one. Nor do we need carbohydrates to exercise (I exercise frequently) or for brain function (I write, do standup comedy, and program software all without benefit of carbohydrates other than vegetables). Look up glocuneogenesis.

you actually do need carbs for lots of things, including the central nervous system, the kidneys, brain and muscles (including the heart). you need it cause it’s your main source of energy. without carbs your body will consume protein from your muscles. you also get carbs from fruit and veggies. and again, i’m not saying go eat a bunch of refined carbs, but brown rice, whole grain pasta, and multigrain breads should be a moderate part of your diet.

With all due respect, you’re simply stating an opinion with no facts to back it up. If you consume enough fat and protein, your body will not digest your muscles. I’ve gained quite a bit of muscle since cutting carbs. Carbs are the “main source of energy” as a matter of convenience in grain-growing societies, not as a biological necessity. Most of your body will happily burn fat for fuel — that’s why your body stores energy as fat. (Kind of makes sense, doesn’t it?)

your body will burn muscle and fat as a last resort, it’s a survival mechanism. and with all due respect, you don’t know my educational background, therefore are not qualified to call my opinion just that. an opinion, and with no facts nonetheless. i don’t know if you’re promoting this film for someone or if it’s your film, but arguing on youtube is not a good way to endorse a product.

What is your scientific basis for the “last resort” theory? Without fat or protein, you’ll die. Without carbs, you’ll live just fine, as many hunting and fishing tribes throughout history did. My ancestors lived in Ireland. Pre-agriculture, how did they manage to get all that “essential” carbohydrate? No potatoes, no grain farming, no wild fruits or vegetables except in season. The idea that we evolved to “need” grains and starches a mere few thousand years later is absurd..."

"Tonight, I will attempt to travel back in time..."

Communication is important.

Understanding "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Fiscal aptitude.

Overheard Everywhere | There's Only One Game in Town and It's Rigged, Dude:
"Young suit to crying baby he's holding at arm's length: You were a terrible investment.
Young woman: Stop saying that!
Young suit: If he doesn't stop crying, I'm literally going to give him to the next person who is willing.
Young woman, taking the baby: He should be crying. You're an idiot!
Young suit: The sale has now become two for one.

Toys R Us
Bear, Delaware"

"Middle Class Batman" by MikePMitchell on deviantART.

This is awesome.

Middle Class Batman by ~MikePMitchell on deviantART

We can only hope - "Pope Benedict tells politicians that religion is being mariginalised."

Pope's visit: Benedict tells politicians that religion is being mariginalised | World news | guardian.co.uk
To paraphrase the genius of Doug Stanhope, how often do you hear 'two hundred killed today when atheist rebels took heavy shelling from the agnostic stronghold in the north'?

"UN extends peacekeeping force in Liberia; calls for plans to transfer security to government."

Couple weeks old now, but kind of big deal still, what with next year's presidential election.

The Canadian Press: UN extends peacekeeping force in Liberia; calls for plans to transfer security to government:
"The Security Council voted unanimously Wednesday to extend the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Liberia for a year but called for plans to transfer responsibility for security to government authorities.

A resolution adopted unanimously by the council endorsed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's recommendation that free, fair and peaceful presidential and legislative elections next year be "a core benchmark" for further reductions in the U.N. force. It also asked Ban to continue monitoring progress on other benchmarks, including improving the capabilities of the national police.

When the council authorized the U.N. force in 2003 after a peace deal ended back-to-back civil wars, it set a ceiling of 15,000 troops. The size of the force has been reduced three times in recent years and now stands at fewer than 8,000 peacekeepers.

The U.S.-drafted resolution welcomes the Liberian government's efforts to promote national reconciliation, economic recovery and good governance and to combat corruption. But it stressed that a well-functioning government, including security and judicial institutions, is essential for "lasting stability" in Liberia and the West African region, and noted "with concern" that in some areas progress has been slow..."

Nixing a common female/gaijin/Japan complaint, via Gaijin Chronicles.

Pretty damn funny.  Gaijin Chronicles btw, the new and improved update of the old Gaijin Smash blog, which was probably the most popular JET/Gaijin/Expat blog 3-4 years ago, at least the one I devoured when I started JET.

This was, in my experience, a fairly common complaint amongst gaijin ladyfolk on JET. As the man writes, "Welcome to our world, ladies."

No Sex in The City - Gaijin Chronicles
:"...girls – yes, you too can have sex in Japan.

...It should be common knowledge that women can get laid almost anytime they want. I know that here, some of the female members of the audience are shaking their heads and saying out loud “that’s not true!” If you happen to be a female who isn’t getting laid as much as you like, just know that its not because you can’t, but simply because of a lack of effort.

Yes ladies, you can get laid anytime you want. Go to a bar or a club, or any sort of social setting like that. Or hell, just go to Starbucks or a Barnes and Noble by yourself and loiter around for a bit. If that method is unappealing to you, simply turn to one of your numerous male friends (I know you have them) and say “I need to have sex, could you help me out?” Most of them will say yes...

...For the most part, women don’t even have to make any effort. Just go outside regularly, and you will have guys hitting on you at some point in time. I know women who have made it their life’s creed to never ever ever approach a guy – this is the man’s job, and if he can’t do that then she isn’t interested. So in these cases, its not even that the woman has no choices – she simply doesn’t like what’s available to her. And here as well, I know there are going to be women who will say “I go outside and hit on guys all the time and get nowhere! Guys have deemed me unattractive” – I will say that I can sympathize, because I’ve been turned down solely on looks before, it sucks. I know your pain. However, at the same time, go look up BBW porn, or any sort random fetish porn. Realize that not only did these women get laid, but the guy doing it allowed himself to be caught on camera, and the fact that this is even a video means that there are guys out there who are going to jack off to this. Almost every day in Japan I see couples where the girl is way below average but the guy is decent looking. Ladies, unless you are actually the monster from Aliens, there is a guy out there somewhere willing to pork you. And I would bet money that there are guys out there willing to pork the Aliens monster too. You are not looking hard enough.

...Not all, but most women in America at least are accustomed to letting guys come to them. So when they say they can’t get laid, its just a matter of not liking the selection.

And then we have Japan, which kind of turns the system on its head.

Foreign women don’t get approached so much in Japan. Japanese guys don’t do it – they get scared and convince themselves of failure before they even start. Other foreign guys don’t do it – a fair portion of the foreign male population has Japanese blinders on, and wouldn’t approach a Gaijin girl, even if she were, say, Jessica Alba, because she’s “not quite as attractive” as your average Japanese girl. Yes, Yellow Fever is a frightening thing. Then you have other foreign guys, who would be receptive to dating a fellow Gaijin, but we usually never get the chance because the J-girls have taken the initiative.

J-Girl: Um, hello Mr. Gaijin.
Gaijin Guy: Hello! How are you?
J-Girl: Fine, thank you. And you? Er…I was wondering if you could teach me English sometime.
Gaijin Guy: Well, I don’t know, that is MORE English teaching on top of the English teaching I already get paid for…
J-Girl: Well, perhaps we could just talk English while having dinner together.
Gaijin Guy: That sounds a little bit more appealing.
J-Girl: And I would also like to experience sex with a foreigner.
Gaijin Guy: …Aaaaaaaand now we’re talking!

Literally not an exaggeration.

So while this goes on, Gaijin girls stick by their old system of…not doing anything. And while this worked back home, here in Japan, it does not. I knew foreign women here who were hornier than Hugh Hefner in his prime, who complained about never getting any YET never did anything about it!

Gaijin Girl: Man, I’m so horny! Why can’t I get laid here?
Me: Well, what have you done to solve the problem?
Gaijin Girl: I’ve been going to bars every weekend.
Me: And?
Gaijin Girl: I get dressed up real nice, put on the going-out makeup and everything.
Me: And?
Gaijin Girl: Nothing happens! Nobody comes to talk to me!
Me: Right. And what happened when you tried to go talk to guys?
Gaijin Girl: Oh no, I couldn’t do that.
Me: But, can you really say that you tried to get laid if you just went out… and did nothing?
Gaijin Girl: Back home when I went out guys would hit on me all the time. But it doesn’t happen in Japan. And now I don’t know what to do.
Me: *facepalm*

...So yeah, the “do nothing” approach doesn’t work so well here.

If the Gaijin girl is willing to be more proactive – actively approach guys, talk to them, get their attention, then she can do well here. Girls who do this get boyfriends and even get laid. I’ve seen girls in bars pick out a guy, and within 10 minutes make it clear that she wanted to have sex with him. And you know what she did that night? It wasn’t crocheting, that’s for sure. Although this is purely my personal observation, it seems as though American girls are the ones who have the most problems with this. Non-Americans have no problems pulling guys, but the American ones are the ones who sit back and wonder why nothing happens when they do nothing.

So the message is clear: do something. Be more proactive. Go out and hit on guys. Be downright aggressive. And if that doesn’t sound appealing to you – what happens if I get rejected? – it’s embarrasing – too shy to do that – what will my friends think? – all I can really say to you is – Welcome to our world, ladies. We men have had to do this ever since our hormones kicked in. I have no sympathy for you..."

Oh, Japan - "Aichi teacher gives third-graders math problem about killing kids."

Aichi teacher gives third-graders math problem about killing kids › Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion:
"...third-grade elementary school teacher in Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture, has been reprimanded for asking a class as part of division problems the number of days it would take if 18 kids are killed by three a day, the local education board said Wednesday."

Lotta truth, some exaggeration - "Don't blame JET for Japan's poor English | The Japan Times Online"

Don't blame JET for Japan's poor English | The Japan Times Online:
"The Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme, touted as the world's largest cultural exchange scheme, has brought thousands of non-Japanese into the country to teach at local boards of education. These days, with many government programs being told to justify their existence, a debate is raging over whether JET should be left as is, cut or abolished entirely.

...the two main camps argue: a) keep JET, because it gives outback schools more contact with "foreign culture" (moreover, it gives Japan a means of projecting "soft power" abroad); versus b) cut or abolish JET — it's wasteful, bringing over generally untrained and sometimes unprofessional kids, and offers no measurable benefit (see Japan's bottom-feeding TOEFL test scores in Asia).

The debate, however, needs to consider: 1) JET's misconstrued mandate, and 2) Japan's psychotic — yes, psychotic — system of language teaching."

You're using it wrong.

Lowering the bar for the rest of us.

Texts From Last Night:
"(973):  Just wrote the directions to get to the girls house im hooking up with on the back of my marriage certificate. Officially worst husband ever."

Creative, resourceful.

Have stolen wife's computer for the AM; prepare for upload.

My new computer is still winging its way to Liberia, time to flood the blog with randomness.