Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cultures Collide! [There's a Hooters - Tokyo, apparently.]

It seems so wrong, yet so right.

Via The Roving Ronin Report: Tokyo Hooters Plundered by Lusty Pirates!

Another reason to miss Hawaii/Hawaii is awesome.

Via Fun-Filled Friday: TSA, Yoga, Jump, Statins, Cholesterol, Hawaiian Atkins, Nourishing Diets, Thanksgiving « Jimmy Moore's Livin' La Vida Low Carb Blog

"TSA forces cancer survivor to remove prosthetic breast/Odds of cancer from TSA scanners... the same as a terrorist blowing up your plane."

The mind reels.  But I've yet to hit 'outrage burnout.'

Full articles here - TSA forces cancer survivor to remove prosthetic breast - Boing Boing and here - Odds of cancer from TSA scanners about the same as terrorist blowing up your plane - Boing Boing

The most comprehensive roundup of all things pornoscanner/gropey is here by security guru Bruce Schneier - Schneier on Security: TSA Backscatter X-ray Backlash

Bedroom A/C broken; soft, coddled Westerners to sleep in living room this weekend.

I was *this close* to having the audacity to grumble and complain about it - then remembered I live in conditions better than 99.99% of the people *in the country.* At which point I shut my privileged and spoiled mouth.

Friday, November 19, 2010

"If you talk to God, you are praying; If God talks to you, you have schizophrenia. If the dead talk to you, you are a spiritualist; If you talk to the dead, you are a schizophrenic." - Thomas Szasz

Mostly a matter of who's making the definitions, really. As Szasz's literary descendant once said:
"There's no such thing as crazy, just behavior that society has deemed unacceptable."

Remember when we weren't a nation of easily cowed, pants-wetting children? - "Deadly terrorism existed before 9/11."

You know, I hated and still hate the mantra that made its way around about how "9/11 changed everything." My response to that has always been "Only if you weren't paying attention." Sadly, it seems most weren't. And you know, I hate to come off as an old man, ranting about how some things used to be better - at not yet 40 - but this really nails how the national psychology is so much more degraded and fear based now.

News flash: Deadly terrorism existed before 9/11 - Ask the Pilot -
"Here's a scenario:

Middle Eastern terrorists hijack a U.S. jetliner bound for Italy. A two-week drama ensues in which the plane's occupants are split into groups and held hostage in secret locations in Lebanon and Syria.

While this drama is unfolding, another group of terrorists detonates a bomb in the luggage hold of a 747 over the North Atlantic, killing more than 300 people.

Not long afterward, terrorists kill 19 people and wound more than a hundred others in coordinated attacks at European airport ticket counters.

A few months later, a U.S. airliner is bombed over Greece, killing four passengers.

Five months after that, another U.S. airliner is stormed by heavily armed terrorists at the airport in Karachi, Pakistan, killing at least 20 people and wounding 150 more.

Things are quiet for a while, until two years later when a 747 bound for New York is blown up over Europe killing 270 passengers and crew.

Nine months from then, a French airliner en route to Paris is bombed over Africa, killing 170 people from 17 countries.

That's a pretty macabre fantasy, no? A worst-case war-game scenario for the CIA? A script for the End Times? Except, of course, that everything above actually happened, in a four-year span between 1985 and 1989. The culprits were the al-Qaidas of their time: groups like the Abu Nidal Organization and the Arab Revolutionary Cells, and even the government of Libya.

...With respect to airport security, it is remarkable how we have come to place Sept. 11, 2001, as the fulcrum upon which we balance almost all of our decisions. As if deadly terrorism didn't exist prior to that day, when really we've been dealing with the same old threats for decades. What have we learned? What have we done?

Well, have a look at the debased state of airport security today. We continue enacting the wrong policies, wasting our security resources and manpower. We have implemented many important changes since Lockerbie, it's true (actually, many of the new protocols are post-9/11), but much of our approach remains incoherent. Cargo and packages go uninspected while passengers are groped and harassed over umbrellas and harmless hobby knives. Uniformed pilots are forced to remove their belts and endure embarrassing pat-downs.

And what of our rights as citizens? Body scanners are in the news this week. If a decade ago people were told that a day was coming when passengers would need to be looked at naked before getting on a plane, nobody would have believed it. Yet here we are, and what might be next?"

The "liberal media" - 'PBS censors Tina Fey's Sarah Palin joke.'

Journalists may be liberal, but the media is pro-corporate and pro-authoritarian. Most can't seem to get beyond the false left/right dichotomy to catch that, it seems to me, hence the ongoing ranting about "the liberal media."

Fey nails it in one, though.

PBS censors Tina Fey's Sarah Palin joke - Boing Boing:
"[Tina Fey] - 'And, you know, politics aside, the success of Sarah Palin and women like her is good for all women -- except, of course, those who will end up, you know, like, paying for their own rape kit 'n' stuff. But for everybody else, it's a win-win.

Unless you're a gay woman who wants to marry your partner of 20 years -- whatever. But for most women, the success of conservative women is good for all of us.

Unless you believe in evolution. You know what? Actually, I take it back. The whole thing's a disaster.'"

Lede of the Day - "Man dresses depressed Holocaust-survivor grandma as superhero, cheers her up."

Via the always entertaining Boing Boing.

The 1970's seem like a magical time.

My neighbor's groovy "conversation pit" perfectly preserved from 1974 - Boing Boing:
"The Pit (as we called it) is quite literally unchanged since the day it was completed in 1974 -- original pillows, hanging basket chairs, groovy wall graphics, foam-padded lounge areas, stainless-steel mobile, track lights, and all." 

I also will go on record saying the Jungle Room at Graceland is awesome.

Oh North Carolina...

Not Always Right | Funny & Stupid Customer Quotes » Spelling Gone Rogue:
"Caller: “I have a question about my account.”

Me: “I’d be happy to help! What email address do you use to log in?”

Caller: “It’s rogue@[email host].com”

Me: “Sorry sir, I can’t seem to find that email in the system. To confirm, let me spell out the full address: r-o-g-u-e@[email host].com?”

Caller: “No it’s *****r-o-u-g-e!”

Me: “Oh, rouge like the makeup. The word “rogue” is spelled r-o-g-u-e.”

Caller: “That’s not how rogue is spelled! I can’t believe how stupid your customer service is!”

Me: “If you want to be sure, you can check a dictionary for the correct spelling.”

Caller: “Fine, I will! I’m going to search right now!”

(A minute passes as he searches.)

Caller: “F***! I’ve been using this email for years! I can’t believe my guild members never pointed this out to me!” *hangs up*"

That is a woman who really loves her husband.

This is just funny - "...the whitest people imaginable."

Fred Reed is a cantankerous former jarhead and reporter/police writer/war correspondent. Now living a semi-retired life down in Mexico he writes a regular web-column. His most recent consisted of responses to folks asking about life in Mexico, and he provided links & advice to sources of info and help.

His bit on the Consulate there just cracked me up.

Fred On Everything:
"US Consulate, Guadalajara Rude, incompetent, generally useless, but perhaps suitable in a pinch. For what, I don't know.

Like American embassies and consulates everywhere, the consulate in Guad cowers behind bars and rentaguards and is terrified of practically everything. You can't take lipstick inside, for example, though to be truthful, I've never wanted to. The employees do not seem to like veterans and to have little in common with Mexicans. The ones I have met have been too white-wine-and-cheese for a country that is more Squirt-and-tequila. They are the whitest people imaginable in a brown country."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Justice League Chanbara = Awesome.

Chanbara the term for Japanese sword flicks.  At the link the whole JLA is reimagined chanbara style, and it is awesome.  Check out Aquaman here and click on over to see the rest.

Via Career Day: Chambara JLA | Project : Rooftop

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I've Read - quite a bit in a year, apparently.

Haven't done one of these "I've read" posts, according to the blog, in almost a year.  Which makes sense.  Wife's visit to Japan, students' graduation, prepping to move after 5 years in Japan back to the US, getting everything ready with DOS to move to Liberia... moving to Liberia.  Still, mostly excuses.  The truth of the matter is that when I've finished a book my first inclination is to pick up the next instead of "reviewing" it.  I was using an app w/Facebook that tracked the books I read too, but it became a functional nightmare, so I disconnected that and that helped quenched my enthusiasm for such things as well.  Plus, given the fact I don't read one book at a time - I'm in the middle of 3 diff ones right now - there's never a clean break to jot down notes.  So here's, I guess, a shotgun one or two line review of all the books I've read this past year [that I remembered to write down here.]

""I don't like words that hide the truth. I don't words that conceal reality. I don't like euphemisms, or euphemistic language. And American English is loaded with euphemisms..."

Speaking of the immortal George Carlin, one of my favorite riffs of his:
"...Cause Americans have a lot of trouble dealing with reality. Americans have trouble facing the truth, so they invent the kind of a soft language to protest themselves from it, and it gets worse with every generation. For some reason, it just keeps getting worse.

I'll give you an example of that. There's a condition in combat. Most people know about it. It's when a fighting person's nervous system has been stressed to it's absolute peak and maximum. Can't take anymore input. The nervous system has either (click) snapped or is about to snap. In the first world war, that condition was called shell shock. Simple, honest, direct language. Two syllables, shell shock. Almost sounds like the guns themselves. That was seventy years ago. Then a whole generation went by and the second world war came along and very same combat condition was called battle fatigue. Four syllables now. Takes a little longer to say. Doesn't seem to hurt as much. Fatigue is a nicer word than shock. Shell shock! Battle fatigue. Then we had the war in Korea, 1950. Madison Avenue was riding high by that time, and the very same combat condition was called operational exhaustion. Hey, were up to eight syllables now! And the humanity has been squeezed completely out of the phrase. It's totally sterile now. Operational exhaustion. Sounds like something that might happen to your car. Then of course, came the war in Vietnam, which has only been over for about sixteen or seventeen years, and thanks to the lies and deceits surrounding that war, I guess it's no surprise that the very same condition was called post-traumatic stress disorder. Still eight syllables, but we've added a hyphen! And the pain is completely buried under jargon. Post-traumatic stress disorder. I'll bet you if we'd of still been calling it shell shock, some of those Vietnam veterans might have gotten the attention they needed at the time. I'll betcha. I'll betcha.

But. But, it didn't happen, and one of the reasons. One of the reasons is because we were using that soft language. That language that takes the life out of life. And it is a function of time. It does keep getting worse. I'll give you another example. Sometime during my life. Sometime during my life, toilet paper became bathroom tissue. I wasn't notified of this. No one asked me if I agreed with it. It just happened. Toilet paper became bathroom tissue. Sneakers became running shoes. False teeth became dental appliances. Medicine became medication. Information became directory assistance. The dump became the landfill. Car crashes became automobile accidents. Partly cloudy bacame partly sunny. Motels became motor lodges. House trailers became mobile homes. Used cars became previously owned transportation. Room service became guest-room dining. And constipation became occasional irregularity. When I was a little kid, if I got sick they wanted me to go to the hospital and see a doctor. Now they want me to go to a health maintenance organization...or a wellness center to consult a healthcare delivery professional. Poor people used to live in slums. Now the economically disadvantaged occupy substandard housing in the inner cities. And they're broke! They're broke! They don't have a negative cash-flow position. They're fucking broke! Cause a lot of them were fired. You know, fired. management wanted to curtail redundancies in the human resources area, so many people are no longer viable members of the workforce.

Smug, greedy, well-fed white people have invented a language to conceal their sins. It's as simple as that. The CIA doesn't kill anybody anymore, they neutralize people...or they depopulate the area. The government doesn't lie, it engages in disinformation. The Pentagon actually measures nuclear radiation in something they call sunshine units. Israeli murderers are called commandos. Arab commandos are called terrorists. Contra killers are called freedom fighters. Well, if crime fighters fight crime and fire fighters fight fire, what do freedom fighters fight? They never mention that part of it to us, do they? Never mention that part of it."

Global Warming - real, man made, probably unimportant.

Least that's the theory I'm going with. The whole global warming thing strikes me more as fear mongering than anything else.

Bjorn Lomborg - Cost-effective ways to address climate change:
"One of the scarier predictions about global warming is the suggestion that melting glaciers and ice caps could cause sea levels to rise as much as 15 to 20 feet over the next century. Set aside the fact that the best research we have - from the United Nations climate panel - says that global sea levels are not likely to rise more than about 20 inches by 2100. Rather, let's imagine that over the next 80 or 90 years, a giant port city - say, Tokyo - found itself engulfed by a sea-level rise of about 15 feet. Millions of inhabitants would be imperiled, along with trillions of dollars' worth of infrastructure. Without a vast global effort, could we cope with such a terrifying catastrophe?

Well, we already have. In fact, we're doing it right now.

Since 1930, excessive groundwater withdrawal has caused Tokyo to subside by as much as 15 feet. Similar subsidence has occurred over the past century in numerous cities, including Tianjin, Shanghai, Osaka, Bangkok and Jakarta. And in each case, the city has managed to protect itself from such large relative sea-level rises without much difficulty."
In the immortal words of Saint Carlin -
"And the greatest arrogance of all, "Save the planet." WHAT? Are these fucking people kidding me? Save the planet? We don't even know how to take care of ourselves yet. We haven't learned how to care for one another, we're gonna save the fucking planet? I'm getting tired of that shit. Tired of that shit. Tired! I'm tired of fucking Earth Day! I'm tired of these self-righteous environmentalists; these white, bourgeois liberals who think the only thing wrong with this country is there aren't enough bicycle paths."

"I don't travel in circles where people say, 'I have faith, I believe this in my heart and nothing you can say or do can shake my faith.' That's just a long-winded religious way to say, 'shut up...'" Penn Jillette

Penn Jillette rocks.

There Is No God : NPR:
"...or another two words that the FCC likes less. But all obscenity is less insulting than, 'How I was brought up and my imaginary friend means more to me than anything you can ever say or do.' So, believing there is no God lets me be proven wrong and that's always fun. It means I'm learning something.

Believing there is no God means the suffering I've seen in my family, and indeed all the suffering in the world, isn't caused by an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent force that isn't bothered to help or is just testing us, but rather something we all may be able to help others with in the future. No God means the possibility of less suffering in the future."

Ridiculously vivid, creepy dreams - shot through the chest...

...bleeding out.  Also Robert DeNiro & Billy Crystal [Analyze This?] - Dr Frankenstein & his monster, to replace my heart, obviously.  And the mother of all recurring dreams, moving back into Bancroft and having to redo Plebe year.  I hate that dream.  Have it once or twice a year, easy.

Praise be to anti-malarial mefloquine and its side effects.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

2x in the last 12 hours I've come across this quote.

Randomly, it would seem, from different sources & avenues.  Huh.

"This is a Sea Horse."

I've always felt this is deceitful.

The Location of God.

Buffet Breakfast.

The weekend of the USMC ball there was nothing the Mrs was so looking forward to so much as the Sunday AM breakfast brunch.  Which, overall, was a quite tasty waffle/toast/omelette extravaganza.  Though my adventuress wife took it upon herself to try some new condiments - Marmite and Nutella.



Marmite FAIL.

The Nutella was good though.  And my food, below, was excellent.

Indestructible Naval Academy Luggage.

Needed a garment bag over the wkend, but didn't realize we still had my old Naval Academy one.  Thought I'd tossed it years ago, but the Mrs had put in her ever-increasing 'who-knows-we-might-need-it-someday' pile.  Fair enough, we did.  The only bit of USNA luggage paraphernalia I knew I still had were a couple Alpha Code embedded laundry bags - see above - that are capable of many, many uses... of late to drag boxes from the mailroom up to the 5th floor apartment.

Not entirely indestructible, as apparently I broke a zipper at one point...

...and tried to fix a tear with what appears to be a combination of super glue and shoe-goo.  Ah, the memories.

First Marine Corps Ball in 12 years.

"Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in." - Godfather III - Michael Corleone/Al Pacino

Never thought I'd be at another of these again, but as long as the Mrs keeps with the new career path, and embassies are guarded around the globe by Marines, apparently it's back in the rotation.

Waiting for our room.  Liberian customer service leaves a bit to be desired.


Good with the bad... at Liberia's finest hotel - missing light bulbs.  Hmm.

Not quite.  But good try.


Obligatory arms-reach photo.

Cheesy, thy name is I.

Double fisting, like a champ.  [Okay, one is for someone else.]

Whereas I order 1 - ONE - drink and they give me two.  Apparently, I look like a person who needs two.

It's odd, how deep the conditioning runs.  4 years USNA, 5 years USMC, and when the music plays and they march on the colors, I do get a little tingle.  Of course, I also went to a Catholic school where they ran the flag up and did the Pledge of Allegiance and sang the Marine Corps Hymn daily.  How I emerged even relatively unscathed is a mystery to all.

Koji, the koi fish ring.  [My wife is special.]

Tasty food was tasty.

Hair up to begin the dance portion of our evening.

Synchronized dance - has to be the Japanese genes in her.  I think this was the "Electric Slide," of all things.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Monrovia's other sushi place.

So we hit the Barracuda Bar at Mamba Point Hotel a few weeks ago, and last Friday we hit Monrovia's other sushi restaurant - its original, apparently - The Royal Hotel Sushi Restaurant.  Presentation is a draw and I thought the quality of the food was about even [it's all pretty much imported, wherever you go] though Sandy likes the spicy tuna salad dish at the Royal, so that's a wash.  But in terms of atmosphere, location and service - Barracuda beats out the Royal on all counts, imho.  But still, you gotta love that in a country without an electrical grid, operable sewer systems, more than a handful of paved roads and no real infrastructure - I have not one, but two sushi restaurants to hit up when I start missing Japan.

Authentic Liberian tchotchkes.

The Mrs has been looking for things, you know, actually Liberian - or at least say Liberia - as opposed to things made in Ghana or China.  So, success!

Liberian review of Greg Rucka's "A Gentleman's Game: A Queen & Country Novel."

One of those odd synchronicities, though I've yet to crack the meaning behind this particular "meaningful coincidence."  In anticipation of getting Rucka's latest Q&C novel [The Last Run] I took the time it takes to ship from the US to Liberia to re-read the prior books in the series.  Which, for those not in the know...  Queen and Country started off as a comic series from Oni, picked up in the first novel [A Gentlemen's Game] back to the comic series briefly and then on to the 2nd novel [Private Wars.]  I'd just earlier this year picked up the Definitive Editions of the comics but what with the move hadn't sat down to read through them.  So I'm merrily chugging along, enjoying them quite a bit, remembering bits I'd forgotten and some of those deft character touches...

[A brief aside, Private Wars is almost a whole new experience to read, given that the wife is now a Foreign Service Officer with the State Dept and a good portion of the book is centered in and around a political office in a State Dept embassy...  Adds some layers to the novel that are pretty damn cool.]

Anyways, while reading through the series, given that I'm still only two months in country - and I'm still trying to acclimate and soak up the country and the culture to figure out where the hell I'm living for the next couple years - I snag the magazines and newspapers she brings home and flip through them.

So I grab a copy of Liberia Travel and Life Magazine...
While browsing through I hit the "Books to Inspire" page, and since I'm a near pathological reader, I stop to see if there's anything interesting, when I recognize the tattered book on the top of the pile - the very book I'm reading - A Gentleman's Game.  Cue the Twilight Zone music.  Because, you know, there really aren't a lot of books here in Liberia, and not much of a culture of literature as it still is trying to rebuild from years of war.  And it's safe to say there probably aren't more than two copies of this book in Liberia.  And I happen to find a review of the one copy as I'm reading through the other?  That's a bit...  well, I dunno yet, but I'm working on it.  Get's a good review though.  And well deserved, too.  The whole Q&C series, if you dig on espionage at all, is completely awesome.