2.28.2007

I'm a nerd

...and I'm bored.

Rei-Rei and Kaoru

If you didn't already know, you can see more here.

2.23.2007

My New Favorite Internet Toy

My new favorite thing on the internet is Conservapedia.

For those of you who don't know, the Conservapedia was recently started as "a much-needed alternative to Wikipedia, which is increasingly anti-Christian and anti-American. On Wikipedia, many of the dates are provided in the anti-Christian "C.E." instead of "A.D.", which Conservapedia uses. Christianity receives no credit for the great advances and discoveries it inspired, such as those of the Renaissance."

One of my favorite Conservapedia articles is Communism.
Communism is government in which the state owns everything and the wealth is divided evenly among the citizens. Communists believe that if they share everything, no one will ever have to work. It is an atheist government not believing in God and only in the "state" as the supreme thing on the earth. The most famous communist government was the USSR or the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was an official government starting in 1922 and ending in 1991.

That's the whole article. And really, why would you want to write more than that?

Let's also have a peek at Ronald Reagan, who suffers from some hilarious wikifiti:
In one of his most famous challenges to Soviet Communism in Europe, he publicly uttered the words, "Mr. Gorbachev,it's really cold here in Russia," before the tearing down of the Berlin Wall with his bare hands, separating East and West Germany. He also introduced the idea of "Reaganomics" in which the rich would recieve tax breaks and poor people got nothing.

Another fave of mine is Abraham Lincoln.
Abraham Lincoln is the reason that Southerners are Americans.

Hahaha, awesome.

Let's enjoying Conservapedia.

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Single-Issue Voters Are Morons

By mistake (and via Google News) I happened to read this piece of opinion vomit over at FOX News.
In most of the presidential elections since 1973, I have been what the pollsters refer to as a "single-issue" voter, being ever stalwart in my support for vigorous pro-life candidates. But this primary, I'm voting for Rudy Giuliani, despite his pro-choice stance. Here's why.

The author states briefly that she's not really convinced that the president has any effect on pro-life/pro-choice decisions anyway, so it's not longer such a big presidential issue for her. Phew...that's a relief. But why does she want to vote for good ol' pro-choice Giuli?
Unfortunately, in 2008, we Americans do not have the luxury of focusing our votes towards any domestic agenda. That we have some very large, ever-looming domestic problems — health care crisis, out-of-control entitlement programs, an irresponsible deficit, to name a few — goes without belaboring. But to give any of those center stage right now is, in my view, pure folly. Whether we like it or not, we are in a war, a war we neither asked for, nor started. And, no matter what happens in the short run in Iraq, we are going to be at war for a long time.

Oh! That's why! So she wasn't a moron because she was a single-issue voter all those years, she was a single-issue voter because she was a moron. And I won't even get into the fact that she's so staunchly pro-life but she's also for the war in Iraq...hypocritical much?

That being said, it's hard to believe that there are still people in the United States that believe the above crap. We didn't start the Iraq war? Then who, pray tell, did start it? And I love this person's blind acceptance that we're "going to be at war for a long time." That's a great attitude, and a sign that she's eaten up everything Bush and his cronies (including FOX News) have fed her since September 11th.

Speaking of which, she goes on to say this:
I'm from Atlanta, Georgia and have always been more than a little suspect of any New Yorker. I still remember when everyone I knew who ventured to the Big Apple came back with some horror story that included a mugging, public restrooms too filthy for humans, prostitutes everywhere, and drug dealers hustling on street corners. I kept up with the news that supposedly the hard-nosed, Republican, Yankee Mayor had cleaned up the city, but put little stock in it.

Okay, she's established she's got a vivid imagination and absolutely know concept of the city of New York. Let me make one thing clear to you Kyle-Anne, you can kiss my ass. You're from Atlanta, Georgia? The only time there was EVER a terrorist attack there it was while the Olympics were in town. You don't feel safe in America, you're scared of New York City? I lived in New York for four years and was never scared a day in my life. I love everything about that city, and your blind support of it's former mayor does not impress me at all. You're the reason terrorists have any success with their tactics. If you can't see that you are in NO danger of coming to ANY harm at all due to a terrorist action then you are devoid of any intelligence.

This reminds me of the stupid Boston Aqua Teen ad scare. Why do the Americans who are in the least danger from ANYTHING continue to cry about terrorism? Why don't you let the big boys and girls who live in New York, LA, DC, et al worry about that. Go back to voting single-issue on things like abortion, at least your pretend concern about that seems a little more realistic to me.

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This Is Pretty Cool

But Isaac Van Duyn, for the love of all that is holy, do not click this link. (Unless you need some horror in your life today)

Everyone else, prepare to be blown.

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2.21.2007

Japanic! Jams (5.0)

So this is kinda late...but here's your bimonthly Japanic! Jams:

This week we're taking a close look at a sweet Japanese crusty pop-punk band called Blotto. They were recommeneded to me by none other than Spoobnob of TMLE fame, so when I saw their record in a punk store in Hiroshima I snatched it up real quick.

They remind me a lot of the Plan-It X sound, but with really heavy Crimpshrine and Fifteen influence. Totally awesome stuff. I only have four songs, and they come from a split EP with a good, but not as good, band called World Today.

The highlight of the EP is the song Just Another Punk Rock Song For A Man Who Is Not So Young. These guys sing in English, so don't worry about being able to understand the singer when he howls, "I'm 25 years old, but I have just started my band. Is it so funny?" And continues in the chorus with the statement, "How I look is not so important." Really great stuff, and no doubt my favorite kind of punk rock.

Since they seem to be broken up (no webpage and no response to my email) I'm posting all four tracks from the EP here:

1. Fuck All The Situations, But...
2. Just Another Punk Rock Song For A Man Who Is Not So Young
3. Communication
4. Lack Of Imagination

[zshare]

2.19.2007

Mr. Shimane

This weekend I took a trip up to Matsue (the "big city") for a fundraising dinner and dance. The dance was to benefit our AJET Scholarship Fund, a new JET venture where we send Shimane students overseas for English language study experiences. The central attraction of said dance was the "Mr. Shimane Contest," of which I was a participant.

I took on five other ALTs in a no-holds-barred cage match of masculinity. Through a question round and talent portion we fought to be crowned "Mr. Shimane" - a title, I'm told, actually means something around these parts. I'm not convinced.

I just couldn't seem to get into it. I bombed my question round, but I sort of brought it to the talent portion. I played The Slackers' "Yes, It's True" on guitar, and in the middle also busted into a dance break stealing Will and Carlton's "Apache" routine right out of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Jump on it...

EDIT: I realize now (after some comments) that I totally forgot to mention the winner. The winner was neither me (with my sweet song and dance routine), nor was it Ken (with his Christopher Walken dance moves). The winner was our good friend Rob, a hell of a guy from a place called Nima a little northeast of Hamada. A good time was had by all.

Click below for the pics:

The Mr. Shimane Competition

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2.14.2007

2/5 Ain't Bad

I don't believe I posted about this before, but I had set my goal for receiving chocolate gifts from girls at school at five. You see, in Japan, Valentine's Day is a day when girls give chocolate to pretty much all the guys they know. There's not really anything romantic about it, although obviously the day can be used to make secret love confessions and the like. Then in March the same thing happens on White Day, but in reverse, the dudes repay the favor. It's all very congenial and Japanese.

I had set my chocolate pull quota at five because I thought it was a nice number to reach to...I haven't known any of these girls all that long, but I am mysterious and foreign, which can't hurt. One girl had told me for sure she was giving me chocolate, and the other was a surprise. I actually got chocolate from three girls if you count the youngish music teacher who gave some to everyone in the staff room. Not too bad. Room for improvement next year.

Also I was at my small school today, and I can't help but wonder what numbers I would have brought in at my larger school. Maybe I can work it out so that I'm there next year.

Mmm, chocolate.

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Happy Valentine's Day

I want this guy to be my Valentine:



Aparently this guy is some sort of YouTube atheist celebrity. I've heard his name thrown around before, but this video is interesting for a couple reasons. One, it appears to be filmed by the Christian people who are accosting him, yet he posted it to YouTube. Maybe I'm wrong about that. Two, this guy is a pretty awesome anti-apologist.

[via god is for suckers]

2.13.2007

Hello

No Japanic! Jams today. I'm just not in the mood. I think I might scale it back to every other week as well, because (big shocker) I listen to a lot of the same music from one week to the next. I don't want to bore you.

Check out Babel if you haven't seen it. Decent flick, Japanese subplot with the guy from Cure and Charisma. Thanks to Ken for pointing me at this one. Not the best movie ever, but definitely the best movie to come out of Hollywood all year...maybe in two or three years. Since LotR anyway.

Interesting Cultural Experience

I went to a dance party in Hamada this weekend. It was in a relatively small club, as there are no big clubs, and as soon as I got inside I noticed there was a foreigner I'd never seen before. Somehow I ended up standing next to him and after a bit I turned to give him the standard foreigner greeting. Only he didn't speak English. The Yankee Imperialist in me was shocked.

Turns out he was a very nice young man from Brazil, and while he didn't speak English he spoke near-perfect Japanese. I was able to communicate with him in my pretty crappy Japanese, and within moments we were having a very animated, very stimulating conversation. Needless to say, this was the first conversation I'd ever had in which both parties involved were not speaking their mother tongue (excluding stupid canned dialogue in Japanese class).

It was pretty cool.

In fact the conversation I had with this Brazilian dude (named "Deco"...like "The Magician") was, bar-none, better than any conversation I've had with a Japanese person who isn't Nori.

Go figure.

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2.09.2007

An Amazing Article

Be sure to read this this article by Jonathan Lethem over at Harpers. It discusses plagarism and copyright and what it means in our 21st Century culture.

Thomas Jefferson, for one, considered copyright a necessary evil: he favored providing just enough incentive to create, nothing more, and thereafter allowing ideas to flow freely, as nature intended. His conception of copyright was enshrined in the Constitution, which gives Congress the authority to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” This was a balancing act between creators and society as a whole; second comers might do a much better job than the originator with the original idea.

But Jefferson's vision has not fared well, has in fact been steadily eroded by those who view the culture as a market in which everything of value should be owned by someone or other. The distinctive feature of modern American copyright law is its almost limitless bloating—its expansion in both scope and duration. With no registration requirement, every creative act in a tangible medium is now subject to copyright protection: your email to your child or your child's finger painting, both are automatically protected. The first Congress to grant copyright gave authors an initial term of fourteen years, which could be renewed for another fourteen if the author still lived. The current term is the life of the author plus seventy years. It's only a slight exaggeration to say that each time Mickey Mouse is about to fall into the public domain, the mouse's copyright term is extended.


Awesome, powerful stuff. It may be long, but it's worth reading.

[via BoingBoing]

2.07.2007

Death or Glory

So a few Saturdays ago I participated in one of the best and worst events of my life. It was the annual Asahi Town Snowball Fighting Tournament (or 旭町立雪合戦大会 for those Nihongo speakers amongst us).

This is meant to be a snowball fighting event of epic proportions. However, there was no snow the week or so leading up to the event, so they decided to move the whole thing indoors. This is accomplished by having the same rules, but playing with beanbags instead of snowballs.

The game is played much like "Capture The Flag" meets "Dodgeball." The goal is to take the other team's flag out of it's holder, but being hit by a snowball (enemy or friendly) will cause you to go out of the game. This doesn't sound too complicted, but it's an action-packed game played at breakneck speed. Confusion rules the day.

And that was the downfall of my proud team, the Red Rockets. Here we are pictured below:

We are awesome.

We won our first game because the team we were to play against didn't show. We got a bye. Then we scraped by with a win in our second game, earning us a place in the winners' bracket on the second day of the tournament. However, by some turn of events, we were told the wrong start time for the second day and showed up about an hour late for our first match. And so ended our dreams of playing in the National Finals in Hokkaido.

I said it was one of the best and worst events because while the actual game was AWESOME and super fun to play, in true Japanese spirit the whole thing was bogged down by ceremony and bureaucracy and bullshit. I mean we only got to play once over two days, that doesn't sound like a good return on the time we invested.

Ah well, there's always next year. And for you, there's pictures.

Thoughts On Jobs' Thoughts

I'm sure most people who read my blog have read this.

I don't have much to say, since Jobs is clearly saying exactly what I want to hear in order to cover recent backlash he's received in Europe because of the anti-competitive nature of the Apple DRM software. I agree with everything he says, but what I want to know is why Jobs didn't get on his soapbox back when Apple made a deal with the four devils of the music industry. They needed the money and they needed to corner the market on digital music, and now it's pretty easy to stand up and make declarations about DRM when you're the top of the pile. There's something about this guy and how he and his company can always come out looking like the underdog heroes of the digital world.

And how I can still root for them.

DRM sucks.

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2.06.2007

I'm not entirely sure anyone reads this thing anyway...

I love The Max Levine Ensemble. This is no big secret, I just wanted to say it and have it on record for some reason.

No single band has inspired me and made me as happy and hopeful as TMLE has. I've loved every incarnation of the band, from it's humble roots up to the current three-piece configuration. When I helped start The Konami Code, TMLE had just started off too, but they were already amazing. David Combs and Ben Epstein are two of the finest musicians I know personally, probably of our generation.

David says this.

Ben has this to say.

They both said this when I could barely form the thoughts in my head into words, let alone songs.

All their music is here.

We all see ourselves reflected in each other's eyes
We try to make changes, look away
But we swim on in a sea of expectations
And if you can't remember the last time you felt okay
Come on take a look in the mirror and you'll see
How behind all the layers there's everyting you wanted here

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The Connection Between Wikipedia and Morons

Here is an interesting post at Crooked Timber. It points out the problems inherent in people's newfound reliance on Wikipedia for immediate information. While the "Wiki" idea is a good one for groups who want to consolidate and share information, "Wikipedia" is something of a disaster for the reasons mentioned over at the article.

I think the "Experts are scum" quote and the story about the Wikipedia article on consciousness speak to why so many people choose to ignore evidence and fact for what they've learned on TV or from some wingnut's book or from church (or Wikipedia). People are so stubbornly resolved to remain ignorant that they'll actually attack those who have authority and experience when those experts offer their help. The way the "Loxley" character treats Prof. Chalmers would be kind of hilarious if it wasn't indicative of a larger problem we have in America (although it appears the the people involved here were Brits...lots of "cheers" and "taking the piss" thrown around).

So what is the larger problem? Well, in short, America is a country full of people waving around one book that was written nearly 2000 years ago claiming that it has all the answers to life, the universe and everything. America is largely a nation of people who have no thirst for knowledge, no curiousity about the world around them, either that or they're too scared or lazy to do the research or discover answers for themselves. They want the easy way out. They want one book, one source for everything. At least you can edit Wikipedia I guess, the Bible you can only selectively quote or ignore for personal gain.

Does anyone else's brain hurt?

[via Pharyngula]

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I don't get it!

I guess I'll never understand the romance Japanese people have with routine.

Today is a nice day. Scratch that, today is a GORGEOUS day. It's the warmest it's been in like a month. It's sunny! I could be outside in naught but a t-shirt and I'd be fine. But (and there's always a but) they've got the frickin' kerosene heater crankin' here in the staff room.

Great.

Anyway, not much else to say besides apologizing for the fact that I've been really lazy about updating lately. I intend to make a post about the snowball fighting tournament I participated in soon. I managed to get pictures of that one!

How are you guys doing? What's new in your lives? Let me know.