Sunday, October 31, 2004

Happy Halloween!

Today's posts are about all the politics I can stand for now.

Well, almost. As you know, I've been tracking the various "X for Truth" organizations, and a new one has appeared: Swift Geese Vets For Truth is now running an attack ad against Kerry. Appalling!

Have a great Halloween!

(I'm just gonna wear pajamas; that'll scare 'em!)

(Mug tip to Countercolumn.)

One Reaction to the 9/11 Attack

In 2001 I was an English conversation teacher in Japan. I had a high-level class with three students who had all lived in the US for a year or more. They are some of the kindest, most generous people I have had the pleasure to know over here, and all three are very intelligent and well-educated. All three, from their time in the US, have American friends they still correspond with, and truly like the American people. Even though my work now is very different, and I live in a different part of Japan, I consider all three of them good friends.

A few months after the 9/11 attack, one of them told me in class that, while the attack was terrible, in a small way she felt she had more in common with Osama bin Laden than with the US,

"Bin Laden is fighting for his beliefs, however warped they are" she said. "The US only fights for money."

I was shocked; this comment bore no relation to reality as I saw it. I didn't really know how to respond, and as I was supposed to be teaching a class, I changed the subject and the class went well after that. But I didn't forget the comment. It required thought.

At that time, the US was fighting in Afghanistan, and I'm not sure what she had read or heard that made her feel the US was only fighting for money. But then, I'm not sure it was anything specific about Afghanistan.

From the definitions of communism and socialism I posted earlier:"During the capitalist stage, the dominant bourgeoisie (capitalists who control the means of production) exploit and oppress the proletariat (industrial workers)." "[the various kinds of socialists] have in common a belief that feudal and capitalist societies are run for the benefit of a small economic elite ..." Also, although socialists seem to be much less formal about it, they tend to view economic systems as stages on the road to Utopia: fuedalism to capitalism to socialism to Utopian communism. Many around the world have accepted this view, in one form or another, even though they aren't communists. It is embodied in the popularity of John Lennon's song, Imagine.

Even before the Iraq war, the US was seen around the world as an imperialistic nation which, as a nation, had the sole goal of increasing the wealth of its capitalistic elite. Remember that Lenin's definition of imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism.

Two years later, the invasion of Iraq, and the charge that it was a blatant imperialistic maneuver to gain control of Iraq's oil supplies, fit perfectly into Lenin's definition and greatly reinforced that belief for many people around the world.

In that one reaction by my student, I think, lies the summary of why many intellectuals around the world are anti-American. Most of them are socialists who accept these definitions, and by those definitions, the US was a force for evil even before the invasion of Iraq.

When a nation's intellectuals are primarily socialists, its people will be exposed to a large amount of socialist thought through the media and through education. Think about all the cases where journalists need to consult experts about the economy, politics, etc., and realize all those experts are likely to be socialists, in ideology if not in name. So the media begins to take on a socialist viewpoint even if the reporters themselves are not socialists. The intellectuals also run the education system, and through that and the media reach deeply into every aspect of life in a nation. Many members of the society will adopt socialist views even though they may not call themselves socialists or realize that's what they have done.

This is also one reason so many non-Americans (and so many Americans with socialist views) liked President Clinton -- he edged the US towards the socialist side of the scale. Socialism is progress, as far as most of the world is concerned. As they see it, President Bush, a strong capitalist, is a big step backwards. He is going against the flow of history. Whatever he does will have to be undone in order for progress to be made.

If you look at the anti-war, anti-Bush message, you will repeatedly find the socialist mindset: No Blood for Oil, the tax cuts were only for the rich, Bush is an idiot (remember, pro-capitalist = regressive), and etc. For them, as you would expect from socialists, it's all about economics. They would never give the US the benefit of the doubt, because, by definition, as a highly-developed capitalist nation, the US is oppressive and imperialistic. They don't need to consider the specifics, thank you.

This is basically my answer to my friend's question, "Why are many foreigners anti-American?"

Whew!

This blog's getting pretty dense, what with definitions and Utopianisms and Lennonism floating around. Time for a break.

Kerry: Bush Outsourced Bin Laden Video Production
by Scott Ott

(2004-10-30) -- Just hours after the release of a videotape featuring revered Muslim leader Usama bin Laden lecturing on theology, Democrat presidential hopeful John Forbes Kerry slammed President George Bush for encouraging the outsourcing of such video productions to overseas media companies.


After you recover from Scrappleface, try out Protein Wisdom:

My twelfth brief conversation with a McIntosh apple

me: “You vote yet? Or are you waiting until Tuesday.”

apple: “Um, I can’t vote. I’m a fruit, remember?”

me: “Oh bull$#%*. Bush is not the Taliban, and nobody is denying you your civil rights. I’m tired of hearing this kind of hyperbolic nonsense every time someone disagrees with you on some social issue.”


The apple has a good comeback -- does it use it? You'll never know if you don't click the link!

Imagine

by John Lennon

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries,
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You...you may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You...you may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will live as one

***

How much more poetically could the ideals of communism be put?

Oxymoronism: Definitions and the Individual

I have spent two rather long posts giving definitions of various political beliefs like socialism and libertarianism. Any political belief system is a flowing river; the word liberal today does not mean what it meant 100 years ago. In fact, the word liberal has a different definition today for Americans than it does almost anywhere else in the world. Communist doesn't mean the same thing today that it meant in the early 19th century. Even the idea of democracy has changed over the centuries.

If you read the Wikipedia entries for the definitions I use, you'll find that there are many disagreements about what a particular philosophy really says. Also, people on all sides of an issue will use the same word to mean different things. Capitalism has one meaning for a libertarian, and a very different meaning for a communist. This often makes communicating difficult, and is why I decided to define the terms on my blog, so we can all be more or less on the same page.

Also, each individual has their own interpretation, and has personalized their political beliefs. As much as people like to hurl the accusation, there are in fact few robots - people who follow the party line in every particular with no deviation. There are differing degrees of thinking, of course, and many times people in all streams of political thought do merely repeat what they've heard from "their side." But in my experience, people tend to do this in areas they don't know much about, not in every area.

Anyway, the point of this post is that it is difficult enough to define a political philosophy. Defining individuals is often futile. Individuals define for themselves what their political philosophy means in their individual lives. They do not necessarily believe every key point in some encyclopedia discussion of their philosophy.

It bothers me in discussions when someone assumes that because their opponent is in some category, their opponent must believe X, and then attacks them for it. Best to ask first, and find out what that individual really believes. This saves time, and improves the accuracy of your arguments. It is also more civil, and we need more of that these days.

Killer Facts About Karl Marx!

Karl Marx's high school senior thesis was titled: Religion: The Glue That Binds Society Together.

Marx was a Jew, and for political reasons his family and he became Lutherans. (It was the state religion of Prussia, where he grew up.)

In later years, Marx claimed:
Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.


Marx was on the East German 100 mark note.

(I have to confess that I shamelessly stole the "Killer Fact" theme from the inimitable Harry Hutton's Chase Me Ladies, I'm In The Cavalry. Hutton also runs killer-fact.com, a Website dedicated to cataloging his Killer Facts, giving silly quizzes, etc. Highly recommended!)

Definitions, Part 2: State and Individual

All of these definitions come from Dictionary.com and / or Wikipedia, to which I provide links to the appropriate entries below. I have modified some of the Wikipedia material, however, to take into account information in other entries in the Wikipedia and elsewhere, and for stylistic reasons. Because these Websites may change, please understand that, for the sake of consistency, the following (and, where they conflict, NOT the current definitions which the links lead to) are the definitions I will use on this blog.

Capitalism: An economic system based on private ownership of capital [syn: capitalist economy] [ant: socialism] (Source: WordNet ® 2.0, Princeton University, at Dictionary.com.) [Note: I am avoiding the the communist definition of capitalism. I want to use this word in its simplist form.]

Collectivism: In general, a term used to describe a theoretical or practical emphasis on the group, as opposed to (and seen by its opponents to be at the expense of), the individual. It is thus directly opposed to individualism, although many collectivists also derive their philosophy from a concern for the well being of the individual. Some types of collectivism state that the good of the group is more important than the good of the individual, while others argue that, since any group is ultimately made up of individuals, the individual serves his own interests by serving the group's interests (in other words, as the group prospers, all members of the group prosper). Collectivism may also be associated with enforced altruism, such as publicly funded medicine. There is much baggage with the term, and it is considered diametrically opposed to individualism and libertarianism, with Noam Chomsky and Ayn Rand among its detractors. Marxism, communism and democratic socialism, as well as some labor organizations and certain forms of anarchism are it's most ardent proponents. (Wikipedia)

Free market economy: An idealized form of market economy in which buyers and sellers are permitted to carry out transactions based solely on mutual agreement without interventionism in the form of taxes, subsidies, regulation, or government provision of goods or services beyond simply the protection of property rights and enforcement of contracts. The free market is a mainstay of ideologies such as minarchism, libertarianism, and 19th century liberalism, as well as the Western understanding of capitalism. It is anathema to communism and some variants of socialism, although modern liberalism and other variants of socialism seek only to mitigate what they see as the problems of an unrestrained free market. (Wikipedia)

Laissez-faire: Short for "laissez faire, laissez passer," a French phrase meaning to "let things alone, let them pass". First used by the eighteenth century Physiocrats as an injunction against government interference with trade, it is now used as a synonym for strict free market economics. Adam Smith played a large role in popularizing laissez-faire economic theories in English-speaking countries.

Laissez faire (imperative) is distinct from laisser faire (infinitive), which refers to a careless attitude in the application of a policy, implying a lack of consideration, or thought.

The laissez-faire school of thought holds a pure capitalist or free market view, that capitalism is best left to its own devices — that it will dispense with inefficiencies in a more deliberate and quick manner than any legislating body could. The basic idea is that less government interference makes for a better system. (Wikipedia)

Libertarianism: A political philosophy which advocates individual rights and a limited government. Libertarians believe that individuals should be free to do anything they want, so long as they do not infringe upon what they believe to be the equal rights of others. In this respect they agree with many other modern political ideologies. The difference arises from the definition of "rights". For libertarians, there are no material "positive rights" (such as to food, shelter, or health care), only "negative rights" (such as to not be assaulted, abused or robbed). Libertarians further believe that the only legitimate use of force, whether public or private, is to protect these rights. The key rights libertarians believe in are life, liberty and property, and they believe these rights belong to individuals, not groups (nations, classes, races, etc.). (Wikipedia) [Please note that the word "libertarian," like the word "liberal," has VERY different meanings in the US and Europe. For this blog, I use the US definition, which has only been in common use since about 1950. Before that, libertarianism meant something else; see the Wikipedia link for more details.]

Statism: The practice or doctrine of giving a centralized government control over economic planning and policy. (Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, at Dictionary.com.) From the Wikipedia: In general, statists believe that individual rights are in no way natural or absolute, but that they are social constructs; in other words, rights and freedoms are not assigned by nature or some other higher authority, but by human society itself. For example, we have the right to life not because there is anything natural about it (after all, nature does not condemn murder), but because the majority of the human population has agreed that it is in their common interest to respect this right. Therefore, individual rights cannot be separated from the public good, since the public good is the reason why individual rights exist in the first place. If one accepts that a state is necessary to protect individual rights, then one also accepts that a state is necessary to carry out other actions for the public good. (Wikipedia)

Also, see my post Definitions, Part 1: Socialism.


UPDATE: Just a quick note: When reading my definitions posts, my Oxymoronism: Definitions and the Individual post should be kept in mind.

"A Japanophile Is Someone Who Doesn't Know Japan"

Over at [Translator's Note:], Zak gives us an "anti-Japan rant" titled "A Japanophile Is Someone Who Doesn't Know Japan."

The examples he cites are compelling. His opening example:

Right before I left we talked about the Japanese custom of burning treasured items along with the dead when they are cremated.

This is a long-standing custom in Japan, one that is still alive and well despite the lack of attention it garners. One of the main reasons there are so few good old flutes still around today is that families of deceased shakuhachi players will sometimes burn their flutes along with the body. The reasoning is that the more someone loved or held something dear, the more they will want it in the next life. This is why there are so many worthless old flutes floating around: if someone has 5 poor flutes and 1 excellent one made 100 years ago by a renowned maker, guess which one is likely to end up incinerated.


But . . . every society has its stupidities.

In Japan, as Zak points out, they often seem to actively destroy cultural treasures. However, as one of his readers points out, the Japanese do keep traditional skills alive. In the West, it is often the opposite. We attach great importance to ancient things, but no one knows how to use them anymore or really understands the fine details and human genius that went into their development. Which is the greater loss, I wonder.

In any case, I'll be reading [Translator's Note:] more often. Good stuff.

(Mug tip to The Tanuki Ramble.)

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Friday, October 29, 2004

Germany's Largest Newspaper Endorses Bush

David's Medienkritik, an essential blog for understanding German media, tells us:

Perhaps the largest October surprise in Germany is the BILD newspaper's endorsement of President George W. Bush. BILD, which has the widest circulation of any newspaper in Europe, lists the following 10 reasons why Bush should be re-elected:

...

1. Bush has clear priorities. He sees the inhuman Islamic fundamentalism and the murderous mullahs as the largest danger for the Western world.

2. Bush has learned the lessons of history. Military strength, not pleasant talk, is the only thing that helps against violent fanatics. And with Bush -- unlike with Kerry -- there is no doubt about this.


This is one of the most succinct, clear rationales for re-electing Bush I have seen. In the same post, Medienkritik also discusses the Kerry endorsement and general anti-Americanism of other German media. Click the link to read the rest.

(Mug tip to Instapundit.)

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Better put yer chili down ...

... before you read the rest of this joke at Silent Running:

A cowboy was herding his cows in a remote pasture when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced out of a dust cloud towards him. The driver, a young man in a YSL suit, Fendi shoes, Bvlgari sunglasses and an Armani tie leans out the window and asks the cowboy, "If I tell you exactly how many cows and calves you have in your herd, will you give me a calf?"

Definitions, Part 1: Socialism

A friend recently asked my opinion, as someone living outside the US, about why so many foreigners hate the US. I promise to post on this during the weekend, when I have time to actually sit and write.

Meanwhile, the following are some useful definitions that I will refer to in giving my opinions on this topic. Just reading these may be immediately helpful in understanding the world view of anti-American sentiment, and will give you an idea of the path of my opinions.

All of these definitions come from Wikipedia, to which I provide links to the appropriate entries below. I have modified some of them, however, to take into account information in other entries in the Wikipedia and elsewhere, and for stylistic reasons. Because the Wikipedia changes, please understand that, for the sake of consistency, the following (and NOT the current Wikipedia definitions which the links lead to) are the definitions I will use on this blog.

Definitions

Communism: Communism in its original meaning is a social theory and political movement for the direct and communal control of society towards the common benefits of all members, and up until the middle of the 19th century was synonomous with socialism and anarchism. In the mid-19th century, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels developed a theory that all history can be explained in terms of class struggle. According to this theory, there are several stages to history. During the capitalist stage, the dominant bourgeoisie (capitalists who control the means of production) exploit and oppress the proletariat (industrial workers). Marx claimed to have resolved that it was only a matter of time before the working classes of the world, realizing their common goals, would unite to overthrow the capitalists and redistribute the wealth. He felt the establishment of communism would be the inevitable outcome of a historical process. When capitalism kept thriving, the Marxists split into two camps: Leninists and Democratic Socialists. (Wikipedia)

Leninism: According to Lenin, Marx underestimated the power of capitalist imperialism and therefore a revolutionary seizure of the political power on behalf of the proletariat was needed to overthrow the capitalist system, so as to advance humanity towards communism. (Wikipedia)

Democratic Socialism: One branch of communism where it has been concluded that a socialist society could be created without revolution and could be brought about through the process of reforming existing state institutions. This ideology formed the basis on which a number of political parties were founded, including the Social Democratic Party of Germany and the British Labour Party. (Wikipedia)

Socialism: While this covers a very broad range of views, they have in common a belief that feudal and capitalist societies are run for the benefit of a small economic elite and that society should be run for the common good. "Socialist" ideologies tend to emphasize economic cooperation over economic competition; virtually all envision some sort of economic planning (many, but by no means all, favor central planning). All advocate placing at least some of the means of production -- and at least some of the distribution of goods and services -- into collective or cooperative ownership. (Wikipedia.)

Anarchy: One common use of the English word anarchy is "a state of lawlessness or political disorder", otherwise known as anomie. However, in anarchist philosophies, anarchy means an "anarchist society", that is, a society where individuals are free from coercion. Anarchist philosophies differ greatly, but there are certain principles shared by all anarchists, most notably the basic principle of non-hierarchy (in an anarchist society there cannot be any kind of social hierarchy) and its derivatives, such as the principle of equal decision-making power (all people must have equal decision-making power in an anarchist society; if some have more power than others, then a hierarchy is formed). (Wikipedia)

Lenin's definition of Imperialism: "The highest stage of capitalism," specifically the era in which monopoly finance capital becomes dominant, forcing the empires to fight among themselves increasingly for control over resources and markets all over the world. This control may take the form of geopolitical machinations and military adventures, but financial manouvres can also give a powerful country influence over the internal affairs of a weaker one. Globalisation and the practices of the World Bank, for example, are frequently accused of serving imperialist interests. (Wikipedia)


UPDATE: Just a quick note: When reading my definitions posts, my Oxymoronism: Definitions and the Individual post should be kept in mind.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

10 Reasons [Treacher's] Not Voting for You, Mr. George W. Bush

From the warped mind of Jim Treacher, his list of 10 reasons not to vote for Bush. It begins with:

10. Do you really think it's a good idea to be Hitler, George? Hitler killed millions of people and his approval ratings are for @#$%. Why can't you be somebody who people like? Regis, maybe, or the Prophet Mohammed. Anybody but Hitler! Being Hitler = BAD IDEA.

9. Two words: You. Are. Dumb.


The reader comments turned into an impromptu social experiment. Some of them are pretty funny, but others are a bit Twilight Zonish. My comments on his readers' comments are:

For the sarcasm-impaired, yes, it's a joke.

For the anti-Bushites, yes, it's a joke at your expense.

For the pro-Bushites, I know we're used to Bush getting unfairly slammed and it is outrageous, but some of us need to chill out a bit and keep the receiver open to other signals, like that big wave-form hitting you that says "I'm making fun of anti-Bushites, not really calling Bush Hitler."

Treacher's list is funny. The reader comments on it are a bit of an education.

申し訳ありません (Sorry!)

I couldn't get into Blogspot to post yesterday evening.

Moushiwake arimasen. m(_._)m

(That's me bowing to the ground in apology. See? The "m"s are my hands, the (_._) is the top of my head... Yes, I'm a smiley geek.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Bush Hiding Something

From Scrappleface, the only news source worth reading some days:

Bush Admits He's Hiding Bad News
by Scott Ott

(2004-10-26) -- President George Bush today admitted that his Democrat rival is correct in saying that Mr. Bush is "hiding bad news" until after the polls close next Tuesday.

"My opponent speaks the truth when he says that some Americans are going to get some bad news--maybe even before the sun comes up on November 3," said Mr. Bush, "It will involve defeat and the realization that huge sums of money have been wasted on an unwinnable battle against a determined and entrenched foe."


Read it all!

A Peek Behind the Curtain

Me: Arthur Chrenkoff's a witch!

Sir Bedivere: How do you know he's a witch?

Me: He's dressed like one. And he turned me into a slimy mollusc!



Well, after 40 days of blogging, I've decided to give everyone the benefit of my, ahem, vast experience.

Three things I've learned about blogging on the cheap:

1. As everyone else seemed to know (but failed to tell me), the second component in free blogging (after Blogger, etc.) is HaloScan comments, which are free, but come with tacky ads. So far I've seen an offensive one suggesting US soldiers are butchers, and one for lesbians who like Bush. Anyway, as long as you, the reader, understand I have no control over the ads in the comments box, I guess I don't mind.

2. Flickr is a free place to host your photos, but occasionally the server is down or something and my photos don't show up. Also, it has a 10MB per day bandwidth limit, so somewhere around my 100th page view for the day my photos would stop showing up (should I ever get 100 page views in a day). Great service for the price, though.

3. Hey, I'm a newby! You can't expect three whole points on this business, can you?

Monday, October 25, 2004

Coffee-stained Administrative Memo

I have just installed HaloScan commenting on the blog. For the moment, the old comments have been hidden. I have to go back and re-enter them manually, apparently, and that can wait until I get some sleep.

If you have previously commented, I will get around to it, though the times / dates of your comments may change. I won't know until I do it, eh?

Goodnight!

Interpreting Kerry

Welcome to the John Kerry interpretive campaign official webpage.

A tiny sample is this photo caption:

John Kerry supports using evil powers to blast back a crowd.


The author says, in a rather long intro, that the page is a reaction to the silliness of the campaign, not an attack on Kerry. He also links to a similar site featuring Bush.

That's a guy in pajamas, good, non-partisan fun for all. Well, today anyway.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

A Dastardly Blow

Just when Kerry-ites were getting desparate, something comes along to rub their noses in it. John Tierney, writing in the New York Times, notes:

To Bush-bashers, it may be the most infuriating revelation yet from the military records of the two presidential candidates: the young George W. Bush probably had a higher I.Q. than did the young John Kerry.

That, at least, is the conclusion of Steve Sailer, a conservative columnist at the Web magazine Vdare.com and a veteran student of presidential I.Q.'s. During the last presidential campaign Mr. Sailer estimated from Mr. Bush's SAT score (1206) that his I.Q. was in the mid-120's, about 10 points lower than Al Gore's.

Mr. Kerry's SAT score is not known, but now Mr. Sailer has done a comparison of the intelligence tests in the candidates' military records. They are not formal I.Q. tests, but Mr. Sailer says they are similar enough to make reasonable extrapolations.

Mr. Bush's score on the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test at age 22 again suggests that his I.Q was the mid-120's, putting Mr. Bush in about the 95th percentile of the population, according to Mr. Sailer. Mr. Kerry's I.Q. was about 120, in the 91st percentile, according to Mr. Sailer's extrapolation of his score at age 22 on the Navy Officer Qualification Test.

Linda Gottfredson, an I.Q. expert at the University of Delaware, called it a creditable analysis said she was not surprised at the results or that so many people had assumed that Mr. Kerry was smarter. "People will often be misled into thinking someone is brighter if he says something complicated they can't understand," Professor Gottfredson said.

Many Americans still believe a report that began circulating on the Internet three years ago, and was quoted in "Doonesbury," that Mr. Bush's I.Q. was 91, the lowest of any modern American president. But that report from the non-existent Lovenstein Institute turned out to be a hoax.

You might expect Kerry campaign officials, who have worried that their candidate's intellectual image turns off voters, to quickly rush out a commercial trumpeting these new results, but for some reason they seem to be resisting the temptation.

Upon hearing of their candidate's score, Michael Meehan, a spokesman for the senator, said merely: "The true test is not where you start out in life, but what you do with those God-given talents. John Kerry's 40 years of public service puts him in the top percentile on that measure."


NO! It can't be true! Lies! It's all LIES!!!!

(author dissolves into giggling)

(Mug tip to Instapundit.)

UPDATE: Well, it was one a.m.

UPDATE 2: A commenter reminds me the NYT requires registration. I have gone back and added all the parts of the article about the candidates IQ. Thanks for the reminder!

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Fifty Reasons

From Gerard Van der Leun at American Digest:

The polls are open in California and after I finish this item, I'm going down to the Albertson's Supermarket across from the beach here in Laguna Beach and cast my ballot. It will be the first time I've ever voted for a Republican ticket in a National Election.

Before this, I voted Democrat right down the line. But I was asleep and I was foolish. Now, at least I can say I'm awake.

It's not that I'm overjoyed with George Bush ... , nor that I think the Republican Party is overwhelmingly admirable. None of that. It's never easy to vote when the only viable choices are two, but that's the deal right now. And my job today as a citizen is to choose. So I will choose George W. Bush.

There are many reasons why, but here's 50.


As a Democrat who voted Republican this year, I think I understand. The 50 reasons are a pretty good photo-essay. Well worth the time.

(Mug tip to a kind reader.)

Zen and the Art of Cultural Suicide

The Zen sect of Buddhism has long been associated with the bushi. D. T. Suzuki and many others have gone on at length about how Zen discipline was a perfect match for the austere, violent life of Japan's warrior class.

At the same time, Zen was, in its introduction to Japan, a fundamentalist sect. A number of Buddhist sects, like Tendai and Shingon, had become very intellectualized and practiced various forms of what we would call magic (mikkyo - "secret teachings"). Meditation played only a limited part in their religious practices. The Zen monks wanted to get back to the fundamentals of their religion: emphasis on meditation as the route to enlightenment.

For some reason, in the '60s, Zen became popular among some Western intellectuals. This really makes no sense on the face of it. Why would Western professors and artists study Zen, the sect of brutal feudal warriors, a fundamentalist sect that was essentially anti-intellectual? Maybe they saw it as anti-authority, since it was an assault on the established, and politicized, Buddhist sects of the day. How far you take that depends on how much history you are willing to ignore, of course.

It's just my experience, but most non-Asian Buddhists seem to be trying to replace Christianity and Western culture. They are willing to ignore a great deal in order to displace their native culture, which they consider corrupt and, often, basically evil. You can see this when they talk up their chosen faith to prove it's superior, and because they are also very critical of and condescending towards Christianity.

The point for them isn't that they have found Buddhism, but rather that they have rejected Christianity, often the West, and specifically America. It is the rejection and unfavorable comparison that is important, and their "evangelism" is to show up the average Christian, and the average Westerner, and say "ha-ha, look what I've found, you ignorant wretch."

I think this is true of many Westerners who have joined Eastern or non-Christian religions. Certainly not all of them, but I've found this true of many of the people I've known who were involved in New Age practices. Also, I personally think the Nation of Islam sect was founded on this emotion.

Living in Japan, I've found the most vocal anti-Americans are some of the American ex-pats, as if the more they despise their own country the more they will be accepted in their chosen society. The next loudest group consists of most ex-pats from other nations, who, while not as loud about it, seem to feel it deeper.

The Japanese, while they have complaints, on the whole seem to like America. Certainly the Zen monk I hung out with for a year did.

Mandatory Arabic Studies For The French?

According to a recent Telegraph article:

English should be made compulsory for all French schoolchildren, according to an official report which appeared yesterday to howls of outrage from politicians and teaching unions.


Claude Thélot, president of France's Higher Council of School Assessment, said that pupils should learn English automatically, as they do with French and mathematics.

...

Mr Thélot's findings fly in the face of the views of President Jacques Chirac, who said recently that nothing would be worse for humanity than for it to be limited to one language - by which he meant English. Officials suggested that other views needed to be heard before a decision was taken.

...

Jacques Myard, an MP from the ruling UMP party, said that English would be displaced as the world's most-spoken language because of growing competition from Spanish and Chinese. "If we must make a language compulsory, it should be Arabic," he said.


Arabic? Spanish I can understand. Chinese . . . well, it's really only useful if you're dealing with China or Taiwan. Distribution counts for a lot more than population, in this case. But Arabic?

It is highly unlikely the world will end up with one language any time this century. For one thing, people who do not deal with the international sector don't use English, even if they have to learn it in school, and so the world's language regions are likely to remain as they are. Additionally, there are some regional languages that displace English in certain circumstances. For example, when Asians of different nationalities meet, they increasingly communicate in Japanese.

There is a theory that the French want to become the mediators between the West and the Arabic world, which could be a very profitable, powerful position to have. I wonder if that's what Myard is thinking.

Or is he just being anti-American?

(Mug tip to The Tanuki Ramble.)

UPDATE: Welcome to everyone visiting from Chrenkoff's! It's good to have you over, and I wish I could offer you all a cup of tea. Instead, I'll offer you a recent post, Zen and the Art of Cultural Suicide. Less warm and friendly, I guess, but tea gunks up the Blogger input forms, and I certainly wouldn't want to offer anyone gunked up tea. Enjoy!

PS Oh, and I guess I will shamelessly link my main page here. What a cad!

Friday, October 22, 2004

"It seems that Clinton wants the head job ...

... at the U.N."

IMAO brings us this most disturbing comments thread:

Who would be your dream candidate for that position?

I'd pick Squiggy from Laverne and Shirley.

What do you think?

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Samuraido?

Westerners often use the word samurai (侍) when the word bushi (武士) would be more appropriate. (Pronounced "boo+she," not "bushy.") Literally, the word "bushi" means "military (武) gentleman (士)." The bushi were the warrior class of Japan. The samurai were a particular rank of bushi. It is from the word bushi that we get bushido (武士道), the Way of the Warrior.

When we talk about class, in this case, we are really talking about inheritance. One usually became a member of the warrior class because one's parents were members. It was quite like being born into the US Marine Corps. There were regulation haircuts and clothing styles for bushi children, and for adult bushi. Military training in one form or another began in early childhood. If you were born a bushi, you would be a bushi for life, unless you joined a monastery or some political catastrophe struck your household.

Of course, in the Edo period (1600-1868), there were about 250 consecutive years of peace, and the bushi gradually become bureaucrats. So, being born a bushi for most Edo warriors was like being born into, say, the Quartermaster Corps, or the Judge Advocates Corps, or the police force, etc.

I love reading about bushi, watching the historical bushi dramas and movies, and some of my heroes (Musashi, Ieyasu) were famous bushi. But there is no way I would want to actually be one.

First off, being born into a profession . . . sure, you'd be good, but what if at heart you're a baker, yet you are forced to spend every day swinging wooden swords around, getting banged up in training, standing guard duty, being bored out of your skull; they won't even let you near the kitchen. And they don't ask you if you want to be one -- your draft notice is your birth certificate.

Second, you can't marry outside your caste. Really. Think about lovely Kimiko, the printer's daughter. Totally hot babe, smart, educated, fiery spirit, everything you want in a woman. You are madly in love with her, and miracle of miracles, you are pretty sure she feels the same about you . . . Forget it, bub! You are bushi; she's in the artisan caste. You will never get permission for that. In fact, your parents have already picked out a nice wife for you, although you haven't met her yet.

Third, think about the US election this year. Oh, okay, the bushi never got a choice of who to follow. But let's just say, for the sake of argument, that the bushi got to vote. You might be an ardent Bush supporter, but your lord better never find out -- he's voting Kerry. Thinking about putting a Bush-Cheney '04 sticker on your helmet? You'd be spilling your guts, quite literally, the day your leige saw it, or more likely was informed of it by your squad leader.

So, me, I'll just do their martial arts and tea ceremony, wander their old castles, read their history, and dream of distant times. Then I'll do the job I like, marry the girl I love, say whatever I please to anyone who crosses my path, and vote however I want, thank you very much. No, no bushi-status for me. I like my freedom too, too much.

Less Than A Year Left

... to prepare for the World Beard and Moustache Championships!

Get started now.

(Mug tip to a kind reader.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Well, That Solves That Problem

Bush Secret Plan to Draft Elderly Revealed
by Scott Ott

(2004-10-19) -- Previously unseen documents released by the Kerry-Edwards campaign today reveal a secret Bush administration plan to draft the elderly into military service.

"If George W. Bush wins this election, I warn you that he will kill two birds with one stone," said John Forbes Kerry, the Democrat presidential candidate. "He'll bail out Social Security by sending our nation's grandparents to the front lines in Iraq to die in the wrong war."


Click the link to read the whole thing.

Additions to the True Believers

Pajama Pundits is a liberal-conservative tag team blog I accidentally ran over, er, across, while cruising the blogosphere the other evening.

Also, say hello to the Pajamasphere, another entry into pajama-themed blogging, kinda sorta. Not much there, but I like the pajama pics on the side.

Enjoy!

Live In A Glass House?

Promethean Antagonist has an insightful and well-written article up called Europe's Glass House:

... a hypothetical "turning of the tables." Lets for a moment look at Europe with the same lens that’s typically used to deride America...


It's an interesting view.

He has a number of other interesting posts from a libertarian viewpoint, and has been added to my blog bagel.

(Mug tip to The Tanuki Ramble. Which, by the way, Tanuki's post that lead me to Promethean Antagonist is also a very good read.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

VOTED










That feels pretty good!



(Images hosted at Flickr.)

Just Imagine

From The Tanuki Ramble comes my favorite version of this wonderful old song:

Imagine there's no Castro,
No crazy Kim Jong Il,
A marketplace of nations,
Buying and selling their good will,
Imagine all the people,
Saying 'super-size me, please'


(sniff) Brings back the memories . . .

The second stanza is even better, so check it out if you're a fan.

UPDATE: I got a bit carried away, singing along with the old Tanuki. I should have mentioned this song comes at the end of a post that begins:
Hold on folks, the world's coming to an end. Those crazy Japanese...
and covers everything from Hiroshima and Hello Kitty to world peace and prosperity.

Monday, October 18, 2004

HAHAHAHA-BWAH-HAHAHA (cough cough) HAHA (wheeeeeze) MWAHAHAHAHAHA

Edith and Walter were the first to notice the blood dripping from the ceiling.

OH. I can't BREATHE! And there's links to more! And MORE!

AND MORE! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!


PS In case anyone's concerned, there is no blood in the photos. They are work safe, unless your co-workers/boss are peaceniks.

PPS Some will think me EEEEVVVIIIIILLLLLLL for thinking this is funny. Actually, Evil resides here. But beyond the mere technical facts, I have really built up an immunity to being called evil since the anti-Bush gang started using it to mean "disagrees with me." If EEEVVIIILLLL is disagreeing with anti-Bushers, then yeah, I'm evil. Thanks for noticing.

Unknown Yellow Flower



Passed a row of bushes with these on them on the way to work last week. Beautiful, wonderful fragrance, they hang straight down with blooms as big as my open hand.

(Image hosted at Flickr.)

Chrenkoff's Good News From Afghanistan, Part 5

In my earliest political memory my father and I are hunching over a radio set, listening with the sound turned down to Radio Free Europe and the news of armed resistance against the Soviet invaders springing up around Afghanistan. The year is 1979, I am 7 years old, and this is the first time I'm hearing about the mysterious and romantic mudjahedin and their struggle against the Red Army...


I remember similar broadcasts, though I was a quarter of a world away, and I too thought the Afghan Mujahadeen romantic freedom fighters.

I don't have much to add to that. I was a kid. Things turned out a lot less dazzling than I had hoped for, to understate by several orders of magnitude.

I always wished the US could have gone in after the Soviet withdrawal and done what they are doing now, but that was impossible. Moving into a nation on the Soviet border would have been tantamount to declaring war, and we know the Soviets had nukes.

But at last we have done it, and it is going well.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Sean Penn Unhappy

And that's news?

Anyway, the current objects of his displeasure are Trey Parker and Matt Stone for "Team America: World Police."

I do mind when anybody who doesn't have a child, doesn't have a child at war, or isn't or won't be in harm's way themselves, is encouraging that there's "no shame in not voting" "if you don't know what you're talking about" (Mr. Stone) without mentioning the shame of not knowing what your talking about, and encouraging people to know. You guys are talented young guys but alas, primarily young guys. It's all well to joke about me or whomever you choose. Not so well, to encourage irresponsibility that will ultimately lead to the disembowelment, mutilation, exploitation, and death of innocent people throughout the world. The vote matters to them. No one's ignorance, indcluding a couple of hip cross-dressers, is an excuse.

All best, and a sincere (deleted - ed.) you,

Sean Penn

P.S. Take this as a personal invitation from me to you (you can ask Dennis Miller along for the ride as well) to escort you on a trip, which I took last Christmas. We'll fly to Amman, Jordan and I'll ride with you in a (?) 12 hours through the Sunni Triangle into Fallujah and Baghdad and I'll show you around. When we return, make all the fun you want.


Mr. Penn, I think it's pretty hypocritical of you to talk about the shame of not knowing. it doesn't matter where you go if you are blind to what's going on around you. A trip for Christmas? OK. When you enlist and serve a year on the ground in Iraq, then I'll think you have a leg up on me. Or maybe we can just ask an Iraqi.

(Mug tip to Roger Simon.)

UN-Team: World Police

A secret agent deep in the bowels of the World Cartoonists/Marionetteers Collective has informed me that Trey Parker, who recently released "Team America: World Police," gave serious consideration to making "UN-Team: World Police" before switching to a spoof on America.

Why the switch? There were three main reasons:

First, of course, all of the action for "UN-Team: World Police" would have been under the table, which presented difficulties in filming.

Second, the market intervened: Why make a movie about the UN, which everyone (or at least everyone's rulers) seems to have decided is mostly harmless, when you can make a movie about the US, at which the anger of the world is already directed? It just makes good money sense to go for anger -- "mostly harmless" never sold a ticket.

Third, after seeing the storyboards of the movie, the previewers were ecstatic about the first documentary to be done completely with puppets. They thought it was brilliant, but Parker decided he would rather stick with comedy.

Although the idea for "Un-Team: World Police" was nixed, my secret agent managed to clandestinely copy one scene made exclusively for previewers, and I, dear readers, bring it to you:

SETTING: Kofi Annan in a cowboy hat, shirt and vest, jeans, boots and spurs, stands at the front of the stage with his guitar. Chirac, Putin, and Zhu in dancehall girl outfits, a warm glow on their faces, do a geriatric cancan behind him.

KOFI SINGS (To the tune of "I've Got Friends In Low Places"):

Blame it all on George Bush
Rumsfeld kiss my tush
You ruined our perfect affair
We'd bought everyone
And all had such fun
You were the last one we thought we'd see there

Well Saddam was a-gloat
'Cause he paid for our votes
And we told him you'd never invade
We'd argue and stall
And then veto it all
You'd never get a mandate!

'Cause we're all friends in the 'nited Nations
Where the crude oil drowns and the free food chases
Our blues away
And we'll be OK
Well we're not big on the moral basis
Just a wink and a nod at the oasis
Oh we're all friends in the 'nited Nations

Well I guess we were wrong
But it's good to belong
To a gang that answers to none
Everything's all right
We'll all just sit tight
And ask ol' George for a loan

Hey you can't afford
To push this much more
You need our seal Mr. Shrub
So why don't you drop this investigation
And bring back the love

'Cause we're all friends in the 'nited Nations
Where the crude oil drowns and the free food chases
Our blues away
And we'll be OK
Well we're not big on the moral basis
Just a wink and a nod at the oasis
Oh we're all friends in the 'nited Nations

[CHIRAC, PUTIN AND ZHU JOIN IN.]

We're all friends in the 'nited Nations
Where the sweet crude drowns and the free food chases
Our blues away
Just get along, nkay?
Well we're not big on the moral basis
Just a wink and a nod at the oasis
Oh we're all friends in the 'nited Nations


(With sincerest apologies to Garth Brooks.)


UPDATE: Hmm. Maybe I was a bit rough on Parker. (And it seems I should also credit Matt Stone.) Roger Simon reviews "Team America: World Police":

Even though Team America accidentally destroys the Louvre and the Sphinx, among numerous other monuments of civilization, and seems to revel in or be oblivious to collateral damage of all sorts, you know they are doing the right thing in the end. Terrorists are seen as objects of derision, of course. But the true targets of the filmmakers' venom are the narcissistic Hollywood actors who pretend to oppose the war but who are actually... on the other side ...

...perhaps the most telling vitriol is spilled on, of all organizations, the UN...


The whole review is pretty good.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

No War?



"No War" eh? Well, whatever the US did, there would have been a war. If it was not the Coalition invasion, it would have been Saddam's troops butchering the Kurds. Only enforcement of the no-fly zones kept Saddam's soldiers out of the Kurdish region, and there would have been no legal reason to maintain them once sanctions were lifted.

Either way, invade or not, there would have been war. Without the invasion, probably tens of thousands of Kurdish civilians would have been massacred, and the US would have been charged with abandoning the Kurds and allowing it to happen. As far as world opinion is concerned, the US was going to be villified for causing war and killing tens of thousands of civilians no matter what it did in Iraq, whether invade or withdraw.

(Image from Cox and Forkum. Hosted at Flickr. Mug tip to Daniel W. Casey.)

George and Jun

Bush and Koizumi, of course. Recently the Japanese prime minister expressed his hope that Bush will be re-elected. I was a bit surprised, and very pleased. He seemed quite sincere.

Meanwhile, while I was wondering what kind of post I could do on this, that darn Rambling Tanuki went and wrote it, the wily critter.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Yes, I Have No メリハリ (Merihari)

My boss told me recently that, when I do the public speaking bit, I have no merihari. "What's that?" I asked.

Merihari is the changes in rhythm and force, the loud and quiet, that keep a song interesting.

Merihari is also found in the use of various types of headlines, paragraph breaks, bolding, italics, photos, etc. used to keep a Web page from looking bland.

This is apparently something I need to work on, so I will begin working on my merihari here as well. It's a good use for a blog.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

John Kerry's "WWII Magazine" Interview

JFK: I remember that Christmas in 1945, when I was over the skies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it's seared into my memory, seared, I tell you ...


Rollicking good fun! Read the whole thing at The Diplomad.

Today's Season Word: 秋晴れ (akibare)



Autumn clarity

As the growing coolness of autumn reduces the relative humidity we have some of the clearest days and nights seen during the whole year.


- William J. Higginson, Haiku World: An International Poetry Almanac

(Image hosted at Flickr.)

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Cinnamon Girl / Vanilla Boy

According to The Detroit News Entertainment Insider, Prince has made an interesting music video about anti-Arab racism:

Featuring Keisha Castle-Hughes from the movie “Whale Rider,” the four-minute clip opens in a stylized urban schoolyard, rendered in pen-and-ink and stylized gray watercolors drawn by artist Greg Ruth.

A group of teen girls react with horror to the whining roar of jet engines that fades into the opening notes of the song. When it becomes clear who’s responsible for what we presume is a Sept. 11-style terrorist attack, classmates of Castle-Hughes’ character torment her for her ethnicity, and she flees for home, only to find her parents covering over the Arabic script on the sign outside the family store. Someone has scrawled “terrorist scum” on one of the store’s windows.

“Cinnamon girl mixed heritage/Never knew the meaning of color lines,” Prince sings. “9/11 turned that all around/When she got accused of this crime.”

Intercut with straightforward scenes of the singer and his band playing on a blasted, war-torn landscape, the video shows Castle-Hughes donning traditional dress and head scarf and videotaping what appears to be a statement of martyrdom. In the next scene, she’s back in Western garb and arriving at the airport. Perhaps for emphasis, the camera lingers on the U.S. passport she shows to airport officials.

Then she’s standing in the terminal with a detonator in her hand. She closes her eyes and presses down on the red button with both hands. The perspective shifts outdoors as flames rip through the glass-paneled front wall.

It’s only for a moment, though, and then the scene reverses itself to the moment just before Castle-Hughes hits the button. Is it a fantasy?


Interesting warning. I expect he will soon cut another video called "Vanilla Boy" about a white Republican boy being called an idiot for his beliefs by his school teachers and some "friends," then going home to find a swastika burned into his family's lawn and his dad covering up his Bush / Cheney '04 bumper stickers. Guns and a nightmare school scene follow.

Or maybe a video about the girl's family packing up and moving back to Saudi Arabia, where the girl is forced to quit school and become some man's third wife, has no vote, no freedom of speech, no freedom outside what her husband allows actually, and is constantly bombarded with how evil America is. Her father has no family connections anymore, so he works as a day laborer, and her brother's future looks the same. One day she runs off, joins Hamas, and detonates herself in an Israeli grocery store.

Or maybe we could just make a video about someone practicing personal responsibility, even when severely provoked.





Sorry. Forgot which planet I was on there for a moment.

(Mug tip to Michelle Maulkin.)

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

"Otherwise, This Is Just a Success Story"

Scott Norvell, in a Tech Central Station article, writes:

KABUL - It was a regrettably typical comment from an American reporter in this part of the world. "At least it's news," he said of the Afghan election scuffle over the weekend. "Otherwise, this is just a success story."

God forbid it be a success story.

But that's what it was here, no matter how hard the international media tried to spin it. There were no car bombs raining body parts all over the polling stations. There were no last-minute assassinations. There were no drive-by shootings. The best they could come up with for "news" was grumbling from hopelessly trailing opposition candidates about washable ink and threats of a boycott. The media's disappointment was palpable.

Turnout was described as "massive." Men in turbans and baggy sharwals lined up in orderly fashion to cast their ballots, many of them with uncharacteristically chipper looks on their faces. One guy I saw at a mosque in central Kabul actually had mist in his eyes. Women voted beneath tents at one poll near a block of wretched Soviet-era apartment blocks, lifting their burqas even in the presence of foreign cameras. In Bamiyan, home of the giant Buddhas destroyed by the Taliban, they stood in line to vote in the first snow of the season.


Read it all, and smile.

(Mug tip to Instapundit.)

Monday, October 11, 2004

Good News From Iraq

Arthur Chrenkoff has Part 12 up. It is long and well worth the read.

After you finish with that, go ahead and read his "Around the world in 31 blogs." Another regular feature at his site.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Silliness: October 10 Edition

As of 10:27, Oct. 10, 3889 voters in an online CNN Quickvote poll "believe Internet rumors that U.S. President George W. Bush was wired during the first debate with John Kerry". At the time, that was 68% of the poll's votes.

Sadly, the other team had their own debate scandal, with Drudge reporting Kerry had probably broken debate rules and secretly brought in something, maybe notes. It was later shown to be irrelevant (it was a pen). The good news was, a number of pro-Bush blogs cast doubt on this report from the very beginning.

NOTE: The CNN link is to their top page. So a new poll will be up in the near future.

UPDATE: 11:30 p.m. The poll changed about two minutes ago, and the percentages were the same, 68% thought Bush cheated. About 9000 votes out of about 15,000 total.

Gore Lawsuit Challenges Australian Election Results

Figures.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Quite Happy, John!

According to ABC News:

Howard claims victory

"My fellow Australians, can I say first of all I am truly humbled by this extraordinary expression of confidence in the leadership of this great nation by the Coalition," he said.

"The first thing I say to the Australian people in accepting their charge to lead the nation in the years ahead is to re-dedicate myself and all of my colleagues to the service of the Australian people.

"This nation stands on the threshold of great achievements."


WOO-HOO!

Friday, October 08, 2004

Kerry Haters For Kerry Unite!

Are you going to vote for John Kerry even though you find him unpleasant, annoying, arrogant, waffling, misguided, or just generally unappealing in some profound way? Then you've come to the right place!


VOTE FOR HIM BEFORE YOU VOTE AGAINST HIM!

(Mug tip to Instapundit.)

Mongai Missing

Mongai Moments, one of my regular reads for the last few weeks, seems to have shut down. Mongai had a pretty unique view on Japan which led to posts about things like an up-and-coming Japanese politician and his desire to rewrite Japan's constitution, and in another post, linking Japan's cultural diversity with an article on Kyoto vegetables.

I hope Mongai is just taking a brief break and that we'll see more of his work in the future.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Will Polish Troops Withdraw From Iraq in 2005?

The best information I can find on whether or not Poland will withdraw its troops from Iraq next year is over at Chrenkoff's. He is originally from Poland and has translated some quotes from several Polish articles on the matter:

Komorowski says "It's shameful to be trying to escape from one's responsibility, in the circumstances where Poland officially took over administration of part of Iraq and never gave any inkling that it intends to pull out prematurely."


Bronisław Komorowski is the leader of the Citizens Platform, part of "the right-wing opposition, which is likely to form the next government," according to Chrenkoff.

Chrenkoff has lots more, including some analysis of Polish domestic politics and how that may affect things.

UPDATE: For more news and analysis on this, Pretensions of Competency is also covering the story.

Monday, October 04, 2004

There Will Be A Test

From IMAO, a look at what Kerry's "global test" would look like:

THE GLOBAL TEST FOR PREEMPTIVE STRIKES
Brought to you by your local U.N.

Please answer these questions with a "yes" or "no" in regards to your proposed preemptive strike.

* Is this action needed to protect your nation from an imminent threat?

* Have you considered all other courses of action?

* Will the U.N. actually have to do anything other than talk?

* Will this financially benefit France?


Go read the whole thing! It's funny even though it's true. Sometimes you just have to embrace the absurdities in life.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Johnny Nuance Rides Again!

Check out the script of this old Western series over at Iowahawk. All three acts, commercials, it's got everything I remember from watching the re-runs, er, whenever that was.


CHUCKWAGON: I tells ya it’s a quagmire, Johnny. A real quagmire!

JOHNNY: You don’t have to tell me, Chuckwagon! I fought in Antietam. Where’s the Marshall?

CHUCKWAGON: Silverango Canyon!

JOHNNY: I know what I have to do. Chuckwagon, fetch my golden fountain pen.


(Mug tip to Allah.)

Welcoming Autumn



Around harvest time, beautiful red higan flowers bloom. About a week later the sweet scent of kinmokusei blossoms fills the air. The first time I smell kinmokusei each year, I know autumn has arrived.

(Image stored at Flicker.)

UPDATE: October 4, 10 a.m. The Flickr server seems to be down. As soon as it's back up, you'll be able to see the photo.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Daisuke Inoue Wins Ig Noble Award

According to the Japan Times:

NEW YORK (Kyodo) Karaoke inventor Daisuke Inoue was awarded the humorous Ig Nobel peace prize in a Thursday ceremony at Harvard University for "providing an entirely new way for people to learn to tolerate each other."


Well, he should get some kind of prize, anyway.

Human Shield Diary

Love 'em, hate 'em, either way this diary is a must read!

I should post some of it to get everyone interested, but, uh, it's just something you have to read all of. Really. Trust me. I know, I know, I'm an anonymous guy sitting around in his pajamas, but trust me.

(Mug tip to Allahpundit.)