Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

It's my favorite holiday and I have done nothing. Well that isn't completely true. I got revenge on Atago-san to Takao hike. I had a very Halloween moment of being stuck in a long, narrow car tunnel while walking and hitting a section where there were no lights and I could here cars entering the tunnel somewhere behind me and I took of running for the next light. I made it alive. The hike to Takao was exceedingly beautiful. Mainly my dieting down to 73kg is destroying all of the fun in my life by making me a real Halloween zombie. I missed the Origami Girls show I had been looking forward to for months due to exhaustion. 2 weeks and 8 more pounds to go. You know what is fun about dropping weight? Nothing. Shut up.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I Used to Think You Were Crazy, Now I Can See Your Nuts!

In the midst of trying to cut weight for next month's match, I turn again to nuts. Which are good for you.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Amy Chavez is a Terrible Writer

I picked that title not because it is a conclusion that I just came to - as you well know- or a revelation, but because I hope that Ms. Chavez, much like her compatriot in unpowerful writing Arash Markazi, frequently Googles her own name and feels a slight pin prick of pain over her remarkable lack of talent coupled with her relatively broad exposure. That sounds mean. I admit it is mean. But Ms. Chavez isn't poor Amy in the back of class that we really hope raises her hand and speaks one day. She is someone who is presenting herself, or at least being presented by the Japan Times as a writer. One assumes she is being compensated. Has she turned out anything that has crossed the Mendoza line of mild retardation yet? Recent evidence states no. It might be alleged that I am a jealous person. That watching other people get paid for something I think I can do better leaves me angry and vengeful. I would agree with the latter but not with the former. It isn't jealousy to recognize incompetence. In the same way that Arash Markazi should never have been assigned to cover an MMA event, Amy Chavez should never be asked to write anything that isn't a kitchy recipe book printed on a home computer and given to her neighbors as a Christmas gift.

Friday, October 23, 2009

More People Do This

Congressman Grayson on the Constitution.

and This.

The one thing I hate in any discussion of Sen. Franken is the "Well he may be a comedian but he sure is smart" dynamic. Sure there are some dumb comedians out, but it is very easy to see that through their schtick. To be the kind of comedian that Franken is/was would have been absolutley impossible for someone lacking intelligence. I don't know how we would be less surprised if he was a lawyer, the fallback occupation for those of average intelligence. What about being a comedian and a comedy writer at a high level for decades would makes us think someone is dumb? Maybe that is why most people are so bad at comedy.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Unpowerful Writing

I have found an ally in the wet roped struggle against, around and amongst bad internet writing. Not that I hold up many recent posts of mine as great writing...although if someone employed me.... In any case, I thought this was well done.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I have mostly been following the Savoie case through the vernacular press, and not very closely at that. The impression I had was of a renegade American causing trouble in a quiet neighborhood. I did, however, make the point several times that a big issue was that Japan doesn't participate in the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Also, the way divorces are handled in Japan is somewhat absurd. Usually it goes like this: Couple splits up. Father never sees the children again. I didn't realize until I read the article above that the father had been awarded custody in America and the mother had run back to Japan with the children. I have yet to find any sympathetic ears in Japan. I believe I heard a TV commentator say- and don't quote me because I just caught he saying it while I was doing something else- that it would would be difficult for Japan to sign the treaty because it might interfere with raising Japanese children. I don't mean children who are Japanese. I mean that she implied it would be hard to make them Japanese if custody was divided.

On the domestic front, this story was on the news and I said it was a real issue that Japan refuses to participate in this treaty. I was met by; "Wow foreigners like to get divorced." I would imagine that anyone who has been in Japan long enough can tell you that a divorce is preferable to many of the marriages here. Nevertheless, that is all apart from the issue of human rights and Japan's continued penchant to opt of treaties that don't seem Japanese enough.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I Agree.....

Here is something new from Debito Arudou about the new McDonald's campaign that I have completely missed out on. Especially considering I am trying to drop 15 pounds for a grappling competition. The part the Debito gets absolutely right is the part about speaking to Japanese people being harder than speaking Japanese. Case in point. A week or so ago, I caught the last train home after kick-boxing. It was late and I was tired and carrying a big gym bag. As I got up to leave the train - I live at the last station- my phone fell out of my pocket. The train employees began running through the train waking up the drunks and telling everyone to get off. I said, in Japanese, "Wait! My phone just fell out of my pocket. It is in that seat." The man looked at me as if I were a dog trying to bark and kept motioning for me to get off the train. I repeated myself several times and then stepped out of the train, bewildered and checking my bag for my phone. I kept saying, "My phone is in that seat!" I guess I should explain that when a train reaches the end of the line they flip all of the seats over so they will be facing the right way going backwards. Even as I am insisting my phone is in the seat, they slam it down the other way. A man in a mask came and shoved my broken phone in my face without saying anything. Not only was it unfortunate and made me angry, it hurt my feelings-which sounds ridiculous- but it did. I wasn't drunk and I was speaking completely coherently to people who were conditioned not to listen. I think most Japanese people I know, especially my girlfriend, think of me as a complainer about all things Japanese. But as I often say, because I believe it, complaining is the first step to democracy.

So much shit gets shitted out of the Japanese media about whatever some moron's idea of being
foreign is, and we, at the street level have to act as the filter. I have taught at 8 junior high schools and a 22 year-old student teacher the other day asks me if I can use chopsticks. The kid who can't remember your name now because you aren't Japanese will be the adult who doesn't give someone a loan or housing. It's a problem.

As usual, the disagreements with Mr. Arudo were numerous.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ha Ha Rusty

More Limbaugh stuff here and here. I think the important question in this article is "Who is Limbaugh going to blame?" It is always somebody and it can never be him. It is nice to know that people are on to his garbage.


I know this might not make the outer ring of you black-light disaster mandala, but Charlie Davies-rad forward for the US National Team- was seriously injured in a car wreck today. His prospects are iffy. Davies is one of my favorite new players and I had ironically just got him for my new Winning Eleven team today. Clearly this is what makes it tragic. No. Anyone injured is upsetting, this one is just coincidental and I hope the guy is okay because he is a tremendous athlete with lots of potential.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


If you care about statistics...and environmental statistics...and the misuse of statistics and numbers and information in general than....this.

That's how this stuff enters the dialogue and becomes fact. Someone says "5,000 polar bears in the wild" and doesn't remember where the number came from. Meanwhile, someone who needs to make a point about polar bears takes the number and incorporates it into their world view. But they have a source! A source who said a number with nothing underpinning it. Hmmmm. But it fits the world view and now everyone must incorporate it or deny it, even though it is a number with no real meaning. Great.

NFL Players Get It Right

Sometimes NFL players come off like preening morons, which makes that the majority of them are intelligent adults. It is heartening to see a rejection of Limbaugh as owner. While I am sure some African-Americans would play for him, I imagine getting big name free agents would become somewhat of a problem.

Also, one thing I took from the Donovan McNabb incident that doesn't seem to be brought up so much is that Rush Limbaugh was simply hitting his own pitiful average (to reference another sport on this.) It wasn't that he made an unusual gaffe over McNabb, it was that he used the same logic he always uses, very little and skewed tremendously, to try to make a point that only makes sense to a limited and specific audience. The only difference is that in sports it is harder to argue over the results. McNabb is unarguably one of the best quarterbacks of his generation. He is consistently successful. He was before Limbaugh talked him down and he has been since. But this isn't an aberration. Limbaugh is always wrong. He is compensated for his bad judgement, not his foresight. If he was accurate, he wouldn't have hopeless wasted millions thrown at him. He gets paid to get it all wrong, because there is a specific audience out there who need it to come to them wrong so that it will seem to them like they were right all along. Buy the Rams Rush, and will see you create one of the worst franchises in the history of the league. That is, if you hold to your track record.


Congrats USA for making the World Cup for the 6th straight time. Was anyone able to watch the game?


Sorry for the feast or famine nature of posting recently (to those who read anyway) and the lack of actual writing in the postings. I was working at the elementary school and busy everywhere else. A three day weekend found me rarely at home.

This article on student debt hits to close to home for me to even write about. If I start it will turn into the kind of downward sucking vortex whose spin science has shown us can not actually grow large enough to hamper a ship. Mine could. My student debt isn't even that high. It is just that unpayable. The frustrating part is that you are not allowed to advance in society until it is. I can't get an assistantship or any other loans for grad-school until my debt is paid, or being paid, the same process really, but I can't get a better job, especially in this economy until I go to grad school, which is pretty much all I have ever wanted to do. The frustrating thing is, and I have a feeling this isn't just me, is that I did nothing irresponsible along the way. I went to school, like we are all supposed to. I went to school, I even tranfserred to a cheaper school fearing the financial implications. I graduated and got a good job on JET. The only real mistake I made was leaving JET but that was for a girl, and when you are 24 you make decisions about girls that you really shouldn't. After that I did okay for money but the economy crashed. I didn't see that as what was happening at the time but reading back now it is clear that Japan went down before America, and Miyazaki went first in Japan. (If you exclude Okinawa, which started from further down and is always kind of down.) When I quit eikaiwa I was lined up for a very good paying job that disappeared due to the economy and I had quit eikaiwa because I wasn't getting paid. Schools in Osaka stopped paying for full time teachers because their city government went in debt. Osaka built the ATC and tried to bid on the Olympics, meanwhile me, and people like me suffer under the yoke of our on seemingly responsible decisions. It is at the point now, and I am sure I am not alone in this, where joining the military seems like the only rational decision and the only way to address debt. Debt that I again emphasize was incurred in trying to make all of the right decisions. Not by spending on credit cards, not in buying cars. Not in building useless skyscrapers or starting senseless wars. I am just part of a group of people who it has been decided are just big enough to allow to fail.


One related thing I forgot to mention is:

This system of debt serves to create a permanent underclass that finds it impossible to move up in society based on their own merit. It means that grad-school and other professions are accessible to people who don't need learns and can have their debts paid for them. Of course, that includes people who worked hard and earned scholarships. But also includes a class of dilettantes who will only reinforce their position. This couples with the current health care disaster to create an underclass and force it down lower and lower and render it permanent.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Joel Tudor

I confess to having never heard of this guy until he was brought up at the gym yeterday. Good on you man.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Health Care

Health care is probably my biggest political issue. Probably. It is one of the things that keeps me estranged from the USA and represents an actual barrier to returning. Why the have I been silent on the issue? I don't know. It all seems hopeful and frustrating and unreal. Also, I have nothing substantial to add to the issue except that Americans deserve government health care. Government funded health care works and people who disagree are misguided. That is pretty simple.

I love my Japanese health care. It costs a lot. I owe money to it right now. But I don't take it for granted. Here was an article in the Japan Times of someone with a slightly different opinion.

This man in the street poll indicates my general feeling on how non-Japanese in Japan regard health care here. In my experience I have found two general categories of people who aren't crazy about it:

1. Europeans who have access to health care and are put off by the low-tech look of Japanese hospitals or for paying their share of the burden.

2. Young Americans from stable backgrounds who are, for the first time, off their parents plans. This group includes many JETs who complain constantly about who lame Japanese hospitals are. They, even the most liberal of them, represent the barrier to health care in America because they still don't get that the question is about access.

I have no access to medical care in America. The last time I sought medical care in America, it cost my family $10,000. That is a barrier. An insurmountable barrier. In Japan I am free to be competitive in martial arts, hike, surf, get a cold, whatever, because all I have to do is go to the hospital. Any hospital I want to. I have met lots of young non-Japanese here who sound just as petulant as the town hall screamers back home. Their problem with Japanese hospitals is that they smell funny, or the slippers were worn out or that the machines looked more Night Rider and less Star Trek: TNG. Any hospital looks better than rolling around on my floor trying to work up the guts to jam my knee back into joint. That is what America promises right now. And even a good medical plan doesn't let you go to the dentist whenever you feel like it so when your teeth rot out you have to pay to get all of them fixed out of your pocket. Not to mention that the only pre-condition to me obtaining insurance is telling someone my address. That is it. No examination. No family history. No pre-existing conditions. What happens in America isn't medical care, it is the flanking, cavalry attack of class-warfare. It is a real slaughter with a real body count and as much as I bitch about Japan I am very grateful that they have granted me a pardon on this count.


I like going to the movies. This can get me in trouble. I have seen some bad ones. Enter Wolverine. Or whatever souped up title it has been given. It was watchable in the sense that I wasn't in my house and I had some popcorn and Natsuki, who knows nothing of X-Men liked it.

The failing of this movie, however, was built into the X-Men movie franchise from the beginning. That fundamental flaw is that Hugh Jackman, who seems like quite a likable guy, is an awful choice for the part. I am sure it is not because he is a bad actor, although I can't recall anything I thought he was good in. His main difficulty, which he doesn't seem to have the chops to overcome, is that he is a talented, good-looking, well adjusted, successful guy. Wolverine's appeal is that he is none of those things. He is an honestly rotten person. Not rotten in the clever rebel since. Or the redeemable loner. The first X-Men I remember reading, Wolverine was drunk in an alleyway, smoking and trying to talk Jean Grey into giving him one on the side.

I don't want to come off like an otkau stickler. The Master and Commander books are my favorite things in the world, yet I have no problems with the movie which takes great liberties. I can get over Wolverine being a little more tall than he is short. A tall, blond, Stephen Maturin didn't put me completely off for God's sake. I thought Watchmen was alright and it contained a fundamental plot difference. Jackman's problem is Hayden Christiansan's problem from My Life as a House, all the way through the Star Wars travesty, he is so obviously the prom king, being anything less seems like he is taking the piss. Of course, there are actors who can pull this transition off. Sean Penn and Harvey Keitel come to mind. Jackman in the Wolverine role only illustrates the talent gap.

I understand that Hollywood's motivations and my taste run divergent courses, but Batman, in its various forms, has been fairly good. Spiderman surprisingly so. The directing and writing in Wolverine seemed especially sloppy and it cried out for a consistent tone and voice. But really, what is another 100 million thrown down onto something that could have been so much better.

Frog in a Well

While I am on that tip; Frog in a Well is an excellent blog on all things Japanese.

Also Ancient Japan. Which is, sadly, no longer updated.

Lasting Samurai

Here is a rad museum parody that addresses some of the protestations that I usually make about movies like Last Samurai. Really, if you were a common Japanese person, would you have rooted for Tom Cruise to defeat the government and preserve violent, arbitrary, warlord rule? Of course this sight does the criticism a lot better and deeper. I once found an essay on samurai death culture and how most of it was centered around warriors who never fought and were therefore free to contemplate death, but I can't remember where I read it......curses.

(OH, maybe it is the article linked to by the website. Cheers.)

attempting to silence the voices in my head.