Monday, November 30, 2009

Late to the Game: Bow Down!

Being out of the loop, both fortunately and un, I was unaware of the brouhaha caused by President Obama's innocuous bow to a random old couple in Japan. What you say? It was no random old couple but rather those evil villains the Emperor and his Empress? What scandal! Why those two rapscallions control absolutely nothing in Japan. Has Mr. Obama pledged his loyalty to their powerlessness? One wonders. To judge the severity of this dark(hint hint) infraction I will compare this breach of decency with my daily life-itself a compendium of the upright.

People I have bowed to this week:

Every teenager in my school.
The principal.
The vice-principal.
Every instructor in my gym including the otaku who doesn't like me and kicks me.
Every person I have passed on the trail while hiking.
An old lady who couldn't find the entrance to the Hankyu station.
My girlfriend's brother and his fiancee.
The phone.
The guy behind the counter in the store when I paid for something cheap with a $100 bill.

You can see where this can lead. They all control my life in a dark plot just like the undercover Kenyan. I once accidentally bowed to a cat as I exited a store after bowing to the staff. You can see where it got me. Predicament some say, I say pickle.

What do the experts on bowing say? I would imagine something like this, "Don't listen to my absurd nonsense because no one can be an expert on something so nebulous. Just walk past me and ignore my drivel." Is that not how it transpired? Did someone discuss gradients in height and angle? Did I mention that when we begin kickboxing class I sit on my knees and place my head on the ground in reverence to the other black belt that I teach with? Forsooth! Is it not minutes later that I make fun of his clothes or his taste in music? Is it not together that we go drinking and further "josh around." Behold the horseplay! Beholden I am.

To paraphrase the Smothers brothers:

I am wearing this chicken suit to protest U.S. involvement in Central America.

What does that have to do with anything?


Friday, November 27, 2009


Down to the last weekend and the block that had been on the NanoWrimo website all month comes off. I have been doing little writing this month but I had enough on reserve to crooss 50,000 in one button press. Here is a link to my page. Here is a link to David's. You can make it!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Taibbi on Palin

Not to steal everything from Atrios today....but... This Matt Taibbi article is a very good take on the Palin implosion/explosion that I have very little interest in outside of its spectacle as a social phenomenon.


Is this the worst political website ever? Or have we just forgotten how bad websites can be?

Krugman on Debt

Here is Krugman on concerns about the national debt. Even though they won't let me in school as an economist, even though I don't even play one on TV, I would have to go with Krugman on this one. You know the interesting thing about Wall Street? They are wrong a good deal of the time. Even when they are right, their thought process is based on different scales than anything I am interested in. If you care about fantasies and impressions and imaginary goods being moved with imaginary money, then listen to Wall Street. But The Economy and Wall Street are two different things. What is good for one is necessarily linked to the other. I think it is without doubt that President Obama's economic policies lean Wall Street. Ditch Summers and Geitner. Get Krugman. Get Reich for Christ's sake.


I agree with this pretty much exactly. I have only been advovating a new CCC for more than the last decade. People want to participate in their country and a lot of them don't find getting rich to be thier priority. If you give people a wage and insurance they will work to make the country better. Unfortunately, our way of defining economies and growth doesn't count these kind of things.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

English Edumucation?

I have been meaning to write a long post declaring that I have thrown in the towel on English education in Japan. Not that I am quitting my job, but that I am quitting on the idea of my job. I just haven't found the time to write it, and I don't have it now.

The decision that I have reached can be summed up as follows: If Japan isn't committed to doing English education correctly and completely than it should stop doing it at all.

Now that is vague. I will try to make some point in the ten minutes I have before I have to mop this office. I teach kickboxing to teenagers on Fridays. What if every Friday I told them that you punch by holding your fist as high over your head as possible and jumping on one foot? What if I told them that, and other absurd things for three years? Over and above this being absurd, what if part of the reason I taught them this was that I suspected it might be absurd but all I had to go on was a description of how to punch that I had been issued and that my students would be tested on and it appeared to suggest that this was how you punch? The answer to these what ifs is that I would be a ridiculous excuse for a teacher and doing a disservice to and student with a real interest in punching anyone. This isn't far from the reality of English education in Japan. I constantly teach from textbooks with incorrect English. I tell the teachers, the Japanese teachers who at their very best are non-native speakers- that what we are teaching is incorrect. "Oh well," they will say, "What is in the textbook is on the test." This means extensive use of the passive form, beginning sentences with "and", "but" and "so, and serious infractions on sensible writing. And that is just the textbooks. The workbooks are comical and teacher's worksheets are tragic. Recently a new English teacher, a full time government employee who is now guaranteed a job a paycheck and bonuses, made a worksheet with these sentences:

"I want to go to Tokyo Disney Land. There is the most popular amusement park in all of Japan."

This is after my proofreading the sheet, taking out the worst parts, and correcting this mistake. I don't mean to be too rough on her, but this is everyday. Would these mistakes be acceptable in another subject? Is 2 plus 2= equal to 5? The English my students learn is tortured and unnatural. It does nothing to improve their speaking and communicative abilities. It is only a detriment.

I am looking through the 2nd years textbook now and I see the infamous, to me anyway, sentence: "They think that the life of a people is in its language. When a language disappears, the culture also dies out."

Hmm. Profound. Thoughtful. Today I asked a typical 2nd year student "How are you?" The same way I have asked everyday all year. I translate his response for you; "What? I don't understand. How could I possibly know what you are talking about? I don't know. Ask somebody else." That is the rule, not the exception. Who in their right mind thinks they will be able to process this though experiment on Ainu language being the basis for their culture? I have been in a few meetings with professors of education giving us suggestion on how to teach. I never thought that I would be one to crank that well worn handle on the anti-intellectual music box, however, what self-serving, jack-off office have you been sprawled out in, drinking hi-balls and staring at your bookshelves? I am a fan of multiculturalism, but my students can't even count to ten, much less contemplate the implications of an Okinawan folk music revival or urban heat islands.

I say in complete seriousness that my students would be better off reading Hop on Pop and watching Sesame Street reruns. Ask any Japanese English teacher for one word that rhymes with "cable" and see if it is possible to time a blank stare. I feel bad lambasting these teachers because they are some of my better friends and allies but you can find better speakers of English waiting for the surf to break in the backs of their broken down vans or working part time washing dishes in a restaurant. The education system imports native speakers and then precedes to undermine our position and never solicit our opinions. I can't think of once in eight years that I have been asked to help plan curriculum. I would challenge the system to give me one class for a year and compare their test scores to those from around Japan, but we all know what the likelihood of that is.

As I am writing this I can hear a kid in the hall calling "Tanaka teacher! Tanaka Teacher!" At how many schools, how many times in how many ways have I told people that that isn't English? That we don't use the construction "Last name -teacher." I sound like a killjoy saying this but it is a symptom of the problem. Of all the times that I have said this, how many times has the information been processed? I would wager none.

If I were to develop this text further I would make the surprising declaration that Japan isn't culturally mature enough to do English right in junior high schools. That would seem like a terrible, jingoistic thing to say. That would seem paternalistic at best and coldly racist at worst. It would sound that way, and I am sorry to pull rank, to anyone who had never worked in a Japanese junior high school. I don't want that statement, coming from an American to be construed as contingent on the with the suffix "as compared to America." I don't intend that, and I would have no basis for saying that. I would merely contend that if I was given a new class of 1st year students I would spend the first month or so with them making them understand that Japan was one nation among a community of nations. I would want them to accept that being Japanese didn't make them any more or less predisposed to speaking English than anyone else in the world. But it isn't the kids faults, TV is the main cultural driver in Japan and the only thing, repeat, the only things it feeds the public is that Japan is a special kingdom and everywhere else in the world is absurd. As an American reading this, I think one might be predisposed to caution, "America also thinks it is the center of the universe and...." Yes. Believe me I understand that. The situation in Japan is different however. Most people I know in America grew up knowing someone who didn't look like them. They have probably heard people who don't speak English as a first language speak before. They have probably not thought anything of it in a while. Of course there are racists and bigots in America but......The buts would take a treatise to clarify. All I want people to understand is that their is a barrier to overcome here to arrive at the point were people who speak English aren't comic buffoonery. Could you conduct a science class were people broke down laughing every time you used the metric system.

Irony of ironies I have to go to English club now. Which might not actually count as irony, come to think of it. The point that I am making is that Japan should sing an armistice with junior high English. It should offer foreign languages as electives in high school and majors in college. If it decides to do education for real, then maybe it can give it another try.

The Big Tuna

I meant to post this when it came out but I was sitting back here at the computer and felt compelled to work. Those bastards. I have been following depleting world fisheries for a while but it is all too depressing. I stopped eating meat over 15 years ago but I still eat fish. That is more and more becoming an untenable position. Add to it that tuna is the big one to go, mainly because of Japan. I was also a Florida Nader voter. What will I do without my tekkamaki and negitoro? It is going to be rough but it looks like the seafood era might be drawing to a close. Thank you overpopulation.

Poll Dancing?

Again this junk makes me nuts. It is bad enough that most Americans working knowledge of statistics is almost comparable to their working knowledge of Mongolian. (excepting Mongolian Americans, like John Gombojab Hangin, of course.) To compare someone's favorability rating and another person's job approval rating brings us back to the old equation, yet to be named- I think , that we have been running through our old supercomputers for more than eight years: If they are that stupid they should be fired/If they are that deceptive they should be reviled. This is like that the "study" a few weeks back that proved that the Obama White House's feud with the Fox comedy network had improved said network's ratings. Had it? Well it had if you excluded the weekend numbers from a two week sample. You know what? I work 9 hours a day. There are 7 days in a week. I must work 63 hours a week. What could be wrong with those numbers? I am the guy that failed math so hard that I had to beg to graduate from every level of schooling. Can I work for a major publication too?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

UFC 106: Cat Food

UFC Commissioner Dana White walked to the podium with astonishment. "What the fuck do you mean Captain Lou Albano died? Why did nobody tell me?" Hurt wrenched his face as tears fell softly on his Erik B and Rakim vintage t-shirt. The show must go on.

Sotiropoulos vs. Dent: Sotiropoulus trained at Purebred Tokyo so I am going to go with him regardless. He is also a phenomenal grappler. Sotiropoulos by decision.

Uno vs. Camoes: Uno is a pioneer in the sport. A hero with a rad single leg. If the single leg is working for him I see him getting a decision. I don't know that he can sub Camoes but I think he can out box him. Uno lacks power however. Look for his wrestling to earn him a decision.

Larson vs. Foster: He is from Minnesota and named Brock so I am reflexively against Larson. I shouldn't be. A great grappler. He wins by sub in the 1st.

Grove vs. Rosholt: Grove is not someone you can predict anymore. He has outstanding reach but fights out of the clinch. He love to trike but has no chin. His clench work on the fence isn't bad but Rosholt is a real wrestler. I think Grove is good on the ground. I think he is good on the feet. I still think he loses by TKO in the 3rd.

Saunders vs. Davis: I want to pull for Saunders. He seems like a rad guy and his Ft. Bragg demolition of Wolffe was a thing of legend. However he really isn't that experienced a fighter. Davis has some of the best footwork in the game. Great job with the distance. Great hands. Great hands that transition into solid takedowns and submissions. I think it should be an interesting fight but I think Davis takes it by sub in the 2nd.

Thiago vs. Volkmann: Apparently Volkmann is a takedown machine. Thiago is still somewhat of a mystery. I like him though. He is a tough striker a rugged grappler. Volkmann might be able to control the fight for a decision but I see Thiago hanging in for a chance and getting a KO in the 3rd.

Sadollah vs. Baroni: Baroni. The best 'evah! But really not so great. Not great at all. Lot of punching power. A little wrestling and no gas tank. None. Can he knock out Sadollah? Sure, in the first 2 minutes. What does Sadollah really have? I don't know but we will find out when he beats Baroni after he gasses in the 2nd. Sadollah by sub.

Nogueira vs. Cane: Cane is a meat grinder. Nogueira has been through the meat grinder. Nogueira is a lot like his twin brother. He has solid boxing and savvy grappling. Cane is the more explosive. I see Cane getting the clinch and kneeing Nogueira into oblivion in the 3rd.

Koschek v. Johnson: Will Koschek wrestle? If he goes out there and takes the single. Explodes through the double, he wins. The more he stands up, the more chances Johnson has to land a huge right hand. If Koschek goes out and strikes, start betting against him. I think he wises up and wrestles to the decision.

Ortiz vs. Griffin: What do we know about Ortiz at this point? Maybe his back was that bad and surgery rolled back the clock. Maybe his back was just part of the aging process and he is just a so-so used up fighter. I like Ortiz. I like that he fights to his game plan. It is a good plan for him. I like his defensive boxing. Both of these fighters have great gas tanks. Forrest has better striking, although little power outside of his leg kicks. Ortiz has little power striking, but Forrest has little beard. Does Forrest really have the ground game we keep being told about? This one is a toss up, but I see Griffin getting the decision off of leg kick and defending the takedown.

The fight that I wanted to see was Parisyan vs. Hazelett but alas, Karo is a headcase and we will probably never see it. Parisyan vs. other grapplers are among my favorite fights of all times. Parisyan vs. Diaz. Parisyan vs. Sanchez. Great stuff. Too bad. Too bad Arash Markazi has given coverage duties over to Amy Chavez. Take it to the office.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Urban Harvest

This, is also rad.

I like the idea of diversified food production that is close to home. Even if it isn't an overarching solution it is a small contribution. I also like the idea that people know where food comes from and understand the difference between what grows in a real garden and what is chemically enhanced and food colored and dumped on you.

Monday, November 16, 2009


A very interesting series on foraging. That's all.

In a similar vein, this is kind of rad and Florida-centric.

The Real Story

This story seems important to me. Mainly because it shows so plainly what happens to news stories and how much the "story" part is the real influence over the reportage.

Onward Christian Soldiers

For all of those people who don't think a change in administrations matters. That this viewpoint was in power is sick and stupid and a disservice to people who were attempting to be of service. It isn't even Christianity in any recognizable form that they are advocating, it is servitude to their narcissism. The people involved in the Bush regime seemed to roll around in power the way a dog splays himself on animal remains; wallowing in the stink. This article is pretty sickening.

There are other things going on here to. I don't really want to dissect anyone's faith, however it seems that some of these people's belief was rooted in a shallow insistance that beleiving in God was believing in something nice and clean. That they insulated themselves with religion and were left in the cold when what they thought to be the case was all ripped away.

In anycase it is a sad situation and the fact that money comes into the equation for treatment is the real sickness here. If you are willing to pay for the war, pay for its effects.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

UFC: 105 Drama of Alienation

I haven't made pick in a while. Why? I could think of lots of reasons, but the first would be explaining to your girlfriend why you need to use her computer for an hour to spout undauntedly about something that isn't that important. Also, I still don't have internet on my computer. However, in my last day of making weight I need to do something that isn't eating.

UFC Commissioner Dana White, hand clenched in fury over the Stupak Amendment stepped to the podium and vowed the European mission would continue.

Gustaffson vs. Hamman- Don't know. Don't care. Hamman by smashing 1st.

Riddle vs. Osipczak- Riddle is too much the athlete. His left hand hasn't got a chance to shine since TUF tryouts but he will get takedowns at will. A beat up. TKO for Riddle in the 1st.

Winner vs. Delgado- It is fun to see Delgado in the UFC. It makes you think one of your buddies could make it. He is sporting a lovely Jesus beard as well. Maybe it is a Tanner throwback. Delgado has a good guard but Winner is too physical. Winner by decision.

Kelly vs. Siver- I have never been impressed with Siver, outside of his physique. Kelly is a game fighter and will get the better of Siver in most aspects. Kelly by decision.

Etim vs. Gugerty- Etim has been nothing but impressive since he entered the UFC. Even in his losses. He has excellent kickboxing. He judges distance well and he is skilled on the ground. Etim gets a TKO in the 3rd.

Taylor vs. Hathaway- I like both of these guys. Hathaway is more a rising youngster than a posible product. I think Taylor has the experience to take a decision, but I am interested to see how Hathaway is coming along.

Wilks vs. Brown- I have said before that I loved Mike Brown's status as a folk hero among his peers. His tattoos are awful. I wonder how ironic having "Immortal" tattooed across your stomach will seem when you get diagnosed with cancer. I didn't have any faith in Wilks on TUF, but I was wrong. He is skilled. Brown is a much better striker and hurts Wilks in the 2nd for a TKO. I am worried about Brown's stamina, as usual.

Pearson vs Riley- Similar fighters. Tough guys. If Pearson's time aways from being a professional bricklayer has made him a 5-10% better fighter than he can take this. Riley has made his bones being a tough guy. I think Riley's change of camps earns him a decision.

Swick vs. Hardy- Hardy is my kind of fighter and I keep betting against him. He keeps winning. Still I think Swick is more physical and has more speed and toughness. I think Swick take him down and rough him up. Hardy tries to work the rubber guard but Swick pushes though it and hurt Hardy for a 2nd round stoppage.

Bisping vs. Kang- I say this about Bisping every time; He isn't a great athlete, he is the most athletic guy you know. Dan Henderson completely outclasses him. Dennis Kang is one of the most talented fighters out there but he is a headcase. He loses fights he should win in really ridiculous ways. No one seems to mention that his losing streak started around the time his girlfriend, and fellow fighter, killed herself. That might make one a headcase. Still, Kang outstrikes Bisping and takes him down at will. Kang by TKO in the 3rd.

Couture vs. Vera- Has betting against Handy ever paid off? Sometimes, but I usually go for him when I should go against him and vice-versa. I have bought the Vera hype since the first time I heard of him. I still do. However Vera is, like Kang, subject to mental pitfalls. How does this match up against Couture's slipping skills? Will those skills resurge? I like Vera to keep the distance and land strikes. His stunning low kicks will be hard to work against an opponent like Randy who has excellent takedowns. Both of these fighters were skilled Greco-Roman wrestlers but Randy is clearly more experienced in fighting in the clinch. If Randy can end it it will be by boxing in the clinch, getting the takedown and doing his usual half-guard destruction. Still. I have Vera by controversial decision.

Friday, November 6, 2009

I Forgets

I forgot that it was National Novel Writing Month. David has already got started and I just made a page. I will get thie links up tomorrow. In the meantime here is something ridiculous I wrote about a funny story David told me about the first time he ever heard about internet porn. Behold!

A Letter

Here. I printed this out for you. Pretty good huh? It looks better on a monitor but there is no way I can send it to you. I don’t even know if you have a computer. Do you know how to find this stuff? I didn’t until my buddy showed it to me the other day. He knows all about this stuff. I mean how to find this stuff. I know all about this stuff in real life. You know what I mean! Sorry about the edges. I started to tear off the part with the …what do you call it? Where it has the hole for where the printer pulls it through. Anyway I started to tear off one side and then it ripped so I just said fuck it and gave up and stuffed the rest of it into the envelope. Did you like the envelope? I wanted to print it out too, like the address and stuff, but it got all bunched up, like a car ran over it so I just wrote in your address where it was smudged. Is that still your address? If it isn’t it would be pretty funny if your dad opened this big-ass picture of a dude getting a blowjob right there in dot-matrix! I can see him staring at it like a puzzle and turning it upside down and then realizing that it is a picture of a big old cock right there in black and white. Well, kind of gray I guess. What if the dude’s cock was gray in real life? Do old people have gray cocks? What about Mongolians? Fuck it. I ain’t never going to find out. Maybe we could start a business making envelopes that look like they had been run over by a car. Like paint on ‘em like a tire track. That would be nuts. I bet people would buy them. Would they let us mail envelopes with pictures of dudes getting blowjobs? That would be awesome! People could mail them to people like their dad or something and freak them the fuck out! “What the fuck is this! It’s a big cock!” And then like their moms would find it and be like “What the fuck?” Maybe we could drive a car through paint and then run over an envelope. Or like a bunch of envelopes: like a row of them. Too bad I have a gravel driveway. Is yours still gravel? Or was it oyster shell? Do you guys even have oysters up there? I remember when your dog went running through that tall grass out behind your house because we rolled a bowling ball down the hill and he thought it was a rabbit or something and took off after it and then crashed into it and went flying. That was rad. Didn’t he die? That’s too bad. I am sorry about that. I really like dogs. One of my friend’s moms died from eating oysters. She ate oysters and like an hour later she died. It was in the summer. I don’t know if it was in the summer, but you shouldn’t eat oysters in the summer. They have bacteria in them. Bacteria from when it is warm. There aren’t so many oysters now that we have golf courses. The fertilizer runs of and kills the oysters. Graveyards too. Graveyards kill oysters. Anyway, she died right after she ate them so don’t eat oysters in the summer. I know I sure stopped. Do you think that chick knows that dude? That would be pretty funny if he didn’t. He just showed up and some guy is like, “Hey, blow this dude for a picture.” And the chick is like, “Ok.” That’s fucked up. Or what if they know each other and the dude is like, “Hey, I’m gonna take a picture.” And the chick is like, “Whatever.” But she doesn’t know anything about computers and modems and stuff. But my buddy does. And I guess that dude did too. That’s rad. And now I’ve got a picture of his chick blowing him. Funny. I wonder if I can get a chick to do that. Pose for a picture I mean! I can get plenty of chicks to do THAT! I can hear you now man. Being like, “Yeah, I wonder if you can get a chick to do THAT too!” Haha. Pretty funny. Shut the fuck up mother fucker. Well, let me know what you want to do about this envelope printing thing.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Native Son?

This is a rad poll that says that Southerners support Obama's performance over Bush's. Tow problems:

One- It refers to Bush as a "Native Son." Of Connecticut? Yes. Of Texas? Marginal. Southern? F' that.

Two- This will change the press narrative zero percent. Bush will always be treated as if he was popular but embattled and any Democrat will be treated as controversial and divisive.

Statistics for Dumbo

Again, is there anything more important to understanding journalism than knowing how to view statistics? Not really, but you wouldn't know that by reading journalists. Behold!

This is frustrating and dishonest. It is like saying we have examined NFL viewership and found it declined sharply. We looked at data from Sunday and Monday and then took the numbers from Tuesday and Wednesday. It is clear the NFL will go bankrupt in the next few weeks. Well, if I knew absolutley nothing, then maybe that would make sense. Problem: Most people know absolutley nothing.

Monday, November 2, 2009

This is Halloween

Apparently I wasn't the only one up to a whole lot of nothing for Halloween.

attempting to silence the voices in my head.