Wednesday, March 31, 2010

UFC Fight Night 11: Pajama Jammy Jam

"What? You expect me to do it?" Said commissioner Dana White, kicking Joe Silva in the pants and making him introduce the fights by manipulating his butt cheeks like Jim Carrey.

Brenneman vs. High

Neither fighter is anyone I see going particularly far. I have seen more of High than I have of Brenneman and I think his wrestling gives him the decision.

Harris vs. Miranda

We don't know how Miranda will perform on the big stage. Harris is never going to be a big player, but he has been there before. Harris by hard fought decision.

Okami vs. Linhares

Remember all those many months ago when Okami was the man who was going to take out robo-champ Anderson Silva? Apparently the UFC doesn't. He is now fighting on the undercard of the sideshow. Not that he hasn't filled out his own application for this role as well, losing to master Republican Chael Sonnen. Linhares, in addition to having the greatest fight finder photo of all time, has an interesting game that took him a long way in Brazil. Okami has a style that won't be phased easily by sub attempts or reckless striking. Okami has great clinch wrestling and is big, strong and tough. He will wear down Linhares for a 3rd round TKO.

Uno vs. Tibau

My affection for Uno, whose nickname translates something like 'the business', is strong and ongoing. He is a true legend in the sport. Uno's durability and superior single-leg have earned him many a match. There is no way around the fact that he is on the down side of his career however. Tibau has the right skills to have beaten Uno a few years ago anyway. He is huge for the weight class. He is strong and he can wrestle. Maybe Uno can get a single on him. Maybe can take his back, but I just see Tibau's size and strength taking him to a decision.

Emerson vs. Lentz

I have explained before that I can never pick Rob "Lords of the Southland" Emerson. When you are a rich asshole and get together with your buddies to rob and pistol whip people and gas stations and then get out of your jail sentence while your comrades go away. Sorry. Emerson has very good take-down defense and okay striking. I hope Lentz gives him a colostomy bag.

Volkman vs. Torres

I have yet to be impressed with either. Volkman hits lke wrestlers used to hit before they got their shit together. Torres was big in Brazil but lost to Melvin Guillard. He is also awash in the blood of the lamb. Neither of these guys has showed enough to make a decision. Torres by sub in the 3rd.

Winner vs. Oliveira

Winner, while he hasn't been a revelation has been impressive, riding the wave of his Rough House compatriots. Oliveira is like a lot of guys on this card, he did well at the lower levels, getting his share of subs and TKOs, but hasn't done that much on the big stage. I can see Oliveira subbing Winner, but I think there is much more chance that Winner's striking is the real difference between the two. Winner by KO in the 1st.

Pearson vs. Siver

I don't think I have ever picked Siver to win, even though he has done very well for himself both in and out of the UFC. His last fight was decided by a spinning back kick, so I should be with him. But. But. I am picking against him again. The Ross Pearson we saw against Aaron Riley was an amazing improvement over what he was before. Another score for team Rough House, who are really coming to the fore. Siver is a solid opponent, but if Pearson has continued to improve over his last performance, he won't fail in the stand-up department. I think he tags Siver and gets a KO in the 3rd.

Quarry vs. Rivera

I was a big Quarry fan. On the first season of TUF, he seemed to be the only one who was asking relevant questions of the coaches. Of course they may have just been editing. In any case, Quarry has never shown any real improvement. He can hit hard if one stands in front of him. He isn't bad, but he isn't particularly inspiring either. Rivera has been a grown man doing grown man's work in the UFC for a long time. He has also suffered grown man pain, losing a daughter last year. I like Rivera as a person a lot, but he is never going to be a world beater. What he does have is a good clinch and hard strikes. He doesn't have a great ground game, but neither does Quarry. I think that Rivera can tie-up Quarry and work some strikes. They will add up for a TKO in the 2nd.

Nelson vs. Struve

There are people in the sport who I really respect and Roy Nelson has grown to be one of them. Don't be fooled by Nelson's unusual (to the fight game) build, he is a top level BJJ black-belt. I cited his Grappler's Quest bought with Frank Mir last week. Nelson was a victim of one of the worst stand-ups of all time when he had side mount on Arlovski and had the ref pull him off. He has exceptional balance and good enough boxing. Struve in intriguing with his length and ambitious striking. It was enough to beat Buentello, but I think Nelson can think his way through fights much better than Paul Buentello. There isn't a submission I can see Struve threatening with and even if he can land on Nelson, I think Roy can recover and fight him off. I see Nelson getting top position and wailing on Struve for a 2nd round TKO.

Florian vs. Gomi

If you missed out on the Shooto scene or the glory years of Pride, Gomi and the aura surrounding him might be a bit of a mystery to you. There was a few years in the middle of this decade where he was running the table at lightweight. Gomi was spectacular. The he seemed to lose interest. He has still been winning more than losing, recently topping local Osaka star Takashi Nakakura. He represents a certain age of MMA as surely as Tank Abbott or Frank Shamrock. Florian has been a fighter who has done nothing but improve, aside from a beating by BJ Penn, a loss he shares with Gomi. Florian, who earned his bones as a high level BJJ black-belt, is now know for his crisp muay-thai. I would like to see a barn burner, but I think that Florian's reach and discipline will keep the stand-up to his advantage and his grappling offers Gomi no path to victory there. I don't really know what Gomi does for training anymore. He seems to wear down qucikly and then swing for the fences. His advantages; real power and epic beard. The only way he will be KOd will be a stamina KO. Which is possible. This being a 3 rounder, I think Florian moves and jabs and kicks his way to a decision. I hope to see the return of Gomi at some point but that would require him caring, which I am not sure about. Look for whether or not Gomi enters to "Scary" by Mad Capsule Markets, which still gives me goosebumps before his fights.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

UFC 111: I Spy

UFC comissioner Dana White pimp walked to the podium with a Chairman Mao t-shirt and a commie green cap. "Fuck you Buddha! Long live Robert Culp!" With this he kicked over a small urn, shattering it on the floor.

To the fights!

Riddle vs Soto

Don't know Soto. Riddle is still, well, an enigma. He could be the guy who destroyed another dudes brain on TV. He could be the fairly useless fighter that emerged from that scalping. I still think Riddle has some upside and some natural talent. I think he hits take-downs and gets a TKO in the 2nd.

Palhares vs. Drwal

You spell these two last names. I absolutely love Palhares, or, Paul Harris, if you will. He is a stocky power house with limited striking (limited due to his dinosaur arms) and forceful take-downs and submission. I love his game and still feel that he is a candidate to knock-off Silva. I know. I am crazy. Palhares by sub in the 3rd.

Wallace vs. Hamman

I can not lie, I do not know. Wallace throws Hamman to the ground and beats on him for a 1st round TKO.

Diaz vs. Markham

Remember my rule; "Never bet against a Diaz." It is a good rule. True, Nate hasn't been winning lately. I don't care. I love his game. Markham has never shown me anything that makes me think he will move up the ladder. Markham has power and can brawl, but Diaz is tough and can box. Diaz can also sub anybody. Anybody includes Markham in the 3rd.

Almeida vs. Brown

I still think that Almeida should have changed his nickname to "Tony." Almeida is he kind of fighter I should back. He is a Renzo Gracie guy. He has off the charts BJJ. His wrestling is alright. His stand-up? Hmmm. As I have said before, I loved watching Matt Brown grow into a folk legend among his peers on TUF. That augurs something. Almeida is coming down in weight for the first time and I don't see it helping any of his issues. I don't think it makes him a better fighter. Brown is a solid striker, can defend the take-down and has some sub defense. I can see him getting subbed, but I think he toughs it out for a decision.

Pellegrino vs. Camoes

Camoes is a guy I definitely want to jump on the bandwagon for, but he hasn't earned it quite yet. I like Pellegrino's toughness and his grind you down wrestling. I don't think he is someone who can be submitted or knocked out easily. When you have those elements plus superior wrestling, it is not hard to see a decision. Comoes could use this as his big stepping stone. I wouldn't mind if he did, I just haven't seen the evidence yet.

Miller vs. Bocek

I have long been the driver of the Miller bus. Come on aboard. The guy is a real power grappler with superior wrestling and expanding striking. I have no problem seeing him as a future champion. Bocek is a very good grappler who I said I would stop picking against. Alas poor Bocek, I must mark against you again. What Bocek has is grappling and he can't implement his game on Miller. I see Miller choosing to work on his stand-up and getting a 3rd round KO.

Fitch vs. Saunders

I am a huge Saunders fan and applaud him for taking this bout on 2 days notice. I am also a firm believer that Fitch is one of the most skilled non-champions out there. Saunders has a huge frame for the division and has done nothing but improve since his time on TUF. He put man-sized beatdowns on both Wolfe and Davis. His size allows for great knees out of the clinch. I could see him punishing Fitch, but punishment isn't enough to put Fitch away. He is touch and durable and has great wrestling and top control. I would love to see Saunders for the upset but I think the safe money says Fitch by solid decision.

Mir vs. Carwin

I just can't trust Mir as a fighter. I love that he is a huge guy with leg-locks. That is great. I respect his improvement on the feet. However, I believe the Rosetta stone to understanding Mir is his old Grappler's Quest loss to Roy Nelson. Mir came out strong. Was winning early and then faded when he couldn't dominate and wilted only to be beat. It happens time and time again when he faces adversity. I don't ascribe this to any lack of desire or mental weakness on his part. He loves the sport. He loves fighting. It is just something that happens to him. You can see him wilt, even in his win over Lesnar. As for Carwin, what do we know? He has monster power and is huge. He has also never been to the 2nd round. How will his huge frame react to the demand for oxygen? I don't know. I do know that Mir has never shown any real striking defense and less chin. I think that even though Mir is a better technical striker that Carwin and his basic 1-2 maybe 3 punching, Carwin will melt his face and cause him to wilt. I hope the fight goes into later rounds so we can see what each fighter has become. I worry a lot about Carwin not training full time and having a new-born at home. Nevertheless I call Carwin by 1st round KO.

St. Pierre vs. Hardy

The UFC has done a good job in pretending that Hardy has a real chance in this fight. To be truthful, in MMA with 4 ounce gloves, anybody has a chance. GSP has shown that he isn't immune from getting his bell rung. Hardy is a decent striker with a well thought out approach and real power. But to believe the hype, both his own and the UFC's, that he is better than GSP in the stand-up department is foolish. I would bet on GSP in a kickboxing match between the two as well. It would be a bit more of a toss-up, but... Add this in to the fact that GSP has the absolute best take-downs in MMA coupled with the best guard passing and off the charts top control. Hardy has a very tiny chance to win and I can only see GSP tooling him. If you are in to betting real money however, the line on Hardy is ridiculous when compared to the odds of an upset in MMA, which are reasonable. But this isn't betting and I am not taking chances. GSP by TKO in the 2nd.

Take it to the bunker Arash. There you go kids.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

God is Not Good

No, it isn't me up in arms again. I just polished off the Christopher Hitchens book of the same name. I had no intention of reading it, but it was on the "new books" cart at the library and I do find Hitchen's to be a very good read, even when I don't agree with him, so I checked it out. I should state for the record that while I enjoy skepticism and embrace evolution I am really a backbencher when it comes to atheism. I realize that each of our imaginary friends is a product of our upbringing, but I am in no real hurry to stamp out mine or anyone else's. I understand that it is not in vogue to argue that one can ultimately not care about religions veracity and still be a science commando. Whatever. I don't care about the abortion debate either. I enjoy church on Christmas Eve and I like living amongst Buddhist temples. I put money in the shrine. Whatever.

On the other hand, for anyone to assert that their religion makes sense in any real terms, or that it can be scientifically validated or that it is set apart from an ancients' firmly held faith in Poseidon is something this side of a joke. Hitchens does a great job of touring the Old Testament and outlining why believing it literally is not just silly, it is also criminal. Not to mention arbitrary. He is coming well on the heels of Bishop Spong who addressed how people in the Levant of old's world view and ours in no way cooperate with each other. I have always wondered how we can consult people on ultimate wisdom who we would never think of consulting on even the most basic medical matter. Not to mention issues of geography or chemistry or physics. Another strong point was discussing the role illiteracy played in the dominant position of the early church and how that controlled the power dynamic. Of course it did. As a kid I was always curious why we never talked about that in church. I think that was my big issue with church; I was always curious.

I will stop before launching into a book report that I don't have time to write. There are a few factual issues that Hitchens has been criticised on that I would like to see better documented but that is just really grasping at straws in the face of a strong argument. If you don't feel like reading the book, watch this absolutely one sided debate where Hitchens takes the poor rabbi's lunch money.

I feel a little guilty as I find Cristohper Hitchens to be a cantankerous malcontent, reeking of smoke and cigarettes when I don't agree with him and a valiant advocate for good when I do. But I always applaud his writing and debating ability and enjoy his work on the whole.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Another Grievance If I May

It would appear that I am continuously grieved. Not so. Yesterday I enjoyed both soccer and cricket in the park. In the morning I watched the fights and I watched yet more fights in the evening. The day before I was taken to Nara by the principal of my school, whom I like very much, and was treated to a wonderful lunch. I will start my story there, and, lest there be any confusion, I think the principal is an upstanding guy and have no issue with him. The story is merely representative of a larger mindset and problem that I have been trying to expound on for a while here.

Nara, for those who don't know is the ancient capital of Japan. The Nara period(710-784) which shares its name with the city saw an influx of Buddhism and Chinese culture into Japan. I was fortunate enough to be a city planning major near this ancient metropolis when I was an exchange student in Osaka. I was able to partake in several field trips with a severely capable teacher who could identifies the names of the artisans scrawled into the stones used to build the base of a wooden gate. Due to my familiarity with Nara we tried to find some places to go that I wasn't familiar with so that the principal could "show me around."

We ended up visiting the home of turn of the century novelist Shiga Naoya, which was impressive. As usual in historic buildings one puts their shoes into a vinyl bag and carries them as they travel through the structure. In a small tea room with a nijiri guchi that opened onto a garden with a path of stones leading to the larger garden, a Japanese women sat down, put on her shoes and walked on the stones disappearing around a corner. Her cellphone had fallen out of her pocket and was laying in the doorway. Being fairly familiar with Japanese teahouses and other historic structures I could see that this wasn't the normal tour route. I could also see that it wasn't forbidden either. I decided to put on my shoes and take the woman her phone rather than yell "someone dropped their phone!" through the quiet, afternoon tea-garden. The principal sees me with shoes on standing in the garden and yells, laughing "Come back! That is the tour route!" I like the principal very much. He is gregarious and good hearted. He confirmed with the lady behind the desk that it wasn't the tour route and then said jokingly "Ha ha, he is American. How could he know? Ha ha." I actually felt compelled to answer this time, "No. It wasn't a matter of nationality. I was following the Japanese person who went in front of me." The lady behind the desk agreed.

I don't think there was anything malicious in the Principal's statement. I think most of it was harmless joshing. However, how many actual government policies and personal prejudices are based off of this viewpoint. How many foreigners are denied housing because they won't know how to sort the garbage while Japanese mistakes are chuckled about.

Let me continue. In Shiga's salon, once used for receiving notables writers, we were lucky enough to meet an older gentleman who volunteered giving lectures at the house. He was discussing how the building had recently been renovated to its original state. The crux of his story was about how, during the occupation, the house was the residence of an officer of the American military. His lecture was very informative and well put. The strange thing about it was the understanding built into his explanation for a Japanese audience. Of course the changes that were made wasn't because the American officer was a bad person. He did his best to take care of the house. However, owing to his nature as an American, he wasn't able to appreciate the Japaneseness of the house and widened doorways and refurbished the kitchen and bath. As a brief appendix to this long explanation, our gentlemanly volunteer added that after the occupation the house was sued as the local general welfare office for the next 30 years, and to facilitate the lines, the parlor had been ripped out and made into a big waiting room. Everyone nodded that off quickly and went on to the next room. Now, you might be wondering what the problem with that story is. The volunteer included the relevant information. None of it was a lie. No. But the tone and how the story was received, both of which are somewhat nebulous in the retelling, struck me as significant. The story of the American officer was slightly pitiable. He soiled the house not knowing any better, as I had earlier attempted to do. No mention was made of other houses in the area with Japanese occupants who surely updated their kitchens and baths from 1930's technology to that of the 1950's. Of course no mention was made of the Japanese bubble period when vast tracts of traditional housing was leveled so that cheap apartments could be made with a bad mixture of concrete with salty, beach sand. No mention was made that a good number of volunteers working to maintain traditional Japanese houses are not Japanese while the absolute, overwhelming majority of the forces working to replace these houses with cheap rental properties are Japanese. Just as Japanese as the construction companies that place tetrapods on 90% of the coastline. Just as Japanese as the people who decided to make the Shiga home into a government office with a waiting room instead of a salon. But of course we know what would be made of anyone not Japanese who tried to preserve things that are traditional in Japan. They would be "strange foreigners." And if they didn't work to preserve anything? They would be just foreigners, which is far more pleasing like the poor, misguided, American officer.

I only tell you this story to try to explain a small part of the framework that non-Japanese in Japan live with everyday. It may seem trivial, but it is persistent. I work in a school were I am not legally allowed to be in a room alone with students. Where I can't have a stable salary and job security. Where I am encouraged by foreigners higher up within my own company that my job is as an "entertainer."

People who aren't ethnically Japanese have a role to play as citizens and taxpayers in the Japan of the future. But fulfilling that role require discarding a silly and counterproductive mindset.

I thought Arudou Debito put things well in his rough draft of his upcoming speech to the UN rep.

Pissy Artist

I have a complaint. I am sure it is not an unfamiliar complaint to many of you, although it may be foreign to some; I am never sure of my audience. My complaint starts with this picture which I took last week on the morning of graduation.


The gates were still closed and locked and the students were still, presumably, in their houses. The building in the background is the third-years' classrooms. The large poster hanging down is a rendering of the Shureimon in Okinawa which displays a large Chinese influence, which our school also has. The graduating third-years made it when they were first-years in preparation for the trip they would take to Okinawa two years later. The teacher in the foreground wearing a suit is the homeroom teacher of 3-9. He is Korean-Japanese. This year his two year-old daughter fell out of the window of their apartment and died after being in the hospital for a week. Soon after this the teacher and his wife divorced. He is the same age as me. Once when we were drinking he told me about his divorce and that he had moved back in with his parents. "I come to school everyday with a smile because it is important for the kids. I do it for them." Don't I know it. This is one of my favorite pictures I have ever taken because, for me any way, it conveys all of this information. I took it on accident, but I took it this way because I left myself open to take it on accident. This is one of my favorite pictures I have ever taken because I took it on accident and it seemed to convey this information and I think it is capable of saying all of that even if the viewer doesn't know the story I just told you. Soon after I took this picture, an older teacher who has nothing to do with the graduating class started yelling at me that I wasn't taking pictures right and that no one was lined up or looking at the camera. I don't care. I also didn't care that he was pointing it out. Most people will. Most people take pictures by standing just off to the left of an object and looking at the camera. If there is a group they will squish in past the point mandated by borders and protest when they feel the photograph was taken without them looking at the camera. It is normal. I showed this photo, among many others of graduation, to the third-year teachers. No one commented on it other than to say, "Ha! It is us working." They said this as a discreditation. That they hadn't had a chance to pose. I often get yelled at for taking pictures when people "aren't ready." No one asked for a copy of this photo. It is one of my favorite pictures I have ever taken. Is it any wonder that any person who leans toward quantifying an experience through art, such a dicey term anyway, tends to operate at an increasing remove from society? Now that I have singled it out and told you the story, you can look at this photo and see a dead child and a failed marriage and 421 fifteen year-olds who made it all seem worthwhile. Now that I told you.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

UFC on Versus: An Outlaw For Your Love

Commissioner Dana White inhaled a hot of whiskey and spit it out over his replica Zippo lighter, his eyes swollen from tears and several hard days of alcohol. A dishwashers apron tied loosely around his waist. "Fuck it." He sobbed. "What's that song?" And fell to his knees, salty tears dripping on to his Sparklehorse T-shirt.

Pierce vs Paulino

It isn't that tune-ups and give me fights can't go wrong, it is just that they usually don't. Pierce by devastation in the 1st.

Schafer vs. Brilz

While I think some might be selling Brilz short in this one, I go for Schafer by sub in the 3rd.

Schaub vs Gormley

While the cast members of TUF 10 were rightly maligned as a second rate assortment of never going to be(s), it was slightly wrong to think of them in that since because the heavy weight ranks are thinner than Manute Bol around Ramadan. Schaub came off as a competent athlete with a solid jab and a good right off of it. He throws pretty straight down the pipe and his natural strength should be enough to keep Gormley off of him. I think Schaub will never be great, but he is probably getting better. Sometimes throwing straight punches in MMA is all it takes. Schaub by TKO in the 3rd.

Sakara vs. Irvin

My support and affection for Sakara were without basis when I began to follow him all those years ago. The intervening time has done nothing to help him and should have only discouraged me. Has it? No. People are weird. I enjoy Irvin as well. He is like your cousin who pours black powder onto the stove to see what happens. You know that in an Irvin fight something absurd is going to happen. Maybe the turnbuckles will explode and kill both off them. As stupid as Sakara fights he might grab Irvin by the knee and start slamming his head into it. Meanwhile, Irvin will acquire non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and die int the ring. Sadly reports are that Irvin was fighting a piankiller addiction and now is cutting to a new, lower weight. That is not a good combination. He is known as one of the harder strikers in the sport, but it is entirely offensive in nature. He has nothing in the way of defense. His fights have to end in the first few minutes or he is done. As I alluded to earlier, Sakara fights about as dumb as can be possible. He would be better punching himself in the head. I just think there is too much working against Irvin in this fight. I think Sakara gets the TKO in the 2nd. Of course this TKO might include something in his own body exploding.

Ludwig vs. Elkins

I don't know much about Elkins, but Ludwig is a fighter hat I have almost no confidence in. He began his career as a striking prodigy and then proceeded to never get better. All that has to be done is to get him on the ground and then beat him up. Elkins record gives very little indication of whether he has anything to beat Ludwig, who can still knock people out. It is very hard for me to back Ludwig, but I don't know anything about Elkins. Let's say Ludwig by TKO in the 1st. But don't bet on it.

Matyushenko vs Marshall

I am interested in this fight even though it has every chance to be the most boring fight this month. Matyushenko is the type of fighter that I usually have a hard time picking against. He is tough and experienced. He has a good clinch and a sufficient chin. Marshall is a guy who is never going to be great but has a skill set I like. He can pump the jab and has a long, skinny ground game. His take-down defense isn't super but it exists. I think time is catching up with Matyushenko and that Marshall's ceiling is slightly higher than I originally thought. I see some omaplata sweeps and a good deal of jabs. Marshall by decision.

Guida vs. Gugerty

Like almost everyone else, I do like Guida. He is very hard not to like. Do I like his game? Not really. There are aspects of it, the stamina, the single-leg that I respect. His striking has never come around. His guard passing has never struck me as more than pedestrian. I am going out on a limb on this one. I think Gugerty grabs a submission in the 1st. It sinks and stays and the UFCX keeps Guida even though he will be sporting 4 straight losses.

Roberts vs Howard

Has Howard really proved himself in the UFC yet? Three straight wins but no real proof for me. Has Roberts done anything to make us think he can expose Howard? ? ? I don't know. I say advantage Howard and see a TKO in the 3rd.

Buentello vs. Kongo

I have been a big Buentello fan since way back. I think most people will take one look at Kongo and one and Buentello and figure there is no way. Well, it will not be easy going for him. His beard was exposed by Arlovski who sent him to an early shoulder nap. Just remember that Buentello is the real deal as a striker and has been putting the stamp on guys since the late nineties. Of course Kongo is also a great striker with real, real power. He has a harder right but probably not as good with the hooks. Kongo might actually be the better wrestler here. An oddity. I would like to see Buentello win, and I think that he could, but I believe the cards are in Kongo's favor here and he gets a second round TKO.

dos Santos vs. Gonzaga

This is an important fight. A lot of what happens for the rest of the year in the heavyweight division will sort itself out in this fight. I am right on the verge of supporting dos Santos every time he steps in the ring. What we haven't seen yet is any of his ground game. Gonzaga has a world class ground game which we also haven't seen any of recently. While Gonzaga has some real power and OK striking, dos Santos is the far more technical and has some scary explosiveness in his fists. All it takes is one punch for dos Santos to settle this. This is the last time I don't pick him. Gonzaga by sub in the 1st.

Jones vs. Vera

Two fighters I love fighting each other. That's how it goes sometimes. I bought the hype on Vera and I still do. Maybe it is because I see him as so technically correct. Don't misinterpret that to mean that he fights smart. He doesn't fight dumb but he seems to fight comfortable. I think he one the fight against Couture, but he didn't go out and make that emphatic. Jones also beat the tar out of Matt Hamill and lost on a rules violation. I don't know how anyone could watch Jones and not love the guy. He is only 21 and has a freaky hybrid game fused from his greco-roman background and his affinity for kung-fu movies. He is creative and talented. The guy will be champion one day. I think this is really going to come down to a few factors. Vera's ability in the clinch, which was not there against Couture. Jones's technical striking level. Will he check kicks our counter strike effectively. Jone or Vera's toughness. Will Jone's be able to take the kicks to the legs and the body. Will Vera be able to fight through the poundage and get back to his feet. I love Jones, his winning would make me happy. I love Vera and his losing would be painful. I am going with Vera by TKO in the 3rd round of an awesome fight.

Print it out on a flyer, hand it to Markazi and sign Amy Chavez's name on it.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Alex Chilton

Thanks for the tunes man.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


The Skepticality podcast had an interview that I got a chance to listen to yesterday with Dave Cullen, the author of Columbine. I thought it was an excellent interview and a very good approach using a skeptical viewpoint. Cullen discussed the myths that control the Columbine narrative and the realities behind them. Some of the main points were:

1. Columbine wasn't a mass shooting, it was a failed bombing.

2. Dylan and Eric weren't persecuted loners bullied into submission, they were reasonably social and not disliked.

3. Dylan was depressed, but reachable. Eric was a psychopath who was going to be a killer pretty much no matter what happened.

4. No one was a target. Everyone was the target.

5. No one was asked "Do you believe in God?" and then shot when they answered "Yes."

The real question is whether or not these narratives can be rolled back. I doubt it.

Homi Don't Play That

Somehow I had missed out on this and just came across it today. For so long the thought of firebombing an Uyoku asshole truck was a quiet dream. To know that it was actually done is somehow relieving. I think this article is right when it says that this danchi problem might be the future of Japan. At some point Japan will either import foreign labor or become a 3rd world country. Things will get complicated. This also shows nationality for what it is, nationality. Brazilian Japanese are Japanese by DNA, but the doesn't cover culture. Good on them for fighting back.


Ouch. Was that too much? This whole Eric Massa is a weird, weird train wreck. I supported that dude fro the first time he ran. Not financially mind you, or with my vote, but mentally and with my goodwill. What a strange character. I think this is an accident that it is best to just walk away from.


I also found this. Yikes. I would put this up as another reason that it would be better to allow people to serve as openly gay. Maybe Massa could have expressed his sexuality in a more acceptable manner.

The Hurt Locker

I put this on Facebook, but in case you missed it here is Paul Reickoff's take on The Hurt Locker. I think he is wholly in the right of it. While I liked the movie very much and feel that none of this detracts from the final 15 minutes of the movie, which to me is the central element, I also think the margins of error for military movies that aspire to be serious are almost nil. Watching the movie I struggled to get past Jeremy Renner's character leaving base in the middle of the night and walking around town. While the background information given by the characters made the sniper scene somewhat plausible it also rang a bit odd. Again, I liked the movie very much but feel that Generation Kill did a far better job with similar material.

Dolphin in English is Chicken!

It seems that there was coverage of "The Cove"'s Oscar win. Terrible, awful, stupid, biased coverage. I am going to go off of memory here as I saw this last night and now I can't get it to play at work, but essentialy what happens in this interview is that they report on the Academy Awards and cast a bit of an ominous tone towards Japan's appearance "on the stage." Two people from Taiji are interviewed and they say that it is unfortunate that "The Cove" won and that people should realize that fishermen have to make a living some way. When the report goes back to the studio, the female host says, "It is kind of strange for me to say this but it was kind of hard to watch scenes of dolphins being killed. Is that silly?" To which the old man responds, "There was a Youtube video a while back of chicks being run over by a truck at a farm over there. How would they feel if we made a documentary about that? It is clearly the same thing."

This goes back to my main point. This is why I object to words like "gaikoku" and "gaikokujin." I also don't like the use of the word "muko" or "over there" in place of naming what country the speaker means. The entire concept of gaikoku allows for Japanese speakers to separate the world into two false groups, those who are Japanese and those who aren't. The same applies to muko which frees up the speaker to make generalizations about a non-specific place. I can assume that the aged commentator is referring to a factory farm in America, but I can't be sure since he doesn't really say that. What this kind of coverage and indeed this kind of thinking does is skew the debate and transfer it - for the Japanese audience- away from issues of morals and animal rights, issues of what is cruel and unnecessary and what is reasonable to a strange vague world of cultural relativism and knee-jerk jingoism. This isn't a question of an international animal rights community objecting to the superfluous killing of animals, this is a question of Gaikoku trying to impose a moral framework on poor little Japan. The tribe is under attack.

Not to broaden the argument too much, but this is one reason that I have never agreed with the conservative argument that, in times of conflict, the U.S. should present one, united face in regards to foreign policy. Of course this argument is only expressed when a Republican is president, but I digress. The reason I don't support this line of thinking is that I believe that a realistic airing of a diversity of opinion is the imperative for a democracy. Not only that, showing the world, including those that you are in conflict with a more complicated range of opinion, shows your political heterogeneity and allows you to not be boxed in.

To bring the conversation back around, it is important and indeed factual to show Japan that it isn't the entire imaginary country of Gaikoku who disagrees with what happens in Taiji, it is a consortium of animal rights activists and others from various countries within Gaikoku who have come together to express their outrage. But you see the difficulty here. That might imply that Gaikoku is not a monolith and that if that is accepted it might reveal that Japan itself is not a monolith that some Japanese people might also be animal rights supporters and might also disagree with the actions in Taiji. That is a more complicated argument. Far too complicated of an idea for Japanese TV to manage.

The discussion I would like to see take place in Japan is whether there is a reason to continue the slaughter in Taiji. Not because foreigners object to it. Not because it was captured on tape. But a real inquiry into whether it is keeping itself in existence just to keep itself in existence. Anyone who has lived in rural Japan knows of large roads that are constantly upgraded and rebuilt through rough terrain to link to a small village were everyone is employed building and maintaining the road that leads to the village that they objected to being built when it started. These projects exist to keep the well connected construction industry in good health. We all know about the tetrapods that cover 90% of the Japanese seashore. These projects exist to maintain themselves. That is what I feel is going on in Taiji. To some degree it is like the story about President Johnson justifying continued American involvement in Vietnam by getting out his...well...Johnson.

Speaking of meat, is that not the central issue here. Do you know any Japanese person that wants to eat dolphin meat? I haven't found anyone who will acknowledge that it is eaten. Taiji often has to lie about what it is to sell it. If that is the case, why do we have to pretend that we should let them go on to make their culturally necessary livelihoods? If the point is to procure a product that people don't want and sell it packaged as something it is not then what is the real point? It can't be a capitalist one, as under true capitalism, the fishermen of Taiji would be out of business. It can't be a cultural one because aquariums are fairly recent and dolphin meat isn't widely accepted. I believe it has a lot to do with the psychology of Japan vs. Gaikoku and the people invested in these resentments waving a little middle finger around and daring people to do something about it. I say call their bluff.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


If you can understand this and you can understand this and this, then you can understand this. I've said it before, I'll say it again, I have found people in Japan to be the biggest and best excuse makers I have ever come across. It makes sense. The majority of your life in Japan you are either being forced to accept responsibility for something or to avoid accepting responsibility for something. Alternatively you can live on the outskirts like me and never be responsible for anything.

I was finally able to see The Cove a week or so ago. I was both looking forward to it and avoiding it. Avoiding it as I already know and object to what goes on in Taiji. Looking forward to it because something has to make those...fishermen...stop. Winning an Oscar has to push the issue in some direction. The problem now, as I see it, is that no one in Japan knows what is going on in Taiji. If they did I have a feeling that it would cease to be feasible. It goes without saying that if this documentary had been about the hardscrabble fishermen of Japan doing the proud work of feeding a country, the Academy Award would be the biggest story of the week. As it stands? ...............Que the crickets. I just asked the teachers next to me if they knew anything about a documentary about Japan winning an Academy Award. No takers. You see that Japanese officials go back to the well on this one:

On Monday, officials in Taiji released a statement calling for understanding of food culture and long-standing traditions.

I would like the research to be done, but I have a pretty strong feeling that these traditions are not so long-standing. How far back can selling dolphins to aquariums date? Realize that Japan makes up this garbage for foreign consumption, not domestic. The pro-whaling arguments made here are very different from the ones circulated in the overseas press. No Japanese person has talked to me about whale research. They talk about that whales taste good and make a newer, stranger argument that Japanese people are Buddhists and therefore must use the animals and not just take their oil. Hmmm. The Buddha compelled marine mammal slaughter. I'll remember that. But you see the real appeal being made in this statement. It is the appeal being made in all of the articles that I linked to. Let me paraphrase:

Japan is a magical country, set apart from the rest of the world. In Japan all of the people are friendly and good and related to each other if we go back far enough. No butterflies were harmed in the making of Japan and the ecology is protected by having trees in the shrines and by carrying shopping bags. Outside of Japan strange scary things happen and everyone carries guns. If Japan loses at sports it is because everyone else is so big and Japan is so small. If Japan wins at sports it is because of the special spirit possessed by its inhabitants. This spirit must be protected. Not just from being violated but from being exposed. That is why mixed-martial arts in Japan never had steroid testing. The Japanese are far to pure to do anything so foreign so there is no need to even inquire. Japanese athletes overseas are also special and must be protected from any dabbling of racism that might effect them. These standards also apply to Japanese business. Of course rice from California isn't real rice, how could it be? Rice is Japanese. That is why everyone is surprised when white people use chopsticks. How could they know Japan's delicate secret.

Am I going to far? A lot is contained in that brief statement from Taiji. Are we to believe then that the government of Japan are cultural relativists? If some countries in Africa want to mutilate women's genitals, what can we do? If Japan wants to treat the oceans like their own farm, why should anyone object? Japan is just a tiny tribe of almost 150,000,000 people eking out a humble existence in harmony with its ancient heritage.

I will say again, and for the record, that this stuff makes me nuts because I love Japan and most Japanese people are far more decent and intelligent than this garbage. Japan does have a wonderful unique culture, but not so unique that it defies participation in a larger world community. If Japan wants to be a cultural isolationist, let it walk that long lonely path, but it can't pretend to be one thing on the world stage and another at home and then hide the parts it doesn't like while subsidising them out of its pockets.

Northwest Florida made it through the net-ban, you can grow up too Wakayama.


I am searching the Japanese press for mentions of the win........Nothing Here

Moore! Moore!

If you are interested in Alan.

Monster Talk

If you are looking for new podcasts, I like this one. The episodes about Bigfoot are a little slow, but the one about giants is exceptional.


I think everyone who reads this blog understands the difference between what is meant in science by theory and say "The Single Bullet Theory." But I like this article anyway, just in case you have to explain it to somebody.l

A Conundrum

Now that Landon Donovan has proved that he-and by proxy American outfield players-belong in the EPL he has to turn around and come home. I would much rather have him at Everton. I am sure a good chunk of MLS fans and even Galaxy fans feel the same way. Does it not make him a better player at the international level? At least he was able to show what a truly great player he is.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Citizens United

I meant to comment on the Citizens United ruling, but this kind of said everything for me.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I Dunno

Not sure why I like this song so much.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Street Car Named Sprawl

This is a map of the Seattle trolley system in 1933. Why?
A: In case you go back in time, or are messing around on the holodeck and need it.
B: To remind everyone that we used to have a public transit infrastructure that was subverted, destroyed and then forgotten. This is applicable now. Look at how our cities (don't) work. We are told or not told or left to think that it all happened that way and that to change it would be, at best difficult and at worst against the American spirit. Not to be confused with American Spirit. Apparently the American spirit was conceived in the back of a Lincoln Town Car in a mall parking lot. We can do supertrain and baby supertrain because we did do supertrain re-remember the lessons of our past.

attempting to silence the voices in my head.