Monday, December 20, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

I Really Hope This Worked

Maybe it did. Maybe it didn't.

Lori Nix

This stuff is pretty rad. It looks like both the world that I want to live in and am absolutely terrified of.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Racism and the Ebizo Incident

If you are familiar with the news in Japan, you will be aware that it is a country with a lot of free time on its hands. The biggest story of the late summer/early fall period was the monkey on the loose in Shizuoka, biting grannies and running from police. Now the winter has its own saga, with the fall colors now gone, Kabuki golden boy Ichikawa Ebizo has now risen to a higher stage.

What has he done to be on the news, morning noon and night for over two weeks? Nobel Prize? No, try again. Cure for cancer? Too easy. Iditarod, not even. Got drunk and then was beaten at a bar. Bingo! This nonsense has not just been news, but has been the only news for the last three weeks. Why? I can develop theories but not give answers.

I don't really care about Ebizo. I only know that he is a guy that comes on TV and speaks with fake gravity and people are supposed to be impressed by him. He may in fact be the once in a generation kabuki preformer that his supporters claim, but how would we know when his is the only family allowed to have once in a generation kabuki performers and he is the son? Wouldn't it stand to reason that that is what he would be held to be?

My concern is that now that his partner in this violence- I hesitate to say attacker because, who knows- has been found, I am worried for where the coverage will, and has already turned.

The 26 year-old yakuza lacky turns out to have an American father. Shame, shame. I have no heard him described twice in the news as looking like Bob Sapp.

Here is a photo of Bobb Sapp:

Okay. Now here is a photo of Ebizo's alleged attacker, Ito Lion:

Alright. You got the resemblance there right? Check it again, just to make sure. Now here is a picture of the alleged victim, Kabuki god Ebizo:

Now, if forced to, just looking at these pictures, if you had to give police a description of alleged attacker Ito Lion, which man would you say he most resembled? Remember, Tiger Woods is not an option. Now, I will be honest, in his arrest pictures, Ito looks a bit more like a mope. He has put on some weight and has the hang dog look of a wannabe gangster. I know that look because I teach Japanese kids. It is very different from the look of a wannabe gangster in America. His whole body language says, "young Japanese kid gone wrong" to me. But that is not the context I have seen in the news.

Again, I might be reading this wrong. There is a lot of coverage that I have not watched. However, yesterday morning the panel discussion news involved a former model whose credentials were that one of her parents was Japanese while the other was American. They also had that ubiquitous Italian guy on. I might be constructing the racist dialogue in my own mind. I just wonder if the stroyline will ever run, "What is wrong with our country when a poor little kid with American and Japanese heritage gets sucked into our nasty Japanese underworld that eats wayward highschoolers and spits out their bones while being largely ignored by our justice system and public." I don't think we are going to hear that one.

Assange vs. Libby

May I ask a question, that I am sure has already been asked in you rown brain, if not in numerous media sources that I haven't seen? If the media and government are so put out over Julian Assange and want him to hang for his transgressions, then they must be just as furious over the Bush Administrations outing of Valerie Plame. Oh. What, they aren't?

Oh, wait, Democratic Underground is on it.

Rubio for Prez?

While I am on the subject of bias, here is an article on the tax cuts. And here is a logical fallcy that I think it illustrates.

It is two years down the road and there is a lot of dusty ground in between, but is everyone really going to turn out to fight for Obama again? The kind of fight that will get him Florida again? Or North Carolina or Virginia? How are we going to pull off a Democrat for President when the President won't be a Democrat. If, after 2 years in the Senate, the decide to run Marco Rubio for the Republican nomination, what are we going to do? I am putting the long money on him. Mark it down now. Not that I want him to win.

Our National Survivor Bias

The question has been posed about post World War II America; that our resounding success in winning that war adversely affected our post war foreign policy. That we took the lesson to be that since we won a huge war, huge wars could help solve world problems, like in Korea or Vietnam. Japan, on the other hand, go the opposite idea; Man war is a bunch of garbage. Don't misunderstand, I am thrilled America won and Japan lost, but, even though I lead off with this paragraph, I don't mean to talk about post-war foreign policy.

It seems that our current national dialogue is at a bit of a distance from where our dialogue as people is. It is starting to seep through somewhat, but not with the urgency and fury that it needs to. As to why, the answer seems quite simple to my mind, the governing class in our country, both the press and the politicians are burdened with a gigantic survivorship bias. I Imagine most of you are familiar with the term, but let me give a brief summation. Let us suppose that a commander orders 20 men to invade an enemy bunker. This invasion leads to a complete destruction of the bunker and only one dead soldier from the 20 person team. An amazingly successful endeavor. Unless you are the one soldier who was shot through the head running up the hill. From his standpoint, rapidly ascending to the spirit world, it seems like a gigantic waste and a terrible order, but we will never hear his side of things. We will only hear from the guys who survived, how it was tough going until they made it over the rise. How it was sad to lose one guy, but they knew that they would make it. They just had a feeling. Of course, that one guy had that feeling to, until he felt nothing.

In business survivorship bias is often discussed in relation to figures that omit failures. Let's say there is a new shopping mall and it has 5 stores that are making 20% more profits than the mom and pop stores that were on Main street. Well, this shopping mall must be miraculous. What if we knew that there used to be 15 stores in the shopping mall and that 10 of them went bankrupt? That shopping mall wouldn't seem so magical then.

How am I applying this to our national discussion? Think about how rife every national conversation we have is with survivorship bias. Even the passionate speech given by the television host or the brave actions of a lone congressperson are only a hazy refraction of what is really happening. They can, at best, empathize. By the very nature of the job, no one who delivers our nightly news is being adversely effected by the economy. In fact, they are probably at the apex of an upward course. Of course they feel that success is a by-product of their own hard work, and it is to a large degree. It is also luck and favor and timing. Our representatives as well, are, again by the nature of their jobs, successful. Without question, it was a high risk proposition and some candidates wipe out completely and disappear, but there are no poor representatives. Senators have a high paying job for 6 years and representatives in the house for 2. To many of us that is a dream. I would gladly settle for 2 years at a hundred thousand dollars. It is beyond my wildest imagination.

How can we expect decisions to be made on our behalf, and a dialogue to happen to our benefit when there is no real way for the people in charge of those decisions and that dialogue to understand the situation? On television poor people seem like an aberration and should, without question, be apologetic about their situation. The homeless might be a sad situation, but what mistakes did they make to get there? Not any mistakes that a TV host or a politician would make.

I am a school teacher, and I don't want to just speak for me, but I know that no one in the government or on TV works ten times harder than I do. I am sure they work hard, but the nature of my jobs ensure that no one outside coal miners and infantrymen work harder than I do. That applies to a lot of people out there. However, everyone on TV and in the government makes ten times what I do or more. How can we expect a fair conversation to happen under those circumstances?

We can't.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

UFC:124 Cosmonaut

UFC Commisioner Dana White rolled to the podium in a creaky wheelchair, with a tossled wig and a homemade wrestling club sweat suit. He was drinking a bottle of scotch and crying over a photo of Dave Schultz. "Let the games begin" he said, cracking a slight smile and projecting a graph of the tax cuts from a projector mounted to the metal frame of his wheelchair.

Makdessi vs. Audinwood

I don't know much. Makdessi is a kickboxer. I think Audinwood wins a decision by fighting MMA.

Bongfeldt vs. Nadal

Don't know much about the water bong or his opponent either. Bongfeldt is on quite a streak and has armabarred TJ Grant, so let's say Bongfeldt by sub in the 1st.

Riddle vs. Pierson

I haven't been sold on Riddle, but he is reaching that point now. Another stand-out wrestler who can hit really hard. Pierson has been on a knocking fools out roll, but Riddle has fought his whole career in the UFC and only has one loss. I put that as a check in his column. Riddle by decision.

Hazelett vs. Bocek

The guy I said I would stop picking against vs. the guy I can't pick against. Hazelett, who I love for so many reason, but mainly for his sick, sick jiu-jitsu game is moving down to 155. I don't know if the cut has hurt him or will make him into a huge, lanky opponent. Bocek is a great submisiion grappler and if Hazelett has been weakened by dropping weight, Bocek will be able to tire him out, but I think Hazelett's length and savvy make for a tough fight and he notches an exciting sub in the 2nd.

Almeida vs. Grant

I really like Almeida as a fighter. He is quite the dynamic sub guy. I am a little worried that the game is passing him by thought. TJ Grant can wrestle and submit. It should be a good fight, but I am calling Grant for the upset here, with a TKO in the 3rd after Almeida gets worn down.

Miller vs. Doerkson

Miller all the way, 100% with no reservations. He grabs hold of something and rips it off in the 1st.

Struve vs. McCorkle

Props to both guys for being amusing. Both are interesting stories in and of themselves. I certainly want both to do well, but I see more ways to win for Struve. Even if McCorkle can get and hold top position, I think Struve figures out a way to sub him. Struve by sub in the 2nd.

Stevenson vs. Danzig

I like both of these guys, but I like Mac Danzig more. Why? He also works as a photographer and is a Vegan. Stevenson is very likable as well. They are both good fighters who are on up and down kiddie roller coasters. One of them will probably be cut. Danzig has a much smaller frame for this weight class and doesn't have the raw strength of Stevenson. He does have a better boxing game and some good ground-work. I can see Danzig getting a decision, but I think it is much more likely that Stevenson pounds his way to a TKO in the 3rd.

Miller vs. Oliveira

This is the real fight of the night for me. Oliveira is supposed to be the next Jose Aldo, only a little bigger. Cool. I love a leg kicking jiu-jitsu phenom. However, as I have said, I am a 100% bus driver for the Miller brothers. I think that Jim Miller is a huge test for Oliviera and if he clears this hurdle he will have proved himself. Miller is he real deal. A tough, tough fighter. He might have already reached his ceiling, but on his best nights he can give anyone a beating. I think Miller fights to a hard won decision.

Alves vs. Howard

In a battle of two sluggers, anyone can win. I would not be dissappointed if Howard's free swinging, heel hooking game paid off. However, I think that Alves's style is a hard one to hang with unless you have some serious take-downs. Howard does not. Alves will batter his legs and stay on his feet to earn a TKO in the 3rd.

St. Pierre vs. Koscheck

I don't hate Koscheck. I think he is excessively talented and has worked very hard to get where he is. He has great takedowns and a hard, hard right hand. His foibles have been much discussed. Mainly, he closes his eyes and jumps in when striking. It gets him knocked out. Will that be what gets him this time? I don't know but something will. Let's be honest, Koscheck has a chance to win this fight. Even if he is just failing, a big right hand can disorient anyone and Koscheck can certainly follow up with a huge takedown and a savage beating. But GSP just has too many ways to win and he mixes them all together so well. I think GSP will try hard to finish this fight, but I am not sure if he will. Let's say GSP by a sub in the 4th.

And there you have it.

Friday, December 10, 2010


I hate to say it and I have held off for a while. I didn't want to be a reactionary malcontent who went boo-hooing off to his room when he didn't get his way, but I am in camp with these guys. I am having a very rough time supporting President Obama right now. If I had wanted Republican policies implemented, I would have voted Republican. I voted for Obama, not because I thought it would be an easy run and because I wanted him to do everything I wanted and leave me completely pleased, but because I thought he would fight. I thought he would fight for us the way we fought for him. Sadly, this week, he has shown that he has no inclination to do that and his administration sees it as their role to scold us, who supported him.

It is possible that the staff in the White House are so much smarter than me that I can't see the high-level manoeuvring that they are up to, but I doubt it. If you extend the god-awful Bush tax cuts that you campaigned against for the next two years then what do you expect to happen if the Republicans get back in power? They are the eternal tax cuts. They are the tax rates that we have always had. They are unchangeable, unless they are lowered. At the cost of our Social Security of course.

Politically, they are also terrible. They aren't the Bush tax cuts anymore, they are the Obama tax cuts. Make no mistake about it. At a time when people can't even afford to stay in their homes, this ransom will be paid to millionaires and they will still complain about the socialists and Marxists on their doorstep. I have said it before and I will keep saying it; They already hate you. They will always hate you. Nothing you do will please them, at least outwardly.

The White House tells us that it would be cruel to end unemployment benefits, and I agree, but why did we connect these issues? Fight and win on the issues because they are right. Make the Republicans stand up against the unemployed and the middle-class, not because we like to stand around and watch a dust-up but because we have to change the way things work. Ronald Reagan extended unemployment benefits for God's sake. Maybe next we can give the Republicans Star Wars to get them to sign on to START. It doesn't make sense. We win on the issues when we fight for them. John Boehner said on TV that he would vote for the middle class cuts if that is all that was offered. Show that clip until he gives.

Aside from politics it is terrible policy by the Obama Administration; stashing funds that could be being used to rebuild our economy in the safes of millionaires who already have enough. Let me state this again as well: Rich people don't create jobs, demand creates jobs. Did the decade of Bush tax cuts, shoved through in reconciliation, inspire our betters to scatter gold dust amongst the masses?

I hate it, but it is clear that our President, who I love and support, does not think like us and is not going to fight for us. I hate saying it and I hate it being true. What could he do? Fire Geitner as soon as possible. Fire Larry Summers. Fire Ben Bernanke. Why talk change and enforce establishment? I don't get it. If you are looking for good people who are already in the public eye, what is the matter with Stiglitz and Krugman, or Spitzer for Christ's sake. In this economy do we have time to worry about who he is paying for sex? I don't care.

I am scared of a lot of things: sharks, planes, debt, this guy at my gym. But there is one thing you should never be scared of, doing the right thing. You would think that the first post Spike Lee president would get that.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Why are Manga Characters White?

I get asked this question not infrequently. Here is a good explanation, which is similar to the one I usually give. My usual answer is that they just look white to you but that most people don't think of themselves as stereotypes.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Real Pound Problem

For those who wonder why I go apeshit at the waste of paper that is Amy Chavez's defecation of a column, here is an interesting piece on Ezra Pound and the Japan Times. Should they really have worked for the same paper?

Abortion and the Economy

While all of the pro-life Republicans are crowing about their ability to turn of the spigot on unemployment benefits, condemning families to a joyless Christmas of stress and tension and promoting an economy that smashes the lower classes to benefit the upper, are they thinking about the consequences? I am looking for numbers, but I have to think that there are a good deal of families who find that a pregnancy is not a viable economic option right now. There are many factors in abortion but a family in crisis seems as prominent a reason as any to not have a child. Did they pause to think about that? If you really want to lower abortion rates, isn't a stable economy, along with education and access to health care, the best way to achieve them? Just questions on my part.

The New Site

Should I even call it that. I started a different site that is more focused on photography and writing and will hopefully grow to invovle other people's work. It took me a bit to get up and running which meant I was doing less here. I don't plan on stopping this blog as it is something completely different. Please check out the new on as well at

Andy Irons

Here is a good piece on some aspects of the life of Andy Irons. It is always a frustrating mystery to me reading about the downfall of people who seem to have absolutely everything. But that is too easy a comment, isn't it? I don't know what he had or didn't. I can't know what was going on in his head. In Japan, everywhere probably, but that is where I am, there is a strong tendency to look at successful people and talk about how great their lives are. I always say, more forcefully now that this conversation happens in my house, "We don't know. You don't know. What happens in people's lives isn't always great and being rich doesn't always make them happy." If I got paid to surf everyday and was one of the best in the world at it I would be so insanely happy that I wouldn't even hate Limp Bizkit. But then again, that is easy for me to say as I am completely broke and don't even get to surf poorly anymore. I suppose it is a lesson in the gap between what you can see and the reality, although Irons seems to have been showing us the truth about himself for a while. Nevertheless, he was a surfer, a great one at that, and I am sad to see him go.

attempting to silence the voices in my head.