Thursday, September 30, 2004

Debates!

I set a new record tonight by sitting through a full hour of the debate. Before tonight, I'd probably seen a combined total of ten minutes worth of political debates in my lifetime. I'd never before watched this much of any presidential debate, and probably won't ever again. Absolutely worthless; an hour of my life that I'll never get back (not that I would do something worthwhile with that hour mind you!).

Just because...


...they want to do it again.


Derb Watch - North Korea

Ah Derb...

If you ask me to state my one biggest reason for voting Republican, here is the answer: "Madeleine Albright, Warren Christopher, Ed Muskie, Cyrus Vance." Those are the names of the last four secretaries of state in Democratic administrations. Every one of them was willing — nay, eager — to permit himself to be hung upside down and shaken till the keys to the store came tumbling out of his pockets by operators much less ruthless than Kim Jong Il. Secretary Albright, in fact, once distinguished herself by standing at Kim's side laughing and clapping along while a Nork dance troupe performed a number titled something like: "Drown the American Imperialist Pigs in a Sea of Fire!" Heaven preserve us from Democratic foreign policy.

And to remove any doubt!:


"And to those in Kim's slave camps, I say let them (not) eat cake!"

One of my friends brought up the point that he was disappointed in the fact that Bush hasn't done more to bring about the demise of the nasty Chairman Kim. I would agree that Bush could have done more, and nothing would have warmed my heart more than to see Kim's head on a pike on the road to Pyongyang. Unfortunately though, Bush's hands are pretty much tied. Even if we (and Japan) were to launch an amphibious assault on the North's coastline, there's little doubt that he would attack South Korea (and maybe even China) just to be an ass. I doubt that South Korea would get on board with any take down since that would mean, at the very least, severe damage to Seoul. I wish the situation was better, but this basically only leaves us with the mildest of methods.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Sloughin' Educators

I found this article interesting. I guess the crappy schools in New York city are sloughing off their educational duties onto for-profit, choice driven tutoring services. These services run $1,800 per student per year, or roughly half the tuition cost for a private school in the Cleveland area. I have to wonder what the other $6,500 buys local taxpayers in New York besides a bunch of lazy bureaucrats?
How about a quote?

The chairwoman of the City Council's Committee on Education, Eva Moskowitz of Manhattan, said the new plan should help students by enabling them to "shop around" for tutors among the private groups.

"The DOE was providing academic services when it had failed to educate students adequately," she said. "There was something a little strange about that - the very school that had not been successful is going to provide service. As a parent at a school where the school is not adequately performing, I would want someone else to do the remediation."


Tuesday, September 28, 2004

97X the future of rock and roll

A little while ago, 97X, the best alternative radio station in America shut it's doors. They vowed to make a comeback on the Internet, and it looks like they've made good on the threat:

WOXY - 97X the future of rock and roll

Here's to hoping it works out for them!

Monday, September 27, 2004

Japan Land #4 - Hiroshima #2

I thought Hiroshima was a pretty cool city, typhoons and all. (I guess they don't really name them over there though). Upon arriving at the station, I was taken aback at a series of toys in one of the many stores.





Store in Hiroshima Station


Hmm...


Umm...

After staring for about a minute at the merchandise, my buddy informed me that the Hiroshima Carps are a sister city team of sorts for the Cincinnati Reds (my hometown team). I loved the little Carps guy so much that I picked one up for Mr.Kendall. If you can read Japanese, you can check out their other stuff here:
http://www.carp.co.jp/shop/index.html

After we checked into our hotel, we wandered over to the huge (for a city that isn't Tokyo or Seoul) shopping strip in the city.




A street in Hiroshima, wet with the rains from the oncoming typhoon.

It probably comes as no surprise that I was particularly interested in the toy store and arcade.




Sign for the toy store.

To look at the toy store, one would think the three things that Japanese kids love most are Legos (?), Disney stuff (primarily Pooh), and flying mecha doodads. The Legos left me particularly puzzled; if a toy store had nothing else, it had Pooh stuff and Legos.
Also at the toy store were the following items I seemed to see with some frequency:



A flying model of a Zero. I wonder what kids in Japan imagine they're shooting while they're playing with this...




They seem to enjoy fairly realistic (for a toy) cap guns over there. There's no bright orange markers, and the gun on the left shoots out a projectile when the cap is fired. Also on display were model kits that one could use to build realistic models of different automatic weapons.

After the toy store, we (I) hit the arcade. Again, the various passions of Japanese society were on display here. The first floor was half claw machines and half instant photo booths (!?). The next two or so floors were various gambling machines (pachinko, slots, and even an auto roulette wheel). A similar analogy from the toys can be written about the arcades, if an arcade had nothing but one 'game' it would be an instant photo booth. The top floor, though, was where the magic was: a whole floor of classic arcade games. It warmed my heart to see so many great games still being maintained (though if I had to guess, I'd say they were running on emulators, but the idea is still the same). Being a gaijin(foreigner) walking through the arcade with several cameras hanging off of me attracted more than a few stares; needless to say, I didn't take any photos in there. (As a side note, I went through the whole country without seeing a DDR game, what's up with that?)

After that, it was lunch time! The target for our meal was a concoction known as okonomiyaki. I'll apologize ahead of time if I bore anyone familiar with the dish to tears describing it, but it was one of my favorite meals of the trip (Was it swimmin' in BBQ sauce? You know it!). Okonomiyaki is described alternatively as a Japanese pancake or Japanese pizza. Complicating factors is that there are two methods to making okonomiyaki. The first is the 'Osaka' method where all the ingredients are mixed with the batter and then it is cooked (kind'a like a pancake). The other method is the clearly superior Hiroshima method where the batter is poured on the griddle and the ingredients (cabbage, shrimp, pork, squid, etc.) are added to the top. Although the end result is referred to as a 'pizza' of sorts, I thought it had more in common with a soft shelled tostada. Additionally with Hiroshima style, noodles are often added as an additional ingredient. On either variant, the okonomiyaki sauce (a type of BBQ sauce) is pored (very generously in my case) over the end product. On the down side, the Hiroshima style is probably quite difficult to eat without chopsticks, and would be nearly impossible to make without a huge flat cooking griddle.



Making Okonomiyaki.


Yummmmy!

This site will tell you more than you care to know on how to cook Hiroshima style okonomiyaki.

Friday, September 24, 2004

The hard bigotry of green expectations

Green Bigot! I'll have to remeber that one. From Thomas Sowell: Green versus Black:
Denying other people the same rights that you claim for yourself is the essence of bigotry. People who call themselves environmentalists could more accurately be called green bigots.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Anime noobs

For years after 'The Matrix' came out, people would comment to me about how mind blowing the plot was. Of course, as a veteran of many an anime production, the most I could muster was "Yea, it was something else". Not to say I didn't enjoy the film, or even that the film wasn't revolutionary in many aspects, but the plot was hardly something that hadn't been recycled ad naseum through Japan's animation industry.

Low and behold, it looks like old James Pinkerton over at TCS is itching to relate his story about how the latest 'Ghost in the Shell' movie made him wet his drawers. I won't get into the idiotic political aspects of his article, but I'll touch upon the ludicrous, Anime Noob fawning that he shovels onto this film. While discussing that Sky Captain movie he notes:


To repeat: such backward-facing is emblematic of decadent cultures. Instead of looking ahead, to new challenges, cultures in decline look behind, to past glories. And meanwhile, as Satchel Paige put it, someone else is always gaining.

In contrast to the retro-message being fed to Americans, the Japanese are producing, and consuming, a different message. "Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence" was a big hit in Japan, but it's the itty-bittiest pea under the mattress of US pop-cult consciousness; released here on the same day as "Sky Captain," "Ghost" took in just 1/50 as much money. Too bad for us.
Now I admit, I have not seen the new Ghost in the Shell, but I have seen the old one several times. It's fairly typical anime fare with absolutely gorgeous art and a plot and dialog that makes your finger attracted to the stop button on the DVD player. It's yet another take of same ol' "intelligent being evolving from the computer" bit. Even The Onion, which is usually full of lavish praise for non-American cinema, notes in their review of the latest 'Ghost' film that if you've seen the first film, you've seen this one. (As an FYI, It's known that the Wachowski brothers of 'The Matrix' fame, not only used the original 'Ghost in the Shell' to sell 'The Matrix', but they also culled some ideas from it for their creative design).


The major, in 'Ghost in the Shell'


Mr. Pinkerton feels free to knock around the Sky Captain movie as evidence of a backward looking decadence. I'd like to point out, though, that his blind fawning over foreign flick is emblematic of being an America hating turd burglar. To add further insult to injury, he praises 'Ghost in the Shell' while using the Terminator movies, which are more or less based around the same plot idea, to take another swipe at American cinema (or something, I was losing interest).

What's particularly irksome, though, is that Mr. Pinkerton seems to think the idea of angst surrounding intelligent machines is not only original, but also that it's unique to Asia. The fact that this plot idea is literally 50 years old is something I've been waiting to get off my chest for quite a while . In 1965, Arthur C. Clarke published his short story Dial "F" for Frankenstein. In it, he tells about how the interlinked phone system at the time 'comes to life'. Oooooooh! Technology! BE AFRAID!

Of course, Japan doesn't sell these plots as new. Mr. Pinkerton ignores many of the cultural reasons such films succeed in Asia and he's all to eager to label Asian countries as forward looking and America as backward looking. Now I'd love to say in return that maybe if they made a live action 'Ghost in the Shell', Americans might bite; but unfortunately, they've already made 'The Matrix'.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

The LA (draft) Dodgers

Looks like South Korea has a mandatory military draft for men (I'm sure North Korea has one too, but we won't get into that). Seems some baseball players found a way to dodge it, but the MAN caught up with them:
A total of 51 players in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) were banned from playing the rest of the season Tuesday while the organization also issued a public apology for the recent draft-dodging scandal.
This contrasts sharply with U.S. where known murders are allowed to continue playing.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Defense subsidies to Japan

I was going to do up a comprehensive article on U.S. defense subsidies to Japan, but I've determined that in order to give this topic the treatment it deserves, it would require a post that would close in on book length, and probably require some research travel. Instead, I'll just make the following points:

1) Japan spends only about one percent of their GDP on defense, the lowest of anyone we consider a strategic partner:


Percent of defense spending by GDP.

This is somewhat deceptive though. Since Japan's economy is large (second only to the U.S.), this one percent turns out to be a rather large number, making Japan second to only the U.S. in terms of dollars spent. It's worth noting that about 10 percent of Japan's defense budget gets signed over to the U.S. to help finance American defense of Japan.

I figured it would be easy for Japan to spend up to get a 'real' military (nowhere to go but up!), but they're excellent budget site gives the definite impression that America's defense subsidies to Japan help keep their social security system afloat:


Japan budget graph

As you can see, defense spending eats up six percent of Japan's budget. Even a somewhat modest two percent of GDP is out of the question since that would entail using up 12 percent of the budget, and there's no room there for that kind of increase.

2) In the coming years, Japan may face several threats, some of which aren't even of their own making. For instance, if the U.S. was to use it's military to protect Taiwan's sovereignty, would China attack American bases in Japan? Other threats include, to varying degrees, North Korea and Russia. Will Japan have a military capable of fending off such threats? They may have sufficient resources for defense, but to offer a true deterrent, offensive capabilities are needed. Even if there was public support to build up such capabilities (which there isn't), many would scoff at the domestic programs that would have to take serious cuts to make it happen.

3) Complicating factors is the fact that a Japanese defense build up will be seen throughout the region as a destabilizing force. Unfortunately, when push comes to shove, Japan is America's only real alley in the region. It's doubtful that South Korea would let the U.S. use it's South Korean based troops should America have to beat back some sort of aggression upon Japan from North Korea; but there's no doubt that Japan would allow it's territory to be used to protect South Korea from similar aggression. In looking over a variety of scenarios, it seems that when anything comes up in that region of the planet, there are only two solid players for peace and democracy, Japan and the U.S.

( as a note, I make further points along these lines in this article.)
(Sources:
http://www.defenselink.mil/pubs/allied_contrib2000/chartIII-3.html
http://www.mof.go.jp/english/budget/brief/2004/2004c_01.htm
http://www.defenselink.mil/pubs/allied_contrib2000/Allied2000-Chap-3.html#III-3
http://www.jda.go.jp/JMSDF/data/equip/index_e.html
http://www.usni.org/resources/CVBG/cvbg.htm
http://www.acus.org/InternationalSecurity/alliances.htm
http://www.acus.org/Publications/policypapers/internationalsecurity/RIPS-ACUS%20REPORT.pdf)

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Only Solutions Please - Take 2

(Note: First Solutions article here.)

Dr. Degenaro has taken the time to post a mess of articles on his site that are critical of the operation in Iraq. I could go through and list a bunch of articles that take an opposite tact that wouldn't be read but by those people who have already read them, but I won't.

As an overview the articles complain about the costs, the international illegality (whatever...), and civilian casualties (from the same kooks who brought us the 'Jenin genocide') to name a few.

Okay, I don't agree with the left's assessments; but still, what do they propose?

I don't mean to put words in the mouths of the lefties, but I know where this is going: Hard core lefties think we should pull out of Iraq tomorrow and put Saddam back in power. They don't have the guts to come out and say what they want, so they complain about the situation in the hopes that everyone will come around to their way of thinking.

Much of the same can be said of the ignorant anti-globalization protesters. They sit (or riot) around and complain about the woes of capitalism in the hopes that, magically, everyone will become deluded enough to think that communism works.

In both instances, nothing is brought to the table as a solution to the complaints being leveled. It makes for a an argument with about as much depth as a plate of jello. This type of discourse also levels lefties to being a jerk who sits around watching what you're doing while yelling "YOU'RE DOING IT ALL WRONG" incessantly .

Please, solutions: bitching and moaning are worthless. If you think Saddam should be put back in power, grow some balls and come out say that. Everyone will think you're a kook (with good reason), but at least you'll be standing up for what you believe.

(As an aside, the left likes to bitch about WMD as a cause for war, however there were many causes that I won't go into here. But I would like to point out that one of the big reasons the war went down is because the left sat around and bitched and proposed absolutely ZERO solutions.)

Lovers of the Chinese murder machine

Mr. Kendall has up a thorough skewering of a rather nasty article by one Gregory Clark. Mr. Clark goes to bat for the commies in China by trying to white wash the Tiananmen Square Massacre. I have to admit that, although I didn't find Mr. Clark's argument persuasive, I honestly thought that he was trying to say that most of those poor people are still alive. It wasn't until I got to the end of the article, where he starts ripping democracy and poo-pooing China's brutal take over of Tibet, that I figured he was on the Chi-Com's payroll and was almost as a legitimate a source as the World Weekly News.

Mr. Kendall takes care of most of the points, but there's one thing I'd like to clear up. In the article Mr. Clark states:
Whether Sinitic-culture nations with collective leaderships ... should have to abide by Western-imposed standards of political conduct is debatable...
I believe I read it somewhere on NRO that this whole 'Western Standards' bit is a double edged sword. Communism, and the fascism that currently marks China's government, are every bit as 'Western' as Capitalist Democracies. Does Mr. Clark honestly think that it's better for people of the world to suffer under Western style oppression rather than living fine under Western style democracy?

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Rodents a'hoy!

I'd be bankin' if I knew that place was into oversized North American rodents!
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/getarticle.pl5?nn20040916f1.htm

More Tariq and Kerry than I care to know

I wonder about the left's choice of heros. I mean, I think I can honestly defend Oliver North and other not so clean individuals whom the left no doubt sees as right wing heros. But why does the left continually make excuses for terror apologists? From TCS:

Ramadan should not be admitted to the U.S. He has written extensively on the challenge of assimilating Islam in Europe, but has shown by his public statements there that he is not an Islamic moderate at all, but a man committed to quite radical postures. Even Hicham Chehab, news editor of the Beirut Daily Star, a newspaper obviously dedicated to Arab interests, was forced to admit early this month that "During the controversial visit to Britain last July by Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, himself accused of sanctioning suicide bombers, Ramadan defended Qardawi on the BBC television program 'Hard Talk.'"
It's fairly obvious this guy is part of the "terrorism is bad but..." crowd and a Wahhabi lover, but the left can't wait to let him in the country.

Again, why? Are they gluttons for their doom? I can't bring myself to think they have any great love for the Mumias and Tariqs of the world; could the left's hatred for authority and conservatives be so great that they're willing to make temporary peace with any piece of slime that comes down the road that might help there cause?

On another note, I've pulled a variety of political blog entries because I'm royally sick of the presidential contest. If you have an interest in reading that stuff, then you're probably already reading it. If you're voting for Ralph Nadar, you're probably not going to go read an article on free trade no matter how much a talk it up. And as far as Kerry goes, the picture below says it all. If you like your presidential candidate to lie about his own military career (seared it was!) to keep a communist thug dictator in power (another left wing hero), then there's not much else I can write here to keep you from flushing your vote down the john:



John Kerry with Nicaraguan, Communist strong man Daniel Ortega.


Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Wind Vs. Nuclear

Slashdot sings the praises of wind power today:
Even without further expected improvements in turbine technology, the U.S. would now need to use less than 3% of its farmland to get 95% of its electricity demand satisfied by wind power.

Of course this is all hooey. This Spectator article points out some of the faults with wind power (i.e., it's not always windy), as well as the obvious solution for future electricity supplies:
The European Commission's Marina II study recently concluded that North Sea oil and gas operations now contributed more man-made radioactivity to the seas of northern Europe than anything emanating from the nuclear industry.
...
Looking for a clean and comparatively cheap, environmentally friendly source of power? Assuming the rogue scientists Pons and Fleischman got it wrong [which they did], and cold fusion is indeed nothing but a chimera, there is only one answer to our energy problems, and sadly it is not a serried rank of windmills just off the Norfolk coast.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Japan Land #3 - Hiroshima #1

Okee-Dookee. Our first destination that would probably be of interest to outside interests was Hiroshima. I had a desire to visit there when I found out it wasn't too terribly far from Tokushima. When I tried to suggest it, I learned that it was already a planned destination. In hindsight, though, I don't know if it was scheduled primarily for a historical visit, or for food and fun. I'll start with the heavy issues, but whenever I hear the name Hiroshima from now on, I'll think of the lighter things it has to offer. It isn't fair that a city that has so much to offer gets pigeon holed as 'that nuked city'.



The Hiroshima A-bomb Dome


Although Mr. Kendall was well familiar with the Hiroshima Dome, I hadn't heard of it until I did some web searching prior to our visit. It's rather heavy (spiritually), with the rubble still in the same place on the ground from where the bomb had blown it free. Understandably, it's seen a lot of reinforcement operations to keep it standing in its familiar state. A huge (especially for Japan) tract of land is set aside where there's a rather large park and the extremely affordable Peace Museum.



The eternal flame. The museum is at the end of the walk.


Inside the Peace Museum is where the rubber hits the road as far as the Japanese perspective on this historical event. The museum had a cool audio device that would give the English (or a dozen other languages) language translations of the presentations. Needless to say, listening to America bashing and left wing gobbledygook got old real quick, and the thing hung dead around my neck through most of the museum walk through.

Although there weren't any blatant lies, there seemed to be several sins of omission. Primarily, it seemed as if the U.S. decision to use the bomb was made in a vacuum. Much was made of the secret Hyde Park agreement between Churchill and Roosevelt, but it failed to point out various reasons for such a decision then, and its later irrelevance when Roosevelt was dead at the time when the decision to drop the bomb was made. I may not have been paying attention, but not one battle was mentioned in the lead up to the bombing, and much was made of Japan's (apparent) weakness at the time.

My buddy mentioned that much arm twisting had gotten the Japanese to acknowledge the Korean and Chinese forced laborers who died in the bombing. Of course, either by poor translation or intentional sloppiness, one would get the impression that the evil Americans had killed these innocent slaves who happened to find themselves working in Japan.

There was also the B.S. quip towards the end about how wars never solve anything, etc.

The only problem with all this is, I can't heavily fault the Japanese for the tone of the museum. The war certainly didn't solve anything for the people who were burned to charcoal on the streets of Hiroshima. Sure the Japanese could admit that they were more nasty than they let on, but in their mind, it's irrelevant to the issue at hand. I'm sure the question they'd pose is "How much less nasty could we have been to avoid such a fate?" This, of course, gets into the various reasons for the war to begin with.



Before


After




As well, I got an uneasy feeling at the museum. The mantra told to me in school was that more people died in the firebombing campaigns of WW2, but as my buddy pointed out this was one bomb, and a nasty one at that. Also taught to me in school, were the various good things brought about the bombing, especially the saved American and Japanese lives. However, such facts could be used as a justification for any horrible weapon. The American military could have just as easily dropped chemical weapons on population centers in an effort to bring about peace. "But Sandmich" you say "the Japanese had chemical weapons too, and then it would have been okay for them to use it on us". Well then, was the Japanese lack of nuclear capability the only thing that made using the bomb 'correct'?

It was also, at least in my mind, a dangerous gamble. Mr. Kendall pointed out to me that the heads of the Japanese military didn't want to surrender even then, and only the intersession of the emperor brought about peace. What if Japan didn't surrender? What if they decided to use some nasty weapons of their own? Would people anywhere tolerate more nuclear bombing runs?

If I was Truman, I don't know if I would've made the same call. In hindsight though, it would appear the correct decision was made; war is unavoidably nasty. No doubt if the U.S. didn't use the Bomb, and pictures continued to come back of American dead stacked up on Japanese beaches, Americans would be furious that we didn't use our super weapon to put an end to the horror. As well, though the museum preaches the peace mantra now, it would've been more helpful if they did that before Pearl Harbor, it's all to easy to puke that stuff up now.



A turtle with a huge drum on his back, inside the museum


Another view


Memorial


Japan Land #2

I finally discovered how to cut video clips from Japan down with the freeware software that came with my firewire card. Unfortunately, I had to listen to myself taping since I did about 95% of the taping. Let me set this up first.

Firstly, for whatever reason, I got jet lag bad, and I never did get adjusted; four hours of sleep a night was a gift. I know when the time changes due to daylight savings time changes, I get jet lag even then. My only other experience with travel of this sort was when I went to England a couple years ago. Fortunately then, I had exactly zero jet lag problems going there and coming back. Discussing it with my boss though, he pointed out that travel to Asia is a completely different beast. He related much the same experience: he would go to Germany and have little to no problems, but he would go to Hong Kong and get thrown for a loop. Needless to say, when I'm tired, I'm a complete jerk.*

Secondly, I carried around this delusion that everyone around me was acting much like me. However, watching the tape was much like a drunk watching a tape of the company party the next day. When I thought I was being normal, I was a jerk, and when I knew I was being a jerk, someone in my group should'a decked me. I was lusting for a time machine where I could go back and get a sock out of my bag and shove it in my mouth. I was going to blank the audio, but my wife insisted it stay like it is: she and the group had to put up with my attitude, and now I can relive in perpetuity. **

My wife told me that I didn't ruin the vacation for anyone, but that I was rather unpleasant to be around. I hope she's correct. And public apologies to my friend and his wife, yet again. What depresses me all the more is that this was the second time in a year he had to put up with me in this situation. His, and his wife's, patience with me on this trip is a gift I'll probably never be able to repay.


Tokushima City at night


*Of course to hear my wife tell it, I'm a jerk all the time. This is only partially true since I pack the smart ass wit (i.e. jerk) that most of my family has. I tend to think I got it the worst, though, since I can never turn it off.

**Given the situation, I have to wonder if I'm even physically and mentally capable of traveling. I'm a big homebody, but I'm desperately trying to come up with some combination of criteria wherein I might be able to pull it off.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

9-11

How could I let such a day go by without a comment. Mr. Kendall seems to have beaten me to the punch with his historical retrospective. I, of course, have much more of a gut reaction. How about a little Jack Dunphy from NRO?

"...I just kept looking up at the fires, and at the people jumping. You never see those pictures anymore, the people jumping. I saw one group of four or five people coming down holding hands. Their bodies just exploded when they hit. I try to imagine what that was like, to decide that jumping a quarter of a mile was better than what was happening up there in the fire. They had that one picture in Newsday, that one lonely guy falling, but you never see that picture anymore. It kills me that people aren't exposed to that, what those poor people went through."



To quote Theoden from The Two Towers "So much death. What can men do against such reckless hate?"
What do we do? Do we take the path that some would like and insist the evil will never come through the door? Or do we go out and defeat those that wish to, at any cost, make us dead?

Friday, September 10, 2004

Jonah Goldberg on Kerry

Is this the ace candidate the left can't wait to vote for? From Jonah Goldberg:

Even more recently Kerry said that Bush did everything wrong. He said he wants major troop reductions in Iraq within six months. Then he said he wants to add troops. Now he says that he'll get America out of Iraq during his first term. When the 1,000th American died in Iraq, Kerry said they died fighting the 'war on terror,' even though he insisted that same week that Iraq was not part of the War on Terror.

I also feel bad that I gave the left wing bloggers more credit than they deserve when I criticized their position that turns out to be based on forged documents. Seems they can't even attack a irrelevant issue correctly.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

NPR Watch - Feasting on the Dead

On the news that the U.S. has lost more than 1000 troops in Iraq, NPR goes for the bottom of the barrel and digs deeper. You'd think that the NPR people that pass themselves off as reporters would honor the sacrifice of the American soldiers: men and women who gave their lives so that Scott Simon, et al. don't have to worry about Mohammed alNutjob shooting up their kid's at Georgetown's Prissymissy Prep Academy. You would of course, be quite wrong to think such a thing.

Unlike other times, I'll not be linking to the depravity over there today. One reporter made a point to scour a Marine town to find one person who would talk to him (because no one would talk to him for his hit piece for some reason), and then based the entire town feelings off of the ramblings of one kook (ace reporting!). As you might imagine, the kook said stuff along the line of how people hate the Iraq mission, etc. etc.

When this NPR dude talks up a teary eyed profile of the lost lives, and then condemns their mission, that tells me the lost life was brought up only to score a political point, not to honor the life of a fallen American hero. Of course this is no big surprise coming from the group that hails Michael Moore as a real American hero; a man who relished the fact that Iraqi 'minutemen' would be killing U.S. soldiers.

(I was also going to mention how the soldier profiled was a white, male hunter; a group normally disparaged by liberal NPR elites. But since they disparaged the soldier with this shameful piece, I figured that NPR was at least being consistent in one aspect.)

More pics of Tokushima, Japan #2

How about a couple more pictures from this lovely city:



Make your own Kimono!



A *nudge*nudge*wink*wink* Book Store



The Hotel Clement



The Japanese like to dress up their post boxes. This one has the Awa Odori dancers of Tokushima on it.


Bush's Guard service

I caught a couple articles on liberal blogs about Bush's National Guard service. They seem to be complaining with a typical shotgun blast of accusations in the hope that something will stick. They complain that he was in the National Guard to begin with, but as Thomas Owens points out, there were safer roads Bush could've chosen if he truly wanted to get out of work:
The implication that President Bush lacked courage because he joined the Texas Air National Guard during the Vietnam War misses an important point. Although he did not see combat, piloting a high-performance aircraft is an inherently dangerous undertaking, from start to finish. Flying a jet fighter when someone is not shooting at you is only marginally less dangerous than when someone is shooting at you. It is not for the faint of heart.
They also seem to be complaining about his performance in the Guard (a topic which Byron York lays to rest), despite the fact that they formally supported a known draft dodger. More importantly though, I wonder what all this brew-ha-ha has to do with anything? Bush never bragged about his Guard service, and to have it come up less than clean wouldn't prove or disprove anything he's said or done over the last five years. Thus, the issue can only exist as an effort to tear down Bush's service record in an effort to validate Kerry's constantly revised war history.

In a way, I feel bad for the liberals. I remember that during the '92 election, Republicans always thought that if they had one more microscopic piece of dirt on Clinton, the American people would have him figured out and they would get to keep the White House. As the liberals do now, the Republicans then had the task of selling a dog of a flawed candidate whom the party's own base could barely stand.

Sorry boys, but take it from me, no one but the already converted care about Bush's Guard service, Haliburton, Florida, and the U.N./France. You'll have to do much better than that to win more than five states in November.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Dr. Degenaro responds

In response to my jet lagged critique of his blog, Dr. Degenaro took the time to post a thoughtful response (which was longer than my original post) in my comments section. The least I can do is to do my best to answer his concerns.

On the Greenpeace album, I'll admit that it was a bit of a cheap shot. The artistry exhibited on the albums was pretty good. However Greenpeace is like a bad cult that talks up a good speech, does a handful of good things, and seeks to completely bone it's supporters and the rest of society every opportunity it gets. Particularly in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, many communists have found a new home in the environmental movement; it being the only method to sell complete state control of business and industry.

I'll admit to kind'a being sick and tired of debating Bush's domestic record. There are a variety of reasons for Bush's situation, not the least of which is a congress over which he holds very little sway. And anyway, short of proving Bush is the next Messiah, there's very little I can do to convince a fervent Bush hater otherwise. I have to wonder, though, whether or not Bush bashers actually hate his policies, or just hate Bush (well, I don't think very long, as I know the answer). Bush is criticized for spending like crazy, but the congressional Dems hardly put up a fight to keep that from happening, and their candidate hasn't indicated that he would solve the problem (in fact, he's indicated quite the opposite). They criticize Bush for nation building, but were oddly supportive of Clinton. They criticize the war in Iraq, but they did not have ONE FRIGGIN' IDEA of what they would do instead (that is besides nothing, or even worse surrender to Saddam and end the embargo). More here and here.

I'm not well read up on this Tariq Ramadan fellow, and if I had to guess, I'd say I hadn't heard of him before reading Dr. Degenero's article. However, after listening to Democratic Senator Patty Murray defend Osama, innumerable lefties defend Yasser, and left leaning CAIR repeatedly give us the 'Terrorism is bad but...' line, I'm skeptical to say the least. I looked around and at best I could only determine that he's a moderate Muslim (kind'a like a moderate fascist, no?) and he's given to ideas of Jewish conspiracies about the Iraq war. He may be a decent dude, but he could choose better company. I also agree with the State Department's hesitation to issue a visa. More Here.

As for Michael Moore, Matt Labash has done a way better job than I could hope to do. How about a quote?

As early as 1990, when Moore was still fresh from the salt-of-the-earth mines, the director of the Sundance Film Festival complained that he was "overly demanding" and "made a scene" when he discovered his accommodations weren't as deluxe as Clint Eastwood's.

More on Moore here, here, here and here. I'm still wondering as to how someone's supposed net worth at any point in their life, makes their arguments more salient (in other words, it doesn't).

As for rich, white, liberal elitism (usually characterized by the phrase 'limousine liberal'), I'll get into it later...maybe, but as an FYI, a whole book was written on it.

More pics of Tokushima, Japan



Tokushima bridge at low tide.



Shrine located along a street in Tokushima.



Enclosed street mall in Tokushima about and hour before the stores open.



Enclosed street mall in Tokushima about and hour before the stores open.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Ethanol - quick note

National Review (not the online version) has an article on John Kerry's energy proposals. As can be expected it's rather critical of them, but it made a point that I think needs to be clarified/corrected:

A second key element in Kerry's plan is a mandate for yet more ethanol consumption. Both he and Bush support requiring the production of 5 billion gallons of ethanol a year by 2012 despite serious questions about whether ethanol, too, might not consume more energy than it produces: If it's a net energy plus, it's not by much. The fact that escalating ethanol subsidies have done little to slow down America's increasing dependence on foreign oil continues to escape notice.
There is no possible way in this universe for Ethanol to be an energy plus. Stephen Denbeste said it best when he referred to such bio-fuels as a form of stored solar energy. When analyzed in this context, Ethanol is a solid loser. The resulting energy derived from the fuel will inevitably be a fraction of the amount of solar energy it took to produce it; and we all know how worthwhile solar energy is.

Of course just talking about the return of solar energy on the investment of growing corn doesn't even take into account the resources required to grow the corn and convert it to ethanol. Cecil Adams writes:

The capper, though, is the claim that it takes more energy to make a gallon of ethanol than you get by burning it. One of the most vocal proponents of this view is Cornell University ecology professor David Pimentel. In an analysis published in 2001 in the peer-reviewed Encyclopedia of Physical Sciences and Technology, Pimentel argued that when you add up all the energy costs--the fuel for farm tractors, the natural gas used to distill corn sugars into alcohol, and so on--making a gallon of ethanol takes 70 percent more energy than the finished product contains. And because that production energy comes mostly from fossil fuels, gasohol isn't just wasting money but hastening the depletion of nonrenewable resources.
The 70 percent number was later revised down to 29, and it did not even factor in the solar energy conundrum. It's beyond high time for the public to see Ethanol for what it really is: political pork for the American agriculture industry.


Japan Land #1

Let's see if I can get a few pics out of the way here; but first a few comments. Firstly, many thanks to my buddy and his kind, hard working wife (both of whom shall remain nameless on this site unless they specify otherwise) for inviting me and my family over for their wedding ceremony and subsequent tour of Japan.

Secondly, a little politics. My coworker had asked me what the people in Japan thought of Bush. I thought about it a bit, and apart from a mention of the convention that appeared in the English language paper, The Japan Times, I was hard pressed to remember any mention of American politics anywhere. This is quite typical though; politically active Americans are given to think the rest of the world tracks our movements religiously, when the reality is, the rest of the world couldn't really give a flying fig. This is as it should be since politics which affects people locally should be of the greatest concern. Anyways, during most times, most Americans don't give a flying fig either. I was, quite frankly, happy to get away from the noise for a while. (FYI, most Japanese news that I caught concentrated on the Olympics, the nasty weather, the Olympics, that horrid business in Russia, and the Olympics).

Lastly some international relations. My buddy had commented that a friend who travels to France regularly (I've met the guy, and no he's not a homosexual) says that he gets good treatment until he whips out the blue passport of the U.S.. From then on, he reports, you get the nasty French behavior that is such a staple for late night comedians. A Japanese man we had dinner with (who spoke excellent English) reported that he was apprehensive about traveling to the states because they fingerprint all foreign visitors. I told him that I thought it was a crock as well, since the U.S. government was only making a point to fingerprint everyone, so as not to offend the Saudi's, whose fingerprints they truly desire. I must report that my treatment in Japan ranged from normal to quite (and sometimes too) friendly.

The first couple days, we stayed in Tokushima. I was quite excited about this portion of the trip since the Tokushima prefecture is not represented much on the web. We didn't stay as long as I would've liked (pressed for time and all), but I did get a few good shots. A couple follow below:



A newspaper stand in the Osaka airport. This is all the further I had to travel to see some Japorn first hand.


An alley in Tokushima


Bad movies know no geographic boundary


Downtown Tokushima


Building which houses the lift cars and the Awa Odori dance museum


Traffic symbol in the road.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Health Care

One more politico blog before I dig into my vacation goodies. As well, all blogs for the next two weeks or so will be delusional due to jet lag, which I have quite badly (friggin' planet, why couldn't it be flat).

Mr. Kendall has an entry on the shrinking health care debate in this presidential campaign. It is, for the most part, an agreeable post, but there are a few caveats I'd like to throw out.

The whole idea of health care insurance is a bit of a misnomer since most people are interested in health maintenance. For example, the company I work for has the computer equipment I'm responsible for insured in case some cataclyminc event happens to the equipment that is beyond the company's control. Additionally, I have maintenance agreements on the equipment as well. This maintenance may entail scheduled cleanings, replacement of defective parts, and/or replenishment of supplies.

Fortunately for the hardware maintenance companies, there's only so much that can be done to the products they maintain. I can't, for instance, call them up and have them give me newer and faster hard drives for ten bucks a piece. Also, there are no hidden costs when it comes to this equipment. If a company offers a maintenance plan on a $2000 piece of equipment that costs $300 a month, I can elect to go without.

It's a little different for health maintenance in that you can't exactly say you want to go without, but the costs are hidden. I was shocked to learn that the plan I have from my employer actually costs ten times the amount of my monthly out of pocket premiums. Let's say that the plan costs me roughly $100 while it costs my employer $1000 a month. Now my family uses several prescriptions and goes to the doctor a couple times a month, but I'd be hard pressed to think that we'd even ever used up half the employer amount in a given month; and in fact, I've often wondered if even the hypothetical $100 a month is a screw job.

Here's where it gets a little sticky. If given the opportunity, I'd probably rather have the twelve grand more a year, and just get cataclysmic (usually plus $2500 in expenses) health care. However, if healthy people were to leave the general plans, the people with lingering disorders (diabetes, malaria, etc.) may be boned since they would never be able to acquire a health maintenance plan of their own, and employers wouldn't offer it.

I'm kind'a hard pressed, though, to see what the actual problems are beyond medical malpractice reform and eliminating some socialistic tendencies (both are problems which would no doubt be exacerbated under Kerry). I think I heard it on NPR where someone said that the reason costs are going up is because people are buying more of it. When it comes for places to put money, many people have decided that their own health is a good place for it, and as usual, the liberals don't like where people are putting their money.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Lefty Blog

I had a friend in high school who was into all the lefty causes of the late eighties. He bought crappy Greenpeace albums, spoke of his hatred of the death penalty (which even the Dems don't do anymore), etc. He was kept on the right side of the fence because he was fervently pro-life (which, to his credit, he was known to attend rallies).

After high school, he went off to college and got some sort of English/communications/linguistic/journalism degree and became a professor. Of course, you see where this was going; I figured it'd only be a matter of time before he surrendered his last moral objection to liberalism and went over to the dark side. Not everyone can be a Mr. Kendall and keep the collegiate brainwashing in check.

Well, it turns out he now has a blog. I knew going into this that it was going to be left of center, and I'm hoping for a trough of well thought out lefty ideas (if such a thing can even exist). He starts out of the gate, however, with a couple tRusty topics:

  1. Bush Lied. About what, he doesn't mention. I'd hate to think that he's trotting out that tired WMD argument after the Senate report vindicated Bush and Kerry himself severed his ties to Joe 'Yellowcake' Wilson.
  2. He goes to a great length to defend a Muslim scholar who questioned the idea that Bin Laden was behind the 9/11 attacks. Maybe he can let me know why the left goes to bat for these religious wackjobs, especially after the vehemence they level against Christians. Mr. Kendall seemed to think that the left's love of victim groups was a cause. VDH thinks it's because Islamic fundamentalism offers that last hope of some form of vastly implemented big state government a'la Communism. I myself figured it's because of the Anti-American tendencies of of both groups (the enemy of my enemy....). Even after all that though, I scratch my head as to why the left would join their rig to such a dilapidated truck.
  3. He defends Michael Moore. 'Roger and Me' was 15 years ago, and not all that great, get over it. He fails to note how being a wealthy champion for elitist liberal opinion does not make one a symbol of wealthy liberal elitism. (Never mind the fact that the man was never blue collar, it's an irrelevant fact all around).

Moreover, his topics exemplify the obsession of the left with any perceived hypocrisy of the right instead of the actual topics of the day. It's not about the propaganda and lies passed on by Michael Moore, it's about how much money a year the person criticizing him makes. It's not about protecting the U.S. from Islam-o-fascists; it's about whether or not said wackjobs get treated the same as Jewish fundamentalists at the airport gate. It's not about whether or not it was good to get rid of Saddam; it's whether or not Bush knowingly passed on bad intel. It's not about how great of a president Kerry would be; it's whether or not he's George Bush.


All apologies

Sorry about the dearth of posts. I was going for broke in JapanLand the past week and a half. Will be posting much on that adventure of a lifetime shortly (and no, it won't just be about Japorn).