Thursday, October 28, 2004

The Wrath of Fashion

(okay, I appologize to everyone who has already seen this, but I'm going to be busy the next couple of days, and recycling old material is better than nothing, no?)

These images are taken from an interview special that was included
on The Wrath of Khan DVD. It was probably filmed sometime in 1982.
Now let's see if the coolest character in Star Trek lore also has
the best fashion sense.



First we have the normally cool James T. doin' some rico suave
circa 1977:


Maybe next time Kirk!



Next up we have 'Bones', who is rarely cool, going for that British
dandy look, also circa 1977:

Am I the only one who looks at that picture and thinks he has kids
chained up in his basement? Okay it is just me, sorry.



Okay, so maybe Spock is the coolest of them all....maybe not. God
knows when this monstrosity is supposed to date from:

I've seen many an ugly leisure suit, and I have a hard time believing that he honestly thought it was anything other than embarrassing to wear that. It must'a been wash day.



Ah, but at least someone had the good sense to show up in something he didn't pick up down at the Goodwill:

Go Ricardo! You're definitely the coolest!

A Bush haters case for Bush

I've talked about this article elsewhere, but I figured I post the pertinent quotes from it...

YEAH, YEAH, I KNOW: Nobody who opposes Bush thinks that terrorism is a good thing. The issue is not whether the United States should be involved in a war on terrorism but rather whether the war on terrorism is best served by war in Iraq. And now that the war has defied the optimism of its advocates, the issue is no longer Bush's moral intention but rather his simple competence. He got us in when he had no idea how to get us out. He allowed himself to be blinded by ideology and blindsided by ideologues. His arrogance led him to offend the very allies whose participation would have enabled us to win not just the war but the peace. His obsession with Saddam Hussein led him to rush into a war that was unnecessary. Sure, Saddam was a bad guy. Sure, the world is a better place without him. But . . .

And there it is: the inevitable but. Trailed by its uncomfortable ellipsis, it sits squirming at the end of the argument against George Bush for very good reason: It can't possibly sit at the beginning. Bush haters have to back into it because there's nothing beyond it. The world is a better place without Saddam Hussein, but . . . but what? But he wasn't so bad that we had to do anything about him? But he wasn't so bad that he was worth the shedding of American blood? But there are other dictators just as bad whom we leave in place? But he provided Bush the opportunity to establish the doctrine of preemptive war, in which case the cure is worse than the disease? But we should have secured Afghanistan before invading Iraq? But we should have secured the cooperation of allies who were no more inclined to depose Saddam than they—or we, as head of an international coalition of the unwilling—were to stop the genocide in Rwanda ten years before? Sure, genocide is bad, but . . .

We might as well credit the president for his one great accomplishment: replacing but with and as a basis for foreign policy. The world is a better place without Saddam Hussein, and we got rid of him. And unless we have become so wedded to the politics of regret that we are obligated to indulge in a perverse kind of nostalgia for the days of Uday and Qusay, we have to admit that it's hard to imagine a world with Saddam still in it.
.....
I WILL NEVER FORGET the sickly smile that crossed the president's face when he asked us all to go shopping in the wake of 9/11. It was desperate and a little craven, and I never forgave him for it. As it turned out, though, his appeal succeeded all too well. We've found the courage to go shopping. We've welcomed the restoration of the rule of celebrity. For all our avowals that nothing would ever be the same, the only thing that really changed is our taste in entertainment, which has forsaken the frivolity of the sitcom for the grit on display in The Apprentice . The immediacy of the threat was replaced by the inexplicability of the threat level. A universal war—the war on terror—was succeeded by a narrow one, an elective one, a personal one, in Iraq. Eventually, the president made it easy to believe that the threat from within was as great as the threat from without. That those at home who declared American moral primacy were as dangerous as those abroad who declared our moral degeneracy. That our national security was not worth the risk to our soul. That Abu Ghraib disproved the rightness of our cause and so represented the symbolic end of the war that began on 9/11. And that the very worst thing that could happen to this country would be four more years of George W. Bush. In a nation that loves fairy tales, the president seemed so damned eager to cry wolf that we decided he was just trying to keep us scared and that maybe he was just as big a villain as the wolf he insisted on telling us about. That's the whole point of the story, isn't it? The boy cries wolf for his own ends, and after a while people stop believing in the reality of the threat.

I know how this story ends, because I've told it many times myself. I've told it so many times, in fact, that I'm always surprised when the wolf turns out to be real, and shows up hungry at the door, long after the boy is gone.


Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Use your Delusion 2

Gabriel over at The Sanity Prompt had a rant article up that I responded to. He replied to me asking for more information on my points and I dug around for some articles I knew I'd read, but didn't quite remember (despite my well formed opinions, I'm not a profession pundit; hard to believe, I know...)

I found these articles that expound upon the facts. I could've rounded it out from different sources, but the effect is the same:
James Robbins on Iraq WMD
More James Robbins on Iraq WMD
Deroy Murdock on Iraq and Atta

This last article I'd actually never read, but it is quite damming to those who think Iraq posed no threat to us:
Andrew McCarthy makes a damming case (Best article, but quite long)

Again though, most hard lefties don't care; their hatred of America and their fellow humans in general runs so deep that they even found time to excuse Uncle Joe of the Soviet Union. Oh well, I tried...

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Japan #8 - Love Hate Love

(At the end of August/beginning of September I took a pleasure trip to Japan. I meant to have all the blog postings done in the first week, I'm now hoping to have it done within 90 days of the trip.)

I should clear something up: why am I such a minor league otaku (i.e. Japan fan boy)? First and foremost, I'm a sucker for eye candy and no one cranks out eye candy like Japan. I can stare at Anime or walk around a crowded Japanese city all day. I can't describe it very well, but its like a massage for my brains vision center as it repeatedly tries to take in more information than can possibly be processed.

Secondly, lets face it, outside of the English speaking world, most places suck. The only place that bats in the same league is Japan. Japan long ago showed up the economies of Western Europe and it is way safer to live in than the U.S.

But, thirdly for all its success, Japan sucks too. Racism still abounds, teenage girls pimp themselves out for fancy jeans, new ideas are poo-poo'd, the management structure is often ridiculously stiff, the economy has sucked for more than a decade, the place is undergoing a demographic implosion, corruption, etc. But would Japan be the same place without these aspects? I tend not to think so. In this manner, Japan is a knot that can never be untied.

Kyoto
Anyway, continuing on, after Hiroshima, my Japan trip turned into a little bit of a blur. We next paid a visit to Kyoto, but I was cruising on auto-pilot, taking pictures so that I could soak in the photos later since I barely remembered being at these places, even while I was at them. Kyoto was also where various aspects of Japanese culture started to get me down. (As a matter of fact, I was enough of an ass in Kyoto that I decided to note it in my journal so that I wouldn't delude myself into thinking I was Captain Suave) . Also at this point I determined that I wasn't going to enjoy the trip much while it was going on. I knew that afterwards, the power of nostalgia would make the uncomfortable events good, and the good events great.

We walked around the fancy alleys, went to a tea ceremony and checked out a lot of cool looking shrines. However, I want to point out two things that I most definitely did not care for. First up was the geisha show that featured different forms of classic Japanese entertainment. About halfway through the show they said they were going to put on a performance of an art form that was mooched from China. While the Chinese abandoned it several hundred years ago, it kept going in Japan. I figured that if the Chinese dumped it and the Japanese continued tuning it lo these many years, that it must either be quite spectacular or some thing so nasty that even classic Chinese culture had given up on it. Unfortunately for me, it was the latter. The show featured a guy (I think) doled up in a weird costume who was dancing staggering to some of the worst instruments that Asian culture has to offer.


Make it stop!

The closest equivalent I could come to the noise the musicians were generating was that of a sack of cats rolling down a cliff. I'm sorry I'm too lazy to look up the name of this art form, but avoid it at all costs!

Second up is the shrine of 300 Buddhas (or whatever it's called). First, imagine you are in a huge musty attic in a house that's several hundred years old and is lit only by creepy indirect light. Then imagine it is filled to the brim with ultra creepy, multi armed Buddhas.



A hello to arms

Then on top of that, it also has statues of gods whose glass eyes have deteriorated to that of a floating corpse. As you might imagine, I was creeped out beyond belief and couldn't go through it (am I the only one who has nightmares about multi-armed deities coming to life? Guess so...). (As a plus, it was at this time I went into my first and only urban Japanese grocery store where the drinks cost more than the friggin vending machines. What gives with that?)

How about some pics? Now I did take pictures of the Golden Temple and whatnot, but there's enough of those on the Internet already; so here's some of my not so impressive shots:



To look at Internet pictures of Kyoto, you'd think it's some ancient Japanese panacea, while in actuality, most of it looks like the shot above.



I added a book to my hotel rooms selection, see if you can figure out which one it is!



This building houses (among many other things) Kyoto's train station. The extreme size of this building is impossible to convey through photos.



The Japanese seem to have some taboo about Lawn mowers. The school play fields that I saw were all dirt.



Sorry folks, but I didn't want to pony up 10 bucks to see what 'Collon' candy tasted like.


Sunday, October 24, 2004

Friday, October 22, 2004

The Gotten Goat

Is there a left wing bias on American college campuses? Have people like Mike Adams and David Horowitz, who make careers out of fighting the extreme leftism practiced on U.S. campuses, got me fooled? I don't tend to think so. I don't work on or for a college, and it's been many moons since I've taken a college course, so my point of view may be rough. However, from what I've garnered, universities are similar to NPR. About half the stuff NPR broadcasts is invaluable, knowledge rich goodness, about a quarter of it is worth while but left leaning, and roughly the last quarter (depending on whether or not it's an election year), is absolute, looney left sludge.

It was with this mindset that I read Dr. Degenaro's (aka "Lefty Bill". "Mr.Degenaro's fabulous left wing blog" won't fit on my sidebar) posting about a David Brooks column where Mr. Brooks (lightly) impunes academics for being such lackeys for the left. I put forward the following ideas as to why colleges are left leaning:


1) Academics spend so much of their mental energy on their particular field that they cannot focus properly on anything outside of that field. (Stephen Jay Gould is a great example of this. Despite being quite intelligent, he believed in communism, an ideology that's such a bad idea that it would be laughable were it's history not so horrific).

2) Academics are group thinkers. It doesn't take a genius to see how conservatives are treated on college campuses. It should be no surprise that many choose to be a lefty instead of being labeled a sexual harassing Nazi.

3)Academics work in a sheltered environment (again, for lefties) that distorts their view of the real world. (i.e. when was the last time, if ever, that academia had to produce something that didn't go in a book?)
To be sure, I intentionally overstated my points since I know nothing gets an academics goat like insinuating that their field is near worthless. Why would I do this? Well, firstly, I'm a jerk, and secondly I think I'm projecting (I work in the IT infrastructure support field). As well I was hoping to goad Dr. Degenaro into telling me his own theory as to why there is a left leaning bias on American campuses.

Much to my surprise (well, no. we're talking about a man who thinks the New York Times is a right wing rag mag), Dr. Degenaro states that my points are incorrect primarily because there are no left leaning issues at all! At this point, I decided not to abandon my half baked points so quickly. Lets see if my inferior intellect can see where we're going here, it's time to do a mild fisking of Dr. Degenaro's rebuttal:

Yes, Chomsky is a professor of linguistics at M.I.T (and easily the most renowned linguist in the world).
I've heard that Mr. Chomsky is a genius in his field, but that doesn't excuse the fact that he is a raving lunatic. Lets dig deeper:

I'm not sure how Stephen Jay Gould is a "great example" of ignoring the outside world to focus on one's own field. On the contrary, Gould used his extraordinary intellect to comment on a diverse array of social issues.
Again his "extraordinary intellect" wasn't enough to keep him from believing in a thoroughly discredited and evil system of governance. So was he a political idiot, or was he evil? I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

Neither am I sure what you mean by "they cannot PROPERLY focus on anything outside of that field." It sounds like you mean: "they come to conclusions that differ from my own opinions."
When someone comes to a conclusion which is pro-communist/fascist/extremely racist I'm not obligated to treat them seriously just because they differ from my own: those ideas are crap, through and through. Howard Zinn could write a 5,000 page thesis on how space aliens keep the sky from turning pink, but that doesn't mean I have to take him seriously and then begin to wonder where pulls those weirdo ideas from. (Maybe he's correct in a way. Howard Zinn's hatred of America runs so deep that he can't even properly focus on his own field.)

To suggest that those who differ with you only think that way due to "groupthink" is the worst kind of argument ad hominem: 'you're just a liberal because you're scared to stand up and be a conservative.' Really? Is that your best argument against Noam Chomsky?! That he's been plowed by his colleagues?
Well, I think Noam Chomsky is a plower, not a plow-ee. This point may not be well formed, but the point I'm shooting for is not necessarily coercive knucklebusting, but the ghetto effect. If a certain field of work has a reputation for a certain mindset, then people who work in that field will already have a predisposition to that mindset, or will at least adopt some of it's tendencies to make going to work every day a little more bearable. For example, I know of field in which I have absolutely no experience, whose workers have a reputation for being video gaming, porn surfing, anti-social layabouts. All these characteristics may not apply to every member in this mystery field, but I know from experience (or at least from what someone else told me) that, like most stereotypes, it's mostly true. Anyway, continuing on...

Here at Miami [Ohio], we've recently hosted lectures or presentations by Pat Buchanan, P.J. O'Rourke, and the Bush twins.
You mean this Pat Buchanan? That'd be like the Republicans saying they invited an avowed Marxist when they invited Zell Miller to the convention. Universities may bring in a P.J. O'Rourke, but then feel they're in the clear to invite child pornographers to work at the school. It's all the same thing, just different points of view!

Sheltered? Some in the private sector exist in cubicles, working on individual computers. Here's what my "sheltered" academic life looks like: I interact with three separate groups of students each semester (15-23 in each group)....
Further, part of my tenure requirements...
The myth of the sheltered academic is just that: a myth.
Tenure?!? Tenure?!?! Maybe someone can write and tell me how I'm supposed to get tenure at my manufacturing company that is always threatened by the onerous regulations placed upon it by the bureaucracies that Dr. Degenaro and his colleagues push. Academics are sheltered in the sense that their point of view has no bearing on how effective their 'business' is run. People do not have to live (at least not long) under their ideas, etc. It's a lot easier to have an idiotic idea when your only check is the ass slapping of your fellow like minded colleagues. As well, the staff at colleges suffer from a similar strain of liberal tendencies to that of other public service unions. If you work at a university (particularly a public one) , your vote will tend to go toward the most left leaning group, because that will be the group that will ladle the most gravy onto your organization. Continuing...

Things that academics have produced that didn't go in a book: vaccinations for deadly diseases, editorials for local op-ed pages, workshops for K-12 educators, intellectual forums and debates, recitals and theatrical performances.
Again, the point I presented is kind'a unfair, but I was attempting to press the point that universities hardly have the same concerns as the many small manufacturers that they can't wait to screw over (see a theme here?). Engineering and other such university departments certainly specialize in the methods of making 'stuff'.

Anyway, as far as the points presented, from what I've heard, vaccines are usually co-developed with a corporation who wants to use cheap grad student labor to develop medicines; that is, before the lefties killed them off. As for the rest...well...ugh. My mom has told me about those workshops for K-12 educators and I have four letters for you C-R-A-P. Of course she's forced to go to these by the state, so the sheltered, group thinking, short sighted liberals who run them have no impetus what so ever to provide a worthwhile product that's been exposed to real world situations.


(Sidenote: As irony would have it, years and years ago my wife-to-be took some classes at the university Dr. Degenaro teaches at and I had the honor of sitting in two different classes in the middle of the term. The first was some English class of some sort where the idea of population control was discussed (?!?). This class was quite reasonable compared to the (anti) American 'history' class I later attended where the professor spewed nothing but vile left wing hatred for the founding fathers the whole friggin' class time. My wife-to-be tried to get me to go to a different class where they were going to have a trasvestite come in and speak, but I took a pass.)

(Update 10/25/04: more here http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110005802 )

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Iraqi Story

For anyone who doesn't read Iraq the Model, this story is a good one; a quote:
Despite the generous hospitality of our hosts [in Jordan] and the friendly treatment of the Jordanians, I couldn’t cast away the feeling that I was in an Arab country, that although peaceful but still not a free and democratic country and it brought back some of the precautions and fears I had before the war, and I started watching my mouth and making sure of avoiding certain words and phrases that may not be acceptable. It’s hard to explain, but I felt I couldn’t condemn terrorism or criticize Arab governments or Jihadists and such stuff that are still more tolerated at least in the majority of Arab countries.

Morning music

I had the light rock station on today, and I figured I'd share a revelation with you that I had a few months ago:

Canadian country rocker Shania Twain's "Man! I Feel Like a Woman" is one of the best songs ever made (Note: I didn't say 'written'). Yeah, I'm about seven years behind the curve. I guess I was too busy listening to Alice in Chains and such to take much notice of it when it came out (Actually, I think I was afraid it would turn me into a homersexual. I already listen to dance music, so Broadway show tunes, long the bane of my existence, may be right around the corner!). BTW, it helps the song immeasurably if you crank it up extra loud ("OOoooOOH oH OH!")....


(As icing on the cake, the radio station followed it up with Bryan Adams' "Heaven". Why isn't that song on his greatest hits album?)

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Liberalism Kills

I wish to point out a great post by Mr. Kendall on how liberal policies have trashed the American vaccine market:
http://home.cwru.edu/~emk12/blog25.htm

Bad taste?

This ad is for a product called d_skin that snaps on media disks (CDs, games, etc.) to protect the disk surface. The company used an atomic wasteland in the ad to make their point, but it's probably just a touched up stock photo since it features a fairly well known landmark in the background:


Hmmm


The Hiroshima A-bomb Dome


Now I'm not knocking the ad too hard, whoever made the thing was probably being lazy and just found a photo of this landmark easy to slap in there. I'm not against this kind of bad taste per se, but it seems like something one would like to avoid when selling a product.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Losers

Let's see if you can pick out the real losers!









This typifies the lefty mindset on this issue. They see it as a choice between some blissful, otherwordly peace and the nasty Bush Nazis, when in reality, it was a choice between making an intolerable situation a bit better or considerably worse (and if you can't figure out which is which, then you have problems...).

I should make mention of the fact that Mr. Kendall and I saw "Team America: World Police" over the weekend. I heard that both sides of the political spectrum were zinged, but I can see why lefties thought they (justifiably) got the worst of it. I think back to the movie Toys where the lead nemesis, a hot headed military guy, at one point is playing an arcade game and he starts blowing up the U.N. trucks that are supposed to be helping him ("What in the hell are they doing here?" was what he said, or something like that). It was supposed to be a critique of his character, but my brother and I got a charge out of it and were yelling at the screen for him to blow those suckers up!

Much the same can be said for Team America, hawks view extreme takes on their viewpoints as to be so over the top as to be hilarious. On the other hand, taking left wing (self destructive) pacifism to an obvious extreme hits close to the bone for lefties. I could envision lefties squirming in their seats as there ignorant arguments were repeated back on the screen under obviously threatening circumstances. Why squirm? There's little doubt that what transpires on the screen is pretty much how the situation would transpire - there is no 'obvious extreme' to left wing pacifism. You can well picture lefties salt and peppering themselves up as a tiger is about to devour them.

(As a note though, the movie is definitely not for everyone. There were portions so crude that even I couldn't bare to watch it).

On a related note, it upsets me that it doesn't seem to bother enough people that if John Kerry had his way that the Sandinistas would still be in charge of Nicaragua, the Russian backed commies would still be in Grenada, the Soviet Union would probably still be around, Saddam would still be in Kuwait, and hell, Saddam would still be in charge of Iraq. Many have made the point that under a Democratic administration, we would still be negotiating with the Taliban to have them give us Osama. Jonah Goldberg has a great corner post today that furthers the point greatly:
He [Kerry] touts his decidedly pre-9/11 book on global crime as a training manual for post 9/11 world in which hunting terrorists is a "law enforcement issue" and terrorism is something he hopes to get to the nuisance level. His pre-9/11 views on diplomacy, defense and intelligence don't really seem to have gone away -- or gone away for long. He invokes the same idiotic story about De Galle trusting the United States, he worships the UN, he voted against the $87 billion for ever-changing reasons, but none of them seem to be the result of an epiphany about the dangers of the 9/11 world. To this day the only use of force he's said wouldn't be subject to a global test and that he could be counted upon to administer would be a response to an attack. Woop-dee-frickin' doo.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Fun with math

After getting down after listening to Nordlinger's fatalist whining, Denbeste comes out of the bullpen with a graphic discovery.

Amish Country

I feel bad that I didn't make it down to Amish country this fall. Since everything is closed on Sunday, and I work during the week, that means we'd have to go down on a free Saturday, of which I've had very few the last couple months. What follows are pictures taken last year with my then new Kodak camera.



We see this place on the way down. It's hillbilly bar that was undergoing some much needed refurbishing at the time. I love the name!



These Jackasses were cool.



Amish home, denoted by no power lines.



Colors!



Fields!



Anyone who thinks horses would be cleaner than cars should check out the ground in this shot.



Homestead





Saturday, October 16, 2004

Japan #7 - Sirens #1

Okay, I admit it, I'm a sucker for a pretty face, and there was no shortage of pretty faces in Japan. As a result, I couldn't resist squeezing off a few shots. The one's below are of the poor ladies who have to dress up in humiliating outfits; mostly to hand crap out on the streets of Tokyo.


This hotel in Kyoto (the one with the huge up-a-vator dealie if I remember right) had a lady minding the elevators in the lobby, and then ladies in each of the elevators to help you push the buttons. My buddy informed me that the crappy Japanese economy leaves especially younger women with very poor job opportunities.




A young lady in a cowgirl outfit. I just missed getting a shot of a whole posse of 'em before they broke up to hand out advertisement tissue papers.



I love that style of socks, it's completely bizzaro.



She knew I was up to something. I was distracting her while my buddy snuck up so that I could get a shot of them together. I left his quickly moving shoe uncropped at the bottom.



The look on the lady's face on the left says "Yes, this does suck as hard is looks."

Friday, October 15, 2004

Japanese government wants Bush

From LDP's Takebe sees trouble if Kerry wins presidential election:
Takebe, who is seen as a right-hand man of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, told a Nippon Broadcasting System radio program, referring to the Nov. 2 presidential election, 'It would mean trouble if it is not President Bush. Mr. Kerry is trying to address the North Korean problem bilaterally. That is totally out of the question.'

I couldn't agree more.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Wife beater

This past Tuesday I got to rub elbows with Cleveland's elite (for what that counts for) when I went to a fundraiser named "Break the Silence". It was a fundraiser for the local domestic abuse center and it was held down at the Powerhouse on the west side of the Cleveland flats (the side where no one gets shot because no one goes there).


The Shoreway Bridge over the flats.

Our company gave a chunk of change to this cause, more than likely because it's a favorite charity of my boss, so we got to sit at a decent table to watch the speakers. As a note, please don't let my cynicism fool you, this charity is about as innocuous as giving money to the "Anti-Puppy Kicking Alliance"; I just thought some of the arguments presented were weird or not well formed. Let's check out the speakers!


Local radio personality Jimmy Malone takes time away from his caustic left wing radio 'comedy' show to talk about why beating women is bad. Jimmy doesn't mention if he voted for the sexual harassing, raping Bill Clinton when he ran for office, but I think we know the score on that one.



Don McPherson, who played pro ball somewhere, manages to equate domestic violence to lynching and Nazi Germany (the old trusty standby).



Cleveland mayor Jane Campbell takes time off from running the city into the ground to talk about how she really believes in this cause, as opposed to all the other B.S. causes she shows up for. She feels so strongly about it that she helped pass a law to protect women from stalkers that allowed them to carry concealed weapons increased the punishment for stalking.

The book they handed out listed various forms of abuse, one of them being 'Embarrassing you in front of others'. Looks like I should be thrown into jail! I couldn't escape the feeling at times that the chief cause of domestic violence is male behavior, as if there's something built into men that makes them cavemen rapists. To press this point, they gave a 'Big Pussy Award' (or something like that) to a guy who exemplifies their model man. He, of course, typified the type of man every woman says they want, but would never give the time of day to if given the chance (think Hans Moleman from The Simpsons)



I was going to take a picture of the award winner, but I took this one instead for some reason.

Of course I feel bad (well, not really) for exhibiting exactly the kind of behavior they say is so abhorrent, but that's just the way I'm made. I don't pretend to be something, or force myself to be a 'Hans Moleman', I'm a dude, so get over it.

Don McPherson came the closest to pinning the blame where it belongs: on what is socially acceptable behavior. As of late, any kind of bad behavior has become tolerable in some respect, and the fact that women are increasingly (and often willfully) made out to be 'meat' in our pop culture doesn't help anything. He seemed to be intentionally vague on this point, but of course, condemming 60s moral relativism can't be done now can it?

A final note, they had decent food at this luncheon, but was it designed by a woman or what?


Foo Foo


(Update: I want to give a special shout out to Kodak for their EasyShare CX7430, quite possibly the crappiest digital camera ever made. Observe the pictures of the speakers for any needed proof, and those are the good ones).

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Lowtax on Novotatarians

From Something Awful:
Furthermore, let me tell you dunce caps from Turner Media and MTV and every other commercial-driven corporation who want me to elect the bribed leader of their choice: not voting is the most patriotic thing anybody can do. Each time a TV anchorperson announces in a very sad, solemn voice that 98.4% of American citizens refused to vote, my heart skips a beat because I know the Novotatarian party is growing and our displeasure for both candidates is becoming more apparent. Soon our raw, consolidated apathy will force one of the two parties to nominate an actual decent, intelligent, charismatic leader in order to capitalize on our growing numbers, but we won't bother voting for him either because, really, what's the point?

Monday, October 11, 2004

Japan #6 - What's wrong with that place?

Although the title and my text might sound negative, I'd be lying if I said the oddities of Japan don't make it more endearing.


Someone, somewhere is not eating this deer. In the States, after you go to a cute animal place, the local stores know what you want: products (preferably food) made out of those animals. What gives?



As far as weird stuff goes, I still can't get my mind wrapped around this. My buddy called it "non-existent retro"; which doesn't even make sense, much like the presence of the sign itself.



Barnes and Noble is to Japanese book stores as a Pharmacy is to a crack house.



Although this drink tasted good, a green can with a snot bubble afflicted animal on it is not an exercise in marketing genius..



I'm sure their deliveries are fast, but this is a bad case of TMI. For even more perversion along these lines, check out Cosmic Buddha's pics of a fertility shrine (not safe for work, at least not any work I know of...). And no, I won't be putting a picture of that condom store on my site, gawd...



Little girls dressed in cute sailor outfits. WTF is up that? I tried thinking of something more perverted that the Japanese could dress their daughters as, and as can be expected, the Japanese provided me an answer the last day I was there...

...bare midriff French made outfits!

These are screen shots from a show called 'Pretty Cure'. The staring school girls are wearing their super-dee-dooper outfits in the shots above. You can rest easy knowing it's not nearly as preverted as some of the stuff that comes out of there. ( Update: Trashy appears to have the bead on some future Japanese school girl fashions. Most definately not safe for work. Check with your parole officer before viewing.)


Jonah Goldberg Lays Down the Law

From Jonah Goldberg on Kedwards and Iraq on National Review Online:
But forget all that. I just watched John Kerry preen in front of the cameras about how 'good diplomacy' would have prevented the mistake he voted for. 'Good diplomacy' in John Kerry's world would have let French and Russian politicians continue to line their pockets in the name of keeping Saddam in power so he could rape and murder and torture until 'good diplomacy' welcomed him back into the 'international community' and gave him the weapons he sought. I suppose in John Kerry's world good diplomacy lets the boys in the back of the bar finish raping the girl for fear of causing a fuss.

Friday, October 08, 2004

VDH lays down the law

From Victor Davis Hanson on the Middle East on National Review Online:
In fact, Kerry's only chance for honest intellectual criticism of the Bush administration might have come from the right: stern remonstrations over our tolerance of looting, inability to train Iraqis in real numbers, laxity in shutting off the borders, failure to control arms depots, tolerance for terrorist enclaves in Fallujah, and sloth in releasing aid money to grass-roots organizations. Yet by putting a tired Richard Holbrook or a whining Jamie Rubin on television, Kerry suggests that far from chastising Bush for doing too little, he believes that the president has already done too much.
The administration's gaffes all share a common theme of restraining our military power in fear of either Middle Eastern or European censure. But once one climbs into a cesspool like Iraq, one must either clean it up or go home, and that means suffering the 48-hour hysteria of the global media about collateral damage in exchange for killing the terrorists and freeing the country. Only that way can we impress the fencesitting Iraqis that we employ an iron fist in service to their own security and prosperity, and thus we, not the beheaders and kidnappers, are their only partners for peace.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Use your delusion

Thomas Galvin goes over several of Kerry's lies, but I'm not delusional enough to think it matters a lick to liberals. Let's face it, if Bill Clinton had launched the war in Iraq, liberals wouldn't care. If John Kerry is elected and blows the budget deficit up twice as much as Bush they won't care either. All they care about is their out and out hatred of Bush and acquisition of liberal power. I'd say they should care about sacrificing the defense of their country for some political expediency; but since no social structure is morally superior to any other in their minds, national defense is just a side issue. Jonah Goldberg got an e-mail which gives up the game, not that we didn't already know the rules (or lack there-of).

As well, during the vice-pres debates, Gwen the moderator described how miserable Cleveland is (big surprise there) and then asked Cheney what the administration planned to do about it. Having turned the debate on a scant five minutes earlier; I turned off the debate at that point since I was expecting some long winded, though factually correct, thesis on conservative macroeconomic policies. While I slept, though, my mind filled in the blank:


Gwen: So Mr. Vice President, what will the federal government do about the dire straits in this poor city?

Cheney: Federal help?!? The schools and roads are falling apart in this dump, and they go and up the taxes so they can blow a billion dollars on corporate subsidies so that they can retain some mediocre professional sports teams!?! Add to that the fact that the city may be in the state with the most incompetent governor in the Union. Then you also have high crime and a crappy labor union working environment. I mean, what the hell? Look at the friggin' congressman they elect! Do you think I'm Jesus or something?

(Update: Glenn Reynolds has more info about how Kerry is completely full of it on foreign policy. Again, this is great, but the left simply doesn't care. In their minds Bush is way worse than Saddam, so joining arms with Saddam is hardly the worst thing as they see it).

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

U.S. Public Transports

TrappedinJapan was kind enough to comment on my article on the Shinkansen and took me to task with my overly rose colored glasses with which I view Japanese public transportation. In response, I'll clean up some of my assumptions and round out my arguments a little better.

As far as the cost of traveling on the Japanese bullet trains go, it was particularly cheap for us since we had the JR rail pass :)

Besides, compared to a domestic commuter flight in the U.S, the price is reasonable. I thought the size of the seating area was way better than the coach seats on the flight over were, and infinitely better than any bus.

As far as the smoking cars go, we were always sure to get reserved seats so that we wouldn't have to experience the horror that is the Shinkansen smoking car. Golden Week (when the entire friggin' country of Japan goes on vacation) is another event that I hope I go my whole life not experiencing.

It sucks that Japan would eliminate the cheaper, slower train routes that are being replaced by Shinkansen lines, but I still liked the convenience. If I want to go from Cleveland to Columbus, I have exactly one option: Drive.

That having been said, I gave the Japanese system A LOT of outs in the post. In the States, toll roads are known boondoggles where the money collected usually goes to something completely unrelated. I'd love to think that Japan's setup is different; that their road systems are expensive because of difficult terrain; but I'm not so naive as to think bureaucracies are all that different over there. As well, public transportation systems in the U.S. usually reek of the pork barrel bug. Nobody rides the things, at least not enough at a high enough price to pay for it. I guess what separates Japanese pork barrel projects from those in the States is that people actually use them.

I will also admit to being a bit infatuated with the bullet train idea. It's everything public transportation isn't in the States: safe, fast, clean (sans smoking car), convenient, and in the realm of affordability.

How about some math? Over at Sushicam, what's-his-name notes that a round trip Nozomi Shinkansen set him back about $140 and the trip took two and half hours. The distance between Cleveland and Cincinnati (a trip I make with some frequency) is about the same distance (maybe a little less) as his Tokyo to Kyoto trip. A round trip airline ticket between Cleveland and Cincinnati will set you back about $300 and will probably have a travel time comparable to driving (with security and all). It takes 4 hours to drive one way if you stop and get something to eat. A one way Amtrak ticket costs $81 and the total travel time is around 27 hours (and no, that's not a typo. And to further dispel any delusions, probably $100 of that ticket price is subsidized.). (My seven day JR pass cost $135)

With the gas taxes in Ohio we pay roughly two cents a mile, so that would mean about a $5 or $6 'virtual toll' (this does not take into account the massive amount of federal graft spending on highways). How high would the toll have to be between Cleveland and Cincinnati to get people to fork over $140 for the train? Astronomical. I can even be lenient and say that a comparable ticket over here would only run $100. But even then, would anyone ever ride the train? No; but it's a nice fantasy. I know the reality on the ground in Japan isn't all it's cracked up to be, but it's not entirely without it's appeal.

Bush on meetings

From The Corner:
"I've been to a lot of summits. I've never seen a meeting that would depose a tyrant, or bring a terrorist to justice. . . ."
Meetings in general are a waste of time. I had a boss a while back who would be into meetings for the sake of having meetings. 'Teambuilding' or some such crap like that. A waste of time is all it really was. Even worse were the meetings where self important people would get together to make each other feel good about themselves.

I have to admit though, when I would be contracting I would like meetings since that would basically mean at least one billable hour to the customer in exchange for me doing nothing.

Now that I think about it, that former boss was a self-important contractor; dammit...

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Kerry's PLAN

I found myself fortunate to receive a Kerry flier in the mail that details Kerry's three main campaign issues. After sighting one of the three major issues, he has a description of the dream universe that will come about upon executing his PLAN that is on his website (http://www.johnkerry.com/plan/). Let's dig in and see what's up!

Issue 1: Shipping jobs overseas
Problem as stated by Kerry: "...Bush actually champions tax incentives for corporations to move good jobs overseas." (What constitutes a good job is not mentioned)
What the problem actually is: The effective tax burden for corporations in the U.S. is 30%. This is much higher than not only the developing world, but most of Europe as well. Due to the fact the government doesn't want to kill every multinational business in the U.S., they do not tax profits incurred overseas AS LONG AS they are not brought back into the country. Which part of this situation is the bad part, Kerry does not mention. He also fails to mention that this has been the case through every administration, Democratic and Republican, since taxes on corporations were established.
Kerry's proposed solution: Destroy the economy by taxing offshore profits. He will then use the then non-existent tax proceeds to divvy out as corporate welfare to inefficient, poorly managed industrial plants.
What he would propose if he had a clue: Lower the friggin' corporate tax rate so that setting up businesses in the U.S. is more attractive. I guess he shied away from that solution since Bush already proposed it.

Issue 2: Soaring health costs
Problem as stated by Kerry: "Health care premiums for Ohio families have risen in the last four years." (Now was that one increase every year? What amount? He doesn't say)
What the problem actually is: Third party payments are distorting the marketplace while trial lawyers (particularly in Ohio) are looting the system.
Kerry's proposed solution: Government bloat, corporate welfare, and a dry, chewed up bone of a malpractice reform proposal.
What he would propose if he had a clue: Yet again Kerry's 'solution' only addresses the imaginary, not the real problems. I could care less if he BS'd the problem if he offered a real solution! Anyway, Bush has started down the right path by pushing better MSAs to get rid of third party (i.e. employer) payment distortions, and he has also proposed real malpractice reform at the federal level. (More Here and Here)

Issue 3: Record gas prices
Problem as stated by Kerry: "Working families simply can't afford four more years of energy policies that favor the big oil companies."
What the problem actually is: Supplies aren't increasing to match the rapid demand increases (particularly from China and India).
Kerry's proposed solution: Absolute crap. I swear I think this section was written by a sixth grader. After trotting out the BS about global warming, he then proposes a lot of pie in the sky stuff ("scientific dream teams" will save us all!) and more usage of renewable resources. We all know what The Sandmich thinks of that 'renewable energy' bull.
What he would propose if he had a clue: The severity of this issue (and all the other issues for that matter) is probably a bit overblown, but, if it's all that bad, we can increase supply. However Kerry expressly poo-poo'd that idea. For alternate fuels he could go the nuclear reactor/hydrogen byproduct route, but I guess that isn't as pretty as blowing a wad of cash and resources on biofuels. If he really had balls he could check out my half proposed idea where roads compete with trains. If we really want the price of oil to come down, either supply must increase, or demand must decrease; Kerry proposes no ideas for either. (I'm not familiar with Bush's ideas on this matter, but Kerry accuses Bush of being pro status quo, which is certainly a preferable stance to Kerry's ideas.)

Ooookay, and that's Kerry's three main issues he's pushing on this flyer in the swing state in Ohio.
What's that? You think one is missing? You think there's another very friggin' important issue that Kerry should have addressed?
Let's see here....One...Two...Three. Nope, that's it.
This flyer isn't online, and I don't feel like scanning it in, so you'll have to trust me. But, uh, that's it, no other MAJOR issues for John Kerry....

(As a side note, a MAJOR issue is discussed in Kerry's PLAN. Reading it though, makes you realize why it wasn't even brought up on the flyer).

Friday, October 01, 2004

Japan Land #5 - Shinkansen

You'd probably search long and high to find someone who dislikes public transportation as much as I do. Riding around on buses and trains in the states (at least in the Midwest) usually means loading up on, at best, a semi-clean vehicle that contains some sort of 50 year old wet wipe stink. If you're lucky, it will be empty, if you're not as lucky, it will be full of business people on their way to work, and if you're even unluckier, you'll be on a crowded Greyhound bus with it's typical load of recent parolees. No matter what your luck level, you'll wind up leaving at some wierd time that's only convenient for hungover hobos.

I'd heard good things about the public transportation system in Japan, but I figured it would be similar to England's: slightly cleaner and more efficient than the U.S. system. I was, however, mildly surprised, the regular trains were cleaner and ran more smoothly than any rail car I'd ever been on. When I got on the Shinkansen (bullet train), it was nothing short of amazing. It's almost impossible to overstate this, but the Shinkansen is the fastest, cleanest, smoothest, and most comfortable ride on the whole friggin' planet (and not too hard on the wallet either). I couldn't help but be jealous.


The Shinkansen pulls into the station.


I threw this jealousy into the same bucket as my love of Japan's many huge shopping areas and copious electronic gadgets: these are things which can only be brought about by Japan's well to do, highly urbanized society. For instance, if I sell a product that maybe five people in 10,000 might be interested in, would it be easier to sell it in a Cleveland storefront where maybe a thousand people go in front of every day, or by a busy Tokyo station where maybe 100,000 people might pass by. In the first case, the product simply won't exist; only in tight, urbanized centers can sufficient market forces be brought to bear to make such nicities possible. I couldn't help but think though: Wouldn't it be cool if even just in Ohio I could hop on a train and go to Cincinnati and be there in two hours, and then take the commuter train for a short trip out to...well, out to where? Even Cincinnati doesn't have the population to make a Shinkansen work, and the outlying areas (with the exception of rush hour) don't have the population to support even bus travel.

However, it's on this note I should bring up another reason why the Japanese trains are so frequently used. Owning and driving a car is expensive in Japan. As well, I got the definite impression that roads are not subsidized nary a lick. When we took the bus from KIX (Osaka) to Tokushima, it was $40 a head and we hit tolls incessantly the whole way out. I learned later that the toll to cross just the (rather large) bridge between the island Tokushima is on and prefecture that Osaka is in, was $30. When we were later taking a train to the Shinkansen station, we went over an absolutely gargantuan bridge that would cost you fifty big ones if you wanted the privilege of crossing it in your car (which you no doubt would have just filled up with $4 a gallon gas).

In this matter then, the rail transportation competes with the road transportation. The market is distorted in the U.S. since rail lines must always compete with essentially free road traffic. The public monopolies established by the government to conduct rail traffic only make matters worse. Of course, road traffic is hardly free (at 40 cents a gallon in Ohio, it's nearly extortion), but I've know of several people who enjoyed hopping in their car and driving to Florida at the spur of the moment. We're spoiled in this sense since, but would Americans go for an all toll solution that competes with free market rails? I'm not holding my breath.

Anyway, it's the 40th anniversary of the Shinkansen, so my hat's off to this fine, fine piece of transportation.