Saturday, December 31, 2005

It's Like 'Titanic', Only Different

I've been living under a rock lately when it comes to the news, so I must'a missed this. I mean, it was covered right?


http://www.yamato-movie.jp/


From the trailers, it actually looks like a top notch production (though probably not as enjoyable as that other Yamato production). My guess will be that the movie follows in the footsteps of it's anime brethren and the nemesis in the film is represented by some omnipresent, anti-hero villain. However, I shouldn't smart mouth too much as the story is rather tragic, from Wiki:
Yamato (大和), named after the ancient Japanese Yamato Province, was a battleship of the Imperial Japanese Navy, and was the lead ship of her class. She and her sister ship Musashi were the largest, heaviest battleships ever constructed, weighing 65,027 tons and armed with nine 46 cm (18.1 inch) main guns.
...
Her final mission was as part of Operation Ten-Go following the invasion of Okinawa on 1 April 1945. She was sent on a suicide mission (commanded by Admiral Ito Seiichi) to attack the US fleet supporting the US troops landing on the west of the island. On 6 April Yamato and her escorts, the light cruiser Yahagi and 8 destroyers, left port at Tokuyama. They were sighted on 7 April by American submarines as they exited the Inland Sea southwards. The U.S. Navy launched 386 aircraft to intercept the task force, and the planes engaged the ships starting at 12:30 that afternoon. Yamato took 8 bomb and 10 torpedo hits before, at about 14:23, she capsized to port and her aft magazines detonated. She sank while still some 200 km from Okinawa. Of her crew 2,475 were lost, and the 269 survivors were picked up by the escorting destroyers.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Bento Watch #33

Up first are some rolls I made last week. These are a little different since I used blanched spinach as an ingredient and I attempted to make smaller rolls from half sheets. The smaller ones didn't come out as I hoped (too many ingredients for too small a roll), hopefully better luck next time:



Next up are a set of rolls that my brother and I made. Most notable here was the much improved tamagoyaki (omelet) mix that I cut with a ground up shrimp. Although it was my brother's first time for making the stuff, I thought he was doing a better job than me:

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Race in Shaker Heights

Another fresh article in the Cleveland Pain Dealer that purports to seriously deal with race, but actually does no such thing, from here:
Since September, several parents at Shaker Heights High School have come together on the last Wednesday evening of each month to talk about race.
...
A year ago, Lisa Howell and Beth Robenalt spotted each other after a meeting of the Parent Teacher Organization committee that helps foster relationships among adults of different backgrounds.

Howell, a black assistant principal at the high school, was carrying a copy of the book "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race."
A book, eh? How about the book whose name shall not be spoken when it comes to education in Shaker Heights - Black American Students in an Affluent Suburb: A Study of Academic Disengagement. This book is the result of a ground breaking research project that compared white and black student performance given that the same school, teachers, income, etc. is the same. The result? Thomas Sowell explains:

It is a study of the racial gap in students' school performances in Shaker Heights, an affluent suburb of Cleveland. Whether measured by grades, test scores, or the quality of courses taken, black students lagged consistently behind white students. Why? Black teachers, white teachers, black students and white students all give essentially the same answer: Black students simply do not work as hard.

None of this should be a surprise to anyone who has taught black students, especially if they have also taught white students and Asian students. Nor should it be a surprise to anyone who has read John McWhorter's book "Losing the Race." Although Ogbu failed to mention either this book or its author, he is essentially testing the McWhorter thesis that black students do not put forth the efforts needed to succeed. Why don't they? There are many reasons. McWhorter thinks that the availability of affirmative action reduces the incentives for black students to do their best. Ogbu finds other reasons: different priorities, such as more concern among black students for non-academic activities, such as sports, entertainment, and hanging out with friends in person or on the phone. But behind the different priorities of black students -- and of their parents -- is a pervasive suspicion and hostility to the white school authorities and to the whole culture which they perceive as a white culture that they must resist as a threat to black "identity."

Returning to the Pain Dealer:
PTO Co-President Sharon Midura's two children attend the district's middle and high schools.

"To me, the goal of the group is sort of to have us all become more aware, sensitive and educated," said Midura, who is white.
More sensitive? More aware? I don't think such a thing is even desirable, let alone possible.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Cavs Game

For the second year in a row, Mr. Kendall and I attended a Cavs game at the treat of an IBM vendor who shall go nameless as I can't remember their name.

Here's the view from the 'cheap' $45 seats:



Unlike last years OT nail biter where the Cavs came from 17 points down in the last five minutes to eventually win the game, this one was a blowout in which the Cavs victory was never in doubt. That made for a bit of a snoozer, especially since the cheering section only made like two appearances, the one below wasn't even during the game:



On a different note, I'd like to apologize, publicly, to Eric because I discovered that the memory card I was letting him peruse had some...inappropriate pictures on it. Hopefully he will take this into when he's considering the blackmail amount.

Monday, December 19, 2005

More Xmas Viddles

For the past several years, one of vendors has dropped off this delightful tray:

It has all kind of chocolate covered goodies: popcorn, pretzels, marshmallows, Oreos, and....potato chips. That last sounds kind of gross, and I've never seen them apart from this tray, but they're one of those synergistic bad foods that takes two foods that are bad for you and combines them to make one horridly addictive and 'bad for you' food.

A different vendor always makes the 'B grade' effort to pick up the box of mixed chocolates from the Malley's right down the road. Malley's is a local candy producer, but unlike other local producers in other cities that excel in quality, Malley's screams of mediocrity - it's chocolate is little more than brown paraffin and their mixed chocolates range from tolerable to (mostly) 'spit me out now'. Despite repeatedly being burned by their box o' death, I decide to give them a try every year to see if they've improved their wares. Everyone knows from my other posts how picky an eater I am, and if I can't tolerate it you've no business touching it.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Japan #17 - The Rest

(At the end of August/beginning of September '04 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 weeks of the trip.)

Ahh what to add?
Well how about the fact that it's been over eight months since the last Japan post?
I'd written earlier about the difficulties I was having with a certain DVD editing package. This is directly related to the fact that I had purchased a digital video camera in anticipation of our trip to Japan. I had only shot about 30 seconds worth of video before landing on the ground in Osaka, and I hadn't shot much video before. What little I had filmed, I never watched so I was never aware of what I could have done better.

I had high hopes of pressing the DVDs in a rapid fashion, but three things wound up holding me back:
  1. An hour of ripped video off of my camera (1 tape for me) takes up 14GB; editing it into blocks means duplicating the video (+14GB). I had three tapes (x3) which for simplicities sake I wanted to do all at once. Add some work area (4GB) and ISOs of the disks (4.5GB x 3) and that makes for a grand total of more than 100GB! Until fairly recently, I lacked the centralized space to do all the work.
  2. My firewire card died and despite months of work, I couldn't bring it back. Shortly after getting a workaround for this, my DVD burner died.
  3. And most importantly, there were some, ahem, impolite moments where I learned the first rule to filming: keep yap shut. Fairly recently, a friend of mind, by coincidence, gave me a video editing package that could handle it.
This doesn't count in the amount of time it took either. I could have just dumped the tapes to disk, but what would be the fun in that - I may as well have purchased an old style, VCR tape camcorder. Needless to say, I just completed composing the DVDs.


A common wardrobe feature for many young people in Japan.

So anyway, I can finally close the book on my trip. Did I forget to note anything? Probably, so here's a random sample of stuff I have sitting around of things you may have difficulty finding in Japan:
  • Trashcans. I should have taken a picture of it but at the time I thought it was a fluke; it was an overflowing trashcan in Tokushima, probably the only one I saw on that strip. People had stuffed garbage into every open crack in the wall that the trashcan sat against. I guess if I ever make it back I can get a picture of it since I'm sure it still looks the same way.
  • Paper towels in the bathrooms (goes along with the no trashcan thing).
  • Soap in the bathrooms (goes along with the paper towels).
  • Bacon. How a country can live without thin strips of fatty, smoked pork meat I have no idea.
  • Dairy Products. It's been too long, so I can't remember how this manifested itself, but I'd imagine the lack of arable land would make dairy farms cost prohibitive.
  • The '/' on Kanji keyboards (as in http://) . I'm sure this was a user training thing.
  • Tobacco dip. This wasn't a concern of mine, but a friend on the trip only brought along only one can because he was operating under the mistaken impression that it would be pretty easy to buy more locally, but it was not to be.
  • Land that does not contain a vending machine. Of course Japan's vending machines are of legend, but this is a much missed feature. The equivalent in the States would be if you were to have a robotic fridge that contained a wide variety of drinks follow you around where ever you went. And need I mention again the FRIGGIN' BEER VENDING MACHINES. It was like....heaven.


For it being Tokyo, most of the prices didn't seem shocking.

Now though, it's time for a special treat. I've collected about 20MB worth of video clips which probably hold as much interest as your average family vacation vids (I'll allow that my photos were slightly better than okay, but my video was lacking). Right click -> Save As!

  • Video1 (2.2MB) - A clip from the show at the Awa Odori museum in Tokushima
  • Video2 (3MB) - The Golden Temple in Kyoto
  • Video3 (3.8MB) - A hilltop shrine in Kyoto
  • Video4 (1.9MB) - Some controversy on this one. I detested this portion of a cultural program we caught in Kyoto, but my wife liked it and my son didn't mind it. The clip is just 30 seconds; loop it five or six times in a row to get the full effect.
  • Video5 (4.6MB) - Shibuya
  • Video6 (4.9MB) - The top floor of Tokyo City Hall.



Last Train

Well, I think that's it. Don't know when or if I'll make it back. Although my company's primary customer is in Japan, my company is more interested in sending people over who know engineering than know Japanese. Since I know little to none of either (and only an interest in the latter), well, you get the picture.

Would I recommend it? Given the same amount of cash, we could have gone to an all inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic three times...in season. Now given the chance, I'd go back; but I'd have to believe that most people would take the month long Caribbean vacation.


(Update: In my rush to post this, I neglected to mention a lot of boring stuff about Tokyo, but I forgot to mention that I made it down to Roppongi for a little clubbin' after midnight. From what I remember, Roppongi is like the 'foreigner' area of Tokyo. My impression is that it's everything the rest of Japan isn't: dirty and full of dirty foreigners. It's no wonder Japanese would be Xenophobic, one trip through that place after midnight would cure and ideas about immigration. It was fun to be sure, and it was quite interesting to see just about every ethnic group on the planet crammed into a square 1/8 of a mile. But just to set it up for you...

  • Beers were like $8 a piece.
  • I don't get out a lot (well, never), but this was the only time in my life that I was actively solicited by a prostitute.
  • This was the only time in my life that I'd seen someone busted for using X.
  • This was the only time in my life that I'd seen a group of Guardian Angles in action (breaking a fight if I had to guess).
  • This was the only place in Japan during my short trip that I know I saw a for real Yakuza
  • I was rather tired, but I realized the next day that a sailor at one of the clubs probably had slipped his date a mickey of some sort (or she was strung out, hard to tell with the characters hanging out at that place at that time of night).

Yes, yes, I could hear 'Welcome to the Jungle!' playing in the back of my mind. But I was also kind'a edgy. If someone was to off me and dump me in the river, I know the Tokyo PD would put all of 15 seconds worth of effort into finding my killer. I'm sure the crooks know that, and that hardly provides a deterrent. Needless to say, I value my life and possessions so I didn't take my camera down to Roppongi. I'm sure this is nothing compared to what my sailor brother saw in TiaJuana, but that's as probably as close as a closeted tech nerd like me is going to get to something like that - a kind of TiaJuana, Japan) .

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Torture Question

Not nearly enough noise on this issue; the adherents looking to extend American constitutional rights to every kook on the planet should have to answer with more than platitudes. From here:

We have two examples, from the real world, of tactics that have been necessary in this war to keep terrorists from killing us. They are as close as we're likely to get to the ballyhooed ticking timebomb scenario. The academicians currently going back and forth over the McCain amendment won't touch these cases, but they're as relevant as they can possibly be. They happened. And they're likely to happen again.

The first involves Abu Zubaydah, a high level al Qaeda terror master who was captured in April 2002 and taken to Gitmo. He was subjected to enhanced interrogation and divulged the name of Jose Padilla. He also divulged that he, Zubaydah, had sent Padilla on a mission to the United States to conduct a series of apartment bombings in the Chicago area and to scout for a dirty bomb attack. As an American citizen, Padilla could move into the US at will and authorities would never have spotted him. The enhanced interrogation of Abu Zubaydah stopped Padilla's attacks cold, saving lives. McCain should be asked directly about this case, and should be made to answer straight out whether or not the techniques used on Zubaydah constituted torture, whether his amendment would ban those techniques, and what he thinks about that.

The second example involves Col Allen West, US Army. Stationed in Iraq and interrogating a captured terrorist, West tired of the terrorist's intransigence and fired his gun near the terrorist's head. Not at him, or even in his direction, but beside him. The terrorist quickly divulged his knowledge of the positions fellow terrorists had staked out to ambush American troops. West's actions saved lives. Is what West did torture? Should it have been done? How should West have been treated after the fact?

Of course it would be much more reassuring, kill this stupid debate, and increase his prestige if Bush would just say that he would veto anything like that McCain bill crap if it were to come across his desk.

IRAQ ATTAQ!

My moderate buddy writes:


I'll give this administration points for taking a big risk to change the world, whatever their motivations. It's not like Gore or Kerry would have done as much [as invading Iraq].
This is where it gets interesting though. Short term memories being what they are, people forget that what brought the Iraq situation to a head was the fact that we were about to lose the first Gulf War - France and other nations (and crackpots within the U.S.) were forcing the situation by saying that we should fold on our demands upon Saddam, and the U.S. correctly stated that he never even came close to meeting his obligations to the 'peace' treaty he signed. So, if he met the obligations, we'd fold up shop and go home, if not we'd....we'd...we'd what?

Well Bush had an answer to that. The only other option was basically a 'surrender'; spending another ten years flying over Iraq and shooting at radar dishes wasn't an option that was on the table since Saddam's paid off allies were removing it. And since Afghanistan just fell, surrender would have sent a clear message to all parties in the region that the best option to beat the U.S. is to wait them out.

Would they have done as much? I have to ask myself "would they have had a choice?" (Or more likely "How badly would they have screwed it up?")

This leads my thoughts to the current treachery going down in the U.S. I think one of the reasons the pacifist Democrats are having an issue making their case is that the arguments presented are so bad (and to a large extent, dishonest):
  • WMD. Are they saying that if left to his own devices Saddam would never have acquired nuclear material. Even Joe 'Yellowcake' Wilson's report said that Saddam was trying to acquire material from Niger.
  • The threat. Bush never said it was imminent, saying differently is just dishonest.
  • Terrorists. Although no one said that Saddam had direct knowledge of 9/11, he and his intelligence services had been an active supporter of those that carried it out.

Even barring all that, opponents of the war, right and left, now get an easy path to criticize because they no longer have to answer the original 'Saddam question' - what would they have done? Do they now insinuate that the war is illegitimate? Well, we can put Saddam back into power, right now...right this very minute. No? Well then please, STFU and come up with something better than grade school level arguments.

(All this is not to excuse Bush's various faults on the war, the two worst of which was is unwillingness to 'pay' for the effort in any way and his near complete capitulation to the Arab/Muslim lobby on just about everything. However on these two faults opponents either do not have counter proposals, or they propose something worse).

Monday, December 12, 2005

Mountain Man

I'd get together with one of brothers* (link updated twice a year) on occasion to do some online gaming or watch some Japanamation, but he decided to do some work out in Colorado and now has big plans on moving out there on a permanent basis. What's up dude? Why are you abandoning me? No one else I know likes online gaming and weird Japanese films! Why you moving out there anyway?

Oh, I see. You know what? You can bite me. ;-)

*Just so they don't feel left out, my one brother is a busy beaver and my other brother lives in a part of Ohio that hopes to get indoor plumbing sometime in the next fifteen years. My sisters hate anime and video games (ya, ya, Tetris and DDR), so they don't count :0

Bragging Rights

Just a thought that's been bothering me for a couple days.

It grates me a bit when people sit around and brag about their kids; as if they're going to let on that they think they're going to be the next Jeffery Dalmer or something. I speak of younger kids to be sure. A guy who used to work at my workplace had two kids in the military and I enjoyed hearing about them; but some other people have three year old kids and they'll brag endlessly about how they can count to four and whatnot.

However, I've discovered something quite recently that grates me more: people who brag about how smart their dog is. If bragging about one's rug rats puts me to sleep, bragging about one's dog puts me into a coma.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A Date With War

Mr. Kendall makes me feel bad for not making a Pearl Harbor post. I seriously mulled doing one up, but I figured I already beat up on Japan enough; I didn't want it to seem like piling on. Anyway, I'll just point to my post last year for further insight and then pre-date the time stamp on this post.

Satan's Toffee!

A vendor sent us like $50 worth of this Enstrom's toffee - I about choked when I saw the price, especially since I had already eaten $20 worth of it. Oh so tasty, and oh so bad for you; the main ingredient is BUTTER, need I say more?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Cool Vids for d00ds

Parts of this one kick ass, this one isn't too shabby either (if you care about ever being productive in your life ever again, do not begin browsing that last site).

Line Kill Spirits

Wired notes a Japanese (duh) fighting game where the fighters are required to get panty shots of the other fighter...
The writer makes some cracks, but this is rather tame compared to other works from 'planet Japania'. From viewing the demo, I must give the developers credit for building a clever fighting game mechanic where an additional step must be performed before the damage given is affirmed. I wouldn't be surprised if this idea were stolen for more legit purposes.

Nigeria and Morons

There's a story traveling around the net about how Nigerian con men are still hoodwinking people with their outrageous scams:
No one here seems to know exactly how much money changes hands in 419 fraud, very little of which is reported. But last month, two men were convicted of fraud after a gullible and corrupt bank employee in Brazil was convinced to send so much money -- $242-million to help win a fake airport contract -- that the bank from which he was embezzling actually collapsed.
The money quote, though, is this one:
And although the e-mail scams are only a sliver of the staggering amount of fraud that goes on here, Nigeria's anti-corruption officials are keen to crack down on it. "It hurts us. The foreign investment is not coming in the way you would expect six years into democracy and that comes from how we are perceived abroad: as the haven of Internet fraud," said Osita Nwajah, spokesman for the national Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Oh yeah, it must be that. Those stories about Sharia zealots sentencing a pregnant woman to death and whatnot have nothing to do with that.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Bento Watch #32

(Update: Due to some interest in this post, here are the sites I used to make my eel:

  • This site is the one that mentioned the eel head, though I grilled it instead of broiled it so that I could impart some smokey taste into the sauce.
  • I got the blessing to put garlic in the sauce from the unagi sauce recipe off this site.
  • I read this site for tips on how to prep the eel. Some of it is mildly disturbing.)
I'm cheating a bit on this one since this was a weekend dinner rather than a weekday lunch, but the intent is the same.

I decided to practice at taking my sushi making abilities to the next level by making eel rolls. Mrs. Sandmich was kind enough to stop by the Asian market and pick me up a bag of assorted eel parts*. I wanted to follow a recipe (which I'm too lazy to find at the moment) for the eel sauce, but it required eel head. Low and behold, I open the bag and it contains no fewer than two eel heads. Nothing like opening a bag from the grocer to have something in it staring back at you, no? I was quite disturbed by this and quickly got the heads out onto the grill, per the directions for the sauce. I then blanched the other eel sections to 'remove slime/scum' and then go through the effort of skinning and cleaning some meat off my three inch sections while my freshly BBQ'd eel heads boil in my eel sauce (you're getting hungry, I can tell!)**. After that, I soaked the meat generously in the sauce and put it on the grill to cook.



Completed eel meat broken up into roll portions. The sauce is on the left

I also found a decent recipe for the vinegar sauce that's put over the cooked rice. The end result was a sushi rice that was better than the sushi rice I've had at all but the best sushi bars***.



Completed rolls. I should have done half sheets as these rolls came out too 'ricey' for even my tastes.

Below is a picture of some recently used soy sauces.


The 'assi' 'Japanese Style' is a Korean soy sauce and I think that big bottle set me back three bucks (at a Korean grocer no less). It's no Kikkoman****, but it has a pleasant unique taste all to its own (or 'had', seeing as how I used it all). The one in front is a Chinese soy sauce that I picked up from parts unknown; it's taste reminded me of that smell that dogs get after you clean them with Pert or other 'people' shampoos. Not foul, not off, but....bad. I made the eel sauce out of it hoping that I could rescue it, but it was all for not - I threw it in the trash after taking this pic.

* There seems to be a bit of confusion, as usual, as to what Japanese word applies to this eel. It kinda looks like an 'unagi', but kinda doesn't. I followed 'unagi' recipes for making the rolls (eel prep, sauce, etc.) and the taste fit with my expectations.

** One tip I read on the net said to clean the eel outside. When I was about three quarters of the way through I figured I should have done exactly that despite the fact that it was like 15 degrees outside. Peeling and cutting the eel wasn't as clean as doing up a fish (which is dirty enough) and it's difficult to chase away the fish stink from all the counters, utensils, etc.

*** Some recipes call for the vinegar to be mixed with water, blah blah blah. the one I found had weird directions of mixing 1-5 tsp of sugar (and some salt) with rice vinegar. I thought this was for some sort of vague taste preference, but I discovered that this was due to the fact that different amounts of sugar will go into solution differently for different rice vinegars. A much easier method then is to add 1 teaspoon of sugar and a pinch of salt and then put in two tablespoons of vinegar, then stir constantly and slowly add vinegar until all the sugar goes into solution (it should stay in solution when you stop stirring). Then have someone fan the hot rice while you fold the solution into it. (This is good for about three cups of cooked rice, which itself is enough for five big rolls).

**** I'll note not to use the low sodium Kikkoman soy sauce. The intent is nice, but you wind up using twice as much.

One final note, I noticed that my pack of 10 nori sheets from the Asian market cost like $1.50 and the 50 pack is $7. Adding up everything else, sans fillings, steamer and giant bag of rice, I could probably repurchase everything I need for less than $10.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Graffiti

I keep meaning to get around to posting these shots. A church I was at recently had a long construction wall on which they had invited the young people of the congregation to write/draw stuff on. Most of it was of a religious nature, but some of it was, well:


It was a bit rife with anime and Aqua Teen drawings




Whatever the merits of AT, I don't think a couple of moon men whose favorite hobby is flipping the bird are wholly appropriate for young people or a church graffiti board.

It needs to be said though that this was a medium sized 'mega church'. While there, Mr. Kendall made some comments about some of the perceived beliefs of the congregation, but I failed to point out that mega church's usually suffer from a lack of any specific beliefs of any kind. This is a ready explanation for why this material might be tolerated, as well as the literature with generic meaning that was lying about.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Bento Watch #31

This is rice with a pickled plum, soy beans (edamame), some miso soup (of course) and a bit of Japanese omelet (tamagoyaki, I guess).

I tried this morning to better perfect my tamagoyaki cooking techniques by trying to do it in more than one 'pass'. The skillet I use is so big (and my desire to not send my cholesterol levels through the roof) that I've made it easily in the past with just one egg. The lightly colored tamagoyaki in the dish was made this way - poor it in thin and roll it up. Regularly though, there is more egg mix than can be made in one pass and it is necessary to pour, roll into thirds on the side of the pan, pour some more that connects with the original roll, continue (the darker colored ones were made this way). This makes it quite a bit more difficult though since it's difficult to judge how much to add for each pass so that the omelet comes out appearing as one long roll of even thickness.

Only practice will make this easier since my first attempt here resulted in some rather dramatic differences in thickness, and it was only two passes (the fact that it should have been three doesn't help). I'm also encouraged by the fact that many of the photos I've seen of hand made tamagoyaki don't exhibit a precise accuracy.

How hard can it be though, really? I often compare Japanese cooking with French cooking in that both require precise techniques over vague 'standards' (add 'some' egg to the pan, pour 'some' vinegar over the sushi rice, etc.), but at least when Japanese food products are poorly executed you come out with a poorly executed version of a Japanese food product. If you poorly execute a French product, you're a bit more likely to just come out with crap. I bring this up because I once saw a cooking show where the chef gave instructions on how to make a French omelet (I was unable to find an exact recipe, though this one is close). It basically consisted of scrambling the eggs on the edge of the pan and at just the right moment, letting them solidify into an even, solid shape. I've only tried it a few times, but I was only able to replicate this on my first try; the other attempts came out looking like botched experiments. The heat, oil, amount of egg, cooking time, mixing, etc. all have to be done precisely - the Japanese version is a lot more forgiving.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

U.N. Body Endorses Cultural Protection

France? Now there's an example everyone should follow!
From U.N. Body Endorses Cultural Protection:
The measure passed at a time of growing fear in many countries that the world's increasing economic interdependence, known as globalization, is bringing a surge of foreign products across their borders that could wipe out local cultural heritage. France, for instance, has long kept measures in place to protect its film industry against imports, notably Hollywood productions.
Much like any other product, if it doesn't have to compete, it will become mediocre, and it doesn't get much more mediocre than French cinema. How funding lazy artists and making your people pay more for imports is supposed to make your culture stronger I have no idea. Europe has some of the best artists in the world in areas where they do compete, why are they holding them back?

In the vote, only Israel sided with the United States. Four countries abstained.
Why on Earth did Japan feel they had to vote for this?
Oh yeah...

(I'm late in posting this because I wasn't able to confirm whether or not Japan actually voted for this, or was in the abstain column. After a month of research, I've determined that I'm too lazy to look anywhere else but that one article to find out for sure).

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Country of Brotherly Love

I caught a picture of a couple buses in Japan advertising an anime called 'Sister Princess'. "Well", I thought "If it's good enough to advertise on a bus it must be at least watchable". A little overnight bittoerrenting later and I started watching the first episode, and the first frame gave away the whole game:

In the states, a normal person would probably think this was some sort of 'Seventh Heaven' type show; but anyone remotely familiar with pop Japanese culture will realize they're in for some display of implied incestuous relations, as the following screenshot of a dream sequence demonstrates:


By the way, that's the groom (her brother) saying that.

I had trouble pinpointing the target audience for this show. My first guess was that the show was being geared towards 40 year old, sisterless perverts*. However, upon later inspection, it appears that the show is geared towards teen or 'preen' girls, though the sisters are the typical one dimensional cutouts from other anime (I could only sit through the show long enough to see "bashful-obsessive" and "clumsy", but from the photo mockup I'll go out on a limb and guess the rest consist of 'tomboy girl', 'nerd girl', 'cute girl', 'young and wired girl', etc.). The last episode in particular troweled on the cutsie schmaltz way too thick to appeal to anyone with one drop of testosterone in their blood (and before you get any funny ideas I watched the first episode and then the last one to see if I gauged the series correctly).

But is this a storyline that appeals to that (or any other) demographic? Later that night while watching (U.S.) television, I had visions of Lucy getting the hots for Charlie Brown, or Princess Lea opting to stay with Luke instead of taking off with Han. Would anyone doubt that for viewers the hands would go for the armrests and eyes for the nearest exit?

The concept itself is....interesting enough**. But the obsessive behavior of at least the sisters I saw made me wonder if the older brother practiced some form of home brewed 'juche' - brainwashing his siblings to see him as some sort of man-god:


Sisters that are hot for their brother, or brainwashed zombies?

Interestingly, the show might work if it was reformatted on some dark level where obsessed, brain washed zombie girls mindlessly try to manipulate each other to improve their own chances with their dark, evil overlord of a brother who is too manipulative to ever have anything to do with any of them (I still wouldn't like it though).

I got tripped up on some inconsistencies as well. Not that one expects cartoons to be ultra-realistic, but these were too big to overcome. The first is the 13 kids. I didn't watch enough to figure their origin, but the last woman to have 13 kids in Japan probably didn't live long enough to see Admiral Perry pull up. The second has to do with how families work. Someone once told me he knew of some guy who grew up with six sisters. My first question was obvious: "Does he coregraph Broadway musicals?" "He's a homosexual, right?" The story teller replied that "he wasn't, though you wouldn't have thought that if you met him". It's quite obvious to me that if the guy in the show grew up with 12 girls, he'd be the 13th 'sister'***.

One more note on the show apart from it's story line, I snagged the screen shot below from the first episode:

The fansubber is explaining to me what Indian Summer is? Why not explaining why she would be using a phrase like that. I figured the Japanese picked it up in spite of (or because of) it's political incorrectness, but repeated viewings of this scene didn't turn up any 'nihonglish' ('eendeenu soomar') so I'll guess the subber made a rough translation of a known Japanese phrase and put the definition up to explain himself. It's cultural subtilties like that which make even hookum like this interesting at times.


*Mr. Kendall meets at least two of those criteria, but I know the idea still disturbs him.
**A weak defense might be mounted along the lines that such behavior is not all that unusual throughout human history as tribes and royalty used inbreeding to ensure clan ties and the maintenance of possessions. Even then though, where possible, such marriages would be deferred to cousins. The resulting genetic disorders and general ickiness factor are more than enough to overcome this argument though.

***The Sandmich has two sisters and to the best of his knowledge neither has fantisized about marrying him. Of course the same can be said for the other 99.99999999999999999999999% of the other women on the planet as well.

Secure 'Technology'

This drew a chuckle, from here:

Monday, November 28, 2005

Bento Watch #30

After packing on some pounds I decided to get back in the bento swing...and then the holiday treat platters from the vendors began appearing today. Anyway, this is sliced tangerines, rice with sesame seeds, miso with celery and seaweed and broiled rubber fish tube that's been teriyaki's up with some julienne carrots.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

More Sony Rootkit

From Sony rootkit: The untold story:
Forgetting for a minute why, it is absolutely an outrage that corporate greed is what's standing in the way of letting music and video buyers freely move the content they've purchased from one of their devices to another.

I'll mention briefly if it hasn't been covered sufficiently, a root kit is a very nefarious piece of software which isn't so much as slapped onto the system like a virus, but part of it - it's the difference between the junkie who is insane because of some narcotic and someone who is just insane. However, the above article touches upon, but never clearly states something more disturbing - the difference between the insane and The Borg.

Microsoft made some noise about Sony's rootkit, but it's doubtful they would have done anything if they uncovered it themselves because Apple and Microsoft are in cahoots with intellectual property publishers to give them back door keys onto 'their' systems; it's just that Microsoft would rather you pay them for their backdoor solution rather than implementing your own. Of course we don't like to think of it like that, they're 'our' systems, not 'theirs'...

Since this situation is only going to get worse, this presents a bit of a dilemma for companies that depend on having complete control of their systems. If you run a bank, are you going to be comfortable with running an operating system to which a variety of unknown parties have all the backdoor keys? This would mean that any company that had the cash to pay Microsoft or Apple enough to get some back door info could do it. It's tough enough verifying that either of those OSes are secure in and of itself, but how secure are they really when their core operation is up for sale to the highest bidder. In the future, the only way a company may be completely sure is if they build their own Linux platform and develop apps around it - a hybrid of the old Mainframe days.

Back on the point about how Apple iTunes won't play on other players and MS's DRM stuff only works on Microsoft's platforms. There are some rigged work arounds for consumers (burn proprietary, rip mp3) so there hasn't been much of an uproar, but of course that's not how the entertainment industry wants it:

As long as this situation persists, the entertainment industry might as well come right out and tell consumers that it is now their policy to make consumers pay for the same content again and again for each device they want to play it on.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Flight of the Intellectually Lazy

This was mildly amusing, The Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition (11/19/05) has a story titled "The New White Flight" - certainly an attention grabber. Anyway, here's the tag line:
In Silicon Valley, two high schools with outstanding academic reputations are losing white students as Asian students move in. Why?
Interesting, and I figured it might have something to do with the fact that 'Asian' communities aren't created equal (Filipino communities, for example, tend to more closely resemble Hispanic communities than Chinese communities; but both are shoveled into 'Asian'), or maybe it had to do with demographic trends in the communities. However, in the back of my mind I knew the real answer, but figured they would NEVER put the THE TRUTH in an article like this, much like you'd never get a truthful answer concerning white flight from increasingly black schools. Much to my surprise, the white parents come right out and say it - "We want to be stooopid!":
Whites aren't quitting the schools because the schools are failing academically. Quite the contrary: Many white parents say they're leaving because the schools are too academically driven and too narrowly invested in subjects such as math and science at the expense of extracurriculars like sports and other personal interests.
I was mulling my bit earlier with the college that had students taking BS courses like 'cultural diversity' and whatnot. I mused "Do you think they waste time with crap like that with engineering students in China or India?” Now though, it becomes clearer; those crap classes weren't foisted upon an unwilling public, but demanded by lazy whities!
As [her son] played Soccer, Ms. Doherty watched a line of cars across the street deposit Asian kids for after-school study. She also came away... worrying about the school's focus on test scores and the big-name colleges its graduates attend.
God forbid people worry about education at a school of all places! What's the world coming to?!?!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Multi Culti Amen

The French riots should affirm once and for all that multiculturalism is a really, really bad idea. It should be shelved right up there with communism and the true believer ostracized for being complete imbeciles. Of course, VDH puts it better than I:
So we should consider the French disaster a wake-up call. A nation cannot exist without shared values and a sense of common mission. We forgot about that in the 1960s when we encouraged racial separatism as a means of rectifying past discrimination. That kind of identity politics has proven a near-disaster. A salad bowl in place of the melting pot will, at the worst, turn America into something like the Balkans, and at best ensure separatism along the lines of Quebec - or France.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Sleazy CD Creator

Let me be quite clear on this: the DVD creation on Easy Media Creator 8 by Roxio may be the worst be piece of software I've ever used. Like fat in a fine piece of beef, the bugs in this crapware are marbled throughout:
  1. The interface is VERY sluggish due to an ambitious though failed attempt to semi-render the DVD in real time. This also sponges up any resources you might have, so don't even think about playing solitaire while the thing takes a minute adding a video to the menu.
  2. You cannot modify the menu tree of the DVD. A great example was when I tried to add a 'play all' button to the menu which either by design or poor software (or both) didn't work. I removed the button, rendered the DVD (which takes 3 hours, probably through no fault of the package), burned it (the software does a crap job of predicting free DVD space, so I have to use a different package to actually burn the disk), and discovered that the menu was screwed up because it didn't compensate for the button that was there and then deleted; thus my root menu was all cheezed up. Solution? I had to recreate the disk from scratch, again, because the first time I made a disk, I foolishly thought that when I reordered the menu and/or the buttons on the screen, the software would know to modify the menu tree, HA!
  3. Oh yeah sure, there's a preview for the DVD in which you can theoretically test the buttons, but it's so dog slow and prone to locking up that it's worthless.
  4. The software package also has interface issues. Click on one of the menu objects to add video, and the program will sometimes take it upon itself to choose a completely different section of the object tree to which to send you. It also uses a quirky, laggy substitute for the Windows file browser for some unknown reason.
  5. While you're doing all that, you of course have to put up with many, many crashes. I'm to the point now that I re-save the project after every tiny change. This doesn't make it much less stressful since the program has brought in bad saves as well.

The following screen shots sum up the package. The crashes say they're caused by 'video wave 7', though all I have on my PC is videowave8.exe. They wouldn't have just renamed the file to dupe you into the fact that it's an upgrade would they?



Not only is it an old version, but there's a patch for the old version that's newer than the version included in the newer package, but there's no working patch for the new version!

I will say that the version 6 of this package seemed to work better, but it won't run on the system I'm using since the C: drive is not a hard drive (long story). As well, whenever I have trouble with the Roxio packages, they harken back to the old Adaptec EZ-SCSI days of the early nineties, the Adaptec products being the great granddaddies of the Roxio stuff. Much like now, that software was crap, and didn't improve with subsequent versions. I'd love to think that in fifteen years the developers at Roxio would've been given a chance to write a decent product (the new one stinks of a corporate rush job), but I guess not.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Live 3D

Justin links to a live concert put on by a virtual rock group. This was semi-big news in tech circles, but it brought to mind some of the technical highlights I've noticed with professional football games on TV.

By now, many have seen the virtual first down line. Of course after working on that for a couple years, we now have the red fourth down line and the area marker for field goal range. Less noticed are the bumper highlights. I seem to recall back in the early eighties, if they even had bumper highlights, they would be put together from the previous season's games. It's progressed leaps and bounds to the point that I'm now seeing fully scored bumper highlight reels put together from the drive that just completed before the game was sent off to commercial land, necessitating the said bumper.

This past Sunday Fox (I think it was Fox) had something even more impressive when they put in a virtual scoreboard, complete with video, above a stadium in a LIVE video shot. That was almost scary, allow me to reiterate my shock - they were modifying a live video signal by putting in a 3D object into the scene in a very believable way. It was so crisp that the non-tech savvy may not have even caught it since it looked like an additional giant scoreboard on the stadium (if I recall correctly, they had replaced a bank of lights so that it looked like the light supports were holding up the scoreboard).

That one scene from the Arnold movie 'The Running Man' sprang to mind, but even in that futuristic look, the artists were modifying a taped copy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

More Sony DRM Fun

Not much play on this in the Mainstream Media, but, understandably, it's being covered extensively in the tech press. So what's up with that Sony rootkit? From here:
Like a virus, there is no meaningful uninstaller available. Now, some of the DRM protected CDs will indeed add an entry for SunnComm to the Add/Remove control panel.

When activated, it removes most of the files in the shared folder, but leaves the core copy protection module (sbcphid.sys) active and resident.

That means other programs (like iTunes) can't access other SunnComm protected CDs.But wait, there's more. MediaMax "phones home" without your consent every time you play the CD. When a CD is played, a request is sent to a SunnComm server that includes an ID along with the request that identifies the CD.
Oh geez, more (emphasis mine)...
Of course, the request by itself identifies the OS you are running as well as your IP address.

The request seems to be for SunnComm's "Perfect Placement" feature, which can insert ad content while viewing the CD.

So, Windows users have to deal with a triple threat. Without user consent, the DRM installs software on the target computer, provides no way to uninstall its core, and lets SunnComm know every time the CD is played.
Ahh, but here's the icing on the cake (again, my emphasis)...
Someone in the Netherlands did a decompile on the XCP rootkit that has gotten most of the attention lately. It seems that parts of the rootkit use the LAME mp3 encoder, which is licensed under the Lesser GPL. That means by delivering only an executable (the rootkit) without source or crediting, XCP violates the GPL Violating the GPL puts Sony at massive legal risk for—wait for it—copyright infringement.

Update:
Sony BMG will have a big job ahead of it as it tries to replace all copies of controversial copy protection software, according to a computer security expert, who says that he has evidence there are more than 500,000 versions of the program installed worldwide.

Found On My Desktop

I guess it'd help to actually put this stuff on the net if I'm going to go through the trouble of slapping it together. First, I modified this question from the Mac.com sign-up sheet which seeks to find how familiar you are with Apple computers:

And secondly, I came by this web site for Baker College in Michigan. They offer online degrees, and of course they aren't able to port a full curriculum, but they were sure to convert only their most valued classes to the online form:


Sunday, November 13, 2005

Chicken Ladies

Ahh, when East meets West...

Just goes to affirm Mark Steyn's quip that globalism means that bad ideas can cross borders just as easily (if not easier) than good ones.

I also love how the PETA people don't mind showing flesh to push their point (their lettuce ladies also spring to mind). I'm sure these types would abhor sexism in any other context, but for some reason it's not a dip to low for them to go. It makes the whole thing reek of desperation.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Bento Watch #29

I made the standard bento mix and made some tsukune (grilled chicken meatballs in this case) with yakitori sauce and a dusting of sansho (s spice that's much like lemon zest)...


Here they are cookin' on the grill...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Morning Musume vs. Lizard

Good lord this is funny.

I guess American reality TV is humiliating in its own way (...glorified Gong Shows if you ask me), but the fact that they pretend it's not makes it grating.

(Hat tip to Dvorak's blog)

'Yes' to Issue 1

Thanks Pain Dealer:
But others, on the lunatic fringe, are making accusations about the Third Frontier being more about rewarding campaign contributors than about Ohio's economic future. If Issue 1 were really about Republicans rewarding their friends, then John Glenn would not be the campaign chairman, and the National Academy of Sciences wouldn't be determining how grants are awarded.
Oh yeah, this money, unlike ALL THE OTHER FRIGGIN' MONEY THAT GOES TO THE GOVERNMENT, will be completely disconnected from any political favors. Who's the looney now?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Trek Mania

Caught this on Slashdot, but it bears repeating since only tech nerds read Slashdot. The Ultimate Star Trek DVD collection, all for a scant $2500...

Thursday, November 03, 2005

More Hamfisted Regulation

From Democrats defeat election-law aid for bloggers Tech News on ZDNet:
Democrats on Wednesday managed to defeat a bill aimed at amending U.S. election laws to immunize bloggers from hundreds of pages of federal regulations.
Why....I thought the Democrats were the party of the people! What was I thinking! This regulation will undoubtedly be another quasi-Eurapeon law where in it is only enforced when the powers that be (Which in this case, would just mean the Democrats since Republicans rarely feel like putting in work to bring someone down) feel like enforcing it. Will you be charged with a crime for posting stuff about elections? Who knows? You're at the tender mercies of some bureaucrat who will probably only act when some rabel rousing left wing kook starts busting his nuts about how he's not cracking down on 'right wing hate pages'.

I've brought this up before, but I'll bring it up again: how do they plan to enforce this? If my content is hosted in a foreign country, is it still privy to the regulations? Suppose I just write up a piece every now and then for an Australian blog, I don't even administer it, does that count? What if I'm a foreigner hosting on an American server? Do these idiots in Washington even think about this stuff?

In a related story, the FBI and DEA want backdoors put into VOIP products:

An attorney, Kurt Opsahl, from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, one of the litigants in the suit against the FCC, wrote in his blog recently that the FCC's rules will require Internet broadband providers and VOIP providers to build "backdoors" into their networks to make it easier for law enforcement to "listen in on" private communications.
Now how do they plan to enforce this? Skype is a foreign entity owned by an American company, does it need a backdoor, even if you never connect to regular phone lines, even though the software is capable of it? How long do you think ANYONE will use this product, particularly foreigners, when they learn that Uncle Sam has all the hacks for that package?

That's why those control freaks love the idea of the U.N. controlling the net. Only those corrupt despots might have a shot at putting all the technology on the planet under their iron boot.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

True Faith, cont'd

What a great, great article. From Science-vs-Scientism on TNC:
I would be remiss if I failed to enlarge on the failures of our universities. No institution has contributed so extensively to the deracination and diminishment of our humanity as university faculties.
I think he might be upset about something!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

More of 'That'

I was sure to catch Drudge's recent headline about the increasing out of wedlock births in the U.S. Illegitimacy is known to increase the likelihood of a wide variety of social ills in the communities which are afflicted by it. As well, married, stable families are known to be better wealth creation engines than broken families (i.e., they're more successful).

These are generalizations to be sure, and that fact is often used as an excuse to dismiss findings which are unfavorable to illegitimacy. Part of this has to do with the fact that moral relativists hate reality intruding on to their dream state, but another facet of the apparent acceptance of illegitimacy by elites is the fact that it largely affects groups which have achieved victim status and are therefore, above (below?) criticism. The AP article Drudge cited made no mention of race, but after a little digging on the CDC's site, I extrapolated the following chart of interest:

Seems like this should be something that should be brought to the fore to help address issues within these communities, but don't hold you breath.

Why such a disparate impact? In a semi-related post, Mr. Kendall cites an article with the following interesting tidbit:

But in that inner city, marriage had been destroyed [by welfare]. It had literally ceased to exist in any meaningful way. Possibly one of the most moving moments in Jason de Parle's absolutely wonderful book, American Dream, which follows three welfare mothers through welfare reform, is when he reveals that none of these three women, all in their late thirties, had ever been to a wedding [original emphasis].
What's interesting here is that this issue is not brought up within the American black community, even though this problem is in no small part related to the governmental decisions of white policy makers (in the sixties specifically). Continuing in this vein, government welfare is like a disease with some individuals being more susceptible to it than others. It's worth pointing out that similar policies in the U.K. led to many of the same bad results for the British working class.

In order to keep on my whacked out conspiracy theories, I was recently listening to a black radio talk show where the hosts were discussing this issue, and one of the hosts began discussing 'that'. He said that if he didn't know any better, he'd think that welfare was a scheme cooked up by whitie to keep the black man down. I've talked to enough white, hard soft bigoted liberals myself to think that this might be one of the few racial conspiracy theories that has some meat on it.

Hey, it's a start!

Monday, October 31, 2005

Candy Watch

Here's Kid Sandmich's git up for Halloween:

Here's the pail of candy, and the offering for the angry Smartie god that's known to stop by the house after Halloween.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

That Funky Beat

Okay dad, I surrendered and bought it off the Russians:

Not to date myself too much, this music is just slightly before my time. I'm old enough, though, to have developed a deep hatred of much of what the seventies produced. I remember when I was little, my mom gave a little radio to me to listen to; oh the sounds that came out! The Bee-Gees and the two dozen other losers that produced a sick, syrupy sound that's not totally unlike the taste of third rate Mexican candy. I more than readily threw ABBA into the same group, along with leisure suits, puke green and orange colored furniture and ugly politics (Jimmy Carter? Worst president of the modern era, sorry).

However, my Launch radio played ABBA along with my other dance tunes, and I was pretty amazed at how well they'd held up, especially compared to their contemporaries of the era. Overall, it's some of the best produced music to come out of decade.

This brings me around to one of the ugliest parts of the radio dial - 'Classic Rock'. (Time to make some enemies, yes?)
What absolute crap. I hate to break it to fans of the era, but Led Zepplin and a handful of Stones tunes are the only meaningful additions to the 'rock' genre from that decade.
  • Pink Floyd? They were making overproduced crap before the proper technology existed to make overproduced crap sound like something other than fingernails on chalkboard (modern Pink Floyd? Much better).

  • The Who? Yuck, caterwalling at its worst; I lost heart seeing 'Who's Best' on Matty D's (now deleted) site (to say nothing of CSI). I harbored a secret hope that the fascination with The Who would die out with the passing on of those who remember them.

  • AC-DC? The band that repeatedly puts out the same (crappy) song with different lyrics?

  • Kiss? Being a pioneer in 'big hair- glam rock' is like being the first person to go to the local Chinese restaurant - just because you came back alive, doesn't make it a worthwhile pursuit. The money that chased this group eventually begot such horror as Firehouse and Winger.

  • And one of the worst, that god-awful ZZ-top sunglasses song; I'd rather listen to a cat getting an enema.
If other people can listen to that stuff without shame, I've nothing to feel bad about (I think...).

Friday, October 28, 2005

EduCash

I've had this rotting in my drafts for a couple months, from OpinionJournal - Taste:
Mr. Levine singled out the 'inadequate to appalling' graduate programs in educational leadership and called for the abolition of the Ed.D. degree. These programs, he asserted, suffer under the weight of lax admissions standards, weak faculties and inappropriate degree requirements and are often cynically used by their host universities as 'cash cows.'
Universities around the country can't seem to get enough of B.S. degrees (Hah! I'm sooo funny), like 'Educational Leadership and Management'.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Kill a lawyer, be 32% liable.

A jury decided that the port authority was responsible for 1993 WTC bombing?!? On what planet does THAT make sense (answer: planet New York):
A jury concluded yesterday that the Port Authority was liable for the 1993 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center that killed six and wounded nearly 1,000 people.
And we DON'T need tort reform? How about a guess as to which party in congress is holding up legislation that would prevent this?
As part of the verdict, the jury was asked to assign a percentage value to the liability of both the Port Authority and the terrorists responsible for the blast. They concluded that the Port Authority was 68% liable and the terrorists 32% liable.
These jury members are idiots. I guess it's possible to be completely 'passively' negligent? It's not like the port authority hung signs up welcoming terrorists. If they were 68% liable, then the Federal Government is like 1500% liable (sure such a thing isn't possible, but this jury obviously isn't swayed by facts! ) How did this abomination even make it to trial?
A spokesman for the Port Authority, Pasquale DiFulco, said yesterday it plans to appeal the verdict. "The 1993 World Trade Center bombing was the direct result of a terrorist act, and those terrorists should be found liable. The Port Authority plans to appeal today's decision, and we are confident that the facts and the law will support our positions," he said. "To have a verdict where the Port Authority is held 68% responsible as opposed to 32% for the terrorists - it's an obviously irrational, incorrect conclusion."
Ahh, but terrorists don't have any cash, and it's much easier to blame someone law abiding that the courts can get their hands on.

Disgusting.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

What-Is-It?

Mr. Kendall thought I was mad, MAD to use a bit from a little recalled Faith No More song as a tagline for my blog a while back, but apparently it's good enough for an Ebay marketing campaign! Check out the Japan vid, hilarity ensues.

Monday, October 24, 2005

U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote

It should have been bigger news than it was (to the extent that it was news at all), but a bill made it to the floor of the senate that would have unfunded the 'bridge to nowhere', and used the resulting funds to rebuild a bridge which had been destroyed in Louisiana. Many doubted that it would pass, but it was a fight that needs to be fought. Needless to say, it went down 82-15. Of course, for all their talk about fiscal discipline, only 3 of the 15 were Democrats (and they wonder why no one believes them?) and one of them is a Louisiana Senator, so she doesn't really count. Russ Feinglod was one of the three, and interestingly enough Evan Bayh from Indiana, who many think could be a possible upset challenger in the Democratic presidential primary. Anyway, here's the roll of the YEAs (interesting as well that Mike DeWine from Ohio voted for it - has he discovered that he might actually need support from his base to make it through the primary?), from U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home:
YEAs ---15
Allard (R-CO) Allen (R-VA) Bayh (D-IN)
Burr (R-NC) Coburn (R-OK) Conrad (D-ND)
DeMint (R-SC) DeWine (R-OH) Feingold (D-WI)
Graham (R-SC) Kyl (R-AZ) Landrieu (D-LA)
Sessions (R-AL) Sununu (R-NH) Vitter (R-LA)
Also from Poltical Diary:
Mr. Coburn proposed to block $453 million in federal funds earmarked in the new highway bill for two dubious bridges in Alaska, including the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere," which will connect the Alaskan mainland to an island with 50 residents. Mr. Coburn proposed sending the money instead to repair the Interstate 10 Bridge across Lake Pontchartrain, which was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

The response from senior senators was instantaneous and hostile. Washington Democrat Patty Murray stood up and warned that any senator supporting the Coburn idea would find projects in his or her own state jeopardized. Log-rolling ("I'll scratch your back if you'll scratch mine") is a way of life on Capitol Hill, even at a time when federal spending is out of control.

Carnack Gates

From David Coursey :
This week's most interesting quote comes from Bill Gates, who told a college newspaper that Blu-ray, Sony's HD DVD format, 'is the last physical format there will ever be.'
'Everything's going to be streamed directly or on a hard disk,' Gates added. 'So, in this way, it's even unclear how much [Blu-ray] counts.'
Gates has been a bit of bomb in the tech prognostication department, otherwise his name would be Steve Jobs and he would run Apple. I'm especially surprised anyone would lead this credence since it was Gates who figured PCs would NEVER need more than 640K of RAM (which is especially ironic since my work PC needs more than 640MB of RAM to run Gate's latest incarnation).

Sunday, October 23, 2005

My Ohio

I'm finally getting around to posting the pic I took of my congressional representative, Dennis Kucinich, my personal hero (not):


The best congressman Northeast Ohio money can buy


This brings me around to the raft of issues on the Ohio ballot this November:
  • Issue 1: the state's $2 billion bond package to fund infrastructure and high-tech development.
  • Sandmich Sez: A repeat to the corporate welfare bill floated by Bob Taft a year or two ago. If you're given to write checks to old Gov. Taft so that he can take a cut and give the rest to his cronies, you might want to support this measure, otherwise if you are not an idiot, this measure is a loser. (Although this issue failed the last time it was floated, it passed in Northeast Ohio, which certainly says something about the residents, no?)
  • Issue 2:Issues 2-5 are part of the 'Reform Ohio Now' campaign. This one Makes it easier to vote by allowing all Ohioans to vote by mail.
  • Sandmich Sez: How an initiative that increases fraud and that makes our already lazy civic participation even lazier is 'reform' I have no idea. Bad idea, but it probably passes.
  • Issue 3:Helps stop the influence of big money in elections by greatly reducing campaign contributions.
  • Sandmich Sez:Waste of time and money. It will no doubt create another failed bureaucracy to (not) enforce more pointless laws. Takes a dump of on the first amendment as well. It probably passes too.
  • Issue 4:Stops the politicians from drawing their own legislative districts and puts an Independent Commission in charge of this process.
  • Sandmich Sez:I'm leaning towards supporting this one. I think the RON people may have done better pushing one or two of these issues to better stress their importance rather than making a shotgun blast of issues as this one is a bit more important than the other crap they're floating. Anyway, the only people who will support this are people who don't like their reps (i.e. Dennis Kucinich). Since those people are by definition, in the minority, this issue probably goes down.
  • Issue 5:Places a bi-partisan Board of Supervisors in charge of Ohio's elections, instead of a partisan official who backs candidates and takes sides in elections.
  • Sandmich Sez: I've no idea what this is supposed to accomplish. Ken Blackwell takes Nader off the ballot and this is the thanks he gets from Ohio Dems? I think this one is up in the air to the extent that no one cares, but since it creates more bureaucrats, I can't say as I care for it

Friday, October 21, 2005

Dream a Dream

He was a left wing freak, but he could bust a beat...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Daft Punk Lava Lamp

This shows how hard it is to entertain me: a six frame animated gif that's set to Daft Punk's 'Technologic'.

The trick is to wait until the beat kicks in, then you'll either be hooked...or sick.
(I might put this one in my blogroll!)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Sandmich Talks About 'THAT'

From Culpepper Log on the Toledo riot:
You've really got to be a major jackass to make self-described Nazis start to look good, but these Toledo residents have managed to do it. Rioting is just far, far worse than a few idiots with swastikas talking some trash. As riots unfolded before the Nazis even started, the city cancelled their march for them, and sent them packing. They apparently left peacefully and without any incident on their part.
As you can probably tell from some previous posts of mine, I'm royally sick of this "can't talk about that" bit. Beating the truth out of a story like this is damn near impossible. Friggin' Jerry Springer was on the radio this morning already doing his best to direct blame towards the Nazis, though local radio said, as one might expect, that it was an occasion for the gangs to congregate and cause trouble - the Nazis were merely an excuse. It could have just as well been free ham night at the local Walmart or something. Continuing...
Not to put too fine a point on this, but the local Negroes here did about a thousand times more to make their point for them than some handful of Nazi idiots could ever possibly have done. If they had simply ignored them, these dozen odd schmucks with police escort would have simply looked like pathetic museum pieces. Or if the locals unstrategically but understandably had lined the streets and cussed the Nazis, the Nazis would have still just looked like fools.

But the first sign of someone merely even planning to say things they didn't like became an excuse to go burning and looting. What? This is just exactly the kind of behavior that Nazis or Klansmen would accuse them of.
Of course, 'community actions' like this begets more crap like this:
David Lewis, 35, a Wal-Mart employee who has been living on Bronson since 1979, said frustrations have been mounting for years because of a lack of city services in North Toledo.

"My question is: What do we do tomorrow?" he asked. "The source of the problem is you have not put something in the neighborhood to help kids. Nobody's addressing the real situation."
The REAL SITUATION? My God, no one would dare address the REAL SITUATION! Not if they wanted to maintain employment and not have to have 24 hour protection services.

That reminds of another story. Cleveland recently had a police shooting and of course there was community uproar over a drug dealing felon getting shot while he was trying to take a police officers weapon. By this point, we can all do the paint-by-numbers as to how this is going down. However, they were interviewing a local woman who had gone to a meeting on the shooting and she stated that they (the local authorities, not the criminals) are not telling the "whole truth". THE TRUTH? I'll lay the REAL SITUATION on ya': you'd rather die by the hands of your own ethnic group than live free under the auspices of another. You'd rather raise a generation of criminal, spoiled brats than actually implement some self discipline. You'd rather blame someone else for your problems and ask for a check (or "government services") than do some self reflection on the real root causes.

On this news I was reflecting again on the derisive term of 'oreo' used by American Blacks. It, of course, refers to someone that is black who is making the lack of effort being put forth by the others in their ethnic group look bad. I found it amusing to read that Chinese (and no doubt Japanese and Korean) immigrants call their kids who don't work hard enough 'twinkies'. Interesting contrast that. Now....I wonder which ethnic group is more successful.....

(Cox & Forkum put up a good cartoon on this subject)
(Drudge recently had a post about the crime stats in America; the money chart (which had to be scoured for) is here).
(As a mild update, it turns our the black youths torched a white owned business (surprise). What's curious though, is that the Nazi's choose to march in an area that's an old Polish neighborhood - i.e. immigrants AND Roman Catholic; two big bugaboos for the old racists (as a fair disclosure, the Sandmich is half Polish and Roman Catholic). I have to think that there were very few locals who had any sympathy what-so-ever for the Nazis).

Monday, October 17, 2005

Soylent Pink

I saw something rather disturbing in the doctor's office today: soy contains a simple estrogen, aka phytoestrogen. Disturbed I was! However, I then thought that this might explain the rampant f8gg0try in the far east (link not safe for work or non-soy addicted Asians). From Phytoestrogens for Menopause:
The food that is richest by far in phytoestrogens is soybeans. A typical three-ounce serving of tofu, for example, contains about 23 milligrams of isoflavones (the major group of phytoestrogens). About a half-cup of shelled peanuts, on the other hand, has less than a tenth of a milligram.
Yowser!
"Japanese person who eats a traditional fish, rice, and soy-based diet probably consumes an average of 20 to 40 mg of isoflavones a day from soybeans," says soy expert Mark Messina of Nutrition Matters, a consulting firm in Port Townsend, Washington. People in the Western industrialized countries, on the other hand, get only about five milligrams a day from their food.

Well that explains a lot! (this link is safe)
Guess I'll have to give up padding out my stir frys with tofu.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Total Gas

From HERE:
The world could run out of time to develop cleaner alternatives to oil and other fossil fuels before depletion drives prices through the roof, a leading Dutch energy researcher said on Thursday.
Oh no!
Ton Hoff, manager of the Energy Research Center of the Netherlands, said it could take decades to make alternatives affordable to the point where they can be used widely, although high oil prices were already stimulating such research.
Oh well okay! Even he sees that as the price of oil rises, it brings alternative products to market. Makes sense.
That's why we need to use fossil fuels in a more efficient way to have some more time to develop these alternatives up to a level where the robustness is guaranteed and their price has come down ... This could take decades for some technologies.
Umm, okay. Won't the high prices do that anyway. Or are you looking to lower the price so that these new products won't make it to market?
ECN, one of Europe's leading energy research institutes, is working to improve or develop new technologies to boost efficiency and lower the costs of power production from wind, solar and biomass, he said.
I've got an idea, ECN can mail me their money, and I'll flush it down the john, and I'll save them a bunch of time and effort!

I figured this article is as good a place as any to stress the fact that, for the last time, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS PRICE GOUGING ON FUEL. It seems that this ranks right up there with little green men, black helicopters and homeopathic medicine - stuff that people will believe in no matter what the evidence is to the contrary. As well, with lefties lurking about looking to get a piece of energy company profits (I guess once the government gets a piece, THEN the prices will go down; and I dine on smoked dodo bird every night!); but I wonder if they'll be as anxious to send them in a check when there's a loss. I guess that's what's going down since the hurricanes tore up a bunch of platforms. BP in particular is forecasting a cut in revenue, are lefties gonna break out there check book to help them out?

New Japan Is Rising

I've never given Japan's Koizumi the kudos he deserves for his recent election win. Across the planet, countries are retrenching their corrupt, kleptomaniac socialist states. One has only to look at a place like Germany or France where there are riots in the streets every time a benefit is threatened to be cut, and shortly before the reformers are being voted out of office - the insane truly run the asylum. We all hope that this will not be the course being charted for America, but Koizumi proves that a reversal in course can be sold, AND can be performed (hopefully). This puts him as on the right side (in every way) of just about every other leader on the planet, with the possible exception of Australia's John Howard.

From TCS: Tech Central Station - New Japan Is Rising:

Koizumi provided some more detail about his acceleration of reform in his first address to the new parliament, on September 26. As well as pushing through the post office sell-off as a priority, he said he would privatise the remaining eight government banks, cut public service numbers and salaries, and overhaul the relationships between central and local governments.
It's good to know at least someone is carrying the torch!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Wandering Eye

Why is this the first I'm hearing of this?

Of course, the trick is to be drunk enough not to care, from what I hear....

The 'R' is for 'Fun'

I guess Mr. Kendall is a big fan of the word 'Absolutely', so I used my grade C graphics artist skills to whip this up with the easiest one I could find:

AbSolROOTly!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Death of the Net

Every totalitarian regime on the planet has been itching to get there fingers on the net, and it looks like they're about to get their way.
Imagine having to go to the U.N. do get a domain name.
Imagine Red China contesting the content of your web page.
Imagine having to pay a tax so that the king of Botswannaville can get his kiddie porn for free.
Well you won't have to imagine for much longer because that day is at hand; let's hope the U.S. creates a new net that the last truly free countries can use. From The Guardian (emphasis mine):
A number of countries represented in Geneva, including Brazil, China, Cuba, Iran and several African states, insisted the US give up control, but it refused. The meeting 'was going nowhere', Hendon says, and so the EU took a bold step and proposed two stark changes: a new forum that would decide public policy, and a 'cooperation model' comprising governments that would be in overall charge.
Screw the EU, UN and all their buddies; can we move our country to a different planet?
Get ready for more of this sort of nonsense:
I live in the UK, where the highly unfortunate Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act has made monitoring of Internet access tricky in cases where you own or administer any telecommunications equipment (such as your local area network). Conversely, it allows any government jack-in-office to monitor Internet activity under a wide range of circumstances, in a way which makes a mockery of privacy and the supposed provisions of the UK's Human Rights Act.
Human rights are never an issue for the zealous bureaucrat or evil dictator! Human rights are only to be applied in how the little people treat those in power and the cronies that support them!

Lineup

I saw this picture on the back of a bus, it's part of an ad for the The American Sickle Cell Association...

Of course what's inferred is that all these babies have a chance to have Sickle Cell Anemia. I myself would say the chances (of there being a chance) are one in five, no? (It's the Asian baby, right?)

(File Under: Further proof that I'm a jerk. Though it's interesting that if you were trapped in a malaria invested jungle, this would be the one genetic disease that you might want.)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Candyman

At the local Asian market, the candy selection seems to break down along two lines:

  1. Rather attractive, though pricey, products from the Land of the Rising Sun
  2. Barely edible, though cheap, crap from the Philippines and other third world Asian countries (i.e., the rest, though Thai and domestic Asiatic experiments seemed to be the other big groups)
This past time out I noticed there were several Japanese candies that appeared to be new products (to that store) and I decided to pick up few...


Super Lemon

I got this one because I particularly enjoyed the pic on the back...


POWERFUL CANDY!
POWERFUL CANDY!

So it might be 'powerful', but how 'bout the taste? I figured it'd taste like those Warhead candies and wasn't disappointed - incredibly sour coating with regular lemon candy inside. Unlike a Warhead though, it doesn't have that 'revenge center' despite the efforts of a diagram on the back of the package to convince you otherwise.

Next...


Milk Candy


I thought this one might be good on it's face, but it had an intriguing line on the back...


The milk candy with the chewy meat center!

Do the people at these places have absolutely* no English speaking friends? Or friends who have English speaking friends? Or friends of friends who own some sort of dictionary? Or is this candy actually 'flesh' flavored? Hmmmm.....

I figured they'd taste like caramels, but they were quite unique. The were mostly hard, yet very, very slightly chewy. I couldn't pinpoint the taste, but my wife later pinned it when she said they tasted like sweetened condensed milk that had been turned into hard candies. So fans of sweetened-condensed (which should be everyone) shouldn't be disappointed to have these bad boys rolling around in your mouth, rehydrating into their native form.

Lastly....


Cone of Mystery!

I came by this while I was unsuccessfully hunting down some more Ultimate Muscle gum. From the picture on the front, I figured it'd be like a dehydrated ice cream cone of some sort, which I'm cool with. However, it turned out to be a bit more bizarre than that. I unwrapped it and found that someone took it upon themselves to try and recreate the taste and texture of an ice cream cone at room temperature - the 'day walker ice cream cone' if you would. Weirdly enough, they largely succeeded. The missus didn't care for the taste, but me and boy-sandmich liked it. The strawberry was every bit as bad as regular strawberry ice cream and the chocolate interior more than made up for it. It was a bit scary though, my brain didn't want to accept the fact that such a thing could exist.

*(I'll use this opportunity to get a story off my chest. At the beginning of the year I was at some function with my buddy and his wife who happens to be from a far-east country that I mention on occasion. During conversation, she would exclaim every now and then "ABsulROOTly!". I thought this was quite endearing and took to pronouncing it this way myself (along with our dog, 'Fruffy').

As many of you know (or could guess at this point), insofar as 'L' and 'R' exist in Asian languages, they're the same letter/sound, and it's damn near impossible for many a native of the region to differentiate the two, the 'L' obviously being the rough spot. Though the opposite also occurs; one of the more egregious examples of this that I've seen was an anime character toy that had been labeled 'Polno Diane'.

Anyway from what my buddy had said, his wife was, as could be expected, having a rough time with this. However, when I met up with them less than six months later, the opportune word came up and I was about knocked over when I heard "Absolutely!". Although happy and impressed that she had mastered a rather difficult pronunciation, I was disappointed that I'd probably never hear the more characteristic way again. Except from myself of course, but that's hardly 'endearing'!


Oh yeah, you can find a pic of 'Polno Diane' here.)