Saturday, June 30, 2007

In a surprise development...

Suspected bomb defused in London -
LONDON, England (Reuters) -- British police say they have defused a bomb in central London. Explosives officers were called to examine a car parked in The Haymarket, a busy street in the heart of central London's theatre district, early on Friday morning, London police said in a statement. "They discovered what appeared to be a potentially viable explosive device. This was made safe," they said, adding that counter-terrorism officers were investigating.

CNN Japan has been running this non-stop at the same importance level as Paris Hilton going to jail. The BBC has been showing their golf and soccer scores. Something's askew when you get constant coverage of this on the American channel and the people near it are more concerned about the sports highlights.
Maybe it's got to do with this:

Government figures 'missing' two million violent crimes - Independent Online Edition > Crime
An extra two million violent crimes a year are committed in Britain than previously thought because of a bizarre distortion in the Government's flagship crime figures, it was claimed yesterday.

A former Home Office research expert said that across all types of crime, three million offences a year are excluded from the British Crime Survey (BCS).

The poll caps the number of times a victim can be targeted by an offender at five incidents a year.

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Friday, June 29, 2007

This is a pretty pathetic version of education

For anyone who has education and/or cares about it, this just goes to highlight the problems with standardized testing.
As disclosure I'll say that I've taught people how to take tests and maximize their scores using what they now. But I wasn't also responsible for their subject matter education.
The problem is when you have a national curriculum and national standardized testing you get a degrading in skills. Teachers teach the test. The exams test test-taking. The taught material never varies from the highest frequency subjects on the test. Details disappear. Standards raise, paradoxically, as education falls.
So how's it working out in the UK?

Physics GCSE: 'insultingly easy, non scientific, and vague' | The Register
Physics GCSE papers are full of questions that are vague, stupid, insultingly easy, political, and non-scientific.
Ta-daa! Just as the model predicts.
[Wellington] Grey writes: "I am a physics teacher. Or, at least I used to be. My subject is still called physics. My pupils will sit an exam and earn a GCSE in physics, but that exam doesn't cover anything I recognise as physics."
All well and good, but what about Hooke's law? Grey argues that questions so far removed from the traditional subject of physics amount to an ambush on the students sitting the paper.
End of cautionary tale.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

A sad day for Canadian arts and culture Arts - Canada's great classical actor William Hutt dies at 87
The great Canadian actor William Hutt has died at age 87.

Hutt, who had leukemia, entered hospital in Stratford, Ont., on Tuesday and died Wednesday morning.

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At this point in time I'm really glad I'm not back in the UK

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Spice Girls announcement imminent
They may reform. It's not like we needed that. It's not like anyone needed that.

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8 Facts Meme

Okay, I got tagged by Mojoey who runs the Atheist Blogroll.
So first the rules must be posted before the response given.
  • Post these rules before we give you the facts.
  • Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
  • People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
  • At the end of your blog post, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
  • Don't forget to leave them each a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.
So here is the information about me.
  1. Habit: I talk to myself. More when I'm alone than around people, though I seem to wander off sometimes into my own thoughtspace and end up in a sotto voce conversation with myself. This also plays into my sense of hearing.
  2. Habit: I pull on my beard a lot. Not in a thinking-about-something-beard -stroking-look-intelligent way. More in a do-I-have-split-ends way.
  3. Fact: I have a rash on my leg. I was bitten by a tick in the woods 2 weeks back and the lower half of my shin and calf has broken out in a large rash. I'm heading to the doctor's over a  bit of reluctance to have it checked out.
  4. Fact: My dog is named Ken. Ken is the other reading (on-yomi) of the Japanese character for dog. People here in Kobe find it amusing enough even though it's not a great joke. But it's Japanese-y and easier for my folks to say than my wife's second choice "Asashoryu," her favourite sumo wrestler.
  5. Fact: My wife speaks Japanese better than me but doesn't test as well. We found this out when we both took the JTOC test about 6 years ago and I beat her by 30 some points but she knew what the genetics radio program questions were about because she'd listened to the show on the radio previously. I couldn't follow that sort of thing to anywhere near her level, so I took the test. She took the content. I still get stick for the results.
  6. Fact: I haven't really settled on a theme or expertise for my blog. I'm jealous of folks like The Uncredible Hallq who has his jive down on religious and philosophy issues, or Canadian Cynic who's got his consuming interest in Canadian politics (a scene I lost touch with during my first stint in Japan and never got back on board). My interests are too wide (and lacking depth) and my attention span too short, so I flit from topic to topic like some sugar-addled ADD sufferer and never settle.
  7. Fact: I have spent most of my adult life outside of Canada. I left for Japan shortly after I finished university and have been back for 3 since my mid-20's. I'm out of touch with the place and how it's changing. When I went back to Ottawa I changed from being a gaijin in Japan to a gaijin in Ontario. During those 3 years I never settled into my old groove. After we booked and ended up in London I felt more comfortable being a gaijin when it was in a foreign land but I've not felt like I was where I was from in a long time. That's how I ended up with the name for the blog.
  8. Fact: I'm an atheist. I don't suppose I've always been but I don't remember ever believing. For me it's not like I reached any kind of 'epiphany;' I just thought about it one day between high school and university and realized that I'd been born Catholic but never done anything about it. I'd never been convinced in the first place so I never gave up. I don't have a conversion story just a slow unwinding where you know the beginning and the end are completely different, but there's not clear point in the middle where there was a change.

So in turn I'm going to tag the following people:
Pooflingers Anonymous
Canadian Cynic
Galloping Beaver
Unrepentant Old Hippie
Rational Reasons
Watashi to Tokyo
900 ft Jesus
The Homeless Atheist

--  From: 	The Eternal Gaijin 	Lost Somewhere in Kobe, Japan 	"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Yakuza story in the Guardian

It's not the stuff of movies, but it is an interesting look at the yakuza and women associated with them.
Spoiler Alert: The women aren't treated all that well.

Blood ties: Yakuza daughter lifts lid on hidden hell of gangsters' families | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited

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Stick to what you know.

Interesting point, Father Jonathan. Perhaps you could tell us 2 things:
  1. Why do you continually drop all over areas you know nothing about in this interview? There are any number of things you have to say about stuff you clearly haven't a clue about, esp the hoary old 'how do you explain the eye' thingie. Seriously, take something from the post-Scopes playbook.
  2. What do you, as a priest, actually know? Seriously. What is the content of your training?

onegoodmove: Father Jonathan

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My Favourite Movie Turns 25

And my favourite Mythbuster tells us a bit about how it was made.

Blade Runner - Special Effects - 25th Anniversary - MythBusters Appreciation - Popular Mechanics

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Good news from the UK on the ID front

Woo hoo, reason has won out over shrill whack-a-doodles:
The government has announced that it will publish guidance for schools on how creationism and intelligent design relate to science teaching, and has reiterated that it sees no place for either on the science curriculum.

It has also defined "Intelligent Design", the idea that life is too complex to have arisen without the guiding hand of a greater intelligence, as a religion, along with "creationism".

UK Gov boots intelligent design back into 'religious' margins | The Register

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Profile of a Budo Teacher

It's a bit of a shame when a Japanese newspaper makes a couple of factual errors in their reporting (budo isn't a style; it's Japanese for martial arts)
For the martial artists out there, do remember this quote:
A battle has no rules except two: follow your own clear-cut principles and never
believe that the enemy plays straight.

or possibly this one:
Time is life. Americans say time is money, but this is a foreign concept for me.
I know my time is very limited here — at the most 120 years — and one third of
that I will be asleep. Not to mention that I could die the next moment, so I
want to spend such a precious commodity on something true and valuable. This is
why I am never late: I take others' time as seriously as my own.
But not this one:
In the Japanese language words and emotions are perfectly matched. When
foreigners speak Japanese, they are much kinder and gentler than when they use
their mother tongue. Their facial expressions soften and they are unable to say
yes or no clearly. Japanese food also contributes to this metamorphosis — after
five days living here on miso soup and rice, the color of their faces is
healthier and they look better.

Minoru Inaba The Japan Times Online

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And when it comes alive...

...this thing should pretty much wreck Kobe and Osaka.

Boing Boing: Giant Gigantor statue in Kobe

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Monday, June 25, 2007

And for our next trick...

...we'll move on to whether or not to bless interfaith marriages before we get to inter-racial marriages.

Anglicans vote No on blessing same-sex unions

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Woo hoo, live version

--  From: 	The Eternal Gaijin 	Lost Somewhere in Kobe, Japan 	"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

Japan Life file

Parks in Asia are a hub of activity. To get a feel for a country or city in Asia you should visit the parks.

When my wife and I visited China we spent time in the parks watching people. Near the Temple of Heaven in Beijing we watched jugglers and ballroom dancers. At Little Ritan Park there was a former gymnastics coach doing a bars routine on some monkey bars. And street food.

In Japan we have a temple down the hill that is a great place to watch middle aged men doing warm up exercises before heading off to the hiking trails.

Tokyo's Ueno Park is the place to see just about everything you can imagine, from blue-tarp homeless towns to buskers, to drinking to...oh you get the point.

Sure, I knew that there was always something going on in Setagaya Koen
(Setagaya Park), which is close to Ikejiri Ohashi Station on the Tokyu
Denen-Toshi Line. There is the mini steam train that chuffs around its
300-meter track to the delight of young passengers. There's a "traffic
park" where children can ride on go-karts and climb all over a retired
real steam locomotive. Swimming pools open in the summer months, and
there are four tennis courts, two baseball pitches, an archery field, a
skateboard slope, a hill, a kiosk, a big fountain and an adventure
playpark run by a nonprofit organization.

News Story Here: PARKLIFE: You'd be amazed | The Japan Times Online

Japanese Television is a wasteland of puerile crud and cringeworthy antics in the mad cap style of a Hello Kitty! colour scheme obsessed disorganized mass killer.

Although there are a few bright lights of people who seem coherent and intelligent (George Tokoro, Beat Takeshi, maybe Tamori) there is a see of the so called 'tarento' (talents) without an appreciable talent or ability. Think of an entire television culture composed of Paris Hiltons stripped of depth and smarts.

Obaka-aidoru (dumb idols), or, more simply, bakadoru, are the current rage.


Though the focus on airheads is new, the media
obsession with general mental capacity isn't. Anyone who graduates from
a reputable institution of higher learning automatically enters the
ranks of the elite, regardless of how he or she utilizes that
education. Traditionally, show business was the sanctuary of the poor
and socially marginal. This has changed over the years, but as
Shimada's case illustrates, entertainers are still self-conscious about
being seen as uneducated. It's often noted in the showbiz press that
the male idols who belong to Johnny's Jimusho, the most powerful talent
agency in the country, are almost never allowed to appear on quiz
shows. They are basically raised by the agency, which emphasizes
sellable showbiz attributes. General education is not a priority.

But what passes for "intelligence" on TV is usually
just a bigger store of trivial information. Certainly it reflects
poorly on someone — parents? teachers? the government? — when a
comedian who graduated from high school cites Korea as a city, as one
did several weeks ago on "Hexagon 2." But even the tarento who get the
answers right are essentially just proving that they remember what they
studied in school, which is hardly an extraordinary accomplishment. No
utility value is placed on intelligence except as an advantage on quiz
shows. It's treated the same as big breasts and funny hair. In
real-life terms (job offers), the intelligent idol is really no
different from the dumb idol.

Big breasts, funny hair, anything dumb — the way to go on TV | The Japan Times Online

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Layout addition: Atheist Blogroll

I've joined the Atheist blogroll. Out of all three versions of the Java script available, I liked the marquee version best, so it appears over there on the side. No, a bit further down. Back up a bit. There, that's it.
I hope this helps keep the fans from happy.
And through Pooflingers Anonymous I bring you a Kent Hovind song

Double HT to Pooflingers Anonymous

--  From: 	The Eternal Gaijin 	Lost Somewhere in Kobe, Japan 	"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

Sunday, June 24, 2007

These people are fucking nuts.
Westboro Baptist, subject of that painful to watch Brit doc The Most Hated Family in America, has a music video out.
It's a bunch of Class A hate filled whack-a-doodles spilling vile bile out to the tune of We Are the World.
Key bits Snark in Red:

You'll eat your children. (Yeah, you'll eat them!)
Baby, it's the other other white meat

You face a fiery day for your proud sinning (so just stop it!) It's too late to change his mind
So enjoy the sodomy. It won't do any good to listen to these shitheads anyway.

There's a cute little tiny tot who has a solo at the end singing the chorus. I have no snark for that. That makes me well up. How does a family get so twisted that this seems the way to raise a kid? - Watch more free videos
onegoodmove: God Hates The World

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Simulation of WTC Impact by Airplane

Link to Accompanying Story: Link
Nice bit of work this.
--  From: 	The Eternal Gaijin 	Lost Somewhere in Kobe, Japan 	"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

It's an honour just to be fucking nominated

Online Dating

Mingle2 - Online Dating

Saw this done on a few blogs over at Science Blogs and got to wondering: Can I get it into the red?  
Ta daa. The Aristocrats!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Love Hotel

Can one love a love hotel?

I've been in a couple over the years and I think they're really fascinating. There's no doubt that they're a completely different experience to that sleazy little wouldn't touch it with Marigold gloves on place outside Hamilton.

Clean, upstanding (funah, funah) and, dare I say it, moral they're an essential part of the Japanese experience.

Today a short look at them in the Japan Times.

'Rub hotels': Vegas in a box | The Japan Times Online

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Personality Test

ISTP - "Engineer". Values freedom of action and following interests and impulses. Independent, concise in speech, master of tools. 5.4% of total population.
Free Jung Personality Test (similar to Myers-Briggs/MBTI)
--  From: 	The Eternal Gaijin 	Lost Somewhere in Kobe, Japan 	"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

Another Hitchens interview. One of his better.

Jewish Terrorism

Jerusalem's pride march would have been two days ago and guess what: it attracted a dude carrying a bomb.

Unusually, there's not cause for panic. He wasn't Muslim; he was Jewish so that makes it okay.

Dispatches from the Culture Wars: Jerusalem Pride Goes On

Full Article:

Suspect seized before Israeli gay parade - Focus on Israel/Palestinians -

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Just another "Blow Me" to folks who like theocracy.

A number of weeks back I had a couple of links to Xian terrorism in the US which was going unreported.
Respectful Insolence has a quick mention of people who are celebrating a whack-a-doodle who killed a doctor and his body guard.
Sick bastards.

Respectful Insolence: PZ and archy just ruined my day

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2 points of view on Torture

Firedoglake has a bit about Seymour Hersh's investigations into Torture:
Firedoglake - Firedoglake weblog » Violations
Huffington Post feature's Sam Harris's defence of torture adapted from his book The End of Faith:

Sam Harris: In Defense of Torture - The Huffington Post
Ultimately I don't think that we can come up with a scenario where torture can be justified, and on the balance of probabilities it'll always cost more that the value returned.
Sorry Sam, even sanitized it's bullshit.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I'd just like to thank our friend on the Christian side for giving us a little freedom and liberty.

You know, in the few minutes since I found out I was in the firing line from I just wanted to say 'Hi,' again

Victims of the Christian Faith
20th Century Church Atrocities

* Catholic extermination camps
Surpisingly few know that Nazi extermination camps in World War II were by no means the only ones in Europe at the time. In the years 1942-1943 also in Croatia existed numerous extermination camps, run by Catholic Ustasha under their dictator Ante Paveli, a practising Catholic and regular visitor to the then pope. There were even concentration camps exclusively for children!
In these camps - the most notorious was Jasenovac, headed by a Franciscan friar - orthodox-Christian serbians (and a substantial number of Jews) were murdered. Like the Nazis the Catholic Ustasha burned their victims in kilns, alive (the Nazis were decent enough to have their victims gassed first). But most of the victims were simply stabbed, slain or shot to death, the number of them being estimated between 300,000 and 600,000, in a rather tiny country. Many of the killers were Franciscan friars. The atrocities were appalling enough to induce bystanders of the Nazi "Sicherheitsdient der SS", watching, to complain about them to Hitler (who did not listen). The pope knew about these events and did nothing to prevent them. [MV]
* Catholic terror in Vietnam
In 1954 Vietnamese freedom fighters - the Viet Minh - had finally defeated the French colonial government in North Vietnam, which by then had been supported by U.S. funds amounting to more than $2 billion. Although the victorious assured religious freedom to all (most non-buddhist Vietnamese were Catholics), due to huge anticommunist propaganda campaigns many Catholics fled to the South. With the help of Catholic lobbies in Washington and Cardinal Spellman, the Vatican's spokesman in U.S. politics, who later on would call the U.S. forces in Vietnam "Soldiers of Christ", a scheme was concocted to prevent democratic elections which could have brought the communist Viet Minh to power in the South as well, and the fanatic Catholic Ngo Dinh Diem was made president of South Vietnam. [MW16ff]
Diem saw to it that U.S. aid, food, technical and general assistance was given to Catholics alone, Buddhist individuals and villages were ignored or had to pay for the food aids which were given to Catholics for free. The only religious denomination to be supported was Roman Catholicism.
The Vietnamese McCarthyism turned even more vicious than its American counterpart. By 1956 Diem promulgated a presidential order which read:
o "Individuals considered dangerous to the national defense and common security may be confined by executive order, to a concentration camp."

Supposedly to fight communism, thousands of buddhist protesters and monks were imprisoned in "detention camps." Out of protest dozens of buddhist teachers - male and female - and monks poured gasoline over themselves and burned themselves. (Note that Buddhists burned themselves: in comparison Christians tend to burn others). Meanwhile some of the prison camps, which in the meantime were filled with Protestant and even Catholic protesters as well, had turned into no-nonsense death camps. It is estimated that during this period of terror (1955-1960) at least 24,000 were wounded - mostly in street riots - 80,000 people were executed, 275,000 had been detained or tortured, and about 500,000 were sent to concentration or detention camps. [MW76-89].
To support this kind of government in the next decade thousands of American GI's lost their life.
* Christianity kills the cat
On July 1, 1976, Anneliese Michel, a 23-year-old student of a teachers college in Germany, died: she starved herself to death. For months she had been haunted by demonic visions and apparitions, and for months two Catholic priests - with explicit approval of the Catholic bishop of Wrzburg - additionally pestered and tormented the wretched girl with their exorcist rituals. After her death in Klingenberg hospital - her body was littered with wounds - her parents, both of them fanatical Catholics, were sentenced to six months for not having called for medical help. None of the priests was punished: on the contrary, Miss Michel's grave today is a place of pilgrimage and worship for a number of similarly faithful Catholics (in the seventeenth century Wrzburg was notorious for it's extensive witch burnings).
This case is only the tip of an iceberg of such evil superstition and has become known only because of its lethal outcome. [SP80]
* Rwanda Massacres
In 1994 in the small african country of Rwanda in just a few months several hundred thousand civilians were butchered, apparently a conflict of the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups.
For quite some time I heard only rumours about Catholic clergy actively involved in the 1994 Rwanda massacres. Odd denials of involvement were printed in Catholic church journals, before even anybody had openly accused members of the church.
Then, 10/10/96, in the newscast of S2 Aktuell, Germany - a station not at all critical to Christianity - the following was stated:
o "Anglican as well as Catholic priests and nuns are suspect of having actively participated in murders. Especially the conduct of a certain Catholic priest has been occupying the public mind in Rwanda's capital Kigali for months. He was minister of the church of the Holy Family and allegedly murdered Tutsis in the most brutal manner. He is reported to have accompanied marauding Hutu militia with a gun in his cowl. In fact there has been a bloody slaughter of Tutsis seeking shelter in his parish. Even two years after the massacres many Catholics refuse to set foot on the threshold of their church, because to them the participation of a certain part of the clergy in the slaughter is well established. There is almost no church in Rwanda that has not seen refugees - women, children, old - being brutally butchered facing the crucifix.
According to eyewitnesses clergymen gave away hiding Tutsis and turned them over to the machetes of the Hutu militia.
In connection with these events again and again two Benedictine nuns are mentioned, both of whom have fled into a Belgian monastery in the meantime to avoid prosecution. According to survivors one of them called the Hutu killers and led them to several thousand people who had sought shelter in her monastery. By force the doomed were driven out of the churchyard and were murdered in the presence of the nun right in front of the gate. The other one is also reported to have directly cooperated with the murderers of the Hutu militia. In her case again witnesses report that she watched the slaughtering of people in cold blood and without showing response. She is even accused of having procured some petrol used by the killers to set on fire and burn their victims alive..." [S2]
* As can be seen from these events, to Christianity the Dark Ages never come to an end.

If today Christians talk to me about morality, this is why they make me sick.

Just a small sample.

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Canadian Cynic: I'd like to thank the fucking academy ...

Canadian Cynic: I'd like to thank the fucking academy ...
Canadian Cynic got himself listed up in the newsletter of the folks (I use this word ironically) at And guess what: so did I.
They didn't really get the main blog (not sure why) over here at Blogger, but the caught the Vox one that I cross post to most of the time.
Oh, if anyone has any ideas on how to get Scribefire to work with Vox, maido okini...
Also noted were
Rational Reasons
Unrepentant Old Hippie
Galloping Beaver (who tipped CC off to this. Thanks GB)
I'm in proud company. I feel like I'm getting some love. Especially when lumped in for this kind of treatment:
You can see from these examples why Secular Humanists should not be taken seriously and why they should not be considered a serious threat to the Christian vision for a free and democratic social order and a civil government committed to the rule of law and the principle of equality before the law. Tyranny never could survive against liberty and justice.

If that last sentence is to be believed then is not long for the world.
Ronald Reagan, with Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II, crushed one of the most barbaric experiments ever devised by Secular Humanists - the Communistic USSR.

Other than "Wrong, Wrong, Wrong," I'll let the sheer whack-a-doodle idiocy of that sentence linger. It's barely fit for Fox News commentators.
Think I'll have to piss on their parade periodically.
If you look at some of these websites, keep in mind that some of them include profanity and blasphemy.

Can't speak for the others, but I'm proud to use profanity and blasphemy. Words with longer and prouder heritage in our language are hard to come by. I do them honour by pulling them out every chance I get.

Small Update on the Language Schools thingie here in Japan

Monday, June 18, 2007

And now, the religion round up

People amaze me.
Sometimes it's the idea that there are atheists around:
AlterNet: Rights and Liberties: Rise of the New Atheists
I mean: really. Is Richard Dawkins really that angry? Pretty mild compared to most political invective in the United States.

The Bible and Sex.
Biblical sex -- it could knock your socks off
There is no prohibition against it in the Bible, Hornsby says. The famous Genesis story of Onan, for instance, has nothing to do with masturbation being bad.

Whew. Dodged a bullet there.

Ooh, look how the Christians love each other:
Brownback aide chided on anti-Mormon bid - Yahoo! News
Among the statements: "Theologically, the only thing Christianity and the LDS church has in common is the name of Jesus Christ, and the LDS Jesus is not the same Jesus of the Christian faith" and "The LDS church has never been accepted by the Christian Council of Churches."

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Three out of four ain't bad.

You can get the first 3 laws right, but they'll only remember the fourth one.

Newton's fourth law: We'll die in 2060 | The Daily Telegraph

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Life on Mars

My Monday YouTube cruise has yeilded a bit of info on Life on Mars. If you haven't seen it, LoM is one of the best TV shows of the last couple of decades. Original, dramatic, tense, exciting, other adjectives -- just plain great.
The short version is this:
Twenty-first century copper Sam Tyler (John Simm) is working a difficult case when he's hit by a car. He wakes in 1973 as a police officer transferred from Hyde to Manchester, where he grew up as a toddler. The story combines science-fantasy with the fish-out-of-water feeling as Sam tries to both fit in with the others and drag DCI Gene Hunt, the rough, tough, prejudice and quintessential 1970's Brit copper, into the 21st century.
They did two series of about 8 episodes each which is one of the things that makes it beautiful. The producers left you wanting more. Unlike Firefly, which was made stronger and more poignant by its cancellation, LoM was always planned to be 2 series long. It's an ending that enhances the beauty. With British TV seasons (series) so short, rarely going over 11 episodes, ideas don't get mined out as regularly as they do in the US and the ideas can stay fresher.
2 additional notes:
  • The title comes from the David Bowie song playing on his car radio when Sam is hit by the car.
  • John Simm is featured in the last 3 episodes of Doctor Who playing the Master. I got a chill yesterday watching him regenerate out of Derek Jacobi. Breathtaking episode.
Life on Mars: David Bowie

Life on Mars: Time Travel Sequence

Life on Mars: Dead Ringer Parody

Life on Mars: Making

-- From: The Eternal Gaijin Lost Somewhere in Kobe, Japan "Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

Sunday, June 17, 2007

What language should you learn?

You Should Learn Japanese

You're cutting edge, and you are ready to delve into wacky Japanese culture.
From Engrish to eating contests, you're born to be a crazy gaijin. Saiko!

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Are You Stupid?

You Are Not Stupid

You got 10/10 questions right!

While acing this quiz doesn't prove you're a genius, you're at least pretty darn smart.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

What the Hell is this Crap?

Christianity advances
a federalist model of civil government: Christian civil government
reflects the principles of decentralization of authority and division
of power. Which is to say that centralist models of government are
incompatible with a Christian view. Centralist models seek to
centralize as much civil power as possible in the highest level of
civil government, and to centralize as much governmental authority as
possible in the civil government, at the expense of self-government,
family government and church government. (Socialism is a centralist
model of government.)

Uh, since when? I know you can prove anything using the Bible (or as Homer Simpson once said: Facts? You can use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true), but come on...

Christian Government - Timothy Bloedow - State vs. Church

HT to Canadian Cynic

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Local News: English Language School Shake Up Coming

Two days ago the Japanese Government 's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) knocked a local language school chain with a suspension of operations - specifically they are not allowed to engage in any new long-term contracts for 6 months while they restructure their entire contract system. This could be a really big blow and knock the giant of the industry here back on it's heels opening the market for a more vibrant set of choices or even be a death blow depending on the state of the finances of NOVA.
NOVA is the largest of the chain language schools here and has always had a bad time in public relations. This is a combination of mildly stingy conditions, some PR mis-steps and just being the biggest target. I still have a couple of friends working there and it's obvious that everything is not sunshine and cotton-candy, it's also not a bad place to work. Whatever you read in the notice boards and blogs, make sure you have a shaker of salt handy.
All of this right now tho', stems from disputes about the contract system that has been deemed by the courts, government, and lawsuits to be unfair and illegal depending on the particular aspect you're discussing.

A couple of links and quotes: : Rule-breaking Nova hit with suspension order - ENGLISH
The industry ministry Wednesday ordered Nova Corp., the nation's largest English language school operator, to suspend part of its operations for six months as punishment for deceiving potential students and committing other violations.
Starting today, Nova is banned from soliciting, accepting or finalizing new contracts for long-term courses that last for over a year, the sources said.

Liberal Japan » Blog Archive » METI to Nova: No more long term contracts!

Trans-Pacific Radio » METI to order Nova to suspend part of its business: The beginning of the end :: Independent Podcasts from Tokyo, Japan - Japanese News, Politics, Business and Economy
If METI shuts down their sales division, I can’t see NOVA surviving for over 30 days without suddenly selling off a huge amount of their assets (which might make for a dirty, nasty bankruptcy settlement when some of that cash starts walking). If NOVA’s owners had an ace up their sleeve, they would have pulled it out over the last week. They didn’t pull it because they don’t have one.

If you think NOVA teachers live paycheck to paycheck, you should see the state of the company’s finances. It’s share price continues to slide into oblivion (click the chart on the right to view a full-size version), and sales and profit continue to dive while expenditures on paying off interest/servicing debt have nearly tripled in the past two years.

And stock history is here: Investment Tools

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

This could cause some blowback, dontcha think?

The geniuses in the US who thought of ideas like "last throes," "greeted as liberators, and "bring it on" have now decided that it might be a good idea to arm insurgents (!) in Iraq (!!) themselves (!!!) in order to get them to fight against Al-Qaeda (!!!!).
Now for those of you who might want to look it up, see how Osama Bin Laden got his insurgency experience in Afghanistan some 25-odd years back. Who armed him?
So what's going on in Iraq?
The US military in Baghdad is trying to portray the move as arming disenchanted Sunnis who are rising up in their neighbourhoods against their former allies, al-Qaida and its foreign fighters. But the reality on the ground is more complex, with little sign that the US will be able to control the weapons once they are handed over. The danger is that the insurgents could use these weapons against American troops or in the civil conflict against Shia Muslims. Similar efforts by the US in other wars have backfired, the most spectacular being the arming of guerrillas against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

Major General Rick Lynch, a senior US commander in Iraq, insisted no weapons would be given to insurgents who had attacked Americans. "We have not crossed that line," he said.

Did he use the word "yet?" Cause that sure as fuck sounded like a yet-sentence.

US arms Sunni dissidents in risky bid to contain al-Qaida fighters in Iraq | The Guardian | Guardian Unlimited

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The Japan Times and Evolution

It's nice to see that the Natural Selections column in the Japan Times is very blunt in referring to creation stories as 'cute:' Cosmic eggs and Abrahamic stories of God creating the heavens and the earth are cute enough, but they're only stories.
Oooo, I hear the Liberal Media speaking...
Wait, does Japan even have a Liberal media? Interesting...

Religion's cute, but creation chemistry is complex | The Japan Times Online

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Loose Pence. That's good.

It was inevitable. There has developed a 7/7 Truth Movement.

Reason has a short blurb about the start of the movement.

Reason Magazine - Hit & Run > Loose Pence: The 7/7 Truth Squad

Suffice it to say, it basically relies on some contradictory eyewitness testimony, as if two people ever see the exact same thing, and the usual smoke and mirror innuendo that conspiracy theories always boil down to.

Reason provides a link to a troofer video which I'll embed here:

What to say about that?

Do I think that governments don't try to cover stuff up? No. Do I think that they don't spin, fabricate or manipulate? No.

But, and here's the big but, this is what happens when they try and cover up:

The Bandar cover-up: who knew what, and when? The Guardian BAE investigation Guardian Unlimited

They get busted.

So I'll turn over to Penn and Teller for the final word on Conspiracy Theories: Bullshit!

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Are they upset that we're here or that we're speaking?

In the US, there's a certain apoplexy that the religions right feel when ever the word atheist (BTW: Booga-booga) is mentioned.
There's no real understanding the strident responses to a few books making fairly reasoned and low-key arguments about G-d. The reaction is well in excess of any criticism.
It's well put here in this review of the situation: Review: The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins | By genre | Guardian Unlimited Books
Money quote:
Anyway, you can see why atheists snigger. The first real taste of their own rhetorical medicine and the godly are reduced to incomprehensible, frothing rage.
BTW: Militant Atheist

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McKenna Speaks

Speaking here:

U.S. a theocratic state, says former Canadian ambassador

Former New Brunswick Premier and Ambassador to the US, Frank McKenna made several points about the current social and political climate in the States.

Most importantly he states,

“Right now the United States is in many ways a theocratic state, not dissimilar to some of the other religious states in the world where religion has a huge part to play in government."

The article continues:

He referred to a current congressional investigation in Washington into whether partisan political and religious loyalties were used in the hiring and firing of U.S. attorneys and immigration judges. He also alluded to a report that 150 graduates of a Christian evangelical school have worked at the White House in recent years.

By contrast, he said in a speech to a business audience hosted by the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce, "Canada is truly a secular state. Religion and politics do not mix in this country.”

The fact is tho', that the ebb and flow of Canadian society is evident in Stephen Harper saying things like "God Bless Canada," in his speeches, a sentence that never would have been countenanced a few years ago. There are a few politicos who do seem to wear their religion on their sleeves these days and I would consider this a bad sign. For the most part they have been confined to the Reform Party and the Whack-a-doodle wing of its successor, The Conservative Party of Canada.

Part of that ebb and flow was watching Harper's support among normally more conservative ethnic groups dissipate as he spoke about removing rights from gays and lesbians; not hard for anyone who's brown to wonder where the sights on that particular gun might get aimed when they're finished with the gays. The implications weren't hard for minorities to grok.

I do suspect that the Conservative piety that Harper and a few other westerners throw around doesn't mark a seismic shift in Canada, just a trembler that will pass.

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Gor blimey, guv'nor. It might be the solution to all that ills us.

The London Underground system, in all it's glory is applying the best in mid-19th century technology to the 21st century problem of London's increasingly scorching summers.

Having passed last summer in London and noting how the buses hit 50 degrees and the Tube hit 44 or so, I frequently remarked on, expressed amazement at, and bitched about the total lack of air conditioning on the mass transit system in the city.

So this year they've come up with a plan that avoids the issue of any difficulties putting in air con by installing blocks of ice in the cars on the Picadilly line. I assume the contraption was designed and patented (that's pay-tent for my British readers) by Dickens himself.

Seriously, ice not air con.

I don't get to say, 'WTF?' nearly enough in an average day.

Tube trains to be fitted with blocks of ice to cool down passengers | the Daily Mail

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Christians as Athiests

Interesting post at Crooked Timber on the early Xians rejecting pagan rituals.

Crooked Timber » » The Original Atheists

HT to Pharyngula

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Friday, June 01, 2007

The 9/11 Troofers

Friend DEG spends a lot of time in the JREF forums dealing with troofers. I don't know how he does.
There's an amazing ability of these people to avoid any semblance of reality.
As outlined in this film:

--  From: 	The Eternal Gaijin 	Lost Somewhere in Kobe, Japan 	"Words Cannot Describe What I Am About To Tell You."

Holy Crap! Creationist vs Bronze Dog Argument

Bronze Dog and Weapon of Mass Instruction have a whack of back and forth in the
comments in this post:

Bronze Blog: An Interesting Thought

Reading it is like naming the colours
in an acid trip; they just keep speeding away from you. Bronze Dog is that one
friend who tries to talk you down from the ledge. Weapon insists that he can fly

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I really wanted to avoid admitting to this

Dammit. P. Zed Myers over at Pharyngula has noticed that Alta. just opened a creationist museum. It looks like the product of the great Canadian decision-making process which, in the words of a university prof I had at good Ol' University of Ottawa (Go Gee-Gees!) goes like this: think small; divide by two.

Which makes P. Zed comments:

Ha ha, pathetic Canadians.

They've put up their own creation "museum"—just look at it. It's feeble. It's like someone took a cheap suburban ranch-style home and put a sign on it and started charging admission to come take a look at their knick-knack shelf. Ha!

Pharyngula: In which American superiority manifests itself!

Take a look at the picture; it's pretty pathetic compared to the glitz and glamour of the 'Merkan version.

And over at Canadian Cynic, CC has a post up about the whole deal.

Canadian Cynic: And for those of you who want an alternative to actual science ...

Any snark on my part could not possibly do justice to the eye-rolling ignorance on display in the general press release (dumbassitude emphasis added, as if that's necessary):

There are numerous themes presented in the museum displays including:

"Evidence From Geology" display which deals with the geological column, the fossil sequence and the profound evidence for a global flood such as the Quartzite boulders of the Cypress Hills in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

"Fossils and the Flood" is a fantastic visual arrangement that contains only genuine, museum quality fossils and a giant model of Noah's ark. The museum presents the answer to why fossils are profound evidence for the flood of Noah.

"Dinosaurs and Humans" display shows considerable evidence that not only did dinosaurs exist recently, but also that humans existed with them. This evidence is fatal to the evolutionary dogma which has dinosaurs extinct at least 60 million years before humans evolved.

I'm sorry ... if I read any further, I'd have to start stabbing myself in the eye with an ice pick or something...

Oh, and one of the comments at Pharyngula had a comment about a British cretinist museum: Creation Science Movement

I don't know if you really want to give them the traffic or notoriety, but hey if'n you need a giggle.

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