Thursday, July 31, 2008

Getting grumpy over the summer

There have been several contributing factors to this feeling of grumpiness.

First of all is the weather. Now it's a well know fact that Canadians love talking about the weather so I have no plans on slowing myself down here. Fucking humidity. Just walking up the frakking hill to the house leaves me sweating for a half hour. Walking! You should smell me when I get back from a jog.

If you want to understand what it's  like in Kobe in the summer, buy a treadmill. Put it in a steam room (push the fat Finnish guys in towels over a few seats to fit it in) Jog for half an hour or so. That's the feeling I get just checking the mail.

What's that? Could I get into some details? Possibly something involving undergarments? Sure can.

The sweat of just walking down to the main road, a hundred steep metres is enough to run down my back like a salty Niagara that soaks into a cotton briefs Gaspe Peninsula that gets stickily wedged into a my Northumberland Straits. And while the amount of time I have to waddle my PEI against my Nova Scotia to walk it out is bad, what's worse is I spend half my time outside reaching my hand right up the Bay of Fundy to get my jocks in the right spot before they pinch my balls off. And no, I don't have any geographical euphemism for that.

I've been having a time dealing with a bit of blog fade since shortly after getting back from Vegas. Conservative politicians still eliminationist prejudice bags?  Check. Human and civil rights levels eroding in the western countries? Check. Creationists still trying to destroy education in the US and make inroads into other countries? Check. Ennui setting in? Yep-a-roo.

Summer blahs it is then.

Some time away camping has contributed to some recharge of the batteries.

A couple of weeks ago Mrs Gaijin and I went out set on doing a bit of weekend camping. So we load up the car and head off to Goshikihama on Awaji Shima. There we unloaded the car and got moving on setting up our tent. Let's clarify shall we. Mrs Gaijin walked the dog and I gound a way to drive tent pegs into hard packed, parched dirt with a spork. The spork survived.

Now it's important to understand that the weather was pretty, what comes after scalding? The other thing to remember is that the dog is a Canadian born Norwegian. I think he's a dual citizen. I'll check his passport. The takeaway here is that weatherwise the Norwegians also have a word for Moosehead. That tell's you all you need to know.

Goshikihama is a nice place but has that stuctured Japanese feeling. The drives around Awaji Jima are pleasant enough but don't always excite. Still, a weekend away is a weekend drinking booze while barbequing random meets.

2008 7 20_0011

Last weekend we went down through Wakayama to the campground in Hikigawa, near Shirahama. The campground, a nice flat clearing with a central kitchen pit, was about half full. Just down behind our spot was the river running down to the sea. The river was beautifully clear and swift, the water cool and refreshing against the heat and humidity. The dog however couldn't have been more opposed to the water; a thousand years of breeding has produced a hearty, sturdy buhund who doesn't want to mess his hair.

Anyway, more when I get back from Nova Scotia.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Monday morning abuse of power

There's no doubt that there's endless potential for abuse of power with the sweeping increases in police remit and removal of oversight that has occurred over the last few years. It will continue to get worse. And worse yet we'll come to accept it as just part of life, like traffic jams.
BBC NEWS | UK | England | Terror police detain disabled boy
A police force has apologised after a disabled child and his parents claimed they were detained at a Channel crossing point under the Terrorism Act.
How did this happen? Well...
Ms Maynard, a legal advocate, said the officer, who failed to identify who she was, asked for the family's passports then asked "who's the boy?"
"My son is mixed race and the officer then told us, 'I believe you are child trafficking'."
When Ms Maynard asked the woman officer if she would be asked the same question if her son was white, she said the officer replied: "Are you accusing me of being a racist?"
To answer your question: yes, yes I am. You are a racist. And abuser of power.

I'm going to live among these people...

These things make me laugh and despair. How is it even possible that this is what people think 999 is for?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday Afternoon Random Ten

With the heat and humidity being what it is, I just can't be arsed, so here's a random ten from the iPod and sod all else until tomorrow at the earliest.

  1. Pepper Butthole Surfers
  2. Jupiter: The Bringer of Jollity Holst
  3. Jesus Thinks You're a Jerk Frank Zappa
  4. Thief Our Lady Peace
  5. I'll Find My Way Home Jon and Vangelis
  6. Round and Round Frozen Ghost
  7. Shaving My Neck Gene Loves Jezebel
  8. Deeper Underground Jamiroquai
  9. Good Nurse The Constantines
  10. Sure as I'm Sitting Here John Hiatt

Inevitable conclusion: My iPod is a fucked up place to inhabit.

Found in Dotembori


Dotembori is one of the main entertainment districts in Osaka. It's famous for food, noise, drinking, the Kuidaore drumming robot (RIP) and, at one end, just a hint of hentai.

One time the wife and I were after a bite to eat at Kuidaore and took in a bit of a stroll around the area. For those of you who haven't been, it's a lively, vibrant area with any number of drunken revellers stumbling around.

Down at the end is a slightly dodgy end culminating in a small storefront that offers this sign:

Japan 003_edited-1

If you can't read that it's:

Masturbation room of oncoming generation.

Explain it does not what they are on coming.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

'Nuff Said About Woo

Just be careful which naturopathic doctor you go to. Sure not all of them are wanted for crimes against humanity, but can you afford to take the risk?
Wanted fugitive Radovan Karadzic developed alter ego as New Age doctor - Times Online
The mysterious old man with the flowing white beard who exuded spirituality and became a celebrated alternative healer went by the name of Dr Dragan David Dabic. Yesterday he was unmasked as one of the world’s most wanted fugitives, living an extraordinary double life in the midst of those seeking him for war crimes.

Radovan Karadzic may have been lionised in folk songs by Serb nationalists for his ability to avoid capture. Not even his most imaginative supporters would have guessed that he was hiding behind a New Age persona, providing a bio-energy boost and “human quantum energy” for clients in a Belgrade suburb.

Nippon and woo

The amount of woo and magic in Japanese daily life amazes me. I should probably do a post on it somewhere along the lines. There's magic water, palm readings, blood type astrology, wish boards at shrines, nutrition woo up the wazoo...the list goes on.
So it just doesn't surprise me to see this headline courtesy of the Times.
Acupuncture used to improve flavour of tuna for sushi - Times Online
Their prized terriers are given samba-dancing lessons, their choicest beef herds are treated to daily massages and now, in an effort to produce the most delicious sushi in the world, Japanese tuna are to be given acupuncture.

What possible use is accupuncture for a fucking fish?
The company in Osaka that patented the technique claimed that calm tuna thrashed about less in their death throes. Once the fish have received the brief treatment the blood becomes purer and the flesh has a better flavour, Toshiro Urabe, the president of the Osakana Planning Company, said.

The tuna do not need to be dosed with chemicals to keep them tasting fresh during transportation.

The acupuncture can be used on bream and the company plans to begin testing it on salmon.

Oh, hell.
This comes at a time when the procedure has been shown again to not really do a fucking thing, this time for IVF. Since it seems that acupuncture works primarily as a placebo, and fish likely don't respond to a placebo what are the odds that any sushi improvement is basically wishful thinking?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Because the Brits can't hang onto anything if it's labelled 'Sensitive'

Thief swipes cabinet minister's laptop from Salford office | The Register
Gordon Brown’s government has lost another batch of sensitive information, this time courtesy of one of his own cabinet ministers.

A laptop belonging to Hazel Blears, the Communities and Local Government secretary, was stolen from her constituency office in Salford over the weekend, it emerged this afternoon.

Whoa. Stop press. Not a Laptop. Desktop. Someone smuggled (under a trenchcoat no less, in a detail that I just made up while drunkenly typing this) a DESKTOP out of the office.
Gov claims 'password protection' OK for sensitive docs | The Register
Meanwhile, it emerged that contrary to initial reports, the missing PC wasn’t a laptop but a desktop. So not only was sensitive information wrongly downloaded, it was downloaded to a machine that by definition would have spent its days in Salford, rather than being kept close to the minister’s side.

I want to be more sarcastic but alcohol and sheer exasperation prevent it.
N.B. I corrected a grocer's apostrophe in the title of the post.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Boom shaka lak

Periodically, when living in a city that was bombed shitless somewhere in the last 60 years, this sort of thing happens:
News from The Associated Press
About 5,400 residents were evacuated in Osaka in western Japan and flights at nearby airports were rerouted Sunday as army experts disposed of a large unexploded bomb believed to have been dropped by the U.S. military during World War II, authorities said.

At least I won't have to worry about this sort of thing when we're back in London.


This will be in my brain all day.

Some Hiring Decisions are Better than Others

I'm an unabashed fan of Batman Begins and a lot of the credit goes to Christopher Nolan. And I'm really looking forward to The Dark Knight. (After this can we have a moratorium on the Joker?)
But imagine for a moment a different hiring decision.
Chilling, isn't it?

Friday, July 11, 2008

From the Department of No Statute of Limitations

Holy Hell! There's still a Nazi war criminal out there? (Where the fuck is the interrobang on this keyboard? Bloody Japanese keyboard) What was he, the last guy into the Hitler Youth?
If you took a picture of my grandmother from that era, you'd be able to match it to anyone in her retirement home.
I'm not saying don't go after this guy, but I am saying good luck. You may need it.
BBC NEWS | Americas | On the trail of 'Dr Death'
Aribert Heim's crimes rank among the worst of the Holocaust, and after a hunt that has spanned almost half a century, Nazi-hunters believe they are closing in on him.

So how are things at the Anglican Church this week?

So how's that split coming? Pretty well by all indications.
First of all, they've decided for now not to split from the Anglican church, just to start a new church in the church and liberals can't join it. But it's not a split.
Evangelical Christians sign up to a 'Church within a Church' -Times Online
It's up to you to figure out the difference.
Remember it's all about equality, just some being more equal.

Anglicans in England formally accept the idea of women bishops
While Anglicans in some countries fight about the place of homosexuals in the church, the parent church in Britain has decided a point already settled in Canada: women can be bishops.

Yeah, that'll bring 'em back to the table.
The funny part? The conservative types, as laughable as their hatred of everything post-1400 can be, are in the right biblically and theologically.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Losing weight by going Joggins

My grandfather was a rock hound for his whole life. Several times he took me out to the Joggins Fossil Cliffs. He insisted that it was one of the best places in the world for fossil hunting. Now keep in mind that he never really saw the need for travel, saying that Amherst, Nova Scotia had everything you'd ever want to see. Amherst, the Gateway to Cumberland County.
He has, however, been vindicated on the Joggins issue.
Nova Scotia's Joggins fossil cliffs named World Heritage Site
Nova Scotia's Joggins fossil cliffs, regarded as the best record of life in the Coal Age 300 million years ago, have been added to the exclusive ranks of World Heritage Sites designated by UNESCO.

Puttin' on the Ritz.

This is apparently because of this.
And that clarification takes 10 minutes off my community service.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Facts can't win.

If this guy is right, and facts can't win over conspiratorial thinking, we're all pretty much fucked in the ear.

Why facts won’t demolish the conspiracy theories | spiked
Sometimes it appears as if Western societies have regressed, adopting a medieval attitude towards calamitous acts. Back in the Dark Ages, people regarded accidents, disasters and other acts of misfortune as the work of hidden forces. Accidents did not happen, apparently – they were intentionally caused, either by divine or malevolent forces. Misdeeds were often said to have been caused by people who had been manipulated by ‘evil forces’.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

New Mosque in Calgary

And why do I care?
Well, cause it's an Ahmadiyya mosque. I've mentioned the persecution that they go through in Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and so on because the hard core fundamentalists don't consider them as actual Muslims. (Remember, there is no compulsion in religion.)
This mosque looks to be the biggest in North America, following on from the Merton Mosque which is the largest in Western Europe.
If you're in Calgary, drop by and see it. It's bound to be a nice building.

Oh yeah, that's a great fucking idea.

Shorter Jacqui Smith: Photography isn't illegal, but I'll leave it up to the police whether or not to arrest you for it.
UK Home Secretary green-lights harassment of photographers in public places - Boing Boing

Monday, July 07, 2008

Video and Photography for Me, but not Thee

Now I can relax.

And all this time I've been wondering if the WTC 7 could have actually fallen due to damage and gravity. Soon, I'll know.
Thanks BBC. It's what your license fee is for.
BBC NEWS | Americas | Third tower mystery 'solved'

Waterboarding Mystery Solved.

Let's start with an admission. My anti-establishment streak loves his contrarian stance (Iraq War not withstanding) on so many subjects. He's got a great way with words, even on the Iraq War.
And anybody who listens to Rabbi Gordon Schumway's definition of god and dismisses it as so much "white noise" gets some respect from me.
His stance on waterboarding, et al has not had my support. Categorically not. Anyone who even acknowledges, let alone promotes, the horrible euphemism of "enhanced interrogation techniques" loses several points on his personal status Nasdaq right there.
To his credit, when challenged he underwent waterboarding. And lo', he hath seen the light:
Believe Me, It's Torture: Politics & Power:
You may have read by now the official lie about this treatment, which is that it “simulates” the feeling of drowning. This is not the case. You feel that you are drowning because you are drowning—or, rather, being drowned, albeit slowly and under controlled conditions and at the mercy (or otherwise) of those who are applying the pressure. The “board” is the instrument, not the method. You are not being boarded. You are being watered.

Wow, you can here the tune change faster than Patsy Cline finishing her set opening for Henry Rollins.
And you can watch it here.
(HT to The Rev , Dispatches and Crooks and Liars for getting there before me.)
Bonus Torture Comment:
The Rev notices something that came up on Slate the other day, namely that the torture techniques and program are lifted from 1950's era Chinese techniques to elicit false confessions.
That's some mighty fine interrogation, Lou.

From the Never Underestimate the British Public Files

I just don't know what to say to people who call a phone number they saw on the telly.
Dr Who fans' anger as 2,500 try and call Doctor's mobile number shown during show | Mail Online
More than 2,500 fans - whipped into a frenzy of anticipation after a cliffhanger ending in which it appeared that star David Tennant might be leaving as the Doctor began regenerating - dialled it before the last episode aired on Saturday.

One fan complained: 'They showed that number so many times, as if they were asking for it to be called.'

But their attempts to contact their hero on his personal number - 07700 900461 - came to nothing when they discovered that it would not connect-Writing on the BBC's website, one disgruntled viewer said: 'Grrr - I phoned the Doctor's phone number but there was just an annoying network message.

'What's the point in showing a phone number if you're not gonna use it?!'

What the fuck did you think was going to happen? Did you really think that you'd call the TARDIS?
Eat some pie and mash and leave the phone alone.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Can I ask WTF now?

Is there even a need to play Spot the Bullshit Logic with this crank.
Charles "Chuck" Colson: There Are No Atheists - On Faith at
Yes, even atheists pray because the image of God is implanted in us.
I have, in fact, never met an atheist. When a person professes to be one, I ask him to offer me the proof that God does not exist. I’ve never had anyone successfully respond to that question. Most retreat and say they’re really agnostics. I then ask them if they have examined every religion exhaustively. Their answer is usually no. I explain they cannot be agnostics unless they are sure that God can’t be known.

There are no atheists. There are simply people whose pride overwhelms their innate knowledge.

Found this through the comments at Dispatches: Dispatches from the Culture Wars: Only Christians Pray

Friday, July 04, 2008

And with this action we all become a little less safe.

I don't think it's a secret that I'm against no-fly lists and other silliness. If it is a secret, you haven't been reading this blog. (If stats are any indications non-readers number just over 6 billion; it's like being the anti-MacDonald's)
So now the US no-fly list is around a million and generous estimates indicate that the number of actual or suspected terrorists is under 30, possibly under 20 while the number of Bush regime critics is close to a million, including Teddy Kennedy and Nelson Mandela.
Well, up until now. Mandela, at the age of maybe 160, is no longer an existential threat to the US and its freedoms.
Well, done Nelson.
BBC NEWS | Americas | Mandela taken off US terror list

You're religious intolerance makes puppy cry...

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Ah, fer chrissakes...

I actually swear less than most pages on the net? How the fuck is that possible? In real life I'd make a sailor with Tourrete's Syndrome blush.
The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?
OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets

Bonus: To see what happens when you use this to compare yourself to civil conservatives, follow this link.

With a Norwegian Dog?

I've frequently mentioned our now 4 and a half year old Norwegian Buhund, also called a Norsk Buhund and Norwegian Sheepdog. Many people (now totalling almost 3/4) have asked, what kind of dog?

Well, courtesy of YouTube, here are two videos the first giving a summary of the breed, the second neatly encapsulating the experience of living with one.

The Good Fight

Anything you can do to fight back is good. This is something you need get on board with before most of the population of Canada becomes unknowingly criminalized.
Boing Boing is doing a great job with this issue and is the source of most of these links.

Michael Geist - The Unofficial Canadian DMCA Background Document
Michael Geist - Report Says Canadian DMCA To Include $500 Fine Per Download
Canadian Industry Minister Jim Prentice loads the DMCA, aims it at Canada's temple, and pulls the trigger - Boing Boing
Michael Geist - The Canadian DMCA: Check the Fine Print
Canadians: write to your MPs about Canada's disastrous new copyright bill - Boing Boing
Copyright for Canadians » Header Only
What question do you want to ask Canada's Industry Minister about the Canadian DMCA? - Boing Boing
Canada's DMCA: public service announcement - Boing Boing
Canadian Industry Minister lies about his Canadian DMCA on national radio, then hangs up - Boing Boing
Dance mix of Canadian Minister of Industry Jim Prentice lying about Canadian DMCA - Boing Boing
Canadian free software/open source advocates fight the Canadian DMCA - Boing Boing
Fiery and funny rhetoric in Canadian Parliament over the Canadian DMCA - Boing Boing
Ask Canadian Industry Minister questions about the DMCA at the Calgary Stampede this Saturday - Boing Boing
Fair Copyright for Canada materials to bring to the Calgary Stampede this Saturday - Boing Boing
Also keeping an eye on it are the ink-stained wretches at the Galloping Beaver
The Galloping Beaver: Jim Prentice is a liar...
And SFFaudio:
SFFaudio » Blog Archive » WALL-E, a Bill C-61 copyright criminal.
The issue is simple: Consumer rights for fair practices vs. A draconian bill basically written by American media companies.
You don't have to be [name of your favourite really smart person or well respected job requiring intellectual acumen here] to figure this out.

Just 10?

Ten is all you can do? Christus, watch Olbermann for a week.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

What's up with our friends over at the Anglican Church

Ah, the Church of England.
If you're English, don't attend church or have religious views, if you don't believe in either relgion or God then when asked to fill out forms you put "CofE" next to "Religion."
The sweet mediocrity of the Anglican Church is often in stark contrast to the increasing conservatism of the Catholic pontificate and the fire-and-brimstone insane rantings of large numbers of American Baptists and most American public religious figures.
So what's going on now?
Well, it looks like they've found a bunch of Anglicans who can unite around the fact that they don't like how women and gays are being treated by the church. And it's threatening schism.
The irony here is that the ones threatening to leave are, of course, the one's united against equality or fair treatment of gays and women.(Is it even ironic anymore? Aren't the most religious ones always against extending the love of Christ to everyone?)
BBC NEWS | Special Reports | Factfile: Anglican Church around the world
BBC NEWS | UK | Clergy revolt over women bishops
BBC NEWS | UK | Anglican rift: Conservative v Liberal
But wait, there's more:
Conservative Anglicans vow to fight 'false gospel' in liberal churches
Conservative Anglicans form global network | World news |
Conservative Anglicans form breakaway orthodox church led from south | World news | The Guardian

Shit! I forgot!

I forgot Canada day yesterday!

Happy 141st to the great Dominion of Canada!

Oh, and I guess I should say Happy Anniversary to my wife as well.

Look, folks, this is important

More so than anything else I'll write today. Link

The What's-the-harm Files

Through The Galloping Beaver:
A wonderful look at the problem of degree mills and the unwillingness of Canadian (and other) media to question credentials.
I dedicate this to Kent Hovind.

The harm of diploma mills at Bene Diction Blogs On

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

How's that security thing coming? Part 2

Via Boing Boing
Somebody, somewhere (the UK) thought this would work.
Airport-style security for UK rail stations blocked | UK news |
Plans to instal airport-style x-ray machines in every London underground and mainline rail stations across the UK were ruled out today amid fears of a passenger rebellion against journey delays.

A handful of bag screening machines and bomb detection dogs will be placed at tube and mainline stations in London and other cities instead, the Department for Transport said.

A trial found that introducing airport-style checks would be impractical and antagonise the public.

Jeezus, people. This is going to collapse under its own weight.
Plus, how hard is it in London to walk to the next station? What's it take, five minutes? Westminster got security? Walk to Embankment. It's right there!

Wow, now that's a takedown

Over at Debunking Christianity Dr Hector Avalos takes the Darwin-Hitler Axis meme over his knee and spanks it pretty good.
Always good to watch.
Debunking Christianity: Avalos Contra Weikart: Part II: Weikart's Seven Darwinian Aspects of Nazism

How's that security thing coming?

Security: we take it seriously until someone really, really complains.
Muslims may not have to undergo sniffer dog checks in UK-UK-World-The Times of India
Muslim passengers may not be touched by sniffer dogs of the British Transport Police after complaints that the practice is against Islam. According to the religion, dogs are deemed to be spiritually “unclean”.

A Transport Department report has raised the prospect that animals should only touch passengers’ luggage because it is considered “more acceptable”, the Daily Express reported. The ban may restrict the efficiency of sniffer dog squads which have been trained to spot terrorists at railway stations.

On Thursday night, British Transport Police insisted that it would still use sniffer dogs with any passengers regardless of faith, but handlers would remain aware of “cultural sensitivities”.

The Transport Department report follows the trials of station security measures in the wake of the 2005 London suicide bomb attacks. In one trial, certain Muslim women said the use of a body scanner was also unacceptable because it amounted to being forced to strip.

Via: Fark
Okay, 2 points.
First: Muhammed kept dogs. Drop the "dogs are unclean" bullshit. It's not big and it's not clever.
Second: I was one of the early people hit with that scanner crap at Heathrow. I don't like it. But I wanted to leave the UK so I had to. So don't worry. I'll be on YouTube with you when they leak these videos.