Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday Afternoon Random Ten

Lazy and thinking my iPod can do my posting for me.

  1. My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mamma Frank Zappa
  2. These Days Johnny Clegg and Savuka
  3. Tu Mile Dil Khile Best Hindi Hits
  4. Temple of Love (Extended Mix) The Sisters of Mercy
  5. The Chemical Workers Song (Process Man) Great Big Sea
  6. I Kill Children Dead Kennedys
  7. Shut Up and Listen Hothouse Flowers
  8. Superstition (Live) Stevie Ray Vaughan
  9. Jarhand Immaculate Machine
  10. Everytime I See Your Picture Luba

Dispatches from the Culture Wars: Why I Love Virginia Postrel
Andrew Sullivan

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Omedeto gozaimasu

Two good friends PL and RW are getting married today back in Canada.

With the upcoming move, Mrs Gaijin and I aren't able to attend the wedding. But we want to extend our best wishes, love and congratulations to both of them as they begin their lives together.

All the best to them both.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Too much time watching Cheech and Chong I guess.

Sumo career goes up in smoke | The Japan Times Online
Wakanoho has become not only the first active sekitori wrestler to be arrested, but also the first active wrestler to be dismissed in sumo history. His arrest on suspicion of possession of marijuana shows that the sumo association's ability to teach its wrestlers proper behavior has weakened.

The Russian wrestler is suspected of possessing a cigarette containing cannabis on a street near JR Kinshicho Station in Sumida Ward, Tokyo, on June 24. His alleged offense came to light after a wallet he lost was turned in to police. It contained the cigarette and his alien registration card. Police also seized a cannabis pipe from the Magaki sumo stable to which he belonged as well as from his condominium.

It's not like weed is a performance enhancer. It was a bit of a toke. You don't think you're over-reacting, do you?

Speaking of the UK

David Miliband, who with 999 other members of his extended family could form one band, is coming closer to No. 10 as the premiership of Gordon "I'm not as miserable as other Scotsmen, really" Brown swirls the drain. Now, we already know that the Lib-Dem leader is an Atheist, but how do the members of the current cabinet fare?

AC Grayling has a good column here discussing the benefits of an atheist PM:

When Labour cabinet members were asked about their religious allegiances last December, following Tony Blair's official conversion to Roman Catholicism, it turned out that more than half of them are not believers. The least equivocal about their atheism were the health secretary, Alan Johnson, and foreign secretary David Miliband.

Whoa, over half? And North America is stuck with a bunch of god-blowers?

Grayling makes a couple of other good points:

Atheist leaders are not going to think they are getting messages from Beyond telling them to go to war. They will not cloak themselves in supernaturalistic justifications, as Blair came perilously close to doing when interviewed about the decision to invade Iraq.

Atheist leaders will be sceptical about the claims of religious groups to be more important than other civil society organisations in doing good, getting public funds, meriting special privileges and exemptions from laws, and having seats in the legislature and legal protection from criticism, satire and challenge.

Gee, that would be cool. Imagine the US if George Bush (pick either one) were to think like this.

Best of all

Having a statedly atheist British prime minister makes it more likely that the functional secularity of British life and politics, the foregoing exceptions noted, will become actual secularity. Secularism means that matters of public policy and government are not under the influence, still less control, of sectarian religious interests. The phrase "separation of church and state" does not quite capture the sense in which a genuinely secular arrangement keeps religious voices on a par with all other non-governmental voices in the public square, and all the non-governmental players in the public square separate from the government itself. It means that churches and religious movements have to see themselves as civil society organisations like trades unions, political parties, the Scouts, and so on: with every right to exist, and to have their say, but as self-constituted interest groups no more entitled to a bigger share of the public pie of influence, privilege, tax handouts, and legal exemptions than any other self-appointed interest group.

Yes. What he said.

Did that happen?

Did Harper stand up for Canadian sovereignty?
Canada requires ship registration in Arctic - Yahoo! News
Canada's prime minister moved to firm up control of disputed Arctic waters Wednesday by announcing stricter registration requirements for ships sailing in the Northwest Passage.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said all ships sailing into the Canadian Arctic will be required to report to NORDREG, the Canadian Coast Guard agency that tracks vessels on such journeys. Such registration is currently voluntary.

Did Harper just stand up to the constant grandstanding of the US and Russia about OUR northern waters?
The more I read the article, the more I think he did. I'm looking for the weasel door he left himself to crawl out of.
Bets on how long before he goes to pieces and we get hit with shrapnel?

Leaving Japan: Redux

So here we go again. The same chestnut.

We're on our way again.

Wife transferred back to England.

Dog needs shipping. He's going to hate that.

Us flying. I'm going to hate that.

Job hunts.

Passports (me).


Uncluttering. I get sentimental over clothes ('I went to university with this t-shirt') and asking me to throw away a book is like asking Lance Armstrong to chuck out his remaining nut.

Panicking (more her than me).

Tension fuelled sleepless nights (more me than her).

So the countdown to England has begun. We're gone at end of September.

Rev, I leave Japan to you. Take care of it until I get back.

And try not to let this happen too much:


It's about time people started coming around.

In a poll in the states has shown that people are coming around to a more reasonable point of view:
Pew Research Center: Public Support Falls for Religion’s Role in Politics
Some Americans are having a change of heart about mixing religion and politics. A new survey finds a narrow majority of the public saying that churches and other houses of worship should keep out of political matters and not express their views on day-to-day social and political matters. For a decade, majorities of Americans had voiced support for religious institutions speaking out on such issues.

I might also note that they're coming around to what is the American constitutional point of view.
Four years ago, just 30% of conservatives believed that churches and other houses of worship should stay out of politics. Today, 50% of conservatives express this view.
Really, conservatives? Wow. Is this a shift from poll to poll or are people actually learning the lessons of the last 30 some years of religious entanglement with the right wing and its consequences?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Recently I've been so proud of my fellow Canadians.

I don't see why that should end.
Canadians Separate Religion from Politics: Angus Reid Global Monitor
Many adults in Canada believe politics and religion should not mix, according to a poll by Angus Reid Strategies. 66 per cent of respondents think it is inappropriate for political candidates to talk about their religious beliefs as part of their political campaigns.

Let's compare that to the espoused leanings of the religious in the US, shall we? Hunh, look at that. I don't even need to look it up. I just have to remember the Rick Warren debates from last week.
Speaking of the Rick Warren Commission, check this out:
In addition, 82 per cent of respondents believe it is inappropriate for
religious leaders to urge people to vote for or against a political
Pope, keep it under your enormous hat. Rick Warren, shove off. Anybody who is part of any group with Family in the title, STFU.

That's some fine love and charity, people.

I found this video of Richard Dawkins reading his email.
For those of you who don't know who Richard Dawkins is, turn on a TV to a British programme once in a while. Jeebus.
Friend JHB turned me on to The Blind Watchmaker at an izakaya in Kawasaki many years ago. When travelling in India I found River Out of Eden and Climbing Mt Improbable, both of which I devoured on bus rides around Tamil Nadu. Read those and every other thing he's written.

Richard Dawkins reads his email
The vitriol on display is amazing. If I was getting email like this I'd be less generous than Dawkins is.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Oopsie, late congratulations.

Big Congratulations to Friend MY from Tokyo on her sixth place finish in the marathon in Beijing on Sunday.
You were absolutely brilliant!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Conspiracy Monday

Ever wonder? Ever wonder what goes on in the head of someone who lives in a conspiracy filled world?
Me too. Personally I think it's probably a bit creepy in there. Like a cobweb filled library with the shelved knocked over. Like being trapped in Rush Limbaugh's psyche.
First up, the top 10 conspiracy theories in the UK.
UK news in brief | UK news | The Guardian
· 1 Area 51 exists to investigate aliens (48%)

· 2 9/11 was orchestrated by the US government (38%)

· 3 Apollo landing was a hoax (35%)

· 4 Diana and Dodi were murdered (32%)

· 5 The Illuminati secret society and masons are trying to take over the world (25%)

· 6 Scientologists rule Hollywood (17% )

· 7 Barcodes are really intended to control people (7%)

· 8 Microsoft sends messages via Wingdings (6%)

· 9 US let Pearl Harbour happen (5%)

· 10 The world is run by dinosaur-like reptiles (3%)

As far as each of them go -- uh, sure. Reptiles. Like that could happen in Canada. Nine months of the year our leaders would be running up the hydro bill on heat lamps.
9/11? Gotta say that for all of the debunkings I've heard I'd never seen the bureaucracy arguement before.
Charlie Brooker on 9/11 and conspiracy theorists | Comment is free | The Guardian
The glaring problem - and it's glaring in 6,000 watt neon, so vivid and intense you can see it from space with your eyes glued shut - is that with any 9/11 conspiracy theory you care to babble can be summed up in one word: paperwork.

Imagine the paperwork. Imagine the level of planning, recruitment, coordination, control, and unbelievable nerve required to pull off a conspiracy of that magnitude. Really picture it in detail. At the very least you're talking about hiring hundreds of civil servants cold-hearted enough to turn a blind eye to the murder of thousands of their fellow countrymen. If you were dealing with faultless, emotionless robots - maybe. But this almighty conspiracy was presumably hatched and executed by fallible humans. And if there's one thing we know about humans, it's that our inherent unreliability will always derail the simplest of schemes.

It's hard enough to successfully operate a video shop with a staff of three, for Christ's sake, let alone slaughter thousands and convince the world someone else was to blame.
Hear, hear.

Speaking of Changes in Halifax...

My recent couple of days in Halifax highlighted changes that have gone on in the town since my childhood. The Citadel is now a buzzing hive of educational activities; the Waterfront has revitalized. There are endless tour opportunities. The Public Gardens are better than ever. Not all the food is deep fried. Many, many changes.
Some things have stayed the same. The Citadel hasn't been relocated. Stan Rogers is still the Zeus of the local gods. The Harbour is still the same crystal clear black colour it always has been.
Now to be fair, something I can occasionally be, the North Atlantic is never going to be blue like the Carribean or gin clear like the beaches of Southern Sri Lanka due to algae and the nutrient rich water. You want rich fisheries, you don't get clear water.
Halifax Harbour was for decades a cesspooll, or a septic tank, that you wouldn't want to touch with your hands, let alone let your dingle dangle into.
But, as was announced when I was there, a clean up program of several years has let several of the beaches reopen and lifeguard chairs are now in demand.
The water is still not clear. Like I said, it's the North Atlantic after all, but it is clean and safe.

Halifax harbour, once an open sewer, now open for swimming

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Another unbelivable moment.

Holy fucking hopping shit!
I cannot believe that the refraction of light is something that baffles this lady! Has she never watched a nature documentary that features a waterfall?

Please, please, please tell me this is a joke.
HT to the Bad Astronomer.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Monday, August 11, 2008

Things I learned about my fellow Canadians...

An occurrance out west in Canada had everyone buzzing.

A bus travelling through the Prairies. A guy gets up. And stabs a fellow passenger. And beheads him. And chases the other passengers out of the bus with the head.

Shocking? Yes. Symbolic of the direction of Canadian society? Fuck off.

Page A10 of the Globe and Mail (4 Aug 08) shows that I'm not alone. And my fellow Canadians showed some remarkable sense:

"Now, some of your callous readers suggest they should have stayed and fought. Humans have a nanosecond to choose between "fight or flight." Fortunately, they chose the latter."


"While the bus line might consider metal detectors, the randomness here is unique."


"I may be trading sensibility for sensitivity and can understand the gut reactions most people have had to this incident, but it tells us absolutely nothing about or society, our citizens, our public safety, or public transit."



"However horrifying the brutal decapitation of a passenger may be, it is a freak incident and, with no disrespect intended to the victim or his loved ones, statistically insignificant."

Shocking crime and people respond with level heads?

Only in Canada you say? Pity.

Things I learned in Nova Scotia...

A memorial service is not a time of joy, no matter what anyone says about celebrating a life.

A tiny little town in Nova Scotia can support a surprising number of Tim Horton's.

The smaller the town the fewer the teeth.

The smaller the town the wider the person in the stretch pants.

Apparently you can't own too may ball caps.

Margolian's must be one of the best departments stores there is. I don't care if people are calling it Dayle's now. It's Margolian's to me.

Drivers are incredibly courteous. They continually cede right of way to you so you can make your left turn. Um, wow.

You can talk to anybody. Anybody. It's like the anti-London.

Ornate tattoos with Asian characters or designs are for jackasses. There's nothing like a good blue ink forearm tattoo of an anchor or heart and dagger.

The Little Downtown Diner has amazing ribs.

Nothing happens in small town Nova Scotia on the weekend.

Nothing happens in large town Nova Scotia on the weekend.

Halifax actually has a lot to do. If it's not the weekend.

The top two are visiting points of historical interest and and watching points of maritime hotness.

Some people are not at all understanding if whales do not show up to be watched. Do these peope think they're fucking pets?

You can spend a lot more time at the Halifax Citadel than you did as a kid.

O'Carroll's pub on Upper Water Street is one of the best pubs going. Food - good. Beer - good. Music - good. Atmosphere - incomparable.

The Halifax Citadel has changed so much since I was a kid I couldn't begin to list them all.

Ditto the waterfront area.

Lobster rolls are like manna. Only better.

Average fish and chips in Nova Scotia is better than the top stuff anywhere else. Sorry, England. Whitby's good. Really good, but it ain't Nova Scotia.

Things I learned while travelling...

On Northwest Airlines, the movies could not get worse.

27 Dresses has almost no redeeming features.

Be Kind, Rewind has a few redeeming features.

Also, the service could not get much worse.

Throwing around eggs, chicken and boil in a bag rice does not make oyako-don.

You can't stretch your legs enough.

Children should be muzzled or part of checked luggage.

Your iPod batteries never last long enough.

Neither do laptops batteries.

Nor your Nintendo DS.

Old women love to speak Japanese to you.

Old women you speak Japanese to and help through American customs will give you cookies.

Seven hours is enough time to exhaust all the entertainment possibilities of Detroit airport seven times over.

Hamburgers are cheap and plentiful. The guy in front of you in the line has had dozens already today. Good luck getting around him no matter how wide the concourse.

There is no visible source from them, but there are hoboes inside the secure area.

US Customs is friendlier than their reputation. They have no visible sense of humour however. Don't even test this assertion.

Leaving an airport is the best part.

A three hour layover on the way back is more than enough to exhaust the entertainment possibilities of Detroit airport.

A half empty return flight is a more comfortable flight.

Anchorage is as good a place as any to stop for a hospital break.

Kung Fu Panda is a pretty funny movie.

Airline food varies widely, but Northwest can hit new lows everytime.

Demi Moore movies are shown on airlines because you can't leave the theatre. But you consider it. Every few minutes until the end credits.

And seven times in the ten minutes following the credits.

Taking your shoes off at security is not helping the situation.

If the water is truly a possible threat to security, why isn't the bin of confiscated liquids guarded?