*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.
Κυνόσαργες

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Excuse my insanity.


This blog is under resurrection/facelift. I appreciate the comments I have recently got, and I have given it better thought.  I am not closing the blog, but the renovation is going to be messy.  Bear with me, please.

Have I mentioned the amount of bi-polar disorder in my family?

As for the Ancient Greek and Latin: sure it's pretentious, but I have to do something with my long-ago BA, 'Major in Philosophy', or it was a complete waste of time... (!).  If you care, there's Google.  If not, I think unknown script looks cool: my favourite is Korean, which no, I can't read.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Thank you, and goodbye.

The year this blog has been active has been an interesting experience, and I have had some great communication, but alas... the blog doesn't do what I want it to do anymore.  I wanted to play with writing about the things I know and the thoughts I have, and now that I have done that for a year, I want to write more seriously, and in longer format.  My longer format pieces have got less readership than the shorter, so this will be blog-suicide.  I've had a naive dream of being a 'writer': trying to start online should soon kill that.

I'd love to tell you more about my plans, but since my new blog may include my full identity, whereas this one does not, I am going to be more judicious in how I use my identity: here I have not, and need to disassociate from it.  'Mr.S.' may also no longer be commenting on your blog.  Thank you for that opportunity.  I'll still be reading yours, if I have before, and I may comment under a new name.  I will not admit any connection between the two names, of course.

Thank you to all of my readers, and especially to those who have commented with their blog linked.  The latter are, in no preferential order:
- Will
- Chris
- BiggerInJapan
- kamo
- Derek
- angrygaijin
- Medea
- Brian
- sixmats
- octopus
- Martin
- jay@newzjapan
- Blue Shoe
- Our Man in Abiko
- loneleeplanet
- Robbie

Keep writing.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

'What's old is new', or not?

Old: Brooks Titanium Swallow, 307g, $400 US. More expensive, requires upkeep, weather-sensitive, heavier; time-tested and classic.

New: Fizik Kurve, 220g, over $200 US.  Cheaper, low-maintenance, weather-resistant, lighter; unproven and soon dated.

I own the top one*, but have never had my hands on the bottom.  The Fizik has copied the rail-suspension system of Brooks et al. but in aluminum and plastic (... carbon-composite).  It may be great, or not, but the points of comparison above stand.  It's certainly clever, but I am a fan of proven and older technologies, as in an earlier post.

*Went to get a Brooks for my road bike a few years back.  Was looking at a $200 CAD 'Professional' at Curbside.  Shop-dude brings down the $500 CAD 'Swallow' to ask me if I'm interested.  I tell him that's what I want, but there's no way I can afford to spend that while saving for a wedding ring.
It's on sale for half-price.
Here's my credit card...

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

UC Davis Chancellor Katehi's Walk of Shame.

Hundreds of silent students make UC Davis chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi take the 'walk of shame' to her car.  Powerful.



I'd feel pity for her being the scapegoat*, until I read her self-justification for letting lose the campus pigs with pepper-spray.  Read it if you'd like, but I can paraphrase: it's not my fault, the kids brought it on themselves, some of them weren't even 'one of us'.

We have to scorn the cops, as I already posted.  Also filth like her.  The first message we give the rest of the 99% is that the cops, and the 1% who run them, do not rule by our consent, but by violence.  The cops and the 'elites' don't care, but we care, and they'll care when too few of us believe in them to run their system.  Violent or peaceful, that's how a revolution is won. She ought to thank whatever she believes in that no kid suffocated on that spray.  It will happen yet, and people are pissed-off already.  Going to be ugly.

Quite a number of people are cancelling employment, or lectures at UC Davis, or speaking out as faculty about their own abuse by her cops, and putting it on her.  Hope the door doesn't hit her too hard in the ass on her way out, because the university board's going to scapegoat her to try to keep it from sticking to them.  Good luck with that, cowards.

*No, no pity.  Seems like this is in character (link sent in comments below).   %$#@ deserves whatever she gets.

"Bad decisions make great stories."

Most of the following links from Treadly, whose blog has risen from the dead.


Seattle Randonneurs Trailer from Dan McComb on Vimeo.

Ha, I think that should be the motto for Chris' blog. Has nothing to do with bicycling, but will tell you more things about the Japanese and Gaijin than you expected to learn.

Returning to the theme of the video, I have just about got my ride set up for randonneuring, which I will display when done, explain, etc.  100km rides tend to start in January here in Kanto, then move on to 200km, then 400, 600, and the 1200km ride in Hokkaido...  There's an elegance in long distance riding, which I don't see in racing or in mountain biking; those sports have their own pleasures, but competing against strangers and hopping logs is not elegant - if otherwise cool.

I have my own take on this, but here's another good one on staying alive riding in traffic.  It would help if drivers would put the fucking phone down, and the Blackberry outage proves it.  And if you don't like red-light cameras, maybe it's because you're too stupid to slow the fuck down!  Racing is cool, on a track.

Back to the title, I've had a few bad decisions turn into great stories (but nothing on Chris!):
- hiking in a typhoon
- hiking at night in the mountains without any light, in clouds, during a new moon, along a cliff
- riding over two 1500m passes, over 160km, on a crap bike
- taking a dart on the bridge of my nose
- putting a few cars in ditches in my youth (which is how I know fast drivers are immature)
- winter camping, several times, in Canada
- winter riding in Toronto
- crossing 5km of very bad water on Georgian Bay in the cold, without a wet or dry-suit, alone in a kayak, with a leaky spray-skirt, without anyone to rescue me from hypothermia if I had fallen over... and I still don't know how to roll (this probably the most stupid and luckiest to survive)
- a loud, unintentional full chiropractic adjustment in a bad landing during Aikido that made three dozen people look to see if I'd ever walk again.  Never felt better
- unprotected sex with an ovulating nutter...  Wait, that's my wife!

Yeah, pretty mild.  What have you got?

Monday, 21 November 2011

Blog Anniversary: 30 240 views; 180 posts, big and small.

More for my own sake, because I don't know how many readers I have: this is what my blog has got in a year.

Most popular posts: I should hate-on Canada more.


Referring sites and keywords: Google hits mean shit, but thank you to the others; Canada makes people angry as fuck.

Overview: wish my popularity did not spike with tragedy.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Some day someone's going to ask...

why they've been taking 'a knife to a gun fight.'  Just saying.

You want a link to ten scenes of gratuitous police violence, for which none of the fucks will be charged?  Kind of makes you wonder if they've not been paid to terrorize...

Or a mercenary.

東大 Blows

Went out with the native-wife and two older friends of hers last night for bits of endangered fish: no whale.  The husband of the pair is mid-fifties, speaks English pretty well,* and is the VP for a couple of countries of a Japanese automobile-related company you've never heard of.  He went to a mid-tier university, from a middle-class family, and worked his way to where he is.
A couple of tokkuri in#, he asks me about education.  Well, I am a teacher: I've taught elementary in Canada, and been a body in a Japanese JHS: AET.  He asks me what I think of Japan compared to Canada.  Now I'm in the position of being critical of my host's country, but since he'd lived in mine for a few years, and he's damned smart, I can't dick around with him either.  So what do I do?  I told him that my opinion may not match his, and it certainly doesn't match my own wife's, but here it is anyway.
Your elementary is better, but your junior and high school doesn't cut it.  You teach your kids far more information in elementary than we do, but you don't teach them to think later on.  That's no problem in elementary, because kids don't know anything yet, so how can they have a real opinion, and we're wrong about that in the West.  In JHS and HS, they need to think, not memorize.  Especially now that you can get information immediately, why bother to memorize: learn to find it and use it.
He smiled at me and said, "That's what I think, too."  He also told me that their Tokyo University and Waseda graduates were smart enough, but useless: always asking what they should do - never thinking on their own.  I have said this plenty on my blog; I have said this plenty to my native-wife; damn it was good to have him tell her this!  She has to listen to him, the husband of her senpai.  Japan's problem is those 'elite-university' idiots run the country, but that is little different than the 'Ivy League.'

*... a lot better than my Japanese, so I'm no position to criticize.
# I will always recommend good sake/nihon-shu over anything else for a less painful hangover, and warn you off bad sake for the worst. Do not even consider shochu, and nobody but Okinawans will drink awamori.

Scorn the Collaborators: Start with 'The Filth'



My best friend from my twenties in Japan became the top-spook for CSIS (Canada's low-rent branch of the CIA/NSA) in a Muslim country.  I won't speak with him anymore.  I gave him the courtesy of telling him that it wasn't possible that his position accords with any understanding of democracy or decency, or even Canadian sovereignty or good state-craft, but I blocked him from making any response.  In his position, what would he be allowed to say that wasn't part of the script, and even if he were allowed, how could he square the cognitive dissonance considering himself decent and having any part in getting people sent for torture?*

I have offended mutual friends, but that says more about them than me.  This article points to some better information on the Milgram Experiments and the Stanford Prison Experiment, which everyone needs to be aware of if they have to live among humans: in short, your 'neighbour' would send you to Dachau.  It's self-serving for me to quote this, but it's no less correct:

In “When Groups are Wrong and Deviants are Right,” published last year in The European Journal of Social Psychology, Australian academics argue that group members are often hostile to people who buck conformity, even if the members later agree with the dissenter.
Even when, say, a whistle-blower may prove to be correct, she is not always admired or accepted back into the fold, the academics found. Rather, the group may still feel angry that the whistle-blower damaged its cohesion.
Yes, high school never ends.

It often seems there's nothing to do about the injustice in the world: your power is too small, and there are too few who would join you.  It's still true, for the most part, though the 'Occupy' movement has some traction.  Even if it gets bigger, expect it to be co-opted by the same people who brought our society to this, or taken over by the usual manqué-elite. Who else has the time and the influence?  No, there are two things we can do right now, no matter what your opinions are on 'a diversity of tactics': not collaborate, and scorn the collaborators you know.  In the Milgram and Stanford Prison experiments, as well as popular revolt, the first step is to refuse to collaborate, and it is a powerful one: the machine requires collaboration.  It's also the message of the Gospels.**  It is also the basis of the best question I heard a priest ask his congregation: we all 'know' we would have protected Jews and fought the Nazis - what have you done to 'know' you are better than the majority of Germans?


I'm fully aware you can't be absolute about it.  I know I am enmeshed with some people who've made choices I am wary of, such as family members who worked for Wall Street companies, and that it's not possible to live in our economy without being fouled; however, aim for the biggest 'low-hanging fruit'.  I have.  It's nearly useless to scorn 'the 1%', because you can't reach them.  Scorn their agents, because they are nothing without the dupes who work for them, against their own larger interests.  Remember Europe, 1989.


As a start, we should scorn all police.  If you have a friend or family member who is a cop, cut them out of your life.  Extreme?  Not at all.  You may think that only 'a few bad apples' pepper spray (torture) non-violent demonstrators, including 84 year old women, and in a limited way you are correct.  But let me ask you this, when such 'bad apples' remove their badges and put on masks to get away with violence on unarmed people, or run their own drug and prostitution rings, how many of their colleagues will testify against them?  Eh?  Fuck them all.


Maybe not fuck them all.  There are a couple of cops who grew a conscience after they retired, and now speak up (how much nicer if they had done so before).  The onus is on any cop you know to prove himself.  By virtue of association, they are guilty, until proven innocent.


*I am against torture, capital punishment and extra-judicial sentencing for various reasons, but the most important come in this order:
- States have shown they cannot be trusted with these powers
- agents of the State too often nab the wrong person, especially if their complexion is darker than the agents'
- torture and capital punishment demean the perpetrators of it, even should the subject have earned it
- if someone's guilty, charge them  on the evidence; if you won't (Bin Laden) it's because you are afraid of what they may say
- torture gets bad intelligence
- I am happy to pay to quarantine murderers, rapists, etc. for the entirety of their lives - I see no reason to sink to their level
- the expense argument is BS - it's far cheaper to incarcerate someone for life than to put them on death row

**I am no Christian, but was raised a Catholic: a church so twisted to operate in contradiction to the message of its messiah.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Oh, look! Another Fucking 'Chicken-Hawk'!

What an ass Frank Miller is.  Read 'The Guardian' piece on how he slandered the Occupy movement, and consider that his blood-soaked homoerotic comic strips are uninformed by any risk or sacrifice on his part.
In the name of decency, go home to your parents, you losers. Go back to your mommas' basements and play with your Lords Of Warcraft. Or better yet, enlist for the real thing. Maybe our military could whip some of you into shape.
Despite all the acclaim he got for 'Sin City' and '300', I thought that they were pretty typical 'torture porn'.  'The Dark Knight Returns' I'll give him credit for, but... some people are corrupted by success, aren't they?  He ain't no Alan Moore, in politics or in talent.

Guardian has commented well.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Benediction

I don't know if the word is meaningful to me as an aetheist-Catholic*, or it's more scathing use in Lu Xun's 'Benediction', which left me a lasting impression.  However little I believe in god+, there are moments where you are blessed.  Since we have so much to complain about, I'll share one of mine.  One of them that keeps me from jumping in front of a train (the main one, my wife and child).  Be forewarned of sappiness.  You look at the world differently with a kid.
I'm waiting for the native-wife to come out of an Ueno Starbucks with our coffees, but there must be a line, because I'm spending about ten minutes keeping the kid happy by tickling him, and acting like an ass.  He's a year-and-a-half, but he belly-laughs.  He's also cute, or I should say: Japanese think he's cute because he's a fair, big-eyed, half; I think he's cute because he's mine.  A well-presented Japanese couple comes out of the same shop: she's close to forty, him more to fifty.  She's as big as the picture.  She looks down at us where I'm crouched with him and smiles, and reflexively puts her hand on her belly; he smiles at her, and puts his hand on her back to help her down the stairs.

For once, I did not feel like a Gaijin with a cute half, getting attention.  I felt their happiness at their late, unexpected, chance for a baby.

*Because like Judaism, you never really leave.
+Not at all.

Quote of the Day: Veteran at Occupy

I went and fought for capitalism and that's why I'm now a Marxist.
- Army Specialist Jerry Bordeleau
Fucking the vets might turn out to be the biggest mistake the 1% made.  Politicizing them would be the biggest success the Occupy movement can make.  I'm no Marxist, though that dude's earned the right to his opinion.  Enjoying reading about 'Wobblies' pamphlets available there: one union versus all the corporations is the way to punch above your individual weight class.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Sorry this blog is going political (and losing the Japan and bicycle posts),

but times are fucked up.

Good god, just days ago I wrote this comment:
Is this crap about Iran the new distraction? Well-timed to distract against a citizen's movement? Iran, at best, is Iraq's problem. They are a nuisance, but not an existential threat, to countries without a shared border: Israel.

If we are lucky, the 1% has lost the plot; if we are unlucky they'll resort to fascism to get it back. At a certain point they may decide if they don't enslave us, they'll lose it all. If they make that choice... the rest of us have all the authority we need
And so it comes to this:
Yet alarmingly, the assumption that Obama would never be so dumb as to start another Middle East war [Iran] is questioned.
Just what American money, military, or public consensus is still up to fighting strength to do that?   And 'nuclear proliferation'... how is it the purview of the old nuclear states under international law to have the authority to police emerging nuclear states?  Besides, we're looking at it the wrong way round.  MAD works (until it doesn't...)!  America never directly went to war with the USSR, China, or North Korea.  Hmm...  Not my preferred version of peace, but in this world I'll take what I can get.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Quote of the Day: 'self-attribution fallacy'.

Been saying this for years...
If you have psychopathic tendencies and are born to a poor family, you're likely to go to prison. If you have psychopathic tendencies and are born to a rich family, you're likely to go to business school.

documentary website
And in Oakland it looks like the police have been instructed to bring in les agents provocateurs.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Quote of the Day: Tiabbi on Wall Street's 'Noble Lie'

Noble Lie?
Were there a lot of people who wouldn’t have gotten homes twenty or thirty years ago who are now in foreclosure thanks to government efforts to make mortgages more available? Sure – no question.
But did any of that have anything at all to do with the explosion of subprime home lending that caused the gigantic speculative bubble of the mid-2000s, or the crash that followed?
Not even slightly. The whole premise is preposterous. And Mike Bloomberg knows it.
In order for this vision of history to be true, one would have to imagine that all of these banks were dragged, kicking and screaming, to the altar of home lending, forced against their will to create huge volumes of home loans for unqualified borrowers.
In fact, just the opposite was true. This was an orgiastic stampede of lending, undertaken with something very like bloodlust. Far from being dragged into poor neighborhoods and forced to give out home loans to jobless black folk, companies like Countrywide and New Century charged into suburbs and exurbs from coast to coast with the enthusiasm of Rwandan machete mobs, looking to create as many loans as they could.
 

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Quote of the Day II: pissed off, weapons-trained, 99%ers


Here's a thoughtful quotation:

2nd time I’ve fought for my country. 1st time I’ve known my enemy.

Throwing grenades at a vet... really fucking stupid.  Now there's a group called "US Veterans of the 99%".

Addendum: fucking cops busted the spleen of another vet in Oakland, and left him on the floor of a cell for hours.  Lucky he's not dead, for the vet and their legal department.  Wait... 'the filth' never get charged.  You'd need a pig to tell the truth about another.

Been a long time coming...

Fuck yes.

And it looks like the mercenaries are getting ready to switch sides.

Quote of the Day: Glen Greenwald on Washington.

"In this world, it is perfectly fine to say that a president is inept or even somewhat corrupt. A titillating, tawdry sex scandal, such as the Bill Clinton brouhaha, can be fun, even desirable as a way of keeping entertainment levels high. Such revelations are all just part of the political cycle. But to acknowledge that our highest political officials are felons (which is what people are, by definition, who break our laws) or war criminals (which is what people are, by definition, who violate the laws of war) is to threaten the system of power, and that is unthinkable. Above all else, media figures are desperate to maintain the current power structure, as it is their role within it that provides them with prominence, wealth, and self-esteem. Their prime mandate then becomes protecting and defending Washington, which means attacking anyone who would dare suggest that the government has been criminal at its core." (my bolds and underlines - Mr.S.)