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

Monday 29 April 2013


Compare these three cities I've been a resident of, viewed from space, at close to the same scale:


View Larger Map


View Larger Map


View Larger Map

In each case I have centred the map on its best park, by my evaluation:
- Tokyo's Meiji-jingu and Yoyogi
- Toronto's High Park
- Montréal's Parc du Mont-Royal

What makes each its best park?

A full deciduous tree canopy.  I really did not like Southern California, or South East Asia: I am predisposed to temperate forest tree canopy.  It's the Goldilock's forest: "just right".

For this, among many other things, Montréal is best: its large park is just off downtown and near affordable rental, meaning a poor student as I was could afford to access it.  Toronto's is in an area I cannot afford, as is Tokyo's, but at least Tokyo's (and Montréal's) does not have a stupid public access road through it, with just enough traffic to be a danger, but not enough to have a point: typical of the city.  And although Tokyo has a shocking shortage of tree cover* at least it has reliable transit to get to its parks; too bad about the weekend crowds.

"Green spaces boosts wellbeing of urban dwellers - study"

Very much worth a read, though you must have sensed it already, if you've endured Japan's concrete.  I think I am going to take the J-wife and the hybrids for a circle route through Meiji-jingu on one of this week's weekdays I have off from school.  They ought to know what a forest looks, smells and sounds like.  Sure, there is green in the foothills of the mountains here: artificial cedar plantations.  It will also take me far longer to get there, and there're no young women to look at, just crones.

An odd thing: I only went much for walks in Montréal.  I walk enough in Tokyo, as I do not have a car and wouldn't have one.  I did not so much in Toronto, since it is so spread out it is better to use a bike, if you can brave the idiot drivers, or underground transit, the few places it reaches: getting about on Toronto roads by car, bus or streetcar is next to pointless.  Tokyo has interesting places, of which Toronto has few, but Tokyo's are all clustered around stations.  Stations are separated from each other by highway-ribboned concrete canyons.  Montréal is the only city of the three that is dense (downtown) interesting and has tree cover.  Damn, I should have studied French and stayed...

*The other day I told a joke at an after-work party: "The Japanese definition of 'countryside' is anywhere there are two trees which can touch boughs."

Sunday 28 April 2013

Weren't collaborators once shot...?

SF Pride capitulates, drops Manning 

It might have been legitimate to not honour him, since there are some troubling aspects to his actions (though I judge him to have done far more good than harm, whatever the nuances of his motivations).  However, the leadership of SF Pride has also become like the leadership of Amnesty: co-opted by the 9% to serve the 1%.

The bio for [SF Pride president, Lisa] Williams on SF Pride shows she works for a “political consulting and community advocacy” that serves Democratic Party politics. She “organized satellite offices for the Obama campaign.” She also is the PAC chair of the Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition.

On first glance it's pretty damned clever to get your people in place to knock the teeth out of what few organizations could once 'afflict the powerful'; on a historical reading, it is suicidal.  Suicide can take a while to come about: when you take away any effectiveness of the democratic and non-violent means of protest, well... what are people left with?

Greenwald's just posted, with better bon mots than mine:
...the very high-minded ethical standards of Lisa L Williams and the SF Pride Board apply only to young and powerless Army Privates who engage in an act of conscience against the US war machine, but instantly disappear for large corporations and banks that hand over cash. What we really see here is how the largest and most corrupt corporations own not just the government but also the culture.
...Equating illegal behavior with ignominious behavior is the defining mentality of an authoritarian - and is particularly notable coming from what was once viewed as a bastion of liberal dissent.
...when I wrote several weeks ago about the remarkable shift in public opinion on gay equality, I noted that this development is less significant than it seems because the cause of gay equality poses no real threat to elite factions or to how political and economic power in the US are distributed. If anything, it bolsters those power structures because it completely and harmlessly assimilates a previously excluded group into existing institutions and thus incentivizes them to accommodate those institutions and adopt their mindset. This event illustrates exactly what I meant.
...the fact that such lock-step, heel-clicking, military-mimicking behavior is now coming from the SF Gay Pride Parade of all places is indeed noteworthy: it reflects just how pervasive this authoritarian rot has become.

Saturday 27 April 2013

"The triumph of hope over experience."

Not second marriages: storefront retail.  Maybe it is the same: one ought to know better.

Previous kvetching:
- Retailers: it's not me, it's you.
- "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses..."
- Screw my LBS ('local bicycle shop')

So yes, this is my fourth time to bitch - maybe more.  Let me start with my Facebook post... no wonder I have so few 'friends'.
Hey, too cool to serve me at the cash for five minutes bike shop.  Guess why I walked out swearing and never to return: can find everything you've got and more online... cheaper.
But seriously.  When your shit is 10% over what I can get it for online in Japan (40% over online in the US...) you should be kissing my ass for condescending to go into your shop.  So what you gave me an
Big hairy deal.  That doesn't help you make the sale when I've waited five minutes for any attention from the five staff behind the counter.  Sure the tool in front of me was dropping more on his plastic velodrome monstrosity than me on bar-tape and bottle cages, but there were four more of you available if you'd pulled the wrenches out of your asses.

Here's another hint: never put the register at the workshop desk: bikeshop-wrenches are, to a man, dickheads in both Japan and Canada.  They think they're too professional to work the till.  If they could ride, they'd be juiced up on le tour.  If they had real mechanical skills, they'd be making triple under a car.  Reminds me of this blast from blog past:
The shops gave me BS: pay us double installation since you did not order through us (you don't carry steel forks, fuckhead), and bring us your bike to look at before we commit to doing it (bag and it and schlep it across Tokyo twice?  And you might do it?  Fuck you!)
So when the kowai-Gaijin slams the product in his hand on the table, walks out saying:
"Fuck this shit!"
"Ah'... Okyakusama... !"
Is going to leave you nothing but the sight of my ass walking out your door never to darken it again.

“It is the price we pay for the sugar you eat in Europe." Candide, Voltaire

Joe Fresh customers vow boycott after Bangladesh factory collapse

But others say demand for cheap fashion leads to substandard clothing factories, like the one that collapsed and killed 230 people this week.

Thursday 25 April 2013

Stay classy, Japan.

Rosenhoj, originally from Belgium, came across an attractive and affordable place just a stone’s throw from Gojo Station in the downtown area. His heart set on the apartment, he made an appointment at the student co-op on the university’s Fukakusa campus, which arranges accommodation for students in the Kyoto area.
When he pointed to the apartment he was interested in, the shop manager told him that no foreigners were allowed to rent the place...
Rosenhoj said one of the things that surprised him the most was the “matter-of-fact way” the manager informed him that the apartment was off-limits to foreigners. After Rosehoj confronted the manager about the issue, he says he was somewhat apologetic about it, but at the same time dismissive of the idea that it could be construed as racial discrimination by a foreign customer. 
Japan, try on one of these, bitches (thank you Pierre).

Saving suburbia for itself

You know, self-driving cars are not as crazy as they seem...
If real-estate developers and the automobile industry had any long view, they'd be pushing them hard; insurance agents would be fighting them.

Here's what's to love for real-estate and car-companies:
- encourages sprawl, because the drive becomes pleasant if you can nap, read, surf or 'rub one out'
- keeps a housing bubble afloat, which the 'burbs need most as bubbles burst first and hardest there, rather than in the urban areas
- they'll make people upgrade to new cars, or in any case slow the trend of youth giving up driving much
- they'll improve car commute times, as half of the excess is due to driver individuality (abject selfishness and stupidity)

Insurance companies will hate it because they won't be able to rape us as hard as they have:
- much of the insurance will be on the companies responsible for the car, and they'll bargain harder than we can
- less of it will be on the car owner, if at all if they do not take the wheel
- humans suck so badly at driving it's pretty clear giving it to the machines will cause a reduction in accidents

If you could run every errand while safely multi-tasking, if you could send your spawn to every school and activity in a locked pod and not need to accompany them, if you could ride in your own pod blind drunk instead of with a taxi-driver, living two hours out of the city starts to look a whole lot more attractive.  I think it's well established nobody gives a fuck about the ecological, social and health consequences of cars with any driver, so save your breath.

Were I the black-hearted president of a company or lobby, automotive or real-estate, I'd be bringing together the collaborators to get this to happen.  It'd sure get more traction than belittling people who've already lost the taste for your kool-aid.  You could convince people it is a kind of transit where you can avoid strangers.  Best of all, on my bike I'd trust the machines more than the humans.

Wednesday 24 April 2013

Thatcher: "Tramp the dirt down"

Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after,
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.
"Epitaph on a Tyrant"
W. H. Auden

Monday 22 April 2013

'Momotaro' doesn't get steel or fixed-gear bikes...

Sorry man, and glad to have your comments, but you should've 'let sleeping dogs lie'.  I've copied my response to here:
You don't get fixies?!

Harden up! Nothing good is easy: that's why we have to train and do foreplay. If you don't ride fixed, your cadence is square. "Coasting is a pernicious habit", and once you ride fixed you don't coast road bikes anymore, unless descending mountains. You don't know anything about gearing until you have only one you'd better get right. You don't know anything about efficiency until every hill and intersection is an equation to be solved in an ideal way. You don't know shit about traction, until you get feedback through all points of contact. You don't know anything about the machine, until you work on it yourself: sending a fixed gear in for servicing is like having someone cut your wood for you. Man up.

Why steel?!

It shows class. It's cheaper than plastic.* It looks better than aluminum or plastic. It rides better than either. All three can crack: plastic cracks and immediately drops your face into the road, aluminum cracks and gives an hour to notice, steel gives you between a week and forever. Steel weighs only a pound or two more than plastic, and most of us should shed that off our asses rather than out of our wallets. Plastic frames never have enough tire clearance, and aluminum rarely does. You can spread the rear-triangle for a longer axle (aluminum or plastic would fail); and if really ambitious change the bend of your fork or dent a tube for particular fittings. You can have a welder fix it, put in more braze-ons, or change the drop-outs. Most of all, the real reason to get steel is that titanium is too fucking expensive...

*(carbon fibre reinforced) PLASTIC

Sunday 21 April 2013

'Security theatre' and FBI fucks-ups

You don't even have to go to conspiracy theories.  The dead Boston Marathon bombing suspect was already an FBI case, on advice from Moscow.

Look, you can't prevent everything, but thousands of foreign civilians and American military dead and injured in foreign wars, a concentration camp in Guantanamo, the loss of habeas corpus and Miranda Rights, black-ops around the world and the blowback they bring, and you can't stop a couple of angry young men you already know about? Weren't we told all of these abominations were necessary for 'security' (whose?)?

America, you're doing it fucking wrong.

Just had a thought...  Did the FBI think they'd turned this guy?  They'd interviewed him, but not jailed him.  Something tells me they'd try to bury that story if they thought they'd been running him. So much of this account screams: 'BULLSHIT!'  Wonder who shot up the boat...  Someone's head's gonna roll, but probably not the right one, as usual.

Saturday 20 April 2013

Prioritizing bike purchases

Almost a year ago I wrote that "road biking is boring".  Still largely agree with what I said on that post, especially:
I am getting sick of the godawful noise and stench of cars, and that my life relies upon the attention, IQ and goodwill of the common driver. Maybe I do not find the idea of going home to Ontario to 80km limit roads people drive 110km, which do not have paved shoulders.
I'm still well into commuting by bike...  I am well finished with any notion of distance road biking in Ontario:
- few paved shoulders
- fuckwit drivers
- straight paved roads
- safer 'rail trails' are dead straight and without hills
- uninteresting scenery
- 'roadies' are dicks
What I have written about the bikes I'll buy keeps changing, not least because the J-wife doesn't think three-thousand a year on a new bikes is reasonable...  Also because we're paying for a 'container' (actually a portion) to take all kinds of shit home in a year, so my road bike and fixed gear go back with me and won't be replaced as I'd planned.

So here's my totally biased opinion, and plan, about which bikes to have in Toronto or N.American cities.  Let's assume you are an aggressive cyclist, but not drinking all the kool-aid of any one camp.  All frames steel.  Don't even ask (see comments - someone did).  I am listing the bikes from most to least useful, for a confident rider.  You may not agree.  That's cool.

A fixed gear for commuting: nothing better for navigating busy traffic.  With brakes, fool.

A road bike, because you probably already have one, and sometimes you want a long ride on paved roads.

A 'gravel grinder', because sometimes the roads are rough, but not singletrack.  These bikes can be anything from a touring bike to a randonneuring bike to a CX bike, but have to take tires wider than 32mm, with slower steering than the twitchier cousin the 'road bike'.  You can use this on 'rail trails' to get away from cars; you can use it in the city on bad pavement; you can use it on gravel roads.  If your tires are semi-slick down the centre, and knobby on the sides, this is the single most versatile bike.
This is a project for me when I go home.  I have a six-speed cassette on a touring frame I'll be turning into 1x9 gearing with lighter wheels.  Southern Ontario's not hilly enough for me to bother with more gearing than that.

If you have a brood, or the need to haul groceries or other, there are plenty of 'cargo bikes', but only the
Kona Ute comes at a reasonable price, in more than one frame size (well, two) and is not so large so you may still have some hope in hell of transporting it by vehicle.
This one I am going to buy when we return.  Easy sell to the J-wife me schlepping the kids all summer on it.

If you're going to get a 'mountain bike', get a 29er so nothing can stop you.  And why not go for 'passive-suspension', so there're no hydraulics to maintain?  Maybe someday I will take a long off-road tour!  And why not get tires with a big footprint, to 'keep the rubber side down' and rides in anything from sand to mud to snow?  Seems like there's just one answer...
Fuck yeah!  Too bad it is two thousand...  Since I won't travel back to Japan summers when she takes the kids, I'll point out it's only the cost of my ass on that trip.

Most people could get by with any one to three of the first three bikes.  One or two of the others of the first three are bonus.  I already own all of the first three.  I'm only looking to get two more...  Will need to rent/buy a place with a garage I can secure...

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Boston Marathon bombing: it's not about you

I hate this kind of message on my Facebook wall, and it's all I can do not to reply with my usual charm:
I hope all you runners and friends and family of runners at Boston marathon are all safe and sound.
Really?  So you're not a drooling psychopath who takes delight in the destroyed life and limb of others?  Who knew?  What do you need from me?  A 'like'?  Attention?  A hand-job?

This kind of thing is more useful:
Retweeted Sesame Street (@sesamestreet):
Our hearts go out to all those affected by today's tragic events. We recommend not exposing young children to repeated images in the news.
Advice, take it or leave it.  Adults too shouldn't glue themselves to the screen for this type of tragedy that there's nothing you can do about, and frankly doesn't have anything to do with you:
- car accident news affects you more, as that's more likely to kill you
- the Fukushima incident too when it happened, because you should have been thinking about leaving

Besides, the news in the first twenty-four hours is nothing but gore, without anything but speculation.*  What you won't get in the first day, or very often never at all, is the cui bono.

Who gains by a seemingly random attack on civilians?  There is no such thing as a random attack.  Even crazy shooters have a history.  There is no such thing as a random bombing of two locations in the same city, one at the finishing line of a major event.  Nihilism?  That's not enough motivation to put a bag over your own head.  The only point is to instill fear.  Who gains from instilling fear...?  Answer me that in a half year when this bombing somehow becomes a pretext  to drag the US into a war with Iran or N.Korea.

Cynical?  Suspicious?  Maybe I'll be wrong, but if you are not cynical and suspicious, you're history's bitch.

*Except when odd bits outside of the official account slip through, as in '911'.

Sunday 14 April 2013

Sixteen! H-cup!

Seen on the train, of course.
Why not just title it: 'Statutory rape! Tit-fuck her!'

Yes, I know that sixteen is not statutory rape in Japan.  Hell, in '95 legal was sixteen in Tokyo, but fourteen in Saitama, so guess where all the paid-date services went...  That's not even the ad I saw in the train.  All I did was Google: 16歳 H-cup。

Besides the fact that everyone involved in the publication should be castrated, or whatever's appropriate for the women, if she isn't a runaway, what the fuck are her parents thinking whoring her out?  I get that teenagers are sexual, and I get that many do have attractive post-pubescent figures, but she's sixteen!  Let her show those to a boyfriend not more than two years older, him wrapped in a condom, but this is the market.
And half of them have daughters.  Ever wondered why Japanese women hate their fathers?  I don't wonder.

Also can't refrain from mentioning that though the girl's got a pair, 'H' doesn't mean the same thing in Japan as abroad.

On a lighter note:

"after a year, the bosoms of bra wearers sag an average of 7mm more than free-range boobs."

Let them go free!  I'd encourage the wife, but besides the fact that I've seen them plenty, most recently stuck in babies' mouths (bastards...), she has a situation where she always looks like she's cold.  Figure it out.  I have to say that I officially regret the path my life has taken: I could have done thorough research on consenting young women, and their breasts - besides the haphazard sampling I once did.

On my first tour of duty in Japan, in my mid-twenties, towards the end of three years I had no more interest in dating the locals, or anything to do with their culture.  I was fed up with the narrow-mindedness of the population, and the physical ugliness of Tokyo.  I was elated at my decision to get the hell out of here.  I'd even had a brief fling with a white girl!*  And then a fashion for halter-tops without any suspension had to happen that summer to make me regret leaving.
*Joke's meant to be on me here, not her.

Friday 12 April 2013

Retailers: it's not me, it's you.

I've gone here before.  I have written about the fact that not only can't 'bricks and mortar' retail  match the prices of online shopping, but the online retail experience is no worse, and often far better, than it is in person.  I have also written that the vaunted LBS ('local bicycle shop') sucks, usually.  This is no less true in Canada than in Japan, and no less true of electronics than of bicycles, books...

So I was amused that a leftie website said the unspeakable: local bookstores deserve to die.  They do.  They deserve it in Toronto and they deserve it in Tokyo; they deserve it for new books and they deserve it for used books.  Maybe you'll find a book you want, and maybe you will not.  I do not have that kind of time.  In a new bookstore I can only be certain they'll have bestsellers I could find anywhere else; in a used bookstore only certain to find books someone cast off.  These are not business models the failure of which you can blame on customers*.  I won't even start on the fact that e-books, whatever you feel about them, are more convenient for many.

In the same week, this article on 'show-rooming' came along: using a retailer to look at products you've no intention of buying from.  I think we've all been guilty of this, but there are actions more and less gauche:
- doing it to chains is not like doing it to stand-alone
- walking through is not the same as taking a salesperson's time
- doing it in an overpriced store run by nobs is not the same as one which has treated you well
- whipping out a camera or smartphone app does mean you are a cock

But I won't be told I owe anything to 'bricks and mortar' retail, unless they have done right by me, and do right by their staff.  Both have been less and less likely each year of my four decades.  Fuck'em.

*In fact, you never can.

Monday 8 April 2013

Something tells me the Canadian embassy's dealt with this.

I further declare that the Japanese authorities have issued official birth registration documentation showing his/her name as ____ and that neither were we permitted by the Japanese authorities to register our child as ____ nor were we issued an official birth certificate in the name of ____.
Have to sign this so my daughter can have my surname as a Canadian, as the Japanese government wouldn't allow either child to have my surname as a Japanese national. Never mind that 10% of births here are mixed or fully-foreign, since the locals aren't making many.  Maybe that memo is at the bottom of a pile...

I am getting to the end of my rope with the stupid here, and not stopping myself from telling the J-wife about the too much stupid, and that her people are doomed.  You can imagine she has a different take on it...  Still, always disappointing to find out that though you married someone as smart as you, and an unusual critical thinker though her education and culture gave her no experience with it, it doesn't matter when she's a religious fanatic.  That religion is called, 'ware-ware-nihonjin'*.  She tried the, 'Japan has it's own way, and Canada has it's own way', fallacy**.  My family debated for fun.  I didn't bother to explain the argument's fallacy, but I did list a dozen countries where a foreign national has no trouble having their children take their surname, because they don't have a feudal 'family-registry'***.

I'm hoping to have sex again in a year...  Her not talking to me turns out good, as I'm not tempting to rip apart her 'knee jerk' nationalism again soon.

*The 'We-Japanese' cognitive kill-switch.
**Doubly fallacious, as she has plenty to say about Canada!  Some of it correct.
**For all the anachronisms in Japan, can you imagine how many more there would be without 'the Occupation'?  Never mind 'the Black Ships'.  Sharia would look progressive.

Tuesday 2 April 2013

Chris Hedges' price isn't "thirty pieces of silver".

That the 'Right' wanted war was unexceptional: they always do.  When the American 'Left' wanted it too I knew the fucking jig was rigged.  There was never a way we could stop it, short of an overdue revolution, but I am proud to say that I was never taken in by the false threat of 'terrorism'.  It stank too badly.  Too bad the demonstrations were efficiently marginalized in all media...  Far more people die every year from traffic collisions than from '911', and never mind you don't 'democratize' a country by letting oil-executives in the White House 'bomb it into the stone age'.  If '911' is never proven to have 'false flag' connections you can't wonder why some people will remain suspicious of the US.
The war boosters, especially the “liberal hawks”—who included Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, Al Franken and John Kerry, along with academics, writers and journalists such as Bill KellerMichael IgnatieffNicholas KristofDavid RemnickFareed ZakariaMichael WalzerPaul Berman,Thomas FriedmanGeorge PackerAnne-Marie SlaughterKanan Makiya and the late Christopher Hitchens—did what they always have done: engage in acts of self-preservation. To oppose the war would have been a career killer. And they knew it...
These liberal warmongers, 10 years later, remain both clueless about their moral bankruptcy and cloyingly sanctimonious. They have the blood of hundreds of thousands of innocents on their hands.
You should read it all here.  These bastards deserve to die a slow death by cancer, which only Hitchens has.  Hitchens won't meet Orwell in hell, but he wouldn't recognize him in hell, or from reading him.  Say what you want about Hedges, he knows about war as a correspondent, and acts on his convictions to his own detriment: something Hitchens and the other 'fellow travellers' are never willing to do.

I will not be participating as a speaker in the PEN World Voices Festival in May.  I will not participate because of your decision to select Suzanne Nossel as Executive Director of the PEN American Center...  Nossel’s relentless championing of preemptive war—which under international law is illegal—as a State Department official along with her callous disregard for Israeli mistreatment of the Palestinians and her refusal as a government official to denounce the use of torture and use of extra-judicial killings, makes her utterly unfit to lead any human rights organization, especially one that has global concerns... I hereby resign from PEN...

Chris Hedges