One of the most interesting things I’ve read in a while:
Eat Me: The Soviet method for attacking infection that we can learn from
Favorites passages:
– “You send your bacterial sample to the lab, and it’s either matched up with an existing phage or a phage is cultured just for you.”
– “Phages are also sold over-the-counter in Georgia. People take the popular mixture piobacteriophage, for example, to fight off common infections including staph and strep. These phage mixtures are updated regularly so they can attack newly emerging bacterial strains.”
– “One company recently tried to open a phage center in Tijuana but was deterred by the Mexican government. Phages might be offered someday at clinics on Native American reservations, as a casinolike quirk of legislative autonomy.”
I like the fact that you can legally procure heroin in TJ, but a sure fix for an infectious disease? No, senor.

Love letter to Senior Vice Justice Minister Taro Kono

Right back at you, asshole! (Update 2006/07/05: That link is hosed. I’m pasting a copy of the article below.)

A Justice Ministry panel studying an overhaul of Japan’s immigration administration is set to propose that the proportion of foreign residents to the nation’s population should be kept at 3 pct or below, Senior Vice Justice Minister Taro Kono said Tuesday.
The proposal will be included in a draft package of immigration policy reform measures to be drawn up shortly, Kono, who heads the panel, told a press conference.
According to the ministry, foreign residents accounted for 1.2 pct of Japan’s population at the end of 2005.
By contrast, the proportion stood at 8.9 pct in Germany in 2001, at 11.1 pct in the United States in the same year and at 5.6 pct in France in 1999.
The panel is also considering requiring foreign nationals of Japanese ancestry to be fluent in Japanese and have regular jobs as conditions for their residency in Japan, Kono said.
Such people are currently allowed to live in Japan if they have relatives in the country.
The panel now believes it necessary to toughen the criteria because the number of problems caused by such residents has been increasing.

Look, if there’s one thing I learned while doing basically every menial job available (short of washing corpses, which I wanted to do for the high pay but couldn’t because of the dirty foreigner thing) in this country, it’s that there are some jobs that Japanese people simply will not do. They simply are not HUNGRY enough to have to do these jobs – on loading docks, factories, piers, junkyards, resorts, roadsides, etc., and I’m not even including illegal shit, just jobs that ARE NOT NICE TO DO. Well guess what? Tens (hundreds?) of thousands of South Americans with Japanese ancestry are willing to do those jobs – and many of them already are. Hell, many people are doing these jobs WITHOUT visas, and Immigration as well as the police are fully aware of the situation – up to and including exactly which room of what shitty little hovel many of these illegals sleep in! This is a societal problem that will NOT be improved BY EFFECTIVELY MAKING CURRENTLY LEGAL WORKERS ILLEGAL.
Isn’t it better to at least have these people paying taxes/soc security and checked on periodically by immigration (during visa applications/extensions) than to have them arrive on tourist visas, work for five or ten years illegally for employers who are cheating the system, and eventually get caught and deported ON OUR DIME?
One thing bugs me about the article though:

The panel is also considering requiring foreign nationals of Japanese ancestry to be fluent in Japanese and have regular jobs as conditions for their residency in Japan, Kono said.

This is referring to the Nikkei (Japanese Ancestral) visa. That’s the one I’m on. I would qualify under these proposed terms now, but I sure wouldn’t have twelve years ago.

Such people are currently allowed to live in Japan if they have relatives in the country.

Uh, no. It’s called the Japanese Ancestral visa because the qualifier is your ancestry, not where you “have relatives.”
What-eva. I’m outta here.

Feverish Meat Dreams

I’ve been down with a completely unprovoked itchy throat/summer head cold the past week (damn you, yahweh!), which I think is more than evident in my writing. Not that I care. I have a cold, you see. It makes me want to glom a big phlegmy sound like “mweh” at the world. So: mweh!
But what is a puny cold to a man in the land of samurai ninja kamikaze? Pshaw. I have been down, but not completely out of action (and as such, I may have unwittingly figured out why so many feudal lords suddenly died of pneumonia – “What’s that? Rest, you say? Ridiculous! It’s just a little summer cold! Besides, what do you think, are those taxes magically gonna appear in our coffers? Are those wretched peasants just gonna start raping themselves? I think not! I have responsibilities, dammit!)
It bears saying that this past Friday we had a company drink up at what may be the best yakiniku restaurant in Japan, previously completely unknown to me astoforthsuchwhither. There are a lot of good places to eat yakiniku on this island and the meat is world famous – both Kobe beef and Matsuzaka beef originated from prized Awaji cattle stock. The restaurant we went to is located on a cattle ranch, and they had, overall, the best meats I have ever seen, anywhere.
I mean, I’ve had better individual items at other places, but this place brought together an excellent spread. And get this – the prices were completely reasonable! I’ve been burned for twice or three times as much as I spent that night at places that spend too much on antique decoration and waitresses that wear kimono, but serve girly-sized portions of overpriced meatribbon. No more. It’s all about the shimofuri, baby.
For me to speak so highly of this place also proves one of my long-held suspicions: Although I generally prefer sumibiyaki (cooking over charcoal) style yakiniku because it seems more authentic and just, well, cooler – nothing beats a strong gas burner and a properly shaped cooking grill for lightly searing a good cut of meat. This place was using thick metal grills that looked custom-made, and they worked very well.
If you come out to visit anytime before I leave in October, you already know what’s for dinner.

“The devil is beating his wife”

Someone at work asked me what this phrase meant the other day. I just got around to looking it up. It refers to the weather condition when it is sunny but raining. I never knew there was a term for it. I always just thought of it as “Hawaii weather.” Apparently, the following phrases also mean the same thing:
“foxes are on a marriage parade”
“witches are doing their wash”
“a tailor is going to hell”
To these, I would add another:
“The Big Monkey in the Sky Is Peeing on Us, Violently”
Mine makes a hell of a lot more sense than that foxes’ marriage parade bullshit. Fucking illogical weather arcana!
UPDATE: Duh, I completely forgot the term “sunshowers.”

Don’t bread on me

I’m starting a war in the office. Let me explain.
Today, I intentionally broke the Tamanegi Convention. This convention simply states that no one shall consume raw onions right before coming to work. The reasons that this convention is necessary are:
A. This island is most famous for its onions
B. They are in season right now, and are delicious when sliced thin and eaten raw
C. They make your breath smell like ass
However, I would like to point out that the framers of this convention never took into account the fact that I would be returning back to a bachelor’s lifestyle this week, coinciding with coming down with a summer cold and consuming huge NyQuil caps last night, which knocked my ass out cold on the sofa and prevented me from going shopping for groceries. Hence this morning’s breakfast of egg, tomato, and onion sandwich served on a stale heel of bread folded in half.
So a message to all of you in the 9:00 meeting: INCOMING!


This is a huge joke, because 99.9% of Asians do not know how to drink whiskey. I have no doubt that 1,000,000 yen buys you a damn smooth mixer for your glass of ice water, but it’s still an awfully sissy way to drink (although Americans aren’t much better pouring expensive single malts over ice). If it tastes too strong just stick to vodka tonics, you pansies.

In a world of white Toyotas…

I have to admit, Mitsuoka makes some real works of art; they stand out from everything else on the street. Take a look at their lineup.
My favorite, of course is the Le-Seyde, which is built on the body of a 180SX (the sister model of my beloved Silvia S-13). I used to see these driving around once a year or so (they were always white), but I haven’t seen one for quite a while.
In some cities in Japan, they use the TX-II or the viewt as actual taxi cabs – and riding around in one is a welcome break from the ubiquitous old Crown cabs.

Something stuck in one’s ear

One of the photos Nam took today, her last full day in Japan for the foreseeable future. We went on a drive out to Akashi to look for a dog (shiba-ken) her cousin wants us to send to Thailand (long story). I bought her a Coolpix S6 last week to take home, so she was taking her first shots with it today.
She leaves to Thailand tomorrow morning. I go to work as usual. That sucks total chinchin.


For the past month or so we’ve been cleaning up the house and finally sent 3 cubic meters of stuff to Mahasarakham via Pakmail this past Monday. Nam is taking off in a couple of days, and I’m still inspired by her seriously amazing ability to root through ten+ year old crap and throw it all away. We’ve probably thrown away over 70-80 bags of trash.
So anyway, I’m digging through all of my computer backups on floppy, CD, DVD, ZIP, EZ drive, MO, JAZ, etc., etc., and so forth.
I found some of the artwork and posters I used to do before gigs, when I was in my Photoshop phase (and believe me, it was all about version 4.0). I liked this one especially, because I remember how long it took me to freehand a Mandelbrot on a 5″ Wacom tablet:

See? I was all about Macintosh until Steve Jobs started charging for .mac accounts (previously announced “free for life”), and this was pretty much the apex of my Photoshop skills. Nowadays there’s filters to churn this shit out, but that’s pretty much the modern equivalent of “I had to walk 9 miles to school through the snow,” isn’t it?
Well, fuck, Steve Jobs made Apple dead to me and now I do my bit by punching out random iPodders on the subway, so I guess there really is a sort of cosmic balance.
Well. Back to cleaning.
I found a version I like even better.

Six Drummers

(video is close to ten minutes long, let it load for a while before playing)
I talked to T on the phone today. He said he’s going to a factory for part time work during his spare time these days, and that he’s going to record the sounds of the machines with which to make a song. This video can be kind of an inspiration, I guess.
Side note: The horizontal volume slider on the TV really brought back some memories.

This repository, my head

I just remembered one of the funniest things I ever heard.
About seven years ago I got trapped in a conversation with a roomful of girls, and the topic of the conversation of course turned to the topic it always turns to in a roomful of only girls, that is, feminine hygeine products. Anyway, the funny part: This one Chinese girl admitted that the first time she used tampons, she had no idea how to use them and she ended up shoving in 7 or 8, and then proceeded to go about her normal business for the day.
(I’m hoping there’s a Confucian equivalent to Kegels.)
That story still makes me smile.

307 is my magic number

I’m not a Numerologist or anything, hell, I hardly even believe in math. Yet, I become strangely obsessed with numbers and compulsively count things out in my head on occassion. You know, the number of steps I take from point A to point B, or the number of cars I pass on the highway. Stuff like that. Or even simpler things, like tapping my fingers on a desk and counting the beat – performing a repetetive action for the sake of counting. I think I do this when I’m bored, but I’ve been doing it for so long now, it’s become a kind of meditation as well.
Another thing I’ve noticed over the years is that certain numbers keep popping up here and there. I don’t mean meaningful numbers like 5 or 24 or 100. I mean numbers that appear much more frequently than they should. Do you know what I mean?
One number that keeps appearing in my life is 307. It was not always so, or more accurately, I do not think it was always so. You see, 307 was my room number in my college dorm. A couple of years into my residency there, I started noticing that the room number 307 was used on TV and movies quite often. Then I realized that I knew someone else who lived in an apartment #307. Over the years, I’ve entered several room 307s – visiting people or offices with that number. I’ve been assigned room 307 at hotels all over the world. And let us not forget that the Toto U307C is the seemingly most popular urinal in men’s restrooms all over Japan.
So what is it with this number? Am I the only one to have noticed the frequency of it?
Lets look at Google:
Search for 306 returns 85,700,000 results
Search for 307 returns 127,000,000 results
Search for 308 returns 76,700,000 results
Holy shit! I’m not sure that proves a thing, but it does seem uncannily popular, doesn’t it?
What is the meaning?
What is the significance?
(Also, in this case, are meaning and significance necessarily synonymous?)
Will 307 aliens from the planet 307 someday abduct me and threaten to blow up planet Earth unless I guess the number they are thinking of?
Will I one day play the lottery and win $307 million using the repeating string of 307307307307?
Will I ever live in another room 307 and find out I can see dead people?
It’s a fucking conspiracy, I tell you.