Blog: A Stupid Word

That I would post about such a common topic is itself ironic, but great displeasure forces my hand. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have come to the stunning conclusion that the word blog is stupid and needs to be replaced. My reasons for saying such?

    • Mainly, it just sounds ugly. “I’m gonna start me a blaaaaaaaawg.
    • And it’s mama’s ugly, too: As we all know, blog itself stems from the word weblog, which isn’t really much to look at, is it?
    • Pretty much any word stemming from the word blog is also horrible: Blogger, blogging, audioblog, blog client, blogging software, blogging platform, blog feed, BlogDay, blogroll, moblog, multi-blog, re-blog, vlogging, video blog, splog, blogspouse, blogfather, blogmeet, and last but not least, blogosphere – a wonderfully descriptive word that sounds absolutely ridiculous.
    • Before becoming an abbreviated form of the word weblog, the word blog actually had another meaning (since 1959!)
    • Is it any coincidence that blog is a four letter word? Think about it: “I’m gonna undress you, then I’m gonna blog your brains out ALL NIGHT LONG”
    • When CNN starts using a trendy term every ten minutes, you know it’s time for a change (heard just this morning on CNN-I: “We will now hear what THE BLOGS have to say about it.” Give me a break, fucking.)

Unfortunately, alternatives such as “online journal” and “net diary” are also wretchingly wack. Therefore, I propose we, (the temporarily) blogging collective, use a new term to describe this pursuit.
Any suggestions?

SPF 16 (Thai Commercial)

It’s comforting to know there are some familiar points in the society into which I shall plunge: Slapstick, vampires, hot chicks on TV.
On the other hand, sometimes it is disturbing to see the whitening effect of various cosmetics pursued by so many in Thailand. You know what, though? I attribute this less to the perceived beauty of pale skin than to the fickle nature of the female species – you know, wanting straight hair when they have perms and vice versa. It’s a vicious cycle, but it’s also only natural, I guess.
(via Magnoy)

A Prison Camp Memoir

Excerpts from another great memoir over on the JPRI site:

“The radio went dead. All the servants had long disappeared–stealing everything they could carry.
I locked all the doors and shutters and stayed in the dark. The planes were flying very low now, using the tramcar lines along the boulevard as a guide. When they opened up with their machine-guns, I guessed that the troops were near.
It was a long, long night. When dawn arrived, I couldn’t understand the sudden quiet, and ventured to the gate to look up to the main street. Imagine my astonishment when I saw thousands of troops marching softly past, carrying or riding bicycles! I learned later that 75,000 men entered Soerabaya that day.
I stayed locked in the house waiting for them to come for me, as I knew they would. It was dark before the hammering started on the door. I was terrified, but knew I had to hide it. So, carrying Jackie in my arms I opened the door. There were six storm troopers with fixed bayonets at the entrance. They pushed past me yelling for everybody to come out. They looked very tired, unshaven, hot and dirty and very violent.”


“On a diet of rice and vegetable soup (a cup of each) three times a day, the casualties soon started to appear. The fat women seemed to show it first as they lost weight so quickly. The thin ones like myself lost weight, but it didn’t show so badly. Luckily I liked rice so had no trouble swallowing it. There were no eggs, meat, fruit or milk. We were allowed a spoon of sugar each per day.
The Japanese insisted that everything delivered as food went into the pot. There were no peelings, and even the greens of carrots were thrown in–but still there was not enough to go around. Many of the growing children were very hungry.
If it had not been so frightening it would have been interesting to see how quickly signs of malnutrition started to show–stomachs and ankles started to swell. Another inexplicable thing to me was that from the moment I was interned, until I was released I never menstruated once. Also although I ate exactly the same food, my ankles never swelled.
Soon dysentery swept through the camp and in the heat the smell was terrible, and of course people began to die. I was so grateful I had brought along Jackie’s pot, for we both used it throughout internment and didn’t catch dysentery.
I know how badly the men were treated in their camps, but I think the plight of the women has perhaps not been truly understood. They had their children to care for, and had to watch them go hungry. They were suddenly deprived of their wealth and position in society–and the aggravation amongst themselves was tragic to watch. Of course all classes were thrown together–we were only numbers now.”


“Kimura ordered her out of the office and walked her to the middle of the compound, where everybody could see. It was dark, and I could only see shadows in the background. My legs felt weak and my stomach sick. He started to beat her up, and when I say “beat,” I really mean it. He slapped her about the face with his open hand until it started to look like raw beefsteak. All the time he was giving me a running commentary of what he was doing. Although swollen and raw no blood flowed from her face. He then hit her ears, carefully demonstrating to me how he cupped his hands to avoid breaking her eardrum. She was reeling from side to side until she fell unconscious to the ground.
He turned away as a cat from a dead mouse. She didn’t amuse him any more.
I called out for help after he had gone and a few women came out and helped me get her to the hospital. We were in luck for once. Earlier in the day I had interpreted for the doctor, who thought she had a diphtheria victim and needed ice. Surprisingly, we got some brought in and we now packed this over the woman’s swollen face. Just as Kimura had said, you couldn’t see a mark on her next day!”

What an amazing story. This woman went through some crazy hardships and survived; go read the whole paper.

From the Brink of Despair…

I just scared myself real good.
I thought I’d lost my wallet.
The thing is, I couldn’t remember the last time I’d seen it, and I hadn’t used it for a couple of days. My heart sunk further and further as each place I searched turned up empty… I was really fucked becuase my wallet contains really everything I need to survive in modern society. Driver’s license, gaijin card, bank card, postal savings card, credit card, health insurance card, hospital card, dental clinic card, latest bank statement, a million membership cards, business cards, a few vital phone numbers jotted down on a waxy napkin, pictures of my wife and family, spare key for my car, a ball of pocket lint, my company’s pocket calendar, and a partridge in a 20th century pear tree.
To apply for replacements of all that shit would have taken longer than I have in Japan, starting with the driver’s license and gaijin card in order to be able to prove my identity at the bank, since all the cash I have on hand is the kind that jingles, in my piggy bank (actually the cardboard tube my primo bottle of Cazadores came in). I was in a sweat looking for that goddamn thing, believe me. And then I called Nam, because that’s who I always depend on when I lose shit – wallet, keys, keitai, my glasses (that’s the funniest one cuz I cant see SHIT w/o my specs). Of course, she wasn’t answering her cell in Thailand, which made me despair even more.
Anyway, after a whole hour of searching, I finally was about to give up and go file a report at the police station, and then I spotted a familiar shape underneath a car rag that I had moved today when sorting out shit in preparation for my big move to Thailand. At once, my heart jumped and I threw the evil rag aside to reveal my dear, dear wallet. Oh how I love you. I am so happy now.
Funny how things can turn in an instant. Sometimes life is sweet:

Japanese “Lawsuit” Guitars

They are known as lawsuit guitars because they are of such good quality (often matching or even surpassing the original Fenders and Gibsons they replicate), that:

Around 1981, though, Fender, Gibson, Rickenbacker and a few other US guitar manufacturers got their hands on some “lawsuit” guitars made in Japan and quickly threatened to sue when they saw how exact the Japanese replicas really were. The Japanese replica-making guitar manufacturers were forced to stop making these “copy” guitars around 1983.

There are still tons of these guitars around if you search the used guitar shops and pawn shops, although some of the more famous models outprice the American equivalents they were originally based on!
Read more about the lawsuit guitars on this site.


Oh, my shaka.

“PuppyPurse makes it easier to take your dog with you, whether you’re shopping, fly fishing or just taking a walk and nothing gets in the way of snuggling and kissing your baby whenever you want to”

The only question is, can you get one that holds seven puppies?
(also see here and here)
According to the official website, this product seems to appeal mostly to snobby rich blondes.
And how do the dogs feel about it?
Just shoot me, already.

How to Make a Baby Stop Crying

This is one of the most amazing videos I’ve ever seen. Those of you with babies (hint, hint, hint, and lord forgive me if I forgot anyone else’s child) might want to take note.
I apologize that the video is entirely in Japanese, with no subtitles.
Basically, this is a television show called Tantei Knight Scoop that documents strange and interesting people/places/things that their viewers often send in. In this episode, a mother of a child who fusses a lot writes in to say that a popular television commercial by Takemoto Piano has a strangely and instantaneously soothing effect on her son and his friends (this effect is in fact documented on the company’s website, and during the clip the man in the commercials says that people call in all the time asking when it will be on the air!). I think you can basically understand it from there. At the end of the show, the host concludes that the tonal range of the commercial is probably soothing to babies, at around 440 Hz.
Here are both commercials that reportedly make babies stop crying, rolled into a single clip:

Let me know if they really work or not!
UPDATE 2007/03/21: Once again, Takemoto’s tranquility effect transcends borders!


Did someone forgot to take their meds?

In the essay titled “Killing Kittens” in the newspaper’s Aug. 18 evening edition, Bando, 48, wrote that she owns three pet cats and throws their kittens off the cliff near her house on the South Pacific island of Tahiti whenever they give birth to any.
“I am fully aware what severe criticism I may face if I write this,” she says at the outset of the essay. “I will probably be condemned as a savage by animal lovers around the world, and people may say I am violating the animal protection law. Knowing this, I confess I am killing kittens.”
Bando writes that although she had considered having her cats sterilized she has not done so, because she thinks that having sex when they are on heat and giving birth to offspring is what “life” is all about for a female cat.
“I have doubts about simply depriving them of their essential life for simply for the convenience of humans,” she says.

(link to full article)
She has doubts about depriving her cats of “life” for her own convenience, but has no qualms about doing the same to kittens? It takes a special kind of crazy to see the logic here, I’m guessing.
So the real question is: Is this just a stunt to revitalize book sales, or is this banzai cliff bitch really that crazy? I vote for the former, because the statement “knowing this, I confess I am killing kittens” is just too perfect – it’s designed to provoke a response. Like a book burning.

Ryukyu Underground

I came across this fascinating article over at the website of the Japan Policy Research Institute: A Wild Start: Okinawa in the 1970s

“Gate Two Street and BC Street in Koza City was where the best wide-open bar district action was, except for the majority of Afro-American servicemen. Some of those guys did party with us Euro-American and Latino-American servicemen and go bar hopping with us, but most GI Soul Brothers stuck to “The Bush.”
The Bush was an all black environment. The Soul Brothers had nearly completely segregated themselves out of all the other bar districts on The Rock a long time before I got there.
Oh, that probably isn’t correct. I bet that they had been segregated out of the light-skinned GI’s bar districts way back in the beginning of American troop occupation of the island. Then the black guys had liked what they were left with, because they had made themselves a place of their own that fit their lifestyles and cultural tastes, so they kept it.”


“Only Okinawans worked in the civilian bars on The Rock. In a Gate Two/BC Street type of A-Sign bar, there were bartenders, bar bouncers and doormen who were all good at fighting Karate style. When a fight started in an A-Sign bar, between a GI, or GIs, and one of the Okinawans working there, if the GI, or GIs, didn’t give up, back off and get the hell out of there real quick, or get knocked unconscious right away, the unfortunate GIs got the crap Karate kicked out of them by some, or all, of the Okinawan men working in that bar. If any of the fighting occurred outside a bar, then the bouncers and doormen from the other bars in the immediate area came over and jumped into the action and backed up their brethren Okinawans; that way any other GIs in the immediate area would be discouraged from jumping in on the side of the unfortunate GIs. If any GI got knocked on the ground by the bouncers, then the Okinawans all took turns kicking the poor guy.”


“When the bar, brothel, massage parlor girls were eighteen years old, after studying hard during twelve years of going to school, six days a week, for eleven months a year, life as they had known it was over. If any girl ran away from the mamasan/papasan, who held her in bonded servitude, the Okinawan cops went and fetched her back. It’s a small island, after all: where was she going to hide for long?”

Go read the whole thing.
Actually the thing that drew me into the article to begin with was the mention of the Asapen Spotmatic camera. I borrowed one off of Nam’s dad for a while (he left it at her place when he came to visit her at Tenri U) when I first started working in Osaka and wasted many rolls of film with it, but I still love that camera. Old guys would stop me on the street all the time with comments like, natsukashi, na! (“that sure brings back memories!”) And when I took it to a camera shop for repair, the guy did it for free and complimented me for being so old school! I kinda felt like shit because I barely knew how to use it at the time, but his praise sure sure put a smile on my face…


Who has less of a clue, the author, or the subject of this article: Sony buys video-sharing site by Gary Gentile

“Media companies, including Sony, have begun to offer content side by side with videos shot by amateurs on sites such as MySpace, Guba and BitTorrent.”

Say whaaaaat?

“…allows people to place those videos on social networking sites such as MySpace and Friendster using its peer-to-peer network.”

And if that doesn’t work out, they can always try getting bundled on an AOL software CD…
This is my favorite bit, though:

“Sony could also discover new talent on the site, Lynton said.”

Maybe they can find a whole new board of directors!
UPDATE: Robert Cringely thinks this is a good market research opportunity for Sony

Damn Interesting

If you haven’t seen Damn Interesting blog yet, you should go check it out – it’s one of my favorite reads at the moment. Recent updating has been slow, but there are a few real gems in the archives.
Today’s post on Operation Acoustic Kitty was sad, and awesome, and hilarious:

“They slit the cat open, put batteries in him, wired him up. The tail was used as an antenna. They made a monstrosity. They tested him and tested him. They found he would walk off the job when he got hungry, so they put another wire in to override that. Finally, they’re ready. They took it out to a park bench and said, “Listen to those two guys. Don’t listen to anything else – not the birds, no cat or dog – just those two guys!”

That’s not just a cat – that’s Doraemon!
Go read the entire post: Operation Acoustic Kitty

Moral Dilemnot

Only 26 days of work left for me now; 8 optional days off remain.
I’ve been in Japan so long, I actually started feeling guilty even just thinking about using them. So I asked the top office lady, the one who really makes things happen around here (you know the type, every Japanese office has one), whether I should use them or not.
She said, straight up, “I can’t say – that’s totally up to you.”
Magic words, music to my ears.
Actually, as I watched her lips move, all I could hear was, “you never have to work another Monday in Japan, ever again, if you so desire.”
Fucking A.