Office Battleship Campaign

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Who knew that Excel spreadsheets could be such fun? I’ve been waging a naval war against Huw for four days, and the score is now 2/2. Today will result in glorious victory for one of us, and crushing defeat for the other.
Is Battleship really that fun? It is when you play with special weapons. Here’s a list of the ships in our armada and the firepower that they’re packing:

Aircraft carrier2 airstrikes. An airstrike takes out 9 blocks in a solid 3×3 chunk.
Battleship2 shotguns. A shotgun blast takes out 9 squares in a spread pattern.
Destroyer2 depth charges. A depth charge covers a 6×6 chunk, and if it touches the submarine, the submarine’s location is revealed.
Submarine2 torpedoes. A torpedo can be shot across the length (from right to left, or from left to right) of the grid, or vertically along a column (from top to bottom, or from the bottom to the top). The torpedo will continue across the grid until it hits something, otherwise it will continue to the end of the grid.
PT Boat1 teleport. A boat can be teleported anywhere on the grid that hasn’t been fired upon previously.

The special weapons are only viable as long as the ships to which they belong are still afloat.
By the way, Battleship: Special Weapons is only played during break time in case you were wondering. During working hours, we are diligently working to produce the best quality lesson plans in the greater Kansai area.

An ALT-less Ubuyama

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The bright lights, fast pace of life, and massive crowds of people make visiting Osaka like visiting a foreign country for anyone who has lived a year or two in rural Kyushu.
My successor on the JET Program left for her home in Canada yesterday, ending a chapter of my stay in Japan. This was a special moment for us because I was the first one to introduce her to life in Japan, and one of the last to see her off.
It was interesting finding out how my former students are all doing, and hearing about her experiences. I think that all of us who go to Ubuyama as ALTs come away with very similar perspectives and memories. It was strange to be able to talk to someone who understood exactly what I was talking about, and vice versa. Ubuyama can be a very testing, lonely place to live, but it is undoubtedly a great place because of the people, especially the children.
So in a few days, the new ALT will move into the apartment that has sheltered 4 previous JETs and start his tenure without someone to be there to show him the ropes, though he has been thoroughly briefed by Jane. The old Civic, still running like a champ, is patiently waiting to be driven by its 5th foreign owner, surely a new Kumamoto record. I miss that car and driving those mountain roads even more than I thought I was going to!
I hear the new guy is from California, and that he requested a small community. Sounds like he’s going to fit in well. I hope he takes good care of the kids.
I think that the JET Program is working especially well for Ubuyama, because the JETs have a visible effect on the attitudes of the students towards foreign cultures and learning English, as well as interacting with the community. From what I have seen, the children in this mountain village have purer minds and better values ingrained in them than the children in the city. As a result, their high levels of motivation and curiosity make teaching there a lot easier than the students in the city who exhibit classical signs of over-stimulation and inadequate parenting in general.

An air-tight quote

Whoever gave this quote is a pro:

Asked to comment on the document, a senior British official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “We do not discuss intelligence assessments.”

Reading these words, I can almost see the look of utter disappointment on the reporter’s face as he hears his informant tell him this after he agreed to keep the source anonymous. And then I see him thinking “Ah what the hell, I’ll use it” even though it adds nothing to the article.
Quotes don’t get much safer than that. Even if the source is revealed, who cares? On the reporter’s side, no one would ever know if this quote was fabricated. If you think about it, this is really a great quote for everyone involved, except for those reading it.

On the blackboard

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This is part of what the students at my school study, when they’re not sleeping, reading comics, applying make up (and it’s not just the girls these days), drawing pornographic pictures, using their cell phones, or the various other extra-curricular activities that they pursue during class time. The students here work pretty hard outside at gardening and working the fields.
In the city, fresh and cheap are mutually exclusive qualities when one shops for produce. One of the benefits of working at this school is that I can buy fruits and vegetables at less than half of what they would cost in the supermarket. In addition, they also sell flowers, plants, and today they’re selling kabutomushi (rhinocerous beetles). Not that I want to buy a beetle, even at a discounted price, but it’s nice to know that the option is there.

River Griz

A catfish the size of a Grizzly Bear (at 646 lbs.) that might set a new freshwater world record? I can’t wait to fish the Mekong, and if I catch one of these it will not have to fear for its life. This fish …”persists on plant matter and ‘meditates’ [in the deep, stony pools of the Mekong River]?somewhat like a Buddhist monk.”, is endangered of going extinct, and it is reported to taste like any other wild catfish, in other words it tastes like mud.
Also in the article from National Geographic: dog-eating catfish- best catfish name ever (please, no Korean food jokes)! The walking catfish takes second and the electric catfish comes in at third.

The A-Bomb Challenged

This research negates the widely held view that the U.S. was justified in dropping the A-bombs during WWII in order to save the lives of American soldiers:

…in his new book, “Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan” (Harvard University Press), Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, a professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, presents a broader view that the New York Times has called “a brilliant and definitive study of American, Soviet, and Japanese records of the last weeks of the war.” Examining in detail the deliberations of the Japanese leadership immersed in squabbling over how to end the war with the emperor system intact, Hasegawa claims the bombs were not the most decisive factor in Japan’s decision to end the war. Only when the Soviets, jockeying with the United States for post-war influence in Asia, declared war and invaded Japanese-held Manchuria did the Japanese leadership capitulate to prevent falling under Soviet dominance.

I remember back in middle school and high school we used to debate whether the U.S. was justified in using the Bomb on Japan. During these debates, the final word would always be something like “It was justified because it saved the lives of countless U.S. soldiers”. If the main reason for the Japanese surrendering was because of their fear of being dominated by the Russians, then this argument loses a lot of its validity.
Nonetheless, I have a suspicion that the textbooks won?t be revised to reflect this view any time soon, and if it does, it will get a small paragraph like the one that mentioned the internment of Japanese-American citizens after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Read the rest of the story here (via UCSB news).