Some great advice on how to start your own business online! 
For more information please visit

The Onion scoops The New York Times

The Onion, August 20, 2003:

I Have an iPod — In My MIND

I'm sure you've seen a lot of tech-savvy people smugly showing off that new hunk of entertainment hardware, the iPod personal stereo. Well, I might not have the scratch to get one, but frankly, I don't want the white-corded wonder. I have my very own iPod — in my mind.

I hear those little things carry up to a month's worth of music. Well, so does my mind. I can call up any song I've ever heard, any time I want. And I never have to load software or charge batteries. There are no firewire cords or docks to mess with. I just put my hands behind my head, lean back, and select a tune from the extensive music-library folder inside my brain.
The New York Times, July 12, 2005:
Neuron Network Goes Awry, and Brain Becomes an IPod

Seven years ago Reginald King was lying in a hospital bed recovering from bypass surgery when he first heard the music.

It began with a pop tune, and others followed. Mr. King heard everything from cabaret songs to Christmas carols. "I asked the nurses if they could hear the music, and they said no," said Mr. King, a retired sales manager in Cardiff, Wales.

"I got so frustrated," he said. "They didn't know what I was talking about and said it must be something wrong with my head. And it's been like that ever since."

»

Remembering, and forgetting, Hiroshima

Yesterday was the 60th anniversary of the day America dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, followed by a second one on Nagasaki three days later.

There is no denying the bombs had a devastating and horrific impact. There is also no denying that they ended the Pacific war, forcing Japan's surrender. The fear at the time that many more people — American and Japanese — would have died in a land invasion of the Japanese main islands is addressed in this piece by military historian Victor Davis Hanson, and there's little I could presume to add to it.

But while it is necessary to remember why America decided to drop the bombs, it is perhaps more interesting to consider what many Japanese think about the bombs today. And the answer is: Not much.

Japanese blogger, Internet expert, and venture capitalist Joi Ito has a fascinating op-ed in the New York Times in which he says the bombs have little significance to Japanese born after the war:

When people ask my thoughts on the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, I always feel uncomfortable. As a Japanese, I know how I'm supposed to respond: with sadness, regret and perhaps anger. But invariably I try to dodge the issue, or to reply as neutrally as possible.

That's because, at bottom, the bombings don't really matter to me or, for that matter, to most Japanese of my generation. My peers and I have little hatred or blame in our hearts for the Americans; the horrors of that war and its nuclear evils feel distant, even foreign. Instead, the bombs are simply the flashpoint marking the discontinuity that characterized the cultural world we grew up in.
Joi then describes how the war's end jolted Japanese of that era out of the grip of years of "brainwashing" at the hands of their militarist leaders. In fact, he argues that the bombs served as a cultural "reset button", letting Japan make a clean break with its past.

Joi's words reminded me of a young Japanese boy I saw on the beach at Atami this weekend, shown in the photo below:
On the 60th anniversary of the American atomic bombing of his people, this boy happily played with an inner tube decorated with the Stars and Stripes, and emblazoned with an image of the Statue of Liberty.

You might reasonably expect that Japanese would hate Americans for bombing their country, but it just didn't work out that way. Ironically, the devastating atomic assault was followed by lasting peace, and even friendship, between America and Japan.

»

Lightweight, but underpowered

The Kneeslider (who found it on, yes, BoingBoing) points to these insanely detailed paper motorcycle models from Yamaha. Here's a single-cylinder SR400:

Best of all, the model kits are available free, over the Internet. Just download the parts as pdf files, print them out, and start cutting.

»

Al-Zawahri says Osama tapes are "Done"

PAKISTAN (Rooters) — After months of speculation, it appears that what many fans feared would happen has indeed come to pass: Osama Bin Laden’s series of videotaped threats against America and her allies is finished.

Al-Qaeda second-in-command and Bin Laden associate Ayman Al-Zawahri revealed in an interview with Al-Jazeera that the world’s most-wanted criminal is not coming back.

"Osama’s tapes are over, man. Done," Al-Zawahri told reporters from the Arabic-language news network. "It took me a long time to be able to say those words, but I can say it pretty easy now because it's the truth."

While Islamic terrorists and their sympathizers around the world still hold out hope that more tapes will be made — and Al-Zawahri said that half of a new threat has already been recorded — many of those who swelled with pride upon hearing each new rambling harangue from Osama are facing up to the possibility that they will have to make do with the several tapes he has already released.

The next videotaped threat from the reclusive terrorist leader has been on ice since Bin Laden halted production suddenly and went back into hiding somewhere, it is thought, in the forbidding, mountainous terrain along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

"I'm disappointed it ended the way it did, but I'm not angry with anybody — except, of course, the Americans and the Jews," Al-Zawahri said. "Osama’s tapes were like a suicide bomber who gloriously martyrs himself. They came out, they got everybody's attention, but they blew up into itty bitty pieces, and they blew up quick."

In another sign that the tapes may be on permanent hiatus, Bin Laden's longtime writing partner and reclusive former Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar is "no longer involved" in their production, according to an Al-Qaeda spokesperson.

Bin Laden allegedly met with Omar several years ago, but the pair have not spoken since — although Omar’s once-powerful gang of fundamentalist Islamic thugs has left the door open for Osama’s return, the spokesperson said.

According to Al-Zawahri, Bin Laden denies that the constant pressure of hiding from US and Pakistani forces led him to stop making new tapes, saying he is only living in dank, squalid caves in order to clear his head.

"I'm not crazy; I'm not smoking hashish," Bin Laden allegedly told Al-Zawahri. "I'm definitely stressed out. There were things that overwhelmed me, but not in the way that people are saying."

»

Indoctrination, not education

The Japan Times reported last week that Tokyo has decided to use a controversial new history textbook criticized for whitewashing Japanese atrocities in Asia during World War II:

The Tokyo Metropolitan board of education adopted two contentious social studies textbooks Thursday that critics say distort history and gloss over Japan's wartime atrocities.

The capital is the second city this year, after Otawara, Tochigi Prefecture, to choose junior high textbooks — one for history and one for civics — compiled by members of the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform and published by Fuso Publishing Inc.

...Critics say the history text plays down the 1937 Nanjing Massacre and ignores the sexual enslavement of women by Japanese soldiers. They also say it depicts Japanese wartime actions as aimed at liberating other parts of Asia.
I've already written several posts about these textbooks (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), arguing that while their treatment of Japan's conduct during World War II may be superficial and sanitized, China's criticism of them reeks of hypocrisy.

However, it appears the real harm these books may cause lies not in their portrayal of any particular historical event, but in their overall approach to the teaching of history — and, indeed, in the philosophy of education that they represent.

The following English translation (pdf file here) of an excerpt from the new history textbook is from the website of the strongly nationalist Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform, which created it:
The history you are about to study is the history of Japan. In other words, you will be familiarizing yourselves with the stories of your ancestors — your blood relatives. Your closest ancestors are your parents, who were preceded by your four grandparents. As you go back further in time, the number of ancestors increases with each generation. Then you realize that the humans who populated the Japanese Archipelago are ancestors you share with the other students in your classroom. In every era, Japanese history was made by ancestors common to all of us.

...Every nation in the world has a unique history; Japan is no exception. From time immemorial, our land has been the wellspring of civilization and unique traditions. In ancient times, the Japanese studied and appreciated the civilization that arose in China, but they never lost sight of their own traditions. Over the centuries, they built an independent nation. To see our ancestors' accomplishments, you need only visit important cultural and historical sites.

In the modern era, the U.S. and Western European nations threatened to engulf East Asia. But Japan sought harmony with Western civilization — a harmony that could be achieved while retaining Japanese traditions. As Japan transformed itself into a modern nation, it made every effort to maintain independence. But those were difficult times, and tension and friction arose between Japan and other nations. We must be grateful to our ancestors for their unceasing efforts, which made Japan a wealthy and safe nation (the safest in the world, in fact).
It's often said that the benefit of a liberal arts education is that it teaches you how to think. But as the excerpt above demonstrates, Japan's nationalists don't seem to want to teach schoolchildren how to think. They want to tell them what to think. Statements like "In the modern era, the U.S. and Western European nations threatened to engulf East Asia. But Japan sought harmony with Western civilization" don't encourage students to study the facts and reach their own conclusions. In fact, they don't even suggest that there might be other conclusions.

And statments like "Japanese history was made by ancestors common to all of us" not only tell students what to think, they ignore the fact that there are students in Japanese schools whose parents or grandparents immigrated from Korea, China, or elsewhere. What are they to make of this emphasis on a common Japanese ancestry?

Even more disturbing is that this focus on common ancestors echoes militarist prewar Japan's emphasis on racial unity. It also calls to mind the widely-discredited nihonjinron ideology of the postwar era, which portayed Japanese as different from (and, frequently, superior to) all other peoples of the world, by virtue of their race, language, and culture. Most nations have tossed theories of racial and cultural exceptionalism on the ash heap of history, but Japan has put them in its schoolbooks.

I've been quick to criticize China's aggressive new nationalism, particularly in the context of that country's dealings with Japan. But Japanese nationalism presents problems of its own.

White Peril points out that teachers in Japan tend to be leftists, not nationalists, and they have ample opportunity to shape and color the presentation of any textbook material in the classroom.

»

Life imitates Office Space

We have an intern in our office for the summer. Nice kid — fresh out of high school, and heading into a top college this fall.

Earlier, I overheard one of my colleagues (let's call him Fred) telling the intern how to handle an elaborate data-gathering project. At the end of his explanation, he actually said, ", if you could go ahead and do that, that'd be great."

"Hey, Fred," I called out from across the floor. "Did you see Office Space?"


"You sound like Lumbergh."

This set off a round of laughter and five minutes of everybody doing their best Lumbergh impressions.

Fred no longer tells the intern to "go ahead" and do anything. Nor does he say that doing it would be "great".

»

Is The Onion becoming funny again?

I'm of the opinion that the humor quotient of The Onion has been in a tailspin for the past few years, but this is just brilliant:

Suicide Bomber Killed En Route By Car Bomb

BAGHDAD — Terrorist cells in Baghdad are in mourning for suicide bomber Ahmed al-Khalaf, 19, who was killed by a car bomb Monday, 200 yards from an Iraqi police station, his intended target.

Sources within the insurgency said al-Khalaf was "on his way to becoming a glorious martyr" when he was struck down by the car-bomb explosion. Twenty-three other civilians were also killed.

"What kind of God allows the death of people who are on their way to kill innocent people?" insurgent leader Abdulwahid al-Tomizie said. "On the one hand, I am elated that the car-bomb explosion was successful, but the loss of the suicide bomber is a tragedy, as is the survival of all the innocent people he might have killed."
Read the whole thing.

»

This is getting out of hand

First Apostropher started blogging about weird Japan news.

Then BoingBoing churned out a bunch of Japan-themed posts.

And Running for the Right piled on.


But now even the mighty Instapundit is jumping on the bandwagon, linking to an article on how to eat sushi.

Hey, I was blogging about Japan before it was cool.

»

The 150th Carnival of the Vanities

Welcome to the 150th Carnival of the Vanities. This week's Carnival contains over 50 submissions. It should go without saying that the views expressed by contributors are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect my own opinions.

Next week's edition will appear August 10th at Generic Confusion. And now, on with the show!

The Environment

The Dread Pundit Bluto cites some sources suggesting that NASA's switch to an environmentally-friendly foam may be the reason chunks of it keep shearing off the Space Shuttle's external fuel tank and damaging the main craft.

Mister Snitch thinks that by the year 2020, we might be importing barrels of Chinese hydrogen along with our barrels of Saudi oil.

Do you walk or bike to work? If so, Kiril Kundurazieff wants to hear from you. (I don't think my 1300cc Honda is the kind of bike Kiril has in mind, though.)

Last week's Carnival host Melinama blogs about a failed attempt to start a biodiesel company. Along the way, she discusses blueberry patches, hot sauce, Celtic music, and fried twinkies.

Birth Control

Running for the Right says that NPR has completely mischaracterized the debate over pharmacist distribution of birth control pills.

Nicholas Schweitzer looks at New York Governor George Pataki's plans to veto a bill that would make the "morning after pill", RU-486, available over the counter.


Greg writes, "While in Europe recently, I saw firsthand that the European Union is doomed. See the pictorial evidence!"

Joseph Cutler points out an even more important European problem.

Guido Fawkes warns that Tony Blair is "stealthily installing a one-party dictatorship" in Britain.


Making his Carnival debut, Justin compares some inspiring and uninspiring examples of foreign language learning.

Justin's is the only even vaguely Japan-related entry in the Carnival this week. I recommend checking out Japundit for quirky finds and good reads on all things Japanese, while for a pan-Asian blog roundup, Simon World is excellent (although Simon is currently having guest bloggers fill in for him while he's on vacation).

Supporting the Troops

Is there a Carnival of the Podcasts? There should be. Holly Aho interviews Patty Patton-Bader, the founder of Soldier's Angels. (UPDATE: Holly has apparently just launched a Carnival of the Podcasts.)

Kiril Kundurazieff has two blogs, so he submitted two posts. Is that kosher? Anyway, he shares the sad story of a man who spent years cleaning up the tombstones of almost 200 Union soldiers from the Civil War — only to find that local officials aren't too fond of his work.

Buckley F. Williams lists Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Catherine Baker Knoll's favorite pastimes besides handing out her business cards at military funerals.

Liberals vs. Conservatives

Mr. Right imagines what a telethon to save Air America would be like. Seriously, if no one listens to these guys for free, who's going to tune in when they're asking for money?

Charlie Quidnunc has a very well-done podcast that finds House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi unable to back up some serious allegations she makes against the Republicans. Charlie's podcast also covers Air America and moderate Muslims as an added bonus.

John Ray conducted a study, published in the Australian Journal of Psychology, which found that left-wing beliefs correlate negatively with intelligence. Maybe that explains why Kerry got lower grades than Bush at Yale?

Watcher points a finger at bloggers who pointed fingers at Bush's finger.

Islam and Islamic Terrorism

Ferdinand T. Cat notes that Laura Ingraham interviewed Imam Yahya Hendi on her radio show. Hendi is a member of the Fiqh Council of North America, which recently issued a fatwa against terrorism.

GM Roper says that if we're serious about stopping Islamic terrorists, we should be focusing on people who fit the profile.

J. Random American thinks that a surveillance society might actually make us more free — but it all depends on who is under the microscope and who is doing the watching.

Rick Moran says Islam is overdue for a Martin Luther-style reformation.

In a very detailed post, Dan Melson compares the history of Chrisitianity and Islam, and considers the prospects for reforms in Islam today.

Brian J. Noggle wonders whether the British are sinking into a quagmire. No, not in Iraq. In Britain.

Opinionated Bastard notes that the Global War on Terror has become the Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism. But he thinks there's another name for it that would be even more accurate.

In the aftermath of the London bombings, Dave L. considers why second-generation Pakistanis in Britain often prove more radical than their immigrant parents. He thinks a New York Times article on the same phenomenon left much to be desired.

Neal Phenes says the locals aren't the problem in Iraq.

After calling Islam itself a "terrorist organization", radio talk show host Michael Graham lost his job when the Council on American-Islamic Relations threatened to boycott his station's advertisers. The Maryhunter calls for a boycott until he's hired back.


Harvey takes a look at the state of Florida, in a post that reminded me of Johnny Carson's famous monologue, "What Democracy Means to Me".

On a more serious note, Zendo Deb says Florida is coming to grips with the problem of domestic violence.


Josh Cohen wonders why a quick nude scene earns films the "R" rating, while graphic violence often slides by with a "PG-13". Warning: Readers under the age of 17 will not be admitted to Josh's post unless accompanied by a parent or adult guardian.

Pete reveals "the last message you ever want to hear on your answering machine."

In a truly baffling post, BPG imagines the leaders of the G-8 nations as Victoria's Secret models. There is absolutely no reason why any sane person would ever, ever want to do this.

Shaggy's Girl thinks she's figured out what men really want. How did she know I want a Ducati Multistrada 1000S DS?

Sister Toldjah warns that legalizing gay marriage puts us on a slippery slope.

Blogs and the Internet

Barry Welford wonders if AskJeeves might actually be able to catch up to the "big three" search engines.

Flexo looks at the negative impact of commercial forces on blogging, including the problem of spam blogs and the risk that advertisers will turn bloggers into paid shills.

If you're trying to figure out how to get more visitors to your website, Wayne Hurlbert says your referrer logs may hold the answer.


Kevin says an environmental lawsuit against the makers of Teflon is bogus. I guess he thinks the charges won't stick.

Tom Bowler notes a push for a Constitutional amendment to negate the impact of the Supreme Court's Kelo decision.

Warren Meyer muses about Roe v. Wade and whether the notion of a Constitutional right to privacy will grow stronger.

The Boy Scouts' 2005 National Jamboree was hit not only by a tragic electrical accident that killed four adults, but also by an ACLU lawsuit. Denis Ambrose has more.

Business and Economics

When I read this post by Ashish Hanwadikar about the Laffer Curve, I thought he was rejecting it because it predicts that two different tax rates can yield the same amount of tax revenue. But Ashish wrote to tell me, "I am not disputing Laffer Curve at all. My question, 'So what's wrong with Laffer Curve' is rhetorical." You had me going there, Ashish.

Ironman thinks AFL-CIO boss John J. Sweeney is doubling down on a losing bet.

Bruan works in a department store, and lists some of the weird things its customers do.


Look, do you want a happy God or a vengeful God? Northstar wants a happy God, but suspects the members of Rev. Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church do not.

Bussorah Merchant has a joke about a couple of golf-playing nuns.


High school history teacher Betsy Newmark says that students lose out when history is replaced with "social studies".

Chris Hallquist thinks that concerns about Ball State University forcing freshmen to read "leftist" books are overblown. He agrees with this comment by Stanley Fish: "As a genuine academic value, intellectual diversity is a nonstarter."


From Skippy-san comes a list of the 10 stages of drunkenness. I'm not sure what stage he was at when he wrote it.

Elisson has a bittersweet post about how the right pop song can trigger powerful emotions and bring back vivid memories.

Kevin Pho, M.D., reviews Dick Cheney's latest physical examination in impressive detail.

Mark A. Rayner knows how to ward off another NHL lockout: Robot hockey on Mars.

In the creepiest post of this week's Carnival, Chris J says it's better to suffer through the misery of life than to commit suicide. Maybe a more brightly-colored blog template would cheer him up?

And if that doesn't work, Steve Pavlina has some tips on "Overcoming Negative Emotions and Boosting Motivation." Remember, Chris — you're good enough, you're smart enough, and doggone it, people like you.

»

Beetle mania

InakaYabanjin looks at Japan's fascination with giant, fearsome beetles. There are beetle videogames, beetle magazines, and live beetles for sale as pets (sometimes supplied by beetle smugglers).

However, only about 1 percent of Japanese are Christians. So in Japan, at least, beetles are indeed more popular than Jesus.

»

Didn't these guys see Die Hard?

If there's one thing I learned from watching Bruce Willis in his breakthrough role, it was this: Never go after terrorists without a good pair of shoes.

Which makes this item in the Sun (via Fark) all the more unbelievable:

POLICE have been told they must show respect by taking their SHOES OFF before raiding the homes of Muslim terror suspects.

It was one of 18 rules laid down in new guidelines for officers in Luton — a hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism.
Showing respect is nice, but not if it hinders your ability to do your job. I hope none of these shoeless cops have to chase a fleeing suspect outside in their stocking feet.

»

The teapot is no more

Previously, I blogged about how Muslims Muslim extremists attacked the giant teapot-shaped shrine of Malaysia's inter-faith Sky Kingdom sect for supposedly luring people away from Islam.

Now, via LGF, Malaysian newspaper The Star reports that sadly, the teapot has been destroyed — even though the sect had obtained a court injunction blocking the demolition of any structure at their commune:

The giant teapot and other key structures at the Sky Kingdom commune came tumbling down yesterday after the Besut District Council sent in its demolition squad.

More than 30 followers of the sect who watched the demolition did not resist or challenge the authorities.

... The followers were taken by surprise when the 40 council workers entered the commune with four excavators and five lorries at 2.30pm. About 50 policemen and officers from the state Islamic Affairs department accompanied them.
In a gratuitous bit of extra nastiness, after demolishing the Sky Kingdom's shrine, authorities detained three wives of sect leader Ayah Pin for "being involved in teachings deviant to Islamic beliefs."

»

President Barbour?

Mississippi Governor and former RNC chairman Haley Barbour gave a speech to Republicans Abroad Japan at the Century Court in Tokyo this evening, while on a tour of Asia designed to attract foreign investment in his state. I stopped by to hear him speak.

In his speech, Gov. Barbour focused on the competitiveness, and need for compromise, in American politics today. But he also found time to mention how he managed to virtually erase Mississippi's deficit without raising taxes.

Then, during the question-and-answer session that followed, when asked who would be the most electable Presidential canditate the Republicans could nominate in 2008, Gov. Barbour seemed to have no clear preference. Ruling out Cheney, and lamenting that Schwarzenegger is not eligible, he acknowledged McCain, Giuliani, and Rice as possible choices. But he also noted that the Democrats have done best in Presidential elections when they nomintated relatively unknown governors of Southern states, like Carter or Clinton — and he suggested that the Republicans might do well to consider adopting a similar strategy.

During a cocktail reception after his speech, I asked Gov. Barbour if he had been hinting that he plans to throw his hat in the ring.

"Ha!" he laughed. "There are lots of successful governors."


It seems some people are quite keen to see Gov. Barbour run for President. But Chris Kromm and David Sirota think he would be a poor candidate.

»

The Beijing Olympics should be interesting

I've never explicitly posted my thoughts on this subject, but given China's anti-Japan riots this past spring, the recent news items about Chinese restaurants and hospitals excluding Japanese patrons, and the arrogance of Chinese officials at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, I've been wondering whether China is really ready to welcome people from all over the world when Beijing hosts the Olympics in 2008.

At Japundit, JP is having similar reservations, pointing to a China Daily article about Chinese fans and players attacking the Puerto Rican basketball team during a game last Friday:

A Chinese victory at Beijing Capital Gymnasium on Friday was overshadowed by what was arguably Chinese Basketball's most shameful night as the referee abandoned their match against Puerto Rico after a mass brawl broke out on court at the ongoing Stankovic Cup.

Fists, plastic cups, water bottles and even a fan's shoe went flying in during the fracas with China's Yi Jianlian, Tang Zhengdong, Mo Ke and Li Nan right in the middle of it.

...After several minutes of fighting on and off the court, plastic bottles, drinks, and popcorn rained down on the Puerto Rican players, and with three thousand fans chanting abuse the South Americans made their way to the locker room.
If there's a bright side here, it's that China appears to realize that such hostile behavior at the 2008 Olympics would be bad for its international image. Witness the little bits of editorializing sprinkled throughout China Daily's straight-news article:
•   ...Chinese Basketball's most shameful night...

•   The melee, which badly hurt the growing reputation of Chinese basketball...

•   The unreasonable acts also squandered China's sparkling performance...
Yet, as JP notes, last Friday's outburst was not the first time Chinese fans have shown hostility and aggression in response to foreign competitors:
There was a riot in Beijing in 1985 when the soccer national team lost a World Cup qualifier to Hong Kong. The Chinese basketball team and its fans were part of another brawl during a game against Lebanon in Shanghai in 2001. In 2004, fans went on a rampage in Beijing after the national soccer team lost to Japan in the Asian Cup final.
It seems clear China doesn't want to see this sort of behavior at its Olympics. But the strident nationalism it's been promoting at home, unfortunately, encourages it.

»



Powered by Blogger.