Thursday, August 31, 2006

Clash of the Trite-ans

I know some of you might think I'm -a- living in a cave and that I'm behind the times, but I saw Syriana for the first time last night, I feel obligated to write a post about it.

I know it has nothing to do with Japan, but I saw it in Japan, which makes it a valid post for this blog.

Here's my review:
It sucked.

It was a contrived, two-dimensional film with contrived, two-dimensional characters. It was trite. I was trightened. The writers spat trite game.

Let me begin by saying that I find it offensive when actors get political. Actors are famous for being actors, not politicians, but they exploit the enormous audience they have to wield influence over people who, for some reason, think that their [the actors] opinion matters or counts. Their actions and accountability are disproportionate, and they're not made responsible for their words. Let me axe you this, ye religious watchers of E!:

Did it ever occur to you that an actor's job is to be something they're not? Did it ever occur to you that there might be, I dunno, some bleed over into their reality? And that making 15 million dollars and being given god status in society might make them, eeeeh, how you say, a little off?

I would like to think that the movie was well done, but again, it was contrived. I'd say the introduction was close to two hours long, after which anyone with half a brain "figures it all out" and probably feels pretty proud of themselves. "Ah, but of course!! I've figured it out because of my geo-political savvy, and because oil companies are eeeeeeviiiiilllllll!" No. You figured it out because it was a two-dimensional story, and they led you to where they wanted to lead you. I didn't even see any of the previews, but it was obvious from the beginning (when they made the announcement about the Pakistanis losing their jobs) that the kid was gonna be a fucking terrorist. It was obvious when the kids were playing soccer and the friendly, helpful dude too them under his wing that he was singling them out to go boom at some point in the film.


....next point.........
Newsflash, shitheads!!!

Nebulous stories involving CIA operations with unexplained, "shady" backgrounds is not a substitute for movie content!!!!!! Just because most of the viewers will sit there and say, "Wow, the CIA is so secretive and evil, I have no clue what the fuck just happened, but hey, it's the CIA, it's how they roll...did I mention they're evil?" doesn't mean it holds water or that it supports the plot. Shit. Just thinking about it renders me speechless, or if nothing else gives me some strange, rage induced case of Tourette's. Shit. Ass. Bob Saget.

The hypocrisy is what really makes my stomach hurt. I'd be curious to see how much petroleum based fuel products were burned for energy during the production of a movie "showcasing" how America does business in the Middle East. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that they weren't carpooling to and from the set in using bio-diesel or hybrids. I'm curious to see what kind of lifestyles these people live, how much energy their houses consume, and what kind of shit they buy, all the while criticizing the lavish lifestyles and frivolous spending that has become a trademark of Arab Royalty. "Oh my gawww, those Arabs are so gaudy and wasteful! Check out my chihuahua's new necklace!!"

I'm a little surprised that the Jews weren't somehow thrown in there. How on Earth could you make a movie about middle-eastern turmoil and not mention Israel!?!? Oh wait, I forgot, Hollywood is controlled by John Lovitz and his crew of J├╝den co-conspirators from a secret armored cave behind the Hollywood sign. Sure. My point here is that the best part about seeing movies and new stories that are clearly agenda-driven is to see what parts they're omitting, and why. They're very selective about who they're willing to offend, and offending a huge number of your countrymen who have bankrolled your lifestyle and supported you and your career is more attractive than pissing off a bunch of already pissed off people in the middle east. "We need to be careful, we don't want to upset a bunch of peasants in Peshawar. They'd spaz out and become insurgents and it would be our fault. They could attack our troops, and we support our troops!! Oh, Bushitler is a terrorist by the way." How about making a movie about ignorant, power hungry clerics who manipulate, use, and send the uneducated and naive to their deaths? How about instead of blaming nameless, faceless, demonized institutions and governments, we hold accountable those who can make a difference, step up, and change things? Why not talk about this kid's life story?



Does he really have a chance?

How about this one?



Clearly the result of the oil companies and secret Zionist societies who control everything..

Maybe in the new movie, they could throw in some backwoods hillbilly buggery and institutionalized misogyny for good measure? No no no, can't do that. It's much more fun to portray good looking, family oriented, hard working, down-on-their-luck kids who "have no where else to turn" but suicide bombing. Why take a dump on people who have no one to blame but themselves, when you can take a dump on your fans, your way of life, then use the bill of rights for toilet paper?

Ok, that was a little dramatic, I admit.....but that's how I roll.

I don't even know why I'm posting this. Maybe it's because I saw this movie and spent most of the time being irritated or mildly offended. I'm not insulted because of the content, I'm insulted because of how it was presented, and the pretenses the film was made under. I just wish all of this agenda driven passive-aggressive "psh, see what's happening?" bitchery bullshit would stop, and I'm mad at each and every one of you for not warning me about this movie.

More later, jerks.

ps:

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Coon skin and Alligator hide?!



Oh dear.. This has to be the saddest smoker's etiquette sign I've ever seen. I'm not sure whether it's an anti-smoking ad or a be-kind-to-garbage ad.

Here's a haiku:
The Cigarette butt...
Discarded...Left...Neglected....
....At the blind corner.....

Makes me wanna go out and pick up cigarette butts. Not because it's littering, which is common here, but because I feel bad for the poor fellas. Speaking of littering, I can't really dog the Japanese too much for littering, because there are no public garbage cans hardly anywhere. There are recycling bins for cans and bottles, but they're usually quite full, so if you have a plastic bag from a convenience store or something, it's not uncommon to carry it around with you for a few hours. I've found that a good strategy is to put it in a corner somewhere I know that janitors frequent, like a bathroom. They'll take care of my little bundle of joy.

So this weekend me and shortie cruised around Ginza for a while. I even bought some clothes. Can you believe it? Anyway, when we exited the subway there was a Taiko performance going on. I've always liked the sound of the drums. It's like Stomp, only instead of using products mass produced by peasants in a factory to put random noises into a cohesive pattern to please over-educated snobs, in taiko, a group of over-educated snobs bangs large, wooden barrels with animal carcass stretched over it to please peasants who work in factories.

Something like that.

Here's a little video of some Taiko going on.



You can't really see it in this video, but they start off really slow and the action escalates until they're jumping around and going completely apeshit, and it sounds awesome.

While many (I guess myself included) would argue that Okinawan music is not "Japanese" music per se, it's also completely awesome and gives me goose bumps when I hear it. Here's a little example of a clip containing a lot of distinctive Okinawan musical traits:



I'm not sure if it's really appealing to most westerners, but I love it and I can listen to it forever. A lot of Okinawan music has a really melancholy feel to it, and it really takes me back to the year I spent there and reminds me of how much I miss it. When I went to Okinawa, I hadn't been to Japan for a while, so the differences between it and mainland probably weren't as marked as they would be if I went there now. I'm itchin' to go back and check it out, for shizzle.

One thing I like to do (or rather I do without realizing it) is I try to look at things that are going on around me as if I were a member of a primitive tribal band. For instance, when a train comes blasting by or I'm at the top of a really tall building, I try and picture what it would be like for someone who knows nothing other than the forest or the jungle. Having not spent my formative years in the Amazon basin, this is obviously impossible, but it's still fun to think about and I never take for granted the things that we have in hypermodern society.

I've been pretty busy with some shit I've been doing, so I don't have much to say. Summer's almost over, and it's been a memorable one to say the least. It was ushered in with Brando's visit, and the week after next I'll be going to Texas for a little reunion with all the guys from my platoon. Should be interesting, to say the least.

No Iowans were harmed in the posting of this blog.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Alas, Walletio, I knew him well....

Anyone who knows me knows that, like anyone, I am quirky. The usual stuff, like that I always chew 2 pieces of gum at the same time, I eat with faster than anyone I know (but I dont appear to be eating fast, just all of a sudden the food on my plate is magically gone), and I refuse to use a wallet.

Much like an iPod, when the casual onlooker asks why I refuse to use a wallet, I answer with my standard, "...Cuz someone has to..." response. That's not true though. Aside from the fact that having a big fat wallet in my back pocket makes my ass look huge, I'm not an orderly person. My life is not in order, or rather, it's not ordered in the conventional way that society would have me order it. It also seems kind've silly to have so many things of such great importance all nicely organized to a) lose or b) have someone steal. I mean, surrs'ly, do you keep your life savings in a shoebox in a closet marked "CLOSET FOR SHOEBOX CONTAINING LIFE SAVINGS." To me, this is no different than having your wallet in your back left/right pocket. Let some cretin try and pick my pocket. The only thing they'll get is a handful of lint and an anusful of shoe, especially in more high risk places/places I'm not familiar with, where I put all my shit in impossible to pick places.

Those of us fortunate enough to be liberated from the walletial (new word) constraints society has placed upon us know one thing: Not using a wallet drives women absolutely apeshit. As I'm sure all of you know, my birthday is in October, and me and the miss'z have been discussing birthday presents and whatnot. Here's a common birthday present conversation with us:

Her: I know what I'm getting you already.
Me: Oh yeah? What is it.
Her: ...
Me: Don't get me a wallet, because I won't use it.
Her: ...

Shopping for me for a birthday present is not easy, because I don't really like receiving presents. Anything I want, I buy myself. I consider my needs spartan enough and my financial situation good enough to where I have everything I want. Seriously. Because I don't want crazy shit. I don't want a fucking motorcycle or a nice car or a badass computer or a wicked stereo system. Sure, they'd be nice, but I'm not really into that shit. I'm not like a zen monk or anything like that, but I simply don't live a lavish lifestyle. Wanna make me happy? Buy me a gift certificate on amazon.com. That is the ultimate birthday present. When I go on my biweekly book buying splurge, I will think about you and remember your awesome gift. As for other presents, if someone gets me something that says, "I know you and what a nutjob you are, and nothing sez it like this little present right here," I'm delighted.

So last night we were discussing the wallet thing in more detail. She wanted to get it out on the table. She wanted to plead her case. She even compromised by offering one of those card holder/money clip things, which are pretty sharp, but still not my style. A debate, eh? Very well. I'll go down the list of points and counterpoints.. At the end, I'll explain to you, likely the American, why she made her points, because they might seem odd from our perspective.

Point 1:
Her: It looks bad giving someone a wrinkled bill.
Me: If my wrinkled money is offensive to them, they don't have to accept it.

Point 2:
Her: You're looking at possible jobs in Tokyo that may involve you schmoozing with folks. It'll look retarded if you're pulling out all your cards and yen like an idiot. (I gave her credit for this one)
Me: (And followed it up with a dickhead response) Yes. And if you give one to me, I'll be sure to use it.....when I'm out with people it might matter to.

Point 3:
Me: I don't want you to spend $300 on a damn card/money clip. That's retarded.
Her: It is good quality and will last a long time, so it will come out to about 10cents a day, which is nothing. (Not a bad point...And I of course didn't mention the fact that I have about $1000 worth of ink on my body and have spent Christknowshowmuch on booze in my life..)

Point 4: (And a main point throughout)
Her: Don't you want to look good?
Me: To who? A bunch of people that don't know me? A bunch of people who are judging me based on how I hold my credit cards? I don't care about them. I care about the people I know and like. Their opinion matters. Besides, I knowz I looks good.
Her: But don't you feel good when you're all snazzed up?
Me: ....
Her: Ahha!
Me: Yeah, but I don't give a shit about joe blow on the street. Who the fuck are they? Why do I care what they think about me?
Her: That's very American.
Me: Damn skippy!

IF SOMEONE ACCUSED YOU OF BEING AMERICAN, WOULD THEY HAVE THE EVIDENCE TO PROSECUTE??? MUHFUGGAH?

Guilty as charged, peeps, and every time someone tells me I'm acting American or something, I silently high-5 myself. That means I'm not being assimilated. That means I'm not losing my identity and turning into something that everyone back home (wherever that is) wouldn't recognize. I'm not the gaijin running around using honorifics and dressing like an imbecile, apologizing profusely when some asshole hip-checks me on the train. I'm not correcting Japanese people's Japanese or making stupid quips based on Japanese esoteria that even most Japanese don't understand. Japanese people think that it's great and all when roundeye learn Japanese, but one thing expats in Japan must never forget is this: They want gaijin to be gaijin. It might suck, but that's how it is, silly gaijin, and you are not going to change it and you are not going to be Japanese.. Ye' caint fight the hog, ye' just gotta ride it. Bitches. Anyway, it also said a lot about why we do stuff and why the Japanese do stuff. Americans are far more individualistic and don't really give a shit about what other people think. However...During my conversation with her, I mentioned that while there are many people whose opinions don't mean shit to me, anyone who says "I DON'T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT WHAT ANYONE THINKS ABOUT ME" is either a) unemployed or b) a liar. If I honestly didn't care about what people thought about me, I would go to work in my underwear because I like hanging out in my underwear, which would make me a), unemployed. I saw people in the military who honestly "didn't give a fuck," and they are now a), unemployed. Those who said such things and still did a good job were b) liars. We just don't notice it as much in the USA, because you can still be relatively successful in the USA even if everyone pretty much hates you. In Japan, social pressure is a lot stronger, and the tiniest comment made by a boss can be a catalyst for major change. When I was working at a bar in Tokyo, a comment like, "It seems people are showing up late these days..." to someone who has been late is akin to threatening to fire them. And this is at a bar. In the USA, it would be like, "OH YEAH? AND?! YOU GOT SUMMINA SAY FUGGIN SAY IT." In the USA, broad, general comments like that are ignored by the people they're intended for. Using sweeping comments like, "ummm, yeah, we need to really work on getting here on time" to 10 people when one of them has been late is completely useless. Not so in Japan.

In any case, I'm not sure if I won the money clip/card carrier debate. I'm not sure if comments like, "...giving into societal pressures to use a wallet is no different than Japanese civilians supporting the emperor in WWII!!!!" will really act in my favor, but whatever. No societal pressures will keep me from making such outrageous statements...Not even walletial ones.

So I'll use the above bullshit to transition into the next section:
MORE SIGNS.

Mmmm hmmm, I found more signs on the street! For those of you just joining us, it's a continuation of the post immediately before this one. Not that I attract new readers. Anyway, let's continue:

Sign Du Jour #1:
(that's French)
....So what do you reckon the message is on this one?


OH SHIT!! Misfire. Let's try that one again.

What do you think this sign is supposed to be???


I'm thinking...Maybe how to feed rats cigarette butts? I'm not sure. Here's the original.



I like the tone of this message. It's almost like, "I threw my cigarette into the drain, and by 'threw it in the drain' I mean 'hid it.'" That's my favorite kind of joke. Something like, "Brando is a really good friend of mine, and by 'really good friend of mine' I mean 'raging sodomite'".

Honjitsu no Sign #2:
(that's not French)



Good luck with this one. It almost looks like the guy is holding some enormous, strange, sand-filled test tube....the contents of which make people surprised and taken aback. Oh wait, here it is.



I like how they have "Neglect" thrown in there. Oh yeah, and how come the words on the picture aren't translated??? Aaah, I gotcha. Fuckers.

Oh, here's a sign that, suspiciously enough, IS NOT translated into English. I wonder why?



It's a sign next to an ATM machine warning that there have been some folks stealing money and cash cards from people. Who? Foreigners. That's what it says. More specifically, "There have been instances of people being engaged in conversation by unfamiliar foreigners, during which time their cash card and money gets jacked." I feel bad for any chatty foreigners in the vicinity of that sign. They might get hauled in for questioning. (Pssst...Don't tell the foreigners tho!! teeheehee!)

What'd I say before? Ye caint fight the hog, ye just gotta ride it. Bitches.

ps: I got in trouble for taking the picture of the redneck shirt at a store. Damn foreigners.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

That Hezbollah chick was SMOKIN...

Cripes in a sidecar. That's all I can say about this.

I don't really have a problem with adults running around and acting like assholes, because it's what we do best as adults. I do have a problem when they involve their kids. What kind of sick fuck would have their child come to a rally and sing:

"Hey hey.
Ho ho.
We support the PLO."

and

"Red white green and white
We support Hezbollah's fight!"

The little kids can barely even get "Hezbollah" out without stammering. And what's going on with "Red white green and white"? It's kind've hard to have a convincing message when what you're saying sounds completely retarded.

I wonder how the pre-protest briefing went at home.

"Ok Sarah, do you understand what you're supposed to chant?"
"WHAT'S A HIZ BO LAW??!?!"
"Sounds like someone doesn't want any ice cream....."

Yeah, liberalism is way better. It's much better to have your kids out protesting and running pickets than the stupid traditional way, which is to let your kids be children. Yeah, and I'm the brainwashed one. Yut yut. Also, how can you support someone's fight at a peace protest? Can you be selectively pacifistic? Furthermore, if you find yourself at a protest, don't you think you should get your ideas together in case someone who doesn't agree with you asks you about it and puts you on camera? "Study, you are so young" is a wonderful answer. You look like a condescending, ignorant asshole. And Hugo Chavez as an Arab Leader? Are you out of your fucking mind??! I guess it's easy to spew bullshit when there's no one there to hold you accountable for whatever nonsense you're saying.

...and I'm sure someone has said something to the effect of:
YEAH CUZ GOING TO CHURCH AND BEING BRAINWASHED IS WAY BETTER RIGHT LOLZ

Um... OK, check it out.

For all the lip service I pay about being a "raging card carrying atheist," I will never say that Churches serve no function in a community. And given these two options:

a) Supporting the PLO's and/or Hezbollah's fight (i,e. launching rockets into Haifa)
b) Supporting a Church and its community groups/social functions

....imma pick number b, bitches, even though I don't believe in what they believe. .

...But this is Adventurepan goddammit, and we need to bring things around to the subject at hand. I'm tired of these bullshit posts, and you should be too. So here goes.

People wonder why I like Japan. I like Japan, but even when I wasn't working in Japan, I was working somewhere else outside the USA. I don't want to live in the USA. I love the USA, I just don't want to live there. I look at these protests and think about the odds of having to actually encounter some of these people in real life, and it turns my stomach. A lot of people, me included, bash the Japanese for being heiwa boke, which kinda translates as something like "Peace dumb." They've experienced nothing but an easy peace with most of their defense handled by someone else since the war, and they don't really learn about WWII in history class. Ask a Japanese person about Hezbollah and see and see what they say. Probably nothing. Ask an American about Hezbollah, and you'll probably get a stream of bullshit on one side or the other, each respectively uninformed, and each delivered with a certain ignorant fervor that we're so well known for. I prefer the former. I don't sit there and spew bullshit one way or the other to anyone who will listen, and Japanese people refrain in much the same manner. Everyone's a winner.

And why else do I like Japan?

Well, the signs, of course.

That's right!!!! Remember this sign??



I was unaware that it was just one of many signs like it, each with an equally ridiculous picture. There seems to be a whole series of these signs, and I will attempt to find as many as I can. So I've come up with a little game. I'm going to show you the diagram on each sign, then I'm going to show you the full sign. Or something like that. I hope you get as much a kick out of them as I did.

I'd like you all to imagine, if you would, if you saw these signs with no translations on them at all. Just the Japanese, which would most likely be meaningless to you, so I'll show you just the little pictures they have underneath the signs. Do you think you would be able to figure it out? For instance, consider the original one I posted, if you had just seen this:



What the hell does that mean?

OK, moving along.

Item Number 1:



Apparently "tossing away" a cigarette is the same as "tossing away" Japan. It's right there. One equals the other. Of all the social problems Japan has, clearly the one that is best equated with Japan going down the toilet is people throwing away cigarette butts. Not human trafficking. Not a plummeting birth rate. Not lack of public trashcans for that matter. It's cigarette butts.

Here's the original sign:



Item Number 2:



This isn't a bad analogy, if you make it work. Umbrellas keep away rain much like portable ashtrays keep away cigarette butts. To understand this one properly, you must understand the Japanese attitude towards rain. Japanese people treat the slightest droplets as if there were a full on chemical-biological attack going on. Back me up here, Brando -- he witnessed a man sprinting down the street covering his forehead with a 3-inch by 3-inch hanky. People honestly freak out. Here's the real sign:



It's a little small, so I'll write it out:
Portable ashtrays, they're so handy. I always think that when I'm searching for a place to get rid of my cigarette butt.

Hmm, I think that too. I think of umbrellas too, when I'm searching for a place to get rid of my rain shower.

Item Number 3:



I guess one of the many hardships of being a human is skeeter bites, UV rays, and aggressive cigarettes, not necessarily in that order.

Here's the original:



One thing that I want to emphasize here is that these signs do not qualify as "Engrish". While they seem a little bit unnatural, they are grammatically sound, and they're the best translations of the Japanese written above it. I can almost guarantee you that a native speaker checked these, and were instructed to keep them as true to the original as possible. They seem unnatural not because a Japanese person with a 3rd grade English ability translated, but because that's how Japanese people talk. Say it aloud, like a samurai might.

In Summertime...The arms that pass by my cigarette....Are bare....

Almost sounds like a haiku, don'it? In fact, let's Haikuize it:
During Summertime
Arms passing by cigarettes
Are frightfully bare.

or maybe:

I hate the sun and
I hate mosquitoes too but
Ciggies? Just as bad...

I like my haikus better. I wonder what they will do during wintertime, when people are wearing jackets? And the skeeters are dormant?

While I make fun of these signs, I mainly get a kick out of them because they're kind've cute. They might be on to something though, given the failure of the "Smoking Kills" anti-smoking campaign. They are, however, a good example of the type of "marketing" that would work in Japan but wouldn't work in the USA. Clearly these signs are appealing to the well being of others, the country, and people's disdain for precipitation. These would all be lost on Americans because, well, we don't really give a shit about someone we don't know, and fuck the environment anyway. The Japanese signs aren't really even asking people stop smoking per se, they're telling them to smoke in designated areas, which is a little more realistic than the USA, which feels that it's important to pass legislation limiting people's access to smoking/places to smoke.

So rock on Japan, I love you and your cute little signs kindly requesting people not to torch children in the face with cigarettes, and equating tossing butts to flushing Japan down the toilet. I'm always a sucker for the dramatic, especially dramatic public campaigns. *sniff*

Thursday, August 10, 2006

I've been converted!!!!!!!!!!!!



So there's this guy at work. Good enough guy I guess, but looooooooves to argue. Doesn't really matter what it is, he's gonna try and convince you of his viewpoint. Even if he doesn't care about it. He's just that type of person. He also doesn't realize that this sort of behavior can be seen as abrasive and invasive, and that 90% of the time people will just placate you if you have such a personality trait.

"Sure dude, whatever you say."

So he's in my office yesterday, and we're shooting the bull. We were talking about religion and relationships and stuff, and I said something to the effect of, "I don't think I could be in a relationship with a woman with strong religious convictions."

I know he's a Christian, but I also know he's a dirty bastard and a misogynist, which is apparently A-OK in Christianity, because half my team in Okinawa were dirty misogynistic Christians. I also know that he's not the type to force his religion on people, and can discuss it without taking it personally or having a conniption, which is the only reason I brought it up.

Anyway, he wants to know why, so I tell him that it would become an issue -- she'd want to talk about it, and she wouldn't be able to argue with me, because it's impossible to argue religion with me due to my, erm, qualifications, on the debate. NOT because I have some insight into the metaphysical, but because of rules I insist on putting on the debate.

(I know Eric's gonna love this one, and probably be obtuse in the comments.)

"What qualifications? I'm sure I could argue it," said he.

"I don't argue religion," said I.

"C'mon, try me," quoth he.

SIDENOTE:
Here's an important Paulosophy:
I don't get in fights unless I'm 100% sure I can win.

Debating is no different, unless I'm playing devil's advocate....which means I'm just being a pain. So 90% of the time.

If I'm not playing devil's advocate, it's probably something I believe [strongly] to be true, and have thought about it a lot, which is the only way I will debate something that I care about. It should be noted that I am open to discuss most anything, but I don't really like debating because I usually simply don't give a shit, and I don't like sitting there while someone tries to convince me of something using evidence that I am not sure is true/again, that I don't care about. Discussions often turn into debates, which is usually when I flip the off switch.

I digress.

"OK," sayeth I. "Here are the rules:

  • You can't use the Bible as evidence
  • You can't use faith as evidence"

  • "Why not?" plead he with a perplexed gaze.

    "Check it out," I sagely began, "You can't use the bible in support of your argument as a 'truth' because the 'truth' of it is based on (a Christian) God existing, which we have not established. Nyam Sayin, G?" (I think this is an example of begging the question. Help me out here, nedricologists...)

    "...", he shrieked in muted rage.

    "And faith," I continued, "Well, you're eventually going to just look at me and say, in some form or another, 'Well, I just know personally beyond a shadow of a doubt that God exists,' which is inarguable, and effectively ends any debate."

    "No I won't," he assured me, and agreed to begin our little verbal sparring session.

    Long story short, it ended up with him telling me that he knew, personally, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he was right, and there was a God. Ay, que sopreso.

    It should also be mentioned that a common answer is also, 'God works in mysterious ways' or 'We cannot begin to fathom the reasons/way of thinking of a higher power'. I think I'm going to start adding that to my rules. You can't say that either from now on.

    The only reason I really agree to these debates is because I'm interested to see what the other person will say, and what kind of debating tactics (or lack there of) they will use. With my two handy dandy qualifiers, it's pretty much impossible for them to prove anything, keeping in mind that the burden of proof lies on them. They have to prove to me that there is a God. And when I say prove, I mean using the scientific method with evidence. Not lack of evidence otherwise. Not speculation. Because to them, it's not a theory, it's a fact, and by gum they're gonna convince me!!

    What usually ends up happening is they start debating the possibility of there existing a higher power, not necessarily a God, citing Stephen Hawking and his crew's ideas and whatnot. This is a different debate, so it's easily sidestepped. It's a stupid debate to begin with, and I don't know why I bother.

    I'm often amazed at the confidence people have in convincing someone of something just because they believe in it really hard, especially when someone like me comes along and starts putting restrictions on the debate. Do they not wonder why I'm putting these rules on it? Do they not see that I'm stacking the deck on purpose?

    I see it like this: Let's say I'm at a park playing chess. I'm OK, but not that great, and I don't really care if I win or lose. A guy comes up to me and says, "Hey wanna play?" I know he's pretty good at chess, not significantly better than me, and that if he loses his rating will go down.

    I respond by saying, "Sure dude, but I have a couple of rules that you have to follow."

    "No problem," he'd say, "I know I fucking rock, and I can defeat you."

    "OK, for this game you're not allowed to use your queen, knights, or bishops, or rooks.. Is that OK? Do you agree to that?"

    "Yes. I know I can defeat you."

    It just doesn't make sense to me. Doesn't it seem odd that I already have these rules planned out? Is his opinion of me that low, and does he think he's that much smarter than me, that even when I say "Can we not do this? I've had this debate a million times", he still wants to carry on with it?

    Whatever. I guess it's harmless fun anyway, and the stakes are really low. Fortunately I don't care enough about the subject matter to worry about it, but it makes me wonder how many people live their lives like this. Sometimes I envy people with the confidence to cruise around and think that just because they believe something, they're right, they know it better than you, and they're smarter than you. Even after being made a fool of or being proven wrong (not that this happened in the above example), they can carry on and just be like, "Psh... It doesn't matter. He might think that he proved me wrong, but fuck him, I know I'm right," and carry on like you're not only the cat's meow, but that a higher power is looking out for you and justifying your behavior. I guess I could never be a politician.

    Anyway, that's just me rambling. Me debating anyone is never really going to solve anything or convince anyone of anything because I put stupid rules on them to ensure my victory. I am swayed by discussion and exchanges of ideas, not by debates, because I don't like being verbally alpha-male'd. Debates typically put people on the defensive, because from the get-go someone is saying, "You're wrong, I'm right, here's why." It's not a real healthy forum for solving problems or swapping ideas. Let the idea swapping begin!@#@!$@

    Tuesday, August 01, 2006

    Holy Sumidagawa, batman.

    First and foremost, I have a new favorite shirt. My cousin sent it to me for no reason, and I've worn it many times since I received it.



    I was cruising around with it on, and it occurred to me that some people might find it offensive, cuz you know, people like findin' shit offensive. Fuck that though, it's a funny shirt. I had to take a picture of it on me so I could send it to my cousin, along with a "thanks".

    So check it out: During the summer in Tokyo, there are fireworks like every weekend somewhere. I was asked by the miss'z if I wanted to go to watch fireworks, and I was a little apprehensive. I wasn't doing well with fireworks but I figured I had to get over my new little phobia. Besides, as long as something doesn't go boom or make a loud noise unexpectedly, I'm OK for the most part.

    I'm not sure if I'd really been to a "fireworks event" before this. I mean, of course I'd seen fireworks before -- who hasn't? -- but maybe I hadn't been this up close and personal before.

    At risk of sounding like a hay-seed...

    Wow..

    That's all I can really say. I was getting made fun of the entire time for staring at the sky with my mouth agape. I guess the only thing more spectacular than some of those fireworks would be, I dunno, an AC130 lighting up your block, or a MOAB leveling the next village. Either way, whoever makes fireworks really has their shit together. It's pretty amazing to me that they can make things go boom and zing and light up with such precision.

    I wonder how long it took the ancient Chinese to realize that instead of shooting fireworks up in the air, they could just shoot them along the ground and blow people up with them.

    "Hey Xiao Wong!"
    "Yeah?"
    "Got any of those bang-bang things left from the festival?"
    "Yeah, an assload."
    "Hey, how bout you tie em all together with some sharp bamboo in em, make a vest out of it, and have one of those Uygur laborers run into the enemy CP and blow it to smithereens."
    "Hey, good idea."

    Here is a pretty cool video I found on Youtube of the very same fireworks event I attended.


    It's a little bit long, but they caught some of the good stuff. And you can see how crowded it was too. I didn't know there were a million or so people there, but it doesn't surprise me one bit. In Japan, whenever something's going on, it's a madhouse.

    Here's a much shorter video that I took with my camera. Notice that at the end, you can hear someone say, very distinctively, "Oh my shit." Yeah, I taught her that.



    The guy with the retarded laugh is me.

    Anyway, as you can see in the longer video, a lot of the Japanese people get dressed up in their yukata and cruise around. Here's a picture of us, where I am definitely not wearing a Yukata:



    She asked me, "Why don't you wear a yukata? It'll be fun."
    and I was all, "Cuz that ain't how I roll."
    Which is true.
    "Why not?" asked she.
    "Because I don't want to be that guy."
    "What guy?"
    "That white guy walking around dressed like a Japanese person. Round-eye look ridiculous in yukata, so I will never ever wear one."
    "Aah, I see."

    Me wearing a yukata would look about as natural as a Japanese person dressed up in Colonial British garb. Of course, there were round-eye there with yukatas on, and yes, they were "that guy". I guess I can't slam them for trying it out, but like I said, t'aint how I roll, and t'will never be how I roll. I'm not a real "dress up and make a spectacle of myself" type person. I like to keep it a little more low-key. Be the gray-man, gents. The gray-man. Oh, and I've given up on replacing my red hat. It just isn't going to happen, so I cut my hair real short, which looks better anyway, and I gave up on trying to replace that which cannot be replaced. Durp.

    Anyway, was planning a camping trip this weekend but the van fell thru. =( If the weather is nice, mayhap I'll go to the beach. I've been feeling like pure ass lately -- hope I get better. *sigh*