Saturday, September 29, 2007

Please Read This:

Being Peace by Buddhist blogger "Maha," written in response to those calling for monks and protesters in Myanmar to use violence against the country's military dictatorship.

(Courtesy of Mike the Mad Biologist)

Mark Your Calendars. . .

October 9th is the earliest that I can expect to get my damned Pacific Century Scholarship money. After waiting until the 10th of September to officially be registered in my damn classes (I handed my registration form in August) and another two weeks after that to get my scholarship money deposited into my student account (which at least paid my tuition), I will now have to wait another two to three more weeks to transfer the remaining cash from the University to my own bank account.

I'm planning on doing a post on "big-L Libertarianism" pretty soon (right after the post on my research paper ;P), so I guess its fitting that I'm dealing bureaucratic bullshit, esspecially since University bureaucracies (both UNBC and UVic) have given me more trouble than any government office.

Still, there was Student Loans. . .

Friday, September 28, 2007

Quii, Part II

More dumbass quiz results:

What Sesame Street character are you?

You Are Big Bird

Talented, smart, and friendly... you're also one of the sanest people around.

You are usually feeling: Happy. From riding a unicycle to writing poetry, you have plenty of hobbies to keep you busy.

You are famous for: Being a friend to everyone. Even the grumpiest person gets along with you.

How you life your life: Joyfully. "Super. Duper. Flooper."

Are you a tortured genius?

You Are 86% Tortured Genius

You totally fit the profile of a tortured genius. You're uniquely brilliant - and completely misunderstood.

Not like you really want anyone to understand you anyway. You're pretty happy being an island.

In what European city do you belong?

You Belong in Amsterdam

A little old fashioned, a little modern - you're the best of both worlds. And so is Amsterdam.

Whether you want to be a squatter graffiti artist or a great novelist, Amsterdam has all that you want in Europe (in one small city).

If your life was a movie, what genre would it be?

The Movie Of Your Life Is An Indie Flick

You do things your own way - and it's made for colorful times.

Your life hasn't turned out how anyone expected, thank goodness!

Your best movie matches: Clerks, Garden State, Napoleon Dynamite

Are you a paranoid scizophrenic?

You Are 28% Paranoid Schizophrenic

You're pretty grounded, though you have your occasional paranoid moments.

Just make sure to ignore those voices in your head!

Are you stupid?

You Are Not Stupid

You got 10/10 questions right!

While acing this quiz doesn't prove you're a genius, you're at least pretty darn smart.

What English-speaking country are you?

You Belong in New Zealand

Good on ya, mate

You're the best looking one of the bunch

Though you're often forgotten...

You're quite proud of who you are

Personally, I would have thought I belonged in Ireland.

What language should you learn?

You Should Learn Japanese

You're cutting edge, and you are ready to delve into wacky Japanese culture.

From Engrish to eating contests, you're born to be a crazy gaijin. Saiko!

Meh. No surprise.

Are you a political radical?

You Are 32% Politically Radical

You've got a few unusual political ideas, but overall you're a pretty mainstream person. Chances are that you're turned off by both the radical right and looney left.

And finally,

What's your pimp name?

Your Pimp Name Is...

Long Dong Skillz

Disappointing, I must say.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Killer Fucking Meteorite

The sad thing about this true story, apart from the human suffering, is that there are enough idiot hacks in Hollywood who have glanced through War of the Worlds who actually could have made it up.

From The Guardian:

A meteorite has struck a remote part of Peru and carved a large crater that is emitting noxious odours and making villagers ill, according to local press reports.

A fireball streaked across the Andean sky late on Saturday night and crashed into a field near Carancas, a sparsely populated highland wilderness near Lake Titicaca on the border with Bolivia, witnesses said.

The orange streak and loud bang were initially thought to be a plane crashing.

When farmers went to investigate, however, they found a crater at least 10m wide and 5m deep, but no sign of wreckage.

The soil around the hole appeared to be scorched and there was a "strange odour", a local health department official, Jorge López, told Peru's RPP radio.

Later the farmers complained of headaches and vomiting. Police who went to investigate the crater were also stricken with nausea, prompting authorities to dispatch a medical team that reached the site on Wednesday.

"The odour is strong and it's affecting nearby communities. There are 500 families close by and they have had symptoms of nausea, vomiting, digestive problems and general sickness," said López.

At least 12 people were treated in addition to seven police officers who required oxygen masks and rehydration.

The farmers expressed fears that what appeared to be chunks of lead and silver around the site could contaminate the soil.

A member of the National Academy of Sciences, Modesto Montoya, told the state press agency that a fallen meteorite did not present any danger unless it hit some structure on impact.

"None of the meteorites that fall in Peru and make perforations of varied sizes are harmful for people, unless they fall on a house," he said. Another meteorite fell to Earth in Arequipa province in June.
Okay, so it's more of a noxious fucking meteorite. Actually, it may not even be a meteorite at all. From BBC:

They say the object left a deep crater after crashing down over the weekend near the town of Carancas in the Andes.

People who visited the scene have been complaining of headaches, vomiting and nausea after inhaling gases.

But some experts have questioned whether it was a meteorite or some other object that landed in Carancas.

"Increasingly we think that people witnessed a fireball, which are not uncommon, went off to investigate and found a lake of sedimentary deposit, which may be full of smelly, methane rich organic matter," said Dr Caroline Smith, a meteorite expert at the London-based Natural History Museum.

"This has been mistaken for a crater."

A team of scientists is on its way to the site to collect samples and verify whether it was indeed a meteorite.

Okay, so the Killer and Meteorite are likely off. Still, its a hell of a title.


I've been taking a lot of useless internet quizzes in the last couple of months (How Logical Are You? What Kind of Pirate Are You? What Starship Crew Would You Be Part Of? etc.). Since some of these quizzes have cute little HTML decals for that person who just has to let the whole world know that they would indeed survive a zombie apocalypse, I decided to post a few of my prouder results.

If your blog were a movie, what would it be rated?


Why? Because my blog has three "fucks", two "asses" and a "hell." I shit you not.

Would you pass 8th grade science?

JustSayHi - Science Quiz

What's your bloated, useless corpse worth to science?

$5290.00The Cadaver Calculator - Find out how much your body is worth.

How much electrical power could your bloated, useless, still living corpse produce?

422 WATTS Body Battery Calculator - Find Out How Much Electricity Your Body is Producing - Dating

That's 69% more than the average person. I could power 4 lightbulbs, 106 ipods, 2 XBox 360's, and at least one DVD player runnning The Matrix.

Finally, a fairly comprehensive quiz on political orientation. This quiz actually puts me quite a bit further left, and way more small-'l' libertarian, than most US Democratic presidential candidates, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton:

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Shinzo Abe to Resign

Ohayoo gozaimasu.

I know, I know, I keep promising to post something on my paper, but for now I've decided to put that on hold. I did make a genuine attempt at writing a post on the paper about a month ago, but then I realized that I had spent about five or six paragraphs trying to explain what "potential well" and "potential barrier" mean. I will write about it eventually-- in fact, right now I'm taking a graduate seminar class, which is all about effective communication of scientific ideas to the public, so that should help.

For today, though, I give you an exciting piece of news:

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has annouced he will resign.

And no, this is not just an obscure Japanophile thing. This is actually pretty good news for Japan and for all of Asia. Not great news, mind you, but a small victory. To understand the significance of Abe's resignation (to me, at least), we need to begin with an obscure piece of WWII history.

It's no secret, at least outside of many Japanese schools, that during WWII Japan's Imperial Army committed many horrendous war crimes. The Massacre of Nanking is the most infamous. Another example, particularly relevant to Shinzo Abe, were the so-called comfort women, ie prostitute slaves.

Lesser known, but even more appalling, was Unit 731, a human experimentation program established for the development and testing of biological weapons. It is estimated that over 3000 men, women, and children were butchered and killed in these experiments, and that hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians were killed as result of "field tests" of biological and chemical weapons.

What makes this even more disturbing is that following the war, the United States govenment covered up Unit 731 and allowed those in charge of the Unit, who otherwise would have been charged as war criminals, to go free. In return, the United States was provided with data aquired from Unit 731 experiments. Many former Unit 731 officials went on to acquire prestigious and influencial positions in Japan and the U.S.: Dr. Kitaro Masaji co-founded the Green Cross corporation which, prior to a recent series of mergers, was one of Japan's largest pharmaceutical companies; Dr. Shiro Ishii, head of Unit 731, went on to give lectures at American universities, and eventually ended up supervising biological research at the university of Maryland; another Unit 731 officer became president of the Japan Medical Association.

Of course, none of the atrocities of Unit 731 have any direct connection to Abe. The cover-up of Unit 731, however, is one of the earliest examples of the United State's post-war cooperation with Japan's militarist, imperialist right-wing. In the hopes of supressing a potential communist/socialist take-over, the U.S. occupying forces, led by General Douglas MacArthur, began a supression of left-wing element. The occupying force's efforts ranged from the monitoring and censorship of over a thousand leftist publications to the forced cancellation of massive union demonstrations in Tokyo. (See John Dower's Embracing Defeat for an excellent account of this).

Even after the occupation officially ended, the U.S. continued its manipulation of Japanese politics. Joseph Grew, U.S. ambassador to Japan who was detained during the war, befriended Japanese Minister of Commerse and Industry-- and suspected Class A War Criminal-- Nobusuke Kishi (the latter apparently played a round of golf with the former during his captivity). After the war, Grew became the first member of the CIA's National Committee for a Free Europe. Using his influencial position, Grew arranged for Kishi to recieve CIA funding, which Kishi used to found Japan's Liberal Democratic Party, whose members-- mostly Japanese conservatives opposed to the Japan Socialist Party-- were recuited and approved by the CIA. With the CIA's coninued assistance, Kishi became prime minister in 1957, and the LDP swept into both houses of the Diet (the Japanese Parliament).

(Note: This is recounted in Tim Weiner's Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA. This link will take you the blog of Jim Lippard, who summarizes the relevant chapter of the book.)

Due to the combined influence of the U.S. occupation's supression of Japan's left and the CIA's financial support of the right-wing LDP, Japan has been, more or less, a one-party state since the nineteen-fifties. Until the early nineties, every Japanese prime minister came from the LDP (which, by extension, means that the LDP held the lower house of the Diet for every term up until the early nineties). And it was only last July that the LDP lost its majority in the upper house. It was this loss that prompted the resignation of Abe.

Even though the LDP's defeat seems to have occurred largely over issues of economic inequality and government scandals, I'd still like to think that, at some level, Abe's resignation symbolizes a rejection of right-wing nationalism in Japan. Abe, Nobusuke Kishi's grandson and a rightist's rightist, sought to remove pacifist clauses from the Japanese constitution, attempted to (re)introduce textbooks into Japanese schools that whitewashed Japanese wartime atrocities, and denied that comfort women were coerced. He resignation, to me at least, signifies the long overdue humiliation and rejection of a party founded by war criminals and spies.

Maybe the butchers of Unit 731 will come next (other than the ones who've already come forward, like Yoshio Shinozuka).
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