Friday, February 29, 2008

Weekly Photo Challenge: "Dissolute"

This week's theme for Glenn and Dave's Weekly Photo Challenge is "dissolute" (selected randomly, I think, by Glenn).

It's perhaps best for all concerned if I don't say anything about this pic...

Buzzcocks-Orgasm Addict

Lego (2)

Click to enlarge.


Click to enlarge.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

It's More Difficult Than It Looks

Now that things have quieted down a bit at work, I'm busy honing my photographic skills...

It takes a steady, skilled hand to get this type of shot...

Technical skills are only the beginning. It takes experience and a well-trained eye to find something that will both please and stimulate the viewer... (Note how in this shot I boldly defy convention and dare actually to include my thumb in the shot. When you've mastered the "rules," you're no longer bound by them!)

Lego (1)

Click to enlarge.

Vending Machines, No. 26

Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Right, but for the Wrong Reasons?

Here in Japan there's been some discussion about giving foreign residents the right to vote in local (as opposed to national) elections. I suppose if the Japanese really wanted to thrust this duty upon me I'd feel obliged to humor them. But seriously, it's not something I'd actively seek out, and it's certainly not something I'd argue or fight for. I'm a Canadian, and I have neither the desire nor the intention of ever becoming a Japanese citizen. Why, really, should I have the right to vote?

Anyway, while I'm sure that there are reasonable arguments both in favor of and against giving foreign residents the right to vote in local elections in Japan, I found this recent editorial in The Daily Yomiuri Online, which argues against suffrage for foreign residents, to be both interesting and illuminating. Interesting because the author presents what appears to be a rather strong argument on constitutional grounds:
[...] from fundamental viewpoints, including provisions in the Constitution and the ideal state of the nation, the right to vote cannot be extended to foreigners even in local elections.

A 1995 Supreme Court ruling on the issue clearly stipulates that the right to select and dismiss public officials under Article 15 of the Constitution rests with "Japanese people," meaning those who have Japanese nationality. It also says that the "residents" who choose heads and assembly members of local governments should be "Japanese people."

The Constitution clearly denies foreign nationals the right to vote in elections, including local ones. Local autonomy is part of an order based on the Constitution. Anything that contravenes the top law should not be allowed.

Illuminating because, not content to argue simply from the standpoint of reason and law, the author seems to feel it's necessary to inject a little fear-mongering and xenophobia into the debate. Under the heading of "Foreign subversion a threat," the article says:
Local governments control their residents' rights and duties, as well as establish ordinances that stipulate punishments. They exercise public authority similar to that of the central government. In addition to providing public services, local governments are also involved in handling problems related to the central government's basic policies, such as security and education.

The law stipulating procedures to be followed in the event of an armed attack on the nation and the people's protection law call for cooperation between the central and local governments during an emergency.

If foreigners holding the nationality of a nation hostile to Japan abused their permanent resident status and exercised their voting right to obstruct cooperation between the state and local governments, Japan's safety would be threatened.

What the author is in effect saying here is this: we can't give foreigners the right to vote because they might vote the wrong way. No, not the wrong way. They might vote dangerously, because, well, they're foreigners.

I suppose the editors of the Yomiuri should be congratulated. They've performed the amazing feat of taking a perfectly good argument, diluting it with pandering nonsense, and turning it into shit.

Smoke on the Water

This must be seen and heard to be believed! Rock on, dudes!

[H/T: Japan Probe]

Boulders (1)

Click to enlarge.

A Simple Pleasure

Last night my daughter asked me how to say hana kuso (lit. "nose dung/excrement") in English. "Booger," I told her. You can imagine my fatherly pleasure to hear her say this wonderful English word for the first time. Later I could hardly hold back my joyful tears as she asked my wife if there were any boogers in her nose. Life is good...

Monday, February 25, 2008

Never a Dull Moment...

I saw this poster...

... and, for some strange reason, thought of this song:

Nena-99 Red Balloons

The mind is a strange and wondrous thing...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hole in the Wall

Taken with my cell phone while I was bored waiting for my daughter to come home from kindergarten on the school bus. And then flipped, cropped, scrubbed, and generally tweaked to fucking death. Click to enlarge.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Just a Momenta

Sigh... Maybe I'm getting old, maybe I've seen too many episodes of Star Trek, I don't know. The image below is part of a PC design competition, for "Momenta, the PC for life." I'm not ready for my neckband just yet, thanks.

Weekly Photo Challenge: "Slogan"

This week for Glenn and Dave's Weekly Photo Challenge, the topic ("randomly" selected from the dictionary by Dave) is "slogan."

Both of the pictures below were taken just down the street from my place here in Miyazaki. The first, of a sign outside a dispensing optician's, features some rather tortured English. The second, of a sign outside a local restaurant/coffee shop, features a somewhat interesting choice of words. Click images to enlarge.

The first pic features the kind of thing that I see (and hear) here so often that I barely notice it any more. (If you like this sort of stuff, there's a ton of it over here.)

Glasses are useful at every your daily scene.

I really like the slogan in the pic below. The English is OK, but the word "booze" jumps right out at me, beckoning to me in some kind of secret code. If you like "booze" then this is the place for you. Only "boozers" allowed. Let's "booze" it up! Welcome sir, what kind of "booze" would you like with your meal? Why, I'm not sure... what kind of "booze" do you have? Allow me to bring you the "booze" menu, sir. We have a fine selection of "booze" from all over the world! Mmmm.... "booze"...


Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Japan finds pesticide in Chinese buns.

I would have looked under the sink...

New Song

I doubt if the day will ever come that I stop loving and listening to rock 'n' roll, but now that my year-long obsession with death metal seems to have come to an end, I find there's nothing out there that really lights a fire under my ass. So, while I'm lookin' for a new kinda kick, it's time once again to have a serious go at jazz (this is something I do every couple or few years). Don't get me wrong, I like jazz a lot. I've just never really been "infected" by it.

Anyway, this week I'll be listening to (what I believe are) some classic jazz albums that I'm somewhat familiar with (and that I like), just to get warmed up. For example,
  • Herbie Hancock, Empyrean Isles
  • John Coltrane, A Love Supreme
  • Art Blakey, A Night in Tunisia
  • Eric Dolphy, Out to Lunch
  • Ornette Coleman, The Shape of Jazz to Come
  • Dave Brubeck, Take Five
  • Charles Mingus, Mingus Ah Um

among others... If anyone has any suggestions for for further listening, they would be gratefully appreciated.

Here's a cool tune by NOMO. It's not really "pure" jazz, but it's pretty jazzy:

NOMO-New Song

Monday, February 18, 2008

Oh I Wish, I Wish...

... I wish I were a fish...

... Huh? Oh! Sorry!... Ya know folks, it's been quite some time since I've checked in with my good buddies at the Korean Central News Agency of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Fuck, how I've missed those guys and the the antics they get up to. Fuck world peace, I say, if it in any way impedes the writing artistry of those artistic writers of writing artistry at the Korean Central News Agency of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. That's what I say!

But I digress! As you can imagine, what with dismantling nuclear programs and generally being forced to lick the boots of the running dog lackeys of the imperialist hordes just to get a sack of rice and a condom that doesn't leak, ol' Kim Jong Il has had to reign in those journalistic mad dogs over at the Korean Central News Agency of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Yes, they've had to tone things down a bit recently. Or have they? I mean, they're not called the Korean Central News Agency of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea for nuthin', ya know! And Kim Jong Il ain't called the great leader who inspires the writing artistry of artistic writers for nuthin', either! No siree, Bob!

Why, just recently it was the great leader's birthday, and what better occasion for those brilliant purveyors of artistic artistry and writerly writing, the Korean Central News Agency of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, to strut their Stalinist stuff? Some highlights (completely unedited, or altered in any way by me) from a paean to the great leader, entitled "Kim Jong Il, Songun Commader with Unparalleled Courage and Grit" [they haven't quite mastered the art of html over there yet, so you may have to look around a bit for articles from Feb. 16]:
  • Kim Jong Il, who was born in Mt. Paektu and grew up in battle sites rocked by gun reports, is a brilliant Songun commander with unparalleled courage and grit.
  • It was in January Juche 57 (1968) when the U.S. imperialits' armed spy ship Pueblo was captured, which was an event that shook the world. Determined to seize the initiative in smashing the enemy's "retaliation", Kim Jong Il put forward concrete military countermeasures along with strategic and tactical plans to frustrate the "blitzkrieg" of the enemy at one blow in an event of war, thus making the arrogant U.S. imperialists shudder.
  • In the first half of the 1990s when the sovereignty of the nation and the supreme interests of the country were facing a grave threat due to the U.S. nuclear blackmail and war adventure, the DPRK under his courage and grit declared a semi-war state and took the decisive step of quiting the NPT to crop the U.S. imperialists' feathers under the eye of the world.
  • In the days when the destiny of the country was at stake, he played a yut-game with soldiers and taught them how to play it on his way to the front. And he wisely led grand socialist construction at its head with iron will and grit to continue construction till 12 o'clock tonight even though a war might break out tomorrow.
  • His courage and grit always bringing victory, the army and people of Korea could launch into gigantic land rezoning and bring into being such grand edifices as the Anbyon Youth Power Station, the Youth Hero Motorway and Kumrung Tunnel No 2, overflowing with the optimism of sure victory in the days of untold difficulties.

When I read stuff like that, not only do sweet soul sounds stir my soul, but I also realize that, in the world of writing, if the Korean Central News Agency of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea are as like unto gods (heh), I am but a lowly dung beetle, and the libraries of the world are but my dung heap.

I toil on...

Engineers in Training

Very cool...

[H/T: Sivacracy]

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lick, No Bite

For Glenn and Dave's Weekly Photo Challenge this week, internet scourge Glenn picked the somewhat obscure word "lychnobite" for a topic. With apologies, I'm afraid I have only this kinda lame pun to offer:

By day, while we're at work (or kindergarten), we're pretty sure she sleeps. She rises in the empty hours between deep darkness and pre-dawn to satiate her lust for jumping into bed and giving us a lick, no bite...

The horror...

Friday, February 15, 2008

Soul Drummers

Not a post, really. Just a tune. A good tune. Have I ever mentioned that I have impeccable taste in music? No? Thank fuck. This one's a winner, though...

Ray Barretto-The Soul Drummers

How are we feeling now?

Taking the Piss

Ahh, it's Friday afternoon. Between the usual daydreams, two things weigh heavily on my mind: what brand of beer am I going to drink tonight, and what in the fuck am I going to do for Glenn and Dave's Photo Challenge this week (Glenn's topic this week is lychnobite, a word that neither appears in my OED nor is recognized by my spell-checker; fucking bastard!).

Anyway, as my mind wanders I start thinking about sadism and masochism and stuff like that (maybe this story was in the back of my mind...). I'm no prude or anything, but frankly that whole area has always been a bit mystifying to me. I don't like being hurt or humiliated and, as far as I can tell, I don't have any yearnings to hurt and/or humiliate anyone else. Clearly, though, a lot of people get their kicks this way. And if everyone involved is consenting, well then, who am I to say it's wrong?

I was reminded of a story a friend told me about 20 years ago. My friend, whom I haven't seen for a long time, is a gay man from small town Nova Scotia. He told me about the first time he went to New York City. While he was there he was invited to go to some kind of private sex club. I don't recall if the place was exclusively for gays, or not, but as he described what he saw and what went on there it sounded like a pretty weird place. (I've been to a few weird places myself, but this was definitely beyond anything I've experienced, before or since his telling of it.)

One part of my friend's story, both funny and illuminating, has become almost a parable for me, a lesson in how to get along in life. (Some who read the following may feel disgusted, but really, I can't see why.) My friend told me that at this club there was a "special" room for anyone who needed to take a piss. In the room there was a bathtub, and in the bathtub there was a naked man. There was a line of other men in the room who, when it was their turn, would piss on the guy in the bathtub. I recoiled in disgust when my friend told me this, but he patiently explained that the guy in the tub liked to be pissed on, it was, in fact, a big turn on for him. When he put it that way, it didn't seem so disgusting to me. I mean, it wasn't like anyone was pissing on me, or asking me to piss on someone else. Why should I give a shit (hmm... maybe a poor choice of words there...!)?

One question was still burning in my mind, though. I looked my friend in the eye and asked, "Did you piss on the guy?" My friend got a sheepish look on his face and stammered, "Well, you know, there's this guy who likes to be pissed on, and I, like, really had to take a leak, so... yeah, I pissed on him. Why the hell not!?" I'm not sure why, but that was probably the oddest, funniest thing I've ever heard anyone say. I laughed out loud then, and I still laugh every time I think about it.


Have a seat... (Click to enlarge.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Black and White Forest

Click to enlarge.

Hassle-free Holiday Hotspots

So, let's see... First, the US decides that it will fingerprint and photograph foreign visitors. Then, this past November, Japan begins doing the same. Now, the European Commission is going to propose fingerprinting all foreign travelers into and out of Europe. I guess it won't be much longer before the rest of the world gets into the game. And, of course, "friendly" governments will be sharing their databases with each other.

So far as I know, visitors to the Beijing Olympics in communist China will not be fingerprinted. Nor does Stalinist North Korea pester tourists with such formalities. Please plan your safe, hassle-free holiday accordingly...

Monday, February 11, 2008

Vending Machines, No. 23

Bonus: you might recognize the face in the picture on the middle machine (click to enlarge).

No? Here's a closer look:


Click to enlarge.

Friday, February 08, 2008


Time again for Glenn and Dave's Weekly Photo Challenge! This week's topic (according to Dave) is "hazard"...

They say "a picture is worth a thousand words." They say "show, don't tell." I've listened and I've learned... (Click to enlarge.)

[Am I fucking high-tech, or what?]

Ouch! Anyway, I'm off to drink and play drums. Have a good weekend!

Rolling Stones-Rocks Off

Thursday, February 07, 2008


I'm a bit busy at work these days, and for the past few evenings my wife has been hogging the pc at home, so I haven't had much time for blogging. I have, though, been catching up on my TV viewing. Battlestar Galactica and Heroes are blowing me away! I must start watching a bit more TV... I won't be around for my usual drunken Friday night blogfest this week, either--I'll be at a bar playing drums!! Yipee!! I will, however, make an attempt to post something a bit early for Glenn and Dave's Photo Challenge (although I can't promise...).

In the meantime, here's another weird picture of... something... Click to enlarge.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Vending Machines, No. 22

With a bonus ice cream vending machine (on the right). Click to enlarge.

They're Both Much Better Than the Alternative...

Blogging friend Brendan writes,
Tell America why a Canadian living in Japan thinks Obama should be president. We'll need that by first thing tomorrow, EST.

Well, Brendan, I'm usually a bit skittish about discussing American politics here, because frankly I don't think I'm well-enough informed to have an opinion that I'd expect anyone to take too seriously. I'm also not really sure who would make the best president, Mr. Obama or Ms. Clinton. I will not hesitate to say this, however: whether it's Obama or Clinton is pretty much irrelevant to the rest of the world, so long as it's not Bush or one of the new crop of asshats in Bush's party. I think the current Japanese government prefers Obama (they see Ms. Clinton continuing Mr. Clinton's shifting of focus away from Japan towards China; they also, being asshats themselves, probably wouldn't know how to deal with a woman being the most powerful person in the world; I, on the other hand, don't mind if the woman is on top... er, of the political hierarchy...). My own gut feeling is that Obama represents an opportunity for real change, both inside and outside the US, whereas Clinton might just cause the Right (and their wingnut minions) to dig in their heels.

By the way, did you know that post-WWII Japan was a lot like a possible post-war Iraq, and the fact that some Japanese play American football gives us a reason to be optimistic about Iraq, and that Iraq could be the next Japan? Neither did I, but I guess anything is possible in the magical world of Wingnuttia.

What's This About "Aboot"?

In response to my desperate plea for writing suggestions, my blogging friend Tafkass (The Artist Formerly Known as Shit Sandwich, whose site seems to be experiencing intermittent technical difficulties this week) wrote the following:
How about a guide to Canadian pronunciation of English? OK, we all know about "aboot" (as it were), but there must be other Canuck idiosyncracies[*]... in fact, how about a guide to Canadio-Japanese pronunciation of English; your own must have been affected in your time in the land of the rising sun. Even better, how about some Canadian swearing?

Whew! Writing a "guide to Canadian pronunciation" would be a life-long task! Wikipedia has a pretty clear and concise entry on the topic of Canadian English which includes most of the main points regarding pronunciation. Some highlights:

  • Canadians do not, in fact, pronounce the word "about" as "aboot", although because of the phenomenon known as Canadian raising, it may seem that way to some listeners. A closer approximation would be "aboat", but this is hardly universal.
  • Canadians speak with a rhotic accent. That is, the letter "r" is pronounced in all positions. (My guess, Tafkass, Is that you speak with a non-rhotic accent, but I'm not sure where in the UK you were born and raised.)
  • Personally, I can usually spot a fellow Canadian by his/her various pronunciations of the letter "a". The clearest examples would be in the pronunciation of foreign loan words like "drama" or "pasta" or "pyjamas", which is clearly neither British nor American (/æ/ rather than /ɑ/).
  • As the Wikipedia article points out, "there is no single linguistic definition that includes Canada as a whole." And while "Canada has very little dialect diversity compared to the United States and other English speaking countries," it does have a wide range of accents, particularly in the eastern provinces, which have been influenced by the languages of early settlers. If you visit the various parts of my home province, Nova Scotia, for example, you will clearly hear traces of German (Lunenburg), Dutch (Truro, my hometown), French (Acadian settlements), and Scottish (everywhere, of course) accents, among several others.

With regard to a possible "Canadio-Japanese pronunciation of English," I can't really say whether or not my own pronunciation has been affected by living in Japan for the past 10 years. No one has ever commented on it, anyway. I will say this, however: I pronounce any Japanese vocabulary which has made its way into common English usage like a Japanese would. In fact, I now cringe when I hear how badly English speakers mangle words like "karaoke", "sake", "kamikaze", and "hara kiri". I don't think living in Japan has really changed my pronunciation of English, but it has had a definite affect on my phrasing and word choice when speaking, for perhaps obvious reasons. When those around one are not likely to understand complex sentences or "high-level" vocabulary, one is forced to simplify, simplify, and simplify some more. I also notice that I've developed an annoying habit of saying "do you understand?" and similar phrases even when I'm talking to other native speakers of English. I think this blog is, in a way, a revolt against that tendency. I'm writing ("speaking") to myself. I don't really give a shit if anyone else understands what I'm talking about, or not.

As for "Canadian swearing", so far as I know it's no different than "American swearing". At any rate, I have no trouble understanding the cursing in American movies, and I've never noticed that Americans have any difficulty understanding my swearing. One difference I've noticed between North American and UK swearing is in the use of the "c" word. That word is almost taboo in North American circles (certainly no guy who expects to date women can get away with saying it on any regular basis). It still seems to be in fairly regular use in the UK, however (please correct me if I'm wrong--I'm only going by British gangster movies and UK blogs!). I also think that UK speakers of English are a bit more creative in their swearing--choice of words, new coinages, etc. Good North American swearing relies on sheer volume, so that what initially sounds like a mindless string of curse words can, after a minute or so, attain the sublime. Swearers of all stripes also gain the respect and admiration of their listeners with unexpected grammatical flourishes. I was quite impressed the first time I saw "c**ting", as in "what a fucking c**ting c**t!"

[*] Really, Tafkass, I'm shocked, shocked, I say... ;-)

Monday, February 04, 2008


Click to enlarge.

I'm telling you, it will never end! NEVER!! Mmmbwahahahahaha!!!!!!

Your Suggestions Are Welcome!!

I've been whining for a while now about how I haven't been doing much in the way of actual writing over the past few months. I guess you could say that I'm whining right now (go ahead, say it!). I have to confess, folks, I'm at a loss. There's really not much that I feel like writing about right now. Yet I want to write something. I need to write something. Anything!

And so, gentle readers, in this most dire of circumstances, in my darkest hour, I'm reaching out to you. Yes, you. I beseech you, in the name of friendship and human decency (and before I start posting pictures of the soles of my shoes, or YouTube clips of old ABBA tunes, or..., well, you get the drift...)... I beseech you, kind readers, please help me!

I need your ideas, your suggestions for writing topics. No topic will be considered too difficult, too trivial, or too stupid. I will endeavor to write something about anything you care to suggest (if you think I'm just kidding about this, well then, just try me!).

Please leave your ideas/suggestions in the comments. My life is in your hands, dear readers, and I will do my best not to disappoint you!

Chuck Prophet-Automatic Blues