Saturday, June 27, 2009

Global Climate Change

TO start, a few metaphors that probably will piss off the zero readers I have:

1. When one procrastinates, such as I do often, and put off whatever goal or task or *insert applicable action* for so long, when one is then forced to deal with whatever it was they were putting off until later, the result is mostly a lot of pain, misery and gnashing of teeth (although the levels of pain do probably run from mild to agonizing waterboarding-esque torture) to finish whatever you were putting off.

2. Would one take no precautions or actions to ensure that their child has a safe or relatively safe environment to grow up: clean house, clothes, food, water, heat, bed etc, and even moreso would try to provide more than what one had as a child growing up? That they would take interest in changes in the neighborhood, changes in the school curriculum, etc etc? That they would not intentionally leave a situation that could possibly endanger their progeny? Of course, I do omit from this general statement those who don't give a shit about their children, figuring in light of mammalian instinct it is more natural for humans to have some semblance of concern for their young.

SO, in both situations, why is it in light of much of the data available that most Americans fervently fight any movement that could mitigate the anthropocentric effect on the planet's climate. There is plenty of data out there that indicates that anthropocentric actions are effecting the planet's climate.

BEFORE I go further, a quick caveat: irregardless of the final outcome of the change in global climate or the fate of homo sapiens sapiens, the planet will recover in the long run as it has before in light of climate change or mass extinction events.

I said it: mass extinction events. That's one possibility on the extreme end of the global climate change. Below that would be mass starvation, drought, ice ages, bloody wars for resources and probably a complete breakdown of the modern civilization that we currently enjoy.

BUT back to the crude metaphors: in each, it does outline what we are facing in light of climate change and actions that we need and should take in order to mitigate the damage that we have already created. The first one points out that we've put off any action to seriously deal with anthropocentric effects on climate change that it will cost us...and although we are now looking to deal with it in the midst of an economic crisis, it isn't a minute too soon, although possibly a few too late. It will cost us indeed for our flippant attitude towards our actions toward the planet. But on the other hand, although it appears (currently reading the 2009 Clean Energy and Security Act) that it will bear a heavy cost in taxes and may cause further job loss; what about the possible innovations and changes in society that could arise from this--if it has teeth.

CLEAN energy--requires development, required innovation from people, required individuals to build the infrastructure to support its use, requires individuals to maintain and conduct maintenance on this infrastructure; those to physically maintain the mechanisms and then those to provide tech assist, parts replacement, training for new workers in the industry, etc. If done correctly, there is potential that not only will the pursuit of renewable energy sources to power our civilization will have a positive and lasting effect on the environment, it also carries within it the possibilities of a constant renewing source of jobs and industry.

IF the United States gets serious, for example, on mass train transit (which exists elsewhere across the world) to eliminate much of the carbon footprint caused by gas guzzuling vehicles, the act of creating this infrastructure should create jobs on the whole; building the rail system, developing "clean" trains, developing the power system (imagine it would be electric)-the electrical grids required to power these trains, possibly innovation on cutting down the loss of power via cables in order to economize the use of electrical power, manning the trains, building the stations, building the transportation hubs that would support commuters and so forth, manning all of the support and perhiperal components of a rail system. Plenty of possiblities for not only innovation but growth.

ALONG with this possiblitiy of growth and innovation--if Americans are up to the task, there is the possiblities of the impact upon foreign policiy: while there are hints of outsourcing overseas, it is essential for the United States to take the lead, because as the US goes in a progressive move, the world's democracies and our allies tend to follow along. Americans worry about jobs being lost overseas: but what is forgotten in this day and age is that it is a global economy, where we are very much intertwined with each other. Although there is a possiblitiy of more heavy industry heading overseas, instead of bemoaning that fact, American innovators need to see how they can improve and cut costs in heavy industry in the United States instead of sitting on their ass spouting racist and xenophobic epithets in the face of reality.

THE steady weaning away from fossil fuels, including becoming energy independent will go a long way in stablizing US foreign policy, where there is no influence to act in order to protect a source of fossil fuels to feed our current civilization. President Obama made several strong statments about the importance of the United States to become energy independent in the world; it is the lack of this independence that may have in part influence some of the poor judgements in US policy overseas. Not a total influence but part of a whole series of issues that effected judgement in the highest levels of government.

IT'S easy to simply look at the doom and gloom at the costs of forcing a change to move towards developing and using renewable energy sources, but we have to break free of the stifled dogma of the fossil fuel civilization which humans have grown dependent upon for over two centuries.

AMERICANS have faced several challenges before and tend to do a pretty good job of tackling challenges: while I personally despise constant references towards WW II, the US did not have a huge military industrial complex to support a mass mobilization--there were policies set forth in the late 1930s to move in that direction, but when the US went to war, it was a total mobilization of the US population to the war effort, in which we outstripped all of the Axis and most of the Allied powers combined in our output. Right now the US does not have much of an infrastructure to support clean energy, renewable energy, but that does not mean we are not capable of addressing this self imposed challenge and tackling it with the amorphous American-Can-Do-Spirit. It is not impossible.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


I had the misfortune to watch the Shawn Hannity show today and his yammering about how President Obama should have been more "forceful" prior to his press conference today. Apparently President Obama did not take the correct course to influence the Iranian government to not brutalize their own civilians in light of the uproar in Iran over the tainted election in that nation.

Maybe I was in la-la land, but the President, in my own humble opinion, tended to stick to a pragmatic approach to the events unfolding in Iran:

This was an article on Reuters on 06/21/2009 where Obama expressed concern about the violence in Iran.

And again on 06/23/2009, Reuters ran a short on Obama's previous statement made on 06/20/2009.

Here is the full text of his statements on the 23rd.

I'm not sure what the right expects the United States, let alone the world to do in the face of the unrest in Iran. Right now, it is an Iranian affair...while it is terrible that the Iranian state is visiting brutality upon its citizens, but what do these pundits expect the United States to do?

Economic sanctions?



War is not even an option. The United States is still engaged in Iraq and is now funneling more troops into Afghanistan to deal with the Taliban and Al Qaeda. On what legal grounds do we have to commence hostilities with Iran, a nation that has not directly attacked the United States? I'm not so sure I would buy into pre-emptive war or to "save the protesters."

The same goes with economic sanctions; what do they actually do that would help the protesters? What would stop the Iranian state from using the infallible post hoc ergo proctor hoc that since the United States is coming to the direct rescue of the opposition to Ahmadinejad and the Ayatollah, therefore the opposition to the results of the "legitimate" election are actually proxies of the United States and supported by the CIA etc.

If one or the other or even both options were carried out by the United States what then would keep the Iranian state overtly declaring martial law to keep the state intact and to brutally crack down on all those involved in the unrest in Iran? When I say brutal crackdown, I refer to sending in the army with orders to shoot to kill, mass arrests, mass executions--something along the lines of the brutality the Red Army displayed in the crackdown Hungary, circa 1956.

Up to this point, the Iranian government has shown that it is willing to send police and gangs of young men to beat, shoot, stab, throw off bridges those individuals protesting against the results of this election (including anyone who was unfortunately in the same area). Its bad. It's really bad over there now. But...what does the United States do? Its a real problem.

For all the hub-bub made about what Regan would do, I would think first that those on the right should not forget that Regan's administration illegally sold arms to Iran to secure the freedom of the US hostages and that there were several factors that led to the collapse of the Soviet State, not just the immediate ramp up of the US military in the Cold War and Regan telling Gorbachev to "tear down this wall."

Lets not forget either that after the first few days of the unrest in Iran, the Iranian government barred all foreign journalists from observing these protests and now many were forced out of Iran. It is not as if there are outsiders observing the unfolding events--we have the views of the Iranian government and those of the opposition to Ahmadinejad's government, each with their own motives; one wishing to maintain their power and the other of those who feel disenfranchised and demand a fair election.

Without hesitation, it is wrong to try to violently suppress those engaging in a peaceful protest against what appears to be a stolen election. But I think it is foolhardy to state that the United States has shown weakness in not tossing inflammatory rhetoric out there for Admadinejad and his government to use to legitimize in their eyes crushing a foreign backed uprising.

In my opinion (and for what it is probably worth...nothing), it appears that the Obama Administration pragmatically looked at the events unfolding and wanted to make sure that 1) that it was certain to the world and Iran that the United States was not meddling and has no intention to meddle in Iran's internal affairs and 2) to find out exactly what was going on in country before coming out and making any statements and 3) when making these statements that the avoided any inflammatory statements or statements that could be perceived as inflammatory by Tehran that could be used against the protesters.

Already based on the actions taken by the Iranian government in the face of the events that unfolded after the election, they are not in a true position of power, based on that this unrest reaches across several demographic areas and at this point, where they cannot claim that this is a foreign venture meddling in Iranian domestic politics, they may shy away from a full on Tienanmen Square style crackdown for fear of unloosing something that scares them to their core: a revolution to remove them from their positions of power. It just appears that they are trying to wear down the movement, using coercion, fear, violence...but not to the point of rolling out the tanks and mowing down the barricades along with the protesters.

Hopefully, we won't get to that point...but as we've noticed, the Iranian government has had little problem with beating, killing and oppressing these people.

All said....even with the pragmatic thinking in this situation, what is to be done? What do we do when the Iranians start rolling out the tanks and army to start gunning down people? All questions outside of the uproar from the right over President Obama's response to the crackdown on the protesters in Iran, but what will the world do in that situation?

I only ask the questions because I don't know the answers and I wouldn't venture into what I would do in that situation because I don't have the intelligence briefings on the situation in Iran to even come up with a partly competent response.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Uncertainty of nothing

It is a bit terrifying realizing that I will in less than 100 days go from living in Japan-- which in the words of Garth Algar: Its like a new pair of underwear--at first its a bit constrictive but soon it becomes a part of you.--to returning to the area of the US that I grew up for most of my sophomoric youth.

The sophomoric part being complete is still under review.

Northwest Indiana. Da Region. Da Chicagoland area. NWI.

Or as I like to put it....the place I attempted to maintain a restraining distance of 1000 miles since leaving the Midwest.

Actually, its closer to 90 than 100.


I'm not sure how I will react when confronted by people from high school that I've long since lost track of--or forgot names--but they don't forget the things I said or did that I've long since forgotten. Hell, I can't even remember what I did three years ago today. A good guess is probably dealing with sleep deprivation or bobbing on the ocean somewhere.

The absolute best part will be that...I think...there will be a 10 year get-t0-gether for my high school class around the time I physically return to NWI.

Well, I could always show up as a Cowboy-Millionaire-Astronaut. Just make sure that I don't mention anything that could give me away.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

It's just a Goddamn Game.

I love how old timers and hysterical baseball writers are quick to demonize players who test positive for a banned substance that is not steroids but is known to be used by juicers after finishing up a steroid cycle to boost their testosterone that their body had stopped pumping out as the steroids provided all the testosterone the body needed.

But they guy didn't test positive for steroids. Maybe he's guilty. Maybe he's not. Unless someone tests positive for steroids (as some players have), I don't think I will go off an call a guy a cheat.

It's fishy, its sketchy, it causes one to raise eyebrows surreptitiously, but its not rock hard evidence that Manny was having a party with Jose Conseco poking each other in the ass with steroid filled syringes.

But hey, the current culture in baseball has not only created a situation where players feel compelled to find ways to 1) stay atop the pile, 2) get into the game, 3) have the chance to get that 10 year $200M USD contract or 4) legitimize said contract to management and the fans, but has allowed it to pervade and continue to perpetuate in professional baseball's culture.

The Mitchell report stated that there was general knowledge of PED usage by other players, management, trainers etc. and lets be honest, the trainers should notice these things, the managers should notice (damn, he sure got bigger this year), and the other players would definitely notice these things, yet since there was no legislation in baseball (and baseball would not even attempt to come up with regulation to deal with PEDs, the Players Union blocked all attempts and it took the threat of the US Government to force baseball to adopt some sort of regulation), why should they be the rat because it could be them the next time around needing that extra bit to stay on with the club or at this level.

But of course, the hand wringing at the supposed shaming of the integrity of this beloved game is probably the most laughable of laughable things on earth. We are talking about a game that for several decades would not allow African Americans the opportunity to play at the highest level of baseball although there were players comparable or even superior to those at the mainstream professional level.

Baseball writers love to gush about the greats...Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Ty Co...well not so much Ty Cobb, Joe DiMaggio, etc etc, but if some of the greats of the Negro Leagues were able to join baseball from the get-go, maybe Babe Ruth would be considered a great player but not as good as say Josh Gibson if he were allowed to play at the MLB level. Hell, Babe Ruth wasn't as good as a player as Josh take that ESPN!

But sadly, since baseball was run by a bunch of racists in the early 20th century we'll never know because those players never had the opportunity to play against the supposed "elite players."

MLB has a glimmering and shining history that we should all emulate? Bullshit. Pure Bullshit. Just as this inane idea that MLB has an integrity that needs to be maintained is pure bullshit. There has always been cheating in baseball, pro baseball in this nation has a less than savory history if one really pulls the string and instead of demonizing players, MLB and all associated with its operations needs to:

1) Ensure that there are rigorous standards in place to preclude the use of PEDs in professional baseball.
2) Educate players at ALL levels about the dangers of using PEDs to curb their use. And Jesus will help you win isn't education either.
3) Look into eliminating or curbing back those issues that may have compelled players to use PEDs.
4) Work on rehabilitating and training current players who are known or past PED users to help them out to keep them from relapsing into this habit.
5) Hold managers, trainers and team management accountable for their players. Its easy to suspend a guy for 50 games and take his salary, but how about fining the team, the manager, the trainer for letting this happen. That might make teams more interested in ensuring their players are clean...not only for this game's integrity but for the health of their investment.

And old timers should simply shut up because I highly doubt that they would be so angelic in the same situation.

Now to bring down the BCS! Go President Obama go!

Friday, May 8, 2009

A silly day dream

A silly day dream that involves me running/owning a Tex-Mex/Hawai'ian bar-restaurant in Shonan, complete with a little surf shop for the pure essentials people need on a surf trip: wax, fins, fittings for fins, misc tools, rash guards, wax combs, surf leashes, locks, waterproof cases, sun block, nu-wax strips...and of course warm showers and board storage.

In the back will be where I shape my own boards--or have guys shape boards for other people.

At night we would have local acts--reggae, local type music, bebop jazz groups etc.

Not sure about the name of the place...that'll come later

Early look at "The Third Reich at War."

Needless to say, for anyone who has only the basic American high school level understanding of the Second World War in Europe, they are probably unaware many aspects about the war.

But I have to caveat this by stating that the Second World War was not a subject I exclusively studied, I am pretty confident that I am not clueless about this subject.

American high school version of WWII:
1933 Hitler becomes dictator of Germany and immediately rebuilds the German military. The wimpy British and French acquiesce to the German's demands in Austria and later in Czechoslovakia. The Germans then blitz the Poles and subsequently defeat their inferior army; in fact the Poles were so backwards that they sent cavalrymen on horses against German Panzers. Then the Germans invade and beat the French because they are fans of surrendering. Then they invade Russia, get caught in a bad winter; which doesn't help because they declared war on the United States. The US beats up the Germans pretty bad in North Africa, then stages the worlds largest amphibious operation at Normandy and start to liberate France. Then the US liberates Paris. Then the Battle of the Bulge. Then its a race to the heart of Germany for the US and the USSR who have too many people for the Germans to fight. The Russians take Berlin in 1945, Hitler commits suicide and end of the war.

That was actually a bit difficult for me to write seeing that I had to eliminate most of what I've read about the European theatre of the war in order to give the truncated version of what covered about 20 - 30 pages in a US textbook. Needless to say, I forgot to mention that it was the US that bailed everyone out. I think I managed to get the contempt for the French in there...the same pointless contempt that Americans today have towards the French.

As for the US taking the brunt of the war, in reality, it was probably the people of the Ukraine and Russia that took the biggest losses in the war compared to other European nation. Soviet records tended to lump all USSR casualties together, following old Russian doctrine of including the states of Byelorussia and the Ukraine into the overall Russian state. Norman Davies covers this near the end of his work: No Simple Victory.

I do highly recommend that book for those who have only the rudimentary background about this epoch in history.

Still, I am a bit saddened by the tilted version of the war, as seen through the kaleidoscope of the American experience: the roles of the British (who bore the brunt of the German Luftwaffe from 1940-1941), the French (it was not cowardice on the part of the French fighting man that brought about their surrender--in fact the French decided to make Paris an Open City to keep it from being wiped out by the Germans. As for the French not predicting the Germans coming through the thickly wooded was a huge gamble on the part of the Wehrmacht to commit to that move and the French had covered the most likely path of the Wehrmacht, coming down from Belgium) and even more sadly, the marginalization of the Red Army.

Reading the excellently composed A Writer At War covering the personal writings of Vasily Grossman, a Soviet war correspondent for the Pravda, along with other writings by Antony Beevor, Norman Davies, Guy Sajer etc does bring to light the colossal struggle between the Wehrmacht and the Red Army, and how all other campaigns conducted by the American Army pale in comparison.

Patton's great tank battles were mere child's play, or just the games of divisional commanders when compared to Kursk.

The clearing of the hedgerows in Normandy or even the Battle of the Bulge paled in comparison to the bitter struggles of Stalingrad or the siege of Moscow and Leningrad.

The great and swift movements of the US Armies in France were a normal day for the Red Army sweeping across the European steppe towards Berlin in 1944.

Needless to say, it is a humbling and eye opening experience when actually delving into the German-Russian War. It puts into perspective the actual sacrifices of the Western Allies and the fighting ability of the Russian and German solider. While it is pretty easy to go along with the generally accepted statement that the German Wehrmacht was one of the world's greatest armies in World War II, the soldiers of the Red Army were nothing to scoff at. Tough, resilient and brave fighters--they were the ones who broke the back of the Wehrmacht in 1944. They were the ones who actually crushed the fighting ability of the Wehrmacht.

Of course, we all know Stalin wasn't exactly the world's greatest humanitarian, but it was the officers and enlisted of the Red Army, irregardless of Party affiliation: news flash, not all members of the Red Army were fact those in the Party were not so sure whether or not to allow members of the Red Army into the Party. It was a very exclusive club.

We just happened to corner the market on improving on pulverizing cities from the sky.

So maybe Russians do have some right to scoff at the Western Allies when talking about defeating Germany, because until the Red Army overran the German industrial complex, the Albert Speer run war industry of Germany was still able to produce to supply the Army. Maybe they do have a right to scoff since it was they who destroyed one of the most powerful armies in the world at Stalingrad, or that they inflicted the crippling blow to the vaunted German panzer might at Kursk.

But, this post wasn't originally intended to go into how people should at least read one or two books about the Eastern Front (I do suggest Antony Beevor's Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege 1942-1943 and The Fall of Berlin 1945 as they are not only very informative but very accessible to the casual reader. He is the perfect historian--one who is able to convey his vast knowledge into something that anyone can easily understand and retain. I also suggest Antony Beevor and Luba Vinogradova's joint effort in A Writer At War: A Soviet Journalist with the Red Army, 1941-1945 that chronicles the Eastern Front through the private journals and Pravda pieces by Vasily Grossman), but about my take on the first hundred or so pages of Richard J. Evans' latest opus about Nazi Germany titled The Third Reich at War.

I have not read his first two books, The Coming of the Third Reich and The Third Reich in Power, but he even states in the introduction that each volume is capable of standing alone on its own. His intent in The Third Reich at War is not to give a history of World War II in Europe, but to " on Germany and the Germans" and at the very center of it is the mass genocide committed by the Germans and the German state. Basically, he intends to show how the Germans developed the mechanism that later lead to the killing machine of the "Final Solution."

Right from the start, Evans floors me with evidence that just as the German Wehrmacht was rolling across Poland that the murder, dispossession and deportation of Jews and Poles followed in the dusty tracks of the panzer divisions. Needless to say, despite some commentary about how this isn't a new trail blazing history of Nazi Germany, I personally thought that the German savaging other races did not go into full swing until the start of Operation Barbarossa. There's always something that someone did not know.

Still, just after the first 100 pages or so, I find it very readable with great information and without the usual dry prose that would make most people pass out after the first three paragraphs or so...but maybe other people would find this boring. I find TV in general quite boring, so who knows. The book already stands well on its own and maybe when I finally trudge through the 680 pages that remain, I may look into his two previous volumes.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

When you put on your uniform, you are not a solider of god.

While the baseball purists will bemoan about the signal that Manny Ramirez has sent to young people with his current suspension in violation of MLB's drug policy, that is a non-issue in light of a little tidbit of information a buddy of mine was kind enough to post on Facebook.

I could care less about professional athletics sometimes--the teams, athletes, GMs, media, boorish fans and etc have created this situation with high salaries and matching expectations that allows for people looking to find an extra advantage in the game.

In other words, you have reaped what you have sown. I combat this by not subsidizing any professional team or athlete. The reality is that these teams and paid professionals do not care about you and don't want to drink a beer with you. They want to be left alone in their own free time, so therefore, give them space.

But this is a much more serious issue: US military chaplains proselytising in Afghanistan. Here's the article on

For me, I am disgusted by these commissioned officers blatantly tossing out regulation just because they feel that it is their mission from god to force their bronze age god onto other people. This is not a mission for US military chaplains; they are there for personnel in the military who seek counseling etc.

In other words, these guys should no longer be drawing a paycheck from the US government. But that's my own opinion...and opinions are like assholes...everyone has one and everyone thinks everyone else's stinks.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Do you really need a Kalashnikov?

A thought popped into my head when I read an article on about people hoarding ammunition in the United States. The thought was: do you really need that Kalashnikov?

Yes, there is nothing in the article about AK-47 ammunition, but the same proponents for the Second Amendment would be the first to say you have the right to own a AK-47. Indeed, the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights states:

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." (Courtesy of the US Archives Online)

So, yes, it does say that the right to keep and bear arms are not to be infringed by the government. But the first part of this sentence is also very key and requires an understanding of the historical context.

*Insert time machine travel type noise from Dr. Who* In the 18th century, there was no permanent, large standing Army (except for the British Army) that exists in our contemporary epoch. In fact, the Founding Fathers were not very wild about the idea of creating and maintaining a large permanent professional army, based on their experiences during the imposition of British power on the North American continent in the late 18th century. Therefore, as they were not interested in maintaining a large professional Army (and Navy), it was felt that the idea of state militias, which were a well established part of each state would provide the basic defense for the United States.

Until the growth of a larger professional Army in the United States after the American Civil War, the state militia system was the pool of manpower that the government would call up in order for the defense of the nation. The American Civil War is written by the exploits of several state militias battling on the killing fields, from Fredricksburg to Shiloh to Chancellorsville to Gettysburg to Cold Harbor (albiet, these militias were called up for Federal service in the Militia Act of 1862 to fill the ranks of the Federal Army, but they were not part of a large standing professional Army).

The idea was that the pool of manpower that would fill the ranks of these militias would have to supply their own weapons when called up, as listed in the Militia Act of 1792. Therefore it was important for individuals to have the right to bear arms. The follow on Militia Acts of 1903 and National Defense Act of 1916 Federalized the state militias and placed them under the auspices of what would later become the Department of Defense...and removing the requirement for one to appear to drill with their own M-1 Garand, M-14, and now M-16 and 9MM and 100 rounds of ammunition.

So, why is it that people need to have military grade weapons? I'll be the first to admit that it's fun to pop off rounds from a machine gun (done during my time on active duty), why is it that private civilians need automatic weapons, .50 cal sniper rifles, machine guns and other military style ordinance in their own personal inventory? I'm not quite understanding that the right to bear arms based on 18th century realities actual equates to the right for one to own the before mentioned weapons.

This is not to say people should not be allowed to own handguns, hunting style rifles and shotguns. But my issue is with people needing an AK-47. There is no need to have such weapons since there are no requirements for civilians in the National Guard or even the State Guards to personally own those weapons as they are supplied those weapons by those organizations.

Of course, online, the quotes of Adolf Hitler espousing the importance of banning or having oversight for personal weapons is used to hammer the fear factor into people, raising the spooky spectre of the Nazi demon that murdered, imprisoned and plundered Europe from 1935-1945. Somehow I think that if the US government passed laws similar to the Enabling Act of 1933 or the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, then people should be worried...somehow limiting the production and dissemination of military grade weaponry does not fall under the government taking away your rights.

Case in point, why would it be possible for someone to get those machine guns robbers used in LA several years back that held a whole city in fear for a few hours.

Atop of that, in light of some of the public shootings, as one of my esteemed friends suggested that there be a thorough screening of people to ensure they are mentally stable, do not have suicidal tendencies or have a record of violence or criminal activity. What is to stop a guy who beats the shit out of his girlfriend or wife from using a gun the next time she "pisses" him off? What is to stop someone who is not mentally stable from going into a community college, murdering a classmate and then taking their own life? These are legitimate ideas and should be used in the process of someone looking to purchase a firearm. Why should we allow people who could be a danger to themselves and others to be allowed to simply stroll in, pay for a gun, wait three days and then pick up said weapon?

Even better, why should our modern civilization allow the before mentioned people have the ability to buy military grade automatic rifles, high powered sniper rifles, large caliber weapons and machine guns?

And lastly...

Do you really need that Kalashnikov?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Holy Crap Batman! A post that no one will read!


It was just another uneventful day in the office. Nothing special: I had just finished our semi-annual physical test, managing to overdo it in my shoes (I really, really, really need custom made inserts for my feets), the other guys were trying to fight of the unstoppable force of malaise and the A/C was actually a lie since the heater was blasting in a chilly 26 degrees (C).

Then I received a large envelope from Valparaiso University School of Law. It was larger than most rejection letters and I wondered what new correspondence the school was sending me now that I was on the purgatory of the Wait List. Was it possible that they would send me information that I was not selected for the newest opening at the school.

A bit harsh don't you think?

So I opened the envelope, saw a pieces of paper and a glossy view book inside and figured it was a reminder about being on the Wait List and the view book was to sell a school I had already submitted an application and an acceptance to join the elite of the "Not Quite Good Enough This Time Around" of the Wait List. In other words, I was slightly confused at this not-so-green use of paper.

So instead of maintaining my healthy dose of pessimism to lead to tossing it in the front drawer of my desk filled with rejection letters from other law schools, I pulled out the paper and read the following:

Dear Anthony,

We are writing to inform you that we are offering you a position in the Fall 2009 incoming class...

I paused. Was this a joke or was this real? I was already accustomed to failing miserably with my attempt to gain admissions into a Law School that I had already accepted the fact that I was probably not going to gain admission to any school and that I would need to find a job to allow me to survive in the post-Navy life. Part of me had embraced this new plan of working after the Navy, I already plotted a course to work my way into the field of Paleontology or Marine Biology. It was more of a blastosphere than a complete organism, but at least it was a start to Plan B, C, D all the way through ZZX (ZZY was trying to become a USNR Canvassing Recruiter and plan ZZZ was to request to pull my RAD and sign up to sell at least 3 years of my life back to the Navy and flail for three years as an afloat DH.) dealt with some form or another of that basic idea.

Now the one item arrived that all but confirmed the conclusion of my illustrious Naval career.

I'm pretty excited about all of this: for a moment I figured that my two years of sophomoric stupidity would come to roost without mercy. Well, that and my so-so showing on the LSAT. I really should have answered that last question with: "We are given two options for these individuals to include their own basic desires in retirement, yet, both arguments for these options are based on scanty evidence that does not allow for a strong argument. I will go into why neither will appeal to these individuals unless further evidence is provided to give greater detail in order to build a strong argument for or against either option."

Well, that could have also backfired.

That's about it. Hopefully all zero people who read this blog were able to...yeah. Leave a comment if you managed to stumble upon this fine piece of mediocre-ish prose.



Oh just in case the current tally is 1-19-1. Looks like the Cubs record in the 1990s! Ha!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Miscellaneous photos....

Miscellaneous photos...


                 崇福寺 (長崎市)           
                 平和公園 (長崎市)

                 眼鏡(めがね)橋 (長崎市)

Took Hah-vahd long enough to send my rejection...e-mail?

I opened my google email to see what new interesting spam or phising attempts awaited in my inbox or spam box to discover that Hah-vahd (Harvard) Law sent me my rejection e-mail.

I thought...e-mail? What? No letter? I guess enough people pinned rejection letters on their walls to fuel their desire to gain revenge against Hah-vahd that Hah-vahd decided to stop sending letters...or it's a more green way to disappoint people. I like to think it is because it is a greener method. I really do.

Needles to say, I really had no delusions that I would somehow sneak into the incoming class for the fall semester of 2009. My spectacular showing as an undergraduate and average showing during the LSAT all but confirmed my rejection. What really surprised me was that it took them this long to send it to me. My other hopeful half court shot, Yale sent me one within a month of receiving my package. Actually, maybe they [law school applications] all were half court heaves...

But Hah-vahd took almost four months to decide that I was not the caliber of person they wanted at their university.

But can you blame them? My GPA and LSAT score would have dragged down their spectacular averages. Zeus or Odin forbid that I taint the pristine 3.6 GPA and 160 LSAT minimums for these schools! Well, again, they do need to grease the alumni to get donations, so again, I don't cut it...based on my performance...where does the blame lie? Me.

I don't think that my life will be effected too much, seeing that I'm shooting a huge oh-fer-everything in this attempt to go to law school. The only positives are letters informing that I am now part of the elite of the not-quite-so-good-enough-to-get-in, on the wait list for Indiana University and Valpo. I'm not going to hold my breath; seeing that this would entail enough people to choose not to go to either of those schools to open up a position for X number of people to be thrown into competition for X spots...and the X number of people always outnumber the X amount of spots.

It's not that I'm not used to screwing up. Failing 3 OOD boards, 2 SWO boards and screwing up in general as I have in the past 10 years since I left high school should at least teach me that. Wait, failing is the word. I might have been way off using 10% as my estimated success rate. Maybe 1% or even more daringly, 5% would be more appropriate.

But...all of those failures and screw ups etc led to some pretty interesting adventures and experiences. If I didn't screw up in college, I would have never gone to my first ship (that I went to) and met Mr. Hotdog, Wee-Man, Mr. Pear, MoNgO, and the other characters from the G.E. Electric Oven (all names property of Mr. Brent Gregory Meyers)...and I would have never ended up in Japan and meandered into the adventures and experiences here etc etc. So I'm proud of my 2.86 GPA!

Actually, it is pretty humorous and I try to make a game out of it. "Who is going to reject me this time?" "Man, I haven't received a single rejection letter yet this week, what gives?" I really have nothing mean to say to any of the schools, knowing that I am at best (just looking at GPA and LSAT) a marginal candidate, except for Wisconsin, but the bones that I pick with that university are based on a litany of other reasons.

And no, its not that Brett Beliema loses games, that's life (does anyone really expect Wisconsin to win a national championship?), but its that the University pays him 1.6M USD a year to coach football...sorta knocks the wind out of sails in the argument for Wisconsin being a legitimate academic institution...that and the less than 60% graduation rate for the football team. How the hell can I have pride in that? For 1.6M it should be at least 90%.

I won't even start on the bronze immortalization of Barry Alvarez. Before that was raised, I think the only statue on campus was that of Abe know, the guy who ended slavery, started the first moves towards civil rights, reunited the United know, things not as important as winning three Rose Bowls and having a son microwave a parrot.

Holy Crap! Jay Cutler!

I woke up this morning (morning here in Japan, and around 6 AM JST~ish) to find out the Bears traded for Jay Cutler. Now, living overseas, I don't follow the NFL all too much since there are tons of other interesting things to do (get drunk at an izakaiya, get drunk during 花見, get drunk at a 横浜ベイスターズの野球 game, get drunk at the Beer Museum at 恵比寿 and etc etc...I kid, I kid) in Japan. Actually, the only reason I know anything about the NFL since 2005 is that the bulk of the games are played on TV (AFN mind you) between 3 and 11 AM JST.

Mind you, I don't love the NFL (or my hometown Bears) that much to wake up at 3 AM to watch a football game. If I were to wake up at 3 AM, it would be to throw my surf rack on my roof, strap on my longboard, pack up my mini shower, wet suit, booties, rash guard, surf wax, sun block and flip flops and to drive somewhere in Shonan to find decent waves...not to watch American football. To be honest, Futball, soccer, whatever you call it is much more interesting to me..and is the only organized sport that I can and actually enjoy playing (on defense...I don't have the speed or stamina to be a striker or a back) and watching.

Back on track, to the Bears' acquisition of Jay Cutler. The name sounded familiar and everyone seemed pretty excited (my friends from my old region who reside via Facebook) about this news. I figured to join in on the excitement out of the inner homer in me, wanting to support my local team before the moment passed and I began questioning the validity of paying athletes millions of dollars to play a silly game while people who actually contribute to society (not your typical cluebird musicians, not your typical cluebird actors/actresses, not your typical cluebird celebrities. Cluebird=one who has no real experience or knowledge of what they are speaking about. For example, I would be a cluebird if I were to write about how to defend against the Cover-2 defense or to talk about the stresses of making films, as I have no experience and no knowledge of such subjects) make what they throw at strippers and/or hookers on a nightly basis.
Okay, not all pro athletes throw money at strippers or hookers, but you get the point.

But for that matter, I seriously doubt god, if it truly exists or cares, would really waste its omnipotent or just simple power to help some human score a touchdown, when said powers could be used to clear up some serious issues such as famine, poverty, nuclear armament, fundamentalist extremism (of all faiths) et al.

Seriously, if god does exist as many have tried to lead me to believe, creating universes, creating quarks and spin particles and gas giants and galaxies and matter and time and space; to modify the thoughts of the great Carl Sagan: why the hell would it give a damn about some insignificant human on an insignificant blue rock orbiting a nondescript star on the outer edge of a relatively new galaxy?

I guess it works out this way.
But back to Jay Cutler.

So, I opened my web browser, typed in Jay Cutler in Google and I discovered this tidbit about Jay Cutler:

He's a 2-time Mr. Olympia! That has to mean something, because the Governator was a 7 time Mr. that means he's pretty ripped. That should stand for something since that might be an intimidation factor for the Bears offense.

Do you really want to screw with this guy? Seriously? Looks like he could put the lights out on Shawn Merriman...and he's clean! He has to be clean, since PED's are illegal in professional bodybuilding, or he would have never made it this far in his sport. Shawn Merriman though, after having to stop using steroids has completely fallen off the earth. I guess we know his source of aggression...

I'm not so sure that he'll head out in the field wearing a helmet and the speedo get-up, but somehow I'm sure the Bears will manage to modify his uniform and pads to emphasize his physique to scare the hell out of the opposition.

And if anyone has any questions, just imagine the Packers defense crapping their pants when Jay gets tired of their shit and flexes to show them that they really, really want no part of this.

Jay Cutler reminding the NFC North that he isn't going to
take their shit anymore by flexing his massive lats.
I'm still trying to figure out how Jay Cutler, who was a professional bodybuilder was originally acquired by the Denver Broncos and subsequently traded to the Chicago Bears for Kyle Orton and a couple of draft picks. But it looks like a win-win situation--the Broncos get a guy with a great neck beard that should fit in with the locals in Denver and they can manage to do something with the draft picks. I don't know what, but hey, we got a two-time Mr. Olympia!

But if the Bears really want to improve their chances of winning a Super Bowl before Jay Cutler retires (he's 35, so that might not be too far down the road), they should hire Pavel Tsatsouline as their strength coach, because he can probably de-wimpify Brian Urlacher from the guy who wont and can't shed a blocker to a machine that will break the blocker into to pieces and then juggle a couple of 2-pood kettlebells afterwards to ham it up for the crowd.

But then the NFL would ban Pavel and Russian Kettlebells from the NFL as they give an unfair performance edge over other teams. Or they could just get rid of the pointless 225 lb bench press test, 40 yard dash test, high jump test (mind you, in shorts, running shoes and all of that nifty sweat wicking technology from Under WE MUST PRO-TECT THIS HOUSSSSSSEEEEEE Armor) and use only kettlebell activities to prove manliness.

But hey, catching a football, running away from people who want to hurt you or going out of your way to hurt someone else as hard as you can is still very impressive to me. Almost as impressive as catching a huge wave at Cortez Banks.

Oh wait, being able to surf huge waves off Cortez Banks is much more impressive than anything any football player can do on the gridiron.
What's that? Oh, there's another Jay Cutler? And he's from Northern Kentucky? (definition: anywhere south of Lake County, but just before you get to Lowell in the state of Indiana.) Haven't the Bears learned their lessons about quarterbacks from Northern Kentucky? (See Grossman, Rex for further clarification)
I was really hoping to have a 2-time Mr. Olympia kicking some ass for the Chicago Bears, but I can always hold out for the Pavel hire...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Funny Advert, NCAA picks and the Tokyo Marathon

I'm a member of the "League of Reason" forum online ( and under one of the discussions about "evolution and creationism" I saw this very interesting advert below the main banner:

You don't say...very interesting.
NCAA Picks (Yes, I know...very, very, very late)
MIDWEST Bracket:
(1) Louisville X (16) Moorehead State: Louisville
(8) OSU X (9) Siena: I don't like OSU, but of course, they get a free home game. Siena is tough, but OSU has the unfair home advantage. OSU.
(5) Utah X (12) Arizona: Hmm, toss up, but I guess Utah, no Arizona, no Utah, no Arizona, no Utah...okay Arizona.
(4) Wake Forest X (13) Cleveland State: I like Cleveland State, and WFU has been pretty inconsistent since Feb.
(11) Dayton X (6) West Virginia: WVU
(3) Kansas X (14) North Dakota State: NDSU beat Wisconsin two years ago in Madison. These guys have been playing together for four years. Kansas is young but very talented...with a good coach. I has Kansas getting to the Elite Eight until I thought about it for five minutes. NDSU in a shocker.
(7) Boston College X (10) USC: USC got the hot hand at the right time-swept through the PAC-10 tourney and although Boston College gave Dook fits in the ACC tourney, I'm going with USC.
(2) Michigan State X (15) Robert Morris: I would love to see MSU lose, but they'll win this one.
WEST Bracket:
(1) UCONN X (16) Chattanooga: UConn...
(8) BYU X (9) Texas A&M: BYU
(5) Purdue X (12) Northern Iowa: Purdue...although they won only the Big Ten Tourney (supposedly that means you won't get past the second round or Sweet 16), but they have a good basketball team (pains me to say as a UW alumnus...and how I joke about the smelly Wabash River).
(4) Washington X (13) Mississippi State: Okay, I saw parts of this game on TV...and MSU was losing. So why bother?
(6) Marquette X (11) Utah State: So losing their leader has caused the team to the hyper-insanely-tough Big East. I think they can get past Utah State, despite the size of Utah St.
(3) Mizzou X (14) Cornell: If this was an academic competition, I'd say Cornell in a blowout, but its basketball, so Mizzou, but all the Cornell guys graduate and earn higher salaries.
(7) Cal X (10) Maryland: Maryland. ACC bias I guess, but Maryland's got a great PG...that always counts for something in basketball.
(2) Memphis X (15) Cal St. Northridge: Memphis (but I think they already played this game.)
EAST Bracket:
(1) Pitt X (16) East Tennessee State: Pitt. 16 seeds continue their "Oh fer..."
(8) Oklahoma State X (9) Tennessee: Yah, OSU did well this year, but I don't tend to go against Bruce Pearl. Tennessee.
(5) Florida State X (12) Wisconsin: I am pissed at my alma mater, but I can't help but see the quaint story of Wisconsin's two premier programs (basketball and football) having their season ignomoniously ended by Florida State. But knowing Bo Ryan, he'll actually have a game plan and have his players ready and be able to make adjustments (unlike some other expanding mass of a coach) and could pull this one out. But I'm still going with FSU.
(4) Xaiver X (13) Portland State: I know nothing about Portland State, but I know Xaiver has a good coach and good players, so that's enough to give this poorly researched pick: Xaiver.
(6) UCLA X (11) VCU: VCU was able to knock out Dook in the tourney two years ago. They have a good PG. UCLA has NCAA experience from the past three Final Four runs and Ben Howland...UCLA in a tight one
(3) Villanova X (14) American: You can't pick against America! No really, when I think of 'Nova, I think of the great Kerry Kittles teams in the mid 1990s that never quite broke through in the tourney. He was one of my favorite players in college basketball along with Lou Roe, Marcus Camby et al. Villanova.
(7) Texas X (10) Minnesota: Minnesota
(2) Dook X (15) Binghamton: Who? Oh yeah, Binghamton in a run away. Wait, I mean Dook.
SOUTH Bracket:
(1) North Carolina X (16) Radford: Although everyone is bagging on Ty Lawson now for sitting out of the game, I think UNC has more than enough to beat Radford.
(8) LSU X (9) Butler: Butler; and its not that LSU has been up and down since beating Kentucky to wrap up the SEC a few weeks back, I just like Butler. Sue me.
(5) Illinois X (12) Western Kentucky: Western Kentucky in a semi-shocker. But I wouldn't be shocked.
(4) Gonzaga X (13) Akron: LBJ sneaks in the second half and records a triple double to beat Gonzaga. I think Akron has a chance. Akron.
(6) Arizona St X (11) Temple: Well...I flipped a coin and Temple came up, so I have to go with the best 2 out of 3...which Temple lost. ASU.
(3) 'Cuse X (14) Stephen F. Austin: 'Cuse, although everyone is concerned that they have nothing left in their legs.
(7) Clemson X (10) Michigan: Both inconsistent teams. Both started well and stumbled down the stretch. I flipped a coin again and Michigan won.
(2) Oklahoma X (15) Morgan State: OU and Blake Griffin announces that he will be entering the NBA draft after dropping a 30-10 in this game.
Round Two:
Louisville X OSU: I don't like Ohio State, and niether does Rick Pintino. He runs a full court press all day and Louisville blows out OSU. Louisville.
Arizona X Cleveland State: Ennie, Meenie, Miney, Mo...Cleveland State is a Cinderella.
WVU X NDSU: I don't go against Huggins in the tourney. Boy does Cincy look stupid for firing him.
USC X MSU: So sorry Tom Izzo...USC (okay, I don't feel sorry for putting that there)

UConn X BYU: UConn. Thashem Shabeet blocks 20 shots and the Mormons pray for Joseph Smith to smite the heathens, but since he's just worm food now, nothing happens.
Purdue X Washington: Purdue. Again, good basketball team.
Marquette X Mizzou: I think Marquette is still good enough to get past Mizzou and Mizzou does not fare well away from their home building.
Maryland X Memphis: Memphis proves that just because they play in Conference USA does not mean they cannot beat up on ACC teams. Memphis.

Pitt X Tennessee. Pitt's tough. Bruce Pearl wears a bright orange blazer. Pitt's still tough in the inside. Pitt smash. Pitt win.
Florida State X Xaiver: And Xaiver keeps going. But at least Florida State blew out Wisconsin by 20 for my viewing pleasure.
UCLA X Villanova: I struggled with this one. But I just think UCLA is going to tease us all with a hint of being able to make a 4th straight Final Four. UCLA just edges 'Nova.
Minnesota X Dook: Tubby Smith is a great coach, despite what the loud mouthed, mouth-breathing morons in Kentucky think (and should realize now since they are now in the NIT...never went there with Tubby...hmmmm). But Dook still has a bit more talent to outshine Minnesota. But I think Tubby can pull this one out. He's got Ralph Sampson (the III). It's gotta count for something! I think. Minnesota in a semi-shocker since Dook never gets past the second round these days.

UNC X Butler: Well, I'm going to say UNC and Dook will be watching the rest of the NCAA tourney. Butler.
Western Kentucky X Akron: I flipped a coin again and Akron came up. Again. I think LBJ is really going to suit up for them and average a triple double in one of his LeBron's alter egos.
Arizona State X 'Cuse: I like Syracuse in this game.
Michigan X OU: OU isn't going to get upset yet, not until the round of sixteen or so. OU

Sweet Sixteen. I call it, Sixteen teams better than the NIT Winner.
Louisville X Cleveland State: Louisville. Rick Pintino manages not to wear the horrific white suit.
West Virginia X USC: John Denver's Country Home defeats Paris Hilton with a offensive surge in the second half and good hands-up defense.

UConn X Purdue: Gene Keady never made it to the Final Four. But I don't think they can get past UConn, but it's a tight one down the stretch. UConn just squeaks out.
Marquette X Memphis: Memphis continues to prove they belong among the top teams in the US.

Pitt X Xaiver: Pitt strong. Xaiver not mid-major. Pitt smash. Xaiver not mid-major. Pitt strong. Xaiver not mid-major. Pitt can't get past the Sweet 16. Xaiver go to Elite Eight.
UCLA X Minnesota: Kevin Garnett, though an alumnus of the Timberwolves, was not a Golden Gopher. UCLA gets lucky because Dook lost. UCLA.

Butler X Akron: The Battle of the Mid-Majors, a clash in Memphis with Elvis watching. Butler wins.
'Cuse X OU: To prove that they still have stamina, 'Cuse beats OU.

Elite Eight. Sounds kinda pompus eh?
Louisville X John Denver (er, I mean West Virginia): Louisville wins another Big East game.

UConn X Memphis: Memphis wins by 15 and later states that UAB played them tougher.

Xaiver X UCLA: So close, so close to a fourth straight Final Four, but I think Xaiver breaks through.

Butler X 'Cuse: Butler continues to shock the world, while I am not surprized at all.

Final Four:
Lousiville X Memphis: I thought about this one for a bit. It reminds me of 1996 when Kentucky faced off with UMass in the Final Four. I thought it should have been the Nat' Championship game. I'm not sure how to pick this one. Both teams play suffocating defense. I just think this is Lousiville's season.

Xaiver X Butler: In the undercard, the mid-majors, although Xaiver is not a mid-major, battle it out. Between these two teams, I see Bulter taking them down.

National title game:
Louisville X Butler: A great game, but Louisville has too much for the mighty Bulldogs. Hopefully, Rick Pintino avoids wearing a white suit again.

Of course, I know that there is a 100% chance I am wrong in these picks. I'm willing to boldly state that I can 100% guarantee that I will be at least 90-100% incorrect in my picks. But that's the fun of the NCAAs.

Tokyo Marathon:
I know I have not even mentioned anything about the Tokyo Marathon: it was not until last week that I knew I was going to be able to run the race, based on my work schedule. It's pretty exciting to think about actually doing this, after losing about three and a half weeks of training because of an injury. Moral of the story: I should have just gone with Mizuno or Asics right off the bat. Nike shoes are good, but I like Mizuno and Asics better (I tend to think they are the best running shoes in the world). The only reason why I stuck with Nike was because of the Nike+ system.

I'll try to take as many pictures as I can while trying to maintain my pace and post them as soon as I can on this blog. Maybe I'll give a running commentary from what I can remember as well after the race.

Lastly, I hope that the weather (which was nice all week) holds up on Sunday. The torrential rain today is causing just a little concern now.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bumbling Badgers

Indeed, I find more reasons as to why not to support the UW Athletic Program with P.J. Hill's latest antics. These days I could care less about how many games the Badgers win in any sport (actually, I root against the Badgers these days. I'm tired of hearing the boorish idiots in the student section at Citi presents Camp Randall on Qdoba Field. Plus, I can't find any alumni pride in a University that feels compelled to have luxury box seats at a college football stadium.).

They can build an expensive stadium, and pay a coach 1.6M USD per year (okay, so its probably only 950,000 USD after taxes), but I get a cheap ass Kinko's style diploma. I guess this is where one is supposed to start listing radical proletarian revolutionary rhetoric railing against the bourgeoisie.

Yes, I am aware that the athletic department is self sustaining these days, but I feel that its at the expense of the University. I recall that my senior year, the University was having to make budget cuts here and there all over the campus. Letters and Science, mostly the Letters part took the brunt of the cuts. But the Athletic department and the University itself felt that the money available in the athletic department coffers were probably best funneled into an egotistical renovation of Camp Randall. I wont comment on the football obelisk or self-aggrandizing statue of Barry Alvarez. Normally you unveil statues of people if they are effective leaders, win wars and end slavery or social inequality, create something useful for all society or cure a disease...or are a fictional boxer who goes the distance against the World Champion, not a football coach.

But hey, they have a great graduation rate for the football team. Well, 63% is about a D, so that's good enough for a degree! Good enough for me! Somehow, I think that should be around 90 or so, seeing that it is job of the coaches and the athletic department to make sure these undergraduates earn a degree. But maybe I'm way off. Probably because I don't believe in Bucky anymore.

Pointless Rambling

I recall a moment many years ago where my brother (I know he's going to want to kick my ass now) crying his eyes out because my dad bluntly stated that he did not believe in god, and therefore did not worry about eternal damnation or eternity.

The thought sticks with me as I think about how children are indoctrinated into any societies cultures, mores etc. As children, god, satan, heaven and hell were as real to us as the Gary dump two blocks down from the house and the abandoned house that would catch fire every two weeks. To a child who hears about the fires and damnation of hell, the sight of the collapsed remains of a house next door engulfed in soaring flames is a jolting reminder of what may be one's fate in the future.

That night in particular, my brother and I were sleeping soundly in our rooms, completely unaware of the situation unfolding less than one hundred feet from our bunkbed. No smell of combusting material, no sting of searing heat, no sight of the dancing tongues of fire; instead it was our mother excitedly bursting into the room telling us to put on our clothes and shoes quickly. Niether of us were aware of any impending disaster until I looked out the window.

I watched with curiosity at the surrealistic sight of the fires reaching to the apex of the highest trees in the nieghborhood. It was as if I were detached from the whole scene, as if this were on television and if I felt that the flames were starting to threaten, I could always switch the channel to Channel 50 or Channel 66. In the moment, I wondered why the house caught on fire and wondered if my father and the nieghbors spraying down our yard with the garden hose was a futile effort. Being as young as I was, I didn't think of the word futile, but wondered how you could fight such a huge fire with a small hose that leaked at the connection to the house with a consistent drip, drip, drip.

As we stood on the opposite side of Colfax Street in our nieghbor's driveway, the following thoughts meandered through my mind, sometimes catching on in my consciousness: would our house catch on fire?; what would happen to us if the house burnt down?; what would we wear to school?; where would we go?; why would the abandoned house catch on fire?; would someone set the house on fire?

In retrospect, maybe if the house had caught fire, that would have caused my father to move to another nieghborhood; he may have not taken the promotion to LaCrosse, WI; we would have gone to a different school; I would have taken a completely different path and may have ended up somewhere completely different. I tend not to think about a hypothetical alternate relatity, as I'm sure that the anti-particle me probably has taken a divergent path from my own in its own anti-particle universe and its best that I don't meet the anti-particle me because I have no desire to disappear into a flash of light. No thanks. But I do realize a couple of things: 1) that these constant fires made it easy for my father to take the promotion to LaCrosse to "get the fuck out of this shitty nieghborhood" and 2) there was probably a wonderful human being who felt compelled to set the abandoned house next door on fire at a regular interval.

Oddly, I don't recall hearing about the abandonded house catching fire when we lived in LaCrosse. Not once. Apparently someone either felt a sense of excitement setting that house on fire to scare our family or worse, had calculated to terrify our family by setting that house on fire. When I think of that nieghborhood, I'm not surprised. While it was not the most dangerous location in Gary or the world, Black Oak was not exactly a location you would want to raise a family.

Well, a pointless ramble to eat up bandwidth. Hooray.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I sent this in as a "sample" essay for one of my grad school essays. I highly doubt that this essay will help me gain admissions to this school (or any other for that matter) because of my amazing track record as an undergraduate. I enjoyed trying to write this, and I'm sure any other fans in the world (fans of teams that are perennial losers) can identify with this little essay. Maybe just the losing part.

Needless to say, professional Japanese baseball is a completely different animal than the professional game in the United States. I won't go into the issues with NPB dealing with TV contracts and revenue sharing; it does not exist, but here's the little essay I threw out.


After initially entering the Yokohama Stadium bleachers, one has to check their ticket stub to verify they are attending a baseball game, not a rock concert populated by a passionate college football crowd. Endless rows of fans clad in Yokohama blue and white cheer and sing along with songs blaring from the brassy sextet buried in the stands upper reaches. Sir Georg Solti of the bleachers, in a dark blue short sleeved coat decorated with flowing Japanese calligraphy gestures wildly, stirring the crowd’s enthusiasm to a feverish pitch, imploring the various Baystars heroes to success with emphatic spirit (ganbatte) ballads echoing across the stadium.

This is Yokohama Baystars baseball.

Yokohama’s starters have their own personal ganbatte ballad and a contingent of loyal fans. Wily veterans, Takuro Ishii and Daisuke Miura appeal to the older fans while new heroes, Shuichi Murata and Yuki Yoshimura attract the younger generation. A voluminous library of music addresses crucial moments in the game covering deficit rallies, scoring opportunities, left handed and right handed pinch hitters. Victories, albeit rare and runs scored are highlighted by the fans belting out the team’s anthem followed by dynamic banzai cheers.

Games end with eyes brimming with tears of joy or the emptiness of another heartbreaking defeat.

Despite a perpetual occupancy at the bottom of the league standings, the Baystars legions of fans remain faithful as they fill the bleachers to capacity each summer. Hopes and dreams of glorious victories and champagne soaked championships seldom fade in these seats.

Looking forward to the Yokohama Baystars home opener against the !$$*&%*$(&(*$^(*&$%(*(^^%^%!^$%#$%$#^&*&%*&$%^&*^# Yomiuri Giants in April.


Another wonderfully rainy Feburary day in Kanagawa. Almost as much fun as walking into an ice cold house each night. Luckily, I have some great slippers from Muji that keep my feet warm as I acclimate myself to the freezing house.

I could simply leave the heater on while I'm away, but 1) thats a waste of money, 2) its a waste of energy and 3) my house will still be cold because there is a total absence of insulation in my house, on par with old Japanese buildings.

But, I am hoping that the rain lets up before I leave work--I hate running in cold weather when it is raining. I don't have to run, but I need to keep working towards the Tokyo Marathon--I already lost two and a half weeks because of injury, so I can't lose any more running days since the 22nd is getting closer and closer. I don't know if I will be able to run the race because of work, but well, its better to keep training now and prepare for the run than to give up now and feel that tinge of regret in the back of my mind. It's a 9 mile day...or something close to that distance.


Thursday, February 12, 2009


In the United States, today, is the 200th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln. While there are several people who are quick to either revere or demonize (I don't know how many exist of the second group) the 16th President of the United States, it is fitting to reflect on his efforts during the devestating American Civil War.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I am not a cat

While I do understand the general public displeasure with those banks who recieved TARP funds giving executive, is it not a bit of the old adage "the pot calling the kettle stove burnt" when members of Congress are the ones casting the stones of judgement at these bank CEOs? Indeed, I would have a hard time maintaining my composure in the face of a lengthy lecture about the proper use of tax payer money from a member of Congress.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A clear Tuesday Morning

Snippets flash forward, illuminate momentarily on a screen and fade back into the darkness from where it appeared.

A breakfast journey, trudging slowly down the stairs, unawares of the outside world other than the mild Wisconsin fall day, more worried about the wrinkles from wear on my cotton khakis.

A television screen normally on CNN, an image of the North World Trade Tower billowing smoke from its upper reaches. Pause. Surrealistic. Was it a preview from the newest Schwarzenegger film? The newest Hollywood CGI?

Sitting and munching mindlessly on lukewarm eggs and cold french toast, trying to decihper the events unfolding in New York City with a voiceless television. The scrolling text, illegible until eyes were squinted, informed the basement under a twelve story building that an airplane had crashed into the WTC.

A drunk pilot?

A mid-air malfunction, a day gone terribly wrong.

Aircraft, tall tower in New mind drifted to the B-25 crash into the side of the Empire State Building on a foggy day in 1945.

Blue, clear skies, almost too perfect described that morning, now smeared with the ugly hues of angry fires burning 110 stories in the sky. Not a hint of murkiness to obscure any field of vision of the experienced pilots handling these giant aircraft with ease. What about electronic navigation? Air Traffic Controllers maintaining a chaos of flights heading inbound and outbound?

A deep sinking ugliness grew in the pit of my stomach. There was something seriously wrong. Yet, as the rest of the world, I did not know whether there was truly malice or mistake behind this tragedy.

The race back to my room and joining my roommates in rapt attention before the flickering television...only a weekend before we gathered cheering for the underdog Badgers against the highly ranked Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium, now a silent attention mingling with fear. My roommate and I sitting tentatively in our midshipman uniforms, unsure of the future, unsure of what would happen later during afternoon drill.

I don't remember whether or not I saw the second plane scream across the sky, slamming into the second tower; perhaps those moments passed as I glided up two flights of stairs to arrive breathlessly to the room. But I recall a short moment that never left my mind...

An errant camera was zooming in and out among the billowing smoke juxtaposed against the clear baby blue sky and the silver sides of the WTC reaching into the skies. A floating voice commented about debris falling from those heights and the camera zoomed in to catch a image of building parts, office supplies, chairs, aircraft parts falling from the ugly scar on the face of the tower.

But the debris falling, accelerating at 9.8 m/s/s, were humans, people with lives, personal stories, tragedies, triumphs, goals, family, children, loves, dislikes, allergies and memories.

The images were processed, realized and quickly we returned to another establishing shot of the towers burning in the clear morning.

A thought. Suppressed. Arose across the mind and the horrifying realization crossed silently through my lips.

There are people falling out of the tower.

A ugly thought arose and submerged just as soon as it reached daylight:

Did they jump?

As everyone filtered out on campus to their classes, my next class was after noon, I sat in rapt attention at the events unfolding before the eyes of millions of people held in position or seated by the magnetic force of the unbelievable images flickering across our collective screens. An event so huge...

The first tower collapsed as I spoke with my buddy a few floors up, as we spoke about the fires and whether or not the city was taking measures in case the towers fell. Shock. "One of the towers just fell of the towers just fell..."

Eyes glued...and then the sister to the tower now a pile of rubble followed its twin into memory, the upper portion settling, almost resigned to its fate, and fell in atop itself. Clouds of thick smoke rose in place of the vanishing structure, rising high and seeping through the streets of Manhattan, covering everything in a blanket of finality.

The Twin Towers were no more. Sober voices reiterated the reality before our eyes.

I paused before going to class. I was in uniform. My next class was a lecture for Islamic History. I never made it past Randall Street.

In the aftermath, as the men who plotted and executed the attack became known to the United States and the world, I felt a slight impotent helplessness. Today, I recall the words of Heath Ledger's Joker in the latest Batman movie as he prods the infuriated Batman, "with all your strength, you have nothing, nothing you can do to me."

I felt that while we were powerful, we were powerless to act. There was no one opponent, a nation bold enough to strike the United States, that we could bring bring to bear the total sum of our military power to exact a blood revenge. No Nazi Germany, Soviet Union, or Imperial Japan existed to avenge the blood of innocent civilians who suffered unimaginable and unthinkable deaths in New York, Washington DC and in a lonely field in Pennsylvania.

The American giant was reduced to powerful clenched fists, enraged yet unable to lash out, binded by self imposed limits while fires smoldered on the East Coast, its citizens buried their dead or posted fliers praying against all hope that their loved one was still lost in the chaos that continued in this plane of existence.

It was an uncertain and restless sleep that Tuesday night.

We could only search through the rubble for the faint hope of survivors, bury the dead and remind ourselves to never forget.

On that day. That clear Tuesday morning.

Just one view, and obscured behind the fog of memory. My brother and I shared a cup of coffee at a local restaurant and he told me about that clear and brisk Tuesday in September. Another nondescript day for him, a first year student at the Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, Long Island, New York.

Breakfast. Then a classmate burst in, and babbled about something happening in Manhattan and they have to come outside to see what is going on. A group follows the classmate outside, into the lush grassy open fields in the middle of the campus, a location that allows a direct view into downtown Manhattan. A clear and blue day, save for smoke rising from one of the Twin Towers.


The world changes forever as one classmate brings up his camera, the second jet slams into the South Tower.

Stories of USMMA students as EMTs in Manhattan; some traumatized by the discovery of the shattered remains of humans. Others the smell. My brother remembers that smell as it wafted across the river and into the campus of the future members of the US Merchant Marine. Unforgettable although many wished to bury it forever, to forget that smell that permeated through their uniforms, their lives.

A smell that I cannot describe nor understand as I never inhaled a fresh lungful of this air.

Years later, in a bar in uptown New York during Fleet Week 2005, sharing beers with two fire fighters, one a NYFD the other from Appleton, Wisconsin. The grizzled NYFD veteran slowly spoke about that clear Tuesday morning. Nothing different. Except the end of the day. Friends lost, other ladder companies that arrived on scene first and vanished in a cloud of rubble before lunchtime. Stories of the evidence of what were once people in the piles of shattered concrete and steel.

Stains on concrete that were once people.

Stories of what each block of demolished building uncovered.

He also mentioned that smell. The smell that permeated and embedded itself into their noses, clothes, skin and their minds.

They continued to sort through the carnage that man wrought on man, discovered new horrors, moved endless dusty chunks by hand. It appeared that they would never get through with this grim task, the impossibility of the task started to grow heavier and heavier on their weary shoulders. The city started to farm out those Ladder Companies and fire fighters at Ground Zero into other New York boroughs, to reacquaint them with a sense of the life now obscured behind the thick smoke of the towers collapsing on that September Tuesday.

Fighting fires and defeating fires.

Acting as EMTs for people they could save.

And a thank you for my service, although I had done nothing in comparison to those brave men who arose to only discover calamity that should never visit any civilian population. They wouldn't let me buy a beer at The Bravest Heart.

I still recall standing before the gaping holes, looking down into the open tombs of over 2000 souls and the structures that had housed them, that were solid superstructures of safety, all through the openings on tall chain linked fence lining the solemn perimeter. The crowds passing on their daily lives paid a fleeting moment of attention to the group of naval officers in summer whites, but I felt the glances lasted longer on the Pakistani sailors paying their respects to the dead. One glance freely told without obscuring the true thoughts, 'what the fuck are those guys doing here?'

I felt sorry for everyone. The New Yorkers who had either lost friends, lovers, wives, sons, sisters that morning and for those poor Pakistani sailors standing a few paces away from the group of Yankee sailors. Those upon the sea have the same fears and joys while on the ocean, a bond that no one person with their feet set firmly on the earth could understand.

It was impossible to process the whole scene; from the gaping wounds to the signs that covered the scars on the surviving adjacent towers and the unseen scars on the citizens of New York. Just a stupid sigh followed by dumber silence. Frustration boiled at my inability to understand and comprehend everything my eyes relayed to my brain.

It was only through chance that I stumbled upon these recollections, jogged by my sarcastic view towards the hysteria surrounding 2012, which lead to the ridiculous videos about a 9-11-01 conspiracy and now, a reflection of that day.

A brisk and a clear Tuesday.