May 16, 2009 archive

Random Japan


A Gifu man who admitted to a judge that he stole 229 comic books “to pay off debts and buy marijuana” was told by the jurist that he was baka (basically, “an idiot”). Gotta agree with the judge in this case.

It was discovered that the DNA of a 62-year-old man serving a life sentence for killing a toddler in 1990 in Tochigi Prefecture does not match the DNA samples found on the victim.

An unmanned rail carriage in Mie traveled nearly 10 km after the driver got out at a station and forgot to apply the parking brake. The “ghost train” cruised past three stations and 23 crossings before finally coming to a halt.

A group of women in Yokohama who are separated from abusive husbands went to court in a bid to stop the men from receiving the government cash handouts intended for them.

A new bill is in the works that will allow children under the age of 15 to become organ donors.

A total of ¥70 million has been earmarked by the Justice Ministry for a job database that can be accessed by former jailbirds and juvenile delinquents.

A headline in The Japan Times claimed that “Dutch Kids are Happiest in Europe; Brits Rank Among Most Miserable.” Hmmm … one place has legal weed and hookers, and the other has bad food, bad weather and the British Royal Family… go figure.

Despite claims of huge emissions cuts during production, the Fair Trade Commission said that a new line of fridges put out by Hitachi were not quite as eco-friendly as they were being billed.

Friday Distractions

For those who know that to “Yell Louder” works, I recruited one of my fish to show you how it`s done properly.

I hope these images give you a little respite from your daily grind.


Torture, Lies and E-Mail

In light of the fact that as more information comes out about torture, we need to go back in time to see how Cheney started the cover-up.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Karl Rove and dozens of other White House staffers appear to have illegally routed official e-mails through a Republican group that subsequently deleted them, a congressional report said on Monday.

By using Republican National Committee e-mail accounts for official business, senior White House aides may have broken a law requiring them to preserve presidential records, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said in an interim report.

“This should be a matter of grave concern for anyone who values open government and the preservation of an accurate historical record,” said committee Chairman Henry Waxman, a California Democrat.

The Presidential Records Act of 1978 requires White House officials to save official correspondence. While the White House automatically archives its e-mail the RNC typically deletes messages on its server older than 30 days, the report said.

That was the Reuters report dated Jun 18 2007.

Friday Night at 8: Moral High Ground


I’ve been spending quite a while following certain events, news, and writers on the issue of torture.  I’ve written some essays, poems and comments as well, but looking back there’s a real beginning for me on this and that was getting involved in the Special Prosecutor Project and the view I got from that, way more than anything I’ve written.

Seeing Bob Fertik post a question at Obama’s .gov website and then seeing George Stephanopolous ask Obama the question on teevee.  That was quite an amazing experience.

This effort was driven by so many different groups of people, from all areas of the political spectrum.  From my corner of the liberal world, I paid particular attention to the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights, and, of course various bloggers who educated me on not only the facts but the politics and political strategies of confronting the issue of torture.

This week there’s been an explosion of traditional media attention on this issue.  From Nancy Pelosi’s involvement, dragged into the fray by the Republicans and the CIA, to the Whitehouse Judiciary subcommittee hearings earlier this week where I had the interesting experience of seeing Lindsay Graham literally speaking out of both sides of his mouth, to the controversy over Obama deciding to fight the release of the DOD torture pictures, everyone’s chattering now.

I’ve also seen this issue covered very differently in the diversosphere, where torture is not the top story for those who have had to face this kind of behavior by the USA for generations.  That view is stunningly different.

In some ways the moral high ground on this issue is clear — torture is wrong.

In other ways, the moral high ground is bitterly contested.

Carrying Capacity Reexamined

This diary hopes to examine the applicability of the concept of “carrying capacity” to human society, and specifically the idea that the Earth has a carrying capacity, that it can stand only so much “economic growth” before the products of this growth, namely people and their machines, can no longer be sustained by the natural substrate for this growth, namely, the planetary retinue of “resources.”  Here I will suggest that the limits attributed to “carrying capacity” do not apply to human beings per se, because humans are versatile enough to manage ecosystems to their preference.  Rather, “carrying capacity” applies to capitalist economic systems, because said systems must “grow” compulsively.

(Crossposted at Big Orange)

Friday Philosophy: glbti news edition

I’m tired…in more ways than one.  The end of a long academic year contributes a great deal to that.  Recent illness certainly has added to it.  And just being old certainly has to be acknowledged.

But nothing seems to do more than having fruitless conversations with people who just don’t get it.

It’s really old and extremely tiring to have people say things to our political detriment and then say that if we complain, we are overly sensitive.  It’s frustrating to have to ask people not to use our identity as a weapon, with the assumption that accusing someone of being one of us is degrading to that person.  It’s depressing to have our identity used as the basis of unfunny jokes…and then be told, should we ask that it not be done, that we have no sense of humor.

So tired.

I even ended up too tired to write much about all that.  Too tired and not in the mood for more idiots who wants to defend their behavior.

So instead of doing so, I looked for some GLBT news.  I found some of the good variety and some of the bad.  The world changes slowly…oh, so very slowly.

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