Archive for January, 2012

Shaken Awake

January 28th, 2012 Comments off

Sachi and I were woken up this morning not, as is usually the case, by Ponta, but instead by an earthquake. It wasn’t strong, and shook just a little, but enough to wake us up. Then, ten minutes later, a stronger quake woke us up again, this one rattling the house somewhat.

Turns out the first one was a 5.0 about two-thirds of the way from here to Fuji, 35 miles from here. The second was a 5.5, in the exact same location. The quakes hit at 7:44 and 7:54.

If you heard of a 5.6 quake hitting Japan, that was an hour and a half later in Iwate, northern Japan.

This is what you get for living at the junction of four tectonic plates.

Categories: Focus on Japan 2012 Tags:

The Cry of the Oppressor

January 28th, 2012 3 comments

Newt Gingrich, in the latest debate:

…one of the reasons I am running is there has been an increasingly aggressive war against religion and in particular against Christianity in this country, largely by a secular elite and the academic news media and judicial areas. And I frankly believe it’s important to have some leadership that stands up and says, enough; we are truly guaranteed the right of religious freedom, not religious suppression by the state.

The general claim is nothing new, but Newt’s statement is notable in two ways: how comprehensive it is, and where it was said.

Usually, such claims are made in specific circumstances. For example, Jessica Ahlquist, a high school student and atheist in Rhode Island, successfully sued her school to remove a prayer that it had displayed prominently in the school auditorium for nearly half a century. Her objection was proper, and, as the courts recognized, the entirely legal thing to do. A public school using public funds to deliver a religious message is absolutely illegal; that it happens so often is not an expression of the founders’ wishes, but a daily abrogation of one of their highest principles. That the case took down an infringement which had hung for so long, far from being a slap in the face to tradition, was a refreshing sign that perhaps other similar infringements–such as religious statements on currency or in a pledge children are forced to recite–may also someday be rectified.

However, the Christianists believe that “separation of church and state” means, if anything, that the state cannot interfere with whatever religion wants to do, including proselytizing from public office using taxpayer money; and that the prohibition of Congress against making laws “respecting an establishment of religion” means the state cannot create a religion from scratch all by itself. Thus, they see the accurate reading of the law as being not just wrong, but an actual assault against their freedom to express religion wherever and whenever they please.

As a result, you’ll hear Christianists complaining about a “war on Christianity” in that context, with the atheist or religious secularist getting bashed and smeared as some hooligan trying to rob people of their religious freedom.

Or else you’ll hear Christianists getting all upset whenever “Christmas” is referred to as a “holiday,” in the horrific context of other religious or secular celebrations being held equal to the Christian one. To the Christianist right, “Happy Holidays” is now a slur, a godless curse, an insult to their beliefs and an attempt to deprive them of their rights.

Gingrich, however, piled on the whole list of grievances in one short, clearly scripted utterance. Let’s look at it in chunks:

…there has been an increasingly aggressive war against religion and in particular against Christianity in this country…

First of all, we get the “War on Christianity” claim. This is a catch-all which includes the exclusion of school-directed prayer (individual prayer in schools is completely OK), Christian displays on public property required to share the stage with other beliefs, and the generalization of religious celebrations into a generic holiday description. The former two are often the result of lawsuits, which are focused on sharply as a primary source of attack.

What’s fascinating here, however, is Newt’s claim that not just Christianity, but religion in general is being attacked. Why is that fascinating? Because the people attacking religions other than Christianity are not the secularists, but the Christians themselves. When was the last time you heard of an atheist filing a lawsuit against an Islamic prayer? Almost never–and not because they favor other religions (which Christianists sometimes claim), but because no other religion is ever in a dominant enough position to infringe on the rights of others.

What is truly hypocritical is the fact that Christianists are the only ones who actually try to deny others the right to freedom of belief and legal expression. They openly discriminate against people who believe differently from them. They refuse to serve atheists or Muslims in their businesses. They clamor to take down atheist billboards and actually fight to prevent Islamic mosques from being opened, even in remote rural areas with no one else around. They’re the ones that howl in protest when any other religion aside from Christianity gets to deliver an invocation or inaugural prayer. They vote down anyone who is not Cristian from getting into public office. Even Gingrich himself has said he would not allow anyone who is non-religious to even serve in government, and you know he would shut out most non-Christians in the same way.

And the Christian claim to persecution? Despite being the dominant religion with their beliefs almost everywhere, including on the currency, in prayers before public sessions, in the Pledge of Allegiance and nearly all other public oaths, etc. etc.–the persecution against them is horrific because they don’t get to slather their religion in every last nook and cranny of society. Not because they’re actually being shut out, but because they are not allowed to dominate everywhere.

Who is doing this dastardly shutting out?

…largely by a secular elite and the academic news media and judicial areas.

This one prepositional phrase carries an amazing load of trumped-up and untruthful invective against innocent and even imaginary non-Christians.

First, the “secular elite.” Exactly who, pray tell, would that consist of? This is as false and dishonest a boogeyman as the “liberal elite” from which Gingrich pawned it off. According to Gingrich, there is some secret cabal of atheists out there plotting to destroy religious liberty in America. Boogah boogah.

Second, the “academic news media.” Academic? What, is there a news media made up of college professors and researchers that I haven’t heard of? Apparently, education, schools, and teachers are just as evil to Gingrich as “moderates” are, to the point where just saying “academic” (where it even makes no sense) is somehow a justifiable slur. As for the “news media,” that is, of course, the “liberal media.” But wait–how is the news media attacking religion? Truth be told, I hadn’t heard that one before. Is it because they report news Gingrich doesn’t like? That’s the only thing I can think of.

And finally–and this is the scary part when it comes to Gingrich–the judiciary. Long libeled and slandered by the right wing for deciding cases according to law rather then by far-right ideology, the judiciary has the utter gall to follow the Constitution as it was written and intended by the founders. Even conservative judges, like the Bush 43 appointee who ruled against Intelligent Design in Dover, PA, more often rule by the law rather than by their personal political preferences (although that balance is disturbingly migrating in the other direction).

Why is Gingrich’s focus scary? Because Gingrich himself actually suggested that judges could be arrested and hauled before Congress if they dared rule cases in a way that displeased the far right.

So, we come to:

And I frankly believe it’s important to have some leadership that stands up and says, enough; we are truly guaranteed the right of religious freedom, not religious suppression by the state.

“Suppression.” What he means is, Christians (just like everyone else) cannot promulgate religious doctrine using government funds, or via the office of public representatives. That is the only way Christianity (in the exact same way as every other belief system, including atheism) is “suppressed”–and it is that way for the sole purpose of protecting religious liberty, to keep a single religious sect from acquiring power and thus actually suppressing all other religious beliefs in all avenues of life, as it has in so many countries which marry church and state.

This protection of the freedom of belief is called “suppression.” Which makes me wonder how, exactly, Christianists like Gingrich define “suppression.”

Is it like when Christians suppress the right of Muslims to build a mosque? When was the last time Christians were barred from building a church in America?

Like when Christians suppress the right of atheists to erect a billboard? When was the last time an American Christian organization was harassed into taking down a billboard with an inoffensive message?

Like when Christians run a Jewish family out of their Delaware town for protesting when their kids are singled out in Christian prayer at school? When was the last time a Christian family was run out of town after an Imam, preaching in a public school, singled out the Christian child, surrounded by Muslims, and prayed for her to convert?

Like every single election in America, when, with only rare exceptions, you can only get elected if you profess your Christianity? When was the last time a candidate lost for being mainstream Christian? Christians are so vehement about this kind of suppression that even other Christians (today, Mormons, earlier, Catholics) are heavily disfavored?

I wanted to say that Christians suppress religion far more than others in America–but even that’s not true. Outside of church and state issues, as far as I am aware, Christians are the only ones suppressing the freedom of belief in America.

Gingrich is partaking in the long-favored conservative practice of accusing people he is persecuting of persecuting him.

Tax the Rich

January 24th, 2012 4 comments

Romney serves as an excellent example of the problem with today’s wealth-favoring tax structure: Romney paid a paltry 14% tax on $42.6 million of income over the past two years.

Aside from campaigning, how much actual work did he do? Probably little to none–in short, he just sat there as his assets made him more rich. What would he have done if his tax rate were 30% or even 40%? Quit investing and instead make no money? What a crock.

But wait, Republicans will say–the job creators need that money to create more jobs!!

OK, fine: exactly how many jobs did Romney create in 2010 and 2011? Directly, none. Not a single one. Indirectly? Not a single job more than if the money had been collected by the government and put towards, say, infrastructure or education. Had the income been taxed, in fact, the likelihood is that a lot more jobs would have been created–and that money would have been directed far more accurately at the American economy.

The value of enriching Romney is dependent upon Romney’s particular investments. Was the capital used to create jobs, or in the kind of destructive capitalism Romney himself used to engage in? Did he invest in American companies, possibly companies that maximized American profits?

Or did the money go to create more jobs in China than in the U.S.? Considering what American businesses are doing now, if Romney’s hoard actually did create jobs, they were far more likely overseas.

If it’s American “job creators” we’re supporting here, then how about a tax credit for actually creating jobs in America, and not just profiteering in a way that could potentially create jobs, probably more in other countries, as a by-product of getting even more filthy rich?

The whole “job creators” mantra is just as much a fictional piece of crap as everything else the right wing claims these days.

Tax the rich at 40% or even higher, pour the money back into infrastructure, education, and research, and the country stands a chance of coming back with a roar.

If you instead vote Republican and let the rich get off virtually tax free, you’ll get exactly what you deserve for being such a gullible rube: poverty.

Categories: Economics, Election 2012 Tags:

From Romney to Gingrich

January 24th, 2012 9 comments

The GOP candidate that I most feared in the election this year was Huntsman; he could sound reasonable, perhaps even get a good chunk of the Democratic vote, while still being a dedicated right-winger, and thus be a real threat to recovering what little of America remains after more than a decade of Republican trashing.

When the consensus seemed to be for Romney, my reaction was, “Are you kidding me?” The right wing wants to place as their candidate a plastic, super-rich, flip-flopping idiot like Romney? That’s the best you can do?

Now that the consensus seems to be swinging to Gingrich, my reaction is, “Are you freaking kidding me?” The right wing wants to replace Romney with a vitriolic, conniving, has-been serial adulterer with negatives as high as 60%? Sure, he’s more politically savvy… but the man is a cesspool of hypocrisy and slime. Sure, Obama won’t be able to make ads about how he got a blow job from a woman not his wife in a car while his kids walked past, or even hint about Newt’s requesting an “open marriage” with his… which wife was that? But not a problem, there is way more about Gingrich to bite into than just the salacious stuff.

I know their choices are bad this year, but to choose the worse of the bad is pretty pathetic. The only positive I see about Gingrich is that he’ll galvanize the religious right while the Mormon Romney might have made them stay home. But I hardly think either has much chance against Obama–unless the rather obvious Republican efforts to crater the economy work better than they seem to be.

Categories: Election 2012, GOP & The Election Tags:


January 23rd, 2012 8 comments

Tonight is the second day we’ve had snow this year, and it’s coming down. What you see here may not look like much, but had been falling only a little over an hour by the time I took this photo. It was falling heavily at the time, but this is a time exposure and so the falling snow is not visible. (Click for a larger image.)


It should be quite a blanket on the ground by the time it stops, probably around of just after midnight.

Categories: Hibarigaoka Tags:

SOPA, PIPA Shelved

January 21st, 2012 2 comments

The bills are in storage but not necessarily dead. Their seemingly inevitable momentum, however, is, at least for the moment, halted.

Ironically, these bills, which are supported by both political parties but overwhelmingly by conservatives, was taken down in no small part by something conservatives would have expected to come from the other group of business interests: a corporate strike right out of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

The thing is, the biggest giant to go on strike and stop producing for society was Wikipedia, a not-for-profit foundation. Yes, other for-profits joined in, like Google and Facebook, but those giants did not shut down, probably for the same reason true Randian corporate strikes never happen: they don’t want to stop making money.

Alas, the politicians are doing little but playing an evasive waiting game, knowing that momentum like we saw recently is hard to build, and they can just quietly come back to this issue in weeks or months. Hopefully, the protests will not subside.

The iPad, Two Years Later

January 21st, 2012 2 comments

When the iPad was first announced, it was panned. People called it an iPod Touch on steroids, made fun of the name in its similarities to feminine hygiene products, bemoaned all the things they expected but the device lacked, and dismissed it because it brought nothing new to the game of mobile computing.

I disagreed. And, as it turns out, I was pretty much spot-on. I noted that the paucity of features would be made up for over time, with software and hardware upgrades–and so it happened. I noted that the low capacity was OK because it’s a networking device–I was right, and even more so, we now have the iCloud. I noted that the device’s simplicity was an asset, that the user experience would be superior, and that the UI was a key to its success. That its success would lie not in bells & whistles, but in the potential of the software that could be written for it.

Then, a week later, I made another prediction: that textbooks would be the killer app for the iPad. Well, the iPad took off without textbooks, but now it may take off even faster with them.

Nice to see that I was not only right about the iPad when so many others were writing its obituary, but I was also right about why. In short, it was not just fanboyism, but recognizing what would and would not work.

Categories: iPad Tags:

SOPA, PIPA, and the Erosion of the Separation of Corporate and State Police

January 18th, 2012 3 comments

While it’s a slightly encouraging sign that the White House has signaled its opposition to the SOPA and PIPA legislation, it does so only on some technical grounds, not on what I would think are the more fundamental grounds, leading to the distinct possibility that the worst of these acts will eventually pass.

If you get a copy of the legislation (PDF file), you’ll note an entire section (starting on page 34) which allows a “qualifying plaintiff”–effectively a corporation holding copyrights–broad powers to act against anyone they feel is infringing on those rights. All they have to do is try to send mail (pages 35-36), if any addresses are available, and the action has started. If there’s no mail or if no one responds in seven days (page 38), then their powers expand considerably. The corporation can then get a court order which will go into effect in any jurisdiction (no more of this filing individual actions in each district) which will, within 5 days, shut down the web site’s account, force financial services (e.g., VISA or PayPal) to cut off their accounts (page 38-39), force advertisers to cut off all ads for the site which could include normal search engine results (page 40), and allow the corporation to send threatening messages to the site’s users (page 41). If the site owner still hasn’t shown up, the corporation can get a court to force them to comply and fine them (page 42).

Let’s say you have a monetized blog and a music label doesn’t like how you quoted lyrics from a song they own. They can not only send you a cease-and-desist order, but now that is backed up by an effective nuclear arsenal of legal weapons which, within 12 days, can utterly destroy your web site. You might be on vacation, or simply didn’t post an email address. Too bad, sucker–Sony Music just had your site taken down, all your links struck, all your accounts shut down, and sent threatening messages to everyone who left comments on your site or whose IP got any content from you.

Or let’s say you have an online business selling items, which may include items which make fair use of copyrighted material, say in the form of satire, protest, or other protected speech. If the corporation which owns that content wants to, they can take you down–and your powers to fight back are now excruciatingly limited, considering that they can smother your livelihood virtually at will.

More to the point, they can threaten you with all this–unless you do exactly what they tell you immediately. If you want to fight it, you might have to travel a great distance at great expense on a very short timetable, hauling your attorney along with you–while the corporation threatening you has to exert only minimal effort and expense. This could make for the mother of all nuisance lawsuit runs.

The proposed laws would effectively give the music and movie industries a host of powers they have tried to abuse in the past but could not. Instead of having to threaten lawsuits in which people could defend themselves, they can now threaten immediate action which could cost the accused even more if they tried to defend themselves. No more “pay us $3000 or we’ll sue you” nonsense–now we’ll start hearing about threats where people are forced to cough up much more, once the amount of damage they can incur with only minimal expense has increased greatly.

Note also that these copyright holders are being given similar powers as law enforcement. I can’t be the only one concerned about this as a trend, can I?

The same copyright holders who routinely sue people for outrageous amounts based only upon an IP address, when it is clear the targets had nothing to do with the infringement? The same copyright holders who have made a habit of shaking down individuals for thousands of dollars apiece against the threat of costing ten times more to fight what may be specious allegations in a court of law–in effect, hundreds of thousands of sham nuisance lawsuits? The same copyright holders who then opened the door for innumerable scam artists to wield the same legal weapons as means for even greater shakedowns of the general public?

The same copyright holders who paid off politicians to get the DMCA, and made it the law of the land that stealing one song could incur fines of up to $150,000?

These same people are now paying money (let’s face it, our government was up for sale long before Citizen’s United) for legislation to get these new acts passed, ones where the copyright holders are given access to similar powers as law enforcement? Where they will be able to, with the same flimsy standards of “proof” that they have abused for years now, have any person they choose lose their web site and possibly their livelihood, have their access to advertising shut down, close off any methods of receiving income, and even force search engines to erase any sign that they exist? Even lead to their imprisonment?

Yes, yes, I know they will not start doing this to everyone. But from their past actions, it is clear they will cast a wide net and will not hesitate to ruin people who are clearly innocent in order to maintain the illusion that they don’t make mistakes because their system of collecting evidence is a sham. And yes, I know they are not becoming a new armed police force who can act independently and with impunity. But they are beginning to take on roles that traditionally have been wholly in the realm of public law enforcement.

This is what concerns me most: the precedent that is being set. The precedent that corporations are now active participants not only in creation of absurdly lopsided legislation (which gives then extraordinary awards for pedestrian crimes, the effects of said infringements being in fact very much debatable), but are also becoming active participants in the process of enforcement of these laws. Corporations as police, corporations which can act not just to sue people but to immediately erase their businesses in an age where many businesses are based on the web. And then, later, sort things out and maybe impoverish them or send them to jail for a few years. Based upon legislation they wrote to their advantage and then paid lawmakers to make into the law of the land.

Surely I cannot be the only one who sees this not only as an exercise in rabid plutocracy, but also as a trial balloon for future expansion?

Why Religion Survives in the Modern Age

January 9th, 2012 5 comments

Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks opines that religion survives despite its functionality being replaced by modernity because:

My answer is simple. Religion survives because it answers three questions that every reflective person must ask. Who am I? Why am I here? How then shall I live? … You can take science, technology, the liberal democratic state and the market economy as four institutions that characterize modernity, but none of these four will give you an answer to those questions that humans ask.

Sadly, what that boils down to is a fear of death. Finding meaning is part of that, as meaning gives a sense of fulfillment in the face of departure (having children or leaving works to be remembered by accomplishes this as well, but those also can be fulfilled without religion).

Ultimately, we sense demise as oblivion, and fear it like nothing else. Religion gives us an escape from that which horrifies us to our core–and thus explains why, then, people become so intensely charged when their religion is challenged or questioned. Tearing down even a part of that structure is, to many, equal to tearing it down as a whole; this explain why, when confronted over even trivial matters, some religious folk become highly offended and extraordinarily defensive. You’re not just questioning one part of scripture, you are, emotionally to them, trying to deprive them of their comfort in the face of absolute demise.

What would truly challenge religion is not science, doctors, credit cards, or psychotherapists. Instead, people facing and coming to terms with their mortality would accomplish that. To find solace and satisfaction with the fact that you have existed at all, the gift that life is all in itself, or even to know that oblivion would carry with it an end to even fear. If we could find a way to instill a comfort with mortality, religion would take a serious hit.

But not a mortal hit, because there is one other major reason religion survives: tradition. People passing religion on because they were immersed in it from their birth onwards, like an ancestral home. That all in itself has a powerful inertia, a momentum that could not easily be stopped.

Categories: Religion Tags:

Even More Regressive

January 6th, 2012 1 comment

When will Americans wake up to the fact that when Republicans say they will never raise taxes, they mean only on rich people? That Republicans are chomping at the bit to raise taxes on the poor and middle class?

Look at Romney’s new tax proposal:

Screen Shot 2012-01-06 At 10.37.39 Am

Contrast this with McCain from 2008, where the proposal was to cut taxes for everyone, but mostly for the rich and only a little for the poor and middle class.

Note that in both plans, the cuts for the rich are not just bigger because they make more money, they grow bigger in terms of percentage of income. So it’s not just a matter of getting more cuts because you pay more in taxes, it’s a matter of getting more cuts simply because you’re rich.

Conservatives are not against redistribution of wealth, they are all for it–as long as it is redistributed upwards.

A tune comes to mind… Dennis Moore Dennis Moore, Riding through the land; Dennis Moore, Dennis Moore, Without a merry band; He steals from the poor, And gives to the rich….

Reversing Meaning

January 6th, 2012 2 comments

Fascinating how right-wingers are vilifying positive words.

They started with “liberal.” That word, when you look it up, has associations like tolerant, unprejudiced, open-minded, enlightened, permissive, free, easygoing, advanced, modern, forward-looking, flexible, free, generous, benevolent, charitable, altruistic, unselfish, and enlightened–and is the opposite of strict, miserly, narrow-minded, and bigoted (words which are, not ironically, associated with “conservative”). They attacked the noble term as the “L” word and made it an epithet. They similarly have been trying to besmirch the word “Democratic” by severing the ending and truncating it to “Democrat,” emphasizing the “RAT” at the end.

Then they went after “elite,” a word embodying the concept of exceptionalism (a term they favor), a word which signifies extreme talent and capability–the best, the crème de la crème. They then applied it to people who never suggested they were actually elite, and snidely implied that these “elite” were snobby, arrogant assholes who lorded their superiority over everyone else. Why? Because they “know better than you,” simply for forwarding their own agenda, something everyone in politics does.

Now, when you hear Newt Gingrich (the original master of the art of subverting language to political means) attacking Mitt Romney, you hear another word being defamed and reviled: “moderate.” This is indicative of how extreme the right wing is getting: the new aspersion is aimed not at liberals but at the less extreme members of their own party. They are actually vilifying a word which describes someone who is not a frenzied radical. And that pretty much tells you where the mainstream of the Republican party is nowadays.

So, if you want something good and clean to be soiled and besmirched, you know who the experts are.

Sometimes It’s Hard Not to Say What You Think

January 5th, 2012 3 comments

Rick Santorum, speaking to a crowd in Sioux City on how liberals make people dependent on them by aggressively signing them up for Medicaid, said this:

I don’t want to, to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money; I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.

What’s interesting is that his speech for the most part was clear and fluent, but when he came to the part about “black people,” he hesitated and stuttered a bit, and the word “black” came out a bit slurred, almost as if he was trying damned hard not to say it but couldn’t come up with something else quickly enough without coming to a complete rhetorical stop.

Santorum later claimed, “I’m pretty confident that I didn’t say ‘black.” [I] was starting to say one word, and I sort of came up with another word and moved on and it sounded like black.“

Nope, it was pretty clearly ”black.“ It’s hard to imagine what else the word could have been. But his denial only adds to the verbal stumbling in creating the rather clear impression that he is focusing on the idea that black people mooch off of whites, that this is what he believe is the real problem, but knows that would sound racist (because it is) and so, like creationists using ”intelligent design,“ dresses it up in more respectable clothes.

Categories: Election 2012, Race Tags:

Looking Before You Leap

January 3rd, 2012 3 comments

My iPad (first generation) has been more or less disabled by Apple. How? Because I upgraded to iOS 5, thinking that because I had not heard any horror stories about the upgrade on various sites, it must be OK.

Huge mistake. If you have a first-generation iPad, DO NOT upgrade to iOS 5.

Apple should be ashamed of itself for allowing iOS 5 to be approved for the iPad 1, considering how they will easily disallow upgrades on devices whenever they feel the user experience is not supportable with new software. How they felt that the iPad 1 could work under iOS 5 is completely beyond me.

It’s mostly a matter of RAM memory. Using iOS 4, I could count on about half of the iPad’s 256 MB of RAM to be free upon a restart. This would often dwindle, especially when I used memory-intensive apps like Civilization Revolution. I noted that if free memory got down to below 10 MB, any app I used would be likely to crash.

After “upgrading” to iOS 5, primarily because I wanted to use iCloud with all my other devices (Apple’s syncing with all prior software sucked big-time), I started installing stuff–and began to notice that apps would start crashing all the time. I checked the free memory and found it to be below 10 MB. I tried restarting, and it jumped to about 30 MB–only to fall to 15 MB in a few seconds, and fluctuated below 10 MB regularly.

I tried a new restore–same problem. I restored again, this time as a new iPad–same problem. I checked out various web sites and Apple discussions, and people claimed it was just the restore that would fix it. But then I stumbled across the correct answer, finding the culprit which was causing most of the grief.

iCloud. Yep, the app which was pretty much the only reason I upgraded was the one which essentially wiped out the iPad’s memory and made the device completely unusable. This was not something wrong with my iPad or mys settings. This was Apple’s recommended basic setup.

15 MB of free RAM after a basic startup is ludicrous. What the fuck was Apple thinking?

So I restored once again and this time didn’t activate iCloud, and sure enough, memory cleared up–somewhat. Now I’ll have as much as 60 MB of memory free upon startup–only half of what there was before–but now the damned thing at least will not crash all the time. I suspect that I won’t be able to use many of the apps I took for granted before, and as such will have a half-lobotomized iPad.

I intend to complain, loudly, to Apple and insist they do more than tell me that I’m screwed. Not that it will get me anywhere, but customers have to give companies grief if they pull crap like this.

Categories: iPad, Mac News Tags:


January 3rd, 2012 4 comments

Now when I see headlines like Santorum surges in Iowa, How Slimy Is Santorum?, or Murdoch Tweets That He Likes Santorum Surge‎, I have to wonder if they’re double entendres.

However, it seems pretty obvious looking at all the headlines that the media is trying its best not to create headlines which could be giggled at in light of the candidate’s Google-bombed alternative definition.

Let’s face it, the most logical headline from Iowa in the past week should have been “Santorum Comes From Behind,” which this Catholic news site almost used. Had it been anyone else, it would have been the standard headline; as it was, nobody in the media used it except one guy in Pittsburgh, and that was intentional.

My guess is that the “Liberal” media is holding it in and keeping it clean until Santorum fades away, which they expect will be in a few weeks anyway. Though one has to wonder if they would ever bring it up out front.

Categories: "Liberal" Media, Election 2012 Tags:

New Year’s Quake

January 1st, 2012 1 comment

Sachi and I just felt a really strong tremor. Looks like it might have been a 5 or so in the Pacific to the south. Really shook us strongly here.

Update: now they’re saying it’s a 6.8.

Update: Now it’s upgraded to a 7.0, 300 miles to our SSW. Despite that, it registers as being strongest from Tokyo northward to Fukushima.


This one may have been distant, but it registered strong here. It had Sachi and me getting ready to look for cover.

Categories: Focus on Japan 2011 Tags:

Year of the Dragon

January 1st, 2012 Comments off

This is my year, my fifth time around, so I’m turning 48 in June. Holy cow, I’ll be 50 soon. Just after midnight, Sachi and I celebrated with a snack of ham, cheese, and nuts with red wine (a gift from a friend), not the healthiest of late-night snacks, but it’s not like we do this every night. Even Ponta got a nice snack of rice and a little bit of cheese.

2011 was, well, a full year. I started out with a case of the flu in January. Since I got permanent residency in late 2010, we were in full house-hunting mode throughout the first four months of the year. We got scammed by our realtor who faked us into signing for our house (which, fortunately, turned out to be a house we’re happy with, which does not excuse the scumball realtor). Between that and actually finalizing the deal, a 9.0 earthquake shook the whole of eastern Japan, causing a tsunami which killed as many as 19,000 people, and setting off a nuclear disaster which seemed to go on forever. Stores were low on supplies for weeks while the whole nation sat on the edge of their collective seats waiting to see how bad bad could get in Fukushima. My school closed for the remainder of the semester. Then we moved into our new house, with all the work and technicalities involved with all that. We bought a bunch of new furniture and settled in. In May, we landscaped our small garden and learned that bin Laden had been killed. Judgment Day came and passed, and then came and passed again. Sachi and I planned a housewarming party, but then her father, Junzo, passed away. We went to Nagano for the funeral. I fractured a bone in my right foot which I had broken some years back, which kept me on crutches for more than a month, foiling our plan to buy a puppy in late July. Then I fell and sprained my left wrist which made it hard to use crutches. I made a DIY PC. I stopped blogging on a regular basis just as the right wing went nuclear and the Occupy movement started gaining steam. After my foot got better, we got Ponta, for whom I started a blog. A typhoon hit, prompting my school to close early that day. Steve Jobs passed away. Sachi and I planned another housewarming party and had to cancel it as my mother fell ill and I had to take an emergency trip back to America. My mother passed away while I was there. I came back to Japan, finished my semester here, and bought a used car (having a car is a fairly big deal if you live in Japan). Then I went back to America for a two-week visit, and came back to Japan to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s with Sachi and Ponta.

It’s hard to think back to a year as event-filled as this one, and brings to mind the Chinese curse about living in interesting times. But there’s been good along with the bad, the most significant of which was getting Ponta, who has been a particularly bright spot in our lives.

Let’s hope this year will be a better one, Mayan calendars notwithstanding.

Categories: Focus on Japan 2011, Main Tags: