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Archive for November, 2009

–*In Japan, it is thought that one day robots will do all our menial labor, take care of our children, take care of the elderly and keep us from having to invite foreign guest workers into our countries.

–*The love of anime in Japan has reached almost grotesque proportions, with women using special contact lenses to make their eyes look like those of anime characters, and with one man even petitioning the government to marry a large-breasted manga character. Westerners may scoff, but the character is only 40% more fake than former Miss California USA Carrie Prejean.

–*Given the stringent immigration policies and the current negative birth rate of actual people, Japan will likely achieve its ambitious agenda for a majority of its citizens to become anime characters by 2056.

–*Japan is one of the most ethnically homogenous countries in the world but does have a small minority of Chinese and Koreans just to have somebody to blame the crimes on.

–*The Harajuku area of Tokyo is a fashion Mecca where many fashion subcultures can be found, including “Lolita” fashions, anime character fashions, glam rock, and the perennial favorite, “Ruined Catholic schoolgirl.”

–*Among the rampant “Lolita” subgenres on display in Harajuku are “Gothic Lolita,” “Punk Lolita,” “Wa Lolita,” “Sweet Lolita,” and “Injured Lolita.” Though the name has sexual connotations, the look is mostly a conscious throwback to chastity, and it is done mostly to promote the aesthetics of irretrievable cuteness.

–*Japanese religious beliefs tend to mix a variety of traditions, including Shinto, Taoist, Buddhist and Metrosexual

–*Young Japanese men are very fussy about their appearance and like to keep their hair somewhere in the aesthetic range between Michael Jackson and Florence Henderson.

–*If the subway posters, fashion statements and literature are any indication, the age of consent in Japan must be 10.

–*The Japanese love of space age, kitschy architecture, reflects what is either a sunny optimism about the future—about the possibility that science and technology can lead us to better lives—or an unhealthy love of the 1970s camp classic “Logan’s Run.”

–*Japan has been suffering from heavy economic deflation due to a number of factors, including decline in aggregate demand and undercapitalization of banks. But fuck that. Did you know the sex industry’s contribution to GDP there equals the entire defense budget! Isn’t that wicked?

–*There is a growing problem of work related stress in Japan that causes adverse health effects. One excellent way to deal with stress is to go to an arcade and play a totally fucked up game called Pachinko that has lots of little balls flying around and that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

–*You must try not to sound racist when you are an American in a Japanese hospital and asking for “peneshirin.” If you are worried that that sounds racist then be very afraid of the phrase “peneshirin arerugi,” for “penicillin allergy.” Hopefully, the doctor will understand that you are not mocking him and will not deny you care. Good luck.

–*Crime rates are very low in Japan, because of a stronger economy but also because of extensive social groups that instill a deep sense of shame. In an economic stimulus move, Japan hopes to export some of its shame to the United States, where it is in woefully short supply.

I hope this little exercise did not sound too catty. In truth, I very much loved Japan and if I were to write a regular travel blog, I’d recommend the delights of Tokyo and Kyoto to everyone. Stephanie and I have pictures up elsewhere on my Facebook page for those of you who would like a peek at our adventures.

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Washington, D.C. (API) In a time of national turmoil, economic uncertainty and geopolitical anxiety, Americans have been seeking new ways to feel good again and it’s only natural that they’d look to a new diversion, not unlike the arrival of the Beatles or the invention of the television. And increasingly, say pundits, the trend that’s got all the teenyboppers screaming is bloody, cold-hearted revenge.

“Whether it’s public executions or watching Richard Heene get tossed in the slammer, people are out for blood,” said New York Times culture writer Mimi Heisenbaum. “Revenge feels good. It tastes great and you don’t put on weight. I myself have found that grudge is my color.”

Call it payback, retribution, vengeance, reprisal or redress, Americans want to see the pendulum swing, literally and figuratively, on all dopes, antagonists, bumpkins, trolls, blatherskites, psycho bitches, no-goodniks, malefactors, miscreants, reprobates and fuckwads, whether they be criminals or just somebody stupid on TV.

“When I heard that Keeping Up With the Kardashians beat out Mad Men‘s season finale in the ratings, I just wanted to shoot up a building,” said kindergarten teacher Rachel S. Warren. “But then I when I saw Khloe Kardashian get called fat in a recent episode, I’ve got to say, it brought out the color in my cheeks again. I’ve found myself watching all the Kardashian reruns now, just to enjoy the sublime feelings of watching that fat bitch hurt a little more every time.”

A new Gallup poll finds that 37% of Americans now enjoy the sight of watching somebody injure themselves in a violent fall on YouTube every week, up from 15% last spring. And a full 67% say that idee fixe revenge fantasies feel better than simple meditation by the fire on a winter evening while wrapped up with a book.

“My mother invited me to go to a knitting class with her last week,” said Brenda Champlain, a lawyer from Harrisburg, Pa. “She said it would calm my nerves and keep me from hating other people so much. But in the end, we decided to call the police on the guy next door when his car alarm went off for the 18th time.”

Indeed, Americans prefer revenge 10 to 1 over redemption and 5 to 1 over the concept of simple justice. However, 70% said they didn’t know the difference between revenge and justice, and 40% said they didn’t know that revenge was the subject of the proverb “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” A full 90% of Americans enjoy watching the YouTube video where the catwalk model falls through the floor.

When asked their opinions about capital punishment, most respondents gave a variety of qualitative answers ranging from “An eye for an eye,” to “Why not do it if it feels good at the time?”

“Revenge is shown to activate intense feeling in the reward centers of the brain,” said researchers at the University of Zurich. “Positron-emission technology scans show us that revenge excites certain areas of the basal ganglia, allowing the brain to deviate momentarily from rational thought. This serves an evolutionary impulse to punish those who have wronged us so that they don’t do it again. In layman’s terms, it means opening up a tasty, tasty can of whup-ass.”

Reality show hoaxer Richard Heene was asked if he was aware exactly how much people’s basal ganglia became excited when police placed him under arrest and prosecutors threatened him with years in jail and the loss of his family. He responded again that he was sorry he had misled so many people with his balloon stunt and begged Americans for clemency and mercy.

“Americans are angry at me,” he said. “I can smell it on them. They want my blood. That evolutionary need to destroy anybody, even a stranger, is very strong in the American spirit. It’s been in our heritage since the Puritan days. There’s no getting around it. They’re coming to destroy me. … You hear that? Blood, I tell you! They want my blood!”

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–*The Carrie Bradshaw Affordable Footwear Act of 2009

–*The Henry Hyde Memorial Early Pullout Birth Control Law

–*A Thank You To Libertarians For Getting No Acts Passed Act

–*The Cleanup of Inactive Mines and Requirement that Lindsay Lohan Wear Underwear Act

–*The Enhancement of Ability to Fight Methamphetamine Act

–*The Enhancement of Methamphetamine to Make It More Kick Ass Act

–*The Let’s Build A Wall Around Pamela Anderson and Her Hepatitis Act

–*The Boosting Workplace Morale by Firing Spanish Speakers Act

–*The Credit Default Swap Prohibition Act

–*The Derivatives Prohibition Act

–*The Automobile Prohibition Act

–*The Bell Bottoms Prohibition Act

–*The Let’s Let the Credit Card Companies Just Fuck Over Anybody They Want To Act

–*The Thank You To Metrosexuals for Their Service to Their  Country Act

–*The Let’s Reconcile With Cuba Act

–*The It’s Not Too Late To Invade Cuba Act

–*The Tax Incentive to Sell Your House and Buy a New One Every Year Act

–*The Economic Stimulus Through Building Unnecessary Bridges In the Middle of the Desert Act

–*An Act To Repeal All Income and Payroll Taxes, Abolish The Internal Revenue Service and Create a National Sales Tax, Otherwise Known as the “Let’s Set Poor People On Fire” Act

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–*The guy who’s going to eat your lunch.

–*The guy who’s going to eat that whole pizza.

–*The woman who’s going to break up your marriage.

–*The photographer who’s going to make this the best high school reunion ever.

–*The radio host who’s going to ruin Barack Obama’s day.

–*The man who’s going to snort a couple of bumps and then drop dead playing racquetball.

–*The man who’s keeping the Fed funds rate at 2% so that the resulting weakened dollar will cause net export numbers to spike.

–*The guy who told you all along that gutting the Glass-Steagall Act was a bad idea and would wreck the economy.

–*The grocery clerk who’s going to force you to use that gun.

–*The Lesbian your mom’s gonna move in with.

–*The lady astronaut who will drive all night, not even stopping to change her soiled astronaut diapers, to win back your love.

–*The man who opened the Berlin Wall by accident.

–*The man who taught Anna Nicole how to love.

–*The woman who taught Grover Norquist how to love.

–*The woman who gave the most guys chlamydia at South Beach last spring break

–*The guy whose potato looks more like Jesus than any other potato in this part of Nebraska.

–*The guy with the biggest opening weekend in box office history

–*God

–*Jesus

–*John Lennon

–*James Cameron

–*It doesn’t matter who I think I am, because existence precedes essence, and only my actions define me.

–*I don’t know who I am, but maybe I’ll have it figured out by the time my reality show begins its third season.

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–*Overcoming our enemies in hand-to-hand combat

–*Climbing trees 50% faster

–*Playing the tenor saxophone 50% faster

–*Accomplishing online stock trading and metal soldering at the same time

–*Talking on our cell phone while driving and sneering at the cops while doing so

–*Doing a really weird fist bump with the guy who played Screech

–*Picking our extra nostril.

–*Pulling the lever for “no” on that new nuclear power plant

–*Doing a pretty drag-ass imitation of Vishnu

–*Bitch slapping as many people on “The Hills” as we can

–*Getting extra wicked pissed that some other guy with an extra limb beat us out for the title role in the local gaslight theater production of Edward Albee’s “The Man Who Had Three Arms.”

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