OK, just because we need a new entry:

  • Yet another article condemning Japanese children’s knowledge of kanji characters — The company who runs Kanji Kentei says 1st year college students only averaged 40% correct on a kanji test using questions from old Kanji Kentei 2kyu (intended for high school students), not even close to the 80% required to pass (Thanks, kboy — I looked it up)See if you can get these:
  • 大学1年生には、「閑古鳥」「吟味」「醜聞」の読みや「魚のクサミ」「マイゾウ文化財」「門前のコゾウ」の漢字を書かせる問題などが出題された。


    閑古鳥 【かんこどり】 (n) a cuckoo
    吟味 【ぎんみ】 (n) testing, scrutiny, careful investigation, (P)
    醜聞 【しゅうぶん】 (n) scandal, (P)
    臭み 【くさみ】 (n) bad smell, affectation, fulsomeness
    埋蔵 【まいぞう】 (n) buried property, treasure trove, (P)
    小僧 【こぞう】 (n) (1) youngster, (2) young Buddhist priest, (P)

    Guess what: I didn’t get them at all and still haven’t looked them up, though it would be cool one day to pass 2kyu myself. Let me give you my completely pedestrian and baseless opinion: the Kanji Kentei people should stop conducting surveys like this because it just shows how irrelevant they’re becoming and the precious idioms that they are trying so hard to protect are slowly but surely dying out of the Japanese language. Those conservative old guard slush-puppies (new word?) should just go cry into their bourbons at the members-only enka-only karaoke bars they came from.

  • — Free video of news events in Japan — the current top link has the recent public debates leading up to the election in full.
  • Imperial Family changes car from Nissan to Toyota — not much else to say about that, really. I don’t even care what car they use. In fact, if it were up to me there would be no Imperial Family at all. It’s the height of pretentiousness! But it did show up in the Top News section of Technorati Japan.
  • Honestly, I haven’t felt much like blogging the last few days/weeks. I was inspired to blog mainly as a way to keep up my Japanese by translating articles. Over the year and a half or so I have spent blogging, my translation skills have improved enough to land me a few good jobs.

    However, now I’m a lot busier in my new job and translating news articles is actually something I do every day — and get paid for. So the inspiration is gone a little bit.

    Another thing is I have started considering who my audience is here and asking myself “what impact is what I say going to have?” and I have to answer “not all that much.” Not sure what that means to me, but it does certainly mean there’s no point in starting “Internet debate” in my posts (because, as has been said before, it’s like the Special Olympics: even if you win, you’re still retarded.)

    Anyway, anonymous readers, my point is please bear with me while I consider what role blogging will have in my life.

    Random picture of an Adam Richards (THIS ISN’T ME!!!!!!!!):
    Oh shit

    Baby ‘Critical,’ Man Arrested

    Police say Adam Richards admitted to abusing the baby

    Police say a Union Township man admitted to abusing his girlfriend’s baby boy.

    Five-month-old Dillion Richards is now in critical but stable condition at Children’s Hospital, with multiple fractures.

    Adam Richards, 23, was behind bars Thursday night, charged with felony child endangerment.

    The baby and suspect have the same last name but are not related.

    Police say Richards beat the child at his home in Union Township.

    The child’s mother is Megan Cloud, and she has not been charged.

    Shit, he’s my age and everything. Stay away from my unborn kids.

    South Africa anti-rape condom aims to stop attacks

    Reuters reports:

    “Nothing has ever been done to help a woman so that she does not get raped and I thought it was high time,” Sonette Ehlers, 57, said of the “rapex”, a device worn like a tampon that has sparked controversy in a country used to daily reports of violent crime.

    Police statistics show more than 50,000 rapes are reported every year, while experts say the real figure could be four times that as they say most rapes of acquaintances or children are never reported.

    Ehlers said the “rapex” hooks onto the rapist’s skin, allowing the victim time to escape and helping to identify perpetrators.

    “He will obviously be too pre-occupied at this stage,” she told reporters in Kleinmond, a small holiday village about 100km (60 miles) east of Cape Town. “I promise you he is going to be too sore. He will go straight to hospital.”

    The device, made of latex and held firm by shafts of sharp barbs, can only be removed from the man through surgery which will alert hospital staff, and ultimately, the police, she said.

    This sounds to me like a less high-tech version of the device (I forget the name) that the girl YT wore in Snowcrash.

    Media Executives Court China, but Still Run Into Obstacles

    August 29, 2005
    Media Executives Court China, but Still Run Into Obstacles

    In June, Yu Youjun, the executive deputy governor of Hunan Province, came to lunch accompanied by 16 dignitaries at the home in Beverly Hills of Sumner M. Redstone, the Viacom chairman.

    Viacom, like many other American media companies, is already active in China. Its MTV network is carried in 10 million homes in Guangdong Province. Two-hour blocks of Nickelodeon programming like “CatDog” and “Wild Thornberries” are beamed on the government-run CCTV to more than 120 million homes.
    Continue reading Media Executives Court China, but Still Run Into Obstacles

    Korean president “really jealous” of PM Koizumi’s ability to “gamble”

    Asahi Daily, August 24, 2005, 8:23pm:

    “I am so jealous of how Prime Minister Koizumi was able to take the gamble of dissolving parliament for the sake of reform,” South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun revealed on August 24th to a reporter on the presidential beat.

    While the Korean president controls both the national government and international diplomacy, he is prohibited from uniting with any political party. His term is limited, and he has no power to dissolve the parliament. Invoking Prime Minister Koizumi’s situation, he fumed about how due to the inability of the ruling and opposition parties to work together, attempts at reform have stagnated.

    “What the hell is the president of Korea? I can’t even risk my party or my job,” he whined, while expressing his desires. “A great flood can sometimes change the course of it’s own river. I want to make fundamental changes in the political structure and culture [of South Korea].”

    North Korea: Underground Republic

    I just spotted this great five-month old article on the Daily NK website. Written by a defector from North Korea, it alleges to describe Kim Jong Il’s various offices, secret facilities, and homes around the country.

    Kim Jong Il founded a special military engineering unit and proceeded the underground facility project for the past several decades. For this reason, North Korea probably has the best skill to dig underground in the world.

    North Korea is “Underground Republic”

    The subway in Pyongyang was built mostly between lithosphere about 80m to100m underground. However the underground road for Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il were built much deeper underground than the subway. By building underground facilities, Kim Jong Il is able to create fear in the society while making economic profit by exporting tunnel digging skills to the countries with ties in preparation for both the conventional and nuclear wars.

    The outstanding achievements of the underground facilities is the residences and chalets for Kim Jong Il. In case for the exhibition, the residence contains basic equipments and all the residents and chalets, including the inner facilities of the chalets, are connected to each other.

    Reading this piece there are two things that strike me. First, how awful it is that Kim Jong Il has raped his own country, exploiting his people and every resource they possess to build such a large number of these ludicrously extravagant structures for nothing but his own personal amusement. He easily puts Saddam Hussein to shame in this department.

    The second thing that strikes me also allows for comparison with Saddam Hussein. Everyone remembers how pathetic Saddam’s defenses really were, how quicky his army and government collapsed, and his ignonimous capture hiding out in a little hole in the ground.

    Read the following description of North Korea’s underground battle HQ and then try and imagine how a war against North Korea would compare with the recent one against Saddam Hussein’s government. (I’m not even going to mention the ongoing war in Iraq, which I would consider a separate campaign.)

    Youngsung 21 Complex

    This is North Korea’s “underground wartime headquarter.” In case a war breaks out, the Supreme commander unit, bureaucratic department, commanding department, worker’s party unit and other departments are to be stationed together at this place. In case of a nuclear war, (it is known to have) the walls built with iron rods and concrete covered with lead will protect the headquarter. They facility was completed in 1983.

    There are numerous military units to protect the headquarter stationed around the building in possession of mass scale conventional weapons. The size of the lot is about as big as a block in North Korea, and there are enough of supplies for the headquarter to survive for ten years without any outside contact.

    The headquarter complex is connected to the main chalets and has a subway of its own, which are all connected with the underground tunnels. It is also connected to the Jamo Mountain Chalet in Sunchun-gun, which is located about 40km away from Pyongyang.

    If, as President Bush must fantasize as he gently rocks himself to sleep at night, we actually did invade North Korea, the chances of humbling Kim Jong Il as Saddam was humbled seem most remote indeed. In fact, I imagine that everything that has happened (and will happen) in Iraq, as bad as it is, is nothing compared to the devastation that would result from any war involving North Korea.

    For those who don’t know much about the Great Generallisimo Kim Jong Il, let me refresh your memory with this manga profile I translated from Japanese some time back.

    Koizumi: Star Trek fan… or ALIEN?!!?!?!?

    I hope you all were able to catch this great picture of Koizumi chillin’ on the train:

    I tell you, the man truly has a knack for photo opportunities and promotional appearances (see this earlier post to get a sense of what I mean). But what’s up with his left hand?

    Try as we might, neither I nor Mrs. Adamu could contort our hands into that position. He either REALLY loves Star Trek or he’s some kind of veloceraptor in disguise. What’s behind that wild mane, anyway?

    (PS: Found while searching for the Star Trek link: Most pedophiles are into Star Trek? You decide.)

    Some good perspective on Japanese politics from Taiwan

    Unlike Japan, Taiwan politics lags in maturity

    2005-08-25 / Taiwan News /

    Taiwan’s politicians and political parties should pay closer attention to major and interesting changes taking place in the Japanese political system.

    Earlier this month, the upper house of the Japanese Diet vetoed the postal service privatization plan of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

    Koizumi took this action as a sign of “no confidence” of the reform program of his right-wing Liberal Democratic Party-New Komeito Party government and decided to dissolve the current Diet and call for general elections, which will take place on September 11.

    The poll will mark the first time that a general election to elect a new lower house will have been called by a prime minister in the wake of a defeat by a proposed bill by the House of Councilors.

    Moreover, thanks to another division in the ruling LDP triggered by the controversy over the postal service privatization scheme, it is by no means certain that the LDP will be able to maintain a majority in the September 11 election, with or without the assistance of New Komeito.

    During the years of Koizumi’s premiership, the trend in Japanese politics to “oppose factional bosses and oppose bureaucrats” has become increasingly evident.

    In other words, the fading away of the traditional central concepts of “interests and connections” in policy debates has now become a mainstream trend in Japanese parliamentary politics.

    Contemporary Japan is no longer a polity dominated by sterile “opposition for the sake of opposition,” but is now increasingly characterized by a growing focus on national interest as the main determination in political tendencies and orientations.

    Japanese politics can thus be said to be progressively becoming more mature.

    Moreover, in contrast to the previous focus on personal ties over political positions, the new trend is for politicians with sharply different advocations and stands to cease cohabitation in the same political party.

    ‘Political responsibility’

    Therefore, Koizumi has refused to re-nominate LDP Diet members who opposed his postal privatization bills and even, in emergency Cabinet meetings, sacked ministers who openly objected to the dissolution of the Diet.

    In addition, a former Diet speaker and four other LDP heavyweights who voted against the postal privatization bills submitted their resignations from the ruling party on the same day of the crucial Diet vote and commonly decided to form a new “People’s New Party.”

    In our view, such actions reflect a proper sense of “political responsibility.”

    Nevertheless, while Taiwan has experienced over a decade of democratic parliamentary politics (counting from the holding of the first genuine Legislative Yuan election here in December 1992), the dominant value systems in substance of most politicians remain personal or partisan interests.

    Unfortunately, not only are the actions of politicians swayed mainly by personal interests or partisan considerations, but so is the behavior of many if not most voters.

    As a result, the main determinant of voting behavior is not a party’s or politician’s political vision or policy appeal, but rather following the lead of “ward bosses” or factional chiefs and the pursuit of narrow and highly partisan definitions of “welfare.”

    Politicians with sharply different views or even divergent notions of national identity are regularly nominated by the same political party and, in turn, they frequently work to undermine the political bases of their “party comrades” in order to advance their own personal or factional interests or to seize political power.

    Real motives

    Certainly, Taiwan has already reached the stage in which “the counting of heads has replaced the cutting of heads” as the main means to decide political power, but we must seriously ask ourselves whether our current political ecology can truly be described as a “democratic society.”

    Politics absolutely should not be divorced from the people. However, the advocations and judgments of the people are rarely visible in the daily operations of Taiwan’s political party system.

    Instead, the bulk of the news media and politicians are feverishly occupied with trying to deceive the people or keep them in the dark about the real motives and issues at stake in our political life through activities that smack more of fundamentalist revival meetings than rational or substantive political discussion or discourse.

    As a result, Taiwan society remains deeply ideologically divided between dogmatic “blue” or “green” quasi-religions that mask the nature of the real interests, problems and questions that our citizenry must decide.

    In this state of affairs, politicians are either using the media or being manipulated by the media. In any case, what neither the bulk of the media nor most politicians are inclined or able to realize is substantive policy discussions on issues.

    Politics is Taiwan is mostly for show and fails, no matter how extremely views may be offered, to be “radical” in the sense of dealing with fundamental matters.

    We hope that factional politics and dogmatic ideological strife can “wither away” from Taiwan political life, along with related maladies such as quasi-religious mobilization, vote buying and “voting for the winner.”

    We hope Taiwan’s political parties will begin to display the signs of maturity that are now surfacing among Japanese politicians and shift the focus of debate and decision to what is in the best interest of our society and our people so that genuine democracy can finally emerge in Taiwan.

    Philippines hopes isle-name raffle woos Japan’s wary tourists

    From the Japan Times

    Would you like to have one of the 1,107 islands in the Philippines named after you?

    That’s the come-on of the Philippine government in a bid to woo more Japanese tourists.

    As part of its aggressive marketing to boost the country’s sagging tourism industry, Philippine officials, with the help of Japanese public relations experts, hatched the idea to raffle off the naming of 25 islands to Japanese tourists.

    Dubbed “An Island in Your Name,” Philippine Tourism Secretary Joseph Durano hopes the effort will lure more young and adventurous Japanese tourists to visit the Philippines, a nation considered dangerous by some Japanese.

    The promotional event will kick off in October.

    The 25 Japanese raffle winners will not own the islands, Durano explained. Instead, the winners “will have the prestige of having these islands named after them for a period of one year.”

    Who wants to bet that one of the winner’s names ‘their’ island Takeshima?