Xmas should be more commercial — Some Perspective from the Founder of the Ayn Rand Institute

There is little that I can add to the “War on Christmas” debate other than to say that I place myself among the segment of the population that (aptly put by “Ross” from Andrewsullivan.com) “thought we were past all that Christianity stuff.” Wasn’t the whole idea behind changing “Merry Xmas” to “Happy Holidays” to make it the first step in the eventual phasing out of the holiday altogether?

Anyway, I am just posting to wish you all a very merry Ayn Rand Christmas:

“It is time to take the Christ out of Christmas, and turn the holiday into a guiltlessly egoistic, pro-reason, this-worldly, commercial celebration.”


Fan death- seriously?

When I came back from the Philippines it was already cold enough in Taiwan that I needed something to make sitting at the computer a little more palatable. My superthick blanket is enough for sleep, but I decided to pick up an electric heater. Now, I had just read this article on Yahoo Japan, which says that an 82 year old man in Yamagata City has been hospitalized in serious condition to to carbon monoxide poisoning resulting from a loose rubber hose on a Matsushita (aka Panasonic aka National) oil heat-fan. Despite the fact that I was shopping for an electric and not oil heater, I avoided Panasonic products like the plague.

Earlier today, I glanced at Kushibo’s blog and saw this post about fan death, which I’d never heard of before. Fan death is apparently a very silly Korean urban myth that an electric fan can create “a vortex, which sucks the oxygen from the enclosed and sealed room and creates a partial vacuum inside” or possibly “suck all the air away, preventing one from breathing.”

It’s claimed that this legend has spread to surrounding Asian countries, but the closest thing I’ve heard in Japan is that having an electric fan on you at night can make you catch cold, which is the kind of thing that a grandmother in any country might say without sounding like a vortex-phobe. The fact that the Wikipedia page exists only in English and Korean also seems to indicate that it may not have much of a presence in other countries, although I am at least a little surprised that no enterprising Japanese wikinerd has translated the article as fodder for making fun of Koreans.

Peace at last: Adamu is no longer homeless

I am finally on a lease, paying rent on a real live apartment. There is still much unpacking to do, but at least my desk and bed are set up.

After Paco screwed me royally back in October, there was a bit of an ordeal when I tried to get my deposit back:

1) I threatened to call the police if he didn’t send me my $500.
2) He threatened to “stab [me] in the face” if I continued “threating” him.
3) Many people thought it was a hilarious threat, but my family found out, causing them needless worry.
4) Paco backed down from the threat and sent me my money.

But the drama, hopefully, is finally over. Many thanks to Mateo and Saru for helping me move, and special thanks to Cousin for letting me crash at her place.

My new building is swank: sauna, outdoor pool, fitness center (that I need to hit pretty badly), tennis courts. The rent’s not bad either. I can finally live in peace after spending a month and a half homeless thanks to Paco the face-stabber.

Anyway, the reason I’m blogging this is because while we were moving my stuff in, Saru and I saw the most curious sight: a balding man in his 30’s wearing a karate uniform with a rifle (complete with scope) strapped to his back! Unfortunately, neither of us was in a position to get a picture of him, but I’ll be sure to if I run into him again (hopefully not in a dark alley).

Is there some form of martial arts that combines karate and rifleshooting? Some sort of karate biathlon maybe? If anyone knows about this, please do explain!

Another obscure art pioneered in Japan

This is something I spotted in the Wikipedia entry on chicken sexer, which I stumbled across while idly clicking through food related articles after, for some reason, deciding I needed to find out the history of ketchup.

Vent sexing

Vent sexing is not easy. The sexual organs of birds are located within the body; the professional vent sexer has studied their external appearance, which can fall into as many as fifteen basic patterns, and learned to identify which ones are male and which female. Vent sexing is a difficult trade to master; many professional vent sexers are Japanese, where the art originated. The mystery of vent sexing was revealed to the Western world when a seminal paper was published in Japan in 1933 by Professors Masui and Hashimoto, which was soon translated into English under the title Sexing baby chicks. After Masui and Hashimoto’s discovery, interested poultry breeders brought in people who had been trained by them to teach the art, or sent representatives to Japan to learn it. The skill is complex and has been likened to skill at playing chess and other crafts or games where pattern recognition is the key to success.

Appropriately enough, the only other language edition of Wikipedia to include a version of this article is Japanese.

Update: I found a Japanese page that has a photo of a chicken sexer at work.

This academic paper which uses chicken sexing as an example of acquiring subconscious perceptual skills is kind of interesting, and yet dull at the same time.

Upon doing a Google search, I found a great article on a Japanese chicken sexing competition from the 2001 Wall Street Journal archived on some website, which I’ll reproduce below.
Continue reading Another obscure art pioneered in Japan

Ancient Romans proved to be pretty much as you always imagined them

The Discovery Channel website reported a couple of days ago that an interesting piece of ancient Roman pop culture has just been discovered by divers exploring near Durham, England.

Divers exploring a river near a former Roman Empire fort and settlement in Britain have found a piece of pottery that depicts the backside of a rather buff gladiator wielding a whip and wearing nothing but a G-string, according to British researchers.

The image represents the first known depiction of a gladiator in such revealing attire. It adds to the evidence that ancient Romans viewed gladiators not only as fearless warriors, but also as sex symbols.

It seems almost absurd that gladiators weren’t sex symbols. A couple of days ago I posted a link to some fantastic ancient Roman graffitti. Here is what was written about gladiators.

II.7 (gladiator barracks); 8767: Floronius, privileged soldier of the 7th legion, was here. The women did not know of his presence. Only six women came to know, too few for such a stallion.

II.7 (gladiator barracks); 8792: On April 19th, I made bread

II.7 (gladiator barracks); 8792b: Antiochus hung out here with his girlfriend Cithera.

V.5.3 (barracks of the Julian-Claudian gladiators; column in the peristyle); 4289: Celadus the Thracian gladiator is the delight of all the girls

LDP Parties Down in a Hurry to Complete Fundraising

Another look at the lighter side of Japanese politics (abstracted translation):

Hotels Bustling as LDP Holds Flurry of Fundraisers
Mainichi Shimbun
Dec 12, 2005

In Nagata-cho (Japan’s version of Capitol Hill), where schedules are filled up with next year’s budget preparations and tax revisions, there has been a flurry of fundraisers for LDP Diet members. It looks as though the parties, usually planned for autumn, had to be pushed back to the end of the year due to the September Lower House election. Members, concerned about their wallets, are trying to raise election funds by year’s end, resulting in a daily boom for area hotels.

“Hidenao Nakagawa, currently at the height of his popularity, has developed into a political strongman”

The 1,200 in attendance went wild when VIP Yoshiro Mori (former Prime Minister), said the above words at the fundraiser of LDP Policy Planning Council Chairman Nakagawa, held at a Tokyo hotel on the evening of Dec. 8. In addition to senior party leaders and top businessmen, 500 guests were invited from Nakagawa’s home prefecture of Hiroshima.

The sheer number of LDP members’ parties can be understood by taking a look at the schedule of LDP Secretary-General Tsutomu Takebe, who has received requests to make speeches. In the SG’s schedule for the coming two weeks are planned attendance at 19 individually-held events and 2 for party factions. Takebe is set to party-hop every day, going so far as to attend 5 events on at least one day.

The opposition Democratic Party of Japan, meanwhile, is partying just as hard, with Secretary-General Yukio Hatoyama’s fundraiser planned for Dec. 9.

On most years, Diet members’ parties are held in the fall to avoid conflicting with budget preparations. LDP General Council Chair Fumio Kyuma said wryly of this year’s party situation, “They were put off because of the election, I guess. The elections ended, and since they cost money, [the members] must be raising funds.”

According to the 2004 Political Funds Balance Report, total contributions totaled Y26.4 billion, down 9.9% from 2003, while revenue garnered from fundraising parties increased 9.9% to Y14.3 billion. One member commented, “Contributions are down, so there is no choice but to rely on fundraising parties, and the ratio of intake from parties to total revenue is trending upward. (Eriko Horii reporting)

Takebe Scolds Koizumi Children for bad Party Etiquette
Mainichi Shimbun
Dec 12, 2005

LDP Secretary General Tsutomu Takebe, the self-appointed “headmaster” of the “Koizumi Children” (new LDP Diet members elected this September) scolded his students for “bad etiquette” at a recent party.

The outburst took place on the evening of Nov 30 at a party held by the party leader for close associates in Tokyo. According to one person in attendance, Takebe screamed, “Looking just now, the new members are just eating and not making the rounds!” causing the attendees to hurriedly begin distributing meishi (business cards, the ritualized distribution of which is a custom in Japan).

Meanwhile, at a party for veteran Diet members, Low Birthrate Minister Kuniko Inoguchi, who is also a new Diet member, gave an overlong speech, forcing former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, who hurried to the event, to go home without giving any speech.

Koizumi Rides Segway to Work!!!!!!!

Japan Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will ride off into the sunset in September 2006, but let’s hope he does it in style… ON A SEGWAY!

Koizumi rides Segway to work

Japan’s media-friendly Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi turned up to work on Friday on a new motorised Segway scooter.

It was the first time Mr Koizumi had been seen on the scooter since he was given it as a present by US President George W Bush.

Mr Koizumi said he got to grips with the machine at his home on Thursday.

He steered around his courtyard and reversed easily.

“It’s pretty comfortable,” he told reporters.

Mr Bush has appeared less at ease, falling off his Segway in 2003.

Video HERE





Ah, this made my day.

The ANN piece mentions that Koizumi is “earnestly showcasing good relations with the US as he is under fire from China and Korea over the Yasukuni issue.” Haters!

A dream deferred

From the Taipei Times Taiwan Quick Take section.

Academics from China and Taiwan will gather in Taipei next April to discuss ways to promote “exchanges” of the simplified and traditional Chinese characters that are used on each side of the Taiwan Strait. Liao Hsien-hao (廖咸浩), director of Taipei City’s Department of Cultural Affairs, said yesterday that some Chinese academics are calling for “restoring” the use of traditional characters in China since the historical background for adopting the simplified characters has changed. In the face of changes in information technology, he said, both sides should take a practical and scientific attitude toward Chinese characters.

Here’s my idea of a perfect compromise: China brings back simplified traditional characters, and Taiwan adopts the mainland’s Hanyu pinyin system for romanization, and bans all of the various gibberish versions used throughout the ROC.

Adam Richards makes the high honor roll YESSSSSSSSSS

Way to go!

Honor Roll

Waubonsie Valley High School

The following senior and junior students have been named to the honor roll for the first quarter of the 2005-06 school year at Waubonsie Valley High School in Aurora. Sophomore and freshman honor rolls will be published later.


High honors: Mohamed Abdelati, Christie Alekna, Nicole Andrade, Rachel Andrews, Asma Ashraf, Maryam Askia, Matthew Asuan, Kristyn Atkins, Kyla Bachtell, Andrew Baginski, Nicholas Baier, Christen Baillie, Samantha Barber, Jillian Battaglia, Amanda Batterson, Steven Berger, Vikas Bhala, Markie Bitter, Joseph Blanco, Victoria Blanco, Jacqueline Boatman, Jacob Boerema, Ryan Bolwin, Andrew Bosco, Michael Brancheau, Deborah Bridgett, Jennifer Brown, Kelly Brummel, Kimmerly Buchholz, Zachary Buckley, Kevin Burns, Nathan Caldwell, Samuel Carpenter, Nivedita Chandrasekharan, Brendan Chaves, Winnie Cheung.

Priya Chopra, Timothy Clark, Chase Clarke, Bernadette Close, Bridget Close, Mallery Clouse, Abby Cox, Jamie Custer, Melissa Davis, Cory Deking, Vanessa Delaney, Jessica Dennin, Colleen Densmore, Ananya Dev, Carolyn Dick, Lindsay Dileo, Matthew Dixon, Christina Dracopoulos, Erika Drane, Jacquelyn Duke, Alysia Eberly, Jeremy Enright, Karissa Erber, Kristen Erickson, Steven Fekety, Tamara Fetzer, Katie Fick, Benjamin Finfrock, Daniel Fisher, Dustin Fix, Erica Foley, Jennifer Fowler, Rashad Franklin, Monica Freeman, Ashton Frierson, Divya Gantla, Alissa Gigler, Clarissa Glassett, Kriti Goel, Michael Goetz.

Lily Gonzalez, Nehal Gosalia, Scott Graczyk, Jacquelyn Graham, Rachel Greenspan, Brittany Gregus, Andrew Gross, Grant Gucinski, Bennett Gulling, Ameera Haamid, Jennifer Haick, Paul Happ III, Meagan Heim, Emily Hendricks, Griffin Henricks, Ryan Herdegen, Coryn Hess, Dana Higgins, Laura Horan, Emily Hynes, Don Idio, Ashley Inches, Aryka Ishmon, Andrew Israelsen, Hariharan Iyer, Michael Jacobs, Bryan James, Nicole Jeewek, Cullen Johnson, Meaghan Johnson, Jill Jozefowicz, Alex Kahler, Nicholas Kasmar, Shivani Katyal, Alan Keefe, Shefali Khanna, Sa Kim, Sung Kim.

Brian Kirchner, Bethany Kirkenir, Daniel Kirschbaum, Darius Kizys, Kirsten Knapton, Sandeep Kola, Kyle Koster, Vasiliy Kosynkin, Karthik Kotha, Michael Kozak, Matthew Krafczyk, Katharine Krause, Uma Krishnan, Kyle Krivacek, Jennifer Lackey, Anne Lacy, David Lakhani, Patricia Lakoma, Sara Laney, Rachael Lastres, Brittany Lawler, Zachary Lawson, Alexander Leasenby, Arnold Lee, Joanna Leggett, Eden Lenk, Kyle Lennox, Jordan Lints, Dominic Loney, Leigh Loosbrock, Lauren Lucas, Micaela Luna, Stephanie Lund, Amy Lustro, Samantha Lyons, Andrew Macdonald, John Mackey, Jayesh Madrecha, Leanne Maksin, Mark Mankivsky, Sarah Mann, Scott Markham, Bojana Martinic, Johnathan Maurer, Laura Maxwell, Arlen Mccann, Catherine Mcgath, Alethea Merelos, Ashley Mills, Rachel Montes, Morgen Moore.

Danielle Moores, Matthew Mores, Michael Morice, Stephanie Murphy, Tracy Murphy, Lauren Musarra, Autumn Myatt, Joshua Myers, Elizabeth Nelson, Catherine Neuman, Amanda Nielsen, Ann Nowak, Philip O’donnell, Caren Oliver, Robert Olson, Samuel Olson, Maggie O’malley, John Ossyra, Timothy Otto, Alan Ouska, Jessica Palmerin, Neil Pandya, Brittany Panicola, Heather Parchman, Lina Park, Raj Patel, Vanessa Pegram, Lenen Pellegrino, Andrea Perez, Anthony Pisciotto, Chelsea Potts, Amanda Regan, Rachel Reitemeier, Adam Richards, Steven Robinson, Mercedes Roca, Madeline Rodriguez, Alexis Royce, Lisa Rudolph, Ashley Rymer, Manu Sabu, Jessica Sappington.
Continue reading Adam Richards makes the high honor roll YESSSSSSSSSS