Andrew Sullivan today calls for a boycott of the Tom Cruise vehicle Miss:ion: Imp:oss:i:ble: 3.

How creepy is Tom Cruise? The Washington Post asks; and readers answer. All I can say is: after the way this guy treated South Park, we owe it to ignore him and any movie with which he’s associated. The Boycott “MI:3” movement starts here. Blogospheric solidarity much appreciated.

Well Andrew, I am completely with you on this one, but the boycott does NOT start with you. I was walking around Manhattan with my camera on April 16th and snagged this photo on 9th Avenue somewhere between 45th and 50th Street.

It seems that some people have already had the idea.

As it so happens I ended up passing through Times Square a few minutes later, where there was a pair of tables full of copies of Dianetics, a pair of e-meters, and a bunch of money-crazed bad pulp scifi worshipping Scientologists trying to indoctrinate passers-by. (I normally avoid Times Square, but I wanted to stop by Midtown Comics on the way home and couldn’t remember exactly which cross-street it’s at, only that it’s near the corner of 7th and 40-something. For the record, it was 40th Street.)

All of the following photos taken on April 16th on the west side of Times Square with a Canon EOS 300D and 65mm Hartblei Super Rotator lens.
Continue reading Scientology

“I wore a 41-pound body of bees for those islands!”

A Korean bee farmer was stung over 200 times in a puzzling statement of protest over Japanese claims to the Dokdo/Takeshima Islands:

bees 050206.jpg

“The honeybee dares to abandon its life when enemies are attempting to attack, to protect its own home. From now on, I hope these bees will contribute to protect our Dokdo”, Ahn Sang-Gyu said.

An impressive feat, not to mention a very creative way to attract attention to the issue.

While it can’t really be considered a “beard” of bees, the sheer number and weight of the bees beats out Grandpa Simpson‘s old fictional record of 15 pounds. Since Ahn wore a “symbolic” 187,000 bees, that means his bee suit weighed in at 41.1 pounds, assuming an average weight of 100mg per honeybee.

WOAH – this story is way cooler than I imagined – this guy wasn’t just standing around in a bee suit – he did a full-on cannonball on the Japanese flag covered in bees!

DOUBLE UPDATE: This guy is the world record holder for bee beards, so basically he decided to cheapen his accomplishment by rehashing the act to attach a small-minded political agenda to it. Way to go, chump. You’ll regret that on your deathbed, at which time ocean levels will have risen to the point that Dokdo no longer exists.

Update by Mutantfrog:I found a video clip of this online. Enjoy everyone!

This Japanese blog that also linked to the video has a little more to say.
* He first stood on a scale model of Dokdo and stripped off his outer hanbuk and stood in place for two hours so the bees could settle in place, and then jumped from a 60cm high platform onto a Japanese Hi no Maru flag that was laid out on the ground, so that the bees would “attack” it.
* The 187,000 bees represent the cumultative 187,453 square meter total of the Dokdo islands.
* He was stung in over 200 places, but isn’t allergic and the pain has faded in the 2 days since the stunt.
* He said, “No matter how much it hurts, I will not run from Japan’s provocation,” and “I wanted to show that not jus the people of Korea, but also the bees are angry.”

As Mel Brooks once said,

Tragedy is when I get a papercut on my finger, comedy is when you fall down a hole and die. Case in point, in a moment.

Between Aum Shinrikyo and “thallium girl” (as she was often referred to in the Japanese press) there is a rather disturbing trend towards stories involving poison. But they needn’t all be; there is comedy too.

BEIJING (Reuters) – Two hapless Chinese thieves gassed themselves to death with cyanide along with five intended victims while trying to rob a gambling den in the city of Ruichang, the Xinhua news agency reported Saturday.

A court in nearby Jiujiang Thursday sentenced their three surviving accomplices to death for the robbery, carried out last June.

One of the three passed out for several hours from the effects of the gas — but still remembered to rob the dead of 15,950 yuan ($1,990), five mobile phones and a gold necklace when he came around, Xinhua said.

The young poisoner confesses

The following brief article was in Saturday’s Japan Time.

SHIZUOKA (Kyodo) A 17-year-old girl admitted at the Shizuoka Family Court that she poisoned her mother with thallium, reversing a denial she made following her arrest in October, sources close to the case said Friday.

“I made my mother take thallium,” the sources quoted the girl as telling the court. Thallium is a highly toxic substance used in rat poison and other pesticides. The mother is in a coma.

The family court will decide by next Tuesday whether to send her back to prosecutors to face criminal charges or to send her to a juvenile correctional facility.

The girl, a prefectural high school student, was arrested Oct. 31 on suspicion of attempting to kill her 48-year-old mother at their home in Izumonokuni, Shizuoka Prefecture, by putting thallium in her food between August and October that year.

The girl’s name is being withheld because she is a minor.

Unfortunately, the Kyodo piece leaves out pretty much everything that makes this story so grimly fascinating.

What they don’t say is that the girl had been poisoning her mother in emulation of Graham Young, whose real life story of experimentation with poisoning schoolmates and relatives as a teenager was made into a movie called The Young Poisoner’s Handbook, which I rather enjoyed when I saw it several years ago without knowing that it was based so closely on a true story.

To make the story even more disturbing, the girl had kept an anonymous blog which included details on the progress of her mother’s condition as she was slowly being poisoned. While she never quite said that she was responsible for her mother’s condition, someone who had read the journals of her earlier experiments with using poison on rodents would probably be able to draw the correct conclusion from her disquietingly cold tone.

The Times (UK, not NY) has a more extensive and rather good article about this story from a few months ago, shortly after the girl was arrested. The end of the article includes the following brief excerpts from the girl’s journal, as well as some stats on Graham Young.


July 3
“Let me introduce a book: Graham Young’s diary on killing with poison. The autobiography of a man I respect. He murdered someone at the age of 14.”

September 4
“To kill a living creature. The moment of sticking a knife into something. The warmth of the blood. The little sigh. It is all a comfort to me.”

September 26
“My mother will go to hospital tomorrow and nobody has yet found out what the cause is. To my regret, she is not covered by good insurance, so life will be a little difficult.”

“I took a photo of her today as I did yesterday. My brother said I had a penetrating stare and that he was horrified.”

“According to my aunt, my mother has started having hallucinations. She seems to be suffering from insects that don’t exist or white shadows by the door.”

* As a child he was fascinated with poisons and their effects, and the Nazis, becoming a worshipper of Hitler

* In 1961, at the age of 14, he started to poison members of his family, enough to make them violently ill

* In 1962 his stepmother died of a lethal dose. Young was arrested and jailed for 15 years for the attempted murder of his father, sister and friend

* On his release in 1971, he found a job and poisoned several co-workers, killing two of them. He was convicted in 1972 and given life

* He was dubbed the Teacup Poisoner but wanted to be known as the world’s poisoner. He died in 1990

* The film The Young Poisoner’s Handbook (1995) was based on him

Now, the girl’s blog was of course erased from the web server upon its public discovery after her arrest, but luckily for us the administrators did a terrible job of cleaning up after themselves, and some wonderful Japanese netizen used a combination of various search engines and caches to reconstruct the entirety (or at least close to it) of both of the girl’s journals.

If you have the ability to read Japanese and a taste for the macabre, a mirror of the original journals as well as a collection of other materials related to the case can be found here.

I’ve been thinking about translating them ever since I discovered the site a while back, but since I haven’t done it yet I shouldn’t make any promises.

Plumber wanted

I get a couple of email newsletters on jobs in Japan. I noticed that today’s Gaijinpot has the following job listing.

Shin-ei is looking for a Plumber who has at least more than 5 years of experience. Must be experienced in welding and plumbing works.

Plumbing work for the American Embassy building facilities.

Salary is negotiable based on your skill

Working hrs:

Why do they need a foreigner to do the plumbing? Are they flushing classified documents down the toilet?