Welcome to The World: What a shitty waste

Continuing our ongoing coverage of Rod Stewart’s every move, the singer has apparently purchased a private island shaped like the UK off the coast of Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Click the link to see a bunch of manmade islands positioned to look like a map of the world from an aerial view. The islands are being sold for resorts and mansions and whatever. In recent years, the Emirate of Dubai has been plunging headfirst into the upscale tourism industry, and they seem intent on both destroying the environment and showcasing a shocking lack of good taste in the process. (via BoingBoing)

Koizumi and Richard Gere finally meet — space time continuum remains intact… for now

OK, they look a lot less alike than they did when Koizumi first took office, but god damn:

UPDATE: For those who don’t see the resemblance, you may now shut the hell up and bask in the awe that was once the Mane of Richard Gere:
Look at all its...majesty!

It’s like an older white version of Koizumi came back to warn him about some future disaster… or maybe just dance the night away…

But seriously: what is going on? Assuming for a minute that Gere is the future Koizumi (and, just so we’re clear, I believe in this as surely as I believe in the tastiness of unagi-don), theoretically there should be a big problem. Movies have taught me that if the you of the future encounters the you of the past, there will be a rift in the space-time continuum and all existence shall be erased forever. Or could BTTF be wrong, and it’s totally OK for you to meet your future self (or even have kids with women from the past who are destined to liberate your people.. in the future…)

Or maybe it’s some combination of various sci-fi movies.. What if, for example, the BTTF warning about meeting your future self is true, but the space-time continuum doesn’t rupture instantly, instead taking 29 days to unravel a la Donnie Darko? The end may be coming folks… Feel free to share your own theories of what the Gere-Koizumi meeting portends for the survival of the universe!

Beijing Post Publishes Posthumous Interview With Isaac Asimov

Danwei reports that Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series is finally being published in Chinese, and in honor of this the Beijing News has put out a special science fiction issue. In addition to articles on Chinese language SF, they have also managed to get an interview with the man himself, (English translationthe first he has given since passing away in 1992.

Isaac Asimov passed away on 6 April 1992, so to be able to conduct this interview we must thank a scientist named Vikkor Mallansohn – according to Asimov’s novel [The End of Eternity] he invents something in the 24th century that makes a “time kettle” possible.

Among the highlights of the interview is this exchange on the much discussed Al Qaeda connection. It’s worth noting here that (according, again, to Danwei), both ‘Al Qaeda’ and ‘Foundation’ are translated the same in Chinese (基地)

TBN: What a terrible reader. Reportedly there are people who have examined Bin Laden’s choice to name his terrorist organization “Foundation” (Al Qaeda) and have concluded that it is perhaps because of your influence, that he was a science fiction fan in his youth. What is interesting about this is that you wrote the Foundation under upon the instigation of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and many scholars today believe that the United States is a New Roman Empire.

Asimov: I don’t know whether Bin Laden really understands English. “Foundation” (Al Qaeda) does resemble a group exiled from civilization, but they are at a lower level rather than a higher one. The US is unquestionably the most powerful country today, but I have a hard time determining whether it is in a process of decline akin to that in Foundation. This is perhaps the mystique of history; we can learn lessons and gain inspiration from similar historical situations. But I must point out that the “Empire” in my novels is not a country, but rather a description of a stage in the progression of the people of Earth. You can see that personal names are of all different types, not merely American.

The Ansible website has a good (if somewhat tongue in cheek)article on this theorized connection.

The small but alarming coincidence is that this is Asimov’s “Foundation” series (Seldon’s outfit is called the Foundation), allegedly popular among Arabic-speaking SF readers under its translated name Al Qaeda. Usually rendered into English as The Base, this also means The Foundation.

So, was Osama bin Laden inspired by Asimov’s fiction to establish his Al-Qaeda in an impoverished country, there to await and assist the fall of the West, issuing portentous videotapes the while?

Interestingly, while the Al-Qaeda/Foundation link is still a matter of controversy, it is generally accepted that the Foundation trilogy was in fact an inspiration for Shoko Asahara, the founder of the Aum cult responsible for the Tokyo subway sarin gas attacks several years ago.
More on this later when I have time to do some checking.

Kingdom Hearts Hype: Release Date December 2005


Who's bad?
One of my favorite video games that was released semi-recently is Kingdom Hearts. It’s a Square-developed role-playing game based on the Disney universe. You play as a younger version of the typical Final Fantasy-type hero and team up with Donald and Goofy to save Mickey from The Darkness. That’s why I wait with eager anticipation for the American release of Kingdom Hearts II. Fanning the hype is gamesindustry.biz with its interview with producer Shinji Hashimoto:

Kingdom Hearts II

What are the major changes we can expect to see in the new Kingdom Hearts game?

One of the big changes you’ll see when you play the game is to the camera – we’ve changed how that works. Also, the levels now have more events in them, with mini-games and so on. We’re basically keeping the same concept and everything, but the changes are to the system of the game – we’ve made a massive block of changes that you will see.

After the success of the first game, do you think Disney trust you more with their characters and worlds now in the second game?

We definitely feel a new sense of trust from the Disney side. Based on that trust, we can make new developments – the kind of drastic changes, new discoveries and surprises that we couldn’t before. So yes, look out for that!

Kingdom Hearts 2 looks like it is a lot darker and more adventurous with its story and characters than the first game – is it aimed at a slightly older audience?

We’re still keeping a sort of balance, so that younger audiences can enjoy it as well. Certainly, at the top end, you’ll see some serious scenes and so on – but that’s not the main part. So, for example, even if the player is really young and doesn’t understand the serious parts, they can still enjoy it – we’ve kept that sort of playful element in the game.

There’s some cross-over with how Disney approaches things [to make their films appeal to all ages], of course, but we make the details quite different. We add more mysteries and so on, which appeal more to an older audience, maybe.

Can’t wait!

Hello Kitty, First Female Sumo Wrestler?

The Japan Sumo Association has selling Hello Kitty Sumo limited edition merchandise at events, and the items became such a hit that they are now available on the Internet.

Among the goods available for purchase are mobile phone straps:

Hello Kitty is playing the role of the “Yobidashi-san”, or referee.

And here she is wearing the mawashi, the infamous diaper of the sumo wrestler.
Towels and mugs are also available:

Continue reading Hello Kitty, First Female Sumo Wrestler?

Japanese Quiz #2 日本語で芸能クイズ!

In an effort to further alienate my readers, here’s a J-Pop quiz in Japanese!




Abiru Yuu Wrapupあびる優について最後の一言

Top right?

Some of you may be wondering: what the hell does all this matter? Are you just using this as an excuse to post pictures of chicks?

But in all actuality, this incident is revealing of all sorts of pernicious elements in Japanese society. Let me recount some key events :

  • Abiru admits to robbing a market on the TV show Coming Doubt 2/15.
  • 2ch explodes with anger at her, angry e-mails follow.
  • Japan’s daily tabloids make a fuss over it.
  • Nippon TV and Hori Productions apologizes, explaining that “she blew out of proportion a shoplifting incident that happened when she was 11.” Nippon TV says that it was “inappropriate” to use someone’s criminal record as a question on a quiz show.
  • Abiru is suspended and her manager fired.
  • Nippon TV releases the results of an internal investigation: According to a report of an internal investigation by Nippon TV, the story of Abiru’s past theft came up during a meeting between the TV Station and Abiru’s agency, after which it was used on the show. It is said to have aired without the management’s approval at either a program meeting or at editing.
  • The police question Abiru over her involvement.
  • The English language media seem to take some notice, but totally miss the point.
  • It was the concerted effort of 2ch that made this the scandal that it became. 2ch users sent “more than 200 e-mails” calling for the girl’s arrest and punishment. I find this tactic extremely distasteful because it reminds me of the US’ Religious Right complaining about supposed indecency on American TV.
    Continue reading Abiru Yuu Wrapupあびる優について最後の一言

    Abiru Yuu questioned by police because of jealous and petty 2ch

    (Mainichi Daily News via Fucked Gaijin)

    Police questioning girl who confessed to theft on TV

    An 18-year-old TV personality who revealed during a TV quiz that she stole something when she was an elementary school girl is being questioned by police on suspicion of theft, law enforcers said.

    The girl, whose name is being withheld, took part in a quiz on a Nippon Television Network show titled “Coming Doubt,” which was aired late on Feb. 15. The idea of the show is to guess whether confessions the participants make are true or false.

    During the show the teenage participant said she had stolen an item from a cardboard box in a warehouse in the past, calling this a “true story.”

    Officials from talent agency Horipro said the girl had blown out of proportion an experience from her elementary school days in which she shoplifted candy.

    “I did something terrible,” the girl was quoted as telling police investigators. “I really regret it.”

    Japan’s juvenile law states that those under the age of 14 can’t be held criminally responsible for crimes, but police said they were questioning program officials to determine whether the incident was true or not.

    She’s already been suspended, her manager fired, and for what? A big nothing. I feel bad for the girl.

    Steven Seagal: This man is a pimp

    Fuck Yeah!
    Steven Seagal, action star, martial artist, soda salesman, but above all… pimp. Here are just a few reasons why we must all fear and admire Steven Seagal, king of all gaijin:

    –He has been married three times and had 5 children with 2 women

    –Despite being a Japanophile has three children with Kelly LeBrock

    –Is an Aikido master AND a kendo master

    –Is a vegetarian

    –Doesn’t need an interpreter when making Japanese press conferences

    –Plays Jamaican guitar

    –Broke Sean Connery’s wrist

    The impetus for this glowing post is his his son, Kentaro’s marriage. The actor, currently working in Japan, got married the other day to his father’s former assistant, Malaysian model Intz.
    Picture of the son with his wife:
    And for good measure, here‘s a site by his ex-wife dedicated to his daughter. Here is a sample:
    Jackie Chan
    With Jackie Chan

    You can see some montages of her commercials on the site.

    OK, well that’s enough of that. Enjoy!