Japan’s secret army of zombie factory workers

For decades American manufacturers watched in horror as their Japanese rivals cannibalized their market shares by making better and cheaper products with none of the setbacks of strong unions. Today’s NYT might include some secret hints as to how those crafty Japanese were able to pull it off.

You see, their recent article discussing the Japanese “lifetime employment” system inexplicably contains the word “zombie” in the URL (html file name: 20zombie.html), accompanied by this photo:


The man has clearly been conditioned to channel his thirst for brains into a more productive dedication to just-in-time delivery. That’s right, Japanese workers can never be fired but in exchange they never die and never take days off.

So if you’ve been following along, that means the Jewish lizard people who run the One World Government are now controlling zombie Japanese factory workers to deprive American union workers of their jobs. Someone get Benjamin Fulford on the phone!

In defense of unicorns

I have noticed a recent habit of political pundits to mock perceived idealism and naivete with phrases like “rainbows and unicorns.” 

For instance, a commenter on the latest episode of The Young Turks, in explaining that Arlen Spector has never been principled (he was the guy who voted for a bill that he himself argued would set human rights back 700 years), noted that “he was not voted in on rainbows and unicorns.”

In a sign of just how much of a standard cliche this has become, in the Washington Post former CIA Director Porter Goss makes the topsy-turvy argument that making the torture memos public has jeopardized national security: “The suggestion that we are safer now because information about interrogation techniques is in the public domain conjures up images of unicorns and fairy dust.” (Has anyone actually argued that the move makes us safer? I thought the whole point was it is not worth it to torture people even if it does make us “safer” and that the people who pushed for and praised releasing these memos see it as a step in disclosing mistaken and illegal policies that were done in our name)


But you know what? Unicorns are nothing to mess with! It only takes a cursory reading of the animal’s Wikipedia page to prove why:

1. Unicorns are as strong as the Lord: The bible (or rather its translators) considered unicorns “untamable creatures” and noted that God himself was only as strong as a unicorn:

“God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of the unicorn.”–Numbers 23:22

2. The ancient Greeks and Romans considered unicorns to be both real and fierce: The Greeks, for all their polytheism and fantastic mythology, believed that unicorns really existed somewhere in India:

Pliny the Elder mentions the oryx and an Indian ox (perhaps a rhinoceros) as one-horned beasts, as well as “a very fierce animal called the monoceros which has the head of the stag, the feet of the elephant, and the tail of the boar, while the rest of the body is like that of the horse; it makes a deep lowing noise, and has a single black horn, which projects from the middle of its forehead, two cubits in length.”

3. Unicorns are so insane that they must be placated with virgins to stop their bloodlust (see above painting): In the middle ages, unicorns were used to mix pagan stories with Christian virtues, such that “The original myths refer to a beast with one horn that can only be tamed by a virgin maiden; subsequently, some Catholic scholars translated this into an allegory for Christ’s relationship with the Virgin Mary.”

Moving into Renaissance times, Leonardo Da Vinci had this to say about how to hunt a unicorn:

“The unicorn, through its intemperance and not knowing how to control itself, for the love it bears to fair maidens forgets its ferocity and wildness; and laying aside all fear it will go up to a seated damsel and go to sleep in her lap, and thus the hunters take it.”

Bottom Line 

This “unicorns are fuzzy cute happy creatures” concept apparently originates in more modern imagery, particularly the My Little Pony animated series and toys and some other “fairy princess” pop culture. A product of the 1980s, My Little Pony offered saccharine-sweet entertainment for young girls that could not have anticipated the ballooning of ironic humor in the 90s and 2000s. Hence, when Homer Simpson uttered this classic, oft-repeated line:

Ohhh look at me Marge, I’m making people happy! I’m the magical man, from Happy Land, who lives in a gumdrop house on Lolly Pop Lane!!!!…… By the way I was being sarcastic…

it was only a matter of time before someone added a unicorn in there. But as we start to retreat from irony a bit as a society (see the return of earnest saccharine with Disney hits like High School Musical and Camp Rock, along with South Park’s reaction), it might be a good time to stop equating unicorns with frivolous and naive idealism and recognize their historically badass mythological status. I mean, honestly – how happy and nice could an enchanted animal with a deadly sharp horn actually be?

Reverse alchemy in action

UPDATE: Nevermind, this is apparently something to do with the real World of Warcraft!

I thought this ad for a bottom-feeding gold buyer had an interesting Heavy Metal theme to it. I guess they want people to think of their “service” as medieval-style alchemy, only in reverse:


Or maybe the WOW is supposed to stand for “World of Warcraft.” Are they expecting unemployed lardasses to pawn their mom’s jewelry so they can keep playing?

But let’s be serious — NEVER sell your gold to a random site on the Internet — they won’t pay good prices!!! Here is a good debunking of the scam:

A little online sleuthing finds that I’m not the only one who figures that if Cash4Gold has this much money to spend on TV ads, someone’s getting the short end of the stick, and it’s probably the people sending in their family heirlooms to be melted into ingots. The folks at Cockeyed.com put Cash4Gold to the test, rounding up a bunch of old rings, necklaces, and earrings, and taking them to a regular pawn shop to be appraised. The offer: $198 for the lot. They then sent the items to Cash4Gold and waited for a check in the mail. It arrived within a few days as promised… in the amount of 60 bucks. (You don’t have to accept the check; the deal isn’t done until you cash it.)

That price alone is practically criminal, but that’s where the truly slimy part of the operation begins. First, if you call Cash4Gold and ask for your stuff back, you abruptly get a better offer: In the case of the above experiment, the offer was a whopping $178. That’s a better deal, but still not market rate, though the caller was told that Cash4Gold could “manipulate the numbers on their end” to make it appear that more product was sent than was in reality. Bizarre, but it’s really the only way Cash4Gold can cover its behind to convince you the original offer wasn’t a wholesale ripoff.

The bullet train from Shinjuku to Odawa and Hakane

This has to be one of the most poorly fact-checked articles on Japan ever.

I am with a group of friends on a short trip to Tokyo. Keen to see some Japanese countryside, and to experience a part of everyday Japanese life, we’ve asked the concierge at the city’s Mandarin Oriental hotel, where we are staying in some style, how we might visit an onsen.

Easily, is the answer. Hakane is one of the country’s most famous onsen resorts (Japan has 2,000 such places, and 20,000 hot springs), and lies just two hours from Tokyo. Better still, it’s reached on a bullet train, meaning we will also get to enjoy another of Japan’s iconic experiences. The concierge will organise tickets and transfers.

But not our short trip to the train, sadly. If you were to have a nightmare involving public transport, forget buses, Tube delays or people barking into mobiles. Think, instead, of Shinjuku, Tokyo’s main railway station […] a vast and bewildering maze, made all the more bewildering by the fact that there isn’t a word of English anywhere, or at least none that we can find, as we scour signs and dash from one bemused, monolingual Japanese commuter to another asking for help. […]

All too soon we are disembarking at Odawa to pick up the local service to Hakone-Yumoto. We sit and ride through increasingly pretty countryside while gaggles of Japanese schoolchildren beam at the Western strangers in their midst. We revel – as we have done so often in Tokyo – in the otherness of the whole experience.

Where to begin?

1) The Mandarin Oriental is near Tokyo Station, on the other side of town from Shinjuku. If this guy was taking a “short trip” to the station, he was probably getting the Shinkansen from Tokyo Station.

2) But let’s assume, arguendo, that he really did go to Shinjuku. He wasn’t really riding a “bullet train,” then, since the real bullet trains don’t go to Shinjuku. It was probably an Odakyu Romance Car. Unlike the Shinkansen pictured in the article.

3) Where did he get those numbers? Two thousand is close to the official count of the 全国温泉旅館同盟, but here’s a site that counts fifty thousand onsen in total.

4) Anyone who can’t read the English signage in a Tokyo train station needs new glasses.

5) Anyone who can’t find a single English speaker in a Tokyo train station either isn’t trying hard enough or doesn’t speak comprehensible English. (Perhaps this chap has an unintelligible accent.)

6) Obviously, there is no such place as “Odawa” or “Hakane.”

7) The word “otherness.” What the hell does that mean?

Upgraded campaign posters

OK, I did the first one here over the weekend. (As a riff on this real poster.)


Curzon posted it here (currently on page 2 at time of posting) to this Japanese funny pics board, where it sits between some racist anti-Korean pics (NOT posted by Curzon) and uhh this.

Next, Ben’s friend BigJohn passed along this variation on the idea.aso-keikiAnd finally, regular poster Jade OC tried his own variant on the cake theme, which I think came out very well. This cake is no lie.

f_keiki1m_ec239b5Come on people. Aso’s approval rating is working on a new record low and the LDP is on the slow train to dumpsville. The least you can do is help out with a new campaign poster. Send it in at an attachment or post a link and it’ll be added to the collection.

The horrors of local government

For a while I was taking comfort in the notion that if I ever lost my job, I could naturalize and become a local politician like Anthony Bianchi or Jon Heese. At least it would be a more interesting experience than the salaryman grind, right?

Well, watching this clip of city council petitioners in Santa Cruz, California has really made me question that idea.

Never mix alcohol and cold medicine, kids

Or else you might become the Finance Minister of Japan:

The full story is here. He says it’s the latter, but we all know better.

UPDATE: News services are now reporting that Nakagawa is going to resign, citing this incident as the cause. Apparently they finally got over their implicit agreement not to mention his obvious drinking problem.