Philip K Dick android stolen?

Well, that may be what the mainstream media wants you to believe, but come on-we ARE talking about a Philip K Dick ANDROID here! How could anyone familiar with the man who wrote A Scanner Darkly, Valis, Ubik, The Man in the High Castle, and of course We Can Build You, which stars a cybernetic simulacra of Abraham Lincoln think that a robot containing a complete copy of his surviving records was merely stolen, like a mere piece of luggage? I fully expect to see this android again. My guess: the Replicant Liberation Front freeing their spiritual leader.

Hell on wheels

USA Today has a report on the new mobile execution chambers being gradually introduced in China to replace the older execution method of shooting people in the back of the head with something more humane. By installing the lethal injection equipment in a slick looking bus they can perform executions right at the location of the trial, without having to transport prisoners all the way to a central execution facility or set up equipment in each locality. As a bonus, they can also send the bus to drive around your house at night as a subtle reminder to stay on the right path.

Kikko Misjudges English “Nuance”

Japanese uber-blogger Kikko scoffs in her most recent post at what she terms lame and unpatriotic promises that certain celebrities have made “if Japan beats Brazil” in the upcoming World Cup match. Kaori Manabe, for her part, has reportedly promised to “hold a Carnival in a bikini” in the off chance Japan can topple the current World Cup defenders. Sure, maybe they shouldn’t be prematurely predicting Japan’s elimination in the first round, but to me it makes perfect sense to make wild wagers when the odds are stacked in your favor.

In the (as always, too long) intro to her post, however, Kikko-san makes some interesting claims about the English meaning of the word “cop”:

Speaking of Croatia (NOTE: the team Japan recently tied against in the World Cup), that’s the homeland of (PRIDE kickboxer) Mirco Crocop. Since I heard it a while ago, I know that Mirco, who worked as a police officer, took that ring name from the “Cro” in “Croatia” and the English “Cop” meaning “police officer” to make his ring name “Cro-Cop” meaning “Croatian Police Officer.” In other words, since a robot police officer is “RoboCop,” then a Croatian police officer would be “Crocop.” But “cop” has the sense of “beat cop” (NOTE: omawari in Japanese) or “po-po” (NOTE: pori-ko in Japanese) or “the fuzz” (NOTE: mappo in Japanese), doesn’t it? “Police officer” (NOTE: keisatsukan in Japanese) means “police” or “policeman” [in English], as in “strange police officer” or “a policeman with his nipples in the wrong place,” so “cop” has more of an informal (NOTE: kudaketa in Japanese) connotation. Then, if you pronounce it “cop” (NOTE: as it is normally pronounce in English; “cop” in Japanese is normally pronounced COPE-poo), then it has an even more informal connotation. So if someone says “Cops are coming!” then it’s like “The fuzz are here!”

Um, no? First of all it’s always pronounced cop (i.e. カップ; it would be different in British English, I guess, but that doesn’t change the meaning at all). And another thing: “cop” is something of a colloquial term, but it has none of the pejorative connotation contained in the Japanese satsu, pori-ko, or mappo (unless I misread these terms), or even the English slang “po-po” or “fuzz.” Any lame-o on the street will “call the cops” on someone if they’re acting like a douchebag. Your posts are always enlightening, Kikko, but you might want to stay away from analyzing the “nuance” (a Japanism meaning “connotative meaning”)of the English language.

UPDATE: In related/parallel lives “news“: Home Depot Criticized For Pledging $10 Billion To American Cancer Society For Every Padres Home Run

Quiz: What was BOJ Chief Fukui’s 1st “Yellow Card”?

As many of you know, the Bank of Japan Chief Toshihiko Fukui is in trouble for not dropping an investment in the discredited Murakami fund after he took the position in 2003 (though he was not legally required to do so, nor was he required to disclose the investment through an uncanny oversight by regulatory authorities – the US, for its part, does require full financial disclosure from its FRB chiefs such as the last one, Alan Greenspan). It only makes sense since the BOJ Chief is the ultimate insider in a capital market.

In a recent column for his website, opposition DPJ Dietman Yoshihiko Noda (Lower/Chiba 4th) called the so-called transgression Fukui’s “second yellow card”, which in soccer means you’re out of the game.

Question: What is the first yellow card to which Noda is referring? Answer after the “jump”!!

Answer: He quit as vice chief in 1998 after it was found officials from banks, including the former Dai-ichi Kangyo Bank, treated Ministry of Finance and BOJ bureaucrats to “no panties shabu shabu” – at a restaurant Fukui is known to have regularly attended (though Fukui was never actually prosecuted for anything). Shabu shabu is a kind of Japanese meat soup – it’s good, and apparently even better when the waitresses aren’t wearing their underwear. It was this and other, much worse incidents that led to MOF’s financial regulatory authority being stripped away and given to an entity we know today as the Financial Services Agency. And now you know!

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.