Thursday, July 31, 2008


Tanuki, Nyctereutes procyonoides, are mammals of the Canid family (dog) that somewhat resembles a raccoon. They are native to China, Korea, Japan, and southeastern Siberia. The average adults head and body length is around 65 cm. Their weight ranges from 4 to 10 kg. The average litter size for them is greater than 15 pups. Average litters are large, up to 15 or more pups. They generally only live 3–4 years in the wild but have lived up to 11 years in captivity. They are omnivorous. They mate for life, are not territorial, climb trees, and do not bark. The Japanese variety maybe a separate species from the others according to recent genetic testing. Maybe an isolationist species.

In Japanese mythology, Tanuki are thought to be mischievous and jolly, a master of disguise and shapeshifting, but somewhat gullible and absent-minded. A common trick Tanuki do on humans is to try to con humans with leaves turned into banknotes.

Statues of them can be found in many places like shops or temples. They are often depicted wearing a straw hat and holding a gourd bottle of sake and a note promising payment. Most are also fat. In the past they were depicted with having very large ball sacks, because the actual animal has very large ball sacks. Newer statues generally do not display the large ball sacks.

The animals are hunted fairly frequently. The Japanese used to use their skins in metalworking for thinning gold. 11% of all the animals hunted in Japan are raccoon dogs (an alternative name for them because they look kind of like raccoons). According to the Humane Society of the United States, 70% of fur garments they tested were raccoon dog but were mislabeled as fake/faux fur, coyote, rabbit or other animals at 20 retailers in the USA.

These often appear in anime and manga. The Ranma manga has many Tanuki statues, it's one of the things Ranma most often switches place with when he uses the ninja trick of replacing himself with something else. The movie Pom Poko is about Tanuki and is one of my favorite movies. The movie has a very good and well done message about not destroying animal habitats.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Japanese hand fans

In the Heian period (794-1185), fans with intricate designs were used as ceremonial items at the Imperial court and as accessories by the aristocracy. Over time they became common props for the performing arts; like Japanese classical dancing, Noh plays and farce, and for the tea ceremony. By the Edo period, Uchiwa were widely used among ordinary people. Since people did not have electricity to cool themselves down, fans were a necessity. Particularly in the summer to cool off, keep mosquitoes away, and for stoking up cooking fires.

Uchiwa are the non-folding round flat fans made of bamboo ribs covers in paper or cloth. These originated from China. Traditionally they are made by cutting a bamboo tube into narrow splinters, which are then splayed out in the radial shape of a fan. Over both sides of this bamboo frame is pasted "washi" paper. It is thought that these fan designs were originally based on the shape of leaves or bird's wings.

Sensu are folding fans made of paper pasted on a thin split bamboo frame. When folded is shaped like a stick when unfolded has a semi-circular shape. The paper usually has a picture or calligraphy. These are Japanese made not, originating from China. The earliest versions, called hinoki fans, were made of thin slats of Japanese cypress hinoki wood that were stacked and bound. As time passed, paper fans made by pasting paper to a skeleton of split bamboo were made, then many types of folding fans have been created using various materials, shapes, and decorations. By the 13th century folding fans were being exported to China. Later the fans migrated to Europe, fancy courtiers of the Bourbon dynasty of France highly prized them.

Ogi, which is just a term for fan, most commonly refer to larger ones which are used for dance or decoration, ones that are more so objects of art rather than for practical use.

Fans, most commonly made from iron were used in warcraft as well.
-Dansen uchiwa were large iron fans, sometimes with a wooden core, which were carried by high-ranking officers. They were used to ward off arrows, as a sunshade, and to signal to troops.
-Gunsen were folding fans used by the average warriors to cool themselves off. They were made of bronze, brass or a similar metal for the inner spokes, and often used iron for the outer spokes, making them lightweight but strong. Warriors would hang their fans from a variety of places, most typically from the belt or the breastplate, though the latter often impeded the use of a sword or a bow.
-Saihai were tasseled fans which would be used by a commander to signal troop movements.
-Tessen were folding fans with outer spokes made of iron which were designed to look like normal, harmless folding fans or solid clubs shaped to look like a closed fan. Samurai could take these to places where swords or other overt weapons were not allowed, and some swordsmanship schools included training in the use of the tessen as a weapon. The tessen was also used for fending off arrows and darts, as a throwing weapon, and as an aid in swimming.

In manga and anime, it is not uncommon for a character to hit another character with or use as a weapon a harisen (paper fan). Ranma for example used a paper fan to redirect a punch from Happosai and then toss him high into the air.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Speeding and Speed Cameras

I was on a forum last night and a question posed by one person was; Do you think a national speed limit of 55mph should be set, to save gasoline?

Personally I am of the opinion that this is stupid. Depending on the vehicle 55 may not be the optimum driving speed for gas use efficiency. If people want to use more gas that is their prerogative. Might as well tell people to not buy SUV's or Pick-up trucks or even outlaw the sales of them. Driving at a steady pace, don't waste gas idling, don't rapidly accelerate and then brake, and just keeping the cars tires properly inflated would save more gas than forcing people to drive slower.

Other people argue, People who drive fast are unsafe. Guess what the rate of accidents caused by speeding is. According to the Florida Department of Transportation the percentage of accidents actually caused by speeding is very low, 2.2 percent. UK Department for Transport agrees with Florida's report says only two percent of accidents among drivers over 25 are caused by exceeding the speed limit. The Transport Research Lab, funded by the UK government, did a study that showed the number of accidents in the entire UK involving speeding at all was an average 7.14%. Speeding doesn't really matter. Drivers need to be taught to drive well and adjust their speed to road conditions. There are times when exceeding the posted limit is perfectly safe, and times when it is unsafe to go anywhere near speed limit.

Now onto speed cameras. Speed camera's are simply entrapment and do not reduce the number of accidents at all. Accident numbers have increased at some camera locations, because people slow down to not get ticketed and the people behind them hit them because they just hit their brakes for no discernible reason. At least one speed camera in my area has been removed for this reason, accident rate increased not decreased. Speed cameras are not always accurate, Mythbusters has shown that some cameras can be fooled by birds flying by. Some people argue that speed cameras will stop people from racing. Not true, those who want to street race still will, they will find out the locations of the speed cameras and race somewhere else. Speed cameras are also vandalized often attacks with explosives, hitting them with cars, cutting them, shooting at them, etc.

The real cause of accidents is poor driving skills and inadequate training/experience. After that it is distractions like cell phones and navigation systems. The vast majority of accidents are caused by distraction. Cell phones are really dangerous. Studies have shown people who talk while driving are just as dangerous as drunk drivers.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Top 20 manga

I have read a lot of manga, some good and some bad. These are my top twenty manga, in no particular order. These are only Manga written by Japanese authors, so no Tokyopop American Manga like Bizenghast or Antarctic Press manga like comics like Gold Digger. I'm not even including written in the US but based on Japanese works like Adam Warren's Dirty Pair. What makes the list and the order they are in changes depending on mood or if something newly read was better. If asked in say a month, my list would probably have changed some. Though the top 2 have stayed the top 2 since I first read them.
  1. Ranma 1/2
  2. Uzumaki
  3. Yotsuba&
  4. Excel Saga
  5. Azumanga Daioh
  6. Detective Conan
  7. Dr Slump
  8. Slayers
  9. Ah My Goddess
  10. Tenchi Muyo
  11. Battle Angel Alita (Gunnm)
  12. His and Her Circumstances
  13. Your Under Arrest
  14. Mermaid Saga
  15. Gunsmith Cats
  16. DNA^2
  17. 3x3 Eyes
  18. Urusei Yatsura
  19. Remote
  20. Love Hina

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Turtles can fly

Turtles can fly was the first Kurdish movie released since Saddam Hussein's fall. The movie is set in a Kurdish refugee camp next to the Iraqi-Turkey border a few weeks before the current. This was a very good film, that I recommend everyone watch, particularly the people who are for the war. The film primarily tells about the life in the village, it is not really an anti-war movie so much as a slice of life. It is not anti or pro the war, the characters in the film look forward to the fall of Saddam Hussein, war is just another part of life for these people.

Conditions in the refuge camp are very poor. The people are lacking in water, electricity and have no schools. They live in tents and the remains of buildings. The border between Iraq and Turkey is divided by barbed wire, dogs, and guard towers. A large number of the villagers are missing appendages. The orphan kids make money by collecting land mines to sell to a guy, who in turn sells the to the UN.

The movie follows three characters in particular. A 13 year old boy nicknamed Satellite because he installs satellites in various towns. Satellite is practically the leader of the village because of his ability to install satellites, speaks some English, and he organized and orders around the large number of orphans in gathering land mines. There are some elders in the village but they differ to Satellite because of his abilities. At one point when Satellite does not want to translate the news for them they steal his bike. He threatens to leave and they cave in quickly. The next two characters the movie follows are a pretty girl named Agrin, whom Satellite likes, and her armless brother Hyenkov who is somewhat clairvoyant. They are orphans as well, their parents were killed by the Iraqi's. They travel with a little child who at first we think to be her brother, but later learn that he is her son. Henkov loves the little boy, Risa, but Agrin hates him because of how her was conceived (Iraqi's raped her). I figure I told enough but do not expect a happy ending when you watch this. The plight of the Kurdish people is sad both in the movie and in real life.

The acting in this film was wonderful. This is not surprising when you take into account the actors are actual Kurdish refuges.

Some links:
-International Movie Database on the movie:Lakposhtha parvaz mikonand Has a preview and some of the comments on the film as well as discussions on the message board are interesting.
-Washington Post article: Who are the Kurds?. This gives a brief overview about the Kurds and I feel that if you do not know about the Kurds you should take a few minutes to read this article.
-Wikipedia article on Kurdish people. Wikipedia's more detailed than the previous link.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Dogu - Clay Figurine

Dogū (土偶) are clay artifacts dating back to the Jōmon Period of ancient Japan. The Jōmon period was from 14,000 BC to 400 BC. The clay figurines of this type though date from around 1000 BC to 300 BC. Most of the humanoid figurines have the breasts, small waists, and wide hips of females and are considered by many to be representative of goddesses. The hollow body is covered with elaborate, raised cord-impressed patterns and is what this period in history is known for, the term Jōmon means "cord-patterned" in Japanese. The average size of the figurines range from ten to twenty-five centimeters. There are quite a few theories on the purpose of these clay figurines.

Some theories are:
-talisman for good health or safe childbirth.
-similar purpose as hitogata (paper or straw effigies rubbed on the body to remove impurities then thrown into the sea or a nearby river to carry away sickness and bad luck) nowadays, some people think that after it was no longer needed for it's purpose they were broken and tossed in the trash since many were excavated in fragments.
-goddesses to whom Jomon people prayed to for food and health.
-toys for children
-funerary offerings
-objects used in some unknown ritual
-statues of aliens from outer space.

I don't know

"Watashiwa syourino tameniwa, shiaimaenimo zenryokuwo tsukusu syugi nandesu."

"I do my best for victory even if it is before the game."

Viz Version:

I'm not sure what I was originally going to state with this, I have had it in draft since last July. I got these pictures and the translation from another site. I am pretty sure I was going to make some type of comment but no longer know what, so I just decided to post it.

I think, I might have been planning to explain how Kodachi uses formal language. It is often the case that, the higher up one goes in society, the more formal/humble their language becomes and Kodachi considers herself to have a very high standing in society. Her speech is is generally humble/ self-depreciating whereas her actions are the opposite.

Watashi is a formal, very polite way of referring to yourself. In spoken Japanese you don't usually use I all that much, watashi is a way to make yourself look "lesser" in the eyes of the person you are talking to, or to make the listener feel "above" you. I might have also been planning to add more pictures, showing Kodachi using the even more polite version of "I" watakushi. Though using this picture resolution it would be hard to tell since both watashi and watakushi use the same kanji 私 but the furigana (the smaller Hiragana next to the kanji) would differentiate them. Watashi is わたし , watakushi is わたくし in Hiragana.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A trip to the movies

I recently went to the movie theater to see Batman: The Dark Night (btw an alright but not as good as many people make it out to be movie). It seems that every time I go to the theater the price has increased. This can't be helped I guess but is fairly annoying. I didn't pay a lot since I went on a discount day. The local theaters have been having various sales to bring in people; the theater I go to most has several deals. Mondays showings are five dollars and they give free popcorn. If you bring in a gas receipt of more than five gallons of gas on Sunday-Thursday admission is five dollars. They also have a stamp where if you go to the movies five times you get free popcorn, eight times you get a free movie, and ten times you get a free movie and free popcorn.

I go to the movie theater occasionally, because some movies are just better seen on a big screen than they are on home televisions. I rarely see movies near their release dates because I dislike crowded theaters. I like going when the theater is nearly empty. The reason for this is people talk during movies, answer cell phones, use their cell phones to take pictures/video of the movie, and people are very messy. If I get popcorn or something from the concession stand, I rarely do this since the prices are exorbitant, I take care to not spill any and always carry the remains (container) to the trash receptacle as I leave. Many people just leave messes, half full popcorn containers, and other stuff on the floors/seats of the theater.

Some movie links:
-Internet Movie Database is a good place to check for more info on films, upcoming films, reviews, and trailers
-The Internet Movie Script Database has many entire movie scripts.
-Based on the Book is a catalog of books that have made it to film.
-AFI's Top 100 film quotes and the films site are two sources for movie quotes.
-Rotten Tomatoes and eFilm critic are a couple sites for reviews.
-Can also use wikipedia or wikiqoutes to look for movies or quotes.
-To watch movies on line Veoh is pretty decent, at least for Japanese films. Watch Movies has some free online movies as well. Entertainment Magazine has some free classic movies. Of course there is also Youtube. I don't know much about these sites, since I do not have fast internet access but they do have some movies.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Children Mystery Novels

When I was small I used to read a lot of mystery novels. After awhile though I became bored with mystery. Lately I have begun reading some mysteries again.

When I was little I read the Boxcar children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. The first book tells the story of four orphaned children, Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny Alden, who run away from their grandfather and start a new life in an abandoned boxcar. Eventually they are reunited with their grandfather. They solve various mysteries in the books and I remember enjoying the books. The first 19 books written by Warner were much better than the subsequent books written by various authors after she had died. The first 19 books had character growth and aging of the characters, later books have them back to the age and personality of the first book.

The Adventures of the Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald, is another good book series. This series is about a boy named Tom D. Fitzgerald, nicknamed the Great Brain. It is set in a fictitious small town in Utah, between the years 1896 and 1898. It is told in first person from Tom's younger brother John's point of view. The stories are mainly about the escapades the Great Brain who is a very smart and greedy boy, who finds all kinds of ways to make a penny (back when a penny was worth something). The chapters mostly involve him trying to con people out of their money swindle, outwit, and sometimes even blackmail, people to try and make money from schemes that most of us would think of as unethical. He also helps solve problems other kids have. The books have a lot of historical context as well and deal with some real problems of that time period, such as racism, banking pre-national reserve, small town culture, use of out houses, entertainment pre-TV and radio, child discipline of that time (namely spankings), amongst other things of that time period.

Another series I liked as a child was Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobol. This series is about a boy detective named Leroy Brown, nicknamed Encyclopedia because of his intelligence. In the books there are multiple short stories in each book and the readers are expected to solve the mystery themselves, story ends at the moment when readers are invited to solve the case themselves, the answers are in the back of the book. Encyclopedia Brown runs his own detective agency out of his garage charging 25 cents plus expenses. He works with a girl called Sally Kimball who is rather tomboyish but well educated and knowledgeable on etiquette. She acts as his bodyguard on occasion. He occasionally solves a mystery for his father, the police chief, but most are just helping neighborhood kids. He has two nemesis' the town bully, Bugs Meany, and Wilford Wiggins, a teenage con artist who is always attempting to trick the children of the city out of their money. If Wilford is involved he does not charge any fee.

Obesity, starving, and wasting food

Obesity is a major problem in the United States, according to a study I saw, between 2005 and 2007 the number of obese people in the USA increased by 2%. The number of obese people is around 1 and 4. This increase of fat people is not limited to the USA, China for examples number of fat people is rising fast as well, more than a quarter of the adult population is overweight or obese. The only country whose getting fat as fast as China and the USA is Mexico.

The most sad thing about the increase of obese people, in my opinion, is that all three countries I listed also have a lot of people starving to death from lack of food, social reasons, or economic reasons. One book that chronicles starving in the USA is Still Hungry in America. While it is an older book (from the 60's) there are still people living in the USA who do not have food. Some children's only guaranteed meal of the day is their school lunches. Food is important but there are people in the USA who don't even have clean or running water. Many people of the Navajo nation do not have clean or running water, they have to drive miles every day to get water, sometimes the trip is a waste of time, no water is left by the time they get there. The United States is a first world country but some parts/places are as bad as third world countries. There are people who work and/or are on food stamps and still are hungry.

People also waste food, a large amount of edible food is just thrown away. I am sad whenever I see people throwing away food at restaurants or see half eaten food in trash cans. I was always told to eat all my food and not leave any on the plate. People need to learn how to plan the amount of food to buy, order and eat better than they do. According to this article: US wastes half of it's food and according to this article 1/3 of the food purchased in Great Britain is thrown away: One Country’s Table Scraps, Another Country’s Meal and according to the Peta blog 5,500 chickens are tossed in the trash at KFC's every day in the UK.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Stargate Rebellion

Stargate Rebellion by Bill Mccay was a pretty good book. I had first read this book a number of years ago and felt like reading it again. The book is a direct continuation of the Stargate movie. Just so you know this book series, which this is the second of, first book is a novelization of the movie, is a separate universe from that of Stargate SG:1. This book deals with the after effects of Colonel Jack O'Neil and Daniel Jackson's killing of the false god Ra in the movie.

The book has two story lines that merge together. The first storyline is about a corporation from Earth, UMC - United Mining Consortium, attempting to exploit the planet and people of Abydos. A general named West decides to turn to the civilian sector and hires the UMC to mine the valuable quartz material that most of the advanced technology Ra used was based on. The UMC has done private and secret work for the government in third world countries before and could be counted on to send a kick back to the general. Things go pretty good for the UMC their exploitation of the inhabitants of Nagada as cheap labor works at first. The Nagadans not being stupid, company makes the mistake that primitive = stupid, figure out that they are being used and treated unfairly. Tension between the natives and the corporation escalate to the point that a military standoff between the natives and U.S. military occurs. This story shows a lot about corporate greed, governmental and corporate lack of long term planning, ignoring of history, and corporations misuse of power. Of the two story lines this was the one I found more interesting. The tactics that the UMC attempt and how/why the tactics fail was very interesting.

The second less interesting but more important to the series overall storyline, is about the power vacuum caused by the death of Ra. With the disappearance of Ra, the humans playing gods begin in fighting for control of Ra's empire. Thoth revives a legendary goddess, Hathor, from stasis, thinking she would be the best choice for leadership. Hathor is both beautiful and deadly, so deadly that Ra had her put in statis (she had committed a near genocide of aliens who had served Ra before he found humanity). Having awakened from being in stasis for after 8000 years, she's pretty upset about the state of things. Her powerful ships had been turned into buildings, the people were weak, and not used to fighting. She quickly uses a combination of seduction and absolute ruthlessness to attempt to gain control of Ra's empire. One of the first things she does is have one of her ships, Ra's Eye, restored. After her ship was restored the first thing to do is to go to Abydos and find out what happened to Ra.

Overall this book was very good, McCay writes very well. The book can be read as a standalone but it mostly is a set-up for the next book in the series. Major spoilers here. The Earthers and planet natives manage to win this battle with Hathor in a somewhat believable way. Namely lots of luck, incompetence on the part of Hathors underlings, her ship having problems from being improperly restored (was sitting as a building and gutted for thousands of years and was quickly restored in around three months), lack of soldiers (she did not have enough combat ready fighters), and arrogance on her part. Considering the technological disparity and overwhelming power Hathor had at her command the people from Earth really should not have had much of a chance, it could have been done poorly but the compounded mistakes and the set up for Earth winning this battle did occur in a somewhat believable manner setting things up for the next novel.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Umi No Hi - Ocean Day

The third Monday of July is a national holiday in Japan. Umi No Hi, also known as Ocean/Marine day was established as a national holiday in 1996. The purpose of this holiday is gratitude for the blessings of the oceans and to hope for the economic prosperity of maritime Japan. Prior to 2003 it was set on July 20, they moved it to third Monday in July so that people can have a long weekend. Prior to 1996 it was called Marine Memorial Day and was not a holiday. Prior to that it was the day that marked the return of Emperor Meiji from a boat trip to Hokkaido in 1876.

There are no traditions for this holiday. A lot of people decide to take a trip to the beach on this day though, aquariums organize special events, economic and cultural activities related to the sea are highlighted, and competitions/water sports' shows take place.

This is also the first day of summer break for school children in Japan.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

New Ranma Toys

While not a very materialistic person, as a fan of Ranma ½, I am rather sad that I do not own very much Ranma ½ merchandise. Of the myriad amounts of Ranma ½ merchandise available; I have the manga both VIZ and in Japanese complete set as well as a few volumes in other languages. I also have a jigsaw puzzle, pack of cards, the movies and Oavs, Playstation game, and a couple of hand drawn photo's. Everything else I got on it is in digital format, i.e. on my computer. I would like to acquire some more stuff but do not have the funding or storage space for Ranma items. I particularly want the Ranma girl form statue released by VIZ.

In Japan new Ranma merchandise is being released all the time. Which is not surprising when you consider that more than 49.3 million copies of the manga were sold in Japan, it has been re-released 17 time, and the anime is still being shown in reruns on Japanese television (kids-station for example shows it frequently). The below pictures are of some recently or about to be released Ranma items in Japan.

Ranma Jigsaw Puzzle:

Bobble Head:

Cellphone Straps:


More Statues/figurines (added 7/23/2009):

Socks (added 3/11/2010)

Tee-Shirts (added 3/11/2010)

Pens (added 3/11/2010)

Saturday, July 19, 2008


In the past warriors used designs on their banners and camp equipment to identify who they were, these are called mon. It eventually spread to clothing. They often can be found on formal Kimono at the front just below the shoulder, between the shoulder blades, and on the sleeves. Crests can also be found on lanterns in front of houses and stores to make them identifiable in the dark. Mon continue to play an important role in Japanese society today. Patterns based on centuries-old family crests (called kamon) are often used as company symbols, trademarks, or as central themes for posters.

See this wikipedia article for more details and some history on mon: Wikipedia: Mon(crest). The wikipedia article also links to more articles on mon.

The above picture is taken from the Ranma manga, it is of Happosai memory of when he was 18. In the picture on Happosai (the guy in the picture), a mon can be seen.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Some Japanese Dining Etiquette

- In Japan before people eat they say "itadakimasu" ("I gratefully receive"), and after they finish eating they say "gochisosama (deshita)" ("Thank you for the meal").

-It is polite to wait until everyone is served before you start eating.

-Blowing your nose in public, and especially at the table, is considered bad manners.

-Unlike in China, where you are supposed to leave some food on your plate to show you have gotten enough food, in Japan it is considered good manners to empty your dishes to the last grain of rice.

-In many parts of East Asia, it is not rude to burp while eating, even is considered a compliment. In Japan though it is considered bad manners to burp.

-After finishing eating, it is good manners to move all the dishes that you used back into the same position they were at the start of the meal.

-A second helping of rice or soup may be served on a separate tray by the host. The guests are expected to accept the bowl with both hands, taking care to put it down on their trays once before beginning to eat from it again.

-Rather than being bad manners, as most of the western world is generally taught, slurping soup and noodles is considered evidence of enjoying the meal, particularly for males. Mothers will even occasionally tell their male children to eat more noisily, like a man. Considering that spoons often aren't given for eating soup and Asians serve soup hot it would be hard to eat it quietly even if you wanted to (slurping cools the soup/noodles down).

-It is uncommon for napkins to be given at Japanese meals, you should bring a handkerchief or some tissues with you.

For more see my post on Hashi (Chopsticks).

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Euthanize Wild Horses

The Bureau of Land Management has been rounding up wild horses at an unprecedented rate. Back in 1971 congress had passed a law (Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act) to stop the mass slaughter and commercial exploitation of wild horses. Adoption demand could not keep pace with the amount of removals, which has forced the BLM to pay for private, long-term holding care. This policy has resulted in almost half of the wild horse population being in holding pens. The BLM wants to kill thousands of healthy horses because of cost issues.

More about this and a petition against this can be found at The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals website.

I do not like that the new administration of the Bureau of Land Management is suddenly changing it's stance. I can understand not having the money to put the animals in long term care, but I do not think they should be gathering them up at the rate that they are in the first place. The world we live in is fairly sad, the number of wild animals goes down daily with entire species dying out. While humans do need land and room, so do animals. We share the world with animals and it is not right to take away the freedom and life of so many animals.

I have read that horses originated in North America, the herds of horses eventually made their way to the rest of the world. The Ice Age though made environmental conditions unfavorable for horses, i.e. reduced the grasslands available to them. Humans (hunting the wild horses, killing them with spears and running them off cliffs in large groups) and environmental effects killed off all the horses in the Americas. By 8000 B.C., the horse only existed in other parts of the world. For thousands of years there were no horses in the Americas. It wasn’t until the end of the 15th century that horses were brought back to American shores by Columbus. The Native Americans (Arawak people of the West Indian island specifically) were in awe of the horses having never seen horses before. Horses became an important part of American society, even amongst Native Americans, the Navajo Nation's best jobs are rodeos.

If I wanted to make this post a connection to Ranma 1/2 it's easy, because one interpretation (the most common one) of the name "Ranma" is wild horse in Japanese (though chaotic horse would be more accurate) and horses are seen several times in the manga.

Blog Topic

I've been told that it is best to write a blog on one topic and then stick to that topic. If you want to write about more than one topic, start multiple blogs. In January I, for a few weeks, separated this blog into multiple blogs. It was neater and more organized but I preferred writing in just one blog rather than several, so dropped that idea. I use labels to organize this blog which, I believe sufficient to locating content the reader is interested in. If interested in my posts on environment but not on Ranma ½ could just click the label and read those articles. I also now have a search option, I had tried the blog navbars search the blog option but it did not work very well at finding content, so I removed the navbar and installed the other one.

The real topic this blog is on; is whatever I happen to feel about writing about at the moment. Ranma ½ is just something I feel like writing about more than other things and is a much larger topic than most people seem to think. I could, if I wanted to, link just about anything I wanted to write about to Ranma ½. There are 39 Ranma books (including the memorial book), several games, a whole bunch of episodes, Ranma does show up in other media (like Pinky and the Brain), and thousands upon thousands of fan written stories.

A few examples:

Recently wrote about crucifixion in Japan. This could have easily been linked to the Ranma manga. Since Kasumi wears a crucifix, Principal Kuno tied up Akane in crucified manner, and Akane in dream chased Happosai with a cross.

Wrote about smoking. Also could have been linked to the manga since several characters, Cologne, Soun, and Happosai for example, smoke. Happosai even uses his smoking pipe (called a kiseru which is made up of a metal bowl joined by a length of hallow bamboo or a metal pipe) as a weapon.

Wrote about animal testing/cruelty. This could easily have been linked to the manga since we see both Ranma and Tatewaki Kuno test if the food Kodachi cooked is poisoned or not by feeding it to a fish and a dog.

Wrote about shampoo. There is a point in the manga in which Shampoo (the character) uses a herbal shampoo to suppress Akane's memories.

Star Trek - has in TNG, a component of nanites called Ranma ½.

War - slightly more difficult but the Saffron arc was a mini-war. Multiple battles, Invasion of Phoenix Mountain, Taking of hostages, Major destruction of land, etc.

If I tried hard enough I can make a connection of some type with practically anything I could think of, so that everything is at least partially on topic. Though doing so really wouldn't add much to the articles themselves and would be slightly more time consuming. The opposite is true as well for many of the things written on Ranma, I could have told by other means. For example, Ranma-onna versus Ranma-otoko could have removed the Ranma aspect and just compared a hypothetical situation dealing with how a person would be different were they to suddenly gain the ability to change from male to female, or used one of the other characters in fiction who has this ability. Doing so would change the article some but the main points would still stand.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Animal testing and hair care

I want to purchase products that are not tested on animals, whenever possible. I could make a blanket statement and say all animal testing should be abolished, but there are times in which it is necessary and required by law. I'd like them to at least treat the animals as humanely as possible, using as few animals as possible when ever it is necessary. For somethings though there is absolutely no reason at all for the testing and the testing is overly cruel.

One product that has no need at all for testing on animals, provided it isn't for that animal specifically, is shampoo. There are hundreds of chemicals already deemed safe for humans. There is no law requiring the testing of hair care products on animals. There are many alternatives to animal testing like taking skin and eye cell cultures and seeing how it reacts with that and to test it on hair that is no longer on the person (i.e. hair that was cut off).

Most shampoo's nowadays are not tested on animals. Thing is for me it is not enough that the shampoo itself is not tested on animals, I do not want to support a business that has practices and ethics I do not agree with. Sometimes though it is hard to tell if the product is from a company that does animal testing. The bottle may say that they do not test it on animals but not everything printed on labels is the truth, companies do lie. Herbal Essence for example says on their bottles that there was no animal testing. Herbal Essence is owned by Proctor and Gamble which does do animal testing, therefore the chemicals used to make Herbal Essence may have been tested on animals, though the final product is not (butylparaben – was tested and declared safe many years ago. However, Herbal Essences force-fed butylparaben to pregnant rats to see if it harmed their developing offspring in a test that killed 100 pregnant mothers and their 1,200 baby animals.).

There are other things as well that make it difficult to tell if a company tests on animals. For starters, what company actually made the item? Usually the items do say the company that made the item, problem is that the listed company is really owned by another bigger company. So if you look for the practices of that company may not find anything but were you to look at it's parent company you'd see a lot of practices you do not agree with. The next thing is what is the source of your information? The company may release a press release saying one thing but doing another. If you check a website it maybe fraudulent (creator dislikes the company for a different reason), out of date (the company may have changed it's practices), or just misinformed. The source of information has to be reliable, up to date, and reputable.

By the way the hair care product I use most is VO5, mainly because it very cheap. I'm pretty sure they do not use animal testing. The company that owns it is Alberto-Culver and in 2002 they released a press release stating they will put an internal company ban, in place for 10 years, that prohibits all animal testing. I am in part believing them to do as they say and I did not see them listed on the most current sites I believe to be reputable.

Site in which to check if a company does animal testing: Caring Consumer
Second site to check if a company does animal testing: Global Action Network
United Kingdom anti-Herbal Essence website: Hurtful Essence

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Demae - delivery of prepared food

DeMae is the Japanese word for restaurant delivery.

Delivery of prepared foods from restaurant to homes or offices is usually done by scooter or bicycle. Bicycle deliverers typically balance the container of food with one hand while steering with the other. Dirty dishes are picked up by the restaurant either shortly after you are finished or the next day. This used to be a free service but now most places charge a service charge. It is not customary to tip the delivery person (Japanese do not tip in most situations).

This is seen multiple times through out the Ranma manga. It is Shampoo's job in the manga. There is also an entire story arc about a martial arts take out race. This arc also occurs in the anime as well, though they vary significantly in that the anime introduces a new anime-only fiancee in that story arc.

Spam - Internet variety not canned meat

Spamming is the abuse of electronic messaging systems to indiscriminately send unsolicited bulk messages, the term is also used to describe similar abuses in other media like blogs. Spamming remains economically viable because advertisers have no operating costs beyond the management of their mailing lists, and it is difficult to hold senders accountable for their mass mailings.

I understand why people spam. There is a profit in it. I use multiple email accounts for various reasons. Currently I commonly use four. Each account has it's own purpose. One I use for purchases/trades, one for forums and newsletters, one for writing to government representatives and online petitions and complaining about product/service/business practices, and one in which I use for things online that I expect to get spam like surveys. I also use bugmenot's temporary 24 hour email address for things I expect to get spam but never want messages from. I started with only one email address but later added the others. While they were originally added for other reasons, such as a requirement of using the service or add-on to the service, I came to find it more convenient to use multiple accounts, each for a different purpose, than sub-dividing the accounts using folders and filters than to put everything at one email address. Of these email accounts the one that I expect a lot of spam gets a lot of spam, the one with purchases gets quite a bit, the one with forums and newsletters gets barely any, and the last one has not gotten any since I've begun using it (though it's annoying bulk folder keeps grabbing stuff that isn't spam).

Of the spam I get most of it is for viagra, sex, weight loss, Canadian pharmacy, lotteries I did not enter, and fraud like update account information at a bank I'm not a member of or they are going to send me money if I accept a deposit from them. I wonder how many people fall for these? Some people have to else, even with little cost in sending spam, there would be no point in doing so. Just based on the subject line you'd think that people would not open and click these emails. The tricks with fake lottos you did not enter shouldn't work, since if you never entered these lotteries how is it that you could be the winner? Get a free laptop and such should not work since everything has a price, it's just not always obvious as to what the price is. Fraud in the form of asking for personal information should not work since just about every place you visit online will tell you that they do not and will not ask for your personal information via email. The ones that I can see people falling for the most though is unsubscribe links in spam messages since the person may think they will stop sending them (and are legally required to via a federal law in the USA -CAN-SPAM Act of 2003). Really though clicking the unsubscribe link will often make it worse since they will likely log your information if you click the unsubscribe link, by clicking it you are proving to them that you opened the message and were willing to click on links provided in the message.

There are various websites and agencies in various countries that you can report online scams and spam to. In the case of banks and paypal you can report the spam to the bank or paypal and they will then report it to the authorities. I wonder how many police officers in various countries spend their entire shifts just tracing spam/online scams?

A good forum on spam and fraud is It is a forum where people post information about emails or scams that they perceive as fraudulent.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


I do not smoke cigarettes, or anything else, and never have. Sure they are addictive but I don't really see what the initial appeal to them is. Everyone knows they are bad for you, you hear of people dying of smoke inhalation from fires, they cause cancer, etc. They are also very expensive. At the last election there was an issue that would raise taxes on cigarettes. I voted against it, I do not think people should smoke, I just saw it as an unjust tax particularly since they already were taxed a lot (state taxes them $1.25 per pack, county charges them an additional 34.5 cents per pack that is not including sales tax). The tax passed. I often wonder how these people who smoke a carton a day can afford to. Cigarettes are very expensive. Even if they try to buy online they can not avoid paying the taxes since my state prohibits purchasing cigarettes out of state as well as bans the shipping of cigarettes to consumers. They actively go after people who purchase online to a degree I believe to be excessive (A federal law requires online cigarette vendors to report sales with each state for tax purposes and the state will and has gone after the people who buy online).

A law in the state prohibits people from smoking in all public buildings in the state. It is illegal to smoke in a bar or restaurant . While I am aware of the dangers of secondhand smoke and do not like being near people who smoke, I feel this to is excessive. The business owner should have the option of being a smoke free place not be forced to. If a bar wants to allow its customers to smoke it should be allowed to, they should just put up a sign clearly stating that it is a smoking establishment. The people who do not smoke could avoid going to them. Places that chose to be smoking establishment can take steps to reduce the effects of secondhand smoke, some means of doing so are to install good air circulation and air purifying systems. Air purifiers use a small amount of electrical energy, causing a small amount of expense and environmental effect, but would clean the air significantly reducing the effects of secondhand smoke. Air pollution itself is a bigger worry to me than second hand smoke, since my area ranks in the top 10 for for most air pollution in the country, on every ranking I've ever seen.

I recently saw a petition to change the ratings for movies with cigarettes to a R-rating. I think this is fairly stupid. I definitely do not want children, or anyone really, to smoke but I don't think they should rate a movie with an R rating for just that. First of all it is the parents and the schools who should be teaching children about the hazards (I do not feel that they are doing so via the best way - telling about illness in old age and death really doesn't work with kids, instead tell them how smoking will make them ugly -causes wrinkles and decays teeth may work better). Making cigarettes unseen, in my opinion, will enhance the appeal of cigarettes. Similarly to how some people, because of the drinking age, will on their birthday drink so much alcohol to require a hospital visit caused by alcohol poisoning. Already cigarettes are rarely seen in media accessible to children since tobacco is prohibited from being advertised on television, magazines children read do not have ads for cigarettes, movies created for kids do not have people smoking and tobacco ads are rarely seen on billboards or on the Internet (though I'm not sure about the internet since I use ad-blocking software).

Since I write about Japan frequently on this blog, I'll add some info on Japan and cigarettes.
-The Japanese have tobacco vending machines -around 570,000 of them (the Japanese love vending machines, a large amount of items, some very surprising can be purchased in vending machines).
-The Japanese newest tobacco vending machines have technology designed to detect if the purchaser is a minor. This machine has a built-in camera that measures facial wrinkles, pupil size and other features.
-These new machines have been tricked by using magazine photos.
-All cigarette vending machines are installing RFID readers that check the purchaser’s Taspo age-verification card.
-The population of smokers is quite high in Japan. It is 29.2 % (as of 2007) and the fifth highest in the world following Greece, Turkey, Netherlands and Hungary.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Species 8472 vs Borg

The Borg are powerful but are lacking in tactics, though they should have the collective tactics of thousands of species. The Borg were having trouble fighting Species 8472 because their primary tactic of assimilation did not work. We see Species 8472 destroying Borg worlds but what kind of damage was the Borg really capable of doing to Species 8472's universe. The Borg wanted to use nanoprobes reprogrammed by the doctor to end the war, but in my personal opinion they really did not need them. They needed them to be able to assimilate species 8472 but not really to win the war. The reason I say this is the Borg have WMD's. They wanted to use a multikinetic neutronic mine with a 5 million isoton yield capable of destroying an entire solar system with shockwaves that would scatter the nanoprobes over a 5 light year radius (Voyager episode Scorpion).

Species 8472 most powerful attack was destroying Borg planets. There were several other technologies in the Star Trek Universe that the Borg had come into contact and should have assimilated. Some WMD's that the Borg should have are trilithium warheads that cause suns to go Nova (assimilated federation ships), genesis device which mass terraforms planets incredibly fast (again assimilated ships that would have info on this), large quantities of antimatter (have a lot and it would be capable of destroying most things), and time travel (assimilated Federation ships, used time travel in movie, and assimilated Kremlin -people who in year of hell episode were wiping species out of existence one of personalities 7 of 9 had in another episode was one of them). Considering the massive amount of WMD's the Borg have if they were also attacking Species 8472 in fluidic space Species 8472 would be in a worse position than the Borg were. Destroying a billion Borg or hundreds of Borg worlds should not matter since they can always get more and the individual doesn't matter. Though a question does come about can species 8472 destroy the Borg faster than the Borg can assimilate other species (particularly if they begin assimilating species considered inferior and not worthy of assimilating) while the Borg also attack their dimension?

Considering the resources and abilities that the Borg have Species 8472 should not be able to destroy them. The Borg operate in multiple dimensions. They invaded species 8472's universe (Fluidic Space) and have been in other universes as well. Supposedly the Borg acquired autonomous regeneration sequences from species 259 which we are told come from Galactic Cluster III which is said to be a transmaterial energy plane. They likely would be sending Borg ships to other galaxies and through time itself. By evidence of the Borg technology they should be spreading through out dimensions, time, and ever outward. Though they would also be ignoring species that they do not see as having anything to offer the Borg on it's quest for perfection. Also if just a few ships manages to get away be it through time, space, or into another dimension the ship should be able to recreate the collective.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Iran Missile Test

If you have been watching the news you probably noticed that Iran tested several missiles recently. On the news programs I have watched Iran is getting a lot of flack for this. In my opinion, the launching of the missiles was a smart thing for Iran to do. Israel had recently done a large-scale air force exercises which is what spurred Iran to do it's test. Iran's test was mostly a warning saying don't attack us we can attack you. For some reason, Israel is not getting as much flack as Iran is for it's tests.

A war with Iran would be extremely bad. All war is bad but comparing the war with Iraq to a possible war with Iran and it is much worse. Iran is far larger than Iraq, Iran has a much larger better armed and fanatical army than Iraq did, Iran has more resources, Iran has the capability to mess with the world economy in ways Iraq did not, and has missile capabilities Iraq did not. The war with Iraq has caused the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of US soldiers. A war with Iran would have a far greater death tole.

I don't even think that Iran is building a nuclear weapon. Doing so might not be as bad an idea as a lot of people think though. Missiles and an army are not as much a deterrent for invasion as a nuclear weapon is. Iran is not making highly enriched uranium suitable for a weapon, only low-enriched uranium useable as nuclear power fuel according to IAEA (international atomic energy agency) report released on June 5th. US National Intelligence Estimate also has concluded that it probably gave up a nuclear weapons program in 2003. If Iran is doing what it is saying it is then it is obeying the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that it signed which states a country has the right to enrich its own fuel to a level suitable for civil nuclear power.

Having said all that, I am of the opinion that Iran is not going about building their civil nuclear power plants in the best way. I think they should have agreed to the latest offer made by US, Russia, China, the UK, France and Germany that said Iran would get help with developing nuclear power stations and be guaranteed fuel for them. It would also be offered trade concessions, including the possible lifting of US sanctions preventing it from buying new civilian aircraft and parts. Though I do not know all the details so can not say with 100% certainty that would be the best choice, Israel after all seems to really want a preventive strike on Iran and has the nuclear weapon (also unlike Iran, Israel did not sign the NPT).

Personally I do not see Iran as being a major threat, no where near as much of a threat as say North Korea which already has the ability to make nuclear weapons and has missiles capable of hitting Japan. The Japanese defense budget for anti-missile technology has increased 10 times since North Korea has developed the nuke and they have been buying up a lot of anti-missile technology from the USA. They have also begun spending on militarizing outer space for defense purposes. There was even talk within Japan in 2004 about using preemptive strikes on North Korea (the nuclear option was even brought up), though this was shot down because it would anger China. If North Korea were to bomb Japan the fallout would be far worse than a war with Iran, particularly if they used a nuclear warhead. Japan would stop it's no nuclear weapon policy and start building them like crazy as well as other countries in Asia. Japan has the technology, raw materials (massive amounts of plutonium from its 50 nuclear reactors), and the capital to produce nuclear weapons within a year. This would lead to all kinds of tension (Japan and China historically do not get along what with the types of things Japan did to China during WW2 this makes sense) Japan would attack North Korea, but unlikely that it would be an occupation, Japan doesn't have the manpower for that, it does have the ability to wipe out most of the life in North Korea and other countries would be drawn in.

Ranma-onna vs Ranma-otoko



Differences directly shown in the manga
  • Girl form is shorter than male form (is in fact one of, if not, the shortest girl).
  • Is less skilled than male form Ranma. This is displayed during the battle with Mousse. Logically this makes sense Ranma had been training in his male form for his entire life and has only had the female form for a short period of time, no where near long enough to be anywhere near as good in that form as his natural form. Though the way it was displayed was not the best way of doing so. From a real life perspective neither Ranma or Mousse would use a jump kick since it is a solely offensive attack that leaves almost no defense. Takahashi does not really know much on martial arts basing it off of pop culture but a real life martial artist, even one without a lifetime of experience like Ranma of the manga has, should have compensated for reach differential, since they most likely would have fought taller people before (in the case of Ranma his father if no other person).
  • Female form Ranma is physically less tough then male Ranma. From a real world perspective this makes sense. Females skin is 25% less thick than males and females have a lower pain threshold and tolerance to pain. This is displayed in the manga during the battle with Taro, in which female Ranma afraid of rock Taro threw then turned male effortlessly shattered rock using arm that was injured. This shows that Ranma is either physically less tough as a female or Ranma is less confident in his female forms abilities and underestimates his female form, or both (personally I think it is both Ranma's female form has thrown/broken rocks in that size range and should have been able to deal with it as a female but I also think she is less tough).
  • Female Ranma is more emotional than male form Ranma. Female Ranma is more likely to cry in the manga than male Ranma is just one example. Whether this is because of different hormones or social reasons namely guys aren't supposed to show emotion is unknown.
  • People treat Ranma different depending on which form he is in. Most easily shown by how the Kuno's treat him depending on sex (namely Kodachi and Tatewaki). Though there are lesser more easily to not notice examples as well.
  • While he is female people expect him to act different than when he is male (sit differently, use female specific words, dress differently, etc.). He generally doesn't unless he is doing so for a specific purpose (tricking someone, hiding from mother, etc.) but people still do expect him to act differently depending on gender.
  • Is forced to deal with the double standards that apply to both genders. Example, has changed form to do something that was socially unacceptable for current form. As well as deal with sexist statements against both sexes example, Akane mentioning it being okay for girls to see guys nude but not for guys to see girls naked.
  • Ranma is less modest/more shameless as a female. We see female Ranma nude more often than male Ranma. Though even male Ranma has very little modesty seeing no problem walking around outside in only boxers or being nude around people.
Differences not directly shown but can be inferred from things shown in the manga using logical thought
  • Female form is not as strong as male Ranma. As far as I can recall this is not explicitly shown but females are not as physically strong as males (even in the manga) and female form Ranma has less muscle mass than male Ranma.
  • Again not explicitly shown but female form Ranma should be a slower runner than male form Ranma, shorter legs and if you look at world records males are faster runners than females.
  • Female form Ranma has less ki than male Ranma. This is not shown directly in the manga as applied to Ranma but is shown in Herb who has the same curse as Ranma does. His ki became significantly more powerful when he returned to his natural state of being male, this likely applies to Ranma as well.
  • Female form is likely more flexible than male form Ranma, though even Ranma's male form has shown extreme flexibility, girls are more flexible than guys.
  • Female form is likely better at dodging than male form Ranma since is a smaller target, reduced muscle density, and superior flexibility.
  • Each form has different sense of balance.
  • Female form may menstruate and be capable of having children (I do know Takahashi's viewpoint on this - don't think about it). There are a few points in the manga that leads to this conclusion.
  1. Ranma has had nightmares of having Kuno's children.
  2. The Musk were capable of having children with the animals cursed at Jusenkyo. They likely did not look at the gender of the animals being thrown in and from a genetic stand point the curse has to alter the cursed individual at the genetic level for any offspring to be possible.
  3. Female form is growing as shown in the bust battle arc.
  • why isn't it shown in manga -see Takahashi's view on it, Ranma may not have started menstruating yet - some people like the females in my family did not start until they were 18, stress can delay or disrupt it, and over exercising can mess up the cycle are just some of the possible reason she might not be yet.
Speculation that is neither shown or inferred by the manga at all but doesn't contradict it either
  • Ranma is probably capable of drinking more alcohol as a male since he is physically larger and because males have an extra enzyme in the stomach lining which breaks down some of the alcohol so less reaches the blood stream.
  • Female form better fine motor control because of smaller fingers and because the female brain is better organized for fine motor control of the hands.
  • Female form better sense of touch since females have more sensitive touch because of the differences in male and female skin.
  • While eating there are genetic differences in taste perception and differences in the density of taste buds on the tongues between males and females so stuff would taste different depending on sex.
  • Females tend to have a better sense of smell
  • Males tend to have a stronger sense of hearing.
The point of this post is to show that male Ranma and female Ranma are different. That while fighting in female form Ranma is at a disadvantage when compared to fighting in male form. That Ranma acts somewhat different while female (there are things he would do while female that wouldn't do as a male) and that he has to deal with societal expectations for both forms. Having said that Ranma, while female, is still Ranma. She is not going to suddenly start liking guys or act girly for no reason. Female Ranma though physically female is very much a lesbian tomboy.

Though I wrote this about Ranma, I could just as well have written about one of the other cursed characters. They to are altered physically. Though they do not act as differently while in cursed forms as opposed to normal forms as Ranma does (baring cursed forms that also alter you mentally like the Ashura curse), there is two reasons for this; we do not see them interacting in their cursed forms as often and, since their cursed forms are animals, they do not have the societal pressures/expectations put on them to act differently that Ranma does.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


IMHO - acronym for In My Humble Opinion.

This is often used on online forums to indicate that the writer is aware that they are expressing a debatable view. Though in my experience it often is used as "this is the way I interpret it and as far as I'm concerned is a fact". I do not mind people using IMO/IMHO but don't use it as if it were evidence to support your claim.

I browse quite a few forums on several different topics. I have been on more than a dozen Ranma forums (not all in English), Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Slayers, Star Trek, consumer, environmental, political, religious, travel, comic books, anime general, manga fanscans, books, etc. I do not check any forum daily, I don't even go on the internet everyday, sometimes it will be weeks between checking them.

I am not, IMO, that active on any forum. I do not have 1000 post on any of the forums I currently browse. Some of them I have been browsing for a very long time, one forum, in which I used to trade fan subs via the postal service, I've been on for over 8 years. Even though I've been on that forum for so very long, I only have a couple hundred posts on it.

To get back on topic; I've noticed that a lot of what people think of as being facts/only possible interpretation are not in actuality facts. They are conjectures, assumptions, or one of many possible interpretations. If people use IMO while describing their interpretation, I have no complaint. The thing is so many people will than use that as if it were a fact even after using IMO which means that they already conceded that it is just their interpretation and others may have different views.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Tanabata - Star Festival

Tanabata is a Japanese festival, not a national holiday.

According to legend, two stars in love, Orihime (Altair or Cowherd Star) and Hikoboshi (Vega or Weaver Star), residing on opposite sides of the Milky Way, were allowed to meet just once a year, on the evening of July 7. There are multiple variations of this story told in different parts of Japan. This festival originated from China (Qi Xi -Night of the Sevens), the Japanese story mixed the Chinese version with that of Tanabatatsume, a celestial weaving maiden. On the occasion of this festival, fresh bamboo branches are set up outside of homes, from which long slips of paper and paper decorations are hung. On the slips of paper are written romantic poems and wishes. In many regions in Japan, Tanabata is celebrated on August 7th (which is near July 7th on the lunar calendar) instead of July 7th.

Wikipedia's article on this festival is pretty good: Wikipedia Tanabata.

One of the story lines in the Ranma manga is based on this festival. The manga also makes use of the tradition of people writing their wishes on tanzaku papers (colorful, small strips of papers) and hang them on bamboo branches.

Crucifixion in Japan

When Christian missionaries came to Japan they taught the Japanese many things. A lot of which they would not have wanted to. The introduction of guns by the Portuguese altered warfare in Japan and led to an intense warring period which ended with the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate. That's more the Portuguese than the missionaries specifically. Of the teachings from the missionaries what stuck the most was Crucifixion is a torturous and a terrible way to die so let's use it a lot.

Crucifixion, called Haritsuke in Japanese, was used in Japan before and during the Tokugawa Shogunate. The condemned was hoisted upon a T-shaped cross. Then, executioners finished him off with spear thrusts. The body was left to hang for a time before burial.

In 1597, twenty-six Christians were nailed to crosses at Nagasaki, Japan. The executions marked the beginning of a long history of persecution of Christianity in Japan, which continued until the United States of America and other Allies defeated Japan at war in 1945, ending World War II.

The Japanese really do not understand Christianity. They are not really religious people by western standards of religion and their religion has different theologies, for example they are polytheistic instead of monotheistic. Some of their views on Christianity are pretty weird. There is, for example, a Japanese legend that claims that Jesus escaped Jerusalem and made his way to Aomori in Japan where he became a rice farmer. More information on that can be found here: The Japanese Jesus Trail.


Kimodameshi is a game commonly played in Japan, usually during the summer. There are several varieties of this game, many of which are played in the United States as well, just not called that.

Variety 1: Walk down a prearranged path at night in which people are hiding. Then have people jump out wearing scary things along the way to surprise the walker/s. Depending on rules set walk path alone or in pairs.

Variety 2: Send a person into a graveyard to get something at night or dare them to stay at a supposedly haunted place.

Variety 3: Set up at amusement parks and festivals, essentially a more advanced version of variety 1. This is a lot like US haunted houses but more tame, essentially PG-13 horror. Not a lot of blood or knife wielding maniacs, instead has carefully-designed eerie scenes, lights, eerie noises, and actors in a ghost costume will occasionally leap out to increase the shock factor.

Children versions are more tame, the ones at parks are primarily there to give shy Japanese teenagers an excuse to cling to each other. This is seen in the Ranma anime and manga, Cave of Lost Love, in which Ukyo brings Ranma and Akane in an attempt to break them up. The one in the manga's purpose is opposite the traditional reasons people go to them. Traditionally they are to bring couples closer together. The manga one also had real ghosts instead of people in costumes.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Internet Speed

There are websites that complain about how slow the internet speed is like sites compare the United States' internet speed to other countries like Japan (fyi fastest internet). They talk about how access to high-speed Internet begets opportunities that improve the quality of peoples economic, civic and personal lives. They talk about how the United States is the only industrialized country without a national policy to promote high-speed Internet access. They complain about how the US spends less as a nation on Internet investment than many of its global neighbors, but its customers pay higher prices.

My internet download speed is 23 kbps-48kbps. I connect to the internet via dial up modem. I would like to have even the slow high speed internet connection that those sites complain about. I would like to acquire high speed internet but it's not available/costs too much. I'd get dsl or wi-fi but it is not available to my house. My house is a dead zone for some reason I can not fathom. I do not live in a rural area. I live in a very urban area. There are over 3 million people living within a 50 mile radius of my house. In fact my street alone has more than a thousand people living on it. Yet my house can not get dsl and receives no cell phone signals no matter which service provider is tried (not 100% true T-mobile sometimes gets 1 bar in one of the rooms). I could get cable or satellite internet but they cost too much and most require you get it for your television as well. I have no interest in getting cable television, I prefer to watch things on DVD,VHS, VCD, etc.

This leads me to spending little time online, since I also share my computer with others and require the use of the phone for it's primary purpose of receiving phone calls. While this does annoy me greatly, I still manage to do most of the things I want to online. I just save text, like fan fiction, for off-line perusal and check my email sporadically every few days. Most of the sites I go on are mostly text and I use ad blocking software to not download in page ads which would slow the internet even more. I also download the occasional large file via library computer (using a flash drive), using someone else's internet/computer, and download over night while sleeping.

Independance Day USA

Every July fourth the United States celebrates a holiday commemorating the formal adoption of the Declaration of Independence. This day is celebrated publicly with parades, pageants, patriotic speeches (like reading the Declaration of Independence) and fireworks. Private celebrations are usually picnics/barbecues (commonly eaten foods are smores, watermelon, corn on the cob, hamburgers, and hot dogs), displaying the flag, and using fireworks. This day was first celebrated on July 8th, 1776 but celebration did not become common until after the war of 1812. It became a legal holiday in 1941.

I do not go to fourth of July parades, nor do I have a picnic/barbecue. I do occasionally like having a picnic but the parks are overly crowded on that day so I do not go to them. Some places may read the Declaration of Independence but the only place I've ever heard it read out loud at was in elementary school.

I was a lot more interested in fireworks as a child than I am now. I still go and see at least one fireworks display (can go to multiple because different cities have them on different days). People use fireworks at home even though they are illegal to use by ordinary citizens in my state. Only legal kind are smoke ones and sparklers. You can easily buy the other type like bottle rockets and m-100's since there are firework stores in my state, you just have to sign a paper saying that you won't use them in the state. I used to launch my own fireworks when I was a teenager but I do not anymore. Making/obtaining fireworks and the like illegal has never stopped anyone who really wanted to do them. When I was 13, I had no trouble purchasing/obtaining firecrackers and bottle rockets even though my parent never purchased them.

I go to firework displays and sit in an area surrounded by people. The firework displays are around 30 minutes long but spend end up spending more time waiting for them and waiting for the cars that have congested traffic to leave. I don't mind being around other people or waiting, actually I prefer to be around others specifically children since they enjoy the fireworks displays the most and I like seeing people happy. One thing I do not understand is why so many people take pictures of the fireworks with their flashes still on.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


It is at least a decade too late for this commentary but I feel like talking about them now. My local library is getting rid of all it's VHS tapes to make room for DVD's and Blu-Ray discs. I don't really like this, since there are quite a few movies on VHS that were never released onto DVD and are not likely to be released on Blu-Ray. Some films, even though they are on DVD, the library only has the VHS version, for example Sunrise at Campobello - a very good 1960 biographical film on Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his family dealing with his paralysis that prevented him from walking ( only has the VHS version as well at this time).

DVD may have better video and sound quality than VHS and Blu-Ray has even better most likely. I do not have a player for Bluray, though I heard that image quality really is not that much better if you have an upscaling dvd player. Not that it really matters since I also do not have a high definition television.

I had/have less trouble with VHS than DVD. My old VHS tapes still play, sure some have a few lines or image problems from age or being too close to a magnet but in general they all play. Some of the DVD's I own though do not play. Some I put in the DVD player and the machine tells me bad disc error. Some refuse to play because of copy protection. I have had movies I took out from the library or rented that would not play on my computer unless I ran a program that stripped them of copy protection. I keep my discs in cd books and they should be protected from scratches and the like, I still some how manage to get small scratches that cause the video to freeze then skip several seconds before resuming. Rentals are more likely to not play from damage than VHS tapes used to.

I do like the extra's on DVD's, at least some. I don't usually listen to video commentary, or watch the making of documentaries. I like that they often have the option for subtitles or if foreign have the option for dub or sub. I was okay with VHS and still watch them and VCD (VCD are big in Hong Kong/China so some films are easier to obtain in VCD format) .