Friday, October 31, 2008


Today is Halloween, the time of year in which little (and not so little) children dress up in various costumes and go trick or treating (go to houses with lights on and are given candy). Most people reading this know about Halloween since it is an international holiday and even if it is not celebrated in your country, you likely know something about it from American popular culture - things like Halloween movies and Simpson's specials.

The Japanese have a tendency to adopt anything that they find interesting, cool, or fun into their culture. Even though Halloween is of Celtic origin and the average Japanese person likely does not know the origins of Halloween; Halloween and many of its traditions have been adopted into Japanese society. Adding Halloween to their culture was a very easy transition since many aspects of Halloween already existed in Japanese society.

I have seen it mentioned that O-bon is Japan’s Halloween. It is not, though there are a few similarities; both days are about spirits is one such similarity. O-bon is, in my opinion, closer to All Souls Day or Día de los Muertos (the Mexican day of the dead) than Halloween.

Pumpkins have become a symbol of fall and of Halloween. The Japanese really like pumpkins and make many foods with pumpkin. Here is a link to some: Japanese pumpkin recipes. There are many foods that have been made in pumpkin flavor, for example, they sell pumpkin flavored kitkat bars in Japan.

A traditional thing to do on Halloween is to go to a haunted house or scare people. This is, and has been, a part of Japanese culture for a long time. The Japanese have a game, very similar to haunted houses called Kimodameshi which I wrote about earlier and can be read here: Kimodameshi.

Trick-or-treating is not something that existed in Japanese culture but has been taken up by the Japanese. In Japan, trick-or-treating is not usually house-to-house. Instead schools, hotels, apartment complexes, after school activity centers, libraries and restaurants hand out candy and small gifts (things like cards, oranges, and small toys).

The Japanese have many ghost stories and legends with monsters. They also make a lot of horror films. I really like a lot of Japanese horror films, though the most famous in the USA is probably the Ring, which was an alright film but I wouldn’t rate it as one of the best. A common ghost story, with several variations and movies, told at just about every school in Japan is Hanako of the toilet. The story goes like this: In the lavatory at the third stall you call Hanako and she will show up and say “yes” and then ask you what we should play. In some variations she is nice and wants to play, sometimes she just wants to scare people, and sometimes she kills people. This story is similar to the US story of Bloody Mary in which you stand in front of a mirror saying Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, in that both summon a spirit by calling it's name.

On Halloween there are Halloween festivals and parades in which a large number of people go in costumes with various rewards for best costume (A Halloween parade can be can be seen in Your Under Arrest Anime). Many Japanese people like to dress up in costumes, even when it isn’t Halloween. Halloween just gives them another reason to do so. The Japanese cosplay (Costume Play) quite a bit. Cosplay can be seen at public events such as video game shows, cosplay parties at nightclubs or amusement parks. Some Japanese teenagers gather in places like Tokyo's Harajuku district to engage in cosplay. The Akihabara district has a large number of cosplay cafés, catering to devoted anime and cosplay fans. The waitresses at such cafés dress as game or anime characters; maid (or meido) costumes are particularly popular.

Japanese businesses like Halloween; that is not really surprising though since most businesses will use any excuse to sell stuff. Pastry shops sell various pastries in Halloween shapes like bats, Toy shops sell teddy bears dressed as pumpkins, etc…

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


The above pictures are of Ranma sneaking up on Akane and surprising her (the first one is actually the setup to his surprising her, results are on the page after it - not shown here). This is a tactic Ranma uses quite often in the manga, on many characters(not just Akane), for varying reasons. Most of the time he does it is just to see their reaction, though he has used it in battle as well. No character can consistently prevent Ranma from sneaking up on them, the picture below is of Ranma sneaking up on Cologne.

As the manga progresses he tends to do this more often. This tactic is not used as often as I feel it should be in Ranma fanfiction. There are several fics I've seen where using this tactic would have been both in character and beneficial for Ranma to use but he did not. Fanfiction Ranma prefers frontal assault far more than his manga counterpart who will often use other means.

Ranma doesn't always stealthily approach or just show up faster than the person can react to, he and most of the cast use the much more common ambushing practice of concealing yourself until the opponent passes by. They use this for various purposes - surprise attack most common, information gathering less common but still done. This has varying degree's of success, for example, Gosunkugi's and Kodachi's attempts are not very successful. In fanfiction it is far more common for villains, rather than the protagonists, to use various ambush techniques, even though it would be in character and extremely useful.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Gender Genie

I recently found a website that uses an algorithm to determine a persons gender based on what words they use while writing. The site is here: Gender Genie. I played with it by putting posts from this here blog on it. It correctly got my gender around 70% of the time. Of course that means 30% of the time it did not. I find it interesting as to what words are considered more female/male. Going by that males are more likely to talk about objects/statements and females more likely to talk about people/personal opinions.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Hate, Hypocrisy, Racism and Terrorist allegations

There are many things that are occurring in this presidential race that really bother me. The racist remarks and the calling of Obama a terrorist, is one thing. I've heard quite a few racist remarks about Obama both about him being black and accusations of him being a Muslim. I dislike racist remarks in general, this is aggravated by having had people direct racist remarks and actions at me in the past (though I am of the technical majority in my country, I'm in/was in the local minority). Even had Obama been an actual Muslim, that should not effect peoples votes. Any US citizen, regardless of race or religion, should have the dream/opportunity to become president one day. Five year old's of Arabian decent should be able to dream of being president like any other US citizen.

The actions of the supporters also bother me. Saying things like kill him and racist slurs. Falling for out right lies. The extreme extent some of them are willing to go (both parties), such as McCain volunteer Ashley Todd's hoax about a large black man attacking her and carving the letter “B” into her cheek, the slashing of tires, the stealing yard signs (mine was stolen), keying of cars, etc. There is a lot of hate.

I've already mentioned the large number of attack ads in an earlier post, but there is more to say about them. They are very, very annoying. Had they been confined to the television I would be able to ignore most of them, but they aren't. I have received phone calls (I'm on the national do not call list but guess they don't care), emails (many, most full of lies), and junk mail (these are really offensive). They have anti-abortion ones with pictures of aborted fetus's, pictures of soldiers dying with comments like vote for Republicans don't let the terrorists win, and more (I'd mention some of the Democrat ones but they are not even close to being as offensive, at least the ones I received weren't). There is also the local/state election and issues on the ballet with a lot of junk mail, ads, and phone calls as well. This applies to both parties and all the issues on ballet, especially the issues.

Hypocrisy, there is quite a bit of it. I'm not going to list very much of it but some is how the Republicans have attacked Obama for being a supporter of ACORN. It's hypocrisy because McCain and the GOP have also been supporters of ACORN in the past and the actions done by people working for ACORN could have happened to any number of organizations. Same practices are used by Republican backed voter registration drives as well as for issues (I, a few months ago, signed a petition to get an issue on ballet that I did not really care about one way or another simply because the person said he was getting paid a dollar per signature and asked nicely - it is not an issue that actually made it onto the ballet though). It is a common practice done by voter registration drives to hire people to get signatures and the people they hire occasionally fabricate signatures, this could happen to any group who registers people.

I do not like how some people are portraying Obama's ties to Bill Ayers and calling him a terrorist because of them. Bill Ayers may have done some bombings in protest of a war but has also has gone on to do good and teach children. That Obama was on the same committee as him should not be held against him. If it is that McCain's ties to terrorists should be held against him as well. Most politicians can, it appears to me, be tied to terrorist in some way. Including the founding fathers of the USA. They were terrorists from the British point of view - one sides terrorist is another sides freedom fighter. I do not condone terrorists but some terrorists are not bad people and some do have worthy causes, though I'd much prefer they used non-violent means. Since Obama is being called a terrorist because of his ties to Ayers, I will now point out this article from the Huffington Post showing some of McCain's ties to terrorists:
A newsletter from 1984 provides more embarrassing evidence of John McCain's relationship with the U.S. Council on World Freedom, a group that was involved in funding militant anti-communists and espoused some anti-Semitic views.

McCain's face graces the front page of the group's "World Freedom Report," published on Dec. 15, 1984, a copy of which was obtained from the research library at the University of Kansas. The front page also features a reprint of an article McCain penned that same month for Reader's Digest.

In the early 1980s, McCain served on the advisory board of the Council on World Freedom, which funded and provided arms to what the Associated Press described as "ultra-right-wing death squads in Central America." The group also "aided rebels trying to overthrow the leftist government of Nicaragua," which landed it "in the middle of the Iran-Contra affair and in legal trouble with the Internal Revenue Service, which revoked the charitable organization's tax exemption."

When McCain's connection to the council received its first blast of press attention earlier this month, his campaign told Politico that McCain "disassociated himself" from the group in 1984 "when questions were raised about its activities."

But the group's tax filing in 1985, covering the previous year, lists McCain as a member of the advisory board. And in October 1985, a States News Service report placed McCain "at a Washington awards ceremony staged by the council."

Moreover, in 1986, McCain himself told the Phoenix New Times that his reason for leaving the group merely had to do with a lack of time.

Asked by the AP this year about McCain's alleged efforts to distance himself from the council in both 1984 and 1986 (when McCain had to ask to have his name removed from the group's stationary), founder John Singlaub said: "That's a surprise to me. ... I don't ever remember hearing about his resigning."

Though the group's founder also said it was possible that McCain had asked to resign and he hadn't heard about the "housekeeping" details, the Council's unearthed newsletter from late 1984 would seem to support Singlaub's -- and not McCain's -- memory of the events.
I find it interesting that several prominent republicans like Colin Powell are endorsing Obama. What I find even more interesting is that the actual terrorist, the ones the government has been trying to get for years, are according to the New Zealand Herald supporting McCain: Al Qaeda-linked website backs McCain as president or if you prefer an US paper; New York Times: The Endorsement From Hell. On the one hand Obama is being called a terrorist often enough, though to be fair McCain did do the honorable thing and tell his supporters that Obama is not a terrorist or a Muslim and it is not, as far as I know, McCain who is saying these things, the actual terrorist would prefer McCain to Obama.

Who I'm voting for

I wasn't planning on writing about my political leanings or about the on going presidential race. I don't mind talking about problems of my, and other, societies or social issues but generally prefer to not talk politics. The reason I prefer to not talk politics is because quite often no matter how well I argue my point the other person doesn't care or refuses to see my point of view (That I'm, IMO, not that good of a debater/socially reclusive also factors in).

I will be voting for Obama. I am voting for him because I agree with Obama's plans and voting record more than I do McCain's and think he would make the better president. Though I do not agree with him on everything, just a lot more than his opponent. I bring this up is in the vain and unlikely hope that you, the reader of this (provided you are a US citizen who can vote and is registered to do so), will decide to vote for Obama (the fact that I, a relative nobody, am endorsing Obama is extremely unlikely to sway anyone's vote).

Going by yard signs, like the one pictured above, my street appears to be voting for McCain. I doubt very much that most of the people on my street will be voting for McCain though. Reasons I think that is because people are stealing Obama signs, mine was stolen. The Obama local headquarters (not actually in my city, several miles away) has a very limited supply, only giving one per person, and has no bumper stickers or pins at all. The main reason though is because McCain supporters have been seen going door to door carrying the McCain signs with them to give to home owners. Really I don't think it matters much though since political signs are a minority. The really sad thing is the type of signs on the most houses front lawns are for sale signs, out numbering political signs 4-1.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Talk about voting

This year a large number of people who are registered to vote are expected to vote. The Board of Elections for my area expects an 80% turn out. They are completely not prepared for it, expecting many law suits. To lesson the impact of massive crowds they are allowing early voting this year. Which makes me wonder how many people will vote early and how long the lines will be for voters? During the primaries my voting place had a fairly large turnout and not enough voting machines. I had to wait over an hour and a half to vote and others had to wait even longer. I came during a time of day not expected to be as crowded, many people have to work on that day and can't come until after work so it becomes really crowded.

Personally I like that we are allowed to vote early now, but I still think that Election Day should be made into a national holiday so that more people can show up. People will still have to work, since many places do not give holiday's off and people can't afford to leave work to vote, but it would allow some people to vote that wouldn't otherwise. If not a federal holiday at least a state holiday. My state is kind of in need of a holiday, since there are no state holiday's for my state.

A lot of the voting practices really annoy me. The one that bothers me the most is that my county had purchased many electric voting machines (touch screens) spending somewhere between 21 million and 35 million (the exact amount is unknown to me since several different source's of information give different figures). They then spent an additional 14 million supposedly in training poll workers how to use them, mailing instructions in the use of them to voters, and related costs. The machines had many errors, particularly in my county, which resulted in many lawsuits (makers of the touch-screen voting machine's used in my area even acknowledged that the machines have a programming error that led to votes being dropped in the March primary). This cost the county and the state millions more dollars. The machines slowed down the voting process quite a bit, enough so that judges ordered polling places to stay open for hours longer than they were supposed to. For this election they are not using those voting machines, they are returning to the very basic, least error prone, cheapest means available - namely paper and a pencil where you just fill in the circle for who you want to vote for. What the hell are they now going to do with all those crappy voting machines they purchased that have no use? In case you were wondering prior to the electric voting machines they used the punch out cards that caused so much trouble in Florida, resulting in problems here as well (things like lawsuits, demand for recounts and hanging chads). I wonder what problems reverting back to paper is going to have, the most obvious one I see is that some places are not going to have enough ballots on hand.

I have voted in just about every election that I have been able to. Though I did miss two (that I know of), one because it truly did not matter to me - any of the candidates up for election would have been acceptable (mainly because it was for a replacement who will only be in office for a very short time before they have to run for office). The other time was because I did not know about it, they had a special election that had next to no publicity for one issue, this one angered me because I would have voted against it and many others would have as well had they known of it's existence.

The reason I vote is because I feel it is important to do so. It's the easiest means of effecting change in the government. Though I do admit that it sometimes feels like I'm voting for the lesser evil. Way too much corruption, particularly near me. The FBI/IRS has raided county offices. The local city government has made so many damn mistakes it's ridiculous, not going to go into that at this time, just think of the most incompetent things you can think of and it probably is worse than that.

While some people might argue that there is no point to vote, I don't agree. Look at how close the last presidential election was a few hundred people could have changed the results. Even if you think the person you'd like to win, will win if you vote or don't vote, remember they have to win electoral votes not just have the majority of votes. Meaning they need to win area by area not just overall. History shows this, since the person with the popular i.e. majority hasn't always one. For example, the 1876 election Samuel Tilden had the popular vote but Rutherford B. Hayes won the electoral college (could use the much more recent example but figure most people know that one and I want to point out that it has happened before).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

5 tips for blogging that I do not follow

This post is in response to various books, blogs, and websites that give tips on blogging.

1. Stay on topic

I have read, in several places, that it is best to only have one topic for your blog and to stick to it. This is probably good advice; though I'm not very good at following this bit of advice. I could create multiple blogs for each topic that I want to write about but the thing is I am a lazy person and would rarely update each blog. I occasionally feel like writing stuff, but it is not generally on topic. I write when I feel like writing, on what I feel like writing about (more often on forums or as comments at other blogs/sites). I do use labels for navigation so if a person were interested in only on topic but not the others they could just hit that label. If I were to write multiple blogs the updates of the various blogs would be very irregular.

2. Keep it short 250 words or less

There are several reasons for this. People have short attention spans, long posts take much longer to compose, short posts are more memorable, etc. I'm not that good at this. I am a slow typist and look up additional information via books and the web (fact checking is good) so writing a blog post takes me awhile. I often want to write more, most things I can think about writing about can have a lot more written about them than I feel like writing. I do mean a lot. At least one of my blog posts, at one time not sure if it is on this blog or not (too lazy to look), is over 10 pages long (if put on open office/printed out) and a few others are/were nearly that long as well.

3. Update regularly

This makes sense, a regularly updated blog will have more readers, especially regular readers (the best type). I'm not that good at this either. Blogging is a hobby of sorts that I just do when I feel like it. I would like regular readers but I don't go online everyday, feel like writing something, and am not that good at scheduling a hobby.

4. Make friends and leave comments

There are several ways to promote a blog/get readers. I would like readers but I'm lazy. Submitting it to various search engines will get some readers, but not all that many. Most will come for just one post and never come back (one post on this blog receives something like 80% of the hits, according to statcounter, and that is not a well written or even very interesting post). If you write interesting, informative, thought provoking, somewhat opinionated, and well written (good grammar and spelling) posts it will keep readers coming back, but generally won't draw them to the site in the first place. To get real repeat readers, you have to advertise, draw them in. I'm not really that good at doing that. Submitting your blog to blog communities like Blog Carnival will draw readers. The best method though is to make good comments on other people's blogs and in forums. If your posts on various forums and their blogs are good they are likely to come to and make comments on your blog. Basically the point of this post is you have to network and make friends, which is not something I'm good at. I'm on a social networking site, care2, and have only a relative as a friend. I had tried other social networks like myspace but did not have any friends in them either. I generally comment anonymously on reviews and blogs and sometimes use one of my other aliases.

5. Link a lot
I've seen in various places that you should link a lot. This does make sense. If you write a post that relates to another post you've written it makes sense to link to it. After they read the one post they'll go to the other. Linking to other blogs and websites will cause people to back track to your site. The most important and best links though are to additional information and annotations. Having good sources and references for your post will give notability to your writing and cause the readers to view you as a good source of information. I occasionally do link to other sites but not that often and I rarely list my sources of information, though they are reliable. I do occasionally do so - for example if I state a percentage or statistic I will generally say where I obtained that information.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Usage of the word lost and 'clean' coal.

I seriously dislike statements that use the word lost or lose when they aren't applicable. For example, there is a ballot issue for the creation of a casino in my state, people who are pushing the issue are airing commercials that state that X-number of jobs would be lost if the issue doesn't pass. This is a lie, that is used fairly often. It could be argued that if this passes X-number of jobs will be created but it is impossible for those jobs to be lost since they do not exist yet. An opportunity for the creation of the jobs can be lost, but the jobs themselves can not be lost since they do not exist. This is not the only issue or way that lose and lost are used that annoy me or the only issue it is used this way on. Other issues, clean coal commercials, also claim that jobs will be lost if power plants using 'clean' coal aren't created. Not only do those jobs not exist at this time, hence can not be lost, since a demand for energy will still exist power generating plants will still be created, creating jobs. Though if coal powered plants are not created a different power source would be used like geothermal, solar, wind, water, and hydrogen - which are renewable. Though no power source is perfect, all have their advantages and disadvantages.

I also do not like the term clean coal because clean coal does not exist. When they say clean coal they are saying process's are used so that coal powered plants emit less environmentally harmful pollutants and more energy is produced from the same amount of coal (Carbon dioxide is stored under ground instead of released into the atmosphere, is one way the polluting is reduced). The plants are more environmentally friendly than existing coal plants but are far from clean. Strip mining, mountaintop removal, and underground coal mining (some means of harvesting coal) will still be amongst the dirtiest and most destructive ways of making energy and the so called clean power plants will still release harmful pollutants into the air, just a smaller number of them. Coal miners will continue getting lung cancer, dying via accidents, forests will still be stripped for coal, explosives will still blast poisons into the air, waterways will still have dangerous pollutants enter them from the process of getting the coal, etc., and coal, like oil, is also a fossil fuel with a limited supply and takes millions of years to form (though it is the most abundant fossil fuel available in the USA at this time). There are laws that try to limit the damage done, Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 is one, but pollution, health problems, and environmental problems will still be caused by 'clean' coal plants.

My opinion on 'clean' coal is that existing plants that use coal should take as many steps to reduce their environmental and health impact as possible but new plants should not be created that uses coal, rather cleaner and renewable power sources should be used. I do not suggest using anyone power source everywhere, multiple power sources should be used and which one is best for a given area might not be the best for a different area.

Again since this is at least in part a blog on Japan, here is some info on Japan and coal: Coal powered plants account for around 23% of Japan's energy consumption. Japan imports the majority of it's coal instead of mining it. The reason for this is it is cheaper to import than to mine locally. The amount Japan imports is roughly one quarter of all coal traded worldwide, according to statistics from the government and the International Energy Agency. Japan is very into 'clean' coal technology, leading the world in it's use and implementation. Japan is often trying out new technologies to increase coals efficiency, more so than most countries. Japan teaches other Asian countries how to use coal more efficiently and reduce pollution caused by it. Japan is also actively increasing the use of renewable power and attempting to reduce consumption of power. While this does reduce pollutants the main purpose of these actions are to cut costs and be more self reliant i.e. purchase less coal. The teaching other countries is not entirely from altruism, it's an attempt to lower the coal usage by those countries . The below quote on teaching other countries about coal usage, is from Japan Times.
Every year, Japan invites about 60 engineers and managers from the coal industry of seven Asian nations -- China, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and India -- to instruct them in the use of "clean coal technology," or CCT, which aims to improve the mineral's efficiency while reducing carbon dioxide emissions and pollution.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Few comments inspired by Ranma Fanfiction

I was reading some Ranma fanfiction, which is something I haven't done a lot of lately, and now feel like making some comments inspired by recently read Ranma fanfics.

-In one fic I read, I saw mention of Ranma being unable to get somewhere because of a mountain range in his way forcing him to spend weeks going around it. I don't get why Ranma would have trouble climbing or even going directly through the mountain if he wanted to. Even had the mountain been virtually vertical it would only cause him little trouble seeing how he has the same ability as Spiderman to cling to impossible surfaces and he could, had he wanted to, just gouge his fingers into the stone (can casually do this as seen in the arc in which he gets strength back). How he could go through the mountain is the very same way Ryoga does tunnel through the earth via breaking point and ki blasts.

-I find it extremely unlikely that Ranma doesn't know the breaking point since he has seen it repeatedly, witnessed the training for it, and he has learned other techniques with less exposure. If Ranma knows it why doesn't he use it? Simple from a combat point of view, against his normal opponents, it has very few offensive abilities. Ryoga doesn't even try to use it on Ranma, in the manga, after it's intro arc since it can't hurt Ranma. There is only one time in the manga in which Ranma would have had a reason to use it, when he (technically she at the time) made a hole in Ryoga's house's wall, but Ranma chose to instead make a perfect circular cut barehanded to the wall. There are times where it would be useful though, for example against armor, though the shrapnel from the armor may kill the person so Ranma would not use the technique in that way lightly.

-In another fic I saw Nabiki swear to pay a debt she owes. This is extremely out of character for her. In the manga, she has no qualms about leaving her debts to others or running instead of doing what she was paid to do (like when the principal hired her and she took the money and ran).

-Comments of this nature: "Ranma is sexist so the pools made him female to learn that males and females are equal"; are untrue and do not make sense. Ranma is no more sexist than anyone else in his society. There are only two things, that I remember, him saying that can be construed as being sexist. One that guys tend to go easy on girls - which isn't really a sexist statement so much an observation, guys do tend to go easy on girls in fights. The second being that he doesn't like to fight girls (not that he won't, just that he doesn't like doing so). There are many reasons as to why he would dislike fighting girls beyond seeing them as being inferior (for instance how society would view him for hitting a girl -this is sort of implied to be at least part of the reason since he did have a daydream once in the manga about hitting Akane after she pissed him off and the shown reaction of the bystanders when he defeated Shampoo during the Reversal Jewel arc). He does treat females as serious opponents, he does not mind taking females like Shampoo or Ukyo with him on his training trips, he has fought with females, and he has asked females (such as Cologne and Akane) for help. Ranma is less, sexist than Akane is (she does have a valid excuse in that boys were attempting to defeat her for the privilege of dating her because of Tatewaki's proclamation) who thinks it's perfectly acceptable for a girl to see a guy nude but not for a guy to see a girl nude (or that it is fine for girls to hit guys but not for guys to hit girls). If anything cursing him to be a girl would make him more sexist, not less, since his female form is physically weaker than his male form and people expect him to act differently (like a girl) while female (mostly people who don't know his true form but still happens).

The main reason people probably view Ranma as being chauvinistic has nothing to do with any of his words or actions. The reason people view him as chauvinistic or misogynous is simply because he turns into a girl and doesn't want to. People construe not wanting to be a girl as him viewing girls as being inferior to guys. That is not the reason Ranma doesn't want to be a girl, he doesn't want to be a girl because it is a curse, not his natural state of being, and has caused him all kinds of problems (up to and including nearly getting him killed).

-I've seen fics in which Ranma knows every technique in the manga/anime. It is true that Ranma has a very high learning curve, if he sees the technique, particularly if he has seen it repeatedly, he probably knows how to duplicate it. He can't do so instantly though, even he needs some time to perfect the technique. Ranma can reasonably be expected to know the breaking point, Happosai's firework technique, Mousse's hidden weapons, and Kuno's sword techniques. He seen them enough that based on his learning other techniques (for example the Umisenken and tea ceremony) he should know them. He should not know some techniques like Shampoo's remote control acupuncture, because he hadn't seen it, and should not know Miss Hinako's ki draining techniques since they required her to be physically altered to do (though given time and motivation he could probably develop his own version).

-Ranma in all likelihood knows some and could duplicate other techniques which can kill. Ranma is not a killer, I do not like fics that have him be one. That is not to say Ranma won't kill, he would but only as a last resort or if killing would save peoples lives. Having Ranma go to someone to learn them is really not needed, existing techniques can, and have been, altered to kill.

-I've seen fics in which Ranma finds it abhorrent or criticizes people for using magic. Ranma in all canons (manga, games, and anime) has used magic. He came to Nerima carrying the girl repellent, he has borrowed magic items from the amazons, he bought magic items, etc. Even in the anime he uses magic, for example he bought magic that brought his shadow to life to practice with (then proceeded to train for three days straight wearing out the magic). I would not be in the least bit surprised to find out he was actually attempting to learn magic - to cure his curse and to counter other people using magic on him (I'd be more surprised if he wasn't).

-This has bugged me for awhile now, fics in which Ranma sleeps in school. If you read the manga that is not a common occurrence for him (eating in class yes, sleeping no). Akane has slept in class more often than Ranma, yet he is the one who is said to sleep in class not her in fanon. Actually the whole Akane being better than Ranma when it comes to schooling bothers me. Akane has been shown to cut class, does so with Ukyo in one arc but there are other times as well (though this is something Ranma does as well). Akane has disrupted class, a few times. Akane has incited riots, while Ranma doesn't he instead tries to manipulate the people doing things that bothers him to get his way (Akane solution get students up in arms to cut Kuno's hair, though she did eventually see it as being wrong, Ranma's solution use female form and attempt to manipulate Kuno into cutting his own hair). Et cetera. Yet in fan fiction Ranma is said to be the worse student. Ranma is not shown to be a worse student than Akane is in any way. Though this maybe different in the anime.

As far as grades are concerned, Ranma's grades are pretty much unknown (based on the evidence you can interpret them any way you want though it is implied that he is at least maintaining a passing grade). As for Akane, like Ranma her grades are mostly unknown and it is implied that she too is passing but there is some evidence that she is doing poorly in at least one class (and likely more). She is shown to be in a home economics class and she is also shown to be absolutely terrible at every single thing that class teaches. Since she can't cook she likely would do bad in related classes such as chemistry and since she can't swim she is probably not getting a great grade in that class (swimming is shown to be part of the curriculum).

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sento - Public bath houses

Japan has public bath houses which people go to take a bath. The rise of the sento, or bath house, really starts in the town of Edo (currently called Tokyo) during the Edo period. Private heated baths were outlawed because of the fear of fires, so if people wanted a hot bath they either needed to go to a hot spring or a bath house. Until the 1950's, these bath houses were mixed sex. A law was placed requiring bath houses to be sexually segregated, mostly because of pressure from westerners. Since then they are divided by a wall, or if a really old one, a curtain.

Sento's served as more than a place to get clean. They were a gathering place for conversations, gossip, and general interactions. Cleanliness was also a very important part of their religion so it was also seen as a religious activity.

When you go to a public bath bring your own soap, shampoo, hand towel, and wash bowl. Must wash thoroughly before getting into the tub of hot water, soap is not permitted in the tub. This is especially important so I'll mention it twice wash thoroughly before entering tub.

With the increased western influence, rising prices, and more households having private bathes, these public bath houses have been in decline. To counteract this decline, operators of bath houses have been adding additional amenities, such as coin-operated laundry machines, saunas, coffee shops, game rooms, reading rooms, etc.

Random trivia:
Temperature of the water is usually between 105 and 108 degrees Fahrenheit.
They can often be recognized by large smoke stacks since a lot of them are wood heated.
I could write more but the wikipedia page for it is quite good, so have a look at it: Wikipedia page for Sento

Sento are seen in many manga and anime because they allow for fanservice. Ranma has several storylines set in public bath houses.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Attack ads

This subject is probably on many websites and blogs considering the massive number of them during this, and pretty much every, election. I don't know about you but attacking your opponent or the issues will not influence my vote. In truth commercials have very little influence on me in the first place. This is especially true since I do not watch a lot of television - I prefer to watch shows on DVD and get my news from the internet.

If the ads are truthful than they would be good, since they would be spreading knowledge, but a large number of them are falsehoods, exaggerations, or misleading half truths. That so many of them are shown is very annoying but what bothers me the most about them is that they will influence people votes using false information. I make an attempt to look up candidates/issues before I vote, get the actual facts but many people do not. They make their choice based on party, ads, or because people they know are voting one particular way.

There are several sites that fact check the various claims made during ads/interviews and people should check them out, not take what they see on tv as fact. Of course these sites are not perfect either but are much more accurate than the ads.
Washington Post Fact Checker
Urban Legends Reference Page - Snopes Also tells about urban legends.

Also should check Fox because even though Fox News claims to be fair and balanced they are not, they lean far to the right.

In Japan there are attack ads as well, though not as many political ones. The reason for this is because Japan has a one party system. The Liberal Democratic Party has been in charge from 1955-1993, 1996-Present. Not all attack ads are political. There are other types of attack ads as well.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Taiiku No Hi - Health and Sports Day

The Second Monday of October is health and sports day in Japan. This holiday was established in 1966 to commemorate the 1964 Olympics which were held in Tokyo. This holiday had been on October 10th until the year 2000 when it was moved to the second Monday of October. This time of year in Japan the weather is generally pretty good and the reason the Summer Olympics were held in October was in part to avoid tsuyu - the rainy season. That Olympics was the first one held in a non-western nation and introduced Volleyball and Judo to the Olympics.

This day is for recognizing sport's importance for a healthy body and mind. Many sporting events are held through out Japan on this day. Many schools and business's have Undoukai (a sport's festival). In undoukai, children are usually divided into two teams (red and white) and compete for their teams. Common events include tsunahiki (tug of war), tamaire game, kibasen (cavalry battle), creative dance, track and field events, and more.

Tamaire is a game in which you take about 200 stuffed balls, 2 baskets and 2 poles to hold the baskets (more if more players). The winner is determined by seeing how many balls can be thrown into each basket within a certain time. Traditionally there are two teams; one is the Red-team and the other is the White-team. Each team has about 100-stuffed balls colored Red or White. The balls are placed on the ground first and the children pick them up and throw them into the basket, which is on a pole about 1.5 meters or 2 meters high. There is even a league that plays this and championship tournaments. For the tournaments there are official rules and standardized equipment. The characters in the Azumanga Daioh anime can be seen playing this during their sports festival.

I like the idea of a day to promote health and exercise because too many people are living too sedentary lifestyles and eating fatty foods leading to obesity. While obesity is not a real large problem in Japan (10% of population obese up from 3% in 1970's), it is becoming a larger and larger problem in many countries (like USA, Mexico, and China). A holiday that promotes exercise is a good thing, that should be adopted in many countries. Even in Japan there are many people extremely concerned since children in particular are getting fatter and in the last 15 years the number of people with diabetes in Japan has increased 50%.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Who has a right to vote?

With the up coming election in my country (USA), I feel that I should write a bit about voting. I really should have written this last month, since the time to register to vote has passed in the majority of states, including my own. My personal belief is that voting is an extremely important privilege and that everyone who is able to should partake in.

Why do I say privilege instead of right? The reason for that is because even though constitutional amendments do prevent discrimination. There is no amendment guaranteeing an individual right to vote. The Bush vs. Gore Supreme Court case of 2000 even said "the individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States".

There are a significant amount of people who can not vote or whose votes are denied. The 15th amendment to the Constitution prevents discrimination in voting from race, color, or previous condition of servitude (those who were slaves). That was in 1870 but it did not give everyone the right to vote. The Constitution was amended again in 1920, 19th Amendment, prevents discrimination in voting based on sex. The 23rd amendment (1960) extends voting privileges to the District of Columbia. It was amended yet again in 1971, 26th Amendment, setting the voting age as 18. This one was created to prevent discrimination based on age, setting a minimum age of 18. It doesn't state that younger people can't vote, so a state could allow younger people to vote if the state wanted to allow it. If you haven't noticed nowhere does the Constitution say that people have the right to vote, only states some reasons that can not be used to prevent voting. This means that many people can (and are) not allowed to vote so long as the reason they aren't allowed to vote is not one of the above mentioned reasons.

Before I go onto people barred voting rights in the present, I'm going to point out a few from the past. The Native Americans were not given citizenship until 1924, Indian Citizenship Act, but even then many were not allowed to vote. Utah did not grant the Native Americans that right until 1956. There was a poll tax, which is an individual tax that had to be paid to vote. This was abolished by the 24th amendment. This prevents, at least in part, discrimination against the poor who could not afford to pay the tax.

Voting is not really governed by the federal government, it is the states who make the decision about who has the privilege to vote. Many states prevent people who should be able to vote, from voting. They do this in many ways. People who have committed crimes lose their privilege to vote, many even after having served their sentences have difficulty registering or are out right denied their vote (depends on state). People who are citizens of the United States but live in territories instead of states do not have the right to vote for president. The homeless people in this country, a significant and rising number (my county alone has, at bare minimum, 2,272 – the number of a recent point in time census of homeless shelters and most likely far higher), have an extremely hard time exercising their right since they do not have a home to register with. The mentally handicapped can not vote in some states. People who do not have a photo id are prevented from voting. People who go to the wrong voting place have their votes tossed out. The state purge their voter list so people who are registered voters might not be counted because their names were purged from the list of registered voters. Foreigner and illegal aliens can not vote. Many of those like the homeless, the people who served their jail time, and people in territories should, in my opinion, be allowed to vote.

People should fight to prevent their voting privileges, and the privileges of others, from being taken away. I do not think that absolutely everyone should have a right to vote. Foreigners and people who live here illegal should not be allowed to vote and some people for other reasons like lacking mental ability probably shouldn't vote. Many of the people who are citizens of this country and have the responsibilities, such as paying taxes, have trouble voting when they should not have trouble. I feel that people are far to complacent about allowing their privileges to be revoked. In my view, anything that is done that prevents or makes it difficult for people who are eligible to vote is a criminal act and should be protested. I also think a new amendment including federal standards should be implemented that gives and protects everyone's privilege to vote. There are too many different and varying rules the central government should create a new amendment that grants the privilege to people living in territories, gives everyone eligible who lives in a jurisdiction the right to vote, and set some standards to prevent voter disenfranchisement (explicitly prevent some of the dishonorable tactics from being used to bar voters).

Since this blog is, at least in part, on Japan. I'll mention Japan's voting rights here. The Japanese Constitution, not amendments - there are none, guarantees universal adult suffrage and a secret ballot. It also explicitly prevents discriminate in voting based on "race, creed, sex, social status, family origin, education, property or income". Age of adulthood is 20 in Japan.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

First experience with computers

I have been using computers for quite a while. My first exposure, that I can recall, was in the fourth grade (though I may have used one in the third). The computers and games were not the newest but they were interesting. I had stayed, on occasion, after school hours to play games like Number Munchers and Oregon Trail (links go to Wikipedia articles about the games). On occasion I like to play old games that I had played in the past. Nostalgia plays a large part in making me remember the games as being better than they were. I hadn't got my own computer until after I graduated from high school but did use the libraries and school computers fairly often.

Number Munchers can be played on or downloaded from several different websites:
Wikipedia article on Number Munchers that has more links than I posted and more info on the game.
PC Gaming - Number Munchers - download and play version
Number Munchers Org - Online JavaScript version of the game
and embedded, at the bottom of this post, is one from (requires Javascript to be on).

More information on and a download of Oregon Trail can be found at Classic Gaming - To play you have to download both the game and the Emulator. Install the emulator and then load the game with it. I didn't play that one in school I played a later version (that version is older than I am).

An Ms-dos version of it can be download from - If you have a version of windows newer than Windows 98 (a Linux, or a Mac) your probably going to have to download an emulator to play this. Dos-box is an emulator that should work.

Feel free to comment on your first computer experience or retro games that you like to still play (I might like them as well).

Add fun flash games to your page or share them with
your friends on MySpace! Visit:

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Shishi odoshi - deer scare

Shishi-odoshi is a deer scare (literal translation is deer scarer). It was originally developed by farmers to scare off deer and boar to keep them from eating their crops. There are several types of things used to scare away away animals. Many can be scene in anime/manga though some are more often heard.

Deer chasers were later used in japanese gardens as their movement provided an element of change. As the water flows from the bamboo fountain, the knocking portion fills and spills the water creating a rhythmic knocking sound as it hits a rock.

There are kakashi (scarecrow - new robotic type look like giant eyeballs), naruko (clappers - wooden clappers that were banged together by pulling a string or by the wind) and sōzu (the water fountain pictured above).

Sōzu are often found in Japanese gardens. The sound they make is soothing to some people and reminds people of the passage of time. They usually are made of bamboo. Contains one or more upright bamboo poles with a hollow pivoting arm attached into which water pours from a tube or pipe above it. When the arm gets full, the weight of the water causes it to tip over and empty, making a sharp sound when it hits a hard surface below it. This noise is intended to startle any deer which may be grazing on the plants in the garden. The empty arm is then free to swing back up into position and refill.

This site tells how to make one:

I think these are kind of neat and could use a deer scare of some type. Deer have come to the garden in the backyard and eaten the tops of plants like the peppers. It's kind of annoying. Placing unappealing plants like marigolds and vinca do not stop them from coming and eating the plants.

The Tendo's in the Ranma anime have a deer scare in their garden. They are also seen in the manga (above picture was taken from the Ranma manga) but I do not remember seeing one in the Tendo's yard in the manga.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Five random things on Japan

1. The Japanese space agency is called Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (Dokuritsu-gyōsei-hōjin Uchū Kōkū Kenkyū Kaihatsu Kikō).

2. Japan, like many other countries, is working on a fifth generation fighter plane. It's name is the Mitsubishi ATD-X Shinshin. ADT-X stands for Advanced Technology Demonstrator - X. Shinshin means one mind. The date for it's release is currently 2016. It's date has been pushed back several time for various reasons. The Japanese have attempted to purchase f-22 from the United States on a few occasions and there is rumors the Lockhead Martin (the company which built the stealth planes for the USA) is in talks with Mitsubishi (the company that built Japanese generation 4.5 plane the Mitsubishi F-2 which is based on the US f-16 acquired in an approved technological transfer and is working on the experimental planes).

3. Using a mobile phone while driving is illegal in Japan. Mobile phones by law have filtering software to prevent looking at porn in Japan. Cell phones in Japan make a loud beep when a picture is taken to help prevent voyeurs from taking pictures without people knowing.

4. Everyone who owns a television in Japan is supposed to have a television licence. The fee is ¥15,490 ( (slightly less if paid by direct debit) and ¥25,520 if you receive satellite broadcasts. There is a separate licence for monochrome TV, and fees are different in Okinawa. The Japanese licence fee pays for the national broadcaster NHK (the public television channel). Even though everyone is supposed to have a licence ,according to a site I saw, it is actually voluntary, there is no penalty for non-payment, and people are legally entitled to stop licensing inspectors from entering their houses.

5. All you can eat buffets are called viking style (vaikingu). This word comes from the English word viking. Even though many of the places advertise all you can eat, most aren't, they have a time limit (like 90 minutes).