Patto comments

Posted in: The Great Sasuke arrested on suspicion of assaulting man on train See in context

There have been times when I really wanted to grab a cell phone pest by the collar and ram him/her against the train door too. This is why I no longer take the train. When I have to, I wear my bee hat (silver mesh) and stand by the silver seats, where people are supposed not to use their cell phones, but do anyway. What would happen, I wonder, if a person with a pacemaker grabbed a silver-seat phone-user and rammed him against the door? I realize this was not the Great Sasuke's situation and that he made an idiot of himself, but I feel the slightest hint of sympathy for him. These handy phones are great for some and a terror for others.

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Posted in: Clinton visits Meiji Shrine See in context

Realist--the figure is 8 million, not 800 million. And also, "gods" is a poor translation of "kami." I wonder if you think 8 million would be an over-estimation of the number of angels? I try to see into the heart of any religion, and know that in every case there will be examples of where the religion went terribly wrong, but that does not mean that all of its manifestations are therefore bad.

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Posted in: Bird in the hand See in context

I agree with Cleo: white wagtail, probably juvenile. Nice shot!

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Posted in: 83-yr-old man arrested for exposing himself to junior high school boys in Saitama See in context

So this is illegal when you do it to boys. Learn something new every day!

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Posted in: Tiger shark See in context

"sharks, who are as sensitive to motion as snakes"

Betzee, you are correct about sharks being sensitive to motion. They also detect electromagnetic fields very well, such as those put out by muscular activity. However, snakes lack these abilities. Their tongue (sharp sense of smell) serves as their "eyes" to the world, and some also detect heat, although I note from experience that you can fool a gartersnake by moving your little finger in such a way as to resemble a worm, and it will attempt to eat you, pinky first. So they have some sensitivity to motion, but it is typically secondary or tertiary.

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Posted in: Now the world has changed. Nobody is sure who is good or who is evil. The whole world is becoming borderless and unstable. The manga world's ambiguity has become realistic. See in context

The reason we do not know who's good or evil, or know good from evil for that matter is because "the evil" (i.e., sociopaths) are so securely in power that they can redefine it to suit their purposes. Read "Political Ponerology" by Andrzej Lobaczewski, a psychological analyst who survived similar times in Eastern Europe. He escaped to America but his book was suppressed by Zbigniew Brzezinski for many years (to give you an idea of who's in charge now). Modern society's lack of knowledge of sociopathy is advantageous to these people, who lack consciences and go on committing crimes until they are caught. Lobaczewski identified what he called a "hysteroidal cycle" which has occurred throughout history, in which good economic times lead to a lack of caution; unraveling of morals; the rise of an amoral group with psychology vastly different from normal (sociopaths); followed by unraveling of the economic basis of the society, with hysteria, scapegoating, etc.; then collapse; and finally reestablishment of normal moral rules of conduct, after which prosperity can grow again. His work has given me hope that a careful study of history and analysis of present trends, especially with the use of everyday observations of people's behavior along with clinical testing to exclude people with no conscience from positions of power, can give us the power to end this cruel cycle. I urge all concerned to read http://www.opednews.com/articles/3/opedne_clinton__080508_beware_the_psychopat.htm just as a start in an important body of knowledge that could help spare millions from misery.

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Posted in: Australian rape victim loses case against police for bungling investigation See in context

Thank you to neverknow2! I laughed so hard I nearly wet myself. I am really glad Jane is pursuing this, and I am shocked to see how little progress has been made with regard to the Japanese police's attitude toward sex crimes. Years back the police suggested I had encouraged a persistent anonymous telephoner to get interested in me. He called so regularly they could have caught him at it easily, but they weren't interested in helping me. Ditto for the exhibitionist on a beach in Shizuoka Pref. I had witnesses and a way to identify the man and his friends, but all the police could say was, "Kuyashii desho." I see signs all over suburban Japan warning about sexual predators. I guess that's all anyone is doing about the problem.

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Posted in: Try to get a credit card in Japan See in context

Years back, I had the same trouble with Visa, but much better luck with American Express. I have that deducted from my main bank account directly and keep it paid off. The Y20,000/year charge is worth it for the reasons the author notes when travelling--it's essential. I considered one card enough, but when applying for a mortgage on a property back home, they demanded two. It didn't look like I was eligible for a credit card from my credit union in California, so I tried applying again for a Visa card in Japan. This time I had a spouse and was with him at the bank. They didn't care what my income was--they wanted to know my husband's. He was semi-retired for medical reasons, so his income was tiny. After a month I got back a letter from them, and it appeared I'd been rejected, but my husband got a card from them and he carried it around for about a year before he realized it had my name on it. So I have a Japanese Visa card now, but they deduct the bills from my husband's account. So back to the realtors to try again for a mortgage, a fixed-rate one from a decent bank because I'd read up on investment. Having paid off my student loans 20 years prior, I had zero credit rating. But the bank was very nice and tried to find a way to get me the loan with a higher down-payment and a note from my Japanese bank explaining my creditworthiness. The Japanese bank (Sumitomo at the time), couldn't understand why such a thing was needed. In Japan, a foreigner has zero chances of getting a loan, period. I sat there in their lobby until they provided me a letter saying they could not provide the information requested because their system doesn't work that way in Japan. (A friend suggests singing loudly while waiting in the lobby, so as to speed the process up.) After some more negotiation with the American bank, I actually did get accepted for the loan. I was overjoyed that someone finally believed in me! I'm a professional with steady income and significant savings and assets, which exceeded the value of the mortgage I wanted.

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Posted in: People who are worried about the economic slowdown visit our stores instead of dining out. See in context

So, let's see, that's convenience stores along with cell phone shops and "sarakin" loan shark operations that are doing well in the current economy, judging by the number of them popping up. Any others?

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Posted in: JR Tokai female staff issued pepper spray for self-defense See in context

I'd knock the offender silly and, uh, spend the rest of my life in jail, I guess. Pepper spray sounds like a better alternative.

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Posted in: So who exactly is running the global show? See in context

The clearer it becomes what has happened during the last ten years, starting from the Clintons and proceeding under the Bush Administration (the packaging of subprime mortgages and other risky debt and selling them around the world as highly rated financial instruments, which constitutes fraud), the more demand there will be for an end to US hegemony. There is already talk that this constituted a deliberate economic attack by the US on its competitors.

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Posted in: What do you think about the way some people pamper their pets? See in context

It's a dog's life--getting dressed up and carried around by a fashion-conscious ninny who doesn't actually care about you. Sad, but what is worse is that this is how many people treat their kids.

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Posted in: Obama begins assembling team See in context

Obama has realized for a long time that he has got to placate the Israel lobby. I'd say good choice if that's what you have to do! He's our man!

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Posted in: What does Japan need to do in order to attract more tourists? See in context

Some people will complain wherever they go. I love Japan! I also see Japan is successfully attracting Chinese visitors to places such as Mount Fuji, and providing them a good time at reasonable costs for groups. To attract more individual tourists, it might be good to hire a few foreigners to help put out information on attractions they are apt to enjoy, lodging, transportation, etc. In particular, the mountains are mostly unknown outside of Japan, except Mt. Fuji of course, which is a disappointment for many because of the crowds and trash. I hiked over Kirigamine and Utsukushigahara in Nagano Pref. last weekend and found them both impressive. The Southern Alps and Yatsugatake are also very nice and unspoiled. Specialized information for hikers could open a new field of tourism. I would particularly recommend combining culture with nature. Historical guides to some of the mountainous areas would be really nice.

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Posted in: Leaders should train students who have the potential to outshine them, but Japanese leaders tend to reject such students. See in context

A teacher who encourages students to excel in their own unique ways comes under attack in Japan as unfair by incompetent students who are accustomed to being spoon-fed equal doses of learning, repeated as necessary until the lowest common denominator gets it. Some teachers go ahead anyway and take criticism and demotions for this, but darned few try.

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Posted in: In many U.S. airports, guns are OK outside security See in context

Oh good! I can defend myself if they try to taser me!

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Posted in: Stalking the predators See in context

I wonder how Japan really stands in terms of sex crimes. What laws apply to pedophilia in particular? My experience in Japan is a lot of sex crimes of a minor nature occur. Am I wrong on this? Is the problem hidden? To the degree that a problem exists in Japan, the law needs to be strengthened and people need to take steps to reduce risk to themselves and especially their children. Otherwise we might wind up with the hysteria and violent witchhunts that BPA proposes.

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Posted in: Sugar-free sake See in context

No mention of whether this sake is very dry or has had its flavor "enhanced" in some way. I fear the latter. If so, no good for the kamidana, which is the only place I use sake anyway.

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Posted in: Cheney accuses Russia of using brute force, intimidation over Georgia See in context

Col. America, I presume you do not live in Japan, where the prevailing winds are northwesterly. Perhaps you can sit in your armchair and punch the button in safety and comfort, but the fallout won't be limited to just millions of innocent people in North Korea. Putin stood up to the oligarchs that were stripping Russia's assets, and he improved life for the average Russian citizen. Ten years ago, you could say the army was demoralized--the whole country was! But not now. With a lot of trigger-happy people in America in power, including Mr. Cheney, and with religious zealots pushing for Armageddon, I fear a nuclear war is just a matter of time, with fatalities in the millions or billions and even people in armchairs affected in some meaningful way.

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Posted in: Russia calls for more observers in Georgia See in context

I read somewhere recently that a treaty established about two decades ago recognized Ossetia as independent from Georgia and allowed Russia a peace-keeping force there. So after Georgia attacks Ossetia, killing thousands of Russian peace-keepers and their families, Russia retaliates by attacking Georgia, and we are supposed to think Russia is really bad because of this? The BS about this skirmish has been flying so thick it makes me think someone in America or perhaps Israel wants really badly to push Russia into a major war. No wonder Russia is calling for more observers. Impartial ones would be nice.

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Posted in: Iriomote Island: Go trekking through primeval forest — without leaving Japan See in context

Thank you for the recommendation! I'll go give it a try!

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Posted in: 2-year-old missing boy found on Shizuoka mountain See in context

Amazing the little boy could survive the night on that mountain! It was a miracle it didn't rain that night. I live there and often hike on that mountain. It is not warm at night. It's over 700 meters altitude where he was. He was probably on a north slope, which is overgrown with short trees and shrubs. Amazing they could find him! It is a real miracle.

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Posted in: The Catholic Church and Yasukuni shrine See in context

Thank you to Mr. Grimm for a thoughtful article! I think a third Yasukuni will remain for quite a while: the loyalty test. Japan has had those throughout its history, it seems a deeply important part of their culture. Loyalty tests, however, can take many different forms, so Yasukuni's relevance may fade in this area over time. A fourth Yasukuni will remain, though. It is a part of Japan's indigenous religion, and though the wartime government defined Shinto as a cultural/educational institution and a few people within Shinto still do, there are many others who find real inspiration in it as a nature-oriented beautiful religion. In fact, people outside Japan are discovering Shinto. There is a Texas Shinto Study Group, for just one example. They honor Yasukuni as part of Shinto, while recognizing the reasons for controversy. I think that no religion, country or culture should be judged by what its soldiers did in a war. We would all be throwing rocks at each other. The world, unfortunately, has an endless supply of warmongers who will utilize any means at hand for organizing and motivating armies. "I am with God! Blah blah blah."

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Posted in: It’s time for emperor to rev up his own sound truck See in context

I smile at them benignly and wave as they go by.

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Posted in: Ornithologists flock to Tokyo bird sanctuary See in context

I visited the park in the late 1980s before it officially opened. There was only one blind then, near the pond, and I was the only visitor and in fact saw no one on the way to and from the station, aside from a few drunken horse-racing enthusiasts loitering and huge trucks speeding through the streets not anticipating pedestrians. Even so, it was worth the trip. I am happy to hear how nice it has become! I found Tokyo overall to be surprisingly rich in wildlife.

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Posted in: No substitute for human touch in translating See in context

I admit to feeling better after Coligny's beautiful rant! Republic, I've been a translator in Japan for 20 years, but even I don't know how the Japanese communicate with each other! I am beginning to believe in ESP.

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Posted in: House Speaker Pelosi calls Bush 'a total failure' See in context

I'll be more impressed when wh puts impeachment back on the table. Until then, it's just sweet nothings.

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Posted in: Crown prince seeks public understanding for ailing wife See in context

The Emperors and Empresses are supposed to be gods and goddesses--constantly playing their roles for the benefit of the Japanese nation. Always giving, never receiving except in a ceremonial sense, like the shrine gods, in front of whom we bring the finest gifts, then take them away and consume them ourselves, because the gods, after all, cannot eat. That's a lot to ask of a human being. The boys are brought up under such circumstances and accept them with equanimity, believing the fate of their nation rests on their shoulders (and there is reason to consider the Emperor a stabilizing force in Japan). For two generations, however, the girls have come into this from the outside, so they know freedom. They have proceeded with a sense of duty and the importance of their role, understanding intellectually what that will entail. It strikes me a lot like committing suicide for the greater good. Japan has its own glorified Guantanamo for all the world to gawk at.

Dear Masako needs our loving words recognizing her enormous sacrifice. That may be the only thing that can reach her.

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Posted in: Why don't Japanese speak English better than they do? See in context

I think the situation has worked out very well from the government's point of view. Students are kept too busy to develop an independent point of view and they develop an aversion to education by the time they reach college age because they have been forced to memorize so much nonsense. Most of them goof around for four years rather than study in college (who can blame them?), then they become part of a docile work force. Japan has avoided a major brain drain and they keep most of the capital within the country in savings accounts with multi-digit interest rates (0.00...) because few people understand English well enough to take their money and business abroad.

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