SmithUS comments

Posted in: Gunman kills 13, then himself at New York immigrant help center See in context

With the economic collapse we've obviously entered an era of unbridled frustration because sadly this story is already old news. Other than the father in Washington who shot and killed his five kids, there's this story which is so appropriate to the usual shooting spree comments: "A gunman wearing a bulletproof vest and 'lying in wait' opened fire on officers responding to a domestic disturbance call Saturday, killing three of them and turning a quiet Pittsburgh street into a battlefield, police said." Apparently he was upset about losing his job and, according to his best friend, he didn't like "the Obama gun ban that's on the way" and "didn't like our rights being infringed upon."

There are guns, there are women and smallish men who in theory should pack the guns if protection is the main issue, and then there are guys who just love guns and equate them with their manhood and identity but always hide behind the self defense argument for greater moral justification lest they appear paranoid, uncivil, unsophisticated, reactionary, self indulgent.

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Posted in: Japan celebrates WBC win See in context

"baseball sucks.. but its probably the closest thing japan will get to a 'world title' in the forseeable future"

"Very true. However, Japanese athletes in general have great athleticism, yet lack the natural skills to make it to the top of any sport."

Obviously these two comments were designed to rain on the party. Aren’t others allowed to enjoy the WBC without the constant sniping? Ichiro already made it to the top of baseball (a sport?) by winning a league MVP and an All Star game MVP. He’s a easy in for the Hall of Fame. But I know what you were trying to say. You mean the size and strength sports where black guys have the most “natural skills” (you mean genetics right). Even though these probably don’t count, gymnastics, figure skating, marathon are sports that the Japanese must have the “natural skills” since they’ve won medals and such.

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Posted in: Ichiro delivers as Japan beats South Korea 5-3 to win WBC title See in context

That was an exciting game anyway you want to slice and dice it. And all the fans in the stadium were a part of the excitement. As I said before, a good Korean team adds excitement to Asian baseball and a good Korean team in Los Angeles means a lot of enthusiastic Korean fans and a more exciting atmosphere. So it's a win-win situation.

You can talk about a lack of respect or bad managing but I actually give credit to the manager for challenging Ichiro. It’s always more exciting when the star player has the opportunity to get the big hit. The fans want to see drama – why do you think Americans fans boo when a good hitter gets walked in a key situation. You’d think fans in Japan would be grateful.

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Posted in: More Japanese shunning the outside world See in context

It’s questionable for Americans to chastise the Japanese for not speaking English when native born Americans (of non foreign born parents) famously can’t speak a foreign language (because we don’t have to). Plus our foreign language education is a joke (because we don’t have to learn other languages). Also English, the language we demand all foreigners to speak, conveniently happens to be our language. I know the English speaking countries comprise the true center of the world but still.

Japan has obviously been successful despite the lack of proficient English speakers. Maybe Japan’s future looks dim to you but then again a lot of fear mongers think America’s future looks dim. Japanese bad at English, good at math and science; Americans good at English, bad at math and science. If America can import math/science talent from Asia, then Japan can import talent as needed from other countries as well. Like English/Japanese speakers. Offer enough money, the people will come.

I think other countries emphasize English so their citizens have the option to move to western countries where there’s more opportunity. One of the reasons why other Asian countries emphasize English is because they need to send students to American universities for an advanced education. In contrast, Japan has had enough good universities to remain competitive with the rest of the world.

Of course Japanese movies and especially J-pop music are more popular than ever. Even a growing number of westerners are more interested in Japan pop culture at least partly because the quality of western pop culture has been in decline since the late 90’s. Of course Japan, like everyone else, was hot for western culture back in the 50’s-early 90’s when western music/film was great. And of course the Japanese are buying less western music and watching less western movies as we are all buying/watching less new western music/movies.

Ever since 9/11 and the inevitable backlash against 1990’s postmodern polemics celebrating openness, we’ve seen many countries (or racial demographics within countries) become more closed, fearful, resentful of outsiders and their influences even as we all become more open in some ways. Usually “inward thinking” translates to a growing nostalgia for the glory days of the past – a natural tendency – especially in America where our WW2 victory over Japan is much more pleasant to reflect upon than the war in the Middle East. Japan has its “inaka thinking” as well and I can’t say it’s highly unusual. Everyone knows that you must strike a balance but are you sure that you know where or how Japan should strike that balance.

No sense in comparing Japan to China because obviously China’s great size has made everyone predict that China will be the next big power in the world – even bigger than America if you believe the fear mongers. Also, I don’t think you can assume that people in other non western countries are deep down any more open to westerners just because they speak better English. And I wouldn’t assume westerners are deep down truly open to a non western culture just because they display great interest.

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Posted in: 17-year-old gunman kills 15 in Germany before taking own life See in context

“If the government can guarantee my safety, then I'd be willing to listen, but both you and i know they can't. A police state like Germany is proof of that.”

Just wondering if the above comment is trying to use this incident as proof that we and our kids should pack guns for protection since the government can’t protect high school kids from their rampaging peers. Even in a crazy scenario where all the kids and their parents packed guns, a shooter would simply know to plan ahead and catch everyone off guard.

If this German kid’s dad was a gun enthusiast, how do you know he didn’t get the idea to shoot people from the gun culture that surrounded his upbringing? Just because you are responsible with guns doesn’t mean every gun owning parent is.

“Myself, I am convinced that I would be able to drink and drive safely without causing an accident. However, society doesn't allow me to make that decision, because a) the stats say other people can't do it safely and b) I may be deluding myself. Guns however are treated differently.”

Exactly, remember the question is not personal points of view or whether the individual feels more secure owning a gun, the issue is whether or not society as a whole is better off because guns are more readily available.

Because it’s pure speculation that music, movies, video games made this kid or inspires kids to go on shooting sprees, it’s obviously not reliable evidence and therefore we cannot attack the problem from the direction you keep hinting at. We can only focus on the known. Focusing on games, movies, music as the “real” problem is interesting only because the military relies on all of the above to pump up kids and sell the military as an exciting job opportunity.

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Posted in: Ex-N Korean agent says she believes abductees Taguchi, Yokota still alive See in context

Don't keep hope alive unless there's actually hope. But who do you believe? Her (she's alive), North Korea (she's dead), or you guys (she's dead or don't believe her or don't believe the North Koreans).

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Posted in: 10 killed in Alabama shooting rampage See in context

More likely pawatan’s friends, who just happen to own guns, have never been victims of violent crime because most of us are rarely victims of violent crime anyway. Gun ownership will never prevent crime unless 1. you advertise the fact that you own a gun so as to deter criminals or 2. you have actually used your gun to successfully defend yourself from an attack. Other than that you are just someone who feels more secure owning a gun. And by the way, unless you show me credible numbers that indicate at least 51% of law abiding citizens in the US want to carry a gun, we’re just talking unsubstantiated personal points of view when you make a general claim that most Americans want to carry, let alone own, a gun.

Let’s make something clear: Gun ownership in America is a social/cultural mentality for some people and not a philosophical argument. There’s more violent crime in the big cities especially among non white populations and yet the gun owning culture exists mainly in the white populations of rural America where the gun culture is historically the strongest. It’s like arguing over whether or not you like NASCAR. As you can see from some of the posts here, a significant percentage of Americans have a particular way of viewing the world around them. Which is why gun control could never work in America. And since this is Japan Today, why can’t we rhetorically ask ourselves why so many gun culture activists, with their particular way of viewing the world, are interested in Japan?

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Posted in: In Japan, you are what your blood type is See in context

Acupuncture and the idea of body energy was supposed to be a sham but now it is an accepted medical practice so never say never. Astrology is similarly considered a sham but it does seem to apply in describing people’s personalities and what behavior will compliment or contrast with your own. But there is a limit to how far something like astrology can or should dictate everyone’s lives. For instance, I think daily/monthly/yearly astrology is a sham. Me and a friend are polar opposites according to our astrological signs and believe me we are conflicting personalities but we are friends. So even if blood type personality is true, there are obviously many other factors that make people get along or not - at least in the West.

As far as Japan being a society influenced by myth and superstition, I find that interesting rather than childish or unsophisticated. If it is stupid behavior then what does that say about us for being attracted to Japan.

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Posted in: High school boy commits suicide in Saitama park after argument with father See in context

Even though hindsight is 20-20 and everyone has an opinion, people are still not perfect. Yeah there is a tradition of suicide in Japan, but who knows what was wrong with that kid. There are seemingly perfect kids who commit suicide in western countries.

But to relate a story, I knew this girl whose boyfriend threatened to commit suicide if she left him. Well, she left and he killed himself. As she was crying her eyes out, she said he knew he could hurt her and he did. Other than revenge, who knows what influenced this guy’s decision.

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Posted in: Tokyo Metro See in context

Although they probably have become more selfish in Tokyo, it is also a fact that crowding makes people less civil or cities become less civil as they become more crowded. Consider that Tokyo’s population is 28 million – that is nearly double New York City’s population, 4 times the size of London’s population. So compared to other major cities, is Tokyo citizenry out of control or is just the train etiquette lacking. I’m assuming the stereotype of polite Japanese must still apply in some way or I would expect trains and everywhere else in Tokyo to be out of control.

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