Xeno23 comments

Posted in: Must-have eyewear for the serious gamer See in context

These kinds of glasses provide a significant, perceived eye-strain reduction difference during longer gaming sessions, and help reduce visual / light noise from peripheral vision. A lot of players game in darkened rooms to avoid the noise strain, but this is bad too.

They also help during longer work hours staring at a computer monitor, and in flourescent lit work environments. The level of relief is actually surprising for many people, and going back to activity without them highlights the benefits.

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Posted in: Starbucks Refreshers to hit store shelves June 25 See in context

I've tried the Very Berry Hibiscus and the Cool Lime. The lime is really quite good - very refreshing, not the usual citrus, it has notes of mint and cucumber, and the tad of caffeine is a nice pick up. The hibiscus is a bit too sweet and flowery for me, but it's also quite different from the usual "fruit punch" flavor.

It's becoming a habit of mine to have one around 4 PM at work, and it suffices to replace a late afternoon tea or coffee to make it through the rest of the day. I use the mix packet singles and shake them into a bottled water. I hope these don't go away.

The other US flavors are Orange-Melon, Raspberry-Pomegranate, and Strawberry Lemonade.

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Posted in: U.S. intelligence chief: Surveillance programs disrupted attacks See in context

Superlib, I beg to differ. Behind closed doors is what's been getting the US into trouble all this time. Perhaps many are too young to remember, but when Watergate broke, when the Pentagon Papers broke, it was the public airing of dirty laundry that made the difference, that changed things, that woke the citizenry up. Star chamber inquisition always leads to deeper obfuscation, and casts those involved into further clandestine acts.

Of course I don't believe no activity was thwarted, but until evidence is provided to the contrary, there is precious little to suggest that numerous, significant acts have been thwarted - there's just no public evidence. Not saying they didn't, but let's see the record.

It's like saying: the police are doing a really good job preventing vampire attacks, because look, we haven't had any vampire attacks lately! It actually benefits these agencies to tout their successes. The public would be happy to call them heroes. But what does the citizenry get? Nothing but their word. Sorry, not good enough; not anymore.

Particularly when it looks like they're happily eroding constitutional rights - not saying they are, but it sure looks that way. And that's what I'm really getting at - all they have to do is show the citizenry they're doing their job; just prove they're on the ball, and it's all okay. Otherwise, the safest stance for conscientious citizens to take is to assume wrong doing, because otherwise The People stand to lose.

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Posted in: U.S. intelligence chief: Surveillance programs disrupted attacks See in context

For the past twelve years now, the US spook agencies and Homeland Security nabobs have been saying this over and over again: "dozens of plots foiled"... Okay, SHOW ME THE MONEY

I wanna see cold, hard, evidence presented in televised congressional hearings, like Watergate, that this sh*t is actually happening. Otherwise, know what? I'm gonna continue assuming they're all lying their a**es off.

Sure, there are gonna be sensitive cases, and not compromising on-going investigations is a reasonable precaution, but there must be cases, proof, that can be provided to assure the citizens of the USA that these yabbos aren't just jerking everyone around. Because that's what it feels like.

There needs to be a reckoning here. A very hard look at accountability, and if necessary, some serious comeuppance.

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Posted in: Do you think the U.S. operation to monitor Internet users and phone calls is necessary for national security? See in context

What doesn't exist in the USA, or for that matter in most places elsewhere, is a government accountability mechanism; leaks are pretty much the only current means of discovery, and that's messed up. According to the ideals of the Founding Fathers of the USA, The People are supposed to check government, but increasingly, post WW2, this has become difficult to ensure.

Congress, as representatives of The People, is supposed to fulfill this role, but who can deny their complicity in a lot of this stuff? There's still some sensibility for this in Congress, but less and less, it seems - mostly because they're wrapped up in their own foolishness, and aren't paying attention, or they're part of the problem. What's needed is a civilian watchdog, but what government in its right mind would want that?

Who's role is it to say: wait, is this really necessary for "National Security"? Who's enchartered with an ability to engaged the brakes? Supposedly Congress, but are they really doing that job? Fear has granted the Executive branch a blank check, Congress shies away from calling them on it, and The People don't know wtf is going on. This is what happens.

Oh, and for those who hew the line: I'm not dong anything wrong... history shows time and again, that if absolutist trending governments are allowed to freely pursue their agendas, eventually you will be guilty of something they don't like. By that time, it's often too late.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Posted in: Do you think the U.S. operation to monitor Internet users and phone calls is necessary for national security? See in context

The question is what does one mean by "National Security"? Invasive tracking of citizens does not necessarily equal "National Security". It's a matter of degree. I'm willing to trade Liberty for Security to a fairly high extent, probably higher than most of my fellow citizens. I'll look after my own security, and where I can't, I'll take my chances - if that means more liberty.

I've heard a lot of talk about information overload resulting in not much more than noise, but this is a dangerous assumption. With current computers far more data can be mined than most presume to believe, and the problem is reliance on analysis with highly arbitrary triggers, like mere keyword searching, and then locked-in resultant action. We've already seen this with copious no-fly errors.

All that said, we're well past entry into a new age where older notions of privacy simply can't be made to apply any longer. What we need is a new definition and standard for protection of personal information.

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Posted in: Girls, girls, girls See in context

Gazed at this too long, looked away: everything was green!

I dunno, I like the look of well done blonde or other non-jet colors of hair on Asians. Not for everyone, of course, but on the right people, and done properly, it looks cool in a kind of alien way - shakes up my expectations and complacency about looks.

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Posted in: There are basic constraints such as cost, range, and lack of recharging stations. But on top of that, after the quake, electricity is getting very expensive, which will drive the sentiment of consumer See in context

The really big question, so often left unmentioned, is what do we do with trashed, old, no longer wanted/functional electric cars? The toxic waste profile is enormous. Cost, charging stations, availability, government breaks / incentives - fine; all manageable. But the batteries, my friends, the batteries...

If you take all aspects into consideration, from resource acquisition (parts), through manufacturing, through consumer use support (electricity generation), and finally to disposal, electric cars are just as much an environmental nightmare as gas guzzlers - maybe worse.

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Posted in: It seems that Japan can only be taken seriously by its Asian neighbors, especially rising China, and become a normal nation-state if it emerges from under the American security umbrella. It needs to r See in context

What the heck does "seriously" mean here? Who doesn't take Japan's economy seriously? Exports and cultural influences? If her Asian neighbors didn't take Japan seriously, would they be complaining as much as they do?

The only thing I can interpret from this blurb is that seriously means fear, in this context, and why should that be the primary metric? Of course, I haven't read the book, so my assessment may be completely off-base, but c'mon - only take those who can nuke your a** seriously? That's kind of shallow...

On the playground, I always took that kid with a big, rather twitchy brother very seriously indeed.

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Posted in: Should marijuana use be legalized? See in context

All such drugs should be legal. Appropriate penalties for misuse and bad consequences, of course; like alcohol. Personal accountability. And take them out of the realm of organized crime. Governments can tax. Money spent now on anti-drug enforcement can be spent on programs for abusers. Are we adults, or children? Life isn't Disneyland; deal with it. Abolish the nanny state.

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Posted in: Can a person say something racist but not BE a racist? See in context

There are two kinds of jokes using racist language or subject matter: those making a comment about the racism involved, and those using the stereotype as the point of humor. The latter is racist, the former isn't. Anyone who cuts a racist joke that isn't making a comment about racism (thus being editorial humor) is exercising racism, whether they're racist, or not. And in a small way, it serves to perpetuate racism.

The humor of a racist joke is born of disdain, or at best ignorance, and that's why it's bad. Period. Racist jokes are "funnies" made at the expense of a target population. Just like an off-color joke about women is sexist and derogatory unless, again, it's editorializing humor.

Ignorance is no defense. If a person makes a derogatory racist joke, but is ignorant of the fact, the joke is no less derogatory and the teller is no less ignorant. Even if it's acceptable to the audience, the fact remains. The question is why do people think such a joke is funny? Because whether they admit it or not, they are buying into a racist paradigm - and that sustains it.

Once these things stop being considered funny, or even remarkable or noteworthy, they will vanish. Until that time, it's really necessary to educate everyone that this isn't acceptable. There's no such thing as harmless racism.

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Posted in: Tokyo Marui comes to play with replica sniper rifles, pistols and grenade launchers See in context

The domestic market and availability wrt toy guns in Japan goes very far back. So regardless of how anyone feels about what they represent, the industry isn't going away, and like any industry, it'll continue to innovate and progress, because, you know, it's a reasonably successful business.

When I was a kid in Tokyo in the 60's every ekimai toy shop, every mamsan/papasan candy shop had arsenals of toy guns, tin or plastic, for a handful of ten yen coins, and most of them shot pellets of some kind, or another. Then in the 70's came "model" guns made out of alloy metal and mechanically functional except for actually shooting - which they couldn't. You could put loud caps into the fake cartridges and cycle rounds.

These model guns were pretty much everywhere, but being relatively expensive my friends and I had to save up our earned money or allowances to get them, so they were rarer in the hands of kiddies. For a time they were visually identical to the real thing, then manufacturers started distinguishing them with unusual colors, or other recognizable "toy" features. A few were used in crimes. The current day serious gun otakus focus on these, and they're back to being mostly realistically represented. I think this is because the police aren't really that worried about them anymore.

Airsoft was just starting when my family left Japan. I recall it as being an offshoot from the guns used at amusement parks and shateki yatai. I had a couple of the early mass produced models; they were pretty weak and clearly looked like toys, but pretty cool toys. And yes, we used to shoot each other with all these toy guns.

The only sound producing toy gun I had as a tyke was a Mattel full size Winchester Lever Action cowboy rifle. It actually had a plastic record inside the butt stock that played when you worked the lever and pulled the trigger. It would play back a loud shot and a ricochet sound. It was the envy of the neighborhood and most of the time I ended loaning it to my Japanese pals.

Anyway, I seriously doubt wanna be criminals could use these effectively as props for robbing or scaring anyone, because most Japanese know about this stuff, and do not expect there to be real guns around, so anything they see is assumed to be a toy. If that weren't the case, the police would be more adamant about it, and they aren't.

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Posted in: 'Moe' madness: Gov't realizes selling power of cute 2D girls See in context

Selling to whom? Is there any research to confirm this is a positive marketing approach, or is there just a whole bunch of former / wannabe otakus piling onto a bandwagon?

This article says a lot of companies etc. are doing it, and sure, I see it all over the place, but is the general public really into it - more likely to buy or pay attention, or do they simply have no choice?

If your favorite brand of natto suddenly has moe packaging, what do you do? Me, I'd find another brand, and so would a lot of folks I know.

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Posted in: Is college worth it? See in context

My mother always said college is about three main things and a distant fourth: 1. Learning how to think. 2. Completing something difficult, 3. Developing an informed mind, and 4. Entry expertise for a profession. There's no question anymore that 1, 2, and 3 have vastly fallen by the wayside in higher education all over the world, and 4 can be marginal if you're not in a good program.

College is a joke if the student is a joke. The problem is that most pre-college educations overwhelmingly produce such jokes. That doesn't mean those four foci aren't still available, it's just that in the directionless democratization of college access, emphasis on them has been so watered-down you have to really work at it to find and attain them.

If one Timmy can't think, you teach him, but if 10,000 Timmys can't think, but can pay, the nearly irresistible temptation is to nerf the program and take their money.

The solution is twofold: 1. reinstate exclusivity to college education, but no one is going to admit or engage that; and 2. Staunch greed in college administration - and that ain't gonna happen either. So for the vast majority of students, sorry, but you're f***ed. You'll waste your money, end up deeply in debt, and get almost nothing out of it.

There will always be those, however, who are smart enough to make good use of their time at college, and here's the thing: it's not always obvious who those people are. Some don't realize this until they get there. So, what to do? I say leave it as it is. It's a numbers game: colleges still produce valuable graduates, and likely more than ever, even if the mean quality is down.

And, unpalatable as it may be, there's the social Darwinism aspect: It will require hitting a watershed or a tipping point before the whole college education thing undergoes a correction. That will result in a lot of casualties. Sad, but true.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Winning ticket for $590.5 million Powerball lottery sold in Florida See in context

Florida winner is lucky in another respect: no state income tax. But, the taxman will certainly do a number of this winner.

According to a recent article, the first assessment recalculates your tax bracket, then takes your money based on that, which can be upwards of 50%. Then come regular tax time, they reassess your bracket again, and tax based on that. If you plan to gift any of it, like to your family, if you give more than $14K / year / person, they levy a 35% tax on the gift!

Teh gubmnt luvz dem som lotsery winrz!

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Posted in: Gunmen open fire at New Orleans Mother’s Day parade; 19 wounded See in context

@Lizz & @Alphaape excellent posts and spot on topic; the real question here is what do we do about the poor dispossessed souls caught in a cycle of crime and violence from which there's no apparent avenue of escape? Most gun issues would be moot if the root cause of such tragedies, crime violence, was effectively addressed.

But this is a difficult and deeply complex problem without the kind of easy solutions governments like, and it's exacerbated by the facile idea, apparently held by many of the power elite, that those most affected aren't important. This has just got to be incorrect, because given half a chance this currently dispossessed population could be just as valuable to society as any other segment.

What a "war on crime" really needs isn't more laws, but more understanding, because with understanding can come more effective strategies. Reduce crime properly, and you don't need more laws. If government and politicos spent as much on an effort to understand crime and violence as they do on their campaigns and pet projects, who knows what we'd accomplish?

What we need is a "moon landing" like commitment to understand and address crime and violence; any money spent on such a program would be far better spent, and have far greater positive long term effect, than funding positioning campaigns on hot topic bluster. All this argumentation over the gun issue is a tragic distraction from the real issue.

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Posted in: Tokyo American Club membership tops 3,500 See in context

I have fond memories of TAC growing up an expat kid in the 60's and 70's. My family had a membership because my father's company footed the bill. As has been said, it was a great place for family members, because of the many seasonal parties, athletic lessons like swimming and tennis, a bowling alley, movies, summer camps and ski trips, shops featuring American goods; the Sunday buffets were awesome.

One funny thing I remember is that back in the day the Soviet embassy, or one of its satellites, was butt up against the TAC and every once in a while, as we lounged by the pool eating our hamburgers and sipping our milk shakes, we'd see a grim Soviet face or two looking down at us; sometimes kids. We'd laugh and point. Sheesh, what a bunch of brats.

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Posted in: The past, present and future of maid cafes See in context

There are quite a few Maid Cafes in the USA now too, in Los Angeles, Washington DC, Las Vegas; ran a simple search of the Internet. From what I can tell, they do about the same things, and primarily cater to the same demographic. Anywhere anime culture has taken root, they seem to host at least one; Europe and other parts of Asia too.

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Posted in: Which are more loved in Japan: Cats or dogs? See in context

The question isn't what do you like better; it's what is more loved in Japan. Look to Japanese culture for the answer; modern and traditional. Cats are more prominent. Dogs have only recently come into their own, because more people can afford them now, and they're fixated on toy breeds.

When I was a kid in Tokyo (60's & 70's), pretty much the only people who had dogs were rich folks, or gaijins, or the odd coot. Dogs were expensive to keep, and needed a lot of space. Toy breeds weren't generally around; it was mostly Akita-ken, Dobermans, Alsatians; not even that many Shiba-inu. I don't recall ever seeing genuine stray dogs, for example.

Dogs, if I'm not too far wrong, weren't widely used, if at all, for work in Japan, and not for war or policing before the 20th century. Cats are all over the place in literature, temples, art - although keeping them as pampered pets wasn't much practiced. The stray cat population is huge and historically very long-standing, even in places like Miyakejima - don't forget Tashirojima.

The plight of lost and abandoned pet dogs from the Tohoku disaster has brought dogs to the fore front lately, but cats have dominated in Japan for centuries.

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Posted in: N Korea removes missiles from launch site: U.S. officials See in context

Blink. What would dear daddy or beloved gramps say? I'd really like to have overheard the porch talk between the grown ups on this one.

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Posted in: Artificial rain can be produced during the rainy season and stored in dams if scarce rainfall is forecast for summertime. See in context

Artificial rain? What's it made of: petroleum distillates? The rain isn't artificial; it's real rain - inducing the precipitate is accomplished artificially.

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Posted in: What do you think of old-time comedy acts such as the Three Stooges, Marx Brothers, Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy? Do you think their brand of comedy still holds up today? See in context

The witty dialogue is probably lost on modern audiences. You have to actually listen to the Marx Brothers and know a few things, be able to recognize rapid fire puns, double entendre, verbal gaffes. Their comedy is actually quite deep and subversive; audiences of the time knew this.

Same for Laurel & Hardy and Abbot & Costello, though the latter duo is a quite step down from the others. The Stooges don't compare; I like them, but they shouldn't be on the same list.

Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton, Mack Sennett: amazing stuff, and while their incredible sight gags still hold up, I doubt most folks have a lot tolerance for silent films anymore. Too bad.

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Posted in: NRA kicks off annual convention, saying it is fighting 'culture war' See in context

There is a culture war going on in the USA, but the gun issue is simply one battle front, and the reason it gets so much attention is because its an easy target and spurs hot debate. It's also an excellent vehicle for diverting attention and energies into a morass with very little chance of deeper socially significant impact.

At its root, the culture war in the USA is a profoundly difficult issue: intransigent subjective agenda exacerbated by entrenched entitlement-bias. This pervades virtually every debated issue in the USA at all levels. From the gun debate to educational revisionism, from foreign policy to local politics, and the big bugbear of social ills in the USA, crime: it's fueled by entitlement bias.

But the sad fact of this culture war is that virtually all combatants are on the wrong side: they're pretty much all fighting to insure that their collection of entitlements win out over one or more countervailing sets of entitlements. This is not the way to fix things.

In truth, the real struggle is for values like responsibility and accountability, tolerance and respect, rational and critical thinking, cooperation and compromise, and the courage and commitment to face the tough issues and genuinely work toward something better for everyone even if you don't personally like where it takes you.

The culture war in the USA is being fought by, and between a bunch of five-year-olds...

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Posted in: A failure to lead at the U.N. See in context

Nice building anyway, and the flag is pretty cool. Like what UNESCO does; should do more of it. Wish UNICEF was run better, and had more impact.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Five things I like about expat guys See in context

@Cynthia Popper: I don't live in Tokyo anymore, but I grew up there an American expat, and whenever I'm back, I pretty much fall into gone-native mode all over again. Be interesting to learn if you / others can discern a difference b/n old-timer expats and relative newbies - and what that is.

@iraira: Jeez, all those old venue names... Al's Bar; gone but not forgotten. At least The Ukranian Cultural Center and Dancing Waters are still there - I hear, and still booking shows. Wonder if they're still as wonderfully seedy as back in the day...

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Posted in: More Osprey aircraft heading to Japan See in context

@spahnmatthew I don't know if Bassfunk is referencing this, but the IDF that springs to my mind is the Israel Defense Force, and they are buying Ospreys. Bassfunk may be suggesting the MV-22s must be okay if the IDF is buying them?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Posted in: Abe says restoration of sovereignty day signals hope, pride See in context

Part of the problem is the date of celebration and what it means. What if it were a different date, say November 29, which is the date of the first convention of the Diet in 1890? Now, that date has its own problem, since it was the Imperial Diet, but it was also the date of effect for of the first national constitution in Japan, so in a sense it marks the first day of modern, national sovereignty.

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Posted in: Myanmar looks to revive abandoned 'Death Railway' See in context

While the horrors suffered and endured should never be forgotten, not sure a rainbow painted choo-choo train and a tourist attraction conveys the right message. Which isn't to say that if it brings much needed jobs and revenue into a depressed area it's not a good thing, but it's precisely the trivialization of the past that leads us to repeat it.

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Posted in: Ready to fly again See in context

Hm. So I guess it wasn't certified for airworthiness before... well, that explains everything.

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Posted in: Truth and consequences - a dilemma for Twitter and its users See in context

Why is credibility even a topic WRT Twitter? It's a bunch of people sounding off on everything and anything imaginable, which is the only thing it's supposed to be anyway. This equation with journalism is ridiculous. Sure, you can get on-the-spot reports, but the vast majority of those reports are gonna be from "just some guy" or "just some gal", so not taking that into account is silly.

It's often interesting to hear what the average Joe or Betty thinks, and get enough viewpoints and a general picture can be derived, but that's it.

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