Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Indonesia Takes China & Japan For A Ride

Q: How do you get the second and third largest economies in the world to kiss your ass?

A: Tell them you want to spend $5 billion on a train that goes really fast.

Indonesia, the fourth most populous nation in the world so you're bound to find a few clever characters hanging around, has been stringing China and Japan along for months with talk of wanting to build a high-speed railway linking Jakarta and Bandung. China and Japan, blinded by the amount of cash to be made - mainly by the politicians bucking for the deal - have been going totally ga-ga over the idea.

It's a scientific fact that you can't think straight when you are going totally ga-ga.

"Thanks for dinner but...you know, we're just not ready for a $5 billion train..."

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Pope Francis Brings His Climate Change Game

Conservatives Respond by Whining About His Eligibility to Play


"See you at the Big Dance, boys..."
Back in April the Christian Science Monitor reported that “on Tuesday, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and other organizations hosted a summit at the Vatican called “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity: The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development,” billed as a meeting to help strengthen “the global consensus” on the issue.” One intended effect of this meeting is, we are told, “to influence this year’s United Nation’s Climate Change Conference.”

In their own press conference on Monday, before even hearing what Pope Francis had to say, conservative groups held a press conference to denounce the Pope’s stance on the environment. In doing so, certain conservatives did a fine job exposing the truth: that they are contradictory, hypocritical and unwitting masters of irony.
 
NOTE: I said ‘certain’ conservatives, not all. Because labeling someone does not give you the right to decry them. You have to wait until they say something stupid.

You can check out the Christian Science Monitor article on the subject here. Or keep reading for the two-minute breakdown of some grown men whining about a guy in a white robe.

"No, no, you're not going to Hell if you become a climate scientist, don't listen to those guys..."

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Jeb Bush Speaks Volumes

But There Are Problems with the Con-Text


“Jeb Bush sought to cast himself as a political outsider during his first big speech as a presidential candidate on Monday…”

So begins the guardian’s take on Jeb Bush and his brand spanking new campaign. The sub-headline of the article, by the way, refers to Jeb’s touting of his “re-invention of his brother’s compassionate conservatism”.

Look, little brother. To use big brother’s words, either you are with him or you are against him. None of this re-inventing BS.
 
My name's Jeb, ya see, so I'm kind of like an outsider.

The guardian (they don’t capitalize their name, why should I?) goes on to tell us that ole Jeb is trying to “counter criticism that he represents the establishment wing of the Republican party.”

Let’s try to take his word for it, shall we?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Those Moving Piles of Water Are Called Waves

And Other Helpful Hints for Rowing Your Boat Across the Ocean


You need a few things if you’re going to try to row a boat 6,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean. A decent boat. A light on your decent boat. A bit of fortitude. A clue.

Sonya Baumstein had none of these. But she went for it anyway.

Gotta love the enthusiasm.
 

"...and I've even got extra oars in case my arms get tired..."


 The Orange County Register had by far the best account of Sonya’s poorly-planned adventure on the high seas I've seen. In other words, it gave the most detail. And the details are so flipping funny it would be rude not to share them.

30-year-old Sonya wanted to be the first woman to row solo across the Pacific.

That takes some guts. So far so good. But we learn from the we-don’t-color-our-news OC Register that after departing on June 7th “she spent several days after her departure relatively close to shore as she waited for her sea sickness to subside.”

Seasickness.

If Sonya was allergic to cats she would have wanted to become a lion tamer.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Categorical Bullshit! On...Jeopardy!

Playing the Pro


And now...Back...To…Jeopardy!

Trebek: I believe it's Kevin's turn to go first?
 
Contestant: I’ll take Bullshit Writers for $200, Alex.
 
Normally we don't allow swearing on our show, but considering the category, let's sling some shit, shall we?
 
Trebek: Okay, here’s your answer. ‘It’s how 95% of today’s travel writers do their travel research.’

Contestant; What is…Google?

Trebek: Right you are, Kevin. You pick again.

Contestant: I think I’ll stick with Bullshit for $400, Alex.


Contestant: Who is Jean Folger?

Trebek: Right again! You’re on a roll.

Contestant: Gotta go with what I know. Bullshit Writers for $600 please.

Trebek: For $600 and a share of the lead. This city was recently ranked by a writer who has never been there as one of Japan’s best places to retire, despite the snot-freezing winters that last six months and the biggest attractions being skiing, getting drunk in Susukino and, in February, battling the 2 million people who descend on the annual Snow Festival.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Johnny Manziel, Firing Away

Don’t Mind My Poolside Manners


"All right, that's it you annoying little autograph seeker!"

Observation: ESPN and Jim Basquil need to lay off the how’s-this-for-a-story sauce.

Consider the opening line in the video accompanying this article: “JOHNny ManZIEL, harASSED by a FAN at the AT&T Byron Nelson Golf Tournament.”

Seriously? All that emphasis because someone was bothering someone next to a pool? So what if one of the someones was a professional quarterback? Is this really a reason to put on a striped shirt-striped tie combo and get all worked up?

Jimmy baby, save your serotonin for the part about what color his girlfriend’s bikini was.

A close and properly journalistic look at the situation, however, is worth a peek. That, my friends, is why we are here.


FIRST, the HIGH lights.”


Friday, May 15, 2015

7 Silly Quotes From Obama's Gulf Allies Summit

And What They Really Mean

"I was told this was a six-nation summit, why are there eight of us here?"
Reuters reports that Barack Obama held a summit this Thursday at Camp David for the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council. (Okay, everyone reports it but Reuters gets the nod for the most usable quotes.) Why the US is hosting such an event let alone attending one is bizarre enough. What was said makes the event a true oil slick of political bilge.

To wit:


"President Barack Obama vowed on Thursday to back Gulf allies against any external attack."
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the only external attacks on the Middle East I can recall were by the US.

"Obama pledged that the United States would consider using military force to defend them."
So the promise is to BACK our Gulf Allies (is that oxymoronic or just moronic?), while the pledge is to CONSIDER military force. 'Guys, we got your back. You know...from back here.'

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

My Advice To You Is To Start Drinking Heavily

The Benefits of Solid Research

Raise your income by drinking a whooooole lot of this.

Coffee or green tea?

The question used to make that angel-devil combo pop up on my shoulders.

"Green tea is sooooo much healthier," my angel would coo. "AND it's traditional." She'd drag out that last word in her sweet sarcasm that makes me want to punch her in her cherub.

"The coffee," my devil would growl, like he already knew he was going to win. "Coffee milk coffee sugar coffee coffee coffee!!"

I used to listen to my angel much more often. I blame the kids.

Thanks to the findings of this new study the sides of my conscience don't have to argue anymore.





Drinking Coffee, Green Tea Lowers Health Risks, Study Suggests


Yes, according to Japan’s National Cancer Center, "a study of about 90,000 people aged between 40 and 69 suggests that regularly drinking the beverages may lower health risks including death from heart and cerebrovascular diseases."

Wow, 90,000 subjects. That's a pretty reliable sample size.

The article goes on to explain how "the cancer center and the University of Tokyo followed the drinking habits and health of the people for an average period of 19 years in the study, which started in 1990."

Hot dog, 19 years! These people are mighty patient and thorough. And we can assume, nicely funded.

"The participants only supplied their coffee and green tea drinking habits at the beginning of the study."

WHAT?? Chotto matte, patient and thorough National Cancer Center people. You asked 90,000 people what they drank the day before, checked in on them 19 years later and now you proudly "suggest" my angel-devil team can just turn in their wings and their pitchforks?

If this is what passes for research then allow me to proudly suggest a few of my own findings.


Monday, May 11, 2015

Putting a Lid on California's Drought

In A Nutshell



If you aren’t in tune with California’s ongoing drought you are either (a) steadfastly oblivious to the news or (b) you have zero regard for the welfare of California.

I fall into both (a) and (b) so imagine my surprise when, after clicking on a picture of a woman in a bikini (because the caption said I might get rich if I did) I was presented with the following headline:


My shock, as you can well imagine, reverberated on several levels of perception.

My first thought as a writer was “Shouldn’t every word in a headline be capitalized?”

My next thought was something like “God this instant coffee tastes like crap.”

Then after one final fleeting thought of my days as a rich man in a bikini I decided that Starbucks must be one fine organization. ‘Ethos’ water? Sounds like they’ve really got their moral elements all in a row, contributing to the health of all their non-coffee-drinking customers by way of a mass manufacturing of plastic bottles.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

When the Coffee Machine Breaks

Idiotic Advice From An Unexpected Source

The editors over at Entrepreneur.com are a bunch of god damn geniuses. Day after day they crank out new articles, many of them with numbered lists in the titles, all on the subject of how to succeed in business. And day after day people gobble this stuff up, in the same way those insatiable housewives read every issue of Cosmo for their fix of 10 New Ways to Drive Their Man Wild in Bed.

Sarcasm aside – a rarity around here – Entrepreneur’s cadre of contributors regularly come through with some quality advice. The only thing that is usually lacking is the electric shock reinforcement therapy for a certain unnamed person around here who forgets the advice faster than it takes to read the article. 

So when an article like the one I just read gets published I have to call it out. 18 Unusual Habits That Boost Your Energy More Than Coffee reads like an internal moral struggle on the part of the writer who can’t decide if he should give real advice or just go for the affiliate clicks. As most of us do when our conscience is at odds with itself, the guy tries to do both, hoping the good stuff will in the long run make up for the instant gratification of the bad stuff. Come on, I’ll make you breakfast in bed.

Question: Why 18 Unusual Habits?

Couldn’t think of two more for an even 20? Didn’t want to miss out on any affiliate clicks by rounding down to 10 or 12 or even 15?

Here’s what the author – and Co-Founder of Empact – had to say: “To understand unique and healthy ways to consistently and quickly boost energy daily, I interviewed the country’s top ambitious young entrepreneurs, honorees of the Empact Showcase…”

Nice self-promo there.

OK, let’s see what advice the 18 Empact Showcase honorees have for us in exchange for a link.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Salaryman No More

Yen Pro Quo

There's a real good reason this is my first post since last Fall.
It has to do with that picture - more specifically, what's in it.

I moved my family back to Japan in July 2014. During our month in Fukushima, during which we did our best to decompress while simultaneously gearing up for our intended move to Nagano, I managed to land an interview for a teaching gig.

I don't know why I keep doing this. It is an undeniable fact that me and full-time jobs are about as compatible as Binyamin Netanyahu and any randomly-chosen sane person. I guess it's the idea that as a husband and father I'm supposed to do shit like this.

I enjoy teaching people, don't get me wrong. I get a kick out of it actually. As long as my students are all okay with having a good time first and are willing to consider any real learning a bonus they I'd say we're golden.

The downside is that my students - and my bosses too - expect me to show up every day. And on their schedule. No negotiating, no deal-making. Evening class means evening class, no switching to the morning so I can go home and eat dinner with my family like a real husband and father. Can't even move class across the street to the yakitori bar.

So while I liked my bosses, enjoyed my students and looked forward to seeing the other teachers at our weekly chat which everyone had a habit of callling a 'staff meeting', the immovable object that was the sum of demands of the job met with the irresistable force of my need for self-determination and I decided to return the keys to the company roadster you see in the picture.

So once again I am the master of my own schedule. I can use each hour of my day as I see fit. I can leave those neckties in the closet, stash the attache and settle down to dinner with my family.

Of course, now I have to figure out just who's going to pay for all that food on the table.