Music Monday: The Sea

Today is a holiday in Japan called Sea Day (Marine Day or Ocean Day, if you prefer), so enjoy this little sea shanty from Shogun:


In Closing: Oh yeah get your hot fresh NSA and privacy and War on Terror links right here (H/T Comrade Misfit); the War on [Brown People Using] Drugs, the Police State, and other oddities; uh, that’s still less than one in 5; infrastructure; I hope this crazy woman ends up paying everybody’s legal fees; Why Johnny Can’t Sit Still; Turns out that higher minimum wages are good for job creation (and I have yet to see an iPad run a deep fryer or stock a shelf, thanks); the working poor have jobs, stupid; a couple education items; and a terrifying coincidence.

Over the Milky Way Tonight

Once upon a time, there was a divine, weaving princess. She spent much time weaving, and was sad that it left her no time for love. So her father arranged for her to meet the cow-herder of the stars. They immediately fell in love and spent all their time together. However, this meant the divine clothes for the stars went unwoven, and the cows roamed all over the heavens as each of the lovers neglected their jobs. Her father had no choice but to separate them with the Milky Way. They are only allowed to meet one day a year — the seventh day of the seventh month — and then only if she’s done with her work.

Happy Tanabata.

In closing: can we just admit that the TSA’s job is to make us do what we’re told?; let’s ignore the fact that most of us choose a hospital based on what our insurance will cover or what’s closest to the accident; recycling; Bond, James Bond; ha; careful when you write a resume; fat; “could” is the important word; just what I don’t need; maybe if people would read; good luck explaining that to your insurance agent; and Cowboys and Indians.


Well, I had no idea that my lunchbox could impact the taste of my lunch. Any readers want a taste that doesn’t make sense? Anybody?

This Japanese food transport system was found in my local Asian grocer. I have no idea what the original brand name was, since Japanese doesn’t have an L sound. Gurit and Burirria? Sounds awkward.

In Closing: turns out Anderson knows that the CBO is something called “non-partisan”; let’s confuse everybody some more!; War on Drugs turns into War on Perfectly Legal Pain Medications that Some People Desperately Need; I think I’d rather have the stack of iPads; fat kids can’t do math?; duh; related; I wish I thought he was right; and part of me wishes this were a real audiobook.

Tokyo does not have 3 syllables

This morning, after listening to a newsman mangle the pronunciation of the current Prime Minister of Japan’s name, I thought it might be polite to give readers a brief guide to how to pronounce all those words you might see in print regarding the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear plant issues.

Thankfully, you don’t need to read any of the three sets of characters used to read and write Japanese; it’s come to you already in “roman” characters called “romanji” or “roomaji” in Japanese. Better yet, every letter always makes the same sound, which is more than you can say for English! So here’s how the vowels work:

  • “a” always makes an “ah” sound, as in “father” or “want”
  • “e” always makes an “eh” sound, as in “lend” or “get”
  • “i” always makes an “eee” sound — just like it does in Italian or Latin. Think “Italiano”. Sometimes, if it would cause emphasis to be given to a syllable, it is almost silent as in “Hiroshima”.
  • “o” always makes an “oh” sound, like in “slow” or “tempo”
  • “u” always makes an “oo” sound, like in “tune” or “rule”. Like “i”, sometimes it is almost silent as in “sukiyaki” or “desu” (which means “is”)
  • Vowels can be doubled up, which results in it being held longer. The most obvious example of this is “Tokyo,” which would be spelled out in Hiragana as something more like “Toukyou”.

And there are a few consonants that seem to give people trouble:

  • “g” is always hard, as in “get” or “give” or “gen mai cha”
  • “j” always makes a j sound, like in “jet” or “jive”
  • “tsu” is said just like it’s written; the t is not silent
  • sometimes an “n” at the end of a syllable has a sound somewhere between an n and an m (in Japanese, it gets its own character when this happens)
  • “y” is a consonant, and in words like Tokyo and Kyoto, it is part of one syllable (written with two characters — it gets complicated)

Sorry if this seems a little pedantic. Now you’ll be able to read all those place names in the news and the items on your local sushi/teppanyaki place like a champ.

Now for a special what the??? edition of In Closing: Etsy child abuse; save the Northwest Tree Octopus (you’ve never seen one because they’re endangered!); secret cat haven; an unlikely charitable organization; duh; war on undesirables drugs; historically hardcore; capture the what??; actually it was a little longer than one decade; complaints; can you pass?; the Gentleman from Ohio; time for some realistic time management (including the use of the word NO); remember; vorpal bunnies in Spain; stupid; not really; worried; poor babies; fear; time poverty; the cat and the crickets; yes, this is real; Mrs. God; and find the unnecessary word in this comic:
PC and Pixel

The T Is Not Silent

If you watch a Japanese news broadcast about the tsunami, every time you hear a word that ends in “ken,” they are talking about a prefecture. That’s kind of like a state or province.

Fukushima — where they are having the nuclear issue — is the Capitol of Fukushima Prefecture, number 7 on that map. For reference, Tokyo Prefecture is number 13. Thanks to Jill, we now know that if the reactor does blow the fallout will reach all the way to Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, and New Mexico: Update: there seems to be a lot of debate over this map. It’s true that I should have said fallout may reach, rather than will reach. As someone who lives in the yellow zone, it is still my duty to prepare myself and my family for the worst but hope for the best.

Speaking of which, I don’t know how anybody with any understanding of geology can look at the mountains just west of Vegas and possibly think Yucca Mountain is a good idea.

If you were to lay Japan down next to the East Coast of the United States, it would look something like this:

As you can see, Hokkaido is as far north as Maine, but Kyuushu is as far south as Florida. Okinawa extends quite a bit further south. The tsunami was by any standard a big deal.

Speaking of the United States, thanks to TYWKIWDI for pointing out this graphic:

For the record, that’s 12 events in the 80s, and 38 events in the 90s, 47 from 2000 to 2009, and an additional 3 events in 2010. I think I’ve said before that actuaries believe in global warming.

First hand accounts of the quake are starting to be heard. For those of you trying to contact someone in Japan to make sure they are safe, the State Department says “We understand also that some telephone landlines there are disrupted. We are recommending that people try contacting loved ones in Japan by email, text, SMS message, or social media.”

I posted this picture 4 years ago. It’s a sign warning people of tsunami risk. Of course, the current crop of Republicans thinks that tsunami warnings — and other weather warnings — are a waste of time. I’ve got news for you, that’s not going to play well in Iowa.

Susie Madrak had this up, and I think it’s a good sentiment:

In Closing: leave your laptop home; old fashioned boycott causes old fashioned bank run; Bill Maher; on oil; No Depositor Left Behind; long but interesting; and after all that I sure do need a good laugh.

Happy Greenery Day!

Today is Midori No Hi, or Greenery Day. Originally celebrated in late April as the [previous] Emperor’s Birthday, Hirohito-sama’s love of nature prompted the current Emperor Akihito-sama to make it a permanent holiday celebrating the great outdoors. It is part of a “Golden Week” of holidays, so don’t plan on getting anything done with business associates in Japan this week.

Picture taken by the ShortWoman in April of 2007. It’s an Asian pear tree in blossom.

In Closing: Stuff you thought you would never hear the President say; the economy is a very different place depending on whether you are an American family or an American auto manufacturer; Tony Horton is the man (except when Henry Rollins is); the hole this school district is in keeps getting deeper; Would Jesus Be Accepted by the Conservatives?; Airline fees are out of hand; Just a few choice words about BP and the oil disaster in the Gulf; Porn Star saves man from prison; unHappy Mothers Day; look, it’s called the 5th Amendment and it applies to all Americans; Baseball players against racial profiling; Audit the Fed!; and two amusing items, I Shot the Serif and Nunderwear.

The Day War Changed Forever

It was 64 years ago today. There had been all out war for 4 years, and more war elsewhere for years before that.

In addition to the war of bullets and bombs, planes and boats, there was a war of cultures. One side was totally unfathomable to the other, for they had different ideas about battle, about valor, about death. It was as if they had nothing to lose. And they kept coming. There always seemed to be more of them, no matter how many were killed. And it was this way mile after mile, island after island.

As for them, they were defending lands they considered theirs by divine right in the name of their divine ruler, descended from the gods themselves. Why would they do anything less than fight to an honorable death in His service?

There had to be a better way to defeat this nation than to kill everyone.

Instead, they choose to drop a new kind of bomb. A bomb so destructive that the mere threat of using another one would surely cause a quick surrender to ensue. This is what happened. This is more of what happened. And this is what it looked like. In the end, a second bomb was still necessary — why would anybody have two doomsday weapons? But if two, why not a thousand?

We have many times over broken the promise of “Never Again” when it comes to genocide. Let’s mean “Never Again” when it comes to this destruction.

In closing: a few facts and one concern on “Cash for Clunkers“, a government success story which will save citizens money and help the environment; speaking of the environment, things are worse than scientists thought, and Americans are uniquely oblivious; contraception is more popular than puppies; guess what medical procedure is more common than open heart surgery and hip replacement combined (hint, it can happen after contraceptives fail); size acceptance my ass, obese people spend $1500 more per year on medical expenses; why can’t the tea-party crowd fill Washington with a million supporters? Farrakhan managed it; let me get this straight, I’m supposed to live in fear because some anti-social psychopath can’t figure out how to masturbate?; on graduate placement offices; on unpopular laws; Medicare is a government run health plan, and a lot of people think it works pretty well; bipartisan health care reform is neither bipartisan, nor health care, and it certainly isn’t reform; gee, maybe research on what works best is a good thing; the real math on rescission; and only in Vegas does this sort of thing happen. A man is walking a tiger (yes, a tiger) on a leash when it breaks free to chase a rabbit. No troubles, the man coaxes the tiger (yes, still a tiger) home before the police arrive. I will always be extra careful in that neighborhood from now on. After all, I would hate to accidentally hit a tiger!