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.

Music Monday: Christmas in July

Ok, this is not actually the track I wanted. Brave Combo is a North Texas based band with a following in Japan. A while back they did a Christmas album. As the story goes:

We never considered recording a Christmas album before. Everyone had already heard most of the famous songs enough for a lifetime and the challenge to make them fresh would be immense. Plus, Brave Combo walks a pretty thin line between novelty and serious anyway. A Christmas album would just never have Crossed our minds. However, in early 1991, during our second trip to Japan, a man from P-Vine Records asked us if we would be interested in the idea. “What, an album of Japanese Christmas music?” I asked. “No, there are no Japanese Christmas songs,” he replied, which meant to me that he wanted an album of standard melodies and songs that Americans hear and sing every winter. It seems that Christmas is a big holiday in Japan as well, stripped of all religious significance: a time of indulgent buying and gift-giving (a Japanese art) when Jesus Christ is acknowledged, but no more important an icon than Frosty, the Snowman. The idea was definitely interesting. We could choose a bunch of our favorite Christmas songs, mutate them into new shapes and release them in Japan only. Plus P-Vine had big plans. They would re-release it every year and perhaps it would become a classic. If the album came out too corny for jaded western ears, it wouldn’t matter. No one in the U.S. would even have to know about it.

So I had hoped to post their track “Christmas in July,” but it’s just not out there as far as I can tell.

In Closing: race relations; common sense on Social Security; eggs; on our shrinking freedoms; some good news for a change; and “Tiny Rat Cocktail Parties.”

John Dies at the Shorties

Baby Dinosaurs: More accurately, embryos in various states of development.

Follow-up on FPS Russia: Yeah, not a lot of meat on this story. Since when does the ATF get involved in “murder” investigations?

Random items on Real Estate, biased towards Vegas: Foreclosures are returning to where they were before the bust, with Nevada leading. However, prices are 30% higher than last year and distressed sales are down by a similar percentage. Interesting.

When you have a minute: Check out BustedKnuckles‘ new site.

Backtracking: CNN/Money might have thought Chained CPI was a great idea to save the budget a few days ago, but now they realize what way the wind is blowing.

I can’t believe we are back to “Jobs Americans Won’t Do”: They want to solve this “problem” with a new class of serf permit visa. Seems like these hypocrites are all about “let market forces do the magic” when it’s raising prices, but against the same when it might mean paying an American a decent wage! Go ahead, watch a bit of Dirty Jobs and tell me there’s such a thing as “jobs Americans won’t do” with a straight face! It isn’t that Americans won’t do them, it’s that they want more money (and perhaps safety equipment) than an easily exploited semi-legal immigrant worker.

Meanwhile, there are 3 unemployed Americans for every job opening: Yeah. Go ahead and push that serf permit visa program.

At some point, the Baby Boomers decided that they were never going to get Social Security; then they went about insuring just that: 1983 was the important year.

Le Petit Prince: Prince Hisahito goes to Kindergarten. You may remember him from this adorable picture.

Ides of March

Pi Day is over. Today is the anniversary of the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 BC.  To the best of my knowledge, Caesars Palace is not planning any memorial events. A friend has suggested not celebrating with a salad.

In Closing: three political cartoons (render unto Caesar, eh?); oops, turns out the samples from Lake Vostok were contaminated; Yay! Vegas is not number one!; on the interpretation of study data; grumble; double a small number is still pretty small; wow; comfortable workers work harder (attention, Yahoo); hard to save anything when there’s nothing left; totally bombed; cord cutting; when there is no market, market forces don’t act.


Diet Research? It must be January.

Yes indeed, it’s the first week of the year, and that means millions of Americans are trying to shed between 5 and 500 pounds. Some scientists were even willing to stick their necks out there and say fructose is a culprit in weight gain (a culprit not the culprit). Check the archives and you will find me many times saying that every weight loss diet that works requires drastically reducing if not altogether eliminating added sugars.

So Loyola University wants to help you out. They’ve got what they think are the top 4 reasons diets fail. Let me save you some reading:

  1. Underestimating calorie intake (e.g. eating too damn much)
  2. Overestimating activity and calories burned (e.g. imagining that an amble around the mall is just like a 5 mile run)
  3. Poor timing of meals (the dreaded “starvation mode“)
  4. Inadequate sleep (having a job and other responsibilities)

Really? I’m on board with reasons 1 and 2, although I see them as two sides of one coin. But do they really think that sleep is a bigger issue than unrealistic expectations in the first place, or diet plans that are for whatever reason unsustainable? Do they think that eating at the wrong time is truly a bigger issue than unsupportive friends and family who –subtly or openly — undermine the dieter’s efforts?

Want to lose weight without torturing yourself? Try eating reasonable portions of real food: plenty of veggies; adequate protein; no sweets, no crap that comes out of a box, no food-like chemistry sets. Hey, it’s no dumber than the other diets you’ve tried over the years.

In Closing: free classes; Downtown Vegas and F15; maybe now somebody will ask banks to follow the law pretty please?; Onnabugeisha; ha!; conform or be called a terrorist; Malala; why oh why did Texas give him a second term?; more employment data than you probably want; somebody inform Scalia that 24 is not a documentary; the estate tax is not a wealth tax, it’s a wealth moving into the hands of someone who didn’t actually earn it tax; it turns out you need facts before you can figure out what to think about them; well that’s gonna have conservative panties in a wad; the Romney Loophole; is anybody surprised by this?; and I think Brent may have been playing Black Ops 2.

Happy Thanksgiving


In Closing: That would be bad; Googlegator; Japan Crush; Rolling Jubilee gets more press; the last cooler than average month was during the Reagan Administration (maybe hell froze over when he compromised with Democrats or raised taxes?); Lost Decade, American Style; Forbes and USA Today disagree on the buyer, but agree that somebody will make your freaking Twinkies (and screw workers in the process); of course, you could just make your own freaking Twinkies; maybe if the so-called adults made it clear that we must treat others with respect, this wouldn’t be a problem; vintage pictures of Japan; Susie’s right; so is Robert.


Today’s BlogHer Book Club selection is Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. As usual, this is a paid review but the opinions are my own. For more, be sure to start here. The first discussion item is here.

Dr. Brown is a researcher in “shame and empathy.” The central idea of this book is that we all experience shame — a lot of shame, most of the time — and that our shame causes us to develop mostly unhealthy coping mechanisms that are meant reduce our perceived vulnerability to others, but in actuality cause us to not connect well with others. Rejecting this cycle, embracing our vulnerability, and developing “shame resilience” allows us to live “Wholehearted” lives (her capitalization, not mine). We can only do this by “daring greatly.” This last is a reference to one of Teddy Roosevelt’s speeches, which you can hear here.

So here’s the problem: in Dr. Brown’s eyes, I am either ludicrously well adjusted, or I am a sociopath. I don’t fear people laughing at me. I don’t spend all day worrying that my child will have an accident a school and I won’t have been there to stop it. I don’t feel guilty about not looking perfect at all times. Do I occasionally screw up and have to say to myself “Well that was dumb and I shouldn’t have done that”? Of course I do! But I don’t dwell on it and I don’t let fear or guilt control my life!

Dr. Brown tries very hard to write an accessible book: references to pop culture such as Harry Potter and Hotel California; pseudo-catchy phrases like Gremlin Ninja Warrior Training; admissions that she has been known to use colorful language. She does occasionally neglect to footnote when “research says”. She has done TED talks, seminars, written multiple books, talked to oodles of CEOs, and even given a lecture for Navy SEALs — and she will mention “examples” from any of the above as often as she can think to do so. Perhaps the researcher is too close to her subject matter and needs to work on self-esteem.

However, the book is not without merit. Dr. Brown is correct that love and connection is a basic human need. It’s useful to know that all most some men are driven by the fear that somebody will think they are “pussies.” All of us benefit from understanding that there are people out there who will use guilt to manipulate others, including bosses, significant others, and even teachers. The first time somebody thought to say “there are no stupid questions” was almost certainly in response to shame. There is a nice list of questions for gauging an office’s culture in chapter 5.

Dr. Brown is also the author of I Thought It Was Just Me. Well maybe it’s not just her, but it certainly isn’t me.

In Closing: math; disappearing; rivalry; human rights; Fred spread; predator; that’s why; long memories.

The Shorties Inside

Japanfilter: Mt Fuji is at risk of eruption.

Expect Republicans to call for NASA spending cuts in 3…2…1….: NASA explains the last decade.

A few items on Employment, Unemployment, and Job Growth: Why have millions of Americans given up looking for work? Why mostly young people? How many jobs do we need to create each month to keep up?

No kidding: Prince Harry is considered a high value target.

Did you know we had one?: Las Vegas Chinatown.

Hold your nose and vote: Amen Jill.

No argument from me: Unlike most “liberals” and “progressives,” I’m not a fan of gun control. After all, the Founding Fathers who wrote the 2nd Amendment overthrew the government. Money quote: “The real point is that gun control fails because gun control laws are only effective against law-abiding people.”

Well, something is repressed: a quick quiz.

Empty Apology: Yeah. Just trying to help. Sure. I hope a real woman runs against her using this as ammo.

The Italians Noticed: The right to vote is imperiled in America.

One Miiiiiiiiiilion Dollars! Muahahahahahahahaha!: That’s what Larry Flynt is offering for Rmoney’s tax returns. Heck, I wonder if that’s enough money for Ann Romney to send them in.

Why was it there in the first place?: ~21,000,000 compromised medical records, 54% due to stolen computers, including laptops where the data should NEVER have been in the first place.

Mental Health Parity: What if we treated every illness the way we treat mental illness?

And Finally: Fireflies.