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WARNING: THIS SITE FEATURES ORIGINAL THINKING...Jim Croce once sang Don't tug on Superman's cape..., which seems like reasonable advice should we not wish to anger the supreme powers. We do have this duality in our culture: the Superman that is the state collective, the leftist call to a politics of meaning managed by the state, the deification of "we're from the government and we'll take care of you" - versus the Superman that celebrates individual freedom, private property, freedom of conscience, free enterprise, and limited government. We humbly take on the latter's mantle and, eschewing the feeble tug, we dare to PULL, in hope of seeing freedom's rescue from the encroaching nanny state. We invite you, dear reader, to come and pull as well... Additionally, if you assume that means that we are unflinching, unquestioning GOP zombies, that would be incorrect. We reject statism in any form and call on individuals in our country to return to the original, classical liberalism of our founders. (We're also passionate about art, photography, cooking, technology, Judeo/Christian values, and satire as unique, individual pursuits of happiness to celebrate.)

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February 27, 2006
Shin-Yokohama one-upsmanship
Filed in: Current Affairs, Japan, Photography

Over the weekend they had college testing exams at all the universities around Tokyo. May have been all over Japan but I'm not sure.

This meant that I actually got bumped from my hotel to make room for students needing to take their exams at one of the five colleges in the area.

We (my country manager and I) looked all around for hotels around Tokyo for several hours and couldn't find much of anything.

Finally, we found a business hotel in Shin-Yokohama well south - booked it for a couple of nights and I headed off on the train. It took about two hours with three train changes to get there.

The hotel was much like any other business hotel that I've been to before - with one notable exception. The toilet seat had a remote control. I'll elaborate.

...Continue reading "Shin-Yokohama one-upsmanship"

Pulled by Emcee on February 27, 2006 at 08:44 PM
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February 23, 2006
It's Deja Vu All Over Again...
Filed in: Current Affairs, Japan, Sports

Arakawa4111579534 It seems like every time I come to Japan I get here just in time for some over-the-top sports celebration.

This trip is no exception. I suppose that most anyone interested in the Winter Olympic Games watched Shizuka Arakawa win the Gold Medal in women's figure skating last night (or whatever time it was in that time of the world - I won't really know what day or time it is for a few days as I'm in that lag zone.)

Arakawa-san really skated the only fault free round in the replays I've seen. Of course, since I've been here (really just for a few hours now), I've seen her free skate on pretty much every channel at least five or six times - and two live interviews so far. This nation is going berserk once again!

They had assemblies of hundreds of people at movie theaters, karaoke bars, and whatever passes for sports bars here - all wearing Japanese flag adorned headbanks and waving Japanese flags. They were from every age group and socioeconomic strata - and their jubilation is just another one of those strange Japanese things that never ceases to amaze me.


(Image: Getty Images)

Arakawa-san delivered a technically brilliant and elegant performance. Every other contender (including American favorite Sasha Cohen) fell.

It's the first medal of these Olympic games for Japan. And it's the first Gold Medal for Japan in women's figure skating in history.


(Image: Getty Images)

Even if no self-respecting Japanese person would ever think of becoming the spittle covered, flag wrapped, business suit torn, idiot faced, should be committed to an institution for demon possession minion that I've seen by the thousands on TV today - I say let 'em go crazy. This is an historic moment. Besides, they are hilariously funny to watch. God Bless 'em.

Pulled by Emcee on February 23, 2006 at 09:09 PM
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February 22, 2006
To the land of the Rising Sun...
Filed in: Current Affairs, Japan

Flying to Japan later today.

Yes, yes, there will be beautiful, uncontroversial pictures from Japan soon!

Pulled by Emcee on February 22, 2006 at 02:34 AM
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December 01, 2005
Have you ever had Fugu?
Filed in: Current Affairs, Good eats, Japan

Dear Mrs. Hapke offered thoughts on expanding at table yesterday and in the ensuing comments she asked me whether I had ever eaten fugu - the Takifugu pufferfish or blowfish - in Japanese: 鰒 - a sought after delicacy in Japan.


I told my affirmative story there - and I thought later that I might have had pictures. I found them - they were taken with my Japan cell phone so admittedly are not of very good quality, but they do offer proof of my assertions.

See, most Japanese people will say that they absolutley do not eat fugu liver because it is the organ in which most of the tetrodotoxin poison resides. But, in Oita, on Kyushu island, it is all part of the multi-course dinner...

...Continue reading "Have you ever had Fugu?"

Pulled by Emcee on December 1, 2005 at 09:35 AM
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November 26, 2005
May I please come in?
Filed in: Current Affairs, Japan, Photography

I made a new discovery at Kichijoji Park on my last visit. I noticed a large steep stairway on the west-southwest side of the temple area and walked up. Most of the walkways from the park just go into the surrounding residential or business areas and this seems to do the same - except when you arrive at the top of the stairs (in this case), you are presented with an entire city block of a temple compound.


And this is not some dilapidated old temple in disrepair. In fact, there's a lot of gold on these buildings...

...Continue reading "May I please come in?"

Pulled by Emcee on November 26, 2005 at 11:50 PM
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November 21, 2005
It's already Christmas in Kichijoji
Filed in: Current Affairs, Japan, Photography

Some time before I arrived in Kichijoji last week, they decorated for Christmas. That's prior to the second week in November. In their continuous fixation on all things American, they've gone whole hog for the commercial aspects of the season. This is the earliest I've seen any sort of Christmas decorations starting this early in Japan - in the last three years that I've been traveling there.


Coming out of the park, I noticed that some of the shops had some decorations up...


This reminded me of what I had seen earlier in the week at the L. L. Bean store. So I thought it would be interesting to look around town for the decorations on display...

...Continue reading "It's already Christmas in Kichijoji"

Pulled by Emcee on November 21, 2005 at 10:34 AM
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November 20, 2005
More fall colors...
Filed in: Current Affairs, Japan, Photography


It wasn't blossom season in Inokashira Park - but the colors were just as beautiful. It began at the entrance to the park...

...Continue reading "More fall colors..."

Pulled by Emcee on November 20, 2005 at 05:18 PM
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November 18, 2005
Duck? Not!
Filed in: Current Affairs, Japan, Photography

The crows in Japan are huge. Their voices are also like Siamese cat meows are to a Tabby.


This guy was pretty sure that this post on the bridge belonged to him. He wasn't going to leave no matter how close I got...

...Continue reading "Duck? Not!"

Pulled by Emcee on November 18, 2005 at 10:02 AM
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Inokashira Park: Colors of fall - flash filled...
Filed in: Current Affairs, Japan, Photography

Inokashira Park is centered around some long, narrow ponds. Many of the views that I enjoy are through the trees on one side of a pond to the other side - which in the best case is lit with sunlight.

The problem is that cameras have very poor dynamic resolution in back-lit cases like these. I took one of my external flash units with me on this trip and I used it to attempt to catch the good backlight but fill in the foreground some as well.

This is a very delicate process - and I certainly haven't perfected it - distances, actual ambient light, reflection and other factors are at play. But I did get some good results.


There's something very rich about the backlit colors of fall with something other than a totally black foreground. The shrub on the lower right is too lit by the flash and the reflector on the pole is annoying - but those can be fixed with p'shop...

...Continue reading "Inokashira Park: Colors of fall - flash filled..."

Pulled by Emcee on November 18, 2005 at 05:14 AM
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November 17, 2005
Well, he walked like a, swam like a, quacked like a...
Filed in: Current Affairs, Japan, Photography

There were significantly more waterfowl in Inokashira Park when I visited, er, yesterday was it?


I haven't seen this many here before.


I've heard that you should get these in a row...

...Continue reading "Well, he walked like a, swam like a, quacked like a..."

Pulled by Emcee on November 17, 2005 at 09:51 AM
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