31 May 2007

Baby video

I finally edited a short video of baby. Death Cab for Cutie's "Wait" and 20 second gap at the end. I don't explain 'em, I just make 'em. I think Abraham Lincoln said that.

Baby Day 17

We've been trying to give baby some time off the diaper as she's got a little diaper rash and, like her father, she likes to be naked from the waist down. We lay her down, still with the diaper underneath her just in case, but not all saddled up. This was going swimmingly — she was hanging on out the bed, having a good time when suddenly the good time went very, very bad. I think we got most of it washed out of the sheets and the towel and her clothes and basically everything else that was in a one meter radius of her.

I can’t believe it but

Ride your flying pig out of a frozen hell, I agree with Patrick Buchanan.
Almost all agree that, horrible as 9-11 was, it was not anarchic terror. It was political terror, done with a political motive and a political objective.

What does Rudy Giuliani think the political motive was for 9-11?

Was it because we are good and they are evil? Is it because they hate our freedom? Is it that simple?

29 May 2007


Only in Japan can you get a shirt with an adverb on it.

Get rich or die trying

Yoko and I, in an effort to get rich or die trying, are going to be investing a large amount of our collective capital in utilities. In the EU. I know, sounds riveting, doesn't it. But here's the deal, if you are Japanese (which I guess I sort of am now), any sort of offshore investment is prudent because the yen is super-weak and Japan is slowly losing its economic prowess.

Disagree? Think the Japanese economy is going to get better? Well, take a look at this picture:

This is the diaper aisle at a local grocer. The adult diaper aisle. And yes, everything you see: diapers. You can't work 80 hours at Mitsubishi with one of these on. Don't ask me how I know, I just do.

Yoko and I encourage you to buy Danish natural gas. It's refreshing.

Suicide in Japan

is for everyone. From the Times:
Japan’s agricultural minister, Toshikatsu Matsuoka, killed himself today, just hours before he was to face parliamentary questioning on a political funding scandal, government officials said.

He should have just gone forward and said that he didn't remember anything about any funding scandal, but he was sure it wasn't him. Oh wait, that only works in the States.

28 May 2007

Strange little baby

Nana turns two weeks old!
Being leftwing nut jobs and stingy, Yoko and I have been using cloth diapers on the baby. These things are great because you can use them again and again and they don't pollute the earth or contribute to global warming. The downside is you have to wash poo out of them. This should bother me as just months ago I was a cappuccino drinking, quasi intellectual. Now? I am sockless in the bathtub, scrubbing my little heart out. Thank god for our new washing machine. Thank god for students with envelopes wrapped in red bows containing 10,000 yen bills. Thank god for baby!

Hakuho takes it all

Grand Sumo Tournament this weekend in which Asashoryu and Hakuho had an epic battle. Really, great sumo. Would love to see this blossom into a true rivalry now that Hakuho is a Grand Champion as well.

Oh weekend, please

Well, I had a productive weekend, accomplishing several important things like running 25 km on Saturday morning, finishing chapter 2 of my dissertation, editing paper for online journal, and bathing baby without feeling like a bad father. To reward myself, I drank a lot of Diet Coke and watched "Ali". Although I'm not sure I would recommend the movie, I would recommend learning a bit about Ali. Before I saw the movie, he had been more or less an old guy with Parkinson's in my mind. How many things in this world am I ignorant of? The list goes on and on.

27 May 2007

Warhol gets is

Image result for andy warhol mao

I think that if I had to choose the most conflicted image of the 20th century, I would choose an image of Mao. The image of Mao is simultaneously the image of the revolution and the image of oppression. It is completely different thing depending on who you are, where you live, and what time you live in. I think Warhol's portraits really nail that down.

More Warhol here.

26 May 2007


After a win today, it looks like plucky Mongolian upstart Hakuho  is on his way to being promoted to the highest rank in sumo, Yokozuna , Grand Champion. Finally, my favorite wrestler and fellow Mongolian Asashoryu has himself a real rival. This will be the first Yokozuna promotion that has happened since I came to Japan.

That's some real poetry for your ass

Ali, Ali:
I rassled with a gator! Tussled with a whale! I murdered a rock! Injured a brick! I'm so mean, I make medicine sick!

Obama gets it right, again

Although Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have absolutely no fortitude, at least Obama seems to have some balls. Why the hell is everybody such a coward when it comes to this President? You've got the whole nation behind you supporting an end of the war. It's simple: an impasse means you negotiate, not give the President exactly what he wants. That's pathetic and I'm disappointed.

A public service quiz

 I know many of you are wondering about yourselves, "Hey, I wonder if I'm a partisan hack..." It's a tough questions, but I've devised a quiz to help you. First, watch the following video. Second, ask yourself the question, "Who lost this 'debate'?" Then click below. If you can't get through the whole video, I understand. Just do your best.

If you answered either 'Rosie O'Donnell' or 'Elisabeth Hasselback' then you are a partisan hack. I'm sorry. If you answered with your own name, 'political dialog in America', ' everything that's good and decent in the world', or you couldn't finish the video because you had to rinse the vomit out of your own mouth, then you are not a partisan hack. No one is making any good points here. They are just shouting at each other. A part of dialog is being able to listen and be willing to change your mind. If not? Then it isn't dialogue. It's Evangelism and we all know how well that works.

Bathing ape

Bathing the baby has not gotten easier. She skirms. She looks so troubled. She grabs onto my arm like she's struggling for her life. She breaks daddy's heart. When it's done and she's all wrapped up, she looks like she has forgiven me, but until then, things are a little hairy. I don't know what I'm going to do if she ever gets sick. I'm going to have like full-on depression. If baby is happy, daddy is happy.

I was talking to Neal about how great it was to go home to a wife and a child. He is also starting to settle down and nodded knowingly. 'We're getting old,' he said.

She's sleeping in my lap now. I keep saying to her, 'I'm your daddy. It's daddy! You are baby chan and I am daddy' and she just looks more confused.

25 May 2007

Mr. Mom

I can cook. I can clean. I can write long papers about discourse. I just need breasts. Then I could feed the baby.

Here, I made grilled chicken salad and flat bread. Alright!

Naomi, Day 10

24 May 2007

Cleaning up for Mom

You might notice things getting cleaned up on this blog and that's because my mother is now stopping by every so often to check out the pictures of the baby. I'm going to do my best to stay respectable because, I'll be honest, my mother taught me to be respectable. I've said before that I learned to be polite when I came to Japan, but really, I learned to be polite from my mother. My sister and brother and I were super polite when we were kids, especially towards adults. This was the work of my parents, and I am still benefiting from it.

My mom also taught me some of the other most important lessons I have ever learned in my life. For example, if you don't know something, read a book and find the answer. We didn't have a TV when we were young children, but my mom always had us at the library. Nerds? Yes. Well-equipped for higher education? Oh yeah.

My parents also taught us that to love each other. And to say we love each other. And my parents taught us to give to the poor. So now that my mother is reading, maybe I can get her to get her own blog? We'll see.

Are you bi? or, Bangladesh, ho!

It's becoming increasingly clear to me that being a successful academic requires that you be at least bi-lingual, although tri-lingual is preferred. I met this guy on Wednesday who had studied Serbian and Croatian at a military language institute in the States. 47 weeks, and he claimed to be fluent. Now, I take issue with the word 'fluent' and whether or not you can be 'fluent' without going to the country that you studied, but I was impressed. Around our little table in Starbucks we had speakers of Japanese, English, German, Spanish, Croatian, Serbian, and Spanish. I felt sort of dumb.

Anyway, on a more successful note, my tickets are coming through for Bangladesh and it looks like I will be presenting at two conferences there. I'm wicked excited about it, although it's going to be so hot. I also get to fly the BEST airline in the world (Malaysia Air, complete with Mecca compass and awesome service). I plan to come back with wide eyes. The group I'm going with is holding conferences in Bangladesh, Vietnam, Iran, Cambodia, and a couple of other places. I am hoping that I can get more and more involved with them as next year they are going to Ghana. I could live in Japan the rest of my life if I got to travel three times a year on someone else's dime.

Oh, speaking of the baby, Yoko thinks she likes metal.

22 May 2007

A successful test

I wrote and gave my first test last week. When I was a student taking tests, I never really thought about the work and the philosophy behind test-making. I just thought they were a colossal waste of my time, especially at the university level. After having given a test, I think testing is a colossal waste of time. I had students take a 30 point test that was very, very easy, based on only the most basic ideas from our first 5 units. Two of six of my students failed, one of them only answering 7 of the questions.

They will all, ultimately, pass the course as it is built primarily around attendance. So it got me thinking, why test in the first place? Or maybe, more important, what is a successful class?

I think a successful class is one that lets you practice on a small scale what you need to be successful in whatever it is that you are being trained for. That's the problem with Japanese education among a myriad of other things. It trains you to succeed on a test only. The goal is false because in real life, there aren't any tests. You have to think and problem solve and all that jazz. I think to the extent that a test can do that, cool. But if I'm just having kids fill in blanks with words they memorized? I'd rather just jump off the boat.

21 May 2007


We made it home from the hospital and the ladies are now asleep in bed together. Leaving the hospital was a little sad because it had been much more like a hotel mini-vacation than a hospital stay. Plus, it was within walking distance of good coffee and a bagels. Yoko lost seven kilos while at the hospital and I gained two.

20 May 2007

Day six

For the who's whom of who's whom

1) This is the baby. She looks like a turtle and has a giant bump on her head.

2) This is Nakamura san, the terribly polite nurse who delivered the child in the doctor's absence. She's great.

3) This is Tetsuya, my best English student, holding a baby (coincidently our baby) for the very first time. He's got a long career of baby holding ahead of him, it looks like.

19 May 2007

Paternity fits

The baby, it seems, likes to be wrapped up super-tight. And yes, that is a giant bump on her head, and no, no one dropped her. It will go away in a couple of days, we're told.

I always thought having a baby was a complicated thing. It's not. The baby cries, it means one of three things (99% of the time): Either she is taking (or has just taken) a dump and needs to be changed; or she is uncomfortable with her clothes situation or how you are holding her; or she needs to eat and sucking on your finger will only placate her for 10 minutes. Then it's the breast or lots of shouting.

For those of you who are wondering, I think I'm doing well being a father so far. When she was born, it sort of clicked — whatever natural father hormone that had been evading me the last 9 months was sufficiently secreted. I have yet to feel uneasy about it or inadequate. Maybe this is a bad thing. I haven't decided yet. But for now, I can look into her little turtle eyes and say, I think the three of us are going to be okay.

18 May 2007

Commentary below

No one's arguing that speaking one way rather than another will help you get a good job, but when you start throwing around words like 'incorrect' and 'subculture', you've completely missed the point. Groups of people are included and excluded through dialect. It's how language works. Does saying 'ax' instead of 'ask' hurt you in a job interview? Sure. Is there a right way and a wrong way to pronounce 'ask'? No, that's the point. In English, things like pronunciation are often contested and differ between dialects. If you are trying to relate to a white interviewer, should you speak more 'white'? I don't know, but it bothers the hell out of me. People who argue these points say you need to get into the system to change it. But if you have to change the way you communicate to get into the system and say that your dialect of English is inferior, I'm wondering who's changing whom...

17 May 2007

Dots and Dashes

Jen Tynes, former classmate, gets it right:
Dots and Dashes

Somehow we get around to working
with our hands, if we work at all,
to keep the lights on. Phonetic
rings around the radiance coming
from the telephone, something
important is "a calling." Let's be
vocational icons, blowing
our own glass. No arch or nemesis
in this company, the tension
is the wire. I am not afraid
of connecting you, but the ability
to electrify. Charging finches
are mysterious because of our lack
of transparency. Magnetism nothing
we can singe together, form compound
jingles. For the sake of relation
I could replace it with the name
of any local bird–is this hallowed
bristle down the spine or does
the spine desire a service.

16 May 2007


Apparently, if you put the laptop up on the windowsill of the hospital room, you get excellent wireless reception. It's a little uncomfortable.

Newborn baby poo doesn't smell bad at all.

Blogging my blogging life away

I'm becoming the blogger I never wanted to be by blogging about how cute my daughter is and what being a dad is like, so I apologize straight away. I will get back to Existentialism and music in a couple of days. Although, maybe this is related to both of those things. As you can see, Naomi looks sort of like me. This is unfortunate in some ways (as I am not a very beautiful woman, although she seems to be pulling it off quite well), but mostly unspeakably wonderful. The moment I saw her for the first time was completely clear.

She was born in five hours, although really much less than that. Yoko was in hard labor for only about 35 minutes. Naomi came without pushing and didn't cry for 2 hours. The doctor showed up about 10 minutes after she was born, looking confused and a little annoyed.

It's funny, I wasn't quite sure how I would feel about being a father, whether or not I could do it or do it well. I'm not really worried about it any more.

14 May 2007


Yoko thinks she's going into labor, but I say pish-posh. I need to see some womb goo before I start to freak out.

13 May 2007

Existential crisis goes to Bible study

Today, having skipped church for work, I decided to go to a Bible study hosted by one of my best friends in Niigata. I'm not sure why I go to church or find Bible studies interesting, but it is what it is. We were reading Genesis and talking about a lot of things, but got onto the subject of faith v. hope v. knowledge. This Bible verse was introduced to the discussion:
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. (God, Hebrews 11:1-3)
You've gotta be kidding me, I thought. So faith is to be sure of something that we hope for. How can we be sure about anything that is in the future? Faith, hope and knowledge are all the same thing. And the goal is to have faith so we can understand. Seems a little circular to the dude.

I think faith is projecting what you know about the past into the future. That is to say, I have faith that my wife will not leave me because I have experienced her love and companionship in the past and I have no reason to think this will change. But I don't know for certain. I would say that hope is a positive projection about the future that is not necessarily based on fact, but rather what I desire. I think knowledge about the future is impossible.

10 May 2007

William Blake

If you are not, you should become familiar with The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by William Blake. It is an important text that has been on my mind, after a discussion with my brother.

From "The Voice of the Devil":
But the following Contraries to these are True

1. Man has no Body distinct from his Soul for that call'd Body is a portion of Soul discern'd by the five Senses, the chief inlets of Soul in this age
2. Energy is the only life and is from the Body and Reason is the bound or outward circumference of Energy.
3 Energy is Eternal Delight (Blake, URL)

08 May 2007

Day 18 Dream

I was holding her, walking from the living room to her crib (which I have half set-up now). She was smiling and laughing and my face was close to hers.

07 May 2007

Inspired lately?

Has anyone at the end of the nineteenth century a distinct conception of what poets of strong ages called inspiration? If not, I will describe it.— If one had the slightest residue of superstition left, one would hardly be able to set aside the idea that one is merely incarnation, merely mouthpiece, merely medium of overwhelming forces. The concept of revelation, in the sense that something suddenly, with unspeakable certainty and subtlety, becomes visible, audible, something that shakes and overturns one to the depths, simply describes the fact. One hears, one does not seek; one takes, one does not ask who gives; a thought flashes up like lightning, with necessity, unfalteringly formed— I have never had any choice. (Nietzsche in Marra, 2002: 17)

19 days of dreams

Little Naomi still sits high in the wife's uterus, a sign that she is not ready. I, however, have been dreaming every night. Last night, I dreamt she was born while I was away on a motorcycle somewhere. At first this all seemed natural, me not being there when she was born, but as the time passed, I became more and more desperate to get to the hospital. I was shouting at my parents.

This dream became another dream where my brother and I were terrorists.


I found this tag interesting:
Clemens rejoins Yankees: Roger Clemens makes dramatic announcement to fans during Sunday's game.
Fascinating. Certainly, 'makes' should be 'made', but it isn't and it doesn't have to. Why, well this is news writing and sometimes in news writing the present tense is used when talking about an event that has occurred in the past. This plays right into my thinking about grammar being linked more directly to genre or form than it is to any formulation of Standard English.

06 May 2007


I knew that Blink 182 had broken up and I knew that Tom had made a crappy new band with a crappy name, but I didn't know that Mark and Travis had started their own, slightly better, band. The song is okay, the band is okay. It's sort of like when the Beatles broke up (albeit on a much, much smaller level, with a much better drummer). You have two talented guys writing music in one band, and then you split them up and they can't help but look less talented, given that they lost half of their . Plus, their band names suck and the one guitarist in this video is such a poser.

05 May 2007

Macs rule so much

I bought an Airmac card online, put it in Yoko's iBook, shared my network connection from my iMac, and now I'm blogging in bed. This is going to be super great for when the baby comes and I need to work outside.

04 May 2007


After naming Barack Obama my number one friend, there seems to have been some trouble. I'd like to say, that whatever my role was in this MySpace mess, I regret it. Luckily, Obama is up and running again (can't keep him down!) and has 30,642 friends in like, I don't know, 15 minutes on his new site.

Giuliani looked the most agreeable of the Republicans. How many of them don't 'believe' in evolution? Huckabee? Say it ain't so... Who doesn't 'believe' in the existence of their own ass? Come on! Oh wait, wait. Huckabee just said he 'believes' in global warming. Great. I gotta say though, I really appreciate them talking about States making decisions rather than the federal government. Apparently, they didn't get get the memo Karl Rove that Republicans don't stand for that anymore.

But after watching both debates, seeing all 19 of the candidates, I would take ANY of them over GW. Anyone. Even — I can't believe I'm gonna say this — Sam, these are pictures of stem cell babies, Brownback.


In Japan, we celebrate a group of national holidays at the beginning of May, known to the islanders as ゴルーデンウィーク which is Romanized as "GORUUDEN UIIKU" which is more-or-less "Golden Week" plus a slew of vowels.

We started this extravagance on Monday by celebrating "The Day of Showa" which commemorates the life and times of Emperor Hirohito (well, mostly his life and times after the war). Then everyone went back to work for two days. Then we got yesterday and today off.

Today is Greenery Day. So, to celebrate "greenery" I rode the hell out of my bicycle. And ignored the writing I should be doing.

02 May 2007

The Baby, Akebono

We saw the baby today and Yoko says Naomi looks like Akebono.


It seems that Obama's rather forgettable performance at the Democratic debate didn't hurt him. 32-30 against Hillary, according to Rasmussen. Well, well, well. I guess being my number one friend is finally paying off.

01 May 2007

Hadley, on war

I had the pleasure of reading a manuscript of this book from my tutor and mentor, Greg Hadley, last year. It is a fabulous dissection of what happens to people during times of war. I would encourage you to check it out.

毛, on death and dying

I’m reading a very unfavorable biography of Mao, called Mao: The Unknown Story. It’s a good break from 1984, my dissertation reading, and my plans to read all the books on this list. I wish it were a little more balanced.

Yoko and I were talking about Mao, but she didn’t know the English pronunciation. I wrote 毛 on her chest with my finger and she immediately knew.

I don’t want to be a Mao-hater because he did get some interesting things accomplished in his lifetime, you know, killing aside. Mao wrote this, in his twenties, which sort of resonates:
Human beings are endowed with the sense of curiosity. Why should we treat death any differently? Don’t we want to experience strange things? Death is the strangest thing, which you will never experience if you go on living… Some are afraid of it because the change comes too drastically. But I think this is the most wonderful thing: where else in the world can we find such a fantastic and drastic change? (Chang and Halliday, 2006: 17)