31 January 2008


Looking at the trend lines at pollster.com, it seems that if Edwards endorses Obama and the endorsement sticks, then Obama could very well win next week. If he doesn't, I think Edwards pulling out will really hurt Obama and all those white rural voters will go to Clinton. This isn't Iowa — I don't think there is going to be a lot of people voting against Hillary Clinton.

30 January 2008

More great news

Well, for the Obamicans out there:
Mrs. Clinton’s victory was expected and may have largely reflected her prominence on the national political scene for almost two decades. She did well among those who cast their votes early; among late deciders, Mr. Obama matched her almost one for one, according to exit polls conducted by Edison/Mitofsky.

29 January 2008

Awareness of dying

A friend of mine gave me a copy of Awareness of Dying, which is a book I was looking forward to reading as I am interested in Grounded Theory and death. It's been rather disappointing so far in that it wasn't what I expected. I was looking for something about the meaning of death, rather than an explanation of how people (those dying and those caring for those dying) deal with death. It is interesting, however, and I am going to finish it off.

How to decide whether or not to tell someone they are dying... I suppose this is a significant question. I think I want to know if I am dying — it seems rather odd that everyone would pretend you are ultimately going to get better when it looks like you won't.

28 January 2008

So many new things

If I believed in signs, this might be one — I got a deadline extended for a studentship application at the University of Leeds. The studentship I probably won't get, but I would like to see what happens. If it happens, then I guess we are going to Leeds where it is always cold.

The baby is now climbing up on the edge of the table and throwing everything on floor. She knocked over a cup of cold coffee and then played in it. Yoko has made two puppets. Pippo the Hippo and a dog, whom I haven't named yet.

27 January 2008

Great thing about being an adult

Here's one great thing about being an adult: If you fart, you don't have someone who is twice the size of you look down your pants to see if you've crapped yourself.


New rule, new rule!
In Case You Missed It: Hillary hears all the time from Democrats in Florida and Michigan that they want their voices heard. Yesterday, Hillary announced that she will ask her Democratic convention delegates to support seating the delegations from Florida and Michigan. "I hope to be President of all 50 states and U.S. territories, and that we have all 50 states represented and counted at the Democratic convention," Hillary said.

It'd be funny if she lost in FL too, although I do hear she has a substantial lead among old, white racists.

A blowout

24 January 2008


My post about death, Death as a hole, has been very popular, but it got moved to page two because I keep blogging. Click the link, stay on board.

The New Year's Sumo tournament is building to an epic showdown between Hakuho and Asashoryu.

Hillary Clinton is destroying the future of the Democratic party and winning the nomination in the meanwhile.
Imagine if at the next presidential debate Barack Obama — who is agitated about what he calls Bill Clinton’s misleading criticisms — cocked his head, smiled ruefully and, in Reaganesque “there you go again” tones, said something like this to Hillary Clinton: “You know, I admired some aspects of Bill Clinton’s presidency. But let’s recall that it was precisely these sort of too-cute-by-half statements that caused him to be reprimanded by a federal judge and stripped of his law license. Senator, you may want to go back to those days and that style of politics, but I think most Americans are ready to move on.”

Worth it?

23 January 2008

Parents liking kids

One of the interesting things about being a parent is finding out that parents really like their kids. At least when they're young. I mean, I'm crazy about the baby. Just crazy. She makes me so happy and we have the sweetest moments together all day long. And it occurs to me that me and my parents probably had all these same moments. I wish I could remember all of them and I wish Naomi could remember all the time we have together now.

22 January 2008

More of the same

I'm a person who reads debate transcripts. This is my favorite part from Monday night:
CLINTON: Now, wait a minute. Wolf, wait a minute. Wait a minute. Just a minute.
BLITZER: Senator Edwards, let them wrap up. Then I'm going to come to you. Yes?
CLINTON: I just want — I just to clarify — I want to clarify the record. Wait a minute.
EDWARDS: There's a third person in this debate.
BLITZER: Wait a minute, Senator Edwards. Hold on.
I should give a dramatic reading of this.

21 January 2008


I wasn't born into money or great wealth or great privilege or status. I was given love, an education, and some hope. That's what I got. That's my birthright.

20 January 2008

Obama keeps losing

But not really:

"Barack Obama did well throughout the state,'' Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said in a conference call with reporters. Plouffe said Obama received 13 delegates for the party's national convention in voting today and Clinton got 12.

Also, like only 10,000 people caucused in Nevada. Look, I think this thing is probably over if Obama doesn't roll a little bit on Feb. 5th. But if Edwards stays in and Obama keeps getting solid delegate counts, I think he could be the nominee when he power-brokers with Edwards come convention time. Don't want to win that way, but I'm not completely out yet.

19 January 2008

Death as a hole

My Grandmother has been dying this winter, and indeed, she did finally die late on Tuesday night. Not having been especially close to her, I spent more time thinking about death in general than her death in particular, which I feel bad about — I'm not quite sure how to make myself feel something I don't feel.

Of course, anyone who tells you that they know what happens after you die is lying to you and probably selling something. It shouldn't be news to anyone that death is a great mystery and everyone is basically guessing about what happens when we die. I have, in the last year, been unfortunately slipping towards the opinion that when we die, we lose our consciousness entirely and that's it. This unfortunately seems to make the most sense to me, as a creature who has gained consciousness through brain maturation and will, one day, lose that ability. I say unfortunately because I don't like the idea of not existing in a conscious way. It bothers me much, much more than the thought of hell. At least in hell, you are something and you have a chance. If you lose your consciousness, you are nothing and the thought of you as nothing is unbearable, if you take a couple of minutes with it.

The thought of me as nothing got me thinking about me before I was born. I am not really bothered about thoughts of my existence before I was born. It doesn't keep me up at night when I think about a universe before me. Why should I be bothered by thoughts of a universe without me again? And why can we conceptualize of a beginning of ourselves, but not an ending? We can clearly observe that all of our conscious, cognitive processes are held in our brain. There's no mystery about that. What makes us think that there is some other part of us that we can't observe or understand — why do we insist that it hold our real consciousness.

The idea of ceasing to exist after we die has any bearing at all on whether or not there is a god or gods or anything that created us. If there was a god, it would have no responsibility for us anyway, especially not to keeping our consciousness going after we die. A god could do whatever it wanted to do. The two seem unrelated.

If I'm honest, I don't know what bothers me more, the idea of eternal life, eternal death, or non-existence. They all seem to be pretty unfavorable to me. I even did a little reading on near-death experiences and read that many people experience meeting whatever they perceive as a god or gods. This, however, seems to be easily explained in the brain dreaming right before it loses consciousness or right before it regains consciousness. Yoko tells me the story of a man in Japan who died and saw a river and heard someone calling his name to come the other side. He couldn't go and when he realized he couldn't go, he knew he was not really dead. The other side of the river was hell, if you actually believe. What sense does that make.

An blood bath for the White House!

If you haven't noticed, Hillary has been blasting Obama, while Obama attacks Hillary. Edwards takes the gloves off to slam both of them.

A proud day for democracy, really.

18 January 2008

Yoko's birthday

Today is Yoko's birthday. Please, wish her a happy birthday.

Why I like Obama

“Because I’m like, an ordinary person, I thought that they meant what’s your biggest weakness?” Mr. Obama said. “So I said, ‘Well, I don’t handle paper that well. You know, my desk is a mess. I need somebody to help me file and stuff all the time.’ So the other two they say uh, they say well my biggest weakness is ‘I’m just too passionate about helping poor people. I am just too impatient to bring about change in America.”As the room erupts in laughter, he continues: “If I had gone last I would have known what the game was. I could have said, ‘Well you know, I like to help old ladies across the street. Sometimes they don’t want to be helped. It’s terrible.’”

17 January 2008


Yoko and I went out on a 'date' today. A 'date', for those of you who like me had forgotten, is when two people who like each other go out for a romantic purpose without their baby. We did it up right. Went to a movie. Ate over-priced pasta. We also held hands. It was nice.

16 January 2008

Things keep going

Lots of life and death surrounding me these days. My grandmother is passing away from complications of a myriad of health problems she has had. It's been hard on everyone, obviously, but I was never very close to her. In fact, I can't ever remember us having a substantial conversation. My parents are having a difficult time, so you might keep them in your thoughts and prayers, if you are that sort of person.

Yoko is celebrating her 19th birthday this week, although I can't say for certain how many times she has celebrated her 19th birthday. We (Yoko and I) are actually going to go out by ourselves, without the baby, to see a movie tomorrow morning. This will be the longest time we have been away from the baby ever, I think. Hopefully none of us implode.
“This woman said, ‘Well, how do you get up in the morning?’ It just struck me, how do any of us get up in the morning?” Mrs. Clinton recounted.
Am I just missing the boat or is being a woman much, much harder than I imagine? Is getting out of bed in the morning so much harder for women than men? Hillary says she never makes issue of her gender, except of course, to constantly remind people that she is a woman and that she would be the first woman to be president and that it's so hard for her (as a woman) to run for president because she is a woman and that all women who are like her (because she is a woman) have the same womanly problem of getting out of bed in the morning. I guess I have the same question too, How does she do it?

I'll tell you how Barack Obama does it: By kicking ass and taking names.

And another thing: Why does Obama have to run against both Bill and Hillary Clinton? Shouldn't we be a little bit scared when a comment that Bill Clinton makes plays such an important role in the campaign? Dude, seriously, sit down. You aren't running for anything.

Maybe we'll get another sex scandal out of this before the whole thing is over...

13 January 2008

If publications werre stacks

My fourth EFL/ Applied Linguistics article was accepted for publication in the Spring. This one is all about sex and high school dances. Finally, my Gender and Women's Studies classes are paying off.

12 January 2008

Happy Family?!

The high-water mark

Hunter Thompson on 1965, from "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas":
History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of “history” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time – and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened. [...]There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda…You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. And that, I think, was the handle – that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting – on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave.So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark – that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.

10 January 2008

New Stomps

It's official now — Yoko and I are packing up the baby and moving to Shibata on March first. Here's what our new neighborhood looks like:

This area has a couple of key features. Up in the left hand corner you see a big parking lot that is a grocery store. About a two minute walk away we have a Circle K. The train station is an 18 minute walk from the apartment, according to Yahoo! Japan. We are going to be on the second floor in a bigger apartment with a veranda. We went to the nursery school today and there is a kid there that the baby is nominally friends with. They seemed to get along well and all the women there seemed kind enough and not too shrill.

Big problems at work today, though. Do more, get paid less. The part-timer's dream.

Feeling optimistic

I think we're going to be okay. Listening to why Clinton won, it seems women went for her because they saw her as getting picked on. Clinton continues to play the gender card, but Obama hasn't even touched his race card yet. He always deflects it and Clinton always plays it. I don't think that it's going to carry her though and I think, all things equal, Nevada and SC should go to Obama. We hopefully won't have anymore of these moment when crying a bit is going to sway everyone to you.

09 January 2008

Obama actually wins

Not that it really matters, but Obama actually won yesterday, in our ridiculously arcane electoral system that I'm a fan of for one day only.


W did I get my hopes up so much about this damn thing. Of course Clinton's lead wasn't going to evaporate and of course crying in front of some women was going to help her and of course, of course, of course. Let's not forget that this could end up being less than three points she wins by and that she and Obama split the delegates. It's essentially a tie.

Now. Obama needs to go on Oprah and tear up a little. Talk about his mother and distant father. And do a little bit of spinning himself. And he also needs to convince Edwards to get the hell out of the race. He's miserable, his wife is sick, his kids are miserable. Go home now.

To make matters worse, I personally have also had a shitty day after my iPod has been acting up and finding out a great part-time job I was supposed to be landing pays just about one hundred yen more an hour than working at McDonalds. And I've got a cold and baby has a cold.

06 January 2008

Don't be afraid: Confront those peeing

I finally confronted the guy who keeps peeing in front of our apartment building. I hung out the window and shouted in Japanese, 'Hey, what's wrong with you?! Knock it off!' and then as he zipped up and started walking away, annoyed, 'This isn't a toilet! You're being rude!' I felt sort of satisfied with myself even though I doubt it will change anything. Like I said to Yoko, there's some famous quote about evil prevailing when good men do nothing, and this is case and point.

I didn't want to embarrass Yoko, so I asked her a couple of times if it was okay. She said it was fine, but she was worried about the baby's safety. What if the pee-er chose to retaliate? You don't understand, I said, He's more scared of me than anything. I'm the big angry black man in the white suburban neighborhood in 1954. I don't think she would quite understand that analogy.

Tomorrow, I go back to work and start counting down days until I'm finished. Less than 40, I think. An actual number is forthcoming.

Clinton tells it like it is

From the Times:
[Clinton] says The Associated Press has said that Mr. Obama “could have a pretty good debate with himself” about his health-care plan, and says he was for single-payer health care, then universal health care, then proposed a health care plan that doesn’t cover everybody. You have to be able to count on a president.

Mr. Obama says The A.P. was quoting Clinton aides.

05 January 2008

Adolescent Stephen dies in 2007 (evidence)

I think 2007 was the year that the adolescent version of me died completely. 2006 had been a bad year for staying a child given the marriage and the purchase of a nice jacket that wasn't from a thrift store, but it was pretty well split otherwise. Not so, unfortunately, with 2007. Having the baby was a large part of it, I guess. I gave money to a political campaign for the first time and then lost money in the stock market. I rented a car and got really angry at people for driving too fast. I finished my Master's degree and published as an academic for the first time. I complained about noise and chose not to go places based on how difficult it would be to park. I didn't go to many shows. I went to bed before midnight on most days.

My Christmas presents really illustrate how far I've fallen.
The iPod is debatable — maybe still in the child category — but the electric shaver, wallet, scarf, and CD by popular Japanese rock band are all in the adult category. And more than all of that is how happy I am to have a nice wallet, scarf, and shaver, and how much I actually like a band called 'Bump of Chicken'. So take a long look at this guy and say goodbye. He's gone now.

Huckabee, Obama, and the future of America

Here is why a win in Iowa means something for Obama and means nothing for Huckabee.
The race in New Hampshire, for the Democrats, is essentially the same as it was in Iowa. Turn out of independent voters is wicked important. Only old, stanch Democrats show up, it's a close race between Obama and Clinton. Young independents show up, Obama runs away with it. So Obama doesn't have to change anything, theoretically, to repeat his success and any negativity on Clinton's part is only going to hurt her. See below — it's now the American dream vs. Hillary Clinton and she can't win that.

For the Republicans, Iowa was a race to see who the Christian Right would choose as their candidate, but it ignored the other half of the Republican party, the neo-con, fiscal conservative wing that could really care less about where you go to church. Romney was supposed to be able to get broad support from both wings and wasn't able to snag the Christians because of his Mormon underpants and, well, he sort of comes across as a pompous ass. Huckabee, although he may have the support of the Right Wing Christians who think that the only thing that matters in America is some imaginary woman's uterus, has no support in the neocon, fiscal conservative wing because, well, he's not a neocon or fiscally conservative. Huckabee will not be able to change that in the next month which means, without some brilliant southern strategy, he's done. The Republican who will win the nomination is the one who can appeal more to both of these sides than anyone else. Just having the support of one wing isn't going to be enough.

I predict McCain/ Huckabee v. Obama/ Biden in the fall with Obama/ Biden winning big.

02 January 2008

Go home now!

Flyin' birds down south, day 10: A deer family (ho!)

Flyin' birds down south, day 10

Our trip is almost finished and I couldn't be more ready to go home. Not that it's been bad, I'm just tired of eating other people's food and talking, always talking. I need to get my wa (和) back. Where my wa is hiding is anyone's guess.

Today I met one of Yoko's best friends who lived in Tanzania for two years and taught elementary school. She was really cool. All of Yoko's friends have been so kind to me and to the baby. I feel like I got to know a little bit more about her past. We also got about 25 minutes alone in a coffee shop. It was nice, but I ended up complaining the whole time.

Flyin' birds down south, day 10: Make friends with time!