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14 June 2008

As seen on TV

How US adverts[advertisements] feed on viewers' health fears...
BBC News 6/14/08 7:14 AM From Our Own Correspondent

Religion cannot be separated from politics

Yangon, Myanmar -- Allow me to discuss with the reader the subject of the Buddha and His views on politics. Being a Buddhist monk, I will try to illuminate you on the right way of life and the best kind of political involvement, according to the Buddha's teaching. These teachings are not only for Buddhists, but also for all non-Buddhists. It is for everyone.
The Buddhist Channel 6/13/08 10:15 PM

It’s a Riot: Part 2

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How odd it is that "She's a riot!" means someone's funny. English speakers even say that something's "riotously funny." I've never been to a riot, but from the photos I've seen, nothing amusing happens at such events.

In Japanese, too, there seems to be a fine line between riots and merrymaking. Take this word, for instance:

(sōran: riot, disturbance)     clamor + disorder

Last week we saw how (SŌ, sawa(gu): clamor, noise, disturbance; to make a fuss) plays a part in 大騒ぎ (ōsawagi), which means "shocking events." Now we see that in 騒乱, the same kanji helps to cause a riot.

If you flip 騒乱 and add a "foolish spirit" to it, your riot turns into a party:

乱痴気騒ぎ (ranchiki sawagi: boisterous merrymaking)
     disorder + foolish + spirit + clamor

And if you'd like to "make merry" in a different way, here's another option:

底抜け騒ぎ (sokonuke sawagi: boisterous merrymaking)
     bottom + to remove + clamor

Ah, 底抜け (sokonuke) breaks down as bottom + to remove and means "bottomless"! And no, even though there's boisterous merrymaking at hand, we're not talking about bottomless pants (a la David Lee Roth).

Further Notes on Bottomlessness …

Boisterous merrymaking is one thing, but what about when the fun becomes disorderly? Then you have this situation:

悪騒ぎ (warusawagi: disorderly merrymaking; making a fuss without considering the annoyance it causes others)     bad + clamor

Disorderly merrymaking? Not allowed! First, you need to clean off your desk and get your files in order, aligning your stapler just so and disentangling your paper clips. Only then is it OK to have fun!

(more̷ ;) Blog 6/13/08 10:03 AM Eve Kushner Kanji Curiosity Comments

13 June 2008

Pittsburgh Organization Gives Home Makeovers To Seniors In Poverty

Nearly 18,000 senior citizens live below the poverty level in Allegheny County, a lot of them surviving on less than $30 a day. But there are volunteers who are helping to...

12 June 2008

Chicago: Bridge to Nowhere

It's tongue and cheek, but of course I couldn't resist taking a friendly barb at Chicago. It's like you want to cross Lake Michigan, but decide it's not going to work, and going back to Chicago seems like a good plan. C'mon, they can take it, as it IS the cultural creative capital of the universe, right? :) Seriously this project is pretty cool, and a great way of not just solving a functional problem, but using it as an opportunity. It's also a great example of sticking to a plan - even if it was prepared 100+ years ago.

:: image via Inhabitat

The Chicago Ecobridge, via Inhabitat, is a project of Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architects, is a realization of a long-term plan for a breakwater/civic space, as well as a postcard image. The recent, along with the recent addition of Millenium Park, and a bevy of cool building proposals - for their bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games. This new civic space will be created for the most part out of thin air (or water). From the AS+GG website: "The 2-mile bridge, a breakwater in the Monroe harbor, celebrates Chicago's position as the 'Greenest City' in the US. The bridge creates a grand new civic space for the city, providing recreational opportunities and offering unparalleled views of the skyline from a central observation tower. The incorporation of wind turbines in the project adds economic value through the production of energy and prominently showcases Chicago's dedication to sustainability."

:: images via Inhabitat

The historical origins are in the long-term large-scale planning of Daniel Burnham, and his 1909 Burnham Plan of Chicago, where this idea first was proposed. Ok, so it's 100 years late, but still it's happening. Always make a plan - and often stick to it - it's the mark of an innovative city.

:: 1919 Plan of Chicago - images via Inhabitat

Ok to change the subject a bit - really, you just can't call yourself the 'greenest city' without some rigid qualification. Portland does it too, so I'm not just carping regionally. If this term is going to be used, someone is really going to have to determine an appropriate metric for it. Or better yet, let's forget about it as an idea - it's not even a competition. Pause for cries of agony from those intent on making sustainability a first/biggest/most battle. It's counterproductive and not relevant to the discussion of sustainability... it's about the local that impacts global - not mine is bigger than yours.

The greenest Chicago is different than the greenest New York City, and the greenest Portland. If it incents discussion and friendly competition, that's fine, but it's green-wash flag-waving at best. I do heart Chicago, with a ton of green roofs, the fantastic new award winning Green Alley plan, and well, the City and it's energy itself. I'm torn, just as I was 11 years ago when finishing college and wondering - Portland, or Chicago... and chose Portland - so I guess Chicago will always be my wonderful number 2...
Landscape+Urbanism 6/11/08 8:26 PM Jason King projects green roofs planning history dialogue transportation

Unlike Others, U.S. Defends Freedom to Offend in Speech

As more countries move to ban or restrict hate speech, some legal scholars say the U.S. should reconsider the broad scope of First Amendment protection.

Channel: Politics Tags: Freedom of Speech Hate Speech Hot Stories 6/11/08 9:03 PM TechnologyExpert Array Array Comments

US Netizens Are Saying Mean Things About Us: Yonhap

Yonhap News — yes, Korea's national news service — reports that online commenters to this WaPo piece on the beef protests are calling for the withdrawal of US troops from Korea and banning the import of Korean cars.

Interesting… online comments are apparently fair news items now. Hmm…

UPDATE: Money Today also runs a story on those mean, mean WaPo netizens, pointing out in their lede that there are also comments that demean Korea, namely the one that tells Koreans to "eat Chinese food and be healthy forever."

And since comments to foreign news articles are apparently fair game, there are currently 557 comments to the Money Today piece on Yahoo! Korea. The third most active comment, by netizen Kjydean, reads:

미친 양키새끼들. 그동안 미군이 울나라에서 벌인 범죄가 얼마나 많은데 그 일들에 대해서는 공식사과도 없는 새끼들이. 미군철수해도 충분히 우리국력만으로 북한을 상대할 수 있다. 저놈들은 대한민국이 아직도 50년대 초반 미군한테 기브 미 초콜렛 하던 그런나라로 보는 놈들이다. 그리고 너네가 언제 우리나라차를 애용했다고 이제와서 불매운동이냐? 하여간 미국이란 나라는 더러운 혼합 인종이 섞여사는 망조인 나라다

Crazy Yankee bastards. Bastards who have never officially apologized for the many crimes of US soldiers in our country. Even if US troops are withdrawn, we have enough military strength to deal with the North Koreans on our own. Those bastards think we're still the Korea of the early 1950s who begged "Give me chocolate" to US soldiers. And what, you loved our cars, now you're going to boycott them? Anyway, the United States is a declining nation inhabited by a dirty mongrel race.

So far, 94 netizens agreed with that statement, and 101 opposed it.

See, two can play at this game!

The Marmot's Hole 6/11/08 11:41 PM Robert Koehler Korean Media ROK-US Issues Comments

Growing up mixed 混血儿 hun xu'er

Growing up mixed 混血儿 hun xu'er
For as long as I can remember, my father has always told me that my grandfather (ye ye) had come from China. He told me that my grandfather migrated to the Philippines from southern China, but my father had never known exactly where from. As a child, my father fed me bits and pieces of stories that I constructed into fantasies about his life in China and journey to the Philippines....more
China 6/12/08 3:10 AM

Lost in Translation

Konbanwa nihongo speakers!

I've just finished lessons 6, 7, and 8 from both's Survival Phrases and Japanese. The main focus of my day's lessons were how to ask, "do you speak English?" and "how do you say this in English?" Respectively, these phrases are "Eigo o hanasemasuka?" and "Kore wa eigo de nanto iimasuka?"

A lot of the talk was about the Japanese people's ability to speak English, though they shy away from doing it. I, for one, did not realize just how much the Japanese are required to study English in school. I was shocked that most study English for at least six years.

In my teachings in the United States, I took at least six years of Spanish, or "supeingo", and really feel today like I have a fairly good grasp of the language. With this said, it seems to me that the Japanese people would have at least some understanding of English like my experience with Spanish.

I have found that there are two types of people here in Japan when it comes to speaking English. There are the Japanese who are excited to practice their skills in English and will often start a conversation in English with you out of their own will. The second type of person is the one we heard about in the podcasts; the ones that are shy and a bit too intimidated to try their hand at English with a native English speaker.

Let me tell you about my experiences with each…

(more̷ ;) Blog 6/12/08 5:30 AM emily carsch Tokyo Intern Comments

Akihabara stabbing rampage suspect hoped Net warning would alert police

The man arrested over a stabbing rampage in Tokyo's Akihabara district that left seven people dead and 10 injured has told investigators that he gave advance notice of the attack online in the hope that police might stop him.
Japan National News 6/12/08 6:30 AM

Chinese Blogger Witnesses Fire at Olympic Site

The 24 Hours Online blogger Laohu 'Tiger Temple' Miao, who spent months earlier this year blogging the stories of destitute Beijing residents whose makeshift homes were harmonized to make way for the Olympics brings us a post today about a fire yesterday not far from the Olympic Bird Nest which began in portable toilets used by construction workers there and resulted in several small explosions: "该小区与鸟巢仅一街之隔,自四年前鸟巢开始兴建,这里成为民工�... 6/12/08 10:48 AM

Nigerian police crack illicit baby trafficking ring

ENUGU, Nigeria (Reuters) - Nigerian police said on Thursday they had broken a major baby trafficking ring, arresting a doctor believed to have bought infants from pregnant women and sold them at a profit for more than 20 years.
Reuters: International News 6/12/08 11:08 AM worldNews

Allegheny County Opens CCAC Scholarships For Volunteer Firefighters

Allegheny County is bringing back a scholarship program for volunteer firefighters through its community college.

Pitt research would test HIV-prevention gel

University of Pittsburgh researchers are seeking to enroll 16 healthy, HIV-negative women scheduled to give birth by cesarean delivery at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC in a...

Monk pleads guilty to growing cannabis at his laundrette

by Emily Smith, LiveNews, June 12, 2008

Sydney, Australia -- A Buddhist monk has pleaded guilty to drugs charges in a Sydney court.

Police arrested the man last year after raiding his Darlinghurst business.

It had been alleged that the 62-year-old was growing cannabis at his laundrette.

He faces several drug charges including supply and possession.

Today he has pleaded guilty to four charges - the prosecutors withdrawing the remaining drug offences.

The practising Buddhist monk wasn't in court in person, with his lawyer telling the magistrates he is in hospital with a well documented illness.

The Buddhist Channel 6/12/08 12:51 PM

[Haiti] The Citadel

The Citadel, or Development through Tourism
I have long wanted to go there (a sign that it isn't actually a good standard tourist site)
and now I read it is the focal point of the new promotion of tourism in Haiti:

The Western Hemisphere's largest fortress, it was built atop a 3,000-foot mountain in the tumultuous years after Haiti broke
from France in an 1804 slave revolt and became a symbol of triumph over bondage for descendants of African slaves everywhere.

The trip there is a two-hour crawl over unpaved roads and through garbage-strewn, traffic-clogged streets of Cap-Haitian.
The final ascent, a steep cobblestone path, is traversed on foot or on undersized horses beaten with sticks by local guides.

Here is a painting of The Citadel.

-Violent street protests in April resulted in more dire travel warnings
-Few tourists venture into Haiti, even from the Dominican Republic next door
-Officials hope to resurrect tourism as an industry in Haiti

Police officer takes a break from G8 summit security, gets caught peeping

Asahi TV news reports that one of the police officers responsible for arranging security ahead of the G8 summit in Hokkaido has been arrested for entering a women's bathing area and peeping:

The officer, a 38-year-old telecommunications expert dispatched to Hokkaido from Chiba Prefecture, had crept into the dressing room area of the female bathing area of a hotel, and was caught using a digital camera to take pictures of women. When questioned by police, he admitted that he had entered the dressing room because he wanted to take pictures of naked women.

Japan Probe 6/11/08 6:22 PM James Odd / Strange G8 security terrorism Comments

Canada apologizes for abuse of aboriginal children

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada, addressing one of the darkest chapters in its history, formally apologized on Wednesday for forcing 150,000 aboriginal children into grim residential schools, where many say they were sexually and physically abused.
Reuters: International News 6/11/08 9:30 PM worldNews

Family stoned, buried alive for their alleged evil spell of witchcraft

Four members of a family, including two women, were stoned and buried alive by villagers on suspicion of practicing witchcraft in central Assam's Sonitpur district. The incident took place on Tuesday night at Koilajuli-Milanpur, a remote tribal village near the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border. Two villagers, Bikram Majhi and Gobin Majhi suddenly fell sick and died. Their family accused Lakshman Majhi of casting an evil spell to kill them.The village head summoned Lakshman Majhi, 65, to a... 6/11/08 9:33 PM

Officials vow to punish sale of tiger bone wine

Authorities have vowed to punish anyone found to be trading in endangered animals or their products, following a foreign media report of sales of tiger bone wine in Beijing and northern China.

The U.K.-based Sunday Telegraph reporte ...
China 6/11/08 10:38 PM

10 June 2008

Bush Threatening Veto of Amtrak Funding

Union-StationUnion-Station, originally uploaded by xtol7

Via David Alpert comes the news that President Bush is threatening to veto an Amtrak funding bill because it doesn't provide accountability or reform Amtrak. The legislation, House Resolution 6003 (see Beyond DC's summary) would (among other things) fully fund Amtrak for five years, legitimately expand and study high speed rail in the Northeast and create State matching grants. Reading between the lines, the main objection starts and ends with not killing Amtrak. This is the second time in as many weeks a Republican has tried to kill Amtrak, all in the name of competition, reform or modernizing rail service. Note the objections:
But the White House says the measure provides little opportunity for competition on existing Amtrak routes and doesn't include provisions that would condition Amtrak's funding based on the progress of reforms.
Funny how the $40.3 billion per year for the Federal Highway Administration isn't required to be reformed or compete with other entities. The transparency of the recent Republican proposals to mitigate high gas prices vacillate from the silly (gas tax holiday) to the disastrous (ending Amtrak) reflect the deeply unserious nature of the proposals at hand. I look forward to a veto fight with the current President and his party just in time for the Presidential Election.
Smogr 6/10/08 8:26 PM

Accused Treated as Adult in Gay Student's Killing

Prosecutors' decision to charge Brandon McInerney, 14, as an adult in the shooting death of Larry King, 15, has divided the seaside town of Oxnard, Calif. McInerney is charged with premeditated murder and a hate crime in the killing of King, an openly gay eighth-grader.

Channel: Gay & Lesbian Tags: Murder SHooting California Hot Stories 6/9/08 11:41 PM TechnologyExpert Array Array Array Comments

Hikes OK'd for home appliance recycling rates

A government panel endorsed on Tuesday proposed hikes in mandatory recycling rates for air conditioners, refrigerators and washing machines. The increases will pave the way for the first revision to recycling rates under the 2001 consumer electronics recycling law, government officials said.

Read the full story

Bob Herbert - "Out of Sight"

June 10, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist
Out of Sight
NY Times

When the dismal unemployment numbers were released on Friday (at the same time that oil prices were surging to record highs), I thought about the young people at the bottom of the employment ladder.

Below the bottom, actually.

A shudder went through the markets when the Labor Department reported that the official jobless rate had jumped one-half a percentage point in May to 5.5 percent — the sharpest spike in 22 years.

The young people I'm talking about wouldn't have noticed. These are the teenagers and young adults — roughly 16 to 24 years old — who are not in school and basically have no hope of finding work. The bureaucrats compiling the official unemployment rate don't even bother counting these young people. They are no one's constituency. They might as well not exist.

Pseudo-science is popular in Japan

If you think blood type has an effect on one's personality, you're in agreement with most Japanese people. According to a survey translated on What Japan Thinks, a sizable majority of Japanese people buy into pseudo-scientific BS about blood types, and nearly half of those surveyed also believed in fortune telling.

Read the full survey translation here!

Japan Probe 6/7/08 10:39 PM James General Japan blood type bullshit japan pseudo-science Comments

The carbon footprint of food

Ezra reports:

...two Carnegie Mellon researchers recently broke down the carbon footprint of foods, and their findings were a bit surprising. 83 percent of emissions came from the growth and production of the food itself. Only 11 percent came from transportation, and even then, only 4 percent came from the transportation between grower and seller (which is the part that eating local helps cut).

In other words, when it comes to food the greenest things you can do, if that is your standard, is to eat less meat and have fewer kids.

Marginal Revolution 6/7/08 2:57 PM Tyler Cowen Food and Drink

Pittsburgh Food Not Bombs under attack!

Food Not Bombs in going to need some help this next Sunday June 8th. Food
Not Bombs has served free healthy vegetarian food to hungry people at Market
Square for the last 15 years, but this past Sunday we got kicked out by the
Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. We found out that the Pittsburgh Downtown
Partnership has secured permits to use Market Square almost every day until
December, and they do not want us there. This past Sunday they called in
police to force us out of the area. Their rationale is that they are trying
to "economically revitalize" Market Square and that hungry people scare off
the rich people. They also stated that the homeless people do not contribute
to a safe and comfortable atmosphere for the new demographic they are trying
to attract.

We at FNB believe that we should have the right to serve free healthy meals
to hungry people in centrally located public spaces. We will not accept the
attempts by the PDP to hide and ignore the basic needs of the least
fortunate Pittsburghers.
Pittsburgh Indymedia 6/7/08 2:18 PM Food Not Bombs

American finds his voice in the world of 'enka'

The world of "enka" ballads has been set on its ear with the historic debut of Jero, a 26-year-old black American from Pittsburgh whose sole passion since he was a child was to make the big time in the traditional crooning genre. Raised by his Japanese grandmother and half-Japanese mother, Jero said he grew up exposed to the Japanese language, food, culture and enka.

Read the full story

Reintroducing the Ainu

Both chambers of the Diet unanimously passed a resolution last week urging the government to recognize the Ainu as an indigenous people. It says the fact that many Ainu people suffered discrimination and poverty during Japan's modernization should be taken seriously. Noting that the Ainu have their own language, religion and culture, it urges the government to heed expert opinions in promoting policy measures that benefit the people. The resolution thus clearly recognizes that the Ainu suffered under Japan's past assimilation policy. In 1869 Japan gave Hokkaido its current name,...

Read the full story

9 June 2008

Prisons might be Affecting Job Stats

Prisons might be affecting job stats
Friday, June 6, 2008 3:10 AM
By Marilyn Geewax
Columbus Dispatch

WASHINGTON -- When the Labor Department announces May employment figures today, the jobless rate likely will be about 5 percent, only half the level reached in the 1981-82 recession.

Given that home builders aren't hiring, auto companies are laying off legions and Americans lack confidence in the economy, why isn't the unemployment rate higher?

Economists cite several reasons, but some think one factor gets overlooked: Prisons are keeping so many people out of the labor market that the true jobless rate is being masked.

"Incarceration rates have gone up enormously in the last 20 years," said Rebecca Blank, an economist and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a centrist research group. "We're jailing a lot more people now," which is keeping them from competing for the low-skilled manufacturing jobs that have grown scarce, she said.

Between 1980 and 2006, the number of people in prison in this country jumped from 420,000 to more than 2 million, she said. A recent study by the Pew Center on the States found that one in every 100 adult Americans is now incarcerated.

In 2006, the most-recent year Blank's research covers, the 4.6 percent U.S. unemployment rate would have been 5 percent if people behind bars and in the armed forces had been seeking private-sector jobs and therefore counted in the unemployment statistics, she said. Among black men, the rate would have pushed up from 9.6 percent to 10.6 percent.

"We have disproportionately taken young men of color out of the work force" with much stiffer penalties for drug-law violations, she said.

A 2005 study in the American Journal of Sociology said that by 1999, more than 40 percent of young black male high-school dropouts were in prison or jail, compared with 10.3 percent of young white male dropouts.

"There hasn't been a marked change in behaviors" in terms of drug use since the early 1980s, Blank said. "What has changed is public policy" involving drug sentences.

The labor market effects don't end when people are released from prison, she said. "It has a huge impact by closing off employment opportunities" for people who might otherwise seek work as a guard, cashier or other position that requires trust. "Many employers can't hire people with a prison record," she said.

That means former prisoners often have longer stretches of unemployment and typically earn lower wages when they do find work, she said.

But not everyone agrees that the nation's high incarceration rate has an impact on employment. James Sherk, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research group, says the unemployment rate is low simply because the labor market remains tight, with many employers seeking even low-skilled workers.

If people now incarcerated under tough drug laws had never been put into prison, the great majority of them could have found jobs if they had wanted them, he said.

Attributing the low unemployment rate to the high incarceration rate is "grasping at straws," he said.

A look at Ohio

• Prison population as of Jan. 1: 50,730

• Proportion of state residents in prison:

1 in 178.9

• 2005 incarceration-rate rank among states: 31st

• Corrections spending, fiscal 2007: $1.77 billion, or 7 percent of the general fund

• Percentage of state employees working in corrections: 11.8 percent

• State unemployment rate, April: 5.6 percent

The Real Cost of Prisons Weblog 6/7/08 11:56 AM lois News related to Mass Incarceration


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