Monday, December 31, 2007

What I did on my New Years Eve

In a departure from tradition, I'm going to write an actual journal like post. New Years looks identical to Christmass in Australia, except you start later in the day. Whereas Christmass is all about lunch and the excitement of the morning on the day, New Years in Japan predictably works around 12 midnight.
So at 4.30 we got in the car and headed on over to a friends place to eat a lot of food, there was rice cakes, prawn fry, a seafood version of shabu shabu, beef to eat with soy sauce, crab salad, and boxes of what only got described to me as 'new years special' then we sat around watching crappy Lord of The Rings: Return of the King, in this regard it was exactly like some of my past christmasses. Man does that film never end, how did it win an oscar, let alone a million.
After that we left the place at 9.30ish or so, and then I was told to meet the family again at 11.30. This suits me fine, I can't take company for a solid stretch of 8 hours. After reading more Huckleberry finn, I got up at the appointed hour, or half hour and stepped outside to test the winter air against my superior metabolism. It was pretty chilly, but the new years atmosphere is very different. I heard solemn drums and bells gonging out into the ether, and little lights flickered everywhere.
After that we bundled into the car and headed to Shinsuke's sisters house.
I ate some soba noodles called toshi-koshi soba, which are how you are meant to start the new year. Then I realised without fanfare it had already gotten to 12.15 last year this would have been around the time that the fireworks would wrap up and you start trying to shove people out of the way on flinders st bridge.
But this is roughly when new years started here in Handa city, we first went to a buddhist temple, and I literally took a number (30) and got in line to ring a big bell, I had taken photos of these bells before but getting to ring a big bell by swinging a log at it is 5 seconds of fun.
Then after that, we traipsed along for about 800m to a temple, which had a big bonfire in it and lined up with about 10,000 locals to creap up the steps and then pray like you would on any other day at a shinto shrine. Except the shrine maidens and dudes were in full regalia, dancing, playing pipes and beating drums and there were things to eat. There was no time to eat though as we had two more temples to go to. The first one was for family, the second one for the sun, the third one for the sea. But because of the freezing temperatures my host family gave up on the third one. I drank some corn soup at the sun temple.
After that we popped into Shinsuke's mothers house for a quick hello and I got to bed at about 4 am. I drank moderately, but I saw it was quite safe for unnattended children to go tripping about the temple. A murderer could do good business new years eve in Japan.
Happy new years.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

100% personal bike use

Let's get clear on the premis. That is all personal transport becomes bike based, or pedal powered if you're a unicycle or recliner fan. Morons. So the obvious exceptions are commercial vehicles, that is ambulances, some police cars and such. Not taxi's though too easy to overcome that little difficulty.
So now a commercial vehicle is also not (?) a car you use to drive to work. Just like you don't get a tax break on it, so too is it not a commercial vehicle.
Public transport may also be excluded.
How could it work?

Well shopping comes as the first major obstacle. How to get around it? well it would be hardest on people doing the most shopping for many people. This though suggests the simple technology solution of online shopping, it would no doubt be far more economical to just order up in totallity what you want from the store and have its commercial freighter drop it off not just for your family, but your entire neighbourhood, Postal service already provides the infrastructure.
Less practical is for guys like me, buying for one person, often for only one or two nights meals. Nutritionally this is beneficial, particularly if I buy local, but the walk is a bit of a pain. I know its entirely possible though because this was how I lived for 3 years. Occasioanally on the way home I bought dinner provisions and hung them from my handlebars, but the green bags are terryfying to watch go through my spokes and the green bags, both annoying and dangerous to the food inside.
The simple answer is to put a rack or basket over the back wheel to chuck food in, this is the sort of dorky-practical solution I will go out of my way to avoid.
But non-the-less to the more frequent smaller purchase death of the weekly shop, this does overcome the difficulty of shopping for most people. I will still walk because I don't want anything so ungainly as a pack rack in any way associated with my explodinator. But fact is if shopping bothers you and the suburban walk seems too far, get a pack rack.
And that's the other solution, shop for less, more frequently, and just walk it. It bodes to a greater structural solution, which is relocating supermarkets to accomodate for people's limited reach. Maybe a return to the General Store, though nothing as stupid as the local owned general store. One would hope that fresh produce got picked ripe and thus was local aswell but a small sufficient general store should suffice for most buying needs in the hood, within walking distance and shit, but maybe is a national franchise with the buying power of say Coles or Woolworths.
For those that like the big markets like Vic Markets, then public transport is the solution, or otherwise fit some trailer to your bike or get some god awful three wheeler then stock up. If you need a big 4 x 4 car now with the back seat put down to buy all your groceries you need to sell some of your children to some organ harvesters.

Hygene, suppose you are going to a dinner party or work or whatever? this is simple, where a good cycling jersey and shorts then after your commute ride or cross town journey, simply make use of a room to change. studies show 85% of regular bike commuters don't bother to have a shower on arriving, changing clothes and using the grotty clothes to wipe down removes most of the sweat, then just use the old shower in a can to freshen up.
Marketing companies may have made you care, but as Garth Marenghi states 'if you use antipersperant to block pores the sweat will get out in other places, such as the face and neck, if you block all your pores with antipersperant, then you start to sweat inside and that gives you cancer.' as I have discovered shaving your armpit hair off simply allows your sweat to run all the way down into your underpants elastic band, so wipe up.
Furthermore I believe that attitudes would change with the forced behavioural change, people would simply adjust their attitudes to say 'formal clothing just cant happen in a world where everyone rides bikes' and three piece suits will be known for the massive impracticality they are.

Children, when small they fit in those dork seats, when larger they can ride themselves, elstwise stick them on a fuel-cell bus, or walking buss, or stick them in a group of kids on bikes to go to school like some kind of duckling, problem solved simple like.

People who live in the country, I imagine a plow on a tractor, a thresher, and maybe even helicopters to russle cattle could be construed as commercial vehicles, but people in the country live far away from everything. Maybe like city relatives some kind of break could be given to country dwellers over the car thing, but that would seem like a cop out, also the hilly terrain means would be great for producing world class cyclists. Instead you could get infrastructure solutions, like a general depot to do food drops, and build bike paths for the express purpose, with solar lights and weave through the country in ways far more economical than the country roads as they could cut neatly between paddocks without the disruptive effect a dairy tanker road would take.

The economy, without an overcomplexity of parts to break down, bikes have a tendancy to be around for 25 years if kept in good nick, and repaired rather than rebuilt. They are also divisible or easily made into a 1 bike to 1 person convenience, highly tradable and require very little maintenance compared to automobiles.
No petrol, but peoples appetites might increase with their metabolic rates as they adopt a less sedentary lifestyle.
So the agriculture industry might spike, whereas the petrolium industry would probably sag, furthermore you'd have manufacturing take a dive as the demand for automobiles was abolished and thus having tax subsidies for these industries would become a complete joke.
But you'd get some rebound in the growth of bike service shops and shit, and Australia would no doubt start having home grown bike companies spring up, mayhaps even producing competitors for the mighty shimano in parts. Although our manufacturing practices have never been world class, our R&D potential thanks to education is up there.
Furthermore, the reliance on mass transit for long distances would make the industry far more utilised and thus far more economical. Demand would spike, making people willing to supply mass transit on a larger scale, and cheaper eventually too.
The other benefit is that Australia would become a much larger country, you'd have more civic centers simply based on the fact that people are no longer willing to travel to the other side of town for entertainment. You could have multiple CBD's to cater for the spread of population, local community that shit.

What about the roads that are there? These would be awesome if dedicated to cyclists solely, when you think the average bike is what? genourously you'd put it as a quarter the width of a cyclist, so these wide spacious roads would provide the most luxurious bike paths in the world, traffic and congestion wouldn't be an issue for another ten thousand years. One could safely expand nature strips and put in more greenery with relative ease.
Furthermore, cyclists would pose no obstacle for Ambulances and police vehicles, both of which there would be a diminished need for in an absense of cars.

Now it would have to be enforced for one thing, as bike usage increases towards any utilisation of significance then the market for petrol is going to diminish and prices and margins probably would drop to make driving more attractive and thus cycling less attractive.
Higher petrol prices don't mean people are going to give up on cars alltogether, it may happen in Australia because Oz represents piss all of the world population, particularly as China's appetite increases, but that said market forces would probably find a new balance meaning a slight increase in commuter cycling.
100% utilisation is more of a big hairy audacious goal, designed as an exercise to stimulate my mind in thinking 'how could it work?'
One would expect a cycle country to work worst in a place with as small a population as Australia spread across such a land mass, but I am more convinced than ever that it could.

Furthermore exciting things are happening with bikes, such as the peddal powered washing machine, and bamboo bikes for developing nations in Africa. Then there's critical mass and the free bike repairs in exhibition gardens every sunday.
A world with only bikes would also yeild a hotter general population, and be much easier on a health care system. Obeseity which is linked to so many health problems I would expect to drop off the chart all together.
So get on a fucking bike they are fucking beautiful.

Walk in The Park

My resting metabolic rate is an estimable 1736 calories per day. That's how much a typically burn sitting in a chair all day. Based on age, height, weight and gender. If I were to call my 7 to 8 k runs moderate exercise I max out at 3693 calories per day.
Running for one hour clocks up 633 calories. Basketball shooting practice 317 calories. A pussy stupid sport like swimming 700+ what bullshit. Although i guess it makes sense when you think about the respective lengs of a triathlon. Anyhoo, to lose 1 pound a week they say reduce calorie intake by 500 a day. 100 calories is roughly a mile of walking which is roughly 1600 meters. What I need is to read labels and possibly get one of them bands you strap around your chest to tell you how many calories you are burning.
But I'm told I can expect to get up to 6000 calories per cycling session when I get on a bike in Europe so maybe I should build up the fat stores now.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The state of the world

Prediction: at some point in the future I will speak to schoolchildren about the importance of libraries and possibly appear on a 'read' poster.
At any rate, here is the list of the 100 most frequently challanged books on the American Library Association. see the full article here. I bolded the ones what concern me the most, as in not that I'm concerned people might read them, more that I'm concerned idiots would want them banned. An athiest (or at least agnostic) once again puts it best - Thomas Jefferson says:

I am really mortified to be told that, in the United States of America, a fact like this can become a subject of inquiry, and of criminal inquiry too, as an offence against religion; that a question about the sale of a book can be carried before the civil magistrate. Is this then our freedom of religion? and are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule for what we are to read, and what we must believe? It is an insult to our citizens to question whether they are rational beings or not, and blasphemy against religion to suppose it cannot stand the test of truth and reason.

Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
Forever by Judy Blume
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Giver by Lois Lowry
It's Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Sex by Madonna
Earth's Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
The Witches by Roald Dahl
The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
The Goats by Brock Cole
Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
Blubber by Judy Blume
Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
Final Exit by Derek Humphry
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
What's Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
Deenie by Judy Blume
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
Cujo by Stephen King
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
Ordinary People by Judith Guest
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
What's Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
Fade by Robert Cormier
Guess What? by Mem Fox
The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Native Son by Richard Wright
Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women's Fantasies by Nancy Friday
Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
Jack by A.M. Homes
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
Carrie by Stephen King
Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
Family Secrets by Norma Klein
Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
The Dead Zone by Stephen King
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
Private Parts by Howard Stern
Where's Waldo? by Martin Hanford
Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
Sex Education by Jenny Davis
The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collie

Friday, December 28, 2007

Tokyo sucks, unless 1980 comes round again

Firstly though it was great to see brenton again. And he has a grand old apartment. But I have to say, when most people think Japan, they think Tokyo. Most people I meet, are from Tokyo. And yet I must say this, there's only one place I'd less want to live in than Tokyo, and that is Yass.
Tokyo has the following things going for it:

1. Shopping
2. Tokyo Metro

That's it. A ways back I posted something about Brenton calling the rice paddies in Nagoya 'the country side' and I laughed, perhaps even smirked at this. Yet I had the same profound experience on returning here yesterday. Tokyo is a visual assualt, its unfriendly and it is like living in one massive department store. It isn't I admit helped by the fact that most Japanese people I know from Tokyo live in Melbourne. But it honestly ain't, foreigners are to commonplace, the friendliest guy I met I talked to on my last day there, an indian diamond salesman that was in the restaurant I got dinner at.
I can now sympathise with an old coworker who when asked 'what would you do if you were called up here to work?' responded 'hand in my resignation.' and I'm inclined to agree.
There's plenty to see in Tokyo, but the travel is more or less what travel was 20 years ago, cheap theme parks and cheaper souveneirs, that aren't cheap.
Take the temple in Asakusa, it is pretty large, and has massive lanterns, but the temple grounds have food stalls straight out of the ballarat show, and then a large strip of stands selling chick souveneirs. Or meiji jingu, the temple built to honour the late Meiji emperor, it is a more or less sacred ground, but it is probably the only true park in Tokyo. And its scale seemed somewhat diminished visiting it this time round, one when approaching the shrine can see the trees overhead, and then looking above them, a crane constructing a sky scraper that ruins the sanctuary effect of the shrine.
The rest is all shopping, shinjuku, shibuya and the fish markets, the fish markets are the single best thing to check out, and I admit, being so close to the holiday season when I visited I didn't get to a sporting event. Both them and the fishmarkets would be a good way to see Japan living, but as Mark the indian guy remarked to me when I told him I was going to Bombay, 'if you want to see the true India you need to go out of the city into the country side' I think the same holds true for Japan, you need to get out of Tokyo. Whilst nothing in Nagoya approaches the scale of Akihabara the district dedicated to electronic goods, how big do you really need a department to be, maybe half a floor in a department building, certainly not a whole district, and thats where Tokyo's scale becomes cumbersome. Fun though it is to walk the streets and take in the sights, it is claustrophobic and impersonal. Like some massive lego land.
Nagoya by contrast you head into 'the city' not the district for specific goods. Maybe its my prejudice because I never found a bookstore in Tokyo as good as Maruzen in Nagoya, but Tokyo is also where the big foreigner backlash is taking place. I missed going to a protest against foreigners but you can feel it, taste it. The choruses of 'irashaimase' are particularly hollow.
I was going to hold out for new years at Meiji Jingu to see the Japanese being Japanese but got politely crowded out of brenton's guest house which was getting claustrophobic for the both of us probably. But what a shower he has.
'it is the duty of the host to make the guest feel at home, it is the duty of the guest to assure the host he is not.' I hope I held up this bargain.
Anyway I made a midnight run back to Nagoya and immediately felt the breathing space. I feel at home here, how strange and depressing. But I have my rice field to practice sprinting around again and a new puppy to play with.
Anyway sadly, unless you want to hang out with Cool Brenton, tokyo is probably worth giving a miss.
And now that factor that reflects Japans stagnation, it has such an outmoded concept of tourism, it is all 1980's themepark mentality, and not the moderner sense of 'living tourism' which is that ancient concept of 'when in rome do as the romans do' a sheer impossibility in Japan because that would mean working every living hour of the day and then either going to a strip club or going home.
But the lifestyle is gone, or absent. It is a homosocial society, during the day time hours public spaces are populated only by the housewives. At night, drunk businessmen.
Things like the 'philosophers walk' in Kyoto should be the major tourist attractions but instead, they are Tokyo Disneyland, Universal Studios Osaka, Spain land, Holland land, Spa Land etc. Crappy kitch theme parks. The whole club med experience, exactly what people call 'touristy' with derision in their voices.
Melbourne isn't known for its big tourist attractions, but it is the world's most liveable city. Places like Lygon St, North Melbourne, Brunswick are all very cool places. Ebisu in Tokyo I would say comes closest from what I have seen to being the same kind of cool liveable vibe.
Tokyo can still be a business arsehole of the world, I just wish the rest of Japan didn't hold it up as the model of what a city should be, it would be great to go to old Kyoto as a cultural heritage of the world, or just enjoy the messy slum of Osaka, or go to actual countryside, mountain parks etc that aren't necessarily industrial cedar plantations or ski slopes.
My parents are heading to my river, in my corner of the world, as I speak. Maybe it is longing for this paradise that is the very antithesis of Tokyo that put a bitter taste in my mouth while there, but it really is, like just living in the 80's concept of the future.
And if the rest of Japan is aspiring to an 80's sense of modern, then sell sell sell.

Benazir Bhutto, I wish you well on your travels

I was just thinking today about the opening chapter of Marcos‘ Our word is our weapon. Whereby he describes an attack coordinated by 7 female Chiapas revolutionaries.
Benazir Bhutto is dead today, and without knowing much about what she actually stood for, I will say only this. She died unafraid、and that is a victory most of us never achieve.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Best film clip ever? Top ten maybe?

just because I think its important to think about Mike Patton at this time of year.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Kentucky Fried Christmas

I'll be honest, as achild Christmass was twenty minutes to half an hour of pure bliss, followed by about 14 hours of pure pain in the arse. The bliss was opening the presents and getting excited at all the potential the newness brings. The pain in the arse was the 2 hours of travel to my aunts house, the 4-6 hours of sitting around my aunts house bored shitless, then another 3 hours or so travel to Gippsland, for dinner with dad's side of the family, who were pretty laid back, but at this point I was turkey sleepy and sick of being shoved in a corner waiting for Christmass to end.
And then one or two days later we could trip home and get back to the presents that were all we could think about the whole time anyway, particularly if we'd gotten a new Sierra or Lucasarts computer game.
As I got older my parents got sick of all the travelling and eventually we started having home christmasses, also because my dad's family didn't care much we managed to reschedule christmass to another time. By driving age we were able to head home early after the lunch too so Christmass actually became quite enjoyable.
So whilst I felt some minor pangs at being isolated halfway across the world, part of my inner child delights at being able to get up in my own good time, eat moderately and basically have yet another day off. But having a day off on Christmass is all the sweeter.
Perhaps it is the collapse of the family unit, or the church, or community, but I do believe increasingly that the family is becoming more beholden to the same values we pick our friends by. I don't have anything particularly against my family immediate or extended, and since I learnt a lot of my values from them, the chances are we are going to get along. But I have almost nothing in common with my extended family, I don't really know them, don't ever talk or thing about them. But one state sponsered public holiday a year, we all get together.
Perhaps ours is extreme because the age difference is so great, but I imagine there are a lot of modern families whose kids are in the same boat.
I even know of a few families that are quite disfunctional to the point of open contempt that still get together for Christmas.
Its just that sense of obligation. I admit though that I now hate being alone more on Grand Final day than on Christmas days, yet yesterday I had to partake in a tradition through obligation despite my status as a reasoning animal.
That is the KFC christmass chicken. KFC owns Christmas here. So I set out determined to have my KFC christmass dinner. It ended up becoming quite a hike, my local roppongi has McDonalds, Mos Burger, Yoshinosha, CoCo, Wendys, TGI Fridays, Freshmart but no fucking KFC.
But I wandered the length and breadth of it, refusing an offer of 'tits and beer' from a Nigerian, and then explaining to another that I had to think about Jesus today not titties to another. Until eventually I resolved to catch a subway train to Shibuya were the young couples were engaging in their romantic Christmass trist at the numerous love hotels and I knew there to be at least two KFC stores. Its still called Kentucky Fried here, but they had the Colenel all dressed up as Santa out the front, and a special green and red menu, and all kinds of Christmass set menus.
I ordered one, headed upstairs, sat down by myself and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's perhaps the second time I've had KFC in year, I felt a pang of homesickness for the Brunswick KFC with its shitty service even by KFC's shitty standards. KFC is also fucking slow in Japan, which means they must actively train their service to be shit, because Kaizan I would have thought (japanese concept of gradual improvement may be 'kaizen') would have got them up to the most efficient operational standards by now.
But no, KFC is proud of its shitty service.
And I figure, if you are going to be alone on Christmass, a don't let some loser like Jesus, who got killed by his own dad make you feel bad on a day that isn't even really his birthday, and furthermore embrace it, get KFC (if its open I guess Australia and other predominantly Christian countries sort of force your hand a little) and enjoy the greasy feeling of Xmass.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Musashi says

Musashi Miyamoto was japans sword saint. He is also a fine example of a contrarian thinker, and applied philosopher.
Much like philosophers of today, Musashi might be criticised for avoiding 'real' work choosing instead of a life in the agriculture or manufacturing fields to be a swordsman.
And here is where Musashi I think excelled at being an important cultural assett to Japan, simultaneously celebrated and ignored. Similar to the witty quip "Politicians today shouldn't just quote Abraham Lincoln, but try to imitate him aswell" Musashi was an outstanding individual. He looked different, he acted different and he cut up Japans warrior world.
He effectively wrote the new and definitive Samurai text 'the book of five rings' he deplored for example the use of 'kata' or set forms much like Bruce Lee, to create a fluid approach to conflict, whereby one just moved to the most appropriate position for victory, leaving the mind empty and dealing with the here and now.
He also believed in utilising his tools and environs to the upmost, most notably for him was his use of two swords, the samurai by tradition carried both a long and short sword, most however only ever fought with one. The short sword was usually left in its scabbard and used only in situations where a long sword might be too cumbersome. Musashi however would weild his long sword in one hand (giving him greater freedom of movement) and carry his short sword in his off hand.
From what can be read this was inspired by observing drummers who beat a drum with two sticks or two hands to create simple but complex sounding rythyms. He simply adapted this to the rythym of thrust and parry and shit.
He went so far as to believe that losing a dual whilst still having one sword in its scabbard was shameful, as this implied you had lost without using all your resources.
He also less notably would work his environs to his advantages, similar to Sun Tzu's art of war and its emphasis on beaing yoour oponent to the battle ground, he left lengthy instructions of where to stand so the sun was in your opponents eyes, or the bonfire, how to close someone in in a room or corridor and so fourth.
Now if Japan drew on Musashi to come up with the inspiration for its business culture, you'd expect to see a highly creative, very efficient economy populated by very flexible and independant organisations. Instead it has adopted a clan type approach, or that is the overwhelming cnvention of the fuedal era, which emphasised groupism, distrust of your neighbour, dependance on your lord and a 'genuis with a thousand helpers' business model.
The pitty is that when applied to education, the geniuses dissappear.
Furthermore there is a lot of superfluous waste. For example, if you extrapolated out the 'short sword in the scabbard is shameful' approach you would probably then say that employing women to make tea and perform menial tasks until they get pregnant and are removed from the workforce all together is also shameful, and ineffectively so. Instead you'd think this approach would mean that you'd view every component of an organisation (and the external business environment) as potential sources for sustainable competitive edge.
Furthermore the book of five rings offers more pearls for a business environ, it actually by its own examples the infinite source of inspiration, Musashi himself makes the bold claim that by applying his 'way of the sword' to any field of knowledge he was able to attain mastery without instruction, he draws numerous inspiration for improvement opportunity not just from drumming as has been stated, but also carpentary and nature. He furthermore expands his principles to very high level concepts.
This is indicative that Musashi was indeed a master amongst mearly competent opposition. Chess playing computers use a form to pick the best move by using the 'ten moves ahead approach' that is being a fast idiot. It picks a move, then calculates your most favorable response, then it's most favorable response and so on and then recalculates for each option. It does this very very quickly then makes an actual move.
The human brain would never be so capable of such tedium, and studies of chess masters have shown that they only think ahead by one or two moves, instead they use a high level approach, breaking the game into 'chunks' of play around the board, they react to general shapes or patterns.
This means their mind is relatively calm and unbusy. Musashi's book of five rings advocates a state of emptiness and other various techniques such as 'looking at mountains far away' to emphasise a matter of being in the moment and training your body to react.
There is no reliance on preconcieved ideas, and his speed of adjusment is vary fast.
Now if more than just Honda and Toyota were capable of this level of competence then Japan would have surpassed America long ago in fact more than its close scraping on paper (GNP is a very, very, very, very, very poor measure of economic success) Any books you see explaining Japanese negotiation based on 'Samurai code' or 'Ninja espionage' techniques are in fact bullshit. You should instead pick up a book on being a loyal vassel or a mindless rice farmer, as this is the majority of Japans culture.
That being said one of the most long running popular graphic novels in Japan is 'Vagabond' the graphic serialisation of Musashi's life, and it is quite profound and well drawn, it is deservedly popular. If the next generation are reading this, and some of them possessed of enough chutzpah to break from the pack, there may be hope for Japan yet.

Plug for Jimmy the Squatter

If you are like me, then you love opensource, shareware, and adventure games. My friend has just finished making 'The Misadventures of Jimmy the Squatter' and by finished, I mean he has begun to release installments of it.
It is a labor of love, and I feel, there is nothing on earth worth celebrating more than when someone makes an idea they have tangible, to be touched and felt and tasted and smelt by other people.
Whilst not being able to quite fulfill all such sensory expectations I may have created. Please If you have time to kill, if you like games that may actually involve thought over micro and have been made stylistically to boot, then please do go check out 'Jimmy the Squatter'

For more on garage adventure games you may find this article interesting.
I also recommend the Trilby Series, for highly effective backyard game productions, particularly Trilby's notes with the text based interface.

Until later, peace out.


Friday, December 21, 2007

Things not to do in modern film making

I mentioned I watched Hannibal Rising, this film is not to be seen by anyone, ever.
Here's why:

It contains incredibly shitty dialogue - "The boy hannibal died in the snow in 1944, there is no word to describe him now... except 'monster'" oooh ominous.

Everybody speaks pussy english - whether you are french, german, japanese or lithuanian, everybody speaks english to eachother in the exact same language. Seriously, fans of the Hannibal series can probably also read subtitles, why not actually just speak, french, russian, japanese. This tactic was first employed unsuccessfully in 'Gladiator' except the onerous task of getting the actors to speak latin makes it kind of understandable. Yet Mel Gibson made the investment for 'The Passion' after backing down and adding subtitles in a Vatican II-esque decision. Still if you are going to spend the big bucks anyway, get some language classes.

Add samurais for no reason - would you believe Hannibal Lecter's aunt-in-law was an incredibly hot Japanese woman who married a french man, during world war II, had her entire family killed in Hiroshima by the bomb and happened to possess an extensive collection of noh masks, katana blades, and her ancestors battle armour? me neither. But this seems like a really cool way to excessively introduce martial arts training into Hannibal's repertoir as he goes around not just being a cannibal but a ninja like sabatouer as well.

For dramatic effect have the main character yell out 'Nooooooooooo!' whilst a camera takes a bird eye shot - I don't know which film this classic shot comes from, but man is it tired. I thought after futurama had fry yell it in just about every episode (see below) nobody would try it these days and still have the audacity to claim it as a legitimate film.

Butcher multiple cultures - From Hannibals whistling of a 'Deutshcland' song to terrify his victims, to the 'ruthless' portrayel of nazi's and there even more ruthless camp followers, to casting a Chinese actor to play a Japanese woman who sits around all day doing 'flower arranging' and 'worshiping her ancestors' and practicing kendo this film is just terribly busy. It also completely lacks any characters you feel any sympathy or even realism with.

So in conclusion, this film is so truly bad it isn't even funny.
Conversely for all the above reasons, Darkplace is one of the funniest shows ever written.


I have a headache, and watched hannibal rising, which I sorely wish I could unwatch, alas I cannot. Not because it is traumatically grotesque, but because it is traumatically a piece of shit.
Anyway I thought I would medicate myself with Catch-22 and share with you my favorite piece of romantic writing ever. What happened to all the witticisms in the world. I sorely wish I had been alive at a time when people where witty

Anyway Yossarian walks into a bar and Luciana says:

"All right, I'll dance with you," she said before Yossarian could even speak. "But I won't let you sleep with me."
"Who asked you?" Yossarian asked her.
"You don't want to sleep with me?" she exclaimed with surprise.
"I don't want to dance with you."
[They dance]
"All right," she said, " I will let you buy me dinner. But I won't let you sleep with me."
"Who asked you?" Yossarian asked with surprise.
"You don't want to sleep with me?"
"I don't want to buy you dinner."
[They go eat]
"Okay, Joe," she purred, her glowing dark eyes drowsy and grateful. "Now I will let you sleep with me."
"My name is Yossarian,"
"Okay, Yossarian." she answered with a soft repentant laugh. "Now I will let you sleep with me."
"Who asked you?" said Yossarian.
Laciana was stunned. "You don't want to sleep with me?"
[They have a humorous altercation and Yossarian leaves believing she won't turn up to a morning apointment for said sleeping, he tries to pick up a whore, gives up and goes home, finds his squadron also furious at Aarfy for not sleeping with a girl he had picked up. Yossarian is woken in the morning by Luciana.]
"Pig!" she spat out at himviciously, her nostrils flaring in a look of savage disdain. "Vivencom' animale!"
[Luciana cleans Yossarians room, Yossarian cleans himself, afterwards they make love, and have a post coital converstion about a scar she has on her back]
"Dove?" he asked and held his breath in suspense.
His heart cracked, and he fell in love. He wondered if she would marry him.
"Tu sei pazzo" she told him with a pleasant laugh.
"Why am I crazy?" he asked.
"Perche non posso sposare."
"Why can't you get married?"
"Because I am not a virgin," she answered.
"What has that got to do with it?"
"Who will marry me? No one wants a girl who is not a virgin."
"I will. I'll marry you."
"Ma non posso sporsrti."
"Why can't you marry me?"
"Perche sei pazzo."
"Why am I crazy?"
"Perche vuoi sposarmi."
Yossarian wrinkled his forehed with quizzical amusement.
"You won't marry me because I'm crazy, and you say I'm crazy because I want to marry you? Is that right?"
"Tu sei pazz!" he told her loudly.
"Perche?" she shouted back at him indignantly, her unavoidable round brests rising and falling in a saucy huff beneath the pink chemise as she sat up in bed indignantly.
"Why am I crazy?"
"Because you won't marry me."
"Stupido!" she shouted back at him, and smacked him loudly and flamboyantly on the chest with the back of her hand.
"Non posso sporsarti! Non capisci? Non posso sposarti."
"Oh sure, I understand. And why can't you marry me?"
"Perche sei pazzo!"
"And why am I crazy?"
"Perche vuoi sposarmi."
"Because I want to marry you. Carina, ti amo," he explained, and he drew her gently back down to the pillow. "Ti amo molto."
"Tu sei pazzo," she murmered in reply, flattered.
"Because you say you love me. How can you love a girl who is not a virgin?"
"Because I can't marry you."
She bolted right up again in a threatening rage. "Why can't you marry me?" she demanded, ready to clout him again if he gave an uncomplimentary reply. "Just because I am not a virgin?"
"No, no, darling. Because you're crazy."
She stared at him in blnk resentment for a moment and then tossed her head back and roared appreciatively with hearty laughter.

And so it ends, a beautiful crafting of circular logic into romance. Capturing delightfully double standards, intimacy and the thrill of the hunt. Possibly the only other piece of writing about a hook up I enjoy more is from Black Sheep's "Similak Child"

I said, 'Hon, whacha drinkin'?'
She said milk and armireto.
I took a seat beside her.
I would not be denied her.
Ordered L I I T
Fill 'er up, she's got a rider.
She showed her dental work,
And said I looked familiar.
I touched her on the hand,
I had to feel her.
I said, 'Hey'
She said, 'Hi'
I said, 'Us'
She said, 'Try'
And if you're thinkin'
Strictly boots
I'll say 'Baby, bye bye'
She said, 'I know you got
At least a dozen that you see.
You think you own the world,
At least New York because you G.
You claim to be the man.
You want me for a lover,
So you can do my girlfriends,
And my sister, and my mother.'
I said, 'You're very blunt,
Put quickness to the cue.
So what's up with your mother,
Does she look as good as you?
I'm playin'
But let me not delay
What I'm sayin'.
Initially attraction found your way
Before the way in.
I'm single so I've got
At least a dozen on my door step.
Doesn't boost my ego,
It doesn't mean we've slept.
I'm in the public eye,
So I try to be an eye full.
Do not own the world,
But yes I have some pull.
My coerce rolls a brown.
She's curious of me
Please give me more ice tea,
And her vitamin D.'
She said, 'Me, yes.
Why? Yes.
Sweetheart you've got ten cushions
Besides I like your dress.
I'm playin'
But let me not be weak
And let me speak,
Your mind is brighter
Than your bootie.
It's the courtin' that I seek.'

you never find out if Dres does get his Similak child, the romantic in me likes to think he did.
Peace out.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

drinking beer and going out to clubs (what to do? what to do?)

The people that are ticking me off are the least likely to read this, which I guess is ineffective communication. However this blog is about disclosure, not really communication. It's not a two way sharing of ideas.
But I love getting an email from some friend that has thought of me, after two months of not playing an active role in my life. What is always a bitter source of dissapointment though, are well wishes that just totally aren't me 'hope your drinking heaps of beer' 'hope your getting laid by hot ladies' and 'hope you are going out partying' sort of shit.
I know I should read them as the simpler and much more effective sentiment of 'I hope you are having a good time' that is a remarkably effective thing to do. But I hate when people have a guess at what I would think a good time is, and get it so totally wrong.
If I was into hyperbola-y?-i? I would call it a mild form of racism, but what I think is that I am getting painted by the brush, if I had to name such a brush I would call it the parfet brush. Parfet because of the Shrek Donkey reference 'everybody loves parfet!' I would be tempted to call it the beach brush from my own experiences, because my experience is such that everybody I know just about does love parfet. What happened to me as a child was that my parents subscribed to a theory that 'everybody loves the beach' which just wasn't true, I didn't love the beach, because I'd rather play a video game indoors than go outside to the beach. It was just a personal preference, over several years I learned to love the beach, for its natural wonder, for its therapuetic sensations, for its romance. But as a kid I think I rightly associated it with a long car-ride, Janice employing a cheapskate approach to launch meaning soggy sandwhiches or a meat pie cut in half. Sunscreen, walking on hot pavement, and getting creamed by some rough surf. There was enough annoying hassle there as to make it not worthwhile, it was only when I got old and independant enough to decide to wander down to the beach when I wanted, swim as long as I wanted and buy what I wanted for lunch and to go with whom I wanted that going to the beach became great.
Which is completely divergent, what is the point is that in life there is an inexhaustable list created by people with extroverted personalities that highlight the weakness of extraverts which is the 'everybody loves...' list. As such I really know when people hope I'm doing the kind of social, rowdy and expensive activities they enjoy, it is purely a result of their own point of reference.
But it does display a lack of empathy. I know from experience that I can be quite the 'wet blanket' as well, which now that I think about it is a funny statement, but here's the things from those lists that I do not enjoy, or can only enjoy with concentrated effort.

big parties
randomly hooking up
group tours
structured activity
gala luncheons

I know roughly half the world would look at that list and say, this is precisely what I enjoy the most, what kind of loser doesn't like those.
Well its true, the thing about extraverts is that they are sociable and group together, so they can pass off their own pleasures as universal, when compared to a disparate group of introverts who are defined precisely by their difficulty to connect.
Introverts like the particular loser activities

small discussion groups
problem solving
endurance exercise

I don't like gardening for the record, because I hate the sensation of soil on my hands. But these activities fill me with energy, I also love playing basketball which is highly social, its much more effortless for me to make friends in the context of playing a game than in the context of having to actually talk to them, simply because I find it exhausting.
But introverts aren't losers, through reading they tend to outperform in not just technical professions, but if they learn how to modify their behaviour to adopt the effective habits of extroverts, tend to be more commonly leaders, and also of course comedians and actors. The 'recluse' is the archetype comedian or actor. The person that can get up on a stage and be loved by everyone in the room, but then doesn't like people recognising them in the street.
So that being said, I am an introvert, and I can tell you, just like being a so called 'creative' its pretty hard when the majority tell you, or at least act like there is something wrong with you.
But that too aint the point, the point is that to me, it seems insulting (my initial reaction) when people 'hope' that I am doing the exact kind of regular friday night activities that I could be doing at home.
for example this seems logical to me:

instead of saying 'I hope you are having a cool beer down at your local' (what one might do in Australia)

try 'I hope you are engaging in mystical ninja espionage' (since I'm in Japan)

And whilst it is true that I do want to play basketball in every country I travel too, this is because for me its a good way to meet people, which kind of means that I can appreciate that nightclubbing, having a beer, etc might be to some people precisely that purpose, except it is never expressed as such it is expressed that intrinsicly sitting in a pub with a beer is a good time.
I also can appreciate that for someone who has never been out of the country like my Grandma, and if they had the opportunity would probably choose to go to England, because it is like Australia is 'supposed to be' although with their environmental policies I am lately inclined to agree, that it is almost impossible for people to know what it is one does do in a foreign country, and so use the local frame of reference.
But I approach travel as a learning experience, or simply the act of 'seeing the world' and whilst on surface one could say I appear strong not seeking comfort foods or getting homesick (I have missed proper bball courts, my housemate calling me fucknuts and that is just about it) you know, whilst I see heaps of relative disadvantages to being Japanese as opposed to Australia, I'm not tempted to either believe Australia and by extention Australians are inherantly better people, but instead simply see Japan as a stand alone nation. And in reality I've probably been agregately in Japan too long now to simply be wowzered, like I no doubt will be in China, a place where I can't speak the language, am in incredibly rich and have never set foot on before.
Anyhoo why can't 'seeing the world be enough' why do I have to get trashed in every country, why do I have to be clubbing all night. If I quit my job in Australia to drink and party for 8 months in Australia, people would think I was a loser, not a winner. Why does my geographic absense suddenly make such behaviour okay?
I'm out here to learn, thats what I do.
So if you want to be nice and email me, don't guess at familiarity, people who are familiar with me call me 'fucknuts' and ask me about basketball or work. If in doubt stick to 'I hope you are enjoying yourself'

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

We can secure other people's approval, if we do right and try hard; but our own is worth a hundred of it, and no way has been found out of securing...

...that. - Mark Twain, and it seems I have found the limit to my blog post titles. Hooray, I have discovered a new limitation, this is why I am alive still.

The point of this post is to drive home a point. That self esteem is more valuable than group esteem.

I was reading my good friend Harvard's latest post and you know what I don't plug enough of other people's quality blogs as I should, we are a community after all. So if you are any of my average 7 readers a day, check out the Blog of False Impressionism, I find it valuable immensly as Harvard and I agree about a lot of things I suspect, but differ on so much more.

Anyway there's my previous post which is literally the post before this one.
I even wrote in the same 24 hour period. Anyway Harvard mentions briefly the desperation people can drive themselves into whilst not believing themselves responsible. I find his examples for the most part a little extreme, a healthy disrespect for rules is in my opinion a good thing, and the fact that he got beaten by his mum just makes him a pussy.
But he specifically mentioned LV bags, which cheers me up, because fuck, I am sick of seeing them.
I quote [paraphrase]

"I just love Louis Vuitton," Mika Sakamoto gushed..."I figure I'll spend about twenty-one hundred dollars today on new items,"...she especially coveted the commemorative purse Louis Vuitton was selling this one day only..."It has a tiny insignia in it with today's date inscribed inside, so that makes it very special,...I think one day it will be very valuable".."Ever since I was a little girl, my mother has taught me about Louis Vuitton," Sakamoto said, as Mom offered me a snack too.

- Shutting out the sun, pages 147-148, Michael Zielenziger.

That refers to one of the 4000+ customers waiting outside the new Louis Vuitton flagship store that bought $1.2 million in handbags, watches and luggage in a single day.

Harvard was making a point about the lack of responsibility in a kid not associating his own personal danger with his decision to jaywalk, preferring to plce the blame on the Taxi. I gotta sort of side with the kid, first up, because the example set for him by almost every other resident of Melbourne is, jaywalk away. And secondly, being in japan has given me new found appreciation for just how wonderful a democratic institution jaywalking is.
But he mentioned also blaming prostitution on the LV handbag for 'making me want it so much' and I appluad harvard for saying in about 123 words what takes me 2 hours.

I will say this, almost every time I go to a new place in Japan they mention some new building that has many great brands, Misaki told me to go pick a birthday present at 'Beams' and Chie, the Takis and Kizznizzdizz and Shizznizzdizz all told me about Nagoya's new jewell 'Mana House' which 'has many great brands' and lastly Brenton gave Roppongi Hills the thumbs up for being actually nice.
I will say this now though, Japan's intent of projecting itself as successful, affluent, sophisticated and enviable. Or more succinctly its status, succeeds with me in communicating only how desperate and impoverished this nation is.
Every girl I see with a LV handbag, sets off a chain reaction in my head: did she get that from an enjo kosai (or compensated date, where an old office worker recieves sexual favors from a schoolgirl in return for buying designer goods*), is she taking her LV handbag home to sit on the floor of her room, the room in her parents house, that she only sleeps in because the house is cold and uninsulated, where she changes into a tracksuit and lays under a 'heated table' keeping warm in front of a TV which takes up most of the cramped apartment.

One could laugh, I often do. You know in Australia Mambo pulled its hawaiian shirt line, because 40-50yo dads had started wearing them and Mambo's cool stock had dropped, I don't think Mambo ever recovered. The Japanese are willing to fork over decent Yen to buy a handbag when they can't afford decent plumbing, heating, food or petrol in a bid to appear successful. What will Louis Vuitton retreat to when Japan ruins its status image?

*which is exactly what Harvard said more or less, good to know its actually happening in the world.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Cabs, Fever and Peril

In marketing their are two strategies that are generally available, market penetration (price based competition) or differentiation (product based competition). Let's for my own laziness call them strategy 1 and strategy 2 respectively.
In marketing strategy 1 applies when you and your competition are all selling essentially the same product, say plain flour, there aren't many ways that plain flour is different from eachother so competition tends to compete on price, and the company that can move the most product (most market share) at the lowest cost (through efficiency in production) wins, it also strategically falls on penetration type strategies, like price rollbacks, two for one offers and so fourth. Due to the relative ease with which a consumer can switch brands and still fulfill their needs. Type 2 strategies can also to some extent apply to flour, when you compete with say, wholegrain flour against plain flour, but I don't want to get into the details of flour.
Take instead automobiles, there are heaps of ways two cars are different from eachother whilst still addressing the same consumer need. These are style aspects, performance, comfort, economy, price, colour, accessories, service levels etc. there are about a thousand ways car companies can compete with eachother based not on price but the uniqueness of their product.
There is a model that is relatively simple called 'Porter's five forces' which gives a good insight into what exactly makes a specific industry profitable or not, so which strategy you opt for isn't necessarily always going to be more in favor of one over the other.
But I hope you can see, that type 1 strategy involves winning greater market share by sacrificing your margin, in essence. type 2 means achieving greater profitability by eching out a 'niche market' it may be settling for a small share of the market, but a profitable one (one hopes)
That's the theory side of todays lecture done.
Let's talk about women in Japan. To some extent this applies equally to men in Japan but I am a fan of women, so I will focus on them. I also find their story more tragic.
My friend Liam asked me if I still held the view that '90% of Japanese women are attractive' the answer in short is yes. Particularly if you add the qualifier 'relatively' before 'attractive' there are also some god forsaken slappers here aswell.
Add to that my encounters with other outsiders here, particularly english teachers and newcomers getting effected by what is known as 'yellow fever' I myself apparantly suffer from this, as after dating Misaki for 2 days, I was labelled as having yellow fever despite dating otherwise white as country bumpkins up to that point.
Anyway the point is that a lot of foreign men particularly come to worship at the Japanese alter. They meet a girl who is affluent, skinny, well dressed, nice smelling, made up, manicured, soft silky hair, short skirt wearing, walking in heels and sporting a handbag, who is kind and considerate, submissive and sexually exciting if not 'stacked' to put it crudely.
Sounds in a skewed male perspective, close to perfect right? right. A foreigner can't help but walk any street in Japan and oogle glamourous girls displaying their slender legs, long eyelashes and cherry lips. They talk in cute baby voices.
Furthermore, being a white guy is super attractive in Japan, our faces being non-asian are considered by Japanese's own standards of beauty have all the best qualities 'narrow face' and 'tall nose' and bonus points for 'blue eyes' and 'gold hair' sadly, being hairy isn't also a big winner, seems not to be anywhere in the world. So this all sounds like a masculine paradise.
But here be the catch, try and pick one.
There is a method for this, being an outsider is so isolating that generally if you manage to actually strike up a conversation with a strange woman is getting not just your foot in the door, but probably right into the bedroom.
Such an appetitie to foreigners has in the past led Japanese commentaries to labl Japanese women as 'yellow cabs' being a racial reference to their skin colour and also a reference in how easy they are to pick up. There is a book called yellow cab about the women of Japan that make themselves available to foreigners.
At any rate the reality is, that you re spoilt for choice, you are not walking through a guitar or bike store, picking between models, type, application, colour, features, parts and accessories though (I realise how bad comparing women to consumer durable is but it gets worse) you are instead walking down the bread aisle of a country supermarket, you may aswell pick, the nearest or cheapest one.
Let me step bck a bit and clarify it more, my friend Bryce (I don't know how kosha this is but fuck it) over one summer, and possibly also this summer, fell in love with the violin player of Martin Martini, and went to numerous shows to stare at her. Similarly at the Peeping Tom concert I fell in love with Butterscotch, the beatboxer who was wearing a shirt labelled "I shoot I score" a parody of the gun lobbyist slogan "I shoot I vote" but skewed to basketball.
Falling in love is such a strong presumption, and truth be told, I doubt either Bryce or I actually did, but what we did do was fall in love with something, Bryce inferred a lot that made the violinist in his eyes 'special' and 'attractive' as opposed to the other women in the room. I too inferred that Butterscotch a) enjoyed humour b) enjoyed rap c) enjoyed basketball d) was a fan of mike patton and my eyes told me visually at least she was appealing, their was also otherthings in her style such as the choice of earings, hairstyle and shoes that set her apart. And furthermore one can't disregard her actual talent in performing, she is a fucking good beatboxer.
she actually noticeably does something that gives her depth and character.
Skip to anther african american Chris Rock, when he describes the fallacy of a soulmate as 'you're never going to meet a women who likes Seinfeld and the Wu Tang Clan" it is this combining of a million different ways women or for the fact anybody differ from eachother, that instantly cut out about 90% of the women/men when you walk into a bar. You rule out the 'princesses', the 'duffs' and the 'feminazis' and focus on the tomboys. Or any other combination or labels that take ones fancy. This is usually the second round method for picking or differentiating between the attractive women at a bar/party/office etc. You are also presumably looking for things to talk about.
But in Japan if you rule out the 'princesses' you've ruled out 90% of the market and are left with nothing. Why? why why why why why why why? Well because Japanese women have more or less gone for 'market penetration' a foreign guy by contrast by differing from 90% of the men on the market reap the full rewards of a 'differentiation' strategy. I constantly hear about my 'unique' character, or how 'cool' I am, or how 'funny/interesting' I am, unfortunately I can't return the compliment to many the exceptions are almost exclusively the people from Japan I have met that have been living in a foreign country for a period of time, plus Madoka who strikes me as truly independant.
What causes this is a learned behaviour reinforced largely through bullying throughout ones entire life in Japan and an education system that teaches not knowledge but 'how to be japanese' s such the Japanese do have a mental uniqueness. When shown a picture of a fish, most citizens of the world will comment mostly about the colourful fish in the foreground paying little attention to the background or context in which the fish is in. Only when prompted by changing the surrounds of the fish do mot people comment on this. For the Japanese it is the opposite. Japan systematically looks for external reference by which to measure themselves. The psychological study I lifted out of 'shutting out the sun' or 'dog's and demons' for instance is meant to infer this preference for external reference. I can also affirm that Japan has no native concept of 'self esteem'.
As such when an individual get's bullied, the fult lies not in the bully for harassing or terrorising a person, but instead the victim is lead (even by their parants) to reflect on what they have done to attract the bullies attention, eg. why do I stick out? and from the parents perspective 'what are you doing to get picked on all the time? why can't you be normal?'
That's by far and away too much detail to substantiate the commodification of Japanese women, but that is just the point. Louis Vuitton is recognised as an exclusive brand in Japan, a sign of affluence, of success. And as such almost 1 in 2 women own some item of Louis Vuitton, Japan represents 30% of Louis Vuitton's global revenue. It is infact hideously common in Japan to own Louis Vuitton.
Groucho Marx's "I woud never join the kind of club, that would have me as a member" would be baffling here, as with TopGears rules for the Coolwall, that if any of the hosts of TopGear or football players buy a car it is instantly uncool.
Such notions would be incomprehensible because Japan holds stock in their being a 'correct opinion' or a universal truth, they trust that Louis Vuitton is exclusive, it will remain so even should everybody own one.
Similarly everything deamed attractive or kawaii (cute) can achieve over night up to 100% market penetration in Japan. Just think about that bar/party/office I talked about earlier. That means if a new brand of jacket is described as the in thing, the girls in the bar regardless of being a tomboy, princess, academic, feminazi, clubber, goth, etc all are wearing that Jacket, with a little superficial differentiation. But if that was true, you wold no longer have tomboys, princesses, academics, feminazis, clubbers, goths etc. everyone would be suppressing their outward expression of who they really are. What would you label the remaining phenomena? Japanese.
Furthermore it gets worse, in having everybody look the same, well you would at least know that deep down they were different, but women in Japan also don't get much opportunity after highschool to actually do things differently, not only do they look the same, they also do the same. They don't really get much opportunity to express themselves in any outward way.
Of course they are deep down different, and I can confirm that this can be done, namely try and date them outside of Japan. Furthermore whilst a lot of what makes Japanese women attractive to a lot of men, submissiveness, good dressing, polite, nurturing etc. you can't actually enjoy this if you do want a meaningful relationship, because it is all those things most relationship books and doctor phil talk about such as listening, cooking, cleaning, splitting bills etc. that allow you to really know (and impress) a girl from Japan.
To some extent coming to Japan from my experience this time, makes you realise that girls 'like' Miki are a dime a dozen, handbags so to speak. However this is only half true, Miki has also conformed to the universal Japan fashion of the day, but this just means she looks like all the other Japanese women. Were as she was much more unique in Australia, possessing her own distinct repertoir of Mikisms such as 'I habe a question' 'sewiouswy' 'jelry (jewellery)' 'it's become my favorite' 'that-a why' and so on, ad infinitum.
But as the little prince discovered from the fox, so too have I learnt that overall "It is the time you have spent with your rose that makes your rose so important"

Monday, December 17, 2007

Corrections on Time Management and shit

I was listening to a managerial podcast this morning and they said something that reminded me to clarify some things about one of my previous posts.

Firstly the object of working smart and not hard is to achieve more, not less. Whilst I describe myself as lazy, this is in reference to my overwhelming desire to conserve energy, not to actually enjoy the lifestyle of a bored stoner.
Also I would like to clarify that it is inevitable that in a working day, not everything will get done, this does not however justify overtime, some things that can be done, or even may possibly help out the business, are not the best choice to do.
There is no way to do everything. It's the law of diminishing returns in principle. Staying back to do some extra little thing that helps someone out in a nigh on insignificant way, is much less valuable than going home and getting yourself into a good mental mode to tackle the next day, it makes most people far more productive. Also making a choice about what tasks to actually tackle make one more likely to choose to do the important things, rather than getting 1000 small tasks that don't really contribute anything significant to the organisation done in a 14 hour day.
The fact of the matter is that there are a lot of people that if you pulled them out of the machine, the machine would collapse in on itself, there are far more people though that have never really achieved any of the big priorities that populate most organisations around the world that if someone removed from the machine, it would probably actually run better, smoother and faster.
I think the major obstacle is simply that 8 hours is a long and rigid time allocation for work, similar to the remarkably convenient phenomena that every subject of higher level study takes exactly thirteen weeks to teach anybody with 3 contact hours a week, isn't that amazing, every single subject of knowledge.
What I refer to is that most people's office hours are set to enjoy the benifits of simple standardization, but little thought goes into how many hours are actually required per job. So you see I percieve one area of time management that is little addressed is people who are actually afraid of becoming more efficient at their core duties, because this will create free time in their work day, or as I described it earlier, a fear of boredom.

I watched a lot of NBA on the net at Honda, but my hands were genuinely full. I spent time watching NBA because it gave me an important mental break, a chance to punctuate between tasks, and when there wasn't any interesting games on, it prompted me to seek out new entertainment through aquiring new duties.
Fact is I spent probably on average 45 minutes a day talking to a trainer, and this made me super efficient, not just with my development, but with time spent on office meetings, office politics, projects, training etc. Which turned out to be the best way to productively spend my time, in learning. That should serve as a lesson for all those managers and employees that say stupid things like "I don't have time to do all this training" gotta spend time to make time.

Lastly I still believe spending less time not more at the office is competitive, provided it is spent productively, a person with a diversely balanced lifestyle will outperform someone who keeps going to the same office for inspiration.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Lessons from Honda #2: The Bus

In hindsight, testing the hypothesis of 'overtime is wasted time' wasn't really as such a lesson learnt more of a hypothesis confirmed. I actually got tipped off to it by James Fox in his book "How to become CEO" long before I even started working.
The moral of that whole escapade was really 'apply personal discipline'.
Today I'd rather focus on a highlighting of my relative inexperience, this blog did used to be called 'stupid thoughts of a stupid guy' and that is the basis from which I seek growth.
Firstly the players, lets call one Character "me", let's call another character "newb" and yet another character "C". I will leave the names out but will foreclose that I am going to be brutally honest in this post, but that the story is from my perspective as it happened and that my knowledge of all factors at play remains opaque, I only made personal decisions and the knowledge garnered from the process is my own learning rather than any greater universal truths.

Me started work at the office in my department 3 years ago from now, coming into a pretty crazy and loveable team. The job was not particularly challanging, answer the phone, key some data, run the occasional report, check the faxes, so on. Boredom was my number one challange. I signed onto the Job figuring I'd try it for a year and make the decision to leave or stay at the end of my first contract.
I made the decision to leave a bit prematurely in my first year by a month or so based on my boredom. My boss at the time whilst I was thinking about resigning pulled me into his office to discuss my future, he then gave me three pretty broad duties for a new role which was to be mine and was expansive. I thought about it, other members of the team were similarly reshuffled and all seemed well. I also looked forward to the transition because it meant that they would bring in someone new and strengthen the team. This did not eventuate.
What happened instead was that I moved desk in a token side step, more symbolic that I had a new role than for any functional purpose. Then it was announced that team member "C" was going to step into my old role.
This was incredibly dissapointing, not only had we ditched a chance to introduce some new talent, new blood into the company we put someone into my old role that was actually, far less capable of performing it. I can say that fairly objectively because the hard skills, or behaviours were lacking namely excel, the various reporting functionality and what not.
This is where Drucker and I divert, Drucker says you pick the person for the role and you absolutely do not let peers have input in the hiring decision, which I think if its the case you can't trust your employees to make hiring decisions in the company or organisations interest above their own social personal preferences, you probably shouldn't be employing those people anyway. All I'm saying is input.
And here is where I want to do a semi analyses and speculate as to what brought about that decision. I think it was an emotional fluffy decision that tragically ultimately lead to C's undoing in the company. From discussions with my past manager I garnered the impression that his appraisal of C's ability was in all probability deflated from my own. Hence hencely I gather that he had imput and that he made an emotional decision. Furthermore C's childish conduct was well known, entitlement certainly prevailed over earn in the mindset, a princess, a daddy's girl she was a window and a mirror to be sure, but when things went wrong she looked out the window to cast responsibility on others or her environment and when they went right she looked in the mirror and really built her self up, more than that she looked at others to praise and compliment her and prop up her esteem.
She was predictably fairly unempowered, completely at the mercy of her boyfriend, friends, family and work. It was an attitude that prevailed in all aspects of her life as far as I could tell, and particularly low capacity to empathise. A damning review perhaps but on a personal level, a quite liked C she was in her own unique way entertaining, good company and sweet. I think this was largely an opinion shared by all.
But it didn't really work in her favour. In noticing that almost everyone in the department was getting a form of 'promotion' or change or different responsibilities I suspect, but can say with no authority that her very sweet nature is what prompted my manager and my boss to protect her fragile ego by 'promoting' her to my position.
Not only did they miss a chance to role the dice on a new applicant, they effictively instead of feeding back to C directly that she had to change her behaviour if she wanted to succeed they rewarded her poor attitude.
But for the time being I was only dissapointed, and it prevented anyone from dealing with this awkward business. To my managers credit he had considered removing C from the company previously but again the position had been defended.

What followed was an attitude change, that was the promotion predictably (although acknowledging that my position was superior to hers even though I started after her) went to her head. And the bizarre window and mirror took effect. That was, I was to help her in every single duty she had, whilst she patently refused to help out my good friend and fellow team member with any duties relating to her old role. Pathetically (but as a result of her conditioning upbringing) she also stooped to bitching about our friend for being arrogant.
I felt a little arrogant too, when I discovered that whilst she was away on sick leave, it was much more efficient for me to wrap up her entire days duties in 45 minutes and then get on with my own work than 'helping' her do it while she was there.
I had her take notes, showed her things and I was amazed to find I'd never found anyone more resistent to learning. I just was at whits end, and this went on for about 5 months, I had made my managers aware and others were aware aswell, furthermore general consensus was that she had transformed into a nigh on useless employee. C was a problem. But a problem pushed to the bottom of the heirarchial pyramid.
I realise for my part that I was an enabler, I did actually tell her how on a daily basis to avoid mistakes she would otherwise have made and learned from, I did often do her work for her. I devoted a lot of energy, gave her motivational talks and such but was confounded by the lack of progress, my managers moved my desk into the marketing department to put some distance between us and try and jump start her independance.
I wonder how conscious she was that it was such a bad situation. Her self esteem issues and lack of personal empowerment made her on paper a low risk investment for the company, they culd pay her the lowest wage and she could do all the shitkicker chores. But on the whole she also performed the opposite of leverage, which is when in a good case you have a PA take over a whole bunch of duties to enable a higher paid knowledge worker to devote maximum time to important stuff.
Instead C consumed enormous energy of myself, our team members, her managers right up the chain, our customers, our Sales reps. An effective black hole of wages that was diverted to the resolution of fairly low value activities.
Our energies flowed to our weaknesses not our strengths.
But she was such a sweet girl, it tried everyones patience, after moving desk I did get a lot more time to myself, I also did a lot more walking to C's desk, and it was literally like a crying infant. After 1 year she used up her 9 lives with me, unfortunately she still had about 5 more with our manager.
Everybody wanted her to succeed. I think that is the thing to keep in mind, she was never maliciously set up for failure. Whilst the clear abscence of any vision of actual growth potential disturbed me. Nobody at any point had given her a duty that she was literally not capable of doing. It's true that she was less capable then me her predecessor, but not that she was actually incapable all together. It was always going to take more time and energy to build her skills. Its not anything she did particularly wrong, nor was it sufficient excuse to deny her opportunity.
But in the end she got promoted beyond her level of competence, that is my verdict. Tragically the very decision I speculate that was made to protect her esteem, ended up being her undoing.
And I wasted a lot of her life. The turning point was after running the dozenth report for her, and checking and doing equations for her, I realised that after a year all she was comfortable with was pushing the 'go' button, all the actual work the prep work, the analysis and calculation was still done by me. Nor did she have any particular zeal for appropriating new abilities. I was frustrated and gave her a reprimand. And then my friend in the team whom, she had resolutely refused to help reported back to me that the moment my back was turned she had bitten the very person who was trying to help her.
This just ticked me off, true that I wasn't very good at giving feedback, did not infact know how, but I had at least practically given her a heads up, that she was in trouble. She chose to regard this as a personal attack and got defensive. I learned there and then that intent doesn't count for much in communication, I was trying to help C, she interpreted my message as an attack.
But at anyrate I calmed down, did her work for her, then told my manager that I had no confidence that she would ever be capable of fulfilling her duty. As I said C still had about 5 lives with said manager, and his response was "what are we going to do?" in the process of the meeting, we talked about ways to peel back her new duties from her, we both skirted around the fact that this effectively left C as a seat warmer. Without again hurting her feelings.
For me, the learning model came to mind in this meeting, and that is that everyone has a comfort zone, learning occurs when we step out of our comfort zone, we gain competence and then our comfort zone expands. I am very comfortable doing most things, but an example is that I was as a child always very nervous about taking a shot in a basketball game, I felt inconsiderate to the team if I didn't make the shot and we lost possession, so I never took a shot. Even though I could shoot in practice.
Later on in playing streetball I simply stopped caring, and eventually I was confident enough just to bomb in a three pointer even when the game was on the line. Because there are always more games. Never risking a shot eventually lead to me being benched longer and longer, even though for me the enjoyment of the game was in runnning chase after chase on a fast break defensively (although also frightened of getting fouls).
What happened with C though was that she had a comfort zone, but if she made a one of mistake it actually diminished her confidence, then her comfort zone decreased and she became reluctant to take on duties that she had been performing. In other words, and I have never seen it before or since, she was unlearning. She was decreasing in value to the company.
I could of waited for market forces, but I was heartbroken by this, I wanted her to succeed, to earn independantly and become a valued member of the team. Giving up meant failure for me.
I was up at night, I thought about her all weekend, and then eventually whilst reading "Good to Great" I realised what I had to do, namely it was about the Bus.
The good to great study companies all had in common that they often first set about assembling a great team, then started working on the strategic. The referred to this as 'making sure the right people are on the bus, and that the wrong people are off the bus" and particularly they referred to the discipline of getting people off the bus.
It's a lose lose game when someone is wrong for the team. The symptoms are:
1. When you start designing systems and processes to get around their shortcomings.
2. They add to your stress rather than diminish it.
3. You think about them outside of work hours, eating into your personal time.
And the fact is that the person is suffering the blow of having to turn up to a job that they are failing in, this is a huge psychological burden, and C was so chronic that her fear of having to find a new job, was perpetually greater than the fear that she was failing right now.
So one day I photocopied the relevant page, and went to see my boss. And though it broke my heart, I asked him to fire C.
I talked about the 'reverse learning', the diminished stress when they were away, the increased stress when she was here, highlighted specific examples, and struggled furiously to keep my emotions from overcoming me. I didn't mention that I felt that I had been betrayed. Though we did discuss the fact of my surprise when she got appointed to my position. That it devalued my sense of achievement by appointing an incapable replacement. I made a case that her rewards for poor performance (that is, getting paid) were demotivating to the strong performers and perhaps unethically I spoke on others behalf to say that she was consuming other peoples energy unfairly aswell, this was really their own business and I shouldn't have done it. It probably wasn't necessary anyway. But I will say in my defence, that I actually do spend a lot of time thinking about other peoples wellbeing, callous and uncouth as I may be.
And that was that, about 2 or 3 months later C got the tap on the shoulder, I was informed that it didn't directly relate to my discussion, I speculate that he could see I felt incredibly guilty when it happened. But in truth, although I was shocked, I was glad, and I would like to think that a discussion I had that had cost me so much to do would infact have a bearing on such a decision, even if it only made the inevitable easier.
Officially C was made redundant, and this in all probability and practicality is true, I could cover for her daily efforts in 45 minutes, phone traffic was another thing, but it had diminished due to the drought. C was the obvious choice if headcount had to be reduced. I would like to think in other circumstances she simply would have been dismissed for poor performance though.

Lesson learned about the bus and shit? not quite.

At the same time C had her desk packed up (allowing me to also return from exile in marketing to my beloved team) newb had arrived on the seen. Newb was a highlevel recruit into our deprtment from an outside company. Newb seemed affable, professional and certainly had the endorsement of my boss.
Newb brought about change, his style and personality was different, I particularly being analytical and detail minded and a bullshitter clashed with him when he first came, because he would ask me questions and then seem uninterested in the answer. He didn't seem to value any of the detail of my reports and my approach was to try and adapt.
Fundamentally I believe a manager is entitled to their own style, so I tried to accomodate newb by talking with the training manager and trying to pick up some tactics on how to behave and communicate to facilitate working with him better.
This wasn't the most popular course of action though, people mostly just reflexively reacted to the change, it severly dampened morale in the environment. Arguements were rife, closed door meetings, power plays, people marching across the office.
To me newb style seemed to be relatively simple, from my perspective it was set unrealistic goals, shake desks to startle people into action, make a point of authority and chase targets beyond all else.
There were two things that concerned me, one newb's authority started being circumvented, people started trying to work around him to get things done they always were done. Furthermore newb seemed to have alienated himself, I didn't think he had a friend in the office.
Newb had a strong personality and I never saw any evidence that concern number 2 concerned him, but I can't imagine anyone enjoying being isolated in their workplace, considering it takes so much of our lives.
The first one though I started seeing him having to 'borrow' the authority of the big bosses when his own had been lost. This was arguably a waste of their time, having to intervene in the squabbles of our department, but also concerning from an organisational perspective because, authority is like currency, you can spend it, invest it and lend it. Spending it, gets someone to do what you want, but you may never see it come back, investing it is where you act on authority usually your own in your own sphere and it works out, you garner respect and as such your authority increases. Loaning it works the same way, you back a person who uses your authority, now they either spend it or invest it. If there is nothing different in their use of your authority though, that lead them to squander their own, you end up with a bad debt, you are never getting that authority back.
In my mind I saw this as massively destabilizing, it concerned me. After 3 sleepless nights I drew the conclusion: newb had to get off the buss.
This was a whole different kettle of fish though. I collected my thoughts, arguements and observences as a first step. And then I sent an email to newb's boss stating that 'I had no confidence in his management ability. I am happy to discuss specifics' and left it at that. Newb was high level, I had no power of my own to effect change apart from my attempt to change my own behaviour, but this wasn't catching on in the broader sense and the pressure was weighing on everybody.
I didn't invoke my others opinions this time. Just went through the incidences and gave my verdict.
That was, that newb having botched the first impression, had a harder time now of winning over the team than he did when he first started, he had to work up from a deficit. Furthermore, the best employees were likely to act and leave the company, as I had certainly considered, kept their more by the awkward predicament that I already had plans in place to travel and it was convenient to just weather the storm till then.
The ones that would suffer most though were the employees kept by inertia, their job satisfaction and satisfaction in life would just decrease.
I felt compelled to step forward because from my father's experience of being left by retiree's problems at work this can be devestating. I had to take responsibility for what was concerning me, not cowardly hiding until I could jump ship. And I care about my colleagues and the organisation.
How glorious I am! So of course newb got fired in a couple of months just like C, I had learned my lesson and I'm a genius and all that shit.
Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. I did see change though. In a matter of weeks, newb just changed his act and approach. My lack of experience had lead me to believe that newb was either A) inherantly flawed or B) not worth the effort and investment of bringing up to standard. It turns out that newb had simply been utilising the tools of success that had gotten him thus far at his previous employers, our personalities were still pretty much opposite, but the fact was that newb was able to change his behaviour and gradually it all started coming around. Everybody relaxed and I regained my confidence that newb actually could succeed.
I speculate now, that I had overlooked the fact that my boss had picked newb, had good and rational reason to believe that he could succeed. Furthermore, experience had probably shown that the situation had gotten out of hand either through a communication breakdown or mere abscence, not being able to experience the situation first hand.
As such, employing a few resources and giving some decent feedback paid remarkably simple dividends. Newb unlike C was fully capable of tring new approaches.
And that is the full bus analogy, not just putting the right people on the bus, but putting them in the right seat, and if shuffling seats doesn't produce a fit, then and only then do you act (and act swiftly) to get the person off the bus.

In both cases, I or indeed you could save a lot of grief by articulating the problem appropriately much faster. In hindsight my criteria of losing 3 nights sleep was probably 2 nights too excessive, the other thing is that if you give people a decent constructive chance, that is opt for win-win before win-lose, you can acheive the best outcome. But if you don't do either, you are left with lose-lose and you gotta get out of that as soon as you can.
I was naive to believe i could get a manager fired, but that is not because I could not effectively do so, rather because I naively had considered relatively few options.
For my defence though, I had assumed that newb's behaviour was the source of his success and as such, his esteem rested heavily on it, so I had assumed he was resistent to change.
To newb's great credit, and fine example for others, his ability to lern and develop, rather than resist, is precisely what all good companies need.

Crazee Animals!

I promise I'll stop witht he lazy youtube posts now.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Question on Everyone's Lips

These days, most of the emails from friends and relatives usually revolve around the same question, or varients thereof: "What's playing Basketball in Japan like?" and here I will post my answer.
In Japan one can see vast spaces in parks dedicated to concrete, sculpture or fountains, there are also large playing fields that resemble gravel pits in which four or five people are usually doing some kind of stretching exercise. Basketball courts are extremely incredibly rare, although for no practical reasons such as a lack of public space, or to utilise such spaces for activities of broader appeal, like being homeless, or staying home.
So finally even after asking my successive hosts if they know of a court in thier area, I stumbled across one, quite accidently in roppongi hills.
By "court" one could infer it is a sizeable flat surface with painted lines. It is, but the size is that of two billiard tables and the lines are all flat green, painted parrallal up and down continuously until there is nothing but a flat small surface.
Then a hard unforgiving rim, the likes of which is so stiff it puts the Brunswick hoop to shame.
Furthermore, the Japanese themselves are not particularly possessed of free time to go shoot hoops, so most days are just me practicing my Jump shot and Hook shot, while the infuriatingly hard rim and small court, with waist high barriers restricting my movement but not actually containing the ball in any way has me constantly chasing the ball around the hilly surrounds.
And what of the Japanese I have been able to play with? Well one thing can be said, basketball is a universal language, and I am awesome in any country is precisely the point of that language. It makes it easy to get in conversations with locals and such.
But I dominate the boards, am by all extents actually a superior shooter, and are light so I can push them around quite easily. So challange wise it hasn't sofar lived up to my expectations of having dozens of allen iverson wannabe's running rings around me and having to use brute force to get my way.
That being said, basketball in any form is a tremendous reief for me. I feel relaxed after playing. And the excitement of playing means that it in the end becomes the equivalent of getting laid.
So with that in mind, the best way to describe basketball in Japan is like having sex in a closet, as opposed to a luxurious bed. Also with significant height difference.

Dear Santa/Ode to a Beard

Ah, Baron Davis. Is there no finer beard than yours? Pay attention all, this beard I cannot even say what it brings to the table, how to describe its singular perfection. Its brashness and boldness, its fortitude, its sophistication. Maybe it can be defined more easily, like terrorism or unaustralianism by simply stating what it is not, and it is not the beard of a peadophile. No this is the beard of a man who struts around his house in some kind of satin robe, with a beautiful lady lying in wait for him, that whilst he is flossing his teeth, and inumerable ninja's start pouring off the rooftop silently, Baron Davis' beard is not afraid. That's the kind of beard it is, the beard wears the man not the other way round.
If men with beards have something to hide, then this beard hides all imperfection and human frailties, it is a beard I would love to have as the prime minister elect of Australia, a beard unafraid to tackle the big issues, global warming, globelisation and diminished interest in globe lighting.

Behold the beard.

On another note, santa, my mother asked me what I wanted for christmass. I said 'less'. I really don't need anything right now whilst travelling. And I can unwrap some kind of candybar on the day as my christmass treat, anyhoo point of the matter of the fact is though. Here is my wishist of material possessions currently between me and spiritual fulfillment.

1. A Pete Maravich Jersey, I would love a purple Utah one with the No 7 and "Pistol" instead of maravich printed on the back. But ebay doesn't seem to offer those.

2. A Kareem Abdul-Jabbar LA Lakers throwback jersey. One of those yellow mesh ones, Kareem is about the player I least resemble in both appearance and playing style, I would also settle for some of his old school white goggles.

3. A Charles Barkley 34 Pheonix Suns Jersey, what is it with me and purple, the purple one or the white one, so long as they have the sun blazng across the chest.

4. A Shawn Kemp 40 Seattle Sonics Jersey, one with green backing and Sonics written on the white strip, none of the others are cool.

5. A pinstripe Dennis Rodman 91 bulls jersey.

6. A 23 Chicago Jordan Jersey, for special occassions, like asking for a home loan or getting married, to let them know I mean business.

7. A Latrell Sprewell jersey, the most hilarious guy ever to play. Knicks, Timberwolves, Golden State their all good for the American Dream.

8. A Detroit Pistons 3 Ben Wallace 2005-6 Jersey, white. These look nice.

9. A Vince Carter Toronto Raptors 15 jersey. For when he was jumping out of the gym.