My PC keeps crapping itself when I try to burn a DVD. I tried to re-install the software, restart and restart again but to no avail… it just doesn’t want to work… so I’m going to try to reinstall Windows and see if that helps the situation. So now I’m trying to back up everything that I know I’ll need – like my Internet Bookmarks that I forgot to back up last time I did this and lost everything!!!

I had a lovely day otherwise… It’s drizzling nicely and it’s grey, overcast and cool outside, so I’m in a state of bliss. I caught up with four ladies I used to teach at Nova in Himeji. We went to one of their houses (Wow! What an amazing place!) for coffee and cake and chatted for a couple of hours. A good time!

It’s good to see that in an age where people are becoming more and more isolated from each other that communities can still band together for a good cause.

The next generation of drives is starting to take shape in the lab. A one terabyte disk the same size as a CD-ROM?? Bring it on, I say! It’ll be nice to have a drive that works…

Australia has officially finished its stint in Iraq (except for the 70 personnel protecting the Aussie embassy in Baghdad) but Rudd is under fire again for trying to turn the public service in to ‘Workaholics R Us’. Perhaps this is a symptom of a deeper hubris… Actually Australia may be starting to display signs of the kind of logic that Japan is famous for… For example, there is a shortage of people with suitable skills to fill vacancies for highly skilled jobs. What do you do? If you’re the Australian government, you RAISE the fees for technical colleges. Wuh?!? How does making college more unaffordable help people who have no money get jobs? (Oh, you put them on HECS, so they have to pay you back afterwards, crippling their earning ability after they start working – nice! …. Dumbass)

Similar logic is happening in Melbourne, which has finally surpassed Sydney as the cosmopolitan capital of Australia, only to have the government slap a 2am curfew on all bars and clubs. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

The environment is still big news, of course. It’s good to see that even the weapons manufacturers are getting on the bandwagon and developing bombs that will blow you to smithereens, but still be good to Mother Nature… errrmmm…

Some people aren’t prepared to sit down though. This story is about Guerilla Gardening – a movement which not only cleans up unsightly public spaces but is also good for the environment, visually as well as biologically. Gives me ideas…

Hey, remember Global Warming? Maybe it isn’t going to happen after all! Yay! Let’s go burn some stuff! Or just wait for the massive release of methane. (No Indian food jokes, please)

More good reading about the food crisis as well as what’s happening with the economy and the price of oil. It’s good to see that people are taking the train more though.

Japan joined the 20th Century again this week as they passed a law requiring people to wear seatbelts in the back seat. Not that anything will change as people still think wearing a seatbelt at all is optional – including most of the police force.

Also from Japan, but sad and incomprehensible is this story of a girl who received a comment on her blog telling her to go kill herself, so a few days later, she did. The book I’m reading at the moment about the current state of Japan is shedding some light on the kind of mindset that is striking at the heart of this amazing country, but unless Japan is willing to undergo rapid and (short-term) painful change, scenes like this will sadly just become more and more commonplace.

The conspiracy theorists are at it again, this time over the recent earthquake in China. Unusual clouds that appeared in the sky are (apparently) the evidence of a weather weapon, using vast amounts of energy to change the weather or (in this case) set off earthquakes. ‘Apparently’ the targets were nuclear facilities in Sizchuan Province, which ‘apparently’ were not damaged in the quake according to the Chinese media. Why the US would want to target Chinese nuke facilities by causing the deaths of over 70,000 civilians is beyond reasoning… but then again, perhaps the truth IS stranger than fiction (like this story about the US compiling a list of civilians to detain under a military government – or the one about the North American Union).

John McCain has foot in mouth disease. But maybe he’s already won the election. Whatever happens, you can bet the Pentagon’s budget will increase.

So why do optical illusions work the way they do? This guy reckons he knows, but there are lots of pretty pictures to test your brain too. Wooo! Weird!

A trio of stories about the homeless caught my eye this week. There was one about a woman who lived in a man’s cupboard for a year (in Japan, of course) before he realised something was wrong. There was also this about the people who live at Heathrow Airport. Finally, an Australian woman is making weatherproof swags for Aussie homeless. It’ll be the middle of winter soon there, so her work is becoming more and more urgent.

Best English lessons (for Japanese girls) ever. Need some extra tutorials for practice, ladies??

Also there was this about how to succeed in Japanese business culture, also known as “How to get your boss drunk and get what you want out of him”. Oh, this is Japan, so your boss will be a ‘him’. Sorry, feminists.

The obsessive fetish displayed for brand names in Japan is truly lost on me, but now I see it can have its uses – like fighting crime!

This guy really has balls (and knows how to use them too!).

Actually here are some guys who had bigger kahoonas than you can imagine!

I didn’t know there was a grand slam of fishing – let alone three of them…

A story about a guy who managed to collect on one of the most macabre bets ever made… his own death.

Quote of the Day: “I have never had an accident where I have pressed a button and accidentally sent seven chapters into cyberspace, never to be seen again. And have you ever tried to hack into my typewriter? It is very secure.” – Frederick Forsyth.

If I ever go to China, I’ve found what I want as a souvenir: Pork Stones!