No, I don’t want to live, work or study in the USA… (no air traffic controllers, for a start)

Hey ho, back for the first rant for 2009. It’s taken a while to settle back into Japan and get back into the swing of things. That and it’s been so amazingly cold… we had a couple of flurries yesterday.

Which brings up an interesting point. The last two winters have now been the coldest for years, and an increasing amount of scientists are taking up the position that this could be the start of the next Ice Age. We’re due for one, as periods of global warmth usually last for 20,000 years or so, which fits this current period we’re in now. The scary fact is that Ice Ages tend to last for 100,000 years. That’s without the glaciers, woolly mammoths and sabre-toothed tigers in your backyard – or nipple rings causing frostbite…

Hey, if that doesn’t depress you, then how about this? The Milky Way is heavier and moving faster than previously thought, so we’re going to crash into the next galaxy even sooner!

Even in retirement, former Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, is still a bonehead.

George W. Bush… How many of us are counting the days? The worst president in American history is busy trying to create his own version of history right up to the moment he leaves. It’s certainly leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of those he has victimised, whether they be from New Orleans or Baghdad. The thing about the term “legacy”, is that it’s not just what you try to leave behind after you’ve gone, but what people remember about you. Bush’s 20% approval rating and litany of disasters (84% more people are unemployed are at the end of 2008 than in 2001, or that One in every two Iraqis is dead, wounded, a refugee, or starving.”) that will prevail long after he has gone will prove to be his legacy, no matter how he and his followers try to spin it. It looks like Obama won’t be pursuing his crimes either – so that’s a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card right there.

Worth more than a cursory glance: a look at the state of Latin America in 2008.

Japan has come up with a errrmmm… novel way to end the rise in unemployment amongst a general sagging in the economy, as well as provide a solution to the aging of the rural towns: send young unemployed people to work in the countryside. Sounds great except for a) most Japanese young people are so urbanised they’d rather starve than go into the countryside, except from the confines of a tour bus, b) this program is for only 800 people to go on trip of 10 days a piece, c) only 50 positions are being provided for full-time workers, and d) (related to point ‘a’ ) agricultural work is highly labour intensive with low financial reward – hardly appetising. The Japanese government thinks it could work two ways though. Apart from the oldies teaching the youngies a thing or two about farming and fishing, the youngies could open the oldies to the wide world of teh internets and blogging. Yes, elderly people blogging will save Japan… but if society does collapse, then these younger people will stand a chance of being able to provide food for themselves.

The Japanese government is also calling for high school English lessons to be taught in English in order to raise students’ ability with the language. Interesting idea, but the teachers may not be so willing…

An interesting story about a couple of Americans who saved a Japanese man who fell onto some train tracks. The final paragraph says a lot about people who never travel or read much about the world, and those who see a lot of it.

NASA has blamed Australia for “destruction of much of the life on the planet”. What are you going to do about that, Mr. Rudd? (Ridiculous assertion, I know…)

Even good old Listerine is now on the list of things that could give you cancer… Joe Jackson got it right – and it sounds much better when he sings it.

The privatisation of utilities is fundamentally wrong. Case in point: Australia has drought (bad), government urges people to use less water (good), people use less water (great!), water company cries over falling profits and raises prices (asinine). Once again this illustrates my point, utilities such as water, electricity, sewage, public transportation, roads, and so on are basic services that a society needs to exist. They are the foundation that companies and businesses are built on. They are not for-profit businesses. The government is not in the business of making profits – it’s in the business (if you have to call it that) of keeping society running smoothly. Taxes pay for that. Get over it. Don’t sell these important services off, pay your taxes and reap the benefits.

In February, it looks like we’ll be up for a spot of comet watching. Sweet!

Looks like the Apollo Landing conspiracy theorists are going to have to come up with some new ideas. The Indian lunar satellite has mapped the sites of the lunar landings.

Note to anyone who wants to go country driving in Australia: if the sign says “Road Closed Due To Flooding”, don’t ignore it and continue driving like these twits did.

There’s no way James Bond would be caught dead wearing this.

Best name for a soft drink. Ever.

That’s enough for now. More later.

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