Time to go through some things lurking in open tabs that I found interesting / cool / funny / neat, etc. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which was which.

I visited Uno earlier this year to visit Naoshima with my mum and her friend. We stayed at an excellent guesthouse called Uno Slope House. The proprieter is a Japanese fellow named Max, who has opened up his parents’ house for visitors, as well as trying to open up the area around Uno to more tourism. The Uno/ Naoshima area is trying to reinvent itself as an destination for artists. The museums and installations on Naoshima are certainly well worth a visit. As for Max, he’s a filmmaker, and is also one of the main organisers of a film festival that takes place in August every year in Uno. This year’s is going to be held over the first two weekends, so if you’re keen, try to head down there and enjoy some real Japanese hospitality along with the art. They’re also trying to raise funds to run the event, so if you’re feeling generous, there are some goodies in it for you as well. I might see you there!

This photo tour of an abandoned amusement park in the USA caught my eye. I could add it to the list of ghost towns I want to see. If I had the time and money, I would love to get more into astrophotography. I spent a short while up the top of Norway last Christmas and saw the aurora, which was phenomenal, but these pictures from Australia were also amazing. This photoset captures in great detail the stark reality of North Korea – a sterile showcase of perfection that somehow has stripped almost all vestige of humanity away from its citizenry. I’ve never seen such emptiness. (I still want to go there by the way…)

If you can force your way through it, you should try to read Umberto Eco’s Travels In Hyperreality. In particular the section on post-modernism and The Last Supper. It’s true, there are bizarre versions of it everywhere! The internet is also a great place to see the collective creative genius at work.

I’m glad to say that I’ve seen quite a few of these great films that have no plot.

I’m getting more and more into whisky, particularly 10 year-old single malts, but also the Irish varieties have caught my eye – as well as tastebuds. I have also recently been spending some time with some very naughty beers from Belgium and Germany. These are the sorts of beers that I wouldn’t mind taking on a dirty weekend somewhere….

I’ve tried a couple of these coffee hacks, such as buying a French press and adding a pinch of salt to the brew. Yummo.

I wouldn’t mind opening a tea house though.

Love Hotels are not just for Japan any more. Auckland says hello to its first.

I have enjoyed Sean Bean’s work for quite a while. He has the ability to play the kind of character who can be a badass but also be frail at the same time. Think of his roles in Lord of the Rings and Ronin. Last week they played Patriot Games on satellite TV and his character was just a one-way ticket to Hell and he didn’t care who he took along for the ride. Awesome. Now you’d think such a man might be a bit of a douche/chav in real life, but not if you’re a lady. He went out for a few drinks with an Italian Playboy model one night (as you do) and some punter started to insult her honour. He took the fella aside to have a quiet word. Later, when Sean went outside to have a cigarette, he got stabbed in the arm with some broken glass for his trouble. Did Sean Bean go to the hospital? NO. He walked back inside and ordered another drink. All hail!

You think your TVs big? Try this one on for size! You could try to get it in see-though format as well. That window/TV is not too far away.

The Swedes are funny. Really.

There has often been a lament about the lack of women in science and engineering. Some women have made an enormous difference to our understanding of our world and the universe. Dads, if you have daughters, I’d recommend you buy a microscope to go along with those toys. A great example in point is of Amelia Fraser-McKelvie. She was on a six-week internship at Monash University when she solved part of the riddle of the missing mass of the universe.

The story behind one of the greatest images of the Civil Rights movement.

Another perspective on the recent goings on between the USA, South Korea and North Korea, with a good summary of the past fifteen years or so in diplomacy between these countries.

Japan’s looking at introducing an environment tax, because generating revenue will save the world. Yeah, that’ll sell… One of Japan’s most respected business leaders has put an ‘X’ on the spot of the problem with this once great country – weak leadership.

Australian households have reduced their water usage by 16% over the past five years, but are paying up to 95% more for it.

Leslie Nielsen passed away recently. Flying High (Airplane) is very likely in my all-time top ten. It certainly is one of the most quotable movies of all time.

Cancer isn’t slowing Christopher Hitchens down.

The newest touchscreens are looking even cooler than the ‘old’ ones.

The guy who invented Netscape is back with a new internet browser. I think I might give it a try…

Boeing are able to mass-produce solar cells with an efficiency of 39.2% (That’s VERY good, by the way)

New broadband technologies are looking interesting.

New drone and surveillance technologies are not.

Not to worry, since the planet is doomed anyway.

Louisiana gives a middle finger to meddling Creationists.

How books are made.

How students pass university by never writing papers or essays.

A good idea for creating good future citizens.

McDonalds and PespiCo are helping to write UK health policy. Giving arsonists the keys to the fire brigade? Smart move!

Silvio Berlusconi’s defense against having an affair with an underage pole dancer? “At least I’m not gay. Oh, and the Mafia is out to get me.” Yeah, that’ll work.

Enjoy that chocolate (fatty) since cocoa may become a rare extravagance within the next few years.

Not to worry, since maid trains are now available in Japan, and the bras are very welcoming to visitors too. There are still some good reasons to live here though, although anime is on the decline.

Giant sushi is making appearances at an airport carousel near you… well… near me, actually.

That Siberian methane is bubbling away, and looking to create a desert. The coal miners are looking to do the same thing, in their own way.

Australian cities are threatening to destroy themselves, by spreading themselves too thin.

Beer helped make civilization.

The oldest ground-edge stone tool in the world has been found in Arnhem Land, at the north end of Australia.

The greatest mural ever. I want one.

And my upcoming trip to Scandinavia promises to be cold – as in I’ll likely be getting that White Christmas experience I’ve always wanted.

So why should my summer reading be all doom and gloom? I do enjoy things that entertain me as well. I guess it all depends on your definition of entertainment… Here are some things that got my brain a-flutter over the past couple of months before they’re consigned to the memory hole.

Weird Japanese inventions.

Japanese schoolgirls masturbate – a lot! (YAY!)

Try some Japanese futurism.

Hashima Island – again. I just love the idea of this place.

Some movies to watch if you didn’t find Inception that confusing. (I didn’t)

Inception may have been stolen from a Scrooge McDuck comic from 2002 anyway…

The changing world of fast food.

Positive thinking sucks.

A study suggests that children with lesbian parents have fewer behavioural problems.

At least there is a funny side to the failing stimulus spending in the USA. Cocaine monkeys indeed!

I will not be buying a 3D TV or going to see a movie in 3D – ever.

A collection of under-rated fight scenes.

The Cracked website is always full of trivia. Try this on for size, then this, and this. Clickety click!

See Venice before it is gone forever.

It’s sad to say that I want to visit some of these craptastic tourist traps.

The Muppets used to work for IBM.

Imagine. Beer with 50% alcohol.

Here’s some great pencil art.

What would you do if you were a world famous photographer entrusted with the last ever roll of Kodachrome film?

I’m having hours of fun with Tilt Shift Maker.

There’s some cool tilt shift stuff out there too.

How the world of independent cinema is changing.

An excellent review of that second Sex And The City movie. Bile and vitriol with brains.

But at least there is still some interesting sci-fi being made.

Some Japanese actresses aren’t just brainless models who can’t act seeking attention and cash before marrying some rich bint looking for a trophy wife…

Hours of trivia…

Share And Enjoy!

Gawd this is crap. My computer is now over three years old which means it would be drawing a pension and peeing it’s pants in human years. I can’t have more than three applications open at once without it crapping itself and freezing up for a couple of minutes at a time once every thirty seconds or so. It’s already done it twice just typing up this paragraph, so I hope you appreciate the frustration I’ve endured to bring this to you, dear Reader. A new PC would be appreciated if you’re feeling generous… I didn’t think so either.

The scientific world was very pleased to note the discovery of a 47 million year old fossil of a primate, Darwinius masillae, nicknamed Ida. This fossil is very interesting as it is a distant relative of chimps, apes – and us. The article goes into some detail about why this discovery is so interesting.

Speaking of things archaeological, a brewery in Delaware has starting brewing beers based on ancient recipes, including one Finnish ninth-century brew, one based on cocoa and one dating from 9000 years ago in China. I wish I could get my paws on these for a taste!

My latest bit of conspiracy entertainment has been the activity over the 2012 collapse of civilization or new beginning of an age of enlightenment. Basically it’s a New Age apocalypse (since the Christians got their hooks into 2000) and deserving of such suspicion and ire as any other end-of-days scenario. It’s really got the new-agers’ knickers in a tizzy and some of the ‘docos’ I’ve been downloading have been hysterical in their leaps of faith and gaps in logic.

U2 put out an album recently in case you didn’t know, and it’s likely you didn’t since no one’s buying it. In other news, the mainstream media have caught on to the idea that U2 haven’t done anything good for at least 10 years and should’ve quit while they were ahead – you know, after The Joshua Tree… wait… that was 20 years ago!

A DVD that stores data in five dimensions and can hold up to four terabytes of data!? Sign me up! The online dictionary built into Firefox desn’t even recognise the word ‘terabytes’, that’s how crazy (and awesome) it is!

Jake Nyberg is a hero and should at least be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize or something like that. These men are also legends. So are these men.

Sesame Street is 40. Wow.

In Japan, the declining birthrate is still the elephant in the corner of the room. It’s going to completely change this country over the next fifty years and yet no one is seriously doing anything about it. As the economy declines and women hold off on marrying for longer, some men are simply giving up on the idea of finding a decent job and a woman and becoming ‘herbivorous men’.

Some Japanese women haven’t forgotten the art of shameless self-promotion though…

The H1N1 debacle continues and even though they aren’t shutting down schools in Japan (or in other places) any more, it makes you wonder what they’re going to come up with next. One scenario is that vaccinations against the flu will become mandatory, using the fear of a second wave to coerce people into agreeing to it. The problem with that is that what goes into the vaccines. Just ask any US military personnel. Vaccines have becomes places to experiment on human subjects, often without their knowledge or consent. Scary? You betcha.

If you love travelling and you also happen to be paranoid – like me – then this could likely make you want to stay in your room forever.

Speaking of staying indoors, stories like this make me so grateful I live here in Japan and not in Australia. What a sad place it has become if people have to live in fear – and those with the power to do something about it, don’t.

In a shocking development a study has concluded that eating too much makes you fat. Sounds pretty obvious hey, but the interesting thing from this study is that exercise – or a lack of exercise – has almost no impact. It’s the food, fatty.

The US has mislaid quite a few items of military hardware over the past few decades; guns, ammo, tanks, even a whole destroyer. However it’s the missing nukes that we should be really worried about…

George Friedman has seen the future – and it aint pretty

Americans have often been described as ‘cowboys’, but it turns out that ‘pirates’ may have been a more accurate description, at last of the ‘Founding Fathers’ who penned the constitution. It looks like they (Thomas Jefferson at least) could have been influenced by the model of pirate democracy that was practiced on the ships that haunted the Caribbean and Atlantic.

So what are some of the former Bush war criminals aides up to these days? A lot are busy making money in their former fields, but Condi Rice is now a professor at Stanford, an appointment which is being met with some resistance by the students of that university.

An interesting piece about the continued rise of single motherhood.

Enough for now – more later…

A little roundup of things that have caught my eye…

India launched its own mission to the Moon recently –  a satellite that will make the highest resolution map on our closest extra-terrestrial neighbour yet. Apparently we have better maps of Mars than the Moon. Whoops. It sent back some nice shots of Earth recently – featuring Australia in all its glory.

NASA also recently made available some spectacular shots of one of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus taken by the Cassini orbiter.

I have this fascination with North Korea… Call it playing on my fetish for industrial decay, as well as my interest in power and the way it has been used and abused over the centuries. There’s nowhere on Earth like it, so I think I would like to visit there if I had the chance. I stumbled across this site showing photos of the theme parks of Pyongyang – an spooky notion if ever there was one!

The fascination continues across abandoned hotels, towns and cities. There’s even a place close by in Japan I would like to visit.

The Capri Theatre has made a book on 500 places to see before they disappear. The Capri is decorated in the art deco style and has been meticulously restored. It is also one of the few places where you can catch a performance on an eye-popping and entertaining Wurlitzer theatre organ. Highly recommended.

One place not on the list will be Berlin’s Templehof Airport which has shut down. You should have a read of Wikipedia’s entry on the Berlin Airlift to get an idea of how important this airport was in history.

Ssssh. The protective shield of the sun is shrinking.

Quietly, under the radar of the US election hysteria, a story about a drug resistant form of TB. Not good.

Also, quietly whispered, a chance for peace in Kashmir, as a trade route opened across the fractured divide.

I now have an itinerary for when I go to Ireland. Also an idea of what I would like to do if I could ever open a business. I swear I’m not an alcoholic.

Finally – flying car!

Some bright spark with a good sense of irony has documented China’s rise as an economic superpower through images of its people sleeping. Someone needs to do this for Japan too – although my friend, Vince, certainly put forth a great effort.