Yeah, it’s been a while. Apologies if you’ve been hanging out with baited breath for another ramble from my addled brain and journeys around the web.

The net is a wondrous way to spend hours, and hours, and hours of time. Truly a most splendid timewaster has never been seen before in civilization. So wide-ranging in its variety, so deep the level to which it can sink. It has truly brought the world together and at the same time has come to be a substitute for it for so many of us.

Allow me to share and continue to keep alive in some small way a few sparkly gems found along the road most travelled over the past few weeks.

I’ll make no secret of the fact that I find Asian women most attractive. Living in Japan just stepping onto the local train or taking a short trip is cause for celelbration in that my eyes always find something to appreciate. It’s also no secret on the Net that many of my fellow human beings have also found much to enjoy in the Japanese female form. Indeed the fetishists of this country and other have found much else to do as well. The schoolgirl fetish is one I can easily understand – and much has been made of it in this country, from the mainstream such as TV dramas and magazines, through to the more extreme perversions known to the human imagination. One interesting thing that surfaced of late was the Japanese media recently proclaimed that the sexiest school uniforms in the world were those of Thai university students. In the words of the Virgin Mary, come again? Well, it seems, that in a country where young women are forced to wear uniforms at tertiary level, they’ve taken it upon themselves to express their budding sexuality and individuality by pushing the limits of public decency. From time to time the Thai media reports that a crackdown on these uniforms is under way. From the regularity that this seems to happen, it doesn’t look like these crackdowns last very long, or are particularly succeessful. This post contains a couple of videos that illustrate the phenomenon in more detail – for research purposes, naturally. You may see a post surface on my sister blog that I’m off to Thailand again before too long… for research purposes, naturally.

 In Japan, the almighty Sega Corporation have devised a game system for men’s urinals. The article goes into each game in quite some detail, but there’s no word yet on when or where they’re likely to pop up.

When I was eight, I enjoyed digging holes in our back yard. Trust the Japanese to make an official competition out of it, complete with cash prizes and a ‘Golden Shovel’ to take home.

Speaking of Japan, for anyone who’s ever thought about visiting here, you have to be up to speed with the culture of napping that’s everywhere here.

And speaking of when I was eight, I enjoyed eating Vegemite. I still do – in fact this morning’s breakfast consisted of the Aussie classic, Vegemite on toast. Striking another blow against childhood is the advent of ‘Vegemite For Kids’. Hey, Vegemite IS for kids – sodium or no sodium. By the way, the body NEEDS salt. It’s not like the previous generations (plural) who were raised on regular, salt-infused Vegemite are all keeling over from heart disease. Another nail in the coffin of the death of childhood. ‘Health experts’, go jump in front of a large, heavy, speeding truck.

I did have a chuckle at this, and I hope Mark Knopfler did too. In Canada, the political-correctness-Nazi-patrol have done their number on the classic Dire Straits song, “Money For Nothing” since it contains the word ‘faggot’. It not has to be removed for airplay in Canada. They’re only 26 years late. 26 years. Blimey, what a hoot!

A storyboard artist for Dreamworks like to draw ninjas on his days off – a hobby I can get behind. He also knocks out kick-ass comics where Carl Sagan blasts the forces of superstition and myth out of the cosmos with the power of the Scientific Method. Love it.

The Oatmeal is also full of welcome advice and comments on daily life, like this.

I have a big heart for photography. I love the way anyone can take a simple device and make beautiful images with it.

Here are some amazing long exposure photgraphs.

And here are some very clever photographs of people levitating, along with helpful explanations of how they were done.

Maybe with practice I could capture a whole day in a single shot…. maybe not.

This is a wonderful idea: recreating photographs years later, with the same models, clothes, locations and poses.

The Cracked website can help along as well, but with an added dash of WTF to make things interesting.

I cam across this article through I Heart Chaos (in itself a wondrous site) about an American photographer named Vivian Maier. Her photographs were never seen by anyone by her – and were nearly lost forever until they were rescued by a collector with an astute eye. Now he is steadily sharing her incredible photographs with the world.

Here’s a list of ten women who made cinematic history. Excellent reading.

I recently went to Norway, which was an incredible experience. I thoroughly recommend it. Next time I go to Scandinavia I might have to find myself in Sweden for a while. The science nerd in me wants to see all the parts of the world’s largest scale model of the solar system. It would be quite a road trip though. I might need a couple of months… oh gee dang, what a shame…

I am enjoying the recent surge in ‘manliness’, ‘male pride’, whatever you want to call it. It’s probably something to do with the lack of a meaningful father-figure in my life. I do like the idea of these websites promoting and encouraging a place for men to share, discuss and encourage each other to be the best men they can be. I also like the way that this is being done without being opposed to other roles in society. We need all roles to make society work, and men are an integral part of that. I’m getting a lot out of ‘The Art Of Manliness” website, and am enjoying clicking away from it as well. Some of the style links are interesting, even though I sometimes don’t agree with what they recommend. The age of the Fedora is over – sadly.

In weird movie news, here’s one about space Nazis coming back to invade Earth.

In conspiracy theory madness, have you heard about how Denver International Airport was designed with all sorts of evil supernatural symbols embedded in it?

Speaking of the end of the world though, we also have asteroids coming for us in 2036, as well as more Icelandic volcanoes threatening to explode, along with Yellowstone’s caldera, so the news should be entertaining for quite a while to come. There’s also junk food lowering our IQs, the fact that language is dying, thanks to the internet and mobile phones, as well as children preferring their virtual lives to their real ones. Oh and Sarah and Bristol Palin are trying to trademark their names. But we can all take solace from the Church of the Latter Day Dude

Science news. The world’s most powerful optical microscope may be able to see viruses, as well as break the laws of physics. That’s one heck of a nerdgasm.

The Kepler Space Telescope continues to push back the boundaries of what we know about the universe, such as finding planets orbiting stars at incredible speeds, or in the same orbits.

Not quite Science, but here’s five things that were invented by Donald Duck.

Read how a homeowner was able to foreclose on his bank. You read that right.

Ah, Internet, how I love thee…

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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.

And so it’s very likely that this will be my final post for this year as I’ll be exploring the temples around Angkor Wat in Cambodia followed by tramping around Hong Kong until after the New Year has dawned. It promises to be an excellent holiday.

Time for a few parting shots and links to tide you, dear reader, through the next few weeks until I get my butt into gear again.

This article neatly summarizes all the bad things that George Bush has done throughout his presidency – saves you buying any books if were interested at all. I wish that Odin existed instead of his elderly and less wrathful cousin, Santa Claus / Father Christmas. In short, Odin whisks off bad children in his sack while riding an eight-legged flying horse. Where they go – who knows? If only Bush could be whisked off by a vengeful god… too late now anyway. The guy just doesn’t know when to stop.

That leads to a quote of the day. It’s been a while since I had one, and it comes from the lips of George Bush – and superbly sums up his attitude to anything he’s done that’s turned out badly: “So what?” Here’s the transcript of the interview which also demonstrates how he really does believe his own bullshit:

BUSH: One of the major theaters against al Qaeda turns out to have been Iraq. This is where al Qaeda said they were going to take their stand. This is where al Qaeda was hoping to take–

RADDATZ: But not until after the U.S. invaded.

BUSH: Yeah, that’s right. So what? The point is that al Qaeda said they’re going to take a stand. Well, first of all in the post-9/11 environment Saddam Hussein posed a threat. And then upon removal, al Qaeda decides to take a stand.

My response? As the Austrians say: “Du kannst mir gern den buckel runterrutschen und mit der zunge bremsen.” (final phrase – scroll down)

The knives continue to come out for Barack Obama a month from his inauguration.

Afghanistan is going the way that it did under Russian rule in the 80s. The smart thing would be to get out – but Australia’s PM is going the middle road – neither pulling out or putting in extra numbers to ‘get the job done’. (Although the elephant in the room is the reason we’re there in the first place….) I think we can call Rudd “Sit On The Fence Kev” as that’s what he seems to do on most issues; take the environment for example. I guess that’s what you get when you have a career public servant who wants to please everyone running the country: insipid, dull and risk-free ‘management’. And by the way Kev, we DON’T want Howard’s policies back – like detention centres, for example.

Like Greece, like America, like Europe.

The kanji for this year in Japan is ‘nise’, meaning ‘fake’, in the wake of a number of scandals that hit the country this year. Scandals are a weekly phenomenon in Japan. If it doesn’t involve the government, then it’ll be companies doing something hideous – or both – or just something weird and cruel.

In slightly related news, I’m never having sex with Japanese girls again, unless they’re fully tested – twice.

This financial crisis isn’t the same at all as the one in the 1930s and we’ve learned from our mistakes. OK, so I was being sarcastic. The politicians are leading the way of course, by voting themselves a pay rise. Buy stock in Spam though.

According to this, I should live forever.

Goodbye oceansgoodbye life as we know it. Maybe I’ll move to Sweden where energy policy really is of and for the people.

In the USA there are currently 73 children between 13 and 14 years old who have been sentenced to prison for ‘life without possibility of parole’. Regardless of what crimes they’ve been convicted of – these are children who will never see life outside of a prison for the rest of their lives. The USA is the ONLY country in the world that is known to do this.

Of course we’re all so distracted to notice what’s going on around us.

Naqoyqatsi indeed. See it, and above all, THINK dammit!

The 2008 P.U.-litzer Prizes are out.

When you’re bemoaning the lack of decent movies to rent these holidays, thank your lucky stars that none of these have been made – yet. Quentin Tarantino’s in currently in production.

Another case of life imitating art. Scientists have developed technology that can map people’s dreams. It’s one step from the technology explored by Wim Wenders in ‘Until The End Of The World’ in 1991.

Here’s a guide to the latest in Japanese slang. My 13 year old students often use “KY” when they’re talking about me. I’ve got them fooled that I can’t understand Japanese at all. 🙂

I don’t usually post links to The Smoking Gun’s mugshot galleries, but this one is particularly festive. Merry Christmas – don’t end up like this lot –  good luck with the holiday romance, and have a safe 2009.