So the world economy is not going to collapse at the hands of a few rich, power-hungry, self-serving minions of the powerful? Or maybe not. Moody’s doesn’t seem to think so. Watch this space. Actually, watch some others.

China would be a good example. This article explains why China’s economy may be more precarious than previously believed, and its demise may be a lot worse than the past few years’ American-led event.

Oh, and did the rich get even a small part of the bill? Did the politicians address the trillions being spent on useless wars in Asia? Was there any consideration for the real financial hardship faced by so many American people? Of course not. Don’t be ridiculous.

The euro is still in danger.

The revolutions that swept the Middle East are going nowhere, fast.

I’m eating Aussie beef here, just in case you were wondering.

As I’ve noted before, the conflicts of the future will be over access to water, not oil.

Another quiet, but scary crisis is devolping over the world’s missing women. Increasing sex selection in favour of males has possibly led to as much as 163 million fewer women being born. That’s like erasing the entire female population of the United States, the entire population of Japan (and then some) or six Australias.

It’s no secret that Australia’s tourism industry is struggling. The number of incoming visitors has been falling some time due, in part, to the stronger Aussie dollar, a fall in hospitality standards and the increase in attractiveness of other destinations. Why the Australian government seeks to make the situation worse by cutting the number of customs and immigration staff is a mystery to many. Now incoming passengers will be expected to stand in line for around an hour – at least. Shooting itself in the foot? Think higher…

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…

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…

High ho, high ho. It’s weekend time again, thankfully.

The weather’s just starting to come good and the cherry trees are starting to blossom, so it won’t be long before every open space near a sakura will be populated by people sitting on blue plastic tarps, drinking and eating themselves into oblivion. It’s a great time of year. It looks like I’ll be catching up with some ex-Nova buddies next Sunday for the annual Himeji Castle pilgrimage.

It’ll be the same day as the Tatsuno Spring festival but after I went last year with my mother, I don’t think this year will live up to the good time had last time. It is interesting though, with people parading through the old town dressed up in samurai costume – even with warriors on horses. It’s a good chance to take heaps of pix, as I did last year.

There’s also the crowning of the new Miss Tatsuno which has got to be one of the lamest beauty pageants in the world. For the record, there are TWO Miss Tatsunos for some reason… safety in numbers? Maybe it’s so they can go to the bathroom together – who knows. What a year is promised to the winners though, with the chance to appear at every local community event as the eye-candy! I wonder if the girls really get many opportunities arising from the role…

I’ll be in a secret location for a few days from April 1 to 4. All I can tell you is that it will be sunny!

I’ve been going on some dates recently but it’s proving to be quite frustrating at times. I prefer women who are interesting and are good to talk to but it’s hard to break through the Japanese shyness barrier. I’m sure Japanese women are interesting and brainy – as well as sexy – as I’ve met quite a few, but when you’re going on a date with one there’s often this coyness that descends, making conversation a real minefield. Coyness can be sweet (as Morrissey sang, “Coyness is nice…”) but say the wrong thing, or be too assertive and it’s game over man.

I’ve been trying to go out with one woman but it’s been a chore just to get some free time. Also she won’t go out of the house unless she’s 100% healthy, so a couple of snuffles and she cancels. We’re up to three or four aborted dates versus one actual date so I’m thinking of just not bothering. Her English is OK and she’s a cutie but she’s shyyyyyyy….

I have also been on a couple of dates with a woman who speaks absolutely no English, so that’s been an extra challenge. Dictionaries have come in very handy! She’s a sweetheart but I honestly can’t see us being more than dinner friends. The language barrier really is so hard to traverse. It is an interesting experience to try to develop a relationship of sorts in a language completely not your own. I hope she’s enjoying the adventure as much as I am.

Many foreigners in Japan have dated and developed relationship with Japanese women and have sometimes gone on to marry them and live long and happy lives with them. I’m glad I’m friends with some of them as they give me hope! Others (like me) have been burned by the experience and have often been left wondering just what is this creature known as the Japanese female. This article may shed some light on the subject and it brings to the fore that Japanese women can fall into two distinct categories, which for the sake of argument I’ll term as outward and inward thinkers. The outward thinkers tend to have travelled or lived in other countries and have taken on a more international way of thinking. They are certainly more assertive and opinionated and probably more widely read. They are also more likely to settle on a partner who complements their personality. The inward thinkers tend to have not travelled much and if they have they’ve probably only been on tours with other Japanese people, and for short periods of time (ie. less than a week). Their expectations are fuelled by their parents, fashion magazines and (in short) society. They tend to want to marry a rich man who will give them what they want. There’s no thought given to love: marriage is the goal, the means to an end.

As the man in the article says, “You see, you have it backwards. So many Japanese women put the cart before the horse: you think that if you get married you’ll finally be happy, if only, if only you could just wear the dress and walk down the aisle, then you could truly find bliss. But guess what, marriage is not the path to happiness, it’s exactly the opposite. Happiness is the path that leads to marriage. Only when you are truly happy with someone and you love them to the core of your being can you even broach the idea of marrying that person. Tough concept, I know.”

Good words.

Japan’s rice farmers are doing it tough, and things aren’t getting much better. They can’t make much of a living and as most of them are currently over 60, before too long rice farming will become a thing of the past.

According to the Australian Treasurer, Wayne Swan, the Australian economy ‘can’ emerge from the current economic downturn in good shape. The newspaper has changed that into ‘will’ in the first paragraph of the story, and the headline also makes it clear that prosperity is a certainty. Memo to the editors, there’s a world of difference between ‘can’ and ‘will’!

Kevin Rudd went to Washington, met Obama and like Obama he come back with ideas that have left us wondering if we really just got an extension of the previous regime. I went on about his not-so-green environmental policies before, but now Rudd’s doing a Howard on Afghanistan. My sentiments on the invasion and occupation of the Middle East are quite clear, but you really have to wonder exactly what Obama said to Rudd to get him to be such a lapdog as this. This is going down as Obama looks to expand the war into Pakistan, more Australians are dying there and the Afghan people are proving to be more than a match for the invaders.

With Obama continuing the American Project and betraying the faith placed in him by the American people, with continued economic collapse threatening our civilization and people already living in tent cities, it’s interesting to note how people are responding. Some are going back to gardening, with a vengeance.  It’ll be very interesting if the collapse of the global network fuels a resurgeance in local community activism.

One problem with this is that the seeds people buy are only sold through a few massive agri-business corporations. This article looks at how something as seemingly important as the Doomsday Seed Vault on the Norewegian island of Svalbard in the Arctic Circle is a front for guaranteeing a seed supply in the event of biological warfare based on the very seeds used to grow our food. If you think it’s just conspiracy, these companies have already developed vaccines that induce abortions as well as corn that renders men infertile. Genetics is scary… and don’t mention population control.

Rolling Stone has put out an article which attempts to place the economic crisis into the context of a massive takeover – of the government by a few extraordinarily rich people. It makes a convincing case. It does get a bit wordy for the financially illiterate like myself, but it’s worth persisting. The final paragraph sums things up pretty clearly though; “These people were never about anything except turning money into money, in order to get more money; valueswise they’re on par with crack addicts, or obsessive sexual deviants who burgle homes to steal panties. Yet these are the people in whose hands our entire political future now rests.”

The U.N. wants to re-organise the world economy around a green-energy model, which they (naturally) will oversee. I can’t see that happening at all, to be honest…

I gave the Russians and Chinese proposals for a new world currency an airing before and it looks like the Americans are seriously considering it, which stunned the world markets, forcing an immediate retraction. Horse. Barn door.

North Korea’s said it’s going to fire an experimental communications satellite into orbit so Japan’s going on full alert in case it self distructs and rains debris over the countryside. Things are a little tense. For the record, the last time the North Koreans fired this kind of rocket they did it without warning and launched it across Japan before it landed in the Pacific Ocean.

Another cog in the incredibly complex climate machine has been identified and quantified: atmospheric dust.

Not much wacky stuff here. Apologies.

Tom Ellard has posted a bunch of Severed Heads videos online though, so please enjoy.

See you under a cherry tree with a bottle of sake and some onigiri!

A few bits and pieces to clean out the browser and to share with you, dear reader.

This was a really inspiring story about some girls in Afghanistan who still go to school, despite the harrassment and assault by (supposed) Taleban. I hope these kids will be OK.

The Vietnamese government is rallying against official corruption by jailing anyone who reports or publicises it. Way to go Vietnam!

A sad and disturbing story about an Australian Christian charity taking government money to supposedly help  women with mental illnesses or drug problems, but actually just providing untrained counsellors and exorcisms. The government response? Nothing to see here, move along…

The strong yen in Japan is having an effect on the number of tourists coming here, as well as on the major exporters. Why is the Japanese government allowing this to happen – and when will they step in? This article goes some way to explaining why and when.

One of the latest fitness fads sweeping Japan is workouts with swords… I’m simultaneously turned on and a little scared.

A recent travel trend has been to visit obscure and rarely-visited train stations. That Seishin-18 Kippu may come in handy next holidays.

A bizarre commercial from Japan (is there any other kind?) of a crazy gaijin (foreigner) who braves the oceans to come to Japan and …. smoke.

A village in the countryside of Japan is providing cheap housing to its singles in the hope they’ll be fruitful and multiply.

Want to visit the new Tsujiki fish markets when they open? Don’t worry about the cancer-causing benzo(a)pyrene in the soil. Yeah, that stuff which the government has admitted withholding reports about. But don’t worry, there’s no official environmental standard for it, so it must be safe. Want some sushi?

I was trying to find this before when I was writing about how the youth of Japan-land are being encouraged to work in the fields. It’s otaku (geek) meets desperate marketing ploy to keep rice farmers in the cash. And it seems to be working…

International geeks can now get help in English when they visit Akihabara. I want to know if this campaign extends to the Maid Cafes….

An interesting read about black culture and hip hop.

Some really great pictures of the Earth, New York City, as well as Obama’s inauguration.

My buddy and occasional travelling companion, Sheree, sent these pictures of a cutaway Nikon D3. Her blog is a riot too.

I think I posted some of this guys pictures before, but I saw some here that I hadn’t seen before, so I’ll post them again!

An interesting idea: it’s possible to review a restaurant within the first seven seconds of arriving. It goes to show that at least in the hospitality industry, first impressions count for a lot.

More coffee good news: it can beat Alzheimer’s AND increase your chance of having hallucinations! Some people may say that the hallucinations may be a bad thing, but not I. I just just won’t try operating heavy machinery after consuming a double espresso, that’s all.

A great story about how rock and roll excess has fed thousands of hungry people.

So where did the Hokey Pokey come from anyway? Who knew I was teaching Japanese children all about the effects of cocaine use? Hard drugs were never so much (innocent) fun!

I always enjoy Helen Razer’s rants, and this one taking on the upcoming internet firewall surrounding Australia is a doozy.

Another reason why biofuels are bad – they congeal in cold weather.

Researchers have linked fat teenagers to a lack of Vitamin D. It’s also called a lack of OUTDOOR EXERCISE – or just a lack of exercise, period. Go for a walk. Me too.

Related to health – if you’re feeling sick, just go and drink some water from an Indian river. It’s likely to contain the medicine for whatever’s ailing you – as well as everything else imaginable. Then you’ll die.

The Monarto Zoo near Adelaide is set to expand, and they’ll be offering punters a chance to sleep under the stars WITH the animals! Excuse me if the idea of sleeping in the same field as lions, elephants and rhinoceros does not appeal…

And that does it for now. Sayonara!