Archive for September 2004

Debate…

September 30, 2004

T

onight is the first presidential debate. I’m almost afraid to watch it. I feel like I will be sitting in front of some crossroads waiting for a train wreck to happen. Will Kerry be run over by the Bush Express? I believe that Kerry is far more intelligent than Bush. There is absolutely no doubt of that. Unfortunately, while intelligence is crucial, it is not the only criteria for leadership. There is something to be said for charisma. Kennedy was charismatic. So was Reagan. And Clinton

Is Bush charismatic? Hahahahahahahhahaha. Like a tortoise. But Kerry’s charisma resembles the over-confident hare, and I have problems with that as well. I think that Nader should have been invited to the debates. I wonder why the Bush people didn’t push for it. With Nader on TV, he might steal more Democrats into his camp, thereby ensuring a Bush victory in November.

No, wait, I guess it would look bad for one candidate if the other two seemed smarter, vastly so.

Anyway, I’ll be back with my thoughts later….

Draft…

September 29, 2004

T

he remnants of hurricane Jeanne blew through my area yesterday. At times, the rain came down heavily, and the wind almost blew the umbrella out of my hands. When I got home, I checked all our windows and found that a number of them don’t close completely. I was wondering why I had felt a draft lately. The strong winds of Jeanne allowed me to pinpoint exactly which windows need my attention. Ah, the pleasures of home ownership.

Speaking of drafts, I was reading enygma‘s site and read that he brother received a letter from Selective Service informing him that he must register. For those of you who don’t know, Selective Service is an agency of the government in charge of keeping tabs on all eligible to serve in the military so they can–as they state in their mission–“provide manpower to the armed forces in an emergency.” So if you are male, a US citizen or permanent resident, and between 18 to 26, you must register to let them know that all information about you is current. This way, if the military deems it necessary to increase their force to combat enemies in places such as, say, Iraq, they will know where you are and compel you to serve through instruments such as, say, THE DRAFT.

Back in 1973, I had to register with Selective Service as well, for the Vietnam War. Back then, draftees were selected by birthdays. Old men in business suits would choose 365 calandar dates randomly, and those born on the first days chosen wre drafted to serve in Vietnam. My birthdate was in the 200s and I was not drafted. There were other ways to get deferments back then. All those with physical or mental disabilities did not have to serve. Usually an only son didn’t have to serve. Also, college students could receive a deferment, but if you graduated at 22, you were again eligible until you turned 26. However, while disabilities should still a valid reason for not serving, the other reasons will likely no longer be applicable. The nuclear family in the US has shrunk significantly and there are many “only sons” so they will not likely receive special treatment. College is definitely no longer a reason to keep you from serving. So all you guys who are reading this right now should know that you will have to register.

Now, the administration claims that there is no plan to reinstate the draft. But registering for Selective Service stopped right after I registered. I was the last year eligible for the draft, and no one has had to register for the last thirty years. So Selective Service has again begun contacting all eligible men for… what? A “just in case” scenario? Well, the government could have used that reason during the cold war.

  • Iran takes US hostages at the US embassy in Tehran. That was a direct strike on the US government. People in Iran were coming together in their defiance against the US. But the Carter administration did not reinstate Selective Service.
  • The USSR invades Afghanistan. Certainly, that was scary. The Soviets invading a country right next to all the oil fields? Talk about a threat to our national interest. But again Carter did not reinstate Selective Service.
  • USSR shoots down a Korean Airlines passenger jet. Man, that was like a direct attack on civilians and Korea was our ally. Tension was very high back then, but Reagan did not reinstate Selective Service.
  • Muslim terrorists bring down a PanAm flight over Scottland, and US intelligence traced the plot back to Libya and Reagan decides to retaliate. Sound like a situation in which we may need extra men to go to war? But again, Selective Service was not reinstated.

So what’s going on? Why is it being reinstated now. We have an elite military that is head and shoulders above the world, but for whatever reason, it cannot take care of business in Iraq. Over 1000 Americans have been killed in Iraq. Sadly, as President Bush insists that things are going as expected, more US soldiers are dying in Iraq and more Iraqis and other Muslims are rising up. If the war was going as expected, I would have expected better: fewer soliders dying and fewer uprisings. So I’m not sure how Bush defines expectations. But if more soldiers dying is the expected course of the war, then the reinstatement of Selective Service should be a red flag for every male between 18 and 26 in the United States.

I have my own opinion about the war that I will talk about in the future. But for now, I want to make sure everyone thinks about Selective Service and its natural connection to the draft. Are you between 18 and 26? Are you willing to go to Iraq and fight? Do you want to leave your parents or wives or children to convert Iraq into a country that reflects our version of peace and freedom? Do you have a brother or son between 18 and 26? Do you want them to fight the fight in Iraq?

It is my hope that no one will have to go unwillingly, but I’m willing to bet that if Bush wins in November, he will consider it a referendum on his administration and be emboldened to take whatever steps necessary to fulfill his visions. Since part of that vision is to create a democratic and terrorist-free Iraq, it will likely take more men. Of course, if that is his position, next would be a democratic and nuclear-free North Korea and he would definitely need more troops for that.

So really, what do you think? Is it okay for our government to compel us to fight in Iraq?

Edit:

MattBlue just commented that you already have to register with Selective Service. Is this true? Of course, I have no reason to doubt what he says, making my argument above pretty moot. Does that mean all of you have registered? I’d like to hear from some of you older guys, like Sammy and Vlade, as well. Are you registered? After the Vietnam war, I could have sworn that no one registered for Selective Service. But I could just be another misinformed liberal nut….

If it’s Tuesday…

September 28, 2004

L

ife goes on. Two classes today, and nothing special really happened. Lately, I’ve been so exhausted that I don’t even have any good topics to write about. Me, no topic… Nothing to talk about… No, wait. I do have something. (Don’t you hate bloggers to simply write as they’re thinking? How pathetic is that?)

Anyway, my stepson returned to Japan on Sunday. He had to go back because he came here on a tourist visa and it was up. Why is he here as a tourist? Well, he first came here as M’s dependent but he didn’t like it here. He said he didn’t like how open America was. When he would go somewhere in public–to school, riding a bus, shopping–he would freak out when someone would strike up a conversation with him. He could answer well enough and he is polite. But he would try to end the conversation as soon as possible because he hated talking to strangers. He likes the Japanese way in which strangers ignore each other–at least when they are not drinking.

Those of you who’ve been to Japan know that waiters at restaurants will never act friendly. They are basically robotic: Welcome. May I take you order? Here is your check. In a restaurant I have never been to, I will often as the waiter who they think is good. In the US, he or she will respond happily, giving suggestions either way. But try that in Japan. The waiter will act as if he was being interrogated and act flustered and confused. A stranger asking his opinion? Ridiculous. Unheard of. That’s why vending machines are so popular in Japan. The less contact between stangers, the better.

And this is the world my stepson prefers.

Unfortunately, he found out that a world of perfect strangers is also a world where empathy and assistance is rare as well. For two years, he lived comfortably with his brother–who is married with three kids of his own–and worked saving his money. But when his brother found himself struggling to make ends meet and ended up living with his father-in-law, my stepson suddenly had to live on his own… and found out how difficult life could be. He learned that he actually had to pay for electricity, gas and *shudder* water (he did not give any money to his brother), what a hassle it was to do housework (he always ate out), and what a chore it was to take care of himself (his sister-in-law did his laundry). So when he could no longer endure the insults of reality, he naturally cried out to the only person who would help him unconditionally. No, not me, M.

Sadly for him, he had thrown away his chance to live with us as a dependent. As a 23 year-old adult, he must now come here “on his own.” So he is applying for an F-1 student visa, the application I helped him fill out. I try to be as understanding as I can, and will be his financial guarantor while he is here going to school, paying for his tuition and his living expenses. And thanks to all of you out there, I think I will put a little more effort into the “parenting” thing.

I deal with my students all the time. They are about the same age as my stepson, and so I treat him like I treat them–as an adult. Maybe that was my problem. My expectations were too high. My students are college students, so they are already motivated to do well. Indeed, since I teach advanced Japanese, the hardest level, my students are more motivated and focused than most. So I have it kinda easy, in a way. But I can’t have the same expectations from my stepson.

So, anyway, he is in Japan and waiting for he interview. I hope he will do well and get his visa. Then he can come and go to the community college in our area. Hopefully, he will find his way, become motivated, excel in whatever field he chooses…

…and grow up.

If it’s Tuesday…

September 28, 2004

L

ife goes on. Two classes today, and nothing special really happened. Lately, I’ve been so exhausted that I don’t even have any good topics to write about. Me, no topic… Nothing to talk about… No, wait. I do have something. (Don’t you hate bloggers to simply write as they’re thinking? How pathetic is that?)

Anyway, my stepson returned to Japan on Sunday. He had to go back because he came here on a tourist visa and it was up. Why is he here as a tourist? Well, he first came here as M’s dependent but he didn’t like it here. He said he didn’t like how open America was. When he would go somewhere in public–to school, riding a bus, shopping–he would freak out when someone would strike up a conversation with him. He could answer well enough and he is polite. But he would try to end the conversation as soon as possible because he hated talking to strangers. He likes the Japanese way in which strangers ignore each other–at least when they are not drinking.

Those of you who’ve been to Japan know that waiters at restaurants will never act friendly. They are basically robotic: Welcome. May I take you order? Here is your check. In a restaurant I have never been to, I will often as the waiter who they think is good. In the US, he or she will respond happily, giving suggestions either way. But try that in Japan. The waiter will act as if he was being interrogated and act flustered and confused. A stranger asking his opinion? Ridiculous. Unheard of. That’s why vending machines are so popular in Japan. The less contact between stangers, the better.

And this is the world my stepson prefers.

Unfortunately, he found out that a world of perfect strangers is also a world where empathy and assistance is rare as well. For two years, he lived comfortably with his brother–who is married with three kids of his own–and worked saving his money. But when his brother found himself struggling to make ends meet and ended up living with his father-in-law, my stepson suddenly had to live on his own… and found out how difficult life could be. He learned that he actually had to pay for electricity, gas and *shudder* water (he did not give any money to his brother), what a hassle it was to do housework (he always ate out), and what a chore it was to take care of himself (his sister-in-law did his laundry). So when he could no longer endure the insults of reality, he naturally cried out to the only person who would help him unconditionally. No, not me, M.

Sadly for him, he had thrown away his chance to live with us as a dependent. As a 23 year-old adult, he must now come here “on his own.” So he is applying for an F-1 student visa, the application I helped him fill out. I try to be as understanding as I can, and will be his financial guarantor while he is here going to school, paying for his tuition and his living expenses. And thanks to all of you out there, I think I will put a little more effort into the “parenting” thing.

I deal with my students all the time. They are about the same age as my stepson, and so I treat him like I treat them–as an adult. Maybe that was my problem. My expectations were too high. My students are college students, so they are already motivated to do well. Indeed, since I teach advanced Japanese, the hardest level, my students are more motivated and focused than most. So I have it kinda easy, in a way. But I can’t have the same expectations from my stepson.

So, anyway, he is in Japan and waiting for he interview. I hope he will do well and get his visa. Then he can come and go to the community college in our area. Hopefully, he will find his way, become motivated, excel in whatever field he chooses…

…and grow up.

If it’s Tuesday…

September 28, 2004

L

ife goes on. Two classes today, and nothing special really happened. Lately, I’ve been so exhausted that I don’t even have any good topics to write about. Me, no topic… Nothing to talk about… No, wait. I do have something. (Don’t you hate bloggers to simply write as they’re thinking? How pathetic is that?)

Anyway, my stepson returned to Japan on Sunday. He had to go back because he came here on a tourist visa and it was up. Why is he here as a tourist? Well, he first came here as M’s dependent but he didn’t like it here. He said he didn’t like how open America was. When he would go somewhere in public–to school, riding a bus, shopping–he would freak out when someone would strike up a conversation with him. He could answer well enough and he is polite. But he would try to end the conversation as soon as possible because he hated talking to strangers. He likes the Japanese way in which strangers ignore each other–at least when they are not drinking.

Those of you who’ve been to Japan know that waiters at restaurants will never act friendly. They are basically robotic: Welcome. May I take you order? Here is your check. In a restaurant I have never been to, I will often as the waiter who they think is good. In the US, he or she will respond happily, giving suggestions either way. But try that in Japan. The waiter will act as if he was being interrogated and act flustered and confused. A stranger asking his opinion? Ridiculous. Unheard of. That’s why vending machines are so popular in Japan. The less contact between stangers, the better.

And this is the world my stepson prefers.

Unfortunately, he found out that a world of perfect strangers is also a world where empathy and assistance is rare as well. For two years, he lived comfortably with his brother–who is married with three kids of his own–and worked saving his money. But when his brother found himself struggling to make ends meet and ended up living with his father-in-law, my stepson suddenly had to live on his own… and found out how difficult life could be. He learned that he actually had to pay for electricity, gas and *shudder* water (he did not give any money to his brother), what a hassle it was to do housework (he always ate out), and what a chore it was to take care of himself (his sister-in-law did his laundry). So when he could no longer endure the insults of reality, he naturally cried out to the only person who would help him unconditionally. No, not me, M.

Sadly for him, he had thrown away his chance to live with us as a dependent. As a 23 year-old adult, he must now come here “on his own.” So he is applying for an F-1 student visa, the application I helped him fill out. I try to be as understanding as I can, and will be his financial guarantor while he is here going to school, paying for his tuition and his living expenses. And thanks to all of you out there, I think I will put a little more effort into the “parenting” thing.

I deal with my students all the time. They are about the same age as my stepson, and so I treat him like I treat them–as an adult. Maybe that was my problem. My expectations were too high. My students are college students, so they are already motivated to do well. Indeed, since I teach advanced Japanese, the hardest level, my students are more motivated and focused than most. So I have it kinda easy, in a way. But I can’t have the same expectations from my stepson.

So, anyway, he is in Japan and waiting for he interview. I hope he will do well and get his visa. Then he can come and go to the community college in our area. Hopefully, he will find his way, become motivated, excel in whatever field he chooses…

…and grow up.

Karoshi

September 27, 2004

A

re we created to withstand whatever God throws our way? Are we made to endure the insults of man and nature? These are the questions men and women probably ask when they feel overworked and overlooked. And probably just before they die of overwork. In Japanese, this phenomenon is called karoshi (ka-roh-shi), todays Japanese word.

A colleague of mine is off to a conference giving a paper and so I was asked to cover one of her courses. I, of course, being the eager, younger, and most importantly junior colleague, was happy to accept. So this week I am saddled with extra work. Not just the lecture course for second year Japanese, but the homework that comes with it. Naturally, I am still responsible for my other four classes–Literary Japanese, Readings in Modern Japanese, Japanese Literature in Translation, and the Proseminar. I wonder what the the dean is thinking? Does he not see a discrepancy between departments where the workload is double in one compared to the other? Does he view the situation as equitable?

Oh, well. Complaining gets boring, ranting becomes tedious. Anything I say here will amount to nothing, and it doesn’t even satisfy anymore. There was a time when writing about these issues gave me a measure of relief, but recently it does not happen. So ultimately, it is a waste of time.

I think I will work on another joke. Eechim’s was pretty bad… hahahaha, but funny nonetheless. Ikerton sent one too and it was kinda cute, but just bad enough to keep protected. I will post it soon, so be on the watch of joke alerts. Swinging Sam will be coming soon, but I need a female volunteer to do the voice. Any takers? Hahahahha.

A PG Story

September 26, 2004

I

have placed limitations on some jokes because I don’t think the I should make sexual content available to underaged people. I know that young ones know what’s what. I knew what was what when I was 16 so I figure it must be even younger now. But as an *ahem* educator, I feel the need to draw the line. Free speech is great, but only when tempered with common sense and responsibility, although I admittedly have little of both.

But here’s a cute anecdote from my youth when I worked at the sweet shop in J-town in the early to mid 1970s.

**********************************

My boss was really cool. She was older than me by about a dozen years, but she would talk to me as an equal and treated me like a member of the family. Indeed, after working there for about 6 months, many thought we were brother and sister, the way we interacted.

Once, the confectioners were talking dirty in the back room and teasing me about what kind of woman I like and they were threatening to start a pool on when I lost–or will lose–my virginity. I, of course, played along with them. I tried to be coy and said “Oh my virgin ears.”

I didn’t know my boss was standing behind me, but she grabbed me and stuck her finger in my ear.

The confectioners were cracking up, screaming to each other, “We shoulda bet on today!”

But I think they were laughing more at my red face.

But my boss also had her embarrassing moment. Once I went with her and her girlfriend for afternoon coffee–yeah, she would take me with her pretty often, I was so spoiled. Her friend, Dot, had just gotten married to a pharmiscist and she was talking about her experience of helping her new husband at the pharmacy.

“Hey, you guys. You should see the the condoms they sell now.”

Me, I had no idea about condoms and was perked up my ears to hear of the possible options available to young men like me.

“Uh-huh,” Dot continued, ” They come in all sizes. Medium, large. The extra large are huge.”

I wonder what size I would wear? I thought myself.

“And they have these condoms with ribs and bumps on them. And all kinds of colors: red, blue, green, yellow.”

I was speechless.

“Yeah,” my boss spoke up, “I figure that one of these days, they’ll come out with flavors.”

Dot and I froze with our eyes wide and jaws dropped. (OOO;)

“…….”

After an appropriate and respectful amount of silence, we began laughing and could not stop for about 5 minutes.