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    Oh, the pain of lovin’ you / Oh, the mis’ry I go through

    Posted by Sean at 05:24, August 31st, 2005

    There’s a search string pattern you straight people with blogs probably never get to see. It’s kind of a pity, because it can be a real trip.

    What you need to do is (1) mention gay stuff on your site a lot, and (2) mention a man who’s in the public eye lately and doesn’t need a paper bag over his head once. Then wait, oh, say 12 hours. At that point, you will be inundated with people searching for “[name]+gay” or “[name]+homosexual” or “[name]+queer+please+god+please.” Several months ago, I brought up the then-future Mr. Renée Zellweger in passing, and for weeks–no kidding, weeks–afterward, I was beset by Googlers and raving Yahoos with Enquiring Minds.

    The latest object of Googlelust is this guy, and I’m sorry to say to the few dozen people who are wondering that I have no idea which way he swings (or, since his hobby is chasing tornadoes, “blows”…oh, maybe not such a great metaphor, given the question…let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and make it “swings”). One lone, novel searcher asked whether he was married; I don’t know that, either. His bio indicates that he spent four years at Cornell thinking about the weather without offing himself, which is pretty impressive. Otherwise, all I know is that he needs to de-pouf the hair and eat a few Big Macs, but you can see that without my help.


    台風

    Posted by Sean at 01:30, August 31st, 2005

    LDP Secretary General Hiroyuki Hosoda has offered Japan’s best wishes to the states damaged by Hurricane Katrina and says that the government will investigate ways to help out.

    Japan has a typhoon season, too, and Number 13, one of the first big ones of the year, is heading toward Okinawa. As always, no one can predict where the storm may veer off to as it changes course. If it keeps along the same path, it could dump 200 millimeters of rain on some islands in the area within 24 hours.

    If this year is like last year, which we all hope it’s not, this is just the beginning. One small thing to be thankful for (besides the fact that Atsushi’s in a big population center with good building codes) is the way the news media here cover disasters. Well, that and the way people react to them–you don’t catch Japanese people bellyaching that a storm was “overhyped” when all hell fails to break loose and deaths and damage are minimized.

    Additionally, for all their flaws in other respects, NHK and the rest know how to cover the aftermath of a disaster without making themselves the center of it. Yesterday, I was watching the ever-repellant Aaron Brown interview Jeanne Meserve on CNN. Meserve had covered the storm from a parking garage above the Superdome and was relating how some of her camera and tech guys had gone along on search-and-rescue boats after the rains stopped. Though her voice sometimes broke as she described some of the things they’d seen, she was clearly steeling herself to give the facts to the extent that she knew them. Her self-discipline and reserve made what she was reporting that much more moving.

    Then Brown had to go and spoil it by doing this oily routine: “You know, people often say that journalists are thrill-seekers, but you can tell by how Jeanne here is practically on the verge of sobbing that that’s not the case. See? She’s about to cry. Journalists are compassionate people. Get it? Oh, and Jeanne and I have known each other for years–why, I just called her ‘Jeannie.’ That’s a diminutive. It means we’re buddies. We’re part of the same selfless humanitarian club, don’t you know.” To her credit, Meserve responded, “Well, sometimes we are thrill-seekers,” and seemed to be trying to remind Brown tactfully that whatever stout-heartedness she was displaying might not be the real story. I don’t know whether she was able to penetrate his force field of smugness, because I had to change the channel at that point.

    Michele has had an idea that’s uplifting rather than just smug: she’s now collecting encouraging stories from the aftermath of the hurricane. No civilization can outwit Mother Nature all the time, and Katrina did plenty of horrifying things that we’re going to be finding out over the next several weeks; but the ability of our society to deal with catastrophic blows in such a way as to address and minimize damage is really inspiring.


    Lady Luck and four-leaf clovers

    Posted by Sean at 09:05, August 30th, 2005

    I don’t want to sound like your kindergarten teacher, but for those who are Americans living in Tokyo, Hurricane Katrina’s doings over the last few days served, I hope, as a reminder that you need to have your earthquake kit ready. If the big one comes, the police and fire departments will have their hands full rescuing the elderly and infirm; it would be nice not to pile the able-bodied and unprepared onto their workload. The US Embassy earthquake preparedness guide/checklist is always a good reference.

    If you read Japanese, Hitachi will also have a helpful feature on its site up the day after tomorrow:

    Residents later this week can find out what their homes would look like after a major earthquake by using a Web site that pinpoints danger spots in the event of a temblor.

    The system, developed by a group led by Shigeyuki Okada, a professor at Nagoya Institute of Technology and an expert in earthquake disaster management, is designed to give residents ideas about preventive measures, such as rearranging furniture, against temblor-induced damage.

    The service will be free.

    Residents will simply enter such information as floor plans and sleeping areas, and the program will highlight the danger areas.

    The system was tailored for ordinary use by Hitachi East Japan Solutions, a Sendai-based software engineering company.

    The start of consultations on Hitachi East’s Web site is scheduled for Sept. 1, the anniversary of the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake. Earthquake-related drills around the country and reminders about disaster preparedness are expected on that day.

    The site will allow you to configure a model of your house based on room layout, furniture placement, and ages of household members. Feed them in, and the site will give you the most obviously vulnerable points in the house. Sounds pretty cool.


    Maybe I was mean / But I really don’t think so

    Posted by Sean at 22:03, August 29th, 2005

    See, my problem with this ad (via Ace) is that it cuts off before Brian and Partner Simon turn on each other hungrily, start making out, and tear off each other’s crisp little dress shirts. (That white totally washes you out, BTW, sweetie.)

    Okay, my other problem is that there’s just plain not enough of Partner Simon, who’s the way cuter of the two.

    Okay, my other problem is that Ellner is not running against George W. Bush for Borough President, so I’m not really sure how going negative on him demonstrates anything whatever about what Ellner can do for Manhattan. However much of a tough guy he is who stands up for his progressive beliefs, is he going to do anything about troop deployments?

    I know–he needs to get himself name recognition and is appealing to Manhattan voters as effectively as he can in a fraction of a minute. Whatever works, do it. I’m also seriously cheered to see a gay guy appearing openly with his partner in a campaign ad. It’s just unfortunate that what accompanies it reinforces the image that urban gays are suckers for the emptiest, most unhelpful sort of lefty jeering.

    The NYT has more about the election itself, BTW.


    Setting a good example

    Posted by Sean at 10:32, August 29th, 2005

    Hi, this is Rob Marciano, your CNN On-the-Spot Idiot. I’m under this here cinderblock lean-to as winds whip debris and rain through the air around me–and, hey, we’re not even close to being slammed by the eyewall yet! Uh, was that an anvil that just went by? Or maybe a big ol’ rock? My baseball cap is totally gone, dude. This lady in the hotel where we are? She tried to open her door, and it slammed shut–like, from the wind–and whacked off half her finger, and the nurses are trying to give her first aid. But yup, here I am.

    For Pete’s sake, I wonder where people get the idea that maybe they don’t actually need to evacuate when they’re told to because they’ll be able to brazen it out no matter how bad the storm is. I especially like the way Daryn Kagan solemnly warned everyone immediately after Rob’s report that they shouldn’t go outdoors until it was safe. (BTW, Daryn? What’s with the hair? Do we think we’re the Joan Jett of journalism? Is that who we think we are? Maybe Siouxsie Sioux? Sheesh.) And here’s Jeanne Meserve (outdoors) to tell us about more of the Superdome roof skin flying off. One of her crew seems to have blown away–they cut back to Atlanta.

    On the bright side, the proverbial ten pounds the camera adds are very flattering to Rob there, who looks kind of excessively lean and blow-dried in his CNN bio pic.

    Added at 23:52: Okay, Anderson Cooper is acting seriously scared–and do you wonder? He’s also bitching to Daryn about the lack of common sense on the part of other people who are walking around outside. They’re not super-cool reporters, so they could get hurt.

    Michele Catalano is collecting stupid over-hype coverage at her place.


    Japan may extend SDF deployment in Iraq

    Posted by Sean at 06:03, August 29th, 2005

    Japan says Iraq has asked it to maintain its non-combat SDF presence in the reconstruction past the current December end date:

    Iraq has asked Japan to extend its noncombat mission of troops in the southern part of the country beyond its expiration in December, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Monday.

    Koizumi, in a debate with the leaders of five other major political parties in Japan, said that the government had not yet made a decision about whether it would extend the mission, which is opposed by many in Japan.

    “Japan has received an official request to extend its presence in Iraq,” Koizumi said.

    “So we will continue to monitor the situation there, and make a comprehensive decision on the issue based on realities within the country, the opinions of the Iraqi people, U.S.-Japan relations, and Japan’s responsibilities in the international community,” the prime minister said.

    Japan has about 550 troops in the southern city of Samawah on a humanitarian mission to purify water, rebuild schools and other tasks.


    LDP proportional representation candidates list released

    Posted by Sean at 06:00, August 29th, 2005

    The LDP has women candidates at the top of its lists for 7 of Japan’s 11 proportional representation zones:

    In the Tokyo Bloc, the top candidate is Sophia University professor Kuniko Inoguchi. In the Tokai Bloc, Satsuki Katayama, a former Ministry of Finance division director, tops the list, with culinary researcher Makiko Fujino, and private economist Yukari Sato second and third in line, respectively. In the Kinki Bloc, journalist Mitue Kondo, and in the Kyushu Bloc sitting Diet member Kyoko Nishikawa, are at the top.

    There are 57 candidates registered only for proportional representation seats and 180 registered for both proportional representation seats and regular district seats. One gets th e feeling–I’ve been waiting for someone from the LDP to come out and say this, but surprisingly, I haven’t heard it yet–that the Koizumi candidate wants its anticipated victory over its enemies to be that much more decisive psychologically if it can be played as a bunch of women beating the old boys’ network.


    Storm warning

    Posted by Sean at 03:39, August 29th, 2005

    The tendency of typhoons in Japan to change direction and not strike where expected has made me hope that New Orleans may not get the royal screwing from Hurricane Katrina that everyone’s been expecting. It’s not looking good, though, and my thoughts are with everyone potentially in its path. I know what it’s like to live in a beloved city that’s under constant threat of natural disaster (not to mention at least partially below sea level), but the knowledge that Mother Nature is coming to get you right now must be very different from the vague sense that the ground could heave at any second.

    Isolated tornadoes are also possible Sunday across southern portions of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, forecasters said.

    National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield said: “There’s certainly a chance it can weaken a bit before it gets to the coast, but unfortunately this is so large and so powerful that it’s a little bit like the difference between being run over by an 18-wheeler or a freight train. Neither prospect is good.”

    Maybe not, but at least the 18-wheeler is shorter. Catastrophic flooding (Tokyo has a lot of reclaimed land, too, so we hear about this often) has a lot of consequences in large population centers:

    In New Orleans, which lies below sea level, gas and diesel tanks are all located above ground for the same reason that bodies are buried above ground. In the event of a flood, “those tanks will start to float, shear their couplings, and we’ll have the release of these rather volatile compounds,” van Heerden added.

    Because gasoline floats on water, “we could end up with some pretty severe and large — area-wise — fires.”

    “So, we’re looking at a bowl full of highly contaminated water with contaminated air flowing around and, literally, very few places for anybody to go where they’ll be safe.”

    He went further.

    “So, imagine you’re the poor person who decides not to evacuate: Your house will disintegrate around you. The best you’ll be able to do is hang on to a light pole, and while you’re hanging on, the fire ants from all the mounds — of which there is two per yard on average — will clamber up that same pole. And, eventually, the fire ants will win.”

    And that’s just the local impact; New Orleans processes a lot of petroleum and is a major port. For everyone’s sake, let’s hope for the best.

    Added at 16:54: Instapundit has a post full of links and reader reports, naturally. His final observation is this:

    I have to say, though, that from what I’ve seen New Orleans hasn’t been on the ball. The evacuation was too late, there don’t seem to have been many efforts to get people out of the city or to shelter, and whenever I see city officials on TV I get an unpleasant vibe, like in the first half-hour of a disaster flick. I hope that I’m wrong about this, and that everything goes as well as possible, which I’m afraid will still mean “not that well, really.”

    I’ve only been seeing those who are on CNN, but I do get the same feeling. Those in charge of planning fire/rescue and reconstruction projects have no choice but to learn from disasters as they happen, but that’s no excuse for not being prepared to evacuate people effectively. The people to worry most about are those who have no choice but to take their chances:

    The doctors and nurses who were on duty when their hospitals declared an emergency would not have been allowed to leave at the end of their shift, at least not without losing their jobs and risking their careers. But they took an oath to care for their patients, and that’s what they’ll do, even though it means they can’t be with their own families or help them to evacuate. And now they’ll work around the clock, without relief. Pray for them.


    電球

    Posted by Sean at 08:03, August 28th, 2005

    Oh, I don’t know, Connie. I like your libertarian version, and the feminist one is an oldie but goodie, but–and I realize I’m biased–my favorite is still

    Q: How many gay men does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

    A: What’s wrong with right here?


    No protection

    Posted by Sean at 07:56, August 28th, 2005

    Guys, do you have to put it that way?

    The British army joined in a gay pride march for the first time, an army spokesman said.

    “We don’t really care what sexual orientation you are if you want to come and join us in the army,” said Logistics Corps warrant officer Lutha Magloire, 39, part of the Army’s Diversity Action and Recruitment Team.

    “The army reflects society and we must recruit from all sections, so if there is prejudice in society it will be in the army also.

    “But the army can only get better the more it represents all the community.”

    I’m glad the armed forces in the UK are recruiting gays. Well, sort of. To me “gay-friendly” is a bit excessive. “If you can cut it and follow the rules, no one cares whether you’re gay” would be my version. But “the army can only get better the more it represents all the community” is a ridiculous statement. It goes beyond saying that the armed forces don’t want to shut out talented, qualified people. The army is not supposed to reflect civil society; it’s supposed to find ways to skim off the best people to defend the country from attack. Magloire’s comment may have just been tossed off, but it contributes to the impression that gays succeed in society when mere variety is valued over the ruthless pursuit of excellence. For the sake of the British, one can only hope that any gays who think the army’s gay-friendly recruiting policies mean they’re in for eased standards and hand-holding have those expectations summarily thrashed out of them when they hit training.

    Oh, and happy belated Pride Day to Manchester. (Some of my people are from Lancashire. Actually, a friend of mine is home in Manchester right now, too, I think–I’ll have to ask him whether he went to Pride.)

    (Via the Washington Blade)