• Home
  • About
  • Guest Post

    Any minute now

    Posted by Sean at 02:25, July 24th, 2005

    I would just like to point out that it’s not irresponsible of me to be sitting here reading and posting and eating cookies when I should be cleaning the bathroom, because, see, I’m thinking about the fact that I should be cleaning the bathroom. And that makes it all better.

    The bathroom is funky by this point. Well, okay, since I’m a neatnik, by most people’s standards it’s probably not very funky at all. It’s just that, having been at Atsushi’s last weekend, I didn’t get a chance to give it a really thorough scrub-down. In July in Tokyo, just spending five minutes wiping everything with Top Job does not count as bathroom cleaning for the week.

    It’s been very mild this year, though. Yesterday was kind of gross, but not as kiln-like as you often get. That was fortunate, given the number of people who were stranded by suspended train service after the earthquake. I haven’t felt any aftershocks, though I probably wouldn’t have been awakened by mild ones. Things seem to be back on track now.

    I received your message in full a few days ago

    Posted by Sean at 02:06, July 24th, 2005

    Via Ace (Happy birthday!), this post Jason Kuznicki is a must-read…uh, must-view. It’s both moving and understatedly hilarious. Ace points out something that cannot be repeated too often:

    If there are folks who cannot accept themselves as homosexuals, or reconcile their faith with their orientation, then I support their desire for a heterosexual life and wish them happiness, however they have to accomplish that. However, I am beginning to notice a trend amongst “ex-gays.” Just like Rev. Grace Harley, the testimonials at PFOX and Exodus, most of them had other problems: unhealthy sexual addictions, drug abuse, physical or sexual abuse, infidelity, mistrust. Remove these factors – ones that will cause discord in any relationship, gay or straight – and find that there are more and more gay people out there living happy, healthy, productive, emotionally and spiritually satisfying lives. Sometimes I wonder if the ex-gays’ problems are not who they are, but what they were doing. They might actually agree with me on that statement since the program teaches you to view being gay as something you do, not something you are. I see the gay as who they are/were and the bad habits as what they were doing to bring them down.

    You know it, girlfriend. When people claim to have found the key to beatific happiness, my suspicions are immediately aroused if they go on to insist desperately that no one living differently could ever anyway anyhow possibly be happy. It always sounds to me (when from ex-gays) like a need to seal off their own unvanquished need to find a same-sex mate lest it erupt again at any moment.

    To Ace’s suggestion that the ex-gays find a new marketing strategy, I would add this: Knock it off with the moist-eyed, unctuous, quivering-with-sympathy, soppy, sappy, sodden tone of patronizing helpfulness. (Jason Kuznicki captures it with truly frightening proficiency.) To even-keeled gays with a healthy sense of mischievous humor about the realities of life, it’s like Lee Press-ons across the world’s largest chalkboard. No one who truly feels he’s found the path to rectitude needs to talk that way.

    Corruption on Earth

    Posted by Sean at 01:06, July 24th, 2005

    Thanks, Eric. I can understand why everyone wanted to jump on this story so quickly, but there are so many possible variables–the chief ones being Persian culture and the opportunistic thuggishness of the Islamic Republic in Iran. It made me wonder–the Iranian government is notorious for bringing sex-related offenses into cases in which its real motivations lie with other behavior.

    “Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi”
    To: “Eric Scheie”
    Subject: Re: Photos of public execution of two youngsters in the city of Mash’had
    Date: Sat, 23 Jul 2005 12:08:00 -0400

    The story does not change…the info that the Mullahs gave out first was one thing and then activists outside Iran were informed that there was more to it than those two boys being hung for theft. ALSO, please note that they were not gay in the way people in the west would think of “gay” ’cause people in our part of the world have sex with men and women and in that part of the world, it’s common for men to sleep with men and women…but to us, it’s all sexuality and sexuality in and of itself, to the Mullahs is not acceptable. There are many dichotomies that one cannot properly explain for westerners; like the Eunuchs in our part of the world, etc. To people in the west, they’re disgusting and bizarre…to us, they’re wonderful and we love our Eunuchs! However, un P.C. that may be in this part of the world.

    These two poor boys did have sex with each other but that was never what they were officially charged with and that is a fact. The reason WHY in fact they were executed, underneath it all was because the Mullahs often make an example of youngsters who are unruly and apparently these two had been also raped and sodomized by a local Mullah whom they wanted to expose. Like those two innocent 16 year old and 19 year old girls they executed last Oct. and Dec…Atefeh Rajabi and Leila Mo’aafi…they said that they were whores but it turned out that they had both been molested by the local Mullahs and
    when these two poor girls had come to expose them, they got executed.

    I hope this explains it. I cannot explain any more than this because if you aren’t from that part of the world you will NEVER understand or grasp the height of the Islmo-Fascist mentality. Their psychosis is something HITLER could not even imagine and yet no matter what we dissidents try to explain to westerners…people refuse to believe what we impart…simply because your part of the world is not ancient (or the archaic’ness’ was shed many moons ago) and your values entirely different AND at odds with what those people over there, do, say and think.

    Actually, I think I do come closer to understanding this issue than many Westerners. I have heard about Muslim mullahs raping young men they’ve sentenced to death for “sodomy.” And clearly Iran today is a country run largely by such sociopaths.

    As to sexuality, we in the West have a different way of processing these things, and as I have said many times, in my opinion we have come up with unnecessary divisions based on “sexualities” which are as varied as the individuals. But the bottom line here should not whether anyone is homosexual or heterosexual, or should be labeled “gay” as we do in this country. It’s the human freedom to be left alone in matters of one’s bedroom.

    Japan has normal relations with Iran, and you meet Iranian businessmen in the bars here occasionally. Eric’s right about unnecessary divisions, but I think it’s important to point out that there really are homosexuals as we think of them in Iran, too. As one (drop-dead gorgeous–good grief, was that man beautiful) guy put it to me a few years ago, “In Iran, it’s not uncommon for men to marry and be bound to their wives while also being attracted to men or boys, but [conspiratorial smile] I’m like you.” Also, setting artificial but meaningful boundaries is one of the most important things an advanced civilization does.

    None of this means that I don’t think we should protest against laws on the books that allow teenagers to be executed for sodomy. Nor do I think that gay leftists shouldn’t be clobbered hard for the way they constantly make excuses for illiberal non-Western regimes and treat the Bush administration as the greatest threat to liberty for gays and lesbians. (Of course, given their own tendency to mewl that all their problems are everyone else’s fault, their affinity for the Palestinians, at least, is pretty understandable.) It’s just that in all the point-scoring, something gets lost: these people hate imagination and free thought and idiosyncrasy in all forms. Their hatred of homosexuality may be sincere, but in practice, they frequently invoke it as a means to the end of maintaining power and strongarming people back in line. Ms. Zand-Bonazzi has a final point to make:

    The west is hugely to blame and in my opinion not so much the U.S. (though the U.S. has managed to make a mess of a few things big time), EUROPE…those European plutocrats are the ones at fault and though I hate the idea of those innocent people dying (there were also Iranians among the people who died on the bus on 7/7 in London), I’m sorry but I believe the U.K. government brought it all onto themselves…and NOT by backing the war on Iraq but by NOT backing off from doing business with CORRUPT Islamists, LIKE, the Mullahs for all these years. They were warned that the Islamo-Fascists have no good intention to ANYONE in the west…but the Euro bastards like to act like it’s only the U.S. and Israel.

    Well, the US could stand to be less cozy with the al-Sauds, but point taken.

    Abductees schmabductees

    Posted by Sean at 00:07, July 24th, 2005

    Poor North Korea. All it wants is to get along with everybody, and then what do the democracies of the world go and do? Kim Il-sung’s people abduct a few Japanese citizens from moonlit walks on their own beaches, and a quarter-century later the Japanese are still freaking out about it. It’s not like it just happened yesterday, or anything. Can’t people focus on the big picture?

    The DPRK’s Democratic Choson published statements on 23 July that, given that Japan plans to bring up the issue of Japanese abductees at the 6-party talks when they reopen for the fourth time in Beijing on 26 July, “Our definite feeling is that it is not necessary for us to sit in face-to-face meetings with Japan, given that it is determined to use its cunning to make a hindrance of itself at the 6-party talks.” The statements indicated yet again the DPRK’s position that it will not agree to direct talks with Japan for the duration of the meetings.

    The CNN report is here. Check out the part about the flower. Good grief.

    More 裏金

    Posted by Sean at 23:36, July 23rd, 2005

    Oh, uh, if you’re trying to keep a running count of slush funds in the Japanese federal government, you’re going to have to increase your total by two:

    Trade minister Shoichi Nakagawa admitted Friday that two more slush funds exist at his ministry, including one now containing 52 million yen that was created with payments from UNICEF.

    The other slush fund came from money that was obtained for the wages of part-timers who never worked at the ministry. A total of about 1.4 million yen has been put into the fund at the Trade Policy Bureau’s Americans Division, Nakagawa said.

    Last month, the ministry said its policy-making office secretly kept unused research subsidies to build slush funds.

    Over the past 30 years, only one payment, in November 1975, has been made from the slush fund, when 2 million yen was used to buy a membership to an exclusive restaurant. The membership was canceled four months later, and the money was returned to the fund.

    The other slush fund revealed Friday was created from the wages of fictitious part-timers. The slush fund started in fiscal 1995.

    A total of 1.39 million yen was put into the slush fund from fiscal 1995 to fiscal 2002. But 1.07 million yen had been withdrawn by June 2005 to pay real part-timers hired for busy periods, such as during Japan-U.S. trade negotiations, leaving 321,290 yen in the fund.

    The ministry plans to return all of the 1.39 million yen plus interest to state coffers.

    Egypt hit

    Posted by Sean at 23:29, July 23rd, 2005

    The number of deaths from yesterday’s terrorist bombing in Egypt is up to 88. I’ve been wondering–if terrorism experts thought this was possible, surely we’d be reading it by now, so I’m probably wrong–whether the plan wasn’t similar to that of the Bali bombers: set off an explosion or two to get people pouring into the street, then nail them with bigger explosions once they’re out there.

    A group claiming links to al Qaeda said Saturday’s bombings were revenge for “crimes committed against Muslims,” said an Internet statement. But the statement did not appear on major al Qaeda Web sites and it was impossible to authenticate the claim.

    Egypt’s biggest “crime against Muslims,” from the perspective of Islamofascits, is probably being a reasonably functional democracy. It also has a cultural heritage of world-enamoring brilliance that predates its contact with Islam. Of course, the resort that was hit was popular with foreign tourists as well, so there are people of many countries among the dead; but naturally most of the victims were Egyptians.

    Sincerest condolences to the Egyptian people, and best to President Mubarak and his government in the fight to keep the terrorists at bay. As Dean says, if we assume the flypaper strategy (which I have my reservations about), is working, it means that terrorist cells are going to be striking more frequently in the most Westernized Muslim countries. It’s going to be a trying time.

    How to offend billions without even trying

    Posted by Sean at 05:42, July 23rd, 2005

    Ghost of a Flea brings up one of the more annoying Anglospheric gaps in communication about the races:

    Let us clear this up. In English-speaking North America the word “asian” is generally used to refer to people of East Asian descent while in the UK the word “asian” is generally used to refer to people of South Asian descent. Both terms are gross generalizations that obscure fantastic regional, ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity within the groups for whom they act as shorthand and either shorthand ignores well over a billion people who are just as asian. If I was, say, Armenian both abbreviations would be a source of ongoing annoyance.

    A close English buddy of mine and I were just having this discussion a few weeks ago. He was bewildered at the way a lot of Americans look at you as though you’d committed a hanging crime if you use the word Oriental, which, Edward Said’s hex not having gained traction in the UK as it did in the States, is still the polite way to talk about the Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese there. Of course, even in the States, people of East Asian descent who haven’t gone through PC colleges still blithely refer to themselves as Oriental all the time, but you’d never hear a newscaster use the word.

    Now that I think about it, the topic may have come up the night of the first London bombings. I do know that on 7 July we were sitting at our hangout when the video for Kylie’s “Giving You Up” came on: a twelve-foot-tall woman in curve-hugging black strides through London as if she owned the place, good-naturedly vamping at guys of various races (there’s an Asian, in the English usage, about 3/4 of the way through) along the way. It was very bolstering–the kind of sassy I can get behind.


    Posted by Sean at 03:38, July 23rd, 2005

    FLAMIN’ NORAH! Now, that was an earthquake. Nothing fell (here at my office where high bookshelves are ranged behind our desks), but man, did we feel it. I hope it wasn’t a hell of a lot stronger anywhere else.

    Added at 16:41: Looks like it was a weak 5 at the epicenter in northwestern Chiba Prefecture and in parts of Saitama and Kanagawa Prefectures. It was a 4 here. No tidal wave warnings.

    Added at 17:58: The Nikkei says it was actually a strong 5 in Adachi Ward (northern part of the 23 wards of Tokyo proper). That’s the JMA scale that measures surface vibrations, of course, not the measure of energy released provided by the Richter scale. (The estimated magnitude is 5.7.) It was strong enough to cause rides at Tokyo Disneyland to shut down automatically (elevators, too–those in this building are still closed until they can be inspected). Service on runways at Narita and one of the Shinkansen lines was interrupted, but everything appears to be back to normal. There don’t seem to be any reports of actual damage.

    Added at 19:42: I spoke too soon. Shibuya Station was a madhouse: the inner ring of the Yamanote Line (runs counter-clockwise) is still being inspected. Yikes.

    Added at 21:36: Anyone who was in a coma this afternoon and missed the quake may be relieved to hear that the JMA is telling us to expect aftershocks of up to 4 in surface intensity. The magnitude of today’s quake has also been revised upward to M6. I’m assuming train service is up and running everywhere again?

    72 raisins

    Posted by Sean at 22:19, July 22nd, 2005

    More from Irshad Manji, the Muslim lesbian from Toronto, in last week’s Sunday Times:

    Britain, she says, has been slow to introduce tests for imams on their mastery of the Koran. She recalls asking Mohamed al-Hindi, political leader of Islamic Jihad, where the Koran glorifies martyrdom; he insisted it was there, but even after looking up books and phoning colleagues, he couldn’t find one reference.

    “His translator suggested I better go if I wanted to leave alive,” she recalls. “I asked why he had even given an interview, and the translator said, ‘Oh, he assumed you would be just another dumb westerner’.”

    Muslims, adds Manji, must find positive role models rather than jihadists: “Martyrs are the rock stars of the Muslim world, shown on the internet against a background of funky music. They feed on the self-esteem crisis of young Muslims.” That could be addressed by history lessons paying greater tribute to the Muslim contribution to the Renaissance.

    She denounces terrorism and the response to terrorism, which is not sufficiently robust. It is no good, she argues, for respectable Muslims to say “violence is not the Islamic ideal” if violence has become Islamic practice. And she attacks the proposed religious hatred laws, saying: “Society needs people who offend, otherwise there will be no progress.”

    Manji thinks Islam needs a reformation.

    Class action

    Posted by Sean at 09:39, July 22nd, 2005

    Walter Olson reports at Overlawyered that a new frontier in save-people-from-themselves-ism is being explored. This from one of the Guardian articles he links to:

    According to Dr Judith Reisman, pornography affects the physical structure of your brain turning you into a porno-zombie. Porn, she says, is an “erototoxin”, producing an addictive “drug cocktail” of testosterone, oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin with a measurable organic effect on the brain.

    Some of us might consider this a good thing. Not Reisman: erototoxins aren’t about pleasure, they’re a “fear-sex-shame-and-anger stimulant”. Reisman’s paper on the subject The Psychopharmacology of Pictorial Pornography Restructuring Brain, Mind & Memory & Subverting Freedom of Speech has helped make her the darling of the anti-pornography crusade, and in November last year she presented her erototoxin theory to the US senate.

    [Reisman and her fellow researcher] foresee two possible outcomes: if they can demonstrate that porn physically “damages” the brain, that might open the floodgates for “big tobacco”-style lawsuits against porn publishers and distributors; second, and more insidiously, if porn can be shown to “subvert cognition” and affect the parts of the brain involved in reasoning and speech, then “these toxic media should be legally outlawed, as is all other toxic waste, and eliminated from our societal structure”.

    Not being addicted to porn, I still have enough imagination to be stoked at the mere mention of a cocktail of testosterone, oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin. Where’s that glass of iced water? [gulpsigh] Okay.

    Toxic waste is outlawed? Oh, excuse me–“legally outlawed”? I thought you just couldn’t leave it lying around, not that it was illegal. Olson also links to this post at Nobody’s Business:

    Indefatigable at 70, Reisman continues her crusade against “the sexindustrial complex” mostly by trying to prove the existence of those elusive “erototoxins.” Right now, only she knows what those are — she coined the word herself, and it seems it has yet to make it into anyone else’s medical vocabulary. In fact, though she consistently identifies herself as “Dr. Reisman,” that title refers to a degree in communication, not to any expert medical knowledge. (This echoes her fondness for reminding people that her maiden name, Gelernter, is German for “learned one.” Indeed.)

    Cheese and crackers, what a 24-karat quack. Of course, in a world after world-renowned agricultural chemist Meryl Streep’s 1989 lecture to Congress about Alar, I supposed it’s not a big shock that Reisman has given testimony before the US Senate about the neurological effects of pornography.

    What’s so annoying here is that there are real issues to be addressed. We expect teenagers to grow through adolescence to strike out on their own and choose their own life partners, often without much assistance from family and community elders. What does it mean to have recordings of live, impersonal sex acts cheaply and readily available when they reach adulthood (if not before)? I don’t hold with the hard anti-porn line that pornography “causes” sexual dysfunction, and I’m against its criminalization. It’s also patently untrue that you can’t consume porn without spiralling helplessly into addiction. But you can’t evade questions about social effects just by pointing out that there’s no inherent shame in nakedness or sex; what you’re exposed to does affect your attitude.

    On the other hand–give me a break! The sex impulse doesn’t obliterate free will. With all her blather about subverting freedom of speech, Reisman sounds exactly like the MacKinnon-Dworkin axis of feminism, with its line about how the power of the patriarchy means no woman in our society can ever give authentic “uncompromised” sexual consent. Another case of extremes meeting in the anti-pornography crusade.