Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Current Darkness, Eternal Light

Apocalypse? by David Warren is an insightful meditation on the state of our civilization. A quote:

… Europe did not create Christianity. Christianity created Europe. And will create new Europes … wherever Christ is wanted ….

(I got the link from The Anchoress.)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

"Ask not what your country can do for you … "

Connell, R. (2005, September 23). Effusive freshman lets politicians' pretty-sitting kitty out of bag. MSN-Mainichi Daily News

The above is an article about newly-elected Dietman (Representative in the Japan national legislature) Taizo Sugimura who is … extremely impressed by his own salary, apartment, and other perks that come with his public office. He is an embarrasmsent to his office, his party, and his country, especially to those like me who support the Koizumi Revolution whose wave Sugimura-kun road into such a great new job.

Of course, here in Japan politicians making asses of themselves is a long tradition, and in perspective Mr. Sugimura's remarks are harmless if galling. Here's hoping he sobers up and remembers who is paying for all those perks and who gave him the new job, or else he gets a pink slip in the next election. Maybe sponsoring an austerity bill for Dietmen's perks would be a good first project.

… ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.
— John F. Kennedy, Inaugural address, January 20, 1961
It seems Mr. Sugimura has been taken behind the woodshed by his senior LDPers and has apopologized for his obnoxious remarks. I hope the paddling has really given him a clue.
Taizo, the accidental lawmaker, apologizes for ill-suited remarks (AP) (2005, September 28). MSN-Mainichi Daily News
The system of proportional representation seats was introduced in Japan several years ago on an attempt at election reform. I need to study the details of how it works because it seems like voodoo to me, especially in view of the quality of at least some who manage to get elected accidentally.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

P. Buchanan on Katrina and U.S. Society

I do not generally like Patrick Buchanan, but occassionally he says something very wise, like in this article on WorldNetDaily:

Monday, June 27, 2005

Japan Seldom Asked Questions

On Japundit I found a link to Japan Seldom Asked Questions where you can find the answers to Japan questions you never even knew to ask. I can't vouch for everything on the page, but it looks like SAQ has already covered several Japanese idiosyncracies I was planning on writing about here someday.

What the Heck is a Blog?

I wrote the following earlier today on an old favorite MU* in an attempt to entice a friend there into the blogosphere:

ok ok, what the heck is a blog and how does one get one? LOL... is it a website, most here have those but me, dunno how to do it...

That's a good question that I asked myself for a long time as I saw blogs becoming more and more popular and not understanding why. Here is the answer I came up with. A blog has three necessary elements:

  1. A web site with an owner dedicated to making frequent updates with current information or commentary. The site is usually managed with a software package that eases updates and presents the most recent updates to site visitors in a format similar to newspaper articles.
  2. A group of regular readers of the site who frequently add their own comments on the author's posts or on other readers' comments, which is also usually facilitated by the blog software.
  3. An amorphous cluster of other blogs that are frequently read by the site owner, or read and/or written by the blog readers, which often trigger discussions on the blog in question. Again, the blog software usually makes it easy to link articles on different blogs with hyperlinks.

It is the synergy between these three elements that makes blogs more than just frequently updated web sites and leads to the formation of online communities as dynamic as MOOs were in their glory days.

The cross-over between blogs and main-stream media is a topic that is being widely discussed that shows the potential of blog culture, though I won't repeat the discussion here.

If you are curious about blogs, take a look at mine ([you're reading it now]) as an example. Follow the links I have to other interesting blogs, then follow THEIR links, the the links on the next set of blogs... until you find yourself immersed in the blogosphere. Of course, Sturgeon's Law, that 90% of everything is crap applies, but if you look for a while, you're almost sure to find a corner of blogspace that matches your interests and sensibilities.

[A plug for our host...]If you want to try blogging yourself, offers no-cost sites that come with good basic blog managment tools and a selection of decent-looking, easily-customized templates.

The above makes me sound like an evangelist, but I'm really just starting to dabble. After you look a little, you will find people who seem to eat, drink, sleep, and live for blogging. It can be as addictive as MOOing.

See you in blogspace. [If you're reading this, then welcome to blogspace.]

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Eminent Domain

Eminent domain is the power of government to forcibly purchase private property for public benefit. (You can read more in Wikipedia.) This is a well-established principle that I learned about back in 8th grade Civics if not before. No one likes having their house bought out from under them by the government, but all of us benefit from improvements to our communities made possible by the displacement of some of our fellow citizens.

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in a case of eminent domain in the city of New London, Connecticut. A group of homeowners had sued to stop a plan for the city to purchase their houses to make room for an office complex, which the city council argued would benefit the community through increased tax revenue and jobs. The Court ruled against the homeowners, saying that the decision was within the rights of the local government and that there was no basis for the federal courts to interfere. (Read more on

I feel sorry for the homeowners, and I understand that the city invoking eminent domain for the sake of building a commercial property is more controversial than doing so to build a road or a school, but I am surprised by vehemence of the negative reaction to this decision among conservative bloggers. My favorite blogger Anchoress has two threads on the subject (here and here) with a lot of angry comments about the decision.

In fact I am the only commenting there who agrees with the decision. I think so because the city council is a democratically elected body that the homeowners have far more influence over than any federal institution. They can have their say both in the voting booth and at the city council meetings. The council I'm sure gave due consideration to the homeowners' opinion as well as that of others in the community, and to the political fallout likely to result, and decided against the owners. By law the homeowners have to be fairly compensated for the expropriated property, and I have heard that governments generally try to make generous offers well above assessed tax values in these cases. Too bad for the homeowners, but they've been done no injustice. Unless someone can prove a charge of bribery, I think the decision was reached in the proper manner.

The standard the city council used for invoking eminent domain in this case my be controversial, but I don't see a clear-cut right and wrong here. I think it's best for all of us, Supreme Court and bloggers, to let the people of the community make the call in the way established by law.

Welcome to any fellow Anchoress fans who are following the discussion over here to my blog. I don't want to high-jack Anchoress's threads, but since I've probably posted too many comments there on this subject already, please post here any comments you'd specifically like me to respond to. You are also very welcome to look around the rest of the blog. I hope you'll find things of interest.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

MU* Anonymous

The man nervously stood up from his place in the ring of folding chairs that had been clustered in the center of the bare meeting room. He glanced sheepishly at the unfamiliar face of the others seated around the circle, then fixed his eyes on a spot of dried spackle, swallowed once, then intoned the familiar phrases.
"Hello, … my name is papa, and I'm a MUDaholic."

MU* is an abbreviation for any of MUD, MUCK, MUSH, MUX, MUSE, MOO, or several other variants. These are all, though partisans of each will swear to the uniqueness of their own brand, basically online multi-player text-based roleplaying games.

I could write at length about MU* varieties, their technology and history, adventures I've enjoyed in these virtual realities, but I won't because they are part of a chapter in my life that Thomas Merton's words have convinced me to close. MU* passtimes are generally harmless fun in themselves, but are not harmless for me when I can't stop playing from my desk at work or thinking about them more than I think of heaven or other things that I know to be of lasting value and my true destiny.

(That last sentence is a great embarrassment to me.)

During my years of online adventuring, I have generally kept a wall between my MU*-self and my real self. However, in parting I've shared the address of this blog with a few friends I've made in MU*space in case any are interested in continuing friendship with the real me.

To my visiting former comrades-in-fantasy, you are most welcome. I doubt that many of you will find much of interest here: no tips on fighting with Klingon weapons or how to find the magic ring in Dragon Keep. It's still the same me, only a little more authentic. I hope you'll find something worth repeat visits.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Wake-up Call

God answered the question I posed in my June 6th post, writing to me through Thomas Merton by way of one of my favorite bloggers, the Anchoress:

The devil is no fool. He can get people feeling about heaven the way they ought to feel about hell. He can make us fear the means of grace the way we do not fear sin. And he does so, not by light but by obscurity, not by realities but by shadows; not by clarity and substance, but by dreams and the creatures of psychosis.


… evil is the defect of good, the lack of a good that ought to be there, and nothing positive in itself …

I have let the devil lure me away from the path to heaven not with anything positively wicked, but with neutral shadows: "It's late, there's nothing you can do that would make any difference to God or anyone else. Why not unwind a little with a computer game, or web surfing, or...."

That may or may not be a lie, and at the moment it's a harmless thought in itself. The problem is that that moment of neutral gratification grows, and I start to feel entitled to it: an hour, two, more, everyday, at work..., until I reach the point, without doing a single thing most people would consider evil, I have a shadow between me and the light which is my true, highest, and eternal good.

Blogroll Clean-up

Some bloggers seem to take pride in the length of their blogroll, the list of blogs somehow related to their own, an example of which you can see in the right-hand sidebar halfway down this page.

When I started this blog I created a blogroll of moderate length as part of my effort to get to know "the lay" of blogspace, including most anything that looked like it might relate to my themes.

After three months of reading I've decided to clean house and remove eveything except those blogs that I find enjoyable to follow. Of course, I don't endorse every opinion you'll find there, and they are not all suitable for all aged readers, but now I can say that if you are interested in what I write, check these out. →