Bits and pieces

Bit of a catch all post this – everything from Linux to Japanese politics 🙂

Early in the week, I was glad to see that Takenaka-san had held his job in Koizumi-san’s cabinet as the Banking Sacrificial Official. This is the guy whose job it is to try to sort out the Japanese banks. You know he’s doing a good job for 2 reasons: banks are slowly admitting to some of the bad loans they have (trillions of yen – no one seems to know exactly how much) and 2) all the banks *hate* him!
Check out stories on Koizumi-san’s re-election within his own party here, and here.

Non-tech freaks miss this bit: This week, I upgraded my windoze box to an Athlon XP2500, and bumped my Linux to XP2000. I need to sort Redhat 9 on there now. I also got some decent sound recording software called Audio Hijack Pro for my Mac for getting sounds out of DVD and so I can get the whole ‘Hichhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ from my tapes into MP3.

I’ve been reading a pretty good concise History of Japan from Tuttle (a very interesting subject), and for some reason I got thinking about another of my pet subjects – Thomas Paine – so I’ve kind of semi-decided to write a much bigger article on him, because there just doesn’t seem to be enough good stuff on the Net. Just thought I’d mention it.

Song of the Day: ‘Guilty’ – John Belushi – “Made in America”
Phrase of he day: The Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster – like being smashed in the face by a slice of lemon, wrapped around a gold brick.

Mini-quake

There was a slight earthquake yesterday (Saturday), just days after that story about an imminent earthquake – so was he right or wrong? It wasn’t a major one – in fact, had I not been on the 21F of an office building I may not have noticed – gave a bit of a jolt though, and it left the lights swinging in the canteen.

On a nicer note, I saw “Hero” last week starring Jet Li and Donnie Yen amongst others. Another great Chinese film with an intricate plot around 6 main characters. Beautifully shot, it once again stars the stunning Chinese desert, and features some great camera work. I was fortunate enough to be able to catch an English sub-titled version here in Tokyo (it had Japanese subtitles too, and the original Chinese vocal track!

News from Japan

It’s been an interesting day in Japan for 2 stories which came my way.

The first is regarding an earthquake analysis team, who think there will be an earthquake around Tokyo either on the 16th or 17th.

Understandably this has got a few people scared, and a few more filling up baths, buying water bottles, and generally checking the torch batteries. They base their claim on the fact that certain vibrations and RF fields are behaving the same way they did before other earthquakes. It sounds plausible, except that one of the team has apparently become something of a celebrity (as scientists go I suppose) for getting these things wrong. No disrespect to the man, but I hope he’s wrong again.

The Yahoo Japan story [Japanese]

Another story was a bit sadder, but interesting in some ways I’m afraid – a man from Nagoya killed himself and two others after dousing his old workplace (and himself) in petrol, and then detonating himself. BBC have a story and picture here. Apparently he just wanted 3 months more severance pay after getting made redundant – and he worked for a delivery company, making you wonder if Japan is finally going postal.

Sorry for all the depressing news.

Welcome!

Dear all, welcome to NANIKORE.net. This is basically an extension of the blog I was testing on Blogger, but wanted the space and freedom to kind of do my own thing. I’m currently working on getting something set up for other people to contribute, a picture archive, and categories, so hang in there. I also need to set the Japanese language pack in here.

ASCS 2003

A late update here – last weekend was ASCS 2003 – the Big Annual Airsoft gathering.

Basically, airsoft is a bunch of people in military gear running around with realistic looking air and electric powered guns firing plastic pellets at each other.

This year’s games were 250 vs. 250 affairs over a huge playing area – woods, streams and open hills. A lot of fun, but a bit repetitive, even though the teams were made up of 5 small teams and were rotated.  Previous years had similar team sizes of 30 or so, but it was a 1 on 1 style in smaller areas, with specific objectives – capture the flag, defend a balloon, or such. This year’s was 5 games of the same thing – find coloured cans and bring them back to base. Unfortunately the lack of knowing your team-mates and having no overall strategy meant that the games often descended into stalemate small unit activity.

Our team is called Tokyo Gaikoku Butai [TGB] (aka Foreign Devils or just ‘those gaijin’), but only 7 of us made it up, so we joined with a few other small clans and made one team. We make up a pretty small percentage of the 500 or so participants, but the reception is always friendly, and doesn’t affect the game play at all. I’ve been playing for about 3 years now, although I only seem to make a few games – but I always go to ASCS. If you fancy giving airsoft a go, have a look at that group, or Google it!

The weather for the weekend was warm on Saturday and raining on Sunday, and today is pretty miserable too. I hate to whine on about the weather here, but for Japan, this is really odd…middle of August and I’m not melting.

I survived Disney Sea!

A late post, but just to say that I went to Tokyo Disney Sea this weekend.

Let’s just say that I don’t like Disney. Actually, that doesn’t go far enough. I HATE Disney, blah blah blah.

But there I am, the day after a typhoon, in sweltering heat and sporting a very tasteless wide brim hat, there I am wandering around the latest Disney Park. I have to say that it’s less Disney than it’s neighbour, Tokyo Disneyland. The rides aren’t bad and it’s a bit more ‘real’ than it’s saccharine cousin.

There’s also no characters walking around, which is good because I’d just want to push them in the harbour. Walking around is nice (if you avoid sunburn), but what about the rides. Well, they’re better than TokDis, but not really white knucklers.

Still, top 2 were Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and the Indiana Jones ride. After that, maybe Storm Rider. The restaurants are OK, and generally service was good. The finale fireworks show is so much better than the old (now retired) Fantillusion, which used to bore me stupid. An interesting aside is that Tokyo Disney Sea is built around themes rather than films, and with the exception of Ariel the Mermaid, and that ‘Under the Sea’ track, there was a dearth of recent Disney characters, but then, can you name a Disney character from the last 8 years or so? If you can, chances they’re from a Pixar made film…Toy Story, Bug’s Life, and the new Finding Nemo.

None of them are here – odd given the last one’s marine setting. Licensing issues? Who knows. However, despite Disney’s decline, the parks are still a good day out, but at 5,500 yen to get in, make the most of it.

OK, I had fun 🙂
Still hate Disney though.

Fuji Rock Festival 2003

OK, the Fuji Rock Festival was absolutely amazing – it’s been a while since I’ve been to a weekend music festival, and this was as good as I remember. I actually went to the Fuji Rock Festival when it started in 1997 and whilst the music was excellent, the organisation was poor. I’ve been a few times since, and it just seems to get bigger and better – building facilities and stages, without sacrificing the overall feel – the all night DJ sessions and lights, artists, sculptures…and rain made it a great event. The camping area was pretty good, and I have to say that though the toilet queues were long, no one can say that they didn’t try. There was lots of food to be had too – from Fish and Chips to Ramen to Curry (lots of curry actually).

As I mentioned Asian Dub Foundation were great, delivering great music and a rant about the occupation of Iraq. Primal Scream were awesome as ever, lots of energy, and Saturday night rounded off with Bjork and a cool light show and fireworks. I have to say that I thought Primal’ would have been a better closer, but Bjork seems a bit more famous here – if only for her film role last year rather than as ex-Sugarcubes/solo singer.

The rain was falling well from about 7, but most people had given up on staying dry anyway, so it didn’t seem to spoil it for anyone. Of the bands we saw, it was a great place to hear new stuff. On Sunday we started off with a young Japanese band called Sugardonuts, who, despite the drummer’s kick drum breaking, put in an amazing show in front of the handful of people awake at 11am! We took the opportunity to walk around the huge site, try some food and see the smaller acts on the side stage, and a lot of them were really good – no one can say this festival was just a couple of big names – the support was great too.

We were impressed by a new band Evanescence to the point that we bought their CD on the way out. We ducked out of the Coldplay gig to go and see Anthrax on the second stage, and I’m glad to say I did – they rocked like never before, ripping through a greatest hits set including ‘Bring the Noise’. As we made our way back afterwards to the crowds at the main stage in front of Coldplay we knew we made the right choice – I like Coldplay, but at this kind of festival, you need a few bands to kick up some noise. Finally, we listened to a bit of Steve Winwood to chill out before putting the tent away and making our way back to the last Shinkansen. Tired, wet and a little sun burned.

Despite it’s name, the festival is held yearly in Naeba, in the mountains north of Tokyo – it’s 75 min. shinkansen ride, followed by a 40 min. bus ride, so not too bad. The scenery is beautiful, and makes a welcome change from Tokyo – if you’re in Tokyo in the summer and want to get out – get to the fuji Rock Festival.

 

Earthquake (no kidding!)

Well, for those who haven’t heard (or felt!), Japan had a petty sizable earthquake at about 6.30pm last night. Believe me – it was a shaker. I work on the 22nd floor, and the whole building was wobbling for nearly 5 minutes. We could look at another building currently under construction, and see the bare electric bulbs swinging violently – and construction workers holding on to the super structure. I didn’t see any damage in Tokyo, so that has to be a good thing. I must admit that during the tremor I made a cup of tea – since the swaying of the building was making a few people feel quite ill. Since I’ve been here I’ve witnessed quite a few quakes, but that one was certainly the longest, and felt like the most likely to get nasty. Let’s hope it’s just the plates letting off a bit of steam gently. BBC did a story here.