Wednesday, January 31, 2007

English Kanji (英漢字)

It seems improbable, but according to the Japanese magazine Shukan Bunshun (週刊文春), at least one Japanese calligrapher has managed to make English words into Japanese characters- known as kanji.

The calligrapher, one Kunishige Tomomi, calls her work Eikanji (英漢字)- literally English Kanji. Although there are unfortunately no pictoral representations of the her Eikanji work, the concept is intriguing. Read the whole thing.

Shielding Reporters...

In recent months, reporters have been assiduously pushing the idea of a so-called federal shield law, which would essentially allow them to pick and choose what to reveal about their sources. In my opinion, this would essentially place them above the law (which to my mind the First Amendment was never intended to do) in answering questions about their sources. Reporters and media organizations have claimed that such a law is necessary for them to report on controversial issues.

However, there may be another reason. As the trial of Lewis 'Scooter' Libby is showing, despite the job requirement of factually and accurately reporting on what their sources tell them, reporters are not very good at either taking notes or remembering exactly who told them what. And as the sad case of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's coverage (or lack thereof) regarding Keith Ellison's ties to Muslim extremist groups showed, reporters often do not do a very good job of honestly reporting in any event- especially when they have a stake in the outcome of said reporting.

In my opinion, a federal shield law for journalists would be a very unwise move. Reporters are not and should not be above the law- and when a court of law orders them to disclose their sources, they should not have the option to refuse. Reporters already have far too much power in our society- they can destroy lives with impunity, and can write unfair and near-treasonous articles already without fear of retaliation. A shield law would place them in a position of far too much power.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Trains and Women in Japan

Hard to know what to say regarding the Shukan Post's full-scale attack on women-only train carriages. Read and consider.

The attack seems to have been brought on by Japan's railways providing female-only carriages to alleviate the problem Japanese women have with gropers- known as chikan in Japan. I have personally had experience with this, as a friend and I once threw one of these morally diminished individuals off a electric streetcar.

Personally, while I think that the only real solution to the problem is to alleviate the over-crowding that allows such despicable behavior to occur, I don't really have a problem with female-only carriages as a temporary fix. Of course, I no longer have to ride the Tokyo commuter trains either, so I do not have first-hand experience with their crowding. Anyone else want to weigh in on this?

Launching the Age of Iron

On this day in 1862, the first turreted warship made of iron, the USS Monitor was launched. With her launch, the existing navies of the world were instantly made obsolete, and a new age began that eventually saw the introduction of ships such as HMS Dreadnaught, IJN Yamato and finally USS Missouri and her Iowa-class sisters, the last battleships.

The Monitor not only introduced the turret as opposed to the broadside gun mountings of previous warships, but her iron skin made her virtually impervious to gunfire from ships of that day and age. However, she was not a perfect warship. Her main defect was her low freeboard, which would eventually cause her loss in a storm off Cape Hatteras on December 31, 1862.

Her engine and part of her hull were recovered in 2000, and her turret was recovered in 2002. These artifacts are now preserved in the USS Monitor Center, part of the Mariner's Museum in Newport News, Virigina.

The Candidates and the Polls

Well, I held out as long as I could, but the recent polls and other news have made it impossible for me to avoid mentioning the current political situation in these United States. As the estimable Captain Ed Morissey and the Powerline crew have already commented, it is very early to be starting a Presidential campaign push. However, that being said, there are some very interesting polls out already regarding both the various candidates and the potential matchups in the general election.

Although I have no intention of endorsing any candidate at this stage, I find it more than interesting that former New York mayor Rudolf Giuliani seems to be one of the front-runners- and also to be the only Republican who consistently beats any Democratic offering.

On the Democratic side, while John (bash America whilst overseas in Davos) Kerry has had the good sense to pull out, I find it interesting that John Edwards is apparently doing well. And that Barack Obama, despite his complete inexperience, is also among the front-runners- even edging out Hillary Clinton, much to that egotistical ideologue's surprise.

While I wish to hear more from all of the candidates before committing to any one, I am interested to see if Mitt Romney can overcome the seeming handicap of his Mormon background to make a serious push. But most of all, as a friend and I were discussing the other day, I would like to see the Democrats abandon the wilderness of Bush Derangement Syndrome and take an active part in governing, since they are now the majority party in Congress. Sniping from the wilderness does no good to anyone, in my opinion.