I walked into a discount shop and amazingly stumbled upon a DVD of the classic scare movie, Mazes and Monsters, and bought it for only $2. This is the movie that Tom Hanks wants people to forget he was ever in. From wikipedia -

Mazes and Monsters came out in the heyday of the RPG Dungeons & Dragons (the movie’s title is a thinly veiled reference to the game) and was seen by some as a warning to parents about the dangers of RPGs. It came out at a time when Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) was starting to be attacked by Christian groups who alleged that it promoted Satanism and other forms of occult activities.

Back in those days when I was a teenager that played D&D, my bible bashing older female cousin came into my room and told me that I was casting spells and worshiping Satan, and that I should stop it. I told her that spells don’t exist, and Satan probably doesn’t either. :)

Anyway, it is a great movie, so bad it is good. There is also another movie on the DVD with Bill Murry called ‘Loose Shoes’. Never heard of it.

Mazes and Monsters

Posted by Matt, filed under Funny, Random. Date: February 21, 2008, 11:04 pm | 12 Comments »

Zero posted this interview with Gerry Bevers, which appeared on February 7th, 2008. Below is Zero’s translation, slightly edited by me.

The excessive anti-Japan movement that took place on March 2005 in Korea has died down now. Shimane prefecture established “the day of Takeshima that year. Mr. Gerry Beaver, a teacher of English at the University near Seoul, who studies the history of Takeshima analyzes the change as follows.

“I think part of the reason for that is that many Koreans have turned their attention toward China and the historical disagreements that exist between China and Korea, but I also think that the Korean government has realized that talking about the history of Takeshima (Dokdo) has done more harm than good since the history supports Japan’s claims on Takeshima.”

He posted articles on the Internet about the Korean old documents and maps that were not in favor of Korean claim, which led him to get fired from the university last year.

” I now have a teaching job at another Korean university that I am very satisfied with. I enjoy living in Korea because Koreans are very friendly people, but the problem is that Koreans seem to think that anyone who disagrees with them on Dokdo (Takeshima) are anti-Korean. That is simply not true.”

Lee Myung-bak will take office as new President on 25th of the next February. He will place more importance upon the relation with Japan.

“I think Lee Myung-bak is a pragmatic politician that wants to improve relations with Japan, and will, therefore, try to avoid making Takeshima (Dokdo) an issue by continuing to pretend that there is no dispute with Japan over the islets. However, there are still anti-Japanese groups in Korea that he may sometimes have to appease in someway, so the issue may still come up.”

While anti-Japan movement has died down, Korea still seems to assert her claims on Takeshima by doing such things as setting up polling booths, the Japanese government hasn’t done anything to speak of.

“There are hardcore anti-Japan advocates in Korea.

Old documents and maps clearly support Japan’s historical claims on Takeshima, so the Japanese government needs to stop being so passive about this issue and start translating and writing the books and brochures that will prove their claims to the world because I am almost positive that Korean historians will continue to distort the facts to support their false claims. However, telling the truth about the history and settling the dispute are two different things.”

Gerry has studied the history of takehsima for 3 years since he felt something wrong with anti-Japan sentiments in Korea. He is confident that there is no evidence that Takeshima is Korean territory.

“I have pretty much answered all the questions I had about the Takeshima-Dokdo issue, so I am not really doing any new research right now. What I want to do now is to review and organize the information I do have because I am thinking about writing a book. I think I have learned the truth about Takeshima, and I want others to know it, too. “

Gerry Bevers Interview
Click here for full sized image

Posted by Matt, filed under diplomacy, Verus Historia. Date: February 19, 2008, 5:07 pm | 101 Comments »

Softbank is offering a very good mobile phone plan, possibly at cost or below cost, to the organisation representing South Korean residents in Japan, Mindan. The plan is so good that many people that would like to take up the offer are unable to because they are not Zainichi Korean Mindan members or family of members. Relevant points are -

*Although it is not unusual for a company to offer special deals to companies for mobile plans, the cost of this deal is so low that none of the experts interviewed had ever heard of such a low cost plan.

*When such special deals are offered to companies or organisations, it is restricted to officers or employees, and not available the general membership. In case of the deal with Mindan, not only are general members allowed to take advantage of the plan, but so are their family members. This means that a significant percentage of the South Korean Zainichi population in Japan are eligible for it, a defacto super-low rate plan for Zainichi unavailable to anyone else.

*When complaints started coming in that rates were being offered to Zainichi unavailable to the rest of the people, Softbank offered a bizarre excuse along the lines of “That special offer was made by our agent associated with Mindan without our permission, and is not a service offered by our company. Because the computers and infrastructure is our, we cannot say we have no responsibility at all, but we did not agree to the details of the plan. We requested that Mindan cease the advertising.”

*Because the offer is likely below what it costs to provide, it means that the Zainichi Koreans are being subsidized by other users of Softbank (who have to pay higher rates because of it).

*The conditions were analysed, and they found that for the same deal that the Zainichi were getting for 4500 yen per month, it would cost a non Zainichi 40325 Yen per month, and it also costs only 5 Yen per minute for the Zainichi to call South Korea, and 130 Yen per minute for a non Zainichi customer.

*The owner of Softbank is a naturalized ethnic Korean, Mr. Son. Although one of the experts interviewed applauds his spirit on behalf of the Zainichi Korean community of Japan, he points out that his special pricing plan could be illegal under Japanese telecommunications law, which forbids pricing discrimination.

*Although it seems to be a case of discrimination against non Zainichi Korean customers, it will be difficult to know for sure unless the contract with the agency can be seen. The telecommunications regulator should follow up on this.

*A comparison of the costs for Zainichi Koreans, and Japanese and non-Koreans
Monthly Cost

A picture of the ad that appeared in Mindan’s newspaper (click here for enlarged version).

Mindan Softbank

My thoughts -

The advertising ceased, but the plan is still being offered, probably through word of mouth in the Zainichi community. The excuse offered by Softbank is a strange excuse because they are implying that it is almost nothing to do with Softbank, but that is unlikely because it would be impossible for a telecommunications agent company to provide a plan at less than it costs Softbank to provide it unless Softbank was providing them with a below cost rate as well.

You know, Debito could look into this. It would be a much bigger target than a little restaurant or brothel, and unlike all the random places discriminating, the size of Softbank means that Softbanks discrimination (if it is indeed discrimination) is systematic. If Debito at least looks into this issue, he might be able to heal the rifts he has with Japanese people because of his narrow focus.

By the way, the source is 2channel, but from what I can see looking around, it seems to be legitimate.

Posted by Matt, filed under Scams, Technology. Date: February 17, 2008, 6:30 pm | 29 Comments »

We have done it! The sign that Debito has been complaining about has been taken down thanks to the actions of Occidentalism commenters MaidoOido and Ponta, and also the policy of Occidentalism of bringing foreigners and Japanese people together, rather than driving a wedge by misunderstanding and prejudice.

Ponta spoke with the owner on the phone, and the owner said that different customs lead him to write “Japanese
people only” on the sign. In addition to the foreign customers not being able to follow the written rules in Japanese, they also brought their own food to the restaurant, brought children to the restaurant but left the children alone in the restaurant while the parents went elsewhere which caused trouble for the staff, and some foreign customers ordering only on dish between 5 people, etc. The sign was already down this morning when Ponta spoke with the owner, because MaidoOido had already contacted the local restaurant association to explain the situation.

At the moment there is no sign, but the text of the sign may be changed to make it clear that it is non-discriminatory, unlike the old sign which easily leads non-Japanese speaking foreigners to conclude that the shop owner hates foreigners. This excuses the comments of Debito’s readers, but not Debito’s comments.

The people that Debito has been deriding on his blog as “trolls” and “apologists” for Japanese only signs, including myself, have been the ones to solve this precisely because we allow an atmosphere of open discussion that allowed someone with the details of the restaurant to come forward, so we could contact the restaurant.

Debito on the other hand concealed the meaning of the Japanese text of the sign, very mitigating details, which reveal that the owner may not be racist, just clumsily excluding those people who most frequently violate his many rules. Understanding the actual problem is important in crafting the solution, but it is not clear that Debito wants a solution that doesn’t involve moralistic grandstanding. Read all about Debito’s deletions, spin, and outright deception here, in “Debito suppresses the opinions of dissenting foreigners“.

Ponta is going to interview the owner later today, so I will have more details, and photo’s of the shop and new sign (if a new one exists), later on.

By the way, what is with Debito calling foreigners with reasonable views “apologists for Japanese only signs”? Whats next, being called an “uncle tom”?

Important Update: Ponta’s interview with the owner. Here is Ponta’s report below.

I interviewed with the shop owner. It was a small restaurant where there is only a counter-table with just 11 seats.

Being explained that the sign was misleading, he took down the sign and threw it away. A Japanese blogger contacted the Tukiji association and advised what to do.

http://blog.livedoor.jp/tonchamon/archives/51811708.html#trackback

He said, “First and foremost, I apologize for causing troubles. As for the English sentence on the sign, I apologize for causing unpleasant sentiments among gaikokujin”

I asked why he posted the sign besides the reasons he gave me in the morning. He said, “when foreigners came”, he responded in Japanese, “they ordered Sushi, but the shop is not sushi restaurant, its main dish is ankou(an angler)and anago(sea eel).And the restaurant is pretty busy at launch, I can’t speak English , don’t have time to explain it in particular when busy , and the customers are mainly tourists who can’t speak Japanese. And the price is high for fishes. When complained I can’t explain it in English”. Sometimes a group of foreign tourist came in line, realizing the shop does not offer sushi, they just went away, that gives other customer trouble”.

Interestingly he said even after he posted the sign, there were foreigners coming. He didn’t reject them because they had a memo in Japanese saying what they wanted. More interestingly it was a foreigner who speaks Japanese that suggested him to set the shop for Japanese people only hearing troubles he had.

That’s how he posted the English sign.

He emphasized that he did not hate foreigners. He was working at Roppongi, he met a lot of foreigners whom he respects. But Tukiji is a place for tourists. That makes difference.

He said he is a big fun of Gundam (an anime that is popular among foreigners and Japanese), and he holds the belief that we can understand each other.

I told him, there were suggestions from gaijin, rewriting the post to “Entry restricted to people that understand the rules written below ” ( Matt) or “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone” (Gerbilbastard )

He said he had no intention to post the sign, for the time being at least and that shop would welcome anybody, Japanese or foreigners, who keep their manners.

He looked frightened being explained what Debito’s post says.

Look at the photo I took today, the sign says “Please keep the manner when drinking. Don’t speak to other customer without reason

no sign

no sign

no sign

Thank you Ponta. Additional thanks to MaidoOido and Tonchamon.

Problem solved, and all it took was Japanese people and foreigners working together, done without hysterical accusations of racism, selective bannings of dissenting commenters, or implying that people are racist “apologists for Japanese only signs”. I hope Debito can learn a lesson from all this.

Posted by Matt, filed under diplomacy, finger chopping wacky, Racist Industrial Complex. Date: February 11, 2008, 7:57 pm | 207 Comments »

You can try to cover stuff up, but the fact is that the net is a permanent record of events.

Around three days ago I wrote about Trans-pacific Radio accusing Ampontan of having a sock. Since that time they have completely deleted that post and all the comments in it. Fortunately, the net is a permanent record. There is the google cache of their perverse cover-up. Archive.org also collects things frequently.

This is their Modus Operandi. Write something outrageous that eventually leads to their embarrassment, then delete it later on when no one is looking. And yes, they have done it before.

Now my link to their page just leads to their “affiliates” page.

Why would they cover-up something if they were not ashamed or embarrassed of something? I find it pretty interesting that they seem to have a pretty good relationship with Debito too. A case of 類は友を呼ぶ (birds of a feather flock together)? Definitely!

UPDATE: OK, it looks like they have set up a redirect so if you access their site from a link here, it goes to their affiliates page. They are posting about it now on their site. It is quite funny. But lets see the posts.

Comment by JS

February 7, 2008 @ 7:02 pm

Now that guy is trying to claim that this post was deleted!

http://www.occidentalism.org/?p=828

A comment by JS. Then Ken, a moderator, replies -

Comment by Ken Worsley

February 7, 2008 @ 10:24 pm

Even more hilarious! It\’s amazing how far some people will go to keep an in-joke going!

That should settle any credibility issues forever.

OK, kind of funny Ken, but now you are going to be exposed. First up, the redirect to the affiliate page from my site. Here it is, all youtubed.

And next up, who is that guy JS, and how is it he is able to include a link to my post at 7pm Japan time, more than 3 hours ago, when I only wrote the post around an hour ago? To make it clearer, here is a graphic for you, JS (or is that Ken? Yep!)

timestamp

Either JS has future predicting powers in which he can accurately predict posts more than 2 hours before I write them, comment on it and include a link to boot, or Ken Worsley is messing with time stamps and is actually JS, talking to himself.

Yes, this does “settle any credibility issues forever”.

Posted by Matt, filed under finger chopping wacky, Politics, Racist Industrial Complex, Scams. Date: February 7, 2008, 6:06 am | 11 Comments »

Meet Arudou Debito, a naturalized Japanese citizen from the United States of America. He is an activist campaigning on issues relating to foreigners and non-Japanese people in Japan. That is all well and good except the guy is so dishonest.

He does his level best to make foreigners living in Japan fear discrimination or persecution, when in actual fact such incidents are extremely rare. In this sense he is a very divisive figure, doing much more damage to community relations than the infrequent examples of discrimination.

His blog is a perfect example of his dishonesty and lack of integrity. He has a comments section in which he only allows the comments of approving cronies to appear, and blocks the comments of naysayers, no matter how well grounded they are. Here is an example from his blog today -

Hi Blog. Here’s a sign I received a couple of days ago from a friend in the Kansai. “JAPANESE People ONLY” in a Tsukiji restaurant, along with a litany of what kind of food appreciation they expect from their customers.

How urusai. Problem is, they indicate that NJ cannot have this degree of food appreciation, and so refuse them entirely.

Click on photo to expand in your browser. Anyone want to run down to Tsukiji for me and get a definitive picture of the storefront with the sign? (These things usually need two photos–the sign and the storefront with the sign). And a confirmation of what the name of the restaurant (and the address if possible?) Thanks.

debito sign

Again, this is what happens when this kind of discrimination is not illegal in this society. More of this genre here. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

I commented, but Debito blocked my comment. However, he allowed some comments that agreed with him that the sign was horribly racist. Unfortunately, in line with Debito’s dishonesty, he has left some very important information out which is written in the Japanese part of the sign, which mitigates to a large extent the “Japanese people only” part of the sign. But first, my comment on Debito’s site that he would not allow.

Grasping at straws, aren’t we? Yes, it says Japanese people only in English but directly under that it says that this is a shop for fish lovers and Japanese people that can’t understand the rules below are also not allowed in. What follows is a long list of rules that puts the owner in the “eccentric” box more than the “racist” box, although it might be a prejudiced assumption to think that foreigners living in Japan could not read the rules (but lets face it most cannot).

It seems pretty obvious that the owner cannot write those complicated rules in English, and thus does the best he can do, which is “Japanese people only”.

Most of the foreigners visiting your site would not be able to figure this out on their own, because they cannot read the Japanese, but don’t you think it is a bit arrogant of you to assume a fellow foreigner like me could not read it and see through your deception by omission?

I don’t have much confidence that this will see the light of day since you have deleted another comment of mine that pointed out your error in the past.

That is the comment. The fact is the sign is very eccentric, and if I saw it, I would pass it by even if I were Japanese. Basically the sign outlines a number of rules like: starting times, reservations, that tea must be had before an order and that ordering when the tea comes causes problems, no bringing food from outside, don’t speak loudly, don’t turn around and speak with other customers, don’t cause trouble, no more than 2 people at a table and if there are groups with more people they have to sit separately 2 to a table, follow the rules and enjoy, certain foods take time to make, and many more rules. It specifically says that Japanese people that cannot understand the rules will also not be allowed into the shop.

Debito can read Japanese. He would know then that the most probable reason for the “Japanese only” thing is that there are so many rules that they would not be able to explain it to the average foreigner, who cannot read the sign or understand that much Japanese. But Debito does not want to give any information that might cast doubt that this sign is just blatant racism, nor will he allow me or anyone else that disagrees with him to offer an opinion on his site.

The real test for that shop would be to talk to the owner and demonstrate that you can read the sign, and can follow the rules. Could the person that took the photo read the rules? I doubt it.

This is the problem with Debito. He is dishonest. He cannot tolerate dissent and has an authoritarian personality. He is attention seeking and thrives on controversy. He also gives the impression that he is somehow a community leader for foreigners living in Japan, which would really be a problem for me if I went back to Japan because I don’t want to be associated with him. He counts on the foreigners he ‘represents’ having very poor Japanese language ability, who make the mistake of relying on him as a source of information.

But lets get to the root of the matter. Debito is not Martin Luther King, and foreigners (especially white people like Debito) are not Southern Blacks suffering under Jim Crow laws.

Lastly, I call on Debito to be honest. Honesty is the best policy, after all. Be a man, Debito.

Posted by Matt, filed under finger chopping wacky, Racist Industrial Complex. Date: February 6, 2008, 1:25 am | 184 Comments »

04  Feb
Looming blog war?

If you are going to say someone is using a sock, then do it right. But what I am seeing on Trans-Pacific Radio blog, where the moderators have been accusing Ampontan of having a sock, and encouraging their commenters to do so as well, is the wrong way to do it. What is most funny of all is that they are saying that sock is frequent Occidentalism poster Ponta.

With the owners/moderators of the blog addressing Ponta as “Bill” (which is Ampontan’s name – William Sakovich), and commenters given free reign to join the mods in the accusations, Debito followed up with the most hypocritical statement possible -

Two words: Sock puppeting.

Now you know why I moderate with extreme precision on Debito.org.

Approving trolls means you take the chance somebody will feed them. And what happens is not a real debate, where people are on a quest for the truth. It\’s merely a waste of time.

And precisely what trolls want. It\’s only sport to them. Or a concerted effort to force people (the blogger in particular) to waste mental energy trying to come up with a response.

Ah, no, I was also censored on Debito’s blog, and it wasn’t for trolling, it was for pointing out a factual error that he made. Moderating with extreme precision = banning anyone that points out his errors.

The moderators followed up Debito’s post with this notice -

Thanks everyone for all the emails and comments we’ve received in support of our position. As we said, we will not allow comments related to the troll’s identity any longer since it seems to have been resolved – through some investigation and IP address matching. There is nothing more to be said on the issue and we hope to get back to the usual fruitful discussion, without the interruption of trolls. Thank you for your concern and patience!

Oh, really? If you want to pull this kind of thing then you need to show some actual proof. You need as much proof as I presented when I exposed Kushibo/Nora.

By the way, Ponta is not Ampontan/William Sakovich . I have been corresponding with Ponta in Japanese for years, and no matter how good Ampontan is at Japanese, I would have detected his foreignness at some point.

Anyway, very badly done. Put up or shut up and apologise, TPR.

Posted by Matt, filed under finger chopping wacky. Date: February 4, 2008, 10:10 pm | 8 Comments »

So when western men go overseas and find younger lovers, to whom they pay money, it is called “sex tourism”, but when western women do it, they are called victims?

The Daily Mail from the UK has been printing a lot of these articles lately. Have a read of “I gave £100,000 to my Jamaican toyboy but now he’s gone back to his wife – taking my money with him”.

Posted by Matt, filed under Scams. Date: February 2, 2008, 7:54 am | 5 Comments »

Here are a few quotes:

Kim Sang jo, International Trade Professor at Hansung University said,

“The court decision is likely to discourage foreign investments in Korea, where unpredictability about the legal system is raising investment uncertainties for foreigners.”

Presiding Judge Lee Kyung Choon said,

“We put top priority on holding a fair trial. During the 30 sessions I’m sure the defendants had opportunities to fully defend themselves.”

Does a fair trial in Korea just mean letting the defendants defend themselves? Just because a defendant is allowed to defend himself does not mean the judges listen, especially when Korean public opinion has already judged him. Also, I am suspicious of any judge who needs to say “We put top priority of holding a fair trial.” Isn’t a fair trial always a top priority? For some reason, it reminds me of a used car dealer saying, “This is a good deal.”

In an e-mail statement, Lone Star Chairman John Grayken wrote,

“There is simply no credible evidence to support the court’s findings.”

Welcome to Korea. 

“Lone Star’s Yoo Jailed in Korea on Stock Manipulation”

Posted by Gerry-Bevers, filed under Uncategorized. Date: February 1, 2008, 1:13 am | 7 Comments »