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Friday, November 24, 2017

Lightning With A Chance Of Antimatter

A Kyoto University-based team has unraveled the mystery of gamma-ray emission cascades caused by lightning strikes.

Lightning can result in matter-antimatter annihilation.

What is antimatter? It is the physical opposite of matter.

Antimatter is a material composed of the antiparticle (or "partners") to the corresponding particles of ordinary matter. In theory, a particle and its anti-particle have the same mass as one another, but opposite electric charge, and other differences in quantum numbers.

Conceptually, when matter meets antimatter, the two entities are supposed to violently eliminate each other. Conceptually, in my opinion, equal amounts of each part of space would be eliminated, perhaps creating a void in the physical space… maybe even in time. In my science-fiction world, an explosion between matter and antimatter would rip a hole in the fabric of time and space…

That wouldn’t mean we could pass into the antimatter universe, or antimatter creatures pass into ours… each would be made of the corresponding matter/antimatter particles, and thus in coming in contact with its opposite, would cause a big ka-BOOM!!!!.

Anyhow… in a collaborative study appearing in Nature, researchers from Japan have determined how gamma rays (think how the Incredible Hulk was formed) from lightning react with the air to produce radioisotopes and even positrons—the antimatter equivalent of electrons.

"We already knew that thunderclouds and lightning emit gamma rays, and hypothesized that they would react in some way with the nuclei of environmental elements in the atmosphere," explains Enoto Teruaki (surname first) from Kyoto University, who leads the project.

"In winter, Japan's western coastal area is ideal for observing powerful lightning and thunderstorms. So, in 2015 we started building a series of small gamma-ray detectors, and placed them in various locations along the coast."

The team built detectors and installed them across the northwest coast of Honshu. And then in February 2017, four detectors installed in Kashiwazaki-shi (Kashiwazaki City), Niigata-ken (Niigata Prefecture) recorded a large gamma-ray spike immediately after a lightning strike a few hundred meters away.

It was the moment the team realized they were seeing a new, hidden face of lightning.

When they analyzed the data, the scientists found three distinct gamma-ray bursts. The first was less than one millisecond in duration; the second was a gamma-ray afterglow that decayed over several dozens of milliseconds; and finally there was a prolonged emission lasting about one minute.

Enoto explains, "We could tell that the first burst was from the lightning strike. Through our analysis and calculations, we eventually determined the origins of the second and third emissions as well."

The second afterglow, for example, was caused by lightning reacting with nitrogen in the atmosphere. The gamma rays emitted in lightning have enough energy to knock a neutron out of atmospheric nitrogen, and it was the reabsorption of this neutron by particles in the atmosphere that produced the gamma-ray afterglow.

The final, prolonged emission was from the breakdown of now neutron-poor and unstable nitrogen atoms. These released positrons, which subsequently collided with electrons in annihilation events releasing gamma rays.

"We have this idea that antimatter is something that only exists in science fiction. Who knew that it could be passing right above our heads on a stormy day?" says Enoto.

The team still maintains over 10 detectors on the coast of Japan, and are continually collecting data.


Aside from the witty repartee at the beginning of this article, and the odd bit of me editing for this blog’s style (I actually have style! Finally!), the rest is taken directly from an article.

Credits: Kyoto University. "Lightning, with a chance of antimatter: Netizens help scan lightning for gamma rays." ScienceDaily, 22 November 2017. <>.
Photo Credit: Kyoto University/Teruaki Enoto

Thunderbolt and lightning, very, very frightening to
Andrew Joseph
PS: I do not take credit for the awesome headline, a pun based on the movie, Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs. That was ScienceDaily. Smart and Funny. Sexy.  

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Malware Virus Attacking Japanese Banks


Sounds like what you do when mucous threatens to roll out of your nostril and down onto the ground unbidden. Ursnif.

But no. Ursnif (aka Gozi) is trojan malware spread via spam in the e-mail targeting Japan—a top target—as well as North America, Europe and Australia.

While IT workers battle to contain and rid company computing systems of the troublesome malware, new attacks in Japan show that the hackers have developed new evasion techniques, ensuring that the virus keeps mutating.

My gal pal FFF, a reader of this here blog, alerted me of the situation… a battle of computer savvy of epic proportions featuring Ursnif/Gozi that has actually been going on for years.

Starting this past September, Japanese banks have been especially hard hit.

Along with targeting banks, the Japanese malware variation has been targeting user credentials for local webmail, cloud storage, cryptocurrency exchange platforms and e-commerce sites.

Ursnif/Gozi was first discovered in 2007 (Buddha-knows how long it was around before being discovered).

The original malware targeted only English-speaking countries… until 2010 when source code for the Trojan was accidentally leaked. That lead to the development of Ursnif v2 that adopted web-injection techniques and leverages a hidden virtual network computing (Hvnc) feature.

By the end of 2010, it was attacking banks in the U.S., U.K. and Europe (implying that the U.K. isn’t geographically part of Europe, despite its political exist from the European Union… it’s still Europe).

Now in 2017, Ursnif/Gozi is affecting banks in Japan, Australia, the U.S., Bulgaria, Czech Republic,  Poland and Spain (the latter four considered to be “Europe”) (You know I’m just being snide and sarcastic there.)

Apparently, of the banking malware currently attacking, Ursnif/Gozi is involved in 21% of them, just behind Zeus at 24%.

What does Ursnif do? The most up-to-date version of it performs: script-based browser manipulation, web injections, man-in-the-browser functionality, form grabbing, screen capture, session video grabbing and hidden VNC and SOCKS proxy attacks.

I won’t even pretend I know what some of that means.

I never even heard of this: malspam and exploit kits. I won’t even add a joke here.

Against Japan, malspam is the popular form of Ursnif delivery.

Malspam can be fake attachments pretending to be from financial services and payment card providers in Japan. Another malspam variant delivers an HTML link that triggers a download of a .zip file containing a JavaScript. The script launches a PowerShell script that fetches the Ursnif payload.

Why target Japan? “The history of organized cybercrime in Japan is not very long,” explains Kessem. “In most cases of malware migration, cybercriminal groups with adequate resources are looking for easier money, less security and an element of surprise for users who are less accustomed to their spam ploys and social engineering during the banking session.”
As a side note, I find spam to be interesting… 

Not the virus crap poor IT professionals have to dig through, but rather the simple cons that are begun with a simple e-mail from some stranger contacting you out of the blue asking for help in return from butt-loads of money. 

I had collected a whole mess of spam e-mails and was going to create a blog showing off the latest in cons via e-mail, but decided ultimately that I didn’t have enough time in the day to keep it going, having just one year ago accepted the job of coaching kids’ baseball and even hockey.

Of course there would have to be one featuring the classic Nigerian prince; help in funneling money out of some country where citizens are not allowed to withdraw money from a bank; e-mails from people who start by calling you ‘Darling’; and messages telling you that your e-mail or banking data information has been breached.

Did you know that I sometimes get spam sent to me apparently from my own e-mail account. It says it’s my address… but WTF? Do I note the e-mail as Junk or Spam, or will that sudden;y make ALL of the e-mails I send become Junk or Spam? I don’t know.

Trust me… if you receive an e-mail from me, unless I call you by your actual name somewhere in the e-mail - it ain’t from me. Personalizing any message is important (unless it’s the 3rd or more in a long chain of quick messages).

I recently rec’d vicious and profane messages directed to this blog as comments - some 3 a minute until I had over 300 comments over two separate attacks… but since I insist that all comments remain unpublished until I personally approve them, I could just designate them all as junk/spam.

What was annoying, was that after I wrote about the “attack” here in this blog, I received another flurry of commentary attacks.

I never responded to a single comment - mostly because I never “published” them and instead tagged them as junk/spam and then deleted them.

The hacker told me his name, his e-mail address and phone number. Why? I’m not sure, but I would bet that utilizing any of them could have actually opened up the door for further harassment.

Just yesterday, while at work, my cellphone rang. Not many people know the number. Certainly not the Canadian Revenue Agency, as some robotic message tried to tell me I had to call them or be arrested. Like I said, no one has that number. 

Here’s what a fellow complainant wrote about his/her issue with the same: 647-749-2251 phone number, phone HERE:

Automated message at 12:10 from the “CRA” stating there is a warrant out for my arrest for tax fraud. Need to call them back immediately. Called. "Officer" said they came to my house earlier with a Letter from CRA, nobody opened. So, I will be arrested. Police unit is on the way. Stay home don't hang up. You could avoid arrest if pay around 5000K. It could be done via Shoppers or Wallmart. Should buy 20 giftcards... 

Sadly, not everyone is hip to scams like this and might actually be concerned enough to do as requested.

People… the Canada Revenue Agency does not want gift cards. They would want their money, and would give you many different scenarios to pay back any money owed… perhaps even as determined in a court of law. Whatever. tax trouble? Call a lawyer.

Anyone asking you for money and you haven’t slept with them multiple times (for free) - why are you giving them money? Tell someone, ask for advice, proceed carefully.  

Anyhow… with regards to the CRA phone scam, no robot message is calling anybody to threaten them. The CRA has people who are robotic to do that.

I love how even the robotic message fails to use proper English grammar. I’m fairly sure that the CRA would have grammar that originated from someone from a native speaker.

Thank your lucky stars that there are people like FFF on the job keeping you as safe as humanly possible from the hacker.

And fer crissakes... help yourselves... if you see an e-mail that causes you pause... it's causing you pause for a reason... send it to the Junk or Spam folder. Look up the particulars online, and act accordingly.

Never open up "puzzling" material just because you are puzzled. Your IT department will thank you in their prayers to HAL later.

Hours after publishing this, I received a spam e-mail—a type I haven't received in a while: 

At least the "ru" designation on the e-mail provided is legitimate for mother Russia... but I've never been on Badoo. I don't even know what it is.

Andrew Joseph
PS: Just in case you didn't know it... in the books and movies of 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke, the malfunctioning computer is named HAL... one letter each removed from IBM.
PPS: The monolith is meant to represent a fuel cell that is supposed to be part of more fuel required to ignite Jupiter into our solar system's second star. Most solar systems are binary or trinary star systems. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are all gas giant planets that are lacking enough fuel to ignite into star like our sun, Sol. I think they are called brown dwarf stars, but gas giant planets will suffice. Now the movie should make more sense.   



Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Japanese Flag Trading Card

Just a brief one today.

In searching up cards to research for my Pioneers of Aviation blog that I write once a week, I found the above card that was issued with a French chocolate company, Chocolat Pupier Jolies, in the 1930s or so era.

It may have been part of a series showing world flags.

The French had a fascination with the Japanese and their art and way of life since the late 1870s.

It’s just a card that shows of the country’s Navy Rising Sun flag... but also showing Japan's military... probably already internationally known in the 1930s for its imperialistic military showings.  

Andrew Joseph

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Japanese Superman Comic Books - 1970s & 1980s

Up-up-and away!!!

Despite the photo above, I've never been a huge Superman fan.

I could never be Superman. Plus the guy was near-on invincible... except to magic and krypotnite. As such, I thought the only way to beat Superman was if you were say, an imp from the 5th dimension, or hard a heart made of green kryptonite - anything else, and he just let you win, or you had to go after something he loved and hold them hostage. Boring. And not just Wayne Boring. Wayne Boring was one of the earliest men to work on the Superman comic book stories... doing ghost work (unnamed).

I was a Batman guy... the guy had no super powers, but his dead parents left him a billion-dollar fortune and a butler. He trained to become the Batman...  he earned his Bat utility belt.

Anyone could train hard enough to become Batman if they had the billion dollar fortune and a butler... a you know, there but for the grace of god, crap. I was lazy... and preferred reading comic books rather than trying to emulate them.

Despite my preference for Batman over Superman, I read a lot of Superman stories - always hoping for that killer storyline that would make someone who was the original superhero into someone I could enjoy reading again.

Lots of people tried, and lots of people failed. I think the closest to seeing a Superman done correctly was the British version of Captain Marvel entitled Miracleman. You should seek out a copy and have your mind blown. I'm talking about the Eclipse Comics version in the 1980s. Best comic book storyline. Better than the Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. Better than The Watchmen. Excluding the first 100 issues each of The Amazing Spider-man and The Fantastic Four, nothing from Marvel even comes close. And yeah, there's been some terrific stuff from many a comic book company... but Miracleman... that sh!t is dark and scary and well-drawn and even better written.
A page from MIracleman #15. A kindness... where Kid Miracleman (thing Captain Marvel Jr.) is eliminated...
Sadly... when DC Comics decided to publish Superman in Japan, it had an opportunity to create storylines and artwork that the Japanese audience could have eaten up... instead, from 1978 thru the early 1980s, we have reprints.

Reprints of Superman art on covers that don't match the stories on the inside... and those stories... while entertaining, probably pale when compared to the stories and art comic book companies began to put out in the 1980s...

Marvel, in my opinion, was originally story driven... continuing plots and growth of characters... DC had self-contained stories, but the characters rarely seemed to age or grow as people or as superheroes.

The Denny O'Neil/Neal Adams Green Lantern/Green Arrow stories of the 1960s  showed character growth, a look at the politics and social injustices going on in the US at that time, and featured the industries best artist.

The same duo turned Batman into the Dark Knight detective in the 1960s, too.

Neal Adams - his art was also featured in the X-Men and Avengers books of the 1970s... and not surprisingly, were the some of the best stories ever for that team.

Neal also did some art for Superman... not enough... but some... and the fact that when you look at books with his art... and even without knowing the artists, you just know that someone very good made a dull character look a helluva lot less dull.

Anyhow... let's look at the covers for a few of the Japanese Superman books of the 1970s-80s. The comics are color and black and white in the interior.

I'm pretty sure this was originally the cover of Superman #300... I can even recall buying it. As an anniversary issue, it was a re-telling of his origin story. This Japanese Volume 2 #1... I would have been 13 when this came out. On June 30, 1978, US$1 was 203.65 yen... basically...  it cost $1.40 for this comic book. What a rip. Granted the inside of the book was different from the cover... but still... we're talking about a reprint translated to Japanese, and a written article in Japanese... pages in black and white to save  on printing costs...  wow... what an over-priced comic book.

The original Superman 300 was released with a cover date of June 1976... so I was 11.
One of the most iconic Superman covers of all time. Originally Superman 233 with art by Neal Adams, they ruined it in this Volume 2 #2 issue...

I once bought a stripper boots... so I understand this cover. That's Star Sapphire, aka Carol Ferris, Green Lantern's sometime girlfriend.
I'm pretty sure I prefer this version of Star Sapphire. Enjoy... I've got nothing after this but plain old comic book covers...

Interesting how there was a 40-yen increase in  price for this issue over the previous ones... yeah.. Superman fails.

I think Supes is fighting the Parasite.

For you comic book collectors out there... I didn't even know these comic books existed. Granted I'm a bit North American centric when it comes to comic book collecting.

In fact, I have a lot of comic books that are Canadian covers or comics specifically made for Canadian audiences that the American-centric comic book market refuses to acknowledge.

I have a few British comics... and Russian, Swedish ones... and I know they exists in Greece, Denmark, Holland, Australia and New Zealand, India... everywhere... usually when I collect an international book, it is either a Donald Duck or Uncle Scrooge version...

For sheer rarity, the foreign books of North American heroes... those are tough to find in a decent condition.

I suppose you could find these Japanese Superman books... but I bet you'd pay more for them than you would for American Superman books of the same vintage.

Good hunting.

Andrew "Never faster than a speeding bullet" Joseph

Monday, November 20, 2017

Sour Grapes, Maybe, And Far Too Expensive Grapes

More or less fresh from the fertile Internet comes an interesting YouTube video where some gaijin decided they would checkout Japan's fascination with over-priced fruit.

I'm also going to go off-topic.

Every time the world hears about Japan in a non-political news story, it more times than not is dictated by just "how much someone is paying for a"...

In the past, it means outrageous prices for a single tuna, a watermelon, for a melon...

This time its for budō (grapes, ぶどう) - for a variety known as Ruby Roman grapes, that for a perfectly aligned weight of grapes the gaijin twosome, accompanied by a local Japanese friend, purchased a handsome bunch of plump red grapes.

They did so for US$1,997. ¥216,000.

First off, where the fug did they get $1,977 dollars??!!

What the hell am I doing wrong with my life?

Secondly... WTF... why do the grapes cost that much?

Thirdly, you can read my 2016 blog on the Ruby Roman Grapes HERE.

The folks in the video (below) asked as much, but got a simple roundabout answer (perhaps because the question was lost in translation)... about HOW the price is determined, but not WHY.

We can assume it is a rare variety, it is ultra tasty, and thus scarcity of supply and demand helps determine the price the grapes can ultimately bear.

For example... if NO one bought these grapes, and they just withered on the grocery store shelf, then obviously the price is too high for the grapes.

Want to pay less for stuff... stop being the sucker that pays the super high price. The market will only bear what the market will bear.

It's like all the greedy people who feel the need to be the first to own the latest and best phones. Why?

I am sure some people out there can conceive of a perfectly great reason to have to own one the first day it arrives on sale.

I have an Apple iPhone 5S. Do you know how much I paid for it? $50. Canadian. Because I waited a few years and bought it from some kid who felt he needed something "better" and more expensive.

I use to to sit in the washroom at work and play Sudoku.

I have it, because as a baseball coach, I need to be available to relay valuable game on or game off data to parents on game days because of weather. That's why I got it.

I have used it maybe 15 times for phone calls in the 11 months I have owned it.

I did not have a phone before that.

I'm at work. I'm a home. I'm at baseball or hockey. I'm in the car.

I do not need to be constantly checking out inane messages from people about where they are or what they are doing. I'm doing my work. I'm relaxing at home. I'm being a safe driver. I'm educating kids.

Any texts, e-mails, etc... from people... it can wait. If you need me that badly for something - call me. I ain't checking messages unless I'm at home or at work.

The important phone call - and it better be effing important - call me.

WHY should I be at everyone else's beck and call? Suckers.

Old and outdated, some might consider... but I'm not a slave to everyone else. Really... suckers.

What's interesting, is that the youth and young adults of today believe that calling someone via a phone call is so out of fashion.

So why do we need the telephone aspect on an iPhone, for example?

All you need is a camera to do self-indulgent duckfaces (selfies) and to show the world just what you are eating and where - who cares... and a way to place said photos onto some anti-social media network... and a digital keyboard to input the data that tells everyone just what you are doing at that very moment.

When did people become boring?

I'm sure I'm boring... what with coaching kids in sports and life lessons (it's always more than just sports)... writing blogs that 3.3 million people have read these past eight years.... look at me... more people have read my stuff than most books written by authors.

I'm not saying I'm great. Far from it. I'm just saying that by not being on social media all the time, I am actually more social.

I know it sounds like sour grapes... but it's not. I'm a realist. Most of the time. Which is a helluva lot more than most people.

Speaking of sour grapes... let's look at those US$1,997 grapes.

Here's what I found out about the Ruby Roman grapes... the Ruby Roman is a variety of table grape grown and marketed entirely in Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan. It is red in color and about the size of a ping-pong ball. The first Ruby Roman grapes went on sale in August 2008 for 100,000 Japanese yen (US$910) per 700-gram bunch, or $26 per grape.

As a table grape, the grapes are deemed not suitable for creating wine, juice or raisins, but simply good enough to eat.

The Ruby Roman has strict rules for selling; each grape must be over 20g and over 18% sugar.

There's also a "premium class" of Ruby Roman which requires the grape to be over 30g and where the entire fruit bunch must weigh at least 700g.

In 2010, only six bunches qualified for premium status. In 2011, no grape bunch made the cut.

So... yes... a rare grape... rarer still if the grapes are of a certain size.

Worth it? I suppose it depends on one's definition of "worth".

I'm not saying I wouldn't have done the same if I had the money (okay, probably not), but I can understand wanting to so something "stupid" like this at least once.

I've certainly blown unseemly large amounts of money on things... most of which I regret, some of which I have no opinion on. 

Was it really worth the money? Eye of the beholder. At least these guys are internet famous, and hopefully making a few bucks of the thing.

Me? I'm too stupid to make money. It's why I don't have ads on this blog.

To me, when things become about making money, then it is work.

I still have fun creating this blog (and others), and while I assume one can have fun and make money, I'd rather not do so with this blog. I'm sure the amount of fun would diminish, and I won't want to do this anymore.

By the way... Ruby Roman... while the letter "R" does exist as part of the Japanese alphabets (all three of them)... it is not a single letter "R", nor is it pronounced the way native English speakers pronounced it.

I suppose the name was chosen (by committee) because of the robust nature of the grape (like a fanciful description of Roman legionnaires from 2000 years ago), and was chosen more for it's international options than for its national (Japanese ones)... I wish they had used a more Japanese name - even calling it a "samurai red" or something.

I checked... there's no "Samurai Red Grape".

Andrew Joseph
PS: I was just going to write a short intro to the video sent my way by my bud, Julien... and then I got lost in my own rant. Sigh.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Japan—Where Livers Go To Die

Back in the day, which is to say when I was younger, when I lived in Japan (1990-1993) I was already the type of hardcore drinker of beer.

The first time I went drinking with the Japanese during the Ohtawara-shi O-Bon Matsuri (Festival) a few days after arriving in the Tochigi-ken city, after being offered glass after glass of the watery-looking drink called sochu (familiarly known as rice wine sake), it was laughingly commented upon that I was a hebidurinka... which Japlish for "heavy drinker", no so much a commentary on my then-svelte physique, but on my ability to drink copious quantities of their local hooch without turning red, stumbling around or becoming abusively wasted.

The photo above... that's me having my first - or rather having finished my first - shot of sochu. It went down like water... a much appreciated refreshment considering it was +9PM in August and somewhere around 36C, not counting the humidity.

Dionald Duck is my favorite comic book character, so seeing the mask at a kiosk, I bought it, unaware that it was only the little kids who wore such things at the festival. Perfect.

The orange cloak was something special people involved in the festival's organization received. I don't know why they gave it to me, but color me grateful. Too bad the darn thing was lost in my house fire a few years back.

Anyhow... when I drink, I just get more funny. Apparently everyone around me simply gets more hard of hearing, as I find I then have to talk louder.

This is an interesting situation since I had only recently developed the persona of being an introvert pretending to be an extrovert. Huh... alcohol gets rid of inhibitions? Smack me with a bonne homme stick.

That’s not to say I was an alcoholic who “needed” to drink every day rather than “wanted” to drink every day—because I wasn’t. I didn’t drink every day, nor did I ever sit alone at home in my apartment in Japan and have an alcoholic beverage.

I was a social drinker.

Yes, drinking, while sometimes providing you with poor fashion choices, can help you become brave enough to put your arm around a sexy woman like Melissa. Just a an AET friend. 
And no, I didn’t pop a cold one the minute someone rang my doorbell, though I admit sometimes a bit of conversation lubrication might have helped me overcome much of my nerves in having to try and speak Japanese to some random bell-ringer at my door.

When women were over, I didn’t even feel the need to get drunk, mostly because if I was going to put the moves on someone, I would insist my partner be willingly sober, and me capable of performing to the best of my abilities.

I do admit to having to ply a girlfriend—a certain real girlfriend I had for months and months off and on—with alcohol, as that seemed to help get her over her own inhibitions, as she seemed to come across as shy to most everyone else who met her. Southern Comfort… I was in like Flint.

Strangely, when she was near me, and I wasn’t blah-blah-blahing to anyone and everyone around me, she didn’t seem shy… then again… there may indeed have been some sort of alcoholic beverage around.

Before Japan, aside from having rum & Coke drinks, beer in all its myriad form were my preferred choice of brain muddling.

Like my dad’s brother, my uncle Harold, I could drink-drink-drink, and then drink some more… and rarely barf (four times in my life: after a break-up with the above girlfriend; after sucking back a bottle of vodka at a college party months before leaving for Japan, sucking back 34 shooters and 11 mixed drinks for my 34th birthday years after leaving Japan, and the earliest one as a 20-year-old in Quebec City after powering down a bottle of Caribou Juice… some red wine whiskey mix usually sipped slowly to keep you warm during the outdoor evening festivities of the Quebec Winter Carnival. You drink it from a large plastic cane-like item called a bonne homme stick (good man stick).

Ahhh, good times.

You might wonder how I recall any of this… but aside from being a crying bubbling mess after the break-up in Japan, the rest of the time was just physical with little emotion.Worse yet, I recall every one else's alcohol-fueled slip-ups. But rest assured I am not the type to drink and tell. I can handle my liquor better than most.

I’m also one of those lucky buggers who never gets a hangover.

I can drink as much as I want, and maintain brain clarity. Without a hangover—even after those four barf-binges, I am clear the next day.Perhaps I could drink so much that I would die or slip into a coma, but I know how to drink far too much than is good for me, without doing that.

Practice, I suppose.

Uncle Harold could drink a bottle of booze and then go out and conduct the New Delhi Symphony Orchestra, or conductor of the Indian Army Marching Band… which were his jobs, by the way. The pained artiste, I suppose.

He can take the picture I'm painting, if I can take mine own self-portrait. He's been dead for 30 years.

Me? I may not have been able to function as well as him—he was a professional!

After winning a sake drinking contest against three people—two other AETs (assistant English teachers) and one high-ranking Japanese member of the prefectural board of education in Tochigi-ken (Tochigi Prefecture)—I went dancing. Now I did get kicked out of the hotel dance club, did break into a hotel forest diorama and awake from my alcohol-fueled coma with a stuffed deer peering down at me (I did NOT damage the diorama, as far as I could tell)… but the important lesson to be learned here as a 27-year-old (at that time), was that I awoke without a hangover, while the other two AETs were conspicuously absent from the conference for the next day, while the Japanese gentleman was functional but begging me to shut my big booming voice down to a level only a dog could hear.

Despite my adventures in spirits and whatever the hell Japanese rice wine is, beer was the drink most often plied down my pie hole while in Japan.

That's me on the right - drinking helps you make friends!
As an FYI, I haven't cumulatively drunk enough in the past 18 years to even equal a solid single night out in Japan. I don't enjoy it anymore, and don't feel the need to hide my true self behind a half-filled glass of alcohol.

To be quite honest... I've never really cared for the taste of alcohol and only really ever drank for the express purpose of the concept of excess. Look at me... I can drink more than anybody.

It hides all the other insecurities I had.

Now, those insecurities remain, but I don't really give a crap—so maybe I'm not so insecure as I thought I was. I'm cured!

Let’s take a closer look at the history of beer in Japan.

First off: The legal drinking age in Japan is 20. That is a handy bit of knowledge to have when approaching or being approached by a woman in a Japanese bar.

Secondly: In Japan—on virtually every street corner in every city, town, village and hamlet—have vending machines that dispense bottles and cans of pretty much any type of Japanese alcohol imaginable.

If you’ve got a few hundred yen, you can walk down the stairs of your apartment building, and purchase a beer, sake, or even wine.

I don’t believe I ever did that, despite the three machines parked on the eastern wall of the sake/convenience store located on the main floor of my apartment building (I was on the third floor directly above it).

I did purchase hot and cold coffees from time to time from the machines—Georgia coffee—but even from my friendly neighborhood sake dealer, I never bought alcohol. Hand to Buddha.

You know what… screw it… I think you’ve had enough.

Let’s pick up this topic tomorrow or maybe the next day, where it will be a look at Beer In Japan, rather than about Beer and Alcohol in Andrew.

Somewhere looking for gum,
Andrew Joseph
PS: I was tempted to leave this under "draft". Ha.
PPS: I had long ago determined that my reality is waaaaay more weird than most people's fantasy.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

1970 Japanese Lingerie Advertisement

What we have here, is, if you can believe it, a failure to communicate.

I recently fell down the rabbit hole looking for Alice when I came upon the magazine advertisement pictured above.

It’s a 1970 advertisement featuring a very sexy Japanese woman, which caught my eye… 1970… certainly… quite the radical shift from how companies were portraying the women of Japan in advertisements just a few years earlier… all done up in hard-to-unwrap kimono.

The plural of kimono is kimono…. like it would be for everything in Japan of which there is a multiple. There is no plural form. You could say there are many kimono, or there are 12 kimono… but it’s never there anything like six kimonos. Or tsunamis… just tsunami.

Anyhow… va-va-voom! When I think about Japanese woman, its the form above that is more realistic than the one of the tightly wound kimono-wearing woman.

Yes, I’m sure every woman in Japan has worn a kimono and probably owns at least one, but it’s nowadays just worn for special occasions.

But the Triumph ad above… well… despite what everyone on Pinterest or Tumblr or elsewhere on the Internet has to say, this is not a Triumph automobile advertisement.

I could tell, because I compared the company's crown logo with the car manufacturer's...  

This is a Triumph International the UK lingerie company, showing off, in this 1970 advertisement its wonderful sheer… what the fug is it… some sort of chemise or a negligee? Is it a babydoll? I don’t think it’s a baby doll because it doesn’t seem “flowing” at the base.

Actually, I think it is a Triumph Bra Slip.

I’m looking, but that bra ain’t slipping… but I get it.

Anyhow… I would imagine that even by the standards of the sexist 1970s, this ad, much like this blog today, is rife with sexism. But I'm using it ironically.

First off - a fine looking, if rather unspectacular product. Yeah it hugs the boobs. It comes in white.

In Japan, the Japanese love the color white, because it shows a purity of the soul... uh-huh. I hope that wasn't why they chose a white garment here... read on...

It’s night clothing undergarments… so we can be sure it’s not simply for sleeping… as evidenced by the fact that the other image in the advertisement shows a woman (I can’t tell if it’s the same Japanese model), sitting down, with a “gentleman” on her left, and another approaching so her face is crotch high on her right.

One woman. Two men. An advertisement for a sexy evening undergarment.

We’re talking MMF here. A threesome. Male-Male-Female.

I’m just throwing this out there, but in most occasions where a threesome exists - whether its a FFM or a MMF, if at least one of the F’s looks like our model, there ain’t no way that undergarment is going to ever be wearable again - torn to shreds in the hurry to get off, I mean get it off.

I’m assuming that things are going to be a bit rough here for our F.

What’s that around her right wrist? A chain.

Is she merely a slave to fashion, or to the men who want to take or give issue with her.

Now, the chain isn't locked... it's wrapped... implying she could remove herself from its bind at anytime she pleases. 

What’s that between her legs? A box? You know what I mean… I mean on the rocks below and between her open legged stance.

Forget the box… is that more chain? Is she standing on it, showing that she is able to throw of the shackles of her oppression… that she gives as well as she gets?

"I am woman, hear me roar, in my sexy new bra slip from Triumph. It's sexy enough to take on all comers."

It's probably just as well that I don't write copy for an advertising agency - even though I could do it, and do it very well.

Whatever… even if I had the translation of the words on the ad, I assume that all Japanese ads are simply weird anyway… and it is 1970… and while it doesn’t excuse it, it at least explains it.

Triumph International is still a top-level lingerie producer - one of the tops on the planet… and shop, began as a corset factory in southern Germany back in 1886, and continues to this day with a presence in over 120 countries selling its lingerie and underwear, of which I am pretty sure I have crumpled into a wadded ball in the corner of some darkened room at some point in time.

Andrew "create obvious pun about triumphing over whatever" Joseph