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Hackers are an Insignificant Minority

Most people don't care that the iPhone is closed. They don't even know what the difference between open and closed is. And they most certainly don't care.

The iPhone is a phone. It was designed to address problems with phones. The problems it tried to address mostly had to do with the fact that cellphones are almost unusable. For example, I have no idea how to use most of the features on mine, and I'm a geek. It doesn't bother me.

Math Education

Math.

Math.

Here's the thing about math: People don't like it. I, for one, hated it in school. I remember math classes thusly:

1) Teacher writes some problems on the board and shows how to solve them.

2) Teacher gives an assignment of scores of similar problems, to be due the next day.

3) Teacher takes nap on desk while students start working on the assignment silently.

Japanese Pizza Hut Wackiness

See what the wackos at Pizza Hut Japan have dreamt up (click the image to go to Flickr for notes):

Seas of Plastic

Anyone who knows me knows that I tend to pooh-pooh anything I perceive as hippie nonsense, and this includes a great deal of environmental nonsense (watch Penn & Teller's Bullshit! episodes on recycling and the environmental movement for a pretty good explanation of why I roll my eyes).

But the story linked below just has to be told. Executive summary: There are three spots in the oceans where the water runs very slowly. The currents just kind of swirl there, so a lot of stuff gets stuck. These things are hundreds of miles across.

QTFairUse6 2.5

Well, ladies and gentlemen, the iTunes Music Store (iTMS) just got useful.

With the release of QTFairUse6 2.5, you can finally, quickly and effortlessly, strip Fairplay DRM infection from your iTMS files without screwing up your iTunes library or playlists. This handy little app scours your library for offending files, captures them to non-DRMed AAC files, and replaces them in the database, so everything continues to work as before. It also backs up the infected ("protected" in industry parlance) files to a folder of your choosing, should you find that something didn't work right.

There is no command line to fuss with, no obscure settings, nothing. Just fire up the application, tell it to process all, tell it whether and where to save the original files, and hit "Start Conversion."

Since this was released last week, I have spent about $50 at the iTMS. I still don't like the sound of the files that much, but for things like re-buying CDs that I stupidly sold when I was strapped for cash in college but that I don't care that much about (Nirvana's In Utero, for example), it's quick and easy. And now that I know that I can keep the things I buy, I have no qualms about using the iTMS.

Hey Apple and RIAA thugs, if you're reading this: Do you understand what I'm saying? I will give you money if you let me keep what I buy. If you don't, I won't. It seems pretty straightforward to me, but then again, I don't have shit for brains.

Anyway, get this app and clean up your tracks before Apple makes you upgrade iTunes again and you have to wait for that to be cracked!

UPDATE:
For those of you (I'm looking at you, aaron!) who are unwilling to read the post linked above, here is a direct download link, which includes the files necessary for cracking iTunes 7.1.1:

Vegemite: Brekkie of Champions!!!

Of course, I have been aware of Vegemite for many years, as well as its English inspiration, Marmite, but I had never tried it before a few days ago. I had always heard from Americans that it was salty and awful, but a great many Brits, Aussies, and Kiwis enjoy such things as their default breakfast. Despite the fact that I have a soft spot for the tastes of other English-speaking countries (Weetabix, anyone?), I guess I just didn't think that something described as "yeast extract" could be anything but nasty.

Oh how wrong I was.

I probably would have gone to that great big breakfast buffet in the sky having never tried Vegemite if it weren't for an article I can't find now that laid out the ideal set of meals for maintaining optimal brain function throughout the day, and Vegemite was listed as the best breakfast you can have.

Since I have issues with my brain function sometimes, I decided to give it a shot. I picked up a jar at Kaldi at Nishi Funabashi Station, took it home, made some toast, spread it on...

...and gagged. I couldn't even swallow the first bite. I spit it into a plastic bag with the toast so that it couldn't taint the other trash and threw it away.

I decided to return the vile substance to whence it came in the form of shoving it at Jack, my Aussie friend and coworker, in front of a gaggle of giggling students.

"Return this to your people," I proclaimed, sliding the jar across the table, "with my utter contempt and condemnation!"

"Did you try it with butter?"

"...No..."

"You have to have it with butter or it tastes like crap. And don't put too much on."

"Oh."

He slid it back across the table.

US GIs also used "comfort women"--I KNEW IT.

US GIs in occupied Japan took advantage of official Japanese brothels.

This doesn't surprise me in the slightest, but it's nice to finally start getting some documentation to tarnish the US's reputation in WWII. All the outcry around Asia about comfort women, which is then echoed by the US, and it turns out that Japan had to set up brothels for the GIs.

I don't have a lot of time to go on about this just now, but here's the deal: Soldiers are assholes. That's what we pay them for. We pay the military to take normal, everyday guys, and turn them into murderous animalistic assholes. What's weird is that usually they turn back into normal guys in not too many years after.

So all this blathering about Japan's use of prostitutes in WWII, which I see as a very thinly-veiled method of extorting money from Japan, is just plain ridiculous. I'm not saying they didn't abuse women, or that doing so is okay. I'm saying that everyone does it. That doesn't make it right, but let's just be honest here. Prostitution and war have always gone hand-in-hand. Get over it. It's just another reason why war sucks and should be avoided.

I am very interested in this period of Japanese history. We all know about the atrocities Japan committed in WWII, but... I just can't accept that we didn't do similar things and just didn't get caught. I think a lot of the shock and horror over awful shit like Abu Ghraib is just because we never realized that kids from Iowa could do things like that, because the victor writes history, and that was always us. Now anyone can write history, and does write history, as it happens, regardless of who wins. And sure enough, it turns out the US is not the paragon of virtue it believes itself to be. And articles like this prove that it never really was.

How a Shower Toilet Works

I made a little video explaining how those fancy-schmancy shower toilet bottom washers works. I hope that this will be the last of my poop-themed videos, although I am in Japan, and you know what they say about Rome and their scat-porn...

Or is that just about Japan?

How a Japanese Heat-on-Demand Water Heater Works

I made a little video explaining how heat-on-demand water heaters in Japan work. Our system is about 10 years old.

HOWTO: Wipe Your Butt

I felt it was necessary to respond to this YouTube video with my proposal of a better way of wiping your butt. My method retains the hygienic properties of the crumple method, while preserving the economical and environmental properties of the fold method.

I present to you: The Rolling Method: Best of Both Worlds!

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