Tagged: Japan

RSBS Presents: Virtual Worlds

50_year_old_computer.jpgComputers have made our lives much easier.  They do our taxes, write our research papers.  They give us access to whole worlds of information we might never have known existed.  Interested in particle physics?  Wikipedia will give you a crash course or an even more simple explanation and then point you in the right direction to learn more.  Dating a body pillow more your speed?  Wikipedia can also point you in the right direction for all your assorted otaku interests.

The internet allows access to communities that might not exist otherwise or that might have steep barriers to entry.  Checking the classifieds for your local branch of NAMBLA probably isn’t going to reveal many results.  Troll around on the right message boards and chances are that you’ll gain entry relatively quickly.

However, with so much information out there, it’s easy to get lost.  And sometimes you just don’t quite know where to start.  Since we here at RSBS consider ourselves custodians of the needs of our community, we decided it might be helpful if we provided a brief primer introducing people to some of the larger worlds that exist out in cyberland. 

With that, we present an RSBS guide to virtual worlds:

Second Life
second_life_logo.jpgIf your first life isn’t going so hot, why not give a second one a shot?  You’re a morbidly obese unemployed diabetic in the real world?  That doesn’t mean you can’t be an Amazonian warrior goddess in the second one.  Just remember to eat in the real world because that big juicy steak you’re sharing with some Fabio-esque hunk doesn’t count for real world calories, even if the credits are costing you real world money.

Facebook
facebook_logo.jpgWhen we say Facebook here, we’re really referring to the entire social networking scene.  If you finally gave up on staying current a couple years ago, that means MySpace.  If you really had issues, Friendster.  The one thing they all have in common is allowing you to be cyber friends with people you already interact with in real life.  Unfortunately, this also forces you into awkward decisions when people you don’t really like attempt to friend you.  Our advice for you here is to set your standards low and your privacy settings high.

Fantasy Sports
DEAF_FANTASY_LOGO.jpgSo, you think you can run a team better than Matt Millen, huh?  Ok, that’s a given.  Some dude living in a village in Papua New Guinea could do it better.  But when you get a bunch of middle aged guys together, all of whom think they’re the next Theo Epstein, those thoughts intermingle and before you know it, you end up with fantasy baseball.  In the interest of full disclosure, the RSBS team are both full on addicts.  But that’s not to say that playing fantasy will make you the next hit baseball blogger.  If that kind of causality were true, all you’d have to do is hoover up a couple grams of blow to become the new manager of Texas Rangers.

The Blogosphere
Still haven’t found your niche?  Well, we do have one more option.  Maybe you really want to share the boring, mundane details of your life with anyone who has the misfortune of stumbling across your site or maybe you’re under the misguided notion that you need to forcefully champion some underrepresented opinion.  Or maybe you are just convinced that the entire world wants to read your take on baseball, politics and the intersection of the two. *ahem*  Well, if any of these are true, the blogosphere might be the place for you.  However, the competition is fierce.

Hopefully this little guide has helped brighten up the murky waters of the internet worlds for you.  If not, you can always grab one of those old AOL disks and start from scratch.  If even that is too much for you, the disks also make fantastic coasters.

-A

Eureka at the Edge of Consciousness

archimedes_eureka.jpgDo you ever have a revelation right as you’re falling asleep?  Where something just kind of hits you and then a second later you’re out?  For instance, the other night I was drifting off when it struck me that I really don’t want to be killed by a crocodile.  The whole ripping and tearing and drowning, I’m just not interested.

These little eureka moments on the threshold of sleep, somnolent epiphanies perhaps, usually disappear, replaced the next morning by a feeling of loss, like something was in your grasp and then faded away.  But not always.  Just like my Archimedes moment with the crocodiles the other evening, this morning I woke up with a similar sensation. Let me explain.

Last night I went to bed a little confused after reading Jeff’s post.  I mean, he knows I like girls and I wondered why he would make insinuations about my sexuality.  It just didn’t make sense to me.  I know it had nothing to do with what I posted the other day because it’s obvious that I’m just trying to help him with a very real problem.  But as I sank into sleep with these thoughts orbiting around my head, awareness suddenly exploded like a supernova.

Let me take you back a little.  Those of you who read this blog regularly or know Jeff well undoubtedly also know that he is infatuated with Asia.  The art, the languages, the religions, the peoples.  There is no aspect he does not love.

But, if you follow pop culture, you realize that within this arena there are barely understood subcultures, fringes on which things happen that are often hard to fathom.  And if you watch 30 Rock or read the New York Times you have become acquainted with possibly the most incomprehensible subculture. 

Having watched this episode of 30 Rock just the other day, it’s no surprise that both the show and the article were on my mind as I went to bed.  And when that mixed together in my head with a comment that a reader made the other day about substituting a blow-up doll in place of a girlfriend for Jeff, well, I had my eureka moment.

Yes, that’s right.  I could barely believe it myself but all signs point to Jeff being in a long-term relationship with some sort of body pillow.  The lack of a girlfriend.  The callously strewn about accusations.  The down feathers that always seem to be stuck in his hair.  All are signs pointing toward the inescapable truth.

Now, I am unable to comment on the veracity of reports that this body pillow sports an Albert Pujols jersey.  And I almost certainly do not believe the recent rumor that this pillow may actually be Jeff’s common-law wife.  That being said, it would explain a lot.

Really, though, I’m here to be a friend and that’s why I just want to say, “Jeff.  It’s all right.  You can come clean.  You’re among friends and we support you.”  So, how about it Mr. Lung?  Wouldn’t you feel better being able to live your life out here in the open with the rest of us?

-A

Obligatory McGwire Mention… and Some Other Crap

mark mcgwire steroids.jpgMark McGwire Quotes (that I made up):

“I didn’t want to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Lou Ferrigno.  I wanted to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno COMBINED!  ON ‘ROIDS!  ARRRRRGH!”

My talent comes from the ‘man upstairs’ and lemme tell ya, the ‘man upstairs’ is F***ING JUICED!  ARRRRRGH!

Yeah, I take Viagra, but just to stay healthy. It doesn’t help me bang hot chicks for hours and hours and hours at a time!  ARRRRRGH!”

Other Crap:

My duplicitous and oft abrasive colleague, Mr. Allen Krause, has been busy conjuring up all sorts of facetious baseball scenarios, one of which embraces the Selig-spawned, Selig-spun “world” World Series, proposing to pit the Major League Baseball champion against the… the… Japanese baseball… league champion?  What?

bud selig close up.jpgUh, excuse me, Mr. Krause, but… uh… insanity called, they want their madness back.

First of all, this is a Bud Selig ploy — a major league trick to make you think he’s actually working towards the betterment of the game.  Preposterous!  The World Series is called the friggin’ World Series because it boasts the two best baseball teams in the WORLD.  No Japanese champion can hang with the MLB champion.  If they could, then all those Japanese players would already be playing in the MAJOR LEAGUES! 

Ah, such treachery.  It saddens me to see Mr. Krause, someone so smart and so spry, take such a gigantic dip into the crazy-pool.  But wait.  Yes… it gets worse…

Some More Crap:

…Because somehow Mr. Krause got it in his head that once Albert Pujols’ contract is up with the Cardinals in 2011, that the perennial MVP candidate will be out to find a new, more financially sexy organization to call his home.  Mr. Krause even mentioned the possibility of seeing A.P. wearing an old English “D” across his chest!!!

Total f***ing horse****.

Sorry.  Had to go there.  Ahem…

Like the Tigers always have Ty Cobb, so too will the Cardinals always have Albert Pujols.

Don’t worry, Al… at least you will always have the image of Alan Trammell in a Tigers uni, forever.

Oh, wait.

alan trammell cubs.jpgHate me ‘cuz I pull back the curtain, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

(McGwire image courtesy of Coffee with Adam)

Towards a Truly World Series

NHL_ALL_STARS.jpgWhen the NHL switched it’s All-Star game format in the late 90’s from the typical conference vs. conference match-up to a North America vs. The World battle royale, it seemed to herald the dawn of a new, global style of sport. Of course there are the Olympics and the World Cup but if sports like hockey were going to take on an internationalist bent, it was only a matter of time before the whole world came on-board.

Five years later the game reverted back to it’s traditional format and globalism had lost a bit of its luster but the overall move towards a more universal sporting life continued to pick up steam.

Just take a look around the major American sports. The NBA is still dominated by Americans but Europeans, South Americans and even the Chinese have become stars in their own right. The NFL is probably the only league that can still claim to be nearly 100% American but that probably owes much to the fact that the rest of the world is more than happy with their own version of football.

Even the most traditionally American of sports has taken on a greater international context in the past decade with the creation of the World Baseball Classic. And MLB has no plans to stop there. Just this past week it was reported that Bud Selig has been in discussions with his Japanese counterpart for a match-up between the two countries’ respective champions. Maybe it’s only two countries at this point but there’s no doubt that baseball will follow soccer’s lead and institutes some sort of World Club Championships pitting the best club teams from around the world against each other.

It makes sense. There seems to be no end to what consumers are willing to suck up and with all the money to be made from the merchandising, not to mention the actual playing of these games, the different national leagues would be foolish not to join in. Bud Selig will do anything at this point to have his legacy be something other than the steroid era and this would definitely be one way to do that.

Lost in all this is the fact that despite its near collapse a few seasons ago, the NHL may have had it right after all. You can fight globalization and maybe you’ll win some battles. But the war has already been won and it’s here to stay. Baseball appears ready to embrace that.

-A

The Pitcher Bats

obama_akihito.jpgWhen an American League baseball team plays in a National League park, the pitcher bats. We don’t question this, even if we are die-hard fans of the designated hitter. It’s tradition and respect. Similarly, if I decide to head to Alabama or Arkansas, I know that I’m going to get weird looks if I ask for a soda or a pop. It’s perfectly appropriate and so much easier to just ask for a coke and then name my flavor.

So, the question is, if so much of American culture is based on reverence for tradition and institutions, why is there such an uproar over our ultimate representative respecting those same institutions in other countries?

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that it wasn’t the most graceful bow ever. But, by the same token, have you ever watched an American League pitcher try to hit? Yeah, for a highly trained and highly paid athlete it sure isn’t pretty. But it’s part of the respect that one league pays the other in baseball.

Listen conspiracy mongers, here’s how it breaks down. There’s nothing
wrong with being respectful of other countries and cultures. In fact,
if the people planning the invasion of Iraq would have known the first
thing about the culture and people in that country, we wouldn’t be
dealing with nearly 4,300 American lives lost and over 30,000 wounded.

Those who like to chatter in the blogosphere will continue to make a big deal of this incident and the right-wing pundits are enjoying every second of it. But if we took enough time to think about and respect the traditions of other countries as much as we respect who bats ninth in a National League ballpark, maybe this wouldn’t be what the world thinks all Americans are like:

-A

Credits:
Photo from http://www.newser.com

The Filibuster

I recently took an interest in Japanese baseball, meaning I found the NPB website and checked it out.  Being the linguistically worldly fellas that you are, what are your thoughts on Japanese pro baseball?
 
Tanky,
 
John (aka Jonestein)
Foat Wuth, TX.
Baseball, Apple Pie & Lobster
____________________________________

Hiroshima toyo carp.jpgWhile still behind the modern US American game in terms of global appeal, Japanese baseball does have a special place in the universe of our national pastime.  Indeed it has evolved much beyond the infant and fundamentally challenged Chinese game and the linguistically worldly fella in me likes to think that even Japanese basebrawls tend to be a bit more aggressive than their Korean counterparts’ elusive yet intriguing pitcher’s mound chicken dance routine.  Still, there is more to it than that.

During my first year in China, I had a Japanese roommate named Hayashi Nobuhide.  Nobby — as we white devils called him because, well, it was easier to pronounce — was a rabid baseball fan.  In fact, our friendship, which was predestined to be rocky due to 60 years of bad history, was solidified by our matched passion for the game.

Some of my fondest memories revolve around us getting up at 5am to watch the 1999 World Series during which he vehemently professed his equally tired hatred of the New York Yankees — for they were, to Nobby and his Japanese brethren, holistically representative of “all that’s bad with America” (his words, not mine, though most probably true, especially when considering the likes of Roger Clemens, Chuck Knoblauch and Tony Tarasco). 

And that year, Nobby cheered on the Atlanta Braves just like any other rabid Japanese nationalist: while wearing a Seattle Mariners cap.

Ichiro!  Ichiro!  Ichiro!

“But what about Hideki Irabu?” I asked.

“**** that traitor! Go Ichiro!” he replied.

“But Ichiro’s not playing.”

“He should be! ICHIRO!!!”

To hear Nobby tell it, Ichiro Suzuki was more popular, more influential, more inspiring than Jesus Christ himself (not to mention having a better stylist).  Everything about Ichiro, from his odd pregame warmups to his ritualized on-deck routine to his classic power pose at the plate was unequivocally all-things Japanese: systematic, graceful and proud.

Consider the fact that this undying allegiance came during the height of the steroid era, and I gotta admit, Nobby had a damn good point:

Sensationalized as the above may be, the truth remains: Ichiro is powerful.

And now, that power has multiplied.  The Japanese gifts continue to grace diamonds all across US America.  From Ichiro Suzuki to Takashi Saito to Kaz Matsui Kosuke Fukudome Hiroki Kuroda, the game has plenty of room for Japanese imports.

If we’re lucky, maybe someday we can even borrow the Hiroshima Toyo mascot; ‘cuz nothin’ says powerhouse baseball like a wet, smelly Carp.

Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff