Unrelated Thoughts

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I´m not famous... Am I?

Hey! I was not expecting this! I don't know how it happened, and I don't know how to make it happen again. But it's a cool once in a lifetime experience!

The main newspaper in my country, El Comercio, has just published this week's Blogs of Note list and Desde Japón, my blog in Spanish, is mentioned there!!! (Click here for an automatic translation of El Comercio).

A rough translation says: "Desde Japón - Log book by Giancarlo Flores, a young student that has been studying in Kyoto for a year, telling us his adventures in the Japanese society. His blog lets us know some of the little unpublished aspects of the experiences of the Peruvians living in Japan".

Short but cool, ain't it?

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The 700 Club

When I was a little kid, there were only three TV channels in my country (No cable TV by that time!). Two of them had some kind of Christian TV program everyday. One of them was The Jimmy Swaggart Telecast, a show that was brought into discredit after it was revealed that Swaggart had been consorting with a prostitute, more scandalous since he himself unleashed fire against rival TV evangelist Rev Jim Bakker a few months before for committing adultery with minister and secretary Jessica Hahn. The other show was The 700 Club, now under fire after Pat Robertson called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez: “If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war”. The day after, he said he didn’t say that: “I was misinterpreted. I never said assassination”.

While I don’t support what Chavez is doing in Venezuela (although apparently his approval rating is around 70% over there), I have to be on his side now, for I condemn murder as a Political Tactic. What’s more, American Government apparently shares my view: “This is not the policy of the United States Government", Sate Department spokesman Sean McCormack said, "we do not share his views” (i.e. Robertson's). Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, having said that political assassination was illegal, added: “Private citizens say all kinds of things, all of the time”. As if the words of such a prominent figure as Robertson were of no consequence!!!

The Venezuelan ambassador to the United States stated: "Mr. Robertson has been one of this president's staunchest allies. His statement demands the strongest condemnation by the White House". Don’t you think the same demand would be made by the American Government if any public person anywhere in the world would ask for the killing of Bush? Or of any American Citizen, for that matter? Why is it called terrorism if an Arab on a Mosque asks for the killing of Americans, but not in the case of Robertson? That’s the same question that asks Arab News on a recent editorial.

The ignoring of the ambassador demand invites accusations of hypocrisy and double standards at a time when America should be trying to mend its international reputation.

By the way, neither The Jimmy Swaggart Telecast nor The 700 Club are aired on Peru now.

Friday, August 26, 2005

tlhIngan Hol Dajatlh'a'

[Do you speak Klingon?]

English is the most spoken language on the Internet. No doubt about it. Just as a reference, you'll find almost 700,000 entries in that language on Wikipedia, while there are roughly 135,000 in Japanese, 64,000 in Italian and 61,000 in Spanish. But despite this English supremacy, it is nice to find there are still many online tools for all other languages. And by all I mean all...

Did you know that there's a Google version in Quechua? Quechua was the language spoken by the Inkas in Peru, Bolivia and some other countries, and it's still spoken by some ten million people. You can use the Quechua dictionary (there's even a Webster's one online!), or take some Quechua lessons...

Fancy something more interesting? Why not learn Klingon, the language spoken by the Klingons on StarTrek? The language was created by Marc Okrand and has its own grammatical rules... even it's own writing system! Of course you can buy the Klingon dictionary or just play on Google in Klingon!

Strange? Weird? There's a Google for every occasion! Don't you believe? Just check Google in Hacker! Wanna understand the rare writing your 12-year old son uses with his friends? You can use the English-to-12-Year-Old-AOLer Translator! Or you can try the South Park's Kenny Translator! Wanna know how a Redneck, an Ozzie or an Skinhead would read your favorite web page? Try the Universal Translator! On an emergency? And your cell phone has no signal? Then you better use the Morse Translator to get that SOS message out! Do you want to know what the hell Eddie posted on your blog? Just use any Malay Dictionary! (And don't tell him that you know...)

It's great to know that, despite the fact that English has a privileged seat on the world's language table, democracy still reigns, and there's space for any other language on the Internet.

WUT DO U THINK???!!!!!?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Tragic August

A friend of mine told me last week that she has always felt August as a tragic month for commercial aviation. This month we have had accidents on Greece, Venezuela and, yesterday, in Peru. This last plane had just taken off from the airport when it crashed 20 miles from Pucallpa, into the jungle. The pilot tried to make an emergency landing without its landing gear on a road near the jungle airport in heavy rain storms.

It feels as a sad month indeed. My deepest condolences to those who had relatives on any of those flights. May their souls rest in peace.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Conspiracy Theories

9-11 Attacks were planned by terrorists. There's no doubt about it. Ain't it?

People who love conspiracy theories (those who loved Duchovny's The X-Files and Mel Gibson's Conspiracy Theory...) have started digging on the pictures and footage of the 9-11 plane attacks, and have found some (disturbing?) evidence that something doesn't fit the official American government position about what happened that day.

Let's see:

  1. Reviewing the pictures of the Pentagon, one may conclude that the plane that hit there either had no wings (!!!), or was not a Boeing 757 but rather a smaller (maybe military?) plane (!!!)
  2. No Arabs found on the autopsy of the bodies of Flight 77 (the one that hit the Pentagon)
  3. A peculiar "three-dimensional anomaly" on the Flight 175 (the one that hit the second tower of the WTC) and the apparent lack of windows that makes it resemble the shape of a military refueling tank Boeing 767, and not of a civilian plane
  4. A video of the first plane crashing the WTC apparently shows that it was too little to be a Boeing 767
  5. The Flight 93 (the one that hit ground on Philadelphia) ceased to have any electronic activity three minutes before hiting ground. Was it attacked with a high-powered microwave weapon?

While I do still think that the USA suffered from a terrorist attack, there's apparently enough evidence to believe that the government either knew about the attack before it happened (and still let it happen), or that it took advantage of it by "enhancing" the damages so to get full support from that country's people. I don't actually believe the theory that the whole thing was a hoax created by Bush.

What do you think?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Just a Small Police Mistake???

As everybody else, I'm scared about terrorism. I lived the worst years of the terrorist groups Shinning Path and MRTA in Peru, and I know what's to live frightened about what could happen next. And yes, some police brutality has also happened there. And I always thought (gullible me!) that American and British police always did better. But that was up to today. As some of you may know, London Police killed by mistake a Brazilian citizen after the last London bombings. They told us that this guy had been running and that he didn't stop when police ordered him to do so. And so they shut. But new information has been known today, and it appears that this guy didn't run from the police and that he actually did respond when they shouted “Police!” by standing up (he was seated in the train reading a newspaper) and going TO them (not running from them). He was not wearing the bulky winter jacket we were told, but a light denim one. And he was shut. Eight times. Seven on the head and one on the shoulder. He died immediately. If you want to read more about that, click here.

There's a second case, this time about a Peruvian living in USA, who was subdued with pepper spray while being arrested because of an old transit ticket (for not wearing a seat belt!). He stopped breathing and now he's in coma...

Times are difficult, I know, and police officers are suffering from stress. Is this guy a terrorist? Maybe I should shut and then ask. American and British governments say that they're investigating the mistakes. Because they think those were just small mistakes on the war against terrorism...

You know what bothers me most? That 15 years ago Amnesty international, Americas Watch, Human Rights Watch and others made high noise about things like these happening in my country. USA and other governments used to listen to them, and put Peru on their Black List. But now, that these same things happen on their own backyards, they argue that “these are no more than just small mistakes”.

Is this fair?

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Heat Is On

I used to think I knew summer and winter. And spring and fall. But then I came to Japan and realized that I was, oh! so wrong... Winters in Lima (Peru's Capital City) meant freezing 15°C. Summers came with hellish 28°C...

Last week's maximum temperature raised here up to 36°C, and both a friend who used to live in Panama City, and another who used to live in Pucallpa (one of Peru's hottest cities) complaint about this one-hell of a weather... the hottest summer they'd ever lived...

Is that true? I did a quick search on Panama's and Pucallpa's maximum temperatures, and found that they reach easily 36°C. So, are they lying???

Well, I discovered they're not. There's a temperature index called humidex, which compares real temperature with subjective temperature through relative humidity. What?!?!?! Well, it's simple: the human body releases heat through sweat. When the weather's dry, sweat evaporates easily and the body keeps a fresh temperature. But when the weather's humid, sweat doesn't evaporate and the body can not keep a comfortable temperature. And you feel hot.

So what happens in Kyoto? Real temperature reaches 36°C but, because the relative humidity is so high, the subjective temperature raises up to 44°C or 46°C. And that's hot!

So now I truly believe that weather in Lima is that of a permanent spring. And I miss that...

Man, it's so hot here!