Buddhist nun/author writes novel for cellphones


Photo from AFP/Getty Images

Japan’s best-known Buddhist nun is reaching out to a new audience by writing a mobile phone novel at the age of 86.

Jakucho Setouchi, a prolific writer and translator of 11th century epic romance “The Tale of Genji,” is latching on to a publishing revolution — short works of fiction distributed piecemeal by cellphone often become best-sellers in book form.

“At this age, there are few things that interest me. But it was the first time I had written a cellphone novel, and it was exciting,” Setouchi was quoted by a local newspaper as saying.

The novelist-turned nun herself led a colorful life until she took her vows in 1973. She left her husband and child after starting an affair with a younger man, and later had a lengthy affair with a married man.

But she gradually built up a literary reputation, winning the stamp of respectability in the form of an award from Emperor Akihito in 2006 following her translation of “Genji” into modern Japanese, which succeeded in bringing the classic to a wider audience.

The experiment was exciting – but, apparently, not worth making a regular means of communicating her fiction to the public.

It would drive me crazy…

Somali pirates steal 30 tanks – and the ship delivering them

A Ukrainian ship seized by pirates off the coast of Somalia was carrying 33 tanks and other weapons, the Ukrainian defence minister has confirmed.

Russia announced on Friday it would start carrying out regular anti-piracy patrols in the waters off Somalia. A navy spokesman said a warship had been sent to the area earlier this week to protect Russian citizens and ships.

Somalia has not had an effective national government for 17 years, leading to a collapse of law and order both on land and at sea.

Somali pirates are currently holding more than a dozen hijacked ships in Eyl, a town in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland.

Senior UN officials estimate the ransoms pirates earn from hijacking ships exceed $100m a year.

Earlier reports suggested that the cargo was destined for south Sudan, however Kenyan government spokesman Alfred Mutua confirmed that the tanks were going to Kenya.

If you don’t know any military history, let me tell you this was how the U.S. Marines got to be well respected around the world. Dealing with pirates in foreign waters.

Now, their skills are dedicated to regime change and the aggrandizement of politicians who never fired a gun in anger or self-defense. It’s about time for that to be added to the list of things to change.

And btw – lose all the movies showing us how accurately the CIA and NSA can track your footsteps through downtown Cincinnati. They can’t seem to find a fracking freighter trundling along the Horn of Africa.

Russia and Venezuela boost ties


“Isn’t it fun busting balls on American politicians?”

Russian and Venezuelan energy firms have agreed to work on an energy cooperation pact, at a meeting of their respective presidents. The two countries have been rapidly building closer military and economic ties, and have spoken of their opposition to US global dominance.

The latest deal calls for broader co-operation on oil and gas production.

Russia withdrew from Latin America when the Soviet Union collapsed but there are now signs of a new Russian assertiveness in the region. Venezuela is already one of the best customers of the Russian defence industry, with signed contracts promising to bring Russia more than $4 billion in weapons sales.

But…it is the political dimensions of the relationship that lead many analysts to ask whether Russia is now actively trying to create a counterbalance to American influence, starting in South America.

Americans, of course, think the Monroe Doctrine still works and the rest of the world cowers away from Latin America as the sole property of the United States.

Britain unveils new ID card. Bet you can’t wait to get yours!

Britain has unveiled its new biometric identity card which the government says will be vital in fighting illegal immigration and terrorism, while critics call it an expensive attack on civil liberties.

The controversial multi-billion pound scheme, which involves one of the world’s most ambitious biometric projects, will see ID cards used in Britain for the first time since they were abolished after World War Two.

Initially only foreign nationals from outside the European Economic Area will be required to have one if they come to Britain to work or study, but the scheme will be expanded to Britons and some others over the next few years.

Despite a series of embarrassing data losses recently, including the admission that the personal details of half the population had been mislaid, the government insists that both the cards and their related databases will be secure.

The Worldwide War on Terror continues to be the justification by incompetent politicans for every reduction in civil liberties and civil rights, every piece of nanny-state legislation, every intrusion into privacy a snoop ever thought of.

I don’t know who to thank for that? Osama Bin Laden or George W. Bush? Looks like a joint effort.

China`s maiden spacewalk to be broadcast live


Click for video of the launch

China will broadcast live the nation’s maiden spacewalk slated for 04:30 p.m. Saturday, local time. The spacewalk, or extra-vehicular activity (EVA), will last about 30 minutes.

Excluding the opening and the closing of the module gate, the real spacewalk may take about 20 minutes, he said.

One of the three taikonauts aboard the Shenzhou 7 spacecraft, Zhai Zhigang, Liu Boming and Jing Haipeng, will conduct the spacewalk…

The process of extravehicular activities cannot be simulated completely on the ground and some of the newly developed products are to be tested in flight for the first time. Thus, The capability and skills of the taikonauts and the quality of their operations directly determine the result of the mission.

If Shenzhou-7 mission is successful, China will become the third country after the United States and Russia to accomplish a spacewalk, a crucial capacity if China is to have its own permanent space station.

Good luck, guys. It’s all scary stuff – and something I would have loved to do, myself.

Topless missionary calendar returns for 2009

A dozen Mormon missionaries are again taking off their trademark white shirts for a calendar that seeks to strip away stereotypes about their church.

The 2009 version of the Men on Mission calendar was released Thursday – two months after its creator was excommunicated by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for producing this year’s calendar…

Calendar producer Hardy was excommunicated July 13 by a panel of church leaders for conduct unbecoming a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Calendar model Cody Bloomfield, who graces the 2009 cover, said he’s not worried about disciplinary action. He said shining a light on the church’s younger members is good.

Dedication to public good is always praiseworthy. I don’t care whether you’re a Mormon or atheist, Catholic or Bright, Gay or straight. I’ve known a few missionaries and I credit them for their devotion to a better life for others.

Some stay in their church. Many don’t. I’m reminded of a Maryknoll priest I knew who worked to organize tenant farmers in The Phillippines – and when he found out their absentee landlord was his bishop, he left his church. He didn’t leave his work.

Do you really need a Financial Therapist?


World’s largest yacht – this year

While it is difficult to pinpoint the number of patients or practitioners, experts in psychology and financial planning say the number of professionals offering to treat money disorders has multiplied in the last few years.

Although there are many self-help books on how to become rich, the fields of psychology and financial planning have been slow to link money and emotion. And money is still a great cultural taboo that is rarely discussed openly in this country, experts say.

Among the problem financial behaviors identified by psychologists in recent years are: overspending, underspending (a k a Depression mentality), serial borrowing, financial infidelity (“cheating” on a spouse by spending and lying about it), workaholism, financial incest (lording money over relatives to control them), financial enabling (throwing large sums at, say, adult children who then are not motivated to support themselves), hoarding, and plenty of guilt and shame around poverty and wealth…
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Treasury Secretary kneels before Pelosi, begging help to save his plan!

The day began with an agreement that Washington hoped would end the financial crisis that has gripped the nation. It dissolved into a verbal brawl in the Cabinet Room of the White House, urgent warnings from the president and pleas from a Treasury secretary who knelt before the House speaker and appealed for her support.

“If money isn’t loosened up, this sucker could go down,” President Bush declared Thursday as he watched the $700 billion bailout package fall apart before his eyes, according to one person in the room.

It was an implosion that spilled out from behind closed doors into public view in a way rarely seen in Washington.

By 10:30 p.m., after another round of talks, Congressional negotiators gave up for the night and said they would try again on Friday. Left uncertain was the fate of the bailout, which the White House says is urgently needed to fix broken financial and credit markets, as well as whether the first presidential debate would go forward as planned Friday night in Mississippi.
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Is there a market for leftover embryos?

The majority of infertility patients are in favor of using leftover embryos for stem cell research and would also support selling left-over embryos to other couples…

Assisted reproductive technology has resulted in the creation and cryopreservation of extra embryos at fertility centers across the country. It was estimated in 2002 that 396,526 embryos were in storage at U.S. fertility clinics, according to previously published research. These embryos may be used for future pregnancy attempts, donated to other couples or agencies, given to researchers, or discarded.

Because infertility patients are the gatekeepers of these leftover embryos, it is important to understand their opinions, according to Dr. Tarun Jain, lead author of the study.
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American Kids are the most medicated

American children are approximately three times more likely to be prescribed psychotropic medication than children in Europe. A new study claims that the differences may be accounted for by regulatory practices and cultural beliefs about the role of medication in emotional and behavioural problems.

Julie Zito led a team of researchers from the USA, Germany and the Netherlands who investigated prescription levels in the three countries. She said, “Antidepressant and stimulant prevalence were three or more times greater in the US than in the Netherlands and Germany, while antipsychotic prevalence was 1.5 to 2.2 times greater”.

Zito concludes that, “Direct to consumer drug advertising, which is common in the US, is also likely to account for some of the differences. The increased use of medication in the US also reflects the individualist and activist therapeutic mentality of US medical culture”.

NSS. Everyone in the U.S. wants, expects, a magic bullet cure – preferably in an easy-to-take capsule.