Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Organized prostitution in post World War II Japan.
Japan's abhorrent practice of enslaving women to provide sex for its troops in World War II has a little-known sequel: After its surrender — with tacit approval from the U.S. occupation authorities — Japan set up a similar "comfort women" system for American GIs.


A Dec. 6, 1945, memorandum from Lt. Col. Hugh McDonald, a senior officer with the Public Health and Welfare Division of the occupation's General Headquarters, shows U.S. occupation forces were aware the Japanese comfort women were often coerced.

"The girl is impressed into contracting by the desperate financial straits of her parents and their urging, occasionally supplemented by her willingness to make such a sacrifice to help her family," he wrote. "It is the belief of our informants, however, that in urban districts the practice of enslaving girls, while much less prevalent than in the past, still exists."

Amid complaints from military chaplains and concerns that disclosure of the brothels would embarrass the occupation forces back in the U.S., on March 25, 1946, MacArthur placed all brothels, comfort stations and other places of prostitution off limits. The RAA soon collapsed.

MacArthur's primary concern was not only a moral one.

By that time, Tanaka says, more than a quarter of all American GIs in the occupation forces had a sexually transmitted disease.

"The nationwide off-limits policy suddenly put more than 150,000 Japanese women out of a job," Tanaka wrote in a 2002 book on sexual slavery. Most continued to serve the troops illegally. Many had VD and were destitute, he wrote.

Cultural phenomena

Welcome The Zimmers. (via Gordon Coale)

Hipper and cooler than Somebody Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin.


This personal encounter with abortion has been making the rounds. Well worth reading. (via Pharyngula)

Not the hype.

Check out Jessica Lynch's opening statement at the House committee meeting.
The bottom line is the American people are capable of determining their own ideals of heroes and they don't need to be told elaborate lies.

Monday, April 23, 2007

What Type of Cheater Are You?

What Type of Game Cheater Are You?
Mia Consalvo, a game academic at Ohio State University, interviewed dozens of players about their attitudes -- which she'll publish in the book, Cheating, this summer -- and found that we cluster into a couple of loose groups, each with a different ethical vision.

A small hardcore group are die-hard purists, like my friend. They don't use any cheats or guides, because they consider it "cheating yourself" of the subtle pleasure of getting stuck in a game -- then suddenly spying the way out.

The next group is the walkthrough folks, like me. We regard guides as a form of travel literature; I'd never have located all the cool, secret areas in Final Fantasy XII without a FAQ. (In contrast, the hardcore crowd seems to relish the idea that they'll miss out on stuff, because it's part of the mystery of game.) But I almost never use cheats or manipulations of code to grant myself "unearned" power. I like the idea that if I'm born into this virtual world, I'll abide by the fictions that govern its reality.

Then there's the final group of gamers -- the "by any means necessary" crowd, as it were. Like the ancient gnostics, or like Morpheus in The Matrix, they know the world around them is just code -- and the fun is not in obeying it but mucking with it. Single-player worlds are toys, to be hacked with any available Easter eggs, exploits or hardware mods; you can't have the truly l33t experiences if you're not tricked out with sick amounts of weaponry and skillz.

From this view, cheating a single-player game isn't possible because, as one interviewee told Consalvo, "you can't cheat a Gamecube -- you can only cheat another player." If part of the goal in a narrative game is to finish the story, what's wrong with using any tool at hand to do so?
For me, it depends on the game and what it is about the game that I enjoy most. If I enjoy mucking about and discovering things on my own, I won't consult a guide. If I want to get onto the next bit and don't particularly enjoy this bit, I will consult a guide. If I enjoy a particular aspect of the game and its possible to enhance that with a hack, then I might use the hack.

There you go.

Movie review: Hot Fuzz

It was a beautiful weekend, the first time all year that it felt like spring.

Saturday I went to see Hot Fuzz with a friend (Rotten Tomatoes). Hot Fuzz is a police action comedy from the makers of Shaun of the Dead (Shaun of the Dead was a real delight, amazingly funny, and touching). Hot Fuzz is not as good as Shaun. The story is weaker, the movie is more cluttered, and many of the jokes get lost in the noise of the soundtrack. That said, it was very enjoyable. Definitely a good thing to see for fairly mindless summer fun (mindless, with a dash of sophistication... these guys are great at writing comedy and you can't help but laugh).