No doubt about it, God is . . .

Costa Rica's Keylor Navas blocks a shot by Greece's Kostas Mitroglou during extra time in the World Cup round of 16 soccer match between the two countries.

   Watching the penalty shoot out between Greece and Costa Rica this morning, I found it amusing to see members from both teams praying--praying to the very same Christian God, mind you--in the hope that He was supporting their team rather than the other guys and would guide the players to victory. 

   Indeed, one of the first things Costa Rica's Navas did after he successfully blocked the third penalty kick was to point towards Heaven and say, "Gracias!"

   While 97% of Greek citizens identify themselves as Eastern Orthodox Christians--79% of them saying that they "believe there is a God" and another 15.8% describing themselves as "very religious", the highest figure among all European countries--a nationwide survey of religion in Costa Rica found that 70.5% of "Ticos" are Roman Catholics, 44.9% of whom are practicing.

   Clearly this says something about the nature of God that has been in dispute since the Great Schism, the medieval division of Chalcedonian Christianity into Eastern (Greek) and Western (Latin) branches one thousand years ago. Namely, that God is, beyond a doubt, Roman Catholic. (That is, unless those heathen Dutch win the whole shebang.)


Nakagin Capsule Tower

   Completed in 1972, the Nakagin Capsule Tower in Ginza is one of the few remaining examples of Japanese Metabolism, "an architectural movement emblematic of Japan's postwar cultural resurgence". It was designed by Kisho Kurokawa, the architect who also designed The National Art Center in Roppongi, Tōkyō.

   For an interesting interview with the architect Kisho Kurokawa, click here.


Some Advice on Father's Day

Taken in Lebanon before kids threw our lives in happy disarray.


Marry someone beautiful, so your old man can enjoy looking at her.

Marry someone smart and funny, so he can enjoy talking to her. 

Marry someone nice, so he can enjoy spending time with her.

In short, marry someone like the woman your old man was lucky enough to find.




My Car . . . My Gawd!

   I don’t even have a driver’s license so this is all academic for me, but even if I did have a license, I probably wouldn’t own a car. 
   For starters, really like to drink. The real reason, though, is that I live right smack in the heart of the city and most of the places I want to go to—department stores, restaurants, bars, boutiques, parks--are within walking distance. When I do want to go someplace further, I use public transportation which is often much faster and less nerve-wracking than driving. And, several times a month, for convenience sake I hail a cab.
   When people hear about this, they often say something to the effect of, “A taxi? Wow! You must be rolling in the dough!” Mind you, these are often people who own cars. 
   What I tell them, time and time again, is that for someone like me who lives in the city and works six days a week, taking a taxi every now and then is small change compared to the high cost of buying and maintaining a car. I never had proof to support this assertion until this morning when I read an article in Nikkan Gendai which claims that owning a car is “the ultimate waste of money”.
   The article says that while having a car enables the owners to go wherever and whenever they like, in reality most “salarymen” are only weekend drivers.
   When you think about it, nothing eats through money quite like an automobile. In spite of their claims that cars give them freedom and convenience, most drivers do little more with their cars than go shopping at big box retailers on the weekends. A few may take day trips, but for the most part, their cars just sit in the garage, guzzling resources.
   For someone living in the suburbs of Tōkyō, the cost of maintaining a car comes to about ¥30,160 ($295) a month, or ¥380,000 ($3,712) a year. Keep in mind that this does not include the price of the car itself.
   Parking: ¥15,000/month (in my neighborhood, parking is about ¥30,000/month)
   Gasoline: ¥5,0000/month
   Insurance: ¥50,000/year
   Car tax: about ¥40,000/year
   Vehicle inspection: about ¥100,000 every two years
   If the owner of a car were to only drive five times a month, he would be spending the equivalent of ¥6,000 per use. Keiichi Kaya, author of the “The Rich Man’s Textbook” blog, writes, “Owners of cars shouldn’t expect to become even moderately wealthy.” The article goes on to say that even if a person were to use taxis and rental cars frequently, it would still be much cheaper than owning a car.
   I agree. 
   Still, I wouldn’t mind owning a Mini.



Too Clean and Far Too Common

The last public execution in France.   I have been meaning to write about this, but haven't had the time.

   Those of you who are familiar with me and my politics will know I am against the death penalty.1 So, it might seem contradictory for me to argue today that as long as the United States wants to continue killing its deathrow inmates, it ought to do so in a very public and violent way: beheadings.

   Sticking needles into the arms of the condemned and putting them to sleep as we have been doing since 1982 has made capital punishment too antiseptic, too "humane", and far, far too common. Were it messy and cruel, the good Christians of America might lose their stomach for executing her prisoners.



1 . . . except in very limited political situations where executions would lead to stability. The execution of Nazi leaders and Osama bin Laden would fall into that narrow scope.


The MET's Online Photo Collection

  The Metropolitan Museum of Art has released some 400,000 photographic images for non-commercial use. Among the these are some excellent photos from the late Edo and early Meiji Periods. It's definitely worth perusing.

Date: 1870s 

   Olga de Meyer Sitting on the Porch of a Japanese House
   Date: 1900s–1910s

    Photographer: Adolf de Meyer (American (born France), Paris 1868–1949 Los Angeles, California)


   Shrine with Monumental Statue of Buddah
   Date: 1890s
   Photographer: Adolf de Meyer (American (born France), Paris 1868–1949 Los Angeles, California)



   Japanese Woman in Traditional Dress Posing Outdoors
   Date: 1870s
   Photographer: Shinichi Suzuki (Japanese, 1835–1919)


   Kusakabe Kimbei (Japanese, 1841–1934)
   Date: 1860s–90s
   Photographer: Kusakabe Kimbei (Japanese, 1841–1934)
   Artists: K Tamamura (Japanese), Raimund von Stillfried (Austrian, 1839–1911), and Felice Beato (British (born Italy), Venice 1832–1909 Luxor, Egypt)


   A Japanese Woman and a Japanese Boy in Traditional Dress
   Photographer: Shinichi Suzuki (Japanese, 1835–1919)
   Date: 1870s  


   Street Minstrel
   Photographer: Shinichi Suzuki
   Date: 1870s 


   La Toilette
   Photographer: Shinichi Suzuki (Japanese, 1835–1919)
   Date: 1870s


   Mutsuhito, The Emperor Meiji
   Photographer: Kyuichi Uchida (Japanese, 1846–1875)
   Date: 1872

   Tea House waitress
   Shinichi Suzuki (Japanese, 1835–1919)
   Date: 1870s


   Geisha Girls
   Photographer: Unknown
   Date: ca. 1880