Tuesday, July 31, 2007

road rolls round right

road rolls round right
left leads lawlessly
bypassing bureaucratic boundaries
with wild wonder
my mind mutters
postulating possible paths
towards tomorrow's trek

August 1, 2007

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The End of Meetings

time slows
I wait
till awakened
meeting ends

On The Principle of Groucho Marxian Self-Exclusion

The comedian, Groucho Marx said:
"I would not join any club that would have someone like me for a member."

Groucho's principle of self-exclusion rests upon one or more of the following assumptions:
1. There is something wrong with any vetting process that he could pass.
2. There is something wrong with the club because it accepted him.
3. There is something wrong with him.
4. Clubs that would exclude him are superior to clubs that would include him.
5. Groucho is in a position to refuse membership.
6. There may possibly be other people like Groucho that should be excluded.
7. Since clubs consist of members, there is something wrong with the members that would vet Groucho or someone like him.

While in Groucho's case, he applied the principle of self-exclusion to a club, it could be applied more widely to any organization:

"I would not join any organization that would include someone like me."

A more strongly stated principle, the Strong Principle of Self-Exclusion would eliminate "someone like me" and replace it with the more definitive "me:"

"I would not join any organization that would include me."

For those who accept Groucho's principle after obtaining membership in an organization, a slightly different formulation is needed:

"I will quit any organization that has previously accepted me."

This formulation, also know as voluntary exit, is not without practical application.

Adam's 2nd Law

For RM, who requested a follow-up to my 1st Law

Adam's 2nd Law:

"All traffic to my blogs, The Art of Laughing and Adam Markus, increases their Google search optimization."

The 2nd Law, perhaps as obvious and unoriginal as the 1st, is of great utility to me. Thank you for your support!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Everything Changes

To my loyal readers (Akiko & Mom),

Sorry for the disruptive move to the new blog, but business is business and pleasure is pleasure. I moved everything but your kind comments here. I am too lazy to do that. Sorry.

To everyone else. If you are looking for my comments on admissions counseling, go here. This blog is just about the rest of me.


"Adam's Law #1: The Yamanote Line"

This "law" basically applies only to Tokyo's Yamanote Line:
If the train is crowded, wait for the next one because it will be less crowded. The Yamanote comes so often that one train tends to fill to capacity, while the next one will be less so.

Please note: This is not a metaphor, merely the observation of someone who has taken the Yamanote Line for almost eight years in total.


The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
-Elizabeth Bishop, from One Art

The art of living isn’t hard to muster:
Enjoy the hour, not what it might portend.
When someone makes you promises, don’t trust her
-Marilyn Hacker,from From Orient Point


The art of laughing isn’t hard to foster:
Smile at everything and don’t lament.
For every life is an inevitable disaster.

Laugh every day, never mind the disaster
of lost luggage, money badly spent.
The art of laughing isn’t hard to foster.

Don’t feign laughter, just master
a sense of humor, ignore all intent;
for introspection will not prevent disaster.

I laugh now at boyhood disaster:
lost bliss in a shared room, my first love’s feint.
The art of laughing isn’t hard to foster.

I’ve laughed at my bad choices. And vaster,
great opportunities to be content,
But regret is not my master.

---Even laughing at all I love is a gesture,
not of contempt, but of what is evident;
that the art of laughing is not too hard to foster
when faced with the certainty of inevitable disaster.

-Adam, July 21, 2007

Robert Joseph, Happy 38th Prematurely Postponed

Way down yonder, down in San Fernando,
Where all them Jewish folk roam,
Stands a house next to the Ventura Freeway
Where our papa made our country home.”
-Robert Joseph ( 25.July.1969 - 13.Dec.2004), Chicken Farmin’ Jews

Robert was not actually punctual, so I thought I would be early.

Dead friends make great poems

I hope you would have liked the title

Robert, my Pan of tapes and cultivator of my teenage ear,
“Hear this,” you said and I did 1000 times over and still do

I miss you the most when I make a new discovery,
ear opening victories based on what you taught me

And now, here I sit writing this poem over a beer in my parents house,
overweight and happy the night after my 38th birthday party

There you lay in your family plot,
a small framed corpse that would reveal a fine muscular structure, a low percentage of body fat, and a heart ripped into a thousand pieces as a result of certain excesses that nice Jewish boys from the Valley are supposed to dispense with while still in their early twenties

Is it wrong to draw this comparison, Robert?

My early interventions,
my “helpful” suggestions to finish your degree at Santa Cruz,
to become serious about pursuing a musical career,
to stop smoking, and to otherwise get it together, just failed.
To do myself justice, I’ll blame it on my own youth
And your tin ear for “reality.”

While I like to believe that one is immortal until proven otherwise,
after I finish this beer, which I took with a vitamin, I will go take the dog for a long walk, eat a light lunch and continue on a pathway whose endpoint will hopefully be muted by the gentility of its timing, but till that time, when I listen, I will hear you.

July 19th 2007 and April 10th 2006 and other dates in between


ACE, my evil twin, has been up to some of his tricks. Seeing me in a state of near mental breakdown about a bad situation, ACE intervened. Akiko had been asking ACE to takeover and so the time finally came. When ACE acts people notice, things have a way of getting ugly, and the messiness of human relations are fully exposed. ACE acted in an extreme manner, but one consistent with our mutual interest. I wish I could be more specific about the situation, but no doubt it will be revealed in my blog when the time is right. At the moment, ACE is out sharpening his rhetoric and I am planning for an increased level of leisure time.

On Some Tuesdays

On Some Tuesdays

in the morning you often wonder what the day will bring
maybe you are bereft of sleep or perhaps well rested
in either case the possibilities are not endless
did you expect me to tell you otherwise?

it might begin with a routine conversation
fresh from a shower, your coffee wakes you
as your wife tells you she is making fish for dinner
and asks what time you will be home
but you never make it back

if you are lucky the scenario unfolds as expected
dinner is waiting for you when you return
she is waiting for you, the evening dies pleasantly enough
maybe you make love, at least you sleep well

July 17th 2007

Flight Check

We stand in the rain in a long line
waiting at Ford Highland Park. For work.
You know what work is--if you're
old enough to read this you know what
work is, although you may not do it.
-Philip Levine, ‘What Work Is’

And once you have that job, do you want it?
The toil beyond the waiting?

At the front of the line, you get an offer
You take it.
Years pass and you wonder, how did I get into that line?
Why that line and not another?

Suddenly, one day on your way to work, you look up as
a bird passes and shits on your head
You try to clean off your head, but somehow, no matter
what you do, the bird stays with you

Later that day, as you go about your tasks,
taking in the last memos and avoiding the prying eyes of
yet another new supervisor, you imagine the bird flying higher and higher

At lunch you engage in the usual banter with your work buddies
Initial attempts to talk about something else pass and eventually
you get to the same work complaints over coffee

By the time you return to your desk, your eyelids are heavy
and for a short moment you dream about soaring in the clouds until the phone rings and you begin to count out the afternoon,
but the bird is with you and sooner or later you are going to fly

July 17th

Foie Gras now and forever! Eat free or die!

When I initially heard about the Chicago foie gras ban, I was appalled. The nanny state in all its forms disgusts me, but culinary bans on the basis of animal cruelty strike me as simply hypocrisy. The ban is being fought by Chef Didier Durand's Chicago Chefs for Choice. If you are in Chicago check their site for some great events.

Thanks to Steve G. for passing along
"The Goose is Nothing: Fighting Chicago’s Foie Gras Ban." It is a long article worth a good read.

And remember, eat, drink, and be merry for eventually all our gooses will be cooked.

Post-Surge Strategy: Time for Some Realism

Whatever the merits of the surge as a military strategy, it is clear enough that conditions in Iraq have deteriorated to the point that we need a new policy. Whether we have lost per se is something that I am not willing to say, simply because it is not over.

I am not of the opinion that it makes good politics or is strategically viable to simply de-fund the war and go home. I offer the following not very original five point plan that offers a realist alternative:

1. Support the creation of Sunni and Shiite states. There is a complete breakdown of civil authority and conditions that can only be described as civil war in the Shiite and Sunni “controlled” areas of Iraq. When citizens are told to arm themselves because the state can no longer protect them, the state is no longer a state. We should accept this and simply try to make the best of it. As Peter Galbraith and then Senator Biden have argued a decentralized solution is the only viable solution. At this point, a loose confederation may still be possible. Most likely we will not find great allies in either the Sunni or Shiite states or quasi-independent states that eventually emerge, but should look to the Kurds.

2. The situation in the Kurdish North is totally different. A viable state is in place which can become an important American, Israeli, and, if we put the time and resources into it, a Turkish ally as well. Our single biggest diplomatic priority should be stabilize the relationship between Turkey and the Kurdish “State” because when all of this is over, a pro-American Kurdish Republic is likely to be the only good thing we get out of Iraq. The Turks and Europeans will have access to an important oil supply and a deserving people will have the nation that they should have received at Versailles.

3. We have an interest in making sure that Al-Qaeda in Iraq is squashed, to that end we should do whatever is necessary using elite units and strategic alliances with their enemies. We can still expect casualties, perhaps blowback, but seems to me we have no choice, but to fight them. It is a pity that we created an Al-Qaeda in Iraq because it would be better to concentrate on killing the parent organization in Afghanistan, but we need to do both.

4. Get ready for the fallout. No matter what course we take assume that the other players in the region will react in ways that require us to make difficult decisions. Assume worst case scenarios and begin to plan for addressing them including the potential for war with Iran and regional war/proxy war between Sunni and Shiite countries. Plan for increased attacks on US assets throughout the Middle East and develop plans for hitting back hard.

5. Prepare for blowback in the US: secure the borders, enforce immigration law, and create a system of national identification. One of the things I like about living in Japan is that, comparatively speaking, it is hard to get in here illegally. Of course, it is not impossible to do so, but this country takes its borders seriously. It is time that the US does the same. The US has missed more 9-11s because Scotland Yard, lucky breaks, and less than competent attempts. It is safe to assume that another 9-11 will result when such fortuitous conditions fail to arise. Given that Border Security is an obvious gaping hole that someone will take advantage of sooner or later, the US should make a serious attempt to deal with this by increasing border security; implementing a full integration of Passport, Social Security, and State Identification leading to the creation of a national ID card with biometric security features; and through the legalization of desirable illegal aliens and the forced repatriation of the undesirable. It is a pity that the Bush Administration lacked sufficient credibility on immigration law enforcement to get a sufficient number of Republicans in the House to pass some version of the now dead immigration bill. This would have been an imperfect, but useful first step. A state with a porous border will sooner or later cease to exist.

My suggestions are neither modest or lacking in controversy, but simply put we need a realist strategy that minimizes our loses and maximizes returns. The details I mention above may not be what we do exactly, but at this stage some pessimistic practicality is what we need, not what George believes.

A mask of refreshment

There is nothing like a refreshing mask. The Wisconsin Cap is just there for the sake of your amusement. Note the tank top, it is old and yet still fits. Did I shrink? Did it grow? Ah, sweet mysteries of life. No day is dull unless you are.

Japanese Court Rules That Mochi Caused Brain Damage

In an earlier attempt at writing a blog, I posted the following about mochi.

Every year, mochi kills. This New Year's treat always manages to take out a few old folks. Actually near death by mochi occurs in the film Tampopo where a vacume cleaner is used to remove mochi from the throat of an elderly gent. No doubt more Japanese died yet again from sticky rice cakes. Makes you wonder whether it is worth all the risk. Also consider that while blowfish (fugu) is well known as a culinary killer, the only people who actually die from it are those that lack professional training in properly slicing it up. That is to say, you have to be a complete idiot to die from blowfish poisoning. Mochi by comparison kills far more people and does so when served properly. Just think about that. Its New Years day, you are sitting down to a nice bowl of ozoni (standard Japanese New Year's soup) with a big piece of mochi in it. You eat it. Nothing happens. This goes on for seventy or eighty years until one day when you choke to death on your favorite New Year's treat. I'l stick to blowfish prepared by certified professionals and leave the mochi to those with a death wish.

At the time I had no idea that mochi could cause brain damage, but that is what one Japanese Court Ruled:
"Man who received brain injury from choking on mochi wins lawsuit

A man who received brain injury after choking on a “mochi”, a sticky Japanese sweet, won a lawsuit Friday filed against a Tokyo compensation fund, filed after the man was denied compensation by the fund, Yomiuri reports.

Presiding Judge Yuki Furata dismissed the foundation’s appeal to the Tokyo Supreme Court, and supported the two previous sentences and ordered the compensation fund to pay the man 21m yen ($170,000).

The compensation fund does not pay compensation for accidents caused by chronic diseases, and argued that the man, who was 82 years old at the time, lacked the strength to swallow the mochi because of such diseases.

However, Judge Furata dismissed the foundations arguments, saying: “The burden of evidence that the accident did not happen because of a chronic disease does not lie on the person seeking compensation.”

Clearly mochi is even more dangerous than I thought. Look for a big wave of mochi brain damage cases to follow. If this were in America there would be a class action suit.

For those of you who enjoy mochi ice cream, I don't think you have to worry about choking to death or brain damage because the layer of mochi is rather thin. Anyway, best of luck.

Hundreds of Beduin from Egypt Ask for Refuge in Israel

In a BBC article focused on the discovery by Egyptian police of a ton of explosives 100km from the border with Gaza, the following was reported:

In April, an Egyptian policeman was seriously wounded by Bedouin gunmen near the border with Israel.

The shooting came as hundreds of Bedouin from the Sinai peninsula gathered at the border.

They were asking for refuge in Israel saying the Egyptian authorities have mistreated their community.

Rather interesting that some of the Bedouin prefer to be in Israel than Egypt. Of course, the BBC merely comments on this and does not actually analyze it. It might disturb their preconceptions. The Bedouin issue is complex, but so are many issues in the Middle East. If you want analysis by the BBC about the Bedouin in Israel, you can find plenty of negative reporting here.


"My attitude is, if they're still writing about (number) one, 43 doesn't need to worry about it." --George W. Bush, on his legacy, Tipp City, Ohio, April 19, 2007

bad concepts are my playmates
and truth a stranger I never cite
my rules are those of everyone
who lives without regret

I am a stranger to everyone
My oeuvre is red wet
filled with dirges I sing light
to an audience of reprobates

On heavy matters I weigh light
against the elected house who castigates
I and my mighty right hand hunter fight
but in the end we are hated by everyone

I order others in a sandbox fight
My words once cast a spell on everyone
in fear of jihad's death mates
but now I am the longed for past in sight

Adam July 5, 2007

A 4th of July Poem for the American Empire

Justice is not blind
Nor is it impartial
It serves the powerful just as Thrasymachus said

Some will claim justice wrapped in a flag
Others will claim it with a cross
In the worst of times a reverse swastika will suffice
But always there is sophistry

We are all sophists now
Truth is what you make it
and Power is that Truth revealed
Say anything, say nothing, your views will be represented in the latest poll

Prepared for empire, you who were once citizens
Enjoy your home entertainment systems and copious dining options
If you vote it would not matter because you will never act as citizens
And you’ll leave your dieing to all volunteer mercenaries

And I, on the periphery, will marvel as you continue becoming the beast that your worst enemies want you to be, a voluntary exile who looks on his native land
with a nostalgia for a past that might have led elsewhere
Like looking for civic virtue on a vast barren desert

-Adam July 4, 2007


Akiko and I got out of Tokyo for a couple of days. No internet, no TV, no newspapers. Just hung out in a cabin, hiked, and relaxed.

What happens? George the Idiot goes ahead and makes sure that his buddy wouldn't have to be in jail. Commuting a sentence is essentially saying: His guilt is not the issue, but the Scouter should not suffer. What is guilt without punishment? A $250,000 fine that his friends will pay for him? Give me a break. And no Jewish mother jokes please...

From the viewpoint of politics, I don't blame Bush for doing this. Since everyone who hates him already just hates him for one more reason, he does not have to worry about the public at large. Instead he just needs to play to his base: THE V P (Read the Washington Post Series on the VP!). No really, he is throwing the Republican base a bone, albeit a really small one, to make up for the fact that they now hate him because of his position on immigration. That said, I am still disgusted.

Now how about some photos from our vacation in Izumigo (Japanese site)!

1. The First No Hunting Sign I have ever seen in Japan:

Photo by Akiko

2. When "onry" local service is available:

Photo by Akiko

3. I was subject to a sudden attack of the muses:

Photo by Akiko

4. I grilled my first rice ball and took a really bad photo:

Photo by Adam

5. We also found time to enjoy the scenery on a long hike today:

Photo by Adam

Now that we feel relaxed, we have the energy to get stressed out again.


アダム マーカス: Adam Markus or Adam Marcus?

A story.

It was about 10am last Monday when I received the first call on Skype. I had just turned on my computer. It was from SUZUKI999.
“ もしもし、あの、アダム マーカスさんのお宅ですか?“
(“Hello is this the honorable Adam Markus?”)
(“Yes, this is Adam. Who is this?”)
(“This is amazing. Your Japanese is so good. I am your fan.”)
I understood what the guy was saying up to this point then it all became a blur of words. Some I could pick-up: ジェイソン (Jason, he actually saying this over and over again) ホラー (Horror) 、シリーズ(Series)、監督(Director)、13日の金曜日(Friday the 13th)、すずき (Suzuki, a last name). To be honest, I was in a bit of a haze when the guy called. I was just waking up, had not even had my first espresso of the morning. I rarely work on Mondays and this was no exception. So this guy kept on talking for a couple more minutes before I said that I was sorry, but had no idea what he was talking about. I asked him if he spoke English at which point he hung up.

I really had no idea what to make of this. It did not sound like the usual sales call that I either treat as Japanese practice or end as quickly as possible. I felt in some sense violated: Where did this guy get my skype address? From my blog? What was he talking about? The whole thing did not make any sense to me. It kind of made me nervous: There is some freak in Japan, possibly even in Tokyo, who wants to talk me. It was a bit scary, really. I decided to drink an espresso and try to prevent myself from descending into paranoid worry, but I checked the front door to make sure that Akiko had locked both locks when she left for work.

It must have been about half an hour later when I received the second call. This one was from NaomiT. “Hello, I’m sorry to bother you, Mr. Markus, but my friend Toru Suzuki can’t speak English, so he asked me to call you. My name is Naomi.” She sounded a little nervous, but her English was close to native level. She sounded young, but that may have been my imagination.

“Hi, ah, can I ask what this is regarding?” I was not about to say much till I understand, what was going on.

“Well, my friend Toru really liked JASON GOES TO HELL and when he discovered your blog he found you were living in Tokyo and just wanted to talk to you. He wanted to let you know that JASON GOES TO HELL is his favorite Friday the 13th Movie.”

At the time, I was not sure which phone call confused me more. All I knew is that both of them talked about Jason and Friday the 13th. I was not really sure what my blog had to do with that. I decided to say nothing and let her do the talking.

“Yes, I see.”

“He is very sorry for calling, but you are his favorite director and was just so excited to find that you were living in Japan and on skype. I guess many of your fans must bother you.”

At this point, I realized Toru was either confusing me with someone else or Toru and Naomi were scam artists of some sort. The scam angle did not make sense. Confusion did. This lead me to make one of those split second decisions, play along or clarify. I decided to see where this was going.

“Actually no. The fans of my blog occasionally send me an email, but no one has called me before. Did you like my blog?”

“Well to be honest, I have not looked at. Toru called me and sent me your skype address. Sorry, my boss is coming, I have to go.”

NaomiT was gone and I had a small mystery.

Google is a wonderful thing. It took me about a minute to figure out what had happened. I did a search on the film JASON GOES TO HELL, and discovered that Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (1993) was directed by Adam Marcus. I then did a google search on アダム マーカス and discovered that both of us came up. There is no fundamental difference between Markus and Marcus as a last name ("Marx" is a Germanized form of "Mordechai" (and so are "Mark", "Markus", "Marcuse" etc.) and could be either the father's name or a family name). In any event, Adam Marcus and I shared a similar name that becomes the same in Japanese.

For a moment, I thought about the possibilities for taking advantage of this with Toru and with Naomi, but such juvenile impulses, while no doubt amusing, were not worth the risk. After all, as Adam Markus, graduate admissions counselor and all around mostly responsible and honest guy, I had my reputation to think of. Instead, I decided to chat with Toru using skype’s instant messenger functions.




SUZUKI999: ?


SUZUKI999: ?

(I am Markus, not Marcus)


(Adam Marcus and I are not the same)

(I understand. I am sorry. This is embarrassing.)

(No problem. It is interesting. Before you called, I did not know of Adam Marcus, but now I know.

We kept on chatting for a couple of minutes and that was the last I heard from SUZUKI999, not to mention NaomiT.

After we chatted, I decided to investigate Adam Marcus a little bit. To be honest, my "namesake’s" career did not really appear to be flourishing at least if measured by films made. In addition to JASON GOES TO HELL (1993), he directed his big movie Let It Snow (2001) and appears to have something called Black Autumn under development. He appears to have some development deals, but this guy’s career seemed to reach its pinnacle in 2001.

I also discovered, and this is truly odd, that we were both born in 1968.

I thought about his dates and mine and wondered if there was a deeper connection.

1993 was not particularly good year for me. In fact it was the worst year of life. I took my MA from the PhD program I was in and had no idea what to do with my life and was adrift. On the other hand, 1993 was a great year for Adam Marcus.

2001 was a good year for both of us, I returned to Japan and began my career as a graduate admissions counselor and Adam Marcus released his greatest film to date. However there is a difference, I was entering my career that has continued to develop and he appears to have been (at least at this point) at his zenith. I can’t imagine spending the last six years working on film development deals as particularly joyful, whatever its financial rewards might be.

Could it be that some unknown principle was at work. Though our names are not the same, is some sort of karmic distributive scale in operation? If he releases Black Autumn and it is a big hit, what happens to me? What difference does a k or c make?

There are, no doubt, other biographical factors to consider other than those I know of, but the whole things leaves me a bit worried.

Additionally, he appears to not exactly be a thin guy either:

The Photographic Evidence:
Adam Marcus

Adam Marcus on Saturday, October 22 at Screamfest 2005

Me (Adam Markus):

Finally, for the record, I have seen neither of his films. Actually, I don't like horror movies. I might try to see his other movie though, actually Elvis Mitchell kind of liked it.

-Adam Markus

The Marshmallow Diet

If the World went on a Marshmallow Diet

Peeps would not just be for Easter

Rocky Road would reign supreme

Marshmallow Roasters would become a necessary household appliance

Curry marshmallows, lemongrass marshmallows, miso marshmallows, and jalapeno marshmallows would become all the rage

S’mores would be as popular as Kobe Beef Hamburgers in America

Marshmallow cream would replace soy sauce in Japan

Chinese marshmallows would dominate the world market until it became revealed that their consumption proved fatal to those with a rare, but undetectable allergy

French farmers would find some reason to riot

PETA would protest the increased demand for gelatin

Dentists would become busier

When lovers kissed their lips would stick together and their love would grow ever stronger

-Adam 6/29/07


The Great Ozymandias

In a rare moment of reflection

Noticed the setting of the sun

Shivered as he realized that all things end

Took solace in his stonemason’s work

Prayed briefly to his ancestors

Drank heavily until the very end of his days

And afterwards when nothing happened, he was none the wiser

He left his stonemason a sizable gift that became a bad liver

Both left posterity "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone” that rarely attract anyone’s attention, almost forgotten except by curators trying to find solace in the past

-Adam August 27, 2007


f I were called in
To construct a religion
I should make use of water.
-Philip Larkin, “Water”

In praise of water

Not when it is there, but when it is not
Not because it is wet, but because we are dry

Drink not for salvation
Drink not for enlightenment

Just drink

Satisfaction is another matter entirely

-Adam 6/28/07

Hillary Clinton: The Heart of a True North American Empress

Call me a rapid nationalist, but whatever the aesthetic merits (Listen to John Derbyshire' s 06/22/07 podcast for that) of "You and I" by Celine Dion might be, selecting as your campaign song one by a Canadian is just, well, UN-AMERICAN, in the pejorative sense, not the geographic. I know her supporters voted on it, but at a strategic level was it really a good idea to have let this one be an option? As Larry Sabato writes, "The popular chanteuse is French Canadian, so what better way for Hillary to win over conservatives and Independents in the South and heartland?" I would suggest everyone read Larry Sabato's THE HILLARY DILEMMA (Thanks to my friend Steve for telling me about it) because it makes the clear case why Hillary will either lose in a general election or become just another polarizing President. Clearly her song selection indicates that her campaign is politically tone deaf to those who don't already love her (at least 45% of the electorate according to the various polls cited by Sabato).

I suppose if Hillary were running for Empress of North America "You and I" might be a good choice, but if you are running for President of the United States, a country that produces songs at least as sexually suggestive as "You and I" (Compare"I'm burning, yearning" to the classic "FLY ME TO THE MOON") and at least as commercially successful as what was previously used by Air Canada ("You and I were meant to fly.."), you might think that it would be good to pick a song by an American. Additionally on a thematic level, a song as sexually suggestive just does not play to Hillary's strengths.

I have nothing against Canadians or Canadian musicians, but it strikes me when someone runs for national office, the symbols they use should be homegrown. At least that always seemed to be the case. This, no doubt, did not matter or occur to either the Clinton Campaign or its supporters. One hopes that both relocate to the Republic of North America (Cloud Cuckoo Land).

For me, four years of George the Republican Cog followed by eight years of Bill the Liar followed by eight years of George the Idiot followed by four or eight years of Queen Hillary (no doubt the Canadians can alter their constitution to allow for recognition of the North American Monarchy as well as the British) horrifies me because such aristocratic patterns while perhaps acceptable in an Italian City State, have no place in our country. There is nothing wrong with a family producing multiple Presidents, but there is something wrong with two families in control of our country for what would be over two decades. I have been making this point for years (since before George the Idiot came into office) and was happy to see that Sabuto shares the same concern (see the last paragraph of The Hillary Dilemma. I am a true American and hate royalty to the very depths of my soul. Two families in control or the US for up to 28 years stinks of aristocracy. I am certainly not the first one to think this or write it. Even if Hillary was a candidate worth endorsing, which she is not, on this principle alone she should be rejected.

Afterwards if you still have any doubts go read Christopher Hitchen's No One Left to Lie To: The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton and ask yourself if you really want eight more years of triangulation after eight years of sheer stupidity. Can the Republic really take that? I have my doubts. The only thing that could be worse than Hillary and potentially much more damaging to the country would be the election of two newsweeks, a demague of truly Athenian proportions. Should those two (Hillary and Rudy, Benito can't make it) be the candidates, I will weep for my country.
Till then I will hope that Obama gets the nomination, I just hope he gets his act together before having a fatal Macaca Moment.

How to read a resume


When I have done hiring, I try to take apart resumes like I do below. It does not always eliminate problems. Life is messy and hiring is most certainly not one of the cleaner parts of it.

We all learn how to write resumes to some degree or another, but how many of us really learn to read them?

What follows is my attempt to read my own resume. I would be happy to read someone else’s resume, so feel free to submit your resume for this purpose.

Please keep in mind that I will not deal with stylistic issues so much because as an HTML novice, I don’t know how to make this look good enough to comment on those aspects here.

A version of this resume was used for my application to the University of London LLM program, so keep in mind that I had to (1) Explain my main job which is not in the law field and (2) emphasize everything in my background that related to the law.

My comments however are NOT from the viewpoint of an admissions officer, but from the viewpoint of someone who has been regularly doing hiring since the 1990s and hiring admission counselors since 2004. My Comments are in red.



Professional email address, not something like Cool.Dude@gmail.com. Anytime I see an email address that looks unprofessional, unless the person is some sort of artist, I usually just want to trash it.

(Assume that if this was a “real resume it would have additional contact info)


Master of Arts in Political Science, University of Wisconsin, Madison, May 1993, GPA: 3.7

This guy has been out of school for a long time. His GPA is OK, I guess this must be an academic CV because otherwise there is no reason to have grades here.

Bachelor of Arts in Politics, University of California, Santa Cruz, June 1989, GPA: 3.7

Now I can figure out how old this guy is. He graduated from college in 1989, so 1989-22 is 1967. He must be 40 (Well actually I graduated a year earlier, but many people take 5 or more years to graduate so I could be anywhere from 40-42 because no one except me graduated from Santa Cruz early, well most likely no one else).

Now the he have established that he is no spring chicken nor a retiree, we can also determine that he probably entered his Master's program in 1991 because it takes two years to graduate from most MA programs. It is possible that he did some sort of ABD thing like his fellow UW Madison alum, but given the dates, unlikely. Once we check things below we see that he did in fact attend for two years.

Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA), University of Cambridge, September 2001

Smart, he listed this unsexy, but potentially useful certificate after his real degrees

Japanese Language Proficiency Certificate, Level 4 (Basic), Japan Foundation, February 2001

Well OK, so this means the guy can probably order a cup of a coffee in Japanese, but given that it was 6! years ago and he has been in Japan continuously since then, he either has not made much progress in this area or did not think it was important enough to pursue. Given the dates, at least it is an indication that he tried to learn something hard since leaving school.


Associate Director, Academic Counseling Department

He is not giving a full breakdown of his titles at this company because he must not have started with this title. I will need to ask him about it if I interview him.

The Princeton Review of Japan, Tokyo, Japan, 11/01-8/07 (Company became Agos, 4/07)

Whatever follows, I know that this guy was able to keep working at the same place for over 5.5 years. Given the relatively short length of employment at all his prior positions, this eliminates my concern that this guy is a serial job jumper/hopper.

Job jumpers (moves from job to job on an annual or even bi-annual basis over 6 years or more) come in all shapes and sizes. As a former one, I know. Job jumpers don't always worry me because I usually need to hire people with international experience who are not very conventional. The more conventional, the less likely they will possess the kind of mental flexibility I looked for in an admissions counselor. On the other hand, when I was hiring for a payment processor at Kaplan, I wanted someone with a strong focused background in accounting.

If I was hiring for a senior management position I would stay away from hiring anyone who was a pure job jumper, but I would be equally concerned about hiring a "company man." From my perspective if someone has drunk from the same company fountain for ten years or more after college, I would probably avoid hiring him or her into a new industry because the amount of unlearning they would have to do would without benefit of an intensive training program, but it would take years and the potential damage he or she could do might never justify it. Such people frequently test the limits of the efficacy of re-education.

-Recognized as one of Japan’s leading graduate admissions counselors, my views on an ethical approach to counseling were recently presented extensively in the Winter 2006 issue of Japan Inc, a quarterly business magazine

OK. This guy is telling us he is at the top of his field and is providing some sort of evidence for it. Can't be certain whether I should believe him, but at least I know he takes his job seriously and probably has a good opinion of himself.

-Application counseling for Japanese and resident foreigners applying to overseas MBA, LLM & other graduate programs

-Teach essay and resume writing skills, admissions strategy, and effective interview techniques

At least he is stating very clearly what he does in the above two points.

-Conduct research on programs through interviews with admissions officers, students, campus visits, and Tokyo based events for advising clients

He talks, he travels, he reports.

-Proposed, implemented, and updated research project to provide detailed information on US & UK Master of Law programs through reviewing school website and surveying admission program staff, which resulted in an increased emphasis on the LLM track and a further development of relations with law schools

This is an accomplishment and as long as this is being provided to someone in his industry they will probably get it, but, if this were being sent to a reader outside his industry, it might as well be written in Martian.

-Prepare and conduct marketing presentations to potential clients

He is not overly focusing on his sales and marketing role. Assuming he is not trying to get a job in sales or marketing that is OK. At least I know he can make presentations and stand in front of an audience.

-Hire, manage and train counselors

He might have included some data on this, otherwise if I interview him, I will certainly ask him about this to determine how much time he spends doing it, what he does, and whether he is good at it or not.

-Handle budgeting and all other administrative operations pertaining to English language counseling services

He is not disclosing any numbers here, but we get the impression that he can handle the back end of management in addition to the front.

English Teacher and Consultant, Tokyo, Japan, 12/01-10/03

-Taught professional and academic English skills for Temple University Japan and ISS, a major translation/interpretation school

-Develop teacher training materials and class curriculum

I guess he used the CELTA mentioned above. He actually has lots of teaching experience if we add up everything he has been doing from grad school on. It looks like he stopped teaching, I wonder if he became a regular employee at Princeton Review sometime around the end of 2003.

Sr. Manager, Sales & Online Marketing, International Programs

Kaplan Inc., New York City,

He worked at the biggest test prep company in the US whose biggest competitor is the Princeton Review. Where was he working till March 2007? Maybe he knows something about the test prep industry.


History time: This guy looks like he was a victim of the IT Bubble. What a three strikes your out title- middle manager, marketing, and online. Note the gap in employment between this time and his job in Japan. What was he doing? He could say he was traveling and obtained his CELTA, if pressed he might mention taking full advantage of NYC's free cultural activities. What a nice vacation! Thank you New York!

-Marketed and sold English language and test preparation courses to international clients

-Developed individualized long term study plans involving academic English and test preparation for clients

-Created & implemented online marketing strategy & email based sales system to increase direct enrollments & reduce customer acquisition costs

-Conducted extensive research on domestic and international competition for senior management; Analyzed the pricing of English language programs in Australia, Canada, US & UK; Presented a report on the impact of US student visa restrictions on sales

Well OK, the title and the responsibilities above are in some sort of agreement with each other.

-Managed and substantially revised student visa processes and procedures nationwide; recruited and trained student visa expert & admissions staff

-Hired, trained, and supervised sales and admissions staff

These two items indicate that he had major responsibilities not directly tied to his core function. Seems like a pretty flexible guy.

-Led negotiations and implemented plan for the outsourcing of international mailing

For anyone who knows this guy's industry, international education, knows that international mailing is a major cost. Here this means sending materials to prospects and bulk materials to agents. (You can be pretty sure that if anyone at the University of London even bothered reading this, they would get it because their whole operation involves mailing materials to students).

International Representatives Coordinator

University of California Berkeley Extension,

I bet he has some stories about working at Berkeley. Maybe I should invite him out for a coffee.


-Coordinated world wide sales network of representatives responsible for $5,000,000 in revenue

FINALLY A REAL NUMBER!!! I guess he either can't give or does not want to disclose the numbers for the private companies he worked for. Makes sense really because as a public institution Berkeley would have to disclose this sort of information.

-Sold English language and professional training programs to international clients

-Served as liaison for international student programs for web related marketing

-Supervised clerical assistants for mail and email based brochure fulfillment

There is a kind of consistency between the jobs he was doing at Kaplan and Berkeley, so while he clearly jumped organizationally and geographically, he also appears to have taken on greater responsibilities in a position in the international education business.

Administrative Assistant, Hearst Museum of Anthropology
University of California, Berkeley, 11/97-5/98

-Design and maintenance of research databases for a variety of academic projects

OK. The guy moves back to the US and does a TEMP job. Certainly looks like it. He worked in a Museum at UCB! If I interview him, I will ask him about it just to see if he has any way of making it sound good. Oh, on second thought, I guess the bullet point above is that.

English Instructor, International Education Services, Tokyo, Japan, 2/95-3/97

-Taught English conversation, overseas work/study preparation & business skills to corporate clients & government officials

-Taught English conversation to Junior High and elementary school students

-Created customized instructional materials and edited international documents for Japanese clients

Goes to Japan about a year and half after finishing graduate school. Stays for two years and comes back to Berkeley, leaves there after about two years and moves to New York, leaves New York in 2001 and has been in Japan since then. One thing is clear, this guy was moving around very often between 1989 and 2001. At least he settled down by his mid-30s. Seems much more stable now.

Patent Prosecution Assistant, Office of Technology Transfer
University of California, Office of the President, Oakland, California 4/94-12/94

-Handled documents related to patent prosecution including the preparation of routine documents to researchers and patent lawyers

Sounds like he was doing some really boring paralegal work.

Teaching Assistant, Department of Political Science,

University of Wisconsin, Madison, 9/91-5/93

-Led discussion sections and graded papers and exams for political theory and comparative political science courses

Research Assistant, Department of Political Science

University of Wisconsin, Madison, 6/92-8/92

-Researched and prepared an extensive scholarly bibliography

When I look at the above two jobs, I know that he was actually in the PhD program because someone in a terminal masters degree at a major American public university would be highly unlikely to get RA and TA jobs.

Paralegal, Commercial Law & Bankruptcy Dept.

Jenner & Block, Chicago, Illinois, 9/89-5/91

-Handled complex legal bills on behalf of the Trustee in large bankruptcies which required extensive knowledge of all legal work performed in order to prepare sufficient documentation to obtain approval by the court

-Prepared routine documents for the court and parties concerned in bankruptcy cases and in civil and criminal suits

-Assist attorneys with case citation and non-legal research

First job out of college. The first item sounds interesting, I wonder what preparing those bills involved. I bet he has some solid basic understanding of how a corporate law firm worked a decade ago. For some reason he did not become a lawyer.

Research Assistant, Silicon Valley Research Group

University of California, Santa Cruz, 1/89-6/89

-Conducted oral and written surveys of American machine-tool firms as part of an international study

God that is exciting, but clearly he telling us that he developed research skills in college.


“Spinning Our Paranoid Wheels” (a review of The Fatal Embrace: Jews and the State) in Response, A Contemporary Jewish Review, Spring/Summer 1994, pages 34-36.

“Heidegger’s Silence” in Response, A Contemporary Jewish Review, Spring 1992, pages 24-31.

I bet he is Jewish.


Editor, Leviathan, University of California, Santa Cruz, 6/87-2/89

-Established a Women’s Section of the paper resulting in increase of contributors by more than 50%

-Paper received Columbia Student Journalism Awards under my editorship for articles published in 1988 and 1989

OK, so I can tell that he is proud of this because it could easily have been cut. I think he is trying to tell us that he has had some sort of management/editorial experience since his college days. Maybe the first point is designed to make women think he is an enlightened guy and clearly the last point is designed to make everyone understand that is some sort of prestigious award. At least the "Columbia" sounds that way.

OK. Now that I ripped myself apart, well at least partially, who wants to go next?



The little cannibals fight on feet of clay,
but don’t take them for granted because
even though they are slow and stupid,
there are so many of them.

There is no reasoning with cannibals.
You can kill them, but their friends seem to enjoy it.
You can ask them to leave, but they are rude.
You can ignore them, but they have such bad breathe.
You can join them, but they’ll make you lunch.

Run away from the cannibals.
See if you can.
But wherever you go, the cannibals will be waiting.

So you better think of something else.

Laugh at the cannibals!
Smile at the cannibals with a big toothy grin.
Offer them treats and pet them.

When you wake, the cannibals will be gone
or you will be supper.


Judge Kennedy's Women

Jeffrey Rosen's recent New Republic piece on the "Kennedy Court" makes me think about the continuous potential for arbitrary thinking in judicial opinions and how it is very likely that the Court will use such thinking to further curtail liberty. Consider the following very recent but far from sui generis example of Kennedy's method of argument as cited by Rosen:

Consider Gonzales v. Carhart, his five-four opinion in April upholding the federal ban on partial-birth abortions. There was nothing inherently objectionable about Kennedy's tie-breaking vote to uphold the ban--an uncharacteristic example of deference to Congress from the justice who has voted to strike down more acts of Congress than any of his colleagues except for Justices Scalia and Thomas. But Kennedy couldn't resist adorning his opinion with an unnecessary soliloquy about how the ban would serve the noble goal of protecting women from emotional distress. "Respect for human life finds an ultimate expression in the bond of love the mother has for her child," he wrote portentously. "While we find no reliable data to measure the phenomenon, it seems unexceptionable to conclude some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained."

Rosen goes on to write:

Kennedy simply didn't care that he could find no "reliable data to measure the phenomenon." For him, "It is self-evident that a mother who comes to regret her choice to abort must struggle with grief more anguished and sorrow more profound when she learns, only after the event, what she once did not know: that she allowed a doctor to pierce the skull and vacuum the fast-developing brain of her unborn child ...."

Why is Kennedy so confident that this is "self-evident"? As Ginsburg suggested, a woman who is determined to have an abortion might suffer more profound anguish at enduring a procedure that her doctor considers less safe, or she might suffer just as much anguish if she ends her pregnancy with another, more common abortion procedure--one that Kennedy insists is her constitutional right. The truth is that Kennedy isn't interested in examining the actual experiences of real women affected by the partial-birth abortion ban; he feels he has an intuitive understanding of what women are feeling and is convinced that he has a unique and solemn responsibility to define the essential nature of women's dignity.

After reading Rosen's piece, I read through Gonzales v. Carhart and reached a similar conclusion about the essentially arbitrary nature of Kennedy's "soliloquy," which as Ginsburg points out in the minority's dissent rests upon "an antiabortion shibboleth for which it concededly has no reliable evidence: Women who have abortions come to regret their choices. "

When Judges begin to make arguments about regrets rather than choices, I know we are either entering legal justifications for the nanny state or legal justifications for eliminating choices (Ginsberg makes this latter point in her dissent). In either case, the liberty of American women will likely be curtailed by future rulings from the "Kennedy Court."

humid in Tokyo, dry in LA

Coldwater Canyon Death Poem

I never died on Coldwater Canyon traveling between the Valley and the City.
I never even crashed.

The Canyon was always safe, no matter how crazy my father drove.
His father died in the City in bed.

The Canyon was always safe, even though my mother would not drive there.
Her father died in the Valley in bed.

I don’t drive.
I don’t live in LA.
And I’m not sleeping.

-Adam Markus

My evil twin: ACE

My evil twin, ACE, is a bit of a thug. If a debt needs to be collected, if someone has taken advantage of me, if a wrong needs to righted, ACE takes care of it. While both ACE and I loved my maternal grandfather, who, prior to our birth, owned an illegal sports book in East Chicago, it was ACE who decided to follow in the family tradition. That said, he decided not to go into business with an Italian American organization the way my grandfather did. ACE also knows how to have a good time and compared to nice bookish Adam, ACE can be a lot of fun. He is a lousy singer, but loves karaoke. He also has been known to drink too much at weddings and wakes and elsewhere. My wife, Akiko, lets him come over, but she always tells me when it is time for him to leave. She actually likes ACE and made the image above for his as yet unreleased greatest hits album. If you would like to arrange a meeting with ACE, please let me know in advance because he is a busy guy and, like Holly Golightly, is frequently traveling.

Tank Top Philosophy

I started wearing tank tops, seven years ago, during my second summer in New York City. They keep me cool or at least cooler than any other kind of t-shirt. I am no longer living in New York City, but I am still wearing tank tops or as my brother likes to say, wife beaters. The funny thing is that it is wife who suggested I start wearing them.

Actually I would say that my conversion to the tank top, an item of apparel that I am now wholly committed to, represents a fundamental change. I was always the sort of person who possessed such a strong preconception of what I would and would not wear. And since I have always been overweight I long had the very common tendency among the fat to try to cover up my body as though a loose shirt would somehow make me look thinner. In addition, I am a snob and always associated tank tops with working class slobs, not with middle class Jewish intellectuals like myself. But all of this has changed. Perhaps the fact that my tank tops are branded by Ralph Lauren or Banana Republic, somehow mitigates the snob issue, but still a white tank top is a white tank top even if it is ribbed and freshly laundered. Of course only about half of my tank tops are white. The rest are gray, brown, black, blue, and dark green.

I wear tank tops now because I am no longer attempting to hide my body. It is whatever it is and I endeavor to make it better. Secondly and this is actually fundamental, it was my wife who suggested I wear them. She has always accepted me for who I am and in fact has made me feel good about my body in a way that no one else ever did. Sometimes liberation from ones prejudices comes from within, but sometimes it really takes another person to make you recognize life’s alternatives.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Is there anything you really regret?

I think to myself: YES!

I regret that I did not study Latin. So over the next couple of years, I have decided to try and make up for that. Why Latin? Without it, I will never really be able to master Roman Law (big shock) and hence I consider it an important academic skill for me to develop. Also I want to be able to read Roman authors, especially Catullus, in the original Latin. I also consider this a significant hold in my education as a Western intellectual. I would like to learn Ancient Greek too, but I think it will have to wait for a decade or more. Latin is a dead language in as much as you can't speak it with very many people, but it lives within the languages of the West and hence studying it will provide me with further cognates for dealing with the living Romance Languages. Finally, you never know when you will have to meet the Pope.


Bangkok Sirroco Bar

I am ready to go back there for a drink.


For a couple of years I had been looking for the right part-time graduate program. I finished my Masters in Political Science at University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1993 and with the exception of taking a CELTA and studying for Japanese, my education for the last fourteen years has been solely based on my reading choices. This is not to be despised or even apologized for because I have always regularly read hard academic books and have continuously developed my intellect. I have spent much of my life living in my head and a certainly large portion of that time is dedicated to thinking about philosophy, political theory, politics, law, religion, history, and literature. Given that list of subjects, it is clear enough that I have had no clear overall focus. For, perhaps, the first ten years after grad school I was simply not even interested in focusing on an academic discipline. Given the fact that I started by Masters at age 23 and finished by age 25 and also graduated from undergrad a year early at age 21, it is no surprise that I was tired with school.

However after a couple of years working as an admissions counselor, I was ready to go back, but not full-time. Frankly, I am committed to my profession as a counselor and was not looking for an academic program that would make that career impossible. I am good at what I do professionally, take great pride in it, and doubt seriously the advantage of leaving that career behind. Hence I started looking for part-time graduate program in my core field of political theory. No such part-time or distance program at what I would consider to be a good school exists. I came close to applying to one part-time PhD program in Japan, but decided that the topic I was planning to focus on was simply not something I could be passionate about. Another year went by and then suddenly I found it.

A disclaimer: I am not lawyer. Given my experience working as a paralegal in both bankruptcy and patent law as well as having a brother and two very close friends (my lifelong best friend and my best friend from my graduate school days) who are lawyers, I know that this is a well informed choice. On the other hand, legal theory and history have interested me since college. This area of scholarship was constantly overlapping with my core interests in the study of politics. Additionally, in the last couple of years, my interest in legal theory and history continued to grow especially when I started to lectures from the University of Chicago faculty and the Federalist Society ( I will write about my favorite podcasts in another post). At the same time I became interested in understanding legal history and theory more systematically.

Earlier this year, I began the latest chapter in my twisted idea of fun.
I started studying part-time for Postgraduate Diploma in Laws and assuming I get through it, I will also take an LLM at the University of London's External Programme. I am not planning to learn anything practical. I am planning on studying the history of law and legal theory. My first course is Western European Legal History. Sometime in 2008, I will move to legal and judicial theory. Assuming I stay on something like a regular study schedule I should be able to get an LLM by 2010.

My fun really began in earnest in May. I am reading mostly about the impact of Roman Law on the West. Based on what I can gather, I may be the only student in the External Programme studying this subject because no one has ever taken an exam in it before (they report the results and give the questions for all past exams) and when I tried to find anyone among the registered students who was taking this course, I could find no one. It is lonely in a way, but to be honest I did not really expect to be part of a learning community. Instead I simply want to obtain mastery of the subject in order to reinvigorate my intellectual foundations. Maybe after I finish the LLM, I will about doing a PhD in intellectual history or political theory, but at the moment, all I want to do is have fun with this.