Try the fugu… it’s to die for

This could kill you…

The puffer fish is the second most “poisonous” vertebrate in the world. I say poisonous rather emphatically because the terms poisonous and venomous are often mistaken. A snake is not poisonous. I can’t count the number of times people came up to me to ask me if a snake I had or was selling was poisonous. I’d tell them, “No, there are no known poisonous snakes in the world.” They look at me like I was stupid, I’d continue, “Now there are lots of venomous snakes, but selling and keeping them is illegal without a special license which I don’t possess. So to answer your stupid question, no, the snake is not poisonous; to answer the question that you were trying to ask, no, the snake is not venomous.” Then I’d watch them walk away still confused.

The most poisonous vertebrate in the world is a species of poison dart frog from South America, an animal that I owned actually back in college. Interestingly enough they lose all of their toxins in captive care and individuals born and raised exclusively in captivity never show any signs of a toxic excrement. Originally it was postulated that this was environmentally influenced, later studies suggested it was dietary. The folic acid in ants was thought to be what the frogs converted into their paralytic poison. The most recent study I saw suggested that it was mites that the frogs ate were behind it all. I digress, in the wild, these frogs are king when it comes to all natural poison.

This picture is just something I stumbled upon while looking at pictures of frogs to put in this blog post… I haven’t been this disturbed since the first time I saw a vagina…

The puffer fish is considered a delicacy here in Japan. It’s not uncommon to meet Japanese person who has never eaten it. It’s very expensive and considered a luxury dish. The preparation is specialized and requires a license to prepare commercially. Eaten raw as sashimi, puffer fish, or fugu in Japanese, is not that dangerous even if you eat some of the toxins. It acts almost like a drug causing intoxication and numbness. However, when eaten in soup, ill-prepared fugu can be deadly.

Yeah… I wouldn’t if I were you…

Personally, if you haven’t eaten fugu then you aren’t missing out on a lot. My wife’s family swears by the stuff, and I admit it’s not too shabby. The meat as shashimi isn’t spectacular, it’s a little tough, almost crunchy, and pretty relatively flavorless, which in some regards is good, (I don’t like fishy smelling/tasting sashimi). In soup and fried it’s delicious. The meat turns tender, white, and flakes off in your mouth. Good stuff, but worth the risk?

A student came up to me the other day and told me that he fears death. The kid is kind and awkward and the butt of harassment by some of the more popular school cliques. The students get almost indignant when I force them to be civil to their social pariahs. I’m force to remember my own awkward school years.

Okay… so this is 2005, not high school… but it’s the oldest picture I could find…

I was home schooled until I was in seventh grade. Learning at home is great for academic achievement. I learned enough by the time I fished sixth grade to last me until I left for college. My classmates never could seem to understand how I never did any work in school, took all the honors classes with them, and still finished with a 4.5 GPA. I brought a text book home on rare occasion. The last time I remember bringing one back with me was in 11th grade, my world history book. I used it to kill and abnormally large house spider. The fact of the matter was that it was all just one big review for me. I took geometry in 8th grade, moved to Kentucky and had to take pre-algebra again with the rest of the freshman kids.

Home schooling is great for schooling but poor for social development. I was an awkward minority student when I went back to school. Middle school is a time when boys are bursting with the fire of youth. We’ve grown brand new bodies that feel invincible and we want to test them to prove ourselves to the world. Nothing makes you feel stronger than pushing someone weak down. I wonder why that is.

This insults you, for being a pig, but everyone around for being guinea pigs…

Bob was a tea cup of a child that I went to junior high school with. Freckles, baby fat, odd mannerisms, he was hopelessly lost when it came to life as a middle school student. So the kid was bullied and bashed and taunted. I never lifted a finger to help him. I really had no standing at school outside of the fact that I was the Asian kid that all of the really popular kids wanted to cheat off of. They could have been waterboarding Bob and I wouldn’t have lifted a finger.

Daniel was a smelly backwoods mountain boy I went to high school with. The real America that Palin spoke about during her campaign is populated by lots of children like Daniel and adults like Daniel, probably. Daniel was the first friend I made at my new school in Kentucky. He was friendly; he had an N64 and NFL Blitz so the friendship was sealed.

My friendship was cheap…

To say Daniel was a social outcast at school would be like saying it occasionally rains in the rainforest. The kid was so despised it could have been the setting for a Disney movie. People were always so surprised when I talked with him or spent time with him or invited him to do things with me. It pissed me off. Like really pissed me off; to the point where I made sure that people knew I thought the kid was alright. Who was the judge and jury that blacklisted him? Where were his accusers? I don’t know why I was so popular at that school, but for some reason I was vogue.

Actually I do know why… I’m awesome…

It’s a little intoxicating to feel liked by everyone. I felt a little bit of a struggle at times keeping up the fact that I liked Daniel. As soon as I started that struggle I wronged him badly and I still kick myself about that.

To my student that told me he fears death, I think he was trying to say that he was afraid that the other students were going to pick on him. I told him, “Life is too short to worry about dying, if you have a problem just come see me.”

Life is all about distracting yourself from the fact that you are in fact going to die. We spend hours and millions of dollars trying to reverse the effects of aging, but it’s just sweeping the fact that we’re decaying under the rug.

As I sit cross-legged at a low table eating an expensive poisonous fish, I think about death again. It seems to me that life gives us so few chances to prove ourselves. I don’t think eating something that could potentially kill you says much about your character in the face of death. I think standing against the crowd to help someone they’ve pushed down says much much more, but then… what would Japan know about that?


Life after Osama bin Laden

I have never wished a man dead but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.” -Mark Twain

Barak Obama kills Osama Bin Laden; that only sounds ironic, like J.R. Tolkien is busy naming today’s historical characters.

Saruman and Sauron

Only took ten fucking years, but even though every living human is going to eventually die, sending Bin Laden off with a Navy Seal bullet through the head just has a strange poetic ring to it.

But the truth of the matter is that the world is never in short supply of stupid or crazy. We’re always fully stocked on douche bags, murders, and evil assholes. We knocked off a big one with Bin Laden’s death, but in the long run he did what he set out to accomplish. He shook up the world and even in death draws focus away from more awesome stuff like baseball and hot girls.

As I sat down and thought about it I wondered how I should react. I couldn’t really put my finger on it, but watching the people in America parading around draped in stars and stripes seemed slightly off.

I think we did it wrong. How is us parading around after killing someone different from Al Queda extremists dancing around after they knocked down our two towers. Yes, they punched us first and it was a stupid move on their part, but rarely is terrorism a smart move unless it’s against a tyrannical empire that likes drinking tea. (no not China!)

This thing should have ended like the movie Shane. A couple of flash bangs, a 9mm, and the SEALs ride off into the night on their black helicopters. Well… that’s exactly what happened pretty much. But when Shane guns down Wilson and everyone else in that little saloon we never saw what happened afterwards. I guess because afterwards ruined the coolness of the film. Coolness isn’t something you can fake I guess and it’s not something that widely distributed among the masses.

We are this:

Just shows what you can do if you believe in yourself...

When we should be this:

Trust me kids, he was cool.

We’re this:

“You went full retard, man… never go full retard.” Kirk Lazarus

When we should be this:

The original space cowboy.

By celebrating the death of a single man who has been hiding for a decade we endanger ourselves. What if we’re no longer cool? What if the world starts to think we’re simpletons who believe that single death brings complete closure to wounds that will forever scar our history. What if we’ve validated Osama Bin Laden by celebrating him in anyway at all? All we should have done is nodded, smiled, and cooly said, “About time we killed that mother fucker…” before eating some non-Halal grub followed by 72 hour sex marathon.

Religious leaders are often killed off in the belief that by silencing them you silence the followers. But as with the example with the early Christian movements, persecution grows faith. The death of a figurehead can often have the opposite effect you desire.

We’re not the underdog in this story, if anything we’re Rome. And Bin Laden isn’t Jesus, he was a lying, extremist, murder who has the blood of many people from many walks of life and faith on his hands. But we were the odds on favorite to win from the get go, that’s been undisputed since WWII.

And it’s not like we win them all, but we expect to, and we often do. And when we do. We don’t have to rub it in their faces.

Because when we do…

We look like this:

Yeah, like you’re from Jersey…

Instead of this: