July 28, 2011

Most Impressive Link-Whoring Scheme Evah!

Don wants you to change your bookmarks NOW!

For the sake of Texas...DO IT!


Less of the Kawaii here, more of the Kowaii.

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July 26, 2011

It's Not Politics..It's History

That is my story and I am sticking to it.

...and even if it was politics I don't have to put it below the fold 'cause to be appalled by it (or to suffer from cognitive dissonance) you'd have to click on it.

So I'll just leave this here...


Via

In case you did click on it and got yourself all appalled and stuff, then as a palate cleanser here is a remarkably cute catgirl with some fish that was drawn by Toshihide Sano.


The Above link is his PixyV page. His official website was here but is either inactive or is blocking access from the US.

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July 24, 2011

K-ON! DVD Volume 2

I had found the first 4 episodes of this show to be dry but cute and they had made me laugh. So last night, a friend and I popped in the second disc.



The show is still dry but the characters are developing quite well as the young ladies are hone their instrumental, singing and blackmail skills while dealing with the various speedbumps of life.  Unlike the shows earlier episodes the girls misadventures are not overwhelmingly failures. They do have quite a few successes: most notably in the blackmail department.

 Hearing Stephanie Shea and Christina Vee sing was...startling, but they did a pretty good job and the dub overall continues to be above average.


I actually like this show a lot more now. The faculty adviser is a surprisingly interesting character who really gets the show moving. As it is a show about a music club, one would expect there to be music, it does, and it has an awesome soundtrack.

The show is very cute, didn't bore me and made me laugh. It also teaches an important and sobering life lesson...madness can lurk in the most unexpected places.

Stark Raving Whackadoodle Win!

Anyway, I can firmly recommend the show. I will be collecting this.

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Ultimate Source of US Political Corruption Found

Golly. It's always who you'd least expect.


I guess we'll have to resume sending in the beavers.

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How do We Fix ShipBuilding?

Shipyard prices are skyrocketing. The number of shipyards is dropping. As the navy is getting old and worn out ships are being laid up. Meanwhile, it seems that the ships the USN are procuring are being delivered 'pre-worn' so the bluejackets can skip the whole step of sailing them around before laying them up.

The waterjets of the LCS have fallen out due to galvanic corrosion, apparently because the shipbuilders didn't use zincs properly.

LPD 17 San Antonio has never worked right and appears to be a pier ornament now. Much of the issue there seems to stem from faulty welds which are contaminating the lube oil with metal shavings.

This story from my local paper
is not strictly a manufacturing issue but speaks to massive incompetence in shipbuilding procurement. (We couldn't have used them as tenders...used them as SOMETHING?)


This crap is happening just as the Navy is approaching block obsolescence in almost every category except destroyers....while the nation faces bankruptcy.

These problems are deep and systemic. There are no quick solutions. However we may be able to at least move in the right direction. There are two historical parallels that we can use as examples.


In the1880s the UK was extracating itself from Afganistan and was facing some financial difficulties. At the same time the UKs shipbuilding program was terribly screwed up, with problems that included cost overruns, excessively long build times, ships massively over budget as well as overdue, quality control issues, problems integrating new technologies and simple corruption (sound familiar?). The response was to, for a time,  order only second line vessels such as gunboats and auxiliaries as well as a few experimental technology test beds such as experimental high speed craft (the torpedo boats).

These were often ordered outside the usual defense procurement clique. (eleventy)

In the meantime the procurement system was overhauled, investment was made in physical plant improvements at the shipyards and  the procurement system was reformed, Concurrently, a determination of what sort of vessels were needed was made. Then rational, attainable requirements for the various types of vessels were drawn up that matched the then current technologies, the national strategy of the time as well as the gamut of potential scenarios.

After several years of building gunboats and finishing the dubious vessels that were already ordered, the Royal Navy began building ships under the Naval Defence Act. William Whites design team produced the finest ships that had been built up to that time and for nearly two decades, every subsequent class was an improvement on their design predecessor in some way.

In the late 1920's the US Navy changed the design of its cruisers drastically, switching the emphasis from underwater protection to protection against shellfire. However, cruiser size was strictly constrained to 10,000 tons by the Washington Naval Treaty. Cramming all that extra armor needed to resist 8" shellfire and still come in under the legal weight pushed the state of the art to the limit. The commercial shipyards balked and quoted prices that were exceedingly high. The Navy built the first  New Orleans class cruisers in Navy Yards. This allowed the Navy to learn by doing the tricks to the new technologies and give commercial shipyards some training in those fields. This also gave USN officers a LOT of hands on experience in shipbuilding which was invaluble for both quality control inspections and giving a holistic view of damage control. Both stood the USN in good stead in WW2.

There are legal problems with this today as the government shipyards are not allowed to compete with commercial yards in procurement. However, Navy yards are still important in a wartime situation so it is beneficial to have them engage in some shipbuilding to keep their skills sharp. The abysmal performance of the commercial yards in such basic fields as welding and cathodic protection indicates that some remedial training is needed. Shipyards are a national asset. This is nova panacea and ought to be done as a very small percentage of a total procurement, but it has worked in the past.


On the flip side of this is a lack of competition. Government regulators like a few big companies because they are easy to regulate and control and they don't innovate much so bureaucrats don't have to face their own inadequacies. A handful of businesses make it easy to form cartels and grease beauraucratic palms.

We actually have a fair number of shipyards in the country but very few of them get involved in major defense procurement in part because cost plus contracting requires a byzantine army of accountants and lawyers that is larger than the total staff of some of these shipyards. This not only promotes corruption and cost padding, it is a huge barrier to entry for new firms...which isalmost certainlyone of the motivations. Get rid of cost plus and you get rid of several problems at once.

The lager problems involve planning, requirements and overall design. There needs to be something to dissuade crazy ideas like aluminum hulled frigate sized tenders that cost as much as European destroyers carrying the armaments of a coast guard cutter at...50 knots. That would require something like the old General Board...but that's a topic for another time.

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False Flag Fail

Much of what has been said about the Norwegian monster Anders Behring Breivik came from this translation of his Facebook page...Well, that appears to be fake. Someone was very anxious to tie this guy to the American right to the point of creating poor comedy.



Now this evil waste of skin certainly does appear to be a total nutter and he does seem to have things in common with the EUROPEAN right but he probably wasn't any sort of fan of Sarah Palin or Fox anchor Bret Bair as the 'fakebook' page suggests. Palin in particular has spoken out against discrimination against muslims and so would be anathema to the bastards core belief.

It bears remembering that the European right is vastly different in principle from the rightwing in the US. In the US the right is broadly about limited federal government power and adherence to the constitution. The farthest to the right in the US political spectrum would be the Libertarians, who chafe at virtually any role for government and seem to want to apply the 10th amendment restrictions on federal power to ALL levels of government. The farthest right electable movement in the US is the Tea Party, which has some libertarian ( Jeffersonian) elements but is really Hamiltonian or Whig in character....though rather less so than the Republican party as a whole.

In Europe what is called the 'right' is essentially monarchical and often obsessed with a nation being a haven for whatever ethnicity it represents...a relic of the fact that European nations were essentially tribal in origin. This means that right in Europe is often explicitly racist. Compare popular figures in the Tea Party who include Michael Williams, Nikki Haley, Allen West, Herman Cain, Tim Scott, Marco Rubio, Luis Fortuno, and Bobby Jindal.

Both the left and right in Europe see the state as all encompassing and can't really concieve of any restraints that ought to be placed on it in the pursuit of their goals...both are viewed as quite socialistic by most American righties.

Now Europe is a big continent and I'm generalizing. For instance Switzerland is much closer to the ideal of many on the American right than the US is now, and there are a few libertarian type movements such as the one in England (which is a revival of the old enlightenment civics that inspired Americas founders).

The point is that notwithstanding what non-fake motivations this evil bastard may have, US righties have very little in common with the far "right" in Europe.    We absolutely condemn this atrocity in Norway and will never afford the perpetrator any sort of respectability or elder statesman status (like certain circles have done with the likes of Ayers, Dohrn and Evans).

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July 22, 2011

Norwegian Parliament Bombed

ABC (US) is reporting a massive vehicle bomb has gone off at the Norwegian Parliament, destroying the PMs office. At least one person has died. No word on if the fatality was an MP.


Image via ABC News

There is video here, at Hot Air, which also reports that there are at least two other bombs that have not gone off yet.

UPDATE: Now there has been a shooting at a summer camp in Norway. Some reports indicate 25 kids may be dead.

An eyewitness told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that he saw 20 to 25 bodies at the youth camp on Utoya island where a gunman dressed in a police uniform opened fire.

Police did not immediately confirm the account, but Acting Police Chief Sveinung Sponheim said a suspect in the shooting has been arrested.

The official death toll seems to be 16 as I type this.

Utoya Island Youth Camp via Associated Press

However, many of the children reportedly tried to swim across the fjord (lake?) to shore (the camp is on an island) and reports are still confused regards a second gunman at the camp so this could get worse still.

There seems to have been a claim of responsibility made by an Islamist group though the suspect is reportedly "tall blonde and Nordic looking". It could be anyone at this point.  

More here, here, and here. Lots of pictures, most of them really depressing, over at the Sun.

UPDATE: It seems that it was a xenophobic lunatic. It looks like he acted alone, but I would not rule out at least tangential involvement of others. He left 85 dead at the youth camp alone. Posing as a cop, he called everyone out into a large area and shot them. Sick.



Note that while I am pleased I did refrain from jumping to conclusions on this one, in defense of the bloggers who were pretty sure it was islamists, the facts at the time did seem to strongly support that theory.
*There had been a claim of responsibility by a muslim group.
*There is a current issue with the arrest of a radical cleric.
*There had been threats regarding that arrest.
*This looked like Mumbai, and the African embassy bombings combined, particularly with the cop impersonation (the Mumbai killers used ambulances for transport)
*I can't think of anything like this in Europe aside from the leftist bombings of the 70's/80's.

To their credit, virtually all of those bloggers amended their coverage as soon as the facts became apparent.





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July 19, 2011

A National Acetylene Shortage

Well this seems like important news that ought to be getting more play...
Classical Values reports that an explosion at a carbide facility in Louisville has precipitated a national acetylene shortage.


Given the ubiquity and importance of welding, I'm sure this has no economic, or strategic/industrial implications whatsoever.

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Breaking: US Congressman Leonard Boswell (D Iowa 3rd) Attacked by Gunman in Home!

Boswell who is 77 heard his daughter screaming and found an intruder on top of her with a gun in her face. He reportedly tackled the intruder and the two wrestled until his grandson entered the room with a shotgun...at which point the intruder fled. The assailant is still at large.

Via Alphecca

This is a big deal. There is no indication as I write this that this was anything but a home invasion....but this was a United States Congressman so something bigger can't be ruled out. Coming so soon after the Giffords assassination attempt this has got to have people on edge regards congressional security. I hope the powers that be don't overreact as US Representatives and Delegates are about the only federal officials the citizens have any access to.

In any event it seems that the asshat who is now on the lamb picked the wrong Congresscritter to bother...

Boswell was drafted into the US Army in 1956. According to his Congressional website, he reenlisted and became an army aviator who was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Soldier’s Medal, two Bronze Stars, an Air Medal with V device, and numerous other awards and decorations.


Hooah!

UPDATE: They have caught one person and are looking for another.

The Iowa Department of Public Safety said authorities had arrested Cody John Rollins, 19, of Lamoni. He's charged with first degree burglary, assault while participating in a felony, going armed with intent and three counts of first degree robbery.

He was held on $50,000 bond, and a lawyer hadn't yet been named.

Police also were searching for David Palmer Dewberry, 20, of Fremont, Neb., who is considered armed and dangerous and may have fled the state.


It looks like just a couple of lowlifes who picked a house with a war hero and a shotgun inside. It still bears watching though.

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July 18, 2011

Look on the Bright Side


I bet there is not much of a mosquito problem.

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I Think I'll Blog a Looong Post About Politics AND Religion

Let's see how this reader reacts.


...oh.
I guess it'll have to go below the fold then.
more...

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July 16, 2011

The Even Darker Underbelly of Fandom

Even worse than creepy fetishes.

Amy Player is Jordan Wood is Victoria Bitter is Andrew Blake
        (updated)
...and that's only the tip of the iceberg.

Allow me to explain.

Some years ago, a fan from my neck of the woods (one Amy Player) convinced several members of the LOTR cast that she was Elijah Wood's nephew/cousin/brother/something'r'other and conned them (and a great many Lord of the Rings fans) into donating to and otherwise supporting a bogus charity that turned out to be the Amy Player enrichment fund.

It gets worse.
Much worse.

Now she/he* has gone and gotten people killed.

Colleen Doran has a long, well researched post on this.

Read the whole thing. It is incredible and it is all true.


 I see Ritzu and Yui have read it.

Be advised that, as one of her commenters points out, the story is like a TV tropes thread. This psychopath has cut an intricate, vast and nigh unbelievable swath of misery, theft and betrayal through several branches of fandom.

This has rather more urgency than it might because the person is still out there preying on people. Even now,  under the name Andrew Blake, this character is running...yet another charity. Appallingly, it is dedicated to the memories of those that this sick person helped get killed.

Warn your friends in fandom, especially those involved in cons. Put the word out. This louse is a crook and any charity said louse is involved in is likely to be a scam.

 There is a collection of photos of this parasite here.

There is an excellent written account of Amy Players Continent Spanning Lord of the Rings charity scam by Jeanine Renne. It can be bought here.

UPDATE:

This gets creepier still.

It seems that there is another Andrew Blake who is actually known and presumably respected in the charity/NGO community.

This bit of trivia might explain why this waste of skin got such high profile endorsements for his most recent venture (Which includes Starbucks).

UPDATE2:

Via Colleen Doran

Oh how nice, a little clarification just got posted at the completely superfluous "It’s About Power” non-event.

"We are NOT a charity. We do not and have never solicited monetary donations nor do we accept them.
Under any circumstances.
The hike team has, however, sold items in order to fund their emergency cash as this kind of hike can be dangerous.
The only sponsorship we are currently requesting is 78lbs. of bison (or lean red) meat.”

Isn’t that special. Never claimed to be a charity? Never solicited donations? Pull the other one.

Backpedal faster, Andrew.

Someone really ought to tell these nitwits that a gift of property is just as tangible as a gift of money, and soliciting property is still soliciting.

There is no reason for anyone to sponsor this nonsense at all. Not even to feed the animals.



* ( its unclear to me if there was ever surgery involved, the person was a trap when going by the name Amy Player, or the person in question is just a misandrist moby pretending to be a guy)

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July 09, 2011

The Journey of Vocabulary Never Ends

...and nowadays it frequently leads to bad places.

  So earlier today I encountered a word, in a context did not jive with my understanding of the word. I posted a comment to that effect.

My suspicions proved correct. Now I know what an imouto game is and I am a little deader on the inside for knowing that.


more...

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July 04, 2011

235 Years

235 years ago today the 13 southernmost of England's North American colonies sent representatives to Philadelphia to discuss what to do about the various political disputes they had had with London...disputes that had been festering for a decade.

One of these representatives, Benjamin Franklin, had spent 11 years in London trying to resolve these disputes. He had attempted to, amongst other things:

*set up a process for the colonists to elect MPs.

*represent their interests in policy discussions

*relay the London perspective back to the colonies.

While he was in England, he was increasingly treated not as a representative, but an ambassador from a hostile nation. Finally, in 1775, he was called everything but a child of God, told his people were nothing more than subjects who were not entitled to representation of any sort, He was summarily dismissed.

One of the most respected Britons of his age had gone to bring the nation closer together and returned convinced it was not possible.

The various delegates conferred and decided on a course of action. They published their conclusion and the reasons they reached it. It bears remembering that they did not come to their conclusion lightly .

Their statement is below.

Today is the day we celebrate their difficult, but demonstrably fortuitous decision.

It is also a time to reflect on the fact that Washington imposes afar greater degree of interference in our lives than Lord North ever contemplated. However, it is important to remember that the founders provided us with the very tool Lord North had denied them; the ballot box. 


 

Before

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


The Signatures.....


Georgia:
   Button Gwinnett
   Lyman Hall
   George Walton


North Carolina:
   William Hooper
   Joseph Hewes
   John Penn


South Carolina:
   Edward Rutledge
   Thomas Heyward, Jr.
   Thomas Lynch, Jr.
   Arthur Middleton


Massachusetts:
John Hancock


Maryland:
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton


Virginia:
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton


Pennsylvania:
   Robert Morris
   Benjamin Rush
   Benjamin Franklin
   John Morton
   George Clymer
   James Smith
   George Taylor
   James Wilson
   George Ross


Delaware:
   Caesar Rodney
   George Read
   Thomas McKean


New York:
   William Floyd
   Philip Livingston
   Francis Lewis
   Lewis Morris


New Jersey:
   Richard Stockton
   John Witherspoon
   Francis Hopkinson
   John Hart
   Abraham Clark


New Hampshire:
   Josiah Bartlett
   William Whipple


Massachusetts:
   Samuel Adams
   John Adams
   Robert Treat Paine
   Elbridge Gerry


Rhode Island:
   Stephen Hopkins
   William Ellery


Connecticut:
   Roger Sherman
   Samuel Huntington
   William Williams
   Oliver Wolcott


New Hampshire:
   Matthew Thornton


After

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July 03, 2011

FunBlog is Buddha Blogging

Johnathan Tappan has put together a concise and informative series of posts on the histories and tenets of the various denominations of Buddhism found in Japan. Start here, then there are posts here, here, here, here and here. He also has a lengthy post on Buddhist in general and its representations in Japanese visual media.

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