Thursday, May 29, 2008

This Blog Gets Me in Trouble Again

Once again this blog gets me in trouble. This time with a slightly larger audience.

If you're reading this, it means you had to log in or create some sort of Google account. (Unless for some reason I've screwed up and this blog is still public. In which case someone tell me now!)

I got home from school the other day and checked my e-mail, and there were a surprising amount of comments on the last post. Ah, nice to know people care, I thought. Then I thought, "Wait a minute, do I even know half these people? Who knew my blog was so popular?"

And then I had yet another thought, and went over to my stat-counter account, to look at who has been reading my blog lately. And, sure enough, I'd been picked up by "the NET". Within 30 hours of posting, my previous blog post was making its way around the various bulletin boards.

There are several bulletin boards that specialize for expatriates in Japan, and at last count my previous post was the topic of 3 different bulletin board discussions, one of which was under the heading: "Check out this blog of a stereo-typical Nova loser." The following discussions on these BBs revolved around how much of a loser I was.

Gee, way to kick a guy when he's down, huh?

After 5 years of blogging in obscurity, I guess I'm finally getting my 15 minutes of internet fame. Somehow this was not quite the way I imagined it would happen.

It certainly felt a bit surreal to have all these people I didn't know taking such an active interest in my life, and even actively debating it with eachother.

So there I was, thinking to myself, "Well, it's a good thing I've got tough skin", and "That's what you get for posting stuff on the internet", when it suddenly hit me that all of this internet attention was completely unfair to Shoko.

So I decided the least I could do was take this blog underground temporarily while I re-evaluated my editorial process.

Not that it did me much good. Within minutes of my taking my blog down, links appeared on the BB sites to the Google cached version of my post. Ah, caught by the Google cache. It's an all to common story among bloggers these days.

So, for the moment, it looks like I'm stuck with my post floating around the internet. (Unless any of you tech people know a way out of this mess.)

The thing is I should have known better. I mean I had read all the blogging horror stories, and I even personally knew a couple people who had gotten burned by their blogs. Not to mention several of you have cautioned me on occasion that I was occasionally crossing the line with this blog. I guess if you want to say "I told you so", now's your opportunity.

Clearly I have a lot of personal information on this blog, not just about me but about other people. And although I was not unaware of privacy issues related with blogging, I never thought this blog would get a lot of attention. (Yeah, that's what they all say after they get burned, isn't it?) So I'm going to stay underground for a bit while I think through some of these blogging related issues. Hopefully this won't completely ruin what has been a good outlet for me over the past few years, and helped to keep me sane during my time in Japan

For the time being , I'm going to try and think about some good blogging rules with the idea of bringing this blog public again
Specifically: I'm going to try and keep personal updates to a minimum, and try keep other people's information out of it.

I'll concentrate instead on my various blogging projects: Book reviews, movie reviews , Video reviews, and (if I ever get another free day) "Better Know a City" travelogues. Hopefully all those will keep me out of trouble.

Several of you have told me you're not very interested in my various reviews, and I can completely understand that because quite frankly I'm not sure I would be interested in someone else's reading list either. But it does keep me out of trouble and although my voyeristic posts make for much more interesting reading, they obviously carry certain dangers with them as well. Now that I'm 30, maybe it's finally time to take a step towards more adult blogging.

As for the Retrospections...
I hate to stop doing those, because I really enjoy the reminiscing. And I've already got a bunch of those pre-written, which I was hoping was going to help me get through dry blogging spells as I concentrate on schoolwork.
But even after forgoing full names, I'm worried all that information about other people is asking for trouble. I've been trying to justify them on the basis that they're old enough to be beyond carrying, but you never know what someone else will care about, do you? Especially if I ever find a post of mine making the rounds on the internet Bulletin Boards again...

I don't know, what do you guys think?

Link of the Day
Jessica Yellin: Reporters Were “Under Enormous Pressure” From Corporate Executives to Support War

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

E-Mail: October 12, 1996


Another e-mail from the retrospection files. This is a slightly edited version of an e-mail I sent out to a friend on October 12, 1996, shortly after starting Calvin.

How are things going? I imagine by this time your classes have started. Are they going okay? Do you have a lot of homework?
Things are pretty good over here. I've got a lot of homework, but it's not so much that I can't keep up with it.
It's been raining a lot over here, and beginning to get pretty cold. I got completely drenched on Tuesday, because I had to bike through the rain . (For my English assignment, we all have to interview and write about people in retirement homes. I went there by bicycle and got absolutely drenched in the downpour).

Today was an exception though. We had our first warm day in about a week, and it got almost up to 70 degrees. (I think someone told me 67 degrees).
I haven't done any swimming for about a month now. I really don't intend to keep it up either. I'm done swimming competively.

Link of the Day
FBI Looking for Informants to Infiltrate Vegan Potlucks

Friday, May 16, 2008

Beppu University: 100 Year Anniversary

This Thursday was the 100th Anniversary of Beppu University. Initially we were all told we would have the day off from school, which made us very happy. Then we were later told we would have to attend a special ceremony that day instead of school (at which attendance would be taken) for which we were not so happy.

A Korean friend complained to me. "I hate these Japanese ceremonies," he said. "They just go on and on with speeches. In Korea we try and wrap everything up in a half hour, but in Japan they just go on and on. The opening school ceremony was awful."

Actually I had missed the opening school ceremony, because it was on a Saturday and I had a conflict with work. But over the years I have attended more than my share of ceremonies in Japan, so I knew what he meant.

The day before the ceremony, the principle gave a short talk in which he told us what to wear (suits), where to go, and what time to show up. He mentioned the first hour would all be speeches, and then the rest of it would be a concert by Minami Kosetsu. "Of course you're all quite young, so I doubt any of you know who Minami Kosetsu is," he added.

...unless of course you have some sort of strange fascination with Japanese oldies like me. So I knew who Minami Kosetsu was. (In fact I mentioned him by name is this article). I even have a couple of his CDs in my apartment. (Well, if you want to get technical, they're actual mini disc copies I made. But the point is I'm a fan).
Minami Kosetsu was part of the folk music boom in Japan in the early 70s. He's also a native son of Oita prefecture, which is his connection to Beppu University.

And he put on a really good show. He played several songs I knew, and told lots of interesting stories between them. (My Nova students tell me that lots of talking is characteristic of his concerts). And even though he is an aging pop star, his voice still sounded as clear and as clean as it did on his old records. In fact even more so because it was a live performance.

The thing that was too bad was that it was a mandatory school event. So the auditorium was packed full of people who didn't really want to be there. And all around me there were people who would shift in their seats or groan whenever he started a new song. But many other people really got into it. Several of my classmates later said they had never heard of him before, but really enjoyed his music.

Link of the Day

The World at 350A Last Chance for Civilization By Bill McKibben
Even for Americans, constitutionally convinced that there will always be a second act, and a third, and a do-over after that, and, if necessary, a little public repentance and forgiveness and a Brand New Start — even for us, the world looks a little Terminal right now.
It’s not just the economy. We've gone through swoons before. It’s that gas at $4 a gallon means we’re running out, at least of the cheap stuff that built our sprawling society. It’s that when we try to turn corn into gas, it sends the price of a loaf of bread shooting upwards and starts food riots on three continents. It’s that everything is so inextricably tied together. It’s that, all of a sudden, those grim Club of Rome types who, way back in the 1970s, went on and on about the “limits to growth” suddenly seem… how best to put it, right.
All of a sudden it isn't morning in America, it’s dusk on planet Earth.
There’s a number — a new number — that makes this point most powerfully. It may now be the most important number on Earth: 350. As in parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
A few weeks ago, our foremost climatologist, NASA’s Jim Hansen, submitted a paper to Science magazine with several co-authors. The abstract attached to it argued — and I have never read stronger language in a scientific paper — “if humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm.” Hansen cites six irreversible tipping points — massive sea level rise and huge changes in rainfall patterns, among them — that we’ll pass if we don’t get back down to 350 soon; and the first of them, judging by last summer’s insane melt of Arctic ice, may already be behind us.
The rest.

Friday, May 09, 2008

太陽の子エステバン / The Mysterious Cities of Gold

(Japanese Video Series)

When I saw this Anime series in my local video store, I thought: what a great way to combine Japanese study with childhood nostalgia.

Remember this show? Of course you do. If you grew up in the 1980s, and if you lived in a house with basic cable, then I have no doubt this show has a special place in your heart.

And it turns out not only for Americans. I mentioned to my Australian co-worker that I was working my way through the series, and he said, "No kidding. I'm a member of the 'Mysterious Cities of Gold Webring'," (apparently such a thing exists) and then he proceeded to wax nostalgic about the series himself.

For anyone not familiar with this show:
It was a French / Japanese co-production. (My co-worker tried to tell me it was primarily a French project, so I couldn't really count it as Japanese anime. My own internet research leads me to believe it was mostly initiated by the Japanese side. I'm not going to waste a lot of space here on the debate though. Suffice it to say I'm counting it as a Japanese anime series for the purposes of this blog.)

It was then translated into English, and broadcast on Nickelodeon from 1986 to 1990. Which is where I, and many of you, saw it as a child.

In fact for much of my childhood I wasn't allowed to watch normal TV, and my viewing was restricted to just 3 channels: PBS, The Disney Channel, and Nickelodeon. So I used to watch this show a lot. And yet I never managed to make it all the way through to the end. I remember one summer when I had watched the show almost to its end, and then I was forbidden from watching TV for one week because I forgot to weed the garden. Another time I missed the conclusion because we had to all go pick my sister up from camp at Spring Hill, and I was given no choice about coming along for the afternoon.
(Also if memory serves correctly, this show used to be on at 2:30 in the afternoon. Which meant I couldn't watch it on a school day, and it was mostly a summer vacation show. But my memory grows hazy on this point. Does anyone else remember more clearly?)

Anyway, it was nice to sit down and watch the whole series on DVD from beginning to end. And of course watching it in the original Japanese helped me with my language studies.

For comparisons sake, I was just watching some of the English episodes on google video (there seem to be a lot of episodes floating around on the internet), and I realized how horrible the English dub actually was. This was something that never bothered me as a child, but I notice it now.
First off is the way all the dub voice actors are always rushing to finish their lines before the character's mouth finishes moving. For whatever reason, this seems to be a common problem when dubbing Japanese anime to English. (A phenomenon spoofed excellently on South Park).
That may be an unavoidable evil when dubbing from one language to another. What is less excusable is that the English voice actors seem to be sleepwalking their way through the performance. "Oh no. Oh let me go. Oh Esteban help me" (All spoken in a monotone).

Neither of these bothered me as a child. In fact I don't recall ever noticing it. But I notice it now.

So for voice acting, the Japanese version is far superior. Unfortunately the Japanese sound track is a big disappointment.

Remember the theme song from "Cities of Gold"? It had a mysterious feel to it, which really set the mood for the show.
Granted I was easier to impress back then, but go over to youtube and watch the opening sequence again. It still sounds pretty cool. And the French version is pretty much the same.
....And then, watch the Japanese opening theme. I'm a big fan of Japanese music, but the J-pop scene has more than it's share of cheesy pop ballads, and this is a prime example.

The series consists of 39 episodes. (Apparently 39 being the magic number needed to accommodate the Japan Broadcasting Corporation airing schedule during a year).
39 episodes is a lot to sit through when you're trying to watch them all on DVD. (Especially with school starting up , it took me about 3 months to work my way through this series). And yet at the same time, part of me was surprised there weren't more episodes. After all, 39 episodes is nothing really, considering Nickelodeon aired this show 5 days a week for 4 years. They must have run through the whole series every 2 months, and rerun the whole a thing a total of (...hold on a minute here...) 24 times in total.

But somehow it seemed a lot longer back then. If I missed the ending episode, it would seem like an eternity before the series would cycle around again to the conclusions (I would have guessed about half a year). I guess time really does pass slower when you're a child.

Anyway, I've gassed on long enough. I suppose I should finally get around to reviewing the actual content of this series.

This cartoon is clearly not adult entertainment for any number of reasons:
*the slapstick cartoonish humor is aimed straight at a child's sensibilities (as well as the buffoonery of the comic relief characters Sancho and Pedro) ,
* the action sequences take a lot of liberties with the laws of physics,
* the whole premise of the show requires a suspension of disbelief on a level more readily achieved by a child ,
* the adults defer to the decisions of the children in a way that only happens in children's cartoons,
et cetera.

So it's no good watching this show from the perspective of an adult. However, if you can try and watch this show from the perspective of a 10 year old child, it has aged surprisingly well. Especially compared to all the other junk we used to watch during the 80s.
Have you ever tried re-watching 80s cartoons as an adult? Superfriends, He-man, Thundercats, all the stuff we used to love back then is hard to sit through now. (When I was living back in the states 2 years ago, I was overjoyed when I discovered the cartoon network was re-running Superfriends, only to discover I couldn't even make it through a whole episode).

"Cities of Gold" on the other hand, was an absolute pleasure to re-watch. Sure I had to work hard to suspend my adult reasoning at several points throughout the series, but the story is well written, and a sense of exotic adventure pervades the whole series. Whether you're navigating the straits of Magellan, shipwrecked on the Galapagos Islands, in the jungles of South America, in the forests of the Amazon women, or deep in the caves of the Olmec's, you have a sense of being on a classic adventure in the tradition of the best pulp fiction writers. Burroughs would have been proud.

When I was a child, I had read in the school library about the real life historical Spanish quest for the cities of gold. At the time, that was yet another attraction to this series, as it gave it a real historical connection.
Watching it now, the historical connection seems very loose indeed. Especially once the series turns to science fiction and fantasy and blatantly abandons any pretense what so ever of historical accuracy. Still, it was a stroke of genius for someone to turn this ancient Spanish myth into a children's cartoon. The whole series has an air of ancient mystery to it.

The characters are surprisingly complex as well, by the standards of children's cartoons. Mendoza is the action swashbuckling action hero of the series. If one of the children gets in trouble, you can bet it will be Mendoza who swings in on a rope (with the dramatic music and his cape fluttering behind him) to save the day. In any other series, Mendoza would have been the title character of the show; like "He-man" or "Superman", or any other 80s cartoon, where the strongest and bravest character is also not only the lead character but also the moral strong point. (Didn't He-man even give moral lessons at the end of each episode?)

But in "Cities of Gold" you're never quite sure until the very end where Mendoza stands. You know part of him wants to protect the children, but another part of him just might sell them out for the gold if he ever got the chance. And the children, especially Zia, never fully trust Mendoza for most of the series.

And of course there's the whole concept (completely new to all of us 80s children) that this was an on-going story. Not everything was wrapped up and finished in 25 minutes, and then completely restarted the next day. The story developed, and the characters and their relationships also developed with it.

Finally, despite the fact that this series was produced in the early 80s, the animation has also aged very well. None of the cheap stop motion techniques you might expect from cartoons of this period. It could hold it's own against anything on TV today.

In conclusion: watching this video series straight through was a very pleasant trip down memory lane. It might have been a children's cartoon, but I never thought to myself, "how could I have liked this crap as a child?" Instead the thought that constantly went through my head while watching was, "No wonder I loved this show as a child. It's the perfect show for an 8 year old boy."

And plus I finally found out how the series ended!

According to wikipedia, a film based on this series is currently in production. If true, I'll be looking forward to seeing that when it comes out.

Link of the Day

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Golden Week

It's Golden Week again in Japan. (For a description of what Golden Week is, see this post here. Or this post here as well).

I don't actually get any time off from NOVA during Golden Week. But I did at least get some time off from school. I ended up with a total of 3 days off from school this year. I only had to work 5 hours at Nova, and then had the rest of the day off. It wasn't enough time to go on any big hiking adventures, but it did give me time to relax, do some reading, catch up on my homework and, of course, some blogging. (I also had time to finish watching another Japanese video series, one which I had started months before but put on hold when school started. Expect a review on this site in the next couple days).

In the meantime, since I have the time to blog, I thought I'd throw up a few more thoughts about school the past couple days.

School Field Trip: Kuju Flower Park

The school organized a field trip out to Kuju Flower Park last Friday. This had absolutely nothing to do with Japanese studying, but it was a fun little trip and a nice idea on the part of the school. Apparently they do something like this once a semester. This is more for the benefit of the regular students, who are freshly arrived in Japan and haven't had a lot of time to sight see, then for someone like me. But I thought it was a great idea as well. And although I had been hiking around in Kuju mountain before, I had never been to the Flower Park.

It was nice. A lot of flowers. I thought it bordered slightly on being a tourist trap. The French students remarked the same thing, saying they didn't see what the big deal was because you can see flower gardens all over the place in Europe. But the Chinese students were absolutely amazed and said you can't find anything like this in China.

To me, what saved the whole experience from being just another cheesy tourist trap was the beauty of the mountain side on which the flower park had been build.

I had a nice walk around the place, and ate lunch with a bunch of Chinese students, who generously shared their lunches with me. I had brought with me a convenience store lunch, but it didn't compare to their home cooking. I'm always amazed at how much work they put into making their lunches. And they in turn are constantly amazed by the fact I'm perfectly content to buy my lunch at a convenience store.

...What you don't see on these pictures however is the 2 hour bus ride it took to get here. And the 2 hour bus ride to get back. I had almost forgotten how much I hate buses.

I suffer easily from motion sickness. And like a lot of people who suffer from motion sickness, there seem to be a lot of influencing factors. For instance if I'm behind the steering wheel, it's almost never a problem. If I'm the passenger, it becomes a bit more pronounced. But it's slightly better if I'm in the front seat instead of the back seat. (Why all these factors make a difference I couldn't explain to you rationally. But they do).

What I do know is that there is nothing worse for motion sickness than riding in the back of a bus. (Oh, how I hated those yellow school bus rides from in childhood).
And being in the back of a bus on a 2 hour drive winding up and down the mountains is the worst case imaginable.

It sounded like a fun outing with my classmates, but by the time I actually got to the flower park my head was pounding and my breakfast felt like it was just one good bump in the road from coming up again.
At least I can take comfort from the fact that I wasn't the only one suffering. Halfway there, one of the Chinese students behind me asked for a bag to throw up in. And once we arrived, another threw up outside the bus.

...We had slightly less than 2 hours to enjoy the park, after which, to everyone's dread, we had to load up in the bus and go back again. By the time it was all over, I reflected to myself I would have been a lot happier to go somewhere a lot less scenic that happened to be walking distance from the school. (I guess I just don't travel well. This is no doubt why I've gone on so few trips during my time in Japan).

Nor was the day a lot of use practicing Japanese. On the trip to the flower garden a Bangladesh student who wanted to brush up on his English sat next to me. On the way back, a Chinese student who also wanted English practice filled the open seat.
In Asia, an English teacher is never truly off duty. And generally I don't mind. After having received so much kindness here in Japan, I figure the least I can do is let people practice their English on me.
But you can imagine it didn't do much for my headache on the bus: having to use excruciatingly slow and simple English, and having to repeat everything I said several times. At last I just put my head down and pretended to sleep the rest of way back.

Interesting Conversations
The Japanese school continues to be an interesting source of cross cultural exchange.
On May Day, the Chinese students asked me if it was a big holiday in America as well. When I said no, they were very surprised. "But it's a world holiday," one of them said. "Not just China. The whole world celebrates it."

"Not in America," I said. (In Japan it's not an official public holiday either, but they are at least aware of it over here, and the labour unions always hold some sort of May Day rally. In America of course the US government created Labour Day to co-opt May Day, and the Unions hold their marches on Labour Day instead. I doubt very much if the majority of Americans could even tell you what May Day is.)

"You know what's even stranger," I continued. "May Day actually originated in America."

This resulted in a number of blank stares, until one Chinese girl clapped her hands with recognition. "Yes, I remember now," she said. "We studied this in junior high school history class. Long long ago, the Haymarket martyrs in Chicago."

Of course they all wanted to know: since May Day originated in the US, why didn't the US celebrate it? I couldn't answer that question easily, so I just let it go.

....Really though, who wants May Day to become an official state recognized holiday? Can you imagine it? It would be just like Martin Luther King Day. People would wave American flags and talk about what great patriots the original labour leaders were. Right Wing pundits would get on TV and talk about how they are the ones keeping the true spirit of the Haymarket martyrs alive. The whole thing would get ridiculous in no time at all. It's much better to keep May Day as an unofficial holiday.

In other news...
Justin wrote in his blog about a few months ago about a Japanese woman who came by to his apartment to advertise her English class, and ask if he wanted to enroll his kids.
I don't know if it's affiliated or not, but I just had the same experience just now.
I'm sure the girl doing the job had to ask everyone on the block for the sake of completeness. Still, isn't it a bit bizarre to ask an American if he wants to enroll his kids in an English class taught by a Japanese woman?

Link of the Day
From the Media Mouse website: Re-launching the Progressive Directory of Western Michigan. (I just wanted to link to this so I would have an excuse for saying that I was part of the team that put the original together).

also: How The Rich Starved The World and Heartland Institute Condemned for "Major Ethical Transgression"

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Japan E-mails: Aug 27, 2001


After my little manifesto e-mail I had sent out to Media Mouse the previous day, I got individual responses back from 4 of them. I composed individual e-mails to each one, but as there is a far amount of overlap in the material, I am editing them down and condensing them into one e-mail for the sake of this blog.

Thanks for the speedy reply. We're right in the thick of the dog days of summer over here too. It's very hot and muggy on this little island that I'm on. It has its nice moments occassionally, but usually it's just hot and humid.

Hey, one thing I forgot to mention in my last e-mail: Tokyo had some nice bike lanes in it....Well, OK, actually they're not all that nice. And there a little on the small side. And the only thing to seperate them from the rest of the traffic is a painted white line and the words "Bike Lane". But still, it shows they're making an effort at least. If a city as crowded and congested as Tokyo can find room to put in some bike lanes, surely Grand Rapids could do something for its bikers, right? Well, good luck with continuing the campaign at any rate.

(Ed. note: The summer of 2001 Media Mouse was actively campaigning to make the city of Grand Rapids more cyclist friendly. It was our big focus that summer, but since then there have been a lot of changes in the world, and bigger events have taken precedence. As far as I know, it's not one of their top priorities anymore.
But maybe the issue should be picked up again. As we enter into the age of global warming and the coming energy crisis, the least, THE LEAST, the city government can do is to give people the option to ride their bicycles to work if they want to

I really wish I could go with you guys to Washington DC [for the IMF/World Bank Protest] next month. And I'm not just saying that either. I really wish I could go. It's hard for me to be sitting in a stuffy office on the other side of the world reading about the protest movement without being able to participate. I toyed with the idea of trying to fly back to the US for a couple days for the DC protest, but it's just not a realistic option. Maybe after I've saved up a bit of money over here I can join you guys on the next big event. (Incidently, what is the next big event?). Either way, it comforts me to know that Media Mouse will be there to raise their voice and document the events. [Ed. note: In the end this protest never happened, because the event got called off after 9-11].

I'll try and forward you anything I can find on the Japanese student movement for the Media Mouse "history of leftist political movements page". I haven't had a lot of luck finding stuff on the net so far, but I'm sure there's got to be stuff somewhere. As a history major, I really like the idea of a leftist history page though. That sounds like something I could really get into, and I'll try and contribute what I can from Japan.
[Ed. note: this leftist history web page was one of several media mouse projects we talked about, but in the end never got off the ground].

I'll try and collect what information I can over here as well. It is, I agree, an ambitious project, especially considering my Japanese at this point is pretty much non-existant. I can say "good morning" and "thank you" and that's about it. However hopefully in a year's time I'll be able to develop some speaking skills. That way I'll be able to contribute to Media Mouse even from Japan. We'll see what happens. At any rate, thanks for the offer to do a presentation. If I'm able to collect enough material this year, I might be interested in it.[ed. note: If I had only known 7 years after I wrote this e-mail I would still be struggling with Japanese]

I'll try and follow what you guys are up to from here in Japan via the Media Mouse website. I notice there are a lot of new names and e-mail addresses on the Media Mouse e-mails, but you say attendance is down? Any luck with our recruiting efforts, or is it the same old faces?

Sincerely Joel (Your Media Mouse Foreign Correspondant)

To Ben (my predecessor)
thanks for the e-mail. I'll keep your warning about Ajimu wine in mind. I actually haven't developed my palate to the point where I can distinguish good wine from bad, so it's all the same to me anyway. My ignorance will probably come in handy at the wine festival. Otherwise, if it's really that bad, I guess I can always force it down for the sake of social protocol.
Thanks again for the heads up.

Link of the Day
I was listening to Michigan Public Radio the other day (via the magic of the Internet) and heard the program on the My Lai massacre. I don't know how many of you heard the same program as well, but if you haven't heard it, I can't recommend it enough. Really. You'd be doing yourself a disservice not to go over and check it out.
You can listen to it at The Changing World Website.