GR NewsBot—June 4th, 2011

Pain Mobiles in Odaiba

“Proud itasha owners from all over Japan rode up to proudly display their wheeled wonders.” In case you were curious, those cars you may have seen on the internet with the amazing anime, manga and/or video game character paint jobs are called itasha, which literally means ‘pain mobile’. Typically the cars are decorated with a combination of actual paint, and stickers. And the typical itasha theme centers on cute female characters. The fad started back in the ‘80s, with only stickers and plush toys for decoration, but has evolved into the visually wonderful results you’ll see at the link, which features a big gallery of photos from the recent ItaG Fest in Odaiba, Tokyo. (Crunchyroll – Odaiba Itasha Fest) (For the odd origin of the term itasha, see Wikipedia.)

Dazzling Gallery of Hand-colored Japan Images

“Farsari’s photographic work was highly regarded, particularly his hand-colored portraits and landscapes, which he sold mostly to foreign residents and visitors.” In the 19th century, strange fate brought an Italian photographer to Yokohama, by way of the American Civil War. And now, over a century later, it is our good fortune Adolfo Farsari made his way to Japan. At the link, you will see many wonderful images which give us a visual insight into what life was like during the period in the late 1800s when Japan was just beginning to open itself to the world. Farsari shot his work in black and white, of course, but then made his stunning pictures all the more eye-catching by hand coloring them. We can only speculate that, try as he might, Farsari’s beautiful hand colors pale in comparison to the colors he actually saw in the images he photographed. (My Modern Metropolis – Farsari Colors Japan)

For Malaysian Man, Apology is Such Tweet Sorrow

“Whilst this is a fairly harmless outcome to the case for Fadzil, it does raise more questions as to the legal implications of what we say on public forums.” Fahmi Fadzil’s heart was probably in the right place last January when he used Twitter to criticize BluInc Media on behalf of a pregnant friend he thought the publishing company was treating badly. It still isn’t completely clear if the Malaysian social activist was entirely right, or entirely wrong. But a court in Malaysia found sufficient cause to rule that Fadzil’s comments on Twitter about BluInc were defamatory, and that he must take some kind of action to apologize. So, as part of an out-of-court settlement, Fadzil has agreed to post the following tweet 100 times: “I’ve DEFAMED Blu Inc Media & Female Magazine. My tweets on their HR Policies are untrue. I retract those words & hereby apologize.” Not a bad outcome for the guy, really, considering he could have had to pay a hefty fine, or been sued by the publishing company. (The Next Web – Malaysian Tweets 100 Apologies)

Forget Disneyland, North Korea is the (Second) Happiest Place on Earth

“North Koreans who are completely brainwashed, repeatedly proclaim ‘We are the happiest people in the world. I will trust ‘the General’ and always follow him only.’” So much of what we hear from or about North Korea falls into the “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry” category. And this is no exception. It seems the North Korean government recently took on the task of ranking the Gross National Happiness of major nations all over the world. China, North Korea’s biggest “ally” ranked first, with North Korea a close second. Cuba, Iran and Venezuela rounded out the top five. South Korea ranks a dismal 152. The United States fared even worse, coming in at 203rd. Clearly this is biased North Korean propaganda, worth a chuckle and not to be taken seriously. But it is also a troubling reminder of the North Korean government’s mindset, which seems to tailor reality to suit its needs. (International Business Times – Happy North Korea) Time Newsfeed has links to pictures and video from inside North Korea (Real North Korea)

VS Naipaul Talks Smack About Women Writers

“I read a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think [it is] unequal to me.” A writer of prodigious talent and equally prodigious ego, VS Naipaul has once again generated controversy in the literary world with some unkind opinions about women writers. Naipaul has always been critical of female scribes. In this latest go around in the press, he is particularly critical of Jane Austen, whom he unequivocally denies is his literary equal. Austen is an easy enough author to deride, if you think about it, since she isn’t alive to defend herself. Nevertheless, immediate reactions from the literary world, including the Writers Guild of Great Britain, are dismissive of Naipaul’s comments. But it looks like we still live in a world where questionable opinions still make for great press and great free publicity. (The Guardian UK – Naipaul vs. Austen)