National Geographic has been running a flashback series highlighting its rich photographic history. Here’s the September 2000 peek-to-the-past: a Hadaka Matsui feat at Saidaiji Temple in Okayama just after World War II. The photographer’s flash provided the only illumination during this Lunar New Year observance in which unclothed young men jammed into a pitch-black room fight to come up with camphor-scented batons.

Now take a trip further into the past, to 18th Century Edo, back when present-day Tokyo was the busiest city in the world. Ride along the Tokaido,then as now a main thoroughfare, and experience a government that tolerated travel in the name of commerce but regulated it to ensure “troublemakers” don’t try to overthrow the Shogun. You’re not gonna find a livelier history lesson anywhere on the Net.

This is the rather simple home page of the Obata Sake Brewery, which has been hand-brewing sake on Sado Island since 1885. Less than two months ago,its Daiginjo took the gold medal in the All Japan Sake Contest.

The National Security Archive of George Washington University uses the Internet to publicize documents that the U.S. government would rather keep secret. Damn that Freedom of Information Act. A few days ago, the people behind the site posted documentary histories on CIA involvement in a violent 1960s Indonesia, even though print distribution of the same material is being held up by the CIA.

Several weeks back the Spudmeister turned you on to a Shoeless Joe Jackson site and trumpeted the fact that the bat used by the early 1900s U.S. baseball star was about to be put up on eBay. The auction, which kicked off Saturday, had seen no bidders by Spudster’s deadline, but the bat is supposed to fetch upwards of $2 million. If you’d like to keep tabs on the craziness, check out the above URL. The auction ends Wednesday.

Mr. Spudz loves to rip on George W. but has some sympathy for his daughters. There are ce
rtain things all youngsters their age do, and if they were growing up in Japan, they’d be left alone to do them. What’s more, if they were the offspring of a European chancellor, their father would be proud that they could handle their alcohol. Unfortunately, Jenna and Barbara grew up in the prudish United States and their good ol’ dad is King Prude, which means the cops are called when they demonstrate their knowledge of how to order a pitcher of margaritas — and their pictures go up on the Internet.

The South Park guys spoof Star Wars in this short subtitled “The Little Menace.”