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Ninjas

Date: 02-10-13
Host: Ian Punnett
Guests: John Man, Charles Shults III

Author and historian John Man joined Ian Punnett to discuss the ninjas' origins over 1,000 years ago, through their heyday in the civil wars that ended with Japan's unification in 1600, and how they re-emerged in World War II. He explained that ninjas originated in a small Japanese peasant village where some residents developed spying techniques to ward off warlords from overtaking the land. This unique skill set made the early ninjas famous in feudal Japan and led to them becoming "employed all over the land as mercenaries." Since ninjas were, by nature, a secretive group, it was only after Japan became unified that their traditions were documented, primarily as a means of preserving their history and ensuring future employment.

According to Man's research, these original ninjas were much different from their contemporary depiction in modern pop culture. To that end, he said that ninjas would eschew carrying much in the way of weaponry, since ninjas were primarily tasked with gathering information. He suggested that all a ninja would need for his mission would be a small dagger, some rope for climbing, and perhaps a sword. Additionally, Man revealed that ninjas were more likely to wear navy blue peasant outfits to remain stealthy rather than the popular concept of an all black uniform. Beyond that, the use of disguises, particularly in the guise of priests or actors, were ideal facades for ninjas, since these were traveling vocations and allowed for easier access to critical areas like temples and palaces.

Man also recounted the story of Hiroo Onoda, whom he called the "last ninja." Onoda was part of the ninja revival in the 1930's, when Japan began developing spies for their military. Towards the end of WWII, he was dispatched to the Philippines, where Japan and the US had been battling for control of the island nation. Stunningly, Onoda remained in the jungles of the Philippines for the next 30 years, refusing to believe that the war had ended. Onoda was so convinced that Japan would never surrender, Man said, that he interpreted any incoming information to fit his mindset "that the war was still going on and he still had a job to do." It was only in the 1970's when, upon receiving orders from a former commander, Onoda returned to Japan and became famous for his enduring commitment.

Mars Anomaly

In the first hour, aerospace and defense systems developer Sir Charles Shults shared his thoughts on the anomalous, metallic-looking object photographed on Mars. He noted that there have been a number of recent "shiny objects" spotted in Martian photographs and the rock deposits surrounding the anomaly are composed of gypsum. Having studied enhanced images of the object, Shults suggested that "it looks very much like a piece of rock might have been crystallized" and became exposed after the surrounding area became eroded. Despite his prosaic explanation for the mysterious object, he lamented that NASA continually evades investigating or acknowledging the many intriguing items found in the Mars Rover photos. He observed that "if it's truly an anomaly, they drive the other way."

Bumper Music

Bumper music from Sunday February 10, 2013

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