Thursday, March 31, 2005
I was watching NHK tonight and they had detailed coverage of the football ( soccer to us Americans) match between N. Korea and Iran last night held in Pyongyang. Seems the capacity crowd ( probably turned out by force) took exception to the fact that Iran stomped them on the field. According to the report and from the video, the N. Korean players attacked the referee after he made, what appeared to me, a justifiable foul call against N. Korea. Several N. Korean fans took exception and with a fervor that would do a fan of the New York METS proud, throwing bottles and other junk on the field. Then, after the match, the Iranian bus was mobbed by North Koreans and prevented from moving. Now this is between two states who are in George W.'s axis of evil. Can you imagine the ruckus that would occur if this was to happen between Japan and N.Korea? That's not an idle concern considering the the two teams are supposed to play each other in Pyongyang in June.
Furthermore, one is left to ask the question, where do N. Koreans get enough food, let alone beer to throw at their opponents. Seems to me the Commie police in N. Korea are falling down on the job. This is not England for God's sake! And that's a great thing. Here's hoping N.Korea gets stomped every game thay play.
Another month gone-tidbits of interest
Read a great article by Spike at Hongkie Town. Its an outside observation of a country coming under the rule of religious fanatics; "fanatics who are are less than 20% of the overall population, yet they are shaping the laws of the nation to fit their ideas and they are controlling public discourse. " You'll be surprised which country this man is talking about, but I'll give you a hint, its not Iran.
Speaking of public discourse, its pretty apparent the American public can smell hypocrisy when it sees it. President Bush's approval ratings are the worst they have ever been, even at the height of the Iraq war. The blatantly political insertion of the Congress and the White House into the Schiavo case, concern about Social Security and the economy were cited as principal factors. The largest drop for Bush came among men, self-described conservatives, and churchgoers. I personally think Iraq also has something to do with it as the war rolls into is third year with still no end in sight.
Under the category of here we go again: US Navy ships are on their way back to Indonesian waters around Aceh. Maybe this time, folks will get it right and let the Navy run the show. They'll do what they always do, get the job done with out all the baggage that the UN freeloaders bring to the problem. One of the unsung heroes of the last effort was the nation of Singapore, many people do not realize that had Singapore not been so organized the relief effort would have suffered even more getting started than it did, however because the Sing's are organized and efficient, they got a lot of stuff moving quickly, both for the US Navy effort and for the other agencies. Good for them ,lah.
Meanwhile here in Japan its time been time again for the Koshien High School baseball tournament. Yesterday, Southpaw Masaki Onishi threw a one-hit shutout with 12 strikeouts, leading Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku to a 4-0 victory over tourney favorites Komadai Tomakomai in the second round of the national high school invitational baseball tournament Tuesday. Its on NHK now in the afternoons, but fortunately its not stopping me from lusting after Vanilla Mood at lunchtime.
And of course from the Japan Times, another sign of spring in Japan:
(Copyright- The Japan Times , Noodles -- By Gwen Muranaka. The Japan Times Ltd. All rights reserved.)
Tomorrow is April Fools day...should be a good day to post about the latest buffoonry. Got go get my hair cut and do some research..More then.
Monday, March 28, 2005
Life , Sex, and Good Wine.
Miles ( played impressively by Paul Giamatti (son of the late baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti) is a depressed, divorced, middle school English teacher unhappy with his lot in life and the lack of success that his position has imposed upon him. ( Something I can empathise with.). He wants to take his best friend from college up to California wine country to experience a final HURRAH before his descent into the human hell that is marriage in America these days. Miles , a wine aficionado wants to educate Jack ( the friend) in the finer values of Pinot and the rest of the wine stock. Jack perhaps realizing this, is on a different quest, one most of us can relate too: women to boink. Together the two of them form a series of misadventures culminating in Miles, defending his best friends honor by wrecking his car to prove that the injury to Jacks nose came from a car accident, INSTEAD of a beating with a motorcycle helmet from the girl Jack knocked the bottom out of 2 days earlier. ( That's the story, he really pissed her off.). Miles supports his friend , but hates himself for it.
The real beauty of this movie is the dialogue between the two main characters and the dialogue between Miles and the girl he is interested in , Maya. You have to listen to each and every word to appreciate the movie. Miles character really spoke to me, for what reason I do not know, but it did. Please do not label me a loser because he chooses to label himself as that. So, to wrap up, the wine was quite good, light and tasty and now I really know why Miles does not drink merlot. Hell, I may never drink merlot again and I have no wine palate. ( But the pinot sure tasted good).
Then again I'm more of beer drinker. Can you imagine having a beer tasting? " This San Miguel is light and fruity with just a faint hint of fomaldahyde....." Give me a break!
Saturday, March 26, 2005
Blogging and reprisals
I received an e-mail from a friend in the States that I had not heard from in a long time. We exchanged another couple of e-mails after that, bringing each other up to date on what was going on in our lives. He passed on the details of his upcoming potential engagement ( BIG MISTAKE!) and he also passed on that he had heard my ex-wife had passed away. ( As if I would be so lucky!). I responded, no....sadly she is still alive and kicking and trying to bleed money out of me at every opportunity through America's unenlightend family court system. I also passed along to him that I had taken up the hobby of blogging, to focus my thoughts and get ideas out of my system.
His reply astounded me, but did not surprise. In a subsequent e-mail he warned me about blogging, saying it was dangerous and that employers had fired folks for blogging. He also pointed out several examples where military folks were punished for their blogging activities. Knowing this fellow, his concern was genuine and I was familiar with several of the examples that he had cited. And I do understand the potential for vicious reprisals by those who cannot brook dissent from the popular view. However, what jarred me was the tone of his e-mail, as if he accepted this as being an acceptable behavior on the part of corporations and / or the military. I think its important to those of us who write, and those of us who read, that any impingment on one's freedom of expression through blogging be viewed as a heinous violation of the freedoms that we are supposed to be striving for, especially in America which has a sacred Bill of Rights guaranteeing free speech.
Now obviously it is clear that as a public medium, blogs should be subject to some of the same rules of fair play as any other media. Its wrong to write things that cannot be backed up by sources as fact, slander persons in violation of the concept of "absent malice", or violate operational security rules and or violate standards of public decency. In other words, write carefully, especially on public issues and politics. Document where possible and in other areas ensure ideas are marked as ones opinion. ( Which is the defintition of a blog is it not?)
Even writing well one's opinion is open to attack these days. On a e-mail list I subscribe to from my college, I made the mistake of stating I did not understand statements made by one of our Alumni who is now an influential Republican Congressman. ( He had criticized US veterans as being shallow for wanting the benefits that had been promised them. I thought that was insulting to the aforementioned veterans. For my own safety , I'll not post his name, but he's the Chairman of the Veterans Affairs committee...you can look up who.) . Anyway one of the list reciepients who is a friend of the Congressman took umbrage at my remarks. Rather than honestly debate the merits of the arguement, he chose to attack me personally. Now knowing both the Congressman and the individual involved I was not suprised. In the case of the individual, he has long had a superiority complex based on his lengthy service in DC to several political hacks and his disdain for my long term goal to remain in Asia and not the US. Nonetheless, it reminded me again how low the course of political discourse has fallen. Read both liberal and conservative blogs and you see this type of thinking repeated 10000-fold.
Im not sure why this has reduction of the ability to think critically has occurred. Some has to do with the decline of a proper education, which includes reading the "classics" of literature, some has to do with the fact that many people, despite their blogging, cannot write well. Whatever the reason, it highlights the problem of protecting the blogosphere from reprisals on bloggers. The day we accept vitriol as acceptable form of debate, or accept crackdowns on the hard earned right to publish ideas under your own name or a pseudonym is the begining of the "captives forging their own chains". Liberal or conservative, us residents of this not so little on line world have to stand up against that.
There, that makes me feel better. I return you now to the ordinary mayhem. Less politics, more sex please!
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Wars and lechery...Nothing else holds the fashion!
Japan- A Japanese economist found guilty of peeking up a schoolgirl skirt with a mirror was ordered to forfeit it and pay a fine of 500,000 yen ($4,740). Kazuhide Uekusa, a former professor at Tokyo's Waseda University, was arrested in April 2004 for using the mirror to look up the skirt of the high school girl as they went up an escalator at a train station. They wanted to put him in jail for 4 months, but the judge decided that the humiliation of losing his job and the disgrace of being a pervert was enough punishment. Too bad Michael Jackson is not being tried in Japan!
Korea- American officials are Shocked! Shocked! that American soldiers might actually want to pay for sex in their private time. Never mind that Soldiering is a tough business; God forbid a Soldier might want to go slice off a piece of tuna on his own time. No No, not the new puritanical US military. They just want to enforce good Christian values on soldiers and instead of letting them go to Itaewon town, they would prefer they chase female soldiers around the post. In the new PC military, its ok for a female Soldier to get pregnant out of wedlock, but its wrong for a guy to go out and get laid with a condom, with a women who will forget him 30 minutes later. Somehow that makes sense, but for the life of me I don't know how. Plus its unenforceable, how does one distinguish the freebie from the freelancer? Another thing you can thank feminists for. Just ask my distinguished colleague, Angry Harry.
Meanwhile in Shanghai, that high minded restaurant promoting family values, Hooters is open, since we all know tourists and Chinese men only go there for the Chicken Wings. Have not been myself but I've been to the one in Singapore...all hype, no delivery!
Back in Japan, the powers that be are on the morality kick as a new law concerning entertainers visas is passed. Never mind that the only people the law hurts are those who can least afford it.
And of course in America is the never ending fun and games of the Michael Jackson trial, Congress and the tragedy of the Schiavo family; the bonehead from the State Department who says the US Navy should not go to Asian ports any more because, there might be sex going on there; and all the rest of the moral zealots out there, who have no idea about what they are talking about. However, hypocrisy makes good headlines. There are times I wish I had been born 20 years earlier so I could have enjoyed Asia in its heyday for Expats.........sigh.
Like old Bill Shakespere said, " Wars and lechery, wars and lechery, nothing else holds the fashion", rails the frail Thusysities, " a burning devil to take them".
Then again, where is the fun in the sexually repressed world of American feminists?
Sunday, March 20, 2005
St Patricks Day, the Vernal Equinox, and observations of life in Asia
Western holidays are always interesting here in Japan. They are fun, but always give that impression that they do not fit. Also most "Irish" pubs here are anything but, just nice places to drink expensive beer, they have live music , but its not the "feel" of a real pub. Half the conversations are in English and half in Japanese, and either way folks are trying to pick up chicks. Seeing Japanese girls in Erin go Braugh hats is kind of interesting though.
Whenever I go out to these bars though, it always makes me long for a fall back position likes exists in Singapore with the Four Floors of Orchard Towers. When in Singapore you can hit the club circuit, go to Boat Quay or Clarke Quay, chase all the Chinese yuppies you want and if you strike out there, one still knows he has the sure thing waiting for him at Orchard. This self proclaimed "Costco of human flesh" never fails to deliver the goods....for a fee.
We love you ( I mean your wallet!)
Just like a food court, all kinds of "cuisine" are on the menu. During my trip the place was hopping and for you veterans of the place all the old rules apply. Run a Google search on Orchard Towers and you will find these out. I still like the crowd at Top 10!
Last but not least, yesterday was the beginning of Spring. Its a holiday here in Japan. Japan has some of the lamest holidays in the world, however this actually turned out to be a nice day. That's a big change from the bitterly cold days of the last 3 months. Guess its time to loosen up the Golf clubs!
Have been watching the political fall out from more of the news lately, but just have not had the energy to comment. I'm still thinking about the girl with the big breasts, singing Irish loves songs in Tokyo. As Scarlett said, those articles are for another day. Can't wait to go back to Singapore or to the pub!
Friday, March 18, 2005
Thank God and greyhound he's gone!
Wolfowitz's term has epitomized all that is wrong with the Administration's approach to defense policy: Say good words and then through practice, do things that are 180 degrees out from that. John Cavanaugh over at the Institute for Policy Studies who has come up with 10 good reasons why Wolfowitz will make a good World Bank President. The best one? His pentagon experience will serve him well since he already "has experience in constructing echo chambers where only the advice he wants to hear is spoken". Look around some of the defense oriented Blogs if you don't believe me......the truth is out there.
Shades of Robert Mcnamara............
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
The right wing wackos will say he is just that good. You'll forgive me if I do not join their numbers just yet. At best Bush is lucky, at worst he has set into motion a series of events that will ultimately damage the United States. Bush still has yet to show that he understands the law of unintended consequences or paid much attention to the history he was supposed to have learned at Yale.
Wait a minute you ask. Lebanon is a triumph for people power. Egypt is seeing the writing on the wall and the Palestinians have had free elections. So the democratic wave must be sweeping the middle east. I'm not so sure. Rather than give George Bush the credit, maybe we should give Yassir Arafat the lions share of the credit, for having the decency to die and free up the Palestinian people and the Arab world from his useless administration of the Palestinian movement. That event has had more to do with the changes in the Arab world than any thing the US has done in Iraq. And even if the stubborn Bush was right, it is still obviated by the fact that we tried to do this invasion / occupation on the cheap and its the American military who is paying the bill for that. Having accomplished his goal, is Bush prepared to deal with the forces he has unleashed?
Lets look at each of the supposed great triumphs individually: First , the election in Palestine.
Anyone could have done better than Arafat, who blew opportunity after opportunity to have the peace with Israel. Personally, I think he never wanted it. The only thing he knew was that it bettered his interests (and his bank account) to keep the Palestinians as victims. Thus he never stepped to the plate and put a stop to the violence of the Intifada. Once a terrorist, always a terrorist. So coming from that record Abbas has no where to go but up. Invading Iraq did not help that process along, only Arafat's dying did. Abbas has to cut any ties to Bush in this development.
Lebanon: Any one who thinks Syria is out of Lebanon is smoking serious drugs. Sure the Syrian Army may go, under considerable outside pressure, but thanks to their close association with Hezbollah, there will still be a Syrian presence and Syrian pressure on the Lebanese government. The Lebanese know this. And its an impressive display of their remaining power that Hezbollah was able to roust out 800,000 people to demonstrate in favor of Syria only a few days ago. You can't script those kind of numbers with out some kind of popular support. There is a great article by Juan Cole that explains in detail how Bush had nothing to do with the current Lebanese situation . He argues quite convincingly that the convoluted history of the country has more to do with any change, than than the self- serving hypocrisy that is the central premise of the Bush administration neo-cons. Worse yet, if there is a great enlightenment in Lebanon, it did not take a US invasion to accomplish it. So why do we still waste effort in Iraq?
Iraq. Ok the election is over, and afterwards they horse trade for over 2 months without a leader still being chosen. That is backroom politics right out of Chicago and his honor, Mayor Daley. Furthermore Iraq is still unsafe, Iraqi citizens are still dying, as are American soldiers and the country remains ripe for the rise of another strongman, only this time he will probably be a Shiite. People are spouting glowing praises for the new Iraqi government, I think it looks too much like Weimar Germany in the 1920's, with car bombs added in. Only this weak and war weary government does not have a popular hero like Hindenburg to rally around, they only have hero's who are either against or aligned with America or killed. Sooner or later, they will elect a demagogue who will realize that he needs to consolidate power and weaken the other groups. My money is on Chalabi to do that. Chalabi , by the way has no great incentive to support the US. That's not a government that needs or wants to be propped up by American military might.
Egypt. We've heard this song before from them, the devil is in the details of providing for real opposition. You can be darn sure that Mubarak is going to structure any political opposition such that he keeps 51% of the power for himself, and from his stand point with some pretty good reason. He needs to keep the Islamic fundamentalists at bay.
The real concern that Americans and the citizens of the the Arab and non Arab world alike should have is where these forces of democratic churn are ultimately taking us. And are we, without realizing it, providing opportunities for our other allies (like Jordan with a stable monarchy) to be undermined in the process. And even if some short-term goals are met, the endpoint of such a strategy leads to widespread resentment that leads to more terrorism and/or encirclement by second-tier powers -- will be bad for America, not to mention the rest of the world. Be careful what you wish for, Mr President, you just might get it.
Saturday, March 12, 2005
I've been away for 11 days and what a 11 days it was. Singapore, Bahrain, Guam and Osaka, a whirlwind tour if there ever was one. Hated not being able to post, but it was tough to do so with only a dial connection on my laptop. There are no shortage of topics to comment on however. Tung Chee Wa gets the sack, Lebanon supposedly "proves" Wolfwitz and the other wacko neocons right, China writes a blank check to invade Taiwan, and Michael Jackson is one sick dude. ( Ok Ok we already knew that.) So much to write about and so little time. There's a lot to say and now I intend to say it. Stay tuned.
Good news on other fronts though. In Singapore...the "four floors" are alive and well. No shortage of tasty goodies to sample and it lived up to its well earned reputation. More on that soon.