Friday, August 31, 2007
This pleases me!
Reading this as I am leaving Korea is just satisfying in a perverse sort of way........
Seoul beckons and morning flight to Tokyo tomorrow. Out the door now and up there so I have to run, However I did find this interesting article over at Mark's place that I strongly recommend to you. (He's also got some funny quotes from the exercise in pain last week).
Soon after Yingling’s article appeared, Maj. Gen. Jeff Hammond, commander of the Fourth Infantry Division at Fort Hood, Tex., reportedly called a meeting of the roughly 200 captains on his base, all of whom had served in Iraq, for the purpose of putting this brazen lieutenant colonel in his place. According to The Wall Street Journal, he told his captains that Army generals are “dedicated, selfless servants.” Yingling had no business judging generals because he has “never worn the shoes of a general.” By implication, Hammond was warning his captains that they had no business judging generals, either. Yingling was stationed at Fort Hood at the time, preparing to take command of an artillery battalion. From the steps of his building, he could see the steps of General Hammond’s building. He said he sent the general a copy of his article before publication as a courtesy, and he never heard back; nor was he notified of the general’s meeting with his captains.
Does the Army have a JOPA?...........
Se you on the other side!
Thursday, August 30, 2007
After two weeks of ever increasing despair and frustration, the ordeal of Ultimate FutiLity has come to an end. God willing, I won’t be doing another one. I may be back in the states, living off unemployment and food stamps, but I have no desire to do one of these again. (Headhunters in Hong Kong are you listening?)
Once again the forces of truth and light have defeated the evil hordes of the North Korean Peoples Army. Kim Jong Il has been found on a highway, lying dead with a bottle of Chivas Regal in his hand. (simulated).
40,000 South Koreans are dead. (Simulated).
Seoul is digging out from artillery attacks, missile attacks and attacks by wild eyed Koreans. (Simulated).
It’s quite an industry this business of simulated war. And since it provides the funds to finance my “rage around Asia” program, I assume I should not complain. However With each passing one of these I am involved in the more I am bothered that lessons that are being taught in these exercises are never learned-or worse leading the decision makers who have to make critical decisions about matters of life or death, war or peace, make recommendations to men or women of political power.
There are scores of companies involved. People develop software to simulate armies going at each other, airplanes flying over land and dropping bombs, ships moving. Well paid retired general officers who serve as “mentors” teaching the former Col’s and Captains who made were their staff officers (since preferred customers breed men like them). The school houses who teach systems and procedures send observers. The various support entities (one of whom pays my bills) sending guys like me to make sure the right kinds of products are available to support the decision makers. And literally 1000’s of reservists come from the United States to serve for their XXth exercise.
Make no mistake, there is big money involved.
Now mind you, I know that exercises are necessary. Being an old school kind of guy having an exercise to me, always used to mean bringing in lots of airplanes, flying them a lot, and burning lots of dead dinosaurs. And then going to the O’club each evening to roll the dice and kill brain cells. They still do that, its called a field training exercise, only now the US military does them less and less.
Instead the US military has increased the number of what they call Command Post Exercises (CPX’s) where the staffs work like dogs and the burning of dinosaurs and the death and destruction associated therein happens on a computer.
Kind of like that episode of Star Trek some 30+ years back.
Are they necessary? Yes. However not in the numbers we do them, particularly in a time when REAL Soldiers are spending 1 year plus in a hell hole named Iraq.
Furthermore, I can’t escape the feeling that despite all of the benefit they bring in identifying things that key decision makers need to think about, they also teach some really bad habits. Habits that are so bad, that IMHO they may have led a certain person to assume that Iraq would be a cake walk.
For one thing, they tend to “fairy dust” logistics and the real issues involved in bringing forces from where they live to where they need to fight. The reality, as I saw in the build up to OIF, when the Air Force let itself be boxed into a huge cargo backlog is very different. Secondly depending on the type of exercise, they really underestimate the level of difficulty that certain types of situations require. Particularly with respect to the Navy. The more I have watched these things the more I am convinced that they lead decision makers to conclude that we can do with less anti-submarine or mine warfare capability. After all, people are expensive, and the Navy needs to buy LCS and JSF………………
Remember that statement when an LCS takes two torpedo hits amidships by a third rate diesel submarine. Or when the Vice President goes on TV and says we will be greeted as liberators. Now you know where he learned it.
Plus, it leads the really senior decision makers to believe that they can manage all things all the time through technology that keeps flag officers in front of TV cameras 17 hours a day. Which of course has their staffs jumping back and forth to produce “product” (PPT slides) instead of providing real advice to their bosses. As a commenter wrote here a while back, the VTC is probably the greatest underminer of good staff work there is.
This when normally, they have like they did here, 7 Generals in the command center. However the 3 star was on the go 20+hours a day. Does that make sense? Not to me it does not. I cannot go into the particulars here, but done right a lot could be delegated. Senior officers need to be thinkers. Not VTC stars.
Makes you wonder how we won World War II with simple one liners like, “Find the enemy. When you do-you will know what to do.”
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Just in case you were wondering......
Hemlock's advice still holds-1 year later.
Dragging my incredibly depressed ass out of bed at 5 am this morning, I turn my TV on to find an incredibly great piece of good news. Alberto "The Constitution is advisory only" Gonzales is going out the door.
That's the first genuine piece of good news I've had all week.
And now the man who forgot that he was the nation's lawyer-not the President's, is going home to well deserved resignation.
Slowly, all the major offenders who dragged this administration into Warren G. Harding land are getting moved on.
There is still one to go.
They are coming for you................
Sunday, August 26, 2007
During a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Wednesday, Mr. Bush compared Iraq to Vietnam. Now to me that's a bit of a stretch given the very real differences between the timeline that brought Iraq to where it is today, and the pre-mature birth and short, sickly life that was that of the Republic of Vietnam. However in one point he may be correct-Bush is at exactly the same point that Richard Nixon was when New Years Day dawned in 1972.
Both Bush and Nixon were (are) in the position of trying to engineer an exit from a protracted conflict that is doing nothing good for the national interest. Both men had to do it in such a manner so as not to have the poorly governed state we leave behind fall apart when we left. Nixon had "Peace with Honor"; Bush has "Free Iraq is within reach". Neither statement was correct-they both were designed to distract folks from the fact that the US was cutting its losses and moving ahead to deal with more important items to the national interest. In the case of Vietnam, Nixon was hoping for a repeat of the Korean Armistice (some have argued he was really just hoping the RVN would hold on long enough so that we could not be blamed for when it fell..); Bush is hoping that a re-run of post colonial Malaysia can be attained. Now as in 1972, both men were deluding themselves.
Or maybe just one of the men is deluding himself. There is a lot of evidence that, in 1972, Nixon knew exactly what he was doing. Just go back and read some of Kissinger's stuff.
In both years, America had weak leaders that they stood by-Nixon had Thieu, Bush has Malaki-both of whom were pursuing agendas that were not entirely about improving the lot of their people. In 1972 Nixon upped the military ante significantly in response to a large offensive in Vietnam. In 2007 Bush upped the military ante by adopting a staged escalation. Both military postures had qualified success in improving the military situation-neither had much luck in making the political situation work.
Thieu at least had the advantage of having a more industrious people to work with and a population that was not fighting with itself over a flawed and apostate religion. And the government of South Vietnam was probably a lot more functional than Malaki's.
Bush cites a history of freedom in Asia:
The lesson from Asia's development is that the heart's desire for liberty will not be denied. Once people even get a small taste of liberty, they're not going to rest until they're free. Today's dynamic and hopeful Asia -- a region that brings us countless benefits -- would not have been possible without America's presence and perseverance. It would not have been possible without the veterans in this hall today. And I thank you for your service. (Applause.)
The last part is of course quite true, however I find it interesting that GWB ignores the fact that whatever progress towards free-wheeling democracy in Asia came AFTER they had built themselves up economically first. In South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand, the pattern was the same. Strong military/civilian rulers who ruled with martial law. Malaysia, South Korea, and Thailand moved beyond it-the Philippines moved from martial law to incompetent, democratically elected leadership; one nation: Singapore, never moved beyond strongman rule. To this day, Singapore remains a democracy in name only. They all took many years to get to where they are today.
We won't even talk about the fact that China is doing just fine economically and lack of car bombs wise-without giving its people any rights or freedoms.......will we? Mattel makes contributions to the RNC.
Plus, while Bush claims that Asia only had two democracies at the start of World War II-they also had over a 100 years of European colonial tradition to draw from when the time came to enter the community of nations. A lot of folks would argue with me ont the value of that-but I think it had an affect for the better. Iraq never had that-in barely 13 years of British rule.
Bush's Asian analogies fail to recall the context that the historical events he speaks of occurred in.
Take his most famous quote from the speech, the one that has been seized upon by many as proof that we have to stay in Iraq.
The world would learn just how costly these misimpressions would be. In Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge began a murderous rule in which hundreds of thousands of Cambodians died by starvation and torture and execution. In Vietnam, former allies of the United States and government workers and intellectuals and businessmen were sent off to prison camps, where tens of thousands perished. Hundreds of thousands more fled the country on rickety boats, many of them going to their graves in the South China Sea.
Three decades later, there is a legitimate debate about how we got into the Vietnam
War and how we left. There's no debate in my mind that the veterans from Vietnam
deserve the high praise of the United States of America. (Applause.) Whatever
your position is on that debate, one unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the
price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose
agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like "boat people," "re-education
camps," and "killing fields."
There is no doubt that history of the region post 1975 was indeed tragic. However to link all of that misery solely to the United States withdrawing it's forces from Vietnam is an incomplete hypothesis at best.
First, Bush assumes then that the US could have maintained a troop presence in Vietnam for what? 20 more years? Despite the popular theories about that-its doubtful that politically, the American public would have stood for it. It is true that Nixon had promised to strike hard if Vietnam was attacked-but Watergate and his failure to get the VC out of the South laid pre-conditions for the fall. Even if Congress had not cut off aid, would the public have stood for new POWS so soon after getting the ones from 1972 back?
Second, Cambodia could still have very well fallen on its own. The North was using it is a staging base for attacks on Vietnam. Even with American airpower to shield the ARVN, the was no way the US was militarily in a position to intervene in Cambodia-short of re-invading the country or reintroducing troops. The ARVN was in no position to do so. Don't forget it was a unified communist Vietnam that overthrew the Khmer Rouge-not because of love for the Cambodian people-but to stop the flood of refugees into Vietnam.
The flip side of course is that the fall of South Vietnam accelerated that process. However in Vietnam, as in Iraq, the failure to apply military force was as much an outcome of not applying it at the right time as it was not applying it. The left did not lose Vietnam. The American Presidents willed the end of Vietnam by not getting it right at the start. The time that Nixonian bombing and mining/blockade could have been done was in 1965. By 1972, the die had already been cast-it was just a matter of running out the clock by then.
The governments of both Cambodia and Vietnam willed it by not getting their governmental stuff together and by being corrupt. Which is a little like Iraq, come to think of it.
In 2003, Bush had the opportunity to get it right with a larger commitment of troops. He let a misguided Secretary of Defense undermine some well done work trying to give the President a plan that would work. He's been trying to patch up the ugly results of his mistake ever since.
Johnson in 1965. Bush in 2003. Both Presidents allowed a war to be started that was not in the national interest-and then, having made the decision to do it-failed to get it right from the start.
I take it back. Maybe Iraq is like Vietnam after all.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
A fistful of yen...
Code name ShinShin!
From Japan Probe:
After being repeatedly turned down by the US Congress in its attempts to purchase the F-22, the Japanese government has turned to its own stealth fighter program. As the video shows, they seem to be making significant progress in the development of the “Shinshin” fighter [with a little help from France], but it will take years to produce a final product. For more information, check out Aviation Week’s post on the ATD-X.
If at first you do not succeed, steal the plans and build it yourself!
It is time......
And why not?
It's for a good cause!
Sorry, I'm so late Gina.........Where I am now the war may be simulated-but the buffoonery is real!
What a week!
However, due to the fact that my laptop keyboard was not working so well.....(spilled beer seems to inhibit the free flow of electrons)AND the effects of five 14 hour days in a row-blog posting just had to go to the back of the bus. Today was my first chance to catch up, do some shopping, buy a USB keyboard, and put myself back in business (Until Monday at least, when the drudgery resumes.....).
A lot happened this week and lots of it I missed, or only heard about on the periphery. Seems lots of folks are waking up to the fact that Iraqi president Nuri Al Malaki is on his own agenda-which does not happen to be in line with that of the nation that shedding blood and treasure to defend his worthless government. Interestingly enough, I happened to turn on the TV to see that the remarks in the NIE were just being spun the wrong way by the Democrats.
So much to say about that, so little time. People miss the point. The surge may be working -but what does that mean in the greater context? What is victory? We are told it is a stable government with an army that can defend itself. So far neither of those preconditions have been met-after over 4 years. So maybe just a note or two of anger is important.
And don't even get me started on GWB's Vietnam speech.................
That is for another time.
I can't wait to get on the plane for home.............
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Well this is wierd..........
I stumbled onto this looking at the Soccer Fan video. It a Japanese video about North Korea.............
Are we through yet?
However Japan Probe has found out what we are fighting for-or against:
NORK Soccer babes!
Saturday, August 18, 2007
And so it begins.........
It occurs to me that I complain about Osan a little too much. As US bases go its a pretty nice base, and it has a lot to offer. There has been a lot of new construction here, they have a nice exchange and it even has a nice little bar district outside the front gate. So I should be taking the opportunity to explore this country or at least get on over to Pyontaek maybe.
Problem is, I just don't feel like it. I've struggled to pinpoint why I am so down on this place. And when reduced to its core item-it can be summed up in two words: Big Brother.
If one ever wants a snapshot of what a stateside dictatorship will look like-this place provides one. It is all pretty benign, but the hand of the "man" is everywhere.
Big Brother knows how much and what food you buy at the commissary. He knows when you enter the front gate and who with. He has a means to track how much liquor you buy. (Which American ingenuity being what it is, folks figure out a way around it). My leaving and entering my work place is electronically tracked. So too are my e-mail transactions. Access to even the mildest of web sites is blocked.
Out in town there are the local police, and the BDU wearing "show of force". They have a curfew that is very limiting to say the least.
Now they say its all done for a good reason and that the owners of the system understand and respect the rights of the participants. That for the most part is probably true-but doesn't that bother you just a little, deep down inside?
It bothers me. Primarily because it relies on the good will and good intentions of those create the means to do all this tracking and regulating. That's putting a lot of faith in an being that prizes efficient operation above all other things. Its not abused-but its not hard to see how it easily could be.
"If you don't do anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about", many people will say. "Its a necessary precaution to protect the security of our Soldiers and Airman in a foreign country-with DPRK long range artillery dialed in on Seoul. All valid points.
It also seems amazingly un American if you ask me. Isn't limiting the amount of government intrusion is what our political discussion has been about?
It may be a new world and that new world does have terrorism-that I do acknowledge.
However it troubles me that as this decade goes on, or for that matter the next one, we will wake up and find it is not terrorism that will be limiting us. It will be ourselves. We will have formed our own chains.
And the good news is, we already have a model of how to do it-right here.
Friday, August 17, 2007
However, work has kept me busy AND spilling a beer across your laptop, is probably not the smartest thing you can do.
So I am caught between a rock and a hard place with a backspace and a couple of other keys that do not seem to be working.
The place I am spending most of my time at blocks blogspot (Bastards!) so it seems as if for at least the next couple of weeks or so, blogging may be very limited.
However thank God the mouse still works. I can find pictures like this:
That blank space is because the backspace key will not work. However trust me, she was beautiful!
Gotta run. Time is the one thing I do not have enought of.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Who needs it?
It is a shame that the Phibian is out doing whatever he is doing now-I really need his take on this.
Trip over here was fine. Getting down to Osan was OK. I've been here just over 24 hours and I am already depressed. And that is without the rain that seems to be a daily occurrence here it seems.
However, a very cute looking stewardess on the ANA flight over gave me a copy of the Financial Times to read on the plane. That was right before she gave me a very tasty beer I might add. So I read it from front to back. I was planning to read more Hitchen's book, but it occurred to me as we were rolling down the runway, that reading a book that denies the existence of God while riding in an airplane that might, in extremis, rely upon the benevolence of an all powerful deity for its salvation from an aircraft accident-was probably not the most prudent thing to do.
This FT had a great little column in it by a guy named Christopher Caldwell. Who had the courage to make a statement that should be made over and over again within the hallowed halls of the Pentagon:
Racism and certain other forms of exclusion corrode a society morally. But diversity, as an ideology, is not a matter of avoiding those occasions of sin. It is an active, ruthless and crusading belief system. Its effects resemble those of "meritocracy" on the community life of London's Bethnal Green, as described in Dench, Gavron and Young'sThe New East End. It involves identifying, discrediting and breaking up close-knit communities in the interest of mixing them more easily into some new ideal of the nation.
In an indirect way. Mr Caldwell was able to codify a feeling that I had been having difficulty putting into words. Namely that by being so hell bent for "diversity", companies and the US military are turning their back on the thing that makes mission driven organizations succeed-namely a unity of identity.
Mr Caldwell points out:
People trust people like themselves more than they trust people unlike themselves. Life is short and diverse groups waste precious time arguing over ground rules. Once a certain level of diversity is surpassed, a community ceases to be a community. What makes "the gay community" and "the
African-American community" communities, at least in politically correct jargon, is that they are not diverse.
That does not mean that there should not be people within the military who are black, Muslim or any other identity group. However talent and qualifications should be the deciding characteristic. Not a desire to obtain a "critical mass" of a certain group quickly."
Within the military, I believe, his hypothesis is being proven out. When the US Navy had to integrate women into sea going units in the early 1990's-it initially made a very correct decision. That it would only access into squadrons women who were at the beginning of their careers and therefore would have to meet all the wickets and pay all the dues as their male counter parts. This effectively boxed out a whole group of women pilots and flight officers who were Senior LT's and LCDRS's. As you might guess, they whined. About fairness.
Which I found confusing since for men, fairness was never an overriding criteria when it came to the selection of one's aircraft that one was going to train in. Which was why, in order to ensure that all aircraft communities got some number of higher quality officers, people who finished well in their flight training were sent to aircraft they did not choose in order to ensure the community did not become a body of able bodied morons. Why were they able to get away with this? Because the value that we each attached to being a part of an exclusive club out weighted the value of giving every one what they wanted.
The needs of the many and all that................
I agree with Christopher Caldwell. Come back Phib and chime in!
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Do you know the way.......
As I got to the airport I heard an announcement for a flight to Vienna. Now that sounds like fun!
Today is the beginning of O-bon week here in Japan. That means that all 147 million Japanese , are trying to leave the country. A bit of an overstatement? Well, maybe. However it seemed like at least half of Tokyo was at the airport this am trying to catch planes to Europe, Thailand, China and anywhere else they can. I'm sure USFK planned it this way just to increase my own personal misery. Getting through immigration was made doubly difficult due to "Japanese passport only lines"-something I have never seen before.
So it seems to me there just one thing to do. 9:30 am? Screw it, I'm having a beer!
See you on the other side!
Saturday, August 11, 2007
There is only so much......
So today I've got a lot to say, just no time to say it. However I do have a question for you. Do you think Barry Bonds cheated? Asterisk or no in the record books?
Put your thoughts in the comments.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
I've decided that I'm changing the way I support a candidate this cycle. Whichever candidate's spouse has the nicest funbags becomes the official candidate of Enjoy Every Sandwich. I think the most important issue in the campaign is America's need of a hot First Lady, particularly since I don't have Lady Bird Johnson to fantasize about anymore.
If that sounds flippant, that's because it is. Since the only possible way the GOP can retain the White House after eight years of George W. Bush's egregious reign of error is for the Democrats to actively lose, it doesn't really matter if the only yardstick by which I judge their candidates is their wives titties.........
Regardless of which side of the aisle you stand in, that's funny. Especially when we live in a world where the market has just dropped 150 points in an hour and political pundits seriously discuss Hillary's cleavage!
While I was out studying (fat lot of good it did me!) more than a few things happened. Presented here, in no particular order, are my thoughts about some of these breaking events.
As for the Japanese test, the less said the better. Perhaps the words of a noted Scientologist best sums it up:
Looks like the University of Illinois!
Three Words: Barry Bonds Blows!
As a loyal Pirate fan, there is really nothing else to say.
Enjoy it while it lasts, steroid boy, A-Rod will take your record soon enough.
Only in the twisted world that passes for government in Hong Kong, could someone cite the American Electoral process as proof Hong Kongers don't need democracy.
Speaking of repressed governments, who says Singapore is not progressive?
There are people who will pay good money to see this!
I bought Christopher Hitchens book a couple of days ago. I thought reading it over in Korea might put me in the right mindset to spend 3 weeks dealing with the evangelicals and other true believers.
There is only one problem though. Having spent more than a couple of hours in various pews inside the confines of the Holy City, its tough to make any progress through the book when you are constantly looking over your shoulder for the not so stray lightning bolt.
Mili is on her way to Prague. And I'm going to Korea. Try convincing me again there is justice in the world.
She also told me something I never knew about asparagus. Excuse me dear lady, how exactly do you know this?
In case you ever wondered why the S.O. puts up with me, here is why. Its a tough world for Japanese women. The bigger question though is why I put up with her. I'm still searching for the answer to that!.
Do you hate your cat? This:
should be reported to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Stephen Colbert sums up bloggers and Dkos. A blogger is someone who: has a laptop, an axe to grind, and their virginity.
Does that last one count if you blog in Thailand?
As may have mentioned before, the S.O. is positively estactic of the recent downfall of LDP in the polls. This little tidbit explains why in 500 words or less.
Abe-san's response? Become a superhero!
Op-For has a pretty good post up about the death of Officers Clubs. As one who enjoyed the glory days at: Miramar, Tinker, Howard, Oceana and a few that still remain classfied........suffice it to say I echo their sentiments.
I also realized that I have been remiss in not linking to them. That's fixed!
Speaking of dead O'clubs, and did I mention I'm pissed off about going to Korea? More than a few times you say? Well that's why I need one of these:
Taken from a pretty cool web site with pictures of Korea during the Korean war. I've been surfing the net trying to get in the mood.
Ja mata ne!
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
So I won't be posting here. I'll be over here trying to make up for all the studying I should have been doing over the last 6 months...............
After Thursday though..........its Miller Time!
Monday, August 06, 2007
Genbaku no hi.........
Today is the 6th of August. It was the day in 1945 when the Atomic Bomb was dropped on Hiroshima by the B-29 Enola Gay. In Japan, today is known as Genbaku no hi. That also began a 9 day period when Japan was literally and figuratively on the brink of the abyss. I wrote a detailed post about that time a couple of years ago. GI Korea has a pretty good history of the Atomic Bomb here.
Japan Probe has some pretty good coverage here.
Sunday, August 05, 2007
The Korea Folks know what I'm talking about. Because it is that wonderful time of year, when thousands of people converge upon the Korean Peninsula to see for themselves the world of micromanagement-as only USFK can perfect it.
They will go through the five stages of any exercise:
Just don't be late to work!
Learning how to do things the Air Force and USFK way:
It's only tomorrow's ITO!
The stress that comes from dealing with our ROK Allies and the other services:
Another happy VTC with CFC!
While learning to recognize all the things the Air Force holds near and dear:
Sir, the MAAP brief is hereby submitted for your approval......
Finally, that feeling that comes your way about the second week of the exercise:
Wait till they tell you the curfew has not been lifted!
Its also about that time that you realize that the only person really enjoying himself on the Korean Peninsula is this guy:
(The caption says in Japanese: "Fun with North Korea!")
After that, its smooth sailing home.................
Because she asked............
The video that follows is from the 2007 Sumida River Hanabikai-Tokyo's biggest, which usually draws over 150,000 people. I missed it the last few years, however I did go when I first came to Japan:
And finally, because it is summer time, something for me. A video of Chinatsu Wakatsuki. She was voted one of the top 5 best tanned celebrities. Nice flowers! (It is safe for work!).
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Shoes of the fisherman......
It is Hanabi (fireworks) season here in Japan. That means from middle of July through the end of August you can see a different firework display every weekend-provided you don't mind riding on a train with 1000's of new found friends. Tonight was the one near where we live. We really wanted to see it, since next week I will be in
S.O. and I went out for dinner first. At the local shopping emporium they have just opened a brand new Ootoya (pronounced oh-toh-ya) restaurant. (Japanese food like mother used to make!). The great thing about Ootoya is that just about everything is a set, you get Miso soup rice and some vegetable or salad with your meal. Its tasty and cheap, and the service is generally quick. That's especially important when the mall is full of Yukata wearing people who are also trying to make their way to the fireworks.
Coming out of the restaurant I picked up a flyer for the movie theater. I was surprised to see an ad in it for the latest installment of Tsuri baka nisshi (釣りバカ日誌）Diary of the stupid fisherman.
You think Rocky had a few too many sequels? This year will be the 18th iteration of the series. Starring Toshiyuki Nishida, the movies have become an annual ritual here in Japan. It is the story of Densuke Hamasaki, affectionately known as "Hamachan", a man who is crazy about fishing, and not so crazy about having to work. Hamachan is your average salaryman-he's married with a family, his wife loves him and he loves his wife, and he can't get enough of fishing-any kind of fishing. Salt water, fresh water, whatever works.
In all the movies he is saved from any number of embarrassing situations at work by one great secret: "Hamachan's relationship with the owner and CEO of his company, Mr. Suzuki. The two became fishing buddies, before they found out that they both worked for the same company--Hamachan the salaryman, and Suzuki-san the CEO. Within the company, they keep their relationship a secret. But on the ocean, Hamachan is the sensei (teacher), and Mr. Suzuki is the eager student. Mr. Suzuki clearly respects Densuke Hamasaki as an honest and honorable man. He only wishes Hamachan would have a more serious and stringent attitude toward his professional career. But that is not who Hamachan is".(Quoted from Carpe Caprio).
I thought they did not make them anymore, particularly because you can see Nishida-san on TV again and again. Seems I was wrong. I've watched about 4 of the movies with the S.O. and they are funny-in a stupid sort of way. In one of the movies, Hamachan and his wife are trying to figure out how he can get some time off from work so he can go fishing. His wife tells him that he has no more vacation left, nobody believes the stories about sick kids and they have run out of relatives on both sides of the family to "die". They despair on what he can do. The next day at work he hits on a scheme sure to succeed- he talks the office manager into sending him on a business trip to Okinawa with Suzuki-san. Long story short they wreck the boat and end up having to be rescued at sea.
Its been popular enough to allow a cartoon series to made about and some pretty slick marketing campaigns have been launched off of the movies. Some pretty cute ladies have been able to launch their movie careers by playing roles in the movies. Miyoko Asada has played his wife Michiko since 1994. (Pictured on the right).
Given a choice between the Simpsons Movie and this one-I'll take the Simpsons Movie. However its still some pretty good fun and an interesting insight into Japanese entertainment culture. Since its August and that means all the Senso Dorama (War Drama) will be on the TV-its good to get a laugh.
Friday, August 03, 2007
A good question!
If the surge is working, why are we still losing?
Barnett goes to the heart of the question that really bothers me-namely if the surge is going so well, why are we being told that American troops will have to stay and stay and stay?
The question for now, I guess, is, does the Petraeus-Fallon-Mullen trio overcome the neocon camp still resident under Cheney? If not, can they at least temporize things until Bush is out of power?
I would go farther than MountainRunner--and cynically so--to say Bush's surge (not Petraeus') was always about buying just enough internal security to facilitate drawdown and redirection on Iran.
And while you are at it, take a look at some of Mountain Runner's words on the private contractors in Iraq-he raises some valid and provocative points.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
“List eight habits or facts about yourself, then tag eight more people”
Now since I am a pretty open book here and it's no big secret that I have a voracious appetite for beer and wine, Asian women and the "prurient" interests, SJS feared he was going to have to have one of those TV commercial moments with me:
" You know, I have followed your character since the start and your life makes for some really compelling drama...............but your love of Wanchai girls is really too adult for the kids. So, I'm going to have to block you!"
Oh really...what do you guys think this place is, Seelai?
Anyway. Here goes:
1. I love to play golf. I still suck at it having maintained a 26 handicap for the past 3 years with no improvement. You knew that already. What you probably did not know is that I am a good bowler with a 190-200 average. Besides snow skiing, those are the only sports I can do half way decently. Racquetball, tennis, basketball,scrabble? I suck.
2. I love the romantic drawings of Seizo Watase. I forced the S.O. to hang one of his prints in our place-similar to this one- showing a man and a woman heading for an airplane. His work is my imaginary view of how romance should be:
The S.O. looks great, doesn't she?
3. I'm a big Star Trek fan. I like all the series except for Voyager. As I have pointed out before, yes it has a lot to do with the whole Janeway female captain thing. Deep Space Nine was my favorite in the series.
4. I'm fascinated by Time Travel stories-and counter factual history. I bought the DVD set of the original Time Tunnel series and I watched it on TV back in 1968.
5. I would love to be a print journalist. I watch any and all movies about newspaper reporters and have 7 books about Edward R. Murrow ( who I know was a radio journalist-but he started with UPI). In the only nice thing I can find to say about my ex-wife, I am glad she introduced me to the New York Times. (Despite what so many people say-its a great paper!).
6. I was an Eagle Scout. I have canoed down the Allegheny River twice and the Monongahela River once. I've also been to Philmont twice. (Yes I climbed Mt Baldy both times!)
7. I love to cook. However I don't have a natural sense for it-thus I own 27 cookbooks. In the exchange, I am a sucker for buying the little Betty Crocker books at the checkout counter.
8. I desperately want to work and live in either Hong Kong or Singapore. ( You probably already figured that one out already...I'll be happy to send any there my resume!).
Nothing new to see here folks, I'm afraid.
I'm a simple man with simple pleasures.
Feed me, burp me, and put me to bed.
I'm supposed to tag 8 people now, but this meme has been the rounds so I'll leave it at this-if you are on my blogroll to the right, consider yourself tagged!
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Speaking of the Wall Street Journal......
RUPERT MURDOCH buys Dow Jones, and I am privileged to be sent an advance copy of tomorrow's edition of the best reported, best edited and visually most Victorian newspaper in the world....
Back to the SCMP?
Into the darkness........
Alicia: We're not exactly the Washington Post, okay?
Michael McDougal: No, we're not. We run stupid headlines
because we think they're funny. We run maimings on the front page because we got good art. And I spend three weeks bitching about my car because it sells papers. But at least it's the truth. As far as I can remember we never ever, ever knowingly got a story wrong, until tonight.
That's the future of the once proud newspaper, the Wall Street Journal. It was announced today that the paper
Despite the fact that their editorial policy is to the right of Attila the Hun, the Wall Street Journal was a respectable newspaper that offers detail and context in its news stories and has provided insightful business news to its readers. Now that it has been sold to
It's not just bad journalism, it's bad business to let Murdoch take control of Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal.
Truer words have not been spoken:
Be swallowed or die? The deal makers -- including Dow Jones board members and executives who stand to reap millions from the sale -- tell the Bancrofts that the economy can no longer support a relatively small, independent, serious news-gathering company. They claim that traditional reporting must be subsidized by entertainment ventures ranging from "American Idol" to the famous Page 3 girls of the U.K.'s Sun newspaper. But that model isn't business -- it's charity. It's also dead wrong.
Prior to the appearance of Murdoch on the scene, we at Dow Jones had begun an aggressive process to build new platforms, opportunities and investments to strengthen the company. Zannino himself, in an internal memorandum issued after the Dow Jones board endorsed the sale, acknowledged that this plan was "beginning to pay meaningful dividends and we have a very bright future as an independent company should the News Corp. bid not come to pass." The next day, Dow Jones reported that quarterly earnings had risen 16.2 percent.
Many of the world's most successful companies have staked their fortunes on independence instead of so-called synergy. In another industry struggling with change, car giant Daimler is trying to rescue itself from an ill-fated acquisition of Chrysler. Meanwhile, rival BMW has been promoting its independence. "No, we will not sell out to a parent company that will meddle in our affairs and ask us to subject our cars to mass market vanilla-ism," the automaker's advertising says. The fact is that even within a single industry, companies succeed because of management leadership, focus and execution of a sound strategy, not just size.
Dow Jones wasn't for sale when Murdoch appeared, and for good reason. The process of transformation that we had begun, creating new value while perpetuating our original mission, was working. Selling out now will only short-circuit that process -- and guarantee that the Murdochs, rather than the Bancrofts, reap its rewards.
It is a shame really. Because the US needs both the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Guys like Murdoch want you believe that is no longer so-that independent thought, research, and opinion has a place only in the past. That the consumer market for news is so warped by TV and the Internet, that its OK to treat your readership like sheep.
Edward R. Murrow understood why this really sucks:
It may be that the present system, with no modifications and no experiments, can survive. Perhaps the money-making machine has some kind of built-in perpetual motion, but I do not think so. To a very considerable extent the media of mass communications in a given country reflect the political, economic and social climate in which they flourish. That is the reason ours differ from the British and French, or the Russian and Chinese. We are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable and complacent. We have currently a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late.
I do not advocate that we turn television into a 27-inch wailing wall, where longhairs constantly moan about the state of our culture and our defense. But I would just like to see it reflect occasionally the hard, unyielding realities of the world in which we live. I would like to see it done inside the existing framework, and I would like to see the doing of it redound to the credit of those who finance and program it. Measure the results by Nielsen, Trendex or Silex-it doesn't matter. The main thing is to try. The responsibility can be easily placed, in spite of all the
mouthings about giving the public what it wants. It rests on big business, and on big television, and it rests at the top. Responsibility is not something that can be assigned or delegated. And it promises its own reward: good business and good television.
Perhaps no one will do anything about it. I have ventured to outline it against a background of criticism that may have been too harsh only because I could think of nothing better.
What he said. Stock tips from Bill O'Reilly and Michelle Malkin? Coming to a once great paper near you.