Wednesday, December 31, 2003

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TOMORROW WILL BE THE FIRST DAY OF GREEN WOOD MONKEY YEAR

At least nominally in the US, though the first day of the Chinese New Year in the US actually falls on January 21st, the new moon day that marks the first day of the first Chinese lunar month in the Chinese Lunar Calendar System; whereas under the Chinese Fortune-Telling Calendar system, New Year begins on February 4th, 2004, the first day of Tiger month, the first month of the Fortune-Telling Calendar year. If this all leaves you wondering what day it is, follow these links for:

Details of your birth year on the Chinese calendar

Heavenly stem and earthly branch details

Table of the Five elements 1900-2005
~~~~~~~~~


HOW LONG CAN JAPAN SUPPORT THE DOLLAR?

"Japan's 2003 currency intervention hits record 20.06 tril. yen"

With Koizumi printing yen as fast as Greenspan is printing dollars, I guess the dollar/yen illusion could go on indefinitely, as both currencies sink out of sight together. Got gold or silver?

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Monday, December 29, 2003

~~~~~~~~~


A WAY BETTER ANSWER

Kaya, fresh arrived this evening on a solo visit for the holidays, after washing her hands in the bathroom sink and pulling the plug, when asked where the water was going, answered "It's going home."
~~~~~~~~~


EMAIL FROM ABE

From out there in the ether somewhere I just got a piece of email from Abe Lincoln, not addressed to me by name since he wouldn't know me from Bush, but to webmaster@ (but then how would he know that either, the net is full of such mysteries). Since I actually do own the domain (I won't say which domain, that would make me rich) it came by catchall forwarding.

Probably some kind of inter/intraplanar service glitch that was soon rectified, since the email disappeared after about 10 minutes. Abe's address, or at least the one he mailed from, which I wrote down right away on an actual piece of paper I have on my desk, using an actual pencil I have there too, and I can prove it, was abe@allofthepeople.us, which sounds a lot like an MLM operation though I just checked whois and the domain isn't registered, at least on this plane, which makes sense given the overall circumstances, no credit cards or paypal service in the great beyond, not even for Honest Abe.

That also makes it hard to figure how he mailed it and what site he mailed it from (if he has email he must have his own ethereal website, I mean look who he was...is...), or who his host might be, though I imagine either way the bandwidth must be pretty much unlimited, Abe said by way of ebanter that they "have laptops but no laps." Even in the hereafter he has that folksy frontier sense of humor in the face of adversity.

Then right about where the email broke off it began to mention mortgage refinancing, though that could have been an ad by the portal Abe used (definitely wasn't yahoo); I don't think Abe himself would be into spam, even posthumously (is there spam after death?), though as we all know he was well aware you can fool all/some of the people some/all of the time, which a certain president is still doing and which is enough to make a good living if you have no scruples, which lets Abe off the hook, spamwise. Anyway he's no longer into living either. Wonder if he'll start a blog. I asked in my quick return email, but it was rejected as spam. Must have a helluva filter.
~~~~~~~~~


MAD COW NEWS: About that Bath by Candlelight...

"Cow Parts Used in Candles, Soaps Recalled"

"Cow parts-- including hooves, bones, fat and innards-- are used in everything from hand cream and antifreeze, to poultry feed and gardening soils...

Los Angeles-based Baker Commodities, Inc., announced Friday it has voluntarily withheld 800 tons of cow byproduct processed in its Seattle and Tacoma, Wash., plants, said company spokesman Ray Kelly. The company, like other 'renderers,' takes what is left of the cow after it is slaughtered and boils it down into tallow, used for candles, lubricants and soaps, and bone meal used in fertilizer and animal feed."

There's way more to this than hamburger.

From the excellent Buzzflash

Sunday, December 28, 2003

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THE LAND OF THE RISING COOL

"If it's Japanese, the world wants it. Japan is hot."
~~~~~~~~~


FAITH-BASED US NATIONAL PARKS

I didn't know that the Grand Canyon was caused by a Biblical catastrophe, did you? As a result of excessive education, I had no idea of the true depth and nature of my ignorance. I guess I should have read the unintelligible print. Yosemite too, I'll bet, and Mt. Fuji and all those other Biblically recorded or at least ambiguously confirmed wannabe facts, as in astrology. It's amazing how much can be explained by just a few unlimited gaps in logic. Well those gaps are being greatly augmented by that guy on a mission who's currently (Biblical catastrophe?) running the United States, who is also seeing to it that the national parks are getting religion and marketing creationist explanations of it all (Custer too?), to alleviate the irrational being's greatest fear, that pure intelligence might prevail. This motivation also greatly clarifies the lack of rationale behind the invasion of Iraq.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

~~~~~~~~~


TODAY IN LITERATURE

Just added this excellent site to the Writes section of my sidebar.
~~~~~~~~~


THAT'S A LOT OF VERY BIG CHRISTMAS TREES

Bush administration gives Alaska's Tongass Forest to loggers.

"Amy Mall of the Natural Resources Defense Council... said it would open to development 'the most valuable habitat from one of our most important forests and one of the most ancient forests worldwide. The trees they want to log are the biggest and oldest.'"

[With thanks for the link to Seeing the Forest, where there are further relevant comments. Later addition: also new excellent op-ed on this at NYT]
~~~~~~~~~


SNOW PORTERS

And now the world itself is white, as the snow builds and builds on the trees and the ground, steadily deepening the clear white silence that big snow begets, till the very air is poised: then somewhere at the heart there's a big loudening whisper then a large soft thump; you look out the window and a tree is dancing in a big cloud of white that's thicker and whiter than the flakesnow falling all around, as one by one the cedars shed their old burden to take on the new, all day and all night lowering the snow all the way to earth on their big green shoulders.
~~~~~~~~~


SNOWY FEET

As we approach the end of the year, like everyone else the weather isn't too sure which way it wants to go, as if we have a choice in the matter. Still, the big guy wishywashes. From the heavy snow this morning, with visibility about one meter in any direction and nearly half a meter of snow drifting on the ground, ten minutes later it's blindingly bright and you need snow goggles to open your eyes for more than five seconds, then back to Siberia as a calm settles, the steel-gray returns and big fat ultimate-design snowflakes are falling thick and slow, like abstract thoughts before the wood fire...

Friday, December 26, 2003

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A HOLIDAY MESSAGE FROM OZZIE.
~~~~~~~~~


IS YOUR ROAST BEEF INSANE?

More reason to go vegan. Mad cows, mad ribs, mad roast, mad hamburger, where will it all end, except on the meat eater's table? The USDA, moving as swiftly as the Washington Monument to head off Mad Cow in the US, is now really moving swiftly to minimize the tip of the iceberg. The brain-wasting disease is usually transmitted through contaminated feed and has an incubation period of four to five years.

Thursday, December 25, 2003

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THIS MORNING

This morning the predawn air made that magic sky it makes with the Lake on cold clear dawnings after sunny yesterdays, creating nothing all the way from the bottom of the mountain to the top of the sky but a sheer gray curtain slowly brightening to a silken silver, that in the strength of the growing light divided into lapis air above and silver vapor below, when out of the straight line between them gradually rose a rounding, glowing ruby you could look right into as everywhere became its own color under the sun.
~~~~~~~~~


Christmas dawn
from every mountain cedar
sun dangles

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

~~~~~~~~~


COUNTRYSIDE SANTAS

Well it's always good to get that immigration hassle off your chest, and here it is Christmas eve and no notable sign thereof out here in the countryside, other than some colored lights on the bushes outside the village hairdresser's, and then when I was returning from my return trip to the town hall (with the essential piece of paper I'd found at last in somewhere other than the essential pieces of paper file), there were a few agile, beardless and very baggy Santas out in front of a store up the road flogging surprise shopping bags to the tune of what sounded like xmas carols from the store speakers, in the customer lulls the Santas checking whether their ultracool sneakers were visible below the cuffs of their big red pants...
~~~~~~~~~


A QUICK WHIRL IN THE VIOLENTLY STRIPED VORTEX

Must be genetic. I seem to have some ancestral propensity to expect logic in bureaucratic situations, particularly those involving Japanese bureaucracy. With some 300 years of closeted feudal practice of a depth and intensity unequaled in history, Japanese bureaucrats have perfected the fine and detailed art of dovetailing an essentially pointless box within a basically pointless box within a fundamentally pointless box within an utterly... you get the picture.

Anyhow, despite my having been here for decades thus far, this common-sense gene I have keeps popping up, causing me to expect straight lines to have generated spontaneously in the bureaucratic universe since my last visit; I can't seem to help myself. I'm a man of positive expectations, what can I say. As a result, I keep employing logic and asserting common sense where such things are alien and have no place.

As the most recent example, this morning I had to go to the immigration office at the local town hall to receive my new alien registration card. I'd gone there a couple of weeks ago with the postcard they'd sent me, bringing also my personal seal and some passport quality photos, my old alien registration card, passport and other required stuff. Filled out some forms several times with several variations of signature (don't ask) and applied, the lady said we'll call you in a couple weeks when the new card is ready, and she did, so today I set aside my morning and drove all the way over there, walked in and went up to the desk, old card at the ready to exchange for my new one.

The lady who had waited on me before, and who called my house, using the number I'd given her on my last visit, recognized me and went over to a big box by the wall and took out a smaller box inside which was a large envelope inside which was a smaller envelope, inside of which was my new card. New card in hand, she came over to me and said: "Do you have the-- right at that point that pesky common-sense gene kicked in and I whipped out my old card with my photo on it and my address and various other unmistakable details (needless to say, I am the only guy within 500 hundred miles of here who looks anything like me) -- absolutely essential piece of paper I gave you?"

And there I was again, suddenly spinning wild-eyed, limbs flailing as I whirled helplessly toward the black hole at the dark heart of the violently striped vortex of immigration procedure gone awry, with the off-key theremin wailing in the background, in midspin of which I wanted to say to the static, stuffy office air: hey, you know-- and I know-- who I am, and that I was here two weeks ago and filled out all the forms in triplicate and signed them each several times variously in various places, and that this card that I hold with my picture on it matches identically that card that you hold with my picture on it, who cares about some mickeymouse piece of paper-- and by the way (there it was again, the common-sense gene looking for some simple A to B in a universe of dark matter), it makes a LOT of sense for you to slip me a piece of paper to take home for a couple of weeks to forget completely about and then require that I bring back to you; why not just keep the damn thing on your desk for the duration, or better yet, just throw it in the waste basket and forget all about it forever, but I didn't.

Because from this old familiar vortexy vantage point I could now detect in the clerklady's eyes what I should have noticed right away, given my decades of hard-earned nitty-gritty immigration tooth-and-nail scrimmaging from which I still have the scars: it was not the look one sees in human eyes in the normal course of social interaction: it was the elusively opaque Veil of Bureaucracy, which foolishly I'd thought had become irrelevant, since she knew who I was ha ha, and we had even bantered a bit on my last visit ha ha, and were to all logical intents and purposes members of the same species on a shared planet, but suddenly the veil had descended with a vengeance, and I realized yet again that in The Bureau, all roads are dead ends.

Thus there was a deeper purpose in giving mere-mortal me a form that I was pointedly encouraged to forget, deeper than getting me to acknowledge the dead-end nature of my own behavior in this place: it was to prove the importance of the piece of paper, and by extension the importance of The Bureau. So I said, with all the autobureaucratic authority I could muster: "I shall return."

And so I shall.

As soon as I find that piece of paper.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

~~~~~~~~~


IN RE THE AFOREGOING: THE BUSH TAX

How much is it costing you?
~~~~~~~~~


TOTALLY SCROOGED

"Put it this way: Suppose that you actually liked a caste society, and you were seeking ways to use your control of the government to further entrench the advantages of the haves against the have-nots. What would you do?

One thing you would definitely do is get rid of the estate tax, so that large fortunes can be passed on to the next generation. More broadly, you would seek to reduce tax rates both on corporate profits and on unearned income such as dividends and capital gains, so that those with large accumulated or inherited wealth could more easily accumulate even more. You'd also try to create tax shelters mainly useful for the rich. And more broadly still, you'd try to reduce tax rates on people with high incomes, shifting the burden to the payroll tax and other revenue sources that bear most heavily on people with lower incomes.

Meanwhile, on the spending side, you'd cut back on healthcare for the poor, on the quality of public education and on state aid for higher education. This would make it more difficult for people with low incomes to climb out of their difficulties and acquire the education essential to upward mobility in the modern economy.

And just to close off as many routes to upward mobility as possible, you'd do everything possible to break the power of unions, and you'd privatize government functions so that well-paid civil servants could be replaced with poorly paid private employees.

It all sounds sort of familiar, doesn't it?

Where is this taking us? Thomas Piketty, whose work with Saez has transformed our understanding of income distribution, warns that current policies will eventually create "a class of rentiers in the U.S., whereby a small group of wealthy but untalented children controls vast segments of the US economy and penniless, talented children simply can't compete." If he's right--and I fear that he is--we will end up suffering not only from injustice, but from a vast waste of human potential
."

From The Death of Horatio Alger
by Paul Krugman


Tough luck, Tiny Tim.

Monday, December 22, 2003

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SANTA'S A FOREIGNER

"Ho-Ho-Ho!!" he's loud, he's big, he's red-faced, probably has a multi-entry entertainer's visa since he operates on a seasonal basis, but no permanent residency, so can't own property or get a mortgage; voting rights, forget it-- ask any expat-- and rides a sled for godsake, pulled by reindeer no less. An elderly guy who operates by night dressed in fire engine red with high black boots? Whooaa. Outfit trimmed with white fur? Big whooaa: definitely a foreigner.

Also he has a chimney-centered modus operandi in a country with no chimneys and where the home is an extremely private place in which few speak English-- or want to-- particularly to a noisy overweight big-bearded guy in a red suit drops into the house like that in the middle of the night with a name so hard to pronounce: not very appealing to your average Japanese even if it is Christ/Xmas, whatever that really means here.

So Santa E. Claus, as his passport has it, isn't really all that popular in Japan at the personal level, though the mallkeepers love him, or at least they love the sleigh concept and the reindeer, especially Rudolph, a latecomer who was invented in the latter 1940s by Gene Autry.

Fact is you don't see all that much of Santa in public here. Sure, you see him now and then in a Coke ad or something, maybe scarfing a Big Mac or getting down with some scantily clad North Pole babes in a tv commercial, a little bit of international tokenism, but nah. The Santa tradition is new to the Land of Wa.

And alien. Nobody leaves out coffee and donuts for the guy, donuts aren't too good here anyway-- and judging by his alien girth he's definitely a donut connoisseur-- or cookies or pie and milk. Cookies, pies, by and large forget them too, alien concepts. And most Japanese are lactose intolerant.

Personally, I used to like the guy Santa used to be, back when I was a kid, before he was demonized by his own obsessively commercial behavior, which is becoming international in his old age. There was much appeal in the Santa who used to embody just the basic overweight spirit of Christ/Xmas, a time for the general resurgence of basic humanity and brotherhood and celebration of community yaggeda yaggeda, albeit necessarily Christian, but back in those postwar days you took what you could get.

Things have changed since then, but Christ/Xmas in Japan doesn't mean all the same things it means in the West. Christ/Xmas here is pretty veneery, a name to call the season, a time when the demand for bulky red-faced elder male models reaches its crescendo. It also means major shopping of course, the biggest thing it means now in the West. Here in nowadays Japan, though, Christ/Xmas has become just that: a season of foreign old-timey nostalgia, bigtiming it purely on a commercial basis, without the spiritual overtones.

There are Christ/Xmas lights on houses here and there, or what you could call Christ/Xmas lights, since they're put up at around this time and they light up, but it's not the same thing. There are no big decorative candy canes by the front door-- way too unsubtle-- no reindeers, no sleighs, no Rudolphs on the eaves, no Santas on the roofs looking for the chimneys. And as you can imagine, a candycaneless, deerless, sledless, chimneyless Shinto/Buddhist-blend Santa just doesn't ring the old sleighbells.

Anyway, foreigner that he is, Santa will be leaving at the end of the month as per the standard visa requirement, with his re-entry permit for next year, if he doesn't forget to go to immigration before leaving. I've known that to happen, and it doesn't matter who you are; those guys at immigration are way colder than the North Pole.

Saturday, December 20, 2003

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HEART AND FLAME

The depth and intensity of relation between heart and flame-- the heart with its flickers, its towering flames, its warmth of friendship and fires of love, its embers, its sparks-- who can say we and fire are not siblings of one family?

That relation is kindled anew for me each winter morning when I arise from a warm bed to a cold house and return in humility to the hearth, the heart of the home, and there proceed to rekindle the fire that has burned for so long, much as one builds and nurtures other essential relations.

Soon there is a bright warming flame growing, in a kinship I acknowledge at once by drawing near and raising my hands to the glow, watching it grow with the appreciation that attends all nurturing brightness, that needs from me only a nourishing now and again as I do for myself, and before too long the entire air is warm once more and thus the entire house, every room where the door is open, and life can resume its course in all fullness.

How long we all have been such friends with fire, how far we have come together, we ourselves getting thus far all thanks to the warmth and brightness of the flame that has tended and lighted our way, and how much of what we call our own brightness and warmth and passion we have derived from our millennia of kindling fire and staring into its depths as if into the eyes of god... Such thoughts stared into the flames in the morning before sunrise soon take me back to before there was thinking...
~~~~~~~~~


all down here
in black and white
first big snow

Friday, December 19, 2003

~~~~~~~~~


INDIANA JONES WAS LOOKING IN THE WRONG PLACE.

Everybody knows that Jesus is buried in a number of places around Japan, the ultimate destination for one of the Lost Tribes of Israel, but who knew that the Ark of the Covenant, that prototypical Omikoshi (portable shrine), was here too? And only a couple of hours from Pure Land Mountain...that must be Indiana on the phone...

Thursday, December 18, 2003


HORMONE PROBLEMS, ANYONE?


Agricultural biotech giant Monsanto has sued Oakhurst Dairy, a small dairy in Maine, saying Oakhurst's label ("Our farmers' pledge: no artificial growth hormones.") implies that the dairy's milk is somehow better than milk from cows treated with recombinant bovine somatotropin, or rBST, a hormone sold by the company under the brand name Posilac.

All the kids say a glass of recombinant bovine somatotropin goes down pretty good, with some cookies. About 17 percent of dairy farmers use rBST, injecting 32 percent of all cows in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If you find yourself suddenly mooing now and then, this may be the cause.

The hormone is made of an isolated gene from the growth hormone that cows produce when they lactate. Injections of the product make cows lactate longer and produce more milk. Most cows injected with rBST produce about 25 percent more milk than they would normally. Then it's passed on to the kids with the cookies.

[Dec 21 addendum: Further jaw-dropping info on all this and unappetizingly more, particularly as it pertains to UK and EU, at Vegan Society; thanks to Colin for the link.]

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QUIET BEAUTY

Exhibition of superb examples of all-time Japanese pottery. Click on each for a larger image. Ahhhh...

With a deep bow of thanks to the evergreen plep.
~~~~~~~~~


PURE+ASPIRIN+BAMBOO

That was typed into the search window and BAM! There was Pure Land Mountain, right there at the top of the search results. Some interesting soul had been to PLM and looked around quite a while ago, remembered some clues, wanted to visit again. Welcome. Glad to have you back. Like some lemon verbena tea?
~~~~~~~~~


LIFE OUTSIDE THE BIG BOWL

In the blurry hither-thitherness of our everyconvenience modern lives, with food made for us, thoughts thought for us and opinions spun for us, as we plunge our heads into the Big Media Toilet Bowl we can lose sight of the things that count, the real things out there beyond the Big Bowl that give meaning to our own actual everyminute lives, and that definitely includes ginger.

A couple of afternoons ago I was out in the blue cool, my mind still digesting the news wherein Captain Justice had captured the unparalleled ogre Saddam like a rat in a trap, the rest of me tenting the winter greens in anticipation of the weatherman-predicted heavy snow that would be falling that evening-- which snow it turns out (surprise) was not all that forthcoming (having more reputable plans than mere conformity to human forecasting), though we did get a bit of a bully north wind and very brief sleet-- as I was positioning the bamboo framework, at the edge of what remained of my consciousness I kept having to avoid the Oshoga (big ginger) roots bulging up out of the ground like tuberous elbows, nudging me for some reason that didn't register until at last, thank ginger, I pulled my head completely out of the Big Media Toilet: the ginger doesn't want to spend the winter in the ground under the snow and in the damp cold, it wants to be pickled in warm rice vinegar right now! Of course! It will turn pink with delight!

What a relief. I'd been feeling like the world was going to the dogs of war and the Big Media Toilet Bowl was where things really mattered, but as the ginger has since so fragrantly proven, the truly important things are going on all over everywhere, well outside the Big Bowl.

Here's a good recipe for Japanese pickled ginger.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

~~~~~~~~~


OK, OK, I'LL PUT IT UP,

But I'll put it right here
where it will slowly slip out of sight; laughably shameless, but it's the least I can do...
~~~~~~~~~


LATEST UPDATE ON THE JAPANESE CHINA ORGY TRIAL
(Mentioned in ARTIFICIAL HISTORY below)
~~~~~~~~~


YOU MIGHT WANT TO THINK TWICE ABOUT EATING THAT BACON, PERCHLORATE AND TOMATO SANDWICH

"Perchlorate, a rocket fuel additive, has been found to accumulate in leafy greens irrigated from the Colorado River -- as nearly all the nation's winter lettuce is.

Drinking water from the Colorado River and at least 22 states is contaminated with the rocket fuel ingredient, a toxin that can impair thyroid function and cause tumors, cancer and decreased learning ability in children. The toxin has shown up in milk too, from cows that drink perchlorate-tainted water.

Since the rocket fuel chemical comes largely from military sites, cleaning it up could cost the Defense Department billions. So the Pentagon has launched an attack on a national drinking water standard proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency, which would require cleanup of drinking water tainted with more than 1 part per billion of perchlorate. The Pentagon argues it's a matter of national security."

The Pentagon isn't myopic, it's cyclopic.

Full story at the excellent BushGreenwatch.

[Thanks to Ron for the tip.]

OH, THE TRAVESTY...


During our 30-minute sojourn in the 60-years-ago train station where we spent a half hour looking at the past (as chronicled in CHICHIBU YOMATSURI III below), I took a picture of one of the things in the station that fascinated me most: a framed replica of a kiseru (brass-and-bamboo smoking pipe), prominently featured in a severe admonition to the train-riding public to cease committing an egregious and chronic violation of the long-suffering railway system. But first a little explanation...

When we got our tickets for the train and went through the wicket the ticketwicketer, as I said, actually took each ticket in his hand and just like 50 years ago punched it with a puncher that made a notch unique to that station, so that when we handed it in at the other end the wicketer there would know where we had entered the line and could tell that we had paid the full fare, an antique way of trying to thwart the folks who have always tried to fool the train system by various means, such as by handing in a ticket much closer to their destination than where they actually came from, in a traditional Japanese scam perpetrated by the public on the railway system since its inception.

The fact that this scam is historical and has been perped for a long time is reflected in the name it's called, that comes from way back when folks still smoked those edo-style pipes, in the same vein of folk-irreverence that attends so many things in Japan, an irreverence reflected in the folk-terms for those things, an acknowledgment that Yes, we do pull such things off; collectively that is, not individually.

As represented by certain unidentified members of the public, we do work to get a free ride when we can, and here is what we call that process so we can talk about it, all anonymously of course, for I myself, like all my relatives and friends (this said with an inward smile) would never do such a dishonest thing. This railroad station sign is not speaking to me, it's speaking to the others, to the unscrupulous folks who still try to get through life's journey a bit more cheaply, the dastardly anonymous warriors in the fight to keep prices down where they belong... and so we call this process kiseru... after the old brass smoking pipes with bowl and mouthpiece of shiny (and expensive) brass, and the length between them of cheap bamboo, so poetically like the free ride in the middle... There is so much depth of metaphor there, so much collectively anonymous artisanship, so much transcendant wisdom and humor...

As to result in an old finger-wagging sign in the station to that very effect, basically showing folks how it's done while asking them not to do it, not to commit this heinous practice in this way demonstrated right here, that cuts heavily into the railroad porkbarrel; which just goes to show that even the railroad folks are tacitly in on the big collective joke being played on no one in particular, and this is their token way of doing something about this lamentable travesty...

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

~~~~~~~~~


ARTIFICIAL HISTORY

All history is artificial, in the sense that it's written by the victors. In the old days, that used to be exclusively true; nowadays though, in our new and enlightened world, the vanquished also get to put their spin on the way things were; and now that the USSR is gone, it seems nobody spins history like the Japanese government, perpetually in a state of denial about the country's past history and the uncounted atrocities committed in the name of the Rising Sun: the Nanjing Massacre still never happened in history textbooks here, same way Unit 731 never existed: all those photos are doctored, despite what the perpetrators and victims themselves say, with their bodies and their bones; and the wartime brothels of "comfort women" were organized by private individuals, the government had nothing to do with them.

But regarding the latter, at least, history has just said otherwise, in a recently declassified 36-page report issued by General Headquarters, Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers, in November 1945. The report, based on statements of Japanese prisoners and documents confiscated by the US military during and after the war, says that brothel operators received licenses from the Japanese military and worked under its direct supervision, and that the Japanese Government was directly involved in developing and operating military brothels where hundreds of thousands of Asian girls and women were forced to work as sex slaves during the war. That report was issued in English on December 5; it reached the English newspaper here a very long 7 days later in this age of instant communication, in the form of an article written for the LA Times.

Guess it's not as important here in Japan as it is everywhere else, like the recent boneheaded Japanese businessmen's historically insensitive sexual orgy in China, which also doesn't make the papers much. Some things never change, do they. That would include the Japanese government, as well as its version of history.
~~~~~~~~~


1,848 vegan recipes

Monday, December 15, 2003

WAZOO POTENTIAL NOTWITHSTANDING

As attentive readers of this humbly and quotidianly eclectic endeavor will recall, I have long been on the lookout for a good yuzu tree, sapling, seedling, scion, whatever, as long as I know it is the genuine real true thing. I've heard many tales, especially from the States, about buying yuzu seedlings whose fruit some years later turns out to be of an inedible variety, an issue of big importance where yuzu is now a very marketable item of supreme cuisinal art, not to mention yuzu martinis, margaritas and cosmetics, making yuzu a fruit with major wazoo potential.

All I want genuine yuzu for, though, is cooking (and of course for rinds to sprinkle in the hot bath of a winter evening), and was conversationally lamenting as much to one of my upmountain neighbors, decrying the chronic deficiency of yuzu in my garden, when he turned and cut three scions from his own classic yuzu tree and gave them to me. The scions of those scions are now propagating in the kitchen window.

Those "subscions" should yield about a dozen rooted treelings by spring, from which I will choose one or two to grow to full size. My kindly neighbor also gave me a couple of late yuzu fruits from the very tree, and they are the real thing; peeled some into the bath last night and grated some into the miso shiru for lunch.

I haven't yet heard much from the three-star kitchens of the West about the other two zesty members of Japan's cuisinal citrus triumvirate, i. e., the pine-y, tart kabosu and the tangy, lime-like sudachi, but I expect I will before long. I will be posting about those two as their tasty occasions arise in my kitchen.

Saturday, December 13, 2003


CHICHIBU EPILOGUE


Coursing at the base of every cultural history is the spirit of water, tireless master of the Tao. And sure enough, as after the Festival we walked from the station to the inn in the night (and from the windows of the inn itself), we heard the white whisper of a river close by. It was the Arakawa.

The next morning, when we woke up early in the blue arms of a beautiful day, the way days can be out in the country where they are most at home, we headed straight for that soul-inviting sound, that came drifting to us through the gold and scarlet crowns of trees stretched out along the high riverbanks.

Down we waded through deep spangles of fallen leaves to the fast-moving jade river flecked with white, legendary as the river to which, a millennium ago, the battle-weary Taira clan came after terrible defeat to wash themselves of blood-- perhaps historically true, perhaps an apocryphal tale arising like old ghosts in earlier minds from the abundance of red jasper found along the river, whose banks are renowned among geologists worldwide for their lithic diversity.

That diversity is apparent to any casual stroller on the trail that winds along the river shore, wending through fields of rocks you wish you could take home and put in your garden or maybe just cluster on your desk until your pockets are full and you rattle past a long high rock formation known locally as Iwadatami (Tatami Rocks), and over sinewy surges of what they locally call tiger stone, for the lithe and savage forms it has derived from the violent birth of the earth and eons of service as riverbed.

After the lively festivities of the previous night, the muscular river of sleek green flowing silently along the bottom of the morning was a wellspring of meditation. My own mundane thoughts were driven from my head and filed away under "Relevant?" by the unspoken majesty of the place.

Echo right away found the perfect spot for her morning yoga on a low cliff opposite a much higher cliff across the river, known locally as "The Red Wall," while my busy body wandered me from a herd of tiger rocks hunched beside the flexing water up to a clifftop, to a tiny shrine up on the forest ledge and back down again to glowing tarns, rivulets, waterfalls, fields of rocks strewn at beautiful random among the riverside reeds, the only other person around an early morning photographer, with all his gear, running like a fullback to catch the perfect shotspots always elsewhere in the sun.

It's that kind of place. Your mind has found the stillness that centers the river, but a body is made to move. This was the ideal locus for what I call moving meditation, wandering as though standing in the river wind, looking down into the deep-green water gliding by as one body on its long winding way to the sea... as, in our ways, are we.

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PURE LAND MOUNTAIN NOMINATED FOR BEST JAPANESE BLOG

Some kind and generous soul has nominated Pure Land Mountain in the Best Japanese Blog category at FlyingChair! On behalf of the Muses, thank you, whoever you are.

Friday, December 12, 2003


Remarks to the Commonwealth Club

"I have been asked to talk about what I consider the most important challenge facing mankind, and I have a fundamental answer. The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda. Perceiving the truth has always been a challenge to mankind, but in the information age (or as I think of it, the disinformation age) it takes on a special urgency and importance."

Read the rest of this insightful speech by Michael Crichton
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CHENEY THE INTREPID

"The following statement by the Humane Society of the United States was e-mailed to ThePittsburghChannel.com on Tuesday afternoon:

Monday's hunting trip to Pennsylvania by Vice President Dick Cheney in which he reportedly shot more than 70 stocked pheasants and an unknown number of mallard ducks at an exclusive private club places a spotlight on an increasingly popular and deplorable form of hunting, in which birds are pen-reared and released to be shot in large numbers by patrons. The ethics of these hunts are called into question by rank-and-file sportsmen, who hunt animals in their native habitat and do not shoot confined or pen-raised animals that cannot escape." Rest of article...

This is the guy who's pulling the strings behind the Bush, the guy second in line for the Presidency of the United States!! Seems there's no bottom to some people...
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SCIENTIFIC AMAZEMENT

"Cockerels dole out more sperm to new lovers," the scientists at New Science tell us. Which discovery leads inferentially to some very interesting insights, one of the most amazing for me being that there are people out there who spend their days quantifying cockerel sperm.
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GOLDEN ROADS

Last night while we were asleep the air from the south reached with long warm fingers in among the cold mountains, bringing us a sunrise worthy of a very populous pantheon and covering all with a fine warm morning mist that played magic with the still green, and on my way down to the station I realized through my squint that I was rolling down a long and gleaming golden road, moistened by the night's mist and lit up by the rising sun: it was the long golden road that runs through every myth, that leads the mythy protagonist on to victory, fame and fortune, or sometimes, as in my case, the train station. But hell, I'll take any golden road I can get.

Thursday, December 11, 2003

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ABOUT THE IRAQ NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA....

"Dear Mr President,

Another day, another stunt. Not a plastic turkey this time, but a star studded event at the Kennedy Center, featuring the Iraq National Symphony Orchestra, who have been flown in by the State Department for a' healing' event after the illegal invasion and destruction of their country.

Michael Kaiser, Cultural Ambassador for the State Department thought the event would be: "a wonderful way for Americans to learn about Iraqis and for Iraqis to learn about Americans." The Ambassador apparently is unaware that Iraqis know all about Americans, Iraq was, after all, the country which brought the world all we call civilized, writing, mathematics, the first written records, the first laws, the wheel. Baghdad (formerly Dar Es Salaam - City of Peace) was dubbed 'the Paris of the ninth century.' Iraq and Palestine have the highest number of Ph.Ds, per capita, on earth. Iraq, ancient Mesopotamia, is 'the cradle of civilization.'" More...

[With thanks to Ken for the pointer.]
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WOODSTOVE TIME

Finally a dust of white upon the mountains beneath their caps of cloud; very late in the year. Mt. Ibuki across the blue mirror of the Lake has been wearing formal white for some time now. As a direct result of all this frosting going on apace all around us, yesterday we started the first fire in our woodstove this year. This is the furthest into the year we've ever gotten without needing a fire in the stove; usually we make it only to latter November, so the weather has let us save almost a month's supply of firewood!! Thank you, large entity!

And let me say right off and unqualifiedly that whiskey barrel staves make excellent firewood, need minimal kindling, burn hot, long and even, stack great, coal excellently, resulting in minimal ash, minimal smoke, minimal creosote and maximum general pleasedness, though a lot of sawing to size, which enables the sawyer to regularly burn off chocolate fuel.

When the ice crystals form on the ground outside and breath turns directly into clouds as crystally fingers creep up the windows and the entire landscape is frozen for the following year, there's nothing quite like the heat from a good woodstove-- ours is a DutchWest large Federal (Vermont Castings) catalytic-- it gives off heat like like the heat you get to your bones when you slip into one of Japan's finest sento (hot-spring bath). Before going to bed on a wintry night, there's nothing quite like stretching out in front of the radiant woodstove and deliciously turning your body into a life-sized bedwarmer. Eat your heart out, central heating.

And wood is replenishable. Lots of expert wood-burning info at Woodheat.org--
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ON BLOGCRITICS.ORG

Just posted this bit of cheek with tongue in it at the superforum Blogcritics, a great site for the eclecticism of opinion we all need in our lives. Be nice of you to please be so kind as to vote for Blogcritics as Best Group Blog...

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

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I GUESS AMERICANS DON'T MIND PAYING FOR THIS

"Halliburton is charging [the US] $2.64 for a gallon of fuel it imports from Kuwait and $1.24 per gallon for fuel from Turkey."

The ripoff doesn't end there.


[Cheney left Halliburton with a $34 million retirement package when he became the GOP's vice-presidential candidate]
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THE PARADOX OF HEDONISM

As one who has ever tried to honor the divinely bestowed hedonistic aspects of my nature-- morality, safety, occasion and various other yaggeda-yaggeda appropriatenesses allowing-- I yesterday overindulged in a fine batch of chocolate-covered roasted almonds, and later that evening began to pay the premium in the form of a complaining gall bladder with its accompanying gang of niggling sledge-hammery symptoms.

Paradoxically, bodily factors often stand in the way of physical pleasures. So there I was feeling that old aching shoulder, headache and waning appetite, so familiar from the times when I imposed less stringent licensing on my Formula One travels in the fast lane, which upon slowing down in later life (below Ferrari level) I kept well in check by taking 800 units of vitamin e a day, among other things.

This practice however, has become less regular, I recently forgetting sometimes for weeks at a stretch to take my "e"; hence this reaction to the otherwise no-problem chocolate almond divinities. So this morning when I woke up stiff and fuzzy, the nickel dropped and I took my vitamin e. Within an hour, all symptoms had faded away, leaving me pretty much in my former state but with a higher IQ. So I guess it's not really a paradox, so much as a matter of forgetting to be wise...

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

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IT CAN'T HAPPEN HERE (OR THERE)...

"But these statistical figures do not tell the human impact of such a catastrophic collapse of a country's monetary system. In his book, Before the Deluge: A Portrait of Berlin in the 1920s (1972), Otto Friedrich writes that 'By the middle of 1923, the whole of Germany had become delirious. Whoever had a job got paid every day, usually at noon, and then ran to the nearest store, with a sack full of banknotes, to buy anything that he could get, at any price. In their frenzy, people paid millions and even billions of marks for cuckoo clocks, shoes that didn't fit, anything that could be traded for anything else.' The price of a cup of coffee would double in the time that a customer took to drink it in a cafe.

Food supplies became both an obsession and a currency. The breakdown of the medium of exchange meant that the rural farmers became increasingly reluctant to sell their agricultural goods for worthless paper money in the cities. Urban dwellers streamed back to the countryside to live with relatives in order to have something to eat. Anything and everything was offered and traded directly for food to stave off the pangs of hunger."

From The Great German Inflation by Richard M. Ebeling

CHICHIBU YOMATSURI part III


Because every hotel and inn and ryokan and minshuku within a very large radius was fully booked for the two nights of the festival, Echo and I had booked a room in Nagatoro, about a half-dozen stops away on the old country line railroad. When we'd walked enough (starting when we walked down the mountain early that morning to catch the train), seen all that we could hold and it had gotten night-cold enough that we were looking very forward to a nice warm futon, we set off in the dark that was booming with the flash of fireworks, a multihour climactic demonstration of very big, very loud, very decorative colorblasts in the shapes of flowers, stars, fish, cartoon characters etc., and when with fireworks-divided attention we found the station it was the wrong one so we set out again through the mobs, finally finding the smaller station we were looking for.

After getting old-fashioned, thick cardboard tickets of the kind I haven't seen for 30 years we got in line and went through the wicket as the guy actually took the ticket of each person into his hand and just like in a diorama punched it slowly and efficiently with a puncher and gave it back, every single ticket, one by one! As a result we missed the train, but didn't really mind because we got to watch the fireworks finale from the well-positioned train platform.

Since this was Festival Night, another train came along fairly soon and we got on with the crowd and got seats, though not together, had about 20 minutes to travel without falling asleep, couldn't see out the steamy windows what the stations were in the dark, listened for each announcement, but an anemic announcer with a high voice, a fuzzy mike and worn out speakers amid loud conversations yielded only the occasional wisp of a na (fuzzy interval) or was that a ra (fuzzy interval) maybe a ga (fuzzy interval)did he say ro (fuzzy interval) or was it a ran, randomly audible syllables that as we rocked along reminded me as of all the old railroad announcement jokes I used to hear from my grandfather (a conductor on the New York Central) and his buddies around the kitchen table as I sat here/there in a far-off land smiling from the distant past in a zoned-out dreamlike state in the swaying warmth of the delightful train when suddenly Echo's voice said this is our station as she scrambled through her part of the crowd toward the door nearest her and I did the same toward my door but when I got there it didn't open so I turned and plowed back through the long knotty crowd toward Echo's door, but so few had gotten off that by the time she'd gotten to it her door had closed too and we were on our way once more, further into country darkness.

Needless to say we didn't miss the next stop, whence however it was too far to walk back in too deep a dark without a suitable map, and since we were pretty low on energy we just went into the station as into 60 years ago and asked the formally efficient station attendant, straight out of one of those old Japanese black-and-white movies but in living color, when the next train would be going in the opposite direction, explaining why/complaining that we had missed the train, he said Yes, the new train is too long for some of these old platforms, so the doors at the ends don't open. Thanks for the news, we said.

The next train would be going our way in just a country minute (half an hour), so we spent the next 30 minutes 60 years ago, looking at all the stuff in the station, an edifice built entirely of wood for the much smaller people who lived back then. A long time later, as train time approached we went out and walked across the tracks to the other platform. When you're cold because you're tired because you've been walking and traveling and walking since very early that day and you're standing going nowhere late that night on the dark and windy open platform of a countryside train station whose name you haven't noticed, you might not be aware that you're having one of those great experiences that travel affords: the chance to confront face to face whichever of your weaknesses may even now be gaining strength in you, as when in ice climbing you're hanging from the edge of the frozen waterfall by one hand and you don't let go, you just shift from mind to mind and whistle and converse and shiveringly dredge up warm thoughts to think until at last the train comes along and you're on your way.

We got off at the right station this time since we'd had so much practice, plus it was the next one and the train was empty so we were waiting at the real doors to pounce upon the elusive platform before it could get away again. We then walked through the quiet old station and the quiet empty night village looking for our inn in the dark and finding what maybe looked like it was the one, went inside to find three men and an elderly woman sitting around a warm stove, they were expecting us, that was the place, and from the big cauldron on the stovetop they served us big hot country soup that was a pleasure to hold, first on the outside and then on the inside. Thence to sleep under thick warm covers, I slept like the perfect piece of toast at the very bottom of the deepest point of sleep on the planet...

2bCont'd...

Monday, December 08, 2003

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THE CONTRETEMPS OF HOWARD DEAN

"I seriously doubt that anybody who publicly uses the word "contretemps" can ever be elected president."

Sad, that this could still be true of America.

CHICHIBU YOMATSURI Part II


Country folks are always friendly since they work in tandem and harmony with the big things, like earth and sky, so at festival time in the country it's like one big re-united family. Chichibu has been doing this festival for many centuries now, so the spirits are high in a town that on Festival Night is lit mostly with the golden light from all the stands and lanterns more than street lights, it's very like going back into the past, where the floats are all lit with candles and stand out all the more in the dimness, take on appropriate mystery amid the sound of taiko drums from the dark.

Because of our peripatetic approach, we saw one float go by across the railroad tracks, two set out from the shrine, one streak down a narrow street architectured from way back-- want to visit again just to see that in several lights-- floats wending past people on their roofs, one float pulled up to the crowd and started "bowing" with several float attendants on the teetering float roof talking nonchalantly via cell phone to attendants on the other float roofs, or maybe their girlfriends.

We happened to be in the crowd that one float was "bowing" to, and folks started flocking toward it from along the already crowded street; the pressure soon grew too great and we were squeezed out via an ingeniously arranged crowd pressure-release valve into a narrow alley that led to another great little street, lined with stalls offering every kind of food and pickle and snack between the doors to shops, intriguing old restaurants of every traditional description and bistros old and new (one called "Snob"), and the oldest functioning pachinko parlor I've ever seen (part of its sign in the Shiga Window at left).

It was getting cold so we went into one of the shops to buy some handwarmers, and while there spotted some "red pepper" sox, made of wool blended with silk and somehow incorporating the "hot" constituent of red pepper (capsaicin)!! (Anyone who's ever read Jethro Kloss (Back to Eden) knows how red pepper can warm the feet, so we got some of those too. And they work. (I'm wearing a pair right now. Who needs a stove? I've got a whole kitchen wall full of drying tabascos and thai dragons, so my feet are set for the winter.) Never knew such things existed. Small country towns take you in new directions.

Deep into the night we'd been walking for hours, it was getting colder and colder, then the fireworks began, whole streets full of people looking up at the skies going aaaahhhhh... The beauty of old festivals is as much in the moment as in all the time they bring to bear on the very now with all these new young folks in it that have such ancient things to learn afresh, and how better than a big street-and-sky party with all the heft and boom of the past, all the ardor of being a culture, here it is from us to you, carry on... be noble, be true, have fun, be generous with your gifts and pass it all on, so they do and so they will...

2bCont'd...

Sunday, December 07, 2003

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from anarchy of night
Tokyo graffiti sprays
have a nice day

Saturday, December 06, 2003


CHICHIBU YOMATSURI Part I


Where to begin, so many high points, but since that's where I left off I'll start with the train pulling in, adding to the mobs already thronging the small town of Chichibu on the second day of the festival, which would climax several hours later that evening, so we wandered the old narrow streets as the day darkened. The stands were already filling around the big circle ringed with tall flags topped with sakaki branches, where all the floats would wind up after coursing and 'bowing' through the neighborhoods well into the night.

The town was like a honeycomb already all lit up, folks coming in from everywhere, with song-and-dance acts at the station; halls and streets in front of stores (like this old-time geta store with the tall black-lacquered high-class geisha geta in the window) and houses full of food stalls (everything from squid to crepes to chocolate bananas and candy apples), game stalls (everything from shoot it to ring it to guess it), novelty stalls (got me an Atom Boy button), sweet stalls (whose star attraction among the taiyaki and the hot-sugar craftsmen was definitely the Korean troupe who were making "Dragonhair" sweets with white sugar 'dragonhair,' and something tasty-looking like treacle spun into the middle, their own hair dragonhair white from the sugar dust and in all their blur they couldn't make the sweets fast enough to sell hand over fist the way the growing crowds wanted). We wandered on.

At first we tried to figure out where might be best to stand to view the floats when they started rolling from in front of the shrine full of screaming children, but there were so many good places maybe it would be best choose one and stay there before it got too crowded, we tried that a few times but started to get pinned in place and couldn't stand not seeing all the great stuff that was going on everywhere else-- there was only one night to take it all in, and at times like that you have to make your move-- so we wound up seeing the whole thing from everywhere, there are lots of cheering and drum-flute-song noisy floats wandering the streets and country folks are great folks to watch festivals with...

2bcont'd...

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KYOTO JOURNAL SPECIAL ISSUE STREET (#55) NOW OUT!!

Kyoto Journal's special issue "Street" has just been published, and is a work of art. Readers, writers, publishers, photographers, designers... something for everyone. And if I do say so myself, they did a beautiful job with my 'Street' poem inside the front cover... Kyoto Journal is available at discerning venues around the world. It's easy to spot: just look for the really gorgeous magazine.

Friday, December 05, 2003


CHICHIBU TRAIN WINDOW RIFF


Delight the way the trains from Tokyo travel straight through the lives of the people in their path taking only the road they need, zipping past kitchen, bedroom, bookstore, office, country avenues deep in leaves of gold, ivied walls of Meiji time, roofs and roofs and roofs stretching, reaching away to Chichibu...

Glimpses down arms-wide alleys of countless untold stories in the slant of afternoon sunlight on the scarlet of fallen leaves, a woman stands still and is gone to an old woman in blue squatting on another street, chatting...

It is bright, there are ceremonies, a man on a bicycle rolls out of the sun, offices full of others, quiet empty lots, old folks in the shady park, small rivers bridged along the ways that are of silver amid the green of grass and gray of stone, in small parks are ducks on springs waiting for the kids...

Laundry in the sun, broad tracts of actual trees, big white blocks of former graffiti, new houses going up like soldiers marching out of the city, local folks on bicycles waiting for our train to pass, now and then a station center with its mirrored buildings like eyes of crazy giant dragonflies...

Schools, middens, houses in valleys, black trees with orange leaves fired by the sun, roads under roads under railroads under roads across rivers even out here it's all getting modern, now rice fields now 'burbs, yet still there are long deep forests with no one in them not far from millions and millions in rooms, but then this is Wednesday...

Mushrooming sports clubs, parking lots, rising slopes of houses, little girl in braids and yellow hat at the bottom of canyons of balconies, then sun through curving slopes of trees and shady cemeteries, flashing glimpses of lives once lived, glimmers of narrow waters then broad, smooth and blinding beneath the bridge to row upon row of harvest-rounded tea trees, all the tiny country streets conforming to random zig-zag of original paddy pathways argued over centuries, madness to drive if you don't know the way...

Stations get more and more country, less and less hurry, with less and less English, more and more museum, going from never-saw-so-many bicycles or stacked-up elevated highways to fading old houses tucked in shrinking corners throwing nothing away, stacking it up outside beside the daikon rows reaching green in the curve of the widening road...

Mobs are waiting to board the train to Chichibu they stream on, arms full, eyes full, ready ready ready to festival...

The leaves are reaching that rusty color now beneath the half-moon sky full of galloping clouds, horsetails curved at their silvery ends like the curl of the pale moon...

A single board bridges the fast stream before the tunnel, things get sleepy...


Wednesday, December 03, 2003

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PS:

Before leaving the next morning: For those current and future grandparents who might be interested, I've started a new section in the sidebar, "GRANDFATHERING", in which I'll be listing relevant posts chronologically as I have time...

Tuesday, December 02, 2003


CHICHIBU YOMATSURI


Tomorrow morning Echo and I are Shinkansenning to Saitama to see the Chichibu Yomatsuri (Chichibu Night Festival), one of the three great float festivals of Japan. And a wild one. On the way back here the day after, I'll spend an afternoon visiting my old Mita neighborhood in Tokyo for the first time in over 25 years. I'll be back here after that with words and photos to spell out over the following days...

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LIES, DAMNED LIES AND STATISTICS

Well, Forbes magazine doesn't seem uncertain: "Surge at U.S. factories has Q4 GDP looking strong," says its Dubious Administration-sounding headline, bolstered by these upbeat comments:

"All the indications are that the dramatic surge in economic growth in the third quarter, to 8.2 percent, took business executives and factory owners by surprise..."

"Overall economic growth is looking like at least a solid 4.0 percent pace for the October-December period, confirming that the recovery is on a sustainable footing."

"'Q4 is off to a good start,' said Lehman Brothers financial economist Drew Matus, who has revised up his forecasts for growth next year."

"On balance, the data is extremely encouraging and consistent with the view that the economy is gathering momentum and poised for ongoing strength beyond the surge in GDP in the third quarter."

Boy, sure sounds pretty rosy, unless you happen to know that most of that surge is from military spending, which is basically like taking the biggest earth mover in the world and using it to shove your tax money into a bottomless hole 24 hours a day for as long as you allow it to.

Then there's the more realistic appraisal of Jay Taylor:

"The U.S. is already for all practical purposes a bankrupt country. I say that because we are already--even before the baby boomers retire--relying on borrowings of $1.5 to $2 billion per day from foreigners, not to build our infrastructure or plant and equipment that will enhance wealth over the longer term, but rather to continue consumption well over the limits of any other country on the face of the earth. As a nation, we are hopelessly addicted to consumption and it is every bit as pathological as the alcoholic husband that drinks all his paycheck up before he buys groceries and pays the rent for his family. We are living on borrowed time. We are so far gone that we can no longer compete effectively with other nations. Why would foreign countries continue to invest in America? Already we are seeing a huge drop-off from foreign private sector investment in the United States. Central banks are buying U.S. paper, but that is part of the beggar-thy-neighbor currency devaluation pathology that is seeping back into the world for the first time since the 1930s.

Bear in mind that foreign countries don't have to withdraw the money they have already put in the U.S. to cause the U.S. to collapse. All they have to do is stop sending us $1.5 to $2 billion per day and the dollar will tank, big time. As Richard Duncan said in his book, The Dollar Crisis, 'The dollar is destined to collapse because the U.S. economy will soon no longer be able to generate a supply of secure U.S. dollar-denominated investment vehicles sufficiently large to enable the rest of the world to recycle its annual half a trillion dollar current account surplus.' And if that is the case, then why would the Chinese and Japanese continue to send us real tangible consumer goods if all they get back in return are pieces of paper that are without value and in fact continue to lose value against say the yen, the euro, and gold?"

Gosh, that doesn't sound too good; surely it can't be true? Why would the Dubious Administration lie to us? There's more truth to be found in an article in the New York Times, which says in part:

"In other words, the government has cooked the books. It has been a more subtle manipulation than the one during the Reagan administration, when people serving in the military were reclassified from "not in the labor force" to "employed" in order to reduce the unemployment rate."

So who are you going to believe? The Dubious Administration and its increasingly rich friends as upbeat economy floggers, or your own financial future? Maybe it would be best to get ready for hard times, unless you work for Halliburton...
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UGUISU UNCERTAINTIES

Woke up at dawn this morning and the big ole wind was still gusting the leaves around as it ambled west, kickin aimlessly through all those piles of gold along its way, yet the air as balmy as a spring day, a bit of incredible-as-it-may-seem actual sun getting a beam in edgewise and glowing the whole mountainside like a living rainbow, harbinging some maybe even blue sky today, and at the center of it all a very confused uguisu (warbler), clearly questioning his calendar yet singing uncertainly, is this mike on, not the usual ooooooboy, isntthisgreat? oooooboy, thisisreallygreat!, but a very halting and querulous whatisgoingon... whatis... what... whatisgoing... whatisgoingonherehuh... anybodyknow... whatmonthisthis... testing... He was the only uguisu around, which made it kind of pointless to be ad libbing so confusedly with such a superb voice, but he kept it up, pausing now and then to recheck his organizer to see if this was really December, no way. Couldn't be. I understand how he feels.

Monday, December 01, 2003

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WINDY MEDITATIONS

The big December typhoon slowly slides over the landscape, earlier today beneath pink mother-of-pearl clouds turning the Lake into a gray and black silk shawl some angel threw carelessly on the ground for all the ooohs and ahhhs, the same wind carefully flipping all the covers off my firewood with its wind pinky and flinging the last of the leaves to the ground then kicking them around with its clumsy invisible feet what a big lunky monster it is bigger than the landscape and tireless, three days now it hasn't slept, looking for firewood to uncover, surely the blustery lug has better things to do, like speed sailboats and birds along, crank those wind generators, make itself useful I'm beginning to sound like the wind should do what I want but conversely thank you wind for teaching me patience in the face of your relentless peskiness in blowing over my motorcycle and my bicycles and sending my tarps down the mountain I hope you had fun sounds like you still are, out there in the dark, was that my toolshed
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ROCKERS UNITE TO OUST BUSH

ROCK ON!! Couldn't happen to a more deserving guy!