Monday, May 31, 2004

Fotos of Tokyo show windows from Japan Design Net



This afternoon the mountains are hidden by the veils of the heavy rains that arrived around noon after a chill wind that vortexed for hours in white whirls across the surface of the Lake in a sort of warmup before the main act, from whose now windless silver midst comes the long liquid song of the manic warbler, who sits in a tree in the drumrain singing of sunshine and joy and all the good things that come in a long cascade of honeyed notes, on and on from the heart of the falling water...



"Vice President Cheney and his office have had no involvement whatsoever in government contracting matters since he left private business to run for vice president," said a spokesman for Cheney.

I believe these guys; the credibility of this administration thus far has simply been impeccable.


Sunday, May 30, 2004


I'm soon to be 64 years old, and all I hear about on the US senior sites and in senior news here in Japan as well is DRUGS this DRUGS that, drug cards, medicare, drug bills, all spoken of as though it's the most natural thing in the world to have multiple serious diseases in 'old' age and to take dozens of drugs for them, and make routine visits to the drugstore (or Canada). I shake my head in amazement (without pain, BTW). I wonder when the medical agencies and the drug companies are going to kill the generational goose that is laying these big golden eggs, i.e., collectively do what healers should do: PREVENT illness, teach people to minimize their need for doctors. Don't hold your breath.

As I say, I'm soon to be 64 and I can't remember the last time I bought a prescription drug, or what it could have been; if I did, I must have been in my 20s, before I opened my eyes and became a 98% vegetarian, stopped smoking for ten years, relapsed a couple times, now a few cigars a year or so, cut back on sugar 90% and took vitamin supplements (e. g., vitamins a, c, 400 iu of vitamin e daily, minerals), for nearly 40 years now. No illnesses of any severity during that time, no hospital, no sign anymore of the traumatic disc rupture I suffered about 10 years ago after working on this house. Six feet tall still, 80 kg; wearing just a shirt and jeans wiped out on my motorcycle at the age of 57, hit the road fast and hard on elbow, shoulder and hip, no breaks, hip bruised, bruised/abraded elbow and shoulder, healed in days, rubbed vitamin e on. Drugs? Articles like this amaze me. Minimize the coffee! Quit the fast food! Minimize the meat and sugar! Minimize or quit smoking! Stay away from hospitals! Get some natural exercise! Why budget your pension to pay for drugs (more toxins)? Take your health into your own hands!

And then there's the bucket'o'fries aspect...



I post about the recent closure of my favorite ramen shop here in a little village in countryside Japan and a person from NYC comments in return about the closure of his/her favorite neighborhood bakery-- our losses are shared-- for a brief yet constant moment in cybertime two people on opposite sides of the world, who have never met or spoken to each other and likely never will, are linked by a SUBJECT, for all to see. Daily I share the joys and sorrows of friends I've never met from around the world. That's what I love about blogs: they give voice to the big family.


Saturday, May 29, 2004

rain rings
on the rice paddy...
so many lives


Friday, May 28, 2004

Alternative Medicine Use On The Rise In US

"More and more Americans are turning to alternative medicine to improve their health, according to the results of a government survey released Thursday. The survey found Americans, in growing numbers turning to, Yoga, Meditation, Prayer, herbs, acupuncture and a variety of other unconventional remedies.

The newly released government survey of over 31,000 U.S. adults found that 36 percent of Americans aged 18 years and over use some form of 'complementary and alternative medicine.'"




The unthinkable has happened. The superb ramen shop I drooled all over in Ramen Empire, my local greasy chopstick, my emporium of illicit cuisinal ecstasy, has inexplicably shut its tacky doors forever and there is no one hammering on those doors asking why, why, except me (figuratively speaking, since to do so literally would be unwise as I am a tall long-haired foreigner who doesn't have any alien registration on me at the moment, it's in an office in another city would a name card do, I would have to say to the police who would inevitably be called to the scene of such an unheard-of occurrence, might even make the local newspaper since everyone knows what goes on in a small town, and you know what they would think, and what my rep would be subsequently hey there's that weird foreign guy who was pounding on the doors of the ramen shop), but yeah, it's closed for lack of business. Japan is over.



"Retirement planning may be your best friend in the distant future. But at a great cost, because retirement planning may also be your worst enemy today, even killing your soul.

Everyone has a dream. And once in your life you'll get at least one opportunity, one challenge to throw caution to the wind, take the big risk, break free and follow your dream.

Or you can play it safe, anchored with your feet on the ground, doing all the right things, yet living a life of "quiet desperation," wondering if maybe you gave up the only thing that really matters..."



Just read another of the many news articles that drift by concerning Japan's love hotels, and in this one the journalist notes racily: "Almost all [love hotel] rooms are fitted with karaoke machines and televisions. Some have chandeliers."

You can tell he did his research.


Thursday, May 27, 2004


"In this study we assume that investor (B) opens an IRA at age 19. For seven consecutive periods he puts $2,000 in his IRA at an average growth rate of 10% (7% interest plus growth). After seven years this fellow makes NO MORE contributions -- he's finished.

A second investor (A) makes no contributions until age 26 (this is the age when investor B was finished with his contributions). Then A continues faithfully to contribute $2,000 every year until he's 65 (at the same theoretical 10% rate).

Now study the incredible results. B, who made his contributions earlier and who made only seven contributions, ends up with MORE money than A, who made 40 contributions but at a LATER TIME. The difference in the two is that B had seven more early years of compounding than A. Those seven early years were worth more than all of A's 33 additional contributions.

This is a study that I suggest you show to your kids. It's a study I've lived by, and I can tell you, 'It works.' You can work your compounding with muni-bonds, with a good money market fund, with T-bills or say with five-year T-notes."

From Rich Man, Poor Man, by Richard Russell

Looks a lot better than the pension system.



"It may be time for some countries to stop pegging their currencies to the dollar, which is likely to remain weak and volatile for years to come, an internationally renowned currency strategist said in Bahrain yesterday."

Time to move into other currencies?




"George Bush, Dick Cheney, Ann Coulter, John Ashcroft, Katherine Harris, and Tom DeLay are stuck on a desert island and you control their fate!! Watch the trailer! Get your pass! Tell your friends!

The series will begin on June 3."

Can neocons swim, or are oceans too liberal?

w/thanks to the ever-alert Ron Andrews



But in usual corseted fashion he implies* that the purpose will be to get Bush out of office, which is as ridiculous as covering the breasts on a brass statue, when for Bin Laden, Bush is THE MAN!

*"The Madrid railway bombings were perceived by Osama bin Laden and Al Qaida to have advanced their cause. Al Qaida may perceive that a large-scale attack in the United States this summer or fall would lead to similar consequences."

Click here for Amnesty's more accurate assessment of the "war on terror."


Wednesday, May 26, 2004


On my way home tonight I passed a brightly lit roadside establishment with one of those LED signs out by the road that fancy-flashed in bright red: "HAIR DINING." Unsurprised (they have everything in Japan) and untempted (just ate) I passed on by, wondering what such a repast would look like. Or taste like. I noticed no line of folks waiting to get in. How much would it cost? Would I be eating my own hair or someone else's? Animal hair? Long or short? Dyed? Imported or domestically raised? Free range? Erotic or plain? With vegetables? Cut right at the table? Dining out in Japan is a lot more diverse and surreal than it used to be. I can draw you a map if you want.

Speaking of hair, you are what you eat...



Early this morning as I had my tea I was staring out the window at the Lake, where the holes in the overcast sky shone shape-shifting splotches of sunshine, swelling, shrinking, blending as they slid across the cloud-silvered water; then, as the mind will do in the morning, it stood to one side and had me see the light as shining from beneath the Lake, now a vast slab of thin gray agate lit from below by torches in the hands of vast beings moving slowly beneath, toward the same place the clouds were going. I guess that's how myths, even now, take form.



Personally, I prefer the Golden Mean; a little fat does wonders in Winter. Good healthist info here, though...

Tuesday, May 25, 2004


We're all more or less aware of the parade of James Dean look-alikes that Hollywood has trotted out over the years since James Dean finally gave us all a precise idea of what a James Dean look-alike should look like. But how many of us are aware of the privilege we enjoy in this regard?

It wasn't always this way. People in 1912, to pinpoint just one example, hadn't the slightest idea what a James Dean look-alike should look like, since James Dean hadn't been born yet, so there was no one to resemble, a palpable deficiency that stretched from the mid-1950s all the way back to the beginning of the human race!

But even though nobody knows for sure who was the very first guy to look like James Dean, it's certain there were quite a number of pre-James Dean James Dean look-alikes, before the person we now know and accept as exemplifying authentic James Deanicity came along and established once and for all what all subsequent James Dean look-alikes would have to look like.

As for the Deanless millennia, although via the movies we can't look very far back, historical detective work has led James Dean look-alike experts to conclude that the earliest verifiable example of a pre-James Dean James Dean look-alike lived in northern Russia early in the seventh century A.D., but of course that individual was quite a bit ahead of his time, as were the many previous, and subsequent, pre-James Dean James Dean look-alikes all the way through history, until James Dean came along and at last gave them all somebody to look like. Even so, people reportedly used to stop this Russian on the street and say: "Excuse me; aren't you..." but then they'd fall silent, of course, not yet knowing who the guy looked amazingly like.

Other aspects of this phenomenon can be seen in our own day, for example in the number of infants who look exactly like James Dean looked as an infant. But people who impulsively stop the mothers of such infants on the street can only say that the infant is certainly going to... look like somebody someday; because actually there is no such thing as an infant James Dean look-alike, since according to James Dean look-alike regulations, an infant who resembles James Dean as an infant cannot be a genuine James Dean look-alike, even if the infant happened to be James Dean himself! Because as we are all now privileged to know, a genuine James Dean look-alike can only look like what James Dean himself looked like when he looked exactly like what everybody knows James Dean looked like.

Incidentally, it is also of interest to note that the James Dean we know is the only person who ever looked exactly like James Dean who wasn't a James Dean look-alike, and didn't have to put up with people stopping him on the street and telling him who he looked amazingly like, because there was no difference whatsoever between himself and James Dean!

Another little surprise in all this is that, according to the now fully established and globally recognized James Dean Parameters, for most of his life-- through infancy, childhood and adolescence-- James Dean himself didn't look like James Dean. And because James Dean departed this earthly plane so soon after setting the Parameters, no one knows what a middle-aged or elderly James Dean look-alike looks like, which means that at this very moment there are any number of guys out there who in fact look amazingly like what all the 45- to 85-year-old James Deans would have looked like, but nobody has the slightest idea who these guys look like!

For the many millions of James Dean look-alike fans, this is an extremely unsettling thought.


"The Bush administration is giving Americans new reason to watch what they eat - and it's got nothing to do with carbs. Over the course of 10 days in mid-April, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued three 'guidances' and one directive - all legally binding interpretations of law - that threaten to seriously dilute the meaning of the word 'organic' and discredit the department's National Organic Program."



"As Bush 'Pioneers' who had raised at least $100,000 each for the president's reelection campaign, or 'Rangers' who had raised $200,000 each, the men and women who shot skeet with Cheney, played golf with pros Ben Crenshaw and Fuzzy Zoeller and laughed at the jokes of comedian Dennis Miller are the heart of the most successful political money operation in the nation's history.


For achieving their fundraising goals, Pioneers receive a relatively modest token, the right to buy a set of silver cuff links with an engraved Lone Star of Texas (Rangers can buy a more expensive belt buckle set). Their real reward is entree to the White House and the upper levels of the administration.


Asked whether the president gives any special preference to campaign contributors in making decisions about policy, appointments or other matters, White House spokesman Trent Duffy said, 'Absolutely not.' The president, Duffy said, 'bases his policy decisions on what's best for the American people.'"

For more on Bush and the job-cutting fatcats:

Monday, May 24, 2004


The other night just around Kaya's bedtime, as she was asking to go out into the night with the flashlights and look for frogs and bugs and salamanders, she was pointing out the big front window to where it was all happening and there on the outside of the pane right where she was pointing was a frog on the hunt for the bugs that were attracted to the light from inside the we got out the flashlight and went close to look at the underside of a frog and the frog paid no attention to us vague shapes beneath him like vague depths in the earth, but went about his business as a flexible piece of jade, a soft gem moving about the big smooth window in pursuit of all the delicacies that one by one came to light. His pink tongue, his long-fingered feet with the round gems at the ends; his turning here and there, like all his actions, were magic things to Kaya's brand-new eyes. To mine as well, slightly used...


Sunday, May 23, 2004


In hauntingly beautiful pictures.


grand view of the lake
from the window
with the frog on it


Saturday, May 22, 2004


It just so happened that in an eco-post a couple of weeks ago I said: "It's like listening to the Son Of Bush talk about 'compassion.'"

Yesterday in my browsing I came across this sentence: "When George W. Bush mouths the word "compassion" chills dart up my spine."

From Personal Voices: Is Bush the Anti-Buddha?

By Allan Hunt Badiner

Violations of the sacred cannot be concealed.



I did a post on May.19 about Rick Perlstein's article on Bush and the end-time Apocalyptics, and yesterday received this letter from Rick to my blog email (exactly as received except for quotation mark adjustments):

"Friend, forgive me for taking advantage of a one-time rift in the time-space continuum--my happening upon a story, about the George Bush's romance with apocalyptic Christians, linked by every blog in the world--to do some self promotion.

My book on the rise of the conservative movement, BEFORE THE STORM: BARRY GOLWATER AND THE UNMAKING OF THE AMERICAN CONSENSUS, has been very well received.

The reviewer in The Nation wrote: 'I've read Before the Storm twice and intend to go on reading it, as my opiate, as long as Bush is in the White House.... Before the Storm is the story of such a fascinating era and Perlstein is such a great storyteller--one of the most enjoyable historians I've read--that I guarantee for a while you will simply forget the dreariness of today's politics.'

In the Village Voice: 'Daring, virtuosic writing, and encyclopedic mastery make the book's title and its Goldwater focus inadequate to all Perlstein accomplishes. This is an exciting volume, an outstanding debut. It goes beyond conservatism. It ups the ante on what popular history can, and should, do.'

OK. Enough. I'm blushing. If you liked 'The Jesus Landing Pad: Bush White House checked with rapture Christians before latest Israel move,' you'll, um, love BEFORE THE STORM.

Warm personal regards,
Rick Perlstein"

Wonder if he read the daring, virtuosic writing, and encyclopedic mastery that is my blog.



Out early this morning uncovering the firewood after days of rain, made an interesting and tasty discovery. One of the older stacks of wood had been extra well covered for some days because the rain-auguring winds had blown the folded tarp down over the front and back of the cord face, creating a dark, moist semitropical environment in there. So when I threw back one end of the tarp, the several slabs of oak at that end were covered in shimmering amber clouds of tiny red ants, scurrying to hide their even tinier white eggs from this sudden apocalypse. In just those few days they had built a complex, many-layered, fully functioning but impromptu nest! An hour later there was no sign of them. Nor were they or their eggs the tasty treat I mentioned at the beginning of this immediate tangent. Ten million ants cause tangents.

When I uncovered the other end of the cord, there on the top was a small cherry wood log with the bark off, cut maybe two years ago, damp with rain and festooned on both ends with beautiful amber garlands of wild kikurage (wood ear) (Western translations are often so unappetizing). Kikurage is a fungus that when sliced and cooked with just about anything (great in stir fries and soups) imparts a crunchy texture and mild flavor that goes well with all. They're also renowned for their health-giving properties.

They can be dried as well, becoming much less in volume, that is restored upon soaking. I used to get a lot of kikurage from an old apple tree root that was in our garden when we first moved in; kikurage likes dark damp in Spring to grow in, as pertained briefly for just one piece of all my firewood. But that's all it takes.


This is a great site.

Friday, May 21, 2004


There are discrepancies here and there, and probability makes a good poker game, but...

Thursday, May 20, 2004


Interesting learning analysis of Japanese vs. Western languages; makes patent the difficulty of the twain ever really meeting in a broadly comprehensive way. To say nothing of kana and kanji.


Interesting recipes using flour of konnyaku (low calorie, high fiber) to make breads, muffins and pancakes.

From Calorie Restriction


G is for a glitch of gigabytes. Oops. 1000 megs will have to do.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004


"Kim Johnson doesn't call it converting Jews to Christianity. She calls it 'Circumcision of the Heart'-- spiritual circumcision Jews must undergo because, she writes in paraphrase of Jeremiah, chapter 9, 'God will destroy all the uncircumcised nations along with the House of Israel, because the House of Israel is uncircumcised in the heart . . . [I]t is through the Gospel . . . that men's hearts are circumcised.'

Apostolics believe that only 144,000 Jews who have not, prior to the Second Coming of Christ, acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah will be saved in the end times."

From The Jesus Landing Pad
by Rick Perlstein


This morning while I was removing the last of the radishes to make room for the sprouting beans (initially hidden by the radish leaves from the depredations of Dr. Crow, who loves to stroll down the rows and bite off the fresh bean sprouts, snip, snip, snip...), I heard a harrumphy ruckus from up above, looked up, and there on the telephone wire only a couple of meters away as the crow flies sat Dr. Crow, pretending to look every elsewhere while carefully eyeing the delicate procedure by which I was so considerately readying his bean sprout lunch.

Happening to have a handful of radishes with the leaves still on, the bunch by coincidence being approximately the size of a very fat crow's neck, I held it up and said, "Yo, Crow: you see this? This is your neck if you come near these bean sprouts, kapish?" And with that I twisted the leaves slowly but firmly until with a richly ripping crunch they came off in my hand and I held up the bright red crow's head separated from its body for him to see, but it was too much for his delicate sensibilities. With a strangled squawk as though from too tight a collar he was gone, the wire bouncing with the haste of his departure. In gardening, threats are sometimes better than compost.


"You are currently using 324 mb (0%) of your 1000000 MB."

Gmail raises the ante to 1 terabyte (1000000 megs) of mail space! I couldn't fill that up if I emailed everyone in the world and they replied.


That when Bush and Cheney testified before the 9/11 commission, they refused to do so under oath?


Yesterday when Kaya and I were on one of our many excursions around here we were having a little picnic break, and as Kaya was drinking from the tea bottle I told a joke. Kaya laughed, then the sound of her laugh inside the bottle made her laugh even more into the bottle so as to generate more laughter both in there and out, until I had to tell her not to laugh into the bottle because she'd fill the bottle with laughter, then when I took a drink I'd start laughing too, and sure enough she couldn't stop laughing into the bottle, and sure enough when I took a drink I couldn't stop laughing into the bottle either. We rolled around there laughing inside and out, we should send this bottle around the world.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004


They will come to understand it was not what they were told it was through widespread financial ruin. The majority of this nation will see generations of "wealth" disappear in a matter of days if not hours. I fully expect this to occur in within the next 18 months. The probability of this event horizon increases daily and it could very well happen much sooner, perhaps as soon as this June/July."

From Exceeding Through Excess

by John Mackenzie

In that same vein...


"Doctors subjected them to a series of examinations and found they were both apparently fertile, and should have had no trouble conceiving.

A clinic spokesman said: 'When we asked them how often they had had sex, they looked blank, and said: 'What do you mean?'".


It's only a trace of sarin, but it's something; WMD discoveries have been in extremely great demand everywhere in Iraq since things started to go wrong there, around the time the Florida vote got twisted in favor of the Son Of Bush, who thus far has himself been the biggest WMD in Iraq. Look for larger amounts of WMDs to show up as we near the November election, though the Son Of Bush needn't worry too much, since his election hinges to a great extent on the actions of Bin Laden, who clearly prefers an utterly predictable knee-jerk in office.

Monday, May 17, 2004


On Saturday we all (me, Echo, Kasumi, Kaya, Mitsuki and Miasa) assiduously courted complete exhaustion by driving in to northeastern Kyoto to go to the great flea market that's held at Chionji on the 15th of every month. (Chionji belongs to the Pure Land sect.)

Fortunately the day was overcast, so we didn't have a scorching sun in which to carry around tiny twins and all their essential equipment, apparatuses, impedimenta, equipage and whatnot. We hired no bearers, preferring to transport our own expedition.

But what a change is there! When last I went to that then-fledgling market back in the early 90s, there were a couple dozen sellers of used clothing and books, a couple of diehard antique dealers tucked away here and there, with very few buyers, mostly neighborhood people visiting the temple or straggling through the big temple yard on their shopping errands. Few folks were interested in those days, when the Japanese still did not want to buy used things-- too remeniscent of the war and the squalid poverty of its aftermath. Twenty years ago, the stuff left out on the street for the trash man was an antique treasure trove for the poor foreigner, to whom used meant: free.

Now though, the new and warless generation coming up the economic ladder is interested in everything, especially things of the past. So it was that with a featherweight twin in each arm I could hardly move along the narrow aisles filled with buyers for the vast variety of arts, crafts, antiques, foods, health and non-health foods, massage, hair styling, thatched roofing, old kimonos, you name it, much of it being sold by friends of ours (we used to sell at Kyoto flea markets ourselves back in the old days, so know many of the market folks).

Needless to say we spent most of our time up on the broad cool veranda of the temple taking turns with the twins as we made individual forays out into the mobbed aisles to look at all the great stuff. I found a stand selling beautiful pottery made by a few fellows from Katsura; I bought half a dozen small plates and bowls, but was soon back on the thick-boarded, iron-bound veranda with Kaya and the twins, as the chanting went on inside and the incense holiness wafted out over us. The twins, those little Buddhas, had a great time crawling in and out the big doors and among the worshippers.

When those inside the temple began chanting the nembutsu while passing around the very big wooden juzu (prayer beads), Kaya HAD to take part, so Echo joined her as part of the crowd-in-the-round that chanted as they passed along the great and auspicious beads, touching their foreheads to the grace-laden big bead whenever it came round.

After everyone had had their fill of socializing, shopping and blessedness, we headed back home with all our treasures in cars full of sleepiness.

Saturday, May 15, 2004


One of the very fine things about having grandkids is that they take you back in time to the great moments in your own childhood and you live them all over again through new eyes, all the great adventures, as when Kaya and I late last night (for her), at just about her bed time, instead of her going to bed we got out the flashlights and went for the first time (for her) out into the big dark to look for frogs and bugs and whatever we could find that lives in the night, and see what goes on there while Kaya is usually sleeping.

How she jumped and squealed at the prospect, and bounced out the door with all the excitement that bides in a child (I recalled that kind of excitement, it was still my own) as we entered the night with our little lights to find what we could at the end of the shine: miracles we saw, like the salamander sitting there under the paddy water for so-o-o-o long not breathing, not moving, until Kaya shone her brighter light on him and he backed away... Kaya remarked loudly on the amazing fact of that, then lit up a big flashlight-bright green frog swimming far off through the clear brown-bottomed water out to a good spot to begin singing loudly for all his friends, who were already singing loudly in fine voices from everywhere in the night.

Another frog came swimming right to the bank where we squatted, and sat there staring up into our lights with his golden eyes; then when we turned off our lights and were in as dark as it could get there was Venus up there like a star X 100, just above the lip of the mountain we were on, and the night and its dark were no longer fearful things, when we got home they fit just right around Kaya's dreams.

Friday, May 14, 2004


I've coughed up my pension payment every month for nearly 25 years, and I'm still paying. Guess it pays more to be a politician.


"In my mind, when the politicians finally start to understand what is happening they will discover that the failure to ratify the Kyoto Protocols was one of the most heinously irresponsible omissions in the history of Mankind. Ratification of these protocols would have given rise to a raft of technologies which would have fast tracked the reduction of our dependence on oil as the primary source of energy."

Inflection Point?
by Brian Bloom


Bet they're tasty, though.


"Brad Pitt is the exquisitely contoured Achilles, a highly-strung thoroughbred of a warrior who resents answering to the conceited Greek King Agamemnon, played by Brian Cox, part of the raft of Brit character actors who, according to ancient Hollywood law, play venerable small parts...

In the Trojan camp, Orlando Bloom is Paris, handsome son of King Priam. While on a diplomatic mission with his brother Hector (Eric Bana) to the Spartan King Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson), Paris falls in love with Menelaus's queen Helen (Diane Kruger) and spirits her away back to Troy as a stowaway, to the horror of Hector who knows that it can mean only one thing: war, and plenty of it. The thousand ships are launched to reclaim Helen and the honour of the Greeks, and the bloody slaughter begins with Achilles sulking in and out of his tent...

It's a good thing Homer didn't live to not see this.

Thursday, May 13, 2004


Wednesday, May 12, 2004


Go to and enter "weapons of mass destruction" in the search box. Click "I'm feeling lucky" and look at what comes up. Follow the links, too. At least you'll get somewhere.


To my knowledge this is the first recorded mention of the apocalypse of dental background music, the psychic threat that such music can present to the dentally supine. Forget about elevators, laundromats, banks. This was apocalyptic not because it was background music, nor because it was in a dentist's office, nor yet a country dentist's office, nor yet in Japan, it was because the background music consisted of only one song, repeated over and over and over, and because that song was My Heart Will Go On, and because not only was the version played not sung by Celine Dion, which would have been apocalyptic enough, but because this version was performed on the panpipe, unceasingly, not stopping even long enough to allow one to confirm one's place in the scheme of things, panpipe whispery and throaty as lips are stretched and needles jab, panpipe piercing and shrill as masked faces loom, gloved thumbs are shoved in gums, drills whine My Heart Will Go On, shrill, shrill, as the anesthetic takes hold near, far, wherever you are, there are no words when the panpipe plays, but you know the words don't you, whether you know it or not, over and over, and unceasing pipes without words, like the drills, shrill on and on, like My Heart, like the minutes seconds hours must be days in the chair as things go numb all things except My Heart, which Will Go On, it's no wonder the Titanic went down, My Heart Will Go On but my teeth won't

Tuesday, May 11, 2004


Japan's pension system is a growing shambles anyway, like the US system is about to be with the onslaught of retiree boomers, but Kan shouldn't have to resign, just pay his fees! Japan is now going to edge further into uncertainty without an organized and well led opposition party... America could use one of those too...

Monday, May 10, 2004


Those of you who have been following these humble chronicles even only vaguely may recall my continued puzzlement at the fact that although my twin granddaughters Mitsuki and Miasa had appeared to share only one placenta, the two little beasties looked very different, Mitsuki being rounder of face, heavier and quieter, Miasa being narrower and longer of face, lighter and more energetic, with differently patterned and slightly protruding ears. Everyone, including the midwife, deemed them fraternal twins.

You could therefore have knocked me over with a pacifier yesterday after mama Kasumi came over and walked into the house with Kaya the proud older daughter and the new Miasa herself (while Mitsuki slept on in the car) and I was not surprised to see that Kaya had grown quite a bit, or that Miasa looked very much like Miasa, when after Kaya and I went for a radish-picking and general examination-of-the-countryside-in-the-rain walk, we returned and I saw that Kasumi was still holding Miasa, who was now dressed differently yet was also crawling around on the floor in the same clothes as before, looking exactly like she had looked moments ago, for she actually was Miasa, whom Kasumi appeared to be holding, though that was revealed to be Mitsuki, who had become identical to her sister, who also had become identical to her sister.

It turns out that she is identical, after all, whichever she is. Both of her. Which, apart from the fact that I now can't tell her apart, is a great relief to me, twin puzzlementwise. Not to mention that both of her are cute as either one, crawling around on the floor exactly like whichever she isn't. It is quite a common thing in life, after all, for one puzzle to lead to another, it keeps us on our toes, whichever we are, and I'm sure this pronoun problem will pass.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

look at these rubies
fresh from the earth
handful of radishes

Friday, May 07, 2004


It would be a belly laugh if it weren't so politically pathetic, hearing Japan's Environment Ministry tossing about ecobuzz phrases as though they were public works contracts, phrases like "unspoiled natural beauty," "preserve the environment," "minimalist approach," "contribute to conservation and environmental education," getting all gushy about the environment even as local construction companies under said public works contracts dam the rivers, pave the mountain streams and reorganize the mountainsides, as power and phone companies string their new thick yellow and black bumblebee cables through the skies of "protected" national forests. It's like listening to the Son Of Bush talk about "compassion."

Maybe those imaginary ecotourists can tour the huge industrial gasification incinerator the very same government is manipulatively planning to build in a national forest preserve (actual location shown in photo)
right above Lake Biwa, water and air source for the 20 million people of the Kansai area (mostly oblivious regarding this), and I guess those tours won't go near the dozens of oceanside nuclear power plants and the nuclear reprocessing plant and the world's only plutonium-powered plant and likely more coming, so there won't be that much of Japan left to eco-tour. And since many of those radioactive facilities are on earthquake faults, if one of them goes there won't be eco- or any other kind of tourism in Japan for a half-life of maybe 25,000 years. But who really cares, the Environment Ministry? Maybe they'll all just tour the Big Incinerator Parking Lot of Tomorrow, with excellent mobile phone reception if you don't breathe too much.

Story in all seriousness here.

(Also note greatly detailed comments hereto, from butuki, with thanks.)

Thursday, May 06, 2004


"What is involved here is nothing short of an imminent peaking out of production of crude oil on a global basis -- known by energy industry insiders as 'Hubbert's Peak' -- which would turn a cyclical supply/demand crisis into a structural energy crisis of unprecedented proportions."

From: The looming oil crisis will dwarf 1973

"The first in a series of articles dealing with this pending crisis and its potential impact on our economy and financial markets" --- By Paul Erdman


Yesterday afternoon on the last day of Golden week we headed across the Lake to Moriyama, on a quest to locate another renowned local festival that I vaguely understood to be of great antiquity, involving sushi of some length. You know how it is when you're on the move between traditions. I misunderstood only slightly.

Having started early so we wouldn't be too late, our mapless path only partly resembled chaos as depicted by a two-year-old left alone for an hour in a large white room with a big black crayon. We knew we were at last in the vicinity when we saw a number of young Japanese men clustered by the roadside, some with waist-length bright red hair, others in colorful knee-length skirts. More like sarongs, actually, fashioned of kimono-type fabric, but the sight was nonetheless startling. For a shy populace, the Japanese have a quite number of double-take traditions.

Yes, the young men assured us, this was Shimoniikawa Shrine and this was the Sushikiri Matsuri (Sushi-Cutting Festival). The Sushikiri involves one of Japan's oldest surviving dishes, practically a world cultural asset: funazushi, a foot-long, carefully and lengthily pickled fish that nowadays in its highest gourmet form can cost up to 600 dollars per fish. Thought by many to be the original sushi, funazushi is the result of fermenting the female Nigoro Buna (crucian carp) for 4 years in salt, rice and select bacteria till it takes on the qualities of blue cheese. Renowned for its pungency, these days funazushi is only found around Lake Biwa, where the traditions are still as strong as the pickles.

In the Sushikiri ceremony in front of the shrine steps, two select young men, with slow, elaborate ritual, each slice up 10 funazushi, remaining unruffled as their elders shout humorous advice at them from their seats on the steps. The result of all this sacred slicing is then fed to the gods, and the village is set for another year of prosperity. And the ritual certainly seems to work; they've been doing it for over a thousand years.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004


"There's a lot of people in the world who don't believe that people whose skin color may not be the same as ours can be free and self-govern. I reject that. I reject that strongly. I believe that people who practice the Muslim faith can self-govern. I believe that people whose skins aren't necessarily -- are a different color than white can self-govern."

The leader of the world's only remaining superpower has given the skin-color (we're white)/democracy linkage thing some thought, but it hasn't helped. Maybe America could do better in November.


It wasn't all that far into the future; a couple of light years, a couple of dark years maybe, from where Earth is now in its flight through space. On the implant screens you could see ads for the bones and muscles of galactic celebrities, the hair, eyes, noses, cheekbones, teeth, chins etc. of top mentavision stars now discontinued who had sold their bodies prehumously for vast sums, the precious corpses now reduced to their marketable components and cloned by the great body merchants for sale to those wealthy enough to want the precise nose or other organ that had been so famous and still was, thanks to the ads that showed those renowned body parts in settings like the most precious jewels: famous eyes on silk, famous chins on velvet, famous teeth in jaws of solid gold---and in those days, nearly everyone was rich enough to have at least a piece of some celebrity, for there weren't that many nonclones left, and all wanted to be famous, at least in part; for the wealthiest, though, it was possible, even rather common, to be a total pastiche of fame; to be, as some of the merely upper class so snidely put it, completely who you were not, as so many were.

I wrote that sci-fi flash nearly 20 years ago, never thought I'd actually live to see it begin:

"He and Ms Jackson picked different aspects of famous faces to mould him into Ken, settling on Tom Cruise's eyes, Brad Pitt's nose, George Clooney's lips, Russell Crowe's chin, Johnny Depp's cheekbones and Jude Law's teeth."


"A male Jennifer Lopez fan has been transformed into his idol on MTV's I Want A Famous Face."

From a news item on

Tuesday, May 04, 2004


We were planning on going to the annual open-air beach flea market at Omimaiko, where all sorts of countryside treasures are to be found (there's also a big antique market ongoing at Hieizan-Sakamoto May 2~5), which latter town and temple amazingly STILL have no decent website or netphotos to show even a fraction of their beauty!!

We wanted to go to both events, but yesterday was too busy, then the rain set in during the night and now has its long wet legs planted firmly on the earth and taking very small strides, doesn't look like it's about to move on anytime soon, busy sending up big ragged gouts of clouds from the streamvales.

As for where we are right now, though, the beans are happy, as are the radishes, lettuce, ginger and mushrooms; the plum, cherry and peach are bouncing in glee, the ducks in the paddies are quacking in joyous syncopation with the froggy chorus and the monkeys are miserable, so I'm really happy.


"The Signature CollectionPlatinumWith its deep cool lustre and distinctive weight, platinum exudes substance and style. Rarity and beauty matched by strength; there is simply no substitute for the ultimate in precious metals. Featuring solid platinum parts and a highly polished finish this product has a strong, distinguished look. The phone is hallmarked by the Swiss Assay office."

These are said to be all the rage in nouveau Asia. Reminds me of the swank that flashed in the US up until about 1928.

From the Vertu Signature Collection

Monday, May 03, 2004


I first heard of Kenny Richey, the Scots-born former marine now on death row in America, because his father served in my my unit in Okinawa back at the beginning of the Vietnam war. The judicial historyof this case has grown steadily in notoriety. To quote from Scotland on Sunday: "Susan Sarandon and Robbie Coltrane have recently joined the Archbishop of Westminster, representatives from the British legal profession, Members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and Members of the European Parliament in writing to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeal in Cincinnati on behalf of Briton Kenny Richey, who has spent over 16 years on Death Row in Ohio despite having 'one of the most compelling cases of innocence human rights campaigners have ever seen.'" The case is an atrocity.

For more headline detail, search "Kenny Richey" at Scotland on Sunday.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

ok warbler
since you sing like that
you can have my garden

Saturday, May 01, 2004



As the Bush Family war in Iraq crawls through exploding Fallujah alleyways toward its successful conclusion a year and counting since the loquacious one turned a carrier around to declare the war ended in Baghdad streets strewn with rose petals upon which Iraqis are still dancing in the embrace of democracy at the hands of their purely altruistic liberators, we take pause to note that many in big money are disappointed that a few small unsavory and quite irrelevant truths have been revealed, such as the mistreating of Iraqi prisoners by systematically desensitized US military personnel (surprise!!), and the fact that US personnel who have been killed in action can not only be blatantly enumerated on television-- which is bad enough-- they also have names that can be treacherously enunciated and even photographs that can be unpatriotically shown (surprise!!) (get 'em off the air, Sinclair!!), in patent disregard of all the fundamental truths the Bush family is gunning for in Iraq, such as that, well, Dubya really cares about people, especially the Iraqians, just like his father did (pay no attention to those numbers and names, those flag-draped coffins, those naked Iraqi prisoners etc.); also there are an awful lot of gas-hungry SUVs in the US, then there's patriotism under God and the second amendment-- Hell, can't we just buy our way out of this? We're trying, but there' s nowhere to send the money yet; would you believe it, there are fanatics out there who are convinced that some things are more important?

Like the upcoming US presidential election.

With thanks to Ron Andrews.