Sunday, October 31, 2004


This afternoon, while taking a break from my daily gymnastics of painting under the back eaves of the house, where for some sections I have to be eight feet tall and other sections two feet tall, I took the time to enjoy my natural height by gussying up the happenstance hedge that borders the road (some of the plants (kinmokusei, azalea, tsubaki) were put there by the land's previous owner, some I added (blueberry, biwa, natsume) where something was needed, some are opportunistic (sansho, nanten)), and found that since my last check a horde of vines had infiltrated from the wild and were climbing up the sunny slopes of my hedge, casting its sun-hungry leaves in shadow!

I immediately took appropriate gardener's umbrage and began pulling the usurpers down, clipping them here and there to do so, and in the midst of the broad tangle discovered a very nice growth of young akebi vine (superior for alternative medicaments, baskets, natural rope and other crafty items), so began to take more care with what I was doing, clipping every couple of meters, and as I went along I began to resemble a fluffy pile of bright leaves with a head sticking out, so I discarded the nefarious vines (my call, admittedly based largely on what I do NOT know) and separated out the 3-meter lengths of akebi.

Rather than just leave them piled somewhere where I'd forget them, or coil them up and maybe spoil their utility by 'setting' the curve, I draped the akebi vines over my shoulders (so I could later hang them at full length under the eaves) and continued with my task, adding more and more akebi as I cleared up the hedge.

Thus it happened that I trailed a long train of imperially verdant robes when, as Monarch of the Immediate Vicinity, I concluded my visit and regally ascended the stone stairway into the royal garden, through which I passed in stately procession to a breezy fanfare and a largesse of leaves, with oak and cherry, peach and chestnut in careful attendance; thence I retired to tea in the palace, after carefully hanging my long emerald robes under the eaves, freshly painted not moments ago by the king himself.

Saturday, October 30, 2004


On mornings when I have to go into the city to the office, my still abed mind would rather stay there and zone, but on mornings when I'll be at home my mind is the first thing up, wants to start me up too, get me afoot, set me in motion, primes the pump with how-to thoughts about that storm-broken oak limb that has to be cut down and either made into shiitake logs or firewood, the eaves that have to be painted, the spinach and turnips planted, downed wood salvaged, kindling made, compost spread, chimney cleaned, rocks walled, sunshine walked in, chestnuts gathered, roof inspected, wildings harvested, sunny lake water gazed at etc. When at home, mind, body and spirit are at one, naturally interwoven, physical and exultant, eager as a flower; but gloomy as a zoo animal at the prospect of being in an office all the liveday long...


"The tactics of conservatism vary widely by place and time. But the most central feature of conservatism is deference: a psychologically internalized attitude on the part of the common people that the aristocracy are better people than they are. Modern-day liberals often theorize that conservatives use "social issues" as a way to mask economic objectives, but this is almost backward: the true goal of conservatism is to establish an aristocracy, which is a social and psychological condition of inequality. Economic inequality and regressive taxation, while certainly welcomed by the aristocracy, are best understood as a means to their actual goal, which is simply to be aristocrats. More generally, it is crucial to conservatism that the people must literally love the order that dominates them. Of course this notion sounds bizarre to modern ears, but it is perfectly overt in the writings of leading conservative theorists such as Burke. Democracy, for them, is not about the mechanisms of voting and office-holding. In fact conservatives hold a wide variety of opinions about such secondary formal matters. For conservatives, rather, democracy is a psychological condition. People who believe that the aristocracy rightfully dominates society because of its intrinsic superiority are conservatives; democrats, by contrast, believe that they are of equal social worth. Conservatism is the antithesis of democracy. This has been true for thousands of years.

Conservatism has used a wide variety of methods to destroy reason throughout history. Fortunately, many of these methods, such as the suppression of popular literacy, are incompatible with a modern economy. Once the common people started becoming educated, more sophisticated methods of domination were required. Thus the invention of public relations, which is a kind of rationalized irrationality. The great innovation of conservatism in recent decades has been the systematic reinvention of politics using the technology of public relations."

From: What Is Conservatism and What Is Wrong with It?
By: Philip E. Agre

via y2karl at metafilter

[Emphasis mine.]


Presumably Bush still isn't that concerned; he's busy "fighting terror" in Iraq, says Americans won't be "influenced" by Bin Laden's message, will re-"elect" obvious failure.


"Even if you are not a US citizen, the November 2 presidential election will have a huge impact on your life. The very idea of democracy requires that you should have a say in choosing who determines your destiny. This site therefore allows non-Americans to vote in the 2004 US presidential election.

GLOBALVOTE2004.ORG is totally neutral. You may vote for any candidate. Your vote will be kept secret. And you may only vote once.We will count the votes 48 hours before the election and submit the result to the US media. Just letting US citizens know how the world has voted could influence what looks like a tight race."

Friday, October 29, 2004


"As we never tire of repeating, America's 30 million organic consumers need to vote with our pocketbooks, as well as our political voices, today and every day. As a non-profit organization, we face harassment from the Feds if we tell you who to vote for, but it's obvious in many races that there are two types of candidates: those whose absolute bottom line is money and global Empire, versus those who put the public interest, health, biodiversity, and the global commonwealth ahead of Mammon. We stand at an important crossroads. The choices that we make next week, and in the post-election period, are crucial.
  • Learn about voting rights in your state and find your local polling location here.
From the Organic Consumers Association

Subscribe to Organic Bytes, it's free.


Two years before 9/11, Dubya was already itching to invade Iraq. "Herskowitz said that Bush expressed frustration at a lifetime as an underachiever in the shadow of an accomplished father. In aggressive military action, he saw the opportunity to emerge from his father’s shadow. The moment, Herskowitz said, came in the wake of the September 11 attacks. “Suddenly, he’s at 91 percent in the polls, and he’d barely crawled out of the bunker.” Russ Baker, at GNN

"Access Denied

You don't have permission to access "" on this server."

Nope. Americans can't sample George's wisdom from Japan. GOParanoia?

[Outer quotes mine]

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


Just watching on tv a 'small' real-life drama amidst the earthquake and ongoing tremors in Niigata, searchers having found a mother and her two small children listed as missing for five days, the husband-father beginning at last to accept the fact of their death and then they were found-- alive, trapped in their car beneath what looks alike a whole mountainside of car-sized boulders that wiped out the road they were riding on, trapped them there upside down in the crushing dark for five days, unimaginable anguish for them, and for the father, what they and he must have been feeling day and night, the mother shouting out there in the middle of nowhere for five days, unheard and unreachable as road impassable, finally was heard by searchers, and rescuers began the extremely delicate process of making an opening and extracting the three from the teetering slope of boulders with another tremor possible any second; drama can never equal that of real life; they are all safe now, and the husband is stunned by his good fortune, numb with the fact of his blessing... may blessings be on all suffering there...

[Update: apparently only the 2-year-old boy and the mother have been rescued thus far; the 3-year-old girl may still be in the mud-filled car and can't be gotten out, or she may not be in the car at all anymore, they can't tell; rescuers must leave for the night, the danger being greatly heightened by the falling darkness...]


W/ thanks to T. Fitzsimmons et al.


Closer bilious inspection of the tickets disclosed that the clerk had sold me passage not from Osaka to Kyoto, as I had clearly requested, but from Osaka to Tokyo. And not plain and frumpy tickets for the usual clickety-clackety semilocal train, but sleek and streamlined tickets for the mighty Shinkansen. I had remarked at the time, from the depths of zomboidity, that the tickets "looked different"; the clerk had responded, looking puzzled, that, yes, they had "changed the design." Note that I had discerned his puzzlement, yet it meant nothing to me at the time. This is a sign of severe zombosis, especially when buying bulk tickets in Japan. No wonder they looked different at my desk after a bite of croissant and a sip of fine tea with my glasses on.

Fortunately I hadn't purchased shares in Tokyo itself, though this was little consolation to me at the time, since in picturing returning these very expensive tickets to an organization as vast and inert as JR I was anticipating something like talking to Jabba the Hutt: "Oh. You purchased these tickets using a credit card? And you expect to simply RETURN THEM? I'm sorry sir, but to do that you'll have to go to our office in Tierra del Fuego." Or: "These are Osaka-TOKYO tickets! I'm sorry, but you'll have to get them cancelled in BOTH THOSE CITIES within 24 hours!" Or: "These are SHINKANSEN tickets, and you bought them on a TUESDAY! But perhaps more seriously, sir, your name begins with B!" And so on as, not to work, but back out into the rain I went...

At the counter the man who had sold me Tokyo was no longer in evidence; no doubt he had been instantly promoted. The clerk who was there, upon hearing my explanation, said something like: "You wanted Osaka-Kyoto tickets---and you bought Osaka-Tokyo tickets?" Then confirmed several times that what I wanted was Osaka-KYOTO tickets, NOT Osaka-TOKYO tickets, just in case my intelligence wasn't working, if it ever had. I, in contrast, was the epitome of politeness in not laying any blame whatsoever on the other very intelligent and highly efficient JR clerk, who had sold me Tokyo when I had clearly requested Kyoto. I simply suggested that to avoid confusion in future, Japan should maybe change the name of Tokyo? Perhaps back to its old name Edo? For the sake of simplicity? Or even Vegas East; the possibilities were legion. He looked at me as if to say: You're the one who bought the tickets. And he was right. But this time I had my glasses on, and my IQ was at least 20 points higher. Still, though: Vegas East... I'll take it up with the Prime Minister next chance I get.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


I think the possible election of George W. Bush (The horror! The horror!) may be screwing up my life, and I absolutely do not want to buy Tokyo, I don't care who's elected. These kinds of things tend to happen to me when I'm on my way to the office in zomboid mode just off the train without my glasses say on a rainy morning of what is definitely going to be a very long day and for example I go to buy, oh, a couple of books of Kyoto-Osaka train tickets at the JR window where they keep all the clerks who don't pay much attention to mere customers, so we're supposed to pay all the attention ourselves, in addition to the prices. It’s caveat emptor city around there. But I was emptoring 100% and caveating zilch, being in the state of general Zness mentioned above.

So I bought my books of tickets this morning a la complete zombosis, having spent the previous week painting and roofing in the high clean air, not doing broken field running through breath-humid rush-hour train stations with slippery floors, and when at last I arrived all rainy at the office I put on my glasses and took out all the tickets, receipts, credit cards, bills, coins, tissues, toothpicks and other pocket detritus and set to organizing it all while I had a quick breakfast at my desk, where almost at once I defaced my notebook display with a fine spray blended of delicately flaky croissant and a surpassingly flavorful Prince of Wales tea upon noting that the credit card receipt, which should be for about 9000 yen (about 90 dollars US), was in fact for about 200,000 yen (about 2,000 dollars US). This did not sit well. To be continued...


Fortunately we didn't get earthquaked here at all, though we do have a fault of our own. Heard from Kasumi though, who lives in Saitama, not so far from the tragedies in Niigata, about her experience. At earthquake time she was driving along in their van with Kaya at her side and the twins in the back when suddenly the road seemed much bumpier than she remembered, though it looked much the same. Then she noticed that the street signs and poles were beginning to sway. They got home all right, where they soon experienced the series of strong aftershocks, at each of which Kasumi and the kids dove under the kitchen table. Kaya, who will soon be 4, knew enough to take it seriously; the one-year old twins had a grand time getting under the table with their mother over and over. They keep wanting to do it again.

At night, when all is at its most quiet, I sometimes hear, far down in the earth, long moving rumbles so deep that they can't be felt, only heard; they go on for a long moment, traversing the very limits of hearing like a subway train traveling far far below... we live on a living thing...

Monday, October 25, 2004


"Bush has behaved like a caricature of what a right-wing president is supposed to be, and his continuation in office will discredit any sort of conservatism for generations. The launching of an invasion against a country that posed no threat to the U.S., the doling out of war profits and concessions to politically favored corporations, the financing of the war by ballooning the deficit to be passed on to the nation's children, the ceaseless drive to cut taxes for those outside the middle class and working poor..."

Sunday, October 24, 2004


"There is a strong streak of idealism evident in Tokyo Central [recent book by Edward Seidensticker]. While it is not of the unvarnished, neocon kind, Seidensticker, who served as a cultural diplomat for two years after the war, clearly holds his country and the values it claims to represent very dear.

I wondered if he would he be voting for George W. Bush in the forthcoming U.S. presidential election.

'No! Don't be an idiot! I think he's the worst president we've ever had! Even worse than Nixon. Nixon was a crook, but he wasn't a fool.'"

From: Eminence cantankerous: Seidensticker still outspoken
by Mark Austin

With much thanks to R. Marshman


Saturday, October 23, 2004


As getters of our water from the mountain stream, a number of us who live up here gathered together this afternoon to repair the typhoon damage to the streambed setup we'd previously had for the pipe intake that feeds the tanks we use. Seems we do this every year at about this time, after nature by its very nature once again proves the folly of our previous attempt to stem the tide.

Echo and I had walked up to the site yesterday and seen that stream-rolled rocks had shattered the top of the box that housed the screened inlet, and when today at the appointed hour I went up there with my pick and shovel and high boots, I saw that someone of water-familiar genius had designed and crafted an even more complex and sturdy box of strong wood, with handles, hinges, sliding doors and stainless steel. Finely dovetailed with precisely moving and tightly fitted parts, it was very impressive to a mere wordsmith like myself.

The half dozen of us who were there then proceeded to rearrange the streambed so that it would comfortably accommodate this device that was worthy of launching as part of a satellite, but would instead be anchored in a forest stream, where it would lie as oddly in place as an alien spacecraft, sending water back to the home planet. Streams, busy channeling irresistible powers of nature day and night, are by their own very nature not user friendly. They do not respect fingers, nor to they go along with footsteps, nor respect the tops of boots, especially when you walk about in their beds and move their rocks around attempting to impose a fixed and unnatural shape in mid fluency. Add to that the random use of shovels, picks, sledgehammers and crowbars, all by folks working on different parts of the vague overall plan (with no crew boss) in such narrow and slippery confines, and you have a situation of much potential hazard.

However, we all survived pretty much unscathed, though just to preserve appearances I did manage to insert a finger between a stake and a sledgehammer for the necessary millisecond. And when we had finished, we were all pleased at how nicely the stream had been... streamlined. It is working even now to change all that.


Mushworld is compiling a list of shiitake spawn suppliers you might want to access; the site also has an excellent archive of plain and scientific info on cultivating, managing and harvesting Agaricus campestris, Shiitake, Oyster mushroom, Agaricus blazei, Ganoderma lucidum, Button mushroom etc. Join (free) and/or get on their mailing list.

Friday, October 22, 2004


"I warned him about this war. I had deep misgivings about this war, deep misgivings. And I was trying to say, Mr. President, you better prepare the American people for casualties," Robertson told CNN's Paula Zahn.

"But Bush said, 'Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties,'" Robertson related.

During the meeting, Bush "was the most self-assured man I ever met in my life," Robertson said. "You remember Mark Twain said, 'He looks like a contented Christian with four aces.' He was just sitting there, like, 'I'm on top of the world.' "

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said: "Of course the president never made such a comment."

That dirty, lowdown, lying polecat of a minister...

[Read how "Fair and Balanced" Fox News tried to cancel this out...]


"Did you see Bush on TV, trying to debate? Jesus, he talked like a donkey with no brains at all. The tide turned early, in Coral Gables, when Bush went belly up less than halfway through his first bout with Kerry, who hammered poor George into jelly. It was pitiful. . . . I almost felt sorry for him, until I heard someone call him 'Mister President,' and then I felt ashamed."

From Fear and Loathing, Campaign 2004

This is a great read, whichever side you're on.


"People are consuming the Earth's natural resources 20 percent faster than nature can renew them -- a dangerous imbalance that is driving the loss of species and may lead to critical resource shortages in the years ahead, according to a new report by World Wildlife Fund."

Thursday, October 21, 2004


"...a group of people that have two things in common: they are all related to George Walker Bush, and they are all voting for John Kerry. As the election approaches, we feel it is our responsibility to speak out about why we are voting for John Kerry, and to do our small part to help America heal from the sickness it has suffered since George Bush was appointed President in 2000. We invite you to read our stories, and please, don't vote for our cousin!"



Well last night we met the monster in person, face to face. Tokage, the big lizard typhoon, known in my house henceforth as Godzilla, slowly and thoroughly tromped on the whole country south to north (27 killed, scores still missing), picked up forests and threw them all over, flooded cities, sent rivers over their banks and avalanches into living rooms, tromped over this part of the country through most of the night, especially up here on the mountain where you can really feel the weather's brute force in the muscles of the wind as it leans harder and harder against the walls of the house, grabbing hold of the eaves...

A typhoon at night is a perilous thing because you can hear but can’t see what is happening outside, and want to know... we could hear the wind coming, feel it arriving and hear it going off into the rest of the night like an unappeased monster till the next one came ripping and growling through the forest, trees a foot and a half in diameter bending like reeds; we could hear branches snapping, follow things rumbling along the roof in the dark and then falling to the ground on one side or the other, smashing if a tile or banging if a piece of wood or ladder, or snapping in the wind like a broken sail if a tarp...

The old house down the mountain with the metal roof had half the roof torn off that went on whanging like a giant cymbal against the sides of the house for an hour or so till it finally broke free and went flying on the wind down the mountain in the night, we kept edging open the doors to look outside at whatever made that sound we just heard (a door in such a wind can easily get away from you and not be closable), but dared not go outside for flying tiles and metal bits and wood darts and tree limbs arrowing unpredictably through the air, and what winds they were, playing xylophone on our half-finished roof, driving rain in along the roof beams, electricity out six times (typhoon dark mountain night is the depth of darkness) finally gave up and went to bed listening, waiting for the frustrated lizard to rip the roof off...

Fevered, wind-pulsing dreams, woke to a spark of sun in the ongoing lesser wind and the sound of chainsaws from all directions freeing the roads of fallen trees, though luckily none of our many mountain-weather strong big cedar, oak and cypress trees toppled or even snapped in half; went outside to assess the damage, saw the pergola down, broken tiles everywhere, ripped scraps of tarpaper, tarps in the trees, firewood scattered, garden buried in cedar branches, out front a perfect dawn rainbow glowing in falling rain against the steelgray clouds still whipping against the mountains...

Down in the village persimmons littered the roads, some trees down, and in a touch of Godzilla humor a bunch of portatoilets flung from their storage and strewn about the village, in gardens, up against hedgerows... train office closed, commuters waiting, country life going on in the morning...


Wednesday, October 20, 2004


"In any Japanese dictionary, next to the word 'zombie,' there should be a mention of Daiei Inc. News that creditors have forced a government bailout of Japan's most-indebted retailer should unnerve investors in the world's No. 2 economy."



Yesterday morning on the (electric) train to the city, toward the end of the journey I held in my hand the small compass I have on my backpack and watched it as the train went along. When the train turned toward the left or right, the compass naturally turned oppositely. But when, traveling straight ahead, the train accelerated or decelerated, the compass also moved considerably in the resulting electromagnetic field surge/wane. It was the big electric motors dynamo-ing right underneath my seat.

This made me wonder if we thousands of folks on the train were undergoing one big collective MRI, or what. Not to mention the hyperversion of these effects on the very powerful Shinkansen, or the as-yet undetermined health effects of electromagnetic fields. I myself have felt no untoward effects, other than glowing in the dark and having x-ray vision in one eye. Anybody out there know anything about the electromagnetic/physiological aspects of riding electric trains for 20 years?

[The standard commute is a killer...]



Yes, you read that right: #23. Here we are with a half-finished roof, put on during three straight days of sunshine would you believe it, and wouldn’t you know it to the very same extent, the vast and vortexy typhoon hypergoddess is largessing us with another windy baptism, # 23 for the year, another record broken, with number 24 following right behind it and subsequent progeny lining up in curlicues all the way across the Pacific to Florida, it would seem. The torrents of rain could soon qualify ours as a rain forest; it’s raining so hard even the Lake is getting wet. If things go on like this, the poor bears are going to be eating their shoes.

Bloomberg says this is the 27th typhoon of the season, so I don't know who to believe about the typhoon population, but is that a lot of wind or what? BTW the typhoon is named Tokage (lizard).

Tuesday, October 19, 2004


I volunteer to send my children to fight for America in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, North Korea, or anywhere else President George W. Bush deems necessary."

"I support tax cuts favoring the elite, and I volunteer to pay more than my share of taxes to allow the elite to invest their money in our country’s economy. [Please skip this item if your annual income exceeds $400,000."

All this and more at YesBUSHCan '04, the parody that's real!



Went upmountain yesterday evening to harvest the many akebi we'd spotted in several places on our morning walk, i. e., noted where crows had tossed bits of purple akebi skin along the roadside.

Staring into the forest for treelike vines, or gazing way up among the tree branches for treelike branches can be pretty much the waste of time it sounds like; if you don't already know where the akebi are, it's easier to follow the trail of wildlife breadcrumbs.

So I got out the long pruning shears and some work gloves and we were soon on our way to collect our natural bounty. But it turned out that we were way not natural enough. Somehow it had slipped my mind that a number of good climbers are a lot closer to the natural heartbeat of things than we are who live in houses and rooms and can't smell the ripe fruit peaking in perfection up there in the trees: three full days of warm sun had done the trick.

When we got there the road was littered with empty purple skins; the wildlife had beaten us to it, in this case in the form of monkeys, and craftily, without a sound; we'd heard none of the standard squeals of monkey party delight. On the other hand, though, the monkeys don't seem to know that the akebi skins themselves are very good to eat, when properly prepared. The white, sweetish, pudding-like, hard-seed-filled fruit is the least of the akebi.

And what an odd fruit, like a purple sausage; saw on tv yesterday a documentary about some country folk who make 'akebi sushi,' filling the prepared skins with rice and vegetables and then steaming them. The dried young leaves make a good tea, and the autumn-harvested stems do everything but walk the dog (though they do make a good leash, and are excellent for baskets). I harvested some stems and sliced them thin for herbal medicinal use. Beautiful in cross section.


Monday, October 18, 2004



"This presentation, the second in a series, showcases excellent bonsai from the very best artists in the world."


Sunday, October 17, 2004


I've posted about this earlier, but thanks to relaxed import restrictions here in Japan I finally worked it out at my snacking leisure, courtesy of a US Department of Health and Human Services Food Guide Pyramid on the side of an industrial-size box of chocolate Teddy Grahams, that you should use fats, oils and sweets sparingly, but that each day you should eat 2-3 servings from the meat, poultry, fish, eggs and nuts group, 2-3 servings from the milk, yogurt and cheese group, 3-5 servings from the vegetable group, 2-4 servings from the fruit group and 6-11 servings from the bread, cereal, rice and pasta group.

I don’t know about you, but after living here in Japan for decades I don’t see how I could stomach up to 26 American-sized servings per day from the various US government-certified food groups, especially on top of all those chocolate Teddy Grahams, let alone find the time to actually sit down and consume over two dozen servings per day of meat, milk, cheese, fish, yogurt, eggs, nuts, bread, poultry, fruit, pasta, cereal and vegetables, even in a kind of western dietary stew.

People over here, who traditionally eat little more than rice, fish, seaweed and miso soup, and still don’t have much spare time, don’t necessarily see eye to eye with the side of a box of chocolate Teddy Grahams, no matter how big it is. But then things are different in America, and, as I recall, even more different in Washington, especially in the vegetable and nut groups.


Saturday, October 16, 2004


Today the three roofers were here, as they have been for the past several days, pounding, drilling and crowbarring on the roof right above our heads; and every day, as is always done under such circumstances here in Japan, around three oclock in the afternoon-- tea time-- the lady of the house brings out some tea or coffee and snacks for the workmen, a ritual ceremony couched in the honorific female-to-male language traditionally suited to such employee/employer-related service occasions since feudal times, and so it has traditionally gone until today, when my wife had to go on several urgent errands in the afternoon and I happened to have to remain at home working on some manuscripts, so was assigned the task of preparing and serving, at three o’clock sharp, the tea and snacks for the burly guys pounding on the roof.

And so I did: three nice hot cups of tea and a plate of nicely arranged cookies on a doily and I went outside on the deck and set up the table and put the tea and cookies and silverware etc. on it and said up into the sky a singularly male but neither-here-nor-there ‘excuse me,’ and the high-up pounding drilling and crowbarring descendants of samurai paused in their labors and looked over the edge of the roof at the long-haired foreigner standing there (I did NOT have an apron on) and I pointed at the tea (I’ve always been a bit iffy on ceremony) and they…didn’t... know... what... to... say...

There was a long silence that said what there was nothing in their language for... We were all thus abruptly plunged into an antimatter universe, where men serve tea and cookies to men, a place where there was no cultural history, no paradigm at all, so the roofers struggled valiantly with the dilemma and eventually came up with a kind of general all-purpose neither-there-nor-here ‘ok, thank you...’

Thus do we, as world citizens, collectively embark upon the teatime of the new millennium...



Just received belated news (belation is my fault, didn’t check an old email program) that my Uncle Ed has passed away. He was a noble and inspiring man, a strength to me in a hard part of my life. Though he may have left this lesser world, I shall remember him here, until I see him again one happy day.


Friday, October 15, 2004


They endorsed Dubya in 2000; four years has made it all quite clear.



Subject: Military Service


* Richard Gephardt: Air National Guard, 1965-71.
* David Bonior: Staff Sgt., Air Force 1968-72.
* Tom Daschle: 1st Lt., Air Force SAC 1969-72.
* Al Gore: enlisted Aug. 1969; sent to Vietnam Jan. 1971 as an army
journalist in 20th Engineer Brigade.
* Bob Kerrey: Lt. j.g. Navy 1966-69; Medal of Honor, Vietnam.
* Daniel Inouye: Army 1943-47; Medal of Honor, WWII.
* John Kerry: Lt., Navy 1966-70; Silver Star, Bronze Star with
Combat V, Purple Hearts.
* Charles Rangel: Staff Sgt., Army 1948-52; Bronze Star, Korea.
* Max Cleland: Captain, Army 1965-68; Silver Star & Bronze Star, Vietnam.
* Ted Kennedy: Army, 1951-53.
* Tom Harkin: Lt., Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve, 1968-74.
* Jack Reed: Army Ranger, 1971-1979; Captain, Army Reserve 1979-91.
* Fritz Hollings: Army officer in WWII; Bronze Star and seven
campaign ribbons.
* Leonard Boswell: Lt. Col., Army 1956-76; Vietnam, DFCs, Bronze
Stars, and Soldier's Medal.
* Pete Peterson: Air Force Captain, POW. Purple Heart, Silver Star
and Legion of Merit.
* Mike Thompson: Staff sergeant, 173rd Airborne, Purple Heart.
* Bill McBride: Candidate for Fla. Governor. Marine in Vietnam;
Bronze Star with Combat V.
* Gray Davis: Army Captain in Vietnam, Bronze Star.
* Pete Stark: Air Force 1955-57
* Chuck Robb: Vietnam
* Howell Heflin: Silver Star
* George McGovern: Silver Star & DFC during WWII.
* Bill Clinton: Did not serve. Student deferments. Entered draft but
received #311.
* Jimmy Carter: Seven years in the Navy.
* Walter Mondale: Army 1951-1953
* John Glenn: WWII and Korea; six DFCs and Air Medal with 18
* Tom Lantos: Served in Hungarian underground in WWII. Saved by
Raoul Wallenberg.

Republicans -- and these are the guys sending people to war:

* Dick Cheney: did not serve. Several deferments, the last by marriage.
* Dennis Hastert: did not serve.
* Tom Delay: did not serve.
* Roy Blunt: did not serve.
* Bill Frist: did not serve.
* Mitch McConnell: did not serve.
* Rick Santorum: did not serve.
* Trent Lott: did not serve.
* John Ashcroft: did not serve. Seven deferments to teach business.
* Jeb Bush: did not serve.
* Karl Rove: did not serve.
* Saxby Chambliss: did not serve. "Bad knee." The man who attacked
Max Cleland's patriotism.
* Paul Wolfowitz: did not serve.
* Vin Weber: did not serve.
* Richard Perle: did not serve.
* Douglas Feith: did not serve.
* Eliot Abrams: did not serve.
* Richard Shelby: did not serve.
* Jon Kyl: did not serve.
* Tim Hutchison: did not serve.
* Christopher Cox: did not serve.
* Newt Gingrich: did not serve.
* Don Rumsfeld: served in Navy (1954-57) as flight instructor.
* George W. Bush: failed to complete his six-year National Guard;
got assigned to Alabama so he could campaign for family friend running
for U.S. Senate; failed to show up for required medical exam,
disappeared from duty under terms categorized as desertion.
* Ronald Reagan: due to poor eyesight, served in a non-combat role
making movies.
* B-1 Bob Dornan: Consciously enlisted after fighting was over in
* Phil Gramm: did not serve.
* John McCain: Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple
Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross.
* Dana Rohrabacher: did not serve.
* John M. McHugh: did not serve.
* JC Watts: did not serve.
* Jack Kemp: did not serve. "Knee problem," although continued
in NFL for 8 years.
* Dan Quayle: Journalism unit of the Indiana National Guard.
* Rudy Giuliani: did not serve.
* George Pataki: did not serve.
* Spencer Abraham: did not serve.
* John Engler: did not serve.
* Lindsey Graham: National Guard lawyer.
* Arnold Schwarzenegger: AWOL from Austrian army base.

Pundits & Preachers

* Sean Hannity: did not serve.
* Rush Limbaugh: did not serve (4-F with a 'pilonidal cyst.')
* Bill O'Reilly: did not serve.
* Michael Savage: did not serve.
* George Will: did not serve.
* Chris Matthews: did not serve.
* Paul Gigot: did not serve.
* Bill Bennett: did not serve.
* Pat Buchanan: did not serve.
* John Wayne: did not serve.
* Bill Kristol: did not serve.
* Kenneth Starr: did not serve.
* Antonin Scalia: did not serve.
* Clarence Thomas: did not serve.
* Ralph Reed: did not serve.
* Michael Medved: did not serve.
* Charlie Daniels: did not serve.
* Ted Nugent: did not serve. (Like Cheney, he only shoots at things that don't
shoot back.)

(Please keep this information circulating
Sen. Howard W. Carroll

With a salute to Tom Fitzsimmons/ Editor/Publisher, Katydid Books



Well, the factoids are all in: a large number of more-or-less insider bloggers say into one ear that Dubya was wired to his earlobes during the second debate (and at other times as well), while into the other ear a Bush spokesman ("Bush Camp Scoffs at Rumor" (the Bush Camp is really good at scoffing)) prompts: “Some people have been spending too many hours looking at left-wing conspiracy web sites."

So during those irrationally long, mid-sentence deer-in-the-headlights pauses, Dubya was either waiting for a message from his handlers, or he was waiting for a message from his brain. I'm not sure which is worse.

Thursday, October 14, 2004


Up on the scaffold painting the trim yesterday in our part of the big clear blue sky, a sky brought fresh and unbroken to the mountain from Siberia by the strong autumn winds that worked all through the night and day to get the whole thing here...

Taking my breaks as they came, I just had to stop and watch, now and then, a wide-winged, feather-fingered hawk doing the flying he was built to do, riding the ripples in the down-mountain wind-edge, just the way it swirled off the forests and ridges and rose and swooped in big invisible curls of torrential air, the hawk playing the wind like a lifelong pro, living it like a holy text, sailing and plunging right above the treeline below, swinging back and forth on the wind's own waxing and waning, its left and right, up and down, toward and away... tail fanning, wing feathers grasping for every scrap of airy purchase, the hawk wasn't doing anything but that very thing; he wasn't hunting, he wasn't gliding idly, he was just using his wide, fullspread wings to the ultramax they were made for, and as I watched, feeling a tingle of that same feeling in my own very wingbones, I could tell by the way he went on and on, tirelessly doing what he was so very good at-- all the fancy stuff too-- that he was loving it, loving being the way the wind and his wings let him, wanted him, made him, be: his actual full and audaciously skilled windriding self: pure, feathered joy on wings, passioning all that blue sky.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


"It is embarrassing to see George Bush pretending to be president."

--Retired Lt. Gen. Claudia Kennedy

The highest-ranking woman in U.S. Army history, campaigning for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, also said that President Bush had no clue what he was getting into in Iraq, and has no clue how to get out, either.


Tuesday, October 12, 2004


"As son of a Republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, it is automatically expected by many that I am a Republican. For 50 years, through the election of 2000, I was. With the current administration’s decision to invade Iraq unilaterally, however, I changed my voter registration to independent, and barring some utterly unforeseen development, I intend to vote for the Democratic Presidential candidate, Sen. John Kerry.

The fact is that today’s “Republican” Party is one with which I am totally unfamiliar. To me, the word “Republican” has always been synonymous with the word “responsibility,” which has meant limiting our governmental obligations to those we can afford in human and financial terms. Today’s whopping budget deficit of some $440 billion does not meet that criterion.

Responsibility used to be observed in foreign affairs. That has meant respect for others. America, though recognized as the leader of the community of nations, has always acted as a part of it, not as a maverick separate from that community and at times insulting towards it. Leadership involves setting a direction and building consensus, not viewing other countries as practically devoid of significance. Recent developments indicate that the current Republican Party leadership has confused confident leadership with hubris and arrogance."



"You cannot lead if you send mexed missages"
--George Bush September 30, 2004



From Ron Andrews:
"Mark your calendars now! The next monthly DAJ Kansai Political Movie Night is coming soon. Featuring on the BIG SCREEN the 2004 documentary
Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism
When: Thursday, October 21, film starts at 7 p.m.
Film info: English only, 77 min.
Where: Tocca a Te, in Umeda (doors open at 6 p.m.)
Address & map: (or follow the links at
Admission: 1000 yen, includes a free drink & free homemade popcorn (voted Best in Kansai!) Open discussion after the film."


Monday, October 11, 2004


If you’re looking for Japan, you’ve certainly come to the right place at the right time. Just a couple of eras ago, a mere second in geological terms, you might have drowned. Because it wasn’t until the early Miocene that the Japanese islands finally broke away from the Eurasian Continent and headed east on their own, a separation that, judging from present attitudes, was inevitable.

Reflexively you might wonder what the Japanese thought of the breakaway, but of course there were no Japanese back then, everything can’t happen at once, but perhaps more importantly there were no people anywhere at all yet, so even the Chinese, who are notoriously touchy about territoriality, couldn't raise a finger in protest at this departure of a major land mass from their coastal region as they certainly would if such a thing happened today, but then on the other hand if it did happen today, all the so-called Japanese would have been by this time thoroughly Chinese and reluctant to leave their traditional home and live on an island, speak a completely different language and be on very close terms with the capitalist land masses.

Diplomatically, as you can imagine, such a split would generate tremendous international repercussions, so it’s much better it happened many millions of years ago, before diplomacy was as desperately needed as it is today. Things like that often work out for the best if you just leave them alone, a lesson we in the modern world would do well to learn.

Anyway, by the middle of the Miocene, the Japanese Islands (which needless to say even at that late date were technically still not the Japanese Islands, the government of that period being only a very loose confederacy of primitive mammals and ferns) had drifted to more or less where they can be found today, which is a great boon to airline pilots and mariners and whoever else happens to be looking for Japan at this precise location, although it was only about 400 millennia ago that the touristically interesting environment of today’s Japan appeared, subsequent cultural developments making possible among other things Tokyo, which can now be found quite consistently, thanks to the mapmakers, who prefer Japan and everything in it to be repeatedly right where they’ve drawn them (which as I’ve indicated they haven’t always been), so that visitors like yourself, who would have missed this place completely before the Miocene and wound up in the drink off the coast of what wasn't even China yet, can now find in Japan all the things on every local map, such as the Takarazuka. You certainly picked the right era!



"...can the US economy afford four more years of what the first four years of the Bush/Cheney administration has brought? The statistics are appalling. Average family income has fallen with median incomes down $1500 in real terms; over one million jobs lost, the first administration since the Great Depression to see an actual decline in jobs; the number of Americans not covered by any form of health insurance up by 5.2 million; the number of Americans in poverty up in the last year alone by 1.3 million; a budget deficit that is now 5% of GDP whereas it was a surplus of 2% of GDP in 2000; record trade deficits that are now higher than they were in 1987 when the markets crashed; and tax cuts that basically only benefited the richest. And this is to say nothing about the quagmire in Iraq; a war that was based on lies (no WMD and no ties to Al Qaeda) and that has been deemed in numerous circles as illegal."

From: Slowing Economy, Bullish Market!
by David Chapman

"Never has such economic ruin been committed in the name of American capitalism. Never has the gulf between the haves and the have nots been so wide. Never has the US fallen so far away from its heritage of the moral high road as compared to those that opposed it. Never has this country tolerated outright rape, murder and pillage by public corporations. Never before could corporate executives commit crimes and simply pay fines to the SEC for a "get out of jail almost free card." Never has there been such a double standard in the courts between corporate criminals and the poor ghetto kid who steals a car. Never has the management of public entities gambled with such reckless abandonment their sacred trust to shareholders not to mention the capital of the corporation."


Sunday, October 10, 2004


personally met Rodney Dangerfield at the Pearly Gates and said: "Penthouse?"


when I reach
the top of the ladder
frog is already there



On the last leg of my warm dawn walk this morning, just as the sun came out from behind the last of the low typhoon clouds I was walking past the big plot of land used by a garden shop owner in the big city as a nursery for various big shrubs and bushes and trees much desired by gardeners, when once again the paradisiacal scent of kinmokusei (sweet olive tree; Oleaceae fragrans var. aurantiacus) caught me by surprise, telling me what time of year it really was, wafting one of the deep meanings of time from that carefully selected and nurtured forest.

As I walked in the growing warmth, the scent increased to such intensity as the sunlight became the plants that soon I was surfing down the mountain road on a creamy wave of heavenly scent that carried me all the way to my house. Because kinmokusei has no big flashy flowers, only tiny, golden buddish blossoms peeping from the axils, I never see it coming, so every year at this time it catches me by the same surprise. Shyness always has a wondrous side.


Saturday, October 09, 2004


Here's a foto of the workspace whence I blog from Pure Land Mountain, in belated response to the request posted rather ago at the always excellent feral, for bloggers to send in pics of their workspaces, but it was only later that I remembered and only later photographed, only later photoshopped and only later put this together for only later posting; so here only later, as eclectic as the process, is the eclectic result.

Included in the foto are Cheap Thrills, Jazz Greats, the Jabberwock, Fukurokuju, Daruma, Shih tzu, Harpo, Mr. Natural, Charley Patton, a can of God, Mark Twain, Buffalo Bill, Ebisu, Kannon, Zappa, Blake, Warhol, Neitzche, Thelonius, Einstein, Lenny Bruce, Robert Johnson and Jimi Hendrix. Not included in the foto are Benten, Kerouac, Chet Baker, Siva, Dylan and Ganarpati.

Time and order matter little in such surroundings...




"there's no denying it. this is the year of the flip-flop. and during this election season, there is one candidate who's got more flip-flops than palm beach on a hot summer day. and guess what? it's not john kerry."

The G.W. & CREW catalog for the stylishly discerning voter.


Friday, October 08, 2004


My very half-hearted apologies to those who, for whatever frankly incomprehensible reason, might take offense at the unmistakably antibush symbol that, until November 3-- when the buffeted ship of the world will or will not be rid of a very large and very loose cannon-- is thus prominently placed over all here at Pure Land Mountain, even above my house while it’s getting a new roof.

Indeed, the roofers complained, until I raised the thing a bit higher so as to be out of their way; as well, my neighbors and some folks down in the village have asked me about that large, clearly political object hovering there so eye-catchingly above my house, the red-circle-with-slash across-the-odious-name so prominent against the sky that can be seen for kilometers around and indeed may pose a safety hazard by distracting drivers on the highway below, not to mention being an obstacle to passenger planes flying overhead on their way to Korea, China and Mongolia and back.

But I say to them (about 2 to 1 antibush), as to all: what could be a greater hazard to everything than Bush, or a greater obstacle to successful arrival at any of humanity’s noble destinations? To this I think that all but the basically incomprehensible will agree. To the large comprehensible majority I say, just about daily between now and November 2, when the voting die is cast: ANYONE BUT BUSH.



What in the world is the link between typhoon frequency and bear attacks, you ask? A very good question indeed, and one that I just happened to be about to address in my next blog post, having just noticed the high bear claw marks and a strong musk odor on the old oak trees near the gazebo where I pause on my morning walks.

Following typhoon #21 last week, the windfall of large acorns had all been eaten by inoshishi (wild pigs), mice and insects, leaving none for the bears. And now with typhoon # 22 blowing over my shoulder as I write these thoughts down, Japan’s 15,000 or so hungry bears looking for acorns, persimmons, chestnuts, turnips, anything that might be left over after the ravaging of the natural landscape and its wild fruits by this year’s record number of typhoons-- not to mention the effects of logging in diminishing bear habitats-- the bears are starting to show up around human habitations; and when you get hungry (and dehabitated) you get irritable…

I notice that you too are hiking without a bear bell; perhaps we should hike back out of here together, loudly singing 99 bottles of beer…



"Should you feel dizzy, you had better leave this page immediately."

Get ready for the rotating snakes...

With links to lots more. And to think all this resides in ourselves...


Thursday, October 07, 2004


Another freelance US writer has visited Japan for a few days and gone away grasping the soul of this traditional oriental--inscrutable-- whatever-- country over here on the other side of the Pacific (the Japanese are so [insert platitude here]) and has set it all down so as to share his experience with his less enlightened countrymen.

Ignoring the excitedly non-journalistic enthusiasms that can often come with jet lag and too much coffee "All this... is set against a backdrop of a pure and ancient culture, where kimono-clad women still head off, giggling, to the temple..." Here's a few of the more egregious statements:

"The police there ride around on bicycles, and they don't carry guns." Maybe he’s seen too many Tora-san movies, but out where I live the police travel by car; all over the country, they ALL carry guns.

"The few criminals the Japanese do have often turn themselves in within a week; they simply feel too guilty, and honor dictates that they face the music of justice rather than hide." This may have been rarely true back in the days of Lafcadio Hearn. Nowadays, most of the (increasing) criminals have to be caught, just like everywhere else, and like everywhere else, many never are.

"There is a strong samurai-like fidelity of the Japanese to both their family and their work. It's normal for an employee to be loyal to his first company from the time of his college graduation to his retirement." Residually true 30 years ago, and even then it wasn't loyalty, but lack of alternatives. And it's changing rapidly as alternatives broaden. The new generations will not be so easily constrained as their elders, who are currently being downsized in large numbers and are facing shrinking pensions, for all their loyalty. The young generation (with a lot of 'freeters') is looking forward to maybe no pensions at all.

"It's not uncommon for three generations to live under the same roof."
Still somewhat true in the countryside, but this too is fading as the young leave for the city where they live in those small mansions. Nursing homes are sprouting like mushrooms even here in the countryside.

"There are virtually no homeless people on the streets."
That's primarily because there isn't much for them there; begging is frowned upon, therefore pointless. Anyway, the city governments want the homeless to be invisible; in Kyoto and Osaka there are villages of them along the river, or the railroad tracks, out of sight of tourists. If they become too visible, they are harassed away, as they were from Umeda station.

"Environmentally, too, the Japanese are far ahead of us."
Guess in his short visit he didn't see all the unscrubbed incinerators; Japan has the most incinerators in the world, which explains why it has the highest level of dioxin in the world-- they're going to build a basically unproven gasification industrial waste incinerator in a mountain forest not far from where I live on the shores of Lake Biwa, water source for 20 million or so people who don't seem to mind dioxinated drinking water. To say nothing of all the nuclear reactors on earthquake faults.

"The high-speed trains are the primary mode of transportation." The bullet train is too expensive (about the same as flying), is only used for travel and occasional long commutes. The much slower (but very efficient) local trains and automobiles carry most passengers, though more may walk.

"Bicycles get you to the train stations scattered throughout Tokyo -- where few of the thousands parked there are locked." In Kyoto and Osaka, it doesn't matter if they're locked-- though nowadays you'd better lock them-- city workers still come around with big trucks and confiscate bicycles, cutting the locks if they have to; the owners have to go far out of the way to get them back, and pay a large fine. The cities (especially Kyoto) have been warring on the bicycle for some years. They confiscated mine for the tenth time just before I moved to the country.

"They still have respect and honor for us. This is one of the reasons Japan is now an ally of ours in Iraq." There are far more practical political and economic reasons for their absolutely minimalist participation in Iraq, as for their joining China in buying up so much American debt.

"Another reason is that they can easily relate to President Bush, whom they perceive as a simple, honest and straight-talking, straight-shooting country cowboy. It's time we learned a little from them." The fact is that, like most of the rest of the world in a recent poll (excepting the Phillippines, Nigeria and Poland), the Japanese don't like Bush, who isn't country, isn't a cowboy, and never talked or shot straight in his life (they preferred Kerry over Bush 43% to 23%); most of them fear what he may do next. One hopes most Americans can learn that before the election. The Japanese are quite used to political scams, and though resigned to it continuing (it's a "tradition"), they know a loose cannon when they see one, and a bit of spin to the right won't change their accurate perception of Bush.

The part at the beginning of the article, about the funeral, seemed accurate. As for the rest, I'm surprised SFGATE didn't know better.

With thanks to kbibb

Wednesday, October 06, 2004


I just tried sun drying some of my now red Oroma tomatoes and got one day of definitely not Italian sun, followed by a day of torrents of rain and next day a little even less Italian sun, so now with 4 days of rain looming (surprise!) over my incipiently moldy tomatoes, I'm going for oven drying; it's too humid here in non-Italy, the sky simply lacks that Tuscan sun, that golden thing whose NY version I used to see in the sky a lot when I was a kid. And if you too aren't in Italy (there are so many who aren't), here's a great source of info on oven-drying those heirloom tomatoes whose deliciousness you might want to enjoy mid-winter, without canning or Italy.


Tuesday, October 05, 2004




Speaking of monkeys-- yes it is quite apparent to me that no one was speaking of monkeys, but I can’t think of a better way to introduce the subject of monkeys under the circumstances, which circumstances I will not waste further time in describing if you don’t mind, but get right to the subject at hand, whence I have strayed right off the bat in an unwontedly tangential effort, you will kindly note, to be polite to and considerate of my generous and most highly esteemed reader.

So. Speaking of monkeys, as I swung here and there and back and forth high above the ground along the pipes and struts of the house-encircling scaffold newly erected for the roofing process that is about to begin-- I was getting in an early bout of painting under the eaves and external roof beams, upper window frames and suchlike places (normally unreachable other than with a ladder pretty near to heaven), in which locations and positions I would now and then pause to gather strength for my next advance, the while admiring the fantastic view from way up there-- I couldn’t help thinking of my very own monkeyness as my hands so comfortably gripped the pipes as though they were the limbs of trees, and how agreeably even at my age I swung from strut to bar to strut and my feet found purchase using toes with much tacit and generally unrecognized knowhow in all these regards, and how far my body could stretch to reach—it was all collectively amazing to me in a non-simian way, but I sure could use a prehensile tail, why ever did we give that up?

I was also much impressed by how at home my otherwise blank mind was in calculating the best path along the complex arrangement of struts and pipes from point A to point C via point B, and how surprisingly natural it still felt, even in seniority, to hang from a pipe by one hand while reaching up under the eaves with the other, as if for a ripe fruit, and though monkeys themselves never have to paint a damn thing their entire lives, they also don’t get to pause in their airy reaches and admire the scenery—that’s two differences between us and monkeys.

As I was about to say, speaking of monkeys, for some reason I haven’t seen any of them around here in quite a while. Maybe when something disappears from your environment you become it.


Monday, October 04, 2004


containing over
in all

"To Tie Knots:
Few persons know how to tie a knot, even women with their neatness in all other matters tie very badly..."

Includes farriery, angling, calico printing, dentistry, jeweller's paste, mezzotints, petroleum, potichomania, divine pomade and telegraphing, among many other things people did 120 years ago, before reality tv.


Sunday, October 03, 2004

the nature of ecstasy...
washing the ants
off the honey jar



That's what Dubya said-- in mid-sentence during the debate-- to that little voice in his ear that was telling him what to say, as he can't talk and think at the same time. A commenter on the post Bush Blows it! Exposes Earpiece in Debate says:

"... It [the presence of an earpiece] also explains why Bush pauses in odd places... he's listening before repeating. On the night of 9/11 our local network even patched this voice over the air by mistake before realizing it. We watched in amazement as Bush repeated, word for word, whatever this voice said. He could only remember three or four words at a time, so the natural flow of someone speaking on their own was completely interrupted. This mistake, of broadcasting the voice in Bush's ear was made again, more recently, and I believe Danny Schechter has written about it."

Over 65 million Americans saw the Kerry-Bush debate; I hope that a majority now can see what a simulacrum Dubya is. America deserves better.

[Update: for a later, more thorough examination of this issue, check out RB 10.9.04]


Saturday, October 02, 2004

"You forgot the Polandians."


Browse through 30 billion web pages archived from 1996 to a few months ago. With full text search recall (beta).

An interesting feature:
Web Pioneers The early years of the internet are a testament to the internet's diversity and ingenuity. This special collection highlights a handful of sites that played a role in the early internet.

Early Yahoo!, aboriginal Amazon, primitive Trojan Room Coffee machine, proto-IMDB, the dawn of The Well...

Nostalgia's a lot nearer than it used to be...


Friday, October 01, 2004


"People who take vitamin and antioxidant supplements in the hope they're reducing their risk of gastrointestinal cancer are more likely to die of the disease than those who don't take the supplements, a new study finds."

I don't take supplements in that hope at all, but I like that wording "are more likely to die of the disease"; makes death sound closer for the unconscionably health conscious. I take supplements to try and offset or negate the effects of the ubiquitous poisons in our food and environment. This big study investigating supplements-- big headlines, big bucks, big dangers-- says the result shows increased risk of cancer, but on the other hand decreased risk of cancer. And it's all still a big maybe, in any case. Wonder who funded it and why they did such a HUGE and EXPENSIVE study investigating a couple of nutritional supplements, which are taken by only a relatively small portion of the populace (agrobiz critics and noisy environmentalists who I'll bet tend to live longer statistically) and didn't do a study just as huge and expensive and much more useful about, oh, the thirty different toxic chemicals the general public doesn't know are sprayed on apples before everyone eats them and gives the juice to the kids? Science sure makes me curious.

[Later: Boy do some stressed-out folks love to hate supplements! Here's a sampling of other professional headlines about the same study:

"Deadly side-effect in vitamin boosters"

"Vitamins 'may cause early death'"

"Vitamin boosts may increase death rate of users, report says"

"Early Death Fears over Supplements"

"Vitamins only take you closer to death"

I had no idea supplements were so fatal, maybe even more fatal than butylated hydroxytoluene, or stilbestrol, or... how about a vast multicenter study on Dragon Systemic Fungicide 3336 WP or Ortho Bug-B-Gon Multi-purpose insect killer? Everybody eats those.]



I just found out from farmer T that monkeys do in fact eat rice from the growing stalks, which is why the local farmers' organization (though with some internal dissent) put up the electrified rice stalag that now peripherizes the entire formerly scenic rice growing area here on the mountainside to which photographers formerly pilgrimed from all over the country to photograph the unique beauty of tradition in harmony with nature that is now all fenced in and thereby utterly violated, hence is no more-- all for a few monkey mouthfuls of rice. Nobody asked my opinion, of course.

I myself, who live up here, have never seen a single monkey eating rice (they appear to live almost exclusively on my pumpkins and tomatoes, not to mention my onions), which lack of direct observation does not make the monkey-as-rice-gourmet assertion untrue, but at the very least it indicates a deficiency of direness to the situation. Nevertheless, the farmers have gone ahead with the scenic violation, much in the same way Kyoto has been ravaged with improvements. Some errors are bigger than others.



"As the opinion polls move steadily in favour of President George W. Bush and the likelihood of a John Kerry presidency recedes, Democrats in the United States can take solace in two facts. If their man is not in the White House for the next four years, then they will not end up carrying the blame for the almost inevitable US defeat in Iraq -- and they will not have to preside over the biggest financial crisis to hit the United States since the Great Depression.

'The US dollar is going the way that [the British pound] went as it lost its place as the world's reserve currency,' said Jim Rogers, the Wall Street wizard who in 1973 co-founded the Quantum Fund, one of the first and most successful hedge funds, in a recent interview. 'I suspect there will be exchange controls in the US in the foreseeable future.... Whoever is elected president is going to have serious problems in 2005-06. We Americans are going to suffer.'"

From: The Poisoned Chalice
By Gwynne Dyer

"We Americans" of course excludes Bush and his fatcats, who will profit big (and already have); it will be the middle and lower class (particular pain for those conned into voting for Bush) who will pay the Big Bill with stock, real estate and job losses, starting when the reality hammer comes down on Nov 3. (IF the fatcats can keep it all from collapsing until the election is over; there are already considerable leaks in the dike.)