Tuesday, November 30, 2004


FREEWHEELING GOLD

Freewheeling down the mountain this morning into sunrise I ran into a minisquall from a thick silver band over the lake that the sun had just risen above, and the placid bright blue air was all at once a quick wind filled with fat drops of gold falling molten on the ground. As I rolled over all that wealth I looked to my left and saw that the road was curving into the tourmaline wall of a rainbow arching higher than the mountains; soon all the air around me took on the glow of revelation and I was gliding through an ambience of emerald, ruby and topaz over a long and curving road of solid gold. Some folks think a lot of money makes you rich.

Monday, November 29, 2004

HISHA AUCTION

If you’re interested in seeing or bidding on the finest Japanese antiques and can get to Santa Barbara CA on December 1-2, don’t miss the Hisha Auction, featuring 18th, 19th and early 20th century antiquities (tansu, bronzes, ceramics, calligraphy and scroll paintings, basketry, textiles, mirror boxes, lacquerware, vases, tea kettles, woodblock prints, woodcarvings, stonework etc.) collected and imported by long-time Kyoto friends of ours, based in Kyoto, Santa Barbara and Seattle. Highly recommended, even if only for the aesthetic experience. Plus it’s always great to see the Hisha folks. And that tsubo would look great by the fireplace; that basket, hanging in the kitchen...

Sunday, November 28, 2004


THANKSGIVING IN JAPAN


I imagine quite a number of American expats have gotten hold of turkeys from the Foreign Buyers Club, Maki's or Meidi-ya in Kyoto or another import source (turkeys are nowhere on the Japanese market) and since Thursday was not a holiday here, are roasting them today to serve along with minimally ersatz stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and some autumn vegetables, which I doubt will be rutabagas or parsnips.

I did that once about 15 years ago when we lived in Kyoto, and as a considerable dietary change the kids loved it, but that was enough; I really haven’t got the mental wherewithal for spending an entire day in the kitchen to produce something that disappears in an hour.

Having lived here in Japan for so long my autumnal thanks now tend to blur into the days themselves. For the local tranquility, enough food whereby to remain healthy, a fire to warm by, blue skies and bright suns, full moons, falling leaves laying the red carpet for snow and the palaces of ice-- whose imminence even now scents the air-- I give thanks.

I also visit my mind’s back porch, where all my life's old-fashioned thanksgivings are stored away...

Friday, November 26, 2004


KYOTO JOURNAL #58 NOW OUT


''freeing spirit' issue
(containing my 'Ramble,' Habitat of Spirit)
KJ was shortlisted again this year (for the 8th consecutive year) in the Utne Independent Press Awards, this time in three categories:

* General Excellence
* Design
* Cultural/Social Coverage

Previous nominations: Art & Design Excellence (award winner, 1998), Local/Regional Coverage, Writing Excellence, Design, General Excellence, and Best Essays.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

RED RINGS

With winter approaching, the garden is a mess.

The spinach sprouts are pretty well organized, thanks to the expertise of winter spinach with its rich green history (it even grows under the snow), there are also a couple of rows of winter shungiku, a Japanese green that's very tasty fried up on its own or in miso shiru on a cold day; but cypress and cedar logs, and me-high mounds of branches from the four south roadside trees the power company was glad to cut for free (they were imminent snowbreak threats to the power lines that ran through their heavy branches) are now piled fragrantly here and there in the garden at the convenience of the lumbermen (who were willing to cut the trees but not to cart the result away). And the branches take forever to rot, so no compost there...

It took ten years of shady winters till we finally gave up and realized that it would be worth it to get more sunlight on house and garden in the season of cold, when sunlight is gold. Still, we stood in a large shadow of regret as we called the power company and asked; they were glad to comply, and with alacrity, before the snows. Though we are welcomely ringed by about 60+ tall trees (cherry, plum, peach, oak, cedar, cypress, chestnut), in light of the prospect the thinning was a wise decision: what a difference with more light (just ask Goethe)!

The brighter garden is now in sunlight for all but a couple of hours at each end of day, and the house is bright throughout, even when the sky is cloudy and the grandchildren aren't here. What's more, now I'll be able to plant a variety of fruit trees in select and sunlit spots where they won't shade the garden. There's also a 2-meter-tall Bay sapling with very savory leaves (obtained as a mere slip of a sapling from a long-time Japanese gardener in Kyoto), hungry for a strong taproot and armfuls of sunlight, that I'll move to where the new light falls; when more fully grown, the Bay will also serve as a bit of a windbreak to the garden. Some new fruit trees too, when I get the time after the house is all caulked and painted and I grow some years younger.

Haruya came and took many of the logs for their restaurant cooking fire; we prefer not to use cedar in our own woodstove, it burns too fast, smoky and spark-poppy compared to the hot and heavy, clean-burning windfall oak and beech we get for free...

But first I cadged for myself two thick and hefty wood-chopping sections of beautifully grained cypress; what a difference that makes in the firewood chopping ritual! I love just staring at the beauty of years of time in those widening red rings, instead of chopping firewood...

Wednesday, November 24, 2004


THANKS TO RONNI

I offer many thanks for the generous and much-appreciated post about Pure Land Mountain at Time Goes By (my posts seem much better there; wish I could edit them like she does), with excerpts eloquently arranged and introduced by Ronni, whose own words are worth every minute of a daily visit. I am intrigued also by her interest in the phenomenon of aging and all that it means and does, what it's for, where and how it goes...

BACHELOR MODE

With Echo (Etsuko) gone up north this past week to visit Kasumi, Kaya and the twins, and thence her relatives in Nagano (home to the Japanese alps and hot springs galore), I lapsed into bachelor mode with disappointing speed.

What with wordwork and housepainting and caulking, garden tasks etc., I just don't have the time to cook the diversity of natural Japanese gourmet meals Echo prepares so well (even if I knew how), so after I finished the tasty leftovers she leftover, I initially began to fall back on traditional Japanese fast food, such as gemmae (brown rice) mochi, soba (buckwheat) noodles, natto, ramen etc., and when that ran out I resorted to pasta and sandwiches (sometimes even standing over the sink, the dining area for men who live alone), thence to the dietary basement of cheese and crackers-- there were even some potato chips in there too-- thank goodness they're gone...

From about the third day I could distinctly feel the difference in myself, a sort of calorific lethargy stealing steadily over me, a diminishment of natural energy accompanied by a growing ache in my hips as my digestion turned itself upon me, and thoughts of junk food dashed through my head now and again. There goes an Oreo...

But today, just as I'm reaching the end of my dietary rope (how about a big chunka just cheese), Echo is returning. Soon, with new, plentiful, diverse and lovely nourishment, I will revert to my normal moderately lethargic (moderation in all things) self again.

Still, it was a bit of a shock to be part of that relapse; I would have thought I was made of fussier stuff.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004


FIRST FIRE

One of the many fine things about living on a mountainside is that it starts to become colder before the flatlands do, so we get to enjoy our simple woodfire a week or so before the complexly hermetic central heating of the new lowland buildings begins to imitate the tropics.

We started our first fire of the season in the woodstove a few days ago, and as always it was a physicospiritual event. Hefty ingots of gold and silver wood, cut and stacked over the past two winters to spend the summers gathering interest from the sun-- and tended all along with winter in mind-- were carried inside, layered ritually in the freshly cleaned firebox below the freshly cleaned stovepipe and set alight with some shavings from themselves.

As we knelt before the flame, holding out our hands to the warm blessing of ancient light, we were awed once again at how just a small fire in the hearth can transform the air of the entire house, like passion in the heart, telling us in whispers of common warmth to be more like the flame than the darkness.

Monday, November 22, 2004


MEGALOPOLITAN DOWNSPOUT


Storm drains under Tokyo

I know they've been constructing storm drains under Osaka for decades now, to handle the runoff from sudden heavy rains on a city barely above sea level, but this awesomeness is under a vast (also very near sea-level) city built atop the old swamps of the little fishing village that once was Edo... Inspiring locale for a new computer game...

via riffola at MetaFilter

Saturday, November 20, 2004


SKILLS DON'T END AT SIXTY

"A team of tech-savvy but patient experts in their 50s and 60s has been set up to offer consultancy for Japan's growing number of elderly small business owners on their computer needs, the Japanese arm of IBM said.

...many small business owners were the same age, so the elderly hi-tech team ‘understands the delicate needs of potential clients. They share many similarities as human beings. They have lived through similar periods, so they should have an easier time understanding each other...'"

Very smart of IBM Japan.

JAPAN IS A BLUE COUNTRY

The next monthly DAJ Kansai Political Movie Night is coming soon.

Featuring the 2004 documentary...

"Unconstitutional: The War on Our Civil Liberties"

Plus, an added short feature...
"How Democrats and Progressives Can Win: Solutions from George
Lakoff"

Enjoy Thanksgiving with two films, one about today's America and
the other about how progressives can take our country back from
those bent on polarizing the debate.

When: Thursday, November 25, films start at 7 p.m.
Film info: English only, 60 min. & 25 min.
Where: Tocca a Te, in Umeda (doors open at 6 p.m.)
Address & map: http://www.toccaate.com/home/map/tocMap.html
(or follow the links at http://www.toccaate.com/)

Admission: 1000 yen, includes a free drink & free homemade
popcorn (voted Best in Kansai!)

Open discussion after the films.

For more about the film:
http://www.unconstitutionalthemovie.org/

For more info, contact:
kansai-movies@demsjapan.jp

From: Ron Andrews
Democrats Abroad Japan - Kansai (DAJK)
http://www.demsjapan.jp/

Friday, November 19, 2004

Thursday, November 18, 2004

in between
the songs
the rain

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

THE POST-ELECTION NASTIES

"And when you look for ways to revive your failing towns and dying rural counties, don't even think about tourism. Who wants to go to small-town America now? You people scare us. We'll island-hop from now on, thank you, spending our time and our money in blue cities. If an urbanite is dying to have a country experience, rural Vermont is lovely. Maple syrup, rolling hills, fly-fishing--everything you could want. Country bumpkins in red rural areas who depend on tourists from urban areas but vote Republican can forget our money."


At least in the U.S. there's some chutzpah flying around between polities. Here in Japan the same flabby party has been in power since the war. My kids have an emperor, for godsake. Though of course they've gotten over it...

THE GOOD DOCTOR

Our village doctor, who often jogs through the forests up here on the mountain, is an interesting character. He moved into the area just a few years ago, and brings with him a radical air of medicine and sociality. He has a big neon Peace sign lit up at night outside his office near the center of the village, is opposed to all the big-government changes being imposed on the area, such as the planned incinerator, and has big anti-incinerator posters up in his office, which no doubt generates disharmony with certain individuals who are in favor of degrading the region.

The good doctor is also strongly against unnecessary drugs and medical treatments, a principle rather detrimental to his practice, though it makes him definitely the doctor for me. The elder folks around here, though, most of whom still believe that medicine = pocketfuls of prescription drugs, initially found it a bit off-putting to go all the way to the doctor’s and get examined, only to be advised to change to healthier lifestyles and sent away empty-handed.

In contrast to the other new doctor in the larger village down the road, whose waiting room is always jammed, our new doctor has always had an empty waiting room whenever I went there. Until recently. When I went for my annual physical early this morning there were four people waiting, as compared to none last year. It would seem that the country folks are slowly coming around to the new doctor’s way of thinking. He should be valued all the more for sticking to the principle of optimal and inexpensive health care for his patients (and for the national health plan), as opposed to his bank account. We need more people like the Good Doctor.

Monday, November 15, 2004


WANNABE BOYFRIENDS

Remember the Boyfriend's Arm Pillow, comprising a fraction of a boyfriend, that has been flying off the shelves into wannabe partially girlfriend's beds? Now at last there's something for those being replaced by pillows (must be quite unsettling). The innovative folks at Kameo, following careful research and development, have introduced the Lap Pillow, shown at left, which provides the less intellectual half of a girlfriend for those fractionally replaced boyfriends. (Maybe these two groups should get together or something, and actually pillow each other; you never know, it might lead to something). The Boyfriend's Arm Pillow is now purchasable here.

CHEERS!

"The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), led by Bush appointees, plans to launch a new study in which participating low income families will have their children exposed to toxic pesticides over the course of two years. The study entitled CHEERS [!!! (exclamations of disgust are mine)] (Children’s Environmental Exposure Research Study) will look at how chemicals can be ingested, inhaled or absorbed by children ranging from babies to 3 years old. For taking part in these studies, each family will receive $970, a free video camera, a T-shirt, and a framed certificate of appreciation."

There's no bottom to cynicism.

Sign petition here and forward info to family and friends...

Sunday, November 14, 2004


GINGERED UP

Today finally harvested the last of the Oshoga ('big ginger': on the left in the picture) and Koshoga ('little ginger': on the right in the picture), to use the new part in making ginger pickles. The new ginger, scraped of its thin skin and sliced thinly, is combined with also thinly sliced lemons and honey in a glass jar, then let sit for a time to stew in the juices generated by the exotic combo. The long fat roots are saved to make tea.


The ivory-and-pink colored portion, the new ginger, grows from the old darker bulbs, the standard ‘ginger,’one bulb of which is visible at the bottom in the picture above. Being very fibrous and strong flavored, standard ginger is grated for use in cooking. The new ginger, fiberless and crisp like a potato, has a mild savory version of the older ginger's flavor, and its texture and mouthfeel make it eminently pickleable. When it's ready, its ivory-and-pink looks beautiful in a Shigaraki dish. I'll try to get a photo of the finished ginger pickles in here when they're ready, but they tend to go a lot faster than I can remember...

(a pinch of this pickle is also a wonderfully zingy addition to any herb tea)

(and of course there's gingerade...)


Saturday, November 13, 2004


KOIZUMI MEETS THE TERMINATOR

The Governator is visiting Japan to drum up business for California; he appears to be governing like an action hero: he's everywhere at once, getting things done right down to the nitty-gritty that you don't see capital-G governors usually getting involved in.

Surveying an upscale Tokyo supermarket display of California wine and oranges, he tells the manager: “You're going to continue giving these products premium shelf space, right?” The manager nods obediently, as if to Terminator himself (and who else could it be?), who then says. “Because I’LL BE BACK to conduct inspections.” Nod, nod, “Yes, yes!”

Koizumi was so impressed when he met Arnold that as they shook hands for the flashing press, he blurted out in awe (off-record, but they didn't blank the mikes because Koizumi spoke in English, so there was no danger anyone would understand): "You're so popular!!" Then added: “More popular than Bush!” At which Arnold blanched slightly under his tan, but kept smiling to the cameras, saying nothing, knowing in his heart it was true. Koizumi quickly zipped it up and smiled tightly into the cameras, hoping no one had heard, especially Bush. Koizumi too seems to have a tongue problem.

[The spin put on it by Koizumi's spokesman (probably after they realized it must have leaked) is slightly different; he quotes Koizumi as saying "President Bush"; but if my memory serves (sound bites pass fast), it was just "Bush" (and wasn't meant to be heard beyond the two of them). Nor, of course, is there any mention in the article of the looks on their faces at the time.]

Friday, November 12, 2004


GOLDEN PALACE


There I was at dusk, standing atop the fresh-cut pile of hinoki (Japanese cypress) logs down at the bottom of the garden, when in the stillness I heard a bird chattering warning high in the forest across the road, so I stopped to listen for what might be the matter.

Soon I heard a large rustling that drew nearer: then there was the buck, standing with his head out in the open at the edge of the road; he'd stopped there midstep because I'd moved, craning my neck to see over the azalea hedge what the noise might be.

He was the picture of majesty, just his head and shoulders visible, must be a 14 pointer at least, though I couldn't see well and other things were edging through my mind; the wind was crosswise of us, so he couldn't get my scent, but he knew something was there so froze, and as I looked at him it was dawning on me that he was about 1/10 of a second away, chargewise, and this was his turf.

He couldn't really see me clearly in this light or tell what I was because of the wind so he might take it into his multi-tined head to assert his rights - he could leap over this hedge in a twinkling - and though I'd seen him several times at a distance I had no real idea of his character, so even though it isn't exactly mating season and he owed me a lot of spinach I decided it would be better to pursue the better part of valor.

When I got up to the deck I looked and he was still there staring; I called Echo out to have a look and he stared at us a while, then turned and loped back into his vast golden palace. I figure you can't really begrudge a guy like that a little spinach.



POOR KUZU


Kuzu gets such a bad rap in the States, but is used in several ways here in Japan: to make baskets, for noodles, as a tonic and as the finest thickening agent in cooking. It's also been successfully used in China to treat alcoholism and for other purposes. No one here is trying to eradicate it (they do cut it back, though); why doesn't somebody in the US start to make use of the huge domestic supply, I wonder; there's clearly a market for the imported products (ca. $40.00 a pound!)... homegrown, anyone?

Here's another informative site on the many uses of kuzu.

Thursday, November 11, 2004


SOME CALL IT SLEEP

You mentioned the way folks sleep on the trains in Japan...it wasn't you? Somebody did. Oh it was this guy. He's got a lot of fotos on his blog of salarymen sleeping on the trains in Japan. To me, those fotos are like snapshots of air. I almost don't see what's photographic about the subject. I'm not sure one wouldn't see the same thing on the Long Island Railroad, if that has ever really been operative. But since I'm on the subject, there is a difference, to wit:

He says the folks in the pictures are sleeping because they're exhausted but exhaustion isn't really necessary; EVERYBODY sleeps on trains in Japan, even standing up; as an old Japan hand I've done it myself, in fact, buckling knees and all. And speaking of facts, the fact is I’ve never seen an entire country before that could fall asleep in an instant on any sort of conveyance like the Japanese can do.

Some have said it's because of the way Japanese babies used to be carried strapped to their mothers, but as I have indicated I can do the e-z-sleep on trains and buses too, even standing up, and I've never been strapped to a Japanese mother that I know of. Next explanation please.

It just so happens that I have one handy right here, if you could just wait while I establish the necessary background to the genesis of a budding hypothesis. Not long after I first came to Japan, while on a bus I saw a soundly sleeping schoolgirl wake up and press the button for her stop, then go back to sleep! (She woke again when the bus stopped.) This puzzled me, who sat there awake watching, and who had traveled over oceans and continents on all sorts of conveyances and not slept except when it was bedtime.

Japan in its long cultural development had clearly evolved a culturally cozy relation with sleep that was unknown in the west. (I know I'm getting into some scientificoculturosociologically iffy stuff here, so any links to scientific studies of cultural sleep would be greatly appreciated.) Of course in the west there are folks who can drop off to sleep at the slip of an eyelid; but those folks are usually very, very tired, or at some time in their past have been strapped to Japanese mothers.

In time I learned that Japanese people under conveyance don't really sleep, in the standard western sense of the word; as I discovered by doing, it is more like a state of suspended animation that speeds up time and makes commuting go by in a flash, like those astronauts in the pods in Alien; it is as kin to deep meditation as to sleep, perhaps somewhere in between.

I had no idea how to do it when I arrived with a history of zero commuting; now it's easy. All you do is get on a train, close your eyes and keep them shut. If you can get out of the way, as the Japanese know how to do through early meditation, you slip into a sleep, such as I am enjoying right now as I sit at my desk in the big city attempting to gather these letters together into words, these words together into zzzzzzz...

BUT there are no vivid dreams, as one sees in shallow sleep (are there dreams at desks?). Of those sleeping on the train, probably 1 in 100 is really “sleeping” and you sometimes hear snores, though nowhere near as often as during the go-go 80s, when everyone worked late and partied hard. And if you take that last train on a Friday, that drunken sleep is genuine drunken sleep, as differentiated from sleep, whence the sleeper awakens at the terminus without drooling.

Those fotos remind me: I have a train to catch...



Wednesday, November 10, 2004


GATHERING FLAMES

Out this morning at long last scavenging the hurricane-downed hardwoods, Godzilla the Lizard did some serious stomping around here, even though these environs are nothing like a major metropolitan area; I guess global warming is affecting the discernment of the giant lizard, who clearly no longer heads straight for the big cities like he used to. Those giant footprints broke off a lot of opportunistic oak, beech, cherry and ironwood: in just a couple of hours we got a month’s worth of winter heat for 2005-6.

It was clear from looking at the trees that had broken off, in comparison to the staunch survivors, that the latter manifested integrity of growth-- long, slow, straight, firm-- and as a result, were balanced over the decades in their tradeoffs with the atmosphere. Those trees had thick, healthy-looking bark, rich crowns now bright gold, and broad bases; clearly they were old familiars of wind and rain, processes with which they themselves are integral. So Godzilla passing through was in effect culling those who'd seen a chance, broken fast and reckless for the sun, overextended, weakened and-- thanks for the firewood: what beauty your flames will be.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


SHIITAKE CONFISCATION WRITS AND RELATED MATTERS

With the shiitake now emerging, each morning I go outside and steal a march on the monkeys by harvesting the biggest open mushrooms and leaving only the buds to expand. This is good also in that, apart from getting me out of the house before breakfast, it gives the often crowded mushrooms some elbow room of the fungal sort.

Though in fact I haven't seen any monkeys around here recently and I'm not sure why, I'm not going to fall for that trick again, where Oh boy the monkeys are gone, tra-la; maybe someone else along these mountains was foolish enough to grow pumpkins, upon which many a monkey magnate has built his fortune and spun a political reputation, often unworthily conferred upon a ne'er-do-well son or two and down the generations, to the detriment of the species, as has been known to happen in our own world.

Or maybe the simians have gotten sapient and gone into the city for work—you certainly can't hope for much of a career in the forest--could be any number of reasons I suppose, who knows why monkeys do the things they do, they're like teenagers in that regard as I recall (when I was a teenager I didn't know why I did the things I did either); still, I'm not taking any chances, even if the monkeys are elected officials by now, or come into my garden waving Shiitake Confiscation Writs. These are MY mushrooms, as long as I get them before the monkeys do.

Aren't higher laws great?

Sunday, November 07, 2004



BIG BIRDCAGE

With the roofing scaffolding still up and the berries on the various bushes around the house just now reaching their peak, the birds who come to eat them take a break now and then from pigging out and catch some slack on the scaffolding where they can look in the windows, which as a result they have learned to do. They definitely didn't used to-- I don't remember the birds staring at me before-- but the scaffolding is perfect for the new passerine pastime.

Of course some of them are just preening, 'hey, good-looking bird-dude,' they chirp, but depending on the time of day and the angle of the sun, they can sometimes see right in the windows, so at about those times they tend to sit there looking in, watching us go about our unbirdlike lives, cheeping among themselves about these strange creatures inside that odd construct, so unlike a simple, practical nest: ‘two legs but no feathers they have, isn't that weird...’ We puzzle the hell out of them. It's as though we were in a big birdcage, which in fact we are, if I stop and think about it, which I do now and then when I pose for a bird.

One of them was watching me trying to paint the other day without wings, and I could tell by the look on his face and the startled tiltings of his head and his bouncy squeakings that it was a sorry sight, this featherless biped having to hang there like that when all you have to do is this, and he'd flit from one pipe to another to demonstrate how easy it would be if I just used my arms like wings instead of the crude way I was insisting on. I told him ‘believe me, I tried it for years as a kid and it doesn't work, I've got the scars to prove it.’ But birds don't use words. Nor do they have to paint, the world is their house, as is the air. No taxes, no politicians...where did we go wrong?

Saturday, November 06, 2004


THE FALLING LEAVES OF POLITICS

As the leaves fall and slowly bare the trees, exposing the sky for all the majesty it is, the satellite signal is also slowly breaking through, bringing me televised pictures I don't necessarily want to see to the full, calling for frequent surges of will power that I can't always muster (e.g. there's that new program everyone's talking about, and the last segment in that excellent series on History channel is showing right now...).

Thus it was that a few days ago, early in the leaf-fall, one minute I was merely an elder male homo sapiens hanging by one arm from the scaffolding trying to paint under the eaves of our recently re-roofed house up on a mountainside above a lake in central Japan maybe 45 minutes from Kyoto experiencing the zen nothingness of dangling sweating with one arm carefully extended-- like Adam toward God in Michaelangelo's painting, only holding a brown-stain-dripping paint brush, with a white stucco wall playing God-- when my wife stuck her head out the front door and said "Looks like Bush will carry Florida," and the next moment I was an expat American rushing inside to see actual bits of the US election with a paintbrush in my hand.

There were flashing pixels of foto-ops, some pixels of Bush's nose superimposed on stripes of the White House, some stutters of a sound bite, then some Kerry hair and an ear and his wife saying "Shove it" I think it was, and some other stuttery pixelated statements I couldn't make out, random distillations of politics in which nothing was really lost, I know what the characters all look like and it's easy to imagine what there is for them to say, we've heard it all, who needs candidates really, even when the leaves fall. But with the pixel count increasing daily I'll have to find more and more things to do outside, and never bring dripping paintbrushes into the house.

Friday, November 05, 2004


TALKING WITH KAYA ON THE PHONE


I talked with Kaya on the phone, at nearly 4 years old she can handle a phone like a pro, though the conversation tends to wander all over the place being as it’s in and out of Japanese and English and back again (since she’s talking to me, and I try to use only English with her), since everything in her mind is of equal importance and must be gotten out as soon as she thinks of it before it gets away so she told me about the new Thomas the Tank Engine pop-up book I had sent her, and how it worked and what it did, and how she had a little blue Thomas toy of her own now, and how one of the twins who was crying in the background had fallen down and the other one was asleep and they could operate the Thomas book too, and they’re moving to another house soon, and some nursery school details plus a lot of very urgent stuff sprinkled in there I didn’t get, it went by so fast, but it’s always wonderful taking a trip in a child’s mind, mine could use a little oil

Thursday, November 04, 2004


A FAREWELL TO ALARMS

Now that America has proven H. L. Mencken correct by voting its preference for incomplete sentences (sadly reveletory, that), before I clear out all this Bush detritus and get back to blogging primarily about local reality (if I can't stand the absence of US politics in my writing life I'll start another blog; if I have the time and that blog gets off the ground I'll link to it from here), just a few parting words from a great US expat wordman regarding the situation America has now legitimized:

"For a country to turn itself into an imperial kind of despotism, you need an outside enemy. This was the brilliance of Adolf Hitler and his team. In fact, Goering gave a fascinating interview at Nuremberg. He said that the only way that you can organize an intelligent and well-educated people like the Germans into going to war, a war of conquest, was to frighten them. And you frighten them with, 'we have great enemies everywhere, in Poland, in Czechoslovakia, all over the place, and they have their eye on us,' and you go from there.

Well, it's the same techniques in a very crude way that we're seeing today. You cannot have a war on an abstract noun. 'Terrorism' is that. It's like a war on bad temper. 'Oh yes, I really want to join that battle. Where do we start?' It is semantically stupid, and actually in practice it's diabolical. We knocked down two countries who had done us no harm and intended us no harm. God knows what they intend now. And certainly after 9/11, they were innocent of any of that. But it happened through sheer reiteration and just telling lies, ferocious lies between Cheney and Bush about the connections of al Qaeda and Saddam and so on.

I think we're a bit tired of that story, but the story never registers. Sixty percent of the American people think that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11. When you've got people as hypnotized by that, you can only do it two ways, and it can only be done with a lot of premeditation. One is you have a terrible educational system for the general public, where they're taught nothing when it comes to American history. I think they erase whatever it is they might have in their head.

So you have that, and then you have a totally corrupt media, which will tell any lie that the state wants it to."

Amnesia: Gore Vidal on America's current imbroglio
By Emily Udell

[For a raw cross-section of post-election emotions, be sure to read the comments after the article.]

AMERICA GRANTS BIN LADEN'S WISH, DISAPPOINTS REST OF WORLD

Except for Putin, of course, who has his own residual KGB agenda, and is looking forward to ruble revenge via the impending deep descent of the dollar and the high ascent of oil. Bin Laden too is admittedly looking forward to the bankrupting of America, and who better for his fanatic purposes than the kneejerk pResident America has now given him?

In legitimizing Dubya and what he has done, America has validated a path eagerly sought by those who do not wish it well. The rich, of course, went for Bush at about 70%. No explanation needed there; they're selling insider stock in their companies by the multimillions and putting it into gold, getting it out of the country. They know what's coming.

Then there are all the middle class and older folks who believe what they're told by the media. They're the ones who are buying those very stocks and real estate, gonna make a killing, he's so good for business!

The sad thing is that all those trusting voters who are sending their sons and grandsons to a meaningless war and believe what they're told by the rich-owned media will be left holding the bag of ballooning mortgages, shrinking pensions and zero health care; they're the ones who will get it right in the face when it all hits the fan. It won't be a pretty sight. W and his cronies won't see it, though; they'll be partyin' on the even bigger ranch.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


THIS WAS PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 1:

"It's not even Election Day yet, and the Kerry-Edwards campaign is already down by a almost a million votes. That's because, in important states like Ohio, Florida and New Mexico, voter names have been systematically removed from the rolls and absentee ballots have been overlooked--overwhelmingly in minority areas, like Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, where Hispanic voters have a 500 percent greater chance of their vote being 'spoiled.'

John Kerry is down by several thousand votes in New Mexico, though not one ballot has yet been counted. He's also losing big time in Colorado and Ohio; and he's way down in Florida, though the votes won't be totaled until Tuesday night.

Through a combination of sophisticated vote rustling--ethnic cleansing of voter rolls, absentee ballots gone AWOL, machines that 'spoil' votes--John Kerry begins with a nationwide deficit that could easily exceed one million votes."

From: An Election Spoiled Rotten

Monday, November 1, 2004

by Greg Palast

[Emphasis mine: RB]


BUSH MISOVERESTIMATED
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Tuesday, November 02, 2004


WHICH BRACKET IS SOLID FOR BUSH
?

"Citizens for Tax Justice, a Washington research group whose findings have proved highly dependable, notes that, this year, a typical person in the lowest fifth of the income distribution will get a tax cut of ninety-one dollars, a typical person in the middle fifth will pocket eight hundred and sixty-three dollars, and a typical person in the top one per cent will collect a windfall of fifty-nine thousand two hundred and ninety-two dollars."

The New Yorker--Talk of the Town
Excellent take on the cynical opportunism in the Bush camp from day 1.

"Let them hate so long as they fear." - Caligula

Whatever else you do, Vote on November 2



THE WORLD HAS VOTED

After 113,552 votes from 191 countries, it's Kerry with 77.1%, followed by Other with 13.8% and Bush with 9.1%. The big picture is often clearer from a multinational perspective.


Monday, November 01, 2004


A FREE OSAMA IS GOOD FOR BUSH

"We want people to think 'terrorism' for the last four days," said a Bush-Cheney campaign official. "And anything that raises the issue in people's minds is good for us."

Merchants of fear.

WITHDRAWAL FROM IRAQ THE ONLY WAY OUT, SAYS JAPAN TIMES

"Rather than admit error when its claims that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction proved false, the administration seamlessly switched rationales. The war, officials said, actually was about spreading democracy."

INSURGENTS ARE WINNING, SAYS COLIN POWELL

"But the truth is, neither party is fully reckoning with the reality of Iraq--which is that the insurgents, by most accounts, are winning. Even Secretary of State Colin Powell, a former general who stays in touch with the Joint Chiefs, has acknowledged this privately to friends in recent weeks..."

Death Near Baghdad:


Click on Photo Gallery of "Blood and tears in Sadr City" on right sidebar of same MSNBC page. Four more years of this?