Wednesday, January 31, 2007


YANAGISAWA APOLOGIZES TO BIRTH-GIVING DEVICES


He also bowed briefly in parliament, after having insulted the better half of the nation. Prime Minister Abe apologized as well for the public revelation of Yanagisawa's unpleasant thought processes, in an attempt to stem the plunge in his administration's approval rating, particularly among birth-giving devices. So far, two members of his Cabinet have resigned in scandals, with strike three now in the offing. "I want him to fulfil his duties with all of his body and soul," insisted Abe, who appointed Yanagisawa in now-apparent ignorance of his serious limitations. Abe says that the Health Minister shouldn't resign, despite what everybody else thinks, because that would be terrible for Abe. And even though Yanagisawa has driven one huge nail into the LDP effigy. But the really odd thing is, women gave birth to these guys.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


JAPAN HEALTH MINISTER VIEWS WOMEN AS 'CHILD-BEARING DEVICES
'

Reality intrudes slowly for some people. For others, it intrudes not at all: the current Health Minister of Japan, for example. Apparently selected from a stockpile of political dinosaurs the LDP keeps stashed away in an underground bunker somewhere, Hakuo Yanagisawa, the man in charge of national health and who presumably should be an exemplar of health- and body-related attitudes (though I admit that's asking a lot of a Japanese male who is still of the Edo period), in a Saturday speech on Japan's birth rate problem, in a slip of consciousness called women child-bearing machines. "Because the number of child-bearing machines and devices is fixed, all we can ask for is for them to do their best per head." So let's accelerate overall line production and per-head unit output, ladies. He later apologized, since women can vote in these modern times, but now that we all know how he thinks, they should put him in charge of a bakery or something, maybe he could monitor a bread-making device.

MAYBE GLOBAL WARMING IS A MIRACLE?


As in other attempts to withstand science, the global warming naysayers are soon going to have to blame god for a naked Antarctica and a submarine Florida, among the many geoanomalies yet to come, as actual nature marches on in actual reaction to the designer-shod human footprint.

According to Climate Change 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 4th Assessment Report, as previewed by The Independent:

"'Anthropogenic warming of the climate system is widespread and can be detected in temperature observations taken at the surface, in the free atmosphere and in the oceans,' the draft report says. 'It is highly likely [greater than 95 per cent probability] that the warming observed during the past half century cannot be explained without external forcing [human activity].'

* Sea levels will rise significantly even if levels of CO2 are stabilised. By 2100 sea levels could be 0.43 metres higher on average than present, and by 2300 they could be up to 0.8 metres higher.

The IPCC also finally nails the canard of the climate sceptics who argue that global warming is a myth or the result of natural climate variability; natural factors alone cannot account for the observed warming, the IPCC says. 'These changes took place at a time when non-anthropogenic forcing factors (i.e. the sum of solar and volcanic forcing) would be expected to have produced cooling, not warming.

There is increased confidence that natural internal variability cannot account for the observed changes, due in part to improved studies demonstrating that the warming occurred in both oceans and atmosphere, together with observed ice mass losses.'

Key findings of the report:

* Global temperatures continue to rise with 11 of the 12 warmest years since 1850 occurring since 1995. Computer models suggest a further rise of about 3C by 2100, with a 6C rise a distant possibility

* It is virtually certain (there is more than a 99 per cent probability [emphasis mine. RB]) that carbon dioxide levels and global warming is far above the range of natural variability over the past 650,000 years

* It is virtually certain that human activity has played the dominant role in causing the increase of greenhouse gases over the past 250 years

* Man-made emissions of atmospheric aerosol pollutants have tended to counteract global warming, which otherwise would have been significantly worse

* The net effect of human activities over the past 250 years has very likely exerted a warming influence on the climate

* It is likely that human activity is also responsible for other observed changes to the Earth's climate system, such as ocean warming and the melting of the Arctic sea ice

* Sea levels will continue to rise in the 21st Century because of the thermal expansion of the oceans and loss of land ice

* The projected warming of the climate due to increases in carbon dioxide during the 21st Century is likely to cause the total melting of the Greenland ice sheet during the next 1,000 years, according to some computer forecasting models

* The warm Gulf Stream of the North Atlantic is likely to slow down during the 21st Century because of global warming and the melting of the freshwater locked up in the Greenland ice sheet. But no models predict the collapse of that warm current by 2100.

***

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that over the coming century we are likely to see big changes to the Earth's climate system. These include:

* Heat waves, such as the one that affected southern Europe in summer 2003, are expected to be more intense, longer-lasting and more frequent.

* Tropical storms and hurricanes are likely to be stronger, with increased rainfall and higher storm surges flooding coastlines.

* The Arctic is likely to become ice free in the summer, and there will be continued melting of mountain glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets.'"

The IPCC 4th Assessment Report Summary for Policymakers will be available on the IPCC website from February 2, 2007.

via Metafilter

Then there are the completely impenetrables:
Survey shows 13% of Americans never heard of global warming

Monday, January 29, 2007


The twins' shoes in the genkan

Saturday, January 27, 2007

THE GRAIN OF PROSPERITY

Prosperity comes in many forms. In its most widespread and viral form it comprises mere pieces of paper with pictures of deceased individuals on them that now come marching as electronic digits at the end of labor, when one hands them over to governments and other juridical bodies. This form of wealth has never interested me for obvious reasons; I generally prefer to trade it asap for something actual. I have always preferred such forms of prosperity as no schedule - an open road - a meadow of a summer afternoon - a moment of my own - a forest slanted with sun rays - a tomorrow even better than today...

I have been prosperous all my life in so many of these and other uncounted ways, but I never expected to be wealthy in this way, that I never even knew was wealth: never before have I been so prosperous in cherry wood. Stacked up in ruby ingots it stands, waiting for me to spend it on original light and original heat, for winter days and nights to come. I glow with anticipation.

Apart from love (if one can ever be so apart) what greater prosperity is there?

Thursday, January 25, 2007


GEISHABLOG

Actually, it's a blog written by a maiko (apprentice geisha) named Ichimame
that is making the news...

Carried on the website of Ichimame's teahouse,
the blog is in Japanese of course, but the photos are interesting,
and on livejournal there's a helpful English translation
(for up till a few months ago)
of the daily thoughts and experiences of young Ichimame
who before too long will become a geiko...

THE HEAVY BURDEN OF SQUARE PANTS


Poor SpongeBob. He can't go anywhere in Japan anymore without being snapped up and hung from keychains and fashionable young arms, flaunted on shopping bags in the heady company of Hello Kitty and that other new face, the blue dog.

Time was - and not too long ago - when no one here in mangaland had ever heard of SpongeBob SquarePants, or would want to. He was practically seafood, for cute's sake! He had that spaced-out smile and his own cartoon, lived in an undersea pineapple and was starkly non-Disney, which was a big plus, but even so... Then he made the big mistake of going to Viacom and getting carefully orchestrated for Japan.

Some creations get the bad breaks; I've been fortunate. Even though my name is Bob and I wear pants, I've managed to stay under the radar and avoid keychains and the sides of shopping bags, haven't popped up in knickknack stores here in Japan for 30 years because I'm not cute, I'm not a sponge unless I'm broke, and my pants aren't square. Also, I have always refused to live in a pineapple. But just in case, I'm staying well away from Viacom. No one will ever say of me: "I thought it was a piece of cheese at first."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Mick has just posted
the chilling
Cool on Ice
@
The Blog Brothers

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


GIVING NATTO A BAD NAME


Natto, though one of my favorite foods, is probably the most maligned item in the Japanese culinary spectrum, especially abroad. It is ugly looking, sticky, stringy, messy, ill-smelling, refuses to stay in place and doesn't actually taste all that great, so as a food it does have its drawbacks.

I've even met quite a few Japanese who don't like it. (But then they usually eat it on rice for breakfast, which I have never done-- you have to put your tongue down somewhere.) And Japanese people are always amazed when they find out I like natto. Their response would be akin to that of an American saying: "What? You like to chew on gym socks too?"

So I was surprised to hear that throughout Japan, natto was disappearing from supermarket shelves as though it were dessicated squid or something. Turns out one of the many psychoparasitic tv programs that constipate the airwaves here (as elsewhere) did a program claiming that eating natto multiple times a day helps people lose weight fast, so natto instantly sold out everywhere and kept selling out, until what happened happened. To be honest, I can't say I noticed the big gaps on the supermarket shelves where the gooey beanstuff used to be, since we get our stringy beans from reputably natural sources. There's nothing quite as ‘natural’ as genuinely natural natto…

I also can't say I've noticed all that many Japanese who really should go on a diet; I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Japan is the slimmest developed country in the world. Nevertheless, the general compulsion toward anorexia seems to be spreading everywhere, like a media virus. Speaking of viruses, it turned out that out not only was that tv program typically topically as bland as white rice, it was unscrupulous as well! Floor me, somebody. It wasn't enough that they had to shed sham praise on a food that was already in the gutter, so to speak; they also used the falsified words of a foreign doctor to add credulity to their gooey fakery. (Foreigner and natto inextricably intertwined-- a lot like my first natto lunch.)

Some of the international press articles I've read about the scandal call natto 'pungent' (which is rather euphemistic, actually); others use phrases like ‘natto producers cry foul,’ ‘a strong-smelling food,’ ‘sticky problem for Japan TV show,’ ‘rotted soya beans’ and such like, as the story spreads and humble natto, already the nadir of foods, plunges to the level of the media.

Well, at least frantic mobs of subjectively overweight folks were induced to scarf down scads of the slimy legumes, so maybe some will become natto-lovers and get healthier (all you have to do is get past that long, stringy series of negative first impressions), though most of them will probably never want to look at a fermented soybean again. Poor natto.

If perchance you might want to ferment your own...

Sunday, January 21, 2007


MITSUKI'S FIRST PHOTOGRAPH

Bob as vestigial to Big Red Ball

Friday, January 19, 2007


MIASA EMAILS HER DRAWING


I had no idea I was this cute. Especially in red, on brown paper. The swooping curve that shapes my tilted head, with its commanding brow, is a bit more pointed than I think it is, and my chin has an authority I presumed I'd lost, but Miasa restores it all with that one glaring right eye, the other eye curled in a savvy wink - or maybe it's got some pizza in it - above that big round nose I wouldn't have said was that big or that round - or in that place, exactly - but what do we know in red crayon about how we really look to others, especially a new other, like half a set of little twin girls who hasn't seen me in weeks, that's like ten years to her - we grownups change so fast - and wisely she left out my long white hair which anyway wouldn't have done justice to the bright scarlet she used, the more accurately to convey my passionate nature, so I don't mind, I'm pretty metaphoric by now anyway; she's also given me that sly, knowing smirk I used to have, back when I knew everything; she must have caught a glimpse of it, so I guess the illusion returns on occasion, especially when minding twin toddlers in no uncertain terms, but I honestly can't recall ever being this cute in my life, not even in red. It's good to know I've still got it at this age, even as seen only fleetingly by brand-new eyes. Thanks, Miasa. And a wink for you.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


I'M NOT GONNA LET IT CHANGE ME


You know how it is when you hit the national lottery, win the Superbowl, catch the checkered flag at Le Mans: it's a lift, a bunch of arm pumps, time to party, imminent lifestyle change.

Well a couple days ago the current chairman of our mountain residents' committee came to see me while I was out in my garden stacking firewood for next winter wondering if I'd have enough, and he asked if I happened to want any more firewood I said sure in a normal voice, he said there's a guy upmountain who's clearing the land around a cabin he just bought and is renovating, and he wants all the wood he's cut down taken away, so we went up there for a look and it was a very big tract of opportunistic oak and cherry that had grown up on the property, much of the oak just the right size for vastly replenishing my waning shiitake stock and a lot of larger oak besides, some of the sleek wild cherry already sectioned and laying there on the slopes like big fat sausages waiting to be taken home.

I didn't actually jump up and down yelling, but in the restraint of proper gratitude I could feel that checkered flag; I did the mental dance in the end zone, and what am I gonna do with all this new wealth, I'll tellya, I'm not gonna let it change my life, I'm not gonna move or quit my job or anything, I'm gonna be the same regular eccentric guy I've always been, a guy who's gonna get LOTS of really healthy exercise sawing, lugging, splitting and stacking beautiful pieces of mountain-grown wood, lots of really healthy mushrooms starting in a couple years (the monkeys will be grateful) and have lots of gold and ruby treasure stacked in heaps around the house without it turning my head. And not think about heating for quite a few years while I party.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Mick just posted
The Migration of the Anglo-Saxons
on The Blog Brothers,
with a photo I haven't seen in 40 years
that sure tugged at my heartstrings...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


THE SILENCE ON THE FROGS


The chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, which is lethal to frogs and other amphibians and has been causing die-offs and even extinctions elsewhere the world, has been found in Japan. Sixteen Japanese research and eco-organizations have declared a state of emergency.

The news broke 4 days ago, but I went through all 179 related news articles listed on Google News looking for a local source to post here, a Japanese perspective on the story in English, or even a local-source repetition of the stories going the foreign rounds, and couldn't find one originating here in Japan. There are articles from France, Russia, Australia, Pakistan, all over the US (even Albany NY!), but no mention in the Japan Times, The Yomiuri Daily, even Japan Today.

I hope that silence isn't echoed in the paddies over the coming summers...

"...how that single tiny resurrected life gave life to the night,"

Sunday, January 14, 2007


THE JAMES DEAN PARAMETERS

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another little surprise in all this is that, according to the now fully established and globally recognized James Dean Parameters, for most of his life, through infancy, childhood and adolescence, James Dean himself didn't look like James Dean! And because James Dean departed this earthly plane so soon after defining the Parameters, no one knows what a middle-aged or elderly James Dean look-alike looks like, which means that at this very moment there are any number of guys out there who in fact look amazingly like what all the 45- to 100-year-old James Deans would have looked like, but nobody has the slightest idea who these guys look like! For the many millions of James Dean look-alike fans, this is an extremely unsettling thought.

Friday, January 12, 2007


THERE'S A THROBBING STEEL BALL IN THE MIDDLE OF MY HEAD WHERE THOUGHT USED TO BE


The lecture begins:
"According to the latest rough estimates of the Blog Herald, there are 100 million blogs worldwide, and it is nearly impossible to make general statements about their 'nature' and divide them into proper genres. I will nonetheless attempt to do this. [Emphasis mine.] It is of strategic importance to develop critical categories of a theory of blogging..."

[...ongoing-lecture-ellipsis comprising a billion or so dots...]

The lecture concludes:
"Doesn't the truthness [with no apology to Stephen Colbert!] lie in the unlinkable?"

Blogging, the Nihilist Impulse
a lecture by Gert Lovink

Some folks try so hard to be vanguard they wind up looking out of their own mouths at a sleeping audience...

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain of 'truthness.'

Blog on.

P.S.: For additional (if dim) enlightenment, see The Postmodernism Generator...

Thursday, January 11, 2007


WHO WOULD KEEP US IGNORANT?


I just turned 66 and am taking zero drugs. I can't remember the last time I took a prescription drug; maybe 25 years ago when I had an infection from an accident. We aren't taught to trust the intelligence of our own bodies... Who is it that would keep us ignorant?

"There is an at-risk portion of the population that is being taken advantage of and unfairly targeted as a market for prescription drugs. We wouldn't allow (at least not yet) drug companies to broadcast Ritalin as well as other drug ads on Cartoon network or the Disney channel because morally it wouldn't be right. Children are too susceptible to influence and very gullible. Well the same applies to elderly adults over the age of 65 yet they are probably one of the most heavily targeted portion of our society when it comes to prescription drugs."

From Drug Ads, Prescription Drugs and the Elderly, some first-hand insights into the US elderly prescription scene...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


CONVERSATIONS WITH MY REFRIGERATOR


My Japanese refrigerator and I have been communicating for some years now, as is the case with various other appliances around my mountainside house, but once the devices and I got into our ongoing dialog I sort of forgot the original purpose: energy conservation.

Up here we don't need air conditioning in summer, since the forested mountains above and the lake below take care of that; in winter we heat with a woodstove, so built our house with an open loft upstairs, the workspace at the front of the loft and the rest divided into three rooms that will heat in winter if we leave their doors open, though even in winter I prefer to sleep with the door closed and the windows open.

When we're downstairs, in winter the low table in front of the woodstove is the family gathering place. At bath time, we all share one ofuro full of water (no soap in the tub; and unlike the link photo of the conventional modern style ofuro room, ours has subdued lighting and is walled, ceilinged with cedar wood, with a big window on the upmountain forest). We use haramaki and layers of clothing for physical fine tuning. We were thinking of energy when we built the house, but once you get into the routine it becomes none other than ... routine. And routinely costs only a few hundred dollars (and a lot of physical exercise outdoors) per winter.

I've posted here before about various aspects of conservation, but became so used to heeding the dictates of my refrigerator (when it speaks, it is always correct), following the commands of my rice cooker and acting on the communiques of other energized devices, I'd lost somewhat the fresh eye of the formerly resource-rich expat and hadn't realized how pervasive energy conservation was here in the Land of Wa. Until I saw this article in the NYT, which makes it all sound sort of like the revolutionary vanguard Japan actually is...

The article's journalistic crypto-opinion phrases, like "
obsession with conservation" and "keeps his family huddled in a single heated room during winter" make it sound like this is all imposed perforce, almost to an irrational extent, but it's nothing of the kind; Japan's ancient tradition is to be space/energy conscious, as everyone on earth was, once...

We haven't got one of those newfangled home fuel cells yet, but that's next, after our old kerosene-fueled on-demand water heater gives out.

w/thanks to treehugger

Monday, January 08, 2007


THE TWINS FIRST REAL SNOW DAY AS INDIVIDUALS WHO COULD BE OUT IN IT, RUN AROUND IN IT, THROW IT, EAT IT...


[Kaya and the twins left yesterday with their parents, heading back up north into the snowstorm, so now I have time to input and post this earlier entry from the handwrit KidVisitJournal... RB]

Having known the twins for the three years of their entire lives, I knew that this was their fourth winter, but I'd sort of forgotten that for their first winter they couldn't even sit up or use their hands yet, had no teeth and were asleep most of the time - cradle please - then for their second winter, at just over a year old they were crawly and pretty useless in this soft, cold stuff whatever it is - breast please - then when they were two, the white outdoors was strange, looming and uncertain for short, new legs - indoors please - so this time I was caught off guard when into the feathery snowstorm they flew like snowballs, and what's more right away took off their coats, scarves, gloves and other barriers so that the fluffy white stuff could fall from the sky all the more directly onto their persons.

Arms wide, they galloped into the falling whiteness with mouths open, bent and gathered the fallen white fluff up in bunches and ate it, then formed it into crude but cute little snowballs that they launched with brand-new arms it didn't matter where, the snow could do such interesting things it made them kiddygiddy.

For me it pointed out once more that there's nothing like little-kid laughs in the generous calm of a feathery snowstorm, where somehow the snowstars and the giggleclouds combine in a deep-reaching synergy of happy and flaky, so the twins didn't care that they were getting soaked with snow melting on the heat of their bodies, snowcovered wet hair down in their faces, though now and then in all the rush of snowy newness they were stopped in their bootprints by what is known ophthalmologically as the "Big Fat Snowflake in the Eye Syndrome," when they'd stand there blinking hard in puzzlement at the strangeness of one eye not hurting but suddenly being coldly fuzzy and unlookable through.

I chased them around and caught them sometimes, put on their coats, scarves and gloves, then they'd run somewhere else and take them off, it was a game we played for quite a while among the other big-snow games we made up amid the falling white stars. Elder sister Kaya, though setting a good example by joining in wearing her nice hooded jacket, scarf and gloves, was circumspectly every bit as giddy as her sisters.

In time the cold won out, though, even over that much energy. Fortunately, in the woodstove we had a fire almost as warm as the huge one the highfired trio had just burned up.

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Just posted THE RIGHT STUFF on The Blog Brothers...

Friday, January 05, 2007


INTERVIEW WITH THE "SAMURAI DOLPHIN MAN"

"What makes you so angry about this story?

That the Japanese people don't know that the largest slaughter of cetaceans in the world -- 36,000 a year -- is taking place in their own waters, at Taiji, Iwate and Futo; and they don't know that the Japanese people are hated around the world for this. The Japanese media is to blame for this blackout. That's a story in itself. It's very hard to get information on how many they capture in Taiji, but it is probably about 3,000 dolphins.

Tell me about why you switched sides in 1970.


I captured about 100 dolphins myself, back in the 1960s, including the five that played Flipper. I was the highest-paid animal trainer in the world. If I wanted I could set up one of these dolphin training programs and make 3-4 million dollars a year. I changed when Flipper died in my arms from suicide. I use that word with some trepidation but I don't know another word that describes self-induced asphyxiation. Dolphins and other whales are not automatic breathers. Every breath that they take is a conscious effort, which is why they don't sleep. If life becomes miserable, they just don't take the next breath. Flipper looked me in the eye and stopped breathing.

In those days I was as ignorant as I could be. Now I am against captivity. It has no socially redeeming feature. It is not educational. How come I can't find one person among the millions who have visited the 50 dolphin facilities in Japan who is against this industry? I organize a worldwide protest outside consulates every year and the only city where I can't get a protest going is Tokyo. So what is the value of having dolphins on display if it doesn't sensitize people? It is just casual amusement. It is a form of bad education that serves to perpetuate our utilitarian relationship with nature."

Excerpted from The Samurai Dolphin Man and the Japan Connection
By David McNeill
[That link takes ridiculously long to open - at least on my computer - if same is true for yours, try this much faster link]

via Christine Marran, w/ thanks to Jeff Bryant

Thursday, January 04, 2007


SO WHO IS BURIED IN ALL THOSE EMPERORS' TOMBS?


The ever-Imperial Imperial Household Agency has traditionally refused entry to many Imperial Tombs, since the Imperial Household Agency is in charge of maintaining the tranquility of the Imperial Souls allegedly interred in them, but no one really knows who is actually interred there, because the Imperial Household Agency has traditionally refused entry to many Imperial Tombs -- a sort of Imperial Catch-22 -- not only because some tombs may not be Imperial, but more likely because researchers might discover something that dilutes the ancestral purity of Wa, to say nothing of impugning the necessity for an Imperial Household Agency.

So who IS buried in all those emperors' tombs? We may be about to find out, though somehow I doubt it...

In any case, things are drifting backward in other respects as the very same agency has canned the idea of female succession to the Crysanthemum Throne, since traditionalists continue to believe "that Emperor Jinmu was the first monarch, and that he was a descendant of Amaterasu Omikami [who was, it should be pointed out somewhere, so why not here, FEMALE] the mythical progenitor of the Imperial family and the principal Shinto deity."

Imagine what some other-Asian DNA in those Imperial Tombs might do to that belief...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


THE MOON ALSO RISES


When we lived in Spain, where Kasumi was born,we lived without electricity, and at night I used to tell time by the constellations as I've mentioned in here somewhere. From that time on I always made a conscious effort to keep Kasumi and Kitaya aware of the moon as they were growing up, its phases and changes; we were the kind of family that any one of us might rush outdoors suddenly and yell: "Look at the MOON!!" But as we all lived through the years on our ways, and the kids into their own lives and ways, had this moon passion gone on with them? Had it been passed on?

I never really even knew I'd wondered about that until, on a cloudy afternoon not long ago in late December, Echo and I and Kaya and the twins Mitsuki and Miasa were riding along in Kasumi's van, with Kasumi driving. Miasa and I were in the far back seat together, when suddenly Miasa said: "The moon!" I leaned over and looked out her window: there, fleeting among the clouds was the slightly past-half moon, hard to see in mid-sky.

I was deeply impressed, not only with Miasa's noticing the moon while were on our extremely kid-exciting way to the library, but at her remarking upon a private observation, at her knowing that the moon was important enough to mention aloud, to call everyone's attention to in mid-day to look at and see, no matter what big adventures we were all on our way to.

Looking at her with admiration in my face, I said "Tensai!" [Intelligent!] And though Miasa is just three years old, she smiled a sudden smile of such knowing pride as to inform me that I had way underestimated her knowledge of herself and her awareness of the moon: she knew very well her intelligence, and she knew to appreciate the moon, yet was delighted to hear someone else acknowledge the fact, and respect her observation.

So Kasumi, all this time living way up north as a new mother, has been keeping her daughters aware of the moon... What a pleasure that was to learn, in this way.

It was all worth it; even better, it will go on beyond me...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Smooth Water...


Yesterday when Echo and I
went to various local temples
for multiple Hatsumode, along the way
we visited the mysterious invisible pond,
where I took this picture.

Monday, January 01, 2007


AKEMASHITE OMEDETOU GOZAIMASU!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!
In The Year of the Pig
may wisdom grow
and honesty prevail.